§ Lords Amendments further considered.
§ Page 16, lines 1 and 2, leave out (" held by occupying tenants and "), the next Amendment, agreed to.
§ Page 16, line 9, leave out from ("provided") to ("that") in line 14, the next Amendment, read a second time.
moved to disagree with the Amendment. The words which he proposed to re-insert were—Provided that at the expiration of such existing leases the lessees shall he deemed to be tenants of present ordinary tenancies, from year to year, at the rents and subject to the conditions of their leases respectively, so far as such conditions are applicable to tenancies from year to year; and provided also that.The case stood thus—on consideration it appeared to the Government that though it was quite right that the character of present tenant should attach to the lessee at the close of the lease, subject to a limitation mentioned when they 1543 discussed the matter, yet there was no reason in the world why the present tenant should not have his lease fairly secured to him, and that he should be free from further litigation at the instance of the landlord; and they, therefore, proposed that the lease should serve as the first statutory term.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth disagree with The Lords in the said Amendment."—(Mr. Gladstone.)
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
contended that when a lease had been granted it had been granted usually on the understanding that it was for a certain period; that the terms were agreed on by both parties; and that it was a part of the bargain that, at the expiration of the term, the property would revert to the landlord.
said, this was the correct English construction of a lease, but it was not the Irish construction, which was totally different. In order to show how different it was, he would refer to the Ulster Tenant Right Bill which was brought in just before the General Election by the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Macartney), and approved by the right hon. Gentleman. In the 3rd clause of that Bill it was provided—That whenever the lease of any holding forming part of any estate in Ulster on which estate the Ulster tenant right custom had provailed should terminate, the person or persons having a beneficiary interest in the estate should be entitled to resume the property as if he or they were in the possession of a tenancy-at-will.
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL
said, there was not the slightest analogy between the Bill referred to by the Prime Minister and the Bill now before the House. He was perfectly certain the hon. and learned Member for Dundalk (Mr. C. Russell) would not quote that Bill in support of the provisions of the Bill now under consideration. Tenant right in Ulster was absolutely inseparable from the soil, and it was a perfectly different thing from what was now proposed. Under a lease in Ulster the landlord if he went to turn the tenant out should, first of all, pay him for the tenant right. Under this Bill, which was to apply to parts where there was no such custom as that which prevailed in Ulster, the landlord was to be prevented from doing that 1544 which was the essence of his lease. He hoped the House would not be deluded by the argument used by the Prime Minister.
§ VISCOUNT LYMINGTON
said, he dissented from this Amendment on the very strong grounds of the practical and accepted view of the matter in Ireland. On the property with which he was connected it had long been the custom to grant to agricultural tenants leases for 31 years. In some cases the families of those tenants had been on the same farms for 200 years, and there existed among those men ingrained and conscious expectations that on the expiration of the lease their farms would be re-valued for rent, and that, subject to their accepting that re-valuation, they would be allowed to retain their farms. Nor was that other than natural. To a nature far less susceptible of such feelings than the Celt the pang would be bitter and the separation cruel from a home endeared to him as the result of his labour and capital, and around which had intertwined themselves many kindly and affectionate associations. But apart from those considerations of sentiment, the leaseholders were possessed, together with all Irish occupiers, with that living tradition of possessory right which, to use the language of the Bessborough Commission, had survived to them through all vicissitudes, and in despite of the seeming or real veto of the law. He dissented lastly from this Amendment on the ground of policy. The class of large leaseholders were not only the best and most enterprizing farmers, but possessed the strongest and most efficacious means for influencing and controlling public opinion. The Bill aimed at strengthening and securing the rights by extending the interests of property; and he sincerely trusted that that great legislative experiment might not be deprived of a fair trial for fulfilling its great object.
§ MR. GIBSON
pointed out that the noble Lord (Viscount Lymington) had fallen into the same mistake as the Prime Minister. As the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill) had pointed out, the two questions were as different as day from darkness. No one asked to prejudicially affect the Ulster Custom or any usage analogous to tenant right outside Ulster, and the Amendment of the Lords left un- 1545 touched the provision in the centre of the clause relating to "the Ulster custom, or usage analogous thereto." He would remind the House of the real way in which the Lords asked to maintain the clause. Their Lordships only sought to set right an afterthought of the Government. On all the 22 drafts and revisions that this Bill went through—
§ MR. GIBSON
Well, in all the numerous revisions—so numerous that they could not be counted—the Ministers never for a moment dreamt of presenting to Parliament as their first deliberate proposal that there should be any tampering with existing leases. It was not until the Bill had advanced to a considerable stage in Committee, and not until after the 29th of June, that it occurred to the Prime Minister that he would get the Attorney General for Ireland to put that Amendment on the Paper. [MR. GLADSTONE dissented.] He (Mr. Gibson) had heard the Prime Minister administer a grave rebuke to an hon. Member on that side of the House for shaking his head; but there was no one who could more resolutely convey his opinion in that manner than the right hon. Gentleman himself.
On matters of fact. When an opinion is ascribed to me that I have not expressed, I take the liberty of indicating my dissent in that manner.
§ MR. GIBSON
said, he was ready to accept any correction from the Prime Minister, whether by word or suggestion. [Mr. WABTON: Or gesture.] Up to that time they had never stated that they intended to make any change in their original proposal. The House could not but clearly recognize that the Amendment merely sought to replace the Bill in the position in which it was first introduced to the House, and which was retained until June 29. What was the Amendment now sought to be rejected, and what were the words to be re-instated by the Government? Everyone knew that every lease contained a clause that at its expiration the lessee should surrender; and that was not only contained in every lease, but by an Act of Parliament, for which some of the present Ministry were responsible, passed 1546 in 1860, a covenant to surrender at the end of the tenancy was to be presumed. The Amendment of the Government proposed in general terms that with respect to all leases, whether they were made before or after 1870, whether the rent was high or low, the landlord harsh or indulgent, the tenant improving or the reverse, at its termination, instead of the landlord being able to resume possession, he should continue, whether he liked it or not, a tenant who could bring him into Court and get a term of 15 years renewable as often as he pleased. If that was not a very substantial innovation on the original proposition of the Government all he could say was that it would appear to be so to any casual observer. The noble Lord (Viscount Lymington) had referred to property with which he was connected; but that was one of the properties in Ireland where a usage analogous to the Ulster Custom prevailed. The Prime Minister had quoted a clause from the Bill in reference to that which for the first time became a serious moot point in Ulster after the Act of 1870. Things got on smoothly until then, when there arose a great deal of anxiety and confusion as to whether tenant right at the expiration of a lease was destroyed or not. To clear up that point a Bill was brought in on the Conservative side of the House, and assented to by a very substantial portion of the House; but this Amendment did not seek, in the slightest degree, to confine itself to Ulster or to places where a similar custom prevailed. The argument of the Prime Minister was that leases in Ireland were different from leases in England—in other words, that agreements containing the same words and executed in the same solemn manner were to be interpreted differently in both countries. Surely the proposition need only be stated to show its utter absurdity. The Prime Minister argued that an Irish lease did not mean what it said, but something else—in other words, read in the light of present events, it meant that a man, after having made a covenant to give up possession, was not to give up possession. He (Mr. Gibson) was disposed to think that, although second and third thoughts were sometimes wiser than first ones, yet in this case he believed the earlier opinion of the Government had been most con- 1547 sidered; and the Amendment of the Lords was in accordance with the Bill as originally introduced.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. LAW)
said, this matter had been already fully discussed in Committee, and he had been in hopes that it might at this stage have been disposed of without much further debate. No arguments had been adduced in "another place" against what the Government had done and what the House had sanctioned His right hon. and learned Friend said that the first word on the subject was heard on the 29th of June. Did his right hon. and learned Friend forget, or was he so inattentive as not to have heard, the speech of the Prime Minister on the 16th of May? In that speech his right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said—In the same way, another bye question which we have considered, and the result of which consideration appears in the Bill—but it may be worthy, notwithstanding, of future consideration—is the question for current leases. That also is evidently a question which, in my opinion, ought to be reserved for the Committee on the Bill."—[3 Hansard, cclxi. 590.]His right hon. and learned Friend was—he did not like to use a stronger word—at least inaccurate.
§ MR. GIBSON
said, that he fixed the 29th of June because on that day the Prime Minister, in dealing with an Amendment of the hon. Member for Wicklow (Mr. W. J. Corbet), said that the Government would not be parties to re-opening the covenants in a lease.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. LAW)
said, there again his right hon. and learned Friend was quite inaccurate, for the Amendment he referred to raised a wholly different question. It was not the same Amendment. The Amendment of the hon. Member for Wicklow was one which proposed to empower the Court to alter the rent payable under a lease, leaving the other obligations of the lease untouched. He (Mr. Law) could see no reason for making any difference between one part of the country and another, and the Government had acted on what they believed to be the general sentiment of Ireland as well as, to a great extent, of this country also. If the landlords could not get back their property in one part of Ireland without paying full compensation for the tenant right, he saw no reason why there should 1548 be a different practice in another part of the country. In and out of Ulster leases were regarded as documents fixing rents for certain specified times, and this was the contemplation of-both parties at the time when leases were made. He could not see that a tenant holding from year to year for a lengthened period had any better right to be regarded as a present tenant than another who had held for, perhaps, a much shorter period, but whose tenancy had been under the conditions of a lease. It seemed to him to be not only unfair, but also impolitic, to preserve in one part of the country a custom which was denied to another, and which was, as he believed, based on the sentiment and habits of the great majority of the people of Ireland.
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT
said, he thought the Prime Minister had been very much influenced in this matter by the hon. and learned Member for Dundalk (Mr. C. Russell). In his (Sir Walter B. Barttelot's) own opinion, this was the most dangerous proposal in the whole Bill. It absolutely took away the property of one man and handed it deliberately to another. It stood to reason that landlords would not turn out tenants who had done their duty by their holdings; but no one could, in common justice or common sense, contend that a landlord should not have the power to resume possession of his property when the tenancy—that was to say, the lease—had expired in due course of law. No matter what could be said to the contrary, he could only regard this particular provision in the Bill as one conferring upon all tenants in Ireland perpetuity of tenure, and, as such, he believed it would be as bad in practice as it was mischievous in principle. If the Amendment was struck out, he hoped the other House of Parliament would re-insert it, notwithstanding whatever consequences might arise. This was one of those points for which they had no absolute reason assigned by the Government for disagreeing with the Lords' Amendments; and as it was against common sense and justice to strike it out he hoped it would be maintained.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
The hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just spoken has said that this is one of the most dangerous clauses in the Bill. I think both sides will admit it is one of the most important clauses of the Bill; and, 1549 being so, it is one with regard to which this House should be exceedingly careful what steps it takes, and I trust the House will forgive me if, for a moment, I state the reason why I shall vote with the Government on this clause. I consider it is one of the most important clauses in the Bill, and it is one on which Her Majesty's Government is certainly not likely to give way. I do not know whether the other House are likely to give way; but this House may, I am sure, take for granted that Her Majesty's Government will stand by their resolution to disagree with the Lords with regard to this clause. That being so, I think every Member of the House ought to ask himself what is the result of any vote he would like to give, and I ask myself this question. If hon. Members opposite should have a majority on this question, is it not certain the House of Lords will stand by their Amendment, and that the result will be the loss of the Bill? I am not prepared for such a calamity, for I think it would be a calamity to the country under existing circumstances. The remarks I have made do not only apply to the present clause, but to other important clauses of the Bill. The time for mere protest has gone by; we have now got to take a practical view of the situation, and that appears to be this—do we desire this Bill should pass? [MR.WARTON: No!] I think the unanimity of the House is proved by there being, in fact, only one dissentient; and it strikes me there is no Party in this House, or the other House, which does not wish to pass this Bill; and I think it the duty even of hon. Members who may not entirely agree with the Government, or who may not agree with a particular clause in the Bill, nevertheless to ask themselves what is the reasonable course to adopt, and whether they will give such votes as will imperil the whole of the Bill. It strikes me that this is a perfectly fair and candid view to take of the situation. It is perfectly fair to ask ourselves whether we are so determined in favour of any particular Amendment, and against the proposal of the Government, that we would wish to encourage the Lords to take a course that would imperil the Bill. Though we may differ in some points, it appears to me to be a practical course now not only to look at a particular Amendment but to the fate of the of the Bill; and I trust there are few 1550 who will encourage the Lords to take any action which might imperil the whole passing of the Bill.
§ SIR R. ASSHETON CROSS
said, after the somewhat extraordinary speech, which they had just listened to, he must trespass upon the time of the House for a few minutes. The argument of the right hon. Gentleman practically amounted to this—that hon. Members in that House were to give no expression in future to their opinions—that debate in future was to be useless whenever the Government stated that they intended to strike out any of the Lords' Amendments to a Bill. In the opinion, therefore, of the right hon. Gentleman, that House was bound to endorse the opinion of the Government without discussion or comment. The right hon. Gentleman said he should not vote against the Government on thi8 particular Amendment, because if there were a majority against them the Lords would insist on retaining it. But if the Government were defeated the Lords would have nothing further to do with the Amendment. [Mr. GOSCHEN: Then the Bill would drop.] He could not believe for a moment that the Government would drop the Bill if they were defeated on this point. If a Minister would get up and say that if the Government were beaten on any particular point in the Bill they would drop it altogether, the argument of the right hon. Gentleman would apply; but he (Sir R. Assheton Cross) could not conceive any Minister making such a statement. The provision which the Lords had amended was not in the Bill as it was originally drawn; and that being so, he should like to see what position the Government would be in if they appealed to the country. He, for one, should certainly not be intimidated, on account either of the fate of the Government or the fate of the Bill, from giving his vote or opinion, on any point that might arise in the course of these discussions, as he thought every independent Member ought to do.
MR. H. R. BRAND
remarked, that after what had passed he felt bound to say that he intended to vote with the Government, because he believed that the Government were in the right. The hon. and gallant Member opposite (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) had said that the paragraph in question introduced a most dangerous principle into the Bill. He 1551 did not admit that, and he put it to the plain test if it was just in Ulster it was equally just in the rest of Ireland, and it had been admitted by the Leader of the Opposition that it was just in Ulster; therefore, the simple question was whether tenant right existed in the rest of Ireland as in Ulster. The original blot in the Bill, as he considered it, was the exclusion of the leaseholders from the Bill, because by that exclusion a large number of tenants, not differing in point of character from other tenants, would have been deprived of the advantages of the measure. He had voted, though in no hostile spirit to the Government, in favour of an Amendment to the Bill for excluding tenants of £100 valuation and upwards from the 7th clause of the Bill, but that was a totally different thing, because it was upon the principle that these tenants were able to take care of themselves; whereas the leaseholders affected by the clause were small as well as large tenants. The Bill, roughly speaking, extended the Ulster Custom throughout the rest of Ireland; and he contended they would be doing right by following the well-known custom in Ulster—that was to say, that the tenant right existed at the end of the lease. With regard to the question of a breach of faith of the Land Act of 1870, his idea was that the breach of faith had rather been on the part of some landlords who had forced leases upon the tenants. There was evidence before the Commissioners to show that there were many cases in which these leases had been forced upon tenants, and he quoted from the evidence—not of a tenant farmer, but of a land agent—to show that the object of this was to get rid of the tenant's claim for compensation against his landlord. He should be sorry to see any Amendment carried in this Bill which was vital to its principle or which would injure its prospects of success; and it was because he believed that the Lords' Amendment would injure the prospects of success of the measure that he should vote against it. He believed it would deprive some of the small tenants of Ireland of the safeguard which they required against having their rents raised and raised again in proportion to the energy and skill which they had shown in conducting their leases.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, he thought that Her Majesty's Government might 1552 congratulate themselves upon at length receiving unqualified support from many of their Friends below the Gangway, who had hitherto favoured them with an excess of candid criticism. If the hon. Member who had last spoken thought that the Government were right, the right hon. Member for Ripon (Mr. Goschen) thought that they were wrong, his view being that hon. Members in that House should vote against their consciences, lest any noble Lord in the other House of Parliament should have the courage to vote according to his own. On what theory of Parliamentary government did the right hon. Gentleman go? Was it tolerable that the threat should be held out to them and to noble Lords in "another place" that any alteration which the Government, in a fit of petulance, should refuse to accept, might cause them to drop the Bill and throw the responsibility on Members of the Opposition or on the other House? Parliamentary government could not possibly be carried on on such conditions. If neither Members of that House nor Members of the other House were to introduce Amendments on the Bill which modified it in some of its most pernicious features without being coerced by the threat that the Government would drop the measure the privileges of both Houses were in danger.
MR. CHARLES RUSSELL
said, he should certainly not base his support of the Government on the grounds put by the right hon. Member for Ripon. He supported the proposal contained in this clause because he believed it to be just in itself and to be a very important step towards abolishing the distinction which he had always believed to be an invidious and unhappy one between Ulster and the rest of Ireland. He also supported it because it recognized and gave effect to the practice and sentiment which obtained in Ireland on the subject. In Ulster there had been, in some respects, a sturdier race than in the rest of Ireland. ["No, no!"] Yes, in many respects; and a race which had also been favoured in former days by the Government of this country for many reasons—the matter of religion amongst others—special favours and protection had been extended to them; and what was the result? Why, that a powerful public opinion rose up in Ulster, of which the custom was merely 1553 an expression. That was the origin and meaning of the Ulster Custom, and he hoped this invidious distinction would be removed. The landlord wanted to have a tenant who would pay him rent. At the end of the lease the tenant would either take a lease of his holding or continue as an over holding tenant, in which case he would be a tenant from year to year. There were a number of leases of which only two or three years remained unexpired. On one side of the hedge they would have a number of tenants whose leases had expired, it might be a few days or a year after the Bill came into operation, with utterly different rights and inferior rights; and on the other side they would have tenants who, in other respects, were exactly in the same position with different and higher rights. That would be simply intolerable. He hoped the Government would stand by the clause.
§ MR. GREGORY
said, all that a covenant did was to impose a personal liability on the tenant. If he did not give up possession on the termination of the lease, but continued to hold over, he was merely a tenant from year to year.
§ MR. MACDONALD
said, he should not have risen to take any part in this debate if it had not been for the remark of the hon. and gallant Member for West Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) that he hoped the Lords would stand upon their rights, and would restore the Amendment if it were rejected. If the hon. and gallant Gentleman was prepared to give that advice to his Friends to try conclusions, he, for one, as representing a popular constituency, was perfectly willing to do the same, with this conviction—that there was a "beyond" to which the Government could refer, and in referring to which they would have a voice so strong that no irresponsible Party in the State would be able to defy the opinions of that House, which had been sitting for nearly six months considering this important question. He would be the last person to excite irritation upon this question; but the irritation in this instance had come from the other side. A few days ago he addressed from 20,000 to 40,000 men, whose opinion was clearly in favour of this Bill. If the House of Lords chose to insist on their alterations in the Bill, the country would know what they were about. If necessary, he hoped the Prime Minister 1554 would appeal to the country with reference to the Bill, feeling assured that the country would answer that appeal by saying in a manner that could not be mistaken that the Bill must pass. Should they still reject the Bill then their existence must be dealt with.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 254; Noes 125: Majority 129.—(Div. List, No. 376.)
