HC Deb 08 March 1870 vol 199 cc1483-569

Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [7th March], "That the Bill be now read a second time;" and which Amendment was, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."—(Mr. Bryan.)

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

Debate resumed.


Sir, I rise under no less weighty pressure of responsibility than that which influenced my hon. Friends the Members for the counties of Kilkenny and Limerick: for not only am I, with my hon. Friends and Colleague, the representative of a large city and a considerable agricultural population, but I have been for nearly eighteen years more or less identified with every effort made in this House during that long period to remedy the admitted evils in the relations between landlord and tenant in Ireland. But, Sir, while expressing, in the most unreserved manner, my belief in the thorough sincerity and uprightness of the hon. Mover and Seconder of the Amendment, and their unaffected anxiety to promote the best interests of the tenant-farmers of their country, I can only say that my sense of responsibility—taking into account the enormous gravity of the subject, and the actual condition of Ireland —impels me to a different course and an opposite lobby. Such have been the expectations of the Irish people in reference to this measure, the result mainly of long delay and disappointed expectation, that if it failed to realize the object for which it was intended, the result would be very sad for the country, as it would be certain to create in the minds of the people a strong sense of injury and injustice. The long delay in dealing with this question has been productive of evil; yet I doubt, if we balance the one against the other, we may not come to the conclusion that the delay in practical legislation has not been of some benefit with respect to the interests of the Irish tenant. It is true Parliament has, period after period, baulked the hopes and disappointed the expectations of the Irish people with respect to a matter vital to their interests; it is true that from this disappointment has arisen a spirit of disbelief in constitutional action, which, in the minds of the rash and the passionate, has again given rise—necessarily and logically—to a belief in more violent means of redress. But, on the other hand, if we had legislated in the spirit, and tone, and temper, not to say of some statesmen, but of the House of Commons of ten, or even five years back, we should have been rather planting dragon's teeth in a soil fruitful of mischief, than sowing seed from which we could hope to reap a harvest full of peace and gladness. But not only must there be no further delay—for further delay would be fraught with the direst peril; but there is no necessity for delay, as Parliament is, as it were, ripe for the settlement of a question which Parliament knows must be settled, and settled justly, if good is to be the result. Better that we recoiled from the effort than that effort should of necessity prove abortive. Let us endeavour to understand our real position; and, above all things, let English and Scotch Gentlemen fully comprehend the difference between their country and Ireland, and how legislation which may not be needed for, or which possibly may not suit England or Scotland, is absolutely necessary for Ireland. I listened last night with honest pride to the eloquent speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Dr. Ball)—for an Irishman is to me a countryman, whatever his creed, his party, or his politics. That speech did credit to his ingenuity as a lawyer, and also convinced me how nobly he could advocate a true and just cause. To the Irish Solicitor General I freely commit his strictures on the construction and legal operation of certain material clauses of the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman confined himself very much to a lawyer-like criticism of the details of the measure; but he also indulged in the expression of opinions which, however eloquently expressed, were very much exaggerated in their character, and to statements which, in my mind, were not altogether justified by fact. If any Gentleman in this House, who knew nothing whatever of Ireland, received his first impression of the Irish farmer from the right hon. Gentleman, he would naturally suppose that the typical Irish farmer was a substantial yeoman, full of energy and vigour, resolute and sturdy, who could hold his own against the whole world. Now, Sir, I do not refer to the fat grazier with his plethoric purse, to the gentleman farmer, or the sturdy tenant with a good balance at the bank; but I speak of the great mass of the Irish occupiers, those who hold from five to fifty acres, and I ask the House, are these Irish tenants—and these constitute the bulk of the tenantry of Ireland—are they in a position of equality with their landlords, or are they able to deal with them on equal terms? The right hon. Gentleman was eloquently indignant because Government proposed to protect this numerous class of tenants in their dealings with their landlords, because of their inability to contract on equal terms with the owners of property; but I, on the contrary, object that the Government have not extended that protection farther, and that they assume a power of free contract which does not and cannot exist. The reason of this inability is to be found in the actual condition of the country—the Ireland of this moment, not the Ireland which the future may create. The condition of Ireland is altogether different from that of England and Scotland. Certainly nothing can be more entirely dissimilar than the condition of things in Ireland and the condition of things in England. The real case, as respects Ireland, may be told almost in a single sentence. Ireland is a country of a single staple industry; its manufactures are comparatively few, and confined to certain localities; its mineral resources are either ignored by geologists, or but very partially developed; as a consequence, its commerce is limited in amount and narrowed to small dimensions; and thus the mass of the population are flung upon the land as their grand and only means of support. Land is to the Irish people, or the great bulk of them, essential to their very existence. They must have land, or descend into the ranks of beggary—unless, indeed, they sought, under desperate circumstances, a new home across the Atlantic. A passage from the Report of Mr. W. S. Hamilton, Poor Law Inspector, just presented to Parliament, affords a vivid notion of the desperate necessity of the Irish peasant for land, and also proves the impossibility of his contracting on equal terms with the owner of property. Mr. Hamilton says— I have often heard it asked why a man will take land on such a precarious term as to tenure as that from year to year. The simple answer to that is—that he has no alternative. I believe he only does what others do when the demand exceeds the supply. It is his struggle to live; and if in the pressure of the crowd he cannot get sitting-room he must be content to stand, and take the extra risk of being crushed and trampled upon. The owners of land were few, the cultivators many and to these many the cultivation of the land was the only means of existence. The landlords or owners were thus completely masters of the situation; and it seems to me an extravagant proposition to lay down, that Irish tenants could, under existing circumstances, make contracts with their landlords on equal terms, that is, of equal independence. There is a subject of interest in the consideration of this Irish question important to consider— absenteeism. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin directed his indignant eloquence against this enormous evil. In common with every Irishman, I sympathize with the right hon. Gentleman in his indignation against absenteeism, and I trust the day may be near at hand when Parliament may have the courage to deal with it in a vigorous spirit. Absenteeism representation of £3,000,000 or £4,000,000 annually from a poor people and an impoverished country. Last night the hon. Member for Mid-Surrey (Mr. Brodrick) mentioned a fact, which he blamed the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government and the Secretary for Ireland for not having imparted to the House—namely, that within the last twenty years the Irish landlords, had borrowed from the Government, for the improvement of their properties, a sum equal to £2,000,000— the hon. Gentleman was about to say nearly £3,000,000, but he seemed to feel a kind of awe at the contemplation of so prodigious an amount. I may remark, in passing, that the hon. Gentleman himself forgot to mention that, as a general rule, admitting of few exceptions, the Irish tenants have paid the interest on the money so borrowed. But here is £3,000,000 annually drained from Ireland without any return whatever to compensate for its loss. If the evil of absenteeism equally affected Scotland, and especially England, we should find Cabinets pledged to its vigorous suppression; at all events, to its exemplary punishment. And, Sir, I sincerely trust that the right hon. Gentleman (Dr. Ball), who is an influential Member of the Conservative party, and who is much respected in his own country, will either introduce a clause into the present Bill, if it be consistent with its scope and object to do so, to deal with this subject; or, if that be not possible, that he will bring in a measure in the ensuing Session, and thus raise the question in the most formal manner. If he succeed in his object he will have the universal approval of, in that instance, a united people. Returning to the position of the Irish tenantry, it may be said, with truth, that the immense majority of them, as the late Returns conclusively prove, hold from year to year, or at will —in other words, are dependent for their means of existence on the will, the power, the caprice of their landlords. This is not the position in which any such large class should be retained; and in Ireland this kind of tenure is not only injurious to the individual, but also prejudicial to the best interests of the country. There are, however, two classes of landlords in Ireland—the old territorial aristocracy, and the new race of proprietors. If the former race sometimes oppressed their tenantry, they were impelled, to a certain extent, to acts of cruelty by the circumstances in which they were placed, harassed by debts, dunned by creditors, and hunted by bailiffs. Many of them were kind and indulgent, others were harsh and oppressive; but, as I have said, their position was one of difficulty and embarrassment. A great distinction must be drawn between the large owners of property in Ireland, and the new men who have come into possession within the last twenty years under the provisions of the Encumbered Estates Act. And, Sir, I must confess my inability to understand why the right hon. Gentleman and those hon. Gentlemen behind him, who do represent the ancient aristocracy of the country, should blame the Government for endeavouring to throw a shield over the tenantry of Ireland, in order to protect them from the new race of proprietors. The right hon. Gentleman asserts that Parliament is about to break faith with those who purchased property in the Courts of Encumbered Estates. I think, on the contrary, that Parliament has grossly neglected its duty in not coming sooner to the rescue of the Irish tenantry, and in omitting to insert in Bills affecting the sale and transfer of property, conditions which would have had the effect of protecting the industry or capital of tenants on estates to be brought into the market. This was a great and grievous oversight—possibly it was not intentional; were it so, it would have been cruel and wicked, as the people were left completely at the mercy of the purchasers, whoever and whatever they might chance to be; and surely it is only right that Parliament should at length endeavour to atone for the wrong it inflicted on the country, and take care that no future purchaser of property should assume possession of that property without being bound to discharge the obligations and duties of his position. We have the most important as well as the most recent information on this very point—as to the manner in which very many of the new proprietors have dealt with the tenants whom they literally purchased with their estates. A few days since there was placed in the hands of hon. Members a blue book containing the Reports of eleven Poor Law Inspectors, gentlemen of great intelligence and accurate information, who wrote on this question of landlord and tenant with all the deliberation and gravity of men oppressed by a sense of official responsibility. I earnestly commend that volume to the attention of English and Scotch Members, those of them at least who really desire to learn the real position of the Irish tenant, and the absolute necessity which exists for exceptional legislation for that country. To my mind it is a testimony of the very highest value in the consideration of this question. I can only select a few passages from these Reports, and I shall take care that they bear directly on the issue now before us. Dr. Brodie says— Upon no other point is the testimony of all classes more unanimous as that the greatest hardships, both as regard evictions and exorbitant increase of rents, have been inflicted by purchasers in these courts. Dr. Brodie tells of a leasehold estate under the See of Tuam, sold in 1856 or 1857, the new proprietor of which at once raised the rents two and a-half times the amount previously paid. This," says Dr. Brodie, "was a special and indisputable case of the productive value of the soil being the creation of the tenants or their fathers. Mr. R. Hamilton tells us of a property lately purchased on which the rents have been doubled and trebled. One tenant paying £16 16s., on a valuation of £17 —a fact of itself showing the considerateness of the former owner—was compelled to pay £49, or three times his previous rent. Mr. Robinson mentions a property, on which the tenants built the houses and made improvements, and on which the now proprietor adopted the not unusual course of first serving notices to quit, and then demanding double the former rent, the new rent being more than double the Government valuation. The sense of insecurity which such changes of property impress on the minds of the tenantry is borne testimony to by all the Inspectors. Ask a peasant," writes Dr. Roughan, "why he, who lives under a good landlord, is not to dwell under the same roof with his cattle. The invariable answer is—'How do I know how long my landlord will be left to me?—perhaps in a year or two the estate may be sold to one who will surely raise my rent, or maybe put me out altogether.' This gentleman adds that the poor man's apprehension was not without foundation, when it was remembered that within the last seventeen or eighteen years five-sixths of the properties in the Unions which he describes had changed owners. It is calculated that £40,000, or about one-sixth of the property of Ireland, has changed hands within the time mentioned; but, as in the case mentioned, the proportion has been on a vastly more extensive scale, and the alarm of the tenantry in such districts is greatly intensified. It is clear that where property has changed hands, and is changing hands every day, unless some protection be provided by Parliament for the tenant class, the poor man's mind must be filled with a constant sense of insecurity, which can have no other effect than that of paralyzing his industry, and rendering him, not to say discontented, but disaffected. Referring to the tenants' improvements, Dr. Roughan remarks— The new landlords, as a rule, but by no means a general one, cause a valuation to be made on getting into possession, and it concerns them but little to inquire wherefore or how the estate has been improved, provided they receive so much per cent on their capital. Since the establishment of the Encumbered Estates Court tenants innumerable have, by a disproportionate increase of rent, lost in a great degree the value of their improvements. Mr. W. S. Hamilton states— When property changes hands the rule is that the rents are increased without reference to how the value of the property may have been increased. Mr. Knox says— The feeling of insecurity principally arises where there is a change of owners. Now that change may arise from several causes, including death and succession as well as sale. A good landlord may be succeeded by a bad landlord, a good man by a bad man. A just and kind landlord not unfrequently has for his heir a scamp or a spendthrift, who wastes his patrimony, or is compelled to hand over to money-lenders the entire or greater portion of his property, and thus surrenders his tenants to the tender mercies of an unscrupulous class. Again, there may be a change of agency, a contingency dreaded by unsecured tenants where they happen to possess a good agent; for by the substitution of a harsh or capricious agent for a mild and a just agent, an amount of misery may be inflicted on the tenantry of an estate which it would be impossible to describe. There are, no doubt, many good agents who glory in the prosperity and happiness of the tenants under them; but I know also of agents who imagine themselves to be small gods on earth—men fantastical and despotic, who will carry out every theory of their's at all hazards, and who expect from those unhappily committed to their charge an amount of flattery, servility, and subserviency, which contributes to make slaves of the tenants and fools of themselves. Now, Sir, I desire to be clearly understood in reference to the new owners of property in my country. I must not be understood as censuring them all, or even the greater number of them. I personally know many gentlemen in my own city who, having acquired an independence in trade, bought considerable properties, and whose relations with, their tenants it is impossible that any Bill which will ever pass this House can improve. A late friend of mine, an honoured citizen of Cork, told me, during the course of last summer, how he had purchased some 1,800 acres of land in the court, and having always held the opinion that the people had a right to live in happiness on the land on which they were born, he had a fair valuation made, principally by the tenants themselves, they readily consenting to it, and gave them their farms at an easy rent, with leases for sixty-one years, two or three of the leases being for a period of 100 years. "The result," he added, "is that I need never go near them." [Laughter.] Yes; but why? Because all these Irish tenants desired was to be afforded an opportunity of doing in safety all that was required for themselves—that is to say, to build houses and out-offices if necessary, or to improve and drain and fence their farms, at their own cost. The face of the country has been changed by the energy of these people, who have the security of a long lease; and these tenants of a new proprietor have placed themselves in such a position that Parliament can do little to serve them. I could give many instances of a somewhat similar kind, but I shall only give one more. A friend of mine in my own city inherited a large fortune from a relative, and in- vested a considerable amount of it in the purchase of land. The property is situate in the western parts of the county Cork; and the new owner having consulted a friend of his as to the best mode of dealing with it, was advised to give the tenantry the security of long leases— which security they had been without to that moment. Acting upon that advice, he gave them leases for ninety-one years; and I am informed, on the best authority, that the face of that estate has been entirely changed — that the tenants rely on their own exertions, having the land at a fair rent—that they never trouble their landlord, to whom they are devotedly attached—that the moment they felt the sense of security they, to use their own language, "stripped to the work" in order to secure their own independence. But, Sir, we have the testimony of responsible officials, writing up to this very hour, that several of the new landlords in Ireland exercise their legal rights—or the rights which Parliament has too long permitted to exist without restriction of any kind —in a manner which no one with the common feelings of humanity could sanction. These men became proprietors on what is called the commercial principle—namely, to make so much out of it. They purchased land in the Encumbered Estates Court as they would so much merchandise, and dealt with the men, women, and children upon it in the same spirit as they would with a cargo of corn or a herd of horned cattle. This, Sir, is the class of purchasers whose proceedings it is the duty of Parliament to brand and discourage. But it may be urged by hon. Gentlemen opposite that certain landlords and agents rely upon official Returns as furnishing a conclusive proof of their benevolence, inasmuch as the number of ejectments is fewer than used to be the case in former times. There are fewer records of ejectments. But are there fewer notices to quit? Are there fewer removals effected by quiet means, without the necessity for legal process? And is there not something still worse than a notice to quit? I am not aware whether English gentlemen have ever heard of stamped agreements, which tenants must sign, to surrender the land on the following 1st of November, and giving the landlord power to distrain a month or two before that for rent not due at the time. Tenants have complained to the Poor Law Inspectors of being kept in a constant state of misery and uncertainty by being served perpetually with notices to quit, while others have told how they are bound neck and feet by the stamped agreement. One peasant had both on him at the same time. He was asked what did the landlord want of both, the notice and the agreement; and his answer was, that it was the landlord's double-barrel gun, so that if he could not bring him down with one barrel, he could with the other. Another tenant said that neither he nor his nephew had the courage to till their ground or sow their seed, because of the dread of these notices to quit. The right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government speaks of those notices falling like snow flakes on the tenantry, and we have an Inspector who tells of their being "showered" on a particular estate. Another Inspector tells of their having been served for the last thirteen years on another estate—on which, I may remark, an honest and improving tenant was deliberately robbed of his improvements and property, and thrown out by the owner without a farthing compensation. It is unnecessary that any further proof of the glaring fact that the mass of the Irish tenantry are not only utterly unprotected in their industry at this moment, but that they are not in a position to enter into contracts on terms in any way approaching equality with the owners of property. Then, in relation to a matter of the very highest importance, the Ulster custom called tenant-right. There is a general idea, and even demand, that this custom should be extended to all Ireland. Were the clause in the Bill legalizing this custom to be so extended, it would, in my judgment, inflict a grievous calamity on the country, for this reason— that there is no definition of this custom, what it gives or guarantees, and that the custom is different in many places—that while it is allowed in all its fulness in one district, it is cut down, and restricted, and almost denied in another—that, in fact, if I may say so, the very negation of the custom is the custom in some portions of Ulster. If it is to be extended to all Ireland, we must have it defined— that is, we should know what the right so extended is to be; and it should be such a definition as would, render impossible its practical denial, either by an extortionate increase of rent, or diminishing it to a point at which it would not be worth accepting. In some cases the goodwill is sold by private negotiation; in others the landlord permits the outgoing tenant to sell in the open market; and in more the number of years at which the tenant may sell, or the purchaser may buy, is regulated by the rules of the estate—the amount being different on different estates. Is that a custom, so undefined, and so variable, and so arbitrary, to be extended to all parts of Ireland? I am in favour of the definition of the custom on liberal terms, and its extension to the rest of Ireland on such terms, and such terms alone. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin asked what would be the fairness of the Bill to the owner who paid large sums to free his property from the custom, and he mentioned Lord Dufferin as having expended a considerable sum—he said £10,000—with that object. Now, I believe the noble Lord expended a much larger sum. But the answer is, few have done, or think of doing, what he has done; and Lord Dufferin is ready to come under this Bill. His readiness to accept it in all its consequences is the best reply that can be given to the objection. Much apprehension has been expressed in some quarters at the proposal to allow the farmer to provide the labourer with a cottage and half an acre of land. It is said that this would lead to the subdivision of farms—an alarm which I think unfounded in fact and reason. There is, politically speaking, no more dangerous class than the Irish labourers, because of their misery and discontent. They are by no means bad or vicious. On the contrary, very many of them are models of virtue. [Laughter.] I know this to be the case; and the late Father Mathew often expressed to me his belief that the most virtuous class in Ireland was the labouring class. They are self-denying, frugal, and industrious; but if a man be compelled to dwell in a hovel in which no English gentleman would suffer his dog to remain, and exist on scanty food, it is not in human nature that that man can be contented. Parliament must deal, and deal vigorously, with this important class. Every Poor Law Inspector describes their condition as most miserable. This condition may, in many instances, be attributed to the operation of the electoral division system; it being the interest of proprietors, in order to keep down the rate, to prevent the erection of cottages, or to get rid of thorn where possible. That law should be altered. I know instances where labourers walk two, and three, and even four, miles to factory and field in the morning when they go to work, and in the evening when their work is over. The House cannot attempt to deal with the agricultural class in Ireland without protecting the labourers. The difficulty is to keep them in the country, when they have so many inducements to leave it for a better fortune in America; but if you are to retain them, you must do something to render them contented. I think the Government are wrong in not proposing to abolish the law of distress. I believe that the majority of the Irish landlords are not in favour of the retention of that law. It is an instrument of tyranny in the hands of a bad landlord, and it operates unjustly as against general creditors. If the law of distress meets with much support in this House, it will be from Englishmen and Scotchmen who are not acquainted with the circumstances attending the possession of land in Ireland. As to leases, I think there ought to be a provision in the Bill to prevent the insertion of unreasonable conditions in leases. I know the case of a respectable tenant who took a lease in which the landlord put this condition—that the moment the tenant became insolvent he should surrender his lease. The tenant did become insolvent after he had spent £1,000 on the farm; he was obliged to surrender his lease, and within a week the landlord got increased rent for that farm in consequence of the improvement effected by the tenant. As to the county rate, I think it ought to be divided between the landlord and the tenant. No rent ought to be paid for roads. I have heard of cases in which tenants were charged for roads made for the benefit of the estate. I am not in favour of all the provisions in this Bill; but on that account I will not oppose its progress. There is in it much that is good; but there is also in it much that requires improvement. I am of opinion that it is unwise to offer any opposition to the second reading, and shall therefore vote for its second reading. The utmost efforts of Irish Members should be directed to assisting the Government and inducing the Government to improve its provisions; and, therefore, I desire to see it advanced to that stage in which it can be amended and improved. And, Sir, I would venture to express the belief if my hon. Friends, who are now about to vote against the second reading, had the power to stop the progress of the Bill, and really reject this measure, they would not assume so tremendous a responsibility. They know, and we all know, that they cannot by any possibility prevent its being read a second time; but were it possible to throw it out on the present Motion, I can only say for myself nothing on earth would induce me to assume that responsibility in the face of my country. I must, at least, admit that the intentions of the Government are benevolent, and that while many things in the Bill are capable of useful amendment, one of its provisions is without alloy of any kind—that which enables the tenant, with the assistance of the State, to purchase his farm. The great want of Ireland is a peasant proprietary. Every country prospers which possesses this class of proprietors. Her peasant proprietors have done more for Prussia than her Bismarck or her needle-gun. Ireland requires an independent class of yeomen; and the people of that country feel grateful to the generous-minded Minister to whom this provision is particularly attributed. I am sure, Sir, all in this House, without distinction of party, deeply regret the absence of that right hon. Gentleman at a moment fraught with such solemn consequences, not only to the interests of Ireland but to the peace of the Empire; and I only express the universal sentiment of this Assembly when I say that we all anxiously look forward to the day when we shall resume his place on that bench, and when we may again listen to that noble and thrilling eloquence which has never been enlisted in an ignoble or unworthy cause. An argument against these holdings was drawn from the fact that, 200 years after the Cromwellian settlement, only faint traces of it could be found. But the circumstances were wholly different. One race was planted in a hostile country amid confusion and carnage. The other would be planted in peace and goodwill; and he, who had seen the miracles accomplished in another part of the world by his own race, because they were strong in the security of their land, felt perfect confidence in the future of his country under a system which would no longer enable landlords to oppress their tenants in the name of the law. My countrymen may have asked for more than Parliament will consent to give; but if the provisions of the Bill are amended, and the protection of the tenant is made perfect, it will do much for the prosperity and happiness of Ireland. We must not, however, expect to reap in a moment all the advantages of good legislation. Before it accomplishes that object, good legislation must have time to work in the feelings, the comforts, the happiness of the people. I conjure large-hearted Scotchmen and Englishmen, in the name of my country, and by their own solemn responsibility, to assist the Government in making a Bill which would be really acceptable, because beneficial, to the people of Ireland.


