HC Deb 11 March 1870 vol 199 cc1745-857

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.


said, that he was invited by his hon. Friends the Members for Kilkenny and Tipperary Counties (Mr. Bryan and Captain White) to oppose the second reading of the Bill; but he was unable to accept that invitation, for when the Speaker should put the Question from the Chair that "this Bill be now read a second time," he would say Aye without hesitation or misgiving. He was satisfied that his hon. Friends, and those acting with them, were animated by a sincere desire to promote the welfare of Ireland; but he appealed to those Gentlemen to consider whether they were not taking a course detrimental rather than beneficial to the Irish tenants. Extensive Amendments would be proposed, and alterations of great importance be attempted, when the House went into Committee on the Bill, and he could not conceive anything more fatal to Irish influence than that Irish Members should at the very start show signs of disunion among themselves. He also had received letters and communications from many quarters in his county requesting him to oppose this measure. No doubt if he did so he might receive a certain amount of transient popularity. He might return to his native town, and be received with trumpets and shawms; he might describe himself as kind of Gal way Cato struggling against an overwhelming majority and an all-powerful Minister— Et cuncta terrarum subacta Prætor atrocem animum Catonis. That would be all very well, and he might play the part with great effect. But suppose that instead of seven or eight the whole Irish Liberal representation were also resolved on playing the part of Cato. What would then happen? Why, the Prime Minister would probably throw his hands up, and saying, in the words of a former great Reformer, "Here stand I—I can go no further—God help me!" he might withdraw the Bill, feeling that it would not be possible for him to proceed with it in the face of the unanimous disapprobation of his Irish supporters. After listening to the clear and admirable statement of his right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland a few evenings before, in which he gave a sketch of all the Bills which had been brought forward hitherto to settle the land question and had failed, Irish Members, he thought, ought to take warning from the history of the past, and to hesitate now in interrupting legislation. His right hon. Friend had clearly shown not only that this Bill had come up to, but that it went far beyond other previous measures—not only that it had come up to, but had gone beyond the previous demands of the tenants' advocates themselves. He showed that in 1853 a wider Bill was offered than any other up to this time, and that though it passed the House of Commons still it had fallen through, and had been succeeded by measures far less comprehensive. Did that convey no warning? He (Mr. Gregory) would not assume the responsibility of standing in the way of a proposal which had met with the acceptance of his hon. Friends the Member for Cork (Mr. Maguire) and the Member for Mayo (Mr. G. H. Moore), who had been for years the prominent and trusted advocates of the tenants' cause. Never yet had there been such a chance for the settlement of the question. The Liberal party had now a large and compact majority, with a powerful Minister at its head; but as large majorities and as powerful Ministers had been suddenly broken up. From the accounts in the papers of the Conservative banquet of the night before—it would seem as if hon. Gentlemen opposite were of opinion that something of the kind was likely soon to occur, for the chairman on that occasion remarked that the duties of the Conservative party for the present were to protect the Ministry against the pressure and incursions of the "Left." If, then, anything did occur to prevent the passing of a Land Bill, how great would be the responsibility of those who aided in bringing about such a result! He would venture to say that if the Irish representatives returned to Ireland at the close of the Session with no message of peace in the shape of a Land Bill, a state of things still more disastrous, more miserable, and more intolerable even than that which now existed would have to be encountered. Holding these opinions, it would, he thought, be most ungraceful and ungrateful not to give the Government full credit for anxious and sincere desire to place the tenure of land in Ireland on a more satisfactory basis; to establish security where insecurity exists; to produce content where widespread discontent prevails, and to replace the reign of terrorism by the reign of law. Even the Members who had spoken in opposition to the Bill had given the Government full credit for having these objects in view while framing the present Bill. Some hon. Gentlemen opposite had said that further inquiries into the subject ought to precede legislation; but they had had inquiries enough from the days of the Devon Commission, and now had come the time to give effect to these inquiries. A document had recently been presented to the House, the Reports of the Irish Poor Law Inspectors, in reply to a number of queries sent out by the Chief Secretary, and he would venture to say that there could not be found one man of common sense or of common feeling who could read those documents unmoved, or fail to be convinced that the time had come when the bad landlord should be compelled to do that by force of law which the good landlord did by force of duty. The Reports to which he referred stated, he was happy to say, that, as a general rule, the landlords of Ireland did their duty honestly by their properties and leniently by their tenantry. No documents which had yet been published would, he believed, do more to right the Irish landlord in English estimation than these impartial Reports. They, at the same time, unfolded tales of widespread insecurity and discontent, and revealed instances of harshness and oppression unchecked and unpunished. Outrage was thus generated. Once commenced in a locality, it spreads like an epidemic—the innocent as well as the guilty landlord were involved in the universal feeling of suspicion and dislike—and that being the state of Ireland at present, it was absolutely necessary that not another Session should pass without an alteration of the whole state of the relations between landlord and tenant in that country being effected. The spread of education was another cause of that necessity. There was not a single act of alleged harshness and oppression that did not find its way into the Press, whore, in too many cases, it was magnified and distorted. These comments were read in every cottage, and secret societies were formed to obtain by violence that remedy which the law was impotent to give. This state of things involved all the landlords of Ireland in the common feeling of dislike and distrust towards a class in which many grave acts of injustice and oppression had their origin, and no portion of the community had a greater interest than the landlords to alter this state of things, which was a scandal to England and a misery to Ireland. If, then, while accepting the principle of the Bill—which was to give security to tenants and to enable them to purchase the fee-simple of land—he (Mr. Gregory) could effect the main object of the Bill by a more broad and simple mode of treatment, he hoped he should not lay himself open to the imputation of a desire merely to cavil and find fault. He would have wished to have taken the whole Government measure without the alteration of one jot or tittle as loyally as they had accepted the Church measure of last year. In that case there was only one broad principle of dealing with the question, and on that principle the First Minister of the Crown determined to stand or fall. The Irish Members took him at his word. While that great measure was on its voyage they never suggested a stay or alteration in its course. On the present occasion the Minister had acted differently. He had invited them to criticize the measure, and to bring to bear on it the result of their knowledge and experience. The Irish Church could only have been dealt with in one way; the land question could be dealt with in various ways. If he could propose a settlement which, in his humble opinion, would be quite as much for the interest of the landlord as of the tenant—which would be more broad, more clearly defined, and more easily comprehended by simple minds, and more uniform—he thought it would not be considered presumptuous to bring it forward. Since the introduction of the Bill he had been inundated with letters from his constituents, from priest and squire and tenant, and he felt bound to say that they all complained that its provisions were too complicated. The Judges of the land in Ireland complained that they were puzzled by its intricacies. Even the Solicitor General for Ireland, in his speech, in order to explain it, was obliged to go backwards and forwards, mitigating, expanding, and colouring one clause by the aid of some other clause or clauses. The Times' writers seemed equally puzzled as to the purport of what they call the "mystical eighth clause." The hon. Member for Mayo had characterized the Bill as a "mighty maze," though not "without a plan," and he himself (Mr. Gregory) was reminded in dealing with it of the famous house of Dean Swift, which was built on such fine mathematical principles of compensations and adjustments, that when a sparrow perched on one of the gables, he overthrew the equilibrium and brought the whole fabric to the ground. In dealing with a question so vitally interesting to a simple class of men, it was necessary that the measure should have three qualifications. It should be simple in its provisions; it should, secondly, avoid all incentives to litigation; and, thirdly, it should be uniform. If it were not simple, it would be suspected; if it led to litigation, it would load to new resentments between landlord and tenant; if it were not uniform, it would give rise to the supposition that one part of the country were placed on a better footing than the rest. He (Mr. Gregory) wanted to hear nothing about either Southern or Northern tenures. He wished to avoid all attempted definition of Northern tenant-right which varied in every county, barony, and even on some estates. He should wish for one broad enactment, covering Munster as well as Ulster, and creating no distinction between the North and the South of Ireland. There were some proposals which he would now lay before the House for the objects he had in view. He had recently submitted these proposals to the Irish delegates of the tenant-farmers at their meeting in London, and had asked them whether, if adopted, they would be a complete and final settlement of the land question in Ireland. The answer was that they would, and that, if they were adopted, the land question would never be heard of again in that country. It was important that the House should know what the people really wanted. Perhaps their demands might, on grounds of public principle and justice, be thought by the Government too great to be satisfied; but it was well to know and thoroughly canvass these questions. First of all he proposed to the delegates—and the sketch was a very broad one, dealing with principles and not going into details—that a Land Court should be constituted; the present rents throughout Ireland to be accepted as the basis of settlement; that the landlord might come before the court and allege exceptional circumstances as a ground for raising rents, while the tenant might go before the court to impugn exorbitant rents; the court in both cases to settle rents by arbitration or valuation. It might seem a grave thing to interfere with rents. He (Mr. Gregory) never contemplated a general re-valuation which, in many cases, would be anything but favourable to the tenant; but if there was one thing that created soreness and irritation, it was the exorbitant rents levied at this moment upon certain properties in Ireland. He would mention two or three instances. He had sold a property in the Encumbered Estates Court at an early period after these sales began. He had made no stipulation, and gave his tenants no leases, for he had never been asked for any, and had never thought about the matter; and the result was that those tenants had had their rents doubled on some of the townlands, and, in some instances, more than doubled. These poor people were now existing—existence was the only word for it; they were hardly living—and were ruined. Still they were clinging to their holdings; everybody knew that an Irish tenant would do anything rather than quit his holding, and this fact made a strong impression upon him. Speaking of the West of Ireland, Dr. Brodie said— Many of the purchasers in these courts were land agents or deputy agents, farmers, shopkeepers, and attorneys. Some few were theorists. Many more were speculators. The eager desire to become proprietors of land for social distinction, profit, &c., induced men to purchase more than they could pay for, and loans became a necessity. One of this class of purchasers, in my district, borrowed £20,000 from an insurance company. With the speculative purchasers increase of rents, as far as could be borne, was made to provide for interest on cash and loans, and for the discharge of debts incurred. Under purchasers of the description mentioned evictions or exorbitant increase of rents ensued. There had been such cases in many parts of the county he represented; but there was another instance of still greater importance, mentioned by Dr. Roughan, as to the estates of the Law Life Insurance Corporation— The Ballinahinch estates, the territory of the Martins, have been purchased by a wealthy London corporation. The rents at the time of the purchase, as I am informed, amounted to £8,000 or £9,000 a year. One-third of those estates so purchased, or more, has since been resold to different parties, and yet the tenants on the remaining unsold portion now pay a rental of some thousands a year in excess of the rent paid in the first year of the purchase on the entire estate. (It was stated at a recent trial, that the rental was even now £14,000 a year.) Nevertheless, it appears that the tenants on the lots which were sold by this corporation have suffered severely by the change of ownership, inasmuch as numbers of them have been evicted, and the rents of those remaining have, in some instances, been raised from 40 to 100 per cent. With regard to the proposal to interfere with the rents, he would read a few lines taken from the last letter of The Times' Commissioner, who said— It is idle to say that this would be introducing a novel principle into the Bill; for, in many cases as it now stands, the Courts will be obliged to fix rent; and it proceeds, as Mr. Gladstone avows, upon she assumption that, in numberless instances, the Irish tenant is not in a position to contract in an independent manner with regard to rent and other particulars. He would now return to the proposals he submitted for discussion. The next in order to those he had already read was, that at periods to be fixed in the Bill rents should be revised at the option of the landlord or tenant, such revision to be based on the average, during a certain number of previous years, of the local prices of agricultural produce. Improvements made by the tenant would not, of course, be estimated in such revision. That would be the fairest way of settling rents, for the average local prices of produce might easily be ascertained at the market town of the barony, and collisions between landlords and tenants might thus be avoided. The last and most important proposal was this—"A tenant may sell his goodwill in all cases, whether of eviction or of voluntary departure from the farm. Landlords to have a veto on reasonable grounds against the tenant offered by the outgoer. Arrears of rent to be paid out of the price of goodwill. Landlord to have right of pre-emption. Tenants to be evicted only for statutory causes, namely—non-payment of rent, subletting, and ill-treatment causing exhaustion of land." To that he would add as a cause for eviction the commission of any serious crime not political. There would be no more beneficial provision in the Bill than that a tenant should know that, if engaged in any crime, he would be liable to immediate eviction. Such a provision would be the means of putting down crime most effectually in parts of Ireland. He was acquainted with a case in which it was brought home to a well-to-do farmer in his neighbourhood that he and all his family for years had been stealing the sheep of his neighbours. Ought a landlord to be called upon to pay that man for disturbing his occupation? The Judge would probably say "No," on the ground of "unreasonable conduct"—the words used in the Bill; but it would be infinitely better that the law should pronounce decidedly upon the point. Another proposal of his was that mere grazing farms should not come under the operation of the Bill. This was a matter on which the Irish people had a stronger feeling than on almost any other connected with the land. The House was basing its legislation on justice and expediency; but neither justice nor expediency demanded that compensation should be given to more graziers for their occupation of a large tract of grazing land. What right had a man to expect compensation for disturbance of occupation when he had not invested a single farthing in his holding, which was endeared to him by no recollections, and from which, when he had received a year's notice, he could drive his bullocks and put the money in his pocket? It was stated the other day that in certain counties land valued at £70,000 a year was held by graziers, some of them living in Liverpool. Now, in case any landlords chose to put these large grazing tracts under tillage, erect farm buildings and introduce tenants, were they to be fined £140,000 before they could recover their land and replace brutes by human beings? He had received a letter from a friend who was abroad, and who said— When I came into possession of part of my property, which is all grass land, and which except round the house cannot be called demesne land, I was not in a pecuniary position to stock the lands myself, so I let them from year to year, with the view of ultimately taking them up and farming them, which I should do as an occupation in the event of my living in the country. They are let at a low rent, and all fencing and improvement required has been done at my expense, or allowed for to the occupier, so there can be no claim for improvement; but if this Bill passes in its present form, I shall be reduced to the alternative of either paying two years' rent for possession of the land, or, living in the country without an occupation, become a mere vent-charger. Some of these lands have only been in possession of the tenant two years, and none of them for more than five; therefore, if I want to take them up, I am in this position—that I would have let the five years' holding for three years' rent, and the two years' holding for no rent at all. If there is no change made in the Bill, my present tenant will become virtually the landlord, without the odium attached to the name, and I must remain a wanderer on the face of the earth, and be taxed perhaps hereafter as an absentee. Those should be provisions of the legislation which he (Mr. Gregory) would propose as the final settlement of the Irish land question. He was fortified in making this proposal, because, on turning his eye to one part of Ireland, he found these principles to some extent recognized. There content and harmony prevailed between landlord and tenant, rents were higher regarding the inherent quality of the soil than elsewhere, and larger agricultural returns were obtained from the soil, owing to the security which permitted an outlay of capital upon it. An hon. Member the other night quoted Mr. Thompson's pamphlet, who described the state of the North of Ireland as one of "armed peace," and the hon. Member said it was an armed peace between landlord and tenant. It was no such thing—it was an armed peace between foolish people of two denominations, who were quarrelling and cutting each other's throats on the ground of religion. There was no ill-feeling in Ulster between landlord and tenant, though there were widespread apprehensions in Ulster that this Bill permitted their custom to be restrained. Extend then, with this example before you, this principle, and improve upon it. The extension he proposed would cover the case of Ulster, as well as of the rest of Ireland. The complaint of the representatives of the Southern and Eastern and Western tenants was that evictions may still go on although divested of their former cruelty, but still they may go on; for there will always be found persons with capital to stand behind the landlord, to pay the compensation for disturbance and improvements, and to give increased rents. Surely the immense sums given for Ulster goodwill, even with high rents, confirm this argument. The Ulster representatives on their side state that the value of the tenant-custom may be rendered nugatory to the tenant by an arbitrary increase of rent at any moment. His (Mr. Gregory's) proposal would cover both these cases. Even in The Times it was admitted that unless the question of Northern rents were dealt with the whole tenant-custom of the North might become a farce. He had recently received a letter from a gentleman known to the Prime Minister, he was chairman of Lord Waterford's tenants in Londonderry, and had been lately to England about the purchase of the property by the tenants; this gentleman (Mr. Robert Macrory) after speaking in the most enthusiastic manner of the reception given him by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) said— I do hope Mr. Gladstone's Bill may not be opposed, as it would allay all angry feelings now existing, and does not in any degree interfere with rights of landlord wishing to act fairly by his tenants. But Air. Macrory, from his practical knowledge of the value of the tenant-custom of the North, adds this very significant sentence, which is precisely what he (Mr. Gregory) wished to carry out for the rest of Ireland— There is one omission in the Bill. I would suggest it has always been the prevailing custom to give the tenant the right to sell his interest, of course satisfying the landlord with the tenant who supplants him. The purchase given insures solvent tenants, and induces them to keep their farms and houses in an improved state. When this is not done I observe the reverse, the landlord wishing to keep the tenants in a servile and dependent condition. Almost every one who had spoken had a fling at the tenant-custom, and English Members deprecated its extension throughout Ireland; but facts were better than theories; and though it might be contended that, theoretically, Ulster usage was conducive to bad farming, the testimony of those who spoke from experience arrived at a totally different conclusion. Each of the Reports of the Poor Law Inspectors on this subject showed that where the Ulster tenant-right was recognized in Ireland there was perfect content on the part of the tenant, great improvement was going on, and the landlord felt secure as to his rent. Dr. Brodie, in his Report, said— I could select examples from the counties of Galway, Roscommon, and Leitrim, where the more indulgent landlords testify, under their own hands, that they allow their tenants continuous and undisturbed occupancy, or the right to sell the 'goodwill' of their holdings. The recognition of the occupation-right of the tenant, irrespective of improvements, is far and away more important in the eyes of the tenants, and more conducive to contentment, than any measure of compensation. Dr. Knox's testimony as to the successful working of the Ulster custom in the great tenant-right counties of the North, was most valuable; but oven still more valuable were the testimonies of the other Inspectors, showing the immediate effects produced in other parts of Ireland, wherever this custom was adopted by the landlord. The hon. Member for Kilkenny (Sir John Gray) had already quoted from Mr. Robinson's Report as to the effect which the introduction of the Ulster custom had produced on Lord Portsmouth's estate in Wexford. These are the words of Lord Portsmouth's agent on the application to his Lordship's estate of tenant-right— It has inspired with confidence and energy the agricultural tenants, who have changed badly cultivated patches of land into fine farms, now well cultivated and well drained, on which they have erected, at considerable expense, suitable, substantial, and, in many cases, costly residences and homesteads, with all the necessary require-merits for good farming. This has all been done without any outlay on the part of the landlord. Enniscorthy has been changed from a mere village of mud hovels into an important well-built market town. All this has been done by Irish tenants on the faith of tenant-right having been accorded to them. The rental has increased to more than double, and is now punctually paid instead of being irregularly paid. The provisions which he had sketched out might seem grave innovations, but every single principle in them was more or less recognized by the enactments of the Bill. He (Mr. Gregory) saw in it a desire to restrain excessive rents; he saw a desire to extend the practice of the sale of goodwill; he saw a desire to give continuity, if not perpetuity, of tenure. Let them only carry out these objects clearly and at once, and there would be an end to the landlord and tenant question in Ireland. Of course, it would be said that this was adopting a novel principle of dealing with property in Ireland, which would be contrary to all the received maxims of dealing with property in England and Scotland. But the whole Bill was an acknowledgment of the difference of Irish ideas from those which prevailed in England and Scotland. Were we prepared to give English and Scotch farmers seven years' compensation for disturbance, to allow English and Scotch farmers to plead excessive rents against ejectment, or to give to Scotch and English farmers compensation for improvements executed during the last twenty years? You abandon the great principle of mutual contract, which is the basis of English and Scotch tenure; and therefore the extension of the Bill up to the point proposed by him was a mere question of expediency, and not of principle. No doubt there were other very strong arguments against his proposal. It would, of course, be said that it was not possible to create a custom which he (Mr. Gregory) proposed to do, and that the present Bill only recognized customs when it found them. It would be said that it was a great injustice to give the tenant a property in the estate of the landlord without compensation to the landlord. It would be said that it would be hard on the good landlord who had kept his rents low, and be favourable to the bad who had kept them high. He acknowledged the force of these objections, and he would ask whether it would not be possible to allow a compromise by which a landlord voluntarily accepting these conditions might oust himself from the operation of the Bill. In that case the landlord would accept the custom, would grant the share of property to the tenant, and would be enabled to make arrangements as regards rents with the tenants, which would obviate the last objection. He (Mr. Gregory) would do so himself to-morrow; he would say to his tenants—"I give you the benefit of all the provisions I have sketched, and I oust myself from the operation of the Bill." In doing so he would not regard himself as a mere lounger or annuitant, he would still have deep interest in watching over his property, and the same old friendly intercourse with the tenants would remain. No doubt by this Bill every landlord would become more or less an annuitant; but under the system which he proposed, he would at least be an annuitant with an annuity, while under the Bill he might be an annuitant without one. He thought that the Bill, so far as the landlords were concerned, either went too far or not far enough. He himself would wish it to go further. There was a passage in a French play which was apposite to the position of the landlords. A gentleman makes a warm declaration to a lady who replies that she cannot give the fixity of love, but only the security of friendship, and the gentleman's answer was— Madame, votre amitié est trop ou trop peu. And such was the sense of many letters which he had received from landlords of his county on the subject of the Bill. It was too much or too little. A plan like his, however, would get rid of all litigation for the recovery of rent which he feared would be inevitable under the Bill. It would get rid of the litigation as to improvements. The tenant would have every inducement to invest capital and labour on his holding, because he would get increased value for his farm should he have to leave it. The landlord, moreover, instead of being inflexible, as the Bill compelled him to be, would have power to show indulgence to a tenant in difficulties, because he would know that if the man were honest and hardworking his position might next year, with a good harvest, be redeemed, and if not the rent would be secure from the proceeds of the goodwill. It was something to do a thing in the way a whole country wished it to be done. All Ireland understands the principle of Ulster tenant-right, and all Ireland apparently cries aloud for its extension. As Mr. Drummond once said—and he knew Ireland well—"to succeed in Ireland is not merely to do a thing, but it is the way in which a thing is done which brings with it success or failure," and the instinct of every Irish fanner pointed out that this was the plain and simple mode of doing at once, what it was clear the Bill contemplated to do hereafter. He (Mr. Gregory) hoped that Irish landlords on the other side of the House would join with him in asking for this final settlement. It was far better to put down one's foot and to find bottom than to flounder about amid continued agitation, continued discontent, continued causes of difference, and continued terrorism. The state of Ireland was fearful. The whole of the bonds of society there seemed to be breaking up. They heard rumours that measures of repression were about to be proposed for that country. If it was really necessary to bring forward measures of repression, how much better it would be to have the whole agricultural population ranged on the side of law and order, as he believed would be the case if the suggestions he had made were adopted! He was convinced, indeed, that if a Land Bill were passed which met the general approval of the Irish people, it would be the best Coercion Bill they ever could enact, and no repressive measure at all would be required. With respect to the purchase of laud by the tenants, that was a subject to which he attached the greatest importance; and the provisions relating to it he regarded as one of the most important parts of that Bill. On looking over the statistics laid on their table that morning he found that there were 680,000 holdings in Ireland, of which only 22,217 were held by the owners in fee. That, he thought, was an unfortunate state of things. It would be infinitely better for Ireland if there were more gradations in society, and if, besides the great landowners, they had more farmers in possession of land in fee. It had always appeared to him one of the greatest evils of that country that the great mass of the agricultural population should be divorced from the ownership of the soil. The arguments against the proposal for assisting tenants to become proprietors had generally come from the other side of the House. One hon. Gentleman had objected to it because its operation would be partial; but surely that was rather an argument in its favour. It would be a great misfortune if all the land in Ireland were bought up and occupied by small farmers. Again, it was said that the system of petite culture had proved a failure; but under the operation of that Bill the system of petite culture was not contemplated. The farms to be sold to the tenants would, probably, consist of a considerable number of acres on which a man would be able to have stock and feed it. Further, it was urged that the tenant would probably be unable to pay the addition to his rent incident to the plan for making him the owner of his holding, and that there would be great trouble in collecting the advances from him. Now, he thought the period allowed for repayment should be extended, so that the rent-charge might fall lighter on the tenant. The same system might be adopted as was practised under the Land Improvement Act, and the tenant should have the option of repaying the purchase-money of his farm in thirty-five years, at 5 per cent interest, instead of in twenty-two years at 6½ per cent. That would greatly alleviate the burden to him. Men who had paid one-third or one-quarter of the purchase-money down would make every exertion to clear off the remainder; and, knowing the position in which they stood, their friends would always be found ready, if necessary, to assist them. He himself sold some land in the Encumbered Estates Court, and certain of the tenants, having some money, said they would like to purchase their own holdings. They had about one-third of the value of the farms, and they expected to be able to repay the whole in four or five years. His agent became security at the bank for the remainder. Every farthing of the purchase-money was repaid within two years; and those persons were now thriving honest men, and among the best and strongest farmers in the district. That was an example which he could quote from his own experience. He was astonished at the arguments against that system all coming from the other side of the House, because if there was one thing more conservative in its tendency than another it was the possession of land by a number of people; while if there was one thing more revolutionary in its tendency than another it was the concentration of land in the hands of a few great proprietors, and the impossibility of the people owning moderate portions of the soil. In conclusion, he would say that in opening up a new discussion it was not with the slightest intention of impeding the Bill, to which, if certain Amendments could be added, he wished God speed with all his heart. He trusted that the Government would consider well his suggestions, knowing, as he did, that if they accepted even some of them, how gratefully the Bill would be received by the whole people of Ireland, instead of with murmurings as at present. He had recently come from the East, and the track along the Desert which he traversed was marked with skeletons. The path of his right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland was marked by the skeletons of former Land Bills which had failed to make their passages and had perished by the way. It should not be on his conscience that by any act of his the bones of this Bill should also whiten in the wilderness.


