HC Deb 08 July 1880 vol 253 cc1921-91

Order for Committee read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."—(Mr. W. E. Forster.)


said, it would be necessary for him to refer to the principle of the Bill, and to state his reasons for placing on the Paper an Amendment which stood in his name—namely, That this House considers that the Compensation for Disturbance (Ireland) Bill should be limited to the case of tenants on properties where evictions have taken place since November 1st, 1879. The practical effect of the Land Act of 1870 was to give compensation to the tenant for disturbance in all cases except the non-payment of rent. The present Bill, however, did not seek merely to qualify that principle; it constituted an entirely new departure in legislation with respect to land in Ireland. The tenant who from any cause did not pay rent was still to regard himself as having property or interest in the soil, in respect to which he was entitled to compensation from the landlord if evicted. At this stage he would not have proposed to discuss the Bill itself at any length; but an Amendment had been given Notice of by the Attorney General for Ireland which completely altered its character, and that circumstance would be his excuse for making, on the pre-present occasion, what he might term a second reading speech.


rose to Order. He wished to know whether the hon. Member was in Order in referring to an Amendment put down for Committee before the Bill had reached that stage?


understood the hon. Member was merely referring to the Amendment in the course of his observations, and not discussing it on its merits.


resuming, proceeded to discuss the considerations which had been advanced in justification of the Bill. These were, chiefly, a scarcity of food in Ireland—not unparalleled, for in 1847 matters to his knowledge were much worse—and an inability on the part of a number of tenants to pay rent. There were other circumstances, however, which might have had something to do with the introduction of the Bill, but which had not been stated. They might, he supposed, take it for granted that there was, on the part of certain tenants, an inability to pay rent. At the same time, they could not shut their eyes to the fact that there was in the country a very general disinclination to do so. How far the expression of that disinclination had reached the ears and affected the minds of Ministers it was not for him to say; but perhaps he should not not be far wrong in describing the Bill as having sprung from the unfortunate combination of a short crop of potatoes, and a strong and pronounced disinclination on the part of the people of Ireland to do what was right and honest by their landlords. Certain limitations had been set upon the operation of the Bill as to time and locality. He was about to propose another, which he trusted the House would not regard as uncalled for. The Prime Minister had spoken of the landlord in Ireland as the natural head and protector of the tenant, and had said that the had landlords were a mere handful in number. That being so, was it quite fair, he would ask, to tar them all with the same brush—to subject them without distinction to conditions which were almost penal in their character? The House had heard something that evening about a map which was to be produced; but he wished it could be made to show not only those districts where the crops failed, but also where the existence of bad landlords was proved by continued evictions. As for the Bill itself, there was no sufficient ground for calling the circumstances which it had been introduced to meet exceptional. Those circumstances were, as a matter of fact, the result of depending upon the potato crop, which, as a means of sustenance, was becoming more unreliable from year to year. The Government, therefore, in regarding the circumstances as temporary, would, he was afraid, find themselves grievously disappointed. The object of his Amendment, he might add, was to limit the operation of the Bill, and to confine it, as far as possible, to the cases of those landlords whose action had been such as at all times to justify the introduction of such a measure. If the Bill passed in its present shape it would have a penal effect, and would place the good landlords in an unfair and uncomfortable position in regard to their tenants. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving his Amendment.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House considers that the Compensation for Disturbance (Ireland) Bill should he limited to the case of tenants on properties where evictions have taken place since the 1st day of November 1879,"—(Mr. Pell,) —instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


Sir, however painful it may be to me to take part in this debate, now that it has been conceded in every part of this House that the principle of the Bill under consideration is the principle of the Bill which has been introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Mayo (Mr. O'Connor Power), I do not think it would be possible for me, after I have given Notice of my intention to move the rejection of that Bill, to remain altogether silent upon this occasion. Were I so to do, I would give hon. Members the right to infer that I had not the courage of my convictions, and that my action would not be consistent with the opinions which I hold, or with the principles upon which my conduct in this House should ever be regulated. It is to me a matter of the deepest regret that I should have been compelled, by the vote which I gave against the second reading of this Bill, to have opposed a measure introduced by Her Majesty's Government, to which I feel bound by the closest ties of allegiance and of association, and of which I am proud to consider myself an humble Supporter. The same reasons which led me from the first to entertain the strongest objection to the Bill of the hon. Member for Mayo, also determined me to vote against the second reading of this Bill. I confess that I consider the Amendment of the hon. Member for South Leicestershire (Mr. Pell) is open to serious objection, inasmuch as it involves, although in a limited degree, the principle which is contained in the Ministerial measure. Three arguments have been advanced in favour of the proposal now under the consideration of this House. 1st, That it is the natural extension of the Land Act; 2nd, That it is a temporary measure, limited in its operation both as to time and area; 3rd, That it is desirable, even a necessity, in the interests of the Irish people, that this measure should be passed, and speedily passed, into law. I confess, that although I have listened with the closest attention to the speeches which have been delivered in defence of this Bill, I am not yet convinced that the principle which is common both to the Ministerial measure and to that of the hon. Member for Mayo is contained in the Land Act; but, on the contrary, I believe that it is directly opposed to the provisions of that measure, and that it is also in direct violation of those emphatic assurances and those express conditions under which that measure was suffered to become law.


rose to Order. He wished to know whether it was competent for the hon. Member at that stage to discuss the principles of the Bill?


ruled that the hon. Member was in Order.


resumed: The argument by which it is endeavoured to prove that this measure is but a slight development of the Land Act is based upon the consideration of Section 9 of the Land Act in the form in which it left this House as Clause 8, and also upon the consideration of Section 18 in the form in which it stands upon the Statute Book. It is said that because under Clause 8, as it left the Commons, the Court was empowered, on special grounds being shown, to declare in the case of tenancies existing before the passing of the Act, and in the case of such tenancies only, that eviction for non-payment of rent should be disturbance by act of landlord, that it would be but a slight and natural extension of this clause to give the Court similar powers in the case of tenancies created after the passing of that Act. And again, because under Section 18, where the landlord, on the determination of a tenancy, may wish to impose upon his tenant new terms to which the tenant will not accede, the Court has power to decide whether the proposed terms are just and reasonable, or whether the tenant has reasonably refused unreasonable terms, it is contended that it would be but a small amplification of this principle if power should also be granted to the Court, not only to decide, as at present, whether the terms of a new contract not entered upon are just and reasonable, but whether it is just and reasonable that a tenant should fulfil the terms of a contract into which he has already deliberately entered. The argument, therefore, is shortly this. Because the Court would have had under Clause 8 as it left the Commons, certain power in the case of tenancies existing before the passing of the Act, it should have the same power in the case of tenancies created after the passing of the Act; and, again, because the Court now, under Section 18, has power to interfere with proposed contracts, it should have similar power to interfere with established contracts. We have been frequently reminded that Clause 8, as it left the Commons, contained a provision by which the Court was empowered to declare in the case of certain tenancies, on special grounds being shown, that eviction for non-payment of rent should be disturbance by act of landlord; but we have not been so frequently reminded of the fact that this provision, on which so much stress has been laid, was by way of exception to the general rule of that same clause—a rule which it was the declared intention of Her Majesty's Government of 1870 to embody in the law as a part of its permanent provisions—to the effect that eviction for non-payment of rent should not be disturbance by act of landlord. Sir, the policy and reason of this exception become manifest when it is admitted that contracts entered into by the tenants before the passing of the Land Act of 1870 were made under circumstances unfavourable to the tenant, and before he was protected by the security which has since been afforded to him by the provisions of the Land Act. But once the Act had been passed, and the tenant had been relieved from conditions which were both unfair and inequitable, it was provided that he must, for the future, be absolutely responsible for the rent which he agreed to pay; and, accordingly, the Land Act, in every stage of its existence, in the form in which it left this House, in the form in which it came down from "another place," and in the form in which it stands upon the Statute Book, contained an express and unqualified declaration that in the case of every tenancy created after the passing of that Act, without any exception whatsoever, eviction for non-payment of rent should not be disturbance by act of landlord. This was, I admit, an exception to the general rule that eviction should be disturbance by act of landlord; but it was an exception so important that it is fairly entitled to be treated as one of the cardinal principles of the Land Act, and one of the chief conditions upon which that measure was passed into law. Well, Sir, I may be told that this is but my opinion, and that I am not warranted in this conclusion. That I am warranted in this conclusion must, I think, be admitted, when I show the House upon what authority I have based my opinion. For, Sir, I am supported in my contention by the Prime Minister, who, in the clearest language—which has already been quoted by my hon. Friend the Member for Stroud (Mr. Brand), and my hon. Friend the Member for West Gloucestershire (Colonel Kingscote)—declared what was the principle of the Land Act while it was still in its progress through Parliament, and who, in the speech which he made on moving for leave to introduce the Land Bill, more than once insisted upon the fact that, from the moment the measure passed into law, every Irishman, small and great, must he absolutely responsible for every contract into which he might enter—doctrines, Sir, embodying principles as to the sanctity of contracts which I have always been taught to respect, and to which I endeavoured to point the attention of hon. Gentlemen opposite when I had the honour of moving the Address in reply to the most gracious Speech from the Throne. I have also the exposition of these principles, after the measure had become law, by one of the ablest lawyers who ever sat in this House. I allude to the late Mr. Isaac Butt, the brilliant and the distinguished Leader of that Party to which my hon. Friend the Member for Mayo belongs. Mr. Butt, in his book upon the Irish Land Act, at page 45, says— The rule which is to be permanently embodied in the law is stated in that portion of the 9th section which enacts that, for the purposes of this Act, ejectment for non-payment of rent shall not be deemed disturbance by act of landlord. And now, Sir, with this quotation in my hand, I ask you whether I am not justified in the opinion which I have stated? How can I support this opinion on higher or better authority? But if, notwithstanding all these reasons, it be said that this Bill is merely declaratory of the principle contained in the Land Act, I would ask the House to consider for one moment what must have been present to the mind of my hon. Friend the Member for Mayo, and those who act with him, when they proceeded to draft that Bill of which, when it comes up for discussion, I intend to move the rejection. How did they approach the subject? Did they propose to enlarge the Land Act by declaratory provisions? No, Sir. Let me quote from Clause 1 of the Bill of the hon. Member for Mayo— From the passing-of this Act so much of Section 9 of the Act of 33rd and 34th years of Her Majesty, c. 46, as provides that ejectment for non-payment of rent shall not be deemed disturbance by act of landlord, shall be repealed. Why does the hon. Member for Mayo seek to repeat so much of Section 9 as was described by Mr. Butt as a rule which was to be permanently embodied in the law? Surely not because the provisions he was about to enact were declaratory; but because they were so directly at variance with the principles and language of the Land Act that, in order to give them due effect, and as a condition precedent, it was necessary to repeal that provision of the Land Act which was directly contrary to the provision of his Bill, and inconsistent with the object which he desired to accomplish. And, in this respect, I must confess that the Bill of the hon. Member for Mayo seems to me to be even preferable to that of Her Majesty's Government; for while that hon. Member frankly admitted that the principles of his Bill were contrary to the Land Act by repealing that part of the Act which was inconsistent with the objects sought to be attained by his Bill, the Ministerial measure is so framed, and, as we have been told, advisedly so framed, as to make it appear that Her Majesty's Government do not seek to do anything contrary to the Land Act, but only desire to declare its meaning in certain cases; while the meaning they thus seek by a declaration to give to the Land Act is not only contrary to the provisions of that Act, but is also in direct opposition to the principles upon which it was based, to the avowed intentions of its distinguished author, and to the repeated and emphatic assurances of those of Her Majesty's Ministers to whose care and labour was intrusted the passing of that Act. It is further contended that this measure is only an extension of the Land Act, because, under the Land Act, in those cases where there is a determination of a tenancy, and the tenant refuses to accede to the terms of a new contract as proposed by the landlord, the Court has the power of deciding whether the new terms are just and reasonable. Therefore, it is argued that as the Courts have the power to decide whether a new rent is just and reasonable, that they should have the same power as to old rents. But the two cases are absolutely different. For while it may be reasonable for the Court to approve conditions upon which a landlord may be willing to enter upon a new contract with his tenant, it is entirely contrary to reason to allow the Court to interfere so as practically to annul or modify the terms of a contract deliberately entered into, made, and agreed upon between two contracting parties. For what does such a proposition imply? It means that there shall be embodied in our law, as a part of our legislation, a provision by which men shall be told that there shall be an authority always existing—for I do not see how, after the arguments that have been used by Ministers in support of this Bill, this measure can remain either temporary or local that there shall be an authority always existing ready to release men from contracts into which they have deliberately entered—a plan which, as we were told in words of solemn warning by the Prime Minister in 1870, would be more calculated than anything else— 1st, for throwing into confusion the whole economical arrangement of the country; 2ndly, for driving out of the field all solvent and honest men who might he bidders for farms and might desire to carry on the honourable business of agriculture; and, 3rdly, for carrying widespread demoralization throughout the whole mass of the Irish people. I do not think it would be possible to describe in language more forcible the consequences that would be likely to ensue if such a proposition as this were suffered to become law. And now, Sir, as to the second reason—the limited scope of the Bill. This, of course is manifest. Its language is plain. But I fail to see how you can secure the limitation of a measure which is asserted by its supporters to be based upon true principles, upon principles which we are told existed in the Civil Law of Rome, and which have been adopted by the Codes of other countries. If this be true, and if, as Her Majesty's Ministers contend, this Bill is but an extension of the Land Act, how can they resist the demands of hon. Members opposite that the Ministerial measure shall be made permanent and universal? If it be the case that this measure is only an exception to a law which was passed behind the back, almost in fraud of the Irish tenant, that it is based upon principles which are just, principles which it is declared have been sanctioned by a former Parliament, I do not understand the reasons which have induced the Government to limit the operations of their Bill, nor do I understand why Her Ma- jesty's Ministers should take such especial pains to prove that it has only been introduced because of the exceptional circumstances existing in certain parts of Ireland. But, if it be the case that this Bill is not based upon those principles which should govern our legislation; but that this is an exceptional measure, introduced for the purpose of meeting exceptional circumstances, then, Sir, I equally fail to understand why Her Majesty's Ministers support it on general grounds. How, after such an admission as this, can they resist its extension to all parts of Ireland, its continuance to all time? The fact of this measure being limited, when it is supported by such arguments as these is, therefore, no recommendation to me, and can be none, I hope, to the House. But, Sir, after all, this is not a question how far this measure may be a logical and legitimate extension of a former Act, which I deny that it is. The real question before the House is, whether the condition of Ireland is such as to require the passing of such a measure as is here proposed. I do not think that anyone can sit in this House and hear the statements that are made by the Representatives from Ireland, without feeling acutely for the Irish people in their distress, and without extending to them his widest and most heartfelt sympathy. It is impossible that anyone who heard the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland, can fail to have appreciated and to have admired the earnest and al most painful desire which he showed to extend to the Irish people whatever in his opinion might be just and right; nor do I think it possible that anyone could have heard that speech without being struck by the intense difficulty of the position of Her Majesty's Government—a position in which they require to be sustained by the kind and indulgent sympathy of the House. But, Sir, while the least impressionable among us must have frequently, in the course of this debate, felt his desire to bring relief to the suffering and distressed both strengthened and increased, none the less is it our duty closely to examine the proposals of this measure, so that we may see whether they are likely to accomplish that object which we all so greatly desire to obtain. If the State is to interfere to protect a tenant from the con- sequences that would naturally ensue from his non-fulfilment of the term of a contract into which he has deliberately entered with his landlord, in consequence of certain alleged exceptional circumstances, but not in consequence of any action of his landlord, where is the action of the State to cease when these exceptional circumstances affect the whole community? If you relieve the tenant in consequence of such exceptional circumstances, by rendering the landlord liable to pay him compensation when he requires the fulfilment of his contract, can you stop when you have done so? Must you not go further, and compensate the labourer if disturbed in his employment in consequence of the inability of the landowner to find means to pay him his daily wages by reason of the non-payment of that rent which, by the operation of this Bill, will be withheld from him? Must you not go further still, and compensate the unhappy landowner, when he is disturbed in the possession of his property by the mortgagee who will not consent to wait until 1882 for the payment of that interest which is due to him—and who, heedless of the condition of the landowner, forces a sale at a loss which may not only be ruinous to him, but to all of those helpless persons who are entirely dependent upon him, perhaps his widowed mother and his infant brother and sister? Must you not go further, and compensate the mortgagee who may himself be disturbed by proceedings in bankruptcy in consequence of his inability to meet engagements honestly entered into with his creditors on the faith of the income arising from money invested in first mortgages upon Irish land? Must you not go further, and compensate those very creditors? Must you not, in short, if you once depart from those principles which should govern your legislation, extend this State interference into every relation of life and to every form of contract? If so, then farewell to progress, to commerce, aye, to civilization itself; for, when once you encroach upon the sanctity of contracts, you shake the very foundations of society. For, Sir, the maintenance of contract is, after all, the maintenance of civilization; and, in the words of a distinguished leader of modern thought— The maintenance of contract is the maintenance of the fundamental principle of all life under the form given to it by social arrangements. I have waited, Sir, in vain for some explanation from Her Majesty's Ministers on this point; but the difficulty has not yet been faced. We have not been told how, if this Bill is passed, the landlord who receives no rent is to pay the interest on his mortgages. The Prime Minister did make one remark upon the question of mortgages; but that remark did not, I confess, remove my apprehensions as to what may be the probable consequences of this Bill. He maintained that the argument, by which it was endeavoured to show that the result of the passing of this Bill into law would be to prevent capital being invested in Irish land in the shape of mortgages, could not be considered as a valid argument against the Bill, because, so long as 50 years ago, it was the invariable practice of English solicitors to exclude Ireland as a place of investment for moneys bequeathed by testament to be laid out on mortgages. But the question to which I wish to direct the attention of Her Majesty's Ministers at present is not whether that capital which is so much desired may be attracted to Ireland, or whether a bad security is likely to be made worse. The question which I think has not been sufficiently considered is, what do you propose to do, if it can be shown that the direct consequences of the passing of this Bill will be to bring suffering and distress upon people living in all parts of the United Kingdom who have been guilty of committing no greater error than trusting for the security of their property to the protection which has been promised them by the law? Another argument that has been brought forward in defence of this Bill is, that the Irish tenant, as compared with the English tenant, is under great disadvantages. Sir, I hold in my hand the Report of a Royal Commission—the English and Irish Law and Chancery Commission of 1863—a Commission which included among its Members the respected names of Lord Cairns, Lord O'Hagan, and Lord Selborne. I will, with the permission of the House, read from the Report itself what are the differences between the law in England and Ireland with reference to ejectment for nonpayment of rent— The differences between the law in force in the two countries in reference to the cases in which an ejectment for non-payment of rent may be brought may, therefore, be stated as follows:— In England—1. The ejectment must be between 'landlord and tenant,' and these words would not, it seems, include all the cases included by the Irish Act. 2. One half-year's rent must be due when the writ is sued out. 3. There must be no sufficient distress to be found on the premises countervailing all the arrears due. 4. The landlord or lessor to whom the arrears are due must have a right by law to re-enter. He can have no such right except by virtue of some express condition or proviso for re-entry contained in the lease or agreement, or verbal letting. In Ireland—1. The existence of the relation of landlord and tenant in point of tenure is not necessary, provided a tenancy between the parties shall appear to exist, whether by original contract or by lawful assignment, devise, bequest, or act and operation of law. 2. A year's rent must be due after deducting all just debts duo by the landlord to the tenant at the time when the writ is sued out. 3. The existence of a distress on the demised premises is immaterial with reference to the right to maintain the ejectment. 4. An original right of re-entry compounded under the contract of tenancy is unnecessary, and its existence at the time of the commencement of the action in respect of the rent due is immaterial. Sir, I am no lawyer; but I do not think it requires a specially legal training to find out, on the authority of this Commission, that the position of the Irish tenant is more advantageous than that of the English tenant in these two important particulars—first, that while in England a landlord must distrain upon a tenant before he brings the ejectment, in Ireland he need not do so; and, secondly, that while in England a writ of ejectment can be sued out when one half-year's rent is owing, in Ireland it cannot be sued out until one whole year's rent is due. I have pointed out shortly, but I hope not unfairly, some, but by no means all, the reasons why this Bill should not be allowed to pass. It is to me painful beyond description to oppose any measure which has for its avowed object the relief of that distress in Ireland which I so deeply deplore; but I feel bound to do so for the reasons which I have stated, and because I believe such a measure as this would be fatal to the true interests of Ireland, and because I am convinced that the inevitable consequences of the passing of this measure would be a state of things worse than that which we now seek to remedy. I believe that the effects of this measure would be injurious, insomuch as they would tend to discourage the habits of thrift, by placing a premium on improvidence and bad husbandry, and by making insolvency no longer discreditable but rather advantageous. I believe, farther, that the influence which the passing of this measure would have upon the national character of the Irish would not be for the good of Ireland. It seems to me that what is really wanted to improve the condition of the Irish people is to teach them to rely upon their own exertions, and not upon the State, and to look to the State as the enforcer of the law and not as the dispenser of relief. But, while pointing out what appear to me to be some of the grave objections to the passing of this Bill, I would venture, as an earnest of the kindly sympathy which I entertain towards the poor tenantry of Ireland in their wants and in their sufferings, and as an earnest of my desire that their rights of property should be efficiently secured to them—I would venture, if I might do so, to suggest to Her Majesty's Ministers whether or no there may not be other means by which they might obtain an object at once so desirable and so merciful; whether or no it would not be possible to approach tenants in their extremity upon terms that would be welcomed by them, that would be justified by the peculiar circumstances of their condition, and which would do violence to none of those cardinal principles upon which alone civil society can depend for its existence. A national calamity has overtaken the Irish people. The question is, how shall that relief be administered which the House asserts should be extended to the distressed tenantry of Ireland? We have been told that it would be admitting a doctrine of a most dangerous character if we sought to relieve a class which had been afflicted by a visitation of God out of the funds of the whole country. We were told that Parliament frequently made use of its power, in the interests of the public good, to take property from class A and to transfer it to class B. Precedents were brought forward to prove that Parliament had, in several instances, affirmed the justice of this principle; but, in every instance which the Prime Minister quoted, the evils sought to be remedied had in no case arisen out of a visitation of God. They had in every case arisen out of the faulty arrangements of man. I must confess, although I say it with all deference and respect, that while there may be objection, and great objection, to relieving a class which have suffered by the visitation of God out of the pockets of the State, it does appear to me to be admitting a doctrine of far greater danger, and one which can be, perhaps, used to justify acts of a revolutionary character, if you say that Parliament is only exercising its proper functions when, in consequence of an act of God, you take away the property of one class and transfer it to another, without granting any compensation in return. A national calamity has overtaken the Irish people. Should its effects be not met by a common effort, by a common sacrifice, on the part of all classes of the community, proportionate to their several capacities? Why should the landowners alone be saddled with penalties and weighed down by obligations? Cannot Her Majesty's Ministers devise some means, some plan, by which, at all events, they may meet out to the landowners the benefits of that equal treatment which the Prime Minister, the other evening, during the debate which took place on the Resolution of my hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson), exhorted the House to extend to the publicans, whom he admitted were no favoured objects of the State? And I would ask, even at this hour, the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland, whether, in an attempt to relieve distress, and in an endeavour to prevent the tenant from losing, owing to the exceptional badness of the seasons, that property which was created in his holding by the Act of 1870, subject always to the prompt and punctual payment of his rent, there may not be other means available, means quite as efficacious as those proposed by Her Majesty's Ministers, while they are in no degree subversive of those rights of property which it is the special function of this House to guard?