Sir, I readily respond to the appeal which has been made by the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, and I can say for myself and for those with whom I am in the habit of acting, that we are prepared to do our utmost to assist the Government in improving the Bill and in rendering it such as will be worthy of Parliament and satisfactory to the people of Ireland. I never remember a Bill of more importance than that which has been submitted to this House. I say that deliberately. If a good land code is of importance to the Kingdom in general, it is doubly important to Ireland, where the absence through the greater part of the country of manufacturing industry compels the people to look to the land for the means of their subsistence. The Bill has been presented to our notice under some circumstances of disadvantage, but there are also certain circumstances of advantage, and those to my mind greatly preponderate. It is presented under some circumstances of disadvantage, because we know that the expectations of the classes whose interests are dealt with by this Bill have been unduly raised by persons whose interest it is to foment agitation by encouraging extravagant demands, and by some unfortunate expressions used by persons in authority—used, perhaps, in one sense by the speaker, but interpreted in a different sense by those who heard or read them—expressions used at the time, perhaps, without any definite meaning, but eagerly caught up by those who placed their own construction upon these expressions, and resulting in the spread of wild ideas and extravagant demands as to the tenure of land in Ireland. But, on the other hand, there is a great advantage in the fact that the political aspect of affairs allows us to deal with this question in a spirit of calmness and with an absence of party feeling, in a spirit very different from the spirit in which we sometimes deal with them in this House. I say this not only from conversations with my Friends in this House, but from my communications with parties out-of-doors. I never remember a measure introduced by opponents which the other party could afford to discuss with more calmness, with less of rancour and party spirit. It is in this spirit that I desire to deal with the Bill, and to do my uttermost to endeavour to assist the Government in putting this measure into the best and most acceptable shape in which it can be put. The measure may be looked at from two points of view—first, how it will affect the existing relations between the landlords and tenants of Ireland; and the other is, how far it supplies a good land policy in Ireland for the future. It is important to make this distinction, for in considering the Bill as it affects the relations of existing landlords and tenants, it will be well to look at past history. It is right that we should recognize existing facts, and that we should endeavour properly to adjust those relations where we we find them one-sided, and bearing more hardly on the one class than the other. On the other hand, if we set ourselves to promote a good land policy for the future it will be necessary to draw a broad line between the past and the future, and endeavour to put the relations of landlord and tenant in Ireland on a better footing than they have been. If the House will allow me I will consider the question from these two points of view, and first I will consider the existing relations between the two classes. The first point in this view of the case which the right hon. Gentleman introduced to our notice was the provision to make legal what is called in the Bill the Ulster tenant-right. With regard to that part of the Bill, if I understood the right hon. Gentleman rightly, there will be no alteration of existing practice. I say if I understood him rightly, for certainly if the proposition of the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken is to be carried out, and the custom of Ulster is to be defined in the Bill, then a great injustice will be done, because it will introduce great alterations and force landlords whose estates are not subject to the extreme rights of that custom to submit to the same law with those that are. But as I understood the right hon. Gentleman, I think he makes a fair and proper provision. Perhaps—but this is matter for the Committee—it would be better to describe the system or the usages of Ulster rather than the custom, but with that alteration I have little complaint to make in that part of the Bill. These remarks on the Ulster tenant-right apply also to the customs analogous to that right, which from evidence given to us on high authority appear, though rarely, to exist in some other parts of Ireland. There is a matter I may mention now which might materially affect the question when it comes to be discussed in the courts of law, although it hardly affects the Bill in its present stage—that it should require to be proved that the custom has existed for a certain term of years. These customs are not fixed—they are varied from time to time; and it would be exceedingly hard if, from the negligence of an agent, or some carelesnesss or ignorance on the part of an absentee landlord, an estate was fixed with a custom to which it was not properly subject. I pass now to the question of tenants' improvements, and on this subject I do not think there can be any doubt as to the principle by which we should be guided. I have never heard, during the time that I have had a seat in this House, any person contend that the tenants were not entitled to compensation for the boná fide improvements they might make. The mode in which this principle should be applied has certainly given rise to considerable difference of opinion; but I confess that the definition contained in the Bill is an equitable and proper one— that a tenant should receive compensation for improvements which were suitable to the estate, and added to its letting value. As far as that definition went I had no fault to find with it. Then there is an important question as to the presumption of law with regard to the matter of the improvements, and wishing, as I do, to recognize facts, I cannot agree with the provision in the Bill which establishes the principle that improvements should be presumed to have been made by the tenant unless the landlord could prove that the contrary was the case. Having sat some years ago upon the Tenant Right Committee, which was presided over by the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, and having examined carefully the blue-books which have been issued with regard to this subject, I do not find as a matter of history that these improvements were for the most part the work solely of the tenant. I believe, in the majority of cases, that though the manual labour was supplied by the tenants, the materials required for the improvements were furnished by the landlord. That is, however, a point which we shall have plenty of time to consider in Committee. Then, of course, there arises the minor question as to whether there should be a limit in point of time, after which the tenant should not be entitled to claim compensation for improvements; but that is also a matter which might be disposed of in Committee. I now come to another proposition in the Bill, with respect to which a greater difference of opinion will probably prevail, and that is, the question of giving to the tenant damages on account of his being evicted from his farm, or what is termed disturbance, by the landlord. The history of legislation upon this subject my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. C. Fortescue) had not exhausted the other evening, because he omitted to mention the Bill brought in by my noble Friend the Earl of Mayo. That measure was an important one, and to it, I believe, several of the provisions of this measure owe their origin. But in the history of legislation upon this subject I believe no measure has been presented to Parliament giving damages for eviction. My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for the University of Dublin (Dr. Ball) has said that he did not see any objection to the principle of this provision, and I should be inclined to accept that view if I believed that my right hon. and learned Friend had rightly interpreted the objects which the framers of the Bill contemplated. I have no intention of disputing the legal meaning which my right hon. and learned Friend has assigned to the provision; but my right hon. and learned Friend seems to think that damages for eviction have reference to the tenant suffering some loss by reason of not having carried through the rotation of crops which he had designed in the first instance; as, for instance, a tenant, who, having manured for a second crop while his first was growing, would, of course, lose the advantage of his labour if he were ejected before he had reaped his second crop. A claim of this kind is, I believe, well known and recognized in this country, where the outgoing tenant, in most parts of the country, would be entitled to compensation. But, as far as I understand the speech of my right hon. and learned Friend, a claim of that nature will be met under the provision relating to the compensation of tenants for improvements, and to that statement I observe that the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government made no gesture of dissent. The right hon. Gentleman referred to what he termed a provision relating to goodwill, and said that wherever a lease came to an end goodwill would naturally arise. I understood that it had no reference to any claim for improvements, but simply compensation for the tenant being disturbed in his holding by the landlord when he was not in a wear for rent, and had not subdivided his land. I do not know if the right hon. Gentleman assents to that.


I did unquestionably use the word goodwill several times. The most correct phrase is damage for: eviction, or some equivalent phrase.


