§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ COLONEL NOLAN,
in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, said, he wished to explain that it was one proposing to afford facilities for the sale of sites by owners, for the erection of churches, clergymen and teachers' residences, and other like purposes of the character it indicated. The Bill was one which he felt confident would obtain the approval of the whole House. It was not confined to the voluntary sale of land by owners; but, in certain cases, it would give a compulsory power for the acquisition of these sites. However, with regard to the Compulsory Clause of the Bill, he had endeavoured, as much as possible, to adopt means which would prevent it causing inconvenience to landowners and others affected by it. He might also mention that he had consulted with a Conservative Member who had suggested some alterations in the Bill, all of which had been accepted by him. The Bill had been conceived and framed in a spirit of fairness; and he might mention that, if any of the hon. Gentlemen sitting on the Conservative Benches wished to insert any further safeguards to the rights of the owners, he should be happy to receive them, as he was desirous of purchasing their consent by any amount of con- 405 cession possible in that respect. There were two or three causes which rendered the introduction of this Bill necessary in Ireland, which he would briefly enumerate. In the present state of the country, there were three causes which prevented sites being given for the purposes mentioned in the Bill in Ireland. The first was the way in which the land was tied up in Ireland. That was one of the reasons why it was so difficult for owners to dispose of their land. He quite allowed that landowners in England laboured under similar disadvantages; but these constituted much more serious difficulties in Ireland than in the former country. The second cause was the prevalence amongst some owners of the remnants of feudal ideas. The third was the religious difficulty. He did not consider that, at present, religious intolerance prevailed with or influenced the great majority of landowners in Ireland; but it unquestionably did with some, and there was a minority who were still affected by it. There were still a number of owners of property, who thought that, by the Law of Property, no one should have any claim whatever to the land—not even to a plot of ground which would be required for such a necessary purpose. However, the real and main difficulty was the law regulating the sale of land in Ireland, and also the arrangement under which these sales had to be completed. He was aware that the same difficulty was experienced in England, and it might be asked why it did not produce the same result as in Ireland? That was an argument to which he would reply, by saying that it was always easier to get over difficulties of that kind in a country which governed itself. A bad law, moreover, always worked worse in a country like Ireland, which was under external rule, than it would in a country enjoying such advantages as England. There had, he said, always been large endowments for schools in England, and Education had flourished; but Education was prohibited in Ireland, and it was penal to encourage it until very lately. The means of Education in Ireland had really only existed for the last 30 or 40 years, and there had not been time to obtain these sites. People might think that it was very easy for the landowners to sell a couple of acres of land. If he was able to do it, certainly, it 406 would be of great advantage; but it would give a very great deal of trouble to sell two or three acres out of 10,000 or 12,000. The landlord might be afraid of a question of title being raised; he might have to consult two or three different sets of mortgagees, and one or two ladies with jointures on the property. The object of the Bill was to make sales of land for sites as cheap and easy to the landlord as possible, such transactions being at present very troublesome and costly. In the market town near which he (Colonel Nolan) lived, the Poor Law Board of which he happened to be Chairman, had bought a site of three or four acres of land, and for it they paid £350. Well, what were the law costs? They were about £300. He maintained that the state of the law which made the acquisition of £350 worth of land cost £300 for law expenses, was a great scandal, which demanded immediate attention and remedy The Union to which he belonged might be able to pay it; but a poor Union could not afford to spend £300. He might say the costs would have been nearly the same, if they had only paid £250 for the land. It might be imagined, from what he had said, that they purchased this land compulsorily, and that they had an