said, that the hon. Member for South Northumberland was not the first member of the ancient house of Grey who had done good service to the enemies of popular rights and progress by attacking from the Liberal ranks measures designed for the advancement of the Liberal cause. He regretted that the hon. Member, on almost his first appearance, should have undertaken to defend a system which all careful, observers admitted to have been the proximate cause of Irish famines ever since they had a land system. He did not, however, propose to follow the hon. Member in his able arguments against the Bill, because he thought that on this occasion he had been flogging a dead horse, and that the task he had undertaken, in view of what had happened since yesterday morning, was a work of supererogation. Up to yesterday morning he (Mr. Parnell) intended to vote for the Motion that the Speaker leave the Chair on the Committee stage of the Bill; but an Amendment on the Paper yesterday, under the name of the Attorney General for Ireland, had entirely changed his mind, and he could not now take the responsibility of voting or wasting the time of the House upon consideration of a measure which, if the intentions of the Government were carried out, as, of course, they would be supported with their large majority, would simply result in the passing of a useless measure. He would have voted for the Bill as it was printed. He understood the Bill to be an attempt to prevent the spirit of the Land Act (1870) from being infringed in the exceptional circumstances prevailing in Ireland. It was proposed to do that by carrying out the spirit of the 9th section of the Act of 1870 as it left that House and went up to the House of Lords. The Chief Secretary, and also the Prime Minister, had shown their desire to prevent the landlords from inflicting a wrong upon their tenants. The Bill was, indeed, inadequate; but still he should have supported it. But the Attorney General's Amendment had entirely changed the character of the Bill, and it was no longer an attempt to carry out the principle of the 9th section of the Land Act, but to amend the 13th section in such a way as to defeat in some cases the tenant's claim to compensation. In his opinion, this Bill would be utterly useless to effect the object which the Government, when they introduced it, said they had in view. It was now proposed to change the entire scope of the Bill by the Amendment of the Attorney General for Ireland. He asked the House whether it was worth while—worth all the time spent on the Bill, and all the fuss that had been made about it—to arrive at such an impotent conclusion? If the wish of the Government was not that which they expressed—namely, to protect the tenants who were unable to pay rent—but to get rid of this exception to the right of sale, he submitted it would have been better to have introduced a Bill for that purpose, and not to have introduced a Bill for an entirely different purpose. As the Bill was now proposed to be altered, the Bill did not protect the tenant. It gave the landlord the right to evict, and the tenant the right of sale. They knew that these small tenants had no saleable interest. How could they expect anyone to buy a small farm which was screwed down by a rack rent? From the nature of the case the tenant would have no interest to sell, on account of his having to pay a crushing rent. If they brought forward, on the other hand, a Bill to extend the Ulster Custom to the whole of Ireland as a permanent enactment, he would admit that that would be a measure worthy of consideration, and he should vote for it; but he should not accept it as a final settlement, nor as a settlement in part, of the vast questions connected with Irish land. The Amendment of the Attorney General for Ireland would benefit a large class of large tenants who were in a different position altogether from the small farmers—tenants whom the landlords did not desire to lose—it would give this class the right, and the valuable right, of sale in their holdings. If the rent of such holdings was low and the landlord was a good landlord, then the tenant would have something valuable to sell; but if the rent was high and the landlord a bad landlord, this right of sale would be worth nothing at all. He wished to point out the direction in which they were drifting owing to the impressionable nature of the Government. He did not know whether it was by the pressure from behind or before, whether it was by pressure from above or "another place," that this extraordinary change of flank was brought about; but, whatever the motive, he would remind the Chief Secretary of the old maxim—"Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel." It would have been better for the Chief Secretary to have waited for a while before making any definite announcement. The Bill of the hon. Member for Mayo (Mr. O'Connor Power) was introduced, and the Chief Secretary seemed to be favourably impressed; but a demonstration a tergo, and he dropped it like a hot potato. Now they found that another change of front had been executed, and the Government was going to enact something entirely different from its original idea, and which something would not have the slightest effect for the protection of small tenants in the West of Ireland. It followed, of course, on this Amendment that the whole of the Land Question would have to be discussed. The partial failure of the Ulster Custom would render it necessary to introduce Amendments. They knew that bad landlords in Ulster made the custom there of no use; and, only recently, the hon. Member for Tyrone (Mr. Macartney) proposed a Bill on the subject. The Government said they could not go into that question at present, and he agreed with them; but now the Government, by this Amendment, had raised the whole question, and it would be absolutely necessary, if this Bill reached Committee, to move Amendments in the direction of the Bill of the hon. Member for Tyrone. He maintained that this Bill as now altered would result in either filling the poor-house or the emigrant ship. He could not imagine any more disastrous step than that which the Government had taken. They were extending the principle of free sale, and putting it on its trial for a purpose for which it was never intended and for which it was entirely useless. They were told there had been no anti-rent disturbances in Ulster, and that that was due to the Ulster Custom. But the Ulster Custom had done its work gradually, and, owing to its operation, it had become a recognized principle that the landlord should not raise his rent beyond a certain point, and that a certain saleable interest should be left to the tenant. He regretted exceedingly that the Government did not stand to their colours. Perhaps they were afraid that the Bill would be thrown out in "another place." Well, he was perfectly willing to face that contingency. No great cause was ever won without suffering, and the Irish people, if they were determined to obtain a satisfactory solution of the Land Question, must be ready to suffer. They had suffered in the past, and they would have to suffer still. If the House of Lords, in 1870, had not mutilated that 9th section, he believed that the present pressure in Ireland would never have arisen. A sort of custom would have grown up by which the landlords would have been restrained by the Courts from raising rents to an undue height. But the House of Lords deliberately cut the section out and altered the Act; and the consequence had been that the people had been driven from the Courts and had to rely on organization and agitation. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary had now been urged by some Members on the Conservative side to sit on the safety-valve, and he had done it. If the result should be that the engineer was hoist by his own petard, the weakness and vacillation he had shown would not entitle him to any sympathy.