As I understand now, damages for eviction have no reference to any improvements on the land which the tenant has made. On that supposition I cannot conceive that this is a just and equitable provision. I am not now going to question the degree, but the principle altogether. The former is a matter to be considered in Committee. But the giving a certain portion of value in fee to the occupant simply because he is the occupant who may have come on to the land only a year before, and may have made no improvements, or if he has will get compensation for them, I consider a subtraction from the property of the landlord. There can be no doubt that will fetter the landlord in the enjoyment of his property, because no man can be the master of his own land if he cannot remove a tenant except by paying a certain portion of the value of the land. The right hon. Gentleman the other day quoted the opinion of Judge Longfield, and stated it to be the opinion of a great authority. I will quote the opinions of another authority of equal if not greater eminence, and that is the authority of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I do not refer to these opinions for the purpose of showing that the right hon. Gentleman has been guilty of any inconsistencies, because I believe if our sayings and opinions were compared at different times inconsistencies could be proved against almost everybody. I refer to the opinions merely because I regard the opinions of the right hon. Gentleman as of high authority, and because I believe the right hon. Gentleman has well weighed the subject. The person under examination before the Committee was Judge Longfield, and several questions were put to him by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I will, with the permission of the House, read a few of the questions and answers— I suppose, as a lawyer, I need not ask you whether, in your opinion, the freedom of contract is of great advantage to a civilized society?—Certainly. One great inducement to industry is, that a man is allowed to dispose as he pleases of the property he has realized? — Undoubtedly, that is the stock argument in favour of the existence of property. Do you think it a good argument, as an argument?—A very good one. Landlord and tenant are the creatures of contract, are they not; and they are really two persons who have entered into a certain contract with each other?—Yes. It is open to them, when they enter into any contract, to make such terms as they please with regard to compensation or any other matter?—No, not open to them, because when land is settled the landlord has no power to make such a contract. At any rate, supposing that the landlord is empowered to make such a contract, then, of course, it would be open to the two parties to agree?—Yes. He was then contesting the principle that the quarter sessions should have the power to bind the landlord against his will, and the right hon. Gentleman proceeds— What you propose, as I understand, by repeating Section 40, would be that the tenant should, through the medium of the Quarter Sessions, have the means of forcing the landlord to do this, whether he had entered into an agreement or not?—Yes. That is to say, you would introduce a compulsory term into a voluntary contract?—Yes. Do you consider it to be a sound principle of legislation that where two persons have voluntarily entered into a contract by which they are willing to be bound the Legislature should insist upon introducing by force into the contract a pro- vision for which neither party stipulated?—I do not, as a general principle. I think that the person who introduces such a principle must make a case for it and primé facie the argument is in favour of the landlords. But then if I show that the whole country is lying desolate for the want of this contract, then I would compel the parties to do it. I suppose that if such a power as the power over the landlord's property is taken from him and transferred to the quarter sessions that is pro tanto an expropriation?—It is pro tanto, but it is for a very small quantity; for I do it on the idea that the pecuniary value of the property is not diminished at all. Then at Question 244 the right hon. Gentleman asks— Is there not in Ireland a great deal of feeling with regard to the right of people to occupy land so long as they pay their rent?—Yes; fixity of tenure is one of the demands. A feeling, I suppose, which would go a little further in the direction of expropriation if it had effect?—A great deal further. Do you not think you are countenancing this feeling by sanctioning any scheme of expropriation, however small you may consider it?—No; I think that I am quenching it; I think that such absurd demands can only stand by being joined with other reasonable demands, which enables a man to make a speech in their favour, and that the best way of crushing the agitator is to give him no grievance. You think that when by a certain amount of clamour and agitation people have obtained from the Legislature the expropriation of a great part of the property of the landlord in favour of the tenant it would not encourage them to go further and ask for more? [Cries of "Head the answer."] I will read the answer if hon. Gentlemen desire it— No; I do not think that this claim for compensation has been the result of agitation at all, and that the clamorous men who call for fixity of tenure care comparatively little about this; I think they would rather keep the grievance that they complain of. But I think the House will see that these questions represent the views of the right hon. Gentleman, and I confess that they represent the views which I hold at present; and I should be very glad if so logical a mind as that of the Chancellor of the Exchequer would apply itself to this Bill from the point of view from which these questions were put to Judge Longfield. With regard to the question between the landlord and tenant, I consider that in forcing from the landlord this fine on eviction, you are pro tanto confining the rights of the landlord with regard to his property. But it is said by those who support the provisions of the Bill—"The landlord need not pay; he may give a lease as a substitute." That is to say that a con- tract is to be extorted from him, the terms of which he is not allowed to define, and which will be submitted to a court of law, and he will have to consent to a substitute for that fine on eviction under the direction of a court of law, with the terms of which he will not be allowed to interfere. Then I come to another point mentioned by the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, and which is very much a question of detail, but which is still very important. There is a provision in the Bill that tenants who subdivide the land shall not be entitled to certain advantages which they could otherwise claim. But an exception is made for the building of cottages with half an acre of land for agricultural labourers. That provision I consider a perfectly right one; but if it is to apply at all in the case of small holdings, you will have subdivision under another name, and you will eventually, by allowing the tenant of a small holding to build, cottages for different members of his family as agricultural labourers, unless that is guarded against by restrictive clauses—you will eventually be liable to all the evils of which we have had experience, and to that state of things which preceded the potato famine in Ireland. In a Bill introduced into Parliament by the Marquess of Clanricarde, this question of building cottages for agricultural labourers was guarded against by restricting the building of one cottage to fifty acres of land. Whether that is a right provision or not I am not able to say; out I think that in justice to the landlord some restriction to prevent that subdivision of land is necessary. Now I come to the question of those estates sold under the Encumbered Estates Act, and I think the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland hardly gave due weight to the difficulty which arises under that consideration. He said he did not think it proper to argue the question much in his own words; but he made a long quotation from Judge Longfield, which he considered settled the question. I do not know on what occasion those words were used by Judge Longfield. [Mr. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE: They have just been published in a volume of papers issued by the Cobden Club.] But have they been published in reference to this Bill? [Mr. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE: No.] I have not had an opportunity of reading that volume, and I did not know where those words were taken from. If Judge Longfield had used them in reference to the pro visions of this Bill he might have been quoted as an authority; but, at the same time, I would not consent to be over borne by that authority if it did not convince my reason. But in this case the opinion of Judge Longfield is not in point, because the claims which the tenant may make upon the owner of an estate, under the Encumbered Estates Act at within the exception which the right hon. Gentleman quoted from Judge Longfield, who, after saying that the Encumbered Estates Act did not prevent the Legislature from imposing on the tenant, goes on to say this, as quoted by the right hon. Gentleman, for I have not referred to the original— The purchaser has a right to insist that no rights shall be set up which were in existence at the time of his purchase but were omitted from the deed of conveyance. Now, I say that this Bill by its retrospective clauses does set up rights against the owner of the encumbered estate which were in existence, or which may have been in existence, at the time it was purchased, because the Bill provides that for certain improvements the tenant shall have a right, with no bar in point of time. The Bill treats those as equitable rights in the tenant, and now for the first time they are to be so treated by law; and those rights, where the tenant has executed the improvements prior to the conveyance under the Encumbered, Estates Act, must, in the words of Judge Longfield, be considered to be rights in existence prior to the purchase I have no doubt the Attorney General, or some other Gentleman learned in the law, will address himself to this point if he should speak upon the measure before the House. The next point to which I come is the advance of public money for the purchase of land. No doubt, as regards the tenant, such a provision would be in his favour, and I cannot consider that it would be against the interests of the landlord, with one condition, because he is likely to raise the price of his property in the market; and as the tenants of Irish land are constantly desirous of buying, but have no means of doing so, and as the landlord is willing to sell, I think that provision would operate to the advantage of both, always supposing. that the landlord is not induced to consent to sell by such a state of things as has existed lately in Ireland, and which I hope will soon cease to exist there. Granting that you have security for life and property in Ireland, and granting that the landlord is really a free agent in the matter of consent, then he would have no reason, as I think, to object to that provision for finding public money for the purpose of enabling the tenant to buy the estate from him. I come now to look upon the Bill from a different point of view—namely, apart from all considerations of the interests of existing landlords and tenants—does the Bill lay down a good land policy for the future? Here I am afraid I must be more condemnatory of the Bill than I have hitherto been. This Bill perpetuates all tenant-right so far as it can be ascertained, and creates a new tenant-right where it does not exist at present; and therefore the policy of its promoters must be held to be this—that the system of tenant-right as used in Ulster, and so far as its principle is proposed to be made general, forms a good policy. Now that is a point upon which I am at direct issue with the Government. I believe the system of tenant-right, as has been well argued by the right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin (Dr. Ball), is a bad system, and I should like to call Lord Dufferin as witness upon that point. The noble Lord gave evidence on the subject of tenant-right before the Committee which I have already referred to. These are the questions which I then put to him, and his answers, beginning with Question 1345— I understand you to say that on your Lordship's estate, when opportunity has offered, you have spent large sums of money in purchasing up the tenant-right of the farms?—Yes. And by that, I presume, you think that the tenant-right is prejudicial both to your own interest and that of your tenants?—I merely mentioned the fact of my having purchased it in order to prove how prejudicial I consider it. I myself made a large pecuniary sacrifice in order to save the incoming tenant from having an intolerable burden tied round his neck, which, in nine cases out of ten, must inevitably prove his ruin. When a man takes a farm it is desirable, is it not, that he should have all the money that he can command in order to spend in cultivating the farm?—Yes. And if he has to pay a large sum of money as compensation, or whatever name you call it, to the outgoing tenant, his means of cultivating the farm is, pro tanto, diminished?—Yes. In fact, it operates very much like a fine on the renewal of a lease?—Yes, exactly. And it has been the policy of the Legislature to get rid of the system of fines on renewing lenses?—Yes. That is the opinion of one for whom the Government are bound to have some regard, as he is a member of their own body, and if his testimony is not sufficient, I will quote another eminent agricultural authority—Mr. H. S. Thompson, formerly a much respected Member of this House, and late President of the Royal Agricultural Society. Mr. Thompson says— The fourth cardinal virtue attributed to the tenant-right is its tendency to secure peace and tranquillity to the district. Diplomatists have for some years past had much to say in condemnation of a state of armed peace, which is described as costly, and as raising in the countries immediately concerned uneasy anticipations of future trouble, which are eminently unfavourable to the production of wealth or to the cultivation of the useful arts. The present state of Ulster resembles very closely an armed peace. It is costly to the landlord; it is costly to the tenant; and it maintains an antagonism of interests between the two which generates uneasiness and suspicion. That it is costly to the landlord, by preventing his receiving more than from 50 to 60 per cent of the real value of his land, is so plain to the eve of every farmer that the one consideration only will be afforded in support of the assertion. It is, however, a conclusive one—namely, that any tenant-farmer who has the opportunity of subletting a portion of his farm never thinks of adding a few shillings only to the rent per acre he pays, but doubles or trebles it, without being troubled with any misgivings that he is overweighting his tenant. Tenant-right is also costly to the tenant. That it cripples his means at a time when he has most need of all his available resources is undoubted; and as this is one of the worst features of tenant-right, it is worth probing thoroughly. Tenant-right or goodwill is, of course, only paid when a tenant leaves his farm. Why does he leave it? In almost all cases he cannot pay his way. The writer was unable in all the four Provinces to obtain half-a-dozen well authenticated instances of solvent tenants having given up their farms. I shall not attempt to elaborate the views that are here expressed. I need only say that I entirely coincide with the opinions which have been thus expressed by Lord Dufferin and Mr. Thompson, and I should like to hear what, the supporters of the Bill have to say upon them. I am not now dealing with the case of a person who had a valid claim which should be admitted. I merely say I doubt very much whether it would be a sound statesmanlike policy to perpetuate and continue throughout all time a system like this, which the highest authorities have concurred in condemning as a bad custom, and one that is hurtful both to the landlord and tenant. Well, but the creation of a system analogous to the tenant-right of Ulster is attempted by this Bill. It provides that in regard to eviction the landlord shall pay a certain fine to his tenant for disturbing him in his tenancy. That is simply the principle of the Ulster tenant-right system. But in a certain case of eviction, when this fine is to be levied, it is doubtful who is to pay the fine—whether the landlord or the tenant. Where the proprietor has great resources at his command he would no doubt pay the money and would consolidate the farms. Now, I do not believe that in such a case the views of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government would be precisely answered. In the majority of cases, where the landlord had but limited resources to live upon, the incoming tenant would have to pay the fine demanded. There, I say, you would have created by law a custom similar to that which has been so fully condemned by the authorities I have named. I think that with a little more care the Bill might have been so framed as to remedy that state of things to a great degree. If you take that view as sound policy in regard to land, I do not think that you should hang a millstone round the neck of the tenant on coming into a farm, but you ought to provide that out of the public money referred to in the Bill the landlord might be able to pay out the right of the tenant, and to charge the same as an annuity on the land. I believe that upon general grounds of public policy it is quite right to encourage the outlay of capital on the land by the tenant, in order to establish for himself good security to meet his claims for compensation for boné fide improvements. Now I have no objection to make to the Bill in this respect. I now come to the question raised by the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government, and which has just been alluded to by the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Maguire) who seemed to endorse the right hon. Gentleman's opinions. The right hon. Gentlemen said in his opening speech that the principle of freedom of contract lies at the root of every healthy condition of society; but then he went on to say that there were peculiar circumstances in the relation between landlord and the small tenant in Ireland, and in the general circumstances of that I country, Which took it out of that principle. And what were those exceptional circumstances? Why, the right hon. Gentleman said that they consisted in the supply of land in Ireland not being equal to the demand, and in the small tenant, who was consequently at the mercy of the landlord, not being a free agent. "They cling to land for dear life," said the right hon. Gentleman, "and, therefore, unless you oust this freedom of contract between the land lord and the small tenant, it is utterly impossible for the tenant to deal with the landlord upon an equal footing." Now, such a statement simply amounted to this, that there is a greater demand for land in Ireland than a supply. But is not that the case with regard to many things besides land? We know that the rich have many things which the poor want. If, then, you carry that argument to a logical conclusion, it will not only affect the question of the means of life, but also that of all the necessaries of life. I defy you then to say this in regard to the means of life, and to abstain from applying the observation to the actual necessaries of life. Whilst I am on this point I think it will be apposite to quote the opinions of the Chancellor of the Exchequer—who I am sorry to observe is not in his place—on this subject. And here let me observe, from the right hon. Gentleman's absence on the former evening, and to night during the discussion, that right hon. Gentleman does not seem to watch over the progress of this Bill with a very great amount of interest. But the Chancellor of the Exchequer made a speech on the 17th May, 1866, in reference to this matter. That was the year after he had sat with me on the Tenant Right Committee. The right hon. Gentleman then said— The fact is that the demand for land in Ireland is so infinitely greater than the supply, and one man is so pressing upon another, that the tenant does not propose anything which would imperil his holding. That is a thing which legislation can not remedy—it depends upon the laws of demand; and supply—the evil must be dealt with by other moans, and it is being dealt with by emigration, which is gradually reducing the population, and will continue to reduce it, until landlord and tenant will be able to negotiate with each other on terms of perfect equality, or, as in America, where the landlord is at the mercy of the tenant." I—[3 Hansard, clxxxiiii. 1083.] Now I am sure the Chancellor of the Exchequer can practice what he preaches so well, inasmuch as he is in himself a bold and successful example of emigration. But then the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government went on to say that there were two different classes of emigrants—namely, those who were free, and those to whom it was banishment. Now, I suppose that no person leaves the country of his birth except under the pressure of circumstances, and this necessity operates more or less as a kind of banishment. A man who leaves his own country for another does so in the hope and expectation of those advantages he will derive in another country which he cannot have at home. The pressure of necessity, however, is heavier on one person than on another. But you must look on all emigration as more or less involuntary. I think, however, it is most unwise and impolitic of the right hon. Gentleman to describe it as banishment—a most unfortunate expression coming from the head of the Government at the present crisis. According to the right hon. Gentleman's opinion those persons who cannot find room to exercise their calling or to obtain a livelihood at home are to be considered as banished if they go to seek their fortunes in another country. Then, as to the expediency of granting loans of public money to enable tenants to buy portions of the landlord's estate, I do not object to such a proposal, which emanated originally from the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, whose absence and cause of absence we all deeply deplore. It was eloquently stated by the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Maguire) that one of the great evils of Ireland was the fact that there was no class between the peasant class and the large proprietary class in the greater part of the sister country. It is to be hoped that this provision in the Bill will supply that deficiency in the social state of Ireland. As to the amount of loan proposed by the Bill—only £1,000,000—that is insignificant. But we must recollect that it is only a tentative measure, which if successful will no doubt be succeeded by other Money Bills. I wish, however, to ask whether it is wise to apply this provision to very small holdings. The right hon. Gentleman himself says that the subdivision of land in Ireland is a great evil. If you cannot enable those men who become purchasers to maintain their position, then I say it is not a wise pro- vision to apply to small holdings. This evil might be rectified by lessening the proportion of the money to be given for the purchase of small holdings, and increasing it in the case of larger holdings. What would be the result of the occupiers of small holdings availing themselves of this provision of borrowing this money, and then being-unable to maintain their position? The land would be run out and impoverished, and the security of the State would be greatly weakened. The debtors to the State would be coming to the Treasury to represent the hardship of their case, and the history of this part of the Bill would be like that of the many loans made to Ireland, ending first in commutation and lastly in the condonation of the debt. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, in suggesting this scheme, used the expression that the people of Ireland ought to have free land. After the use of such an expression by so high an authority, and by one whose name appeared on the back of this Bill, would not the people of Ireland be morally justified in saying that this money, though nominally a loan, was really a gift, inasmuch as one of the principal authors of the measure declared that they ought to have free land? Then what would be the position of the State on becoming a universal mortgagee? I am supposing the million of money to be exhausted, and the operations so extensive, what is to be the position of the State in having to evict a number of these small tenants for the non-payment of rent or the subdivision of the land? I do not say it applies to larger holdings, for security is given in those cases by the Bill, and, so far as the principle goes. I am not prepared to object to it; but, what I refer to is the small holdings which become forfeited to the Board, to be held by them for public purposes. For what public purpose, I ask, can the Board hold a five-acre plot in the wilds of Connemara? And it appears to me that the provisions of the Bill in that respect a perfectly nugatory. My right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. G. Hardy) alluded, when the Bill was introduced, to the enormous amount of litigation that was likely to crop up under its provisions. And a person who is well acquainted with Ireland, and is well disposed towards the small Irish tenants, describes the land under the provisions of this Bill as very much like a cow with the landlords holding her horns, the tenants her tail, whilst the lawyers are filling their pails with her milk. That is a homely way of putting it; but I think the complicated character of the provisions of the Bill justify that kind of observation. One of the great Judges of this country described the provisions of a measure that was introduced into this House as so valuable that every line of it was worth a subsidy; but I very much fear that by this time every line has cost a I subsidy, and I fear the anticipations of my right hon. Friend will be realized that the expenses will be enormous unless the provisions of the Bill are, greatly simplified. If it should unfortunately happen that a large crop of lawsuits should spring up, I fear it will not be to the advantage of the small tenant, with no command of money, but to the landlord, who will be able to fight him with a long purse. It is a matter deserving the serious consideration of the Government; and before we go into Committee every means should be adopted to simplify its provisions and prevent such injurious consequences arising to the tenants. I assure the House and the Government that I have criticized this Bill with the sincere desire of improving, and not for the purpose of defeating it; and if we go into Committee, as I hope we shall, I will give every assistance I can, consistently with the opinions I have expressed, to make it such a measure as we can satisfactorily pass. The right hon. Gentleman, when he introduced the Bill, invited the co-operation of the House to perfect the measure, and I accept it, as I do anything that falls from him, as a sincere desire on his part that he will be happy to consider objections which come from this side of the House with regard to the different provisions of the Bill, in order that it may be made as perfect at measure as possible. I beg to thank the House for the kindness with which it has heard me.