unwilling owner to deal with. On the contrary, the landlord had behaved extremely well to the place. It would, he considered, be of enormous advantage, if they could introduce some simplication of the law, which would make the purchase of land for special purposes more easy. People say—" Oh! wait, till we have a thorough system as to the sale of land." He (Colonel Nolan) believed nothing would help the landowners of Ireland more than a simple and inexpensive system for the sale of land; but they might have to wait a very long time till that took place. Landowners might object to the Bill, because it might throw too much land into the market at one time; but the small portion he proposed to affect by it could not possibly injuriously affect the price of land in the market. The Bill dealt first with providing sites for schools; but it was also intended to provide sites for churches. It was a disgrace and a scandal that half-a-dozen places should be kept out of church accommodation, from the difficulty and, indeed, impossibility of obtaining sites. This Bill, 407 with a very trifling amendment, would certainly supply great want in this direction, and it could be altered so as to include churches built on terminable leases. Then there was the case of houses for the clergy. There were a great number of cases in which clergymen could not obtain a proper site on which to build houses, the reason for which was that the proprietor might impose such conditions as made it very expensive for the clergyman, or he might have to deal with four, five, or six small proprietors. This Bill was very modest in its proposals, and he had restricted it as far as possible. Referring to the question of schools, he could say that the schools in Ireland were in an extremely bad state. There had been a very bad distribution of the schools throughout the country, and it had evidently been settled by questions other than the density of the population. If they asked the clergyman or manager, why was not the school in greater proximity to the population, the reply generally was, that there were difficulties about getting a site, that they had to go where there was a site, and very fortunate they thought themselves in getting one where they had it. In consequence of the choice of sites for schools being so limited, the State was wasting one-tenth of the money they spent on education. The children had often to go miles to school; and, although, in fine weather, it might not matter if they had to go an extra couple of miles, yet, in bad weather, it was a very serious thing. Their shoes were, perhaps, not quite suited for the weather, and they did not employ umbrellas. The result was that they often caught very severe colds. But that might be largely prevented if they had not to go an unnecessary distance to school. He did not wish to rest his case altogether on his own assertions, although he had often seen the want of proper sites for schools, and for residences for the clergy. He would read an extract from a letter from the Archbishop of Tuam, in which he said—There is a widespread feeling of dissatisfaction at the impossibility of procuring sites for churches and schools where they are so much needed.He had also seen letters from other Bishops. The Bishop of Down wrote to say that he had made an arrangement to buy an, acre and 12 perches of land at 408 £18 a-year, and after he had made this arrangement the agent asked him for what purpose he wanted the land. The Bishop replied that it was for a church. The land was then refused, although the proprietor formerly was willing to give it. In another case, in the same diocese, another site was refused. The Archbishop of Cashel said he could not imagine a more useful Act; but he was an ecclesiastic who had spent some of his time in the Colonies, and he pointed out that it prevailed in the Colonies. One part of his letter had a melancholy kind of amusement about it. He said he thought the Bill could have been drawn up in one page, because it was only a page long in the Colonies. He seemed to forget the difference in the land system in the Colonies. He (Colonel Nolan) only hoped our land system was something like that in the Colonies; and if they had free sale of land in Ireland, he believed the Land Question would settle itself. Another Bishop had said of the Bill that there was no more crying necessity than there was for it. He could not get a spot on which to build a school, and he had been obliged to build new schools in churchyards. He (Colonel Nolan) did not suppose there was anything necessarily unhealthy in building schools in churchyards; but, still, his own idea was that it was not a place for building a school.
§ COLONEL KING-HARMAN
asked the hon. and gallant Member if, by churchyard, the Bishop meant graveyard?