§ Lords' Amendmentdisagreed with.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. LAW)
moved, in page 16, line 10, after "lessees," to insert "if bonâ fide in the occupation of their holdings."
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. LAW)
moved, in line 13, after the words "year to year," to insert—But this provision shall not apply where a reversionary lease of the holding has been bonâa fide made before the passing of the Act,in order to meet the case of a reversionary lease.
§ Amendment agreed to.
said, there was another case in which the Government thought it equitable to provide for the landlord's power—namely, the case where he had a bonâ fide desire to resume the holding, not for the purpose of letting, but for his personal use and occupation. He accordingly proposed, in page 16, line 14, after the word "that," to insert the words—Where it shall appear to the satisfaction of the Court that the landlord desires to resume the holding for the bonâ fide purpose of occupying the same, the Court may authorise him to resume the same accordingly, in the manner and on the terms provided by the fifth section of this Act with respect to resumption of a holding by a landlord.
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. GIBSON
said, as far he understood the reference which was made, it was this—that on the termination of a lease the landlord might be permitted by the Court to resume possession of the holding if the landlord was willing to pay the full amount that the Court awarded against him.
§ MR. PARNELL
said, the adoption of the Amendment would create a very great feeling of uncertainty in the minds of tenants in Ireland as to what would become of them on the termination of their leases—an uncertainty which would tend almost necessarily to induce a tenant holding a farm on lease to run the farm out before the expiration of his tenancy as much as possible. The direction of the Amendment was simply this—it told the tenant—"If you improve your farm, and make it a desirable farm for your landlord to cultivate at the end of your lease, it is exceedingly probable that your landlord will so desire to cultivate it." They knew that some of the greatest past hardships in connection with Irish land tenure arose from the wholesale clearance of good and fertile land, which the landlords, in the words of this Amendment, had bonâ fide desired to enter into the occupation of themselves. In many of the best counties of Ireland—in Wexford, Kilkenny, and in some parts of the county Waterford—the landlords under the present law were clearing their estates by the action of the Emergency Committee and entering into the occupation of those estates themselves, and cultivating them. He thought they ought to resist most strenuously the direction and general bearing of this Amendment, which could not fail to be of a most disastrous character. He trusted the Government would reconsider this matter, and not, by a retrograde step of this kind, introduce an element of uncertainty into the minds of the tenants holding under leasehold tenure as to what their position would be, or could be, at the expiration of their term.
said, he had been content to rest this on the general equity of the case. He hoped that the hon. Member for Cork City (Mr. Parnell) would not prosecute his objection, because really, in the first place, this was evidently a limited question. He could not join in the apprehension that the Irish landlords were so differently minded from other landlords that they were likely to undertake a general operation for the purpose of getting farms into their own hands; that that which was the perfect horror of every other landlord, of getting farms thrown on their 1556 hands, except in certain exceptional circumstances, would become the delight and the passion of landlords of Ireland. If the hon. Member were right in his supposition that this provision would induce tenants to run out their farms in the last year of their leases, that would be a very strong objection; but it was evident that every man who thus exhausted his land would destroy or whittle away his compensation; for according to the condition of the farm at the termination of his occupancy would be the amount of compensation awarded to him. He hoped the House would be allowed to pass the Amendment.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
remarked, that the Prime Minister had now taken to patting the Irish landlords on the back; but his whole Bill was based on the great difference between them and English landlords. He knew many cases in which landlords were very anxious to get back farms. The right hon. Gentleman clearly did not appreciate the importance of his own Amendment.
§ MR. MACFARLANE
regretted the Amendment by the Prime Minister, in. the interest of the 100,000 leaseholders in Ireland, and the uncertainty it would throw them into. But they might as well attempt to move a stone wall by words as move the Prime Minister.
§ MR. GIVAN
said, he had a very strong objection to the Amendment. It would unsettle the whole of the leaseholders of the country. What security would the Court have that the landlord wanted the holding for a bonâ fide purpose? The whole principle of the proposal was bad, and he should have great pleasure in voting against it.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL (Sir FARRER HERSCHELL)
said, the effect of the Amendment had been exaggerated. He pointed out that already they were going to trust to the Court for a variety of things. The Bill reposed confidence in the Court, and no resumption could be had unless the Court were agreed that the farm was bonâ fide required by the landlord for his own occupation. There were a great many cases in which no human mind could ever consider a landlord wanting it for his own purposes of occupation; and it was a reasonable thing that a landlord, having given a lease of his land many years ago, should have the power of resuming 1557 it at the termination of the lease if he wanted it for personal occupation.
§ MR. T. D. SULLIVAN
said, the Amendment would have a most injurious effect. It would only tend to clear the tenants from the farms of Ireland. It placed another facility for doing this in the landlords' hands. The Prime Minister had said that the landlords of Ireland had been tried and acquitted; but if they had, it had been by a jury of landlords. The people of Ireland had no confidence in the landlords, and there would be no peace in Ireland until the Irish landlord had followed the dodo.
§ MR. P. MARTIN
said, he thought that it was the duty of Irish Members to oppose the Amendment. Its practical tendency plainly was to encourage and facilitate landlords in resuming possession of their tenants' holdings in order to add them to their grazing tracts, which already were too widely extended, and had caused so much suffering and distress in many parts of Ireland. When possession had been taken there was nothing in the provisions of the Bill to prevent the landlord from re-letting the lands under what was known as a grazing contract. His hon. Friend the Member for the City of Cork had done right in calling attention to the evils which had resulted from clearances. He remembered in county Meath, when ejectment after ejectment took place, where the tenants were willing and. able to pay fair rents, simply for the purpose of clearances. The effect of the Amendment would be most disastrous. The professed object of the Bill was to give increased security to the general body of Irish tenants and prevent eviction. It was unfortunate that the Prime Minister should now propose to disfigure the fair promise of the measure by the present provision. He felt convinced that in Ireland the insertion of the clause would, by the farming class, be received with the greatest alarm and distrust.
§ MR. DAWSON
said, that it had never occurred to him that a new danger should come from the Government. He knew from his own experience that so anxious were landlords in Ireland to get the land into their own hands that they resumed possession even at their own loss. The Amendment would be disastrous, not only to the people of Ireland, but to the Empire, as preventing the 1558 full development of the resources of Ireland.
§ MR. HOPWOOD
, as an English Member, regretted the introduction of the Amendments. It would only be applicable in a few cases, and it was a pity that for the sake of these cases they should make every leasehold tenant in Ireland shake in his shoes, lest at the termination of his lease his land should be resumed by the landlord. He appealed to the Prime Minister to withdraw it.
§ MR. CARTWRIGHT
said, he thought a great deal of the argument against the Amendment was not to the point; but really the Amendment would only remove an obvious injustice to landlords.
§ MR. SHAW
said, it would suit many landlords to clear away 700 or 800 acres to make a good grazing or tillage farm of the land. At the same time, he did not think there was any great danger, as a general rule; because he was sure that under this Bill the aim of landlords would be to get good tenants and keep them. The Amendment, he suggested, might be so modified as to prevent any great danger. There was an injustice in saying to the landlord that he would not get his land under any circumstances at the termination of a lease; but the Amendment might be more defined by saying he might have the land for himself, or some member of his family, to reside in or for a home farm, which would not be unreasonable at all. But he further suggested that if the landlord sub-let a farm so acquired after four or five years, and the man coming in were to be considered a future tenant, then that would lead to injustice.
§ MR. O'SULLIVAN
said, the Amendments made by the Lords were bad enough; but it took them by surprise to find the Government proposing such an objectionable one as the present. It would give the landlords who desired it the power of turning holdings into grazing farms. If this Amendment were insisted upon, the Bill would be a message of dissatisfaction instead of a message of peace.
§ MR. SYNAN
said, the Government no doubt had this excuse, that they had inserted the Amendment in order to carry the whole clause through the other House. It was a clause the object of which was to oil the machinery 1559 of the two Houses; but when the House of Lords had not proposed the Amendment, he thought the Government might have left it alone. As the Amendment was now framed, the Court would have no power of inquiring into the reasons why the landlord was led to resume possession. If the Government desired to pass the Amendment without difficulty, it would be well to provide that the objects for which the occupation was required should be stated to the Court.
§ MR. MITCHELL HENRY
said, that where a man had agreed to resume his property he should have the power to do so. They must be prepared to give up something. [Mr. HEALY: Why?] He thought it would only be an act of justice to have some such clause in the Bill; and it should be remembered that the man who resumed his property would have to pay a heavy penalty by way of compensation to the tenant. He thought if the right of resumption were restricted to the purposes of residential occupation that would meet the case. Hon. Members opposite talked about grazing farms; but they ought to know that they were made before the passing of the Land Act of 1870. He suggested the addition to the Amendment of such words as these—If the landlord wishes to resume the farm bonâ fide for the purpose of residential occupation, or for the purpose of a homo farm, provided always that if he re-let the farm within 15 years the tenant shall he a present tenant.
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL
said, he hoped that on this occasion the Government would pay the House the respect of adhering to their own Amendment. If they did so it would be the first time during this Bill that they had stuck to any one of their proposals; but he saw that the Attorney General and the Prime Minister were already consulting with the view of reducing the Amendment to a nullity.
§ MR. HEALY
said, the hon. Member (Mr. Mitchell Henry) reminded him of the unjust steward who was told to make friends among the mammon of iniquity. When rejected by the tenant farmers of Galway the hon. Member would be received into those everlasting dwellings on the other side of the House. Mr. John Mitchel had advised those who were evicted by their landlord to shoot him like a dog—["Oh!"]—stay, he 1560 had not finished; if they could not catch the landlord, they should shoot the agent, and if they could not catch the agent, they should shoot the bailiff, and if they could, they should shoot all three. He referred to that statement merely to show how eviction was regarded by some persons in Ireland, because what the Government called "resumption" would be looked upon as "eviction" in Ireland. If the Government really desired to put a stop to agrarian passion and strife in Ireland, they should give the tenant case of mind and peace of heart, otherwise this Irish question would haunt them and their successors for years to come. He advised the Government to let the Lords do their own dirty work; and if this Amendment was to be inserted at all, the Government should have allowed it to be put into the Bill by the hereditary enemies of the Irish people across the Lobby. ["Oh!" "Order!"]
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member is speaking in terms of disrespect of the Members of the other House of Parliament. He has no right to speak of the Members of the other House of Parliament as the hereditary enemies of the Irish people.
§ MR. HEALY (resuming)
said, he did not know that in so saying he was transgressing Parliamentary rule, and he therefore asked to withdraw the expression to which exception had been taken. He had warned the Government of the feelings which prevailed in Ireland with regard to these evictions, and he asked them to leave such Amendments as this to the Lords. He did not believe their Lordships were a very courageous body. ["Order!"] He did not think that was an offensive expression. He meant politically courageous, of course. If they were so they would have thrown out this Bill; but they knew very well the dangers that would arise out of leaving this question unsettled. Let the House send the clause back as it originally stood, and let their Lordships again try their hand at carving it. The Irish Members intended to amend the proposal of the Government in various ways, and if the process took some time it was not their fault. He would move to leave out subsequently the word 1561 "occupying" and insert "residing on."
§ SIR PATRICK O'BRIEN
remarked, that if the hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Mitchell Henry) would embody in the Amendment the excellent principles he had just enunciated many hon. Members near him would support him. He could not say whether the hon. Member for Wexford (Mr. Healy) had given a correct quotation of the remarks of the late Mr. Mitchel. ["Question!"] The hon. Member for the City of Galway (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) cried "Question!" but there was no one who spoke with less relevancy to the Question under debate than the hon. Member, who always tried to glorify himself. Whether the quotation was correct or not, he contended that no Member of that House had a right to quote such remarks unless with the intention of repudiating them. The hon. Member and his Friends might fairly claim to be, in a great degree, leaders of the Irish people. If they were so their words ought to be measured. Although the Irish Members were anxious in every way, whether by this Bill or otherwise, to improve the wretched condition of the Irish people, and to improve them morally, yet he trusted there were yet Irish Gentlemen amongst them who would regard, even with greater favour, and as a greater improvement, the protection in Ireland of the principles of order, of religion, and of morality. He therefore regretted that it was necessary for an Irish Member to have to get up in his place and repudiate the expressions contained in the quotation to which reference had been made.
§ MR. DALY
warned the Government if the Amendment were sent to the House of Lords as an expression of the opinion of the House of Commons, they would do more mischief than they could possibly imagine. The adoption of the Amendment would lead to a violent agitation, and would be the means of creating a profound mistrust amongst the Irish people. They should remember that the Act of 1870 was rendered a failure by giving way to the Amendments of the Lords.
§ MR. MAURICE BROOKS
said, he thought he had been found voting with 1562 the Government in every division that had taken place on this Bill; but if the present Amendment were carried to a division without modification, he regretted to say that he would not be found voting with the Government on this occasion. If the Amendment were carried, it would amount to an emasculation of the Bill. It would carry terror and alarm to every occupier of land who had the expectation in the future of becoming an owner, and it would result in the efforts for the pacification of Ireland becoming a miserable failure.
said, it was very important that hon. Members had not got the Amendment proposed before them; but, so far as he could understand it, it amounted to this—the Government proposed at the termination of a lease that the landlord should be entitled to resume occupation of the holding of his tenant on paying a certain sum.
said, so he understood it. The landlord must either reside on it, or convert the holding into a park. [An hon. MEMBER: Turn it into a grazing farm.] Why should a landlord not be allowed to graze cattle on his own property? Why, at present, a very large class of persons in Ireland obtained their living by breeding and selling cattle. They could not live on farm produce alone, and there were no manufactures at which they could get employment, so, therefore, the cattle trade was an important one. If the landlord wanted land to add to his holding, say a small portion, he should be allowed to have it; but if he wanted the land to turn it into a grazing farm, he (Mr. Macartney) thought he should not be allowed to do so. He thought that the suggestion of the hon. Member for the County of Galway (Mr. Mitchell Henry), limiting the right of resumption to cases where the landlord wanted the holding for residential purposes or for occupation by himself or his family, would meet the difficulty. Unless the Motion were modified in this direction he should vote against the Amendment.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. LAW)
said, he thought that many Members who had spoken scarcely appreciated practical work of this kind. If a landlord, at the termi- 1563 nation of a lease, desired to resume the holding under the present state of the law he might do so. The Government interfered, and gave expression to what was the almost universal custom of the Irish people. But, on the other hand, they must regard the case from another point of view, and do substantial justice to the landlord also. If the landlord wanted the land for his own occupation, either to live upon or to cultivate, or to provide a residence for a member of his family, he thought the landlord should have the right to resume possession. He must, however, in that case satisfy the Court by such evidence as would convince them that he required the land bonâ fide for this purpose, and before he obtained it he must pay the full value of the tenancy as a present tenancy. The Court, indeed, would probably award not only the bare value of the holding, but also, regarding the case as one of constrained sale, would give something additional on that account. Under these circumstances, he did not think much alarm need be felt as to this resumption becoming a very prevalent practice, nor could the provision do any real injury, as it would only apply when the landlord could satisfy the Court that he would not re-let again. He saw, however, no objection to give a material guarantee in this respect by providing that, if a landlord re-let at any time within 15 years, the tenant so taking it should do so with all the incidents of a present tenancy. [Mr. HEALY: No good at all.] He hoped the House would acquiesce in this, and he therefore proposed to modify the Amendment by inserting the following words after the first word "same" in the Amendment:—As a residence for himself or as a home farm in connection with his residence, or for the purpose of providing a residence for some Member of his family.It could scarcely be called an Amendment, for it was an alteration which had been anticipated by the Government from the beginning.
Amendment proposed to the said proposed Amendment, after the first word "same," to insert the words—
As a residence for himself or as a home farm in connection with his residence, or for the purpose of providing a residence for some member of his family."—(Mr. Attorney General for Ireland.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted in the said proposed Amendment."
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
I cannot help thinking, Sir, that the proceedings of this evening have been of a very remarkable and instructive character. Do let me ask the House to consider for a moment what it is that we are supposed to have been doing this evening. The Bill was passed with considerable labour and with great care by this House, after many weeks' discussion. It was sent up to the Lords, who, in the exercise of their Constitutional right and duty, returned it to us with certain Amendments. Those Amendments are, as we must presume, the fruit of the judgment which the House of Lords have independently passed on the various provisions on which they have made the Amendments. This House has now to exercise its independent judgment on those Amendments, and to accept them or reject them as it may think fit. In all that we have a very proper specimen of the working of the Constitutional system as between the two Chambers. But consider what we have been engaged in for the last half hour or hour. The Amendment which you, Sir, have now put from the Chair is, I presume, an important one in the opinion of the framers of the Bill, and we have every reason to suppose that a majority of this House will accept that Amendment. But if the Lords had made no Amendment in this clause, could you have proposed anything of the sort? Not at all. This House had parted with the clause, and had sent it to the House of Lords in a shape that was considered conclusive. If the Lords had let it pass you would not have had any opportunity of making any other alterations in it. We are proceeding on very delicate ground, and on a most important subject matter. We are undertaking to execute a task which for magnitude and importance has never been surpassed in this or any other country. We are not attempting to modify the relations between landlord and tenant in Ireland by alterations of the law which are to be carried out by ordinary tribunals, according to the ordinary principles of law; but we are undertaking to put into the hands of a newly constituted Court the duty of re-casting and re-modelling the social relations of the great classes interested 1565 in this matter. Moreover, we are laying down the principles on which the new Court is to act, and we have, at least, a right to say that those principles should be brought before us by the Government in a duly considered and carefully prepared state. When the Bill was introduced criticisms were made on the insufficient way in which the leaseholders were dealt with. What happened? The Prime Minister said the Government would consider this matter and make other provisions. That statement was made as long ago as the 16th of May. The Government had ample time for consideration. They brought forward proposals, changes were made in them, and they were adopted. Even they were adopted, much too often, on a sudden and with little notice. But now, at the last stage, I may say at the twefth hour, they come forward with proposals in manuscript, which they have a difficulty in making us understand, and which, after they have made us understand them, they are prepared to modify. All that would be serious enough if the House were in an ordinary condition. But the House is not. We have had a most significant speech from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ripon (Mr. Goschen), who has been absent from England for some time. [An hon. MEMBER:Orienté!] Well, I may say of the right hon. Gentleman—" Il ne peut pas s'orienter"—he can hardly find his own position. But he has the great consolation that, at all events, one thing is clear—namely, that it is his duty to stand by the Government. He said it was the duty, and had been the practice of others, to subordinate their own opinion to the decision of the Government. It is very important to bear that in mind. We are carrying on a Constitutional discussion with the House of Lords, as to whether this is a measure proper to be adopted. If this is to be a fair contention, in which the opinions of this House, as expressed in the clause they sent up, are to be understood as the independent opinion of this House, that is one thing; but if they are not to be so understood, but as the expression of the opinion of the Government reluctantly adopted and apologized for by no inconsiderable number, I suspect, of their supporters, what are we to suppose will be the opinion of the House of Lords on the decisions we send up? 1566 If anything were wanted to rather confirm the House of Lords in any decision they may arrive at in holding their own and in exercising their own judgment, it would be such language as that which has been held by the right hon. Gentleman, who has shaken and diminished the authority of the vote and proceedings of this House. He told us that Members on that side were, to a very considerable extent, not independent Members of this House; but that this is their way of expressing their confidence in the Government. The right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite shakes his head, which means, I suppose, that he denies the fact. [The ATTORNEY GENERAL for IRELAND (Mr. Law): The statement.] At all events, let me remind the House of the remarkable observation in the beginning of the right hon. Member for Ripon's speech, that if a majority of this House were to agree with the House of Lords the Bill would be lost. That was the most extraordinary language I have ever heard. I quite understand that if the House of Lords disagree with the House of Commons the Bill will be lost; but if the House of Lords lays down certain opinions, and the House of Commons agrees to them, it is absurd to say that the Bill must be lost. I presume the right hon. Gentleman is more or less in the confidence of the Government, and can form a fair judgment of the state of mind of the Government; and if there is any meaning in the statement it comes to this—that he is of opinion that if a change were adopted in the Bill against the wish of the Government, the Prime Minister and his Colleagues would throw the Bill up. That would be a most extraordinary proceeding, more extraordinary even than many of the circumstances that we have already seen. That the Government should throw up the measure because a clause which is not in the original Bill is not adopted is certainly odd; and I can only imagine that the right hon. Gentleman does not mean all that his words convey. I do not believe there can be any doubt in the minds of the great majority of the House that it is our duty to exercise an independent judgment on the proposals submitted to us, while giving all proper respect, of course, to those who have prepared the Bill. I think it is most unwise—most indecent, I may say—that 1567 we should, at this stage of the proceedings, begin offering threats to the House of Lords. I do not wish to speak of the disrespectful language used by the hon. Member for Wexford (Mr. Healy), for which you, Sir, called him to Order; but the hon. Member used other language, for which he was not called to Order, and I rejoiced to see the hon. Baronet the Member for the King's County (Sir Patrick O'Brien) rise in his place and denounce him with indignation. I should, however, have been glad to have heard something of the same sort from some Member of the Government in regard to language such as has been used by the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Macdonald). That hon. Member took occasion to say that if the House of Lords chose to make any alteration in this Bill against the will of the large majority and the Government, the country would know what they were about; and, in fact, held out threats which, I must say, it is not within the Constitutional right of any Member of this House to hold. I feel that I owe an apology to the House for occupying their time; but it was not we who began the waste of time. I have sat here and listened to the language which has been used, and I feel assured that the House understands the grounds on which I felt it necessary to go beyond the question.
