HC Deb 09 March 1882 vol 267 cc470-560

Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [27th February], that the Question then proposed, That Parliamentary inquiry, at the present time, into the working of the Irish Land Act tends to defeat the operation of that Act, and must be injurious to the interests of good government in Ireland,"—(Mr. Gladstone,) —be now put.

Previous Question again proposed, "That the Original Question be now put."—(Mr. Gibson.)

Debate resumed.


said, that, if any justification were required for this Motion, it was to be found in the action of the Conservative Party, who had since the commencement of the debate entirely changed their front. He could not help thinking that that Party were now conscious that in appointing that Committee they had made a very serious mistake. It had been stated in the public journals, and it had been repeated on the Front Opposition Bench, that a certain letter had been written by the Chairman of the Committee to Ministers making some offer that the Committee should not go into the question of the judicial administration of the Act; but if that offer were intended to have had any binding effect, it should have been made in the form of an Instruction by the House of Lords to their Committee. The truth, however, was that the Committee was appointed mainly with the object of showing that the Sub-Commissioners had misconducted themselves in the discharge of their judicial duties, and had acted as partizans rather than as Judges, and this offer to limit the scope of the inquiry was a mere after-thought. He believed that the result would show that the decisions of the Sub-Commissioners had not been so much in favour of the tenants, and so much opposed to the interests of the landlords, as hon. Gentlemen opposite supposed. The Land Act was in less danger from hon. Gentlemen from Ireland than it was from the hostility of the Conservative Party. It was a striking fact that the Act was attacked with equal virulence by the Representatives of the landlords and the apostles of the Land League. They had been told that this Resolution was a Vote of Censure, and a direct attack on the prerogatives of the House of Lords. But, he would ask, was not the action of the other House in bringing that matter forward an attack on the Administration? Nay, more; was it not so intended? The Sub-Commissioners were only at the threshold of their inquiry, and yet a Committee was to sit to inquire into the way these functionaries discharged their duties, on the suggestion that they had acted, not as Judges, but as partizans. The tribunal before whom the action of those officials was to be called in question was composed of landlords, some of whom were Irish landlords. What must be the effect on the minds of the people of Ireland if that were allowed to pass unchallenged, and if some such Resolution as the one under discussion were not come to, declaring, in unmistakable terms, the opinion of the majority of that House that such a proceeding was dangerous to the public welfare, and tended to hamper the action of the Government in the administration of Ireland under the present difficult circumstances? The hon. Member for Lei-trim (Mr. Tottenham) had stated that if a re-valuation were made the rateable value of property in Ireland would be found to have increased by £4,000,000 sterling. But what had brought about that augmentation in value? Was it due to the action of the landlords or of the tenants? If the allegation of the hon. Member were true, there could be little doubt that that effect had been produced by tenants' improvements. If that were so, what was the value of the suggestion? The hon. Member had also taken exception to the Sub-Commissioners. He seemed to think that no persons other than landlords were eligible for those offices. He would be pleased with nothing else than the Committee of Inquiry which was then sitting, and the appointment of which they were then criticizing. It appeared to him that the hon. Member for Leitrim went to the very confines of the propriety, not to say the decency, of debate, when he described those functionaries by such words as he had heard him use. He said the appointments were "parodies of justice;" that the Sub-Commissioners were a "medley crew," "a horde of inexperienced persons;" and he accused them of having been guilty of "malversation of justice," whatever that might mean. His right hon. and learned Friend the senior Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Plunket) had made a great impression on his mind—as, doubtless, on the minds of all who heard him—by the letter which he read from an Irish landowner and J.P. for the county in which he lived, who described himself and his family as brought to such a pass that they contemplated emigrating to Australia. It was a sad and touching letter, and it lost nothing of its pathos from the tones in which it was read by such a master of his art as the right hon. and learned Gentleman. But he ventured to say that such cases ought not to have any effect on the question before the House. He would not dwell upon the fact that the writer of the letter was giving an account of a litigation to which he had been an unsuccessful party. He would not pause to ask whether that litigation alone was the cause of the distress of that family? Whether greater frugality in the past and the adoption of another style of living might not have saved them from their present necessities? Besides, was there not another side to the question? Had there not been numerous cases in which a suffering, striving, and despairing tenantry, forced to pay rents totally incommensurate with their means of subsistence, had been driven to look upon emigration as their only hope? The fact was that such letters had little to do with the question. His right hon. and learned Friend's argument carried him too far. The same line of reasoning would lead to the total suspension of the administration of justice, not only in Ireland, but in every civilized community. It might be a melancholy reflection, but it was none the less true, that law and justice could never be administered without working injury to innocent persons, and entailing hardship and suffering on many who were guiltless of offence. Law and justice were like some of the vast forces of Nature. Once set them in motion, and they marched blindly and irresistibly towards their end, regardless of those whom they mutilated or crushed on their way. You execute justice upon the murderer, regardless of the unspeakable pain and misery you inflict upon his innocent parents or children. You imprison the night-poacher, heedless of the fact that, by the very act, you deprive his wife and children of their pittance of daily bread. You impose a fine upon the husband who has committed an assault upon a gentle and unoffending woman, and you forget that it is her blanket or her shawl that goes to the pawn-shop to pay the penalty. This was a matter that had been tersely and eloquently put by a great writer, who has only just gone from among us, and who says— So deeply is it inherent in this life of ours that men must suffer for each other's sins, so inevitably diffusive is human suffering, that even Justice makes its victims, and we can conceive no retribution that does not spread beyond its mark in pulsations of unmerited pain. Such appeals as that of his right hon. and learned Friend might affect the sentiment, but would have no influence on the reason. He would add one word as to the time of this inquiry. The Act had been in operation four months. He was not surprised at the course which had been adopted, for before the Act had been in existence four weeks the noble Marquess at the head of the Opposition went starring in the Provinces, speaking in the same breath, if not in the same terms, of the Land Act and the Compensation for Disturbance Bill, which he described as a measure of public plunder, and intimated that there was little to choose between Mr. Parnell and the Prime Minister. That showed the spirit animating the promoters of this inquiry. It was said that the occasion was exceptional; that it was necessary to strike at once, or the evil would become irremediable. What did that mean? It could only mean that an inquiry should be made into the mode in which judicial functions were exercised, or that compensation should be given to the landlords. If the former explanation was correct, it was open to the objection urged by the Government that it was an inquiry into the methods according to which Judges, exercising important functions, were doing their duty; if the latter, he saw no reason for the hasty and intemperate proceedings which had been taken. The Opposition presented a bold front, because they counted on the support of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway. No doubt they felt that their Leaders in "another place" had placed them in a serious difficulty, and they were glad of help from any quarter. It was said that misery made men acquainted with strange bedfellows; and it would be a striking and edifying commentary on that text to see the Leader of the Opposition walking into the Lobby arm in arm with the hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. O'Donnell) and the hon. Member for Cavan (Mr. Biggar), coyly responding to the ardent, if not very sincere, advances of the Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin). When they found the landlords and the Land League advancing shoulder to shoulder, there could be no doubt that their object was to deal a deadly blow at the Land Act. But he would ask, if they took such a course, why they did not do so earlier? Why did not the large majority in "another place" throw out the Bill instead of acquiescing in it, adopting it, and modifying it in some respects to suit their own views? It was obvious why they did not do so then. Certainly, now, they should not be allowed to interfere with the proper and legitimate development of an Act for which they were themselves, in a considerable measure, responsible.