said, he did not intend to make much allusion to the personal attack made by the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell). If he was conscious of having given way to anything except his impression of what he thought it just and right to do, he should have felt it necessary to excuse himself before the House. But, as his conscience did not in the slightest degree accuse him in that respect, he passed by the hon. Gentleman's remarks, trusting that the}' would receive in Ireland as well as in England the attention they deserved and no more. They had had three speeches that night, all very curiously different. The speech of the hon. Member for South Leicestershire (Mr. Pell) was marked by his hon. Friend's usual moderation and practical sense. His hon. Friend stated arguments in favour of a special limitation of the scope of the Bill; but he would not, perhaps, be surprised if, after the two speeches which followed his, he did not say much about the Amendment, except that he did not think it would be possible to make that limitation. The object of their measure was not penal—it was precautionary; it was meant to guard against certain things happening, not to punish landlords for what had happened. It was intended to prevent landlords from taking advantage of the calamity of this year to take away from their tenants the property which the hon. Member for South Northumberland (Mr. Grey) acknowledged to belong to them, but the right to which, although given by the Land Act, required to be secured to the tenants under present circumstances. The hon. Member for South Northumberland had made an exceedingly able speech against the Bill. He had not said a word about the Amendment, although he had seconded it. He could not imagine that hon. Gentleman wishing to acknowledge the Bill even so far as to try to amend its scope. He hoped that the House would not expect him to reply to the hon. Member for South Northumberland, because he did not think the hon. Gentleman had said anything fresh that night, although he had reproduced with great ability the arguments used in previous debates on the Bill. Then came the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell), who said that his view was entirely altered, and that in consequence of what he called their change of front he was now opposed to the Bill, having before been prepared to support it; and the hon. Gentleman put on them great responsibility for the course they had taken. Now, he did not know what the effect of the hon. Member's opposition might be; but if its effect in the present state of feeling in the House in regard to the Bill was to prevent its passing, on the hon. Member must lie the responsibility of its not passing.


said, he did not say he should oppose the Bill. What he said was, that he should consider it perfectly useless unless with the Amendment of the Attorney General for Ireland.


said, he was very glad to have heard that statement from the hon. Member, because he understood him, in the very first sentence he spoke, to say that he would oppose the Bill. Now came the purpose of his speech. He denied that there had been any change of front either in their arguments or in their statements—either in the general purpose of the Bill, or in the explanations made to the House in support of it. The object of the measure, as he had endeavoured to state several times, had been this. They believed that, partly by the Land Act and partly by the history of Ireland, the tenant, especially the small tenant, had a proprietary right acknowledged in his holding. It was defined by the 3rd section of the Land Act. He must almost repeat the words he used at the close of the debate on Monday, when he said he thought the question which the House had to decide by its division was whether the landlord should be enabled to deprive the tenant of that proprietary right by taking advantage of the calamity of this year. His right hon. Friend (Mr. Gladstone) in his speech had most distinctly stated that he considered the Amendment of the Attorney General for Ireland was really included in the Bill as it had been brought forward. [Mr. PARNELL dissented.] The hon. Member shook his head. He knew that his right hon. Friend believed that he had said that, and he wondered that the hon. Gentleman, who was as acute an observer of what happened as any other Member, did not apprehend the meaning of his right hon. Friend's words, and that they got his vote at the end of the evening considering the views he now expressed. The Attorney General for Ireland had made the same statement, and they believed it was included in the Bill, because they imagined that condition must be fulfilled before the tenant could receive compensation—that was to say, that the tenant should be willing to remain on reasonable terms and that the landlord was unwilling to grant them. They had always supposed that permission to sell the proprietary right was included in that condition. That, he believed, was the only answer he could make to the charge of having changed their front. They considered that they were by the Bill preventing the small tenants from being deprived of the property they possessed in their holdings. That property which they possessed, like any other property, was a saleable property; and by offering to the landlord the alternative of giving the tenant the power to sell or of running the risk of having to pay compensation, they thought they were entirely carrying out the principle of the Land Act, which secured the tenant's right. The hon. Member conceived that it would not be a saleable property. The point might be fairly open to argument; but that was not their information, that was not the deduction they drew from the condition of Ulster, and especially of Donegal. The difference between Donegal and Mayo, neighbouring counties, appeared to be this—that, in the one case, the tenant who had the power of selling was not turned out in hopeless poverty; and that, in the other case, he was. It was to secure, under the exceptional circumstances of this year, to the tenant out of Ulster that power of being able either to preserve his property or to get value for it, that they had brought in that Bill. Therefore, he denied that Her Majesty's Government had in any way misled the House or withdrawn from their proposal. The simple reason why the Attorney General for Ireland put this Amendment on the Table was because many hon. Members on both sides expressed their desire that the Government would put in exact words what they believed were the wishes of those hon. Members.


said, he knew that besides the attention which his Bill had received from Members of that House, it had received almost equal attention from Members of the other House of Parliament, and the number of letters which distinguished Noblemen had found time to write to The Times on this Irish Land Question, especially upon his modest proposal, went far to show that the legislative machine was very unevenly balanced, and that those distinguished Noblemen must have very little to do in that "other place." He thought it was very unfortunate that the Government did not accept his proposed solution of the difficulty in Ireland. The correspondence in The Times on the matter began by Lord Dunraven undertaking to challenge a statement he had made, that since the passing of the Land Act landlords had forced their rents to an exorbitant point for the purpose of thus enabling themselves to get rid of their tenants without being subject to any claim of compensation. It was not every statement that was capable of demonstration. Lord Liflord promised to vote for his Bill when it went to the House of Lords, if he could furnish six instances in which landlords had been found to unduly increase rents for the purpose of ejecting their tenants. How was he to prove that that increase was effected for the express purpose he alleged? He could only infer that that was the object in many instances for which landlords had raised their rents. His hon. Friend the Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) had given expression to considerable indignation in consequence of the Amendment put on the Table by the Attorney General for Ireland, and though he had not the advantage of hearing the whole of his speech, he believed that unless the Government would add to that Amendment, the Amendment that stood in the name of his hon. Friend the Member for the City of Limerick (Mr. O'Shaughnessy), the course they were taking would defeat the object of their own Bill. The Amendment of the Attorney General for Ireland would be intelligible if they were legislating permanently on the Land Question; but this was a temporary Bill to give relief to tenants in distressed districts. He should like to give Notice that when they did get into Committee on this Bill, he would move to add to the Amendment which stood in the name of the Attorney General for Ireland these words— But the failure of the tenant to dispose of his interest owing to a want of purchasers shall not bar his right to compensation for disturbance.


said, there were several Amendments on the Paper, and that was not the time for discussing Amendments.


bowed readily to the observation of the right hon. Gentleman; he was quite conscious that he was trespassing on the attention of the House. The landed interest in Ireland had been crying out before it was hurt, and the whole object of this artificial outcry had been to make the Government halt in their proposal to do justice to the tenants of Ireland. If the Government were to be cowed by the timidity of their own Followers and by the violence of the Opposition, then there was no hope for the tenantry of Ireland. If they adhered to the new course they had adopted, that would be equivalent to telling the landlords and the tenants to fight it out among themselves. There could be no doubt that the Land Act had not been successful in keeping down exorbitant rents. There were many cases were an agent took notice of the bonnet or shawl that a farmer's daughter used as she went to Mass on Sunday morning, and if he found a new bonnet, or a new shawl, or a respectable dress, he went to the farmer and said, "If you can afford to dress your daughter so well, you can afford to pay me a higher rent for the farm." He objected to the prin- ciple that the tenant should depend upon the goodwill of his landlord. Such a principle afforded no protection against a bad landlord; and the rule of bad landlords had banished 3,000,000 of the Irish people. The conflict of opinion on the subject was truly bewildering; but he would endeavour to deal with it with a due consideration of the arguments on the other side. The House had been told by the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Brand) and the late Attorney General for Ireland (Mr. Gibson) that the consequences of acceding to the Bill of the Government would be to encourage the hon. Member for Mayo in the work of agitation, and that a revolution, and other terrible consequences, would ensue. But, whatever harsh things he had said against the land system of Ireland, he had never been guilty of using one kind of language in the House and another elsewhere. Whether he had addressed audiences outside the House, or expressed his opinion in the Press, he had never spoken in a different manner from that which he adopted in that House. He had always denounced the land system of Ireland. The greatest evil in that system was the accumulation of the land of the country in the hands of a small number of people. The hon. Member for South Northumberland (Mr. Grey) had asked the compassion of the House for the widows and orphans of the unfortunate landowners of the country. But that was a small affair compared with the miseries of millions of the Irish people. The Irish Members had used no exaggeration on the subject. They had rather repressed their feelings. He had a decisive authority for the opinion he had expressed upon the distribution of the land among few people. He thought the words of Holy Writ, which denounced woe to those who added house to house and field to field, wore especially applicable to the state of Ireland. It had been said that the country was over-populated. That was only true in the sense in which an hotel of three or four stories would be described as overcrowded if all the people who could easily be accommodated on all the floors were concentrated in the lower parts of the building. The people had been cleared out of one part of the country, and huddled up into another. He objected to the clearance system; he objected to the efforts which had been made to exterminate the Irish people. He would submit to the House the opinions which had been expressed by distinguished foreigners on the subject. The Rev. Henry Ward Beecher, in an address in which he spoke in warm terms of the Irish character, said there was every justification for an agitation to procure the emancipation of the Irish peasantry from English misrule. Mr. Wendell Phillips, an American of great ability and of the purest character, who was by no means a professional politician, had said that America was glad to avail herself of the services of the Irish people, and had profited largely by their genius, and that he wondered at the way in which they were treated by the English Government. When it was said that now that that House was engaged day after day in discussing Irish questions that Ireland should be satisfied, he replied that there ought to be no occasion for discussing them, and that there was no obligation on the part of the oppressed to be grateful because their oppressor was at length listening to their complaints. The only way to get rid of Irish questions was for the Government and the country to do justice all round to Ireland, so as to raise up a contented, an industrious, and a prosperous Irish people.


Sir, no one is more sensible than myself of the right of the hon. Member to be heard upon any question he chooses to treat, and especially upon the question of land. But, without any derogation to my respect for his abilities, I do venture to call the attention of the House to the course this debate has taken. The question is an Amendment by the hon. Member for South Leicestershire (Mr. Pell) on your leaving the Chair. He proposes that the operation of the Bill should be restricted to certain classes of estates; but we have travelled entirely away from the hon. Member for South Leicestershire, leaving his Amendment as much forgotten as if he had been dead for 100 years, instead of being living and likely to be long a useful Member of this House. May I be permitted to make a remark which, I hope, will not be without effect. If I understand the matter, this House is a deliberative Assembly. Now, what is the essence of a deliberative Assembly? It appears to me to be this—that a deliberative Assembly is an Assembly that speaks always with a view of something it is going to decide. But if, when we have a Motion like this of the hon. Member for South Leicestershire, we are to launch forth not only into a discussion of the Bill at large, but into a general discussion of the condition of Ireland and the land burdens, and other questions that have no bearing on the Amendment, so far we lose the character of a deliberative Assembly altogether, because we take up that upon which we are not asked to give an opinion at all. It is a matter of general interest. I am presuming to suggest to the House, therefore, that they have an undoubted title to discuss this Bill at large on the question of the Speaker leaving the Chair; but it would be convenient if we were permitted to dispose of this Amendment of the hon. Member for South Leicestershire. On what has been said by the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell), I will only so far comment as to subscribe unreservedly to what has been stated by my right hon. Friend the Secretary for Ireland. The hon. Member for Cork may see a change of front. Many men have a faculty for seeing that which does not exist. I believe he has exhibited that faculty, along with many other excellent faculties he possesses, to-night. But let us debate that subject when we come to it, and when we have some proposal bearing upon it. It has no bearing, and even the ingenuity of the hon. Member for Cork can give it no bearing, on the Amendment of the hon. Member for South Leicestershire. Although that Motion proceeds from a Gentleman of great authority, and who applies his mind with integrity and impartiality to this subject, yet a little reflection will let him see that not even an adversary of this measure can draw a distinction between estates where evictions have taken place and estates where they have not. Evictions may have taken place with good reason, and yet the disability would be incurred. Evictions may have been delayed on other estates from various causes, and yet they could be put in operation the moment this Bill passed. Let us put that Amendment out of the way, and let us go forward to discussion, when the House can deliberate on the question as to whether this clause of my right hon. Friend the At- torney General for Ireland is or is not a departure from the views we originally expressed when we endeavoured to impress the Bill upon the House. I think I am not making any unreasonable request when I ask on behalf of persons who are sent here not merely for the expression of opinion, but for the transaction of Business, that we may be permitted to dispose of the Amendment of the hon. Member for South Leicestershire, leaving a perfectly fair and open field for those who wish to discuss the larger question on your leaving the Chair.

Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present,


said, he was sorry he could not agree with the Prime Minister that this was a proper moment for division on the Amendment of the hon. Member for South Leicestershire. It seemed to him that there still remained something to be said at this stage which could not so well find a place when the Bill got into Committee. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary had, with mournful tones and long-drawn visage, deplored the fact that two or three bad seasons would reduce Ireland to a state of beggary, and he attributed this to some mysterious and inscrutable disease, whose diagnosis must baffle the ingenuity of the ablest and best-intentioned statesmen. The malady from which Ireland was suffering was apparent, and the remedy was in the hands of the right hon. Gentleman himself. Ireland was suffering from an excess of rents, and it rested with the Government to provide that in future there should be no possibility of exacting such rents. The truth was, that the Irish landlords were open to the charge of rack-renting. The Land Committee of the Constitutional Club defended the landlords from the charge of harshness and excessive rack-renting by referring to the small number of evictions; but that was a fallacious argument. What they had to show was the number of times in each year the landlords had threatened to evict on process for rent; and, if they did that, it would place beyond dispute the fact that in the vast majority of cases rent in Ireland was only paid under threat of eviction, or threat of the seizure of stock, or the fear of starvation. In Kerry, last year, the Chairman of Quarter Sessions had signed 400 decrees of evictions for non-payment of rent. That was for last year. The Quarter Sessions had just been held in Kerry, at Killarney, Kenmare, Listowel, and Tralee, and there had been more than 200 ejectments—that was, about 1,000 persons left homeless. In one of the most famous dictionaries ever compiled, "rack-rent" was defined to be "a rent usually extorted by Irish landlords from their tenants." In 1836, the late Lord Derby used the following words in this House in a debate on Irish Poor Laws:— He should have been most desirous of seeing a system introduced by which the poor rates levy might have acted as an absolute and positive check upon that which he held to be one of the greatest evils of Ireland as between landlord and tenant—namely, the exorbitant rents fixed upon. For now the landlord imposed a rent of 50s., knowing at the same time he should never get more than 40s., but trusting to what he could screw out of the tenant, willing to take anything he could get; while the poor tenant, from the great competition for land, undertook to give 50s., knowing well at the same time that he could not pay any such sum. In the same speech, the noble Lord remarked that— He could say, without hesitation, that he had seen instances of self-devotion on the part of the peasantry of Ireland which could not be met with elsewhere. He had repeatedly met with sacrifice for the purposes of benevolence and charity of all the little comforts possessed without hesitation, which reflected the highest credit on the humblest classes in Ireland. No one could charge the late Lord Derby with being an agitator. Would anyone venture to say that the moral qualities of the Irish people had decreased since that time? A reference to statistics would show that there was less crime in Ireland than in any other country in the world of equal population. There was no country of whose population it could be said, as of the population of Ireland, that virtue was the rule and vice the exception. Why did he say this of his own countrymen? Simply to lead the House to the inevitable conclusion that it was quite impossible that such a people could, as was pretended, have entered into a conspiracy to defraud their landlords. It had been said that in Ireland there was an anti-rent agitation, and a determination not to pay rent. He pronounced that assertion to be absolutely baseless, and a complete misrepresentation of the state of feeling which existed in Ireland with regard to the payment of rent. There was in Ireland an agitation against the exaction of unfair rents—a determination to resist the payment of unfair rents, and to brave the consequences of their non-payment. That feeling prevailed extensively in Ireland, and it acquired force and volume with the spread of education, of intelligence, and the acquisition of political power by the people. The presumption was entirely in favour of the rents being unfair from the circumstance that the landlords had the fixing of these rents. It was not in human nature to resist the opportunity they had of charging more than the value of the land. Many harsh things had been said of the tenants. To retort was easy. On one point, at least, there would be no controversy—that previous to the Act of 1870, tenants were simply robbed of their property in the shape of improvements. Since then the property of the tenantry had been appropriated by what Lord Carlingford called the silent process of rent-raising. In three Provinces, at all events, the Act of 1870 had failed to prevent capricious raising of rents with a view to eviction; and the landlords literally snapped their fingers at the Act. They dealt with the tenantry as if the Act had never passed. He believed the intentions of the right hon. Gentleman when he introduced the Bill were excellent; but his efforts had been ineffectual to protect the tenants from their landlords, and he very much feared they were now engaged in the preliminaries of another fiasco. At the meetings which he attended he had endeavoured to get a resolution passed to the effect that the eviction of a tenant for the nonpayment of a rent fixed by the landlord was unjust, and called for the condemn of every lover of justice. He thought the Bill, when first introduced, went a considerable length with him in that view. He had supposed that under this Bill a great portion of the rents of Ireland would be revised in open court; that everything bearing on them, in the interest of the tenant, would be sifted by skilled advocates; that the secrets of the Estate Office would be turned inside out; that the landlords would be put on their defence, and asked in the face of their countrymen why they should not be mulcted in heavy damages for being rack-renters. It now appeared, however, that they were simply to have the clause of the Irish Attorney General, which would enable every landlord to come to Court, and say he had agreed to let so-and-so sell his interest. No questions would be asked, and the Bill would simply be one for clearing off the small tenants in Ireland. In such circum? stances, he very much doubted whether he should not feel it his duty to take the course indicated by the hon. Member for the City of Cork.