Sir, after listening last night to the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Liskeard (Mr. Horsman), and also this evening to the speech of the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, my memory goes back a few years, and a flood of varied recollections comes over me. I congratulate my right hon. Friend at the head of the Government on having obtained the hearty, cordial, and ungrudging support of my right hon. Friend the Member for Liskeard for this measure. My right! hon. Friend last night made, if I may so call it, his baptismal cry—it was his first speech in this House since he passed through the baptism of the Dissolution; and when I heard him, without any criticism of any sort or kind, praise the Bill of the Government, the conclusion I came to was that his regeneration had been by total immersion. My hon. Friend the Member for Galway (Mr. W. H. Gregory) told us that he had lately returned from the East, and that his path there had been marked by skeletons—not the skeletons, I hope, of his former sentiments. I had read that in his pilgrimage he visited the residence of the ancient poet-king of Israel, and there renounced independence and all its works, on his knees; but I am glad to find from his speech this evening that, after all his roving, he still retains this amount of independence that, while giving his cordial support to the second reading of this Bill, he does not fail not only to criticize it, but to produce what is to some extent a rival scheme to that of the Government. For myself, I am not an Irishman, or an Irish proprietor, and I cannot profess to speak as one conversant with Irish habits or ways. Therefore, I do not attempt to discuss with my hon. Friend (Mr. Gregory) the rival measure that he has laid before us. I should not have ventured to obtrude myself in this debate were it not that, as a Scotch Member, I see in this Bill principles so novel, so sweeping, so revolutionary in their character, so totally opposed to anything we have ever seen in the shape of legislation up to this time in this House, that I feel bound to enter my independent protest against them. Do not let it be supposed that I am hostile to legislation. I agree with my hon. Friend (Mr. Gregory) in thinking it necessary that this question should be settled speedily, in the interest of both landlords and tenants. A measure on this subject became necessary when it was reported by the Devon Commission as being so; it became inevitable when Bill after Bill—the "skeletons" of which my hon. Friend has spoken—was brought into this House, and when my right hon. Friend at the head of the Government said, with his enthusiasm and eloquence, on taking the reins of power, that this was one of the questions for the settlement of which he went into Office. But for myself I will only further add that there is no man in this House who more heartily sympathizes with the concluding passage of my right hon. Friend's speech, in which he expressed a hope that this Bill would produce blessings on Ireland. I am sure there is not a Member of this House who, however he may criticize the provisions of this Bill, does not heartily wish that in this Session we may at last bridge over the Irish difficulty, and bind the Irish people to us by ties stronger than those of law and empire. But I think we should approach this question undeterred by agrarian outrages from going liberally into the subject of tenant-right, and uninfluenced by the exaggerated language or the confiscating views of some of those who advocate the tenant's cause. On the other hand, we should not go into this question in any way scared by that Fenianism which has of recent years sprung up, or beguiled by the eloquence of my right hon. Friend. The Chief Secretary for Ireland has pointed to what was the state of things four years ago, and he said a great advance had since been made. Sir, I should like to go back four years—to the time when there was in this country a Minister as powerful and as able as my right hon. Friend, who had besides the advantage of being an Irish proprietor with a well-managed estate. He epitomized this Irish question in the most-pithy way by saying that "tenant-right was landlord-wrong." We ought to look at this Bill from a landlord's as well as a tenant's point of view, and we ought to see what there is in this Bill that comes under the head of "landlord wrong;" for there are in this Bill principles which, to a certain extent, do wrong to the landlords of Ireland. I am told that the provisions of this Bill will lead to the growing up of tenant-right, under certain circumstances, after it has been bought out by the landlord. I know that view is taken by some Ulster landlords. With regard to the whole question of tenant-right, it must appear to persons on this side of St. George's Channel as being a matter which it would be very questionable policy to stereotype in a country, especially when a person who is acknowledged to be one of the best Irish landlords (Lord Dufferin) has bought up the tenant-right on his estate, because he thought it inconsistent with the proper and beneficial management of the land. I am told that the abuses of that system are carried to such an extent that on the estate of the Marquess of Waterford, in the North of Ireland, forty or fifty years' purchase is given for the land. We may guess what a miserable existence must be that of the tenants, and how deeply indebted they must be to those of whom they borrow the money. To a stranger looking at this question, it appears to be a landlord-wrong that, as to claims for compensation, you should throw upon the landlord the onus probandi that he has made the improvements. I can understand its being required that by one or the other the proof should be given; but I cannot understand that it should be thrown wholly on the landlord, especially when, as regards buildings and the reclamation of land, there is no limitation of time. As far as the provisions of the Bill go, there is no such limit, and yon might go back to the Deluge, which was, I presume, the time when land began to be reclaimed. Again, the provisions as to cottiers appear to me to be a landlord-wrong, because the Bill enables tenants, but not landlords, to give land to cottiers. With regard to purchase, if the House wishes to lend money to enable tenants to buy estates, I should be the last person to object. Parliament has lent money to landlords to enable them to drain their property, and on the same principle money might be lent to tenants to enable them to purchase estates when they can do so. But I am told that if an Irish proprietor has a mortgage on his property, the mortgagee or bondholder can force him to sell in the Encumbered Estates Court, find if the tenants choose to combine, they can force him to soil at any price which they may offer, for no one else dare step in and bid more money. These are points which appear to me to be deserving of consideration in Committee on this Bill. But there is another point. What will be the effect of this Bill, not only upon Irish, but also upon English and Scotch landlords? It will affect property of all kinds, whether funded or landed, and it will affect employers of labour. Again, it interferes with contracts and gives compensation for what is called "disturbance;" and to these two points I wish to direct the attention of the House. The question of contracts divides itself into two parts—you forbid contracts and you regulate them. To forbid contracts appears to me to be a novel principle, and one which goes directly in the teeth not only of recent legislation, but of legislation which we are promised this Session. In coming here to-night I passed the house where for two years I sat on a Commission for inquiring into Trades Unions; and that Commission unanimously came to the conclusion that, in these days of free trade and free contract, it was not right that any class of men should be prevented from combining to get what they could, and to make their bargain with their employer; and a Bill, embodying, I presume, the views of that Committee, is to be brought forward in this House. How can my right hon. Friend reconcile the principle of forbidding agreements in this Bill, with the principle of free contract in the other Bill which is to come before the House? The Secretary for Ireland gave us a gauge upon this question; he said that four years ago there was not any such proposition, but we have made a very great advance. Again, as to the regulation of contracts. The Bill proposes to regulate the length and the terms of leases and the rent, and, adding to that the clauses relating to disturbance and to ten-acre holdings, the Bill really gives what the extreme party in Ireland want—fixity of tenure, with rents regulated by the Government. I believe that no Scotchman, except myself, has spoken in this debate; and I am therefore curious to know what the Scotch Members, who support the Government, think of the regulation of contracts. In what does that regulation consist? You regulate the length of leases, and say that in some cases they are to be for thirty-one years, in others for twenty-one years. A thirty-one years' lease is to cover this, but not to cover that, yet a twenty-one years' lease is to cover almost everything. Among the matters which a thirty-one years' lease is not to cover is the reclamation of land; and I should like to know what my Scotch Friends can say of that. In the first place, I think they would not like thirty-one years' leases by way of trying to raise in Ireland a condition of land tenure similar to the conditions in England and Scotland. But if they do not like thirty-one years' leases, how do they like leases that do not cover the reclamation of land? Every Scotchman, and almost every man who has over crossed the Tweed, well knows the prosperous state of agriculture in Scotland, where the heather is being reclaimed and giving way to turnip crops, oats, and wheat. The extension of hill-side cultivation in that country is due entirely to the system under which nineteen years' leases cover all such improvements. I hope this matter will come home to the Scotch Members when we go into Committee. The right hon. Member for Liskeard said he could not conceive, either on the ground of expediency or on any other ground, that the effect of the clause under similar circumstances could be different in the two countries. But you may have similar results with totally different circumstances. Upon what does the limitation of agreement in Ireland rest? Upon the poverty of the tenant, upon the impossibility, from his hunger for land, of his making a proper bargain with his landlord. I remember that last year a Bill on the subject of the Game laws was brought into this House, and that Bill interfered with contracts between landlords and tenants. I heard the argument used by an Officer of the Crown that the competition for land in Scotland was so great among the agriculturists, who can farm thousands of acres and pay thousands of pounds in rent, that the law of hypothec (or the law of distress) and the Game laws ought to be altered, because the parties were not in a fair position, owing to that competition, to make a bargain. You may have in the two countries circumstances which are materially different, but lead to precisely the same results. If you apply the principle of regulating contracts in Ireland between man and man, and thus interfere with political economy, there is no earthly reason why you should not have the same principle applied elsewhere; and only yesterday I congratulated my hon. Friend who brought in that Bill on the Government having adopted his principle, and applied it in their Irish land measures. It is another of those questions which did not exist four years ago in the Bill which, according to my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland, was drawn up by the firm friends of Ireland in that day. But, Sir, "we have made a great advance." The other point to which I will refer, as objectionable in principle in this Bill, is what is called compensation for disturbance. Now, in the legislation of this country this principle is as novel as the principle of the State interfering with agreements between landlord and tenant. The extent to which this principle goes has been pithily described by my right hon. Friend when he said—"This Bill will prevent a man from doing what he will with his own." It may be a right principle; but it is at least a new one. For what you propose is this—If a man, for any reason, with a view to the improvement of agriculture, with a view to adding to his own farm, or to his grounds, or for any other purpose, wants his property, he has to buy it back at seven years' purchase. I heard a discussion at my house the other night between two gentlemen, both of them in favour of this clause on the whole, but one of them doubted whether it would work well, because a rich tenant might go and offer the landlord seven years' compensation for the farm which a poor man possessed. And what was the answer? It was this—supposing a small farm of ten acres at £1 per acre; the person who wished to get it would have to pay £70 in the first place for disturbance; there would, perhaps, be £30 more as compensation for improvements, and then to my surprise I heard that it would take from £30 to £40 more to clear away the fences. What a state of agriculture that must be where on ten acres it would take £30 or £40 to clear away the fences! And that is the state of agriculture which you wish to stereotype and perpetuate. I heard last night, in a speech of my right hon. Friend (Mr. Horsman), a very graphic description of two contracting parties, in which the one went about with double-barrelled guns, while the other crept behind a hedge to shoot him. What must have struck every person when he heard that account was, what a shame that such a scandal should be suffered to exist. If you have not maintained law and order in Ireland; if you have not given that security to life and property which is the prime cause why Government exists, and therefore you say the whole law of contracts, and of the relations between landlord and tenant, is to be interfered with; it seems to me the most monstrous argument I ever heard uttered in the House of Commons. With reference to this compensation for disturbance, I want to know where it is to stop? There has been a great deal of "disturbance" proposed by the Secretary of State for War the other day. He is disturbing the officers of the Army, and yet he did not seem inclined to give them seven years' compensation. But there is another class. As to the rich class of officers, like the landlords, my right hon. Friend may come down on them; but there is a poorer class, a class somewhat in an analogous position to that of the tenants in Ireland, and that is the soldiers. How did the soldiers that you are dismissing now enlist? For twelve years, with the power of going on for nine years more, and at the end of the twenty-one they were to be entitled to a pension. But they are liable to be dismissed at any moment if the Army is reduced. And now my right hon. Friend, with the view of lumping the Chancellor of the Exchequer to a surplus of £5,000,000, strikes off 12,000 men with a sweep of his pen, at a time when there is great distress in the country, at a time when the papers are full of various schemes of emigration, which have found their way into this House. These men had a prospect, after twenty-one years' service, of 8d. or 1s. a day; but my right hon. Friend strikes them off without any compensation. But if you give compensation in the one case, why not in the other, more especially when there is this stronger claim in favour of the soldier, that the soldier, whom you send away uncompensated, is a shootee; while the tenant in Ireland, to compensate whom you are going to violate all the principles of political economy, is a shooter. I say these are very wild doctrines which have found their way into this Bill, and again I apply the gauge of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Ireland—"They were not in the Irish Land Bill four years ago, but we have made a great advance since then." And why? I can attribute it only to two things. I look upon these features in the Bill as the product of what I may call sentiment with saltpetre—that is to say, I believe that my right hon. Friend, with his warm heart, kindly feelings, and impulsive nature, has been carried away by the wild deeds that have been done in Ireland from the sound views of political economy which he imbibed under Sir Robert Peel, and that he thinks he is doing a kindly act to those men by establishing principles for their sake which ought never to have been mentioned in this House, and which I hope will not be found in this Bill when it is read a third time. Now, any views of my own I naturally felt would require corroboration, and, therefore, I did this, and I think my right hon. Friend will admit that the opinions I have got are sound. I sent one copy of the Bill to a well-known, first-class Edinburgh lawyer, quite conversant with the management of estates. I sent another to a country solicitor—what we call a writer—in one of the most agricultural counties in Scotland, who does more business with farmers, perhaps, than anybody else, and who is thoroughly conversant with everything connected with land. And lastly, I sent a copy to a gentleman, a Scotch proprietor, conversant with the management of land in Scotland, and who has also had the management of land in England. I said to these gentlemen—"Look at this Bill, at the principles you find in it, and give an opinion as to what you think." If the House wishes I will read the opinions I have received, because I think them the most valuable that can be got. The Edinburgh lawyer says— There is danger of legislation for the exceptional state of things in Ireland, that it should familiarize men's minds with a state of things between landlord and tenant that would be destructive in England or Scotland. The landlord is not to be left really proprietor of the land, but the 'court' is to take the part of proprietor. The bondholder is ignored. Rules issued by the Privy Council may protect him, but the Bill does not; landlord and tenant and court agree upon a price which maybe insufficient to meet the claim of the mortgagee. The preference given to the charge of annuity of £6 10s. per cent on the land for money advanced by the Board of Works for improvements, &c., is an unjust provision for mortgagees. The country solicitor says— May be land has been let at low rent in consideration of the tenant making improvements, or other such cases, but this is a compulsory power on the owner to make compensation without usage or contract, or without it ever having been contemplated by either party during the contract—it is a violation of the law of contracts; an entirely new principle in jurisprudence. This legislation for the future, according to certain fixed details only, is a violation of the rights of property, of the rights of the public, and a direct interference with the principles of free trade. The results would be injurious in a general sense. Altogether, the subjects for which compensation are allowed are too varied and undefined; rights of free trade are violated, contracts treated as waste, and the law upset. The Scotch proprietor, who has also had the management of land in England, says— The first consequence will be to sow broadcast over the land the seeds of universal litigation, embittering instead of smoothing over the hostilities between landlord and tenant; hostilities which it is the direct interest of the lawyers and priests to keep awake. The machinery will probably be found inadequate for the vast mass of disputes that will come before it, and at the end of a few years we shall find the courts choked with work, discontent as rife as ever, fresh litigation necessary. The case being desperate, the remedy must be extraordinary, but any direct violation of the rights of property in land must in the end intensity the evil. My prescription would be contract. Coerce, if you cannot persuade, all who have to do with land to make their bargains by written agreement, by putting at a legal disadvantage whoever neglects doing so. And provide proper means for enforcing such agreements, and for teaching the Irish, if we can, the meaning and value of legal obligation. Their perverted views on this subject are at the bottom, not of the land difficulty only, but of all the other disorders in the country. There is one more voice from Scotland, to which I think my right hon. Friend will listen with some deference. Among the many Scotch proprietors I bethought me of one who had property analogous to that of Irish proprietors—I mean Lord Lovat. He has tenants with holdings of all sizes. I have been often on his estates, and there in Inverness-shire yon see cultivation of the richest kind between some of the wildest parts of Scotland. Lord Lovat says—"I think, on the whole, the Irish Land Bill is a good one for that country under its present circumstances." [Cheers.] I do not say otherwise. I vote for the second reading. I said so. I object only to two of its principles; and those principles I shall take every opportunity of voting against. You might as well give compensation for a disturbance from the Treasury Bench. Indeed, I am not quite sure that my right hon. Friend had not that in view, because he has fixed for the compensation to be paid to a certain class of tenants "a sum not exceeding two years' rent," and in recent times two years has been the length of time after which my right hon. Friend has been disturbed from the Treasury Bench. Lord Lovat says— I think, on the whole, the Irish Land Bill is a good one for that country under its present circumstances, but there are some points on which it might be amended. I approve tenant-right being paid by the landlord where the tenant has paid it on entry to his farm, and there it should end. A thirty-one years' lease should cover all improvements on land, building, &c. I think twenty years is too long a period to go back for improvements—ten years would be quite enough. Unexhausted manures, if allowed for at all, should not exceed three years, and be very distinctly defined, otherwise it is only opening the door for the rogue to take advantage of the honest man. I do not approve agricultural leases being longer than fifteen or nineteen years. In my experience, both on my own estates and elsewhere, I have always found more improvements made on fifteen or nineteen than on thirty-one years' leases. Improvements are always made in the first five or seven years of the lease. In all leases made after the passing of this Act landlords and tenants should be allowed to contract together. I thank the House for having listened to these extracts; I think they are of value considering the sources whence they come; and perhaps the most valuable is that of Lord Lovat, who is a practical owner of land. But these are only the opinions of practical men who are engaged in dealing with land, and I should wish, if the House will bear with me for a moment longer, to fortify my objection to certain principles of the Bill as contrary to political economy and sound legislation by the opinions of some greater authority than Lord Lovat, whom I have quoted. I would present to the House one or two passages from speeches of a philosopher, sage, and orator, which, I think, bear out the view I am taking, and to which I would desire the attention of the House, and particularly of Her Majesty's Government. I find it stated as follows in a speech made in this House in the year 1866:— I hold it is a retrograde notion in jurisprudence to pass laws to limit the power of free contract between landlord and tenant. I hold this conduction of a compulsory term into voluntary introtracts to be a blunder—a solecism.… All these attempts against nature, against the laws of political economy, and against that natural law which binds men by the contracts they make, must in the nature of things recoil; and the person whom you mean to benefit is injured by them…… I have no doubt myself that in Irelànd, more than anywhere else, it is necessary our legislation should be founded on principles perfectly broad, perfectly well ascertained, perfectly defensible upon the most abstract philosophical grounds…… You cannot give up principle without encouraging those dreams of reconquering land which has been taken from them.….You must take your stand upon something; that something ought to be truth, honesty, and sound principle. If it is necessary to maintain them in England, it is ten times more necessary to adhere to them with punctilious accuracy in Ireland."—[3 Hansard, clxxxiii. 1078.] That, as I have said, was spoken in 1866; but in 1868 another speech was made, and I look to see if any change has come over the views which in 1866 I looked upon as being wise to a degree. In this latter speech, then, I find these words— As regards the laws of political economy, I believe they are the same on both sides of the Channel. As far as the right of private property goes, I would be no party to do anything in Ireland I would not do in England.…. There is an oasis in the desert of politics upon which we may safely rest, and that is afforded us by the principles of political economy."—[3 Hansard, cxc. 1502.] I need hardly tell the House that the speeches from which I have quoted extracts were delivered by the present Chancellor of the Exchequer. They were two very remarkable orations, and when delivered had a remarkable effect upon the House, for it was, indeed, re- freshing to be drenched with so much common sense, sound reason, and political economy. I would particularly call the attention of the House to the last passage, in which the right hon. Gentleman says— There is an oasis in the desert of politics upon which we may safely rest, and that is afforded us by the principles of political economy. I regret that my right hon. Friend has left that oasis. I regret it on his own account personally, for I have a great friendship for my right hon. Friend; but I should have regretted it on the nation's account less if he had left this oasis and gone out into the desert alone with all the sins of Hansard on his head. But he has not done this. He has gone into the desert in goodly company, for the strongest Cabinet we have had for some years in this country has gone out into the desert under the guidance of my right hon. Friend—and where will that guidance lead them to? If we are to judge by the passage I have quoted, it can only lead to legislation for England and in Scotland similar to that which is proposed for Ireland, and it is to this that I wish the attention of the landed proprietors, whether from England or from Scotland, who sit behind my right hon. Friend; for the Chancellor of the Exchequer is a man who, I am certain, from his determination, his logical faculty, and his courage, would not have left the oasis and gone out into the desert unless he saw it would lead directly to similar legislation in England and in Scotland—for he says—"I would be no party to do anything in Ireland I would not do in England." I thank the House for having listened to me with patience. I have thought it my duty to speak out straight-forwardly on this question, because I hold it to be more important at the present moment than it has been at any other time in the history of this country, that we should be careful how we deal with property. Ideas germinate fast in the present time in this country. Those who last year maintained that the way in which the House was dealing with the Irish Church Establishment would react upon England and Scotland were laughed at by the supporters of the Bill, who wished, supporting it, to dull their consciences and hide their heads in the sand in the hope of thereby warding off, or, at any rate, of not seeing, the coming danger. But what have we this year? A Motion has already been laid upon the table of the House by an hon. Gentleman from Wales, proposing to deal with the Welsh Church as the Irish Church was already being dealt with; and last Wednesday the House rejected a Bill for practically knocking on the head the Scotch Church under the specious pretence of dealing with church rates, there being no such thing in Scotland. During the debate on the Irish Church Bill it was said by some that if the House sanctioned the mode of dealing with corporate properly proposed in the Bill it would not be long before private property would be similarly dealt with. The statement was combated by the supporters of the Bill; but now, after so short a time has elapsed, a measure is introduced proposing to deal with the property of individuals in a manner such as has never yet been brought before Parliament. Shall I give another reason why at this time we should be careful how we deal with property? In this country there is at this time a class agitation getting up on this question of the land. It is called the Land and Labour League. The Members call themselves, I believe, the L.L.L.'s; but, in my opinion, they ought to be styled the "Lack-Land Looters;" for what is it that they propose? It is simply that the State should acquire land, paying in State bonds, which are subsequently to be cancelled. That is, I believe, the programme of the "Lack-Land-Looters." Now, supposing you Gentlemen from manufacturing districts were to admit this principle, what would be the result? Take the case of your moneyed men—you who lend money, the bankers in this House. I want to know whether, if I borrowed money from you at 4 per cent—and it is very difficult to get it at that sum—and you, finding you could obtain 5 per cent elsewhere, called it in, I am to have any compensation for disturbance, and, if not, why not? But perhaps hon. Gentlemen may think that landed property and property which exists in the shape of money ought to be dealt with on a totally different principle. Should this be the case, I would ask the House to consider whether the time is the most fitting one at which to commence experiments in corpore vili upon the landlords. What I wish very much is that my right hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Gladstone), who has an influence with the people which nobody can deny, would by his influence and his eloquence effectually stamp out all this pestilent stuff. Let it be known that there are certain rules with regard to property which must be maintained; for the ultimate result of such action as I have referred to would be that Communism would rise up in this country as it has risen up in France, and as it would rise still further in that country, but for the fact that they have there a man who says, l'ordre, j'en réponds." I want, Sir, my right hon. Friend to do in this House and in this country what across the Channel is done by bayonets. There was a time when he was silent on the Reform question, and as a result heads were smashed, illegal meetings were held, and all order and law were shaken in this country. Upon this Irish question he was adjured last year in both Houses, not to say what he would do, but what he would not do; and why did we make the appeal? Because we knew full well that in dealing with a highly imaginative and excitable race like the Irish they would run not if they thought they would not to be treated in a spirit of perfect fairness. A very similar state of things prevails at the present moment. I appeal to my right hon. Friend to look into this question of the land, and to stamp the very beginnings of Communism under his heel. It is because I see the principles of Communism in this Bill in the way in which it deals with property, in contracts, and in compensation for disturbance, that I condemn its provisions in the way I have done. Why should you depart from sound and just principles? What do you gain by doing so? What has been the result of all that you have done? Those whom you hoped to conciliate, speaking through their accredited organs in this House, the Mover and Seconder of this Amendment, and the hon. Member for the city of Kilkenny (Sir John Gray), throw the Bill back into your faces; your sacrifices have been in vain; they have not pacified the unruly; they have not satisfied the unreasonable. But you will say, if we strike out of the Bill what you object to, and if we do not give compensation for disturbance, you leave nothing whatever in the Bill. I deny that. Go back to the gauge of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Ireland, and you will find that you still leave in the Bill more than was contained in the "Bill of the Irish Members." What will you leave. You will leave the legislative recognition of usage, and the power of enforcing payment for goodwill, wherever goodwill or custom has prevailed throughout the length and breadth of the land. You will give compensation for improvements, past, present, and future; you will give simplification of remedies, encouragement of contracts by forcing these to a certain extent; and you will establish courts of equity and arbitration. Therefore, I say, when you have struck out of the Bill all that is objectionable in principle, as applying to England and Scotland, you will still leave in it, as applicable to Ireland, all that ought to satisfy reason and justice; and those whom it will fail to satisfy are those by whom confiscation is demanded, and who will not be satisfied with anything less. In conclusion, I have only to say that if, as my right hon. Friend told us in his opening speech, the Irish are, of all the people upon earth, the people that love justice most, I say—"Do justly and fear not;" trust to their sense of justice, be just to all—to the landlord as well as the tenant. In endeavouring to conciliate Ireland do not break through principles which you know to be economically sound, but have the courage to prove your title to the Government of this country and to the confidence of Parliament by the firm, unswerving maintenance of right.


