§ MR. TOTTENHAM
asked the First Lord of the Treasury. If his attention has been drawn to the report of a speech by one of the Junior Lords (the honourable Member for Leeds), at Acton, on 4th instant, when he is reported to have said that—He thought the Government would he prepared, as soon as they could find time, to take up the subject, and try and amend the Irish Land Act;and, whether the sentiments therein contained express the policy of the Government?
§ MR. BRODRICK
asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Whether his attention has been called to the statement made by the Junior Lord of the Treasury in a speech delivered at Acton on Wednesday last—It must he remembered that the Land Act was not perfect, owing to concessions de manded by the Tories, and the Government were anxious to amend those defects; but they were aware of and deterred by the knowledge of the opposition which such measures would have provoked from the Tories, and the pro- 795 tracted discussions which would have come from the Irish Members. He thought the Government would he prepared, as soon as they could find time, to take up that subject and try and amend the Act;"'whether the Junior Lord of the Treasury was authorised to announce an early re-opening of the Irish Land Question by the Government; and, whether Her Majesty's Government still adhere to the policy announced by the First Lord of the Treasury in March, that—We think it an essential part of our duty to make it clearly understood that we can give no encouragement, either on the ground of crime or on any other ground, for entertaining hopes of the disturbance of the provisions of the Land Act contained in this Bill.…. It would be a violation of our duty were we now to give encouragement to a demand for new sacrifices which we do not think in the main justice requires?
Sir, the hon. Member has judiciously in his Question mentioned "the report" of the speech; but he has not committed himself to the opinion that the report is necessarily an accurate one. The only report I have seen of the speech was not so much a report as an account—an extremely succinct account—which it was impossible to accept as an accurate report. I have made inquiry of the hon. Member for Leeds (Mr. Herbert Gladstone), and, as far as I can gather, the position taken up by him was precisely that which has been taken on several occasions by the Government, and it is to this effect:—I stated, as clearly as I could, and very minutely, in a speech at the early part of last year, and again, though less minutely, in a speech this year, that there were certain points in the Irish Land Act with respect to which the Government had always considered it was desirable for the House again to open. These were the date of the judicial rents, and certain particulars as to leases. The third point has been re-opened by the House itself on the urgent representations of hon. Gentlemen opposite, and I am not at all sure that it was wise for the House to commit itself by an abstract promise of that kind. But that has been done. It was in reference to points of this class that the hon. Member for Leeds expressed a hope that the Government would be prepared, as soon as they could find time, to take up the subject and try to amend the Act. The 796 quotation which the hon. Member for Surrey (Mr. Brodrick) has made from the speech refers to alterations in the Act of a totally different character—alterations which we regard as being of a fundamental character; and with respect to these no engagements or opinion at all was expressed by the hon. Member for Leeds.
§ MR. BRODRICK
Might I ask the Prime Minister whether the Junior Lord of the Treasury was authorized to make any announcement on the subject?
the hon. Member for Leeds is not the Junior Lord of the Treasury any more than any other Lord; but any Lord of the Treasury is perfectly in his right in announcing what the Government and the Prime Minister have already repeatedly announced.