The Government have no reason to complain of the manner in which this Bill has been received by the House. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hunt) has said that this is a Bill of the utmost importance, and added—as I think he was justified in doing—that it had been dis- cussed with an absence of party spirit, a fairness, and candour such as are not always brought to bear in debates of so important a nature. The right hon. Gentleman is quite right in supposing that the Government do not desire the criticisms of its supporters only, they also court the remarks of its opponents. It has almost unavoidably occurred that many of the criticisms on the Bill have been devoted to matters of detail which are chiefly for the consideration of the Committee. The House will feel that it is not desirable for me to enter into those details; at the same time, I may be allowed to say that many of the suggestions which have been received from numerous quarters are of much importance, and will receive the consideration of the Government. But I desire now to address myself to one or two of the more important criticisms made on some of the main provisions of the Bill. I think some of the objections, coining as they do from persons taking opposite views, do to a great extent answer each other. On the one hand, it is objected that there is no sufficient security of tenure for the occupier—that he is not properly protected against eviction by his landlord. On the other hand, it is contended that the provisions restricting the landlord's power of eviction are hard and oppressive, and deprive him of his just rights. I cannot help thinking that those different objections point to the conclusion that the Bill has somehow hit the happy medium between these two extremes. I cannot conceal from myself the fact that many hon. Members—I would mention among them the hon. Member for Clonmel (Mr. Bagwell)—who have repudiated fixity of tenure in terms, really mean what I should understand as fixity or perpetuity of tenure; for when they say that the landlord ought not to have the power of ejecting the tenant except for non-payment of rent, and that the tenant has a right to remain on his holding as long as he pleases, what does that really mean but fixity of tenure—that is, that the landlord is to be deprived of his property? Sir, we must look this matter in the face. The Government, it appears to me, have done all that they fairly can to secure what my right hon. Friend at the head of the Government explained to be security of tenure, as distinct from fixity or perpetuity of tenure. If you go fur- ther, as was said by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Dr. Ball), you dissolve altogether the ties which unite landlord and tenant, you take from the landlord the inducement to reside on his property, you give him every inducement to become an absentee, and, call him by what name you will, he is a mere rent receiver. These, then, are provisions which cannot be assented to by Her Majesty's Government. Again, we have objections to the effect that the tenant is not sufficiently compensated for improvements; while, on the other hand, it is alleged that the compensation is excessive, and it has been said, with some appearance of force, that with regard to some classes of improvements, such as buildings, and others of permanent character, his title may go back to an indo-finite period. That is an objection which appears to me to have force, and it is one of those matters which must be considered in Committee. But I desire now more particularly to address myself to the very able speech delivered last night by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin. On the whole, I listened to that speech with satisfaction. Of course, it was very satisfactory to find that certain portions of the measure were approved by so high an authority. At the same time, the right hon. and learned Gentleman made certain objections to parts of the Bill which very much surprised me, and appeared to be founded entirely on mistake. The right hon. and learned Gentleman's main objection to the Bill was that it tended to increase the distinction between the law of landlord and tenant in Ireland and the law of landlord and tenant in England. I took down some of his expressions, to which I wish to call the attention of the House. The right hon. and learned Gentleman said— But your views now are—'Let us raise up an eternal barrier—a broad line of demarcation between England and Ireland.' What you say is—We will not legislate for you on the same principles, we will not give you the same laws.' And then he goes on to say that— On every subject where legislation is necessary the Government put forward for Ireland a policy exactly the opposite of that which they adopt for England. Now, I must say, with profound respect for the right hon. and learned Gentleman, a more unfounded criticism was never made on a Bill. The fact is the opposite as far as the main portion of the Bill is concerned, and that leads me to consider how it is that we have now an Irish land question. One of the main reasons is this, that whereas the English courts have always recognized agricultural customs between landlord and tenant, and between the outgoing and incoming tenant, the Irish courts have not recognized these customs. What we propose is not to make the laws of England and Ireland more different, but to assimilate them, and that the customs of Ireland shall be recognized in Ireland as the customs of England are recognized in England. And that is what the right hon. and learned Gentleman called a dissimilarity of laws. It is well known to all English lawyers who are in the habit of going circuit that questions of tenant-right are among the most common classes of cases that come before the courts. Witness after witness deposes to the custom of the country, and the custom is a fact for the jury, under the direction of the Judge. The right hon. and learned Gentleman appeal's to suppose that the relations of landlord and tenant are regulated entirely by contract in England; but there was never a more unfounded apprehension. There are in England a number of tenancies from year to year subject to the various customs of the country. One of the greatest authorities on the subject—Mr. Woodfall—says the agricultural customs in England and Wales vary very much, and proof that a custom prevails in one district does not establish its existence in another. A Committee of this House, in 1847, inquired into the various agricultural customs of England and Wales, I and I will give one or two examples of those customs which will show that a good deal of misapprehension prevails on this subject. In Lincolnshire it is the custom for tenants to receive a portion of their outlay in artificial manures, under-draining, and some other operations, calculated with reference to the number of years they have enjoyed the occupation of the land; and I understand, from inquiry, that buildings and other permanent improvements are also included in the same custom. In Derbyshire, a short time ago, a yearly tenant claimed a proportional part of the cost of drainage done during the two preceding years, and—mark this—done without the knowledge of the landlord, and that custom was held by the Court of Queen's Bench to be a good custom. There are instances of various customs in Surrey, and there is a well-known case, called, I believe, "Clode's case," in which recently, in the Court of Common Pleas, a tenant recovered very heavy damages—I believe some thousands of pounds—by way of tenant-right compensation from his landlord. Therefore, the right hon. and learned Gentleman is in error in supposing that the relations of landlord and tenant in this country are regulated entirely by contract. There is a tenant-right in this country as well as in Ireland, and it is recognized by the courts. It was said by the hon. Baronet the Member for Londonderry (Sir Frederick W. Heygate) that if this custom in Ulster had been recognized by the Irish Courts, in all probability there would have been no necessity for a Land Bill; and he expressed the opinion—whether well-founded or not I will not say—that the English Judges would have recognized it. I freely admit that the Ulster custom goes beyond any custom in England in favour of the tenant; but at there any hon. Gentlemen in this House who maintain that the Ulster custom is not to be recognized? Is there not a general concurrence in the opinion that it must be recognized—that it is an existing fact which you cannot ignore; that landlords and tenants in Ulster have from year to year, and do, and will, contract upon the footing of this custom, and that you cannot put it down or get over it? Would it be wise or statesmanlike to ignore that which exists, and which you must recognize sooner or later? Ulster landlords have addressed the House, and so far from repudiating the custom, they have admitted it; and what the Bill says is this—The Ulster custom, and other customs in Ireland, not having been acknowledged by the courts in Ireland, shall hereafter be acknowledged by them as English customs are in England. This is what the right hon. and learned Gentleman calls making unequal laws, and putting the people of Ireland in an inferior position. It is precisely the opposite; it is making equal laws; the laws will be the same in both countries, and it will be that customs are to be recognized, whether they are those of Lincolnshire, or Derbyshire, or Ulster, or Connaught. There are, however, further questions of great importance which must be dealt with. One is, whether this custom of Ulster is to be extended to the rest of Ireland. In my opinion, it cannot be so extended. The principle of the Bill is the recognition of existing facts; it docs not make facts. The principle on which the courts recognize customs is this—Where a custom exists it is assumed that the persons who contract make their contracts with reference to it, and that it enters as an implied term into every agreement. Therefore, I contend it would be contrary to the spirit of legislation which has been adopted in recent times, to the principle of this Bill, and to the manner in which we deal with England, to make the Ulster custom general. Another question of very great importance is, how are you to define the custom? I confess I agree with the right hon. Gentleman who last addressed the House that you cannot accurately define the custom, and that it appears to be almost impossible to do it. The English customs are not defined; they are not written customs; they are proved by witnesses; the extent to which they prevail is proved; it is proved to what estates they apply. These are all matters of evidence. What would happen if the Legislature endeavoured precisely to define customs? Hon. Gentlemen opposite have said again and again that there are many variations in custom, that different customs prevail in different parts of Ulster, and I do not doubt it. If an attempt were made to define a custom, the effect would be that a tenant failing to prove a custom precisely according to the definition of the Legislature would be excluded from any compensation whatever, and the greatest possible injustice would be done to him. I agree with the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin when he said there were two courses—one being to shape this measure so that it shall be flexible and accommodate itself to every variety and modification of tenant-right; the other course being to define and fix s system of tenant-right permanently for the whole district. The former is the view of the Government, and that which the Government endeavoured to effect with the Bill. If it can be shown that any words more apt might be introduced for the purpose of carrying out that intention, and making the clauses more flexible, so that the tenant shall be able to prove his custom, whatever it might be, then let those words be introduced; but the tenant should not be shut out from compensation because of some technical difficulty in bringing the proof of the custom precisely within the definition in the Act. For this reason there should be a flexible definition. It should be a definition adapted to various usages, and I confess my inability to define distinctly what scarcely admitted of a precise and accurate definition, at all events, as regards the whole of Ulster and a large part of Ireland besides. The right hon. and learned Gentleman has said that Government were determined to perpetuate this tenant-right, and so said the right hon. Gentleman who last addressed the House. I—the Government were determined to perpetuate and stereotype it; they treated the Irishman as totally incapable of contracting and as an inferior being altogether. I reply—"Nothing of the kind; finding this custom we recognize it; we do not perpetuate it; we do not extinguish it; although we permit it to be extinguished on certain conditions." Nor do we object to contracts; on the coutrary, the policy of the Bill is rather to encourage leases, and long leases, than otherwise, but we do not by any means impose leases upon those persons who may not desire to have them. Moreover, there will be an opportunity afforded of purchasing the tenant-right if both parties agree. Therefore, that portion of the criticism of the right hon. Gentleman is entirely at an end. Instead of making a different law for Ireland from that prevailing in England the Bill treats the Irish on the same footing with the English, and this portion of the Bill to which I have referred tends to assimilate the laws of England and Ireland. But there are other provisions of the Bill which undoubtedly make a difference—provisions which apply a different law to the relation of landlord and tenant e from that which prevails in England. Why this difference? Because these relations are in fact different. What is the use of ignoring facts which stare everyone in the face? I am utterly unable to follow the declamation in which the right hon. Gentleman expatiated upon the wrongs and indignities of Ireland. A more inappropriate declamation I have never heard. What are the facts? We must not shut our eyes to the difference existing between the relations of landlord and tenant in England and Ireland. In the first place the history of land tenure is different in the two countries. The English tenures are based upon and grew out of the feudal laws. The Irish tenures have their origin in the custom of tanistry, and to some extent in that of Irish gavelkind, which differs from English gavelkind, and in the Brehon law. Again, as is well known, there intervened between the landlord and tenant a middle class, scarcely known at any time in this country. What is the use of ignoring that the demand for land in Ireland exceeds the supply, or of ignoring the fact that the Irish peasant depends upon the land entirely, and that if he is turned out of his holding he must starve? What is the use of ignoring the fact that the Irish peasant is not able, as the English peasant, to turn his attention to manufacture, commerce, or other employment? We all know that, as a matter of fact, he is dependent upon the land alone, and these are facts which must and ought to be considered. It must not be forgotten that a large number of small holdings in Ireland derive whatever value they possess from the labour of those who have reclaimed them from moor and beg and have built the huts in which they live. There may be exceptions, but in England we have no class corresponding to these occupiers, who have given almost their entire value to the lands which they occupy. In England we know that, as a rule, improvements are made by the landlord; in Ireland, subject to exceptions, the rule is that they are made by the tenant. I will ask the House to listen on this subject to a short extract from the Report of the Devon Commission, in 1845, to which the late Lord Derby gave effect in his Tenant Right Bill— It is well known that in England and Scotland before a landlord offers a farm for letting, he finds it necessary to provide a suitable farmhouse, with necessary farm buildings, for the proper manage, merit of the farm. He puts the gates and fences into good order, and he also takes upon himself a great part of the burden of keeping the buildings in repair during the term; and the rent is fixed with reference to this state of things. Such, at least, is generally the case, although special contracts may occasionally be made, varying the arrangement between landlord and tenant. In Ireland the case is wholly different. The smallness of the farms, as they are usually let, together with other circumstances, to which it is not necessary to advert, render the introduction of the English system extremely difficult, and in many cases impracticable. It is admitted on all hands that, according to the general practice in Ireland, the landlord builds neither dwelling-house nor farm offices, nor puts fences, gates, &c., into good order, before he lets his land to a tenant. The cases in which a landlord does any of those things are the exceptions. The system, however, of giving aid in these matters is becoming more prevalent. And I believe it is even more prevalent now than it was when the Devon Commission made their Report. All these considerations, however, point to a necessity for dealing differently with the Irish land question from the English land question, and justify those provisions of the Bill of which the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin most strongly complained, that the tenant should not be allowed to contract himself out of the provisions of the Act. I think it must be clear that the measure would be illusory, that it would be a mockery and a sham, if you were to allow a tenant, who is comparatively helpless—and you must not ignore the fact that he is so—to sign away his right in a few words which might be embodied in a common form in a lease or an agreement. These are the reasons which justify the Government in dealing as they have done with the relations of landlord and tenant in Ireland. It only remains for me to notice one or two objections made by the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. He complained of the hardship which would be inflicted on purchasers who have bought in the Landed Estates Court. It certainly never could have been the intention of Parliament that the Encumbered Estates Court should be enabled to sell to purchasers a right which the owner of the estate did not possess. What the Encumbered Estates Court, no doubt, was intended to grant was a perfectly valid title; but it could never have been intended that if an estate was sold under the Encumbered Estates Court the purchaser should be able to sell the estate again discharged; of the tenants' rights. If the Act did effect that object, then it effected what was unjust and contrary to the intention of Parliament. I have but one thing more to say, and that this is on the subject of courts. The hon. Baronet the Member for Londonderry (Sir Frederick W. Heygate), I think, advised that all cases should be tried in the Landed Estate Court. I venture to think that would be a very unwise course. One of the great advantages of the Bill is that it localizes and simplifies and cheapens litigation with regard to any disputes which may arise. If there are to be disputes—and we must assume that there will be some—the object should be to get as cheap and summary a tribunal as we cheap and that we have obtained. I am by no means certain that we possess in England courts which would deal as summarily, and as cheaply with matters of this kind as these courts in Ireland will do. And when the right hon. Gentleman tries to alarm us by all this prospect of litigation, I, for one, am not frightened at the prospect. I do not believe that its probable extent need occasion uneasiness to anyone. The object of the Bill is to interfere as little as possible between landlord and tenant where their relations are satisfactory, and I believe in nine cases out of ten, or ninety-nine cases out of 100, there will not be any need to resort to litigation at all. It is only when there is a dispute between landlord and tenant—an exceptional landlord seeking to oppress the tenant, or an exceptional tenant endeavouring to take advantage of the landlord—that the Bill will come in to operation. The object of the measure is not to create a new code of law, founded upon abstract or speculative theories; its object is simply to accept facts as they exist. Where the relations between landlord and tenant are just and fair and satisfactory the Bill will generally have little or no operation, and it is one of its chief merits that it will only interpose where some wrong or injustice is attempted. I believe the effect of the measure will be, by giving the tenant security of tenure, to give him increased motives for industry; and by giving to the tenant security of tenure it will, at the same time, give to the landlord an increase of rent. Of course I am not sanguine enough to suppose that the measure will meet the views or satisfy the desires of all who have been agitating this question, or that it will at once heal long standing grievances; but I helieve it will be accepted as an earnest and an honest and, what is more, an effectual attempt to settle a great question upon drinciples of justice, by the good sense and generosity of the Irish people.


said, that for many years it had been at once his fate and his duty to encounter in a critical and a hostile spirit the different propositions from time to time made for the settlement of this question by different parties and by successive Governments, he had regarded those in every instance as mere frauds and makeshifts to evade political responsibility and to amuse popular discontent—as successive instances of the sinister dexterity with which the duties of Government might be made subservient to the exigencies of Office. But of the measure now before the House he took a totally different view he believed that it was founded upon just principles, and he believed that it arose out of a conscientious desire to do justice—as far as justice under the circumstances was capable of being done—to meet the demands of public opinion in Ireland, as far as such a course was compatible with the critical condition of public opinion within the walls of Parliament. Entertaining that belief, he I felt himself bound, in conscience and in honour, to give to the Bill a frank and outspoken support. And whatever measures he might propose in Committee should be in strict accordance with the principles of the Bill, and for the purpose of more fully carrying out the intent with which he believed the Bill, had been originated. He thought he was not arrogating too much to himself when he said he thought he had some right to speak upon this subject; for, in the first place, he had been engaged for the last twenty years in the personal management of property in the West of Ireland I which consisted almost entirely of small holdings. In the second place, for a still longer period he had been engaged in the discussion and agitation of this question in and out of Parliament; and thirteen years ago he was intrusted with the duty and honour of proposing in that House, in the name of the tenantry and the tenant-farmers of Ireland, a Bill representing their opinions and embodying their sentiments. In the third place, he approached the consideration of this subject with a free mind and a clear conscience. Although prominently before the public in Ireland for very many years in connection with this subject, and never considered by the Irish people as either a laggard or a dastard in what he believed to be popular rights, he had never advanced a single proposition in connection with the subject from which he had now to go back in his advocacy of this Bill. He had heard and fully believed that the people of Ireland were disappointed in the measure; but they were disappointed—not wholly certainly, but mainly, perhaps—because they had been led into expectations—he should not speak frankly if he did not say delusions—which could possibly, under all the circumstances of the case, have had no other issue but disappointment. In these delusions he had no share, directly or indirectly. He had never entertained them himself; he had never condescended to propagate them among his countrymen. He had always endeavoured to hold clearly and definitely before them the claims that they had a reasonable right to see one day conceded by Parliament, and the essential principles of these claims, he thought, were conceded by the present Bill. Now, to show that he did not speak without book on this matter, he could produce in evidence the Bill which thirteen years; ago he introduced in the name of the Tenant League and farmers of Ireland. His right hon. Friend the Secretary for Ireland had correctly stated that, in some respects, this Bill went more deeply into the social grievances, and provided more directly against social evils than did the Tenant League Bill; but, on the other hand, he thought he should be able to show him in Committee that the provisions of the Tenant League Bill dealt more broadly and comprehensively with the practical issues arising out of the operations of the present law than did this Bill. He thought he should be also able to show that the provisions of the Tenant League Bill were not only within the scope and manifest intentions of the Bill before the House, but were natural and necessary corollaries arising out of the principles laid down, and the just and merciful spirit by which he believed it had been dictated. In fact, the principal objection he had against this Bill was that it did not appear to him to carry out its own principles to their natural conclusions. In regard to certain objections as to the intricacy of the Bill he did not wish to say much. Although certainly he could not agree with his right hon. Friend the Secretary for Ireland that it was exceedingly simple, yet he was not prepared to find fault with it as being exceedingly complex. There were so many divisions and subdivisions; its provisions were so loaded with provisoes, and those provisoes again so overridden by limitations and exceptions, that it was difficult sometimes for an unlearned man to ascertain what were the ultimate issue and result. These, however, might be only the legal luxuries of professional art; and they would have not only the great practical experience of his right hon. Friend the Secretary for Ireland, but also the legal acumen and great lucidity of expression of his learned Friend the Solicitor General for Ireland to simplify and explain what now appeared to be intricate and involved. But there still remained behind the vital and fundamental objection that the Bill did not carry out its own principles or make good its own intentions. Good intentions were said to form the pavement of a place that was once offered to the Irish people as an alternative for Connaught; he hoped there was no danger of a similar issue in the present instance. The main intention and purpose of the Bill was clearly this—to protect the tenant; against capricious eviction, and make him as far as possible a free man. Now, it appeared to him that the Bill, as it now stood, would accomplish neither of these objects. It provided against eviction only in one of the many forms which eviction assumed in Ireland, and protected the tenant in the occupation of his holding only on the condition of his remaining always adscriptus glebœ in his own person and that of his posterity. Now evictions in Ireland assumed I three customary and habitual forms; not to speak of others which might be regarded as anomalous and exceptional. First, there were evictions pure and wimple, in which the landlord issued his notice to quit without any reason assigned. Against that mode of eviction there was an elaborate and effectual protection offered by the Bill. The second was eviction by an arbitrary increase of rent; and unless the Govern could show that the remedy proposed by their Bill was effectual and complete, the effect of Clause 3 would only be to bar the front door against eviction, while the back gate was thrown open for it. This issue was touched, he ad- mitted, but only touched, by the provisions of the Bill, and it would be the duty of the Government to show in Committee that it either was or would be dealt with in an effectual manner. The next form of eviction was this—where a tenant in the occupation of his holding, having a substantial interest in It, was prevented by age or misfortune, or any other cause, from continuing in the occupation of the holding with advantage to the landlord or himself, but was, nevertheless, prevented from selling it to a solvent tenant—to hold that man to be adseriptus glebœ, until driven into insolvency and ruin was clearly outside the intention of the Bill; and, unless provision was made for such a ease, the Bill would go through the world halt and blind, and unable to find its way to the objects it sought to attain. He listened last night to his right hon. and learned Friend the Member for the University of Dublin (Dr. Ball), not only with the admiration due to his eloquence and great intellectual resources, but with the admiration due—he would not say to his audacity, for that would neither be Parliamentary nor complimentary—but the presence of mind and firmness of purpose with which he criticized the details of the Bill. The right hon. and learned Gentleman expressed himself satisfied with Clause 3, except that he thought the scale of compensation rather too high; but he said the landlord ought to be able to "contract himself out" of the clause by an abatement of rent; his right hon. and learned Friend spoke of an abatement of £1 per acre, which must have been based on a very rosy valuation indeed of land in Ireland. But abatement of rent for how long a period? It appeared clear that the tenant in such a bargain as this would be selling the legal interest he possessed for an annual consideration; but he should like to know in what year that animal consideration would cease to be the property of the tenant? The proposition of the Government was much more liberal to the landlord, because, although the provisions of Clause 3 were binding on the tenant for ever, yet under Clause 16 the landlord might contract himself out of that obligation by a lease for thirty-one years without any abatement of rent whatever. But his right hon. and learned Friend said thirty-one years was too long a period. Was it too long to redress the history of a whole people? Was thirty-one years too long to sweep away the deposit of prejudice and passion that the continuous currents of 700 years had accumulated? The right hon. and learned Gentleman talked of the English standard, but the English standard was not to be the standard of the world. It was considered one of the weaknesses of the English character that the English people fancied they were to be regarded as a standard for all the rest of the world; and just as in the olden time of Ireland the Anglo-Irish were deemed Hibernis Hiberniores, it appeared to him that the West Briton had become more English than the English. The right hon. and learned Gentleman, not satisfied with crying up the English land tenure to the skies—of which, however, the drawback was that it had not succeeded—decried and deprecated the tenant-right of Ulster, which, whatever might be said of its I faults, possessed at any rate the redeeming feature that it had eminently succeeded. For his part, he could not repress the conviction that the great object which that House, and he believed the whole Empire, had in view—that of pro noting the happiness and general satisfaction of the Irish people—would be most completely accomplished by extending and transplanting through the whole of Ireland that happy custom which had grown out of the social relations of the people in the only part of Ireland where those social relations were allowed to have their natural course. In endeavouring to encourage in the South and West of Ireland the same cordial relations, they should seek for the seeds of those institutions which, under happier circumstances, had grown up in another portion of the country and produced content among the people. The tenant - right of Ulster had not risen out of the empirical doctrines of political economy; but had originated in the mutual affections of men who trusted each other and depended on each other. Out of this free; and cordial union arose that famous custom which had raised the men of Ulster to a position of eminence among the people of Ireland, from which their fellow-countrymen had no wish to pull them down. It had been remarked in the course of the discussion that the land- lords of Ulster were becoming dissatisfied with the Ulster custom; but he had also heard that the tenants were becoming dissatisfied with the landlords; and if the tenant-custom of Ulster should be gradually invaded and evaded, the kindly social relations upon which the Ulster custom was based would gradually crumble away. What had Belfast and Londonderry said? He believed that the voice of the two towns had shown that the people of Ulster were beginning to think for themselves and for their country, and that he might yet live to see the day when a voice would go forth from Belfast which would be the echo of that which their fathers littered at Dungannon. In conclusion, he would confine himself to stating the two reasons which induced him to support the Bill. He supported it, in the first place, because he believed that it contained the essential elements of as good a measure as the tenant-farmers had any reason to expect; and he supported it in the second place, because he was of opinion that by the passing of the Bill and by the final settlement of this question the spell would be dissolved which had hitherto fascinated the faculties and paralyzed the national will of the Irish people. He believed that they had been under the wretched delusion that they could obtain from the Legislature that which, by the laws of the Empire, they were not entitled to and that the tenant-farmers of Ireland had allowed themselves to be led astray from other objects worthy of Irishmen. There had arisen a detestable internecine warfare between landlords and tenants, and while occupied in that-barbarous pursuit they did not perceive that trade and industry were drifting far away from a land in which industry appeared to have found no home. A terrible problem had been set before the Legislature. The landlords were absentees, the people were departing into exile—the tenants asked the Legislature in the name of justice to dispossess the proprietors, and the proprietors asked the Executive in the name of humanity to shoot the people. These were the demands of both the claimants at the same time, and it might be a question whether it would not be as well to attend to both. Both the Legislature and the Executive, he thought, were sometimes in doubt whether it would not be as well to attend to both those suggestions; and he con- fessed that such a course would be an appropriate consummation to a policy of which the essential tactics had ever been alternately to assail and exasperate every class without conciliating any. But he hoped for better times from the operation of this Bill. Certain it was the people would unite for only one object, and that the only object which would regenerate the industry, revive enterprise, and, above all, win back the affection, the manhood, and the fire of the race to the only nation that had a right to command the energies of the Irish people.