said, he was not surprised that the noble Lord (Lord Elcho) had been greeted with au ironical cheer when he stated that he approved the Bill and intended to vote for the second reading. For anyone who listened to his speech must have thought, from the arguments which he used, that he was totally opposed to the Bill. He denounced the Bill as containing novel, revolutionary, and dangerous principles; he denounced it as Communistic; and there was scarcely one single clause among those which were deemed most valuable for effecting a settlement of the long-agitated land question of Ireland which the noble Lord did not find fault with. The reasons urged by the noble Lord were all reasons which should lead him to go into the Lobby with the hon. Member for Kilkenny (Mr. Bryan) against the Bill. But the supporters of the measure must be thankful for small mercies; the noble Lord thought the Bill Communistic and dangerous, but still he meant to give it his Support. For his own part, he did not regret that the Amendment had been moved. It was important that Her Majesty's Government should have an opportunity of fully explaining the principles and details of the Bill, which had been sadly misrepresented and much misunderstood. It was likewise important that before going into Committee there should be a full expression of opinion, not only by Members who were connected with Ireland, but also by Scotch and English representatives, and it was only upon the second reading that such expressions of opinion, constitutionally speaking, could be given. He considered that the debate they had had on the Bill had been extremely satisfactory. There had been more brilliant, more exciting debates within those walls, but a moderation—he might almost say a judicial calmness—had been exhibited which was highly creditable to the House. There had been a total absence of party spirit, and, with the exception of the noble Lord, and of one or two Gentlemen who had spoken on the other side, a cordial support had been given to the Government by all the speakers, as far at least as the second reading was concerned. It must be most gratifying to his right hon. Friend the First Minister, who had been subjected to so much unmerited abuse on the other side of the water, that the Bill had received the sanction of the overwhelming majority of the Irish as well as of the Scotch and English Members, especially remembering that the subject with which it dealt was the most difficult and complicated which a statesman could approach. He also thought that the debate would do good in Ireland. The expression had often been made use of in Ireland that the House of Commons did not care about Irish subjects; but anybody reading the present debate could not fail to perceive that the House did care for Irish subjects, and that no desire whatever existed to give them the go-by, or to pass them over with hasty and inadequate consideration. It had been said, indeed, by some Irish Members, especially by his hon. Friend the Member for the county of Kilkenny (Mr. Bryan), and by the hon. Baronet the Member for the city of Kilkenny (Sir John Gray)—that the Bill did not go far enough. Unfortunately, in Ireland the language used in this respect had been much more violent than the language used in the House. Every vituperative epithet that could be levelled against the most obnoxious measure had been used against the Bill. And he regretted that persons of influence, belonging to what was called the popular party in Ireland, had lent the sanction of their names to the abuse which had been poured out upon the Bill. Those who did so must certainly be oblivious of what had occurred within the last few years. Anybody who had listened to the clear and admirable statement of his right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland must have been satisfied that this Bill went further than any other upon the subject which I had been previously promoted. Compared with the Bill introduced by Mr. Sharman Crawford, with that which bore the name of the present Secretary of State for War, with that introduced by the present Chief Secretary for Ireland when filling a similar position in Earl Russell's Government, with that framed by the present Governor General of India (the Earl of Mayo), with that which was framed under the sanction of the Irish Tenant League and received the sanction of C. G. Duffy, F. Lucas, and others of the then popular party in Ireland, or compared, above all, with the Bill which, only four years ago, was proposed and laid before Her Majesty's Government by Mr. Dillon—it must be admitted that the present Bill was calculated to confer greater benefits upon the tonantry of Ireland than any other Bill which had been thought of or proposed. And yet in Ireland it had been stated openly, at meetings and in the public Press, that this Bill was a mockery and a delusion; it had been asserted, and loudly repeated, that the Bill was an insult to the tenants of Ireland; and in some cases speakers had gone so far as to say that the tenants of Ireland asked for bread and were given a stone. Such language could not fail to recoil upon the people who used it; but meanwhile its employment was most unfortunate, for it was calculated to dishearten men like the Chief Secretary for Ireland and the First Minister, who were anxious both to meet the wishes and to do justice to the Irish people; and it was further calculated-to repel the Engilsh Members, who, against their own prejudices and preconceived notions, were endeavouring1 to give effect to the views of the Irish people. He did not consider the Bill a perfect Bill; it was impossible that any piece of legislation could be perfect. But he looked upon it as an honest and bonà fide attempt to settle one of the most difficult questions that had ever engaged the attention of the Legislature; it went further in favour of the tenants than any Bill which had ever been proposed; and, above all, he believed it to be a fair compromise between conflicting opinions. In Ireland, he was sorry to say, people did not understand what a compromise was. Politicians upon both sides refused to look at any side of the question but their own. In former days the landlords did not much consider the rights of the tenants; and now-a-days, he was afraid, the tenants looked with little favour upon the rights of the landlords. The late Archbishop Whately, remarking on the aversion of the Irish people to compromise, attributed it to their constant travelling on the national vehicle, an outside car, on which they sat back to back, and thus acquired the habit of looking only on one side of the road. Whether that idea was well founded or not, he would not stop to inquire; but, adopting that idea, he would say the Government were bound to sit in the driver's seat and look on both sides of the road. The Government could claim that the Bill was a fair compromise of conflicting interests. It had been objected to the Bill that it would promote extreme litigation. The hon. Member for South Norfolk (Mr. Read) described the Bill as a cow—the landlords holding it by the head, the tenants by the tail, and the real produce going into the attorney's pocket. This was an entire misconception. Except in very rare cases, where a tenant voluntarily surrendered his farm, and a dispute arose as to compensation for improvements, litigation would never occur unless the landlord began the litigation by a notice to evict. His hon. Friend the Member for Clonmel (Mr. Bagwell) said the Bill would so tend to promote litigation that a friend of his told him, if the Bill became law, the first thing he should have to do would be to appoint an attorney on his establishment. He might say that whoever acted towards his tenants in the spirit of his hon. Friend would not require to make such an addition to his establishment. But whoever, after the passing of this Bill, desired to exercise that arbitrary right of eviction which he was sorry to say was sometimes practised in Ireland would require to have, not one attorney, but several attorneys; because the Bill had been framed so as to throw the greatest possible impediments in the way of indulging that expensive luxury the right hon. and learned Member for Dublin University (Dr. Ball) had said they were legislating for posterity in the panic of a moment. Where had the right hon. and learned Gentleman been living for the last third of a century? He must have been asleep, and he now came, like Rip Van Winkle, and told them they were legislating for this question in the panic of a moment. The subject had long ago engaged the attention of the Legislature. Since 1835 many attempts had been made to settle the question. There had been the Royal Commission, headed by the Earl of Devon. There had been Committees in both Houses on the subject. In fact, there was no question on which so much information had been collected. Yet they were now taunted with legislating in the panic of a moment. But his right hon. and learned Friend urged a more tangible objection, and this was followed up by the noble Lord who last spoke. His right hon. and learned Friend said temporary legislation might perhaps be necessary to meet some hard cases that had occurred, but beyond that no permanent legislation was required; and he asked, with a triumphant air, would such legislation be tolerated for one moment in England—would five Members be found to support it? The noble Lord, too, who last addressed the House, quoted the Chancellor of the Exchequer as saying in former years that he would never be a party to legislation for Ireland which he would not support for England. He (Sir Colman O'Loghlen) believed if the same state of things existed in England as existed in Ireland not ten Members would be found to vote against the application of such a measure to England. If for the last hundred years the agricultural districts had been disturbed by one long system of agrarian conspiracy—by Hearts of Oak, Hearts of Steel, Whiteboys, Ribbonmen, and a host of similar confederations—if there had been in all the English agricultural districts such confederations as these, English Members would not hesitate one moment in adopting such a measure for England. But, in fact, there was no analogy between the present state of England and Ireland. It was stated in the Reports of the Poor Law Inspectors that a certain nobleman was in the habit of serving his tenants from year to year, in Ireland, with notices to quit any year. Did any nobleman adopt the same practice in England? Had not, too, the Legislature itself found it necessary to make a distinction between land legislation for England and land legislation for Ireland? The abolition of the power of distraining growing crops, the substantial abolition of the law of distress, the prohibition of the execution of evictions on Christmas days and Good Fridays, the statute requiring notice to be lodged with the relieving officer when an eviction was to be enforced—all these showed the application of a different policy with reference to land in Ireland as compared with the course pursued in England. They had also had to prohibit in Ireland the unroofing of houses whilst human beings inhabited them. If such a state of things had existed in England such legislation as that now asked for with regard to Ireland would have at once been granted. With regard to freedom of contract, which it had been said was allowed in England, it was a mockery to talk of it in Ireland. One of the ancients had said that he was surprised that two soothsayers could meet without laughing; and he (Sir Colman O'Loghlen) confessed that he was astonished that his right hon. and learned Friend (Dr. Ball) could seriously speak of freedom of contract in Ireland in respect of land. The Poor Law Inspectors' Reports showed that there were estates in Ireland on which the tenants were obliged to sign agreements binding them to give up possession on the 1st of November in each year without notice. And they all knew the régime of the Ballycohey estates. He repeated that to talk of freedom of contract in Ireland was absurd. The object of the Bill was to endeavour to put tenants in the position in which they might have some independence of action. They were now entirely at the mercy of the landlords—the main principle of the Bill was to put them in such a position that hereafter, perhaps, they might be able to enter into contract with their landlords. It had been said, during the debate, that this Bill was most unjust to those who had bought property in the Landed Estates Court. But he could not understand the force of this argument. He could not see why the owner of property by inheritance and the purchaser in the Encumbered Estates Court should be differently treated. Having adverted to these general topics, he would now proceed to call attention to what the Bill did. The tenantry of Ireland complained that they Mere liable to capricious eviction at any time whatever, and got no compensation for the improvements they had effected. The Bill proposed to meet that state of things. How did it do so? It proposed, in the first place, to legalize the tenant-right of Ulster. The clause by which that was to be carried out had been greatly criticized by the hon. Member for the city of Kilkenny (Sir John Gray) and other hon. Members. Whether it was properly carried out in detail it was not for him to say; but what the clause said was that where that right existed it should be for ever legalized. The right hon. and learned Member for Dublin University said, although he had great admiration for Ulster tenants, he had no admiration for Ulster tenant-right. It was quite clear the right hon. and learned Gentleman did not represent any Ulster constituency. No single Member for Ulster objected to the tenant-right of Ulster. The late Chief Secretary for Ireland (Colonel Wilson-Patton) said his feeling was rather against Ulster tenant-right than for it. The right hon. Member for Oxford University (Mr. Gathorne Hardy) also said he was not enamoured of the Ulster right. For his part, he (Sir Colman O'Loghlen) entertained a strong affection for the tenant-right of Ulster, and he believed that if Parliament legalized it a great blessing would be conferred upon the Irish people. Whatever objection there might be to it in principle, and however much it might be objected to on the ground of political economy, there was the important fact that it had existed for years in Ulster, and that Ulster was prosperous. There was no agrarian crime there, and the land sold for higher prices than in other parts of Ireland where tenant-right did not exist. If there was an objection to the Ulster tenant-right, though he did not admit it to be an objection, it was that it recognized a species of right of occupation on the part of the tenant, raid a title to compensation to the outgoing tenant from the landlord if the latter assumed the occupation or put the land up for sale. Therefore it was that some persons objected to legalizing the custom. But if it were not to be legalized what was to be done? Did any man in his senses propose to abolish it? That would be impossible. He held in his hand evidence given before the Devon Commission, from which he would read some extracts in order to show the impossibility of abolishing the Ulster tenant-right. The following was the evidence of Mr. Andrews, agent to Lord Londonderry:— With regard to Lord Londonderry's estate, can you state the usual amount of the purchase of the tenant-right?—Yes, I can. I would give, as the average, £ the English acre; the tenant-right will sell for that with or without a lease.—Is there much difference?—Very little; I would say almost none.—Do yon think the curtailment of the tenant-right can be curried out without danger to the peace of the county?—I am sure it would not. You would have a Tipperary in Down if it was attempted to be carried out. The evidence of Mr. James Porter, Presbyterian minister, County Down, was to the following effect:— Are there many estates where the tenant-right is not allowed?—There is no property where it is entirely denied. There were but three instances in which there were agrarian outrages committed since I settled in this county, and these originated in the total denial of the tenant-right; that was, a denial on the part of the landlord of the tenant-right. The landlord yielded the claim of tenant-right to the popular feelings in those three cases. The following was the testimony of Mr. Handcock, Lord Lurgan's agent, in Antrim and Armagh:— The landlords are compelled to recognize tenant-right, as in several instances in this neighbourhood where they have refused to allow tenant-right the incoming tenant's house has been burnt, his cattle houghed, and his crops trodden down by night. The disallowance of tenant-right, as far as I know, is always attended with outrage. A landlord cannot even resume possession himself without paying for it. In fact, it is one of the sacred rights of the tenants which cannot be touched with impunity, and if systematic efforts were made among the proprietors of Ulster to evade tenant-right, I do not think there is a force at the disposal of the Horse Guards sufficient to keep the peace of the Province. In 1867, Mr. Hamilton, Poor Law Inspector, stated— In some individual cases the tenant-right has been disregarded and no evil consequences have been the result; but there can be no doubt that any systematic attempt on an extensive scale to destroy the tenant-right of Ulster would be attended with serious danger to the tranquillity of the country. Under these circumstances, what could the Government do but legalize the right? But, said the right hon. Gentleman (Dr. Ball), why keep this right in perpetuity? There was nothing in the Bill to keep it in perpetuity? The landlord might act like Lord Dufferin, and buy the right. It was not, however, a course of proceeding he (Sir Colman O'Loghlen) should like to see pursued, though he could understand that that noble Lord might think the right interfered with his good intentions in respect to the management of his estate. It had been said that it would be a good disposition of public money if the means of purchasing up the tenant-right were lent to the landlords. But the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Henley) who made that suggestion surely could not be aware of the value of the Ulster tenant-right. It was estimated as being worth £20,000,000, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer would, no doubt, be very sorry to be called on to lend that sum for the purchase of the right. The present Bill would never have been necessary if the Judges in Ireland had done their duty, for in that case they would long since have legalized the custom of tenant-right, just as the Irish tenure of leases for lives renewable for ever was legalized by the Irish Judges, and afterwards by the Irish Parliament. It was asked, if the custom was a good one, why not extend it to the whole of Ireland? That was impossible. A custom could not be transferred to a place where it did not exist. But the Government did the next best thing—they had regard to the principle of that custom in framing that portion of the Bill which affected other parts of Ireland. The next proposition of the Bill was that, wherever a custom existed in other parts besides Ulster, it should be legalized. He could see no more objection to that than to the legalization of the Ulster custom. There might be some defects in the clauses, but they could be remedied in Committee; and then came what he considered the backbone of the Bill, without which the measure would be a perfect mockery—and that was the clause objected to by the noble Lord who spoke last. That clause recognized the right of occupancy in the tenant, and his right, if disturbed, to payment. He had a strong opinion that in this respect the Bill only recognized the just right of the tenant. The opinions he had expressed below the Gangway he was not prepared to alter when speaking from the Treasury Bench, though, of course, he only expressed hiss individual sentiments, by which the Government were not bound. Considering the peculiar condition of Ireland, and that the land must necessarily be in the hands of a few individuals—for the existence of an immense number of small proprietors, which some hon. Members had predicted, would not be suitable to the circumstances of that country—the only way of bringing the great majority of occupiers into harmony with the minority of landowners was to give to the tenants some interest in the occupancy of the soil. Give the tenant-farmers of Ireland some interest in the proprietorship of the land, and you would make them special constable—the friends of peace and order. He knew that many hon. Gentlemen, not agreeing in his views, supported the clause he referred to, because they held that it did not give a right of occupancy, but only a claim for "disturbance" of possession. He cared not what it was called, so long as the provision gave some security against the capricious exercise of the landlord's power to evict; and it was on that ground that he supported it. As a compromise it was most valuable, as it enabled men entertaining different views to meet on one common ground in support of the clause. The right hon. Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley), who was most happy in criticizing all Bills, and whom the House always listened to with pleasure, said that the title of the Bill should be altered, and that the measure ought to be called "a Bill to abolish small tenants in Ireland," because, he argued, that was its natural result, as the landlords would have to compensate the small tenants so largely if they disturbed them that they would be obliged to get rid of the small tenants as fast as they could, and would create large holdings. Probably the right hon. Gentleman did not think of the amount of money which would be necessary for such an operation. The number of occupiers under £50 in Ireland, exclusive of Ulster, was upwards of 400,000, and to get rid of them it would be requisite to pay £20,000,000 or £30,000,000. The clause relating to evictions was a most valuable one. It would carry out one of the great principles of the Bill, which was to put an end to capricious evictions. After this clause became law, if anyone wished to indulge in capricious evictions he must pay for it, and this money penalty would be the best means of preventing such evictions. The discussions on this Bill, and the passing of the Bill itself, would have their effect in Ireland. They would show that public opinion in this country was opposed to capricious evictions—that it condemned them. He thought, therefore, there was strong ground for the hope that, after the passing of this Bill, those evictions would be put an end to. In cases of dispute, too, the landlord must go before a court of justice, and this provision would act also as a strong safeguard against injustice to the tenant. The three clauses to which he had more particularly referred contained the main principles of the Bill. On those clauses, he thought the Bill ought to stand or fall, and, in his view, every Gentleman who went into the same lobby with the Government would express his assent, not perhaps to the words, but certainly to the spirit of those clauses. Then came the question which had been asked—Would this Bill satisfy the Irish people? Would it satisfy the disloyal, and make them loyal? He admitted that there were certain classes in Ireland whom we could not satisfy. We could not satisfy those landlords who held that the existing land laws were perfect. We could not satisfy those landlords who thought that their pecuniary interests, or what they valued more, their dominion over their tenants, ought not to be interfered with. We could not satisfy those "insatiables"—those gentlemen who, if you gave them England for a farm, would ask for the Isle of Man as a cabbage garden. We could not satisfy those "irreconcilables" whose faces were turned towards the West, and who wished to overthrow the Government of England with the view of establishing a Republic on the ruins of the Monarchy. If the Bill was calculated to do justice to the Irish people, and bring about a state of peace and contentment in Ireland, it must disappoint such men. But between those various classes of discontented persons, there was a numerous class of thinking men, which included oven many of the tenant-farmers, and when they understood the Bill—when the misrepresentations so industriously circulated with respect to its scope and objects had been refuted—it would satisfy them. We could not hope to do away with all discontent in Ireland by the passing of this Bill. The effects of the legislation of centuries could not be removed by a simple enactment; but if we reconciled law with justice we should ultimately succeed in reconciling the people with the law. If this Bill passed we should not hear of the scandal to which the Solicitor General for Ireland (Mr. Dowse) had referred, of a Judge in Ireland being obliged to say that in respect of land he was obliged to administer, not justice, but injustice; we should not hear of thousands of evicted tenants being forced across what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) called "the melancholy ocean," to become the enemies of the Empire, and we should never again witness the operations of that body known as "the Crowbar Brigade." Mr. Drummond—a man whose name never should be mentioned without respect—was he who first startled Ireland by the axiom. "Property has its duties as well as its rights." This Bill was based upon this axiom, and it would enable the tenant to compel the landlord to perform his duties. It told the peasantry that in the future they were not only to be on the soil but of the soil—and that these words of a poet would no longer be applicable to Ireland— Hapless nation, hapless land, Heap of uncementing sand, Crumbled by a foreign weight, And by worse, domestic hate. His right hon. Friend the First Minister of the Crown endeavoured by the Irish Church Act of last Session to put an end to "domestic hate" by abolishing religious ascendancy in Ireland. He now sought by this Land Bill to put an end to the discontent and the misery caused in that country by the existing land laws—that "foreign, weight" which had "crumbled" the tenant-farmers of Ireland. He (Sir Colman O'Loghlen) hoped that the approval of this Bill by the House would strengthen his right hon. Friend to persevere in this course of legislation. If he did, perhaps not in one year, or in five years, or in ten years, but sooner or later, Ireland would become what every man in that House must wish to see her—an integral part of the United Kingdom, united with England and Scotland, not, perhaps, by an identity of laws, for this was of no consequence, but by an identity of feeling and sentiment. When that day arrived Ireland, instead of being a disgrace to England and to English statesmen, would be, by her peace, contentment, and prosperity, a source of strength to the British Empire.


