§ Postponed Resolution [3rd March] further considered.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."
§ MR. HEALY
said, there were several points in which the Government promised explanation on Report. For instance, the Attorney General for Ireland promised to look into the matter of the advertisements of the Land Commission. He (Mr. Healy) and his hon. Friends had pointed out that those advertisements were published in The Scotsman, 688 the Dublin General Advertiser, which was owned by the hon. Member for Glasgow (Dr. Cameron), and in the London Times, so that if the people of Ireland wanted to know anything about the relation between landlord and tenant they must refer to those papers. The Attorney General for Ireland undertook to look into the matter and have things remedied. It was shown by the Irish Members that there were such papers as The Freeman's Journal, that were largely read by the people; and it was to such papers that the advertisements of the Land Commission should be given, and not to papers like The Scotsman and London Times. Furthermore, there was the question of Mr. Barrett, the chief evictor of Lord Kenmare, who had been appointed valuator under the Land Act. It had been denied that he had been so appointed; but on looking the matter up he found it distinctly stated in the Report of the proceedings of the Judicial Sub-Commissioners that in the case of Mr. Bence Jones, Mr. John Barrett was appointed by the Sub-Commissioners as valuator. It was said they had not got the interest of the Land Act at heart; but he would ask the Attorney General if it was desirable that evictors like John Barrett, who, from their well-known propensities, were odious in the eyes of the people, should be appointed valuators under the Land Act? He desired to know if Mr. Barrett had been permanently appointed, or had been simply appointed in the case of Mr. Bence Jones's tenantry. Then, again, in regard to the appointment of the Solicitor to the Land Commission, it was stated in the papers the other day that Mr. Fitzgerald had been appointed. It was a remarkable thing that Judge Fitzgerald was one of the chief instruments of the Government in Ireland, and, as first member of the Privy Council, he always took a prominent part whenever any measure of coercion was to be put in force. That learned Judge decided what cases were to be tried, and then went down to the Assizes to make a series of special Charges to the Grand Juries, in accordance with a pre-arranged line of action decided upon by the Privy Council. He had now received his reward in an appointment for his son—a briefless barrister, whom nobody had ever heard of and while the son had received an im- 689 portant appointment on the one hand, Judge Fitzgerald's nephew, on the other hand, had been appointed to the solicitor-ship of the Land Commission. He (Mr. Healy) wished to know if that was true? If it was, it was a remarkable fact; and it was a matter upon which they ought to have some explanation. Then, again, there was the question of maps. He had pointed out the other day an absurd rule laid down in the originating notice, which was based upon the assumption that every Irish tenant had a copy of the Ordnance Survey map in his house or library. It was ridiculous to suppose that an Irish tenant with a 10 acre farm had a library of any kind in which to place the maps of the Ordnance Survey. The originating notice required the character of the holding to be stated in accordance with the definition on the Ordnance map. The tenant was to describe the name of the farm and the locality, and he was not to give the names by which the holding was known to the people of the locality, but the names which appeared on the Ordnance map. In many cases English - Irish names were employed, and in others Irish-English names, a splendid mess being made of the whole thing. It was an extraordinary requirement that a humble peasant should be called upon to obtain a copy of the Ordnance Survey map, and describe his holding in accordance with that map. There were many other points upon which he might ask for information; but he would content himself with these four at present—namely, what course had been taken in regard to the advertisements of voluntary agreements; next, as to the appointment of the Solicitor to the Land Court; next, as to the Ordnance Survey map; and, lastly, as to the appointment of John Barrett as a valuer?