said, he took so great an interest in the Bill now before the House that he was unwilling to give a silent vote upon it. There were many parts of the measure which gave rise to no difference on either side of the House. It was admitted by universal consent, that whether the Ulster custom was beneficial or not, that custom should be legalized, and that where improvements had been made by the tenant he was entitled to compensation. There were, however, two principles in the Bill on which there were great differences of opinion. The first was on the question of compensation for disturbance, and the other was the policy of the State assisting the tenant to purchase his holding. Now, with regard to the first of those principles, he thought the Government had taken the true course; though he admitted that on economical grounds adherence to the doctrine of that course was not defensible. But when they had to choose between political economy and the continuance of a state of feeling in Ireland which was prejudicial to the safety of the Empire, attended with an unexampled drain of emigration, they could not hesitate which they would choose. Since the years 1846–7 the population of Ireland had decreased by two and a half millions; and if they made allowance for the natural increase of population during the same period the decrease could not have been less than from three to four millions. Now, was it not desirable that no effort should be made to stop this emigration? especially when they remembered that every Irishman who left the country became their enemy. They might, however, face even this danger if the population was really in excess of the capability of the land to maintain them. But he believed no such thing. He had satisfied himself that on a holding of seven or eight acres an Irish tenant could not only exist but prosper. He had found on such farms industrious men thriving and accumulating small fortunes. It was the same in other countries. For the last two or three years an enquiry had been going on in France as to the effect of these small holdings, and the evidence went to show, not only that upon small farms the tenant could be moderately prosperous, but that such farms actually caused an increase in the average amount of the produce over the whole of France. In Belgium there was a similar state of things. He would not refer to old authorities, but he would refer to the last number of the Royal Agricultural Review, which contained a report from Professor Vöeleker and Mr. Jenkins on La Campine, a part of Flanders which was said to consist naturally of blowing sand; it was found that on a ten-acre farm on that soil, after paying 50s. an acre for rent, after providing a home and food for the tenant and his family, there was left in lieu of wages a profit of £30 or £40 a year in excess of interest on the tenant's capital. These examples were sufficient to show that in not discouraging small holdings they were, at any rate, not encouraging a great economical evil. But the Bill not only encouraged small holdings, it also encouraged small proprietors. He regarded this as an advantage. If they increased the number of the proprietors of the soil they increased the security of property. But it had been said by an hon. Member that to render peasant proprietors prosperous, there was needed, first, thrift, then, an equable climate, and third, a population whose ratio of increase was small. Now, as regarded thrift, he did not believe in the unthriftiness of the Irish character. But if there was a want of thrift it was because they had no sense of security in the enjoyment of their property. Give them the security and the thrift would follow. Then, as to the climate, he thought the characteristic of the Irish climate was, beyond all others in Europe, its equability. It was true that Ireland was not suited for the growth of wheat; but it was eminently suitable for roots and artificial grasses. He had found among the small farmers of Ireland instances of as much skill in the management of their crops as he had ever seen in England or Scotland. As to the growth of population, as he had said, that of Ireland was decreasing. Emigration had raised the standard of comfort, and men did not marry so early as they used to do. He had known many men and women in Ireland who I lived, in a state of celibacy in order that they might accumulate increased resources for the cultivation of their holdings. This was very common in the Eastern counties, but in the Midland counties, particularly Meath and Westmeath, the ratio of marriages to the population was little more than one-third of the ratio in the United Kingdom, so that increase of population in Ireland could not be fairly adduced as a reason against the creation of small landed proprietor. It had been argued by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Dr. Ball) that small properties of this kind would have a tendency again to coagulate—if he might use the word—so that the work Parliament was now undertaking would in the end be undone. Without denying that such might be the result, he (Mr. Samuelson) would remark that it could only be brought about under a state of circumstances which he should be glad to witness. The savings of the Irish farmer were now producing little or no interest; but if a period should arrive when he might be able to employ his money to greater advantage than by investing it in the purchase of his farm there was no reason against his doing so. He (Mr. Samuelson) approved of the two principal elements of the Bill. As to fixity of tenure he objected to it, not simply because it would be an unjustifiable interference with the rights of property, but also because he believed it would prove prejudicial to the tenantry themselves. In the first place it would dissever from the land all investment of capital in their estates on the part of the proprietors, who would have no further interest in the improvement of their estates. Besides, many holdings were in the hands of tenants so entirely without capital, and so deficient in the intelligence which good agriculturists ought to possess that it was not desirable to leave them without the control of a landlord. There were some portions of this Bill to which he could not give his approval, though he believed they were capable of amendment. For instance, he was at a loss to conceive why a distinction had been drawn between the Ulster tenant-right and the tenant-right of the remainder of Ireland. Last evening the right hon. Gentleman opposite, quoting from a report of one of the Poor Law Inspectors, referred to the infinite variety of customs characterized by the generic term of the "Ulster custom," and if the right hon. Gentleman had cited the reports of other Inspectors he might have shown that there prevailed in other parts of the country customs analogous to or even identical with the strictest forms of the Ulster custom. This being the case, why should a distinction be made between Ulster and the other parts of the country? Surely, in the present condition of Ireland, everything which could by any possibility give rise to a suspicion that Ulster was being dealt with more favourably than the other Provinces ought to have been most sedulously avoided. The clauses regulating the scale of compensations in disturbance required revision. He knew farms in Ireland upon which the cultivation had been so intense that the maximum scale allowed for farms of that particular size would not be sufficient to cover the compensation for the improvements in cultivation alone, as distinguished from permanent improvements. It might be said, perhaps, that under another clause a tenant might claim the full value of all improvements in cultivation; but in that event he apparently would not be able to get compensation for eviction. As to subletting he admitted it ought not to be encouraged; but at the same time every possible provision should be made for promoting the comfort of the agricultural labourers, for in consequence of the continual stream of emigration the number of labourers was gradually diminishing, and there was some danger that the time might arrive when sufficient labour could not be procured for the cultivation of the land. There ought, therefore, to be no such limitation as that a labourer should have only half an acre of garden ground. On the contrary he should be enabled to keep a cow as well as to cultivate a few potatoes. He was not of opinion that much litigation would arise under the Bill; but when only small amounts were in dispute, cases ought not to be allowed to be carried to a court of appeal. On the whole the Bill was an admirable one, and he gladly accepted it, in spite of the fear which had been expressed that it might not prove a final measure. In other countries, and notably in Prussia, the land laws had been the work of many years, and we could not expect in a single Session, or even in several Sessions, to establish a land law in Ireland which would be altogether satisfactory-and complete, but he regarded this Bill as a most important step—a more important one than he had expected any Government would have the courage to take—in a course of legislation which he believed would be a benefit both to Ireland and to the Empire at large.


said, he had never doubted, when once he had heard the principle on which the Bill was founded, that it would be his duty, as well as his desire, to support the second reading. He knew that under the Bill certain rights of the landlord were abrogated; but those rights had been so long in abeyance that they were of little pecuniary value, and if you could not enforce your rights it did not signify whether you possessed them or not. New rights, however, would be created, and the remedies of a good landlord against a bad tenant were so simple that he believed, on the whole, landlords in Ireland would be gainers rather than losers by the Bill. As to the Ulster tenant-right, he thought the Government had used a merciful consideration in not extending it all over Ireland. As a tenant-farmer, he knew no right so stupid and, at the same time, so unjust. It was stupid because it professed to give a man an interest in the laud, whereas it really made him I bury his capital during the whole time of his occupation; and in all probability prevented him from cultivating the land as he should cultivate it. Then, too, in selling the goodwill of the farm he was selling that which he had no right to sell, and, therefore, the custom was unjust. It was wise, also, on the part of the Government not to attempt to define that which they realty could not define. There were so many varieties of the custom, not only in the Province, but in the same parish, and even on the same estate, that it would have been impossible to define what Ulster tenant-right was. He supposed the Bill left things exactly as they were; but if leases had been given at a reasonable rent, for the express purpose of abolishing the right, that stipulation should not be void; and, again, if a landlord had bought out the tenant-right, a new tenant should not be able to claim a right of seven years' occupation as he would do, if ejected, under Clause 2. He hoped, also, that if a tenant had made a bad bargain, by giving twice or thrice as much for the tenant-right as it was worth, he would not be at liberty to turn round upon his landlord and so recoup himself. Cordially approving the definition of what was to be regarded as an improvement, he was glad that the presumption in favour of the landlord as to improvements should cease, and that there should be compensation for retrospective improvements; but there should be some limit of time as to these, and, oven in the case of reclamation of land and buildings, twenty years ought to be sufficient to recoup any tenant for what had been done. Moreover, the tenant and not the landlord should be called upon to prove who was at the expense of retrospective improvements. His sympathies were, of course, with the Irish fanner; but he could not see the justice of the clause under which the Irish farmer was to be paid for interruption of tenancy. If the tenant had expended any money, and his prospects were interfered with, he should be paid to the full; but it was not easy to see why he should be paid for interruption of occupancy, and, admitting that, he thought, there was a chance, as the Bill stood, that he who lost most would get least. For example, if one man rented a cheap farm at £5 a year, and another rented a similar farm at double the money, the latter would be paid £70 and the other only £35. As to a small farmer, he would receive much less injury from eviction than a large farmer. A holder of three or four acres of land might be all the better for being made an agricultural labourer; whereas there was no more miserable being than a broken-down farmer of 100 or 200 acres. In England, if you did not make him relieving officer, or surveyor to the new Highway Boards, or put him into some other office for which he was equally unfit, he speedily became a candidate for the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution. Under the Bill the small holder, if ejected, would receive money with which he might emigrate or seek employment elsewhere; and, as it was now the almost universal rule in Ireland to give money to an ejected tenant of this description, the Bill merely legalized a humane custom. The hon. Member (Mr. Samuelson) had quoted from Dr. Vöelker as to small farmers in Belgium; but he should have added the conclusion of the writer, that their earnings were lower than those of an English agricultural labourer. He (Mr. Read) was greatly in favour of agricultural leases, which ought to be given in all cases where you could find an enterprizing and a wealthy tenant; but indiscriminate leases in small holdings would be an injury rather than a benefit. He was told that the Irish people repudiated the provision in the Bill that agricultural leases of thirty-one years were to stop litigation. If that were so, the Irish were the most unreasonable people in the world; and if a landlord said to a man—"I will give you a thirty years' lease, with compensation for unexhausted improvements, at a rent which cannot be extravagant, because it must be submitted to the court," and the tenant was still dissatisfied, he (Mr. Read) would not try to make him satisfied. But would it not be well that at the expiration of the thirty years those parties should be treated more as civilized beings, and should be allowed to contract themselves out of the provisions of the Bill? There was one remark which he wished also to make on; that portion of the measure which related to the creation of small freeholders. It would not, in his opinion, answer, because it could not be made to pay. Poets, politicians, and philosophers always looked on small freeholders as a very happy class of men; but he regarded them, as a rule, as most miserable, and it would not, he thought, do to try to bolster up a system which was gradually dying out merely be cause it did not answer. If a man happened to be the owner of 100 or 200 acres of land, which he farmed himself, he invariably found that he could not make above 3 per cent on the money which was invested in the fee simple; whereas he could make 8 or 10 per cent if he invested as a tenant. The result was that he sold his land when he could, and became a farmer on a larger scale. He might illustrate his argument by his I own case. He was a little freeholder, and he had a small farm which he let, while he rented a large one. If it were not for the law of entail, he should sell that little freehold; and, he might observe in passing, that when persons talked about the law of entail operating to keep large estates together, they should remember that several small estates were protected by that law from being snapped up by some large proprietor. He might express his cordial concurrence with the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin, when he said that what Ireland wanted was not so much the creation of a peasant proprietary as a greater number of landed gentry. It struck him that in that country there was no middle class. There were the owners of very large estates, and small squireens; tremendous land agents in Dublin, with their offices all over the country; and insignificant, ignorant bailiffs, who did the work for them. There were also great graziers, occupying 2,000 or 3,000 acres of land, and cottier farmers; but he looked in vain for those men who farmed 200 or 300 acres of land, and who constituted the bone and sinew of England. There were in Ireland large cattle-dealers and little men who dealt in pigs and poultry, immense stories in the cities and hardly anything between them and the little retail shops. What was wanted, therefore, in Ireland was, he believed, the creation of a middle class, which could never be created until life and property were more secure in that country. Now, when hon. and learned Gentlemen differed about points of law it would be very presumptuous in a practical farmer to pronounce which side was right and which wrong; but he must nevertheless say that the law as between landlord and tenant in Ireland was, as far as he could learn, precisely the same as in England, the difference, if any at all, being in favour of the Irish tenant. There were, for instance, move leases in Ireland, and when the Attorney General talked about Derbyshire and Lincolnshire tenant-right, he would merely observe in reply, that they were very limited in extent, and in the large majority of counties in England there was no tenant-right at all, and that in Norfolk no shadow of a custom of that kind existed. Irish Members might, however, say—"You have covenants in Norfolk, which we look upon in the light of a compensation for unexhausted improvements." Those, however, constituted simply a reservation which was made by the landlord for his own benefit and the benefit of the estate, so that the outgoing tenant should at the expiration of his tenancy leave the roots and hay and straw to be paid for at a certain valuation. But what did the Irish tenant do? He sold off everything at the full market price, whereas the English tenant was bound to leave those products which he had mentioned on the farm at the consuming price, which was only two-thirds of their value. He considered the English system was right and the Irish wrong; but the Irish tenant, he thought, had pecuniary advantages at least in that respect. He should like, he might add, when leases were introduced into Ireland, that some little better definition should be given of the rotation of cropping, and that the tenants would be good enough after they had signed a lease to stick to it. There was one remark in the opening speech of the Prime Minister in which he could not concur, and that was when he quoted the increase of rental in different parts of England to show how agriculture had prospered in recent years. In a great number of instances it would be found that, in consequence of the development of minerals and manufactures, the rental had increased; while in other parts of the country no doubt the liberal expenditure of capital in the first instance by the landlord, and in the second place by the tenant, had produced a similar result. That was the case both in England and Scotland, but looking at Ireland he found land there was as cheaply rented as in any country in the South and West of Europe, and infinitely more cheaply than the land either in Scotland or in this country. And yet the tenants generally in Ireland were complaining of their landlords! It must come to this—either the farmers pay simply for the land, and in no case for the buildings upon it; or there were no improvements made, and consequently they did not pay an increased rent for such. He believed on the whole the Bill of the Government was calculated to do a great deal of good. He did not suppose it would satisfy the tenant-farmers as a class. He certainly should not attempt to give them all they asked, or even half what their advocates demanded; but he should be happy to give them all they deserved, and he be- lieved that the Bill of the Government would give them justice ample and full.