I will make one or two observations before I come to the main matter before us. The right hon. Gentleman complains that Members of the Government have not expressed their disapproval of the words spoken by the hon. Member for Wexford (Mr. Healy). Well, we have much upon our hands, and I, for my part, share the sentiments universal in the House—and I indicated my sentiments in a marked manner often taken notice of on other occasions—when I cheered the expressions of the hon. Gentleman (Sir Patrick O'Brien), who, much to his own honour, reprobated those extraordinary sentiments which, for his own sake, I hope the hon. Member for Wexford will express his regret at having made. I am obliged to say, having disposed of that, it was the only sentence in the lengthened speech of the right hon. Gentleman for which I feel the slightest sympathy. The right hon. Gentleman, at the time he states he is extremely anxious to expedite proceed- 1568 ings on this Bill, comes and addresses us for nearly half-an-hour. [Cries of "Quarter of an hour!"] Take it any way you like, I speak, perhaps, more according to the impressions produced. But the right hon. Gentleman at this period, when time is so precious, and when he is so very anxious to expedite our proceedings, rose and made this certainly rather lengthened speech for the period of the discussion, without saying one single word on the Amendment before the House. Of course, he is entitled to take every opportunity he may think fit of exposing the misconduct or weakness of the Government, or of dealing with their actions in any way that may prove useful to himself as a Party Leader; but do not let us hear from him or those whom he leads after this of their great anxiety to expedite the proceedings of this Bill. What is the speech of the right hon. Gentleman? He complains of threats to the House of Lords. He says that threats were begun from this side of the House by the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Macdonald); but he entirely forgets that the speech of the hon. Member for Stafford—which I did not in any manner encourage—was expressly and avowedly in answer to the threat of the hon. and gallant Member for West Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot), who had preceded him in the debate; and after that the right hon. Gentleman rose, not to speak on the Amendment before us, not to enlighten us in the slightest degree by any contribution towards a just settlement of a most difficult subject; but he is so misled by the keenness of his Party zeal that he forgets the facts of this evening's discussion, and states that the threatening of the House of Lords was begun on this side of the House, when it was simply a reply to the boast of the hon. and gallant Gentleman for the expression of his fervid desire that the House of Lords would continue to persist in opposition to the wishes of this House. The right hon. Gentleman has attacked my right hon. Friend behind me (Mr. Goschen)—a rather singular proceeding. The speech of my right hon. Friend might well have justified remark; but I think that remark ought to have been offered when the speech was delivered.
I do not know in what manner it was justified as an introduction in a debate which has nothing to do with the matter. But he says that he founds upon this speech the belief that the proposals of the Government are reluctantly adopted by a great number of our Friends. I do not think we have had evidence of that. Is the reluctant adoption of certain opinions confined to this side of the House? When the division was taken on the second reading of this Bill it was supposed that the resolution to divide was reluctantly adopted by you who sit on that (the Opposition) side of the House; but what is worst of all is that the supposition was that it was very reluctantly adopted by the right hon. Gentleman himself. But the courage of the Party opposite was such that they divided valiantly against the second reading in the House where they knew their division could not have the smallest effect; and in the House where they knew that if they divided against the second reading the Bill would have been thrown out, there their courage failed them. The chivalry of the minority of this House was not reflected in the action of the majority of the other. What has the right hon. Gentleman shown in that lengthened disquisition? I fully admit that he has demonstrated two things. One of them was that it is conceivable that upon some point or other the House of Lords may make a suggestion of some importance in the Bill, for he said that if it had not been for the act of the House of Lords we should not have heard of this Amendment. Quite true; but some wrong act of the House of Lords might suggest some right act to the House of Commons. The right hon. Gentleman went further, and said it is a very hard case that the Government did not make this proposal long ago, and were even now changing their proposal. In fact, the right hon. Gentleman succeeded in showing that the Government are not omniscient; that the Government do not at a moment's notice acquire a full and thorough knowledge of every point that they discuss in this Bill; that new points will open up from time to time; and that no amount of care can make you independent of the immense advantages of honest and thorough discussion in this House. That is the case. We do accept suggestions, and, more- 1570 over, we are not ashamed of it. We intend to do our best to make this Bill a perfect Bill; but it may be that we shall not make it a perfect Bill with all our efforts, and with all the aid we have derived from the discussion to-night, but not from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman; it may be that there will still remain some error, some imperfection in the provisions on which we are now engaged. There was a sentence in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman with which I could not help concurring, when he said that this question was one of the most difficult ever brought before Parliament. It is one of the most difficult. We are endeavouring to arrange by legislation a multitude of transactions which would have been infinitely better provided for, if our happy destiny had permitted it, by the free action of the respective interests of the different members of the community. But I have always pointed out that the one fundamental condition and recommendation which lies at the root of all that is most difficult and exceptional in our Bill is the recommendation of the Duke of Richmond's Commission, that Parliament should interfere to check the free action of supply and demand. I now come—and I must apologize to the right hon. Gentleman for doing anything so extraordinary as saying a word bearing on the Question before the House—to the Amendment. We might have been contented with rejecting, as we thought, a very injurious Amendment of the House of Lords; but that Amendment produces upon our minds a sense of our duty in rejecting that Amendment to examine as carefully as we can the state of the enactment that the House of Commons made. We did think that in certain points of secondary importance and extent, it did not entirely come up to the demands of justice. We therefore proposed one Amendment which passed without comment, and another to resumption at the end of the lease. We are very glad to do what we can to improve our own Amendment, and we are not ashamed to do so. We should have been much better pleased with ourselves if we had presented an Amendment verbally perfect; but being imperfect, we are better pleased to make it perfect, and to stand the small fire and small shot of hon. Gentlemen opposite—it certainly requires no iron-clad to re- 1571 sist them—than to ask the House to pass anything which is less perfect than we can make it. Under these circumstances, it appears to us that this Amendment, as amended by the proposal of my right hon. and learned Friend, will satisfy a demand not very wide, not very large, that has been justly recognized by my two hon. Friends below the Gangway who represent Irish constituencies, and which has in it the element of equity. I trust the words proposed will have that effect, and will be accepted.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
The right hon. Gentleman has just informed us that whatever may happen this will not be a perfect measure. That was a totally unnecessary piece of information. So far as I am concerned, I am more and more convinced that the measure is the most pernicious and iniquitous ever submitted to Parliament, and its effect will be, sooner or later, to extinguish both the Irish landlords and their property, and ultimately to lead to the separation of Ireland from England. If by any means I can devise a mortal blow at a measure of this nature, I shall adopt them with gladness, and without a moment's hesitation. I rise, however, to repudiate the statement made by the right hon. Gentleman, for I know not how many times—[Mr. GLADSTONE: Hear, hear!]—and that is that the foundation of this Bill rests on the Duke of Richmond's Commission. [Mr. GLADSTONE: Part.] For the twentieth time I repudiate his conclusion as absolutely without the smallest foundation; and I cannot conceal my astonishment that the right hon. Gentleman should appear in the character of a disreputable parent who goes up to a stranger in the street and says, "Please hold my baby for a moment," and then disappears round the corner. I am positively shocked at seeing the right hon. Gentleman assume this character. The wretched bantling belongs to the right hon. Gentleman, and he must bring it up in the best way he can; and if he attempts to foist it upon us, it will not be the Irish Members, but the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire, who will be obliged to go into Court for damages. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition showed a wise discretion in not dealing with this Amendment. The Government are always introducing Amendments and withdrawing them imme- 1572 diately afterwards, so that it is difficult to know what they intend.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
I shall not detain the House for more than a few moments in replying to the attack made upon me by the right hon. Gentleman who has now left the House without an answer. I should be sorry to take up the time of the House with a personal explanation. I tried to express myself in the very fewest words, and I seem to have been misinterpreted by the Leader of the Opposition. What I said was this—and what I wish to make clear is this—that any votes given at the present stage of the Bill in favour of the Lords' Amendments are a distinct appeal to the Lords to stand by those Amendments, unless the proceeding is a sham proceeding—unless it is a sham fight upon which the Opposition are at this moment engaged; and there are not wanting symptoms that this is a sham fight. We see that they are fighting with their forces on a peace footing. We do not see that they have summoned all the forces which generally claim or disclaim the Leadership of the right hon. Gentleman. There appears to me to be a great deal of sham in the opposition which is being offered by hon. Gentlemen opposite, and in the support given to the Lords' Amendments. Either they mean business or not. [An hon. MEMBER: Business.] They mean business. ["Hear, hear!"] They wish that the Lords should stand by their Amendments. [Cheers.] Then that shows the prudence of the remarks which I made, because I believe that, holding the same views that are held by the great majority of both sides of the House, it would be a great calamity if the Bill should be lost; and if the Lords stand by their Amendments, and the majority of the House of Commons stand by their Amendments, the Bill will be lost. That is my point; and therefore I wish, so far as my humble vote is concerned, to give no encouragement to the House of Lords to stand by their Amendments, which would be fatal to the Bill. I conceive that is a perfectly consistent, practical, and conscientious course to take. It is, I consider, more conscientious to refrain from making a call on the Lords than to make a call while in our hearts we hold the Lords will not stand by their Amendments. I believe many Members would regret deeply to see the calamity which 1573 would ensue—perhaps a division of the two Houses upon this subject. I regret that I have had to detain the House on this point. It would have been out of place for me to make a long speech on this or that Amendment. I expressed my conscientious view. I may have laid myself open to misrepresentation. That I can bear; but I was bound to clear up the misapprehension which the right hon. Gentleman entertained upon my speech.
§ MR. GIBSON
No one would have the slightest desire on either side of the House to make the suggestion that the right hon. Member for Ripon would either express or entertain a single un-conscientious view. That was not suggested, and I should not have risen at all if he had satisfied himself with placing before the House a full explanation of his own position and of the words which he may have thought were ambiguous. But he has in the vindication of himself thought right to impute to the Opposition that they were not guided in their opposition by a sincere and earnest desire to discharge their Constitutional functions, but that they were going through what he ventured to call, hardly with propriety, a sham. On consideration, I think the right hon. Gentleman will see that that expression was hardly necessary in a speech made for his own vindication, and that it was applied entirely in an unwarrantable manner to those who, under great difficulties and disadvantages, and supported by a minority not easy to collect at this period of the Session, are discharging difficult but distinct Constitutional functions. My own deliberate view is that we should be all engaged in this part of our functions under a deep sense of high Constitutional responsibility—I know I am myself—and I, for one, have taken no part in the discussion of this measure unless so far as I was animated by a sincere and an earnest desire to discharge my Constitutional functions. I have given no vote in the House, and I am sure no hon. Member who has acted with me has given a vote, which I and they do not desire to see substantiated, and which does not represent our own sincere convictions in the matter. I believe that a true Constitutional view with regard to the consideration of the Lords' Amendments is this—that we should de- 1574 sire to consider them impartially and independently, and adopt those that commend themselves to our understanding and judgment, with a desire not to do violence to the Amendments submitted to us, and anxious also that from no part of the House—by suggestion, statement, or threat—should any words be used which might tend to misunderstandings that I am sure everyone wishes to avoid.
§ LORD ELCHO
said, he regretted he had not had an opportunity of addressing the House on the second reading of the Bill. He had no wish to enter into the discussion to which the Amendment had given rise with regard to the conduct of the House of Peers, or still less the personal question raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ripon. The great difficulty of those who were opposed to the Bill was to bring home to the minds of people in England, and probably in Ireland too, what the real charcter of this measure was. The Amendment of the Government now did this in the most clear and distinct way. Before the Land Act of 1870 was passed an Irish proprietor was as free to deal with his land in Ireland as was the owner of Chatsworth or the owner of any estate, great or small, in England or Scotland, or the owner of house property, large or small, be it the Duke of Westminster or anyone else in London. After the Act of 1870 the Irish proprietor could not deal with his property as he had done previously, without paying, within certain limits, seven years' value of the holding to his tenant. That was the germ of the present legislation. The owners of land and houses in England and Scotland should know that this Bill was nothing more nor less than a Land Transfer Bill, without payment or compensation; and he defied the Attorney General for Ireland to dispute that fact. What was the present Amendment of the Government in plain English? Was its object to enable the owner of land in Ireland to get back his property without payment from the trammels of their Bill? Nothing of the kind. The property, which before the Act of 1870 was his and was as free as Chatsworth, the landowner was now to be allowed to buy back again from a man who had never bought it or paid for it. He asked his right hon. Friend the heir of Chatsworth (the Mar- 1575 quess of Hartington) whether that was not a truthful interpretation of that proposal? He was sick of hearing the Government talk of justice.
§ LORD ELCHO
said, he was not surprised that, when he spoke of justice, the Speaker should think that he was not speaking to that Amendment. The Treasury Bench said the Amendment was brought forward in the interests of justice. Well, the Amendment was simply to enable a man to buy back land which, by the law of Ireland previously to the legislation of his right hon. Friend, was absolutely his own. He did not go into the question whether the Amendment upon the Amendment was a proper one. His only object was to try and point the moral—[An hon. MEMBER: And adorn a tale.]—and bring home to the people of this country what the Bill really was.
§ MR. DAWSON
observed, that although the right hon. Member for Ripon (Mr. Goschen) expressed dissatisfaction from the Lords' Amendment, yet he had voted with his Party. That, he feared, was due to the Oriental imagination of the right hon. Gentleman. The Irish Members, he (Mr. Dawson) contended, were not warranted in giving the Amendment, even as it had been amended, their support. What, he asked, was a home farm, and of how many acres did it consist? He knew of a home farm of 2,000 acres, and if the owner could add 200 acres to it on the falling in of a lease, he would do so. Irish landlords, he believed, would be inclined, not for the sake of the land itself only, but for the dominion which the possession of the land gave them, to add field to field and farm to farm. He might aptly say, altering a quotation—Field after field his rising raptures fill,And still he sighs, for fields are wanted still.What right had the Government to deprive one set of residents of the land in order to promote residences for another class of persons who would be related to the landlords? It was not because a man was rich that he should be entitled to turn away tenants already on the land in order to build residences for his sisters, his cousins, and his aunts. No money compensation would satisfy men who 1576 had been deprived of their holdings in that way. As long as the tenant in occupation paid a fair rent, it ought not to be in the power of any landlord to turn him away.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, the remarks of the hon. Member were, no doubt, exciting and poetic; but it was only prosaic work to try to get on with the business. He would now appeal to the House whether it had not dealt with this matter fully? The Government proposed what appeared to them a practical, proper, and just arrangement between both parties, and they could not expect to give complete satisfaction on either side. The only question that remained was whether the House might not now proceed to a division.
§ MR. R. N. FOWLER
rose in consequence of the remark made by the right hon. Member for Ripon (Mr. Goschen), that the Opposition were fighting a "sham" fight. Although the normal majority which the Government possessed was 155, in no division which had been taken during these Amendments had their majority been equal to that number. He wished to remind the House that many hon. Gentlemen had paired, and pairs told more against the minority than the majority. Under these circumstances, he put it to his right hon. Friend opposite whether he was justified in his observation that that was a sham fight? For himself, he believed this to be a Bill of Confiscation, and his last vote, like his first, would be given against it.
§ Mr. T. P. O'CONNOR
maintained that if there were any delay in the progress of the Bill it was entirely the fault of the Government, who had brought forward an Amendment which nobody cared for and which was wholly unnecessary. Owing to the rather malleable character of the Government, he had some hope that they would still further amend their Amendments. He would ask the Attorney General for Ireland what was meant by a home farm? He (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) had consulted several authorities on the subject, and was told that in Scotland it meant a farm of 1,000 acres. Supposing it only meant 100 acres, that would place it in the power of the landlord to turn away 10 families occupying farms of 10 acres a-piece. If the estate amounted to 200 acres, the landlord would be empowered 1577 to turn out 20 families holding 10 acres each. It was most unfair, too, that while the tenant should be forbidden to build a second house for his use, the landlord should be able to provide additional accommodation not only for himself, but for, it might be, 10 of his sons and five of his daughters. He would remind the Government that if they wished for a long lease of power, the best thing they could do would be to bring in a Bill next Session to abolish the House of Lords, instead of getting themselves into a quagmire by altering the Rules of the House of Commons.