said, he desired to express the views of many Members for Ulster, sitting on that side of the House, who held, as he did, that there could be no inconsistency in those who supported the second reading of the Land Bill strenuously resisting the Motion now under discussion. In the first place, he could not help referring to the singular misapprehension of his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Butt), as to the mode in which the Motion had been met by the Opposition. Instead of presenting a Motion, for the purpose of attracting the support of hon. Members below the Gangway, with whom they had had no sympathy, the course his right hon. Friend took was to make a Motion which excluded the hope of the support of those hon. Members. Consequently they would go to a division as a united Conservative Party, speaking their deliberate conviction that in supporting the action of the House of Lords they were doing that which was just and wise and necessary in vindication of the first principles of right and wrong. In opening this debate, the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government made the astounding assertion that the whole Province of Ulster would be prepared to go against the Government—and by that he presumed the right hon. Gentleman meant that they would pass into the ranks of disloyal and disorderly men—if there were any tampering with the Land Act. The words of the right hon. Gentleman, which he took down at the time, and had since verified, were—"All the Northern population is ready to go against you if there is any tampering with the Land Act." In carrying out the policy commenced by the Solicitor General at the Derry Election, the estimate formed by Her Majesty's Government concerning the loyal population of Ulster was that their loyalty and order were only to be depended upon if they were bought with sugar-plums. He was astonished that the hon. Member for Tyrone (Mr. T. A. Dickson), who considered himself a Leader in Ulster, did not vindicate the loyalty of his Liberal friends, and of Ulster generally. Instead of that, the hon. Gentleman warned the House that if this Resolution were not passed a new agitation would be commenced in Ulster on more extended lines. That was a somewhat mysterious threat, and it was not so outspoken as the statement of the Prime Minister. He (Mr. Lewis) had been for 10 years the Representative of an important, though not an agricultural, constituency, in Ulster; and he maintained it was a libel—at all events on the Protestant population of that Province—to assert that their loyalty depended upon their being bribed. What was the state of this discussion? Was there any interest excited in it within the House? Were not the Benches of the House almost deserted as it proceeded? What was the feeling through the House generally? Was it not that they were engaged in a simple wanton discussion and waste of time, for which there was no need from the beginning, and to which there appeared no likelihood of our reaching an end? The House had been told, in the strongest possible terms, by the Prime Minister, in his most impassioned speech, that this was a great Constitutional question. One House of Parliament—one Estate of the Realm—had set itself up to destroy and to annihilate, or to emasculate, an Act passed only a year ago; and they were told, in the most impassioned terms, that the action of this House would lead either to something like rebellion in Ireland, or to great disorder. They had had so many prophecies from the Treasury Bench during the last two years, every one of which, in reference to law and order, had been falsified by subsequent events, that the Government must pardon them if they were not prepared to be afraid of the evils with which they threatened them, so as to be induced to alter a vote or a speech on the subject. Then, what was the state of feeling in the country? The Birmingham Caucus and Confederation had piped loudly enough; but the country refused to dance. The bell was rung, as usual, by Schnadhorst and Co.; but the British public thought more about the fate of "Jumbo" than about the fate of the Resolution. Anyone who had read the papers during the last fortnight, while the Resolution had been under discussion, would have supposed that the House of Commons was meeting at the Zoological Gardens, and that the great question of the fate of the Constitution was involved in the question whether "Jumbo" was to be shipped on board the Assyrian Monarch. Where were the signs of that great public excitement with which they were threatened because the House of Lords had dared to lift up the sword of justice and fair play, for the purpose of protecting the unfortunate landowning class in Ireland? The speeches delivered by hon. Gentlemen opposite had been remarkably contradictory. What was the logic, for example, of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Dundalk (Mr. Charles Bus-sell)? His logic came to this—that because in England, where there was no competition for land, landowners submitted to reductions, therefore in Ireland, where there was great competition for land, the landlords must submit to still greater reductions; that because English landowners had made large voluntary reductions in their rents, Irish landowners were to be subjected to compulsory reductions; and that because English landowners had power to select and eject their tenants according to their pleasure, and subject to the ordinary processes of law, that power was to be taken away from the Irish landlords, who were compelled to grant a fixed term at a judicial rent. In conclusion, the hon. and learned Member had argued that, because the English farmers had, without any variation for five or six years past, put up with continuously bad harvests, therefore they were to proceed exactly upon the same lines in Ireland, where the last two harvests had been singularly good. His hon. and learned Friend had, in fact, presented to the House a series of paradoxes and illogical conclusions. In introducing this Motion, the Prime Minister's great argument was that the appointment of the Lords' Committee would interfere with the judicial administration of the Land Act. In his opinion, scant courtesy had been shown towards two eminent Members of the Committee. He would mention first, as an unquestioned authority, Lord Penzance, who was a Whig Nobleman, and certainly not an enthusiastic supporter of Conservative principles. His judicial position and character were such as should place him in the very highest ranks of judicial authority; and could it be supposed for one moment that on going upon that Committee as an active Member he would be induced to sanction any undue interference with the judicial administration of the Land Act? Could they suppose for a moment that Lord Cairns would be guilty of any such motive? Sometimes the Prime Minister talked as if interference with the Act might be justifiable at some future date, provided its judicial administration were not questioned. If that were so, the Act could never be inquired into at all, for the judicial administration was a continuous and all-important portion of it. They had all been struck by the quota- tion the Prime Minister gave the House of Chief Justice Holt's reply to the House of Lords. That quotation appeared to him to be a misfit. Chief Justice Holt was sworn to administer justice. The Government did not think the status of the Sub-Commissioners of sufficient importance to administer an oath to them, or even the much-belauded affirmation, so popular on that side of the House. The working out of the Commission was entirely different from that which was represented when the Bill was brought into the House. They were told not that the Sub-Commissioners would go about all over Ireland, like Dick, Tom, or Harry, fixing the rents as between landlord and tenant, but that there would be a first-class Commission, consisting of men whose names would be submitted to this House, sanctioned by this House, and included in the four corners of this Act. It was only when he and others who, by long experience, knew the course which things were likely to take under such an Act, challenged the Government with respect to the appointment of these Sub-Commissioners, that they could finally ascertain what was the course they intended to pursue; and what had been the result? Why, that those Sub-Commissioners were so informally appointed that they were not even put upon their oath as men of honour, or bound to any condition or system whatever in the administration of the grave and important duties they had to perform, but the whole matter was left to them, and the entire landowning classes were left to the mercy of a set of men who had been so well described by the hon. Gentleman. It was said that these Sub-Commissioners were judicial persons; but they were not meant to be judicial persons. In the real Commission they had two lawyers and one layman. It was intended that it should be a judicial body—all its functions, sanctions, and arrangements were to be of a judicial character. But it was totally different with the Sub - Commissions, which had two laymen and one lawyer—gentlemen whom nobody knew, who went up and down the country reducing rents, and acting, not as judicial functionaries, but as mere valuers between landowners and tenantry; and he failed to see anything at all of a judicial character in their proceeding's. Now, the next ob- jection that was made was very singular. He was quite certain, when he heard this Resolution propounded, that the suggestion would be made—"Why, you are pulling Tip the plant to see how it grows;" but if that analogy were complete and accurate it would be an idle, it would be a ridiculous and childish operation to which the House of Lords was putting its hand. But was that so? A plant that was growing was subject to the ordinary laws of nature and progress, unchecked by other than natural causes. Was the Land Act subject to the ordinary act of nature and of law? Why, it was the Act of Parliament which prevented economic laws from taking effect. It prevented people from doing what they liked with their own, which was the ordinary condition of the growth and character of property. Therefore, he denied there was any analogy between the Land Act and the plant that was growing, the true analogy was this—they had a patient in a high state of fever, and the quack doctor thought he had a nostrum which he would propound. The patient did not improve under the treatment, and accordingly they called in some other people to advise. They asked what were the necessities of the case, so that they might ascertain whether, under their treatment, they could improve the patient. That was more like the analogy than that they had heard in the course of this debate—that of pulling up the plant to see if it was growing. So far from the charges brought against the House of Lords being true, he thought there was every ground for such an inquiry as they desired. There was one thing, and one thing only, which might have justified the Land Act, and that was its success. Had it been successful from any point of view? Had it been as successful as was prophesied by hon. Members upon the opposite Benches, who said that within six months they could restore order and peace to Ireland? They knew upon the highest authority—the authority of the Chief Secretary for Ireland himself, who had been visiting the disturbed districts—that things were now far worse than they were believed to be, instead of being far better. What was the condition of affairs? Why, nearly 600 men of all classes and ranks of society were now in Kilmainham and other gaols, planed there, not under the ordinary process of the law, but without trial, and by orders that were necessarily and distinctly given by the Government in order to attempt to restore order and peace. By placing these men in gaol there had been a suspension of ordinary law, in addition to a failure in the protection of life and property in Ireland through the ordinary tribunals. He thought he was not mistaken when he said that February—last month—was more rife in actual murders and most diabolical outrages than any month in the 18 months preceding it. If they looked at the Returns which had been placed on the Table of this House, what was the state of the facts? Taking the whole of last year, there was a larger average of crime of an agrarian character in the latter half of the year than in the first, while the past month of January last was worse than the latter half of last year; so that, instead of the Act having resulted in such general public advantages as might have palliated the condition of the landowners, it in no way approached that end. Now, they were obliged to put up with the lame and inconclusive promise of the Chief Secretary for Ireland that he hoped, within five years, to see the working of this Act result in the restoration of peace and order. He did not know how long they were to have the blessing of a Liberal Government; but if a Liberal Government was to stay in power for five years for the purpose of keeping alive an imbroglio of such a disastrous character in Ireland, all he could say was, that he hoped England and Scotland would find some process for ridding themselves of such a nuisance. But he just now approached the other side of the question—had this Act been a success from a landlord's point of view? He supposed it was not passed merely to please the tenants, for the right hon. Gentleman opposite put it forward as a boon to both. He did not believe the Prime Minister's righteous and just mind would have framed this Act merely in the interest of the tenant. He believed it would answer the purpose of the landowner as well as the occupier. But had it? It was said they were asking this a little too early, and that they had better wait until there had been 5,000 or 10,000 cases decided. But what was the case? Why, there were indications that all over Ireland, in every Province— aye, in every county—there was an all-pervading reduction of rents approaching between 20 and 30 per cent, although checked in a miserable minority of cases. He would not trouble the House with many cases. He asked permission to cite one instance, in order that the right hon. Gentleman opposite might follow it out if he liked. Of the 13 tenancies on the estate of Mr. M'Neill that were decided on February 18th by the Derry and Donegal Sub-Commissioners, the total aggregate of the rents was £329 12s. 5d.; and he asked how long did this House think the rents had been paid without alteration, and apparently without objection? Would the House believe that, although these rents had been paid for 66 years without any increase except some miserable sum in the shape of drainage work which had been done by the landlord, they were, under the action of this Sub-Commission, reduced 30 per cent on the evidence of one man? It was easy for right hon. Gentlemen opposite to complain of the landowners of Ireland querulously, as they said, asking Parliament to take their case into consideration; but the possibility of one such case as that was overwhelmingly in their favour, for it was enough to engender distrust of the whole of the action of the Sub-Commissioners. Why, not only the House of Lords, but also the House of Commons should, as a matter of justice, inquire into the circumstances of such a disastrous mode of treating the interests of the people which had so long existed under the law. In the case he had mentioned the Sub-Commissioners, Messrs. Bourke, Davidson, and O'Brien, delivered judgment on February 18, the Chief Commissioner observing in his decision— The rents are all old, and have not been altered for a very considerable number of years, save by a small addition for land drainage. We are always unwilling to disturb old rents, but we have come to the conclusion that the land is too highly rented. Now, the very considerable number of years mentioned in that judgment, was, as he had said, the long period of 66 years, and yet the rents were all reduced 30 per cent. He would not take up the time of the House by citing others of the many similar and equally instructive cases. He now proceeded to ask whether the Act had been successful from the tenant's own point of view? He had been somewhat startled by the satisfaction with which the Government had announced that, though by the beginning of December there was a great rush of suitors to the Court, and 70,000 originating notices were served, there was now not the same great influx of business. It seemed to him that if no more than 70,000 originating notices had been served, the fact did not speak volumes for the popularity of the Act among the 600,000 tenants of Ireland. His own belief was that the expense and the network of litigation into which both parties were plunged often prevented the beneficial application of the Act. A tenant whose holding represented no more than £5 or £6 a-year would find it scarcely worth while to pay a guinea or two to a lawyer and a further sum to a valuer to get a chance of a reduction of rent by 25 per cent, seeing that his gain would immediately be absorbed by law charges. This was a minor reason for the unpopularity of the Act, and there were, doubtless, other minor reasons which he need not specify; but he wished to mention the two great causes which, in his opinion, combined to render the Act a failure. In the first place, the Act would never succeed unless some liberal provision was made for dealing with the question of arrears. He was perfectly persuaded, looking at it either from a landlord's point of view or a tenant's point of view, that unless that question was dealt with liberally by the Imperial Legislature the long wished for goal of peace and order would not be arrived at. In the second place, the Purchase Clauses of the Act ought not to have been subordinated to the Fixed Rent Clauses. He did not see the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster or the Chief Commissioner of Works in their places opposite; but the present condition of the Irish Land Question probably made them both miserable. Both those right hon. Gentlemen believed that the true panacea for all the evils of Ireland was to promote the purchase of land by the tenant, and to turn the land-occupying into the land-owning classes. But, as things were, how could the tenants take advantage of the Purchase Clauses of the Act; or, rather, why should they do so? They had now been taught a more excellent way, and declined even to commit themselves to a 15 years' tenancy at reduced rents, because they knew that the next time the Government played with agitation there would be more changes, more reductions, and further curtailment of the landlords' power. More than anything else the speeches of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, as compared with his utterances in the year 1870, had embittered the feelings with which the Act was regarded by the landed interest in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman must pardon him if he appropriated for the occasion, with a slight alteration, a phrase once used by him in reference to the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill), and said that there was nothing essential connected with the Land Question, and denied by him in 1870, that he did not now affirm, and nothing affirmed by him then that he did not now deny. The House, then, had it upon the authority of the right hon. Gentleman that any idea of fixing rents by a Judicial Court was one of the wildest and idlest things that could be suggested; and that was only one of the propositions affirmed in 1870, that had now been opposed and destroyed by the right hon. Gentleman's present actions, language, and principles. But, however that might be, it was more important to inquire whether there were not fair grounds for an investigation into the working of the Act—as, for instance, whether or not it was operating justly with regard to the owners of land. For himself, he held that this class was not receiving justice, either from the Sub-Commissioners or from their Chiefs. The first act of the Head Commissioners, before they were sworn, was to compose a Circular, not addressed to both parties of the litigants, but published as a manifesto to draw the tenants into Court as the persons to be supported against the landlords. Whenever the halo of the sacredness of their functions was flung round the Commissioners he asked himself whether that act was consistent with the conduct of a judicial body. The next distinction earned by the Commissioners was due to the dictum of their Chief, that in estimating a fair rent they had to consider whether the tenant could live and thrive upon his holding at the rent he was paying. Was any such principle ever before enunciated in any Court or Chamber of either Law or Commerce? What, for example, would be the effect of a doctrine that would raise or lower the price of a commodity according to the number of the purchaser's family, or the fruga- lity or profligacy of his private life? That was just the effect of the speech, he might say the peal of bells, which the Chief Commissioner thought proper to ring when he entered the Land Court. Really, it looked as if the landlord was to suffer for the number of wants of the children of the tenant as if they were his own. It might next be asked whether the Irish landed interest had been fairly treated in the appointment of the Sub-Commissioners. He ventured to say that never before in the whole range of legal, social, or commercial arbitrations had men been appointed with so little regard to the representation of the different interests concerned. Not the slightest effort had been made on the part of the Government to secure the services of any impartial body of men who might be said to represent the interests of both classes, to say nothing of the absolute absence of all who might be supposed to be favourably inclined towards the landlords. There was another point upon which inquiry should be made. What was the unhappy condition of the landlords of Ireland, great and small, who had to meet the fixed charges on their rent rolls, notwithstanding those rent rolls were reduced? It was impossible to keep up that glorious indifference assumed by hon. Gentlemen opposite to the suffering and distress which the landlords had to go through in consequence of recent and deplorable events. The Legislature was bound to provide some mode of redress, even though it should be by what hon. Gentlemen opposite might consider the odious means of compensation. The landlords had, many of them, fixed rents, with upwards of 60 years' title; yet, now, with one-third of those rents taken away, with still the same charges to pay, they found themselves in a helpless condition in having to meet charges which could not be reduced, but which were created with reference to the old rental. The Ministry might harden their hearts against such a state of things; but when the landlords were seen to fall, one after another, into a condition of abject misery and poverty, they might rest assured that the English and Scotch people would at last be aroused to feel that a state of things existed which demanded the sympathy of the Legislature. Then, there was another matter, upon which inquiry was absolutely essential, and that was the efficiency of the Land Court. The Attorney General for Ireland had stated that two or three years would suffice to settle all the claims; but he had not taken into account the numerous appeals that the landlords would feel bound to make in the hope of escaping annihilation. No information had been given as to how the block in the Courts was to be stopped. The Government, like the ostrich, had, as regarded the Chief Commissioners, thought proper to place their heads in the sand, and imagined there was no obstruction in the way. The delay in getting cases tried by the Chief Commissioners was one of the gravest questions, and which the Attorney General for Ireland did not touch. But, even as regarded the Sub-Commissioners, there were 5,000 cases awaiting trial in one county alone, which, as the junior Member for Tyrone had pointed out, could not possibly be disposed of under some years. Therefore, that was a question which demanded inquiry. Then there was the utter failure of the Arrears Clauses. Could anybody who knew anything of the matter help being struck by the unworkable clause by which the landlord had to forgive the tenant one half the rent, and become debtor to the Government for the other half? It was said that the intention was to assist both the tenant and the landlord; but, as a matter of fact, the tenant remained under the old conditions, and the landlord did not get his money. Moreover, the Purchase Clauses had proved a grievous failure. Even if the Act were a success, which it was not, the present tenants would alone receive any benefit; the next race of tenants would be in a much worse condition. In Ulster, so enormous in many instances had become the value of tenant right, that that right, instead of being a blessing, had become a curse. If a man wanted to put his son into a farm of 20 or 30 acres, the price demanded was so high that he had to borrow the money at an exorbitant rate of interest, and lead a miserable existence under the thumb of the village money-lender. What would be the effect of lowering the rents in Ulster? The result would be that the difficulty of buying farms at a moderate rate would become gradually greater, the number of money-pressed destitute tenants would increase, and a state of things would be produced which would require another Land Bill. This was a point which had never yet been answered. He had intended to make his concluding observations during the debate on the Address, but had been prevented from doing so until the present moment. In order to afford the Solicitor General for Ireland, who had already spoken, a fair opportunity of answering his remarks, and not place the hon. and learned Gentleman at a disadvantage, he would move the adjournment of the House. During the course of the debate on the Bill last year, he was afraid the very distinguished Gentleman who then filled the office of Attorney General for Ireland must have thought him very pertinacious on one point—the appointment of the Sub-Commissioners. To use a common phrase, he thought he "smelt a rat." He thought it was the intention of the Government to do what it had since done. Although they had told the House that it was a high judicial office, they had broken the Constitution by getting the people to do the work either by the job or the day. He was told by the present Lord Chancellor of Ireland that it was not intended to do anything of the sort; but, pressing the question further, he extracted from him the confession that it might be necessary to appoint Sub-Commissioners for a short period, but that the usual appointment would be for seven years. What was the fact? Twelve had been appointed for seven years, and 24 for one year, and were going about the country endeavouring to earn and maintain their character with the Government, which they could not do unless they earned and maintained their character with the tenants by reducing rents. He was not prepared to admit that these were judicial appointments; but on the assumption that they were, was there ever anything so foreign to the spirit of the Constitution as to appoint men who had to administer justice between man and man for short periods, leaving the appointment renewable under the auspices of the Government of the day? The consequence was seen in what happened at the Derry Election, and in the return of the Solicitor General for Ireland. The election was on the 6th of December, and, being an elector, he received a circular dated the 22nd of November from the Solicitor General's Committee Room, signed by R. H. Todd, agent, informing him where his polling station was, and adding, in large letters— Mr. Gladstone, in the present circumstances, asks you to return his Solicitor General for Ireland, among other reasons, as a mark of your approval of the Land Act. On a fly-sheet it was stated that the Land Act had given reductions of rent, and the decisions of the Sub-Commissioners—who, however, had not begun their "angel visits" to the county of Derry at that time. But, as a specimen of what might be expected from them, examples were given of reductions from £19 2s. 6d. to £9 11s. 3d., from £15 to £6 5s., and from £4 10s. to £1. There might have been no harm in pointing out that the Act had operated beneficially in cases judicially decided; but the matter did not end there. The county was saturated with handbills, copies of which he produced. These proclaimed—"What Gladstone's Land Act has done for the farmer. Rents reduced nearly 40 per cent." The statements were addressed to the tenant farmers, whose loyalty, they were told, was not to be depended upon if the Land Act were tampered with, whose loyalty was consistent only with the proceedings of the Sub-Commissioners being unchecked. These were the tenant farmers of Ulster who were appealed to by the Solicitor General for Ireland, who had talked about the greed excited by the Land Act. The virus of the whole thing in the placards was the question, "What will Porter do?" The answer was, "Preserve the Land Act; maintain Gladstone's fair rents." But it did not end there. Hon. Members were familiar with the instructions to benighted voters, as to the filling up of voting papers, that were sent out before the polling day. Now, he was speaking the truth strictly, as he had done in everything he had narrated, when he stated that just before the poll a circular was sent to the electors which contained these words— Vote for Porter; preserve the Land Act; maintain the present fair and honest Commissioners, and seure fair rents. In other words, like a political "House that Jack built," they were to vote for Porter, who would keep in the Government, who would keep in the Commissioners, who would reduce the rents. Why were certain men in Canterbury Gaol? At the time these circulars were being issued wholesale to the electors of Derry, men were crossing the streets of London handcuffed on their way to Canterbury Gaol for petty acts of bribery. What respect could the receivers of such circulars have for bribery laws, or the proposal of the Attorney General formulated last Session in reference to corrupt practices? Was there not in this mode of treating the Land Act a pandering to the greed and avarice of the constituency? Was this not conduct of a far worse character than any that had been heard of before the Bribery Commissioners? But the matter did not end there, for, immediately after the election, three of the prominent supporters of the hon. and learned Gentleman were appointed Sub-Commissioners. He charged the Government with having appointed these three gentlemen, who had gone about intreating the electors to vote for a Member of the Government on the ground that it would keep the Sub-Commissioners in power, and that they would reduce the rents. He asked, in face of the House and country, if it could be expected that the Land Act would go down to history as an Act justly and righteously administered towards the landlords, after these occurrences? One of the gentlemen appointed was a Mr. Morrison, a legitimate representative of the farming class, and no doubt a very proper man to appoint, if there had also been representatives of the landlord class. But it seemed to be forgotten that the landlord had rights. It was thought that every sort of obloquy and distress should be thrown upon him. Mr. Morrison was a prominent supporter of the hon. and learned Member. Another was Mr. Weir, an inhabitant of the adjoining county of Tyrone, who "coached" the Solicitor General for Ireland, and went about with him as one of his prominent supporters. Then there was Mr. John Cunningham, of Foyle Street, Derry, a constituent of his own, whose history he knew. Twelve or 15 years ago Mr. Cunningham was a clerk to a wine merchant; now he was a meal and corn merchant in the middle of the city of Derry. All that he had to do with agriculture was that he had a mill some eight miles off, with a small quantity of land attached to it; and his chief distinction—and no doubt it was his chief qualification in the eyes of the Government—was that he was a leading Liberal and a prominent supporter of the hon. and learned Member. When a Liberal Law Officer went down to an Irish county constituency, there was no end to the benefits, large and small, which he conferred on his political supporters. Even the Londonderry Lunatic Asylum did not escape the handling of the Solicitor General. And although there was only room for 10 people in the Board Room and there were 25 Governors, he appointed 11 more at a stroke, and all of them his own supporters. That was the political use made of the Land Act, into which it might legitimately answer the purpose of that House or the House of Lords to make close and scrutinizing inquiry. He could not help thinking that the conduct of the hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland, which he had now placed before the House upon facts, figures, and documents, had been entirely misconceived by the hon. and learned Gentleman himself when he suggested, upon a previous occasion, that he supposed he was charged with saying that he would influence the Sub-Commissioners. Nobody had suggested that. Unfortunately, he did what was ten times worse—he influenced the constituency, and influenced wholesale, under circumstances compared with which the famous "rabbit case" of which they had all heard so much was perfect purity. The Solicitor General for Ireland had acted as a kind of political Cheap Jack, putting up the interests of the landowning class to a Dutch auction. Now, what were the real objects of the Motion before the House? As to anybody caring for it outside of the House, they could all judge by the state of public feeling. The Prime Minister, no doubt, thought he could by that Motion charm back the allegiance of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway on that (the Opposition) side. The right hon. Gentleman lately threw out a bait to that quarter in the shape of a Home Rule speech, and this Motion was thought a fitting supplement for obtaining their votes. He did not, however, believe that the device would succeed. But another object which prompted the action of the right hon. Gentleman had been answered. The Ministerial Benches had become disorganized. There had been great discontent in the Liberal ranks. Wild shieks of -liberty had been heard. The Govern- ment had been defeated in the hapless controversy on the Bradlaugh question; and it was necessary to summon their shattered forces to Downing Street. The Liberal Party could now congratulate one another on their wonderful union—such as had not been seen for years—in that attack on the House of Lords. One of the right hon. Gentleman's chief objects apparently was to "Feed fat the ancient grudge," which he had long borne towards the House of Peers, and to excite the people against it as an Estate of the Realm. If the latter had been the right hon. Gentleman's object, he thought it had signally failed. At one time the right hon. Gentleman had evoked the Prerogative of the Crown to punish the House of Lords for the exercise of its Constitutional rights in regard to the measure on Purchase in the Army; and now he invoked the House of Commons to punish the House of Lords because they dared to say they did not believe in his land legislation, and wished to know a little about its effect. Whatever might be the exact figures of the impending division, they might feel assured that the country understood who were its real friends and the value of the House of Lords. When he heard the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the other night, it reminded him very forcibly of what he had often experienced in a passing Atlantic storm—it was so fierce, so grand, so violent, and so short for the right hon. Gentleman—it was so innocuous, and it passed away without leaving a trace behind. The House of Lords had, however, weathered that storm like a well-built well-found ship; and notwithstanding all the opprobrium sought to be cast on the House of Lords for their conduct in reference to a question of such transcendent importance, and that the right hon. Gentleman and his Colleagues said they would be no party to the investigation instituted by the other House, and would not assist in its fair prosecution, the result of the inquiry, one-sided though they might call it—and, if it was so, it was the Government's own fault—would prove that there were great evils to be remedied, great mistakes requiring to be corrected, and that, in pursuing the course it had done, the House of Lords had been following the path of righteousness, good sense, and justice. He now begged to move the adjournment of the debate.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Lewis.)


The hon. Member has moved the adjournment of the House for the avowed purpose of enabling a Member of the House who has already addressed the House to speak a second time, in contravention of the order of our debate. I wish to point out to the House that such a practice, if often pursued, would lead to very great inconvenience.


I beg to withdraw my Motion.


I would submit to the hon. Member and the House, that the more regular and proper course would be for the House to extend its indulgence to the hon. and learned Gentlemen.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.


said, he had to thank Mr. Speaker and the House for affording him an opportunity, which he trusted he should not abuse, of saying a few words of personal explanation on matters which had been brought forward by the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Lewis). It was quite true that the hon. Member had on the 6th of last month informed him that he intended to draw attention to some matters connected with his personal conduct; and he was glad to find that the hon. Member's voice had sufficiently recovered to enable him to formulate his charges against him after he had twice addressed the House. He had to thank the hon. Member for welcoming him to the House, although the hon. Member evidently considered that a more appropriate place could be found for him in Canterbury Gaol. Now, he did not mean to repeat what he had already said in the House, nor to go again over his speeches at Londonderry. As to the election placards, as a matter of fact, he had had nothing whatever to do with their preparation, nor had he ever seen them until they appeared on the walls. But, of course, he was responsible for them, and he had never endeavoured to repudiate that responsibility. But there was an opportunity on which his responsibility could or ought to have been tested. He was accused of conduct which was said to be worse than that of giving voters the power of freely shooting rabbits. His crime was that he had pointed out to the inhabitants of a county in which the Land Act was untried the benefits which it was capable of conferring if properly administered. If there was any analogy between the two cases, of course the hon. Member would have the advantage of it. But the charge that was made against him was a matter far more grave than that he had influenced the Commissioners, and he said that if the charge that he had bribed the constituency had any foundation, it ought to have been brought before that tribunal, where it could alone have been properly inquired into. It had been openly stated, on behalf of his Conservative opponent, whose only complaint against the Land Act was that it did not go far enough, that he would petition against the return in order to have that matter raised. And that not having been done, and the Party to which the hon. Gentleman belonged having deliberately abandoned that to which they had been challenged, it was not fair to bring that matter forward now. There was one other matter—with reference to the appointment of three of the Sub-Commissioners who, the hon. Gentleman said, were prominent supporters of his in the county of Londonderry, and were appointed in consequence. The hon. Gentleman prefaced that allegation by saying that he was "now going to state the exact truth." The hon. Member said that Mr. Morrison was a perfectly competent man. Well, he had nothing to do with the appointment—it rested with others—although he believed it was a good one. But this he could say, that until he attended a meeting of his supporters in a remote country town, he had never seen or heard of Mr. Morrison, and from that day he had never laid eyes upon him. He never knew that Mr. Morrison had any political position in the county. He had since been informed that Mr. Morrison was not a prominent politician, and that he had no commanding influence in the county; but, at all events, he had nothing to do with Mr. Morrison's appointment, good, bad, or indifferent. Then as to Mr. Weir, that gentleman was not a voter of the county—was never upon his committee, never "coached" him on any occasion; and all he knew of Mr. Weir was that he believed him to be one of the best qualified persons appointed as Sub-Commissioners. With Mr. Weir's appointment he had something to do, and it was this. In the summer, he believed it was in August last, before any vacancy occurred in Londonderry, and long before he had the slightest notion of ever being Solicitor General for Ireland, or contesting any constituency, Mr. Weir, who was known to him, called upon him and asked him for his testimony as to his fitness for the office of Sub-Commissioner. He gave him that recommendation, and, except that, he never had anything to do with his appointment. Mr. Cunningham had been spoken of as having a place in Londonderry. Until the hon. Member (Mr. Lewis) mentioned that fact, he was not aware of it; but he did not know that Mr. Cunningham was not a voter, nor was he a member of his committee. Mr. Cunningham was not a supporter of his, so far as he was aware, in any shape or form, and he knew nothing of that gentleman's appointment until it was completed. These were the real facts, and all the facts, and he left them to the House.