said, that every Member of that House who truly appreciated the responsibilities which attached to his position, must at all times be anxious to bestow his best attention on the consideration of every public question. That anxiety must be greatly increased if, from the peculiar nature of the question, it was felt that the prevalence of rash or mistaken opinions might lead to disastrous consequences. In the present case no one need be reminded that the House was discussing no ordinary matter, or that the object of these efforts was to establish the foundation of a system under which industry might be able to work out in security and peace those fruits which were necessary for the happiness and well-being of a people. In the course of their operations they would have not only to do much in the way of reform, but also to clear away an old system which was found to be destructive of individual happiness and incompatible with the national prosperity. They could not disguise from themselves the fact that they had had yet to prove, in reference to one peculiar portion of Her Majesty's subjects, how they should apply the principle of government so as to secure the well-being of the people generally. Society in Ireland was partially disorganized, and the representatives of the people were now engaged in no less an undertaking than that of its reconstruction. With no small distrust of his own judgment, and with no feigned wish to profit by the wisdom of others, he ventured to hope for the establishment of such a state of things as must conduce to the common benefit of all. He could not help congratulating himself upon the altered circumstances under which he found himself addressing the House that night. On former occasions he had never approached a land question without feelings of embarrassment that were almost overwhelming. He felt that he was barely tolerated—that he was scattering a quantity of explosive matter around him, and that the sooner he disappeared from the scene the pleasanter it would be, at all events for himself. Now he was comparatively at his ease; for though certainly he had not changed his opinions since he seconded the Motion made by his hon. Friend the Mem- ber for Cork (Mr. Maguire) for the second reading of a Land Bill for Ireland, and which, although it had the hon. Member's name, and his (The O'Donoghue's), was substantially the Land Bill of the Tenant League—he had not changed his opinions, nor did he mean to assert that the House had adopted his; but he believed that between his opinions and those of the majority there was an approximation of a remarkable and hopeful character when contrasted with the divergence which formerly prevailed. He was a member of what was called in Ireland the extreme tenant-right party, and he was proud of the name, because it was a distinguishing and an essential characteristic of that party that it held clear, distinct, and, he thought, just views of the rights of the occupying tenantry; and there was another equally essential characteristic of that party which it was sometimes fain to overlook—that it held also clear, distinct, and just views of the rights of the landlords. He never met a member of the tenant-right party who did not recognize in the landlord an undoubted title to the ownership of the land, and who did not admit that to violate the rights of existing owners would be to tear society up by the roots, while it would only load to a "general scrimmage," as then every man's title to ownership would be exactly on a level with his neighbour's. But the tenant-right party contended that the right of ownership, indisputable though it was, could only be exercised in the interests of society within certain limits, and it was the duty of the Legislature to define and impose those limits. He never could understand how, consistently with justice, that proposition could be contravened. The House knew it to be historically true that a land question had ever been at the bottom of Ireland's troubles. The land question of former times was a perpetual struggle between the ancient proprietors of confiscated lands and the new possessors. That species of proprietary land question had passed away and was not heard of for centuries; but there had grown up from the very nature of things, with the spread of population and progress of the world an occupiers' land question, requiring for its settlement the abolition of all lawless powers of ownership, and that was the land question they had now to deal with. It was evident the House intended to deal with the question; and that in itself was an admission that something had to be done, and that they were not just what they ought to be. They had got as far as that once before; but still their position was better than it then was, for it was evidently now no longer the intention of the House to proceed in treating the patient for one disease while he complained of another. He would advise the House, even as they stood on the threshold of legislation, to deal with this question thoroughly, or not to deal with it at all, and to deal with it in accordance with the spirit and the requirements of justice, and if they did so they would deal with it thoroughly. The evils of which the occupier of land in Ireland complained we patent as the day and if, notwithstanding that, they applied inadequate remedies to them, they would prove beyond the responsibility of refutation that this House was not competent to legislate for Ireland. He was confident the House was disposed to act justly; but it was no disparagement to say that it often required a mighty effort to do what was right, and he solemnly called upon the House, as it valued the reputation of the United Parliament, formally to resolve that as between the Irish owner and the occupier of land justice herself should hold the scales. Things had now reached a point at which anything short of a complete settlement of the question would lead to a reaction ruinous to the tranquillity of the country; because the whole of the people of Ireland had been buoyed up with the hope and had been led on to believe by the organs of public opinion and public men, not merely of Ireland, but of England, that a complete settlement was speedily attainable. The Prime Minister had said that Ireland was suffering from the monster evil of insecurity, and he accepted it as a true and adequate description of her condition. The right hon. Gentleman, no doubt, felt that to sanction such a state of things was forbidden by his conscience; and that for the nation to submit to it was impossible; and in a spirit worthy of himself and his party he determined to apply a remedy which should at once and for ever dry up the source of so much misery. After having given to the perusal of the Bill of the Government, the best care he could, in his judgment it was a good one. He could not share the views of the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment, and he could only account for the course they had taken by attributing it to the circumstance that they had not thoroughly realized the consequences which must follow the passing of the Bill. From his point of view the Bill was, no doubt, susceptible of amendment and improvement, but he would only speak of it as applicable to Munster, Connaught, and Leinster. The object of the Bill was to apply a remedy to the evils of insecurity; and it was quite clear that to do that it must deal with all the sources from which insecurity might arise. It would not do to treat one phase of the malady, and leave others untouched, to work out the destruction of the patient. They could not say to the Irish landlord that he should not evict his tenant because he differed from him in religion or politics, or to gratify some less intelligible caprice, but that he might impose a rent on him which he could not pay, and the nonpayment of which would destroy all right in the occupier to the possession of his holding. It was plain that the object of I the Bill was intended to be indirect; and if indirect means were sufficient they were safer and better for all parties. One great fact which recommended the Bill to him was that it relieved the occupiers in the three Provinces he had named from their position of abject dependence on the wills of their landlords. Under the provisions of the Bill it was evidently intended that a man should be safe in his occupation so long as he paid a fair rent, and did not sublet or subdivide without permission—for in either case his landlord would be able to evict him without incurring pecuniary penalties and unlimited public odium—no one could say that a tenant who so acted had any right to continue in the possession of his holding. On the other hand, if there were no such complaint against him, and his landlord chose to evict him, the Court would be bound to award the tenant the maximum of compensation fixed by the Bill. If the tenant broke down under the rent already imposed, or declined to pay rent which he knew he could not pay and live, and the landlord proceeded to evict, the Court would be bound, as he understood the Bill, to tell the landlord that his act was a disturbance of the tenancy; for no one would contend that a landlord had a right to demand an unfair rent any more than a tenant to refuse to pay a fair one. In the three Provinces he had named the landlords had been able hitherto to say to the tenants they must do what they wished, or they must quit their holdings, and it was a great recommendation of the Bill that such a state of things would not be possible in future. The moment the tenant was placed in a position which would entitle him to demand terms the nature of the relations between landlord and tenant were changed in the tenant's favour. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Dublin University (Dr. Ball), had said on the preceeding night, with great vehemence, that the relations of landlord and tenant in the future would be the same as they had been in the past, except with the difference that in the future the landlord would not be able to exercise an unreasonable power over the tenant, unless he chose to pay a considerable sum for it. That was the main principle of the Bill. Another principle was, that it assumed all improvements made by the tenant to be the property of the tenant. Admittedly, it was intended by the measure to make it difficult for a landlord to evict a tenant except for non-payment of rent, the difficulty being presented to the landlord in the shape of a money payment, including compensation for improvements and compensation for eviction, the compensation for improvements extending as far back as twenty years, and in some instances properly going still further back. The House had then to consider that the payment was of sufficient amount to constitute a real difficulty, and that neither directly nor indirectly would the landlord be able to evade payment. He took it for granted that the landlord would be bound in all cases of disturbance of the tenant to give him the fullest compensation stated in the Bill, unless it could be shown that the tenant had injured the landlord's property. The third clause fixed the amount of compensation. He would not now enter into the question what that compensation was or what it ought to be; but unfortunately the clause mixed up the compensation for eviction with the compensation for certain classes of improvements, the effect of this would be to violate the fundamental principle of the Bill, which declared that the tenant's improvements should be absolutely and exclusively his property. Again, it would enable the landlord in some instances wholly to evade the payment of compensation, and to abate it in other instances. The tenant, in fact, would be paid with his own money. The remedy for this serious defect in the Bill was to keep the compensation for eviction and the compensation for improvements totally and absolutely distinct. It was said also that the landlord would be able to evade payment of compensation in another way—that owing to competition he would always find some one ready to take his land and pay him the amount of compensation awarded to the outgoing tenant. This was not only a serious but a well-founded objection; but one which could be rectified easily by the application of a principle already laid down in the Bill. The framers of the measure, taking into account that competition, had acted disadvantageously upon existing occupiers, had given to the Court the power of considering the amount of rent in the case of existing tenancies when the tenant was evicted for its non-payment. He defied anyone to show that there was any likelihood whatever of a decrease in competition, or that if the landlord's cupidity were not checked the consequence of competition would be a whit less injurious to the new tenant than it had been to the old. What he would suggest was, that the Court should have the power of considering the amount of rent in respect of both tenancies, the old and the new;—the effect of this would be that the landlord would scarcely see the advantage of taking from an incoming tenant a sum of money which in all probability he would have to refund. It would be an evasion of payment if the Court were bound to credit the landlord with the arrears of an accumulated rack-rent, that had always been relied on as a lever, by which the tenant could easily be planted on the road-side. He (The O'Donoghue) could not understand why the tenant should not be allowed to sell his interest in his farm—his right of occupancy in all cases; for the effect of this would be, where the tenant found a purchaser, to relieve the landlord of all payment; and where the tenant could not find a purchaser, the landlord would be required to pay according to the scale. Another effect of allowing the tenant to take his interest into the mar- ket would be to hold out an inducement to the landlord to let at a marketable rate. That portion of the Bill which permitted the landlord to settle a dispute with his tenant by offering him a lease for thirty-one years, on certain conditions, struck him as having many taking features. So far as the leases were concerned, that part of the measure would establish the principle that fair rent formed the basis of dealing between landlord and tenant, and that henceforth all leases would be made on valuation in open court. He assumed that leases not made by the court would not exempt the landlords from payment for the goodwill in all cases in which, as leases did now, they bound the tenant in the trammels of oppressive covenants. As far as he could see, the operation of the clause would be to induce both parties to deal liberally with each other. If the landlord gave a lease for only thirty-one years, he could not expect the tenant to do as much for him as if he gave a lease for, say, forty-one, or fifty-one, to sixty-one years; and he thought it would invariably be found, at the expiration of the term, greatly to the pecuniary interest of the landlord to continue the tenant in possession rather than to seek to make a bargain with a new tenant. It must be borne in mind that the lease would deprive the tenant of his claim to compensation at its expiration, though it left him at liberty to put by an equivalent during the running of the lease. Some people supposed the effect of the 16th clause would be to set all the landlords in Ireland scampering about offering leases for thirty-one year's to tenants; but he doubted very much any such result, for an absolute condition of the lease made by the court would be that the rent should be an easy one and as most of the existing lettings were at anything but an easy rent, the consequence of an indiscriminate granting of leases would be a general reduction of rent. Supposing, however, a dispute arose between landlord and tenant about the rent, and the landlord proceeded to evict the tenant, and the tenant invited the landlord to come into court—the landlord, watching the proceedings, would see that they were going against him, that justice and reason were not on his side—he would be sketched for the public eye as one who rushed upon the tenant to force upon him a lease for thirty-one years. Considering that the dispute originated in his endeavouring to get more than he was entitled to, it would be a most extraordinary and ludicrous conclusion for the landlord to ask the court to settle the matter by giving the tenant a lease at a low rent, which would, under the circumstances, be the inevitable result of the action of the court. He supported this Bill because he believed it to be an honest Bill, and that it would confer upon the occupying tenantry of Ireland advantages of which they had but little notion at present, owing to the senseless clamour that had been raised. He believed that if the Bill passed it would be next to impossible for a landlord to evict a tenant, unless he had such reasons for doing so as everybody capable of discriminating between right and wrong would sanction. The House might think he was indiscreet to say this, and he would not have said it but for the attempts made—doubtless with the best intentions—to disparage the character of the Bill. He did not anticipate that the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment would have any appreciable number of Irish Members to follow the in into the lobby, but he thought it probable that a large number of Irish Members, in the interest of the occupying tenantry and of the tranquillity and stability of the Empire, might have to call upon the House not to allow the Bill to be curtailed of its fair proportions. The class of occupies who seemed to stand at a greater disadvantage than any other under the Bill was the class of existing leaseholders. The Government should recollect that many leases had been recently made to defeat or anticipate legislation; that as a general rule existing leaseholders were bound by the most oppressive covenants; and that the existing leases were drawn on a principle the very opposite of that regulating the drawing of leases under this Bill; that, as a general rule, the leaseholder paid a higher rate than the yearly tenant, the increase of rent being the price paid for even a temporary amount of security, and that something ought to be done, therefore, to enable this class of occupiers to derive some advantages from the Bill. There were some other portions of the Bill, such as that which afforded facilities for the purchase of land, and that which enabled the farmer to sublet to labourers which he regarded in a favourable light, while there were other parts which required very slight emendations to make them satisfactory; but he would not trespass upon the patience of the House by referring to them. He hoped that when this Bill had passed from the hands of the House all the evils affecting the tenure of land in Ireland would have been redressed. He hoped also that the House would accord its due weight to the recommendations of those who, in a constitutional sense, were best entitled, to speak on behalf of the people of Ireland. Any other course taken on a question affecting, as he might say, their very household arrangements, would render it hard to persuade the Irish people that there was much use in continuing to send their representatives to that House. A settlement of the land question, by defining and enforcing the lights of owners and occupiers, would altogether change the aspect of affairs in Ireland. Each successive act of justice would develop feelings of contentment and loyalty, and narrow the circle of disaffection and discontent. Good government was all that the most ardent lover of his country desired; good government was all that the Irish people sought: and after the experience of the last Session he refused to believe that they would seek it in vain at the hands of the United Parliament. In the enjoyment of the solid advantages which that House had it in its power to bestow, past misrule would soon be forgotten, and the nation generally would come to regard the gambols of excited patriots merely as so many dangerous eccentricities. He was sanguine about the future, because he had confidence in the policy of the Liberal party—a policy of justice based upon the extension and the free exercise of political rights—and because he knew that the generous heart of Ireland would not fail to respond to the sentiments of affection and justice that governed the conduct of England and Scotland at this juncture.


said, all must wish that the happy consummation to which the hon. Member (The O'Donoghue) looked forward for Ireland might be realized, that Ireland might become loyal, and that all those difficulties which most of us laboured under might come to an end for over. He could not wonder that a Bill of this kind had been introduced. For the last eighteen or twenty years the subject had been constantly before the House. He believed that at the present moment, when Ireland might almost be said to be in a state of passive rebellion, there was among a vast number of people a great anxiety and uneasiness—whatever they chose to call it—with reference to the tenure of land in Ireland. Nor was it very unnatural. When they reflected on what occurred at the time of the Encumbered Estates Courts, when large quantities of land were sold at a very low price, when very extensive evictions were effected, when the rent of the land was in many instances very greatly increased—it was not much to be wondered at that there should be persons now who feared that the same rule might be measured out to themselves. He thought the evidence that had been before the public for some months perfectly well demonstrated that in the hands of the old owners in Ireland the land was lowly let. That had come out from evidence from so many sources that we could not well arrive at any other conclusion. When they reflected on the great depression in the condition of Ireland twenty years ago; when they considered that since time there had been a vast increase in the value of meat, which was one of the great staples of the country; and that vast facilities had been given for bringing the meat to market, where it fetched a high price, they could not doubt that the letting value of land in Ireland had been very much increased. Under these circumstances he did not wonder at the loud cry for what was called fixity of tenure. Men did not ordinarily sing out to have a fixed holding in that which was a bad bargain. They did not want any evidence to tell them that. He came now to the mode in which this Bill was to deal with the subject. The Prime Minister, in introducing the measure, went at no inconsiderable length into what was called "fixity of tenure," and used arguments he thought so powerful, so far as they went, which would not be easy for anybody to upset. Indeed, they seemed to conclude the question, and showed that it was not to be entertained. But he (Mr. Henley) was very much surprised at the end of those arguments—the arguments being morally as sound for all time as they were for to-day—to hear the right hon. Gentleman declare that for the present he was not disposed to entertain the question of fixity of tenure. The right hon. Gentleman shook his head. All he could say was, it was so reported in The Times and the public papers. If he did not say so, he would say no more about it.


The right hon. Gentleman is perfectly justified in quoting that phrase as spoken by me; but the sense in which I used it is entirely misconstrued. The sense in which I used it was this, and I hope it will be plain. I had made a lengthened argument on the subject; it was my duty to suppose that others who had studied the question had their views upon it which I was bound to hear; and what I meant was that I now bade adieu to the argument for the present, though I might revert to it in case it should be revived.