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. W. M. JOHNSON)
said, it was not required that every tenant should possess an Ordnance map; but it was thought that he would have no difficulty in obtaining access to one. He (the Attorney General for Ireland) would now give a very short answer and explanation to all the points which had been raised by the hon. Member. In the first place, in regard to the newspapers, it was a fact that the advertisements of voluntary agreements were inserted in the three papers mentioned—the Dublin 690 General Advertiser, the London Times, and the Edinburgh Scotsman. It was required under the Act that the agreements made out of Court, and which were of a very elaborate nature, should remain for two or three months—he forgot which—before they became binding. The House would easily see the nature of one of these advertisements from the document he held in his hand. Now, it happened that a very large amount of Scotch and English money was invested on mortgage in Ireland through the Insurance Companies; and as all these agreements related to the arrangements between landlord and tenant, it was necessary to inform the mortgagee who lent the money, and resided out of the country, what the nature of the agreements entered into was, so that they might be apprised of what was going on. Accordingly the Land Commissioners selected The Times in England, The Scotsman in Scotland, and The General Advertiser in Dublin. The reason why the last-named paper was selected was that it was generally employed by the public Courts as the medium for advertising. The Landed Estates Court advertised in The General Advertiser, the Public Works Department advertised all their loans and applications for loans in that paper. The General Advertiser circulated 36,000 copies all over Ireland; it was delivered gratuitously in Dublin and the suburbs, it was filed in the Public Offices, and it was posted free to almost every town in Ireland. By that means it possessed a very large circulation in Ireland. If one of these advertisements were inserted in all the Dublin newspapers, it would entail a very considerable expense. He was informed that the cost would have been £287 for the present month alone for a single insertion in the Dublin papers. The cost, therefore, was so great that the Land Commissioners thought it would be much more economical to insert the advertisements in the papers which had been mentioned. In reference to this matter, it had been stated that an hon. Member of that House—the Member for Glasgow (Dr. Cameron)—was the owner of The Scotsmanand the owner of The General Advertiser. [An hon. MEMBER: Not The Scotsman, but The Glasgow Mail.] The imputation conveyed was that it was a bribe to the hon. Member for Glasgow for his sup- 691 port to the Government. He (the Attorney General for Ireland) entirely disclaimed any such object, and he was told that the interest of the hon. Member in the Dublin General Advertiser was very small indeed. As to the next question—the employment of Mr. Barrett as a Government valuer—what he had stated at the time the hon. Member for Wexford (Mr. Healy) called attention to the matter was that Barrett was not one of the valuers appointed by the Court; that was, that he was certainly not a permanent valuer. The fact turned out to be as he had stated it. Barrett, however, had on one occasion been appointed, under the provisions of the Act, as an independent valuer; but that was a matter over which the Commissioners had no control. He was appointed under one of the sections of the Act to determine a question relating to a holding in regard to which the Sub-Commissioners were empowered to employ an independent valuer. As regarded this particular case, he was informed that the Sub-Commissioners appointed Barrett to make the valuation of some property at a considerable distance from his own residence. The appointment was made with the approbation both of the landlord and of the tenant. The result was satisfactory to the tenant, and was not complained of either by the Court or by the landlord. That was the only occasion on which Barrett was employed, and he had never been appointed a valuer by the Commissioners. Their valuers were Mr. Gray, Mr. Boll, and he believed there was a third gentleman named Russell. In regard to Mr. Fitzgerald, he happened to be personally acquainted with that gentleman. Mr. Fitzgerald was an intimate friend of his; he had known him from the time he was called to the Bar. He had received previous information from Mr. Fitzgerald that he was most unwilling to take the appointment, and that it required pressure to induce him to do so.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. W. M. JOHNSON)
said, his right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary corroborated him, and bore testimony to the fact that, in the first instance, Mr. Fitzgerald refused the appointment. With regard to the appointment of Solicitor to the Land Court, he 692 understood that the Commissioners were most anxious to complete the appointment; but it had not yet been decided who was to be the lucky man. The Government left all the responsibility to the Commissioners themselves, who were certainly the best judges. With reference to the Ordnance Survey maps, he had ascertained that it was necessary for the purposes of the Appeal Court to have the holdings described in accordance with the Ordnance maps. The valuers employed by the Commissioners were then able to go down and value the property. It was not correct that the originating notice required the maps of the Ordnance Survey to be used; but the Rules provided that the farms should, as near as possible, be described in accordance with those maps.