said, it was a source of deep regret to him that, in the present sad and critical condition of Ireland, when the Houses had under consideration a Resolution referring to that condition, this debate should have been turned into a miserable squabble by the hon. Gentleman opposite, because his mind might have been affected by the success of a political opponent. That hon. Gentleman was an Irish Member, but he rejoiced to say that he was not an Irish-born Member. The hon. Member spoke of the peculiar loyalty of the North of Ireland as if the name of Orr was unknown in Ulster, and as if the hon. Member never knew that the Irishmen who nearly a century ago almost revolutionized that country were principally composed of those loyal gentlemen to whom the hon. Gentleman in his ignorance referred. A London solicitor, accustomed to questions, and to quarrelling and fighting, was doubtless the proper person to put up to make a Party speech. But the subject now before the House was one which ought not to be made a question of Party. The question they had to consider was not one of controversy between the Whig and Tory Benches, but how to bring back to a state of repose a country which they all knew to sadly need it. He ventured to intrude in the debate because hon. Members opposite had given him notice to quit. That he did not object to; but they had used a term to which he did object, inasmuch as they had described him and other hon. Gentlemen who acted with him as being discredited. He repelled that observation, and would repeat what he had often said, that since the time that he first entered the House, when the name of Sharman Crawford was on every lip, down to the present, he had always been an advocate of the claims of the tenants. They had been successful in carrying a measure which he still believed would be of the greatest advantage to the country; and the Resolution of the right hon. Gentleman he regarded, not as an attack upon the House of Lords, but as the necessary defence of an Act they had spent so much time last Session in endeavouring to pass. The hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton), in the able speech he made in that debate, had been guilty of the common error of rash generalization. He had almost entirely confined his observations as to the failure of the Act to counties like Galway, Mayo, and Donegal, excluding other counties where its good action was undeniable. When the "Undertakers" commenced this agitation they selected Mayo as their best ground, well knowing that the smallness of the farms, coupled with the arid nature of the soil, would incapacitate any unassisted tenant from living by the land, if he even held it for nothing. But there were other parts of Ireland which even the hon. Member for Sligo had not denied would be benefited by this Act if it were fairly administered. Neither the hon. Member for Sligo, nor the Gentlemen around him—who talked so much that one would think their brains were in their throats—had stated whether their object was to promote the "no rent" manifesto. He would like to be informed whether hon. Gentlemen opposite were recusants to the manifesto, or was it to be an open question? If rumour was to believed, there was not that unity among hon. Gentlemen opposite which once they boasted of, for it was said that at the meeting the other day, at which they mustered only "a baker's dozen," when they were to decide on the course to be adopted, even that small number was divided, he believed—as eight to five. He should not be justified in making those remarks had not his motives, and those of some hon. Gentlemen near him, been misrepresented by those men who, out of the House, in America, and in Paris, described themselves as "the great Irish Party." The hon. Member for New Ross (Mr. Redmond) asked why were the number of ejectments increasing in Ireland? His answer was because of the "no rent" manifesto. Let hon. Members opposite abuse the Act, and call it an imposture and a sham; yet he (Sir Patrick O'Brien) insisted that no man 10 years past, no matter of what opinion, could have dreamt of such a beneficent measure ever becoming law. The hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. O'Donnell) was almost the last man he would have expected to have seen in league with hon. Gentlemen opposite. The hon. Member reminded him of the lady in Nicholas Nickleby, who was "so kitteny playful, and yet so sewerely wirtuous." But, unless he was blind, he had seen a letter which Mr. Egan once wrote, not very complimentary to the hon. Gentleman. Would the hon. Gentleman inform the House was he the Leader of the Irish Party? The hon. Member for Londonderry had said there was no excitement in Ireland in regard to that Committee. He could understand there was no excitement in Ireland amongst those who were under the tutelage of the Land League, because the Lords' Committee was doing sound Land League work in that transaction. They were doing what hon. Gentlemen opposite were endeavouring to do—namely, destroying all confidence in the Land Act, which had amalgamated within it that doctrine for which the people of Ireland were so long crying out—namely, the "three F's." The only hon. Member who had the courage to defend the "no rent" manifesto in that House was the right hon. Gentleman the Lord Mayor of Dublin, and he did so on high theological grounds, taken from the Fathers of the Church. No doubt, the right hon. Gentleman had authority to speak dogmatically of the opinions of the ancient Fathers—Tertullian, Chrysostom, St. Bernard, and others—and had opportunities of instruction in ab- struse theology from high sources not open to humble individuals like himself. For his part, wanting the Lord Mayor of Dublin's special knowledge, he was content to accept the instruction which his Church taught him was inspired—"To give unto Cæsar the things which were Cæsar's, and to God the things which were God's." But hon. Members opposite opposed the Act because, forsooth, landlordism must be destroyed! Was Ireland its only refuge? What about France, where one-third of the land was subject to rent? What about America? Were there no Junkers in Prussia? Was Lord Clare, was Lord Dillon, was Sarsfield, Earl of Lucan, a landlord? Was the Lord Charlemont of "82"? These were names often in the mouths of hon. Gentleman opposite. When they boasted, too, of American sympathy, had they likewise made allusion to the law in the United States? Had they forgotten the terrible manner in which an Irish riot in New York some years ago was suppressed? He could not then hear the screams of the Irish National Press against what, if it had occurred in Ireland, they would have assailed as a butchery. Hon. Gentlemen opposite also talked of America as if it were a sort of Irish nation, forgetting that the Germans outnumbered the Irish in the Union, and that the very Yankee accent was imported into Massachusetts by Winthrop, its first Governor, and the Suffolk men who accompanied him. He was there to give his unqualified condemnation of the dishonest manifesto, and he thought the Irish people were entitled to learn, by their declarations in that House, how many men representing Irish constituencies supported that manifesto. [Mr. HEALY: If you allude to me, I do.] He (Sir Patrick O'Brien) never meant to allude to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Wexford, because that hon. Member always advanced unblushingly and openly any opinion he entertained. He did not share the opinion of the hon. Member for Wexford; and had he alluded to him, and had it been necessary to say so, he would have done so fearlessly. He was speaking of those who were opposed to robbery of that description, who said they did not want the feeling and opinion of the country demoralized, and who said they were not prepared, for the sake of a political advantage, to pull the country that sent them to the House through the mire, and not of the hon. Gentleman. Let those hon. Gentlemen say what they thought about the "no rent" manifesto. He and others had been told they would be excluded from seats in that House. If they should be excluded, they would feel that they had performed their promises to their constituents; and he, for one, would decline to sacrifice his opinions, even for the sake of a seat in that House. Hon. Members who spoke about their exclusion must know that they would die with "harness on their backs." For the last 30 years he had been hearing periodically about his "last Session." Yet he was slow to believe; and it was a question which would have to be determined, and which he meant to try, whether the people for whom the Land Act had been passed, and the benefits of which would become apparent to all before the next General Election, would prefer to live under its advantages, or under the rule of "Captain Moonlight." Amongst all those who acted with him there was the common feeling—that if they could not command success, they would do all they could to deserve it.


said, he would endeavour to respond to the challenge of the hon. Baronet in reference to the "no rent" manifesto. It had been very fairly made, and he hoped every man near him would have the courage to declare his opinions in reply to it. He should have been content to have given a silent vote on that occasion had it not been for some of the speeches which had been made from the Benches behind him. Recognizing the right of those who had made them to hold extreme opinions, and to express them freely, he claimed for himself a similar right to hold and to express opinions which were not extreme. He understood the narrow issue now before the House was whether the beneficent operation of the Land Act—for he regarded it as beneficent—was to be paralyzed and discredited by virtually pulling that measure up by the roots to see how it was growing; for that would certainly be the effect of the action of the Lords in this matter. Not only was he opposed to inquiry by the Committee of the House of Lords, but he equally objected to any inquiry that might be conducted in the spirit of the speech of the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton). He thought it would be not only premature, but absolutely mischievous. The Land Act had only been a few months in operation, and its trial was not complete, and had not been exactly fair. That the Act had many deficits was recognized by probably three-fourths of the Members of that House. Certainly, the Lease Clauses had proved disappointing; the Arrears Clauses had also proved a failure; and the Purchase Clauses had met with, practically, no success. But it needed no inquiry to demonstrate all this, either from the tenant's or the landlord's point of view. At the proper time, he should have no objection to support any amending legislation; but he should certainly oppose any attempt, from whatever quarter, to tamper with the Statute at the present moment. He entirely shared the hon. Baronet's opinion with regard to the "no rent" manifesto. He had for some months been a member of the Land League. When the Dublin State Trials came on, he joined it to show his sympathy with the traversers, whom he believed to be the objects of an attack by Government prosecution of which he did not approve; and during his membership of the association, he had endeavoured to advance what he believed to be its legitimate objects. But when it developed new methods of operation, and disclosed new aims with which he had no sympathy, he lost no time in dissociating himself from it. On the very day following the issue of the "no rent" manifesto he severed his connection with the body, as he regarded the issue of the manifesto, not only as a grave moral offence, calculated to demoralize the whole Irish tenantry, but as, even from the lowest ground of policy, a suicidal blunder. That manifesto had immensely discredited the Party who issued it, and had alienated from them the sympathies of all honest land reformers, without, in return, giving them the support of the classes who were now dishonestly profiting by it. His own political creed as regarded Irish Land Reform was comprised in the "three F.'s;" and, in his opinion, this Act not only gave the Irish people the "three F.'s," but a good deal more—in fact, it had effected nothing short of a beneficent revolution. On the subject of coercion, he wished to say that when the Acts of last Session were passing through that House, he had honestly done his best to obstruct and oppose them as being unnecessary, and not likely to prove successful in pacifying Ireland, and everything that had occurred since had abundantly justified that view. In spite of all the honesty and good intentions of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland, the endeavour to administer those Acts had resulted in immense injustice, and therefore he should be glad to see their application very greatly restricted. He personally knew of several such cases in the County "Wicklow, and he felt certain that hon. Gentlemen around him knew of many more. He would rejoice if it. were possible to so reduce its application, or, better still, to grant a complete amnesty to the prisoners. The pacifying effects of such a measure would be very great throughout Ireland. He thought he could state the solution of the whole Irish difficulty in a few words. It lay, he believed, in two things—the immediate remedy, or the abandonment of a coercive policy; and the agrarian remedy, or the extended operation of the Land Act, especially in the direction of abolishing landlords altogether and making the farmers the owners of the soil. Nothing short of this would solve the difficulty. But with this, and the political concessions of which some foreshadowings had been given by the Prime Minister, he had strong hope of the reconciliation of England and Ireland, and that a happy modus vivendi might be established between the two countries. But without some such radical remedies as these, it would be hopeless to expect loyal contentment on the part of the Irish people, or to escape from Irish obstruction in that House.


said, it had been attempted to show, by speeches on both sides of the House, that in opposing the Motion of the Prime Minister the Irish Members were supporting the Committee of Inquiry instituted by the House of Lords; and in order to justify that conclusion they had been told that the Motion of the Prime Minister, though declaring against any Parliamentary inquiry into the working of the Land Act, was solely directed against the inquiry instituted by the House of Lords. But they felt that if they were to support the Motion of the Prime Minister, or if they did not distinctly vote against it, they would commit themselves to the pro- position that inquiry of any kind would defeat the operation of the Act. He did not believe that any inquiry, whether conducted by the House of Lords or by a Committee of this House, could really interfere with the operation of the Act at all. A great deal had been said by the hon. Members for Ulster about the serious effect which would be produced upon the popular mind in Ireland if this Committee of the Lords was agreed to without a Vote of Censure, for that was practically what the Prime Minister's Motion amounted to. But for the last two months there had been serious and growing dissatisfaction in Ireland, not only amongst the landlords, who were seeking this inquiry, but amongst the tenants, respecting the administration of the Land Act. The hon. Member for Tyrone (Mr. Dickson) had told them that if the working of the Act had failed—and he seemed to think if this Committee were allowed to go forth one of the results would be the failure of the Act—the tenant farmers of Ulster were ready to begin the agitation again with increased vigour and upon very advanced lines. His answer was that all this had already happened. The farmers of Ulster had not only begun a fresh agitation, but were carrying it forward on advanced lines. At a meeting of farmers recently held a resolution was passed condemning the Sub-Commissioners and affirming that a rent equal to half of Griffith's valuation was quite enough for the tenant farmers of the North of Ireland to pay. His hon. Friend the Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) had been represented by the hon. Member for Tyrone to have been in favour of an inquiry to be conducted in "another place." His hon. Friend said nothing of the kind. He had said that some inquiry was necessary—that the Act had failed—and that it would be impossible even for noble Lords to shut out entirely evidence in favour of the tenants. His hon. Friend thought that even such an inquiry was better than none at all. It was said that an inquiry by a Committee of the House of Lords would be hostile to the interests of tenants. He did not deny that that was its object; but he thought it would be impossible for the Committee of the House of Lords to shut out from their inquiry evidence that would be of material advantage to the hon. Members from Ireland, who believed this Act needed improvement and extensive amendment. The position they took up was this—the Prime Minister wished them to believe it would defeat the working of the Act; but they believed inquiry was necessary, and would be most advantageous to the people of Ireland. The hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland had said there was no precedent for such an inquiry. But neither was there a precedent for the Land Act, which really introduced a brand new land system into the country. He did not say there was not the amplest justification for such a change—indeed, the change did not go far enough. They were told that the enactment of the measure could only be justified by imperative necessity; and, if that were so, how could it be argued that an inquiry into its operation and effects should not take place at the earliest possible moment? Perhaps the strongest proof that some inquiry was necessary lay in the fact that proposals to amend the Act had come, not only from hon. Gentlemen sitting on that side of the House, but from some of the stoutest supporters of Her Majesty's Government. Hon. Members from the North of Ireland and hon. Members on his side of the House intended to bring in a Bill to amend the Act; but they might be told that it was premature to attempt to amend it until it had been in operation for a sufficiently long time to enable them to judge of its working. It was admitted that the Act had failed in some respects. That was allowed by the hon. and learned Member for Dundalk (Mr. Charles Russell), who said that the Act had failed in respect of the Arrears Clause. It had failed, too, in the Leases Clause, and in the clause dealing with agricultural labourers. The hon. and learned Member for Dundalk said, "We know all this; we do not want an inquiry into it." But there was no evidence that the Government recognized these truths. If the Government gave them any assurance that they intended to legislate without any inquiry, and that inquiry was unnecessary, as they knew the defects and shortcomings of the Act, of course they would not think it necessary any longer to contend that an inquiry was necessary; but, unfortunately, they did not hear anything of this kind from the Government. It was said that the Act had been received with great satisfaction by the Irish people. The fact was the only people who were satisfied with the Act were those who had personally benefited by its operation. But the people who had made the Act possible—the vast majority of the tenants—were left out in the cold, because there had been no adequate provision for cases of arrears. The hon. and learned Member for Dundalk had truly said that, notwithstanding the Land Act, the work of extermination was going on in Ireland. Surely there could be no stronger argument in favour of the view that some inquiry into the operation of the Act was necessary and would be advantageous. They believed that the defects in the Land Act were so serious, that the miseries brought about by the facilities which the landlords still had for oppressing and evicting the tenants were so numerous, that they could not stave off inquiry if they were to have peace in Ireland. But they could not in a month hence put a Motion on the Table for an inquiry into the Act if they declared themselves in favour of the Prime Minister's Motion. As the Prime Minister's had chosen to make his Motion in general terms, and as they thought an inquiry was necessary to develop a feeling which would lead the House to approach the work of amending the Act, they considered it their duty to vote against the proposition of the Government, but they did not intend to vote on the Previous Question.


said, the chief burden of the charge they heard from the other side of the House was that, to use the words of the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton), the operation of this Act was "partial and feeble to a singular degree." But why was it so? The reason why the Act was not now in rapid operation throughout the country, so far as his experience went, was this—it was suppressed by terrorism. There was no other word for it. There was an organized—and lavishly subsidized by foreign money—system of terrorism throughout the country. It was not the work of the people at large—it was an organized system of ruffianism and assassination. When the hon. Member spoke of the Act as "partial and feeble," did he forget the "no rent" manifesto? While this agitation was going on, that manifesto was posted throughout the county of Tipperary, and one of his constituents had forwarded him a copy of that document. He said— I have pleasure in sending you a copy of the document which troubles you so much. During the last week I have sent 100 copies to your tenants in Tipperary. Your speech in the House will not be forgotten. The real gist of this document was—"Do not pay rent, and avoid the Land Courts." It had been argued that the document merely meant a postponement of the payment of rent. In reality it meant nothing of the land. He might observe that it was signed—"By order; Patrick Egan, treasurer." This was the reason why the Land Act was not working throughout large districts in Ireland. Then they were told a great deal about the increase in the number of evictions. Who had caused the evictions? What were those orders that had come out? Was it not that no rent should be paid till the landlord had been forced to the greatest degree of inconvenience—that the costs would not be paid if the tenant paid his rent one hour before the sheriff came to his door? And many of the tenants who had paid their costs had been left in the lurch, and would not get their costs at all. Why, in many districts people were more terrified at the approach of the officers of the Land League than of the officers of the law. This was the reason why the Act was not working. There were some obstacles to it, and to which he would call the attention of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, though he was afraid he would not have a very sympathetic hearer in him. He did not wish to argue the question of compensation; but he called the attention of the Government to the fact that there was an idea that compensation would be given, but not to those whose rents had been compulsorily lowered in Court. The consequence was that many were holding back because they feared they would lose all title to compensation if they entered into arrangements with their tenants. It would be for the Government to take notice of that point. In his opinion, the Act would work in spite of all the opposition it had met with. As to the labourers, they had been, he might almost say, betrayed throughout the course of this agitation. A great deal had been done by the Government—at least, the Government had shown great goodwill towards the labouring classes. They put in a very important clause in the Land Bill for their benefit. But the labouring classes had for two years been out of employment. Farmers who had not paid their rent had not paid their labourers; and the cry of the labourers went up from one end of the country to the other. In point of fact, the clause in question, empowering the Commissioners to order the erection of buildings for labourers, was practically useless. He believed that the Act only required a few modifications to become thoroughly workable; there could be no doubt the Act would work well when the present disaffection was put an end to. He could not support the Government in the policy of these arrests on suspicion. He voted staunchly against the Coercion Bill, and could only view these arrests with dismay and detestation. When these powers were obtained from the House it was clearly understood that they were obtained for repression and not for punishment. When he saw an hon. Member of the House detained in solitary confinement for seven days under them; when others were locked up in their cells for 18 hours a-day, he could not believe that that pledge had been kept. Not only did these arrests create a wide circle of discontent and disaffection in the districts in which they occurred—a disaffection not alone amongst the humbler classes, but rising to the middle class—but he could not disguise from himself that some day the men would come out of prison more powerful than they went in. He thought that some other remedy was required, and not coercion. At the same time, he was by no means blind to the outrages, though he did not believe that they were the work of the great bulk of the people. He thought that the outrages were the work of an organized system by which the assassins and incendiaries were liberally paid with foreign money. It was the duty of the Government to put them down by whatever means they could; and in so doing he was sure they would have the support of all the well-disposed classes of the community. The great hope for the country lay in the rapid extension of the Purchase Clauses of the Act. They were not working well, and there was an earnest desire for their extension. The only question in his mind was, whether they should take this step now or later, as he believed they would have to take it. The question was, whether it was not wiser and cheaper and more statesmanlike to take it now, when they might receive the thanks of the people, than to postpone the change to a time when they had widened the breach more and more between the two countries by further measures of coercion, and when they were impelled to it by the duty of saving from annihilation a ruined and impoverished proprietary. In his opinion, if the House dealt with the question without delay, that would do more than anything else to restore tranquillity to Ireland.