§ SIR HENRY TYLER
wished to protest against the expression of the right hon. Member for Ripon (Mr. Goschen), that they were engaged in a sham contest. Their feelings in this matter were anything but a sham; they had a most profound dislike to and distrust of the Bill. But there were a good many shams in connection with it. They were now told that contract in Ireland was a sham; but if this Bill passed into law the greatest sham of all would be the Irish landlord, who would be a sham landlord with a sham property. He could only account for the right hon. Gentleman's views and expressions by remembering that he had only recently come from Constantinople, and had there imbibed ideas which were not in accordance with the sympathies of this House.
§ MR. LALOR
said, he felt it to be his duty to be present to support the Government in their disagreement to the Lords' Amendments; but it had never occurred to him that the Government themselves would introduce so injurious an Amendment as this into the Bill. He had no doubt it had been honestly intended as a message of peace to Ireland; but this Amendment, if carried, would place the leaseholders of Ireland, who had done nothing to deserve such treatment, in the most unfortunate position. The Government, by this Amendment, would drive this class—the most intelligent and patient in Ireland—into the camp of the Land League, and make them perpetuators of agitation.
§ MR. BORLASE
I will promise to stand but one moment between this House and the division. I cannot say of myself, as the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire said of himself, that he had stated the same thing over and over again 20 times in the House during these 1578 debates, for this is the first time I have intruded my voice on the House since the beginning of the long discussions on this most important measure. I have to say this, however—that, strenuously and strictly as I have supported Her Majesty's Government from the beginning of this question up to this period, I come now across a state of things in which I am bound to hesitate. I find we are going to take the same sort of steps as were taken with the Bill of 1870. I find we are going in for compromise in order to get this matter through. Her Majesty's Government, with such a majority as no Prime Minister has had for very many years, are condescending to a compromise. The compromise we are asked to accept is, I think, dangerous to the principle of the Bill. It is doing what in the last division we professed our intention to avoid—the separation of Ireland into two parts, and the division of Ulster from the rest of Ireland. I have promised to stand only one moment on the floor of the House, and I will close by saying this. I cannot vote with Her Majesty's Government, and I will not vote against them; but, meanwhile, I believe that this compromise, like compromises in general, will leave behind it an amount of unsatisfied principle from which, some day or other, mischief is certain to accrue.
§ MR. JUSTIN M'CARTHY
said, he hoped the Government would withdraw from the position which they had taken up. There was nothing to prevent a landlord from turning his whole estate into a "home farm." One case of a landlord doing so would spread alarm through a whole country side. One case was given by a noble Lord to support the Lords' view of the question, which required a combination of circumstances which he had himself never ventured on in framing a work of fiction. A family got ill, and let their mansion house, and 20 years afterwards, towards the end of the term for which they had let it, they all got well again and wanted to resume. He hoped the Government would stand by their Bill as it was.
§ MR. O'KELLY
said, he thought the Government ought to give them fuller information as to what was meant by a "home farm." What was to prevent a landlord resuming possession of farm after farm until he had the whole of his estate in his own hands? Until the 1579 Government gave them some assurance as to the operation of the Amendment, he thought the Irish Party would be justified in resisting it most strenously, and, if necessary, moving the adjournment of the House, in order to give the Government time to reflect.
§ MR. REDMOND
wished the Solicitor General for Ireland would give a definition of "home farm." He (Mr. Redmond) knew of an instance in the county of Wexford where the landlord had resumed possession of holding after holding until the whole estate was in his hands. If, under the Amendment, such process as that were possible, the Amendment was most undesirable, and Irish Representatives were bound to resist it to the utmost of their power.
§ MR. A. M. SULLIVAN
said, he was not at any loss to know what a home farm meant, and he did not think the Court would be at any loss to understand the phrase; but, unfortunately, its meaning was not comprehended in more than half-a-dozen places in Ireland. For his own part, he was against resumption under any circumstances, and regretted the course taken by the Government; but, in meeting the objection taken by the hon. Member for Galway, the Government had gone a long way to mitigate the effect of the Amendment. He only wished that the Government had never thought of the Amendment, and that they would take it back. It was a well-known fact that some Irish landlords loved dominion more than money—that they would be satisfied to be out of pocket in order to clear off the population and have the lands in their own hands. Irish Members had been charged with not dissociating themselves with words which had fallen from his hon. Friend (Mr. Healy). He felt that in times past Irish Members had been too fond of "dissociating" themselves from one another, and, perhaps, were still so; but, challenged as they had been, he could not in candour refrain from saying, in the presence of his hon. Friends, that he heard with grief and, indeed, with intense pain, his hon. Friend use that quotation as to the shooting of landlords and bailiffs. He had the pleasure of knowing personally Mr. John Mitchell, and he knew, as many others knew who were acquainted with him, that he had a North of Ireland Presbyterian bitterness of expression; but, 1580 while he should say nothing that would cast a reflection upon the name of John Mitchell, he should, in justice to his own principles and character, say that if any Irishman in his hearing in Ireland now uttered such exhortations to shoot landlords, and if they could not shoot landlords, to shoot their agents or bailiffs, he should heartily regret that he voted in the House for the abolition of capital punishment.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
said, that the Government had over and over again been appealed to to limit the power which their Amendment would give to Irish landlords to resume possession of the holdings of tens of thousands of leaseholders. They had, however, remained dumb. The Premier had stated long ago that he would gladly listen to suggestions coming from any part of the House; but on this occasion the right hon. Gentleman was deaf, not only to the suggestion, but also to the entreaties of the Irish Members. In order to give the Government an opportunity of expressing their final decision, he begged to move the adjournment of the debate.
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, he would cordially second the proposition. The Government were bound to give a definition of the term.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. O'Donnell.)
I should have thought that this Motion on the eighth month of the Session, and on the 11th of August, would have been about the last resort of any hon. Member. The Government will not, either directly or indirectly, be a tool for furthering such purposes. We have, on the part of the Government, fully explained everything that we have to say upon this matter, and the pretended opportunity offered us of explanation is an opportunity which shall not be used by us. We have no more to say on the matter, and I hope the House will at once pass judgment upon the Motion.
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL
said, that Her Majesty's Government had nobody to thank but themselves for the present difficulty. This was the third Amendment since this Bill came from the House of Lords which the Government had practically abandoned in 1581 the face of a certain amount of opposition. ["Oh!"] He knew his reminiscences were most disagreeable to hon. Members opposite; he was sure the Government would appreciate their impatience and the method of interruption adopted by the Radical Party and the friends of liberty. In the protracted discussion on the Emigration Question, the Irish Party adopted an attitude of firm opposition; more than once they resorted to the manœuvre now resorted to by the hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. O'Donnell), and the result was they were eminently successful in their efforts, for they reduced the Emigration Clauses to a perfect farce. To-night the Attorney General for Ireland had come down with an Amendment which had evidently been carefully prepared out of the House on consultation with his Party; there was every reason to believe it was the result of mature deliberation; and yet the Government, on the opposition of the Irish Party—he attributed the result to the firm attitude of the hon. Member for Wexford (Mr. Healy)—mutilated and reduced their Amendment so as to make it a piece of imposture. The Irish Party were naturally of opinion that if they persisted in their opposition the remaining traces of this imposture would disappear. He could not be surprised at that, considering also the manner in which the Prime Minister had thought proper to reply to the Leader of the Opposition. No doubt, the answer was exceedingly amusing to the House at a moment when they were carried away by the eloquence of the Prime Minister; but throughout his 15 years' experience in the House he had never heard anything, not even in the speeches which had fallen from the hon. Member for Wexford, or from any of those Irish Members who were celebrated for the character and violence of their invective, to equal the insulting language—the language of studied insult—which the Prime Minister had thought it consistent with his dignity to address to the right hon. Gentleman. Because the right hon. Baronet had addressed a dignified remonstrance to the Government on their wavering conduct, the Prime Minister had drawn upon the whole vocabulary of abuse which belonged to him. If the right hon. Gentleman met the Amendments of the House of Lords in the 1582 spirit in which he answered the Leader of the Opposition, it was clear that all debate in opposition to the Government had become worse than useless. Although the Motion of the hon. Member for Dungarvan was inopportune at this period of the Session, and could lead to no useful result, he was bound to say that the way in which the Government had dealt with the Amendments of the House of Lords showed that it might not be inadvisable that the Government should have time to retreat from the position they had taken up.
§ MR. PARNELL
said, that in asking his hon. Friend the Member for Dungarvan (Mr. O'Donnell) to withdraw his Motion, he desired to indicate the course which he and his Friends intended to follow. With reference to the Amendments proposed by the Government on their own Amendment, as these were distinctly of a limiting description he should vote for them. At the same time, he and those with whom he acted would think it necessary to divide the House afterwards on the Amendment itself.
§ MR. HEALY
said, he had expected the Government would have given some explanation of the term "home farm," which they never heard of until they came to the Definition Clause. No wonder they were suspicious, because it was introduced at the request of the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. H. E. Brand). What they were afraid of was grazing or grass; it was not too much to ask that the "home farm" should not consist entirely of grazing land. He would be prepared to withdraw the 100 acres' limit, if the Government would give an assurance that there should be so many acres of tillage. He would not complain if the landlord wanted the land for his own purposes. And now he wished to say a word on another subject. The hon. Member for the King's County (Sir Patrick O'Brien) thought fit to make some comment upon a remark of his. He remembered very well reading in the newspapers two years ago how the hon. Member for the King's County called the hon. Member for Car-low, then Member for Tipperary (Mr. Gray), something which he could not repeat because it would be un-Parliamentary; he would only say that it began with a "d" and ended with "fool." ["Question!"] The hon. 1583 Alderman (Mr. Alderman Lawrence) cried "Question!" Well, he believed Dr. Johnson once said he could supply a man with argument, but could not supply him with brains. The hon. Member for the King's County said that the words he had applied to the hon. Member for Carlow were only a quotation. [Sir PATRICK O'BRIEN: Hear, hear!] The hon. and learned Member for Meath (Mr. A. M. Sullivan), in the exercise of his discretion, had thought fit to get up and denounce him. The hon. and learned Member referred to the quotation which he affected to make from Mitchell so as to throw doubt upon his bonâ fides. The hon. and learned Member was perfectly at liberty to do so; but it did not become Irish Members to come down to that House—["Question!"]. He could understand an hon. Member crying "Question!" when he knew how he should finish the sentence; but if he did not know, it was somewhat unusual even for an Alderman to cry "Question!"
§ MR. HEALY
said, that for English opinion or for the opinion of the House of Commons it was the right and the duty of an Irish Member not to care one pin. He came there in the exercise of his functions as an Irish Representative to express his opinions, and as long as he had the approval of his constituency, and he had the right of the House, he should continue to utter them. He believed that everything he had said or done had received the full approval of his constituents, and therefore it was not for the hon. and learned Member for Meath to get up and pose as a disclaimer. They knew that the hon. and learned Member for Meath was not a man of blood. For his own part, like the fop described by Hotspur, he might regret that villainous saltpetre, which had laid many a tall fellow low, had ever been digged out of the bowels of the innocent earth; but he had never been an advocate of the "single drop of blood" theory.
§ MR. A. M. SULLIVAN
, said, his hon. Friend said that an Irish Member in that House should think only of the opinion of his constituency, and not care a pin for the opinion of hon. Members of that House or for English opinion. But 1584 he (Mr. Sullivan), who held the doctrine that a Member of the Irish Party was not an individual fighting for his own hand, that the Irish Party were bound to act together for good or ill, and that they might by their language hurt one another or their country, must recollect that language like that of his hon. Friend might reflect upon and stain his Party more than an individual. He would tell his hon. Friend (Mr. Healy) that he belonged to an organization called the Land League, which cared a great deal for the opinion of the people of England, for it was now appealing to that opinion, and he (Mr. A. M. Sullivan) hoped not in vain. He would tell his hon. Friend, too, that he was bound to care for the opinion of that House, the opinion of England, and the opinion of the world, fighting, as he believed he was, for a just cause. He never reflected upon or denounced his hon. Friend or his Colleagues for what they said upon their own responsibility; but he must be allowed to say that while he belonged to a Party which might be affected by the utterances of any one of them, he would not sit silent, even if it cost him his seat, with all the honours that could be conferred upon him, nor would he be held accountable for doctrines which might be interpreted as an encouragement to shoot landlords. His hon. Friend did not mean what he had said—he could not have meant it. He had said that he was not an advocate of one drop of blood; but he had not told the House that what he meant by that was that he would like to shed his own blood in fighting for his country's rights, but that he was not in favour of cowardly assassination.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
asked whether he understood the Government to assent to the modification suggested by the hon. Member for Wexford? He understood the Prime Minister to assent to it.
said, he could not consider anything a "home farm" which would be a mere aggregation of land used for grazing purposes.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ Original Question, "That those words be there inserted in the said proposed Amendment," put, and agreed to.
Amendment proposed to the said proposed Amendment, by adding at the end thereof the words—
Provided always, That if the holding so resumed shall be at any time within fifteen years after such resumption relet to a tenant, the same shall he subject, from and after the time of its being so relet, to all the provisions of this Act which are applicable to present tenancies."—(Mr. Attorney General for Ireland.)
§ Main Question, "That those words be there added," put, and agreed to.
said, he did not think it necessary to insert an explanation of a phrase that he had no doubt of the meaning of.
§ MR. MITCHELL HENRY
suggested that in the House of Lords the Government might insert the words "for mixed agriculture."
§ Amendment, as amended, put.
That the words 'where it shall appear to the satisfaction of the Court that the landlord desires to resume the holding for the bonâ fide purpose of occupying the same as a residence for himself or as a home farm in connection with his residence, or for the purpose of providing a residence for some member of his family, the Court may authorise him to resume the same accordingly, in the manner and on the terms provided by the fifth section of this Act with respect to resumption of a holding by a landlord: Provided always, That if the holding so resumed shall be at any time within fifteen years after such resumption relet to a tenant, the same shall be subject, from and after the time of its being so relet, to all the provisions of this Act which are applicable to present tenancies,' be there inserted."—(Mr. Gladstone.)
§ The House divided:—Ayes 285; Noes 56: Majority 229.—(Div. List, No. 377.)
§ Amendment in page 16, line 24, to leave out lines 24 to 36, the next Amendment, read a second time.
moved that the House disagree with the Amendment. The question to which it related had been very largely considered in that House, and it was a simple one. He would not repeat the argument, but would only indicate what the question was. The general law was sufficient to deal with cases of fraud in regard to leases. A case came before them, however, which was not a case of fraud, but a peculiar case arising under the Act of 1870. By that Act they gave inducements to tenants 1586 and landlords to enter into leases, on the supposition entertained by the Legislature that these powers would be used in the spirit in which they were given. It had, however, been proved that in certain cases they were not so used; and, consequently, the Government proposed to extend that principle of the law which quashed a lease in case of fraud to cases where leases had been made according to the terms of that portion of the clause which the Lords had struck out. The first of those conditions was where a lease had been procured by the threat of the landlord, or undue influence; and the second condition was that the terms of the lease so procured were, at the time of such acceptance, unreasonable or unfair to the tenant. These were the points which the Government proposed to support, so as to give the Court in such cases the power of quashing the lease.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth disagree with The Lords in the said Amendment."—(Mr. Gladstone.)
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
said, he hoped it would not be necessary to renew the discussion upon this matter; but, at the same time, it would be necessary for him and his hon. Friends to protest against the re-introduction of the words which the Lords had struck out, and to which they objected when originally inserted. Nobody could desire to support any case of unjust or unreasonably pressure by a landlord; but if it were proposed to deal with such a case by the ordinary principles of equity the difficulty would not arise. They must adhere to their views as expressed in Committee, and oppose the Motion.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 247; Noes 113: Majority 134.—(Div. List, No. 378.)
On the Motion of Mr. ATTORNEY GENERAL for IRELAND, the following Lords' Amendment was agreed to. After Clause 22, insert Clause (C):—
(Power to limited owner to sell holding and leave one-fourth of price of holding on mortgage.)
A landlord of a holding, being a limited owner as defined by the twenty-sixth section of the Landlord and Tenant (Ireland) Act, 1870, may by agreement, subject to the provisions of
the Lands Clauses Consolidation Acts (except so much of the same as relates to the puchase of lands otherwise than by agreement), sell and convey such holding to the tenant, and may exercise to the same extent as if he were an absolute owner the power of permitting any sum not exceeding one fourth in amount of the price which the tenant may pay as purchase money, to remain as a charge upon such holding secured by a mortgage, and in case of any advance being made by the Land Commission under the provisions of this Act to the tenant for the purchase of such holding, any such mortgage shall be subject to any charge in favour of the Land Commission for securing such advance; and any such mortgage and the principal moneys secured thereby shall be deemed to be part of the purchase money or compensation payable in respect of the purchase of such holding, and shall be dealt with accordingly in manner provided by the Lands Clauses Consolidation Acts; and in the construction of the said Acts for the purposes of this section the expression 'the Special Act' shall be construed to mean this Act, and the expression 'the promoters of the undertaking' shall be construed to mean the tenant.
Page 19, line 12, leave out from ("who") to ("pay") in line 14, the next Amendment, read a second time.
said, he would propose certain words which would substitute for the removal of the condition of three-fourths a relaxation of that condition. He would read the words shortly. He could not propose this Amendment without stating that he regarded the Lords' Amendment, on a ground apart from the merits of the Amendment, with very great jealousy indeed as an act done by the House of Lords. He could not presume to blame them; but he must say he looked with great jealousy upon an act done by the House of Lords which derogated very considerably from the exclusive privilege of the House of Commons with regard to the expenditure of public money. Still, as he understood the authorities of the House were not prepared to say that the Amendment was beyond their powers, it was their duty to deal with it equitably upon the merits. As the House of Lords had struck out the limitation of three-fourths, the effect was to leave the amount of money to be expended entirely at the discretion of the Commissioners. The Government were not prepared to place the strings of the public purse in the hands of the Commission in that way. A point was raised which seemed to have some reason in it. It was said that there might be cases of villages or estates where it was hardly to be expected or 1588 desired that many of the villagers should become purchasers of their holdings. This was a matter in which the discretion of the responsible Government might fairly be introduced. He therefore proposed to restore the three-fourths limitation, and to add the words—The condition as to three-fourths of the number of tenants may be relaxed on special grounds with the consent of the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury, but so that in no case less than half the number of tenants shall be able and willing to purchase.
§ Lords' Amendment disagreed to; Amendment (Mr. Gladstone) agreed to.
§ Page 24, line 25, after ("any") insert ("state or colony or"), the next Amendment, agreed to.
§ Page 25, leave out subsections (1) and (2) of Clause 31,—the next Amendment, disagreed to.
§ The following Amendments were agreed to:—
§ Page 26, line 13, after ("Act") insert ("and subject to the provisions of this Act"); line 14, leave out ("Act") and insert ("Acts.")