said, that the Amendment which he had originally proposed was coldly received by the Chief Secretary and the Attorney General, and the Prime Minister, in his speech, alluded to it as entirely unnecessary, saying that no Judge would refuse to accept the landlord's offer to allow the tenant to sell his goodwill as a just settlement of the question. He was glad to find the Government had now reconsidered the point, and that his clause had been deemed of sufficient importance for the Attorney General for Ireland to place it upon the Paper. He attributed that very much to the division on the second reading, when about 100 Liberals abstained from voting, or voted, as he did, against the Bill. Had it not been for that very ominous Government victory, which was like the victory of Pyrrhus, they would not have had that Amendment proposed. He was glad to find his Amendment had not given great satisfaction to the Home Rule Members opposite. If they had been satisfied with it, he would have taken the first opportunity of withdrawing it from the Paper. The Attorney General for Ireland, in his speech, had made some statements which caused surprise as to the relations between landlord and tenant in Scotland. He (Sir Tollemache Sinclair) had himself managed a large estate in Scotland for a great portion of his life, and he was enabled to state that a great many of the hon. and learned Gentleman's statements were inaccurate. The hon. and learned Gentleman had made some quotations from a standard text-book; but he had only quoted those parts that suited his argument. In Scotland, if the produce of the crops exceeded, by however little, the cost of seed and tillage, the tenant was liable for the entire amount of his rent, as he was if he had the whole of his crop destroyed by a bad harvest. He had seen a good deal of Irish land, and made inquiries as to the rent, and he could say that, so far from the landlords being amenable to the charge brought against them by the last speaker, the land in Ireland was rented much lower than the same quality of land would be in England or in Scotland. Most of the land in Ireland was let at Griffith's valuation, and a good deal of it far below that valuation, which, by-the-bye, was made at a time when prices were much lower than at present. He would boldly state that land in Ireland, in his opinion, was very much lower rented on the average than any part of England or Scotland. Hon. Gentlemen had complained that Irish tenants were rack-rented. No doubt, tenants were suffering very severely at present; but he believed that such was the state of affairs in Ireland, so much was the country over-populated, and such a large proportion of the people were unable to find money, that there would be great misery there even if there were no such thing as rent at all. Over population had much more to do with the misery of Ireland than any amount of rack-renting. Great complaints were made of the treatment of tenants in Ireland; but were they justified by the facts? In Scotland, landlords could evict at six weeks' notice; but in Ireland they had to give six months' notice before they could evict. Further than that, an Irish tenant for six months after his eviction had a right to re-entry on the payment of his arrears; but the Scotch tenant had no such privilege reserved to him. The Prime Minister, in his speech the other night, proved too much. He attacked the Irish proprietary, and he further attacked both Houses of Parliament for the legislation they had passed in respect to Ireland. If that legislation had been so unjust as the right hon. Gentleman represented, then the present Bill should have been extended to all Ireland and made permanent. Admitting that there was a certain amount of distress in Ireland, he held that it had been very much exaggerated. Mr. King Harman wrote to The Times the other day to say that 63 of the scheduled districts had been struck off his relief list of The New York Herald Fund. This showed that the distress was decreasing. Moreover, in spite of all distress, the Inland Revenue statistics showed that in Ireland each head of a family consumed whisky to the value of £5 per annum, besides brandy, beer, and other intoxicants. Therefore, if they chose to drink less whisky they could pay their rents. At all events, their inability to pay now was largely due to their enormous consumption of whisky, a consumption unparalleled in any part of the world. Then, again, so far as he could ascertain, the poor rates were not in any district of Ireland of an excessive amount. He was astonished to hear the language applied by the last speaker to Irish landlords, whom he had called oppressors and rack-renters. When hon. Gentlemen railed in that way at Irish landlords, they should look a little at home, for he found, on reference to the "society" journals, that a Mr. John Howard Parnell appeared to be one of the worst landlords in all Ireland. He regretted the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) was not at that moment in the House to hear him; but the paper from which he was now quoting said the hon. Member's elder brother, Mr. John Howard Parnell, held 1,700 acres in the County of Armagh, and that before going on his American tour Mr. Parnell, M.P., collected for his brother the half-year's rent due in September, allowing a reduction of 7½ per cent, although the tenants had been previously promised 15 per cent. Although these tenants had paid their rents up to the 1st November, Mr. Parnell was himself one year and a-half in arrear with his rent to Trinity College to the amount of £1,500. The writer also said he was told the rents on Mr. Parnell's estate were 40 per cent higher than on the adjoining estate, and that his tenants were subject to certain imposts not enforced elsewhere. ["Question!"]


Will the hon. Member give his authority, or the name of the newspaper he is quoting?


Vanity Fair. ["Oh!"] It signified not a straw what paper it was from; a statement was a statement. The hon. Member for Cork had never denied the statement, and until it was denied he held it to be true.


Is the hon. Member aware that that has been proved to be an absolute fiction?


continuing, said, the Attorney General for Ireland had expressed regret that tenant right had been abolished in County Mayo; but he thought the worst system of managing land was under a system of tenant right. They had, to a certain extent, the same system in Scotland. On his own estate a tenant used to have certain claims for amelioration at the end of his lease, and the incoming tenant was consequently burdened with a large payment which crippled his resources. It was well known that capital to landlords in Scotland was only worth 4 per cent, whereas to the tenant it was worth 10 per cent. He thought the greatest curse of Ireland was this system of tenant right. The Attorney General for Ireland said that the landlords of Ireland had obtained an equivalent for this Bill in the shape of £1,500,000.


I did not say so.


said, that it must be taken into account. The Attorney General for Ireland further stated that the landlords in Ireland would be put on the same footing as other creditors; but he forgot to state that landlords were obliged to give further credit in land. There was a complete difference between the two cases. He also stated that he could proceed by a bill of civil process of selling up the landlord's stock of crop; but if that was so, how was the farm to be kept up? Other creditors did not care, and landlords would not and could not have recourse to such extreme measures. What was the effect of legislation proposed by Irishmen in the House of Commons? The Encumbered Estates Act was passed, and the hon. and learned Member for Meath (Mr. A. M. Sullivan) said it was an extreme measure, and, if they went on as they were at present doing, they would see the land in the scheduled districts utterly unsaleable at the price at all. Even solvent landlords would be affected by the Bill. A great deal had been said about the Land Act of 1870, as if it were a measure of vast importance. But what did he find? During the whole of 1878 the paltry sum of £18,000 only was paid for disturbances and improvement throughout the length and breadth of Ireland. Therefore, this sum did not give the people an exalted opinion of this Act, which was introduced as a grand discovery. Not only would the Bill, if passed, ruin Irish landlords, but it also would reduce widows and orphans to beggary, and in time to come the Chief Secretary and the Attorney General for Ireland would think of the ruin they had brought about. When the House was in Committee he had several new clauses to move.


who had the following Amendment on the Paper:— That, in the opinion of this House, this Bill, while departing from the vital provision of 'The Irish Land Act of 1870,' is not required for the relief of the partial distress now existing in Ireland, and will not improve the condition of the agricultural population of that country, said, it was useful that an hon. Member had had the courage to state a sound common sense view on this Irish Land Question. Where did they stand in regard to this Bill? The Government had put down with a great flourish of trumpets a new clause to the Bill; but they afterwards said that its principle was already in the Bill. He was sorry to say that his hon. Friend was prevented making the explanation he wanted, as he was the sole patentee of the new clause which was brought in by the Attorney General for Ireland, and this act on his part would be the first thing he would have to defend. He (Lord Elcho) had a very few observations to trouble the House with. The question before the House was as regarded the general principles of the Bill and the Amendment of the hon. Member for South Leicestershire (Mr. Pell). In 1870 he did not support the Land Bill as a whole; but to the best of his judgment there was one part of the Bill he resisted to the utmost, and that was the principle of disturbance—the principle of payment for compensation by transferring one-third of the property of one man to the pocket of another. That was plain simple language except to Irish Members. He believed the disturbance clause would lead to all sorts of evils. The transference of the third of the property of one man to another—that was in plain Scotch or plain English or Welsh, but not in Irish, what the disturbance clause meant. He believed the principle was wrong, and the result would be proved by the fact that this wrong principle would be used as a lever and as a starting point for further wrong. If he supported, as he intended to do, the Amendment of his hon. Friend behind him (Mr. Pell), he wished, at the same time, to guard himself in any form or shape from being supposed to approve in any way of the Bill brought in by the Government, Protean though it might be. He approved of this clause solely on the ground that it minimized, to a certain extent, the evils of the Bill. He did not know whether, in the course of any of the "pretty quarrels" between hon. Members opposite and the Government as to whether they should have the whole loaf or not, the Bill would not be dropped altogether. But, short of that, he would accept half a loaf, and he should support the Amendment of his hon. Friend. His hon. Friend opposite spoke of the relative position in which a landlord would be as regards other creditors if this Bill passed. He had a letter from a friend in Waterford County, and he said— It has been alleged that the proposed Bill will still leave the landlord facility for the recovery of his debt equal to that possessed by the trader or 'gombeer-man,' but of the two latter, the first can stop giving further credit, where as the landlord's goods continue to be enjoyed by his debtor; and the 'gombeer-man' is so initiated in every secret of the farmer as to be able to strike at the exact moment when recovery of his debt, or its partial discharge—accompanied, probably, by some conditions still further entangling his victim—is possible. The inmates of the Union-house are less in number than at this time last year, and a fall in the rate, average about 2s. or 2s. 2d., is expected. There is not one of our local representatives who would like to make this statement in Parliament. He should read to the House an extract from a letter written by an Englishman who was agent for an estate in Roscommon worth £10,000 a-year. He wrote as follows to his landlord, who happened to be abroad:— The estates are in a scheduled district, and your consequent apprehensions will be, I fear, but too truly realized. Already has it been industriously circulated among the tenants on no account should they pay rents; and on my half-year's rent day held last week—five weeks later than usual—for the purpose of receiving the gale due May 1, 1879, out of £5,000 I received £290, and the few who paid mo were leaseholders at almost nominal rents. I yesterday happened to meet several of your tenants who to my knowledge have money laid by in bank deposits, and on my inquiring why they had not paid me their rents, they replied very curtly they did not mean to do so. 'Why?' Until they saw further.'" "You will," the agent proceeded, "give me credit for having kept the estate pretty clear of arrears up to May 1, 1878. On a rental of £10,000 the arrear column showed but £234—the lettings being all cheap there was no reason why it should be otherwise. The rental of May 1879, shows an arrear of £4,000. I pressed no one for rent who could fairly have been said to have suffered; and, besides, I forgave a half-year's rent to nearly all the small mountain tenants and those who suffered very much during the past 18 months. I was unable, in consequence of your forbearance and liberality, to send you one penny. The distress is now at an end, save in the extreme west, and a great promise of an abundant harvest, with good prices for stock and butter, made us all sanguine that 'the winter of our discontent' had passed. Calves and pigs, the small farmers' stock, never were dearer. A sucking calf is worth from 40s. to 60s.; pork, 60s. per cwt.; butter 1s. per lb—the latter just double last year's price. Meetings have been held in every village, Land League branches established in every district, and the people told to hold all they can make now, and to pay no rent. Ejectment for non-payment is, as you know, the only remedy for recovery of small holdings. The fear of it has always exercised a wholesome influence. If we are now to be practically deprived of the only means we had of getting our own, and to which I, at all events, never resorted, save in extreme cases—threats being generally enough—I have no hesitation in saying we shall be quite unable to recover rents, and the results must be forced sales in the Landed Estates Court. You have 800 tenants whose average rent is £10; if to recover £10 I am to expose you to a penalty of £70, where should I find the means of satisfying such a decree? In conclusion, he thanked the House for having listened to him. He had read these letters in the interest of truth and fairness, and they went much closer to the point than anything he could say.


complained that the discussion which had been going on throughout the evening had been a mere waste of time, and that it had not been directed to the principle of the Bill. All that hon. Members opposing the Bill seemed anxious about was to defer as far as possible the moment when the House would come to a final decision on the Bill. The question as to whether the operation of the Bill should be limited or not was a matter for the consideration of the Committee. There was nothing in the law as it at present stood to prevent a landlord recovering his rent as a debt; and, therefore, it was not correct to say that the Bill interfered to prevent landlords in Ireland recovering their rents. It left untouched all the remedies which the landlords, either in Ireland or in England, possessed at the present time. In Ireland the right of the landlord was paramount to the claim of any other creditor as long as the rent was unpaid, and the landlord could prevent any of the goods of the tenant from being sold to pay a trader's account unless the rent had been satisfied to the last farthing. He certainly found fault with the Bill for its narrow scope. He considered it was unfair to apply the Bill only to those districts in Ireland which by accident happened to be scheduled districts, because, owing to the way in which districts were scheduled in Ireland, there were many districts which ought to be scheduled but which were excluded. But that was a matter not affecting the principle of the Bill, and it was a question which might be fairly and considerately discussed in Committee; and if the House thought it right that it should be so extended, he, for one, should not stand in the way of that extension. But when the question of the limitation of the Bill was discussed at that time, he certainly thought it was not a question on which the time of House should be wasted. It would not be right for him to enter into a discussion of the various clauses which would be proposed in Committee. There was one which had been referred to and much discussed, and that was the Amendment of the Attorney General for Ireland. He thought that was an Amendment which ought, and no doubt would, recommend itself to hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House. It would afford in certain cases an immensity of relief to men holding land in Ireland, who were badly in want of relief. He thought it was a step towards the final settlement of the Land Question upon a correct and proper basis; and he should be surprised, when the House came to consider it, if they did not enlarge the scope more than the Amendment did. He thought it was wrong in a deliberative Assembly, such as that was, to waste time as it had been that evening; and he trusted the House would soon go to a division, as the sooner the question was settled the better it would be for all concerned.