said, the speech of the Prime Minister on Monday, when introducing his Resolution, had cleared from his mind a great deal of the uncertainty and hesitation which he might otherwise have had in speaking on this question. The Prime Minister had plainly told them that the Land Act was meant as one more of the sops which he was in the habit of providing for his enemies when they became too many for him. He avowed that the whole power of the Executive Government was, in October last, overwhelmed; that it could do nothing more, and that the only way out of the difficulty was to bid, by means of the Land Act, for the suffrages and affections of the Land Leaguers. Therefore, the Land Act need not for the future be considered as a judical measure, since it became merely a political necessity without finality, which might be enlarged at any time to meet the danger of some further and more powerful agitation. The right hon. Gentleman apparently looked on it not as a grave Judicial Court settling with justice the whole tenure of land in Ireland, and having for its end and aim a vast reform of the Land Laws, but rather as hush-money to agitation, which would not bear examination on any side, either from those to whom it was given, or those from whom the black mail had been exacted. This was, indeed, a false, an undignified position for a responsible Minister to place himself in. That House was well aware that this Act was put forward and passed not as a matter of political expediency, but as a judicial reform or an equitable re-adjustment of the status of landlord and tenant in Ireland. They were told that they were to be guided by the divine right of justice, and that in acting under that guidance they could not err. He thought they had erred very much indeed. They had been tempted by specious phrases and high-sounding words to do what had proved very unjust and unfair to a great many people. And now they were told that they ought not to criticize the maladministration of their own handiwork. Justice was generally portrayed as blindfolded; but he could not see why those who took her as their guide should be blindfolded as well. If they were they would probably, as in the case of the blind leading the blind, both fall into the ditch, and that was what they were now asked to do. The Prime Minister contended that, as the Act was now law, they, ought, as law-abiding citizens, to abide by it. That might be true; but what they said was that the Act was being badly administered, and that it was being utilized in a manner at variance with the intentions with which it was passed. He believed that the operation of the Act tended to postpone the restoration of law and order in Ireland. What had always been wanted in Ireland, as in many other countries, was strong and even handed justice. Ireland especially required it, owing to the continual agitations, pandered to by both Parties in the State, which had from time to time convulsed her. The administration of the Land Commission had not persuaded them of its fairness and its impartiality. The solicitor of the Commission had been chosen from the ranks of the Land League, and nearly all the district solicitors were men who had conducted the work of the Land League branches. Then the Sub-Commissioners had been sent out without any instructions having been publicly laid down by the Commissioners as to the basis on which fair rents were to be settled. In the first instance, only 12 Sub-Commissioners were sent out, but, finding the competition of the Land League severe, the number had been increased to 36. The Sub-Commissioners were not, for the most part, men in whose ability or impartiality they could have any confidence. They went out without instruction, and yet they all arrived at this remarkable result—on all estates, whether in Kerry or Cork, in Wexford or Donegal, whether the rents were high or low, the reduction made by the Sub-Commissioners in rents averaged all round a certain amount over Griffith's valuation. Sir Richard Griffith's Commission was a Commission to value land for rateable purposes; but the Commission they were now dealing with had a much more valuable and a much more onerous task, and, therefore, all necessary instructions ought to have been given to them with regard to prices, labour, and a vast number of other points. Such instructions would have prevented them from making decisions that were perfectly absurd and contrary to Common Law and common sense. If such instructions had been given the country would have felt greater confidence in these men. After as long a delay as possible, and not until public opinion began to make itself heard on the subject, did the Court of Appeal sit in Belfast; and what did they do? They confirmed in most cases the decisions of the Sub-Commissioners, and they launched this throat at the heads of the landlords—they said they would not alter any cases that came before them on appeal unless they found that the Sub-Commissioners "had erred in principle or seriously in amount." They therefore became practically not a Court of Appeal, but a Court to register the decisions of the Sub-Commissioners. By the threat that landlords, by coming into the Court of Appeal, might simply add enormously to their costs, they forbade them to come to the Court of Appeal at all. If the Court of Appeal was to be a mere Registry Court, it would have been better that it should have had only one member, and that a legal member. What was the advantage of having Mr. Vernon, with his great agricultural knowledge, sitting as a member of the Court of Appeal, if that Court was merely to register the decisions of the Sub-Commissioners? While the Land Bill was under discussion in the House the Prime Minister said that the Government had arrived at the conclusion that the question as to what the rents ought to be would be left wholly to the action of the Sub-Commissioners. Well, the House, on their part, left this moot question to the Head Commission. They left it to the Sub-Commission, and inasmuch as most of the Sub-Commissioners were themselves tenant farmers, that was like asking a butcher to fix the price of a fat beast that you wanted him to buy. The Sub-Commissioners had, as a rule, given in their judgments no principle to act upon. Then, again, it was difficult to find out what the Sub-Commissioners really were. They were a very nondescript sort of animal. They acted as if they were appointed to value the whole of Ireland in a panic, or under the pressure of political exigency. Different opinions had been given by different Sub-Commissioners on the question whether, in fixing a rent, the Sub-Commissioners were to make an independent valuation on their own judgment, or were to act on the opinions of witnesses. Mr. Wylie, who was a legal Sub-Commissioner, in answer to Mr. Darley, County Court Judge, said on one occasion that he was not a valuer. Clearly he regarded his duty as merely to take the legal evidence. Mr. Garland, speaking as a non-legal Commissioner, said they were their own valuators. Mr. M'Carthy, who was very outspoken, said the Sub-Commissioners did not care a straw for the evidence of professional valuers. They had all become so mixed up in their opinions of their own functions that Mr. Justice O'Hagan found it necessary to declare that agricultural Commissioners were not valuators. Mr. Litton, shortly afterwards, made confusion worse confounded by announcing "the Sub-Commission Courts are Courts of Arbitration." All these confusing statements were very mischievous, and an inquiry which would help to elucidate them could not fail to to be valuable. He apologized for detaining the House so long; but as there were very few Irish landlords in that Branch of the Legislature, he thought he had a right to speak. No matter how long rents might have existed unchanged, they were now ruthlessly cut down. He was prepared to hear from the other side of the House that this was only done in isolated cases. He, however, knew differently, and could cite numberless cases of rents being reduced on the oldest and most liberally-managed estates. He thought it most unfair that landlord and tenant alike should be hampered in connection with appeals by the action of the Sub-Commissioners. They were told there would be no reversal of judgment except in cases where the Sub-Commissioners ''might err in principle or seriously in amount." At first the Sub-Commissioners gave some reasons; but lately, however, those functionaries had enunciated no principles. How, then, could the parties exercise their right of appeal? The merits and law of the case were not placed before them, and no consideration was given to guide them as to the wisdom of appeal. In one case, Commissioner M'Devitt had said that arguments based upon elementary principles of law had no more effect upon the Bench than water on a duck's back; and, after hearing that the tenant received from some of his land between £7 and £8 per acre, he reduced the rent, without alleging any reason, from £400 to £360. In another case the only reason adduced for reducing the rent was that the land was near Clonmel, a reason which, in his opinion, might constitute very good ground for increasing the rent, but certainly not for reducing it. When asked by counsel for a reason for a decision, Mr. Sub-Commissioner Morrison replied, "I will give you no reason." In another case a most extraordinary reason was given for reducing the rent—namely, That as the farm in question was a grazing farm, it had not deteriorated so much as a tillage farm would have done. In yet another case, Mr. Sub-Commissioner Roche gave as a reason for reducing rents from £14 to £13, and from £22 to £20, that the tenant had been very improving and industrious. That was a case in which the rents had not been raised since 1849, and were but very little over Griffith's valuation. It was noteworthy that the Commissioners repeatedly reduced rents below the valuation of the best valuators themselves. One Commissioner had reduced rents in four cases out of six between 10 and 20 per cent below the valuator's estimate, having stated that the valuator's evidence was the best and clearest he had ever heard. The facts which he had glanced at led him to the supposition that instructions must have been given to the Sub-Commissioners to reduce rents in every instance. He could not forget the words of Mr. Baldwin— The principles on which we have proceeded in determining a fair rent were laid down before we set foot on a sod of land, and before we commenced our labours in the Court House of Belfast. He supposed these were the principles Mr. O'Hagan spoke of when he said they would reverse no decisions unless "wrong in principle;" and, as Mr. Litton or he must have laid down the principle, they could not naturally consider their Sub-Commissioners wrong in the principle which they had given them for guidance. Their function as an Appellate Court, was therefore, a farce. The landlords of Ireland had been told, in almost every speech that had been made from the other side of the House, that they should wait and see what was going to happen; but it must be remembered that every drop of blood was being drained from the veins of landlords in the meantime. He knew cases where men were now actually starving, and going without the necessities of life, in consequence of being unable to get in their rents. What was the advantage of this state of things? Did the Government mean to buy up the land now that they had got it at sufficiently low price? Was that their object? Even the tenants did not thank the Government for the Act. He considered that the Arrears Clause had been a complete failure. The fact was the Act had not succeeded in any direction. As a message of peace, the Act had failed, and as a judicial measure, it was regarded with distrust and contempt. He did not blame the Act; he blamed the administration of the Act. From whatever point of view they looked at the question, criticism and inquiry were absolutely necessary. But they were told they were not to criticize the Act. Why not? [Mr. GLADSTONE dissented.] The right hon. Gentleman shook his head. The first person who criticized it was the hon. Member for Cork City. Where was he now? Then others did the same; they were suppressed. Hon. Members on the other side hardly dared open their mouths; the gag had been applied to them. Then because the House of Lords desired to criticize, they were told—"If you do, we shall obliterate you." The Coercion Act had certainly affected the liberty of the subject as far as freedom of action was concerned; but the Land Act was apparently a more stringent measure, as under it even liberty of speech was not to be permitted. He maintained there must be criticism of the Act, and to stifle that would be an act of tyranny.