said, the right hon. Gentleman who had preceded him had stated, and he entirely agreed with him, that the circumstances of Ireland differed widely in almost every respect from those of England; but, nevertheless, and although he (Mr. Chaplin) was fully aware that there must be many Gentlemen in the House who, from a practical knowledge and experience of that country, were far more entitled to speak with authority than he was on that subject, he had yet ventured to trespass on the House, because he was fully convinced of one thing; and agreeing with his noble Friend the Member for Hadding-tonshire (Lord Elcho) in this, he believed that few measures of greater importance, and none that involved principles which, if carried out to their end, would more strongly affect the interests not only of Ireland, but of Scotland and England also, had over before been submitted to this House for their more serious consideration. Therefore, he thought it most desirable, and following in the steps of many who had preceded him, it certainty would be his wish, in discussing the Bill, to avoid anything like heat or party feeling. In order to arrive at an accurate estimate of the Bill, he would look at it under two heads—namely, as part of a great policy which was being pursued towards Ireland with regard to its permanent condition; and, on the other hand, on its own merits as a Bill—the object of which was to give greater security to the tenants of Ireland. Taking the last of these two aspects first, he asked the House to consider the Bill in the first place, now, solely on its own merits, as one the purpose of which was to give greater security to the tenant. With regard to security of tenure, he accepted the right hon. Gentleman's own definition—namely, that it was a tenure which would enable the tenant to pursue his industry without fear of loss from any change on the part of the landlord towards him. Nay, he would go further and say that he took it to mean this—that the tenant should be secured by the knowledge that he would be amply and fully repaid for anything he had laid out on the soil, either in the event of his being ejected or of his leaving his farm, and taking that as its definition. No one in that House would deny that to security of tenure every tenant in England, in Ireland, or elsewhere, was honestly, fairly, and justly entitled. But as many hon. Members might differ very considerably as to the best means of obtaining this security, it might not be uninstructive if they endeavoured to ascertain how such security was attained in England. Because, however different the two countries might be in various particulars, it could not be disadvantageous, and must always be safer to have some kind of precedent to go by, more especially when that precedent had met with signal success. The right hon. Gentleman himself, in comparing the increase of rents in England and Scotland during the last 100 years with that in Ireland, referred to the two former countries as instancing the happy effects of greater security of tenure; and he attributed this in England to the "confidence which supplied what was wanting in the letter of the law;" and in Scotland, where the comparison was still more in his favour, to the system of giving leases, which was almost universally prevalent in that country. Now, he was not going to enter upon a discussion as to the merits of the system of leases, although he (Mr. Chaplin) thought that even upon that point he would be able to show that considerable difference of opinion existed among the best authorities. But with regard to the confidence to which the right hon. Gentleman referred, he was mistaken if it was to that and that alone that he attributed the happier state of things existing in England as compared with Ireland. No one would deny that there existed in England, as a rule, a feeling of a kind and cordial nature between landlords and their tenants, and he should be sorry to think that those kindly and cordial feelings did not in many cases exist in Ireland also; and he could say that, with a most limited experience of that country, he had known thousands of such cases. But in England there was something beyond that, especially in those parts of the country where agriculture was carried to the highest perfection, which was entirely wanting in Ireland—namely, a marked, distinct, and accurate system, capable of being enforced at law, assuring the tenant that he would be amply repaid for everything that he had laid out in the cultivation of the soil in the event of his being ejected from his farm. He would take, as an instance, the custom that prevailed in the county which he had the honour of representing (Lincolnshire)—and he did not think he should be accused of undue partiality when he asserted that his county stood pre-eminent for the excellence of its cultivation. In no county was the science of farming carried to such perfection, or capital more liberally expended upon the soil, and nowhere was the identity of interest between landlord and tenant more fully recognized, or were more cordial and kindly feelings entertained between them. And yet this was a county where leases for a term of years were practically unknown, or, at all events, were very rare. It would merely weary the House were he to enter into details with respect to the various arrangements. They were many, and necessarily so, because in themselves the operations of farming were of a very multitudinous character. Under those arrangements compensation was amply provided for everything that could be laid out in fair farming, the amount of compensation to be paid being fixed by a professional valuer or valuers, and a third party being called in to act as umpire if necessary. So simple was that operation, and so well known its results, that an appeal to law or a dispute scarcely ever arose; and not the least advantage of the system was that it applied with equal effect to small or large farms. By this means security of tenure and its attendant beneficial results were attained; and although no man could more heartily acknowledge than he did the cordial and kindly feelings mutually entertained with respect to each other by the landlords and the tenants, yet in his judgment those feelings were due no doubt in a great measure to the uniform operation of the just and effectual system of tenant-right to which he had referred. Under the operation of that system perfect freedom of contract and perfect security of tenure were obtained without any interference whatever on the part of the Legislature, and he confessed he should have greatly rejoiced had it been found possible to apply some system of a similar nature to Ireland. But when the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General told them that was exactly what this Bill proposed to do—namely, to recognize custom in Ireland as it was recognized in England—he must venture to point out that there was this very important distinction, that while, on the one hand, the custom in England was known and was proved to be good, the custom in Ulster, admitted by all for be gravely defective, was by many considered as bad as a custom could be. Now, with the permission of the House, he should wish to compare for a moment the means by which the Bill proposed to give security of tenure to the tenants of Ireland; and here he should be met at once with the reply that the circumstances of the two countries were so different that no comparison could be instituted between them. He was fully aware that there was a marked difference between the amount of competition for land in England and in Ireland, but that was a point with which he would deal presently, and he wished for the present to consider this measure on its own merits as one only for giving the tenant security of tenure. In the first place, he regarded this Bill as being an interference on the part of the Legislature for the benefit of one class and to the prejudice of another—in fact, it was a distinct instance of class legislation carried out in the most undeniable manner; and, young as he was in political experience, he could not believe that such a proceeding could be otherwise than dangerous in the highest degree, to the general interests of society at large. Based again, as it was said, upon the principle of interfering as little as possible with the freedom of contract, the Bill proceeded with charming consistency to accomplish the very desirable object by imposing every land and species of restriction on one, and that the chief one, of the two contracting parties. Not only that, in some cases the very terms of the leases and agreements, and the very rent itself, were to be settled, not between the two contracting parties, as they would naturally suppose, but by the tenant on the one hand and some third intervening party on the other, and that, too, without any regard, so far as he could learn, to what might happen to be the wishes of the landlord upon the subject at all. And here, as he was upon the subject of rent, he might be permitted to point out what seemed to him to be one of not the least of the difficulties to be encountered in the Bill. One of its provisions was that, under certain circumstances, the rent was to be settled by a court of arbitration. Well, the moment Parliament had by its court of arbitration fixed the amount of rent and had selected the tenant, the tenant ceased to be the tenant of the landlord, and became the tenant of the State, and it was their duty to guarantee the landlord the punctual payment of the rent so fixed. Now, competition for land in Ireland was great, and excessive competition meant high rents; and the courts of arbitration would be bound to take the best offer, because they would be dealing with property which did not belong to them but to somebody else. If they were to compel a landlord to take the worse of two offers, they would simply be taking money out of his pocket to put it into that of somebody else who had no right to it whatever. And what happened then? The tenant fell into arrears and was ejected for non-payment of rent. But ejectment for non-payment of rent under the Bill was not a disturbance except where the rent was excessive, and the plea that the rent was excessive could not be put forward in this case, because Parliament had fixed it themselves. In fact, it appeared to him that Her Majesty's Government were in this dilemma—either this part of their Bill was utterly worthless or they would be compelled to do that which would be simply despoiling the landlord, and to proclaim to the world that free trade in Ireland was to be sent to the winds, and that they renounced in that country at once and for ever the principles they had been advocating the whole of their political lives; and when the Solicitor General for Ire- land (Mr. Dowse) bantered hon. Members sitting on the Opposition side of the House with their new-found attachment for free trade and its principles, it was much more remarkable that he should so suddenly have deserted his love, and he trusted, without any offence, he might be permitted to hope that to be so inconstant and fickle as this was not always a part of that jovial Gentleman's character. Then there was the scale of damages inserted in the Bill, which included compensation for disturbance of occupancy as well as for improvements. Compensation for loss of improvements was an intelligible proposition; but he confessed that when he heard so much of loss of occupancy he scarcely knew what it meant, because if the tenant lost so greatly by the cessation of his occupancy, he must have correspondingly gained at the expense of the landlord when his landlord first permitted him to commence it; and therefore if the tenant were to be compensated for his loss when he went out—what was sauce for the goose was sauce for the gander—why, surely, in all common fairness the landlord ought to be paid for the gain that accrued to the tenant when he came in. Another main objection to the provisions of the Bill altering the relations between the landlord and tenant was, that it would take from the landlord the power of making any distinction between the idle and the negligent and the good and industrious farmers, who would henceforth be placed upon exactly the same footing in every respect. Then, again, the Bill placed obstructions in the way of a good landlord making improvements, and, in fact, the promoters of the Bill appeared to be under the impression that a good and generous landlord never existed in Ireland at all, and that such was the case was not even asserted by those inveterate spouters who noisily clamoured for that which they knew could never be given to them—namely, the transference of property, its rights, its privileges, and, more than that, its duties, from one class to another, which was the real meaning of fixity of tenure. With regard to that part of the Bill relating to the custom of Ulster he could merely say that, mischievous as he believed it to be in many of its provisions to the interests of both tenants and landlords, the question was of so extraordinarily complicated a nature that he, for one, should decline to take any part in its discussion until it came into Committee. With respect to the proposal to reverse the presumption of the law as it regarded permanent improvements, he had listened to the right hon. Gentleman on the subject when he brought in the Bill, and he was free to confess that he agreed in the justice of the proposal as regarded the future; but that it ought to go back to the past he certainly could not allow. A person who had purchased under a Parliamentary or any other sound title had bought land having upon it certain buildings, and had calculated the value of these buildings in the price he had paid; but if the Bill became law, these buildings would be taken away from him, and given to another without any sort of compensation—a proceeding which would be nothing short of confiscation. So much for the measure on its own merits, and he did not hesitate to express his dislike to it, because instead of endeavouring to remove, or, at all events, alleviate those causes which, in the first instance, had given rise to those unhappy relations existing in Ireland, it sought rather by arbitrary interference and legislative dictation to the landlords, to accomplish that which he believed could only be accomplished by a wise application of the natural laws of supply and demand. Whenever he thought of that measure as a part of the general policy to be pursued towards Ireland, he asked himself why there was any land question in Ireland at all. What were the circumstances in Ireland different to those in England which necessitated the interference of the Legislature between the landlords and tenants of that country? Because they might depend upon one thing that until they were able, satisfactorily and conclusively, to answer that question to themselves, it was impossible to decide upon an effectual remedy which, after all, might not be the right one. There were essentially two, to his mind, underlying the whole of the rest. One not the least striking was this, that while in England the farms, as a rule, were large, and the improvements were made by the landlords, in Ireland the holdings were small, and as a necessary consequence the improvements were made by the tenants. Now, that those improvements were not made by the owners of the land, had been often alleged as a grievance on the part of Irish tenants, but it could not, however, be otherwise, as hon. Members would clearly perceive; for if 100 acres of land were cut up into ten or twenty-acre farms, it was manifestly impossible for the landlord to build homesteads on each one of those farms when one set of farm buildings would be sufficient for the cultivation of the whole of the ground. If an Irish landlord were obliged in this way to build homesteads for every tenant, he would have to spend upon farm buildings probably more than the value of the fee simple. The existence of small farms was unquestionably an evil, and, in his opinion, it was often the duty of the landlords, as well as for the best interests of the peasants, although they might not think so at the time, that they should be consolidated. If it was not so, he wanted to know why was it that in England the system of small farms had been long ago banished, and why did every energetic landlord in Ireland seek to consolidate, whenever the opportunity offered, his small ill-cultivated holdings into reasonably-sized and well-managed farms? They had only to take, as an illustration, the case of a piece of ground of 200 or 300 acres, cut up into small farms of three or five acres by high banks, which, true to the Irish character, were called dykes. They would find that the people on these farms were utterly incapable of improving them, from want of knowledge, energy, and skill; the fanning was worse than could possibly be conceived by those who had not seen it for themselves—indeed, a friend of his, who had travelled over a considerable portion of Ireland last autumn, came to the conclusion that the dock and the thistle were sacred weeds in that country. ["He was a Scotch farmer."] The land itself, tilled under such circumstances, did not produce, and, indeed, could not produce one-fifth or one-tenth of what it was capable of producing, and the people themselves would tell you that they were not able to get a living upon such property, so that poverty and misery reigned supreme. Under these circumstances, consolidation would be a been to the occupier as well as the owner; because, in the hands of a liberal and intelligent tenant, with plenty of capital at his command, the land would afford employment, if not to all, at any rate to many of those who now earned a precarious and scanty living, and whose position as regular labourers, receiving substantial and steady hire, would be infinitely preferable to that which they held as occupiers of the land, and with regard to the rest of the present occupiers, why it would surely be possible to find some means of employment for them. Nay, he held that such moans of employment must be provided for them; and that too, if need were, by means of the State; for that was, after all, the real pith of the Irish question—namely, to give the means of subsistence and livelihood to that portion of the population of Ireland which was too large to subsist in decency and comfort, he did not say upon, but by means, and means only, of that soil to which they had hitherto been accustomed to look as their sole means of support. To the State, no doubt, that would be a costly proceeding. But, he asked, to whom was the necessity owing? Was it to the landlords of Ireland, who were so harshly and persistently assailed; or was it not to the selfish commercial policy of the English people in former ages? If they looked back to the pages of English history they would find the story of that policy told in unmistakable language; and he said that the time had arrived, and these were the means, by which atonement might justly be called for and made for the sin of the whole British nation. No doubt he might be told that there could be nothing more unpopular or more opposed to the prejudices of the Irish than those views, and he well believed that many of them would prefer to live in comparative discomfort, provided at the same time they were allowed to be idle. But when they recollected that it was estimated that the English labouring man cultivated, on the average, no less than twenty-five acres, and he purposely put it low, and that the majority of the farms in Ireland were less than fifteen acres, that fact in itself condemned the system of small farms at once, and showed that to perpetuate that system would be to compel the majority of the small farmers in Ireland to live in enforced comparative idleness. Was this the end which the hon. Member for Kilkenny, and those who thought with him, had been so long endeavouring to accom- plish? His answer to the hon. Member was, that to require the land of Ireland to be cut up and subdivided and cultivated in the worst and most inconvenient manner, for the purpose of giving a fictitious means of support to the surplus population, was just as reasonable as to demand the banishment of science and machinery from English manufactures in order to give more occupation to the artizans who were in want of employment. He would put a case to show the absurdity of the hon. Member's argument. Let the House, for instance, take the case of an English farm of 1,000 acres, and apply to it the standard of Irish labour and work in connection with a three-acre farm. Why, it would require something like 330 labourers for the due cultivation of the soil; and he certainly fancied that his hon. Friends the Members for Norfolk and Leicester-shire, who might be supposed to have a practical acquaintance with agriculture, would agree with him, that if 330 labourers were employed at 15s. a week on 1,000 acres it would require a tenant of singular skill and capacity, to say nothing of rent, to make much profit out of his 4 farm. Ought we to refrain from doing that which it was clearly our duty to do in the way of making improvements out of regard either to the love of sloth and indolence, natural to the Irish peasant, or to his sentimental attachment to the mud cabin and farm where his forefathers had existed in a similar slate of discomfort for generations before him? He (Mr. Chaplin) knew well the power of the attachment for home, which was so singularly developed in the Irish nation. He believed no people on earth had a more passionate attachment to their native soil; and far be it from him to say one word against what was so good and so natural a feeling. But he knew also that in every country and among all classes of society, to rest and to live in the home of their forefathers was denied to all but a favoured few; and he wanted to know why Ireland should be made the only exception to the very general rule? He would now come to what he regarded as the very germ and root of this Irish question—namely, the difference between the two countries arising from the fact that while in England there were many and various means of employment, in Ireland it was to the soil alone that the people had been accustomed to look for their means if support. It was, in his judgment, impossible for anyone who had listened with attention to the remarkable speech delivered by the First Minister of the Crown on the introduction of the Bill to avoid coming to the conclusion that all the difficulties encountered at every turn were mainly referrible to the great competition for land in Ireland and the dire necessity of obtaining it which destroyed all practical freedom of contract between landlord and tenant in that country. To this must be attributed many of the evils of which Ireland so justly complained. This was, indeed, the incubus which weighed so heavily on Ireland, and, to quote the words of the right hon. Genleman the First Lord of the Treasury, this was "the dark star whose malign influence was for ever brooding over that unfortunate country." This was the substantial grievance, in the absence of which, as the right hon. Member for Liskeard (Mr. Horsman) had pointed out, agitation in Ireland could no longer exist. It was the first, the chief, the real, the abiding cause of all the evils and miseries of Ireland. Now he had always believed that when a disease was known to exist the wise physician was he who, after first ascertaining its cause, proceeded to apply the remedy which appeared to him the most efficacious and the most likely to go straight to the root of the complaint, and he asked, in what sentence, in what line, in what syllabic of this Bill was this overpowering Irish evil attempted to be dealt with at all? He objected, therefore, to the Bill as a measure of policy also, because it left the chief evils of the country entirely undealt with, completely untouched; and if he were asked, how it happened that with these opinions he did not intend to oppose the second reading of the Bill, he would at once answer that he should offer no opposition to it, because he believed it to be essentially a measure of detail which he hoped, in direction as well as detail, might be sweepingly changed in Committee; because he recognized to the full the need of something being immediately done with regard to Ireland—a need so dire as almost to appal the heart of the bravest—and because he was in dread lest he should see the blood of Her Majesty's subjects in Ireland flowing like water. Let it not be supposed that this was the language of undue exaggeration on his part, for he believed that no man could foresee at that moment what might be the effect of even appearing to thwart without reason the temper and will of the Irish people. As to whence—from whose unpardonable silence—that necessity for immediate action in the first place arose, and daily and almost hourly increased, it was needless for him now to state his opinion; but he must express his undoubted conviction that these ill-omened and almost perennial attempts at legislation for Ireland—more baneful even in their success as last year, than when, as was more usually the case, they had proved signal failures—by continually arousing the expectations of a restless and an excitable people—expectations which in no case could over have been fulfilled, and which in this case Her Majesty's Government, long after they must have made up their minds as to what their policy would be, had culpably concealed from the Irish people, were to end only in deep disappointment, thereby exciting them more, had done more to retard the civilization and especially the progress of the country than a thousand Fenian outbreaks or all the Ribbon societies in Ireland. At the present moment Ireland was in a state that was scarcely ever known before. Agrarian outrage was rife; the demon of murder was stalking unchecked through the land; no species of property, not even life, was secure. He sometimes was tempted to think that open rebellion was close at our doors, for sedition was openly published and everywhere talked. Society at large was almost completely disorganized, and these he believed to be the immediate results—deny it who could—of the unhappy, ill-fated, deplorable policy of Her Majesty's Government in Ireland.


said, the hon. Member who had just sat down had attributed many of the unfortunate circumstances which were now occurring in Ireland to the policy pursued by the First Minister of the Crown; but, instead of those circumstances being attributable to the right hon. Gentleman, he (Mr. Cogan) believed that they had arisen from the long postponement of that policy of justice and conciliation which the right hon. Gentleman had so nobly inaugurated by the measure of religious equality passed last year; and because he (Mr. Cogan) believed the present measure to be another stage in that policy, dictated by justice and an honest and sincere desire to settle the question in a manner which would be satisfactory to the Irish people, he should vote for the second reading of the Bill. He had listened patiently to the debate but, since the speeches of his hon. Friends the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment had been delivered on the opening night, he had waited in vain to hear from any hon. Gentleman on either side of the House arguments endorsing the opinions which they had put forward, until, on the previous evening, his hon. Friend the Member for Kilkenny City (Sir John Gray) had come to the rescue of the Member for Kilkenny County (Mr. Bryan). Indeed, it would seem as if there were now in the House a new "Confederation of Kilkenny" opposed to all the other Members from Ireland, as well as to the representatives of England and Scotland. In his opinion any man who proposed the postponement of legislation on the Irish land question at the present most critical period of the destinies of Ireland incurred a serious responsibility, a responsibility so grave that he, for one, was not prepared to share in it; and believing the measure to be a good one he should vote for its going into Committee, in order that it might be amended in any respect in which it might fall short of doing justice to the Irish tenants. He should not have spoken on this stage of the Bill if it had not been for the fact that the measure had been misrepresented, especially in Ireland, in a manner the most unjust. All the important benefits it conferred on the people of Ireland had been obscured and distorted and misrepresented to them. He believed that the more the tenant-farmers of Ireland know of the scope and provisions of the Bill the more they would like it. When they knew that it went further than any measure which was ever proposed on the subject, and that it gave more than the most extreme of their advocates had ever demanded in Parliament, the tenant-farmers were too intelligent not to come to the conclusion that there must be a great deal in the measure that was worthy of their acceptance. Under its provisions every custom which now existed in Ireland, by virtue of which an outgoing tenant was entitled to compensation, would become a matter not depending on the caprice of landlords, but sanctioned by the authority of law; and where that custom did not exist a landlord could no longer capriciously evict a tenant who paid his rent and who did not sublet without paying him what might be seven years' rent. And for the first time it was now proposed to attach a money value to a mere occupancy right in such a manner that it would become virtually and substantially security of tenure. Compensation would be given under the Bill to the tenant-fanner for all the substantial improvements which he made on his farm, and which permanently benefited its condition, not only for the future but for the last twenty years with regard to all permanent improvements, and without any limit of time back as regards buildings and reclamation of land. When thy Irish tenantry knew this they would agree that it would be most unwise to intercept a measure which would confer on them such substantial benefits. He, for one, should aid by every means in his power in getting for the Irish tenantry all that he believed to be possible, and that he believed would do them any practical good; and he much preferred that course to any attempt to please their imaginations by mere fancy sketches of possible legislation for fixity of tenure, which might take place God knew when. For the future it would be the presumption of the law that all improvements found existing on a farm had been made by the tenant and not by the landlord, the contrary being the presumption now. That in itself was almost a revolution, but it was a most just and righteous one. It was also provided that the landlord, in place of giving the tenant compensation for his occupancy-right, might tender him a lease for thirty-one years at a rent not to be fixed by himself but by a public court, the terms of which were to be statutable. That was a tenure of which many tenants in Ireland would gladly avail themselves. With regard to the number of years for which the lease should be made out, that was a matter to be fairly considered in Committee, and it was open to discussion whether the lease might not be for forty or even sixty years. He himself had given leases in some cases for both those periods, and he believed that by so doing he had benefited himself as well as his tenants. Certain it was that the Government Bill did not deserve the reprobation which men who attempted to lead public opinion in Ireland had endeavoured to affix to it. That the measure contained several defects he did not deny, but these it would be the duty of the Irish Members to remedy in Committee. It was, for example; much to be desired that legislation on this subject should be uniform throughout the whole of Ireland. It was disadvantageous and liable to misconstruction that one particular legislation was given to tenant-right in Ulster, while a modified establishment only was given to analogous customs in other parts of the country. Where in any part of the country a custom existed by which the outgoing tenant was entitled to compensation on quitting his holding, that custom should be legalized by this Bill as an existing fact, and with the varying restrictions, whatever they might be, which surrounded it. The sponsors of the Bill declared that there was great difficulty in defining the tenant-right of Ulster, which varied in different counties and even on different estates. He could not see why all the customs should not be legalized all over the country in the same way, or why the same customs, out of Ulster, should be fenced round with statutable restrictions which did not apply to the tenant-right of Ulster. He wished that the word "Ulster" had never appeared in the Bill at all, and that the 1st and 2nd clauses of the Bill had been omitted and a common clause inserted in their place, legalizing all such customs, wherever they existed, in any part of Ireland wherever it now exists, and with its existing limitations and restrictions, or if any statutable restrictions are required, apply them equally to all Ireland. It had been said that Ulster had been favoured in the Bill on account of its Protestant character; but that was an assertion which was too contemptible to need refutation, and he protested against the religious bigotry which had been attempted to be imported into the matter. The antecedents of the Prime Minister and of the President of the Board of Trade, whose absence was so deeply deplored by both sides of the House, were a sufficient answer to that charge. Shame on the cruel tongue or pen that would revive the horrid engine of religious bigotry, or import into a purely political question, the words "Catholic" or "Protestant." He was no true friend of his country who sought to perpetuate those irreligious animosities—for he would not desecrate the word by calling them religious—which had severed Irishmen in time past, and had done so much harm to them all. Another amendment he wished to see made in the Bill was, the introduction of a provision giving a choice to the tenants either to take compensation under the custom or under the scale; for it had been said that tenant-right had been invaded by the encroachments of landlords, and if a scale giving a certain number of years was fair to one landlord it would be fair to another. If this were done, and the same custom was established all over Ireland, that which had been seized upon as one of the blots of the Bill, and which had given rise to much angry discussion, would be removed. Some of the restrictions barring the claim of tenants to compensation ought to be altered in Committee. It would be hard, for instance, for the tenant to have no occupation-claim on the ground of a year's rent being in arrear, especially in cases where several years' arrears had been allowed on the estate; and it should be enacted that arrears, unless for four or five years, should not act as a bar to occupancy rights. He should also wish to see introduced into the Bill a provision abolishing the law of distress. The right was not required, and was seldom used, by the landlord, and it was invidious to give him an unfair advantage over the other creditors. With respect to the proposal relating to dwellings for the labourers, he gave the principle his cordial support. At present the labourers were very badly housed, and it was very essential that their condition in this respect should be ameliorated; but he thought at the same time that the clause must be guarded by certain restrictions as to the number of these cottages permitted to be erected, and it was a question for consideration in Committee whether they should not be held from the landlord, and not from the tenant. It had been stated that the Bill was not likely to give satisfaction in Ireland. That was lamentable, because the moral advantage to be derived from a satisfactory settlement of the land question was one of the greatest advan- tages expected from the Bill. He confessed, however, that he shared the feeling that the Bill would not give satisfaction; and that result he attributed not to any shortcomings on the part of the Bill, however defective it might be. Such a state of feeling had been aroused in Ireland that, in his opinion, no measure which this House would be likely to pass would, for a time at least, give satisfaction in Ireland. The expectations of the Irish people had been raised to an undue height; the populace had been fed upon delusions for the past few months; an agitation had been begun which had led them to seek for chimeras, instead of what was practical and likely to be obtained. For himself, he had never taken part in the promotion of these delusions; he had never condescended to propagate them among his countrymen. On the contrary, he had stood aloof from the agitation, and had thereby incurred odium and mistrust. So high was the current of popular feeling that many of his best friends thought he had not acted in a way to secure their approbation. All he could say was that he had taken a course dictated by a conscientious conviction of what was just and right; and whenever he found, if he did find, that he had lost the confidence of his constituents, whom he had represented without a fault being found with his conduct for eighteen years, he should willingly resign his trust; but he would never consent to hold it for an hour on terms which he considered inconsistent with his own honour or the public good. Although it must be very disheartening to the House if Ireland were not satisfied with a fair settlement of the question—for fair he hoped it would be—still he was confident that the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government would not be deterred from persevering in his policy of conciliation and justice towards Ireland. He called upon the right hon. Gentleman to "be just and fear not," believing that in time the good sense and good feeling of the Irish people would do justice to those who had been anxious to do justice to them.