denied that the Irish landlord by his power of eviction was placed in a much better position for recovering his rent than the English landlord. It was true that the English landlord could not evict in a summary way unless there was a power of re-entry in the lease; but he had no object in evicting summarily, because there was generally a sufficient equivalent for his rent in the opportunity he had of distraining, or in the valuation for tillage, which was made at the expiration of notice to quit. The Irish landlord, on the other hand, was debarred from giving that notice to quit at the expiration of which he would recover his rent, because he was subject to this heavy penalty, that if he gave notice to quit he would be liable to have to compensate the tenant for disturbance. In reality, the English landlord was in a better position for recovering his rent than the Irish landlord, because there was scarcely an instance in which the former, at the expiration of his notice, even if it were two years, 12 months, or only six months, had not an equivalent for his rent; so that he almost invariably recovered. If it was necessary that something should be done let them limit it to the cases which were referred to by the Leader of the House, and in which there was a possibility that there might be harshness on the part of the landlord. If they did that the Bill might do some good; but if they passed it as a general principle it. would do immense harm. The hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) alluded with a feeling of horror to the emigration ship. He (Mr. Grantham) thought as the English people were sending pecuniary relief to their poor unfortunate countrymen in Ireland they should exercise some control over the way in which the relief was rendered. It was because of the improvident marriages in that country and the over-population there which had gone on for so many years that this distress was so great. In England there was unexampled agricultural distress; but there was no such distress in England as there was in Ireland, and that was because over-population had not gone on in England. Irish peasants who lived in huts might get better homes in our Colonies.


said, the Amendment proposed by the hon. Member for South Leicestershire (Mr. Pell) was in substance the same as that which he (Mr. W. Fowler) had proposed as an Amendment to the 1st clause of the Bill in Committee. He framed his Amendment without any concert with the hon. Member, on the grounds stated by the Prime Minister the other day, when he said that only a "comparative handful" of landlords had treated their tenants ill, and that the great mass of landlords had done their duty well, and that he had no fault to find with them. It seemed to him, therefore, that they ought to endeavour to find words which should confine the operation of this Act to the had landlords who had brought so much trouble on their country, and they ought not to punish the good landlords for the misconduct of the bad. Therefore, he approved of this Amendment; but he desired to say something as to the general principle of the Bill, many other hon. Members having referred to it. Since the Attorney General for Ireland had put his Amendment on the Paper, they had, in fact, another Bill. He (Mr. W. Fowler) was certainly surprised at that Amendment, for it seemed something like an extension of the Ulster custom to the whole remainder of Ireland. That seemed to be a very important proposal. It might be right or it might be wrong; but it was rather difficult on the spur of the moment to decide whether it was or was not right, and what its effect might be. He should not feel quite clear on that point until he heard what the Attorney General for Ireland had to say in favour of his Amendment. The great difficulty they all had to contend with was that of finding out what were the actual facts of case. For instance, the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) said that small holders would not be able to sell their holdings under this Amendment; but, on the other hand, he (Mr. W. Fowler) had just heard from one of the largest landlords in Ireland that some of the very smallest holdings on his estate were sold with the greatest ease. In fact, he told him that the very smallest were sold most easily in many cases, because there was more competition for a holding of which the value was only a small sum of money. Then, again, he was puzzled about the Schedule to this Bill. The hon. and learned Member behind him (Mr. Meldon) said that some districts were not scheduled which ought to be scheduled; but he (Mr. W. Fowler), on the other hand, could assert that some districts were scheduled which ought not to be scheduled. Now, he wished to refer to the relation of this Bill to the Act of 1870. He thought it was not a development of that Act; but that it was, so far as it went, a repeal of that Act. By that Act, Parliament said to the Irish tenant—"We are giving you a great boon—a boon not known to the tenantry of England or Scotland—on one condition, that you perform your bargains strictly—that you pay your rents. Over and over again the Prime Minister laid this down; but, by this Bill, they should declare that payment of rents would not, in all cases, be necessary to secure to the tenant the benefit of the Act—that he might be in arrear, and yet he might secure compensation for disturbance supposing he could prove certain things. So they took from the landlord the remedy of ejectment in many cases, and, what was far worse, they gave out an idea that rent need not be paid. But it was said the landlord would have his other remedies, and that a reasonable landlord would not be injured. He had made much inquiry on that subject, and he heard just the contrary. It was said that landlords were very timid; but, at any rate, he was assured that on many estates no rents would be paid till December, 1881, if this Bill should pass. In that way, if that were so, they were selecting one class and imposing on them a heavy burden. In his opinion, a great national disaster should be met in a national way. The Prime Minister had a horror of making mistakes in the expenditure of public money, and so had he; but he would rather run that risk than alter the principles of the law to meet a temporary distress, in a way which might be dangerous to the future prosperity of the country. It seemed to be forgotten how peculiar was the condition of Ireland. The ignorant people were encouraged by agitators to believe that in some way or other the land was to be theirs, and was to be taken away from its present owners. They forgot that, even if that were done, they would only have a new set of owners, and a new land difficulty 20 years hence; so the effects of this Bill were far more serious than might appear at first sight. The proceedings of Parliament might encourage false and dangerous notions. He had thought much on this question, and the more he had thought the more doubt he had felt as to this Bill; and he was, therefore, disposed to support an Amendment which would confine the scope of the measure to the areas where, according to the Chief Secretary, it was really required. He understood the principle of the Act of 1870. It was clear, conspicuous, and full of light, compared with the principle embodied in this Bill. He did not he- lieve this proposal would really benefit the people whom it was intended to help. It was notorious that in a vast number of eases there were too many people on the land. However hard the remedy might be, the true remedy was that they should find a home where there would be room for them. Now he spoke with more freedom on this question, because he was a Radical Land Law Reformer. He longed to see the land both of England and Ireland free from the in cumbrances and settlements and muddles with which it was burdened. But that was not the question of to-day. He wanted to see owners free; but he wanted to see rents properly paid, or they could have no real prosperity. If an owner could not get his rents, how could he perform his duty as a landlord? They must upset all their ideas about ownership if they threw any doubt on this right of the owner to his rent. For his part, he should be delighted to see a great number of tenants in Ireland become owners by turning their tenancies into ownerships; but if an occupier was to become an owner, he must pay his landlord a fair price for his land. He would only add that, although he felt the greatest reluctance to differ from the Government, he was compelled to record his vote in favour of the Amendment.


said, that the speeches to which he had just listened seemed to him to have not the slightest relation to the question. It had been repeated by hon. Members as an argument bearing on the question that Ireland was over-populated, and that distressed tenants ought to find in some other country the relief they could not obtain in Ireland. With the permission of the House, he would treat this matter as bearing on the subject under discussion, and simply say there was no Colony of England, no part of the United States, no place whatsoever to which any poor man could at the present moment go with any hope of benefit to himself. Those, in fact, who recommended emigration had not taken the trouble to investigate the matter, or were merely talking against time in order to prevent the Bill going into Committee. He regretted to hear the tone in which this matter was dealt with by the hon. Baronet who spoke from his side of the House (Sir Tollemache Sinclair), and by the noble Lord opposite (Lord Elcho). It was said that these tenants would not pay their rents, though they were able to do so, and had money in the bank. The noble Lord opposite had told the House so; but if that were true, why did not the noble Lord allow the Bill to go into Committee at once? No damage whatever would be done, for the very fact of their having money in the bank would prevent their coming under any of the clauses of the Bill. To say that there was no distress when the late Government dealt with it as a matter of exceptional distress, and when the present Government had admitted that deaths had resulted from famine fever, was to utter words of mockery.


said, though he should support the Amendment, as intended to minimize the evils likely to result from the Bill, he would, for his own part, prefer to meet the Motion that the Speaker do leave the Chair with a direct negative. He was very much surprised at the remark of the hon. and learned Member for Kildare (Mr. Meldon) that they were talking to delay the Bill. [Ironical cheers.] He was not surprised to hear cheers of that kind, and he knew exactly what they meant. But he was unfortunate enough to have been through the whole of a far greater famine in Ireland. He remembered the people dying by hundreds; he remembered, too, the sympathy that was felt for them throughout the whole country; and he defied hon. Gentlemen who had cheered in that way to contradict him when he said that there was not a single Englishman in that House who did not feel for the Irish peasant in the distress from which he was now suffering. But that was a totally different thing from assenting to the Bill before the House. The very temperate and honest speech of the hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. W. Fowler) would show the Prime Minister that many of his supporters differed from him in this matter. Never was there a greater mistake than that made by the right hon. Gentleman in shaking that security of rent which he professed to establish by the Act of 1870. That precedent, once made, it would be most difficult to set aside. Upon the Prime Minister the responsibility would rest, for he never would have been supported by public opinion in a settlement supposed to be final in 1870 if it had oozed out that, coming into power 10 years afterwards, he would destroy what he had then done, and render those principles nugatory upon which right and justice were founded. The Attorney General for Ireland had said of the clause he was to introduce that its principles were embodied in the Bill, and that no County Court Judge, if a landlord agreed to give his tenant leave to sell his interest in the land, would be foolish enough to grant him other compensation. He looked in vain to find that principle in the Bill, and he ventured to say it was an afterthought of the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister had said that this was not one of those things which would prevent capital from coming into Ireland. He begged to differ from the right hon. Gentleman. He heard last night of a most remarkable case. An English lady with £160,000 had married an Irish landlord, whose estates were encumbered to the extent of £51,000. He asked his wife, after they were married, to pay off that encumbrance. It was a very improper thing, no doubt, for the husband to ask his wife to agree to do; but the point was this—the trustees said nothing could be done unless they got an Act of Parliament to permit them to do it. They got the Act, the money was raised, when in came the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland; the money had not been paid, and the lady had refused her consent. [Laughter.] It was easy for hon. Gentlemen to laugh, but it was an absolute fact; and he ventured to say the same thing would happen over and over again. It had been said that the tenants lived by the land; but what did the landlords live by? If they did not get their rent, what was to become of them with the mortgages, the quit rents, the county cess and other charges they had to pay? Was it fair to those men, whom they were bound to encourage, to raise a tenant right on their estates as the Attorney General for Ireland proposed to do? He knew one estate of 43,000 or 44,000 acres in the South West of Ireland; it was rented at £20,000 In 1837 there were about 8,000 tenants upon it. The landlord then died, and his successor was particularly anxious to put the property into good order. He did all in his power to get the people to emigrate, and paid for their emigration. At present there were about 1,000 tenants on the estate. From 1840 to 1854 the landlord and tenant erected buildings, and did all that was necessary between them. But from 1854 the estate had been treated as an English estate; and every single farthing for buildings, farmhouses, cottages, everything had been paid by the landlord. Upon buildings alone £55,000 had been spent, and £25,000 on draining. The moment the Bill was brought in the buildings were stopped; but the drainage works were not stopped in order that the people might not be demoralized. There had been no change of rent for 40 years, and only four evictions, two of them to settle disputes between tenants on neighbouring farms. Upon such an estate, where everything had been done by the landlord, to raise a tenant right, as the Attorney General for Ireland proposed to do, was monstrous. They had had a most important statement from the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell). He stated it was absolutely necessary, in the interest of the 250,000 very poor tenants in the West of Ireland, that they should either emigrate or migrate to some other part of Ireland. He preferred the latter, as that might be easily done, and mentioned 4,000,000 acres in the Midland counties of Ireland, to which they might go. He (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) would not go into the question now, further than to show that that was the only remedy the hon. Member for Cork thought there was for this very poor class of tenants. But they could not face the difficulty with the philosophic coolness of the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. A. Arnold), who compared the population of Jersey with that of Ireland, and said there was room in Ireland for 35,000,000 of people. Surely that hon. Gentleman had never been in Jersey, or he would have known better than to compare two such countries. Why, in Jersey the land was let at from £6 to £8 per acre, and was cultivated in the best manner; the people were the most industrious in the world; and there was no agitation there. If Ireland enjoyed these advantages, and would use her industry as she did in every other part of the world, if she could be free from agitation, they might have a chance of seeing her prosperous. He would go a step further. After the Famine of 1847–48 Ireland made most rapid advances. The return of the Savings Banks, the state of the cultivation of the land and the cottages, proved what a marked improvement had taken place in Ireland. Their sympathies were all with the distress which now existed. They all wished to see Ireland contented, happy, and prosperous. They had now a hope of a good harvest. Their stock and their produce brought a much better price than this time last year. But as for this Bill, the more it was discussed—and he was not surprised that the Prime Minister wished to stop discussion—the more its nakedness would be exposed; the more the rights of property were shown to be dealt with, the more difficulty there would be in carrying it through the House. He believed it was unjust to the landlord, unwise to the tenantry, and injurious to the country at large; and, therefore, he should vote for the Amendment.


admitted that the concluding observations of the hon. and gallant Baronet were interesting; but said they were not very pertinent to the present discussion. There had been a great deal of strong language used against the Bill, but very little argument. They had heard the allegations repeated again and again which were made on the second reading of the Bill. It was said that the Bill must have a prejudicial effect in preventing rents being paid for two years. But there was nothing of that kind in the Bill. Landlords would have precisely the same remedy as other creditors. If other creditors could recover their debts, so could the landlord. The landlord had not only an equal right to sue, but he had the advantage of not being obliged to be in a hurry to sue, because, should any other creditor come in before him and seize the tenant's goods under a writ of execution, it must be on the term of paying the landlord one year's rent. It was only the unreasonable landlord who unfairly insisted upon the exercise of his strict right that would be affected by the Bill. But it was said that the character of the Bill had been greatly altered by the Amendment of which he had given Notice. Well, he had to remind the House that on the second day of the debate he had stated that no Court would hold a landlord to have acted unreasonably who had given to his tenant the option of selling —if the tenant had refused to exercise such option. The tenant, as had been frequently pointed out, must first of all prove his inability to pay his rent. He would scarcely venture to swear that he had no means if he had money in a Joint Stock Bank. The bank manager could be called to prove that the man had a balance to his credit; and the proof would be as easy if the tenant had money in the Savings Bank or had stock upon his farm. The only case in which there would be any difficulty in proving ability to pay would be the rare one of the man who kept money in a stocking. The habit of the tenant farmer who could save money was not now to keep it at home, but to invest it in the Joint Stock Bank, or to lodge it in a Savings Bank; and in all such cases the proof was easy. But hon. Gentlemen stopped too soon, for if the tenant had even proved his inability to pay he should also show that he had made a reasonable offer, and that the landlord had unreasonably refused his terms. From the very first he (Mr. Law) had argued that if the tenant refused to sell his interest, the landlord allowing him to sell, no Court would hold that the landlord was unreasonable in not accepting his proposal to continue tenant. That was the Bill as it originally stood. Why, then, it would be asked, was it introduced in the shape of an Amendment? Because some hon. Members thought that the Bill did not make it sufficiently plain, and the Government had no desire to allow the matter to remain in any possible ambiguity. He (Mr. Law) maintained that it was in the Bill already; but to preclude all question on the subject he had given Notice of the Amendment. The noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Elcho) seemed to think that to impose a fine an a landlord who turned out of their homes poor people who could not pay was a manifest violation of all principle, and the transference of one man's property to another. But one of the cardinal principles of the Land Act was to recognize the right occupancy in the Irish tenant, and to give legal sanction to the moral claim for compensation for improvement; and he found in the Division List on the second reading of the Land Bill of 1870 the name of the noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire in the majority. So that the principle he now condemned was con tained in the Bill which the noble Lord then supported. The hon. Member for South Leicestershire (Mr. Pell) proposed to narrow the scope of the Bill, by providing that compensation for disturbance should be limited to the case of tenants on properties where evictions had taken place since the 1st of November, 1879. If there were any clear and satisfactory mode of distinguishing, for the purposes of legislation, the good from the bad, he would be inclined to go a long way with the hon. Gentleman; but could this principle be carried out with fairness? The test suggested by the hon. Member was whether there had been any eviction on an estate between the 1st of November and the passing of this Bill. But it was obvious that there might have been during this interval upon one estate half-a-dozen evictions of a perfectly justifiable kind, and upon another not a single instance; although, in the latter case, the owner might have taken all the preliminary proceedings for the purpose, and might have a sheaf of decrees for possession in his pocket, and thus would be free to proceed to evict to his heart's content the moment the Bill was passed. The Government desired to protect all reasonable landlords from being damaged by the Bill; and, therefore, they had imposed certain conditions on the tenant, which would, they believed, effectually distinguish the good landlords from the few harsh and bad ones. He knew that hon. Gentlemen did not like their land being touched at all; but if they would regard the matter in a common-sense way, they would see that anyone who objected to the compensation clause of the Bill as likely to injure himself must admit ipso facto that it was a question whether he himself was likely to act reasonably or unreasonably in dealing with his distressed tenant. There was not an Irish landlord in the House who would not unhesitatingly affirm that he had always acted and would continue to act reasonably towards his tenants; but if they were only reasonable, the Bill could not injure them in the least; the only way in which the Bill could touch them was in their reasonableness being subjected to the examination of an impartial and competent tribunal. He hoped the Amendment would be disposed of without further loss of time, and that the House would proceed to go into Committee on the Bill.