§ THE ATTOENEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. W. M. JOHNSON)
said, he had not got the Rule with him; but the words he had taken down were these—" May be in the form." Those were words extracted from the Rule. It was not an imperative obligation; but the Rule provided that the description might be in the form of the description given in the Ordnance map. He thought these wore all the points the hon. Gentleman had mentioned. It was the Commissioners themselves, and not the Government, who selected the papers in which the advertisements were to be inserted, and he had already mentioned the reasons which actuated them. He had also given the names of the valuers immediately connected with the Commission. The only other point it was necessary he should answer was this:—On a previous occasion he undertook to lay before the House a statement in reference to the examination of the clerks who had been appointed in the office of the Land Commission. He found that he was correct in stating that the clerks, with nine exceptions, were required to satisfy the Civil Service Commissioners in regard to their qualifications. Among the officers who were excepted were the secretary, the accountant, the chief agent for land sales, the assistant agents for land sales, registrars of sales, the valuer, and the solicitor. Special certificates were required by the Land Commission from the Civil Service Com- 693 missioners, in reference to some of the appointments. He had further undertaken to ascertain whether the forms supplied to the valuers were sufficient to enable them to make a proper valuation. He held one of them in his hand, and he found it was of a very exhaustive character. It specified, among other things, the county, the name of the landlord, whether the land was town land or not, the area, the name of the tenant, the rateable value, the actual rent, the situation of the holding, its elevation and aspect, the number of fences, the character of the soil, the nature of the improvements, and various other matters that affected the holding. In order to fill up that form it would be necessary for the valuer to make a very extensive examination of the property. The name of Mr. Murphy had been mentioned as a valuer. He believed that Mr. Murphy would have been appointed if he had chosen to put his name forward. He would not trouble the House further. He thought he had answered the material questions put to him, and he had taken the greatest pains to obtain all the information that was necessary.
§ MR. CALLAN
said, he had listened with attention and interest to the speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland in explanation of the course adopted by the Commission of advertising in The Times and The Scotsman the voluntary agreements which were entered into by the tenants in Ireland, and he had come to the conclusion that his statement would have been in every respect eminently satisfactory had Irish Members not been in a position to read between the lines.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. W. M. JOHNSON)
said, he should have stated that the course which was at present adopted by the Commissioners was that of inserting a brief advertisement in the Dublin morning papers, announcing that a longer advertisement with regard to these voluntary agreements would be found in The General Advertiser. The same notice appeared with reference to the advertisements in The Scotsman and The Times.
§ MR. CALLAN
said, he was quite unable to agree with the Attorney General for Ireland that it was necessary or desirable that English and Scotch mort- 694 gagees should be informed of the voluntary agreements made in Ireland by means of advertisements in English and Scotch papers. That statement formed the sole excuse which the right hon. and learned Gentleman had offered for the course adopted by the Commission with regard to the advertisements in The Times and The Scotsman; and it was a very remarkable one, because the right hon. and learned Gentleman was a man of large experience, and would know perfectly well that not one penny of Scotch money was lent in Ireland, except through agents in Dublin. No Scotch mortgagee of land in Ireland would think of reading The Scotsman for the purpose of getting information with regard to these voluntary agreements. He would unquestionably refer to his Dublin agent, who read the Dublin morning papers; and, under these circumstances, he (Mr. Callan) contended there was no necessity whatever for advertising in The Scotsman. The objection taken by his hon. Friends was not against individual newspapers, but against the corruption of the Press. The right hon. and learned Gentleman had referred to the advertisements inserted in Irish papers by the Board of Works. He wished to ask the noble Lord the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, whether or not it was a fact that in this matter the Board of Works were controlled entirely by the Department which he represented? Was it not the case, that since the meeting of Parliament the Treasury had sent directions to the Irish Board of Works as to the papers in which their advertisements were to be inserted? The opinion in Ireland was that the Board of Works were not allowed to use" their own judgment in this matter, and that they simply sent advertisements as they were directed by the Treasury Department in London. If such instructions were sent to Ireland, surely the noble Lord would be aware of the fact, and would be able to make a statement to the House; but if it had been concealed from him, he (Mr. Callan) could do no more than characterize the proceeding as most improper, and he was quite certain that the noble Lord would investigate a system which allowed under - officials in his Department to direct the Board of Works to advertise only in certain newspapers. Would the noble Lord like to assume the responsi- 695 bility of directing in what newspapers the advertisements were to appear? The long advertisements were inserted only in The General Advertiser, which was not read by the people of Ireland, and had a very limited circulation; and he repeated that the statement in Ireland was that they were published in that paper in consequence of peremptory instructions received from the Treasury in London, the Department which issued them having no discretion whatever in the matter. The question he had to put to the noble Lord was this—did he, or his Department in London, control the Board of Works in Ireland in the matter of advertisements?
§ LORD FREDERICK CAVENDISH
said, he was obliged to point out to the hon. Member for Louth that his question with regard to the advertisements of the Board of Works in Ireland had nothing whatever to do with the Vote before the House.