§ Page 27, line 26, after ("1870") insert ("as if the purposes therein referred to included the purposes of this Act.")
§ Page 28, line 3, leave out ("twelfth day of February") and insert ("fourteenth day of August "); line 4, after ("any") insert ("permanent"); line 21, after ("special") insert (" retiring.")
Page 30, line 11, leave out from ("by") to the end of the clause, and insert—
("All three commissioners sitting together, except in the case of the illness or unavoidable absence of any one commissioner, when any such case may be heard by two commissioners sitting together; provided that neither of such two commissioners be the commissioner before whom the case was originally heard.")
Line 21, leave out ("number of.")
§ Transpose Clauses 44 and 45.
Page 31, line 1, after ("may") insert—
("In case it thinks fit, permit any party aggrieved by the decision of the Land Commission in any proceedings to appeal in respect of any matter arising in such proceedings to Her Majesty's Court of Appeal in Ireland, and may,")
—the next Amendment, read a second time.
§ MR. GIBSON
expressed his surprise at the Government proposing to disagree with so reasonable and just a provision, especially as he understood, it was accepted by the Representatives of the Government in the other House.
§ Lords' Amendment disagreed to.
§ Page 31, line 7, after ("such") insert ("matter or"), the next Amendment, disagreed to.
§ The following Amendments were agreed to:—
Page 31, line 40, after ("final") insert—
("Provided always, that any order or decision made by three members of the Land Commission shall not be reviewed, rescinded, or varied, except by three members of the Land Commission.")
Page 32, line 7, after ("court") insert—
("All appeals to the Land Commission under this Act shall be heard by all three commissioners sitting together, except in the case of illness or unavoidable absence of any one commissioner, when any appeal may be heard by two commissioners sitting together, one of whom shall be the Judicial Commissioner.")
Page 32, line 12, leave out ("repeated") and insert ("repealed"), and add—
("All appeals under the said section pending at the time of the passing of this Act are hereby transferred to the Land Commission; and all further proceedings thereon shall be taken in the prescribed manner.")
§ Page 32, line 16, after ("purposes") insert ("or for the holding of courts of petty sessions"); line 18, after the second ("and") insert ("to"); line 21, after ("shall") insert ("from time to time"); lines 24 and 25, leave out (" to such circulation and.")
Page 33, line 10, after ("of") insert ("the Land Commission or of "); line 12, after ("on") insert ("mortgagees and"); line 26, after ("Parliament") insert—
("And if an Address is presented to Her Majesty by either House of Parliament within the next subsequent one hundred days on which the said House shall have sat praying that any such rule may be annulled, Her Majesty may thereupon by Order in Council annul the same, and the rule so annulled shall thenceforth become void and of no effect, but without pre-
judice to the validity of any proceedings which may in the meantime have been taken under the same.")
§ Page 34, Transpose Clause 53 to follow Clause 56.
Page 37, line 16, after ("tenant") insert—
("Where the tenant sublets part of his holding with the consent of his landlord, he shall, notwithstanding such subletting, be deemed, for the purposes of this Act, to be still in occupation of the holding"),
—the next Amendment, read a second time.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. LAW)
moved that the House do agree with the Lords' Amendment.
§ Lords' Amendment agreed to.
§ Page 37, line 31, leave out from ("Act") to ("and") in line 34, the next Amendment, disagreed to.
Page 38, line 4, leave out from ("which") to the end of the paragraph, and insert—
("The Land Commission may by order declare fit to be purchased as a separate estate for the purposes of this Act "),
—the next Amendment, agreed to.
§ Page 39, line 5, leave out from ("holding") to ("let") in line 6, the next Amendment, agreed to.
§ Page 38, line 9, after ("tenant") insert ("Provided that any such letting made after the passing of this Act shall be in writing"), the next Amendment, amended, by inserting after the word "be" the words "by contract;" and after the word "writing" the words "which shall express the purpose for which such letting is made."
At the end of Clause 56 add as a new sub section—
(9.) "Any 'glebe' as defined by the Act of thirty-eighth and thirty-ninth Victoria, chapter forty-two, which now is or hereafter shall be held or occupied by any 'ecclesiastical persons' as by the same Act denned, and no such ecclesiastical person shall in respect of such 'glebe' be entitled to make any claim for compensation under any of the provisions of 'The Landlord and Tenant (Ireland) Act, 1870,' or of this Act,
—the next Amendment, agreed to.
§ Amendment in page 39, to leave out lines 22 to 30, the next Amendment, read a second time.1591
§ THE ATTOENEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. LAW)
moved that the House disagree with the Amendment. He also proposed to amend the original provision of the Bill by extending' it to all legal proceedings on the understanding that the Court should only act upon it in cases in which there would be a probability that the judicial rent would be fixed within a reasonable time—say, three months. He proposed to disagree with the Lords' Amendment, which struck out the clause altogether, and then he would move to amend the clause by the insertion of words which would provide that the Court, if satisfied that the judicial rent would be fixed in a reasonable time, not exceeding three calendar months, should make an order to stay execution until the termination of proceedings for fixing the judicial rent. He now, therefore, in the first place, moved that the House disagree with the Lords in their Amendment.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth disagree with The Lords in the said proposed Amendment."—(Mr. Attorney General for Ireland.)
§ MR. GIBSON
said, the history of the clause was rather peculiar. The clause itself was not included in the original proposals of the Government, nor was it hinted at even in the most enigmatical form by the Prime Minister on the second reading, nor was it suggested in the lengthened discussions which took place in Committee, or mentioned in any stage of the Report up to the last day. It was then that the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) got up and proposed it, and the hon. Member certainly appeared to have some confidence that it would be accepted—because, in a very marvellous way, and with remarkable rapidity, it was accepted by Her Majesty's Government. There was, however, this extraordinary incident. The Prime Minister stated that the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland would later on, if the matter were postponed, make himself answerable for the Amendment that would be proposed. But when they came to the clause that was not done; but the hon. Member for the City of Cork proposed words that were agreeable to the Government, Thus, in reality, it was an Amendment arranged 1592 between the hon. Member for the City of Cork and the Government. [Mr. GLADSTONE: In the House.] He did not think the Prime Minister would question the accuracy of what he was now stating. This occurred, not at an early stage of the Report, but at the very last stage. And what was now the character of the change proposed? It was a change which affected every creditor of every tenant in Ireland, introduced into an Act of Parliament which purported only to deal with landlords and tenants in relation to land and rent, and it was done without notice to any one of the parties who were affected by the transaction. This was a very serious change; and although the matter had been discussed in the other House, he could not say it was argued, and certainly it was not defended by the Government in that House. The Government ought, if they then intended to expand or alter their Amendment, to have given some intimation in the House of Lords of what they were going to do. But now, at the present stage, without notice, the Government sought to affect another class who had by bankruptcy taken proceedings against the property of the tenant. If the Government now intended to interfere with the action of a creditor who had by his activity obtained a right of proceeding in bankruptcy, why did they not give an earlier intimation of their intention? He wished to know what was the justification for the clause at all in its present shape, and why it had been introduced? Was it not a mere afterthought to endeavour to pacify the hon. Member for the City of Cork? To use a common but familiar expression, was it not an endeavour to "square" the Land League. They all knew that one of the most frequent utterances in reference to the Bill had been that if it passed no rent need be paid until a judicial rent was fixed, and this clause would be pointed out as the machinery by which that result would be accomplished. Was it reasonable that in an Act which purported only to regulate the acts of a landlord and tenant in reference to land to interfere with the action of a creditor? In the first instance it was proposed that the clause should apply to the landlord only, other creditors being left free. It was then extended to all creditors; and he ventured to think that the further 1593 expansion it had received was one that would not stand the test of argument. The last proposal was to extend the clause to proceedings in bankruptcy, and what would be the result? If a tenant became bankrupt his interest in the farm passed to his assignees; but the clause in the shape in which it now appeared would seem to regard only the tenant's interest. His right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General said the first Amendment was an Amendment in the substance of the clause and an amplification of it, but that the second Amendment was more or less of a formal or verbal character. In other words, in the process of giving "bit about," his right hon. and learned Friend proposed to give the substance to the hon. Member for the City of Cork, and then to add something else which should have the appearance of not going quite so far. His right hon. and learned Friend did not himself appear to think that the second Amendment amounted to very much. But if the Court did its duty it was, to a certain extent, a substantial change; and he should be glad to know if the Government would carry out their proposition as to putting in plain terms on the face of the Amendment that one of the conditions should be the payment of or security for the whole or such part of the debt as to the Court might seem just? It was only reasonable, when they arrested the action of a creditor who by his diligence had obtained judgment, and when they proposed to anticipate that diligence, that there should be a test of bonâ fides, so as to prevent any injustice being done, and that they should compel the debtor to give a guarantee of his bonâ fides and to pay the whole or such substantial part of the debt as to the Court might appear to be just. He believed that the proposal of the Government would do more to wreck the Bill for which they were responsible than anything else. The great rock ahead of the Bill, as everybody knew, was the danger of litigation. They were holding out a premium to litigation, which it would be nearly impossible for the tenants of Ireland to resist, because, whenever a tenant found himself in difficulties, and whenever a man had a judgment against him, his first step would be to tie up the hands of his creditor, by involving himself and his landlord in litigation. In other words, they did not allow the 1594 clause to operate, except where there was litigation; and the conditions they were imposing were conditions which might wreck, or seriously interfere with, the entire operation of the Bill. He could not avoid the suspicion that the course of the Government in reference to the clause had been considerably influenced by the earlier proceedings of the evening. He remembered when the clause originally came on that it was scarcely adopted or defended by the Government. The Prime Minister had nothing to say to it. He gave the ægis of his presence and the distinction of his silence to the transaction; but he (Mr. Gibson) thought he was justified in saying that the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister left the difficult and ungrateful task of defending the proposal to the adroitness of the Chief Secretary for Ireland, because anything that could, relieve the right hon. Gentleman of any of his difficulties in Ireland it would be more than human to expect the right hon. Gentleman to resist. Accordingly, if any course could be suggested to the right hon. Gentleman by which processes could be suspended during the remainder of the term of his Chief Secretaryship, he had very little doubt that the right hon. Gentleman—he would not say as a politician or as a statesman—would listen—he would be more than human if he did not—with a certain amount of sympathy to the proposal. That being the case, the Government had an active, an intelligent, and a silent majority to support them. [Ministerial cheers.] He admitted that occasionally the majority were not silent—that they applauded with great animation anything which indicated their extreme confidence in their Leaders. Now, a Liberal, speaking of a similar Conservative majority, would call it mechanical. But he never used hard names. He preferred to say that in the closing days of the Session the minority laboured under a difficulty to bring up their men, the only effect of their presence being to enable them to register a protest; while Her Majesty's Ministers were always able to overwhelm the Opposition by bringing up a compact body of enthusiastic supporters, ready at all times to show their allegiance to the Ministers of the day, and who, though not a mechanical, were certainly a devoted, majority.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
(who was indistinctly heard): I must say a word on one or two of the remarks which have fallen from the right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Gibson). He has thought fit to make charges against Her Majesty's Government in which he has altogether misrepresented their intentions. I understood the right hon. and learned Gentleman to say that the acceptance by the Government of the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) was intended to "square" the Land League. I state again, as I said before, that we thought it would be an advantage in the case of a rack-renting landlord or an unfair creditor that he should not be able to prevent a tenant who was his debtor from obtaining the fixing of a fair rent before he was deprived of his holding. It was in order to guard against that danger, and to give full effect to the proceedings authorized under sub-section 3 of Clause 12, in the case of an ejectment directed by the County Court or one of the Superior Courts, that we accepted the Amendment. The right hon. and learned Gentleman, not content with making that charge, makes another—namely, that the Amendment, instead of having received due consideration, was adopted suddenly this evening, in defiance of what had passed in previous debates. Now, I really think that these charges are most unfair, and that it is hardly in accordance with the common conduct of Business on both sides of the House that that kind of charge should be made. We propose to deal with the question, because we really wish to enable the tenant to obtain a judicial rent, and we have accepted the Amendment in order that he shall obtain at once a limit of time within which the judicial rent shall be fixed. I trust that the House will be prepared now to arrive at a decision upon the question, as it has now been fully debated.
§ MR. A. M. SULLIVAN
said, he wished to point out to the Government that while he felt it to be quite unreasonable that the creditor should be obliged to wait for an indefinite time, to tie down the tenant to a period if three months and no more would on many cases preclude the tenant from obtaining that fair equity to which he 1596 was entitled. He thought the Government, in order to carry out their own views, should make the clause run in these terms—The Court should stay the proceedings for such reasonable period of time as, in the opinion of the Court, may enable the tenant, by due diligence on his part, to obtain from the Court a degree fixing the judicial rent.He would not object to a provision requiring the tenant to exert himself in order to obtain a judicial rent, so that no delay should be occasioned by his inaction; but if the tenant did use due diligence, then he should not be prevented from obtaining the ear of the Court. Unless some such such words as those he suggested were inserted, and if the hard-and-fast line of three months were adopted, the acceptance of the Amendment would really make it worth very little to the tenantry of Ireland. He quite agreed that the tenant should not be allowed to lie on his oars in order to defeat the creditor, but that he should exert himself in order to obtain the fixing of a judicial rent.
§ SIR JOSEPH M'KENNA
(who spoke amid considerable interruption, which prevented many of his observations from being heard) was understood to say that the acceptance of a limit of three months would be most unsatisfactory to the Irish Members on that side of the House. The clause, as he regarded it, was intended to guard the tenant who had been suffering from rack rent, and who had paid a rack rent for a number of years, and had thereby become embarrassed in his circumstances, from being suddenly pounced upon by his landlord, and to enable him to set up his interest in the tenant right, in order to get a judicial rent fixed. It was quite obvious that the tenant's right should be fixed by a judicial rent, with a clear understanding as to whether he had been subjected to a rack rent or not. The right of the tenant should not be sold except under such circumstances as would enable the tenant to receive the full value of it.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 225; Noes 113: Majority 112.—(Div. List, No. 379.)
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. LAW)
proposed to amend the original clause by the inser- 1597 tion of the word "proceedings" after "action" in two places.
§ Amendment agreed, to.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. LAW)
moved, in the words so restored, in page 29, line 26, after the word "pending," to insert the words—If satisfied that such judicial rent will be fixed within a reasonable time, not exceeding in any case three months.
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. PARNELL
said, he was sorry that the Government had moved to fix a limit which, in his opinion, in a majority of cases, would render the clause practically useless and illusory. He agreed to the fullest extent that if the proceedings for fixing a judicial rent were to be indefinitely delayed, it would be unreasonable to ask the landlord or other creditor to wait for his money. But he would submit that, on the other hand, they should seek a mean in the matter, and instead of fixing a narrow limit of three months, which was much too small for the purpose in view, that they should leave the limit to the discretion of the Court. Under the clause, as it now stood, the Court was unduly fettered in a way that was open to much criticism, because it was provided in the Bill that the Court might stay the writ of execution until the termination of the proceedings to fix a judicial rent. That might be for a very long time, and he quite agreed that some incentive should be held out in the clause to hasten his proceedings, and to use all due diligence in order to obtain the fixing of the judicial rent. He might follow the analogy presented by the 12th clause—namely, that there should be no limit inserted whatever—because by the 12th clause they gave power to the Court to stay actions for ejectment for non-payment of rent, whereas by the present clause they sought now to prescribe a narrow limit of three months. What he wished chiefly to provide in this case was that where the tenant, owing to having got into difficulties, was unable to pay his rent, and applied to the Court to fix a judicial rent, with a view to being enabled to sell his interest in the holding, when that judicial rent was fixed the proceedings should be stayed, in order 1598 to enable him to realize his assets to the fullest extent, because it was manifest that until a judicial rent was ascertained it would be impossible for the tenant to know what to ask for his interest in the holding, or for a future buyer to know what to give him. He did not wish so much to protect the tenant who was able to pay his rent; but his only object was to protect the tenant who was unable to pay his rent, and to enable him to sell his interest—in point of fact, to prevent the sale of his interest by the landlord, for arrears of rent, until the nature of the tenant's assets should have been fixed by the Court. That was all he asked, and he submitted that with regard to proceedings of this character it was absurd to fix a limit of three months, which, in the very nature of the case, must be wholly inadequate. He admitted that in some cases three months would be amply sufficient; but he would leave it open to the Court to extend the time beyond three months, or even make it less than three months, if necessary. He asked the Government, instead of hampering the Court with a limit, to agree to an Amendment which he proposed to move later down in the clause, and which, although of a simple character, would, he thought, meet all the circumstances of the cases. He would propose, after the word "conditions," in line 27, to add the words "and for such period." If some such Amendment were not adopted, the proposal of the Government would be worthless.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL (Sir FARRER HERSCHELL)
said, the Amendment of his right hon. and learned Friend was to fix a limit of three months, and the conclusion the Government had arrived at was that it was only reasonable and right that there should be a limit of time, or otherwise considerable danger would be incurred. He would point out at once what the danger was. There could be no doubt that if they had a case in which a tenancy was about to be sold, it would be for the interest of the tenant, and of the creditor also, that a judicial rent should be fixed, and that the sale should be stayed for a reasonable time until the judicial rent was fixed. But if there was great delay in fixing a judicial rent, the advantage might be too dearly purchased, because it would be purchased at the risk of sacrificing the interests of the creditor. 1599 There was, consequently, this great danger, that if they did not fix a limited period, they might commit injustice to the creditor by delaying to an indefinite time the payment of the money due; and next, that they would give an inducement to the tenants to go into Court to have a judicial rent fixed merely for the purpose of so filling the Court with applications that the proceedings of the Court would be necessarily delayed, and the creditor would be kept out of his money for an indefinite period. By allowing any delay in the sale until a judicial rent was fixed there would certainly be an inducement, by making a number of applications, to interpose an artificial delay between a debtor and his creditor, the real object being not to get a judicial rent fixed, but to delay the payment of debts. That, he thought, everyone would feel to be an injustice, and it was against such a danger that the Government were anxious to guard. For that reason, they had proposed a limit of three months.
§ MR. A. M. SULLIVAN
confessed that he was entirely taken by surprise to find the Government adhering to the hard-and-fast line of three months. The argument of the hon. and learned Solicitor General amounted to this—that if a tenant had made an application to the Court for the fixing of a fair rent, other persons might perhaps, without any privity on his part, crowd the Court with similar applications, and he was to suffer in consequence. He had never before heard such a doctrine laid down. What he contended for was the bonâ fides of the application, and if the tenant used due diligence, he did not see why he should be damnified. It was most unreasonable that the tenant should be injured for that which was no fault of his own. If the tenant had an equity, why should the Legislature deprive him of that equity for that which was no fault whatever on his part? In most cases a period of three months would afford abundance of time; but he contended that the question of the absolute limit was one which ought to be left to the discretion of the Court, which should have full power to take care that the tenant was not injured. The Irish Members were as anxious as anyone to checkmate and render impossible any trickery on the part of the tenant for the purpose of postponing a decision; but that would be effectually done by the 1600 clause without fixing a limit of three months. The Court should be allowed to judge whether the application was bonâ fide or not, and should be able to say to a tenant—"You have not used due diligence, and we will not even give you three months." Under these circumstances, he asked the Government not to adhere to the limit of three months, which might be made to work a most grievous injury to the tenant. This was the last Amendment that would come before the House of Commons, and he appealed to Her Majesty's Government not to let their last act in connection with the Bill—which he believed would be one of blessing to his countrymen—to be an ungracious one. He earnestly appealed to them not to let the last act of a four or five months' discussion be one of difference with the Irish Members, and he strongly entreated them to make the concession asked of them. He was not wedded to an exact phraseology of the clause; but he appealed simply for justice to the tenant, and he asked the Prime Minister to meet the Irish Members a little more reasonably in this matter than he had yet indicated.