said, that, under ordinary circumstances, he should not dispute the proposition that the working of an Act which had been in operation for less than six months should not be inquired into. Perhaps, under ordinary circumstances, he would be the first to admit, without pledging himself to its words or even to its sense, the force and justice of the Resolution; but the circumstances under which the discussion had arisen were by no means of an ordinary character, and there was, in his judgment, a variety of reasons which rendered it not only expedient and wise, but in some cases absolutely necessary, that inquiry should be made, and made immediately, into this matter. He would not follow the remarks of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down further than to say that he hoped the House would have from the Treasury Bench, before the discussion concluded, some distinct explanation of the statement of Professor Baldwin, quoted by the hon. Gentleman, that the principles upon which the decisions of the Commissioners had been given were all laid down before a single case was decided. He desired, with the permission of the House, to point out, as briefly as he could, one or two of the main reasons which appeared to him to justify this demand for inquiry into the working of the Act. The very first of these reasons appeared to be this—that with regard to the great majority of the tenant farmers of Ireland, who were supposed to be those who were to be most benefited, the measure was nothing less than an absolute mockery and a farce, and it neither had had, nor could have in any appreciable period of time, any real or practical effect at all. That much had teen already shown in the course of the debate; but as no Member of the Government, up to the present time, had deigned even to notice the arguments that had been put forward, he must ask leave to press it again. A few nights ago a question was asked by an hon. Member who represented an Ulster constituency bearing directly on that point. That hon. Gentleman perceived—what, indeed, seemed to be known to everyone except the Government—that there was an absolute block in the Land Court already. To his great surprise the hon. Member was answered by the Attorney General for Ireland somewhat flippantly and certainly most curtly. The right hon. and learned Gentleman said there was no reason to suppose that any cases ripe for hearing would be postponed for a num- ber of years; but that, on the contrary, all these cases would be heard within a reasonable period of time. He could not pretend to fathom what might be considered a reasonable time by the right hon. and learned Gentleman; but the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) had demonstrated, according to the figures he gave the House, that this "reasonable period" of time could not be less than 14 years. Fresh Returns had been laid on the Table of the House yesterday. He had carefully examined those Returns, and the case seemed to him to be even worse. According to them, not counting those applications which were withdrawn, or which had been dismissed—841 in number—the total number of applications for fair rent had been 71,567; and of these, excluding cases settled by so-called voluntary arrangement out of Court—on which he should have a word to say directly—in only 2,365 cases had fair rents been fixed by the Sub-Commissioners. But of these 2,365 cases only 1,661 had been finally determined by their action, for no less than 704 of their decisions, or nearly half, had become the subjects of appeal. Of these appeals only 46 had been decided up till now, and, consequently, if they added 46 to 1,661, they arrived at the sum total of the cases which had been decided—namely, just 1,707 out of the 71,567 applications which were made for the fixing of fail-rent. Now, the Land Court had been sitting nearly, if not quite, five months, and, therefore, at the present rate of progress, a very simple calculation would demonstrate the fact that, even according to their last Returns, if it took five months to decide 1,707 cases, it would take nearly 17 years to decide the 71,567 cases. The total number, however, of tenants in Ireland approached 550,000, and the character of the decisions had been such as to induce nearly all of them, sooner or later, to go into Court. Up to the present time no property had been safe from the Sub-Commissioners. It did not matter whether the rent was high, moderate, or low, whether it was above or below Griffith's valuation, or whether the rent had been stationary and had been cheerfully paid for years, or had been raised within the last few months, none of these things mattered to the fair, enlightened, and liberal Sub-Commissioners; and. under these circum- stances, and with this golden prospect before them, they must look forward to the time when all these 550,000 tenants would apply to the Land Court. The Prime Minister made a statement the other night the like of which, he ventured to say, had never before been made by any English statesman within the walls of Parliament. He told the House of Commons that there were two powers in Ireland at the present time—the Land League on the one hand, and the Land Act on the other. They might well stop to inquire what had become of the Executive Government of the Queen, and of the extraordinary powers which had been committed to their hands? But he should let that pass for a moment. What he wanted to ask the Prime Minister was this—Supposing that he conquered in this struggle, supposing that even the feeblest Administration that ever sat on those Benches should at last be victorious in the struggle, what would be the position of the Land Court then? The very moment the influence of the Land League and the "no rent" manifesto disappeared, every one of the 550,000 tenants would come clamouring into the Court; and with the present rate of progress they might expect that 130 years hence the last appeal under this curiosity of legislation—this memorable work of art—would be finally disposed of—this memorable work of art—which he believed would be immortalized in future years as "Gladstone's folly." The fact was, that had happened with regard to this Act which everyone who was not blinded by Party feeling must have foreseen would happen, if any considerable use or advantage was taken of the Act. The machinery had broken down already. It was totally inadequate, and, consequently, with regard to the vast majority of cases now before the Court, they were at a deadlock, and likely to remain so for many years to come. Last Session he, as well as other Members, ventured to foretell the possibility, nay, the certainty, of this collapse. They pressed it on the attention of the Government, but no heed was paid to their remonstrances. The Government were reminded of the observation of the Premier himself, that if ever it was attempted to introduce the principle of the valuation of land by the State, such were the inherent difficulties in such a proposition, and such would be the army of experts and officials required for the purpose, that, independent of all other considerations, it must inevitably break down. But although they recalled to the mind of the Prime Minister the weighty and sound opinions which he had declared, they were only flouted and sneered at and ridiculed for their pains. However curious and instructive it might be, it did not, unfortunately, mend matters now to observe how accurately and how justly the Prime Minister estimated at that time the folly and absurdity of his own measure by the ludicrous results that were patent to the public to-day. In the interests of the tenantry of Ireland alone some inquiry into the Act and some amendment of it was absolutely needed, and, indeed, should be carried out without an hour's unnecessary delay. But there was another class whose interests were seriously affected. They were told that the deadlock would shortly be removed by arrangements made out of Court; and. he observed in these Returns that credit was taken for a great many cases which had been settled in that manner. The first thing that struck him was that the returns conclusively proved that the Land Courts, instead of gaining, were losing ground with regard to their arrears; for it was a fact that the new applications made since the first Returns were issued exceeded considerably the whole number of cases decided up to the present time. And, with respect to those Returns, although he would not say that they were cooked, they certainly were so adjusted as to present a comparatively imposing, but utterly misleading, total of 5,386 cases of judicial rents settled up till now. For, of that considerable total, 814 were cases which had been withdrawn, and 2,180 consisted of so-called voluntary arrangements out of Court. Now, he would show directly what the nature of these voluntary arrangements was, and that it was absolutely monstrous, if they were looking to future arrangements of this nature, for a solution of that question. But even if these cases of arrangement were included, and taking the figures as they stood, the position of the Government, on their own showing, was ridiculous enough, for it would take them, even then, something like eight years—or one year more than an ordinary lease—to settle the applications which were already awaiting the decision of the Court. He wanted the House seriously to consider in what manner these private arrangements out of Court were brought about. He did not hesitate to say that in the great majority of cases these private arrangements were only brought about by the grossest and cruelest injustice to the owners of the soil. He should like to take the case of those estates where the Sub-Commissioners found the rents to be so fair, so moderate, and so low, that they had been totally unable to find any cause for reducing them. He would quote an instance, as one instance was worth any amount of argument, and would carry conviction to the House. It was the case of a farm of 41 Irish acres, held at a rent of £54 from Sir Victor Alexander Brooke, at Lisnaskea, County Fermanagh. The case came on before the Sub-Commissioners on February 13, and the old rent was allowed to remain as it was without change, all buildings and improvements, except a labourer's cottage, to belong to the landlord. No costs were given to the landlord; but even though the holding was a very small one, the costs actually amounted to no less a sum than £34 13s. He should like to know the meaning of that sentence, "No costs were given to the landlord?" The meaning was that, under the operation of the Act, every landlord in Ireland, however fair, or moderate, or just, or low his rents might be, was at that moment liable to one of two alternatives—either he must accept one of the Prime Minister's favourite arrangements out of Court, on whatever monstrous and inequitable terms the tenant might choose to offer; or he must become the subject of a law process, damaging enough even to a rich man, if repeated on all the farms on his estate, but which meant to the poor man nothing but absolute and irrevocable ruin. Such were the alternatives, such the kind of justice offered to the landlords of Ireland, who, with few exceptions, were undoubtedly a poor and embarrassed class of men. It had been said by an hon. Member that the Prime Minister was fond of making perorations on the principles of justice. They had heard from the right hon. Gentleman instances of splendid eloquence, unequalled in the past, and probably to remain unsurpassed in the future. That eloquence had always had for him a wondrous fascination; but, much as he delighted to hear those exhibitions of surpassing power in the man, he confessed he never now heard them without something approaching to a shudder; for all past experience had shown him that they were the invariable prelude of some act of tremendous spoliation and injustice—such as the measure of last year. He had given the right hon. Gentleman a specimen of the injustice wrought by his handiwork, and he would venture to suggest to him that if, by any means, he could be induced in future to practice justice rather more instead of perpetually preaching it, he would earn the lasting gratitude of the most cruelly illtreated, but the most loyal, class in Ireland. Now, if the present deadlock in the Court could only be removed by private arrangements out of Court, that in itself would constitute another and an unanswerable reason for inquiry into the working of the Act; but there were also many other reasons. The right hon. Gentleman had made a statement last year, which he had carefully noted at the time, as containing a crumb of comfort, almost the only crumb of comfort derivable in the course of the long struggle over the Bill. Speaking on the subject of compensation, and answering some remarks of his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for West Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot), the right hon. Gentleman had said— With regard to the case now before them, he did not hesitate to assert, if it could be shown, either now or hereafter, that ruin and heavy loss would be brought upon any class in Ireland by the direct effect of this legislation, Parliament ought to be prepared to look that case in the face. Having regard to these words, he might well ask the right hon. Gentleman to answer and refute, if he could, the speech made the other night by his right hon. and learned Friend the senior Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Plunket). On that occasion his right hon. and learned Friend had made a touching and pathetic appeal to a sentiment which he trusted was not yet-extinct in the House. He had quoted a letter, for the accuracy of which he was prepared to vouch, from an Irish landlord. He (Mr. Chaplin) wished to recall the attention of the House to that case, because it appeared to him to meet almost exactly in its very words the ease for which the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister undertook last Session to provide. The friend of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the senior Member for the University of Dublin wrote— Last November I was compelled to appeal to some relatives in England for pecuniary assistance, as I and my family were on the brink of starvation. I wish I could make these facts known to the English people. I, for one, am a ruined man by the operation of the Act. I am simply a ruined man, and have decided on emigrating to Australia. And the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Plunket) added— This was by no means a solitary instance, for there were numbers of other people in the same position. He (Mr. Chaplin) assumed the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland would take part in this debate. He would like to ask him, if he was able to do so, to meet and refute the assertions of his right hon. and learned Friend. If not to-night, would the right hon. Gentleman meet them after inquiry, and if he could not do so at all, would he act up to his words and promises of last Session? It was a smaller matter, perhaps; but the Act was being carried out in the teeth of principles announced by those Ministers who were in charge of it. The sanction of Parliament had been obtained for it by something that differed little from false pretences. The value of land in Ireland was to be increased, and it was asserted that there would be little, if any, diminution of rents, and that rents that had been stationary for many years would be respected. None of those expectations had been fulfilled. Without going into details he would give a short summary as to this latter point. He found that where the rent had remained unaltered for over 20 years, there had been 24 cases in which the Sub-Commissioners had reduced it on an average by 26.6 per cent. Where it had remained unaltered for over 30 years, there were 12 cases of reduction averaging 19.0 per cent. Where it had remained unaltered over 40 years there were 19 cases, averaging a reduction of 22.1 per cent. These figures were not taken from the sum total of the present Returns, but from Returns published some time ago, when the eases decided amounted to only 1,300 altogether. Surely these were facts of startling significance that deserved the earnest and careful attention of Parliament, and afforded a strong justification of the inquiry condemned by the Government. Was it possible that it could have been the intention of Ministers last year that rents that had been cheerfully paid for 30 or 40 years by prosperous tenants should be sweepingly reduced 25 per cent without a single penny of compensation? If not, no one could deny that there was established a fair bonâ fide case for inquiry. What he could not understand was the attitude and the silence of the Party opposite. He presumed that hon. Gentlemen opposite found it impossible to meet the arguments of their opponents, and admitted their claims? ["No!"] Knot, why were their arguments not met in debate? Was he to understand that there was an enforced silence on the opposite Benches? If that was the solution of the riddle, he began to see that it was all part of the new policy which was lately described by a distinguished writer, who was once a Member of the House, in these words— The great dog on the Treasury Bench has said 'bow,' and all the little dogs above him, behind him, and below him are ordered to say nothing else but 'bow.' The Liberal Party had undergone a sudden transformation. They were Liberals no longer; they had been transformed into "bow-wows." Surely it must be bad enough to be a "bow-wow;'' but to be a muzzled "bow-wow," be-longing to amuzzled "bow-wow" Party, must really be something beyond human patience and endurance. With great respect he offered his sincere condolence to the Members of the "bow-wow" Party. Amid all their tribulations, it would be some consolation to know that that Party would always in the future be known as the great "bow-wow" Party. Truly there must be a Providence in Heaven, and at last the Jingoes were avenged. So far he had discussed the Resolution on its merits. ["Oh, oh!"] He thought hon. Gentlemen could hardly have made themselves really aware of what the effect of that Resolution was. It was a Resolution deprecating inquiry into the operation of the Land Act; and he had endeavoured to show that in two great eases, the case of the tenant on the one hand, and the case of the landlord on the other hand, an inquiry was absolutely needed. He wished now to consider it in connection with the circumstances in which it was brought forward. He might be permitted to allude to a matter personal to himself. In the course of this debate allusions had been repeatedly made to half-a-dozen sentences which fell from him during the opening night of the present debate with reference to the Motion of the House of Lords. These sentences had been spoken of as foreshadowing a foregone conclusion on the part of the House of Lords. Nothing could be more ridiculous, more unjust to their Lordships or unfair to himself. The statement he had made was simply an expression of personal opinion, for which it was impossible that any other person or persons could be held responsible; and, moreover, it was an opinion, as he begged the House in fairness to remember, based upon the only reason which, up to that time, had been given by the Prime Minister for his opposition to the inquiry. The only reason which the Prime Minister had then given for his opposition to the Committee of the Lords was this—that it must inevitably shake to its foundation the confidence which he had been happily able to engender in the Land Act in the minds of the Irish people. If hon. Members would refer to the speeches that were made, they would find that what he had stated was the fact. He himself never believed for one moment that any confidence in the Land Act existed except in the imagination of the Prime Minister. Where did it prevail? In what quarter did it exist? In Ulster he had heard nothing but proposals to amend the Act. They had nothing but such proposals from hon. Gentlemen who represented Ulster in that House. Was this extraordinary confidence in the Land Act felt by the landlords? Why, even the Prime Minister himself would not venture to hazard that assertion; and he (Mr. Chaplin) still adhered to the opinion he expressed the other night, that hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway on this side of the House did represent the opinions of the majority of the tenant farmers in Ireland, when they told them that neither was that confidence in the Land Act to be found in them. He certainly was under the impression that the tenant farmers in the County Meath could at any time command the representation of that county, and he was also under the impression that not very many days ago Mr. Michael Davitt was returned Member for that county—a gentleman entirely in accord with hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway in their views with regard to the Irish policy of the Government. In the face of facts like those, it was of no use to throw ridicule on assertions such as he had made. Both Houses of Parliament had good ground for complaining of the conduct of the Government in these transactions. They had begun by declaring that it was their intention firmly to oppose this Committee, and that they could hold out no hope of compromise; and it was only in the closing words of his third and final speech on the opening night of this debate that the Prime Minister, after various stages of concession, at last disclosed the real objection of the Government to the proposals of the House of Lords. What was that objection? It was this, that Ministers would not be responsible for the government of Ireland for a single hour without they had free use of the weapon which Parliament had placed at their disposal—in other words, that if the Committee was to proceed as at first intended, they would not be responsible for the consequences in Ireland. He was not at all surprised that their Lordships immediately after this announcement should consent to accept the limitations for which the right hon. Gentleman had stipulated. No opposition, in his humble opinion, in the face of an announcement so critical and so alarming as that of the right hon. Gentleman, could have been justified for a moment in refusing the limitations to which the right hon. Gentleman had offered to agree. But, what an admission for this Government to make! What a damning admission for the Government to make! They had been in Office now for two years. Their crowning boast, their great glory, had been this—"That they had everywhere and in everything reversed the policy of Lord Beaconsfield." They had, indeed, reversed it with a vengeance, not only in this country, but in every quarter of the globe. He did not stop now to ask how it was and in what way. The clouds appeared to be gathering upon them everywhere abroad. They had, unhappily, enough upon their hands at home; and at home it had literally come to this—that an ordinary Parliamentary inquiry into an ordinary or an extraordinary Act of Parliament, whichever they chose to call it, could not take place without hon. Members being assured by the Prime Minister that it could not be entertained without the fear of rebellion in Ireland. They might well ask what had become of the state of comfort and general satisfaction of which they had heard so lately in Mid Lothian? He had never doubted for a moment that the statements of the Prime Minister in Mid Lothian with reference to Ireland were as great exaggerations as all the other statements that he had made there, and by which he so utterly deluded and cajoled the people of this country. No one could deny that the state of Ireland to- day was immeasurably worse than when the Prime Minister took the reins of Office, and before he had embarked on his career of ruinous and futile legislation. Who was responsible for this disastrous change? How had it been brought about? These were questions which were being daily asked by every constituency in the Kingdom, and to which ere long an answer would be sternly required; and though they might seek by every desperate expedient to avert it, and though, in order to do so, they might even bring the two Houses of Parliament into conflict, yet he felt convinced that the verdict of the people of this country was against them, and that it would read thus—"The condition of Ireland under your administration is literally intolerable; your Irish policy has everywhere and completely failed; in the public interest inquiry is absolutely needed, and, come what may, inquiry must and shall be made."


said, that the speech just delivered by the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire had shown, at all events, that the landlords of Ireland were not wanting in eloquent defenders in that House. The hon. Member for Portarlington (Mr. Fitzpatrick), and the other Representatives of the Irish landlords, had also spoken not without eloquence, although at considerable length, in their defence, though their dominant idea seemed to be that their countrymen, the landlords, had no place in the thoughts of hon. Members on that side of the House. He, however, could afford to speak the truth on that sub- ject, He had himself always regarded Irish landlords as his countrymen, and he had never paid any regard to the vulgar cry for their extermination. They should, however, think less about themselves, their property, and their mortgages, and should think more about their country. Before becoming so clamorous upon English platforms for impossible compensation, they should imitate the example of the Chief Secretary for Ireland, and should go among their own people, take up the defence of their property, and stand or fall in the defence of social order and of the interests of society at large. It was natural that popular Irish Members should dislike the present coercion régime to which Ireland was subjected; but he failed to see any evidence of their patriotism or conscientiousness in their supporting an inquiry instituted by persons who were hostile to an Act that was destined to benefit the people of Ireland. In the presence of such a policy—if action so stupid could be called by that name—it was as well that the simple truth should be distinctly declared—that the real author of coercion in Ireland was the Land League itself. Cause and effect were not more clear and certain than that the Arms Act and the Peace Preservation Act owed their existence to the Land League. Equally certain was it that the action of the League, since the passing of the Land Act, was calculated to perpetuate coercion and to render it irremovable. In saying this, he alluded particularly to the "no rent" manifesto. He dismissed as altogether unworthy of notice and frivolous the pretext that that manifesto, which was the key of the situation in Ireland, was issued as an act of revenge for the arrest of two or three Members of Parliament. He held it to be the expression of a matured and deliberate policy; for no rent at all was but the logical development of a doctrine equally false and immoral—"Pay only such rents as you yourselves think proper." It was impossible to dissociate the League as a body from the manifesto as an act; the upholder of the one necessarily sanctioned the other, and was morally responsible for the disastrous consequences that had followed—for the evictions rendered necessary by intimidation, and the spirit of outrage it had intensified. All the agrarian outrages of the last four months were" no rent" outrages directly traceable to the manifesto. Seeing all this, had any one of the signatories had the moral courage—for true courage it would be—to withdraw his signature? ["Mr. SEXTON: No; and we never will.] The authors and propagandists of "no rent," in order to induce the tenants to adopt that suicidal policy, told them they would be sustained by Land League funds. Surely they must have known in their hearts they were making promises which would not and could not be fulfilled. Many thriving tenants unfortunately believed in these promises, and carried out, or were forced to carry out, the policy of the League; and what was their fate to-day? They had seen their homes and their farms pass to Emergency men, they themselves shuddering in wooden shanties, and their families consigned to the tender mercies of out-door relief or of the workhouse. He knew that that was the state of the case in 10 counties in Ireland. The Land Act of 1881 did for the tenants what the Belief Act of 1829 did for the Catholics. Why was not the Land Act received in the same spirit? The Relief Act, as possibly the Land Act, contained provisions which would have justified the prolongation, in a modified form, of the agitation; but the great men of that day—the O'Connells and the Sheils—considered they would not be justified in prolonging a day longer than was absolutely necessary a sectarian movement, and, accordingly, they frankly accepted the Act and dissolved. In like manner, with the passage of the Land Act, the social war should have closed. The League should have dissolved and handed over its funds to a tenants' committee to be applied to the assistance of small tenants seeking the Land Court. [Mr. REDMOND: Or to the payment of arrears.] Had this been done, the leaders would have given proofs of having been actuated from the beginning by a sincere regard for the Irish tenant, and previous errors might have been overlooked. But a very different course was pursued, and subsequent events established conclusively that the object aimed at was not the just settlement of the Land Question, but agitation for the sake of agitation. ["No, no!"] It was agitation for the sake of agitation, the perpetuation of a state of aimless unrest. ["No, no!"] If not, then assuredly it was much meaner—it was agitation for the sake of money. The League as a body was broken; but the baneful influence of its operation was all too manifest in the state of the country and in the unsettlement of fundamental principles, and the substitution of a vague, sickly, and godless internationalism for the manly patriotism of a better age.


said, he was rather struck by one observation of the hon. Member for Tipperary (Mr. P. J. Smyth), to the effect that Members of the Opposition would be better employed if, instead of addressing the House upon the wrongs of landlords, they would speak from public platforms in Ireland in imitation of the example of the Chief Secretary for Ireland, whom he was glad to see in his place. He (Mr. J. Lowther) always listened with great pleasure to speeches in that House from the hon. Member for Tipperary, and, what was more, generally gave himself the pleasure of reading the speeches made by the hon. Gentleman elsewhere; but unless the ordinary channels of information to which he (Mr. J. Lowther) had recourse had been more than usually untrustworthy, and he had been misled, and had passed over the speeches from public platforms in Ireland of the hon. Gentleman, he confessed that throughout the whole of the extra-Parliamentary utterances which it had been his lot to peruse during the past many months, he had failed to see one single speech delivered by the hon. Gentleman in the county which he represented. [Mr. O'DONNELL: His constituents would not listen to him.] He (Mr. J. Lowther) would like to ask what were the causes which had led to the occupation of so much public time, at the instigation of the Government, by the initiation of this debate? The Prime Minister addressed a solemn warning to both Houses when he said that so grave was the state of public affairs that he could not hold himself responsible for the consequences if inquiry were instituted by the other House into the operation of the Land Act. [Mr. GLADSTONE: No.] He was glad to hear that the right hon. Gentleman had been misunderstood; but he had been under the impression that the right hon. Gentleman had said that inquiry such as that contemplated by the House of Lords would render the task of maintaining the government of the country beyond his capacity. [Mr. GLADSTONE: Unless we were supported by the House of Commons.] With that important modification, the right hon. Gentleman considered that a free and independent inquiry by one House of Parliament would be dangerous to the good government of the country unless it was counteracted by a hostile demonstration in the other branch of the Legislature. And the right hon. Gentleman considered the occasion a fitting one, the state of affairs being, in his opinion, so grave, to invite a discussion upon so important and Constitutional a theme as the existence of the co-ordinate branch of the Legislature; for he could not conceal from himself the fact that every word of his was carefully weighed throughout the country, and the invitation he had offered to the most thoughtless elements of the body politic to institute an outcry against one branch of the Legislature was not unlikely to be taken up in quarters where such questions were apt to be freely entertained. They need not, however, feel alarm upon this part of the subject. The other House enjoyed public confidence on grounds far stronger than the approval of their acts by the right hon. Gentleman or his Government; and the House of Lords, which promised soon to become the only repository of freedom of speech in this country, would continue to exercise those beneficent functions which it now discharged long after the right hon. Gentleman and the Government he led had been consigned, he did not say to oblivion—he feared that was impossible—but, at any rate, into places other than those they now occupied. The right hon. Gentleman said that the Committee appointed by the other House was a prejudiced body. He took exception to the composition of the Committee, on which he appeared to think there was too large a preponderance of one section of political opinion. Assuming that that were so, with whom did the fault lie? The composition of Parliamentary tribunals was, according to well-known usage, divided in fairly equal proportions between the two contending Parties in the State. But the right hon. Gentleman and his Friends deprived the other House of Parliament of that cooperation which, Constitutionally, they had a right to demand at the hands of the Executive Government. Notwith- standing that fact, the composition of the Committee would bear criticism, and, indeed, it could scarcely be improved, even if the Colleagues of the right hon. Gentleman had placed their services at the disposal of the other House. On that Committee was a former Cabinet Colleague of the right hon. Gentleman, with respect to whom it was no disparagement to any of his existing Colleagues to say that they did not surpass him in capacity on that subject, or generally on any subject which he chose to take up as his own. And without going through the names of that Committee, he said that the composition of that body was one of which its framers need not feel ashamed. The right hon. Gentleman talked about onesided Committees, and, to use his own neat phraseology, of Committees "not distinguished by the absence of prejudice." Would the House allow him to draw its attention to the quasi-judicial bodies which were constituted under the auspices of the right hon. Gentleman himself? Let him turn to the Bessborough Commission. What was its composition? The right hon. Gentleman talked of a body that was not distinguished by the absence of prejudice. Why, out of its five Members, four had been, during their career in one or other House of Parliament, thick-and-thin supporters of the right hon. Gentleman. The Bessborough Commission proceeded to discharge its duties in a manner which showed unmistakably the composition of that body. Against its Members he had not a word to say, any more than he believed that the right hon. Gentleman wished to say one word against any single Member of the Committee in "another place." But what did that Commission do? It proceeded at a time when it was notorious that terror prevailed—he did not now say by whose fault—through the length and breadth of Ireland to take so-called evidence. And what did the Commission do with that evidence, one-sided as it was? It was proved incontestably that the majority of the Commissioners signed their Report without having even heard the rebutting evidence on the other side. The Bessborough Commission, notwithstanding the inherent respectability of its component elements, would go down to posterity as one of the most prejudiced bodies ever charged with quasi-judicial functions. The right hon. Gentleman had another opportunity of showing how he could form a body not distinguished by the absence of prejudice. What about the Land Court? They had heard a great deal in the course of that debate of' the inferior tribunals which, he was told, were popularly known in Ireland by the name of the "Sub-Confiscators." They had heard in that discussion of glaring cases of gross and scandalous injustice at the hands of those tribunals; but they had heard but little of that other body which, as the right hon. Gentleman would say, was "not presumably distinguished by the absence of prejudice or bias"—the Land Court. It was entirely composed of opponents of the Party who sat on that (the Opposition) side of the House, and of supporters of the right hon. Gentleman. [Mr. GLADSTONE: No, no!] All three Members were Liberals. [Mr. GLADSTONE: Not Mr. Vernon.] Let him be contradicted if he was incorrect; but his right hon. and learned Friend beside him (Mr. Gibson), from personal knowledge, said that Mr. Vernon himself told him he was a Liberal in politics. The right hon. Gentleman, then, who, in the two instances he had given, had clearly shown that his idea of an impartial tribunal was one that was singularly onesided, was certainly not the person to throw stones from the very thin glasshouse in which he resided. They had heard during the debate that the Land Act was universally admitted from all sides to be a lamentable and complete failure; they had heard that from the tenants' point of view the Act was a signal and conspicuous failure; they had heard that from the landlords' point of view the Act was what he had always contended was also the case with its predecessor passed 11 years before—an Act of scandalous spoliation and injustice. Why was it that the Land Act was regarded both by the landlords and the tenants to be a signal failure? Because it ignored the real difficulty of the situation, and proceeded upon entirely wrong ground. If the Land Act was to be a success, it ought to be an immediate success—by which he meant that its effects, to have the appearance of success, must be quick in showing themselves; because in the long run the seeds of that measure were sure to bear the fruit of disastrous failure. What did the right hon. Gentleman's own Commission and other authorities state had been the real cause of the land difficulty in Ireland? Why, land hunger; and how did the Land Act propose to deal with that overpowering land hunger? It allowed land hunger still to rule the roast. Under the principle of free sale, so-called, it enabled the out-going tenant to appropriate the landlord's property and sell it to somebody else. The land hunger, they were told, formerly enabled the landlord to exact a rack rent. That had not been satisfactorily proved. But the new legislation had encouraged a system of rack premiums; and who was it that profited by them? Not the person to whom the land belonged; not the occupier of the land in perpetuity; not the person who was to till the soil; but the out-going tenant, or, more properly speaking, the gombeen man, or the money-lender. The occupier in the future would still be ground down; but it would no longer be by rack rent, but by what was far worse—by the interest he had to pay on a rack premium. Assuming, for the sake of argument only—what he did not admit—that the landlord had in the past unduly taken advantage of circumstances, the landlord had had a permanent interest in the soil; if he exacted an undue rent he was always there to be taken to account and dealt with, perhaps in the somewhat rough-and-ready fashion in which he had been of late; but, at any rate, he was there. The man who exacted the rack premium would not be there; he would not be amenable even to the arguments of "Captain Moonlight;" and the rack premiums would weigh on the poor tenantry far more heavily than the rack rent. They had been told, in the course of a recent debate, that there was a marked improvement in the state of Ireland. His faith was not so robust as that of some who sat near him. He believed he stood alone in challenging that statement. He said, from sources of information which he had, that that was too optimist a view. He found, from the ordinary sources of information, that atrocities and outrages, even if they had numerically diminished, had in gravity increased. No one knew that better than the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland. The Judges' Charges entirely refuted the optimist allegations of the Chief Secretary for Ireland and the Prime Minister. What did Mr. Justice Barry, formerly a Law Officer of the Crown in a Liberal Government, say? He said, addressing the Grand Jury of the county of Clare, he regretted very much that he was far from being in a position to congratulate them on the condition of the county. Unfortunately, it was impossible not to see that there was a general spirit of insubordination and of lawlessness. And Mr. Justice Barry went on to say— Your labours will be light, and, under possible circumstances, this might be a matter for congratulation; but, under existing circumstances, it is not so, for, as a member of the Bar yesterday expressed it, there is no absence of crime, but there is an absence of criminals being made amenable. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland remarked that he had often said that before. Well, they had not had the advantage of the presence of the right hon. Gentleman in the House for some time; and he must say, if anything was required to prove that the state of the country was far worse than it was at the time that that optimist paragraph was inserted in the Queen's Speech, he would point to the absence from his place in Parliament of the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman would not have been guilty of the discourtesy of being absent during an important debate affecting his own Department, had it not been for grave reasons of State. He need not detain the House, for the right hon. Gentleman admitted it.