said, he was glad he had given the right hon. Gentleman an opportunity of explaining his meaning to the House. He now came to the Bill itself, and he would venture to look a little at its provisions, to consider how far they were likely to bring about that reasonable wish not to be disturbed in those good holdings which existed among the tenantry of Ireland. He had been somewhat surprised that most of the speakers—if he had been fortunate enough to catch what they had said—seemed to find fault with almost every provision in the Bill, and yet to give the Bill great praise. The hon. Gentleman who spoke last (The O'Donoghue) said it was an honest Bill; and yet he seemed to point out insurmountable difficulties in every clause of it. His hon. Friend the Member for South Norfolk (Mr. Read) took almost the same course. He pointed out many objections to the principle of the Bill—for instance, as to compensation for disturbance—and yet he supported it. With regard to Ulster tenant-right he (Mr. Henley) quite agreed with most of the Members who had spoken on the subject, that unless it was somewhat defined—and every body seemed to say it was undefinable and inexplicable—it would lead to very great difficulties. If it was left to the courts of law to determine what was the principle of tenant-right in each particular case of dispute, all he could say was God help the tenants and the landlords who fell into the hands of the lawyers to settle the meaning of custom or usage. We saw things of that kind come up now and then in our courts of law, when there was a dispute as to what were commercial customs and usages, and there was generally a very heavy litigation carried on for no short time and not always with very certain results. Passing by these two clauses, the first of which dealt with custom and the other with usages, he came now to the third, which was the most material portion of the Bill. Now, he thought that if human wisdom set about contriving something that would be most likely, in his humble opinion, to defeat the object in view, it was that provision of the Bill. Putting aside fixity of tenure, that clause dealt with what was called security of tenure—a rather fine distinction, but he passed that for a moment. Now upon what principle of justice did it attempt to establish security of tenure? In this way—first and foremost it drew a distinction, which he should be able to show was not capable of being sanctioned by justice, between a person who was put out for non-payment of rent and a person put out for any other cause. It introduced—for the first time that he was aware—in an Act of Parliament words which characterized such dealings with property in an extraordinary way. It stigmatized the one act by the name of "disturbance," the other it simply called "eviction." Let us see how the Bill acts with reference to the parties who may be concerned. It would not be denied that there were different classes of owners of land in Ireland—hard landlords, fair landlords, and kind and indulgent, perhaps too indulgent landlords. He believed that a large majority of the old owners were and had been indulgent. Now, this Bill put a penalty upon the indulgent landlord and gave a premium to the hard and griping landlord. Take the case of a man who "disturbed"—what was he to do? The Bill said that a man who disturbed a tenant was to pay—for what? He was not speaking now of buildings, or reclamation of land, or acts of husbandry, or fencing; but he was to pay for disturbance on the scale of a certain number of years' holding, which are specified in the Bill. What was to be done then? How was it to be valued? It must be by the loss of the tenant. Suppose one man held twenty acres of land under an indulgent landlord at 20s. an acre, and another held under a griping landlord at 40s. an acre. The Judge before whom this case came would say to the tenant of the griping, landlord—"You have sustained no loss; you have been paying more for the land that it is worth; and the landlord shall pay you nothing." But the indulgent landlord would sustain a loss. It is as clear as the sun at noon-day that his tenant would say, and say fairly—"See what a good holding I have had; see what a kind landlord mine is; see what profit I have made out of the land;" and so the owner for his kindness, which might have gone on for years was to be mulcted in seven years' rent. That was the reward the Bill gave to a kind, for bearing landlord. He (Mr. Henley) said it was giving a premium to a landlord to be hard and griping. Yet this was called justice. What would be the natural consequence? He did not conceal from himself that, directly the law passed, every owner would feel that to a certain degree the law had dealt with his property, had altered his position and made him liable to pay for certain rights for which he never before had an idea of paying. He would therefore naturally cast about to recoup himself for this change of position. How would he set about it? There are three modes by which he might accomplish this object. Perhaps a man advanced in life, or indolent, would say he would give a thirty-one years' lease and have done with it. That was an easy method which many perhaps would adopt. The clauses were to be settled by courts of law. Under one of these clauses the tenant would be bound to give up possession at the end of the term. That, he presumed, would not be considered an unreasonable clause even in an Irish lease. [Laughter.] Hon. Members laughed, but one heard very queer things—it was said, for instance, that the tenant-right of Ulster grew up because a man paid it to avoid being shot by the man who went out. Suppose that done and settled—what would be the next thing? A man who let his land at an easy rent would say—"What a fool I have been!" and would set to work to raise his rent gradually. Well, that would not be particularly beneficial to the tenant. What would be the next step? This Bill put a market value by statute upon every holder of land in Ireland. It ticketed him with a certain money price round his neck. According to the number of years of a man's holding, so was he publicly ticketed at the discretion of a court of law with a certain statutable money value, which was to be paid to him if disturbed. That being so, a landlord would say—"You have cut the connection between me and my tenants. You have done away by statute with everything I consider my duty towards my tenants. You have put a money price on every tenant. Had I not better buy them out? My land is let at 10, 20, or 40 per cent less than I could get for it if it was clear. Will it not be my interest to borrow the money and pay the statutable value which Parliament has put round the man's neck?" That was the money way of looking at it. That was what was said a nobleman whose writings had attracted a good deal of attention—he meant Lord Dufferin. Two or three years ago Lord Dufferin said— The supposed moral attributes of a particular class, or trade, or profession, cannot come in the way of the politician. His only safe rule will be to take it for granted that every class, and every individual in every class, will pursue his own advantage with unflinching pertinacity. That was from one of Lord Dufferin's letters about the Irish land question. When you had cut the cable between landlord and tenant in Ireland, and had robbed the landlords, as they would believe, of a good deal of their property, you could not but expect that they would cast about to see how they might recover from the position in which you have placed them. Many would grant the leases, but he believed that many more would buy out their tenants, because this would naturally come to every man's mind—"Land is in demand; agricultural produce is high; the land will easily let now; the rate of interest is low; we can borrow on favourable terms. Is it wise to wait until a time of agricultural depression comes, and money is high? Undoubted ruin must come upon the landlord under such a state of things." He had said it was unwise to introduce disturbance as contradistinguished from eviction. Were there not many cases where a man could not pay his rent where it would be more cruel to evict than in many other cases of what they called disturbance. Take, for instance, a tenant whose capital was not large. Suppose severe illness came in his fa- mily, and incapacitated him from labour—suppose blight came upon his crops—suppose murrain came upon his cattle. There were three cases which came not by the act, the carelessness, or the neglect of the unfortunate tenant, but by the act of a Power which none could avoid. Would it not be more cruel and unjust to evict a man under such circumstances than under many others which constantly occur? Take the case of disturbance. Suppose a man was negligent in the cultivation of his land, and wasted the whole estate in his care. Was it just to call that disturbance if such a man was put out as the result of his own act? Take a tenant who acted in defiance of every law of God and man. Was a landlord to be punished for getting rid of such a fellow? Suppose a man was engaged in illicit distillation—was a landlord to be compelled to have that man as his tenant, and breaking the law? He would not trouble the House by asking whether a landlord was to go into the question of a man poisoning hounds or foxes, though some people might think that a wider question than one which came from an ecclesiastical mouth as to the "tumbling" of landlords. These, and many other instances, reminded a man that when a case was carried into court, there might be circumstances in which eviction would be perfectly justified, while in the case of non-payment of rent it might be attended with the greatest possible cruelty. He said that the policy of the Government was founded upon injustice, and, that in many cases they had called that a disturbance where, in his opinion, it would be probably just and right that there should be such disturbance. But look at the case with which the Prime Minister wound up his eloquent speech. What was it he stated he hoped to get by this Bill? He hoped to encourage a greater number of resident landlords in Ireland; and in eloquent language he pointed out all the various duties he hoped they would discharge. But in what position did the Bill leave the landlord who did take up his, residence in Ireland? The right hon. Gentleman declaimed against fixity of tenure, but he left the landlord in such a position that his tenants about him might be doing every act which they ought not to do, and yet the law would leave him no power of interference. They placed upon him the responsibility of their being his tenants; they wished him to live among them, to discharge all the duties, and to exercise all the beneficial influence of a landlord, and yet they forbad him, under a penalty that in many cases might be ruinous, from getting rid of any tenant who might commit acts repugnant both to God and man. In this respect he said the Bill was a delusion and that it would only land them in a parcel of litigation. As to the provisions relating to purchase—for lending money to those who were willing to buy from those who were willing to sell—all he could say was that he did not think it would be just to run the risk of losing the money of the people of the United Kingdom unless they extended the same system to Scotland and to England. He did not see on what ground they could lend people money to buy land in Ireland which would not equally apply to land in England. He doubted very much whether the provision would be operative; and he doubted very much whether its operation would be for the benefit of the people desiring to take advantage of it. He might take this opportunity of stating that the hon. Member for Dublin was kind enough on Friday night to give him the information, which he had been anxious to obtain from the Prime Minister, as to a project of this very matter which was in contemplation some years ago in Ireland; and the hon. Member told him that the scheme for purchasing estates fell dead and never could be floated. The failure of that attempt certainly did not look very promising for the scheme of the Government. His (Mr. Henley's) belief was that every clause in this Bill must lead to great litigation when they saw the very wide saving clauses that were inserted, and especially that expanding clause under which no one could tell who might be the predecessor of anybody; one might go back almost to a time before Christianity—for he supposed there must have been occupiers of the land then; and it put him in mind of the title to possession which was set up by the New Zealander, who said that no doubt he had the best title, because he had eaten up the man who was there before him. He believed that the title of the Bill was also a mistake. It ought to be called "a Bill to promote litigation among Her Majesty's subjects in Ire- land, and to effect, within a time to be limited, the utter extinction of all the small holders." That was his view of the Bill, according to the best opinion which he had been able to form; he hoped he might be mistaken, but it was one which he had given in all sincerity to the House. The hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Maguire) said he hoped we should pass a wise Bill. He (Mr. Henley) hoped that before it left that House the Bill would have been put into such a shape that it would be also a just one.