§ MR. GRAY
said, he thought the Amendment would be quite useless if the limit of three months were retained in it. He failed to see upon what principle the Government had arrived at the period of three months. He would take the instance referred to by the right hon. and learned Attorney General for Ireland. The right hon. and learned Gentleman said that a number of applications might be made within a week of the passing of the Act for the fixing of a judicial rent; but had they any reason to believe that the Commission would be constituted, and in full working order, and capable of fixing judicial rents within three months of the passing of the Act? If not, the people who applied within a week of the passing of the Act would have their interests swept away, not on account of any fault of their own, or any negligence on their part, but because the Commission had not been able to get itself into working order within the time named by the right hon. and learned Gentleman himself. If they proposed any limitation, based on the default of the tenant, in any shape or form, that would be perfectly right; but they proposed a limitation, and gave the tenant no means whatever of escaping 1601 from it. He might use all due diligence; he might make his application on the very day after the Act Passed; but, owing to some delay in a Governmental Department, or some other circumstance over which he had no control, the right which it was professed to give him would be taken away. The Bill, therefore, was only holding out hopes which might mislead him. It would be more straightforward to cancel the Amendment altogether than propose the clause in its present shape, because he believed the Court would be blocked by the number of applications which would be made to it. It would not be the Land Court which would have to decide the matter, but the Superior Courts of the country; and surely they could be trusted in such a case. If the anticipation of the right hon. and learned Gentleman were to come true, it would only show that every man who applied in this way would apply under the Act, and would facilitate the working of the Act by getting a judicial rent fixed. It was scarcely reasonable to assume that men would run the risk of having a higher than a judicial rent fixed for the purpose of escaping from a debt that they would be ultimately bound to pay. Unless some modification of the proposal of the Government were made, it would be better to cancel the Amendment altogether.
§ MR. DALY
agreed with the hon. Member for Carlow (Mr. Gray) that the acceptance of the Amendment as it at present stood would not do good. To his mind, they should allow the Court, in extreme cases, where the tenant had made a bonâ fide application at the earliest possible time, and, through no fault of his own, had been unable to proceed to settle before three months, to permit proceedings to be taken. He would propose that the tenant should have six months allowed him; and they must bear in mind that by giving this time they would not be holding out any inducement to the tenants to cause delay, because the power of extending the time would be given to the Court. He would move that the word "six" be substituted for the word "three" in the proposed Amendment.
§ MR. GIVAN
said, he thought the Amendment of the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) should be accepted. The practice of the County 1602 Court Judges was to hold their sittings quarterly, but not at even intervals of three months The terms were at Hilary, Easter, Summer, and October, and the interval between the Summer and October terms was always four months—namely, from the 1st of June to the 1st of October. Therefore, supposing the tenant had to bring his action in the County Court, it might be impossible for him to have his rent fixed within the necessary three months. It would thus be evident that if the Commissioners adopted the same procedure as the County Court Judges with regard to the holding of Sessions, an injustice must fall on the tenant. He thought this hard-and-fast rule should not be adhered to by the Government, and he would strongly recommend the Prime Minister to accept the Amendment of the hon. Member for Cork.
§ MR. CALLAN
said, the Government would relieve the minds of the people of Ireland, and at the same time get out of this difficulty, if they declared it to be their intention to appoint a large number of Assistant Commissioners to facilitate the progress of this business. That would satisfy a large number of gentlemen out in the Lobby who were anxious to get the appointments, as well as Members of the House and the Irish people generally.
§ Amendment proposed to the said proposed Amendment, by leaving out the word "three," and inserting the word "six,"—(Mr. Daly,)—instead thereof.
§ Question proposed, "That the word "three" stand part of the proposed Amendment."
I cannot assent to the Amendment that has been moved. In this case it is said that it is hard a tenant should suffer in consequence of what might be the fault of others; but then it must be borne in mind that in 1603 certain quarters demands would be made not to pay the rent in consequence of the delay held out to them by this Amendment in regard to getting the judicial rent fixed. I cannot admit the danger will arise, on the other hand, in the degree which has been stated by some hon. Gentlemen opposite. The tenant would not go into Court were he afraid the rent would be raised, but only if he expected it would be lowered. In a great many cases, no doubt, he will go into Court expecting it to be lowered, when his expectations will not be realized. He may be tempted to go into Court simply because of the prospect held out to him by the judicial rent; but, on the other hand, the judicial rent may be something with which to satisfy the claims of his creditors. We agree in principle with the statement of the hon. Member for Cork City, that hardship to the landlords might result from the misjudgment of a great many' tenants, when temptation was held out to them to apply for a judicial rent, in consequence of a certain amount of delay they may conceive they were likely to obtain. On this account we cannot agree to a prolongation of the term.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
said, the right hon. Gentleman seemed to be seized with an inexplicable fear of the operations of his own Court. Suppose there was a certain temptation held out to some tenants, did not the Court hold out the temptation to the very worst class of landlords so to delay the progress of the suits for fixing a just rent that sufficient time and opportunity might not be afforded to the tenant to sell out? He thought there was just as much likelihood that in justice would be committed on the one side as on the other; and, in face of the certainty that great injustice would be done to many tenants if insufficient time were allowed them to prosecute their just claims, he could not see how the House could refuse the application of the Irish Members.
§ MR. DAWSON
said, he did not think the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister had answered the question put by the hon. Member for Monaghan (Mr. Givan). It might be a legal point that the right hon. Gentleman could not answer; but, if that were so, the Attorney General was by his side, and through him he would be able to answer. It had been pointed out that for more than 1604 three months the Court might be prevented from going into a case. In answer to the hon. Member for Monaghan, the right hon. Gentleman surely should say that where four months elapsed the tenant should not lose all benefit of the clause.
§ MR. REDMOND
said, the words "six months" followed the words "not exceeding." Therefore, it was a question in the discretion of the Court whether proceedings should be stayed for more than three months or less. The Amendment would not fix a hard-and-fast line.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 223; Noes 65: Majority 158.—(Div. List, No. 380.)
Amendment again proposed to the words so restored,
In page 39, line 26, after the word "pending," to insert "if satisfied that such judicial rent will be fixed within a reasonable time, not exceeding in any case three months."—(Mr. Attorney General for Ireland.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said, he thought he and his hon. Friends would not be discharging their duty if they allowed this clause, as amended, to be put without making a much more strenuous and serious and prolonged struggle. He scarcely could believe that the Government knew the meaning of their Amendment. According to sub-section 3 of Clause 12, a landlord who was proceeding by ejectment was bound to stay the proceedings until the termination of an application for the fixing of a judicial rent. There were two Courts—that to which the tenant could go for a judicial rent, and the Court to which application could be made to stay proceedings. How could the Court which was to stay proceedings have official knowledge of what had been done by the Court dealing with a judicial rent? He did not wish to offer any obstructive opposition, and, therefore, he would not move the adjournment of the debate, though he thought the importance of the question would have justified that course. He only desired to mark his sense of the action of the Government, and he hoped his hon. Friend would persist in his opposition until the Amendment was a little more amended.
§ MR. A. M. SULLIVAN
complained that he and his hon. Friends had had no assistance in this matter from the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Gibson), at whose instance the scope of this Amendment was enlarged on a former occasion. The Government proposed to accept the Amendment of the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) as to the landlords, when the right hon. and learned Gentleman pointed out that it would be only half effectual as long as other creditors were allowed to proceed. For that service they would never cease to be grateful to the right hon. and learned Gentleman—[Laughter]—though they believed he had been taken to task by his own Friends. The credit was due to him, and not to the hon. Member for Cork. The hon. Member for Galway (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) thought they had not f ought the matter strenuously enough. He himself felt very strongly upon it, but he hoped at this stage they would not be wanting in dignity in their opposition.
§ Mr. GIBSON
said, he was delighted to get gratitude from any quarter of the House, but he must repudiate the smallest responsibility in this matter.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
protested earnestly against the manner in which the Government had yielded to pressure—which could hardly be called worthy pressure—and had withdrawn the most just concession which they originally made. This limitation, of three months would practically destroy the effect of the concession, and would render it purely nominal and nugatory; and the Government might as well understand from the Irish Party that they recognized what the Government had done, and that notwithstanding all the magnificent language of their supporters with regard to the rights of the people they had yielded on a matter of the first importance to the Irish people. It would be more manly to strike out the concession altogether, for it was perfectly worthless as it stood. It was only another proof that the Government had come to their conclusion without regard to the Party which represented the Irish tenantry; and he was sorry that a larger number of that Party did not feel that the first consideration on this matter was 1606 not exactly the dignity of the Government, but the necessary defence of the Irish tenantry. This was a sop to the noble incorrigibles and irreconcileables in "another place," and to them the interests of the Irish people were being sacrificed.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 210; Noes 34: Majority 176.—(Div. List, No. 381.)
§ MR. PARNELL
said, he had another Amendment to move, which would give the Government a last chance of acting in a straightforward manner—a manner which he begged to say they had not adopted in the way in which they had met the Amendments of the House of Lords. He thought it would have been far more straightforward if the Government had adopted the Lords' Amendments, rather than have sought to carry out the objects of the Lords in a disguised fashion. That was what had happened. The Government appeared to have been afraid to adopt the Amendments of the Lords in a straightforward fashion, and they had sought, in a roundabout way, and in a disguised fashion, to carry out the object of the Lords in the rejection of the last part of this clause. He thought, after the strong expression of opinion given by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant, a different course might have been pursued. The provisions of the clause, as they stood, were at present not worth anything; and, for his part, he would prefer to see them cut out of the Bill altogether, than that it should be supposed that the Government had made any concession in the matter. The concession was perfectly worthless, and he made the Government a present of it. He begged to move, after the word "months," to add the words—And if satisfied that, although such judicial rent cannot be fixed within such period of three months, said inability has arisen from no collusion or default on the part of the tenant, and that such rent can be fixed within any further reasonable period.
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
MR. CHARLES RUSSELL
said, he was reluctant to take part in any prolonged discussion of the Amendment; but he must point out that the advantages which the Government intended to give would be illusory. It was per- 1607 fectly clear that upon a full consideration of the clause, as amended, it would be found that, in effect, it conferred no advantages upon the tenant at all. In the first place, he would remind the House that this was a question not of the Court absolutely saying that the proceedings should be stayed, but simply of giving to the Court a discretion as to the period during which the proceedings might be stayed. It must be recollected that already the Court might impose restrictions as to the limit of time, and certain other conditions, such as requiring security to be given, and so forth. The hon. Member for the county of Monaghan (Mr. Givan), who had himself had great practical experience, having himself been a practising solicitor in the Quarter Sessions Courts, had pointed out that it was utterly impossible, in the course of three months, to deal with the question of rent at all. But the application to stay proceedings was to be made to the Court in which the proceedings were pending, and that might be the Court of Quarter Sessions.
MR. CHARLES RUSSELL
believed that his right hon. and learned Friend was correct; but what was to be the judgment of the Court? It would not be a question of which the Court had any judicial cognizance. But, within very narrow limits, it would be called upon to exercise a judicial discretion with reference to what another Court, of which they knew nothing, might do as to the fixing of a judicial rent. He would point out that a close analogy prevailed between Section 13 of the Bill, as it was returned from the House of Lords, and Section 12, as it was sent up by the House of Commons, and the present section in regard to the question of staying the proceedings. For all practical purposes, there was a true and close analogy between the two cases. Section 13 dealt with the question of proceedings in an ejectment for the recovery of possession of a holding, and it provided that the Court should have power to stay the proceedings in ejectment at its discretion, and on such terms and conditions as it might think right to 1608 impose, until the judicial rent should be determined. What was the subjectmatter of the present section? It was a proceeding, not in a matter of ejectment, but under a fi fa, in compliance with the judgment of a Superior Court. It sought to realize the judgment by the sale of the tenant's interest in the holding, which would be just as effectual, so far as the tenant was concerned, as an ejectment, or even more so, because in the one case there would be a period of six months for redemption, whereas in the other the period was to be for the discretion of the Court to determine. Why a hard-and-fast line of three months should be now drawn, he was at a loss to imagine. He fully admitted that the Bill, as it stood, was a valuable Bill in the interests of the tenant; but it also gave full security to the landlord whenever the tenant's interest was sold. By Clause 1, in sub-section 16, every charge and claim the landlord had for rent, or damage, or breach of contract, was made a first charge upon the proceeds of the sale. He was exceedingly sorry that this matter had not been thought out more carefully by the Government in order to see what the result would be, and he was afraid that the clause very much diminished the advantages which the Bill professed to give.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. LAW)
remarked, that his hon. and learned Friend was very much mistaken in the inference he had drawn that the question had not been carefully considered by the Government. It had, indeed, been very carefully considered. But it must be recollected that there might be a creditor who was not the landlord, and who had no connection with the landlord—an ordinary creditor who simply wanted his money. The debtor who owed the money found himself unable to discharge the debt, and if the creditor obtained judgment, an execution might sweep away all the debtor's chattels without affecting the tenancy at all. His hon. Friend the Member for Monaghan (Mr. Givan) stated that the Sessions only sat at particular seasons of the year, with an interval in one season of four months, and contended that the limitation it was proposed to fix in the clause would render it valueless, because three months would not bring them to anything like the the time of the Court's sitting. But the 1609 question was not one between a July and an October Sessions; and the difficulty suggested did not, in fact, arise at all. The argument of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Dundalk (Mr. C. Russell) pointed to an application to a Superior Court in which a case was pending, and his hon. and learned Friend asked—"What can the Court know as to what is going on in the Inferior Court, by which the judicial rent is to be fixed?" He presumed the Superior Court would act upon sworn evidence, and would have full capacity to form a judgment as to what amount of judicial rent would be fixed; at any rate, that was a difficulty which must be encountered in any form of the clause. Therefore, he did not see that there was much force in the argument of his hon. and learned Friend, and they must trust that the Court, instead of knowing nothing of the merits of the case, would be supplied with full information. His hon. and learned Friend however, in the same breath, asked that the Court above should be capable of extending the period of time as long as it deemed reasonable; but, according to the argument of his hon. and learned Friend, he (the Attorney General for Ireland) did not see how the Court could measure the reasonableness of the application if it was true, as his hon. and learned Friend alleged, that it could know nothing about the merits of the case. There was no analogy between a case where the tenant bad primâ facie a right to have a judicial rent fixed and to claim a statutory term, and in which the landlord, nevertheless, desired to take possession of the holding, and the case of an outside creditor who simply required to recover a debt—a shopkeeper, for instance. It would be unfair to ask such a creditor to postpone his rights indefinitely. The Government thought that three months would be a reasonable time. In the first place, they had made provision to protect the interest of the tenant, and now they felt they were bound also to guard the interests and rights of outside creditors. Under these circumstances, Her Majesty's Government were unable to accept the Amendment.
§ MR. CALLAN
said, he was sorry that the right hon. and learned Attorney General, who appeared to have listened attentively to the speeches of the hon. Member for Monaghan (Mr. Givan) and 1610 the hon. and learned Member for Dundalk (Mr. C. Russell), had not paid the same attention to the Amendment itself, which said that it should be through no default of the tenant that the inability had arisen. It might be through the default of the Government. Suppose, for instance, that there was a dispute between the Irish Office and the Treasury upon such a question as that of salaries, and the Commission found itself unable to get into working order. The House had no assurance yet as to when the Commissioners would be appointed and be able to proceed with the work. All they knew was that the Commissioners were to be appointed before the end of the year, and long before the month of November there might be applications to the Court to fix a judicial rent. He considered the Bill, as a whole, a grand measure; but this Amendment of the Government made the clause nothing better than a miserable sham.
§ MR. DALY
said, it was in the interest of the creditors, other than the landlord, that the Amendment proposed by his hon. Colleague (Mr. Parnell) should be adopted. If a shopkeeper or a trader of any kind could not get what was due to him by the tenant, he could not sell the property of the tenant if there was rent due to the landlord. A man had a right to claim a judicial rent for his holding; but it was proper that the suggestion of his hon. Friend should be accepted, because it enabled, within reasonable limits, and subject always to the judgment of the Court, the assets realizable by the tenant to be appropriated for the benefit of the whole of the tenant. The Amendment of the hon. Gentleman did. bonâ fide justice to all parties, and the position taken by the Government in regard to it was untenable from beginning to end. He trusted the small modicum of justice contained in the Amendment would not be denied the Irish people.
§ MR. STOREY
said, the aspect of the two Front Benches did not hold out to them much prospect of justice being done in this matter. What was meant by the emptiness of the Opposition Front Bench? Right hon. Gentlemen who usually occupied that Bench recognized that the Amendment which had been put into the clause by the Members of the Government was an Amendment which, practically, carried out all they desired. He held some old-fashioned 1611 notions against interfering with the bonâ fide collection of honest debts, and therefore he did not disagree with the Lords' Amendment so far as ordinary traders were concerned; but the section of the clause which was put in at the instance of the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) was not meant by him to have relation to the ordinary creditor, but to deal with the landlord—it was against the landlord it was mainly directed, and very properly so. The ordinary creditors had no object in forcing on actions against the tenant so as to evict them; their interest, on the contrary, rested in waiting until the debt could be paid. But the object of the landlords, or the object of certain landlords at any rate, was to use the powers of the Bill in a way that would, rid them of their tenants. The Government recognized this, and in Clause 12 they provided against it. Why did the Government do that? Because they recognized that the object of the landlord, although ostensibly to get his rent, was really to get rid of the tenant and get hold of the farm. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland would not deny that this was the case, because, when it was pointed out by the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) that he had not provided for all the methods the landlord might adopt to get rid of the tenant, he frankly admitted he thought they had done so, and said if they had not they would immediately accept the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman, in order to shut all the doors by which a landlord might, while ostensibly seeking to get his rent, clear his estate. What was the position now? Under Clause 12, which the Chief Secretary for Ireland had thought covered all the possible chances of the landlord clearing the tenants from their holdings, the Court had power to suspend the action of the landlord until the statutory term and judical rent were fixed. What did the hon. Member for the City of Cork ask? Simply this—that if the landlord, instead of taking the front-door, should take the back-door, which the Chief Secretary for Ireland had forgotten altogether—if the landlord used the back-way for the purpose of effecting his object, the Government should place the same difficulties in his way. The Government could not defend the position 1612 they assumed. The Attorney General for Ireland did not defend it; and if any hon. Gentleman was so disposed, he (Mr. Storey) would ask him what answer could be made to his contention that, if it was fair and just to prevent a landlord from clearing his estate in one way, it was equally just and right to beset him with obstacles if he adopted another mode of securing the same end? He had been a pretty steady supporter of the Government throughout all the discussions of the Bill; but while it had been his duty on some occasions to vote against the Government and in favour of widening the scope of the measure, he must recognize the general and conspicuous fairness with which the objections raised by the Members from Ireland had been met by the Occupants of the Treasury Bench. He appealed to them not to commit a lasting injustice to-night. If they did not accept the Amendment of the hon. Member for the City of Cork, they would allow the Bill to pass with a manifest injustice upon the face of it, because, under one of its clauses, Irish landlords might achieve an object which the majority of the House did not desire to see accomplished—namely, the clearing of estates.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, he would not go over the arguments advanced by his hon. Friend (Mr. Storey). Ordinary creditors were not in the same position as the landlord, and the Government had endeavoured to meet their case as far as they could.