Sir, with reference to some of the concluding observations of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland, I would desire to call the attention of the House to the very curious way in which the arguments adduced by the Government in favour of this measure are developing themselves. The right hon. and learned Gentleman has taken the hon. Member for South Leicestershire (Mr. Pell) to task because he says he is proposing an impracticable Amendment to meet an entirely imaginary case; and he says the object of the present Bill is not to deal with proved cases of hardness and cruelty or inhumanity on the part of the landlords, but that it is intended to prevent anything of the kind that may hereafter take place. Earlier in the evening the same point was very strongly impressed upon us, and we were told that no one suggested for a moment that there had actually been any cruelty or hardness or inhumanity, but that the object of the Bill was simply to prevent anything of the sort occurring. That is a very curious development of the main argument originally used by the Chief Secretary as to the ground for bringing forward his Bill. The first view of the Government, he told us, was that the question of the Irish land could only be dealt with after they themselves had had full time to consider it and to formulate the way in which it should be dealt with by Parliament. "But," said the right hon. Gentleman, "matters have arisen which have rendered it impossible for us to do that;" and then he referred to the recent evictions. It was upon the evictions that the right hon. Gentleman rested his case. He rested his case not only upon the greater number of evictions that took place in 1878 and 1879 as compared with former years, but especially upon the large number which have taken place within the last six months, particularly in the distressed districts. The hon. Member for South Leicestershire, objecting, as most of us on this side of the House do, to the provisions of the Bill as being of a dangerous and mischievous character, thinks that, as we were beaten with regard to the principle of the measure on the second reading, it would be well that we should take the Chief Secretary at his word, when he said that the measure was intended to meet the cruel proceedings of a small number of bad landowners who brought discredit upon their class, and that we should limit the operation of the measure to such individuals. If the statement of facts on which the Government rest this measure is correct, the proposal of the hon. Member for South Leicestershire is in perfect accordance with the spirit of the Bill. The measure professes to be limited in point of time and area; it is defended sometimes, although not always, on the ground that it is of an exceptional character, and that its operation is limited in the manner I have pointed out. Sometimes we know that it is defended upon grounds exactly the contrary; but, assuming that it is of an exceptional character, the hon. Member makes the not altogether unnatural proposal that if we are to have exceptional legislation we must mark that exceptional character in a clear and distinct manner, and must place restrictions upon its operation which will hold water at a future time. In proposing this Amendment the hon. Member wishes it to be understood that under the circumstances the carrying of it would be the best thing that we can hope for; not that he by any means approves the principle of the Bill, even if so limited. The hon. Member for South Northumberland (Mr. Grey) in the opening sentence of his very able speech this evening, expressed himself as not altogether satisfied with the Amendment, on the ground that if adopted it would give too much colour to the Bill of the Government. For my own part, I must say that if we had the opportunity again offered to us of protesting against the character of the Bill I should be unwilling to give any colour to it; but, at all events, if we are to have this Bill, we shall do well to limit its operation in the manner indicated by the Amendment. The hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. W. Fowler) has given Notice of an Amendment in Committee which is substantially the same as that of the hon. Member for South Leicestershire; and I think that it will be convenient to discuss the proposal of the hon. Member for Cambridge when we get into Committee. I wish now to say a few words on the general position. On the whole I must say that this has been a very remarkable evening. The whole of the proceedings of the Government and of those who are interested in the Bill have been very curious. They were graphically described by the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) when he said that we have come this evening into an entirely new position. We are, of course, aware that it is not competent at this stage of the Bill to discuss an Amendment which we are informed will be moved in Committee on behalf of the Government; but I may be permitted to say that the change of front indicated by that Amendment is far more complete than the right hon. and learned Gentleman is disposed to admit. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland says that there is nothing new in the proposal which he intends to make. He says that the principle of that Amendment was, in the opinion of the Government, contained in the Bill when it was originally introduced, and that he is rather surprised that any person reading the measure should have been so blind as not at once to have recognized the fact, and that by the Amendment he intended to bring forward they were only putting into clear form that which they believed was already contained in the Bill. It is, of course, difficult to raise any question as to what the Government believe is contained in their Bill, because we know that it was drawn up in a very great hurry, and that it is far from being faultless. Nevertheless, it is a little hard upon us to ask us to believe that the principle of the Amendment of the Attorney General for Ireland was contained in the Bill as it was originally drawn. All I can say is, that when the Government first introduced this measure, they never put forward the principle of this Amendment, which the hon. Member for Cork City has described as that of "free sale." We have heard a deal about freedom of sale—a principle which the hon. Member for the city of Cork recognized as one of great importance, but which, he said, if introduced into the Bill, would require a great deal of handling and development. It never occurred to me, or to a great majority on this side of the House, that the Government, on the plea that it was necessary to stop evictions, were going to introduce the principle of free sale. I do not believe that Government themselves originally contemplated the introduction of such a principle into the Bill. Well, that is a very important consideration, and it shows in what an unfortunate position we now stand. The problem of how best to deal with the land in Ireland is one of the greatest delicacy, gravity, and difficulty, and we must attempt to solve it upon some general principle. Much has been said about injustice to landlords. I put the question on a broader ground than that. I ask, is this good legislation for Ireland generally; and, above all, is it good for the tenants themselves that they should be encouraged to look to legislation of this character? In dealing with these matters we ought to be careful not to be led away by hasty feeling, or by too great a readiness to join in sentimental cries. A few weeks ago the Prime Minister, speaking on another subject, observed that this House was too much influenced by feeling and too little by judgment. That is a besetting danger to the deliberations of this House. For many years endeavours have been made by Parliament, by patience and the adoption of good measures, to improve the condition of Ireland, to introduce more capital and better systems of farming, and, above all, to induce the people to trust to their own energy rather than to agitation or to legislation. Well, you are now going to overthrow a great many of these experiments. You are going to destroy that which is the first element of success in dealing with Ireland—namely, the feeling of confidence and security. You can do nothing in that country unless you can inspire a feeling of confidence; and it would be better that you should come forward with a definite and final measure involving even some reduction in the value of property, some distinct spoliation, or whatever you like to call it, than bring in an utterly uncertain measure which goes a considerable way in that direction, but avowedly does not settle the question it raises. The measure before the House opens a wide door, and leaves it quite uncertain how far infringements upon the rights of property may be carried. Now, let us consider for a moment the effect of this Bill on capital in England. I know that allusions to this subject are often met with something like a sneer; but I may, perhaps, be allowed to read a little evidence upon it which the House will find, perhaps, to be not without interest or value. It is in the shape of a letter from Mr. Freshfield, a leading solicitor in the City—the solicitor to the Bank of England, who is not a gentleman likely to entertain exaggerated views upon matters of this sort. Mr. Freshfield writes to me in the following terms:— I have to-day had a most striking instance of the inconvenience arising from the Irish Disturbance Bill. I make no doubt that the result has been foreseen by the; Government; but, nevertheless, it must operate most prejudicially in business. In consequence of a death a mortgage for a very considerable sum—nearly £100,000—on lands in Ireland not in the counties operated on by the Bill has been called in. The mortgagor must re-borrow to pay off the original mortgage. I made an application to a well-known and first-class insurance office to advance the money wanted. The office reply that it objects to the principle of the Bill, and, regarding it as a concession to agitators, considers great damage is being done to securities by the mere proposal. The manager, who sends me this information by telegram, intimates to mo that his Board will, in all probability, not entertain the proposal, which, but for this Bill, would have been considered a first-class security. The inconvenience to the individual is, of course, great; but it sinks into insignificance in the larger question of the distrust caused by this class of legislation. I am glad to see the Bill opposed, and if you think this letter of any service pray make use of it. There has been of late a disposition to make advances to Ireland on the strength of the improvement which was going on in her condition. But now you are unsettling everything. That is the great mischief of this measure—this hastily considered measure which has already changed its shape more than once, and which is now put forward on different grounds from those originally pleaded. We were told that ejectments were being carried on most rapidly; but the Papers which have been laid on the Table show that out of 1,700 ejectments there have been about 600 in counties which are not scheduled at all; and the largest number, I believe, has been in the Province of Ulster. My hon. Friend the Member for South Leicestershire (Mr. Pell), I may add, has been told that he is quite wrong in the view which he has stated, and that the Bill has reference, not simply to cases which have occurred, but which may possibly occur, so that we are entirely left without any real guidance in the matter. What was said at the outset of the discussion has, I may further observe, in my opinion, intensified the gravity and danger of the position in which we are placed a hundredfold. The hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) gave us a not very complimentary résumé of dealings of the Government with regard this Bill; and he referred, especially, to the new proposal of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland, which, he maintained, opened up an entirely new and most important question. The hon. Gentleman, indeed, gave Notice that if the Bill went into Committee it would be his duty to see that that proposal was developed, and promised to move a series of Amendments giving it the application which, in his opinion, it ought to have. I think, therefore, that the situation is greatly changed. I do not mean to suggest that we should take a division on the question of postponing the consideration of the Bill for three months; but the question that the Speaker leave the Chair is one which, it seems to me, ought to be put to the House, so that we might come to a direct vote upon it instead of dividing on the Amendment. But, whatever we do, the House will, I hope, clearly understand that it is upon the ground of the new issue which has been raised by the Amendment which stands in the name of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland that we deem it to be our duty to ascertain what the feeling of the country really is on this subject. The argument of my hon. Friend is, no doubt, perfectly logical. If it be an exceptional measure it ought to be limited to the proper area; but I do not see that the limits proposed by the Government are any limits at all. Their proposal as to the scheduled districts cannot hold water, and once such a Bill is passed you will never be able to stop its operation at the end of the year 1881. You will have opened a door which you will not be able to close, and have given to agitation an encouragement which you will not be able to withdraw. The Bill, I may add, is one which raises the most serious questions, not merely with respect to the rights of a particular class, but with respect to the prosperity of Ireland itself. If Ireland has an accumulated list of wrongs against this country, and if we owe her in consequence an accumulated debt of justice we ought to pay it. Evils, if they exist, which are the growth of centuries, cannot be got rid of in a day, but must be met by the exertion of those qualities which have been ex- hibited by so many statesmen who have been anxious to improve the condition of the Irish people. If they can be taught, as I believe they can, that their wellbeing and salvation as a nation rests in their own hands, and must be worked out by themselves on those true and solid principles which are held to be most valuable in other countries, then, but then only, may we look forward with anything like confidence to the regeneration of Ireland.


said, that there was one observation which he thought was called for by the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the late Chancellor of the Exchequer (Sir Stafford Northcote). If the Irish people were to be taught in any way the manner in which the right hon. Gentleman called their salvation was to be brought about, it was not because the right hon. Gentleman or his Party during the six years that they were in Office had taught them that manner. The result of that six years was that they were unable to put their finger upon any Act of Parliament which had taught the Irish people to put any confidence whatever in the legislation of that House. If the Irish people mistrusted Parliament at the commencement of the Government of the right hon. Gentleman, they certainly distrusted it very much more at the termination of the career of the late Ministry. Every hope that the Irish people had formed of receiving something like justice from the Government that succeeded the previous Liberal Government was falsified. The discussion had wandered very much from the Amendment of the hon. Member for South Leicestershire (Mr. Pell), and now they were asked to divide upon the question whether Mr. Speaker should leave the Chair. He did not know how many Irish Members were going to vote on the question; but from the consultations which he had seen taking place between his Colleagues opposite and the Tory Members about them he could only conclude that the course that they would take would be exactly that which they thought would be most inconvenient to the Government in power. It was, of course, in the power of his hon. Friends to falsify his prediction by going into the Lobby with the Government. This Bill appeared to him to establish for the first time a most important principle for the Irish tenants; if it were not intended by the Bill to establish a most important principle, he did not know under what class of remedial legislation the present Bill should be placed. If hon. Members from Ireland on the opposite Benches refused to permit the House to go into this Bill, when did they think they would have an opportunity of establishing that principle for which they had so long contended out of the House—namely, the recognition of the good will of the tenant, outside the Province of Ulster? That principle was now recognized by the Bill, and it was because it did so that he should support the Motion "that Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair." He quite admitted that this Bill was not by any means a perfect Bill, but it did something which the Irish people had long required; it confirmed to those who lived outside Ulster the principle that had produced the tranquillity and prosperity that existed in Ulster. He heard the observation of the hon. Member for Cork City (Mr. Parnell), and he (Mr. Mitchell Henry) must state that he was not surprised at it; for he had never yet seen any measure introduced into that House which had received his approbation unless it came from some hon. Member with whom he was acting. He (Mr. Mitchell Henry) was not in the habit of judging proposals apart from their abstract merits; but when he saw that an attempt was made to put an end to that frightful system of eviction which had been going on during the past year he could not but give his hearty support to it. Before he sat down, he wished to say that whatever changes in the law of landlord and tenant might be made by the House now or in the future, he believed that these changes would be fruitless in warding off famine, unless the Government seriously considered the whole physical condition of the country. Ireland was a country which was saturated with water. [Laughter.] Hon. Members might laugh; but he could only say that if they could see the crops of the poor carried away, year after year, in consequence of that state of things, he thought they would be a little ashamed of their laughter. It was impossible that the population which now existed in Ireland could continue to exist in a condition approaching to that which a Christian people should do, unless something were done to develop the internal industrial resources of the country. He would guard himself against giving any countenance to the idea that the evils of Ireland were solely political. In his opinion, the evils from which they had suffered were as much industrial and social as political; and he, for one, would be rejoiced to see a Government in power capable of grasping this great problem, and doing for Ireland that which had already been done on a large scale for India.