§ MR. CALLAN
regretted that the noble Lord had not felt himself in a position to reply to his question. He should not have alluded to the Board of Works in Ireland, had not the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland done so in the course of his reply to the hon. Member for Wexford (Mr. Healy).
§ MR. T. D. SULLIVAN
said, he should like to know whether the system at present in operation with regard to those official advertisements in Ireland was to be persevered in? He had listened to the explanations offered to the House; but the right hon. and learned Gentleman had given no intimation as to whether the existing arrangement would be continued or altered. He (Mr. Sullivan) regarded the system as most objectionable, and contended that it should be changed. The Attorney General for Ireland had stated that The General Advertiser, in which the notices of voluntary agreements appeared in Dublin, had a most extensive circulation throughout Ireland. Without any reflection upon the right hon. and learned Gentleman, he was bound to say that he did not at all believe in the accuracy of that representation. The publication in question had, according to his information, a very limited circulation. It was gratuitously distributed to a few persons in the city of Dublin, and on the following Monday a messenger was sent round to 696 their houses, and was supposed to get back the copies, which were then to be sent into the country. No doubt some of the copies were returned; but the idea that they were sufficient for the purpose of distribution throughout the length and breadth of Ireland was, in his opinion, altogether a mistake. For these reasons he found it impossible to accept as accurate the statement of the Attorney General with regard to the circulation of the paper. But it appeared from the statement of the right hon. and learned Gentleman that a short advertisement referring to the longer announcement in The General Advertiser was inserted in The Freeman's Journal. Now, the latter newspaper had unquestionably the widest and most extensive circulation of any in Ireland; it was sent out from the office every morning in bales, containing thousands of copies, that were delivered in all parts of the country. Every man in Dublin read The Freeman's Journal, no matter whether or not he agreed with the political principles which it advocated. And it was in this paper that the Attorney General said that a brief advertisement was inserted, referring the people to the long advertisement in The General Advertiser. In his opinion the practice should be reversed. For his own part, he considered that the daily papers in Dublin, of every class of politics, were entitled fairly to share in the matter of these advertisements; and he was at a loss to understand why a publication of so limited a circulation as The General Advertiser should be made, as it were, the pet out of all the other newspapers published in the country. The present arrangement was artificial and. unsatisfactory, and he thought he had shown good reasons why it should not be allowed to continue. The placing of these advertisements was evidently a matter of favour, obtained in some way which Irish Members did not understand. But coming to the common sense and just view of the case, having regard to the question of what newspaper was most read, and which would consequently offer to the people the most full information, he said that The General Advertiser was not the paper, and that The Freeman's Journal was. The right hon. and learned Gentleman had said that English and Scotch mortgagees and Insurance Offices were largely interested 697 in the matter of the voluntary agreements, and it was, therefore, desirable that notices with respect to them should appear in The Times and The Scotsman. The statement of the right hon. and learned Gentleman went a long way to prove that landlordism in Ireland was a hollow sham, for they were now told that Irish landlords, who, it was said, spent their money in Ireland and did so much good there in other ways, really had to hand over most of their rents to English and Scotch mortgagees and Insurance Companies. That was one of the considerations which pressed on the minds of Irish Members when they contended that neither Ireland nor the tenantry of Ireland could be on any foundation of prosperity until this system of sham landlordism was broken up, and its place supplied by the reality of a peasant proprietory.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
pointed out that in the case of Army advertisements the military authorities thought there was good reason for advertising in a large number of the Irish newspapers whenever they had any information to communicate with regard to military affairs in Ireland. He found by an Army Circular which he held in his hand that there were no less than 27 Irish newspapers which were recognized by the Department as proper channels for the dissemination of information in respect of contracts in connection with the Military Service in Ireland. He could not understand why the Irish Land Commission, having its head office in Dublin, should not make their announcements in these 27 Irish newspapers. He was quite certain that it would be better for them to advertise in all the papers which circulated amongst the agricultural population of Ireland than it would be to advertise in The Scotsman.