Admitted what?


That the state of Ireland was far graver than the Government was aware of when the Queen's Speech was framed.


No; I have not admitted that.


What, then, did the right hon. Gentleman admit? He stated why it was that the right hen. Gentleman was absent from his place during an important debate, and the right hon. Gentleman nodded acquiescence. He said it was because grave reasons of State compelled the right hon. Gentleman to be absent. He declined to recur to the alternative, which he dismissed out of courtesy to the right hon. Gentleman—namely, that he deliberately absented himself without sufficient excuse. ["Oh, oh!"] He quite acquitted the right hon. Gentleman of that. [Cries of "Divide!" "Order!" and"Adjourn!"] He would like to give the House very briefly another piece of evidence. He saw that, no later than Sunday last, a man was brutally assaulted upon the high road. The description was given in The Freeman's Journal, and the case was of sufficient importance to entitle him to ask hon. Gentlemen anxious to contract the debate to be so good as to listen. Lawrence O'Hara, a farmer and poor-rate collector, residing near Boyle, while proceeding to Mass, accompanied by 50 others, was met by three persons with guns, who fired at O'Hara, and shattered his body with shot. That was a matter in which the Prime Minister, in his capacity of Chancellor of the Exchequer, might feel some interest, because the wounded man was stated to have incurred animosity by endeavouring to collect the seed rate, and had lately been afforded police protection. His object was to show, not only the serious demoralization of the people in that neighbourhood, but that those who sought to remedy the wrongs of Ireland by advances from the funds must be cautious in what they did. The demoralization to which he referred was really attributable to the system of legislation which had been begun 11 years ago by Her Majesty's Government. That was, a system of paying hush money to the people of Ireland—that hush money consisting of other people's money. They knew very well what was the invariable result of having recourse to hush money. Those who studied the criminal statistics were perfectly aware of what it was. What had been the result of giving the tenants of Ireland, in 1870, a slice of their landlord's property? It was what might have been anticipated—the appetite for so palatable a morsel increased; and that would continue to be the case. The Prime Minister took him to task for repeating', in the House a statement he had made elsewhere, that the numerical majority of the people of Ireland were always ready to support candidates who represented to the greatest available extent hostility to the British connection. The right hon. Gentleman had more than once turned round and pointed to the hon. Member for the County of Cork (Mr. Shaw) as a representative of a large and important section of opinion in Ireland. If the right hon. Gentleman relied upon the hon. Member for the County of Cork as a representative of the popular opinion in Ireland he rested upon a bruised reed. He had great respect for the hon. Member, and therefore he would not say, in the slang phrase of America, that he was played out. What he said was this, that whenever an opportunity presented itself in the South or West of Ireland of trying conclusions between the policy of the Prime Minister and that of those who more explicitly stated their desire for a legislative separation of Ireland from Great Britain, the balance invariably inclined in favour of the more extreme view. Where, for example, was the Ministerial candidate for Meath? But it was hardly worth while to pursue that topic further. The Prime Minister had within the last few weeks opened up a new chapter in our history. On a former occasion, he pointed out to the people of Ireland the proper method by which Irish reforms could be obtained. The outrage at Manchester, and the outrage at Clerken well had, he said, been the indirect cause of Irish reforms. [Mr. GLADSTONE dissented.] What did the right hon. Gentleman say at Edinburgh, in that speech which his noble Friend the Member for Liverpool (Lord Claud Hamilton) quoted the other night in the third person, but of which he was happy to say he had procured a report in the first person? He said— Lord Grey, in relation to the past gives two glaring instances to show how dangerous a man this Mr. Gladstone is—the abolition of the Irish Church and the reform of the Irish Land Law. I do not agree with Lord Grey as to the enormity of this danger. There is a great deal of difficulty still to contend with in the state of Ireland; but that the people of Ireland want to be detached from the people of this country, I say frankly, I do not believe. It is an old woman's apprehension. Lord Grey misrepresents me in saying I said that the murder of a policeman made the people of England see that the Irish Church must be abolished. I never said anything approaching that. What I said was that two great crimes committed in England led the people to consider the state of Ireland. Those were the words of the Prime Minister, and he would leave the House to discriminate between Tweedledum and Tweedledee. As he was anxious to save the time of the House, he would not pursue that question further. He should like, in conclusion, to refer to one very stock argument of the right hon. Gentleman and his Colleagues—namely, that an Act once passed, there could be no criticism upon it. In fact, he (Mr. J. Lowther) had frequently been taken to task for having spoken disparagingly of Land Acts which happened to be the law of the land. Now the truth was, he had invariably said, with perhaps wearisome iteration, that when once an Act had obtained the Royal sanction, he for one clearly recognized that vested rights and interests sprang up under it, and he would not be a party to its abolition or to the curtailment of its advantages to those who profited by them without compensation. The right hon. Gentleman, in talking to him in that fashion, seemed to forgot that there was not an Act upon the Statute Book which had not at some time or other been assailed by him or his Colleagues. Nay, there was not an institution of the Realm which had not been assailed by them. Was that Motion they were now discussing calculated to increase the respect of the people for an integral portion of the institutions of the country? And there was an institution even higher than the House of Lords which had not escaped the criticism, and he regretted to say more than the criticism, of some of those who occupied the Treasury Bench. And what were the thanks that they on the Opposition side of the House received, if they accepted as a necessity any Act of Parliament passed by the large majority of the the right hon. Gentleman? Why, only the other night, the right hon. Gentleman told him that his mouth was closed against the Land Act of 1881, because that measure had been reluctantly accepted by the House of Lords. That was encouraging, he must say, to the Opposition side of the House, to make the best of the situation when they found themselves in a minority. It was not calculated to deter him from the course he had always adopted of opposing to the utmost of his power any measure to which he objected. The Acts which he had from time to time taken the liberty to take exception to were quoted afterwards as a precedent, not only for their extension in Ireland, but for their adaptation to this portion of the United Kingdom; and he hoped, in these circumstances, the right hon. Gentleman would not expect Members on the Opposition side of the House to accept any measure without opposition for the sake of obviating any embarrassments to the Government. He thanked the House for the attention with which they had listened to him, and he trusted that the result of this debate would be to mark the sense, even if it were not that of a majority, still that of a commanding and a respectable minority in that House, that there were grave dangers in the course which the right hon. Gentleman invited the House to pursue, and would show that, at any rate, a large section of popular opinion in this country was opposed to that course, and that one Party in the State was not prepared to follow it.


said: It cannot be denied that a great deal of this debate has been singularly irrelevant to the question before the House, and I do not think that the speech which has just been delivered can be considered to be an exception to the rule. The question of the condition of Ireland, interesting and important as it is, is not the question before the House. We discussed the condition of Ireland at the commencement of the Session, on the Address in reply to Her Majesty's Gracious Speech, for the space of nine days, and I think we may be excused if we do not refer again on this totally different issue to the question of the condition of Ireland. I will not follow the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lowther) in his discursive remarks upon the present condition of Ireland and the absence of my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary. I will only say, with regard to his observations in reference to the Seed Act, and the demoralization of the people, which he thinks resulted from that Act——


I never said the Seed Act demoralized the people of Ireland. I myself promoted it. What I did say was, that an assault committed on a rate-collector, engaged in collecting rates under the Seed Act, showed that the demoralization of the country was of very great extent.


I understood the right hon. Gentleman to refer to the outrage which took place in connection with the collection of rates under the Seed Act as proving that the demoralization of the people was not checked, if it was not, indeed, encouraged, by lavish grants out of the public Exchequer. If I misunderstood the right hon. Gentleman I am very sorry, but certainly I understood the right hon. Gentleman to refer to the Seed Act and the demoralization of the people in connection with lavish grants. I was very glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman declaim against the demoralization of the people of Ireland by the lavish grants which have been made to them, because I find we may now hope to have the support of the right hon. Gentleman in resisting further demoralization of the people from the same source; for I have heard that side of the House urge, more frequently certainly than this side of the House, proposals involving subventions from the Exchequer for public works, for emigration purposes, for the promotion of fisheries, and grants for other purposes which in this country are considered to be a proper field for private enterprize, but which, in the opinion of some hon. Members opposite, appear to be in Ireland proper subjects for subvention from the Imperial Exchequer. Well, Sir, if the condition of Ireland is not the question before the House, neither are the principles nor the policy of the Land Act of 1881. That Act is the law of the land, for good or for evil. [Cheers.] It is the law; and I am not going to be drawn, by the cheers of hon. Gentlemen opposite, into a discussion whether it is for good or for evil. The question was discussed during almost the whole of last Session; and I will freely admit there is more excuse for the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down than for many other hon. Gentlemen to give us his opinion of the Land Act of 1881, because, on account of circumstances over which he had no control, he was not in a position to favour us last Session with that opinion. Sir, there is no proposal before us for the amendment of the Land Act of 1881; and I think it will be admitted, even by hon. Gentlemen opposite, that if the inquiry which is now taking place by the Committee of the House of Lords, or any other inquiry which could be instituted, should result in fresh legislation on the subject of the Land Law, that legislation must be based upon principles not widely differing from those which were accepted and acted upon by Parliament last Session. Notwithstanding this, a large part, I think I may say the greater part, of this debate has dealt with the principles and the policy of the Land Act of last year. The hon. Member for Londonderry (Mr. Lewis) devoted a good half of his speech to commenting upon the principles and the policy of that Act, which I understand him to say he voted for, but which he now appears to sincerely regret having voted for. Another portion of his speech was devoted to an attack upon my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor General for Ireland, and not more than a quarter of his speech was directed to the only question I know to be now before the House—namely, the mode in which the Irish Land Act has been administered. Certainly there is one Party in the House which I can understand, and which I believe really does desire fresh legislation on this subject; but such fresh legislation as they would desire would be in exactly the contrary direction from that which the great bulk of hon. Members opposite would wish to see it carried. No doubt, hon. Members representing extreme opinions in Ireland do desire legislation based upon fresh principles, and, naturally, they would approve of a proposal for inquiry into the working of the Land Act coming from any quarter, because such a proposal would tend to show that the Land Question in Ireland was still an open question. But I can well conceive that any legislation which would be favoured by those hon. Members to whom I am referring would not very well be in the interests of those represented by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. The only issues before the House now are some such as these. Is the Act passed by Parliament last year being fairly and honestly administered? Is any inquiry at this time, within six months of the passing of that Act, likely to have a beneficial effect on its operation? Will not such an inquiry rather impair its beneficial operation? And, lastly, is there any cause, founded either on Constitutional practice or reasonable policy, why this House should not declare its opinion upon the action which has been taken in regard to an inquiry by the House of Lords? If time permitted, I should like to refer to a few remarkable incidents in the long debate which has taken place which were once fresh in the recollection of the House, but which have, no doubt, now somewhat faded from its memory. I should like to remind the House how, on last Monday week, the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition rose amid the cheers of his Followers, and, after due Notice given, stood forward as the champion of the House of Lords. Not only was he prepared to defend the House of Lords when attacked, but he would also prevent its being attacked at all. The House will remember how the cheers which greeted the right hon. Gentleman when he rose faded away when it turned out that the right hon. Gentleman had re-considered the Notice he had given, and how he rose only to ask for an explanation of the action of the Government, and how at last he sat down without informing the House whether he intended to resist the Motion for the postponement of the Orders of the Day or not. The House will also recollect the vigorous attack which was made by the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin) in that short debate on the Land Act, in which he pointed out and showed, as he has endeavoured to show again to-night, that in his opinion an inquiry into its operation was a foregone conclusion. The hon. Gentleman, with that modesty for which he is so eminently distinguished, has to-night disclaimed the mild and soft impeachment that he was on that occasion representing the House of Lords. The House of Lords might hesitate before they intrusted even so able a Member with their representation in this House. An hon. Member from Ireland stated in his speech what he believed to be the aim and object of the inquiry which it is now proposed to institute into the operation of the Land Act. I cannot help thinking that that speech, able and eloquent as it was, somewhat spoilt the strategic movement contemplated by the Leader of the Opposition, and the division which took place seemed to me to take place under somewhat disastrous circumstances. The hon. and gallant Member for Sussex (Sir Walter B. Bartellot) almost complained of the conduct of Mr. Speaker in calling upon two Members representing Irish constituencies below the Gangway to act as Tellers in that Division. I must say, Sir, that I shared the hon. and gallant Member's regret. I wish your eyes had rested on the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin), as I think it would have been still more edifying, as showing the nature of a certain alliance—the singular alliance—which exists between the Conservative Party and the extreme Irish Party in its true light. I am not sure that the Party opposite was not doomed to further disappointment in the course of that evening. When the right hon. Gentleman the junior Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Gibson) rose to oppose the Motion of my right hon. Friend, he did not meet the Resolution either with a direct negative or with an Amendment. He declined to ask the House to contradict the assertion contained in the Resolution—he declined to ask the House to say that Parliamentary inquiry at the present time into the working of the Land Act would not tend to defeat the operation of the Act, or be injurious to the permanent peace and good government of Ireland. I must say that although, until towards the close of his speech, he never alluded to the "Previous Question," which he was about to move, the whole speech was eminently adapted to an Amendment of that description. He referred to some of the precedents—especially to the precedent of 1839—but he wisely declined to follow the example which was set by Sir Robert Peel in 1839. In 1839, a Resolution somewhat resembling that which has now been moved by my right hon. Friend was met by Sir Robert Peel. But how? It was met by an Amendment which was prefaced by a Preamble containing a statement of facts and a recital of reasons why the Resolution should not be agreed to. The right hon. Gentleman would have found himself somewhat embarrassed if he had attempted to draw up a Resolution based upon these lines. In 1839, Sir Robert Peel was able to say— It is not fit that this House should adopt a proceeding which has the appearance of calling in question the undoubted right of the House of Lords to inquire into the state of Ireland, in respect to crime and outrage, more especially when the exercise of that right by the House of Lords does not interfere with any previous proceeding or resolution of the House of Commons, nor with the progress of any legislative measure assented to by the House of Commons, or at present under its consideration."—[3 Hansard, xlvii. 76–77.] If the right hon. Gentleman could have repeated the latter part of that allegation, as perhaps he might have done, with literal accuracy, he would have raised an awkward question whether the present proceeding of the House of Lords did not interfere with a measure not now under the consideration of the House of Commons, but which was lately under the consideration of Parliament, which was passed by both Houses of Parliament, and which has not yet had time to develop itself. He urged that the House of Lords had had insufficient warning, and none of these consequences were foretold in the debate in the House of Lords. I shall not refer in detail to the speeches made in the House of Lords; but the House will allow me the same latitude as was allowed to the right hon. Gentleman. I have read the whole of that debate in the House of Lords, and it appears to me that the Members of the Government in the House of Lords gave strong and adequate reasons to show why an inquiry into the action of the Land Court at the present time must paralyze its operation; and if they were unable to see that the paralysis of the Land Act would exercise a prejudicial and baneful effect on the cause of law and order in Ireland, I think the Conservative Party in the House of Lords is not so intelligent as Members of this House give them credit for. I can only say that Members of the Government in the other House opposed the Motion with all their strength, and they used those arguments which they thought most likely to convince and prevail upon the House of Lords; and I can hardly think that the right hon. Gentleman was serious when he alleged the other day that the consequences of that Motion were not adequately presented to the House of Lords. Then the right hon. Gentleman said those consequences, if they existed, might have been met in another way. He said the Prime Minister could have got a question asked in the House of Commons, to which he could have given an answer as long and as full as he liked, and he could have disclaimed all responsibility for the inquiry instituted by the House of Lords. I think the proceeding that we have taken is more respectful to the House of Lords than that recommended by the right hon. Gentleman. I do not think that the consequences of a formal proceeding such as that we were invited to take could or ought to be neutralized by any explanation from a Minister in an- other House. The right hon. Gentleman did not attempt to defend inquiry into the judicial operation of the Act. I admit that he said he could not approve of an inquiry which would favour of interference with the judicial administration of the Act or lessen the independence of the Court.