§ COLONEL NOLAN
said, he really could not say; but, in any case, a churchyard could not be the best place for a school. The same Bishop wrote that some of the landlords would, not give a spot, even of the most worthless land, and others only on the condition that the site was vested wholly in the Board; and he said that it would be a terrible calamity to Catholics in the North of Ireland, if a compulsory Education Bill was passed while this state of things lasted. His Lordship evidently feared that they might be driven into National schools, which were not managed in the manner that Catholic schools were, if a compulsory Education Act were passed before these sites were granted. Besides these letters from Bishops, he had a letter from Father Crealey, who had done a great deal of good in the coun- 409 ties of Galway, Mayo, and Connemara, in which he said that two sites for schools were refused in the parish of Moyrust, in Connemara; two more were refused by one landlord in the parish of Omagh; another by a landlord in the parish of Omagh; and in another parish two were refused. Since August last, in Mayo, he had been refused sites for schools by three different landlords. In every instance in Connemara, and, he believed, in some of the instances in Mayo, the land asked for was barren and rocky, and of no agricultural value. A great many clergymen in Ireland were also put to great shifts for want of small pieces of land for the erection of residences, schools, and school residences, and he maintained that a Bill which merely afforded facilities for the building of churches would not be complete. He only asked that each schoolmaster might be allowed three statute acres. At present, those persons had to spend a large part of their incomes on those necessaries of life which they could produce for themselves at great saving if they had this land. According to a pamphlet published by the Irish School Teachers, their Body numbered 7,429, and of these only 1,515, or 20 per cent, were provided with residences, leaving 80 per cent unprovided; and it was set forth that these figures compared very unfavourably with those for England and Scotland, although, the accommodation was not wanted nearly so much in those countries as in Ireland. But the National School Inspectors, as well as the teachers, had expressed views favourable to such legislation. In support of this statement, he (Colonel Nolan) would refer ton. Members to several letters which he had seen from National School Inspectors in Ireland, including those of Mr. Greer, Mr. M'Aulay, Mr. Eardley, and Mr. Keenan. These communications, written before the introduction of the present Bill, advocated the adoption of some such legislation as this now proposed, in regard to sites for schools, declaring that the wretched cabins in which the National School Teachers were obliged to reside in some districts of the country rendered study almost impossible; and that the absence of proper school residences rendered it necessary for some schoolmasters and schoolmistresses to walk as much as 12 miles a-day. The statements of the 410 Government School Inspectors, in fact, could not be more strongly in support of the Bill if they had been written to order. In what he proposed, he was not asking for an increase to the salaries of the National School Teachers, directly or indirectly, even by giving free residences—indeed, the teachers themselves, in the pamphlet, declared that they would be willing to pay for the sites by annual instalments. They would like to have free residences, and they thought they had a fair claim for increased salaries; but they, at the same time, regarded the question of sites quite apart from the question of increase of salaries. As to the machinery of the Bill, he was not wedded to his own proposal, save, perhaps, to that part affecting cheapness of Law costs. He should also have no objection to accepting the Board of Works as the executive authority in preference to the Local Government Board; and, if it were desired, would be agreeable to meeting Members who were not favourably disposed in the Smoking Room to settle the question. [Laughter.] Well, meetings of that kind had taken place with regard to other measures, if not in the Smoking Room, at any rate in the Conference Room—notably as regarded the Contagious Diseases (Animals) Bill in the last Parliament—and he should be disposed to welcome such a mode of settling any difference there might be as to machinery; or to send the Bill to a Select Committee for the purpose, if hon. Members preferred it. He should also be willing to modify the safeguards he had proposed in the Bill, or to meet Conservative Members halfway on any point, in order to secure the principle of the Bill and make it a working measure. Furthermore, he would point out to Irish Conservative landowners, that the object of the Bill was not to confiscate any part of their property, but that a fair price would be paid for the land compulsorily acquired. The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Leitrim County (Colonel Tottenham), who had given Notice of opposition to the measure, should remember that he had himself acquired land compulsorily. He had constructed a railway, acquiring land for the purpose from his neighbours; for though the line ran through his own property, it also went beyond it. That railway was a public benefit, no doubt, 411 as well as a benefit individually, to the hon. and gallant Member; but so would the granting of compulsory sites under this Bill be a benefit to the people of Ireland. He would, therefore, urge the hon. and gallant Member to agree to an extension of the principle recognized in his own railway scheme. It had been said that the Conservative Members themselves gave sites for school-houses, churches, and residences; but that was no argument against the Bill, for the reason that it was only the most popular Conservatives who were returned to Parliament. Those hon. Gentlemen were good landlords; but there were a large number of other landlords in Ireland who had no desire to get into Parliament, or who knew they had no chance of ever being returned, and who would refuse voluntarily to surrender sites, however convenient their property might be, for the purposes of education. At present, it was to the best-natured landlords the teachers and clergymen went for the facilities they desired; and, therefore, an extra burden was thrown upon those gentlemen, and this extra burden, would continue, from time to time, to be imposed until the State took the matter into its hands. He maintained that he had presented to the Government a very strong case for the granting of compulsory powers. He did not expect an absolute refusal from them in point of principle, for he did not think they could possibly get over the statements of their own Inspectors. Her Majesty's Ministers might say they were such a perfect Government that they had every possible remedy for every possible grievance in their portfolios, and that they would, at some future time, legislate on this subject. Such an answer would be as bad as unwillingness to do anything, for it would mean that they had so many Bills to past that one was bound to block the other, and that nothing would be done on any subject until action was rendered necessary by violent agitation. To his mind, the Government would be setting a very bad example if they refused to act until forced by agitation, though he was sorry to say that the history of the past few years showed that they never did do anything until they were forced by such agitation. There was no prospect of the Government being able to pass a Bill on the subject either that or 412 the next Session; and he hardly thought that, if the next Government chanced to be Conservative, there would be much hope of the matter being taken up by them. If the present Government would undertake to take up the measure, or to introduce a similar one, and pass it through this year, he should only be too delighted, and would himself abstain from proceeding any further with the present proposals. All he wanted them to assent to was the principle of the Bill. Its machinery he would leave to them, even were it such as he could not readily sympathize with.