§ MR. LEAMY
said, he could not see that it was any advantage to Scotch mortgagees to have information with regard to these voluntary agreements after they were executed. The right hon. and learned Gentleman, as he understood, gave as the reason for advertising in a Scotch paper that the announcements were made for the purpose of inviting the attention of Scotch mortgagees to the fact that agreements had been entered into for a reduction of rent. He (Mr. Leamy) thought it would be proper that mortgagees in England and 698 Scotland should receive information with respect to such agreements, provided it was of any use to them to be so informed. He could quite understand that it would be of use to the mortgagee to discover by means of an advertisement that a voluntary agreement was about to be made between the landlord and tenant for the purpose of fixing the rent of a farm, if the mortgagee were entitled to go into Court, either personally or by his solicitor, and ask the Court not to allow the agreement to be carried into effect. But he was not aware that the Land Act contained any provision whatever for protecting the interest of mortgagees in this respect, although he thought it only reasonable that the mortgagee should be allowed to go into Court. What, then, became of the mortgagee's interest in the matter, seeing that it was settled on the application of the tenant? The right hon. and learned Gentleman stated that the arrangement with regard to advertisements was settled by one of the Rules which, however, had not yet been laid upon the Table of the House. He should certainly be glad to know what advantage the mortgagee derived from the advertisements in question. As they were not inserted for the purpose of enabling the mortgagee to contest the arrangement in any way, but only to give notice of the fact that the rent had been reduced, he hardly supposed that the mortgagee would derive much satisfaction from the announcement. Nor did he suppose that an advertisement in The General Advertiser was likely to serve even the purpose for which it was intended, because, according to the information received, that paper was first distributed in Dublin, and afterwards sent amongst the people in Ireland. How, then, was it to reach the mortgagees in Scotland?
§ MR. SPEAKER
I must call upon the hon. Member to address himself to the Chair, and not to a particular Member of the House-
§ MR. LEAMY
said, he was about to point out that under the arrangement which had been condemned by his hon. Friends every mortgagee in Scotland had an opportunity of knowing at least something about the agreements entered into between the landlord and tenant; but there was no advantage whatever to the mortgagee in reading an adver- 699 tisement in The Scotsman to the effect that the matter was set forth in The General Advertiser. The announcement was practically worthless to him.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, he thought Irish Members were justified in asking for some further assurance in the matter of the advertisements. For his own part, he was not in favour of Scotch money lenders, who, he thought, were quite able to take care of themselves, and, therefore, stood in no need of special announcements with regard to agreements between Irish landlords and tenants. On the other hand, he considered that the Irish farmers, and the class financially connected with them, had the right to expect that the announcement of matters which so much concerned their interest should appear in those Irish journals which were generally read. He was very well acquainted with The General Advertiser. It was a paper that was circulated gratuitously amongst the official and legal classes; it was also sent to some of the principal merchants and a few of the gentry in Ireland. But the Irish farmers knew as much about it as they did of The Scotsman. But, even if they saw the short advertisement in The Freeman's Journal, it was not fair to ask these very often illiterate men to go or write to Dublin for the purpose of obtaining a particular paper. Irish Members, in a matter of this kind, relating to the administration of the Land Act, were justified in claiming that all information which it was necessary and desirable for the people of Ireland to possess should appear in the journals that were most accessible to them. It was surely not unreasonable to ask that the Commissioners should place that information before the people in the easiest possible way. The method now pursued was both unreasonable and objectionable; and in order to afford an opportunity to right hon. Gentlemen opposite to say what steps would be taken to alter it he begged to move the adjournment of the debate.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Sexton.)
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, he was certain that the sole object of the Commissioners had been to give information to the parties interested in Ireland and 700 elsewhere, and to give that information fully. They had come to the conclusion that the best way of carrying out the plan, so far as Ireland was concerned, was to insert the advertisements in The General Advertiser. It was quite true that The Freeman's Journal had a large circulation; but he thought that there would be a great deal of complaint, and perhaps justifiable complaint, from persons who read the other papers in Dublin if the advertisement appeared in The Freeman's Journal only. The Commissioners, after consideration, had decided to advertise in a thorough business paper, which had been used for Government announcements formerly. It had been said that the Commissioners first began by advertising in three newspapers—The Times, The Scotsman, and the Dublin General Advertiser; but the expense was found to be so great that they ceased to advertise in The Times and The Scotsman, putting these two papers in the position of the ordinary journals. Notice was given that on a certain day The General Advertiser alone would contain the advertisement. The amount saved by not advertising generally in the newspapers would be shown when it was said that the cost of advertising in The Times and The Scotsman amounted to £3,000 a-year. If the advertisements were put into 27 county newspapers the cost would necessarily be very great. The object of the Commissioners had been to give the necessary information, and to give it fully and economically. He did not think their discretion in the matter should be interfered with.
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member is not entitled to second the Motion, having exhausted his right to speak.