That was quoted against me, and I at once rejected the accuracy of the report, and said that I had used the words "the independence of its judicial administration." the noble Lord will find in some of the reports that correction of mine on the same night.


He would not be favourable to an inquiry which would he an interference with the judicial administration of the Act, or lessen the independence of the Commission. The sense appears to me to be the same. On what ground has the inquiry been justified? Why, the only ground on which it was defended and justified by the House of Lords was the ground that a review of the judicial administration of the Act by the Land Court, and especially by the Sub-Commissioners, was necessary and urgent. That was the ground, and the only ground, upon which the inquiry was demanded in the other House. The right hon. Gentleman intimated various points which he said might properly, and without harm, form the subject of inquiry. But the subjects were never referred to or mentioned in the other House—or only for the purpose of being set aside. The speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the senior Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Plunket), the speech of the noble Lord the Member for Liverpool (Lord Claud Hamilton), the speech of the hon. Member for Leitrim (Mr. Tottenham), and that of the hon. Member for Portarlington (Mr. Fitzpatrick) have all defended the inquiry upon grounds based solely on the necessity of a review of the judicial decisions which have been pronounced. The noble Lord the Member for Liverpool (Lord Claud Hamilton) even made it a matter of accusation against my right hon. Friend at the head of the Government, that he allowed the Sub-Commissioners to proceed in their Courts as they had done—as if my right hon. Friend had power to control the action of the Land Court and that of the Sub-Commissioners, who were appointed under the authority of the Government, but not under the authority of an Act of Parliament. Well, then, Sir, the charge which has been made against the Commissioners is that they have made indiscriminate reductions of rent—made reductions upon false principles. I shall have a word to say upon that by-and-bye. Those were the grounds upon which the inquiry was defended in the House of Lords, and the grounds upon which the inquiry has been justified in this House; and it is in vain for the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Gloucestershire (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) to attempt to prove that this inquiry will be innocuous, because it will be limited to topics to which it was not the object or desire of the Committee to limit the inquiry—namely, to the opera-of the Purchase Clauses, the Reclamation Clauses, and the Emigration Clauses. It is perfectly easy to understand why those clauses cannot yet have had their full operation. To the Purchase Clauses I still attach as much importance as I have ever attached to them, and I believe that in them will be found ultimately the most useful portion of the Act. It is perfectly natural, in the state of uncertainty which now prevails, to expect that until some certain knowledge is arrived at as to the basis upon which, future rents are to be fixed, until a larger number of decisions as to fair rents have been given, and until the country has resumed a greater state of tranquillity, to expect that the tenants will come forward to buy their holdings. They will desire, in the first instance, to have some certainty as to the terms upon which they will be allowed to enjoy them. There is another portion of the Act of which we have heard a little, and to which some importance is attached. That is the Free Sale Clause, That clause was considered, especially in Ulster, to be as important as any other in the Act. That clause has as yet had but little operation, but I think that hereafter it will have considerable operation. The same causes which have prevented the Purchase Clauses of the Act from having any extended operation have also retarded the operation of this clause. Well, then, I think Sir, we are justified in asking, at all events, that the House ought to decide before it goes to a division upon which basis this inquiry—if there is to be an inquiry—is to be held. Is it to be an inquiry into the judicial operation of the rent-fixing clauses of the Act? Or is it to be an inquiry into those matters which were indicated by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Gibson)? If into the latter, I say the time is too soon; the inquiry is premature; there are no materials for entering upon the inquiry. If the former, I say that the inquiry cannot but be injurious at the present time, inasmuch as it must interfere with the freedom and independence of the Land Courts, and of the Sub-Commissioners. Then Sir, we are told that concessions have been made by the House of Lords which might form the basis of a compromise. I might reply to any such allegation, that a formal reference to the Act by one branch of the Legislature cannot be qualified by any such informal invitations as have been received from the Chairman of the Committee of the House of Lords, and that any such proposal can only produce misunderstanding, and cannot form a sufficiently definite basis for a compromise. It has been publicly intimated that the Committee does not consider it within the scope of the reference made to them by the House to inquire into the correctness of any judicial decisions which the Land Commissioners or the Sub-Commissioners, in the exercise of their judicial functions, may have arrived at. If an informal assurance of that sort, could, under any circumstances, be accepted as the basis of a compromise, I say that intimation is utterly insufficient. No one ever supposed that the Committee of the House of Lords was appointed to review the decisions which have actually been made and to endeavour to correct those decisions. What is still supposed is that they will review the grounds of those decisions with the view of altering the future operations of the Courts. Under that explanation, it remains open to the Committee to summon before them the Commissioners themselves and the Sub-Commissioners, to examine them as to their opinions, their antecedents, their character, their associations, and the principles upon which they have proceeded. In fact, the proposal which is made is to endeavour to force them to do that which the House of Commons itself attempted to do last year, and which it found itself unable to do— namely, to endeavour to frame a definition of the basis of a fair rent. The House will recollect that last year the Bill contained a definition of fair rent. After long discussions, that definition was omitted, with the consent of both sides of the House, and mainly at the instance of hon. Gentleman on the other side. The hon. and learned Member for Antrim (Mr. Macnaghten), in his speech on the second reading, said— I believe that nothing more is required than to direct the Court to determine what is a fair rent under all the circumstances of the case. If the Court cannot find out what a fair rent is in any particular case, the Judges certainly will not be worth their salary; they will only be fit for the lunatic asylum with which the hon. Member for Cork County (Mr. Shaw) threatened Judges who fail to understand this Bill."—[3 Hansard, cclxi. 312–3.] That was the opinion of the hon. and learned Member for Antrim. That was the opinion unanimously accepted by the House of Commons; and the House of Commons having deliberately abstained from inserting in the Bill a definition of a fair rent, on what principle of fairness or of policy is it now endeavoured to force the Land Commissioners and the Sub-Commissioners to give a definition which the House of Commons was unable to frame for itself? Then the appointment of the Sub-Commissioners has been attacked, and one of the grounds on which this inquiry is advocated has been that an investigation of the grounds of their appointment is desirable. My right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland is mainly responsible for the appointment of the Sub-Commissioners. My right hon. Friend is prepared to justify those appointments; but he maintains, and the Government maintain, that if those appointments are attacked they ought to be attacked in this House, where he will be able to meet any charges which are brought against the Sub-Commissioners, and to state the grounds on which they were appointed. If these appointments are to be challenged, why cannot a Vote of Censure be brought forward, either upon the Government or upon my right hon. Friend? If improper appointments have been made, it does not require a Committee to prove them. The unfit-ness of the Commissioners for the post can be proved in this House, where my right hon. Friend would have an opportunity of meeting the vague charges brought against the Sub-Commissioners. The character of those charges has been shown by the attack made by the hon. Member for Londonderry (Mr. Lewis) this evening on my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor General for Ireland. The hon. Member directly imputed to the Government that the Sub-Commissioners had been appointed as a reward—for political services to my hon. and learned Friend. But my hon. and learned Friend has shown that two, at all events, of these gentlemen had nothing to do with the Derry Election. [Laughter.] Hon. Members who laugh were not in the House when my hon. and learned Friend answered this charge. While I am referring to the speech of the hon. Member for Londonderry (Mr. Lewis), let me just allude to another portion of it. He imputed to my hon. and learned Friend that he and his supporters had deliberately corrupted the electors of Derry, by holding out to them promises of advantage from the operation of the Land Act. Sir, the Land Act was a great political question, which occupied the attention of Parliament and of the country during the whole of the previous year. It was still, and, as the present debate shows, it is still, a political question, and do hon. Members suppose that it was possible to exclude a question like the operation of the Land Act from a county election in Ireland? Why, Sir, it was absolutely necessary and inevitable—I will not say that it was not legitimate—that both sides should discuss the operation of the Land Act. Both sides did discuss it, and they discussed it with the utmost freedom. But what is this imputation? It is that my hon. and learned Friend and his supporters did endeavour to pervert and influence the electors of the county of Derry in the discharge of their political duty, by the hope of personal advantage. ["Hear, hear!"] I think hon. Members are somewhat premature in cheering, for the electors of the county of Derry are not the only persons personally interested in the operation of the Act. I should like to know how many Peers who voted for the inquiry in "another place," or how many hon. Members in this House, who have supported this inquiry, are personally interested? I suppose, and I hope, that the hon. Member for Londonderry (Mr. Lewis), and his Friends who cheered, would resent any imputation that any of those noble Lords or hon. Members in this House are actuated in their votes, with regard to this measure, by any idea of its effects upon themselves personally. But, Sir, if they are ready, as I trust they are, to disclaim any such imputation, what right have they to impute to the electors of the county of Londonderry that they are influenced in the discharge of their political duty, by the hope of personal advantage, any more than they are themselves? I maintain that the concessions which have been offered by the Committee of the House of Lords are no concessions at all. I say that the clear original intentions of the House of Lords are still maintained; not that they are going to review individual cases, which we never apprehended they would do, but that they intend to review the principles upon which the Commissioners have acted, to impeach those principles, and, if possible, to reverse them. And how is that to be done? It is to be effected, if possible, by a process of intimidation by the Committee, and if it cannot be done by a process of intimidation, then it is to be done by fresh legislation. The question was put to the majority in "another place," and it was answered by the cheers of that majority, that fresh legislation was to be brought in. It is precisely on that ground that the hon. Member opposite says there must be fresh legislation. I say it is precisely on that ground, also, that we deprecate this inquiry, which is a reopening of the Land Question, an impediment to the operation of the Act of last year, and an inducement to further agitation. The speech delivered by the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) has been referred to by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Gloucestershire (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach), who asked us whether we did not think that speech had done as much to injure the Land Act as any inquiry could do? I cannot help feeling that occasions would have been found for delivering that speech even if this Motion had not been made; but I should think it might have occurred to the right hon. Gentleman that it offered some grounds for conjecture as to the nature of the questions that would be raised by the reopening of any subject dealt with by the Land Act. I should have thought that speech might have suggested to the right hon. Gentleman and his Friends some reflections as to the cause of this strange and unnatural alliance and combination between hon. Members opposite and those sitting below the Gangway. Whether they will vote together against this Motion I cannot tell; but they have been united throughout the debate which has taken place upon it. They have been united in the endeavour to discredit the operation of the Land Act; they have been united in the endeavour to institute an inquiry, hostile in its character, to the Land Act, and they have been united in endeavouring to institute an inquiry which will be the prelude to fresh legislation. Does the right hon. Gentleman suppose that the objects which the hon. Member for Sligo has in view are in the interest of Irish landlords, and such as hon. Gentlemen opposite would desire to promote? The hon. Member for Sligo has referred to poor tenants in the West of Ireland, who paid rents of from £10 to £15 a-year, and he asks—"What is the use of a reduction of £2 or £3 rent to tenants of this character, burdened as they are with arrears?" To what, then, did the speech of the hon. Member for Sligo point? Why, to a much greater reduction in the rents of these poor tenants; it pointed to placing them in possession of their farms rent free, either by a total confiscation of the property of the landlords, or by fresh legislation. Such are the doctrines which hon. Members opposite seem to be desirous of promoting, by means of this inquiry, and that, too, at a time when Ireland requires rest from agitation, and breathing time, in order that the effects of the Land Act may develop. It seems to be their desire, when this repose is so much needed, to add a Parliamentary agitation to the agitation which already exists. Can it be denied that such a re-opening of the Irish Land Question is injurious to the interest of good government in Ireland? In my opinion it is fatal to it, and it is also fatal to the good faith of Parliament, which, on the solicitation of those responsible for the government of Ireland, conferred on us powers of an exceptional character, for the preservation of peace in that country. Those powers, as the House is aware, have been largely used. They have been used to defend the rights of landlords. They were asked, and granted on the faith of the pledge, that, at the same time, we would also apply to Parliament for a measure relating to the Land Laws of Ireland. That pledge was redeemed, and Parliament did pass the measure, which was the supplement to our Coercion Bill. But, Sir, within six months of the passing of that Act, the question is to be reopened, and as hon. Members opposite seem to think, new legislation is to be introduced, which shall have the effect of taking away something that the Land Act has given to the tenants in Ireland. If that result is to follow, then I venture to say that these coercive powers, which we are now using in defence of the landlords, have been obtained under false pretences. Before I conclude, let me say a few words as to the expediency of the censure which, it is said, we propose to pass on the other House of Parliament. I do not deny, and I am perfectly willing to admit, that the difference of opinion between the two Houses is unfortunate, or it may be unwise; but I do not admit that a difference of opinion, frankly proclaimed, necessarily constitutes censure. What has happened? One House of Parliament, in the perfect exercise of its right and discretion, has selected an Act from the Statute Book, and has ordered an inquiry into that Statute to be made. In the opinion of Her Majesty's Government, and in the opinion of the majority of this House, that inquiry is inexpedient. We do not propose to prevent it; we cannot prevent it; but we propose to do what we can legitimately do, and that is to ask this House to express its opinion as to the inexpediency of that inquiry, as clearly as the opinion of the other House of Parliament has been expressed to the contrary. We ask this House to do what it can to neutralize what we believe to be the bad effects of the action taken by the House of Lords. We did not provoke this debate. It did not proceed from a desire on the part of the Government to obtain a Vote of Confidence, either in its policy, or in the operation of the Land Act. But the Land Act has been attacked by the House of Lords; and, for the purpose of restoring the confidence of the people of Ireland in the Act, we express our opinion that the proposed inquiry is inexpedient, and injurious to the interests of good government in Ireland. On this question Parliament is not unanimous. We admit that the want of unanimity is a misfortune; but we are also of opinion that in this case unanimity between the two Houses of Parliament would be a still greater misfortune. On what grounds is it asserted that this inquiry will be inexpedient? No one denies that this House has a perfect right to canvass the proceedings of the other House, which are formally and officially brought to its notice. The objections which are raised to the present Motion seem to proceed on one or two assumptions, both of which are, in my opinion, inconsistent with the dignity and power of the other House. Those assumptions are, that the other House is something too sacred to be touched, or that it is something too fragile to be touched. Irresponsible power is not good for anyone to exercise, and the House of Lords is no exception to that principle. We cannot make the House of Lords responsible for the government of Ireland. We cannot fasten upon them the whole burden of that responsibility. We say that in this instance they have interposed a grave and serious obstacle and difficulty in the task of governing Ireland, and we think it our duty to cast upon them the responsibility for their action. Such a proceeding is no censure. It is no menace, no attack upon the House of Lords, and does not tend in any way to weaken its authority, its dignity, or its power. In my opinion, the real danger to the authority and dignity of the House of Lords would be that any Government should suppose that its action was so unreasonable or so insignificant that it was not deserving of serious notice. For the reasons I have given, I hope the House will pass the Resolution which has been proposed by my right hon. Friend.


Sir, the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for India has been pleased to find fault with a considerable number of those hon. Gentlemen who have taken part in the debate on this Motion for having gone beyond the subject immediately before them, and for having entered into discussions as to the merits or demerits of the Land Act, and into other matters which he considers to be entirely beside the question. Now, if there is any inconvenience—and I am not prepared to say that there m ay not have been some— in such a discussion as that in which we have been engaged during the last two weeks, I say that the responsibility for having entered upon that discussion rests entirely with the Government. It was of their own option, and in spite of the protest which we put in against it, that they called upon the House to enter upon a discussion which, as they were warned from the first, would necessarily run into a variety of subjects. The matter goes even beyond that, because not only was there a certainty that when once we began to discuss such a question as this, we should be led into a general discussion upon the merits or demerits of some portions of the Land Act and the condition of Ireland; but the actual form which the Government chose for the Resolution, which they ask us to adopt, challenges such an inquiry. What, after all, has taken place? The House of Lords, some time ago, in the exercise of its undoubted and unquestioned right, determined to appoint a Select Committee to inquire into "the working of recent legislation with reference to land in Ireland;" and what is the way in which the Government take notice of that Resolution? They bring forward a Motion that Parliamentary inquiry—that is by either House—into the working of the Land Act tends to defeat the operation of that Act, and must be injurious to the interests of good government in Ireland. I will not say that these two propositions are not true; but, at all events, they are not self-evident. They are propositions which required discussion; and it was absolutely necessary that, in connection with the first of them, we should so far discuss the character and the working of the Land Act as to say whether a Parliamentary inquiry would necessarily defeat its operation; and, further, it was necessary that we should go into the proofs which might be adduced of the second proposition, that a Parliamentary inquiry would be "injurious to the interests of good government in Ireland." Whatever the noble Marquess may have made out of the report of the debate in the House of Lords, we cannot help seeing that neither of those two propositions—at any rate the second proposition—was not put forward by the Government with the same distinctness as in the debate on the Select Committee. We could not but see that these propositions, if they could be supported, were very strong ones; but they were not demonstrated, even in that eloquent speech to which we listened at the beginning of this debate. In that speech we had strong assertion, but, I venture to say, very little indeed in the way of argument. We could not but feel that the step which was taken by the Government, in challenging the decision of the House of Lords, was one which was open to many minor objections. I call it a minor objection that we were obliged to lay aside other Business of importance; and another such objection is, that we ran the risk of producing something like a collision between the two branches of the Legislature. I do not think that a difference of opinion, even strongly expressed, between the two branches of the Legislature does necessarily lead to that; but I say that when affairs in Ireland are in the condition in which they are represented to be, and as, no doubt, they are, it ought to be a matter for serious consideration whether even the semblance of collision might not do harm by weakening the cause of good government in that country. This House has been exposed to a difficulty to which, I think, we ought not to be exposed. Supposing you pass this Resolution by a most overwhelming majority, you do not stop the action of the House of Lords; and the result is that you place this House in the somewhat undignified and difficult position of having expended a great amount of what is commonly called brutum fulmen, and of having laid down the proposition that something that you cannot stop is having the effect of defeating the operation of the Land Act, and injuring the interests of good government in Ireland. Moreover, there is the further objection, to which I have alluded—namely, that, by their action, the Government have brought about the discussion of the very subject they wished to exclude. But so strong is the feeling of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister that he cannot forego his objections to the inquiry. The noble Marquess says there was something stated as to communications between the Representatives of the House of Lords and the Government in this matter, and that such communications could not possibly have taken place, because, when once the House of Lords had appointed its Committee, it would have been undignified and impossible to enter into anything in the nature of agreement or contract. But the Prime Minister, in this House, on the very day he brought forward this Motion, stated that if the House of Lords would so limit its inquiries as suggested then he would be prepared to pause in bringing forward his Resolution. I cannot help thinking that if such was the condition of the mind of the Government, they might have answered a little more respectfully the communication addressed to them by the Chairman of the Committee of the House of Lords on the subject of confining the Order of Reference.