said, that at the close of last Session he had returned to Ireland gratified to be able to tell his constituents that he had helped to carry the Irish Church Bill. He had hoped that at the close of this Session he should have been able to congratulate them upon the attainment of those things in connection with the land which all just and reasonable men admitted they were entitled to—namely, fair security in their holding's and protection from exorbitant rents. He feared, however, there was small chance of his being able to do so. Fixity of tenure and protection, it was said, were embraced in the Bill; but if such were the case, he certainly did not understand the measure. He protested against the language which had been used towards those who opposed the Bill. Unwarrantable aspersions had been cast upon the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment, whose motives were really as pure and honourable as those of any Gentleman in the House. He repudiated the imputations that had been cast on those who had led the recent agitation in Ireland. They had done what in their consciences they believed to be right, and what in his conscience he believed to be right. Some people alleged that they had deluded the Irish people. He objected to such statements. The meetings which had been held were perfectly constitutional, and had been approved of by the friends of order. These meetings had, moreover, greatly aided the Prime Minister in his work, and had assisted in the half conversion of the Opposition. As to the Amendment, he knew nothing of it until he saw it on the Paper, and hon. Gentleman must not, therefore, suppose that it came from a "cave." He altogether disclaimed the idea that the opposition to the measure had proceeded from the irreconcilables. His desire that the land question should be fairly end moderately settled was as great as that of any Member in the House; but he had no hesitation in declaring that the Bill was not what the people of Ireland expected, though it might be so amended as to fulfil those expectations. The framework was right, though the clauses were unsatisfactory; but if the Prime Minister would give the smallest indication of his willingness to accept the Amendments that were necessary, he would trust to the generous heart of the right hon. Gentleman and his desire to give the Irish people that which justice required. He had never given countenance to the views or plans of those who wished to transfer the property in the soil of Ireland from the landlords to the tenants, as he thought this could only be attended with disastrous consequences. Security of possession would meet the demands made by public meetings and farmers' clubs in Ireland. Much had been said respecting valued rents; but if such a system were established, he believed it would lead to litigation and be ruinous to the country. An Amendment had been presented to the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government by a deputation, headed by Lord Bellew. That document contained a suggestion that rent should be paid according to value, which might be ascertained by arbitration. The suggestion had met with general approval in Ireland, and if adopted by the Government would dispense with the 12th and 14th sections of this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies (Mr. Monsell) had stated that the 3rd section was one for giving pure and simple compensation for disturbance of occupation. But that was not the fact, for it mixed up compensation for disturbance of occupation with compensation for improvements; and to that he entertained a very decided objection. The proper title of the clause would be "Penalties for Capricious Eviction." There ought to be a clause giving compensation for disturbance alone, and it ought to contain a maximum and a minimum for the guidance of the assistant barristers. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) had commented on the fact that while almost every Irish Member stated objections to the Bill they all announced their intention to support it. The fact that a meeting of Irish Members had decided that the Bill would not be acceptable to the people of Ireland unless large amendments were made in it would perhaps account for the course they had pursued in supporting the Bill and speaking upon the clauses. Unless the law of distress were abolished, the 8th section of the Bill might be turned into an engine of oppression. He had a strong objection to another part of the Bill. He referred to the 10th and 16th sections, which enabled the landlord to escape the penalties of compensation by granting leases in certain cases. It might happen that the tenant having applied to the courts for compensation after eviction would, on ascertaining the amount to which he was entitled, sell off his cattle and prepare to go abroad, in confident anticipation of receiving the amount of the award. But when the Judge's order came it would be competent for the landlord, under these sections, instead of paying the money to tender him a thirty-one years' lease. Thus the tenant would find himself without any means of cultivating the farm, and, in fact, almost a beggar; and the consequence would be that in a year or two he would be evicted for non-payment of rent. There was no part of the Bill to which the Irish, people more strongly objected than these sections; and why, he would ask, were these clauses retained in a Bill which they were told was to pacify Ireland and make its people contented and prosperous? He could only conjecture that they were retained in the Bill in order to enable landlords in Ireland after twenty-one or thirty-one years to evict any number of their tenants they pleased. He trusted that these sections, at all events, would be expunged. He was surprised that objection was taken to the clause giving compensation for past improvements, which had already been carried in the House of Commons by a majority of 2 to 1, and which had received the support of Lord Chancellor Napier and of Lord Cairns. It might not be known to hon. Members that a provision for compensation for past improvements was approved by the House twenty years ago, and supported by all the leading statesmen on the other (the Opposition) side of the House. Yet, now, objections were raised to the clause in the present Bill for that purpose. He had received innumerable letters from men of station and property in Ireland expressing dissatisfaction with this Bill, and he agreed fully and entirely with them, because he believed that if the Bill passed in its present shape it would not give satisfaction. At the same time, he believed that it would be possible to avoid this result by substantially amending the measure, and he hoped that the Government would give some indication that such Amendments would be proposed, because it was of great importance that there should be no division against the second reading. He was sorry to hear last night the hon. Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer) say— That evidence proves that such ruffians not only draw no distinction between evictions for non-payment of rent and eviction for any other cause. That statement did injustice to the Irish people. He (Mr. Downing) believed—and he might quote the testimony of the greatest authorities, from Sir J. Davies down to Master Fitzgibbon—that the people of Ireland were a people that loved justice and were grateful and moral. In conclusion, he would again express his deep regret if there should be any division on the present occasion, and he appealed to the hon. Member for Kilkenny (Mr. Bryan), if there should be an indication on the part of the Government to make the necessary Amendments, not to press his Amendment to a division. But if such indication were not given and there was a division, he (Mr. Downing) should certainly feel bound to vote with his hon. Friend; and he hoped, whatever might be the duration of his Parliamentary career, that he should look back upon that vote as the proudest which he had ever given.


Sir, we are called upon to read the second time a Bill to amend the law respecting the owners and occupiers of land in Ireland. It is not an agricultural Bill; it is a political Bill. I do not use that epithet in the sense which my right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Dublin (Dr. Ball) used it some few nights ago in his admirable speech. I do not mean to say that it is a revolutionary Bill; but it is a Bill the object of which is, not to improve the cultivation of land, but to improve the relations between important classes of Her Majesty's subjects. Now, Sir, a Minister who would come forward and propose to deal—to meddle, I would rather say—with the relations between landlord and tenant, would undertake a task from which I think the most experienced and most resolute man would shrink, unless there was an urgent necessity of State for doing it. I myself acknowledge that the circumstances of Ireland are such as not only to justify the Minister but to call upon him to ask the attention of Parliament to this question, and invite it to come to some decision upon it. Sir, I will not enter, or attempt to enter, into the long catalogue of the various and complicated causes which have brought Ireland, so far as the relations between the proprietor and the occupier of the soil are concerned, into such a position that it becomes the duty of the Minister and of Parliament to legislate, or propose to legislate, upon the subject. But although I shrink from, and, from fear of wearying the House, avoid that topic, I may be permitted. I hope—speaking, as I trust I shall to-night, with the utmost impartiality, and not appearing here, as some hon. Gentlemen do, as the advocate either of the tenant or of the landlord in particular—I hope I may be allowed to congratulate the landlords of Ireland upon this—that the result of all these investigations, of this protracted discussion, and of the scrutinizing mind of the public of this country being brought to bear on this subject, has been that it has greatly cleared their reputation and strengthened their position. They cannot be accused of rapacity who, it is proved, receive a lower rent than the landlords of England; they cannot be accused of ruthlessness when the solitary instances with pain and difficulty brought forward against them are instances of a very few men of crazy imagination and conduct; and if we were to make a selection in England in the same spirit, we might, perhaps, find a few individual proprietors influenced by similar feelings. In the result there would be the same amount of justice, and the same honour to the discoverers of the exceptional instances. I may be allowed, if indeed it be necessary, to remind the House that this is no new question. It has now been in some degree under the consideration of Parliament and of the country for many years. I do not mean to say that the period which has elapsed since it was first mooted as a Parliamentary question has been one, considering its importance and magnitude, that may be deemed unreasonable. It is a habit of this country—a wise and salutary habit, which guards us from precipitate legislation—that a question should be fairly discussed and understood, not merely by Cabinets and Councils, but by the nation altogether, before we give it the final seal of permanent legislation. Sir, we have had many references, in the course of the interesting debate which the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman has produced, to important documents, such as the Bills brought forward by Ministers who have at various times endeavoured to bring this great controversy to a favourable and satisfactory termination. But I am surprised that during this protracted debate such very slight and casual reference has been made to a document which, after all, is more important than any Bill that has over been proposed by any Minister, and that is the Report of the Devon Commission. From the moment that the Report of the Devon Commission—which was proposed to Parliament by one of the most eminent statesmen of this country—was laid on our table, some legislation upon the relations that existed between landlord and tenant in Ireland seemed to be inevitable. From that moment it became a public question, and one of the highest interest. I grant, Sir, that there were some persons who were then of opinion that, by the consequences of that dire calamity, perhaps the greatest and most awful visitation of the century which occurred in Ireland—the famine—that by the great reduction of the population of that country, some of the difficulties, and those the most important, with reference to the condition of Ireland might have been removed as regards the tenure of land. But, although the population of Ireland was so largely reduced, and although in consequence of such reduction the competition for land was equally diminished, and for a time, and a very brief time, some solution of the difficulty was recognized in those circumstances, still the famine in Ireland brought about another great event in the social condition of that country—namely, the creation of a new class of proprietors of land, which prevented that alleviation of the difficulties that was anticipated, and which in a certain degree ultimately aggravated them. We must remember that by the encouragement of England, at the invitation of its Ministers and by the legislation of Parliament, Englishmen and Scotchmen were invited to invest their capital in the purchase of the land of Ireland. We must also remember that at that period it was also impressed upon the country, in the spirit in which the present Bill has been drawn and proposed, that the relation between landlord and tenant ought to be a purely commercial relation; and unless it was such no satisfactory result could be obtained. The consequence of this was that a great body of proprietors, men of capital, sense, and science, entered into a bargain at the invitation of the State, which they, un their part, hare rigidly fulfilled. They no doubt introduced a treatment of those who were dependent upon them, as regards the tenure of land, very different from that which was expected by those who had so long enjoyed the facility and forbearance of the old Irish landlords—that body of men is now denounced, and their ruthlessness and rapacity are held up to public odium. Sir, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Liskeard (Mr. Horsman) said last night that from the moment the Report of the Devon Commission was issued this all-important question was trifled with by successive Ministries. That is a very grave accusation to make against public men. Having been connected with two Ministries who have endeavoured to deal with this question, who have given to its consideration great thought and labour, and who were prepared to stand or fall by the measures which they introduced, I must—though I hope with good temper—utterly repudiate the imputation of the right hon. Gentleman. And I am bound to say from what I know of public life, such as I can observe from my seat in this House. I have no reason to believe that those who sit opposite to me, and who in the course of their career have also been responsible for Bills to establish more satisfactory relations between landlords and tenants in Ireland—I say I do not believe that they were animated by any other spirit than we were. Sir, I cannot for one moment believe that they trifled with this question; but, on the other hand. I am confident that they gave to it all the pains which learning and research could bring to the solution of this difficult question, and that they were prepared to exert the utmost of their Parliamentary influence to carry the result of their deliberations into effect. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Liskeard was himself, I believe, Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant for no brief period. I never understood that he introduced any Bill with regard to the land of Ireland, or indeed brought in any Bill upon any subject whatever connected with Ireland during his term of Office. But we never placed upon the conduct of the right hon. Gentleman that uncharitable interpretation which he has been pleased to place upon the conduct of those who fill both this and the opposite Benches, who did attempt to deal with this question. Both sides of the House acknowledge that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Liskeard is a superior prison. When he did not introduce a Bill upon the Irish land; when he did not, during his tenure of Office, introduce a Bill upon any subject whatever in connection with that country; when, on quitting Office, he informed us, to my wonder and surprise, and especially to the astonishment of the Earl of Mayo, that he had not brought forward any measure on any subject whatever because he found that his Office was a complete sinecure, we, still knowing what a superior person the right hon. Gentleman was, did not put an uncharitable interpretation on his conduct, but said—"This is a part of some profound policy, which will end in the regeneration of Ireland and in the consolidation of Her Majesty's United Kingdom." Now, Sir, let me remind the House of what they have probably forgotten—namely, what was proposed in reference to this subject by the Government of 1852, with which I had the honour to be connected. We laid upon the table of the House four Bills, forming a complete code as regards the land of Ireland. I can describe those four Bills in a sentence. They adopted every recommendation of the Devon Commission. Sir, if those Bills had passed we should not now have been discussing the measure of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. Circumstances, however, occurred which prevented these Bills from passing. There was a change of Government. Yet, in the interval that elapsed between the end of 1852 and the year 1860, what occurred with regard to legislation in respect of the land of Ireland? Every provision of these four Bills, with one vital exception, passed piecemeal during that interval. The limited owner was invested with power to make improvements, and to charge them upon the inheritance. That was a leading principle in one of the four Bills which I have said were laid upon the Table. Before two years it was passed. The leasing powers of the Irish proprietor generally were proposed to be extended. That was passed. The limited owner was permitted to enter into contracts with the tenant. That was passed. A consolidation and code of all the laws relating to landlord and tenant in Ireland was successfully passed by Sir Joseph Napier, although in Opposition, in 1860; and that code and consolidation includes many valuable amendments of the law. The particular Bill which we brought forward in 1852, which would have regulated the relations between landlord and tenant in Ireland, was referred, after the fall of our Government, to a Select Committee. The labours of that Select Committee I will not dwell upon, because it would weary the House, and time will not permit. They experienced various complications and many strange vicissitudes; but this was the result—every provision in the Bill that we brought forward to regulate the relations of landlord and tenant in Ireland was adopted by that Committee, with one vital exception, and a Bill was at last passed in 1860 to regulate those relations, with the omission of what I consider to be a vital clause in the Bill of 1852—namely, that which gave compensation to the tenant for improvements, and retrospective compensation. I might have dwelt longer on this matter, but that I believe to be a fair and candid description of the proposals we made. And I say, that the Government which made these proposals ought not to be subjected to the careless taunts of a Gentleman who has been absent for some little time from the House, and comes back to denounce public men who have given most laborious hours, and incurred heavy responsibility in connection with this subject, and who ought not to be told that successive Ministries have trifled with this question. I was in favour, in 1852, of giving compensation to the Irish tenant for his improvements, and within due limits, and with necessary conditions of prudence and discretion, I was in favour of retrospective compensation. Sir, I am still of that opinion. I believe that in retrospective compensation there should be a term fixed—moderate and reasonable, but not of too great duration—and that it should extend to all objects, without any exception. But, Sir, I regret to say—and I say it in passing, for hitherto I have no touched on the present Bill—I do no approve of that provision which would assume that all past improvements have been made by the tenant instead of b] the landlord. Indeed, with such a condition I could not entertain the proposition to provide for retrospective improvements. Sir, it appears to me, though this is hardly the moment to touch upon the subject, and therefore I will advert to it only by a word, that the wisest course in that matter is to fix the onus probandi upon neither party. I am quite certain that as respects the landlord, it would act in a spirit of great injustice; it would require him to do things which he could never have anticipated that the law would have called on him to do; and with one bailiff who is dead, and another who is absent, without register or record kept of what has occurred, to ask him now to accede to a proposal which is novel—I will not say irregular, but certainly one of which this country has little experience—it is to my mind a most impolitic act to bring forward that proposition with respect to a subject upon which I hope now there is generally a mutual agreement. Now, I find that this great question of compensation for improvements, especially retrospective compensation for improvements, which was included in our land code of 1852, is now proposed and conceded by the Government in the Bill before us. Well, Sir, that alone, in my mind, is a sufficient reason why I should assent to the second reading of this Bill. And here I would say one word before I proceed further with respect to the position in which Gentlemen on this side of the House are placed by assenting to the second reading. I understand by assenting to the second reading of the Bill that I assent to its principle; and I look upon its principle to be an amendment of the laws relating to the occupation and ownership of land in Ireland. [Sir COLMAN O'LOGHLEN: Hear, hear!] I do not know what the Judge Advocate General means by his cheer. I think he made a most indiscreet and inconsiderate observation when he fixed upon three provisions of the Bill, respecting which he must have anticipated there must be great controversy; and, representing the Government, said—"These are the three principles of the Bill, and every Gentleman who votes for the second reading is pledged to those principles." The consequence of the speech of the Judge Advocate was, as I am told, that several much respected Members of this House, whose votes upon this subject I should have been very glad to have seen arrayed on the same side with mine, quitted the House. Such is the result of a speech made by a man of talent, placed for the first time in a position to which he is unaccustomed. Now, Sir, I have explained to the House, and I believe every Gentleman on this side of the House understands, the principle of this Bill. It is that we are prepared "to amend the law relating to the occupation and ownership of land in Ireland." and, when we go into Committee, we shall consider its provisions. So far as my position is concerned, I might stop there. I might have remained silent but for the speech of the learned Judge Advocate; and the right hon. Gentleman could not with reason complain if, when we went into Committee, he was met by Amendments for which he is not prepared. But, Sir, I think it better that we, not objecting to the second reading of a Bill of the vast importance of the present, should indicate the great points on which we think there is difference between us and the Government, and thereby indicate the course that we shall take in the scrutinizing labours of the Committee, and perhaps induce the Government, before we can reach that ceremony, to consider their position on those points, and meet us in that spirit of compromise which I flatter myself may distinguish our general labours in Committee. Therefore it is that, having guarded myself against the rash conclusions of the Judge Advocate, I will very briefly mention the points on which I have grave doubts at present, and on which, so far as I am advised, I shall feel it, as others will feel it, my duty to ask the Government to reconsider their position; or, if they will not do so, to appeal to the wisdom and patriotism of the Committee in which we shall soon find ourselves. And now, Sir, the first point on which I had very grave doubts is as to the propriety of that proposition of the Ministry which relates to what is called the Ulster custom. It is appears to me impossible that the Bill can pass with regard to this part of the subject in the form in which it is framed; but the objections which I have are so very grave that they are objections to the principle, and it is my duty to place them at once before the consideration of the House. What is this first clause of the Bill, respecting the legality of what is called the Ulster tenant-right custom? It is neither more nor less than asking Parliament to legalize the private arrangements of every estate in the North of Ireland. What is the Ulster custom? No Gentleman has pretended to tell us. There is no such thing as an Ulster custom. There are a variety of customs as respects tenant-right in Ulster, as there are a great many such customs in the other parts of Ireland, but there is no Gentleman who can tell us what the Ulster custom is; and this is so obvious and acknowledged that we have absolutely a Notice on our Paper at the present moment in which an hon. Member for the first time attempts to make a definition of the Ulster custom, and asks Parliament to consider it. Now, Sir, I conceive that the utmost difficulty, not to say impossibility, lurks in the course which the Government are recommending us to take on this subject. I see no termination to the controversy, nor can I see what settlement even the highest authorities can bring to bear upon this subject, because their decision upon any one case will not decide another case, for the reason that the circumstances which will be brought before the authorities will be over varying. In my mind there is a complete fallacy in the argument that has been offered in the course of this debate by several Gentlemen; and recently—I remember it better because it is recently—by the Judge Advocate General, who says— Why, all we ask is that you should do in Ireland what you have done in England. You have legalized the custom of tenant-right in parts of England, why should you not legalize it in parts of Ireland? The right hon. Gentleman did not see, or would not acknowledge, that there is a vital difference between the two instances. The very language which we use upon this subject in this country indicates the difference. My hon. Friend the Member for Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin) in his able speech gave us a picturesque, an animated, and a true account of the admirable tenant-right which exists in Lincolnshire. But what is it called there? It is called there, as in other parts of England, the "custom of the country." Everybody knows it as a custom because it is ancient, because it existed before the memory of man, because it is prescriptive, because it is certain, because it is the custom of the country, and also the common law of England. But is there anyone who can get up in his place in Parliament and for a moment pretend that these qualities attach to any private arrangements that exist in Ulster. No one pretends that there is any custom of Ulster. There is no prescription, because it is not ancient; there is no certainty, because it varies under every rule. Then I want to know in what manner you will deal with this question of Ulster custom. Besides, even if it were a custom, I very much doubt the propriety as a general principle, of legalizing customs. The moment you legalize a custom you fix its particular character; but the value of a custom is its flexibility, and that it adapts itself to all the circumstances of the moment and of the locality. All these qualities are lost the moment you crystallize a custom into legislation. Customs may not be as wise as laws, but they are always more popular. They array upon their side alike the convictions and the prejudices of men. They are spontaneous. They grow out of man's necessities and invention, and as circumstances change and alter and die off the custom falls into desuetude, and we get rid of it. But if you make it into a law, circumstances alter, but the law remains, and becomes part of that obsolete legislation which haunts our statute book and harasses society. Therefore I say, as a general principle, I am against legalizing customs. You cannot, if you are to legalize custom, legalize the custom of Ulster, because it does not exist. But if it did exist, what is the reason that you should have special legislation for the custom of Ulster? These agricultural customs exist in other parts of Ireland; you have provided for them in your Bill. Why should there be two clauses—one for the Ulster and one for the other customs? Protesting against legalizing customs, I say that, if the House in its wisdom decides upon that course, it will be expedient to get rid of this special legislation for Ulster, and to support a general clause upon the whole subject of legalizing the agricultural customs of Ireland. I now proceed to another part of the Bill, of which I entirely disapprove, and that is the compensation that is to be given for occupation. We have heard many objections to the principle of the clause. I may touch upon them, but I wish at once to state the reason why I particularly object to that clause.