§ MR. BIGGAR
said he would second the Motion. He had had some experience of local towns in Ireland, and he could assure the House that The General Advertiser was not read in them at all. An hon. Gentleman who sat near him informed him that the ordinary custom was for the paper to be brought in at the hall door on Saturday, for it to lay on the table until Monday morning, and 701 then be taken away without being read. So far as he was concerned, he never got a copy of the paper sent to him. He did not think the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland would intentionally misstate any fact; but the allegation that the paper was distributed freely was not correct. On the other hand, they knew that The Freeman's Journal was read by every class in every part of Ireland; there was not even a village in any section of the country that did not receive one or more copies. He did not suppose that anybody wished to make a fight on this occasion in the interest of The Freeman's Journal; but it was only proper that the House should be made aware of the medium through which information could be sent to the tenant farmers of Ireland. It was all nonsense to say that information could be conveyed to the farmers through The General Advertiser. The Sub - Commissioners might be able to get through the 70,000 cases entered for hearing in three or four years. Some people were sanguine enough to think that they would; but other people, on the other hand, said that it would take 15 years. But even if they did get through, all these cases it would still leave out five-sixths of all the tenant farmers; and if the Government really wished to make the Land Act worth anything at all they should bring it within the reach, of all these people—popularize it. It did not, however, seem to be the wish of the Government to do this, or they would give the tenant farmers all the information in their power. For the first year of the operation of their Act they should try to popularize it, and endeavour to make the benefits which were to be derived, or were supposed to be derived, from it as generally known as possible. They should have given these advertisements to the papers that were read by the farming class. The Government should not be so absurd as to publish important advertisements in papers that no one ever read, and which were, therefore, so much waste paper. There was another point to which he wished to draw the attention of the Chief Secretary—a matter to which he had directed his notice some time ago—namely, the appointment, as a Sub-Commissioner, of a Mr. Bomford in the County Cavan, He (Mr. Biggar) had never 702 attacked this gentleman, who was really placed in a very invidious position. Mr. Bomford was placed in this position—ho was put in a county where he had near relatives, where he had been an agent, and where his decisions, even supposing they were perfectly honest, were liable to be misunderstood. It seemed to him (Mr. Biggar) that, under the circumstances of the case, Mr. Bomford's decisions would be suspected by some people of being partial. It was only fair to Mr. Bomford, to Mr. Bomford's relations, and to the tenant farmers of Cavan, that this gentleman should be moved to some other district. This was a reasonable suggestion, and he did not think the Government should throw any obstacle in the way of its being carried out.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
said, he was afraid, whatever might be said to the contrary, that the general opinion was that in Ireland the operation with regard to the placing of these advertisements was a "Boycotting" operation. He did not, however, think it was worth the while of the Irish Party to make a fight on the matter. The Irish papers, even the least influential of them, could do extremely well without the support of Her Majesty's Government. Perhaps the conduct of the Government on this matter might be regarded as a trial of Land League principles; and it was not the first time Her Majesty's Government had borrowed from that organization. They had taken this piece of "Boycotting" out of the book of certain Land League Societies in the West of Ireland.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
said, the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. E. Forster) had misunderstood him with regard to Army advertisements. The Government did not advertise in the 27 papers on the list at one time; but when they had to advertise, say in the Cork district, they would put their advertisement in the Cork newspaper, and when they were advertising in the Enniskillen district they would patronize the Fermanagh journals. The Land Commissioners should do the same as to the property upon which they had to adjudicate. The long advertisements were expensive; but those that were inserted in The Scotsman, The Times, and The General Advertiser were precisely those that were most heavily charged for by newspaper proprietors. What he would 703 suggest was that instead of having these long advertisements, which were practically a waste of money, a number of small advertisements should be inserted in the newspapers circulating in the districts interested. In this way economy would be secured, and information would be better disseminated than at present.