said, that although he believed a very considerable number of hon. Members of the Party to which he had the honour to belong considered that, in the present aspect of the question before the House, it was more advisable for them to take no part in voting upon either side, still, while he could enter into their reasons and motives, he felt that he should be doing his duty better to his constituents by voting for the proposition that Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair. He did. not venture to lecture anyone; on the contrary, he thought that the speech—the useful and temperate and patriotic speech—which they had heard from the hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Mitchell Henry) would have been more effective if it had not contained so many strictures on his Colleagues on this side of the House. He would venture to express his surprise that Members of the Conservative Party were apparently so anxious to have upon their hands again the Government of Ireland, at least, from their opposition to the existing Government on this question, it would seem to an unprejudiced observer that they were exceedingly anxious to have to deal with the Irish Land Question themselves. He ventured to think that, with the experience they had had, it would be much better for them that the Land Question should be settled by a Liberal Government; and he took it that although there was a good deal unformed and indefinite about the proposition contained in the Government measure—although the Government Bill was rather indefinite in the first instance, and the propositions it contained were liable to misinterpretation in their purport and scope—yet a good Bill might have been made out of it. But now attempt was being made by the Amendment of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland (Mr. Law) to distinguish between the treatment of good landlords who had allowed every custom of tenant right to grow up upon their estates, and bad landlords who had not allowed it. He could not believe that the Liberal Party would ever permit the fact that a landlord had permitted a custom to grow up to be pleaded as a bar to compensation which was justly due. He did not believe that anything really Liberal in their Liberalism would consent to such a proposition. They had now only had the question before them on a Motion that they should go into Committee on the general substance of the Bill as it originally stood. In Committee important questions would be raised, and the details of the measure could be more fully discussed than with Mr. Speaker in the Chair. If Irish Members were still dissatisfied with the provisions of the Bill there would be plenty of opportunities for bringing their strength to bear upon the Government if necessary. He thought from the disposition of Her Majesty's Opposition on this side that they would be glad to seek an alliance against the Government.


said, that, as one who had had some experience on these Irish questions, he wished to point out to the House that the Bill in its present form contained two very important principles. The substance of the Bill was that, in certain districts which the Government were very careful not to limit too closely, rent was to be suspended. ["No, no!"] Then he must have misread the Bill, or have misunderstood it grossly, if the suspension of the means of obtaining rent was not vested in the County Court Judges. He thought, therefore, that he did not misdescribe the principle of the Bill when he said that it involved the suspension of rent. That was a principle totally alien to the Land Act of 1870. They were told that that statute would give security for rent, which would lead to the improvement of Ireland by immensely raising its credit. That was the plea upon which the Land Act was passed. Since the Bill had been before the House, the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland (Mr. Law) had given notice that they would be called upon to recognize to the full the tenant right of Ulster, and something more in these distressed districts, where it did not now exist. These, then, were the two principles involved in the Bill, and he should have thought that the Government would have been able to meet the distress in Ireland by other means. He remembered the relief of distress in 1848 and 1849, and he was not surprised that they sought to avoid the abuses which then appeared almost inseparable from unconditional Parliamentary grants in relief of distress made by this House. At present, no doubt, the Government might well shrink from drawing heavily upon an impoverished Exchequer. Still he (Mr. Newdegate) thought that other means of relief might be devised. But let the House labour under no mistake; if they passed that Bill, though it was nominally meant to provide for a particular emergency, and for limited districts, they would establish the two principles he had endeavoured to describe, far more widely and, in all probability, permanently in Ireland—that rent might be suspended, and that throughout Ireland a tenant right held to exist or be created, not by custom, but by the gift of Parliament. Thus the tenant would become possessed of aright in his holding equivalent in security, though not equal in amount, to that of the landlord. Now these were not two small or unimportant principles; and, inasmuch as England was inseparably united with Ireland, he deprecated this departure of the Liberal Party from the doctrines of political economy in matters of property. They were rigid in their adherence to political economy—that was, to the doctrines of modern political economy in commercial matters; and no part of the United Kingdom had suffered more from the rigid application of the doctrines of modern political economy than Ireland. But he, as an English Member, looked with distrust upon the Bill, as a serious departure from principle in the matter of property. They had been told that the Land. Act of 1870 was designed to secure the rent, while it provided for the limitation of the rights of the landlord. Where would that security be if the payment of the rent was to be suspended at the discretion of Parliament? He had heard it said of the land agitators that the Ulster tenant right ought—not by custom, but by legislation—to be extended over all Ire- land, and they were now invited by Her Majesty's Ministers to commence the process by this Bill. He was not surprised that the hon. Member for Cork City (Mr. Parnell) should have accepted a programme, which he had been at the pains of advocating and disseminating throughout Ireland. Neither was he surprised, when he heard a Constitutional Whig, like the hon. Member for South Northumberland (Mr. Grey), oppose these proposals, and who spoke with the hereditary political ability, at the opening of the debate that evening—a speech which afforded promise of his possessing the political talent for which his family had been so long distinguished. He addressed the House in words of warning when he saw a statesman of the immense ability of the Prime Minister departing from the principles which only 10 years ago he seemed to have finally adopted. He remembered that, at that time, the right hon. Gentleman resisted such wild schemes, when enunciated by no less an authority than the late Mr. John Stuart Mill. In 1866 Mr. Mill enunciated this principle—that the doctrines of strict political economy, though they were applicable to property in England, were not applicable in the case of Ireland. He (Mr. Newdegate) knew Mr. Mill, and after that speech in conversation told him that his Indian experience had outrun his English political knowledge. He (Mr. Nowdegate) would only say, in conclusion, that by the Bill before the House they were asked to lay the foundation of a system of feudalism in Ireland under which that which was now ownership would be tenancy in chief—the only difference between the present attempt and the ancient system of feudalism being that henceforth Parliament would be the Chief Lord, instead of the Sovereign.


said, that he was perfectly prepared to take the course suggested by the right hon. Gentleman and to withdraw his Amendment. In two or three words, he could put the House in possession of sufficient reasons for asking to be allowed to take that course. There had been but slight debate upon his Amendment; but he had not lost much on that account, inasmuch as an important debate had arisen upon two principles embodied in the new Amendment of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland (Mr. Law). Under those circumstances, it required no argument on his part to support the proposal that he desired to make that he should be permitted to withdraw his Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Question again proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."


said, he had a question which he wished to put to the Prime Minister—namely, was it a fact that the Marquess of Lansdowne was no longer a Minister?


It is.


said, that he wished to announce very briefly the reasons which would induce him, and a number of other Irish Members, to leave the House without taking any part in the division on the Motion that Mr. Speaker leave the Chair. They felt that the Bill had assumed an entirely new phase and aspect, and it would be quite impossible for them to sanction the Motion for going into Committee on the Bill as it had now been interpreted by the Government, and as it had been further interpreted by the Amendment which the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland (Mr. Law) had placed upon the Paper. They believed that the Bill, according to the construction now placed upon it by the Government, would not be a Bill for establishing the principles of free sale in Ireland, but for establishing the principle of forced sale, and that at a most disadvantageous time for the tenant. Advocate as he was of the principle of free sale, he could not consent to have the term used for a purpose, and in a way, which none of its advocates ever intended it should be used. Therefore, they felt that while they could not undertake the responsibility of voting against the Motion for going into Committee, neither could they undertake the responsibility of voting for the Motion. ["Hear, hear!"] The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister cried "Hear, hear!" He (Mr. Parnell) could assure the right hon. Gentleman he had felt very strongly impelled to vote against the Motion "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," and certainly if the Amendment of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland were inserted in the Bill, he should join the Tory Party in doing his best to throw it out on the third reading. He, however, believed that the Conservative Party, when that Amendment had been inserted, would not be so anxious as they now were to prevent the further progress of the measure. In that shape, he felt confident that the Bill would produce more extermination and eviction in Ireland, more outrage and crime, than anything that had been done for 60 years.


I am not surprised, Sir, at the speech of the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell). I confess that when I brought in this Bill I did not expect any real help from him; and I was afraid that his views with regard to the question were different, and would be found to be different, from those held by Her Majesty's Government. What we have wished for is this—that in existing circumstances, with the present calamity hanging over the greater part of Ireland, we should guard ourselves against the interest 'in his holding which we thought belonged to the tenant being taken from him, and transferred to such landlords as might try to obtain it, owing to the exceptional circumstances which existed. I cannot be unaware that the hon. Member, from what he has said out of this House, and, to some extent, from what he has said in this House, seems to have a different object in view, which is, that there should be, practically, a prevention of the payment of rent for this year, and probably, for the next. At any rate, if he does not mean that, I have abundant proof—proof that would convince any hon. Member of this House—that that is the way in which his speeches have been interpreted by many of the tenants in the West of Ireland. That is not the object of Her Majesty's Government. Therefore, I am not surprised at the position taken up by the hon. Member for Cork City; nor shall I be surprised if I and my Colleagues do not, before the end of these discussions, find ourselves in the same Lobby with him. Perhaps, as this is a fuller House than it was when I spoke before, I may repeat what I have already said, for the information of hon. Members who were absent. We have made no change of front. What we stated in the beginning was, that we would secure to the tenant his property in his holding; that we would not allow it to be unjustly transferred to the landlord under the circumstances of this year. We were asked, what was that property? That property is defined in the 3rd clause of the Land Act to be compensation amounting to a certain number of years' purchase. We said that a tenant would have a right to that compensation if he could prove to the Court several matters—amongst others, that he was unable to pay from a failure of crops; that he was willing to continue in his occupation on reasonable terms—[A VOICE: That he should pay no rent.]—No, we never said he should pay no rent—and that those reasonable terms were unreasonably refused by the landlord. A reasonable refusal by the landlord would have been where he allowed him to sell his interest in the property. We were asked several times in the course of the debate whether we meant that, and some hon. Gentlemen said we did, and others that we did not. Finding, therefore, that there was some doubt upon this point, we put it into a clause. The hon. Member for Cork was looking out for an excuse to stand before the people of Ireland—[Cries of "Withdraw!"]—I will withdraw when I am requested by Mr. Speaker to do so.


asked, whether the right hon. Gentleman was in Order in making the statement complained of?


I have not felt it my duty to interpose.


Perhaps I shall not be considered or stated to be out of Order, if I say that had the hon. Member for Cork City been desirous of coming to some satisfactory arrangement, he would probably have taken the same course as the hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. O'Donnell) had taken with regard to the Amendment of my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General for Ireland (Mr. Law), and said that in Committee he would oppose the clause, unless he had such additional interpretation as was mentioned by the hon. Member for Dungarvan—namely, that he must be convinced that a free sale did not mean a forced sale. That is a matter which would most properly come on for argument when we get into Committee. I have stated honestly the position of the Government with regard to this clause, and I am anxious to state again that we have done nothing more than elucidate the position which we have taken up. I will allude to one or two other charges of change of front that have been brought against us. The right hon. Gentleman the late Chancellor of the Exchequer has thought proper to go back to the fact that the Bill has gone round without the names of myself and my right hon. and learned Friends who were the promoters of the Bill. I should have thought that the right hon. Gentleman would have known, with his long experience, the cause of that, which is, simply, that the Bill was brought in late at night. We expected the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin) would move his objection to the introduction of the Bill, which he did, but unsuccessfully. I had the Bill ready to circulate; the names were brought up in the usual way, but the printers did not get them. I should hardly have thought that the right hon. Gentleman would have condescended to mention that circumstance. There has been, absolutely, no other change in the Bill. It is almost word for word with what we at first contemplated. The only matter that might appear to be a change is this explanation of the last condition. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Devon dwelt upon what he called the check to the investment of capital in Ireland. Do hon. Members suppose that this Bill will make capital less available in Ireland? It is true it may call the attention of capitalists to the subject; but if there be danger to the investment of capital in Ireland it lies much deeper than this Bill. Capitalists find that, in parts of Ireland, deep distress exists which may recur; which has existed for generations; which was far worse 10 years ago; but which is now less patiently borne by the people who suffer it. These struggling men in the West of Ireland are now able to combine together by the help of the quickness of communication, and by many of them being able to read, and all being able to hear what others read to them; and many have become more alive to their misery and more determined to get rid of it. That is no fault of the present Government, nor even would I say is it the fault of the late Government. This is a fact of which capitalists are probably becoming aware. We bring forward a Bill in which, while, on the one hand, we state that we must cause the law to be obeyed, and that we must keep peace and order in Ireland, yet we will, if possible, prevent the law from being so strained, under the circumstances of this year, that it should be used to take away the property of the tenants and transfer it to the landlords. Unfortunately, many of the landlords of Ireland disagree with us, though not all; for some of them—and some of the most experienced—agree with us in this matter. I shall not name the landlords who are for us, nor those who are against us. Hon. Members know that there are Irish landlords of great experience who take the same views as we do. Many of them, I admit, say just the contrary, and declare that their rents will be suspended for the next year or the next year and a-half. They have convinced the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) that their rents were about to be suspended; whereas not a single rent will be suspended, except the rent which is demanded from a tenant who is unable to pay, and which rent is proved to be an unreasonable demand. The Irish landlords are alarmed at this matter; but they are not the only people who have been alarmed, when they think they see the slightest possibility of anything being done which may in any way affect their interest. This is not the first time, by many times, and probably it will not be the last, when persons of a particular class or interest oppose a Bill which is brought forward to secure justice, and to prevent a small minority among them from misusing their rights so as to commit wrong upon others. We find Ireland very difficult to deal with, because of the history of Ireland. In one respect, however, it is easier to deal with than it was 15 years ago, because of the two measures passed by my right hon. Friend. In another respect it is more difficult to deal with, because the people, distressed and miserable as they are, have more knowledge, more means of combination, and greater access to the outer world than they had before. But there is no doubt Ireland is difficult to deal with; and what I complain of is, that taking all the Gentlemen opposite, above and below the Gangway, they do not seem to me to try to diminish that difficulty. If we bring forward a measure which we think but justice to the tenant, the hon. Member for Cork City and his Friends will not help; they will rather oppose us, unless it be a measure exactly in accordance with their own extreme views. If we bring forward a measure which is to enable us to enforce the law without committing injustice, we find that hon. Members opposite, instead of trying to secure that there shall be no injustice, and that the landlords shall have their just rights enforced, we find, I say, hon. Members opposite entirely against us, and encouraging what I consider to be a most unwise course. However, though we have these difficulties to deal with, we shall go on and endeavour to meet them as best we can; and I expect that one thing will happen before the end of this discussion, that, at any rate, we shall be credited with sincerity and earnestness.