I said that the communication did not form any basis of compromise.


I quite agree that the noble Marquess took that objection; but he also suggested that communications of the kind indicated could not have been made with the House of Lords. However, I do not think it worth while to say anything further upon that point. What is the objection of the right hon. Gentleman to the proceeding of the House of Lords? His objection is—and it has been repeated over and over again—that it will interfere with the judicial administration of the Land Act. Now, that is a consideration which has been distinctly imported into this discussion. Those words having reference to interference with the judicial administration of the Land Act do not occur in the Resolution of the House of Lords, nor in the Motion offered to the acceptance of the House of Commons. They have been introduced by the Prime Minister himself, and we are, therefore, bound to inquire into their force and meaning. Primâ facie there was nothing wrong, at the beginning of the operation of so important a piece of legislation, in the wish to see how it was working. Confessedly, the Land Act was a piece of legislation of a bold and original character, overriding, to a great extent, the acknowledged principles of politics and political economy on which we have hitherto acted; it dealt with questions of the gravest importance and difficulty; and I say it was not unnatural, as soon as it got fairly into operation, that we should desire to see what that operation was like—not exactly on paper, but how it was actually working. The inquiry was obviously one which would show where there were defects in the Act, and where there were points to he supplied—not necessarily such as would alter the Act or destroy it, but points that would supplement it and have the effect of removing obstacles to its working; and, amongst the matters which suggest themselves for inquiry, I may instance the great block of business in the Land Courts and the question of arrears. But we are not allowed to look into the working of the Act. The noble Marquess opposite suggested that the House of Lords was either too sacred to be touched or too fragile to be touched. I think the House of Lords can bear that operation pretty well; but the question seems to me to be whether your Land Act is not too sacred or too fragile to be touched? Sir, the Land Act is Dot a piece of conjuring machinery, the effect of which will be altogether destroyed if you allow people to look at it and see what is going on. It is an important piece of legislation, which is actually affecting the relations between different classes in Ireland, and affecting them in the most serious manner. I should have thought, if you want to produce peace and confidence, as well as good feeling and a general acceptance of the Act, that it would be of the highest importance to get it thoroughly understood by all the parties concerned with its operation. There are some difficulties in the position which are alarming to the landlords, others to the tenants, and others, again, which, as far as I can see, are alarming to the Government itself. Undoubtedly, whatever else may be said of it, there is danger of friction; and that friction it seems desirable to remove, if it can be removed, before it becomes intolerable. I do not suppose there is any Member of this House who would deny the proposition that, whether the Land Act is working well or ill, it is working unexpectedly. You did not expect to find this immense block of business, this mass of arrears, and the dissatisfaction which prevails in many quarters. You did not expect, within six months of the passing of the Act, to have 600 men in gaol; neither did you expect to be told that the Land Act would be followed by terrorism and outrages upon that portion of the farming class which was endeavouring to live honestly and straightforwardly; nor, after the time which has elapsed, did you expect to find that there was so little appearance of life in some important parts of the Act which are altogether distinct in their character. Then, surely, it was right to begin to inquire prudently and cautiously into the real state of things; and what can be more prudent and cautious than an inquiry by a Select Committee of the House of Lords, whose proceedings would be conducted with closed doors? That inquiry would create no agitation, such as would follow the appointment of a Committee of this House. From an investigation by a Committee of the other House of Parliament, presided over by a man greatly experienced in the law, and including, as it ought to have done, Members representing Her Majesty's Government,. I venture to say we might have expected the maximum of usefulness with the minimum of danger. But, as it is, I very much fear that we are likely to be exposed to the worse alternative. Something has been said about inquiry into the character and position of the Sub-Commissioners; but we are told that it is too early to institute an inquiry into that subject. I remember, when the Land Bill was passing through the House last year, the Prime Minister told us that immediately on the appointment of the Commissioners, or within an approximate time, Parliament would be made acquainted with the names and other particulars relating to the proposed Assistant Commissioners; and, he added, if they could not trust the Commissioners to give all information of interest connected with their proceedings, then he was afraid it would not be a very satisfactory omen for the success of the Bill. It is not a good omen for the success of the Act when we see this kind of reticence and fear lest there should be any kind of inquiry into the operations which are going on. The right hon. Gentleman, after his declaration—his strong declaration—of the danger that he expected, went on in his speech the other day to quote certain precedents; and I do not think myself that the precedents he quoted were altogether applicable to the present case, except so far as they showed that there was no difficulty at all, and nothing novel in the one House dissenting from the opinion of the other. But I must say that, reading some of the debates in which these precedents occurred, I was very much struck by a reference I found in a discussion of the year 1839 to a previous case, a much older case—a case of the year 1703. There is something so remarkable in that, that I would venture to trouble the House with a very few words on the subject. In the year 1703, the position of the two Houses, politically speaking, was the converse of what it is now. There was a strong Tory House of Commons, with a Tory Ministry, and a strong Whig House of Lords. A question arose with regard to some case of treasonable practices. Some persons who were accused of being concerned in a Jacobite plot were taken into custody, and their examination was commenced by the Government of the day. The House of Lords thought that the Government of the day were likely to deal too tenderly with these persons; and they, therefore, desired—in fact determined—to institute an inquiry of their own. The House of Commons altogether took exception to such conduct on the part of the House of Lords, and remonstrated against the House of Lords undertaking such an examination. What was the communication that was made by the House of Lords to the House of Commons, and by whom, let me ask, was that communication brought down? It was brought down by no less a man than the great Lord Somers, and it contained these words— No House of Commons till now has given countenance to this dangerous opinion, which does so directly tend to the rendering ill Ministers safe from the examination of Parliaments, and we are persuaded no House of Commons hereafter will assert such a notion, because they are not wont easily to part with a power they have assumed; and it is certain that they have several times taken upon themselves to exercise authority like that they have so severely reflected on in their Address."—[Parl. Hist., 6. 183.] That was a case in which the Ministry and the House of Commons, being together, the House of Lords claimed to exercise its right of inquiry, because, otherwise, the act of the Ministry would be safe from the examination of Parliament. We are told now that if there is to be any inquiry into the working of the Land Act, not only it must not be in the House of Lords, but it must be in the House of Commons, and for the very good reason, apparently, that the House of Commons sympathizes with and supports the Ministers of the day. Now, Sir, I must say that I was surprised when I heard the right hon. Gentleman say that the effect of this inquiry, which he dreaded, would be to shake to its foundation the confidence which they had succeeded in engendering in the people of Ireland. I am very glad to hear of that confidence. I confess I did not expect to hear it put quite so broadly; let us hope that it is so. But surely, if that is the case, we need not be so very much afraid of asking a few questions which will elucidate how far the Act deserves the confidence it is said to have inspired. I will not, however, go now into all these questions affecting the working of the Act, for I feel we are approaching the time when it will be necessary to come to a decision. The discussion, if it has not been wholly without inconvenience, has not been altogether without profit. I think I may say that there has been inconvenience in some of the statements made, and made on behalf of the Government. I cannot say that I listened with entire satisfaction to the statement of the Prime Minister that the Land Act and the Land League were the only two living forces in Ireland. The Land Act itself, I suppose, is not a living force. It is only an instrument in the hands of those who are working it—namely, the Commissioners. It comes to this, then—that the Land Courts and the Land League are the sole powers exercising authority and influence in Ireland. It is a serious thing to hear the Executive declare that it gives place to these important powers. I do not see how the Land Courts are to exercise this great influence in resisting the Land League. Is it by underbidding the Land League, or in what other way? I should have thought that the great object was that the Government of the day should exercise their influence—as I am bound to say the Chief Secretary seems to show that he, at least, is determined to exercise his influence and his power—to maintain peace and order, and in speaking the truth to the people, and that more could be done in that way than by any other course of action. But if the debate, as I have said, has not been without its disadvantages, it has not been without some advantages. It has directed attention rather more closely to the real position of the questions, and the real questions, which have to be solved in connection with the Land Act. They are not merely questions as to the Land Tenure Clauses of the Act, though, with regard to those clauses, questions have been opened which I hope Parliament and the Ministry will be prepared to follow up and examine. Other still more important topics have been entered upon. How will the Government deal with this great question of the block of business in the Courts and of arrears, to say nothing of many minor points connected with the working of the Act? If yon want to inspire confidence you must deal with these questions, and deal with them in a way that will put an end as quickly as possible to that state of suspense in which the country finds itself. You talk of "confidence." I say the present condition of the people is one of suspense, and not of confidence. The worst possible suspense prevails. The landlords are in a state of suspense; they are alarmed, for they do not know what is coming out of all this. They see that the action of the Land Courts is a great deal more stringent than they were ever led to believe, and than the Government itself last year believed it would be. The tenants, on their side, are alarmed, because they see arrears accumulating against them, and because they see they are subjected to eviction, and because they do not know what will come. All parties are alarmed at the state of terrorism that exists, and that is likely to continue undiminished, for aught I can see. How soon can you put an end to that state of things, and substitute for it a state of things more hopeful and more likely to give contentment? Speeches have been made—I refer particularly to that by my right hon. Friend the Member for East Gloucestershire (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach); but there are others who have spoken in the same sense—as to the mode in which you can best supplement the working of the Act by giving effect to those parts of it—such as the Purchase Clauses—which now seem to be crippled and kept from their full action. You will do more by developing your Act fully, and giving full play to those limbs of it that are crippled and unable to act, than you will by attempting to stifle an inquiry which, after all, you are unable to stifle. I will not say anything as to the observations of the noble Marquess on the course the debate has taken. It seems to amuse him and some hon. Members near him to see the questions which have been asked, but which have not been answered. All I can say is, that the Government must take the responsibility for the course they have adopted. We have endeavoured to avoid raising questions that we thought would place both this House and the other House in a false position; but if the Government perseveres in its present course, we are not prepared, and we do not desire, to elevate the matter into a great Constitutional question. We consider that, upon the whole, the matter is very much in the nature of a tempest in a tea-cup. What you are threatening really comes to nothing at all; what you will do comes to nothing at all. The House of Lords will proceed just as it proceeded before, and I do not think will be very much the worse for either your Resolution or the speeches by which it has been supported. The House will now come to its decision; and I trust, whatever may be the result of the vote to-night, that the result of the inquiry into the Land Act, fairly, honestly, and properly conducted, will be for the benefit, and not for the disadvantage, of the Sister Country.

Previous Question put, "That the Original Question be now put."

The House divided:—Ayes 303; Noes 219: Majority 84.—(Div. List, No. 41.)

Original Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 303; Noes 235: Majority 68.

Acland, Sir T. D. Brand, H. R.
Agnew, W. Brassey, H. A.
Ainsworth, D. Brassey, Sir T.
Allen, H. G. Brett, R. B.
Amory, Sir J. H. Briggs, W. E.
Anderson, G. Bright, J. (Manchester)
Armitage, B. Bright, rt. hon. J.
Armitstead, G. Brinton, J.
Arnold, A. Broadhurst, H.
Asher, A. Brooks, M.
Ashley, hon. E. M. Brown, A. H.
Baldwin, E. Bruce, rt. hon. Lord C.
Balfour, Sir G. Bruce, hon. R. P.
Balfour, J. B. Bryce, J.
Balfour, J. S. Buchanan, T. R.
Barclay, J. W. Burt, T.
Baring, Viscount Buszard, M. C.
Barnes, A. Butt, C. P.
Barren, J. Buxton, F. W.
Bass, A. Caine, W. S.
Bass, H. Cameron, C.
Biddulph, M. Campbell, Lord C.
Blennerhassett, Sir R. Campbell, Sir G.
Blennerhassett, R. P. Campbell, R. F. F.
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Collings, J. Guest, M. J.
Collins, E. Gurdon, R. T.
Colman, J. J. Hamilton, J. G. C.
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Corbett, J.
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Cropper, J. Hibbert, J. T.
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Crum, A. Holland, S.
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Dilke, A. W. Inderwick, F. A.
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Elliot, hon. A. R. D. Labouchere, H.
Evans, T. W. Laing, S.
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Fawcett, rt. hon. H. Lawrence, Sir J, C.
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Ffolkes, Sir W. H. B. Lea, T.
Findlater, W. Leake, R.
Firth, J. F. B. Leatham, E. A.
Fitzmaurice, Lord E. Leatham, W. H.
Fitzwilliam, hon. H. W. Lee, H.
Flower, C. Leeman, J. J.
Foljambe, C. G. S. Lefevre, right hon. G. J. S.
Foljambe, F. J. S.
Forster, Sir C. Leigh, hon. G. H. C.
Forster, rt. hon. W. E. Lloyd, M.
Fort, R. Lubbock, Sir J.
Fowler, H. H. Lusk, Sir A.
Fowler, W. Lymington, Viscount
Fry, L. Lyons, R. D.
Fry, T. Mackie, R. B.
Gabbett, D. F. Mackintosh, C. F.
Macliver, P. S. Rogers, J. E. T.
M'Arthur, A. Rothschild, Sir N. M. de
M'Arthur, W. Roundell, C. S.
M'Clure, Sir T. Russell, C.
M'Coan, J. C. Russell, G. W. E.
M'Intyre, Œneas J. Russell, Lord A.
M'Lagan, P. Rylands, P.
M'Laren, C. B. B. St. Aubyn, Sir J.
M'Minnies, J. G. Samuelson, B.
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Marjoribanks, E. Seely, C. (Nottingham)
Martin, R. B. Shaw, W.
Maskelyne, M. H. Story- Sheridan, H. B.
Mason, H. Shield, H.
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Morley, S. Stewart, J.
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Noel, E. Tavistock, Marquess of
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O'Gorman Mahon, Col. The Tennant, C.
Thomasson, J. P.
O'Shaughnessy, R. Thompson, T. C.
O'Shea, W. H. Tillett, J. H.
Otway, Sir A. Torrens, W. T. M'C.
Paget, T. T. Tracy, hon. F. S. A. Hanbury-
Palmer, C. M.
Palmer, G. Trevelyan, G. O.
Palmer, J. H. Verney, Sir H.
Parker, C. S. Vivian, A. P.
Pease, A. Vivian, H. H.
Pease, J. W. Walter, J.
Peddie, J. D. Waugh, E.
Peel, A. W. Webster, J.
Pender, J. Whitbread, S.
Pennington, F. Whitworth, B.
Philips, R. N. Williams, S. C. E.
Playfair, rt. hon. L. Williamson, S.
Porter, A. M. Willis, W.
Potter, T. B. Wills, W. H.
Pulley, J. Willyams, E. W. B.
Ralli, P. Wilson, C. H.
Ramsden, Sir J. Wilson, I.
Rathbone, W. Wilson, Sir M.
Reed, Sir E. J. Wodehouse, E. R.
Reid, R. T. Woodall, W.
Rendel, S. Woolf, S.
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Richardson, J. N. TELLERS.
Richardson, T. Grosvenor, Lord R.
Roberts, J. Kensington, Lord
Robertson, H.
Alexander, Colonel Beach, W. W. B.
Allsopp, C. Bective, Earl of
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Ashmead-Bartlett, E. Beresford, G. de la P.
Aylmer, J. E. F. Biddell, W.
Bailey, Sir J. R. Biggar, J. G.
Balfour, A. J. Birkbeck, E.
Baring, T. C. Blackburne, Col. J. I.
Barttelot, Sir W. B. Boord, T. W.
Bateson, Sir T. Bourke, rt. hon. R.
Beach, rt. hn. Sir M. H. Brise, Colonel R.
Broadley, W. H. H. Gibson, rt. hon. E.
Brodrick, hon. W. St. J. F. Giffard, Sir H. S.
Gill, H. J.
Brooke, Lord Goldney, Sir G.
Bruce, Sir H. H. Gooch, Sir D.
Bruce, hon. T. Gore-Langton, W. S.
Brymer, W. E. Gorst, J. E.
Bulwer, J. R. Grantham, W.
Burghley, Lord Greene, E.
Burnaby, General E. S. Greer, T.
Burrell, Sir W. W. Gregory, G. B.
Buxton, Sir R. J. Halsey, T. F.
Byrne, G. M. Hamilton, Lord C. J.
Callan, P. Hamilton, I. T.
Cameron, D. Hamilton, right hon. Lord G.
Campbell, J. A.
Garden, Sir R. W. Harcourt, E. W.
Castlereagh, Viscount Harvey, Sir R. B.
Cecil, Lord E. H. B. G. Hay, rt. hon. Admiral Sir J. C. D.
Chaine, J.
Chaplin, H. Healy, T. M.
Clarke, E. Herbert, hon. S.
Clive, Col. hon. G. W. Hicks, E.
Coddington, W. Hildyard, T. B. T.
Cole, Viscount Hill, Lord A. W.
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Cubitt, rt. hon. G. Kennaway, Sir J. H.
Dalrymple, C. Knight, F. W.
Davenport, H. T. Knightley, Sir R.
Davenport. W. B. Knowles, T.
Dawnay, Col. hon. L. P. Lacon, Sir E. H. K.
Dawnay, hon. G. C. Lawrance, J. C.
De Worms, Baron H. Lawrence, Sir T.
Dickson, Major A. G. Leamy, E.
Digby, Col. hon. E. Lechmere, Sir E. A. H.
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Elliot, Sir G. Lewisham, Viscount
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Ennis, Sir J. Loder, R.
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Ewart, W. Lopes, Sir M.
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Percy, Lord A. Tottenham, A. L.
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Plunket, rt. hon. D. R. Wallace, Sir R
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Raikes, rt. hon. H. C. Walrond, Col. W. H.
Rankin, J. Warburton, P. E.
Redmond, J. E. Warton, C. N.
Rendlesham, Lord Watney, J.
Repton, G. W. Whitley, E.
Ridley, Sir M. W. Williams, Colonel O.
Ritchie, C. T. Wilmot, Sir H.
Rolls, J. A. Wilmot, Sir J. E.
Ross, A. H. Wolff, Sir H. D.
Ross, C. C. Wortley, C. B. Stuart-
Round, J. Wroughton, P.
St. Aubyn, W. M. Wyndham, hon. P.
Salt, T. Wynn, Sir W. W.
Sandon, Viscount Yorke, J. R.
Schreiber, C.
Sclater-Booth, rt. hon. G. TELLERS.
Crichton, Viscount Winn, R.
Scott, M. D.

Resolved, That Parliamentary inquiry, at the present time, into the working of the Irish Land Act tends to defeat the operation of that Act, and must be injurious to the interests of good government in Ireland.

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