§ MR. O'SULLIVAN
said, he rose to second the Motion with great pleasure, because he believed there were few Bills brought before the House which would be of more service than this. There was not a county in Ireland in which the want of such a measure was not deeply felt. In the county which he had the honour to represent (Limerick), although a rich county, many of the clergymen's and teachers' residences were a disgrace to a civilized nation. In one case which he knew, where the clergyman's residence was partly constructed out of an old police barrack, the clergyman had to come every morning to his church, a distance of over three miles, and the same returning. His residence, which was at the extreme end of the parish, was the only one he could get. He (Mr. O'Sullivan) did not wish to make a personal attack on anyone; but he must say that three very extensive landowners held all the land surrounding the church, and none of them would give the smallest portion of land for a residence for the clergyman. The tenants in several places around the church would give the required number of acres, but none of the landowners would consent. He was sorry to see that the Amendment to reject the Bill was put down by one of the largest landowners in that House. It was unfortunate for the landlord class that they would not learn, even at the last moment, that even when they saw their power was dying out, they still did things which made them objectionable in the eyes of the country. In another portion of his county, the clergyman, after waiting for years before he could get a place for his residence, was at last compelled to build a house in a very small churchyard not three times the size of the House of Commons. There 413 he had to make his garden and the stable for his horse, and all the necessary requirements. In another case, the clergyman had to take part of the old chapel, in order to make a school-house, because he could not get a site; and that occurred, too, in the rich county of Limerick. In the very same parish, there was no residence at present for either the male or the female teacher, and he had known the female teacher to walk every morning three miles to her duty. In another case, a male school, a female school, and a residence for the female teacher had to be built within the churchyard, which was scarcely 100 yards square, and yet the land surrounding the church was held by three large owners. The male teacher had to go two miles to a miserable residence. Then, in towns, a great many of the teachers had to go into lodgings, where they got a miserable room for which they had to pay largely. Both teachers and clergymen, in fact, were in a miserable way in the country for want of residences. He believed the Bill contained sufficient safeguards to protect the interests of the landlords; and, if it did not, in the opinion of the Government, the promoters would be glad to make any and as many alterations to meet their views as they pleased. Those who sought that legislation had no objection to pay the full value of land. All they wanted was that, where the landlords would not give voluntarily, they should be compelled to give it. It was true there was an Act giving power to purchase; but they could not purchase unless they had powers to compel both occupier and owner. They wanted nothing unreasonable or unfair, and they trusted the Government would not stand in the way of remedying a grievous injustice.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Colonel Nolan.)
