HC Deb 11 August 1879 vol 249 cc667-8

asked Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, If he will inform the House of the names of those constituting the Royal Commission to inquire into the Causes of Agricultural Distress prevailing throughout the United Kingdom; whether the Commission will proceed from place to place in prosecution of its inquiries, or whether it will be stationary; and, whether the Government intend the Commission should examine the nature of the rents at present paid by the occupiers, as well as the mode of fixing the rent of farms, with the view of ascertaining the means possessed by the occupiers of securing for themselves reasonable terms?


asked Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Whether it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to place on the Royal Commission to inquire into the causes of agricultural distress prevailing throughout the United Kingdom at least one representative of the tenant farmers of Ireland, so as to avoid confining the representation of Irish interests to that of one section of the community, viz. the landlord class?


Sir, with reference to the second and third parts of the Question of the hon. Member for Tralee, I would say that these are matters which will be left for the Commission to settle amongst themselves. With regard to the names of the Commissioners, I am sorry to say that the list is not yet entirely complete; but I will give the names as far as I am able to do so. The reason that the Commission is not entirely complete is that we have had very great difficulty in finding proper representatives of the different interests which should be represented, and in getting gentlemen to serve upon the Commission whom we should have wished to see on it. I wish especially to express my deep regret that my hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk (Mr. Clare Read) has not felt himself able to give us his services. The Commission must be rather a large one, and it is not complete in the respect to which the hon. Member for Dundalk (Mr. Callan) refers. We are at present in communication with gentlemen in Ireland, with a view to obtain a proper re- presentation of tenant farmers in Ireland. Therefore, it should be understood that I only give the Commission subject to communications which are still going on, and to the necessity of making an addition for that purpose. Subject to that qualification, the Commission will be as follows:—The Duke of Richmond and Gordon will be the President; the Duke of Buccleuch, Earl Spencer, and Lord Vernon; then several hon. Members of this House, whom, I believe, it will not be out of Order to mention by name—the right hon. G. J. Goschen, Mr. H. Chaplin, Colonel Kingscote, Mr. Hunter Rodwell, Mr. Joseph Cowen, Captain Ritchie, and Mr. Mitchell Henry; and then Mr. Jacob Wilson, of Woodhorn Manor, near Morpeth; Mr. Robert Patterson, of Birthwood, Biggar, Scotland; Mr. Chas. Howard, of Biddenham, Bedford; Sir William Stephenson, the Chesnuts, Uxbridge, lately Chairman of the Board of Inland Revenue; Professor Bonamy Price, Oxford; and Mr. William Stratton, of Kingston Deverill, near Warminster; and Mr. John Clay, of Purchas, near Chepstow.