said, he rose to support the second reading of the Bill, and he thought that a brief examination of the present state of the law of landlord and tenant in Ireland, of the evils caused by that state of the law, and of the remedies proposed by the Bill, would amply justify the course which the Government had taken. Now, it was sometimes supposed by persons who were not lawyers—and he was sorry to say it was sometimes supposed by persons who were lawyers, and therefore ought to know better—that the common law of England and Ireland was the same. No doubt, as a naked proposition, this statement was true; but the auditory to whom this statement was made would be misled unless that proposition were qualified by bearing in mind that the common law of Ireland had been altered by statutes which did not apply to England; and also by bearing in mind—what was hardly ever remembered—that the common law of England, when transferred to Ireland, was transferred rather in its letter than in its spirit. The hon. Member for South Norfolk (Mr. Read) had stated that lawyers differed on this point. It would be very difficult to find any point on which lawyers did not differ; and therefore, lest he might be supposed to be putting his own authority against that of his right hon. and learned Friend the Member for the University of Dublin (Dr. Ball), he would refer to a text-book of some authority, Mr. Finlason's book On Tenures. Any hon. Gentleman who wished for accuracy—and all hon. Gentlemen were supposed to wish for accuracy—would find this statement at page 3— Tenant-right is recognized by our law; inheritable tenancy was one of our earliest institutions, and remains to this present time; and the evils of Ireland, so far as they relate to the tenure of land, have arisen, not from the application of English law, but because it has not been applied and carried out in Ireland. The book then goes on to say in substance— Though these inheritable tenancies became obsolete, and were succeeded by yearly tenants, which arose out of tenancies-at-will, yet these tenancies in England were controlled by custom established upon the tradition of the ancient law, whereas in Ireland the very opposite was the case. The old Roman maxim, 'Quicquid plantatur solo cedit solo,' was applied without the condition that the Roman law applied to it, that the landlord should pay for the improvements made by his tenant if he deprived him of them. That short statement, taken from the work of an eminent English lawyer, justified him in asserting that the common law of England was applied to Ireland rather in the letter than in the spirit. Now he did not blame the English people, English institutions, or English Judges for that result. The application of the common law of England ought to have been made by the Irish people themselves, and if the common law in Ireland fell short in its breadth of spirit and its honesty of purpose, as unquestionably it did, the fault lay with Irish Judges and with the Irish people. The English gave to the Irish good institutions, and it was the fault of the Anglo-Irish that they were not turned to the best account. It was frequently forgotten, too, that the common law of Ireland had been altered by statute. Now, as everyone knew, Ireland, in former days, had a Parliament of her own; and some hon. Members of the House—and notably one Gentleman who had spoken in the present debate—seemed anxious that the Irish Parliament should be revived; but, for his own part, he (the Solicitor General) hoped that aspiration never would be carried out. He was content that Ireland should be legislated for by the Parliament of the United Kingdom. He was persuaded that Irish Gentlemen sitting in St. Stephen's derived benefit from the atmosphere of the place, and he hoped that English and Scotch Gentlemen were not in any way contaminated by their presence. The Irish Parliament passed a number of statutes relating to the tenure of land, and he believed he was right in asserting that these were all in favour of the landlord and against the tenant. During the whole reign of George III.—a long reign, as they were all aware—only five statutes were passed in Eng- land regulating the condition of landlord and tenant, while no less than sixty were passed in the same period by the Irish Parliament, all modifying the law as regarded the landlord, and making it more stringent as regarded the tenant. His hon. Friend the Attorney General (Sir Robert Collier), therefore, was perfectly right in stating that there was a substantial difference between the law of England and Ireland as far as the law of landlord and tenant was concerned; and by the Bill they were not creating or widening any breach between the law of England and Ireland, but were bringing the law of Ireland into harmony with justice, and in that respect making it more consistent with the law of England. His present intention was to do no more than to draw attention to the question—What was the state of the law of landlord and tenant in Ireland so far as related to tenants from year to year? That relation was known under the popular designation in Ireland of a tenancy-at-will. The whole history of Ireland was summed up in that term—"tenancy-at-will." It meant a mere tenancy that could be terminated by the will of the man who put the tenant into possession—a tenancy at the will of the landlord—terminable at the end of each year. How did the tenants stand under such a tenancy in Ireland? The tenant in possession of land, under a contract known in law as a tenancy from year to year, could be served with a notice to quit once every year. He could also be made a defendant in an action of ejectment for non-payment of rent. By a statute passed in 1860, the provisions of the old statutes were repealed, which declared that no action of ejectment for non-payment of rent should be brought in the superior courts unless the contract was evidenced by a note or memorandum in writing. The law now is that an action of ejectment can be brought in any court, superior or inferior, on a parole contract of tenancy, and in an inferior court if the rent does not exceed £100 a year. The position of the tenant from year to year was, therefore, such that his tenancy might be determined once a year; he might have a notice to quit served on him once a year, and he could be evicted for non-payment of rent without compensation for any improvements he had made, or any money he had laid out on or paid for the land. He asked hon. Members, was that a proper state of the law? They were all agreed it was not. ["No, no!"] Well, if they were not agreed, they ought to be; and he thought it highly probable that the result of this discussion, followed by a division, that division followed by other divisions, and by an Act of Parliament, would be that the hon. Member who cried "No, no!" would cry "No" to no effect, and might as well have said "Yes." Such, then, was the condition of the law in Ireland. No doubt there were some modifications—no doubt there was something to be found that lessened the grievance that otherwise would be felt in such a state of the law. The modifications were to be found in the tenant-right customs that existed in Lister and in some other parts of Ireland. But there was one great blot with respect to these tenant-right customs—they were only binding in a court of morals, not in a court of law. He was willing to concede that the large majority of landlords in Ulster freely and fairly administered the moral law. He was not there to bring a Bill of indictment against the Irish landlords as a class, or against the Ulster landlords as a class. There sat on the opposite Benches honourable and high-minded Gentlemen who discharged their duty not only to their constituents, but to their tenants, in an honest, just, and fair spirit. He believed, however, that the state of the law was unsatisfactory, and for this reason—no man ought to be left at the mercy of his neighbour, no matter how just that neighbour might be. The law, as they were taught, was a terror to evil-doers, but a praise to those who do well; and he could not, for the life of him, conceive how any Irish gentleman or landlord could object to fortify by law what he was willing to allow in conscience. At this moment, however, the Irish tenant was in a hopeless and, to a great extent, a helpless condition, because he was dependent on the kindly consideration of his landlord. The feeling of insecurity existed not only in Ulster, but in other parts of Ireland. He would give two illustrations of this, one being taken from the Province of Connaught, and the other from the Province of Ulster. There was a famous case, "O'Fay v. Burke," which had become a leading case in the law of the land. It came before the predecessor of the late Master of the Rolls in Ireland. He should say the learned Judge before whom it was heard was not brought up in the school of Irish agitation—he was a gentleman, a Tory by polities, but a just and law-loving man. At all events, though a Tory in politics, he was a just and honourable man, who administered justice tempered, as far as the law allowed him, with equitable considerations. In the case of "O'Fay v. Burke," the landlord sought to confiscate all the improvements of the tenant, which no landlord would be able to do if this Bill passed, but which all landlords, if not restrained by feelings of conscience and justice, could do, if not restrained by law. The tenant who had built a house worth £1,500 was told by his landlord he might remove it brick by brick—but he did not avail himself of that kind offer. But what said the blaster of the Rolls in the case referred to. He said— Nothing can be more repugnant to the principles of natural justice than that a landlord should look on a great expenditure carried on by a tenant from year to year without warning the tenant of his intention to turn him out of possession. The offer to allow him to remove the buildings was a mockery. I have no jurisdiction to administer equity in the natural sense of that term, or I should have no difficulty in making a decree against the defendant. I am forced to administer an artificial system established by the decision of eminent Judges, such as Lord Eldon and Sir William Grant, and being so bound I regret that I must administer injustice in this case, and dismiss the petition, but I shall dismiss it without costs. I should be very glad for the sake of justice that my decision should be reversed by the Court of Appeal. Should such a state of things continue, or should this great and beneficent measure become the law of the land? What said another great Judge who sat in the Court of Appeal? He need only mention his name—Lord Chancellor Napier—consistent as a politician, eminent as a Judge, and strictly conscientious as a man. What did he say?— I think I am not overstepping my duty in suggesting to the respondent that under all the circumstances of the case he will best maintain the character and honour of a British officer, satisfy the exigencies of justice, and uphold the rights of property by making such an arrangement with Dr. O'Fay as to the possession of this farm as may leave him the full benefit of an expenditure made in good faith, and with the reasonable expectation of having the full benefit of it sufficiently secured by an undisturbed possession. He (the Solicitor General) could refer to numerous letters which he had re- ceived from Ulster on this subject. He would only refer to the last received, and it was by no means the strongest. He received this letter from a tenant fanner in the county of Armagh. At the request of the writer he would not mention his name— About the year 1844 my father bought a farm of land and paid £200 for it. He gave it to my brother, who died. At his death I got it. The landlord took the farm, on which my brother expended £1,500 in buildings and drainage. He allowed me to hold the buildings and an acre of gardens, and he never paid me one penny for the remainder. He says it was bought without his consent or knowledge. This is true, but it was bought with the consent of the agent, and the money paid in his office. —was an absentee; he knew nothing of it. He is now selling the grass of the improved land at £7 per acre yearly. I could get nothing from him, and I dare not go to law for fear he would take all the other land I held under him. On —'s death the estate went into Chancery. The agent let me some spent moss to reclaim at 5s. per acre rent. I had it two years, when — came of age, and raised the rent to 20s. per acre. My rent was raised 50 per cent on the whole farm; the other tenants were raised, too. But this is not all. The tenants held a meeting to protest against the rise. I was made chairman, and for my chairmanship I got a letter to say that my rent was raised 15 per cent in addition to the original 50 per cent, and I also got a notice to quit. He (the Solicitor Genreal) must say that the office of chairman had not proved a lucrative appointment— This is no got up case. I am prepared to prove it. You may state it for fact, only don't mention names, as instead of getting me rooted in you will get me rooted out of the soil. He took these cases as illustrations, but he did not mean to say that these were every-day occurrences in Ireland, for there were landlords in Ulster who were, no more capable of such conduct as this landlord in Armagh—who would rather cut off their right arms—and this irrespective of religiou and politics. How over, the fact that such a thing could occur was not to be overlooked by the, House in legislating on this important question. He therefore thought he was correct in saying that great evils were caused by the present state of the law. Under such a condition of things the tenant did not improve, except in those parts where he remained under the custom of tenant-right. The condition of the Irish tenant was therefore altogether different from that of the English tenant. In the large majority of instances improvements in Ireland were the work of the tenant; in England they were made by the landlord. When English gentlemen spoke of farms they meant farms in the highest state of cultivation, where everything was prepared for the tenant before he took possession; but he could refer them to estates in Ireland where years ago the soil which was now blooming like the rose was nothing but a desert, and where the rent had been increased twenty-fold by the industry of generations of Irish tenants. Therefore, the considerations which would affect English tenants could not be applied to legislation for tenants in Ireland. It was this difference in the circumstances of Ireland that all these things led to agrarian crime. He did not for a moment palliate the crimes that had reddened the soil of Ireland. As an Irishman he regretted their existence, as did everyone with the feelings of a man and a Christian. But they must look below the surface to discover the cause of these crimes. He did not justify the conduct of any man who committed these crimes, no matter what he had suffered; but he must recognize, and the House must recognize, the fact that what made it so difficult to put an end to these crimes, to track the assassin to his haunt, expose him to the face of his fellow-men, and to bring him to justice was the sympathy felt for the criminal and not for the victim. And why did that feeling exist? It was not because the Irish were less kindly or humane than other people, but because they thought—whether rightly or wrongly—that the law was not their friend, and that the present state of the land laws in Ireland justified the assassin, or, at any rate, mitigated his crime. Therefore, they were now in the position in Ireland, of having laws which they could not enforce; and until they introduced a different condition of things, the reflection of the Latin poet would continue applicable— Quid leges sine moribus Vanæ proficiunt. There was another matter he ought to refer to, and that was emigration. He would not now discuss the question whether emigration was an evil or a good—there were grounds for both views; but what they must all desire was that the emigrants should not leave the country with a spirit of rancorous hostility to it. He believed, from what he had heard, that that feel- ing existed not only in the hearts of the Catholic Celts who emigrated, but was also entertained by the sturdy Presbyterians who left Ulster, many of whom in 1812 strengthened the army of the Americans in the contest with England. They should bear in mind that the fatal day might come when the tocsin of war would sound and the forces of England and America might be found contending ["No!"] against each other—he prayed to God that that day might never come!—but, at any rate, the Parliament of this country ought, by judicious legislation, to do all in its power to put an end to those bitter feelings which tended to strengthen the hands of the enemies of this country. What, then, were the remedies for the present state of things? He must have made a mistake if he fancied for a moment that the "No!" uttered by an hon. Member on the other side of the House was expressive of the sentiments of Gentlemen opposite; because it was admitted that they were all agreed that the time for legislation had come, and the only question was as to the mode and extent. If that was so, what was to be done? Was it to be such legislation as that dimly shadowed forth by the hon. Member for Kilkenny (Mr. Bryan), who moved that the Bill be read a second time that day six months? He (the Solicitor General) listened to the whole of his speech, and he must say that he got as much information from it as could be obtained from the gentleman of antiquity who had an antipathy for Dr. Fell. He did not like him, but why he could not tell. His hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Tipperary (Captain White) was not more explicit, and only succeeded in giving an alias to their old friend "fixity of tenure," which he called "security of tenure." But whatever it was, the House would not be asked by Her Majesty's Government—whatever might be done by any other Government that Her Majesty might subsequently possess—to sanction any Bill laying down the principle of fixity of tenure. The principles of the measure of the Government approach plainly on the face of the Bill. A careful perusal would show that they were just and fair. There might be modifications to be made in Committee; but in its broad and substantial principles, he thought it a Bill which would remedy the evils of which the Irish tenant justly complained. It legalized the Ulster custom in Ulster, and other customs elsewhere in Ireland. It had been complained that the Ulster custom was not defined or amended by the Bill; but the Bill did not profess to do one or the other. And justly so—because the Ulster custom varied in different districts. He held in his hand a book, prepared for Sir Joseph Napier, in 1852, by two eminent members of the Irish Bar, and it contained no less than nine definitions of tenant-right. Again, Lord Erne, in stating what the custom was on his estate, said he thought that, as far as possible, every tenant on that estate might call his farm his castle as long as he, acted honestly, justly, and industriously, and should be leave he was allowed to sell his farm if he pleased his landlord in a tenant. His Lordship added that consequently if a tenant on his estate laid out his money judiciously he was certain to receive back his money should be wish to go elsewhere. Having regard to the various definitions of Ulster custom, and to the fact that the Ulster tenant-right varied in different counties, and even on different estates in the same county, he thought the Government were quite free from blame because they had not attempted in this Bill any definition of the Ulster tenant right. He held also that no blame was attributable to them for not having created any custom. That was not the principle of the Bill. The 1st clause might not, perhaps, be worded in a way to command the approval of every hon. Gentleman in that House; but that was mere matter of detail. He believed, as a lawyer, that the 1st clause of the Bill meant this—that where the custom of Ulster existed, and was capable of proof, it should receive the sanction and nave the force of law. But it had been said that the custom ought to be defined so far as to give the tenant the right to sell his interest in the land. The answer he had to give to that was easy—By the common law of England and the common law of Ireland every tenant from year to year had an estate in the land, and had a perfect right to soil that estate. The right was further practically defined by statute, which said that the tenant's estate in the land must be assigned by deed, and that it might be devised and bequeathed. It is true that if the landlord did not approve of the incoming tenant he gave that tenant notice to quit, which notice fell upon the assignee, and not upon the original tenant. Therefore, to give in this Bill a right to the tenant to sell his holding would be to give him that which by law he possessed already He passed over the 2nd clause, which was substantially the same with the first. It said that where there was any custom or usage in any part of Ireland which was capable of being proved, it also should have the sanction and force of law in the same manner as the custom of Ulster. He was sorry to hear an observation made by the hon. and gallant Member for Tipperary (Captain White) who introduced the religious argument into this question, and said that the Ulster tenants were favoured because they were Protestants. He (the Solicitor General) thought he need not assure the House that no such idea entered into the minds of the framers of this Bill. But the facts themselves did not bear out his hon. Friend's observations. He had looked into the statistics of this question, and had found that in 1866—the last year for which the Returns were perfect—there were 608,854 holdings in Ireland under a rent of £4; and of these, Ulster had 221,926, or 55,000 more than any other Province. Now, the House knows that the lower class of holdings were generally held by the Roman Catholic population. Besides, he found that the Roman Catholics were in a majority even in Ulster; for the Protestants numbered 947,000, while the Roman Catholics numbered 966,000; so that his hon. Friend's argument failed in facts as well as in good sense and good feeling. The real strength of the Bill was to be found in the 3rd clause. That clause provided for those tenants whose holdings did not come under the 1st and 2nd clauses, and it provided that if the tenant was disturbed in his occupancy, the tenant should have compensation for the disturbance. That clause was very fairly and ably argued by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley), but he failed to catch the bearing of the clause. The right hon. Gentleman argued as if, for holdings under £10, compensation to the full amount of seven years' rent would in all cases be given. But it was not probable that the Judge would often, except in a bad case, give the highest scale of compensation. He might give only one year, or only half-a-year's rent. The maximum was fixed; and the House would observe that under this compensation was included not only the disturbance of occupation, but all improvements, except for permanent buildings and reclamation of land. The right hon. Member for Oxfordshire argued that this compensation would have to be paid even to those tenants who burned foxes' lairs or covers. Well, he (the Solicitor General) did not approve of such conduct, for he thought that foxes had as much right to live and to be hunted as any other animal. But the night hon. Gentleman seemed to have forgotten the 14th clause, which provided that when landlord and tenant came into court the Judge might take into consideration all the objections and complaints that might be made on either side, and give his judgment according to his view of all the circumstances of the case. The claims under the 3rd clause included all improvements except those for buildings and reclamations of waste land. Now, he (the Solicitor General) believed with a good honest Judge they might leave the landlord and tenant fairly in his hands, and that he would fairly and conscientiously administer the equities which for the first time were now imported into the law of landlord and tenant. The County Court Judges were men of honour, were fully acquainted with the law, and were utterly uninfluenced by politics, and under the Bill there would be an appeal from them to the courts of assize, and even higher still, in the event of any point being reserved for the opinion of the courts above. The right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin (Dr. Ball) had made some objections to the latter part of the clause—that portion of it which says that— Any contract made by a tenant by virtue of which he is deprived of his right to make any claim which he would otherwise be entitled to make under this section shall, so far as relates to such claim, be void. The right hon. and learned Gentleman said that this was an interference with contracts. No doubt it was. Hon. Gentlemen opposite talked of freedom of contracts as if they had always been devoted to the principles which have made contracts as well as nations free; but from his knowledge of Ireland and of human nature in that country—and it was no bad place for studying it—he could only say that the 3rd clause would not be worth the paper on which it was written unless it was clogged with that condition. The right hon. and learned Gentleman had said that that House should not legislate for posterity in a panic—that they had deprived Ireland of its Church, and that now they were going to deprive her of—what?—her poor tenants. All he (the Solicitor General) could say was, that if Ireland was to be legislated for on the principles that he had heard enunciated in the course of that debate the Union between that country and England would not long continue. He now came to deal with Clause 4 in the Bill, which gave compensation for improvements. That clause enacted that— Any tenant of a holding who is not entitled to compensation under sections one and two of this Act, or either of such sections, and is not entitled, or if entitled has not obtained compensation under section three of this Act, may claim compensation to be paid by the landlord under this section in respect of all improvements on his holding made by him or his predecessors in title. Improvements were defined by the 66th section to be as follows:— The term 'improvements' shall mean in relation to a holding—(1) any work which being executed adds to the letting value of the holding on which it is executed, and is suitable to such holding; also (2) tillages, manures, fallows, or other-like farming works, the benefit of which is unexhausted at the time of the tenant quitting his holding. The clause then went on to state— A tenant shall not be entitled to any compensation in respect of any of the improvements following, that is to say—(a) in respect of any improvement made twenty years before the passing of this Act, except permanent buildings and reclamation of land; (b) in respect of any improvement prohibited in writing by the landlord as being and appearing to the Court to be calculated to diminish the general value bf the landlord's estate, and made within two years after the passing of this Act or made during the unexpired residue of a lease granted before the passing of this Act; (c) in respect of any improvement made either before or after the passing of this Act in pursuance of a contract entered into for valuable consideration; or (d) (subject to the rule in this section mentioned as to contracts) in respect of any improvement made, either before or after the passing of this Act, in contravention of a contract in writing not to make such improvement; (e) in respect of any improvements made either before or after the passing of this Act, which the landlord has undertaken to make, except in cases where the landlord has failed to perform his undertaking within a reasonable time. The hon. Member for South Norfolk (Mr. Read) had said, that with regard to permanent buildings and the reclamation of waste lands, there should be some limit in point of time; and the hon. Member for Carlow (Mr. Kavanagh) had spoken of this clause as though the landlords were to be obliged to pay for buildings in a state of picturesque decay, on the ground that they were permanent improvements. But if they looked to the clause they would find all difficulties in that respect got rid of; the landlord was only to pay for them in the event that he disturbed the tenant; and even then their value and all surrounding circumstances were to be arranged, if not by mutual agreement between the landlord and tenant, or by arbitration, by a court of law. The clause stated that— The Court, in awarding compensation to such tenant in respect of such improvement, shall, in reduction of the claim of the tenant, take into consideration the time during which such tenant may have enjoyed the advantage of such improvements, also the rent at which such holding has been held, and any benefits which such tenant may have received from his landlord in consideration, expressly or impliedly, of the improvements so made. Could anything be more fair than that provision? Would it not be a monstrously unjust thing that because a house was twenty-two or twenty-three years old, or was not in decay, the landlord should turn the tenant out, and that the tenant should get the entire benefit? No. Let the Judge say how much was to be taken off in consideration of the time the tenant had enjoyed it. Then came the restrospective clause, without which the Bill would remain a dead letter, and which must recommend itself to every honest and fair dealing man. Clause 6 was in respect of payments to incoming tenants. It was clear that the opponents of the Bill did not understand this claim at all, or they would not have heard such speeches as they had heard the previous evening from the Mover of the Amendment, because it merely transferred to the incoming tenant the right to compensation that the outgoing tenant would have had as against his landlord. Clause 7 made over to the outgoing tenant the right to the away-going crops, to which he was not now entitled. The next clause to which he would refer was Clause 16, which empowered the landlord to grant a lease of thirty-one years on, such terms as the Court should think fit, in lieu of compensation to the tenant—the hon. Member for Dublin City had said that this was equivalent to thirty-one years' notice to quit; but the hon. Member himself had, in the language of the Psalmist, a seventy years' notice to quit. Again, they were told that the landlords would be rushing all over the country offering such leases to the tenants; if they did, it would gladden the hearts of a great many people. If the landlords would form themselves into a steady lease-giving phalanx, and offer such leases upon such terms as may be approved of by the court, there would be a new era in Ireland. There would be no injustice in this. The tenant would get his thirty-one years' lease upon terms fixed by the court, and if he could not enjoy agricultural prosperity under such a tenure he would never be likely to succeed with fixity or any other system of tenure. He had been told by the hon. Member for Clonmel (Mr. Bagwell) that the Bill would lead to litigation, and that a friend of his intended to keep an attorney. Now, if he (the Solicitor General) might form an opinion on the subject, he should say that his litigious Friend kept an attorney already. This was not a litigious Bill. He had some knowledge of the courts and of the country, and he must say that he believed the Civil Bill Courts as cheap, as inexpensive, and as satisfactory courts as any in Her Majesty's dominions. The great complaint made against them was that they were too cheap; but that complaint was made by the lawyers, and not by the general public. Then, again, he would ask what was this court of appeal which it was proposed to establish? At present appeals were heard in the Civil Bills Court; but by a wise provision of this Bill, which he could not too much admire, two Judges would sit together to hear land cases; very often they would go on circuit together, and, as it was not unusual to find men of different temperaments in company, it was probable the tendencies of each would counteract the extreme views of the other. He contemplated seeing this tribunal sitting in the assize town of the locality in which the questions in dispute arose—which would be a great gain—and acting as Judges and jurors, unaffected by local prejudices, to which ordinary juries might not be superior, they would decide the case after the pleading of a counsel going circuit, or an astute and honest attorney—for such things as honest attorneys were to be found. It was a cheap tribunal. Of course no one need resort to it unless he liked, and landlords should remember that it always took two to make a quarrel. Arbitration, provided for under the 21st clause, he trusted, would be more often appealed to; but, still, if parties were obliged to go to law to settle their disputes they could not have a cheaper, more expeditious, and more trustworthy process. As for the compensation for ejectment, he heard one hon. Member complain of it as too small, and another that it was too high; and when he heard this, being a moderate man, he immediately came to the conclusion that the proposal must be about right. In medio tutissimusibis. The only other portion of the Bill to which he thought it necessary to refer was the portion which dealt with the sale of land to tenants. He thought the Bill had great merits in this, respect. True some people affirmed that their effect would be in a few years to put the whole of Ireland into the hands of the peasantry, which would be deplorable: while others said that peasant proprietors, being the backbone of the nation, ought to be encouraged. That being so, seeing that differences of opinion existed with respect to the matter, he came to the conclusion that peasant proprietors were neither an unmixed good nor an unmixed evil, but that, at all events, the system ought to be tried. That being the case, he held that this Bill offered a proper, fair, and just machinery for the trial. The hon. Member for Dublin (Mr. Pim) asked whether the Bill gave a Parliamentary title. If the Bill did not give a Parliamentary title, he (the Solicitor General) could not understand what a Parliamentary title was; perhaps the hon. Member thought the title conferred by the Landed Estates Act was a Parliamentary title; if he did so he would find Clause 32 of this Bill gave an equally good title, for it gave the tenant an estate in fee-simple free from encumbrances; and under the machinery provided, if the landlord were willing to sell and the tenant to buy, the money would be found for him. The experiment of creating tenant-proprietors was, in his opinion, an experiment well worthy of being tried in Ireland, and this Bill would provide the opportunity of doing so. One point in the experiment should commend itself to hon. Members opposite; the tenant would have to pay the landlord for his estate, a condition not contemplated by some of those who desired "to root the tenant to the soil." There were other matters in the Bill to which he need not particularly advert. With respect to the prohibition on the notice to quit, he thought it a wise provision. In the course of this debate it had been said that injury would be done to persons who had purchased under the Landed Estates Act. In reply to that he said that there was no reason why a purchaser under that Act should be placed in any other position than that occupied by an Irish proprietor under fee-simple who did not buy his land under that Act; for what did he buy in the Landed Estates Court? He bought the reversion of a tenancy from year to year; he calculated the amount of the rent that the tenant paid, he estimated the price on the basis of that rent, and made the purchase accordingly. If he were wrong in the presumption, and if the purchaser in the Landed Estates Court, besides inquiring as to the rent, had inspected the property and said to himself—"This tenant has made many improvements, and though, in point of equity and common honesty, they are his, the law shall make them mine," then he did not think the House would willingly support him in his object. The former view of the case was the just one, and it was in the spirit of justice that the Government dealt with the question. He had one other point to speak on, and that was an important matter. Many hon. Members had said to him that the Bill would work hardly on the tenant if it were permitted that his landlord could eject him for non-payment of rent without compensation for improvements on the sliding scale. They had pointed out to him that the owing of one year's rent would subject the tenant to the possible hardship of losing perhaps seven years' compensation. That appeared, at first sight, to be a grievance; but on mentioning it to a friend, not a Member of the House, in conversation, his friend replied—"If a tenant will not pay his rent and declines to improve his land, what hardship would there be in turning him out?" But there was another point in this matter which more nearly resembled a hardship, and it was this—in many parts of Ireland there existed what was called "a hanging gale," or a half-year's rent a ways due and unpaid. Now if, on the 2nd of May, the tenant was not ready with his half-year's rent, due on that day, the landlord would then be in a position to evict, for one year's rent would be then due. That had the appearance of being a real hardship; but here the Judge would step in, and if the tenant showed he honestly desired to pay the back rent, that half-year's rent would not be deemed sufficient to evict him. In conclusion, the Bill would be found to deal with all these matters in a generous spirit; when a semblance of harshness appeared in one clause, it disappeared in the next. It gave to the Ulster custom the sanction of law; it reversed the old principle of law which gave improvements to the landlord; it compensated loss for disturbances, which had never before been compensated by any Bill ever brought into the House; and, finally, it gave compensation for improvements. In the language of an old friend of his, a stanch supporter of the farmers of Ulster, although the Bill was necessarily complicated, he thanked God he had lived to see such a measure in a fair way to pass into law. He asked Irish Members who contemplated voting against the Bill to pause before they took such a course; he asked the Mover of the Amendment and his supporters to pause and consider what they were doing—to recollect that this landlord and tenant question, like all other questions, had two sides to it—a side dealing with the occupier and a side dealing with the owner of the land; and asked them to recollect the language used the other day—that Ireland was always strong when she was just, but always weak when her claims were not founded on truth. He trusted they would approach the case in the spirit of Judges rather than that of advocates, and if they did so they might be sure of this—that they would discharge their duty to their constituents in a manner worthy of the representatives of a free people, and would earn the gratitude not only of Ireland, but of the Empire.

Colonel WILSON-PATTEN moved that the debate be now adjourned.

Debate further adjourned till Thursday.