§ MR. A. M. SULLIVAN
shared the opinion of the hon. Member (Mr. Storey), that the satisfaction of the Front Opposition Bench in this matter was evident. They had gone to bed, leaving Her Majesty's Ministers to look after their interests; they had departed, leaving the worthy Alderman (Mr. R. N. Fowler) in charge. He was sorry the Government had made up their minds not to yield on this occasion, because he felt that the operation of the clause would be in many cases to defeat the equities of the Irish, tenant.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
said, the Government affected very deep interest for the general creditors of the Irish tenant. Too much stress could not be laid on the fact that, in placing in the hands of the landlords the power of turning out the tenant before the Court had an opportunity of fixing the judicial rent, the 1613 Government, while imagining they were supporting the rights of the creditors in general, were really sacrificing those rights. As the hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Storey) had pointed out, it was not to the interest of ordinary creditors to force the property of the tenant into the market. The moment a judicial rent was fixed upon the overrented holdings the tenant right would go up immediately, and the assets with which the claims of the general creditors would be satisfied would be increased. It was to the interest of the general creditor to give ample time in which the tenant could meet his debts, while it was to the interest of the grasping landlord to sell out the tenant and get the property finally and entirely into his own hands. The Government had entirely forgotten that such was the misery of Irish tenants that they had had to introduce in the Bill a clause facilitating the payment of arrears. Was it not the fact that there were some 250,000 tenants in Ireland so hopelessly in arrear, owing to the recent bad seasons, that if the full force of the law were used against them they must completely fail to pay their debts, and that they would consequently be exposed to be turned out under the operation of the clause, as it had now been transformed by Her Majesty's Government? Did they not know that the landlord party regarded this Bill as the commencement of a new era of just rents, and therefore, practically, the death of landlordism in Ireland? Was it not a fact that from the time this Bill came into operation the landlords in Ireland would be practically little more than rent-chargers on their estates? When the tenants had their rights, the power of the landlords over their estates, as they and their forefathers had understood it for generations, would be gone for ever. This was their last chance, and they had a perfect right to do all in their power to protect their interests. If they did not take advantage of this opportunity, it would be their own loss, for they would never have such another. Did hon. Members not know that the landlords had a powerful organization, and that hundreds and thousands of pounds had been subscribed for the purpose of furthering the objects of the Emergency Committee. And was it not equally well known that this Committee had shown great energy whilst working even in the 1614 face of that larger organization the Land League? Did they not know that more money would be subscribed for the purpose of obtaining writs against tenants in arrear who were unable to pay their debts? Did they not know that from one end of Ireland to another tens of thousands of the tenants of Ireland were menaced by the substitution of this clause for that to which the Government originally pledged themselves to complete and final exclusion, not only from the benefits of the Bill, but from the very possession of their holdings? Under this clause, which the weakness and foolishness and reversal of good faith of the Government were now forcing on the Irish Members and the Irish people, all the good which would be effected by the rest of the Bill would be undone. As the hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Storey) had said, what was the use of shutting up the front door by which the landlord could get into possession of the tenant's property, if they left open the side-door and the back-door through which he could just as easily enter? It was true that until recently the landlords were not disposed to make use of the writ fi fa against the tenants, and had preferred to act on writs of ejectment. The Courts, however, were of opinion that actions for ejectment should be stayed until the Bill had had a fair opportunity of working; but that only threw back the whole landlord body on the other alternative—one which was still more efficient than action for ejectment would be under ordinary circumstances. Of course, applications for writs of fi fa would be carried into the Superior Courts. Of course, the landlords would not allow themselves to be robbed, as they, from their point of view, believed they were being robbed, under the remedial Bill of the Government. They would use every legal means in their power to protect themselves; and why should they not? They would use writs of fi fa to clear the tenants off the land before there had been a legal rent fixed, and before the assets of the tenant had risen in value—before it would be incumbent on the landlord, before he could clear out the tenant, to pay a very heavy price indeed for the goodwill of his farm. It would be the worst landlords who would be benefitted by the opportunity the Government offered them. The bad landlords, who 1615 had reduced the tenant right on their estates to a merely nominal value—who had reduced the tenant's right to zero—would be the persons who would enter without any trouble under a writ of fi fa on the tenant's property. The tenant's assets would be so small that they would be all swallowed up; but it would be quite different if they gave the tenant time to acquire a sound and solid position under the Bill. They must take all these circumstances into consideration—that this was the last chance of the landlords; that many of them were, from their point of view, justly irritated, believing that they recognized in the measure the final extinction of proprietorial rights, as they had enjoyed them for generations, and that the landlords considered that they owed less than nothing to the existing tenants, and that they had been most unjustly treated by the tenants and the tenants' organization. He did not enter into the landlord's point of view; but it was notorious in the House that the proprietorial classes did entertain this view as to the tenants and the tenants' organization. It would be seen, then, that the landlords must use the opportunity afforded by the Government in lieu of all the other opportunities taken away from them. It was, he maintained, simply useless and futile to close against the landlords two or three doors when they left open others through which the whole party could advance with perfect security.
§ MR. SPEAKER
I must point out that the hon. Member is using precisely the same arguments over and over again, and that he is, therefore, trifling with the House.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
said, he had no wish to trifle with the House, but only desired to make good the charge that Her Majesty's Government were trifling with the Irish tenantry. He was defending the interests of his own people, which were threatened with serious injury through the feebleness and weakness and breaking of faith Her Majesty's Government had been guilty of. He and his Friends had been sent there to defend the interests of the Irish people. Only a few days ago they left these interests, with confidence, in the hands of Her Majesty's Government; but that confidence had been betrayed, and the Government had handed over 1616 the Irish people, under cover of a most illusory and worthless Amendment, to their greatest enemy. He did not believe—he did not wish to believe—that the Prime Minister had fully realized the importance of his action. The right hon. Gentleman had not seen the importance of the point—he had never discovered it himself—and it required the Irish Party—the Leader of the Irish Party—to point out this vast gap in the Bill. He (Mr. O'Donnell) believed that at the time the right hon. Gentleman left the House he did not see this gap. The right hon. Gentleman had gone away, and, seemingly, had left no power of altering or accepting any proposal. It would, therefore, be advisable, under the circumstances, for them to adjourn the debate to give the Cabinet an opportunity of meeting to consider the question. The Cabinet would find itself face to face with a question the magnitude of which they did not yet realize; and it seemed to him that it would be much better, instead of taking part in a discussion without having any power to accept Amendments or alter the policy of the Prime Minister, to adjourn the debate in order to have an opportunity of considering this grave issue which they provoked, and in the face of which they—the Irish Members—dared not refuse to do their duty. No Irish Member would falter on this point. None of them would be able to face their constituents unless they made the most strenuous opposition to the treacherous conduct of the Government.
§ MR. DAWSON
said, the Attorney General for Ireland (Mr. Law) had tried to trace an analogy where none existed, and had denied another analogy which was patent to all. The value of chattels might be easily ascertained, and the goods sold; but this was not the case with a tenancy. There was no analogy between the two kinds of property; but the right hon. and learned Gentleman had denied an analogy between the clause and the provision it was now sought to pass, which analogy was palpable. They prevented during the trial of the value of a tenancy the landlord, or anyone else, from coming in to determine that tenancy. They made them wait for the decision of the Court; but in this provision they opened a retreat—they put into the cup—as they always did when they gave anything to Ireland 1617 —something which poisoned all. They always left something to poison the message of peace they sent to Ireland. The principle of give and take which was now being practised was not creditable to this great Government. First they gave a thing to Ireland and then they took it back. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. John Bright) had on one occasion condemned this practice, declaring that there was nothing which so much offended the people as taking back with one hand what they had given with the other. Did the Government think they had a right to practice this upon Ireland when they knew, on the authority of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, that it would not be submitted to in England? They had expected from the other House a meddling with the Bill, a deterioration of its principles, and a want of appreciation of its effects; but they had not expected it from the Prime Minister and the Occupants of the front Ministerial Bench. The Bill as originally framed would have brought about a great revolution, and after it had been amended in the House of Commons it would have brought about a still greater and more beneficial revolution; and he was very sorry that at the last hour they should advise the opening of a door through which the landlords would escape in crowds.
§ MR. T. D. SULLIVAN
said, this was another specimen of that which had been called putting down the foot on the part of the Government. Let it be known, therefore, that they were putting the foot down upon Irish opinion—upon the Irish people. Let it be considered how Irish opinion had been declared on this subject to-night—how the Irish Members had acted and voted. It would be found that the Irish Members were almost unanimously opposed to the clause brought forward by the Prime Minister. He (Mr. T. D. Sullivan) was very sorry that such a large measure as this should have such a nasty ending. The head and body of this Bill might be the head and body of a lion, but the Government were now attaching to the carcase a very ridiculous caudal appendage. He should call it the tail of a little cur, only that there was a sting in it which was a thing not to be found in the tail of a puppy. This clause went far towards 1618 marring the efficacy of the whole measure. It struck down the hopes of the Irish people, and it would go a great way in the future towards creating, not peace and contentment, but disappointment and strife. It was for these strong and sufficient reasons that they (the Irish Members) at this late hour of the night, and at the very end of this important measure, took the stand they were now taking. It was for no light consideration that the Irish Members were adopting their present course. It was from no wish to delay other Business—[" Oh!"] No; it was nothing of the kind. It was no pleasure to the Irish Members to prolong these discussions. It was no pleasure to them to sit up until a late hour putting forward opinions which they knew were not agreeable to Members of the House. But they were acting here under a strong sense of duty and of the obligations imposed on them, and with the knowledge that behind them was Ireland, who was watching the fate of this measure with great anxiety, and who would murmer very loudly if this mischievous addendum were allowed to be put at the end of the Bill. And if this measure was intended to be, as it no doubt was intended to be, a message of peace to Ireland, what a pity it was that, at the very last moment, this declaration of war should be put into the very last words of the measure. He believed that if the Prime Minister had heard the arguments against the Amendment he would have given way, or made some concession. On many occasions during the discussion of this Bill the Prime Minister had weighed and considered arguments which were put before him, and he did not think it unreasonable to suppose that he would have impartially given his mind to the arguments against this Amendment. He thought it would be only fair to the Prime Minister, fair to the measure, and fair to the Irish nation, that the Prime Minister should have an opportunity of hearing the arguments; and for that reason he would move the adjournment of the debate.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. T. D. Sullivan.)
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
I cannot for a moment assent to the Motion. The 1619 hon. Member wishes to give the Prime Minister an opportunity again to consider this matter. The Prime Minister has considered it. The arguments have been already stated, and he answered them in one of the speeches he made. But I must bring before the House that the question of adjournment to-night is not a mere question of the convenience of this House or of Members at this late period of the Session. It is a matter of critical importance to the fate of this Bill. If we adjourn now, I am not going beyond the truth in saying that the Bill will be endangered, and I must call upon hon. Members who wish to make the Bill secure to support us in getting through the Bill to-night.
§ MR. STOREY
said, he thought that if the Government were now in a little difficulty they had themselves to blame. He was so new a Member that he did not expect that the Chief Secretary would answer his arguments; but he did expect that he or someone else would have answered the arguments of the hon. and learned Member for Dundalk (Mr. C. Russell) and others. He was not so foolish as to think that the Chief Secretary had attempted to answer what he had said; but he thought that if the right hon. Gentleman had shown more courtesy, and had taken the trouble to answer him, the House would have been nearer the end of the matter than they now were. What had the Government done? They had not attempted to answer the arguments; they had simply said—"We cannot agree." Well, that was not the way to get anything settled in this House, or anywhere else. He would not address the Chief Secretary again; but he would put to the Attorney General for Ireland, whose courtesy he was willing to admit, a consideration which weighed with him at present sufficiently to induce him to vote against the Government. Was it not his purpose in Clause 12 to prevent the landlord from taking advantage of the Bill in order to resume possession of his holding during the six months? Hon. Gentlemen might complain of his reading that clause, but they had probably never read it themselves; and, as a Radical Member, he would take the liberty of saying that some hon. Gentlemen had told him they had never read the Bill.
§ MR. STOREY
said, he was about to read that portion of the clause to which he was referring. It read thus—Where any proceedings for compelling the tenant of a present tenancy to quit his holding shall have taken place before or after an application to fix a judicial rent and shall be pending before such application is disposed of, the Court before which such proceedings are pending shall have power, on such terms and conditions as the Court may direct, to postpone or suspend such proceedings until the termination of the proceedings on the application for such judicial rent.He would ask the Attorney General for Ireland whether the purpose of that was not to prevent the landlord from taking advantage of the Bill to get possession of his holding and clear the tenant off? [The ATTORNEY GENERAL for IRELAND (Mr. Law): Yes.] Well, it was now simply asked that the Court should have the same power if the landlord proceeded by action to recover his rent. At the present moment, if three months and a day had elapsed the landlord could proceed with his action and get a judgment, clear the tenant off the land and resume possession—the very thing that hon. Members from Ireland and he himself did not want to see. Why, if the Court had power in the one case, under Clause 12, to suspend the action of the landlord, should the Court not have the same power in a precisely similar case under the last clause? The right hon. and learned Gentleman said there were other people to consider besides the landlords—there were the other creditors. He was willing to admit that; but he was now dealing with the landlords. Did not the right hon. and learned Gentleman agree that the creditors had no interest to press the tenant; but the landlord had? If a landlord wanted to get possession of his holding, he had an interest to press the tenant, and to take advantage of the law. That being so, so far as the landlord was concerned, why, if the Court was to have power to suspend the action of the landlord in the one case, should it not have power to suspend his action in the other case under the last clause? If he could get a satisfactory answer to that, he should be content.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. LAW)
said, he would 1621 endeavour to answer the question, though he thought that he had already done so. In this particular clause it was proposed to stay the proceedings of any creditor—not the landlord merely, but every creditor—but the rights of an ordinary creditor could not be interfered with beyond a certain point without gross injustice. The landlord could not be dealt with alone, because then the other creditors would come in and sweep everything away. Therefore, in this matter of restricting the execution of a writ under the order of the Court, it was necessary to make provision for the protection of all parties who might be concerned It by no means followed that the execution creditor, be he landlord or merchant, derived any advantage, beyond getting perhaps the amount of his debt. The landlord, like any other execution creditor, might no doubt buy the farm, and if he did the tenancy would be at an end. But if any ordinary creditor or other person than the landlord bought the holding, such person would be a present tenant.
§ MR. SPEAKER
The Question before the House is the adjournment of the debate. The hon. Gentleman cannot enlarge upon the Main Question; and he is certainly not entitled to make a second speech.
§ MR. PARNELL
said, he thought the excuse which the Government now made for not making this provision as large as the provision in the 12th clause was really no excuse at all. He did not ask that the other creditors should be given the advantage of this clause; that was a proposal which was interpolated at the suggestion of the Front Opposition Bench, and not by the Irish Members. They did not think there was any necessity for protecting the tenant against the other creditors, because the other creditors were not pressing the tenant. It was the landlord who pressed the tenant; but other creditors were not doing that in any excessive manner, and there was no reason why the clause should apply to other creditors. He should have been glad if a provision could have been introduced exempting the tenant from other creditors, and only referring to the landlord; and it was certainly rather hard and unfair on the part of 1622 the Government, who had themselves introduced this modification in the clause, to treat that as a reason for limiting it so injuriously and unjustly as to deprive it of all beneficial effect. He did think the request of the hon. Member (Mr. T. D. Sullivan) that the debate should be adjourned to see whether the Prime Minister would not consent to a modification in this respect was reasonable; and he did think the Chief Secretary had adopted a very exaggerated estimate of the matter when he said the Bill would be lost by the adjournment of the debate. None of them desired that the Bill should be lost; that would be a great calamity. But he was sure the right hon. Gentleman had exaggerated the danger. If the Government did not agree to what was asked, the landlords, undoubtedly, could if they pleased—he did not say they would, but a good many of them were pleasing at the present moment—in many cases, probably in thousands of cases, where the tenants were bond fide unable to pay their rent, ride a coach-and-four through this Bill, against the tenant whose interest was designedly so guarded by the 12th clause. Under these circumstances, were the Irish Members not justified, where an Amendment was introduced at the last moment into this saving clause upon which the interests of thousands of tenants were imperilled, and thousands might fail to get the benefit of the Bill—were they not justified in all fairness in asking that some further time should be given for the Prime Minister to consider the Amendment?
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
confessed that he would not proceed any further in hostility to this Bill, if the Chief Secretary's statement that it would be imperilled by another day's delay was well-founded; but the right hon. Gentleman had not given any reasons for the statement. He believed "another place" was supposed to be still sitting; but it was now 20 minutes to 3, and he thought it would be better to send the Members of "another place" home—
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said, he was endeavouring to show the relation between the present stage of this Bill and "another place," upon which the right hon. Gentleman founded his argument 1623 It was a very small question in proportion to the size of the Bill; but it could not be called a small question, though it might appear so to persons ignorant of Ireland, that a provision should be passed which injuriously affected hundreds of thousands of people. To those people this was a question of life and death, and the Irish Members, as their Representatives, were bound to defend their interests persistently as long as they could. The point at issue between the Government and the Irish Members was this—the Irish Members wanted to have another day for the consideration of the Bill, but the Government refused to give a day, on the ground that it might imperil the passing of the measure. Why did they refuse to allow one day more for the discussion of a Bill which seriously affected the fate of 100,000 tenants? He had certainly failed to hear a single argument from the right hon. and learned Attorney General which was an effective reply to the speech of his hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland (Mr. Storey). The Government admitted that the tenant right might be destroyed by rack-renting, and they gave power to the tenant to go into Court in order to get rid of such rack rents. It was admitted that the tenant right in many districts, owing to the pressure of the times, had been brought down to zero. But in the face of the fact that the tenant right had been nearly destroyed by the existing distress, and that the farms were rack-rented, it was desired to force the tenant into the market with a tenant right that was unsaleable. When the Solicitor General for Ireland first heard of this Amendment, nothing could exceed the eulogium he passed upon it. The hon. and learned Gentleman declared that if some such provision were not passed the tenants would not start fair. That was the real question—whether the tenant was to start fair, or whether the landlords were to have an opportunity of making a clearance of a large number of them? He had sat up in that House all night for the sole purpose of obtaining from the Government another day for the discussion of a question which was really not of first-rate importance, and he had seen the Business of the country obstructed hour after hour on account of some petty dispute between the Treasury Bench and the Front Op- 1624 position Bench. Yet the Irish Members were blamed because they proposed to do the same thing in the interests of 100,000 tenants of Ireland who were demanding this concession. If they wished to discredit their Government, and to increase the suspicion with which it was regarded by a large section of the people in Ireland, they could not accomplish that object better than by the stubborn, surly, and impassioned opposition they were giving to this proposal.
