§ MR. HEALY
asked the First Lord of the Treasury, If it is the fact, as stated in the press, that the late Mr. Walter Bourke had issued ejectments against such of his tenants (amongst others) as sought to get a fair rent fixed under the Land Act, and that he was about to evict them while their applications were pending; whether the Government have had brought to their knowledge the fact that many tenants who have applied to the Land Courts are meantime threatened with eviction, which must ensue before their cases are decided; and, if he intends to take any steps to protect the interests of such tenants until the Courts have decided upon their applications?
Sir, I need not say it was my duty to obtain information 1267 on these points from the Irish Government. I understand that the facts are that the agent of the gentleman unfortunately murdered last week, Mr. Bourke, evicted nine families, consisting of 68 persons, for non-payment of rent. All these tenants owed more than two years' rent, one of them nearly seven years' rent, and they refused altogether to pay. It is also stated that they were led to believe that the Land League would see after their rents, and provide them with huts. It is likewise stated that there were no special hardships in these cases. In Galway, Mr. Bourke issued ejectments against five tenants, of whom two subsequently appealed to the Land Court. It was on his return from attending the place where the tenants who appealed did not appear that he was shot. In Mayo ejectment decrees are pending against several tenants; but we have not sufficient information in respect to those decrees, nor have we, nor can we have, general information of the number of tenants who, having applied to the Land Courts, are threatened with eviction. Tenants so threatened can apply to the County Court of the district in which the execution is issued, for the purpose of having the execution stayed. I believe the provision of the law in that respect ought to be sufficient. With regard to the general question as to the stoppage of evictions, I have to repeat to the House that the only mode in which we can shorten the painful proceedings going on, and to some extent, of necessity, going on in Ireland, is by earnestly recommending and entreating the House to make progress and dispatch with the Bills we have now in hand. Every day adds, on the average, 20 to the number of evicted families, or 120 a-week, subject to deductions which I cannot exactly state, on account of those who may be replaced as caretakers. That is going on, and must go on, and we have not the power to check it, even if it were right we should, on which I do not give an opinion at present. I do think the House will feel, without distinction of sections or Parties, that this is a most powerful reason for our endeavouring to get forward with the legislation in hand, in order that the numerous persons who are in arrear and who are unable to pay their rents may have the opportunity of reaching a better and more secure position.
§ MR. PARNELL
I wish to ask, Sir, whether the Irish Government can give any information as to the number of tenants whom Mr. Walter Bourke sold out in the county of Mayo before the passing of the Land Act, and so deprived of the legal value of their holdings or title to the protection of the Court. With reference to the appeal of the Prime Minister to expedite the passing of the—[Cries of "Order!"]
I have no information from the Irish Government on the subject of Mr. Bourke and his property, except that which I have given; but if the hon. Member will put down the particulars, or let me have them, I will take care to cause inquiry to be made.
§ MR. HEALY
The facts which have been stated as to the evictions going on and the manner of carrying them out, suggests a Question which I desire to address to the right hon. Gentleman—namely, Whether, as a number of new crimes are being invented by the Prevention of Crimes Bill, he could not include a clause making harsh and cruel evictions of the character which the Chief Secretary for Ireland described yesterday a crime punishable in the same way as "Boycotting?"
The hon. Member does not require to be told that the proper time for proposing a new clause is when the Bill is in Committee.