It is not upon the interest peculiarly of the landlord that I found my objection. My objection to this clause, which, at the first blush, recognizes property in occupation, and which, therefore, I am not surprised has alarmed many Gentlemen, is, that this is a proposition which terminates at one fell swoop all moral relations between the owner and the occupier. Although some years ago we used to hear a great deal upon the subject, I doubt very much whether you can convert the relations between landlord and tenant into a purely commercial relation. There is something, I think, in the nature of the property itself—something in the inevitable consequences of local circumstances and local influences, that would always prevent such a consummation. And as far as I can observe or have learnt, these circumstances have prevented the establishment of a purely commercial relation even in Scotland, where the experiment would appear to have been tried under most favourable circumstances. But of this I am sure, that it is a relation that never could be established in the case of circumstances such as mainly exist in Ireland. If ever there was a state of society in which the relations between the landlord and tenant should be paternal, it is in a country where you have fanners of an acre, and where a man pays you, as my right hon. Friend (Mr. Gathorne Hardy) mentioned last night, 40s. for his annual rent. Now, Sir, this clause, in my opinion, terminates all moral relations whatever. No doubt, there may be some Gentlemen—and those probably who have least considered the subject—who will be surprised to hear that there are moral relations existing between landlords and their tenants even in the extreme South of Ireland. But among the most important moral relations between these two classes is exactitude in demanding and paying rent. Sir, moral qualities of a very high order are developed when the tenant does not pay you rent. Forbearance in its most Christian aspect may then be exhibited in a manner that may claim the respect and admiration of society. There is no body of men who require forbearance to be shown to them more than those small Irish tenants. In what position towards them do you now place the Irish landlords, to whose kindness and sympathy the tenants hitherto have preferred a claim? An industrious man, a hardworking and good man, is overcome, we will suppose, by those vicissitudes of seasons which Ireland is not exempt from, and he applies—as others have applied before, and not in vain—to the distinguished facility and good nature of the Irish landlord. But the landlord naturally asks who is the man who thus comes to him with a claim for consideration. The relations that once existed, the relation of patron and client—a relation that, truly conceived and generously administered, is one of the strongest elements of the social system—no longer subsists. And the landlord says—"This man, who comes and asks me to exercise all the higher qualities of human nature—this man, under the law as it has now been constituted, is a man who is no longer my tenant, but my co-parcener. He may to-morrow, by the decision of some person that I have never heard of, claim seven years' rent from me, to be increased by at least three years' more rent if he leaves me unexhausted improvements, of the existence of which I am not even conscious. The value of my estate is only twenty years' purchase; he has, consequently, as much interest in the estate as myself. Why, then, should I suffer inconvenience and loss, or forbear from vindicating my rights?" I say that this appeal of a tenant, under circumstances such as I have described, would be one of the very last which was calculated to touch the heart of a proprietor. But this is the position in which you propose to place landlord and tenant for the future, terminating all those moral relations which have prevailed, and, even in the most unhappy times, have been extensively exercised. There are those who also object to the clause because, in their mind, it converts occupancy into property. If that were the case, the objections to the clause would be so strong that I could not bring myself to support it. But I have placed a different construction upon the clause—the same which was expressed with so much clearness the other night by my right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Dublin (Dr. Ball), who looked upon this as a constructive contract, which, though there was no lease between the landlord and the tenant, secured to him an equity and the oppor- tunity of having complete cultivation of the land. That he could not have in a year or six months; and that may be a fair ground for giving the person who loses his occupancy a liberal compensation, though it appears to me that, under these circumstances, the compensation suggested by the right hon. Gentleman would be excessive. Well, Sir, there is another point on which I wish to make a remark, and only one. It is a subject which must engage our attention by-and-by, and that is the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman in this Bill to make advances of public money for a variety of objects. Now, I am not prepared to say that it is not quite justifiable on the part of the State occasionally to make advances for the benefit of a class, with the conviction that in benefiting that class you are bringing advantage to the body politic generally. Under such circumstances, however, we have a right, I think, to look to these two considerations—that the advances should be made with good security, and that they should be made for a beneficial object. Now, Sir, I will not go into the variety of quarters to which, if this policy is admitted, under this Bill, advances may be made; but with regard to the tenant I must at once say that I greatly object to advances to the tenant in Ireland in order that he should purchase the freehold. Our great object, as it appears to me, is to make the Irish tenant more efficient—to make his tenure more secure, as secure as we can without trespassing on the legitimate rights of properly—encouraging him to dedicate and devote all his resources to the cultivation of the soil. That is, I think, our great object. You appear to me to deviate from that object if you induce the tenant to divert a portion of the capital which he ought to dedicate to the cultivation of the soil to the attainment of another and quite a different object. It appears to me no policy can be more unwise than that, the tendency of which is to make at the same time of one man an inefficient tenant and a poor proprietor. Now, Sir, I well know that in a Bill for which I have a share of responsibility, and the full responsibility of which I am ready to take—the last Land Bill produced by the Earl of Mayo—there was a provision to make advances to tenants under certain conditions; but what was the object of those advances? the object of those advances was to assist the tenant in a better cultivation of the soil. These advances were made for drainage, for building, for fencing; and by these advances you really increase the capital devoted to the cultivation of the soil. You render the tenant more efficient; you give him greater power and the opportunity of reaping greater profits. That is not the result of the proposition of Her Majesty's Ministers in this case, and I will not relinquish the hope that when that question is fairly discussed in Committee, and when Her Majesty's Government have given to it further consideration, and become better acquainted with the feeling of the House, they may be induced to withdraw that part of the measure. This, Sir, brings me to a point which has been noticed in this debate, which is a very important one, but which does not appear to me yet to have received all the attention it deserves—and that is, the purchases under the Landed and Encumbered Estates Acts. The defence by the Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant the other night of the course recommended by the Minister on that head was to me eminently unsatisfactory. It depended entirely on the quotation of what Judge Longfield wrote in a tract, I believe, recently published. Sir, I have great respect for the authority of Judge Longfield; but it did not appear to me, as I listened to the quotation, that it applied to the particular instance before our consideration at present, and I have since learnt, referring to the volume, that that is the case. There is no doubt that the purchasers under the Landed and Encumbered Estates Acts are not in any way debarred from the future taxation of the country, or the calls upon them which may be demanded by the necessities of the State and the nation at a period subsequent to those purchases. There is no doubt of that. No one would for a moment contend that because they purchased their estates in those courts and had a Parliamentary title, they were to be exempt from any demands which the wisdom of Parliament might call on them, in common with other property of the country, to meet. But that gives only an entirely incorrect view of the question before us. I do not know whether Gentlemen on either side have seen a conveyance under the Landed and Encumbered Estates Acts in Ireland. If they have not, it is a piece of information they can easily obtain in the interval of this time and the Committee, and they will find it extremely instructive. Now allow me briefly to describe what a conveyance is under the Landed Estates Act. It is the shortest conveyance in the world. It is a Parliamentary title, and it is given in a few lines. But it contains a guarantee; and what is that guarantee? That guarantee is a guarantee from the State against any other than the claims which are contained in a schedule engrossed and printed on the very deed of conveyance. Now, what are those claims in this schedule? Listen. These claims are the claims of the tenants on the estate. Every tenant is called upon to make his claim and send it in to the court before the conveyance, signed with his name, and from these claims that schedule is drawn up. The purchaser receives a guarantee of his property free from all claims, except the scheduled list of the claims of the tenants, drawn up by themselves, which is on the very side of the conveyance. And how is it possible to contend that under such a guarantee you now can call upon the purchasers to satisfy claims of these very tenants, which, according to your projected Bill, existed at the time of the purchase and even previous to the purchase? It may be most wise and expedient, if you do legislate in this manner, that tenants under these purchases should enjoy the same privileges as other tenants. That is a point I will not now argue; but it is quite clear that under those circumstances the new proprietor must be entitled to compensation, and you cannot move in this business without compensation. This is a matter which must be decided by lawyers, and I do not pretend to give an opinion on such a subject which shall be definite; but what I want to do is to put before the House the real state of the case, in order that you may understand that if there be a guarantee of this kind the guarantee must be fulfilled. And no quotation from a treatise by a Judge, writing on totally different questions, which may very easily be brought forward in debate, can settle a question of this grave and precise character. Much depends in this matter on the tribunal which will carry this Bill, if it become law, into effect. The Secretary of the Lord Lieutenant the other night boasted of the simplicity of this measure. He said that for simplicity there had never been a Land Bill equal to it before, and of its simplicity he appeared perfectly proud. Now, without giving any final or general opinion as to the merits of the measure, this much I will venture to say, that a more complicated, a more clumsy, or a more heterogeneous measure was never yet brought before the consideration of Parliament. What moved the right hon. Gentleman to get us into all these intricacies in reference to Ulster? "What's Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba?" Why should he have made arrangements with regard to the three other Provinces, and brought them in collision with this more favoured Province? We have had to-night a detailed account from the hon. Member for Galway (Mr. W. H. Gregory) of the principles on which a Bill upon this subject should be founded; and I am going to give my model of a Bill, and its recommendation shall be simplicity and brevity. I mention this in a whisper across the table, in the hope that the right hon. Gentleman opposite may consider the proposal, and leave all the customs of Ireland alone. They are very effective at the present moment. If you legalize the custom, the chance is that you diminish the moral incidents of the arrangement without practically increasing the legal power. It is better to leave those incidents to work their way, as they have hitherto done with very general satisfaction. But if a man without a lease, and who had paid his rent, is evicted, why, let his case go before the tribunal you shall appoint; let the Judge investigate all the elements of the equity of the case; and let him come to a decision which on one side shall guard the tenant from coercion, and, on the other, preserve the landlord from fraud. Why cannot you do this? You are going to create a tribunal. Then create at once an efficient tribunal, and delegate to it the authority I have mentioned. It would not be so great a violation of the principle of property as these complicated provisions before us. Then you would have a simple piece of legislation, and one which, I believe, with a few provisos and additions, would satisfy the necessities of this difficult question. What, however, should the tribunal be? I must say I have great doubts as to the manner in which the tribunal pro- posed by the Bill is intended to be formed. I will not now go into the question of the courts of arbitration; though I gathered, from the mode in which the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister spoke of them, that he has great confidence in those courts. I know it is a method which recommends itself to his generous and susceptible nature; but, acting upon my own feelings, I should not like to go to those courts. Though the conception recommends itself by the amenity of the design, I cannot believe that practically, in the present state of Ireland, they will be found to work with very great felicity. But if you do not succeed in your arbitration, you then go to another person, and that other person, in masquerade and donned in a graceful dress, is our old friend the assistant barrister. I have heard of him for many years, and in my time he has done a great deal of service. Well, the assistant barrister is a resident or non-resident. [A cry of "Non-resident!"] I am told that in consequence of the state of Irish society he is always careful to be non-resident. The non-resident assistant barrister, educated in the Four Courts, acute and intelligent, is sent for to decide these questions between landlord and tenant, and, probably not being able to distinguish at first glance between a grass field and a field of young oats, is required to decide on all the conditions and circumstances of rural life, to enter into protracted accounts, and come to a determination on a matter in which considerations even of "moral conduct" may largely enter. Well, Sir, I cannot think myself that the assistant barrister, with that ignorance of country life which is an unfortunate incident of his position, is a person qualified to perform those first duties; but if he perform those first duties in a manner unsatisfactory to either party, that party will have the power of appeal—and, on appeal, the matter will be brought before the Judges of Assize. Well, Sir, that sounds very grand and very satisfactory. There are few Gentlemen on this or on the other side who do not know something of assizes and of the Judges of Assize. The Judges of Assize are men whose every hour and half-hour is mapped out before they embark on their great enterprize. The Judges of Assize are on Monday in this town, on Wednesday in another town, and on Friday in a third. They are followed by an excited and ambitions Bar, with their carnages and the railways full of briefs—full of the great trials which are coming on—causes which have engrossed and excited an anxious society for months, and from which they are to gain immortal honours—to be returned for boroughs, to be made Solicitor Generals, and to rise to the highest positions on the Bench. Well, when the Judges come to the first town where those great exploits are to be fulfilled and those great feats accomplished, where multitudes are waiting to receive them, and where the galleries are full of ladies—particularly if the cases are of a delicate character—all this great business is to be arrested because the first cases to be brought before the Judges of Assize are appeals from the assistant barristers on the relations between landlord and tenant in Ireland. Why, Sir, we know very well what will happen. Those appeals will demand from the Judges of Assize the concentration of their whole intellect. They will have to investigate the circumstances of a mode of life with which they are little acquainted, and which their acuteness alone will enable them to detach from the entanglements of local lawyers. They will have to go into accounts; and they will have, in the language of this Bill, to do that which Judges of Assize will do with great care and the most solemn sense of responsibility—to enter on the "moral conduct" of the parties, and see how far that "moral conduct" affects the contract between landlord and tenant. And what will happen? Either their whole time will be taken up with this duty—or what is more likely, the duties will be performed in a most unsatisfactory and perfunctory manner. You know something of this now in Ireland. You have an appeal from the Civil Bill Court to two Judges of Assize; and is that which takes place when those appeals are made—a satisfactory mode of administering British justice? No. Mutters are hurried over, and questions are decided in a manner that gives little satisfaction; and every person present, except the suffering plaintiff or defendant, is delighted, because they are dying to hear the blazing eloquence of the great counsel who are ready to open causes, with which these questions from the Civil Bill Court interfere. Therefore I think, whether I look to your primary court or your court of appeal, the prospect is unsatisfactory. I know it will be said that nothing can be more unwise than to establish a new court for the trial of those cases; it will be said that it is the inveterate habit of a new court to make business. I agree that it is so. If you create a new court, in order to justify its existence, and, perhaps, to increase the salaries of its officers, it will do its duty with such fatal enthusiasm that there will be no end to litigation. I do not propose a new court. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to leave out the first two clauses, to allow customs to work their beneficial and more convenient way as they do at present, and to permit the tribunal to decide on the equity of the case before it in the manner I have described. I believe that Judges whom you may send down, as we do in this country, under the last Election Act, would perform those duties satisfactorily. No man rates more highly than I do the learning, the eloquence, and the character of the Judges at present on the Irish Bench; but I believe their learning could be more devoted to the public service; and I wish their eloquence and their high character could exercise a greater influence on public affairs. In fact, I must express my honest opinion that the Judges in Ireland, with all their learning, eloquence, and high character, are not sufficiently employed for the benefit of the State and their own happiness. They might give to those questions all the learning and solemn authority which they require; and I think in that way you have a tribunal which would obtain the confidence of the country. There is one point more on which I wish to say something. I believe it is a most difficult one; but I cannot help thinking that the more it is discussed and considered, the more public opinion and the opinion of this House will lean towards that result at which I confess I myself have arrived—namely, that it will be most unwise on the part of Parliament to interfere, as this Bill proposes to do, with the freedom of contract in Ireland. Sir, we have always regarded freedom of contract as being one of the greatest securities for the progress of civilization. Just the same as we should say that the suspension of the Habeas Cor- pus Act may be necessary sometimes for public safety, so we may say that when a country suspends its freedom of contract the State must be in a most dangerous or diseased condition. I cannot bring myself to believe that the condition of Ireland is such as to justify us in adopting what appears a permanent departure from one of the cardinal principles of a free and progressive State. I think we ought to hesitate before we adopt such a course. I feel the difficulties which the Government have to encounter in dealing with this question. I am perfectly ready to consider it in any way in which we can possibly advance their general policy, without compromising what I must look upon as a sacred principle. I think the House ought to discard all pedantic scruples and all party feeling in dealing with existing circumstances; and I think we should be prepared, as far as existing circumstances are concerned, to support the general policy of the Government, and not to hesitate, even when we believe that it touches upon and injures general principles which we may consider of vital importance in the government of the country. But, although the exigencies of the State situation may demand and authorize such a course, that is perfectly different from our going out of our way permanently and completely, and announcing that Ireland is in such a condition that we cannot allow the two most considerable classes in the country—for the landlords and the tenants are, after all, the two most considerable classes in the country—to enjoy the first and most beneficial privilege of civilized life. Sir, I know very well with regard to this most important subject that the right hon. Gentleman may remind us of the present peculiar condition of Ireland. I, for one, am not insensible to the very great inconvenience, the more than inconvenience, the great injury to the House of Commons and to the State of having to discuss this Bill and to decide upon this question in the present state of that country. I wish very much that the condition of Ireland now was what it was when we brought in our Bill on the subject of the tenure of land in 1852. I do not blind myself to the condition of that country nor to the effect that that condition may have upon the Legislature; and it is against that effect that I should wish particularly to guard the House. I have not myself pressed Her Majesty's Ministers upon that subject, although it is one that engrosses, and naturally engrosses, the public mind of England. But, whatever I may feel upon that point, I cannot doubt that there is one person in the country who feels it even more keenly still, and that must be the right hon. Gentleman upon whom rests the responsibility for the general condition of the country. I do not share the belief which some of my hon. Friends appear to entertain, that Her Majesty's Ministers could be insensible to the duties which the immense difficulties of the country now present. I could not allow the memory of old struggles connected with Ireland to induce me for a moment to press Her Majesty's Government to arrive at any precipitate conclusion upon a subject which demands the gravest, I may say, the most agonizing consideration that a statesman could give to a public question; because to interfere in such a condition of affairs, and to interfere inefficiently, is what any public man who deserves the confidence of his Sovereign and of his country would shrink from with a natural feeling of distress and of terror. But, Sir, we cannot avoid, now that this question is before us, touching upon these subjects, although I trust that I shall always speak of them with temperateness and moderation. It is not the language of persons on either side of this House that upon these matters now arouses and alarms the nation. It cannot be said, if a statement is made as to the condition of Ireland, that it is a prejudiced or a hot-headed partizan who has made some unauthorized statement susceptible of easy explanation by a Minister. Sir, we have had before us recently, within only a few days, the gravest document almost that any country ever produced, containing descriptions of Ireland by men qualified by their high station, by their perfect freedom from all party passion, by the eminence of their august position, and by the consciousness of their solemn duty, to influence the opinion of the nation and of Parliament. Those Charges have been noticed in this House, but the attention of this House has only been incidentally called to them, and I must say that I regretted that the right hon. Gentleman the other night, when the Charges of the Chief Justices of Ireland were alluded to, should have thought it consistent with his duty, with the stern reality of facts, to carp at expressions and to extract some petty sentences with the object, if he had an object, of conveying to the House and to the country that the country and the House had taken an exaggerated view of the state of Ireland. I confess that when these two Charges of the Lords Chief Justices of Ireland first appeared, and were brought incidentally before our consideration, I was touched by a very different feeling, and influenced by a very different emotion, from that which seemed to animate the right hon. Gentleman. Who were these men who delivered those Charges? I sat with them in this House for many years. They had no resemblance to each other, except in their talents and learning, in their high character, and in their candour. One was a Tory of Tories, and the other was a man of extreme opinions, belonging to a party professing the same. One was—it is painful to allude to such a difference, but when you treat of Ireland and Irish political matters you must do so; one was a Protestant and the other was of the Roman faith. And these two men, rivals in politics, connected with different parties in the State, professing different religions, resembling each other, if I may presume to say so, only in that which was excellent and admirable, called upon to fulfil the most solemn duty of their office, and to represent the condition of their country to their nation and their Sovereign, though viewing that country in different districts, adopted the same views and language and conveyed the same result to an alarmed, and, I might say, an appalled community. Sir, I know well that the condition of Ireland may net upon the decision of this House in the conduct of this Bill. I who am offering to this Bill no factious opposition, who have given to it, as I promised, a candid consideration, and who, I trust, with the modifications which argument and reason may bring about, will yet be able to give it a cordial support, am most anxious that hon. Gentlemen, on whatever side they sit, will not decide upon the fate of Ireland in these most interesting and important relations of its most important classes in a spirit of panic. Do not let us vote upon this subject as if we had received threatening letters—as if we expected to meet Rory of the Hills when we go into the lobby. No; let us decide upon all those great subjects which will be brought under our consideration in Committee as becomes Members of the House of Commons; for, depend upon it, if we are induced in a hurry and with precipitation to agree to such monstrous enactments as that the Irish people should not have the power, for instance, of entering into contracts with each other, the time will come—a more tranquil and a more genial hour as regards Ireland than the present—when the reproach we shall receive upon the subject will be made from Ireland itself, and they will say of the English people—"They treated us in our hour of difficulty as men who neither comprehended justice nor deserved freedom."