§ MR. JUSTIN M'CARTHY
said, he was not one of those who wanted to delay the progress of the Bill. He thought he had given a proof of his sincerity in that respect in having refrained from taking part in these discussions except on a very few occasions, and then in the briefest manner. His wish and desire were that the Bill should pass, and in the speediest manner possible. He should feel inclined to refrain from saying anything now, if it were not that he wanted to have it explained to the House by some other Member than the Chief Secretary for Ireland how the delay of another day in the consideration of the Bill must endanger its passing. Let them draw the reason from its mysterious darkness, and know what it was in clear and explicit terms. Was it supposed that some other body of persons—a body co-equal in every respect in. the Legislature with the House of Commons—was it supposed that they would not remain one day longer in order to pass this great measure, and that if it were delayed for another 12 hours, out of petulance, they would say—"You have kept us so long, and we are so weary, that we will not pass your Bill at all." If the threat of the right hon. Gentleman did not mean this, what did it mean? What was the mysterious and fatal influence which was to be brought to bear in throwing out the Bill if the discussion of it were delayed for 12 hours longer? He doubted whether there could be any real danger of the kind; but, if there were, he would say—"Let the Bill go back to the Lords, even with the remarkable defects which have been so lately and so suddenly introduced into it."
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, that in the interest of the Government themselves he would support the Motion for the adjournment of the debate. They must know that the practical effect of the 1625 non-consideration of this Amendment would be that the Bill would pass with this limit of three months in it, and it would give full power to the grasping and tyrannical landlords of Ireland to enforce ejectments, to sell the interests of their tenants, and to raise a fresh crop of disorder in Ireland. Moreover, the Bill, when it became law, would be thoroughly discredited at the very commencement. He was convinced that Her Majesty's Government did not wish the Bill to be considered a failure within six months of its having been passed into law. They would probably desire that the Bill at least should have the appearance of success. They would hardly wish that a new Act should be required next year to amend the Land Law of Ireland; but their hope was that the present measure would last, at any rate, during the lifetime of the present Parliament. The practical effect of passing the Bill in its present shape, without the Prime Minister having an opportunity of considering this Amendment, must be that in the nature of things it would be a total failure. It was beyond the bounds of possibility that a revision of a large portion of the rents in Ireland could take place within three months. It could not be done, and the inevitable result would be the total failure of the measure. All that the Irish Members asked was that the Prime Minister, who was unfortunately absent, should have an opportunity of considering the Amendment of his hon. Friend the Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell). They did not blame the right hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench for refusing to accept an Amendment which the Prime Minister had not seen. They were probably justified in refusing to alter the clause in accordance with the wish of the Irish Members, because it might turn out that the Prime Minister would offer opposition to the Amendment; but as yet the right hon. Gentleman had had no opportunity of seeing the Amendment, and if the Irish Members were able to lay reasons in favour of the proposal before the right hon. Gentleman, there was no ground for assuming that the right hon. Gentleman might not to-morrow accept the Amendment which the hon. Member for the City of Cork had proposed. He could say this in behalf of his hon. Friends, that they would not to-morrow discuss the Amendment at any consider- 1626 able length. "What they were anxious to say in support of the proposal would, in point of fact, be stated by one or two hon. Members only, and the Prime Minister would then be left to form his own opinion of the Amendment from the facts laid before him. It was arbitrary and unreasonable on the part of the Friends of the Prime Minister to attempt to deprive the right hon. Gentleman of the opportunity of hearing the views of the Irish Members, and thus run the risk of marring the Bill. Although he (Mr. Biggar) entertained only a moderate opinion as to the importance and value of the Bill as a whole he should like to see it made as perfect as possible. He believed that the clause as it stood was of so mischievous a character that it was for the interest and credit of the Government, and also for the interest of the Irish farmers, that all parties should now agree to the adjournment of the debate, and give the Prime Minister an opportunity of coming to a decision upon the Amendment of the hon. Member for the City of Cork.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL (Sir FARER HERSCHELL)
said, the hon. Member for Cavan (Mr. Biggar) stated that the Prime Minister had not duly considered the Amendment. Now, the suggestion embodied in the Amendment was made by the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) some time ago, and it was duly considered by the Prime Minister and discussed by those about him. The right hon. Gentleman had, therefore, fully considered the subject, and had made up his mind upon it. Hon. Members opposite would remember that the right hon. Gentleman had devoted an enormous amount of time and attention to this Bill. He was sure, however, that nothing could be more trying to the right hon. Gentleman than to find that the effect of his going away at the time he did—namely, 2 o'clock in the morning—to take necessary repose, had been to bring about an adjournment of the debate, and to delay the progress of the Bill for another day. He would, therefore, appeal to hon. Members opposite not to persist in the Motion for adjournment. The facts all lay in a small compass, and were already fully before the House. Nothing new could be added, and he would appeal to hon. Members to allow the consideration of the measure to be brought to a close.
§ MR. A. M. SULLIVAN
said, it might be likely enough that the decision of the Government was irrevocably made; but he had foreseen what the sagacious and far-seeing Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Gibson) was at. The object of the right hon. and learned Member had been in the most "Jesuitical" manner—he used the phrase, notwithstanding that it was one which was directed against the religion he professed—to cut down the gift and concession which the Government had given in the clause. He failed to see why the same course should not have been followed in regard to this clause as had been followed in reference to Clause 12. The simple result of the Bill, as it now stood, was if the landlord proceeded against his tenant by way of ejectment he was unable to complete his designs within any specified time, whereas if he proceeded by way of ft fa he could do so in three months. The Government admitted that that was so, and because there might be other creditors the landlord was allowed under this clause to do what the Bill attempted to prevent under Clause 12. For his own part, he would be exceedingly pained indeed if it were thought possible that he desired to cast any reflection upon the Prime Minister for having left the House in order to obtain the repose of which he stood in need. He would not use the phrase employed by another hon. Member, that the right hon. Gentleman had "gone to his rest." He hoped that long and distant might be the day when the right hon. Gentleman would "go to his rest;" and, disassociating himself from anything that might have the appearance of obstructing the progress of the Bill, he (Mr. Sullivan) did hope that the Government would consent to adjourn the debate in order that there might be an opportunity of obtaining the views of the Prime Minister upon the Amendment.
§ MR. REDMOND
said, he was quite sure that no Member on those Benches would deny the truth of the remarks of the hon. and learned Solicitor General (Sir Farrar Herschell) with regard to the Prime Minister. Everyone was prepared to admit that in the prolonged discussion which the Bill had undergone the Prime Minister had devoted immense ability and untiring industry to the consideration of the Bill, which entitled him 1628 to the respect of every Member of the House. Having said so much, he could only express his regret that any course of action the Irish Members could possibly take up was likely to be the means of creating annoyance or a feeling of regret in the mind of the right hon. Gentleman. But they were not to be governed in their action by any fear that the Prime Minister might to-morrow regret to find that the debate had been adjourned. They had seen reason to enter a strong protest against an Amendment which they believed would, to a large extent, destroy the value of the Bill, and accordingly they moved an Amendment of their own. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland told them that the passing of this Amendment might imperil the passing of the Bill. Now, he believed that the real fate of the Bill depended on the reception it would meet with in Ireland, and in that sense he believed that its fate, if endangered at all, would be endangered by the Amendments which at the last moment had been inserted in the measure. It was a matter of grave and serious importance, because it was a matter that affected every tenant in Ireland who owed rent to his landlord. In point of fact, it placed hundreds and thousands of men at the disposal of their landlords, and the Irish Members would be failing in their duty to those who sent them as their Representatives in Parliament if they did not enter the strongest protest against such a course. He thought they would not only be justified in protesting against the proposal, but that they would be amply justified in using all the Forms of the House in order to insist on the adjournment of the debate, or, failing them, to insist on the debate going on until the Prime Minister could come back to take part in the discussion. He was not making these observations in the sense of a menace; and, whether that course were adopted or not, the Irish Members would be justified in protesting in the most emphatic terms against the treachery with which they had been treated by the Government. This course was absolutely necessary in order to show those whose interests they represented that they had not been unmindful of their duty. It would also show to the Irish people that Irish Members who sat on the Benches opposite, and who professed 1629 so much regard for the interests of the Irish people when Irish votes were required at the last Election had, nevertheless, deserted the Irish people and supported Her Majesty's Government in a course which he (Mr. Redmond) believed to be not only unjust but treacherous. He hoped the hon. Member for the City of Cork would go to a division, and if it was deemed desirable by his Colleagues to emphasise their protest by taking any other course they would receive his hearty support.
§ MR. DAWSON
strongly supported the Motion for adjourning the debate. He denied that the Amendment of his hon. Friend the Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) would impair the effect of the clause. On the contrary, it would simply restore that which, as the clause stood at present, was taken away from the tenants. They had asked that the debate should be adjourned; but, in answer, the Chief Secretary for Ireland had used arguments which were only fit for children, and not for a deliberate Assembly. The right hon. Gentleman told them that the Bill could not pass if it were delayed, and a terrible calamity would happen if it were not passed. He was as anxious that the Bill should pass as the right hon. Gentleman himself; but they considered they were only discharging their duty in the course they were pursuing, and they would not desist unless it was shown that by their course of action they were endangering the Bill.
§ MR. O'KELLY
considered it would be well to adjourn until the Head of the Government could return to his place. No satisfactory answer had been made to the objections which had been advanced from the Irish Benches. The ground on which the Government had taken their stand was the benefit of ordinary creditors, as distinguished from the landlord; but it had been pointed out by many hon. Gentleman that ordinary creditors had no interest in fixing a sale of the tenant's interest, because if they did that they would lose their own property. If they sold the interest of the tenant before the judicial rent was fixed, they must sell the property out of which they hoped to get what was due to them. The creditors other than the landlord could have no possible interest in selling the tenant's interest; but the Government were trying to supply the 1630 landlord with a cheap method of getting possession of the tenant's property, under the impression that, in so doing, they were taking care of the interests of the general creditors.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 24; Noes 168: Majority 144.—(Div. List, No. 382.)
§ Original Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. HEALY
said, his hon. Friends felt so keenly on this question that a large number of them considered they ought to insist upon an adjournment. He had not addressed the House on this subject up to the present, and he was bound to express the opinion that the Government were behaving exceedingly badly, and that their Bill would be damaged very considerably by the acceptance of their proposed Amendment. Irish Members had an undoubted right to complain when they found the Government proposing an Amendment which they knew must be vicious in its operation. Rather than see the Amendment accepted he would like the clause to be struck out of the Bill. That would please their Lordships, and it would please him and his hon. Friends. The tenant would have a better chance without the Amendment than with it; and if their Lordships disagreed with the Amendment as amended, he should certainly not grieve. The clause had lost all its salt; but, strongly as they felt in the matter, he did not see what they could hope to get by continuing the discussion, considering that the Government had broken the spirit of the promise which was conveyed in the original Amendment, and that the Prime Minister had left for his necessary rest. It was a very melancholy thing to walk in the Lobby, and see the House of Lords in full blow, and nobody in it. It was a spectacle which might even be of some interest to the hon. Member for Galway (Mr. T. P. O'Connor), who, last year, gave Notice of a Motion to abolish the Upper House altogether. He would really appeal to the Government whether the clause was worth retaining at all? They had far better have the thing struck out altogether; but do not let the Lords do it. They had done enough already. It would be far more honest on the part 1631 of the Government to strike the clause out altogether; let them tell the House that they would do it.
said, he had been surprised to see the course his countrymen had taken on this occasion. For four months they had been discussing this Bill. It was a measure of the first magnitude, and he believed if it passed it would be the wonder of the world. It had been asserted—and it had been said here to-night—that the landlords of Ireland resembled beasts of prey, prowling about to find victims for their oppression and cruelty. The Irish tenants, if the Bill passed, would have four courses before them. They would, first of all, be able to abide by the old system of entering into an agreement with the landlord; if they did not like that they could avail themselves of the Act of 1870; if that did not please them they could avail themselves of the advantages of the provisions of this Bill; and lastly, if they were dissatisfied with the other three courses, they could take the hint given them to-night, and shoot either the landlord, the agent, or the bailiff. It these were not a sufficient choice of methods of carrying out their views, he did not know what could be said for them. ["Question!"] The question was whether this Bill was not enough to satisfy any reasonable man? He contended that it was; and now, at the last moment, those who professed to be the most anxious to see the Bill carried out, opposed it in the most strenuous manner.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said, that if his hon. Friends did not persist in this opposition some hours yet it was contrary to his expectation. He should have done so had he not been positively forbidden by the Leader of the Party to which he belonged. He trusted that it would go forth that at least a few of the Irish Members were determined to mark their sense of the treacherous action of Her Majesty's Government in this proposal. He saw in his place the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary (Sir William Harcourt). It was not many weeks ago since he (Mr. T. P. O'Connor), at about the same hour as the present, had endeavoured to help the right hon. Gentleman against the opposition of a small party of 11 or 12 Scotch and English Members, who were engaged in opposing the passing of a 1632 Bill relating to Poor Removals, or something of that kind. He really did not know the name of the Bill, though he had voted on it. These 11 or 12 Members did not hesitate to divide, and divide again and again, lest the Bill, the principle of which they accepted, but the amendment of which they demanded, should be pushed through the House at an unreasonable hour in the morning. And yet, here was an Amendment which placed at the mercy of the meal-man, and the retail grocer, and the landlord, thousands of the tenants of Ireland, and the Irish Members had not grit enough to stay in the House any longer for the sake of protesting against the conduct of the Government. He wished the protest to continue, not because he hoped to succeed, but because he wanted to improve his position—[" Hear. hear!"]—he meant his moral position—[Laughter.]—he was very delighted to find that he was possessed of such a fund of humour as to be able to set the House in a roar at half past 3 o'clock in the morning. He wished to improve his moral position. Why, when the Bill came into operation, and the Amendment was put in force, and was attended with the bad results that his Friends and he prophecied for it, how much better would be their position with the Government if they were able to say that they (the Government) had carried this Amendment in spite of the vigorous and prolonged protest against it of the Irish Members? As to the Amendment itself, when the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister was last year bringing in his Disturbance Bill, one of the aptest and most convincing illustrations he brought forward in favour of the measure was taken from a letter of his friend Mr. Tuke. That gentleman had stated that in the North-West, West, and South of Ireland, where he had travelled amongst the people, he had found them in such a position that the tenant right for which they had given in some cases £40, and £50, and £60, a few years ago, was not worth a penny, owing to the depression of the times. There was not a cabin in Donegal—["Question!"]—well, he (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) pitied the intelligences, and he pitied the information of hon. Gentlemen who did not see the relevancy of what he was saying to the Amendment before the House. Mr. Tuke visited several of the cabins in 1633 Donegal, and there he found poor men who had had a considerable amount of stock two or three years ago—a horse or two, two or three cows, some pigs, and a yard well stocked with fowl—
§ MR. SPEAKER
I must call on the hon. Member to address himself to the Amendment before the House. The Amendment before the House is that of the hon. Member for the City of Cork; and the hon. Member is not speaking to that.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said, he was sorry he had not been able to make the connection between his remarks and the Amendment clear to the House and to Mr. Speaker. The object of the Amendment, as he understood it, was to give the Court the right of conferring on the tenant a larger amount of time than three months against the sale of his tenant right; and he (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) was endeavouring to show the justice of that proposal by pointing out that the tenant right, if sold now, in many cases would be utterly worthless, and that, therefore, it was necessary, in the interest of the tenant, that some time should be allowed him before the sale of his tenant right. In the case of many people in Donegal, Galway, and Mayo, they would simply be giving them Dead Sea fruit in giving this permission to sell their tenant right. When they were discussing the 5th clause of the Bill, which dealt with compensation for disturbance, the noble Lord the Member for Calne (Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice) got up in his place and proposed an Amendment, and someone defended the proposal of the Government on the ground that it was based on the fact that in many parts of Ireland the value of the tenant right had been reduced to zero. The Prime Minister declared that this view was in consonance with his own; therefore, according to the admission of the Government, the tenant right had been reduced to zero. And yet they would not allow the tenant time to get a fair value for his tenant right. The Under Secretary of State for the Colonies said something which he could not catch. Did the hon. Member pretend to say that this was not so? The hon. Member and his Friends should stand up in their places and say what they thought, and not indulge in unintelligible muttering. Let them take up the Evidence of the Bessborough Com- 1634 mission. They would find witnesses all over the country going up and saying—"I am owed £8,000 or £10,000." In some cases the mealmonger went up with that statement, declaring that he was owed £10,000 for meal—that was to say, for the first necessary of life. The people were obliged to have the meal or starve. This mealmonger, unless this Amendment were accepted, would be put in the position of being compelled to drive the tenants to sell an unsaleable tenant right to get his money for his meal. Unless the Amendment were accepted, it would not be a message of peace, but a message of war they would be sending to the Irish people—it would be a message to tell them that they would be turned out of their homes, and that the only refuge upon which they could rely was their own organization, which was independent of the Land. Bill, the Government, or the English Parliament.
§ Original Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 38; Noes 143: Majority 105.—(Div. List, No. 383.)
§ Other Amendments made to the words so restored.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a Committee be appointed 'to draw up Reasons to be assigned to The Lords for disagreeing to the Amendments made by The Lords to the Bill:'—Mr. GLADSTONE, Mr. WILLIAM EDWARD FORSTER, Mr. ATTORNEY GENERAL for IRELAND, Mr. DODSON, Mr. LEFEVRE, Mr. SOLICITOR GENERAL, and Mr. SOLICITOR GENERAL for IRELAND:—Three to be the quorum.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
wished, if he was in Order, to move an addition to the proposed names; or, if he could not do that, to move to omit one Member in order to insert the name of Mr. Parnell.
§ MR. SPEAKER
The proceeding is altogether formal. At the same time, the hon. Member is not in Order in proposing to add to the names, because I have already passed beyond that, hav- 1635 ing put the Question that three be a quorum.
§ Motion agreed to; Committee appointed: To withdraw immediately.