§ MR. HEALY
said, that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary had merely repeated to the House words which had come to him from Dublin: therefore, he did not think the right hon. Gentleman was acquainted with the real merits of the case. He did not agree with the hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. O'Donnell) that it was immaterial whether the advertisements were inserted or not. He took great interest in the working of the Land Act, and should like to see what agreements were being made between the landlords and tenants. How was he to know these things? Was he to write to The General Advertiser in Dublin, and get a copy of that paper sent back by post, in order to see what arrangements were being made? He read three Dublin papers—The Freeman's Journal, The Irish Times, and The Express. He did not care a button which papers got the advertisements; but he could quite understand that if one were singled out for them the others would be jealous. He should think that the advertisements should be inserted in papers that were read, and not in journals like The General Advertiser, which was so uninteresting that the bulk of the people who received it never opened it. He would suggest that the Attorney General for Ireland should communicate with the Commissioners in Dublin, and ascertain the general feeling as to whether the general public could be best supplied with information through The General Advertiser or through any other newspapers. He hoped the Government would not let the matter rest where it was, but that they would communicate with the Commissioners to see whether some arrangement more satisfactory than the present could not be adopted.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. W. M. JOHNSON)
said, that the question of advertising rested solely with the Commissioners; but he would take care that what had taken place in the House would be brought before them. They would be made ac- 704 quainted with the strong feeling which had been expressed by hon. Members.
§ MR. GRAY
said, he hoped his hon. Friend would not persevere with his Motion to divide the House for the reason that it might make people believe that he was fighting in the interest of particular journals, and that, he (Mr. Gray) was sure, was not what the hon. Gentleman wished to do. The noble Lord (Lord Frederick Cavendish), who was in his place, was aware that, so far as the Treasury were concerned, Government advertisements were given for political reasons. There was a list of newspapers to which the advertisements were to be sent drawn up, and this list was altered without hesitation; in fact, the whole thing was a matter of political corruption. He trusted the noble Lord would give attention to the matter, for at present the system adopted seemed very much like the misappropriation of public money. He (Mr. Gray) wished to know whether the Government would take measures to get the statements made in the Courts at the first sittings by the Land Commissioners printed and circulated amongst hon. Members? The statements, or judgments, had been published—not officially; but semi-officially, because they had been sent out by the official reporters to the Court. A difficulty had been raised in the way of placing important judgments of the Land Commissioners on the Table of the House. It was said that there was no copy of them kept by the Commissioners; but that difficulty could be easily got over if the Government wished to get over it. Very nearly every Irish newspaper had given verbatim reports of the judgments; and if these judgments themselves could not be procured the Government might print and circulate the reports.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, he could not see why the Government should cut a report from a newspaper, print, and circulate it. They could not pledge themselves to the accuracy of such things, because those hon. Members who were interested in the matter would probably have read the accounts of the judgments which appeared in the newspapers. It would be establishing an extraordinary precedent if they were to lay on the Table of the House an extract from a newspaper for the correctness of which they could not vouch.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, he understood the hon. Member to say he had seen the report of the judgments in the newspapers. No doubt, other hon. Members who were interested in the matter had done the same. With regard to Mr. Bomford, to whom the hon. Member for Cavan (Mr. Biggar) had referred, he thought the hon. Member was mistaken, and that Mr. Bomford really had no connection with the county named. He (Mr. Forster) was anxious, and the Commissioners were also anxious, that no Sub-Commissioner should be employed in a county in which he was in any way interested. He hoped this anxiety would operate in the minds of the Commissioners when they proceeded to re-cast the districts.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, his sole desire in making the Motion was to secure that the public money spent in advertisements should not be thrown away. The fullness and cordiality of the explanation which had been given by the Government gave him the hope that their assurance was something more than formal; therefore, he begged to withdraw the Motion.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. LEA
said, he would give Notice that he would, on another occasion, take the liberty of doing what he had intended doing to-night—namely, show that the statement made last night by the hon. Member for the City of Londonderry (Mr. Lewis) with regard to one of the Sub-Commissioners, Mr. M. Cunningham, was founded on an inaccuracy.
§ MR. BYRNE
said, he wished to enter his protest against the manner in which these advertisements had been given away. He did not think there was much English money lent on land in Ireland, although there was a good deal lent to Corporations; still he did not object to the advertisements being given to The Times. He did not object to their going to The Scotsman, because there was, no doubt, a great deal of Scotch money lent on Irish land; but he did object to these advertisements being given to the Dublin General Advertiser, which was not a newspaper at all, and did not con- 706 tain a single line of news. The General Advertiser was never used by people advertising goods, nobody ever bought it, and it was scarcely ever read. With regard to Land Court procedure, he should like to ask the Attorney General for Ireland whether the acreage was taken from the Ordnance, which had all the roads in a county in it? He wished to know whether the farmers were charged for half the roads of the counties?
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ Resolution agreed to.