Sir, I do not feel it to be any part of my duty on this occasion to attempt an elaborate criticism upon the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. With respect to his closing remarks and his reference to the state of Ireland, although I do not consider myself open to censure for having pointed out on a former evening that the best method of gathering the true purport of a Judge's Charge was to read the document, yet I make no complaint of the general tenour of the right hon. Gentleman's reference to the condition of that country. I need not follow him through the historical narrative with which he commenced his speech, for it is but indirectly related to the present debate; and I only notice it for the purpose of demurring and of withholding my assent to its precise accuracy. With regard to the right hon. Gentleman's Bill, which he has laid before us with the utmost frankness, I do not think either it is at all necessary to make it the subject of detailed consideration; but yet I am tempted to suggest a difficulty to the mind of the right hon. Gentleman. I must grant to him that his conception is marked by at least one attribute of genius, and that is the one which he had most in view—namely, simplicity; for what he says is—"Leave customs where they are, respect freedom of contract, and appoint a Judge who, when a tenant is evicted, shall guard the tenant from coercion and the landlord from fraud." That is the plan of the right hon. Gentleman, and upon it I put to him a single question. Contracts, he says, are to be free. Suppose the landlord contracts with his tenant that he shall not upon eviction go before a Judge, I want to know what, in that case, and subject to that single test, will become of the measure of the right hon. Gentleman? But, Sir, it is a much more agreeable duty to acknowledge, and I do it with frankness, that the speech of the right hon. Gentleman has not in its spirit differed from the general tone of this debate; and the first obligation incumbent upon me is to express not only the high and peculiar satisfaction with which I have listened to many other of the speeches delivered in the course of this discussion—among which, I will venture to mention, if I may do so with proper respect, the speech of the hon. Member for Carlow (Mr. Kavanagh), upon the opposite side of the House,, and the speeches of men like my hon. Friend the Member for Tralee (The O'Donoghue), the Member for Kildare (Mr. Cogan), and others, including those who have not found it so much within their power to give a uniform support to the Government—not only to these but to those generally, without invidious distinction, who have taken part in this debate, do I tender, on the part of the Government, our respectful thanks, and acknowledge that although many, undoubtedly, have exhibited in the course of the discussion the germs of what may come to be serious opposition when we arrive at the Committee, yet there has hardly been a speaker to whom I could not venture to say that he has looked at this measure with a sincere desire to accept it as far as his conscientious convictions would admit, and that so far as in him lies he desires to smooth the difficulties that intercept the adjustment of this great and vital question. I never have undervalued, and I do not now undervalue, the serious character of these obstacles; it is only by patient consideration that they can, one by one, be overcome. It is enough for me to say that we now see the way of this Bill, clear and straight, at least into Committee, and that for that amount of progress, achieved as it will be with the general, I would almost venture to say with the unanimous, assent of the House, it is our pleasure as well as our duty to tender our sincere thanks. Having thus discharged a duty of thankfulness, I must also venture to express my satisfaction on a ground somewhat narrower—that a measure such as this, which I admit to the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli) to be a complex one, after being subjected for four nights to the acute and searching, though not unfriendly, criticism of the most competent men in this great Assembly, has so well borne the ordeal through which it has passed. Now, Sir, I do not deny that on certain points an impression has been made both on the provisions of the Bill, and on the mind of the Government with regard to those provisions. I will not on this occasion attempt to enter into minute or full explanations upon each clause of the measure, but I will pass with great rapidity over all except those which touch the most vital portions of it. The admissions I shall make are these—The clause with respect to the subletting of gardens to labourers will undoubtedly require further and careful modification in a sense possibly both of restriction and of development. I should be extremely sorry to part with that clause. The clause with respect to the leasing powers has been criticized by many of the representatives of popular sentiments in Ireland, and I am free to admit that I can see particulars in which that clause might be justly amended. the provision that county cess on tenements not exceeding £4 valuation should pass immediately to form part of the liabilities of landlords I think has been attacked in a manner which must lead to its reconsideration. Further, Sir, there is a point of greater importance and difficulty, with regard to which I hope we may be able to effect an improvement in the Bill; and that is, with respect to the mode in which, as the language of the 3rd clause now stands, the two elements of damages for eviction and payment for improvements are mingled together. We have associated them for an object which I think will be appreciated. We were governed in attempting that association by the belief that, as regards the smaller class of tenements, there was much of the produce of the labour of the occupier which might very fairly be considered improvement in relation to his claim to compensation, and yet which it might be difficult to sustain upon the separate ground of improvement as a plea before an arbitrator or a Judge. We shall, perhaps, make an endeavour, without in any degree foregoing our object, to effect a more distinct severance between the two elements of payment for improvements and compensation for loss inflicted by eviction. I will not deny, Sir, that it is quite possible that it may be fit, with respect to those provisions of the Bill which relate to loans of public money for the purpose of promoting purchases or the reclamation of waste lands, to accompany them with particulars that may mark their experimental character, and not leave it to be supposed that they are intended to form part of a permanent and universal legislation. Again, Sir, the subject of the law of distress has been introduced into this debate; and, without being prepared to make any special or particular admission, I may state that I think it possible that in some respects it may be right to consider the present provisions of that law in Ireland, in their bearing on some of the clauses of this Bill, with a view to their modification. Lastly, I do not at all question that the wording of some of the clauses, and especially of the clause which relates to the Ulster tenant-right, may be profitably made the subject of further review; but from the substance of that Ulster clause I must own that the debate to which I have listened has not inspired me with the slightest desire or disposition to depart. Making these admissions, I will now refer to the objections I am not prepared to admit, and venture to offer some slight comments on the more prominent arguments which have been made against the Bill in the course of the debate. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) appears to me to be too hasty in his inference from the anxiety of occupiers to retain possession of their holdings. The right hon. Gentleman says that is to be taken as a clear proof that the holdings are profitable to them as they now exist. I am not able to make that admission. The holdings may be rented under these circumstances, that they would be profitable and satisfactory, and that the rents of them could be easily paid, provided they were attended with security of tenure; but, at the same time, it may be perfectly possible that while the tenure is insecure, the holding may be most satisfactory, and yet the tenant may be well and reasonably inspired with an intense desire to retain it—first, because he hopes the wisdom of the Legislature will invest it with that quality of stability which now it wants; and, secondly—and this is by no means a small consideration—because he knows himself, as a rule—and no one expressed the fact with greater terseness or force than the hon. Member for Carlow—to be without other means of livelihood. With regard to Ireland, and the different statements we hear as to what goes on there, I am reminded of an illustration which may be drawn from the Odyssey of Homer. There are two legends in the Odyssey, one to the effect that there is a distant country in which there prevails perpetual day, and the other to the effect that there is another perfectly distinct and distant country in which there prevails perpetual night. Well, anyone becoming acquainted with these two legends would at first infer that they belonged, not to the same, but to different originals. But we know very well that they evidently belong to the same original, and are both drawn with equal truth from the same portion of the globe which has perpetual day and perpetual night, only at different times of the year. And so, Sir, it is with Ireland; the diversity of its circumstances, as affected by the character of men and the usages of districts is such that dangerous as in all cases hasty generalization must be found, perhaps there is no case in which it is so utterly fatal to a just conclusion on the general merits of the subject as when it is made on a question relating to the state of Ireland. Judge Longfield, who has written on this subject with so much ability, force, and knowledge, says, and, as I think, with truth, that he may put this dilemma—"The competition value of land in Ireland is too high, because there is an excess of demand over supply. If the land is held at the competition value, which in ordinary circumstances is the desirable and the proper, and the only proper test, then the holding cannot under the circumstances of Ireland be satisfactory. If, on the contrary, it is held below the competition value, as frequently happens in Ireland, then also it cannot be satisfactory, because it is not secure, and a man can never know at what period he may be displaced from his occupation." It is said by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Dr. Ball) that this Bill is to be complained of for the variance of its principles with English laws and cus- toms; but I must confess I was somewhat astonished when I heard the right hon. Gentleman refer in terms of commendation to our recent legislation with regard to copyholders. His suggestion upon that point appears to me to be one of the most revolutionary I have ever heard made in relation to Irish land, because if the English example with regard to its legislation in respect to copyhold has any reference at all to Ireland, it means nothing but the expropriation of the landlord. But what we have to do is not to consider as a primary rule and purpose the exact resemblance between the legislation for England and Ireland, but to consider what the circumstances of Ireland demand, and then to apply the same principles of equity to the varying circumstances of the case. If is said that this Bill will encourage litigation, and to that charge the general answer has been given, that the establishment of a system of rights implies the possibility of litigation if those rights are to be guarded by the sanction, of law. But, surely, the objection is one which cannot be very strongly felt on the Benches opposite, because the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken throws everything by his plan into the hands of the Judge. Instead of giving any distinct guidance to the parties, he says, simply—"Go before the Judge." My right hon. Friend the Member for North Lancashire (Colonel Wilson-Patten), although I do not know that he look any objection to the Bill, on the ground that it would lead to too great an amount of litigation, undoubtedly made a very handsome contribution to increase the stock, because he proposes that, independently of all the provisions of the Bill, the parties should be authorized to make any contract whatsoever between themselves, provided it was made subject to discussion and settlement before the Judge. The right hon. Gentleman who spoke last objects strongly to another part of the Bill, with reference to the case of the proprietors under the Encumbered Estates Act, and he thinks it absolutely necessary that a separate compensation should be provided for those proprietors. I must, however, with all respect, say that I think some confusion has crept into the views of the right hon. Gentleman in connection with the subject. The right hon. Gentleman seems to suppose that, quite apart from the question of indefeasible title, and apart from the question of release from encumbrances, the purchaser under the Encumbered Estates Act takes something different in its nature from that which appertains to other proprietors in Ireland. Sir, who gave it to him? Who had any right to give it to him? The purchasers under the Encumbered Estates Act pay off their own encumbrances—that is to say, they were paid off out of the price of the estate—and Parliament declares their title to be indefeasible; but Parliament has done nothing whatsoever except this for them; they took nothing else which did not already belong to every other proprietor in Ireland. I defy anybody to produce an argument in favour of the claims of the purchaser under the Landed Estates Act which will not end in the extension of the conclusion, and the adoption of a measure of compensation all round. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford is one to whose exercise of the faculty of criticism I always listen with great interest and attention, because I think one can generally get out of his speeches some of the stiffest objections which can be taken to a measure. On the present occasion I heard him with great satisfaction. He took his main, or one of his main objections to the 3rd clause—the clause which gives damages for eviction—on the ground that it tells against the good landlord and lets off the bad. Now, not only is that not the fact, but it is the very reverse of the fact. For example, by the good landlord is meant the man who lets his land at a moderate rent, and by the bad landlord a man who lets it at a rent which is unduly high. By the clause itself the amount of compensation which is to be given is not to be assessed upon the acreage but to consist of so many years' rent; so that if the bad landlord has taken two years' rent for his land, where the good landlord has only taken one, then for that very reason the bad landlord will pay twice as much compensation as the good. But, more than that, the right hon. Gentleman has forgotten to take into consideration the operation of the equity clauses. I do not deny that, looking to the 3rd clause as it stands alone, it would be in the power of the evicted tenant to go before the Judge and say—"My loss has been, great, because my land was good and my rent was moderate." But, take in connection with it the equity clause, for that gives the landlord the power to say—"The rent was unnecessarily low; I evicted him because he refused to pay a rent that is reasonable, and it is your duty as Judge to take that fact into consideration and disallow the scale of damages which the 3rd clause contemplates." So that I venture to say that the clause has been constructed with the greatest care, not only to avoid the evil—which I admit would be a fatal one of allowing the Bill to work against a good landlord and in favour of a harsh one—but to secure to the good landlord, as nearly as may be, the amount of reward corresponding with the justice of the case. It is also contended by the right hon. Gentleman that the scale of damages for eviction is too large. He says it amounts to one-third of the fee simple. My hon. Friend the Member for Cork, on the other hand, maintains that it is too low. Now, I do not think it is necessary I should stop to enter into that discussion. The right hon. Gentleman pointed out truly that seven years' rent may be granted as a compensation under that scale, and that in the present circumstances of Ireland, seven years' rent might be regarded in a large portion of that country as one-third, of the value of the fee simple, and that there would therefore primá facie be an abstraction of so much property from the landlord. Now, Sir, this I will say, that twenty or twenty-one years' purchase is a miserable representative of the value of land, and that the prevalence of so low a scale is in itself the surest proof of a disordered and unhealthy state of things. I will not assume this Bill to be a good and sufficient measure; but I venture to say that if Parliament can pass a good and sufficient measure for the settlement of the land question in Ireland, it is no extravagant but a moderate estimate of the result of such a measure, to suppose that these seven years' rent, about which we have heard so much to-night, need not be carved out of the present interest of the landlord, but may be well added to the value of the land in regard of the security of tenure which any good measure must bring with it, and consequently of that development of agriculture in the country which the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down contends is not one of the objects of the Bill, but which I can assure him, so far as the means and intentions of the Government are concerned, is the paramount object which we have all along had in view. I come now to the Ulster custom, and that is a subject on which we have been assailed from both sides. When I use the word "assailed," I mean merely in the sense of fair criticism. What is said of the Ulster custom, apart from any question of greater or less perfection in the wording of the clause? It is said that the custom ought to be defined; that it ought to be extended throughout Ireland; that it ought not to be stereotyped and made perpetual; and lastly, it is said by some that it is a bad custom and ought to be discountenanced. Great censure has been bestowed upon the Ulster tenant-custom from the other side of the House, and high authorities, especially Mr. Thomson, have been quoted as being strongly condemnatory of that custom. In the first place, with regard to the definition of the Ulster tenant-custom, it is impossible to define it without altering it. It wears a variety of forms. These forms are all variations based upon one common model; they are all varying modifications of one substantial right—that is, the right of the tenant to dispose of his occupation. But the modifications are various. Are we to define each of those modifications and to say that under one or the other of these the judgment of the court must fall? Why, it would be absolutely impossible; whereas, on the other hand, if we are to attempt a single definition, that must be a definition of the principle without any modifications at all. Consequently we should attempt to apply throughout Ulster, in a uniform shape, that which now materially varies, and, while aiming to do justice and secure to every man in a firmer manner what he now actually enjoys, we should, on the contrary, take from some persons a great deal which they now possess, and give to many persons a great deal which they now do not possess at all. It is said, then, that the Ulster custom ought to be extended throughout Ireland, and we have been told—though I am glad to see between our adversaries in argument a contradiction which diminishes the weight of their authority—we are told on the one hand, that we treat the Ulster tenant better than a tenant in the rest of Ireland, and, on the other, that we treat him worse than the rest of Ireland. Now, our desire is to treat him neither better nor worse than the rest of Ireland. But, in one sense, we may be said to treat him worse, because we only seek, as a general rule, to secure to the Ulster tenant that which by custom, where it is fairly observed, he now possesses, whereas with respect to the rest of Ireland, or great part of the rest of Ireland, we are endeavouring to secure for it in one shape that which we freely admit it does not now possess at all. The ground of our proposed legislation as to the Ulster custom ought to be well understood. The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down is not obnoxious to the observation I am now making, because he would pass by the Ulster custom altogether; but I venture the opinion that legislation upon the Irish land question, simply passing by the Ulster custom and saying nothing about it, but attempting to leave it as it is, would not be possible, and is wholly beyond the power either of the right hon. Gentleman or of any other man. The ground we take is this—The Ulster tenants have made a large investment of money. It is variously estimated, but is stated without any proof or strong presumption of exaggeration, to amount to £20,000,000. That £20,000,000 has not had all the protection we hold that it ought to have. We contend that the tenants have made this investment, as a rule, with the knowledge and consent of their landlords, and that, having been made with that knowledge and assent, it amounts to a covenant between the parties. It is not a contract recognized by the courts; we think it ought to be recognized by the courts. It appears to us that if it existed in England it would be recognized by the courts; at any rate that, according to the principles of justice, it ought to be so recognized. Let it, therefore, be understood that our legislation for securing and defining the Ulster custom is not legislation of a theoretical or speculative kind; it simply gives the just defence of law to rights which we conceive are now secured by honourable covenant, and the further protection of which the Ulster tenant is fairly entitled to demand. That is not true with respect to the rest of Ireland, except in rare cases. It will be admitted that the cases are exceptional in which, unless in Ulster, an incoming tenant pays a sum to the outgoing tenant with the consent of his landlord. In many cases he pays it without his consent, in many without his knowledge. The cases in which he pays it with his consent are comparatively rare. Have we left those cases unprovided for? On the contrary, when cases like these, which, we admit, approximate to the Ulster custom, occur in other parts of Ireland, we bring them under the 6th clause, which implies that the landlord ought in such oases to allow the outgoing tenant to dispose of his interest like the Ulster tenant; and if the landlord is unwilling, we allow the outgoing tenant to go before the court and claim a payment from the landlord himself in respect of the money which he has had to pay upon entering upon the farm. I must, therefore, wait to see in what manner any Gentleman who hears me will be able to point out any closer mode of applying out of Ulster the same principle as we apply in Ulster, the difference being that, whereas in Ulster the custom prevails throughout large districts, and may fairly be called the custom of the country, out of Ulster it is not the custom of the county; it is rather to be traced in small and separate rivulets on particular estates, possibly here and there in some limited neighbourhood; and it is as separate cases that we deal with them, and in a manner which substantially corresponds with the legislation we propose with regard to the Ulster system. It is said that the Ulster custom is a bad custom, that it ought to be discountenanced, and that we ought not to stereotype it. In the first place, I do not admit that we stereotype it. I think my right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford fails to comprehend with accuracy the effect of the legislation proposed. The Ulster custom does not enable the outgoing tenant to demand from the land-lord any sum, small or great. If the outgoing tenant is allowed to dispose of his interest in the farm, the Ulster custom is satisfied. [An Hon. MEMBER: He is not allowed.] Then the Ulster custom is not satisfied. And here, Sir, I come across what I must be permitted to call an error, but an error sustained by two great authorities, who look at the matter from different points of view, one of them the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, the other my hon. Friend the Member for Kilkenny (Sir John Gray), who has so deeply studied this particular question. The right hon. Gentleman, almost repeating the language of the hon. Member for Kilkenny, says that our legislation with regard to the Ulster custom, legalizes the private arrangements on every estate in the North. The hon. Member for Kilkenny gave us a lively illustration of a particular estate within his knowledge, on which a rule has been made that any destruction of game involves the loss of the tenancy. [Mr. GATHORNE HARDY: It is not in Ulster.] No; but he said it was a case which, if there was such a rule in Ulster, would render the tenancy void. The case was that of a man who threw a stone at a hare and killed her; and he lost his farm in consequence. This might follow from a private arrangement on an estate, and there is an estate in Ulster that has been the subject of painful remark in this discussion, on which a rule something very like that was laid down. The hon. Member says—and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) supports him—that such a rule in Ulster could be enforced under this Act. But there cannot be a greater, a more fundamental misconception of the whole matter. The Ulster custom is not a private rule that each man chooses at any time to establish. A breach of custom is not a custom. An established custom is a thing well understood as such, and perfectly capable of receiving a legal meaning and interpretation when it is investigated as a matter of fact. Wherever a particular proprietor or an agent chooses to set up a rule which, though it be enforced on the estate, is in derogation of custom, and which has not itself subsisted so far as to acquire the character of a custom, it is condemned as a private and arbitrary practice, and is over-ridden by the custom, the authority of which will be exerted and enforced against it. The Ulster custom is not stereotyped by the Bill. As I have said, it does not consist on a right to demand any particular sum of money. A man may give twenty years' purchase in Ulster for his holding. If it so happens from any course of circumstances that the value of that tenant-right declines in the market to fifteen or ten years' purchase, the Ulster tenant has no remedy; he has bought something in the market, and like other purchasers, he must take his chance. The custom does not guarantee the replacement of his money, and we do not. What he is entitled to by the custom, speaking generally and apart from modifications, is to get what the market will yield. Instead of stereotyping the particular sums which may be paid, all that could be done by the clause would be to say, subject to variations in the customs of the county, he should obtain that which the open market will yield him for the interest with which he was about to part. I must say a word for the Ulster custom itself, after all that has been said against it. It is supposed by some—I am bound to say, much to their credit, it does not appear to be supposed or urged by the landlords of Ulster, generally—that the money paid for the tenant-right is carved out of the landlord's interest in the property, out of the landlord's estate. From those who think so, I should like to know what Ulster would be now at this moment without the custom. A passage quoted by my right hon. Friend from the evidence of one of the witnesses before the last Committee as to the effect that would be produced in Ulster by the overthrow of this custom may show that, although it is not abstractedly, as I admit, the best system of management, yet, relatively to all the circumstances under which it has prevailed, it is idle and futile, and something worse, to deny it the credit to which it is entitled—namely, that it has given satisfaction to the occupier, has secured the peace of the district, and has not diminished, but, relatively to other parts of Ireland, has promoted the prosperity of the land. Without attempting to give to the custom in itself a force and an extension it does not now possess, I think it is our duty to secure the observance of it within the limits in which it now prevails. But going beyond the Ulster custom, I now approach the broadest of all the questions connected with the character of this Bill. My hon. Friend the Member for Kilkenny (Sir John Gray) seems to think that we ought to give one law to all Ireland, for he complains that by the Bill we give four laws to Ireland. I may say we distinctly decline to admit that it would be giving one law in substance to Ireland, though it might be so in form, if we were to provide the same legislation and the same compensation for men who have paid nothing at all when they took their holdings, as we provide for those who have invested large sums of money; and upon that subject we cannot be too explicitly understood by the hon. Member for Kilkenny. But this is a Bill, as I ventured to describe it at the outset, which aims not at giving perpetuity of tenure or fixity of tenure, nor at giving anything which, however different in sound, would in sense and substance be found to correspond with those modes of action, but it is a Bill for giving stability of tenure and for giving security to the mind of the occupier of the soil, so that he may pursue his honourable avocation in peace, in confidence, and in safety. We may, therefore, Sir, say to the Irish peasant—and if he is as fond of classical studies now as it is said he used to be, he will understand us—we may say to him that which was said to the Italian colonist in the time of Augustus—we may say to him while he is struggling with the stones on the hill and with the bog in the valley— Ergo tua rura manebunt: Et tibi magna satis quamvis lapis omnia nudus, Limosoque palus obducat pascua junco. And, so regarding his condition, the aim of this Bill is to secure him in that condition, but to secure him, not by giving him a property in the soil, but by attaching such conditions to the act by which alone the landlord can remove him, that that act shall become difficult and costly to such a degree that, humanly speaking, we may be confident it never will be resorted to except for good reason. I wish to borrow for one moment the admirable language of my hon. Friend the Member for Tralee (The O'Donoghue), who said that under this Bill it will be next to impossible for the landlord to evict the tenant except for reasons which every man capable of discriminating between right and wrong will own to be sufficient. Now, Sir, that is the object we have in view, and I divide the difficulties that beset our path of legislation in regard to land in Ireland into two classes. In the one class I place all those objections which meet us in this House, and which are supported and sustained in argument, and of those I have endeavoured to take brief, summary, and imperfect notice, so as in some degree to indicate to the House that we are prepared to redeem our pledge of giving fair consideration to Amendments in Committee on the Bill, in whosesoever interests they may seem to be dictated and conceived, with the view of bringing the measure as nearly as we can to a state of perfection. But, Sir, there are other arguments by far more formidable, not in their power of reason, but in their power of acting upon the popular mind—arguments which scarcely show a front in this House; for although three or four times in the course of this debate we may have heard the more expression "fixity of tenure," I ask the House whether, during these four nights in this great arena of reason and discussion, any argument whatever has been made by any English, Scotch, or Irish representative to show that fixity of tenure, to be applied as a means of securing justice and peace in Ireland, can for a moment abide its trial at the bar of reason? Sir, I wish to record that as a great and an important fact, because in this House, where unlimited freedom of speech has prevailed, and I trust ever will prevail, and where there are scores of men sent to us from Ireland, who certainly would never fail—as they have often proved—either in courage or in ability to urge the most unpopular considerations which they believed to be right, it is, though a negative, yet a most material and most vital fact that the principle of fixity of tenure has remained during four nights of debate on the second reading of a Bill on land tenure in Inland wholly unsustained by the slightest attempt at reasoning. Well, Sir, but there is another phrase to which I wish to call the attention of the House, because I own that I am sanguine enough to believe—though I may be wrong—that with regard to nearly the whole of the arguments which have been advanced by hon. Gentlemen opposite, we shall be able in a great degree to reconcile them to our views, and, where we cannot, that we shall be able, by the prevailing judgment of the House, to give effect, notwithstanding, to the convictions that we may entertain. But questions much broader than the differences between the speeches that have been made on the other side of the House and those that have been made on this are involved in the controversies which have been agitated in Ireland. And permit me, Sir, respectfully to say—although I will not enter in detail into that question—that I am not aware that any Member of the present Government is, by any expression which, he has used during this controversy, in the slightest degree open to the remark that he has been responsible for inflaming those Irish controversies. If any proof or reference is given to show that I am wrong, we shall be ready becomingly to defend ourselves. But I pass by the question now to consider that which is most important—


The right hon. Member for Birmingham.


Well, Sir, I am not prepared to admit that my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham (the President of the Board of Trade) is open to this censure. He is not here to defend himself. I am quite sure the hon. Gentleman opposite wishes he were.