said, he confessed he was unable to sympathize with the air of injured innocence which the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland assumed upon the present occasion, because the responsibility for the present position rested upon the shoulders of the right hon. Gentleman and his Colleagues. He (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) thought he could show that in one sentence. The Government had a majority of 78 upon the second reading of the Bill, and he asked why had that majority dissipated? Did hon. Gentlemen think they would get a majority of 78 that night? He knew, at least, 20 hon. Members who voted for the second reading who would walk out of the House when the Question was put from the Chair. Why was that change in the situation? There was no necessity for the Government to make any change whatever. They were strong enough to carry the Bill in its present shape; and it was, therefore, upon them that the responsibility must be laid of placing the Irish Members in the position of supporting them the other night, and not supporting them on the present occasion. The Chief Secretary for Ireland had commended to the imitation of Irish Members the example of the hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. O'Donnell), who, according to the interpretation of the right hon. Gentleman, had said he would wait until he got from the Government an explanation as to the real meaning of the Chief Secretary for Ireland. But they would wait before going into Committee, until they knew what was the principle upon which they were voting. Did the Amendment of the right hon. and learned Attorney General for Ireland change, or not change, the principle of the Bill? The right hon. Gentleman the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, the hon. Member for Cork City, and others, had all expressed the opinion that that new Amendment did change the principle of the Bill. That, at least, proved that it was a doubtful point whether the principle of the Bill had changed or not; and, if it were doubtful, had they not, at any rate, the right to expect that the Government, before asking them to change their views, would explain clearly how far the Amendment of the right hon. and learned Gentleman agreed with, or differed from, the principle of the measure. The Government were responsible for the unfortunate deadlock in which they had put the Bill. He would endeavour to explain how, in his opinion, the Amendment in question did change the principle of the Bill. It changed the principle by forcing upon the tenant the sale, or an offer to sell, his property under the most unfavourable conditions. It would be a perfectly reasonable thing to say in ordinary times that the fair value of the property of the tenant in the soil was only to be discovered by competition in the public market. But in what times were the Government legislating? According to their own opinion, and according to the knowledge of everybody else, they were forcing the tenantry of Ireland to put their property in the market at a moment of social and political convulsion. They were forcing the tenants to offer their property for sale when there was not the smallest chance of their getting value for that property, and when no man could bid for it, owing to the combination existing among themselves. The Government were bound to recognize the fact that owing to a combination, or, if hon. Members liked, a conspiracy, amongst the tenants, nobody dare bid for a farm vacated by any man on eviction. Under the Amendment of the right hon. and learned Gentleman, a landlord would say to his tenant—"I give you the chance of selling this property. If you sell it, I will let you take the money you can get for it; but, if you do not succeed in selling it, I am backed up by the law, and can put you out without compensation." Supposing even, that the tenant was able to sell his property, was it not the position of the Government that they did not want to force him to leave his land, if by any possibility that could be avoided? Emigration was a good thing; but he (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) would point out that emigration, when forced by the laws, was little less or better than exile. The Government, he repeated, had made a change in the principle of the Bill. While giving a boon with one hand, they took it away with the other; and, although they strove to shift the responsibility for delay on to the hon. Member for Cork City, it was upon the head of the Government that the responsibility rested, if what was once a good measure should become meagre and untrustworthy, and be defeated in the House of Commons.


said, he wished to be allowed to point out that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland had not accurately stated the objects of the Government in bringing in the Bill, in saying that it was to secure the tenant in his property. That was not the object of the Government. The object of the Government was to prevent the tenant being disturbed in his holding, and that object they hoped to accomplish by means of penalties on the landlord, if he attempted to exact rent which the Government held, under the circumstances of the year, he ought not to exact. But now the Government were going to force the tenant to sell, and the effect of that would be to put into the pocket of the landlord all the rent which the Government previously said he ought not to collect from the tenant, and to turn the tenant into the world a beggar with but a few shillings in his pocket.

Question put, and agreed to.

Main Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 255; Noes 199: Majority 56.

Acland, Sir T. D. Ainsworth, D.
Adam, rt. hon. W. P. Anderson, G.
Agar - Robartes, hon. T. C. Armitage, B.
Armitstead, G.
Agnew, W. Arnold, A.
Ashley, hon. E. M. Errington, G.
Balfour, J. S. Fairbairn, Sir A.
Barnes, A. Farquharson, Dr. R.
Barran, J. Fawcett, rt. hon. H.
Bass, A. Ferguson, R.
Baxter, rt. hon. W. E. Ffolkes, Sir W. H. B.
Beaumont, W. B. Findlater, W.
Bolton, J. O. Firth, J. F. B.
Borlase, W. C. Flower, C.
Bradlaugh, C. Foljambe, C. G. S.
Brassey, H. A. Forster, Sir C.
Brassey, T. Forster, rt. hon. W. E.
Briggs, W. E. Fort, E.
Bright, J. (Manchester) Fowler, H. H.
Bright, rt. hon. J. Fry, L.
Brinton, J. Fry, T.
Broadhurst, H. Gabbett, D. F.
Brogden, A. Gladstone, rt.hn. W.E.
Brooks, M. Gladstone, H. J.
Brown, A. H. Gladstone, W. H.
Bruce, rt. hon. Lord C. Gordon, Sir A.
Bruce, hon. B. P. Gourley, E. T.
Bryce, J. Gower, hon. E. F. L.
Burt, T. Grant, A.
Butt, C. P. Grant, D.
Buxton, F. W. Grant, Sir G. M.
Caine, W. S. Grenfell, W. H.
Cameron, C. Gurdon, R. T.
Campbell, Sir G. Hamilton, J. G. C.
Campbell, B. E. F. Harcourt, rt. hon. Sir W. G. V. V.
Campbell -Bannerman, H. Hardcastle, J. A.
Carington, hon. R. Hartington, Marq. of
Carington,hon. Col.W. H. P. Hastings, G.W.
Havelock-Allan, Sir H.
Causton, R. K. Hayter, Sir A. D.
Cavendish, Lord E. Heneage, E.
Cavendish, Lord F. C. Henry, M.
Chamberlain, rt. hn. J. Herschell, Sir F.
Chambers, Sir T. Hibbert, J. T.
Cheetham, J. F. Holland, S.
Childers,rt.hn.H.C.E. Hollond, J. R.
Chitty, J. W. Holms, J.
Clarke, J. C. Holms, W.
Cohen, A. Howard, E. S.
Collings, J. Hughes, W. B.
Collins, E. Inderwick, F. A.
Colman, J. J. Ingram, W. J.
Colthurst, Col. D. la T. Jackson, Sir H. M.
Corbett, J. James, C.
Cotes, C. C. James, Sir H.
Courtauld, G. James, W. H.
Courtney, L. H. Jardine, R.
Cowan, J. Jenkins, D. J.
Craig, W. Y. Johnson, W. M.
Creyke, R. Joicey, Colonel J,
Cross, J. K. Kinnear, J.
Cunliffe, Sir R.A. Labouchere, H.
Currie, D. Laing, S.
Davey, H. Law, rt. hon. H.
Davies, D. Lawrence, Sir J. C.
De Ferrieres, Baron Lawrence, W.
Dickson, J. Lawson, Sir W.
Dilke. A. W. Laycock, R.
Dilke, Sir C. W. Lea, T.
Dillwyn, L. L. Leake, E.
Dodds, J. Leatham, W. H.
Dodson, rt. hon. J. G. Lee, H.
Duckham, T. Lefevre, G. J. S.
Duff, rt. hon. M. E. G. Litton, E. F.
Earp, T. Lubbock, Sir J.
Edwards, P. Lusk, Sir A.
Egerton, Adm. hon. F. Lyons, E. D.
Macdonald, A. Richardson, J. N.
Macfarlane, D. H. Richardson, T.
Mackie, R. B. Roberts, J.
Macliver, P. S. Rogers, J. E. T.
M'Clure, Sir T. Roundell, C. S.
M'Kenna, Sir J. N. Russell, O.
M 'Lagan, P. Russell, G. W. E,
M'Laren, C. B. B. Russell, Lord A.
M'Laren, D. Rylands, P.
M'Minnies, J. G. Samuelson, B.
Magniac, C. Samuelson, H.
Maitland, W. F. Sheridan, H. B.
Mappin, F. T. Shield, H.
Marjoribanks, Sir D. C. Simon, Serjeant J.
Marjoribanks, E. Slagg, J.
Marriott, W. T. Smith, E.
Martin, P. Smith wick, J. F.
Mason, H. Spencer, hon. C. R.
Meldon, C. H. Stanley, hon. E. L.
Middleton, R. T. Stansfeld, rt. hon. J.
Milbank, F. A. Stewart, J.
Morgan, rt. hon. G. O. Story-Maskelyne, M.H.
Morley, A. Summers, W.
Morley, S. Taylor, P. A.
Mundella, rt. hon.A.J. Tennant, C.
Noel, E. Thomasson, J. P.
O'Beirne, Major F. Thompson, Sir H. M.
O'Brien, Sir P. Thompson, T. C.
O'Conor, D. M. Tillett, J. H.
O'Donnell, F. H. Tracy, hon. F. S. A. Hanbury-
Otway, A.
Paget, T. T. Trevelyan, G. O.
Palmer, C. M. Vivian, H. H.
Palmer, Gr. Walter, J.
Palmer, J. H. Webster, Dr. J.
Parker, C. S. Wedderburn, Sir D.
Pease, A. Whalley, G. H.
Pease, J. W. Whitbread, S.
Peddie, J. D. Whitwell, J.
Peel, A. W. Whitworth, B.
Pender, J. Wiggin, H.
Pennington, F. Williams, S. C. E.
Philips, R, N. Playfair, rt. hon. L. Williams, W.
Williamson, S.
Potter, T. B. Willis, W.
Powell, W. R. H. Wills, W. H.
Price, Sir R.G. Wilson, I.
Pugh, L. P. Wilson, Sir M.
Ramsay, J. Wodehouse, E. R.
Ramsay, Lord Woodall, W.
Redmond, W. A.
Reid, R. T. TELLERS.
Rendel, S. Grosvenor, Lord R.
Richard, H. Kensington, Lord
Alexander, Colonel Birkbeck, E.
Amherst, W. A. T. Birley, H.
Ashmead-Bartlett, E. Blackburne, Col. J. I.
Aylmer, J. E. F. Bourke, right hon. R.
Bailey, Sir J. R. Broadley, W. H. H.
Baring, T. C. Brodrick, hon. W. St. J. F.
Barne, F. St. J. N.
Barttelot, Sir W. B. Brooke, Lord
Bateson, Sir T. Brooks, W. C.
Beach, rt. hon. Sir M.H. Bruce, Sir H. H.
Beach, W. W. B. Burghley, Lord
Bective, Earl of Burnaby, General E. S.
Bentinck, rt. hon. G. C. Burrell, Sir W. W.
Bentinck, G. W. P. Buxton, Sir E. J.
Beresford, G. de la P. Campbell, J. A.
Biddell, W. Carden, Sir R. W.
Cecil, Lord E. H. B. G. Knight, F. W.
Chaine, J. Knightley, Sir R.
Chaplin, H. Knowles, T.
Churchill, Lord E. Lawrance, J. C.
Clive, Col. hon. G. W. Lawrence, Sir T.
Cobbold, T. C. Lechmere, SirE. A. H.
Coddington, W. Lee, Major V.
Colo, Viscount Legh, W. J.
Compton, F. Leighton, Sir B.
Coope, O. E. Leighton, S.
Corry, J. P. Lennox, Lord H. G.
Crichton, Viscount Lewis, C. E.
Crompton-Roberts, C. Lewisham, Viscount
Cross, rt. hon. Sir R. A. Lindsay, Col. E. L.
Cubitt, rt. hon. G. Lindsay, Lord
Dalrymple, C. Loder, R.
Davenport, H. T. Long, W. H.
Dawnay, Col. hon. L. P. Lopes, Sir M.
De Worms, Baron H. Lowther, hon. W.
Dickson, Major A. G. Macartney, J. W. E.
Dig-by, Col. hon. E. Mac Iver, D.
Donaldson-Hudson, C. Macnaghten, E.
Douglas, A. Akers- M'Garel-Hogg, Sir J.
Dyke,rt.hn. SirW.H. Makins, Colonel W. T.
Egerton, Sir P. G. Manners, rt. hn. Lord J.
Elcho, Lord March, Earl of
Elliot, G. W. Master, T. W. C.
Estcourt, G. S. Maxwell, Sir H. E.
Ewart, W. Mills, Sir C. H.
Ewing, A. O. Monckton, F.
Feilden,Maj.-Gen. R.J. Morgan, hon. F.
Fellowes, W. H. Moss, R.
Fenwick-Bisset, M. Mulholland, J.
Filmer, Sir E. Murray, C. J.
Finch, G. H. Newdegate, C. N.
Fitzpatrick,hn.B.E.B. Newport, Viscount
Fletcher, Sir H. Noel, rt. hon. G. J.
Floyer, J. Northcote, H. S.
Folkestone, Viscount Northcote, rt. hon. Sir S. H.
Forester, C. T. W.
Foster, W. H. Onslow, D.
Fowler, E. N. Paget, R, H.
Fremantle, hon. T. F. Palliser, Sir W.
Galway, Viscount Patrick, R. W. C.
Garfit, T. Pemberton, E. L.
Gardner, R, Richard-son- Percy, Earl
Phipps, C. N. P.
Garnier, J. C. Plunket, rt. hon. D. R.
Gibson, rt. hon. E. Powell, W.
Giffard, Sir H. S. Price, Captain G. E.
Goldney, Sir G. Puleston, J. H.
Gore-Langton, W. S. Rankin, J.
Grantham, W. Repton, G. W.
Greene, E. Ridley, Sir M. W.
Greer, T. Ritchie, C. T.
Hall, A. W. Rodwell, B. B. H.
Halsey, T. F. Rolls, J. A.
Hamilton, I. T. Ross, A. H.
Hamilton, right hon. Lord G. Round, J.
Russell, Sir C.
Harcourt, E. W. St. Aubyn, W.M
Harvey, Sir E. B. Sandon, Viscount
Herbert, hon. S. Schreiber, C.
Hicks, E. Sclater-Booth, rt.hn.G.
Hildyard, T. B. T. Scott, M. D.
Hill, Lord A. W. Selwin - Ibbetson, Sir H.J.
Hill, A. S.
Hinchingbrook, Visc. Sinclair, Sir J. G. T.
Holland, Sir H. T. Smith, A.
Hope,rt.hn.A.J.B.B. Smith, rt. hon. W. H.
Jackson, W. L. Stanhope, hon. E.
Kennard, Col. E. H. Stanley, rt. hn. Col. F.
Kennaway, Sir J.H. Storer, G,
Sykes, C. Whitley, E.
Talbot, C. R. M. Williams, O. L. C.
Talbot, J. G. Wilmot, Sir H.
Taylor, rt. hn. Col. T. E. Wilmot, Sir J. E.
Thomson, H. Winn, R.
Thynne, Lord H. F. Wolff, Sir H. D.
Tollemache,hon. W.F. Wortley, C. B. Stuart-
Tottenham, A. L. Wroughton, P.
Tyler, Sir H. W. Wyndham, hon. P.
Wallace, Sir R. Wynn, Sir W. W.
Walrond, Col. W. H. Yorke, J. R.
Warburton, P. E.
Warton, C. N. TELLERS.
Watney, J. Balfour, A. J.
Welby-Gregory,Sir W. Pell, A.

Bill considered in Committee; Committee report Progress; to sit again Tomorrow, at Two of the clock.