But so far as I have been cognizant of the language of my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham—and that is from his speeches which have been delivered in this House—I have always heard him say, with most scrupulous care, that any measure he would propose in reference to the land in Ireland would be based on the principle of the most sacred respect for the rights of property. But, Sir, when we come to consider what is going on in Ireland, I must ask the House to give a moment's attention to the nature of the demands that we have to meet; and if they are not represented in this House in argument, that does not make them the less, but rather the more formidable. We must endeavour to make reason reach the cars and the minds of the Irish people. Perpetuity of tenure is a phrase that I flatter myself is a little going out of fashion. If I have contributed anything towards disparaging it I am not sorry. But an other doctrine is advanced which I wish the House to consider, because I confess that to me it presents but too much the character of the old friend with a new face. It is the doctrine which is sometimes called fair rents, and sometimes called valuation of rents. Now, not even of that have we heard a very great deal during the debate. But a description of it was lodged in my hands by an important deputation, which desired that any Bill to be passed by Par- liament should recognize for the tenant these things— A right to continued occupation, subject to the payment of the rent to which he is liable, or to such charge of rent as shall be afterwards settled from time to time by fair valuation as hereinafter provided, and the right to sell his interest to any solvent tenant to whom the landlord cannot make reasonable objection. Now, Sir, what is this fair valuation of rents? In my opinion, the question as to the greater or less amount, or the particular adjustment of the scale, is a question that admits of being treated as one of degree. If the scale is too high, reduce it; if it is too low, raise it; if it is clumsily and ill-constructed, give it a better and a nicer adjustment. But that which is our main contention is this—that the great remedy which, apart from custom, ought to be provided for the Irish occupier, should be provided for him in the shape of a shelter against eviction, of a penalty, if I may so call it, upon eviction, but not upon the footing of a joint properly in the soil. When he has paid his money that gives him such property, inconvenient as it may be, with the consent, or with the fairly presumed consent, of his landlord, he is entitled to be protected; but I am not prepared, nor are my Colleagues to admit that the just protection of him affords either an apology or a reason for endowing him with a joint property in the soil. Now, Sir, the claims—to which it is my duty to object—which are made on behalf of what I may call the popular party in Ireland are these two. In the first place, it is said that there ought to be a power to reduce excessive rents. Sir, with much reluctance, but from a sense of the necessity of the case, we have introduced into the Bill an exceptional power, not to reduce excessive rents, but to make allowance, on the occasion of eviction, for non-payment arising out of excessive rent. We have introduced that provision from a sense of its necessity, and as a partial, occasional, and temporary measure, necessary to complete the rectification of the present confused and irregular state of things. But it is proposed that we should establish permanently and positively a power in the hands of the State to reduce excessive rents. Now, I should like to hear a careful argument in support of that plan. I wish, at all events to retain at all times a judicial habit of not condemning a thing utterly until I have heard what is to be said for it; but I own I have not heard, I do not know, and I cannot conceive, what is to be said for the prospective power to reduce excessive rents. In whose interest is it asked? Certainly not in the interest of the landlord? Is it asked in the interest of the tenant? Shall I really be told that it is for the interest of the Irish tenant bidding for a farm that the law should say to him—"Cast aside all providence and forethought; go into the market and bid what you like; drive out of the field the prudent man who means to fulfil his engagement; bid right above him and induce the landlord to give you the farm, and the moment you have got it come forward, go to the public authority, show that the rent is excessive and that you cannot pay it, and get it reduced?" If I could conceive a plan more calculated than anything else, first of all, for throwing into confusion the whole economical arrangements of the country; secondly, for driving out of the field all solvent and honest men who might be bidders for farms, and might desire to carry on the honourable business of agriculture; thirdly, for carrying widespread demoralization throughout the whole mass of the Irish people, I must say, as at present advised—to confine myself to the present, and until otherwise convinced—it is this plan and this demand, that we should embody in our Bill as a part of permanent legislation a provision by which men shall be told that there shall be an authority always existing, ready to release them from the contracts they have deliberately entered into. This is one demand; the other demand is for valuation of rents; and I beg the House to consider what is meant by the valuation of rents. I have heard from my hon. Friend the Member for Galway (Mr. W. H. Gregory)—speaking in the character of an Irish landlord, which he so well sustains—some expressions showing that he looks with no disfavour on valuation of rents. Well, I at once make this admission—if the Irish landlords, if any particular landlord thinks it desirable to have his rents fixed by public authority—I will not say it is desirable on public grounds, but still it may be done. However, what I do wish is, in the first place, that there should be a clear manifestation of the views of the Government, and secondly, of the House, that we are not ready to accede to a principle of legislation by which the State shall take into its own hands the valuation of rents throughout Ireland. I say take into its own hands, because it is perfectly immaterial whether the thing shall be done by a State officer forming part of the Civil Service, or by an arbitrator, acting under State authority, or by any other person invested by the law with powers to determine on what terms as to rent every holding in Ireland shall be hold. If you are to value rents you must take into your own hands the fixing of every other condition of agricultural holdings, because otherwise in vain do you fix the rent. You fix the rent, but the landlord thinks it too small, and having imposed some onerous condition, he then says to the tenant—"I will relax the conditions if you consent to pay an advanced rent." The mathematical result is, that if you undertake to fix the valuation of rents by public authority you must likewise undertake to fix the whole conditions of every agricultural holding. There is no escape from that conclusion. Well, then, are you prepared to undertake that? We say—"Give shelter to the tenant from loss by eviction, and make that shelter effectual." This doctrine says—"Give over to the truant a great, a paramount, a permanent interest in the land." Am I mistaking it or not? My proposition is that if you value rents you may as well for every available purpose adopt perpetuity of tenure at once. It is perpetuity of tenure only in a certain disguise. It is the first link in the chain, but it draws after it the last. Now look at its practical difficulty. We are to value those rents. What an army of public officers are you to send abroad to determine from year to year the conditions of the 600,000 holdings in Ireland, conditions which are settled with comparative case when settled by private intercourse, but conditions the fixing of which beforehand by a public authority would be attended with ten-fold difficulty. Here I may be told that by the Bill in a certain case we refer the fixing of these conditions to a public authority. ["Hear, hear!"] I answer no; that is a mistake. There is no compulsory reference of the conditions of any holding in Ireland to any public authority. We have said to the landlord—"If you wish to escape from the provisions of the Bill with respect to evictions, you may of your own free will go before a public authority for that sole occasion and for no other." But that is a totally different matter, as the hon. Gentleman who cheered will admit, from a compulsory provision that all persons shall be carried before a public authority for the purpose of fixing the conditions of contract between landlord and tenant. How are these rents to be valued? What is the test? The prices of produce? Of what produce? Of one kind of produce or of all kinds? Can any man fix by law any system upon which it will be possible to adjust rents by calculations founded upon prices of agricultural produce of all kinds. Perhaps you will say—"What was done in the case of commutation of tithes?" I will tell you what was done. It was a very rough process indeed, and it was a process to which the tithe commutators submitted, but to which, you may rely on it, no other powerful class in this country will over again submit. Besides, the cases differ in this—the tithe of agistment was gone, the right of the tithe commutator only subsisted in produce of certain kinds, and therefore it was not very difficult to get at the prices of these kinds of produce. The landlord's interest is not restricted to wheat, barley, and oats, but extends to all the varied descriptions of produce. There are no records of the prices. I defy you to keep records of the prices. They are sold in every possible way and under every possible circumstance. It is impossible to combine them together so as to found upon them a compensation which you can make the basis of these enormous and complicated arrangements. Again, how is the landlord's rent to vary? Is it to vary according to the prices of produce?—because that is the proposal that I have seen. It is impossible, in my opinion, to get the prices of produce so as to found the rent upon them by a public authority; and if you could get them it would be absolutely impossible to apply a standard according to the varying circumstances of each particular holding, and its capacity to produce this or that kind of produce. But what are we to say with regard to the quantity of produce? Supposing the quantity of produce is doubled, is the landlord to receive the same price for the increased quantity, or is he not? If he is to receive the same price for the increased quantity, where is the tenant's inducement to increase the quantity? But if the quantity is to remain the same, by what right do you cut off the whole of the landlord's interest in the prospective increase in the quantity of produce? The quantity of the produce may be increased by the enterprise of the tenant, or by other causes—by the cheap access of manures by railway—by improvements in machinery, and by many other things; and none of these advantages can you justify giving over bodily to the tenant, to the exclusion of the landlord, unless upon the assumption of that one principle which is involved in perpetuity of tenure—namely, that the paramount interest in the soil is to be transferred from the owner to the occupier, and that the owner of the soil is to become a tithe commutator only upon a larger scale. Sir, if I state these things, it is that I may provoke confutation. I disbelieve in the possibility; but, at the same time, I think that it would be well that the attention of those who have stated all along that the Irish people will be perfectly satisfied with continued occupancy, subject to a valued rent, should really consider what is the meaning and scope and extent of the terms in which they couch their demands. Sir, we have a social system established in this country under which two persons have a vital interest in the land. One of them is the landlord, who regards the estate as a whole, and who is very largely concerned in the development of its general prosperity; the other is the tenant, whose position it is desirable to simplify as much as possible, in order that he may be able to devote the whole of his resources and his capital, if he thinks fit, to the prosecution of his trade. But if you once adopt this principle to which I am referring, you cannot retain these two classes upon the land; the man who becomes a mere annuitant loses all general interest in its prosperity. They have now both of them abundant reason to be there. Under the system which is contemplated, one of them may have abundant reason to be there, but the other has not. We are called upon, therefore, to begin this rectification of land tenures in Ireland with a plan which, if it be good at all, is good not for Ireland only, but for the whole of the Three Kingdoms, and which certainly amounts—I do not wish to describe it in language of excessive strength—to, perhaps, a peaceful, but yet a very searching and complete social revolution. I own that I do not myself see any advantage in our rejecting the plan of Mr. Mill, which told out plainly and distinctly and at once the whole of its purposes and results, and amounted, in so many words, to an expropriation of the proprietors, with full compensation. I do not see any advantages in our rejecting that plan if we are to adopt some other, which, although couched in other language, and, perhaps, contemplating certain stages in the process with something like an agony of procrastination, is, notwithstanding, certainly and inevitably to end in the same conclusion. Now, Sir, I wish to say one word before closing to my hon. Friend who has moved that this Bill be read a second time this day six months, and to those who may be disposed to support him, for the situation in which we stand is one of very great gravity. We have offered to Parliament a Bill, the principle of which is about to receive, but for them, an unanimous approval in this House, and which offers certain boons to the Irish occupier. Are these inconsiderable boons? What will be the condition, after this Bill is passed, of the occupier of the soil in Ireland as compared with what it is now, and as compared with the condition of the occupier of the soil in England or Scotland? As compared with what it is now, the customary privileges which at present he enjoys by a frail and precarious tenure will be secured to him by law; and even the shortest form of holding, which is covered by no customary privilege, will be sheltered and protected by a fine upon causeless eviction that may amount, and in many instances would amount, if such eviction is to be supposed, to one-third part of the fee-simple value of the estate. We hear it said sometimes—"That is no check at all; plenty of persons will be ready to come forward and pay six or seven years' rent in order to obtain the possession and privileges of an agricultural holding." My answer is, why do not they pay it now? The man is now in possession of his holding. We do not expose him to any new danger; but between him and the danger of eviction we place a bulwark of protection, consisting in a number of years' rent, payable by the landlord. What will be the case of the Irish occupier if this Bill is rejected, as being so intolerably unjust to the occupier that it is not even to be allowed to go into Committee?—because that will be the result as far as my hon. Friends are concerned. What demand are they making on behalf of the occupiers of Ireland? In what position do they seek to place them as compared with the position which gives contentment to those who are among the freest and most high-minded people in the world, the agricultural part of the population in England and Scotland? Are we going by this Act to place the Irish occupier—or to leave him—in a position of inferiority to his brother-occupiers in the other parts of the United Kingdom? Are we not going, on the contrary, to invest him with an exceptional privilege? You may say that the proposal is insufficient. That may be so, according to your view; but I ask whether you will, in the name of Ireland, take upon you the responsibility of rejecting what, upon the occasion of the second reading, is offered to you by an unanimous Parliament, which you therefore have it in your power now to secure? Taking the Bill as it is—and I trust that it will not pass in any form less favourable to the people of Ireland than it is at present—you have the power in your own hands of securing for the occupier of the soil in Ireland that which the occupier of the soil in England or in Scotland never dreams of possessing, and for which he has never thought of making application. Sir, this is indeed a grave matter, and I trust my hon. Friends will pause. I declare to them, without the smallest imputation upon their sincerity, that I cannot bring myself to believe, that if it were possible that the phalanx they command could be swelled into a majority of the House, they would not themselves be the first to regret with bitterness—and, alas, to carry that regret to the very latest day of their lives—the result which their own exertions had brought about. The questions they should ask themselves are few, but they are grave and serious. They are raising a flag of resistance upon this question; they are holding up a signal to the Irish people and inviting them to follow. Will the Irish people follow such a disastrous leadership? I believe not. I hold again, with my hon.

Friend the Member for Tralee, that each successive act of justice develops feelings of content and loyalty and narrows the circle of disaffection. I know your difficulties may be great; but they are not yours alone; they are the difficulties of other Irish Members. There is in Ireland—do not let us conceal it from ourselves—not only a reckless, a lawless, but a demoralized and demoralizing agency, which is now at work for the two-fold purpose of disturbing the country through agrarian crimes and of making, through unreasonable demands, peaceful legislation impossible for Ireland. But you have before you noble examples. Are there not numerous Irish Members, your brethren in many an ancient contest for the rights of your fellow-countrymen, who, nevertheless, in this debate, have manfully declared their resolution not upon this great and solemn occasion to reject the opportunity of making a new treaty of peace with this United Kingdom? And if, which I am most reluctant to believe—which I cannot believe, a portion of the Irish, people could be induced to embark in this enterprize, is it likely that they will succeed? Is the conflict one of such a character that you ought to encourage them to engage in it—to reject upon the second reading a Bill—I repeat the sentence, because I wish every syllable of it to be Strictly scrutinized—to reject upon the second reading a Bill which offers to the farmers and the cottiers of Ireland privileges of occupation such as have never yet been enjoyed in two countries that are admitted to be, as respects the condition of the cultivators of the soil, at the very least among the foremost in the world? No, Sir, let us look back, in one sentence, over the career of Irish patriotism. For 100 years Ireland has been engaged in almost a continuous conflict with the governing power—I will not say of the nation, but with the governing power of this island. She has engaged in that conflict with all the disadvantages of a limited population, of inferior resources, of backward political development, and yet she has been uniformly successful. Strength and weakness have grappled together, in almost incessant conflict, and on every occasion, in a succession of falls, strength has been laid prostrate on the ground, and weakness has waved the banner of victory over it. And why was that? Last year an hon. Friend of mine—the Member for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. Richard), using—as he was well entitled to do—the resources of an orator, excited the curiosity of the House by producing1 to us a proverb in Welsh; and then, when our appetites were whetted, he conveyed to us the English of it. I cannot recite the Welsh, but the English was this—a nation is stronger than a lord. I, Sir, admit it. I admit more—a nation is stronger than a Parliament; but, though I have no Welsh in which to clothe my saying, I will add yet another saying—there is something else stronger than a nation, and that something is justice. The career of Ireland has ever been onward. Her cry has ever been, Excelsior! but, because she has had justice for her cause, and has been sustained in it by that which is the highest earthly organ of justice, the favouring opinion of the civilized and Christian world. We, Sir, have accepted the challenge. We seek in friendly contest to deprive Ireland of that alliance. There is but one way in which it can be done, and that is by offering her justice. Will you take it upon you to ask for more? Victors you have been in many battles; but what will be the issue of the strife when already—as we know from the utterances of high and low in other lands—the world has begun to recognize the efforts this great country is making for peace and union—what will be the issue of that strife—what will be the weight of responsibility, if, intoxicated by success, and believing that that which has been must over be, you venture to make, on the part of Ireland, or on the part of a portion of the people of Ireland, demands that justice cannot sanction or concede? Sir, we have been invoked to-night, in solemn terms, from both sides of the House—by my right hon. Friend the Member for Kildare, and by my noble Friend the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Elcho)—to be just and fear not. It is our desire to be just, but to be just we must be just to all. The oppression of a majority is detestable and odious—the oppression of a minority is only by one degree less detestable and less odious. The face of justice is like the face of the god Janus. It is like the face of those lions, the work of Landseer, which keep watch, and ward around the record of our country's greatness. She presents one tranquil and majestic countenance towards every point of the compass and every quarter of the globe. That rare, that noble, that imperial virtue has this above all other qualities, that she is no respecter of persons and she will not take advantage of a favourable moment to oppress the wealthy for the sake of flattering the poor any more than she will condescend to oppress the poor for the sake of pampering the luxuries of the rich. I beseech my hon. Friends to pause before they call on the House to do an act which, however decisive its utterance, will break the concord and unanimity of the House. We have been met, and handsomely met, from the other side of the House; we have been met, and gallantly met, by many of those who have been foremost infighting the battles of the people of Ireland. Hesitate, then, I beseech you, for a moment, before you run the risk of lighting a flame which you will in vain labour to extinguish, lest it should be the unhappy fate of your country that after she has surmounted every difficulty, borne every calamity, and conquered every enemy, she should at length miss the prize of national peace, happiness, and contentment through the agency of those whom she believed to be her friends.


said, he felt it would be presumptuous in him to offer a reply to the eloquent address of the right hon. Gentleman; but allusion having been made to the state of Ireland, he must express his belief that the present, measure would not give contentment to the people of that country. The result would then be that those who traded in agitation would say to the Irish people—"You can have no hope in the British Parliament, and your only hope is in revolution." It would be better to postpone the measure than that the country should be handed over to those who would ruin it.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 442; Noes 11: Majority 431.

Acland, T. D. Anderson, G.
Adderley, rt. hn. Sir C.B. Annesley, hon. Col. H.
Agar-Ellis, hon. L. G. F. Anson, hon. A. H. A.
Akroyd, E. Anstruther, Sir R.
Allen, Major Antrobus, E.
Amcotts, Colonel W. C. Arkwright, A. P.
Amphlett, R. P. Arkwright, R.
Armitstead, G. Cholmeley, Captain
Ayrton, right hon. A. S. Cholmeley, Sir M.
Aytoun, R. S. Clay, J.
Backhouse, E. Clive, Colonel E.
Bagwell, J. Clive, Col. hon. G. W.
Bailey, Sir J. R. Cogan, rt. hn. W. H. F.
Baines, E. Colebrooke, Sir T. E.
Baker, R. B. W. Coleridge, Sir J. D.
Ball, J. T. Collier, Sir R. P.
Baring, T. Colthurst, Sir G. C.
Barnett, H. Conolly, T.
Barrington, Viscount Corbally, M. E.
Barry, A. H. S. Corry, rt. hon. H. T. L.
Bass, A. Cowper, hon. H. F.
Bathurst, A. A. Cowper-Temple, rt. hn W
Baxter, W. E. Craufurd, E. H. J.
Bazley, Sir T. Crawford, R. W.
Beach, W. W. B. Crichton, Viscount
Beaumont, Capt. F. Dalrymple, C.
Beaumont, S. A. Dalrymple, D.
Beaumont, W. B. Dalway, M. R.
Bowmont, Marquess of Damer, Capt. Dawson-
Bentinck, G. C. Davies, R.
Benyon, R. De Grey, hon. T.
Beresford, Lt.-Col. M. Dalahunty, J.
Biddulph, M. De La Poor, E.
Bingham, Lord Denison, C. B.
Birley, H. Denman, hon. G.
Bolckow, H. W. F. Dent, J. D.
Bonham-Carter, J. Devereux, R. J.
Bouverie, rt. hon. E. P. Dickinson, S. S.
Bowring, E. A. Dickson, Major A. G.
Brady, J. Dilke, Sir C. W.
Brand, H. R. Dillwyn, L. L.
Brassey, H. A. Disraeli, right hon. B.
Brassey, T. Dixon, G.
Brewer, Dr. Dodds, J.
Bright, J. (Manchester) Dodson, J. G.
Bright, R. Dowdeswell, W. E.
Brinckman, Captain Dowse, R.
Brodrick, hon. W. Duff, M. E. G.
Brogden, A. Du Pre, C. G.
Brooks, W. C. Eastwick, E. B.
Brown, A. H. Eaton, H. W.
Bruce, Lord C. Edwardes, hon. Col. W.
Bruce, Lord E. Edwards, H.
Bruce, right hon. H. A. Egerton, hon. A. F.
Bruce, Sir H. H. Egerton, Capt. hon. F.
Buller, Sir E. M. Egerton, hon. W.
Burke, Viscount Elcho, Lord
Burrell, Sir P. Ellice, E.
Bury, Viscount Elliot, G.
Butler-Johnstone, H. A. Enfield, Viscount
Buxton, C. Ennis, J. J.
Cadogan, hon. F. W. Erskine, Admiral J. E.
Cameron, D. Esmonde, Sir J.
Campbell, H. Ewing, A. O.
Candlish, J. Eykyn, R.
Cardwell, right hon. E. Fagan, Captain
Carington, hn. Capt. W. Faweett, H.
Carnegie, hon. C. Fellowes, E.
Carter, Mr. Alderman Figgins, J.
Cartwright, W. C. Finnie, W.
Castlerosse, Viscount FitzGerald, rt. hn. Lord O. A.
Cavendish, Lord F. C.
Cavendish, Lord G. Fitzmaurice, Lord E.
Cawley, C. E. Fitzwilliam, hn. C. W. W.
Cecil, Lord E. H. B. G. Fitzwilliam, hon. H. W.
Chadwick, D. Fletcher, I.
Chambers, T. Floyer, J.
Child, Sir S. Foljambe, F. J. S.
Childers, rt. hn. H. C. E. Forde, Colonel
Fordyce, W. D. Hutton, J.
Forster, C. Hyde, Lord
Forster, rt. hon. W. E. Illingworth, A.
Fortescue, rt. hon. C. P. Jackson, R. W.
Fothergill, R. Jardine, R.
Fowler, R. N. Jessel, G.
Fowler, W. Johnston, A.
Garlies, Lord Johnston, W.
Gavin, Major Johnstone, Sir H.
Gavin, Colonel Kavanagh, A. MacM.
Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E. Kay-Shuttleworth, U. J.
Gladstone, W. H. King, hon. P. J. L.
Goldney, G. Kingscote, Colonel
Gooch, Sir D. Kinnaird, hon. A. F.
Gordon, E. S. Kirk, W.
Gore, J. R. O. Knatchbull - Hugessen, E. H.
Gore, W. R. O.
Goschen, rt. hon. G. J. Knox, hon. Colonel S.
Gourley, E. T. Lacon, Sir E. H. K.
Gower, hon. E. F. L. Laird, J.
Gower, Lord R. Lambert, N. G.
Grahas, W. Lancaster, J.
Grant, Col. hon. J. Langton, W. G.
Graves, S. R. Lawrence, Sir J. C.
Gray, Lieut.-Colonel Lawrence, W.
Gregory, W. H. Lawson, Sir W.
Greville-Nugent, hn. R. J Lea, T.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Leatham, E. A.
Grieve, J. J. Lefevre, G. J. S.
Grosvenor, hon. N. Legh, W. J.
Grosvenor, Capt. R. W. Lennox, Lord G. G.
Grove, T. F. Lewis, J. D.
Guest, A. E. Lewis, J. H.
Guest, M. J. Lindsay, hon. Col. C.
Gurney, right hon. R. Lindsay, Colonel R. L.
Hadfield, G. Loch, G.
Hambro, C. Lorne, Marquess of
Hamilton, Lord C. Lowe, rt. hon. R.
Hamilton, Marquess of Lubbock, Sir J.
Hamilton, J. G. C. Lusk, A.
Hanmer, Sir J. Lyttelton, hon. C. G.
Harcourt, W. G. G. V. V. M'Arthur, W.
Hardcastle, J. A. M'Clean, J. R.
Hardy, right hon. G. M'Clure, T.
Hardy, J. S. Macfie, R. A.
Harris, J. D. M'Lagan, P.
Hartington, Marquess of Magniac, C.
Harviland-Burke, E. Maguire, J. F.
Hay, Sir J. C. D. Manners, rt. hn. Lord J.
Headlam, rt. hon. T. E. March, Earl of
Henderson, J. Mailing, S. S.
Henley, Lord Martin, P. W.
Henniker-Major, hn. J. M Matheson, A.
Henry, J. S. Mellor, T. W.
Herbert, hon. A. E. W. Melly, G.
Herbert, H. A. Merry, J.
Hermon, E. Meyrick, T.
Hervey, Lord A. H. C. Miall, E.
Hibbert, J. T. Milbank, F. A.
Hick, J. Miller, J.
Hoare, Sir H. A. Milles hon. G. W.
Hodgkinson, G. Mills, C. H.
Holland, S. Milton, Viscount
Holms, J. Mitchell, T. A.
Holmesdale, Viscount Menk, C. J.
Hoskyns, C. Wren- Monsell, rt. hon. W.
Howard, hon. C. W. G. Montagu, rt. hn. Lord R.
Howard, J. Moore, G. H.
Hughes, T. Morgan, C. O.
Hughes, W. B. Morley, S.
Hurst, R. H. Morrison, W.
Hutt, right hon. Sir W. Mowbray, rt. hon. J. R.
Mundella, A. J. Saunderson, E.
Monster, H. Sclater-Booth, G.
Muntz, P. H. Seely, C. (Lincoln)
Murphy, N. D. Seely, C. (Nottingham)
Neville-Grenville, R. Selwin - Ibbetson, Sir H. J.
Nicholson, W.
Nicol, J. D. Seymour, H. de G.
Noel, hon. G. J. Shaw, R.
Northcote, rt. hon. Sir S. H. Sheridan, H. B.
Sherriff, A. C.
O'Conor, D. M. Shirley, S. E.
O'Conor Don, The Sidebottom, J.
O'Donoghue, The Simeon, Sir J.
Ogilvy, Sir J. Simon, Mr. Serjeant
O'Loghlen, rt. hon. Sir C. M. Simonds, W. B.
Sinclair, Sir J. G. T.
Onslow, G. Smith, E
O'Reilly-Dease, M. Smith, W. H.
O'Reilly, M. W. Stacpoole, W.
Osborne, R. Stanley, hon. F.
Otway, A. J. Stansfeld, rt. hon. J.
Paget, R. H. Stapleton, J.
Pakington, rt. hn. Sir J. Stepney, Colonel
Palmer, J. H. Stone, W. H.
Palmer, Sir R. Struet, hon. H.
Parker, C. S. Stuart, Colonel
Parker, Lieut-Col. W. Sturt, Lieut.-Col. N.
Parry, L. Jones- Synan, E. J.
Patten, rt. hon. Col. W. Talbot, C. R. M.
Pease, J. W. Talbot, J. G.
Peek, H. W. Talbot, hon. R. A. J.
Peel, A. W. Tipping, W.
Pelham, Lord Tollemache, J.
Pell, A. Tollemache, hon. F. J.
Pemberton, E. L. Torrens, R. R.
Percy, Earl Torrens, W. T. M'C.
Phipps, C. P. Tracy, hon. C. R. D. Hanbury-
Pim, J.
Plate, J. Trelawny, Sir J. S.
Playfair, L. Trevelyan, G. O.
Plimsoll, S. Turner, C.
Plunket, hon. D. R. Vance, J.
Pollard-Urquhart, W. Verner, W.
Potter, E. Verney, Sir H.
Potter, T. B. Vickers, S.
Powell, W. Villiers, right hon. C. P.
Power, J. T. Vivian, Capt. hn. J. C. W.
Price, W. E. Vivian, A. P.
Price, W. P. Walker, Major G. G.
Rathbone, W. Walpole, hon. F.
Rebow, J. G. Walpole, rt. hon. S. H.
Reed, C. Walter, J.
Richard, H. Waterhouse, S.
Richards, E. M. Wedderburn, Sir D.
Ridley, M. W. Weguclin, T. M.
Robertson, D. Wells, W.
Roden, W. S. Wethered, T. O.
Rothschild, Brn. L. N. de Whalley, G. H.
Rothschild, Brn. M. A. de Whatman, J.
Rothschild, N. M. de Wheelhouse, W. S. J.
Round, J. Whitbread, S.
Russell, A. White, J.
Russell, H. Whitwell, J.
Russell, F. W. Whitworth, T.
Rylands, P. Williams, W.
St. Lawrence, Viscount Williamson, Sir H.
Salt, T. Willyams, E. W. B.
Samuda, J. D'A. Wilmot, H.
Samuelson, B. Wingfield, Sir C.
Samuelson, H. B. Winterbotham, H. S. P.
Sandon, Viscount Wise, H. C.
Sartoris, E. J. Woods, H.
Wynn, C. W. W. Adam, W. P.
Young, A. W. Greville, Captain
Young, G.
Bagge, Sir W. Lowther, J.
Callan, P. O'Brien, Sir P.
D'Arcy, M. P. Sherlock, D.
Dease, E.
Digby, K. T. TELLERS.
Gray, Sir J. Bryan, G. L.
Henley, rt. hon. J. W. White, Colonel
Heron, D. C.

Bill read a second time, and committed for Monday 21st March.

Main Question put, and agreed to.