§ MR. ARTHUR ARNOLD
said, the Bill showed they had not yet settled the Land Question of Ireland. His hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Nolan) had shown a great grievance to exist in Ireland which demanded the attention of the House. There was no evil in Ireland so great, even after all the reforms made by Parliament, as the limited ownership of the land. It existed to so 414 great an extent that, at that moment, one-third of the land was in the hands of fewer than 300 persons. Under such a condition of things, no doubt, there was great hardship in connection with the obtaining of sites for objects of public importance and utility; but his hon. and gallant Friend, when he asked the House to adopt the Bill, must bear in mind that, in reference to the principle of the measure, there was nothing in the particular circumstances of Ireland in which that country so greatly differed from England and Scotland, and English and Scotch Members who voted for it would not be committed to its principle in regard to their own countries. With reference to what had been said as to the acquisition of land for the purposes of schools, he was not able to go further with the hon. and gallant Member than to say that, for all purposes on which the nation were agreed, it was right and proper that power should be given for the compulsory acquisition of land. Parliament having agreed that education was a matter of primary national concern, for which the Government was bound to make provision, he (Mr. Arnold) quite agreed that if there was no power now existing in the Government of Ireland to take compulsory sites for the education of the people, such power ought to be vested in them. But was there no such power? He believed, at all events as far as England was concerned, there was unquestionably power for the Privy Council Office, in all the educational arrangements throughout the country, to acquire sites for the building of schools in any and every part of Great Britain compulsorily; and if the law of Ireland were not so comprehensive as that, he was disposed to say that the sooner it was amended the better. But his hon. and gallant Friend was not content with asking that that power should be vested in the Irish National Board of Education. His Bill went very much further, and asked that all recognized religious denominations in Ireland should have power to purchase land compulsorily. That, perhaps, would work very well in Ireland, where there were, certainly, only two or three religious denominations which were in great prominence; but in the United Kingdom there were 75. [Mr. WARTON: 160.] There were certainly not 415 fewer than 75 Christian sects in this country who, if this Bill applied to England as well as to Ireland, would have the power of making representations to the Local Government Board to obtain power for the compulsory acquisition of land. The Local Government Board would, if they made a restriction, have to say invidiously which of these sects should have the right of compulsory purchase. It would be impossible to sever the religious question from the decision which would have to be given. Though some hon. Members might not believe it, he was a stickler for rights of property. He had no desire to promote legislation at the expense of the rights of property; but he did desire to multiply owners of property so as to give a larger choice to would be purchasers, instead of depending on one or two great landlords. He would earnestly entreat hon. Members from Ireland, instead of bringing forward a measure like this, to use all their endeavours to promote the multiplication of ownerships in Ireland. An Act of the time of George III. had allowed one religious Body only to acquire land compulsorily. That had been the order of legislation which had prevailed in that House at one time, when there was an alien Church in Ireland, and when it was presumed that everyone was of one mind in religious matters. Now it would be absurd to propose such an Act as that, because it would be entirely against the sentiment of the people. The hon. and gallant Gentleman, in proposing the Bill, had made one observation, at least, that was sensible—that if they had a free system of land transfer there would be no difficulty in this matter. He fully agreed with that sentiment, and until they had Land Laws such as existed in Australia and other Colonies, this difficulty would undoubtedly occur. He sympathized with the difficulties which occasionally existed where the Roman Catholic community were brought face to face with Protestant landlords, who would not afford facilities for the erection of churches and schools; but he declined to vote for the measure. If the Bill had only referred to education, he would have heartily supported it.
§ COLONEL KING-HARMAN,
in rising to move that the Bill be read a second time that day six months said, in his opinion, there was very little argument 416 advanced in its favour, and, therefore, very little for him to answer. The hon. Gentleman who had just sat down (Mr. Arthur Arnold), and who had given them a lecture on various religions, and on political economy, about which he appeared to know something, had made a charge against the Protestant landlords of Ireland, that they placed themselves in direct opposition to their Roman Catholic brethren on the subject.
§ MR. ARTHUR ARNOLD
I did nothing of the sort. I said when such cases occurred, I sympathized with the Roman Catholics.
§ COLONEL KING-HARMAN
said, he was in the recollection of the House, and he thought the House would agree with him that the hon. Member did make that charge against the Protestant landlords of Ireland. In doing so, the hon. Member showed his absolute ignorance of the subject. The hon. and gallant Member for Galway County (Colonel Nolan), in moving the second reading of the Bill, appealed to the Conservatives as Conservatives, and the landlords as landlords, not to oppose it now. He (Colonel King-Harman) thought that the giving of power to three persons, to be called "Trustees," to seize any property they liked for these indefinite purposes, was as likely to injure the tenant farmers as it was to injure the landlords, and, perhaps, more; because, whereas the landlord would got compensation, the tenant farmer would be turned out of the land without compensation, which would mean, according to hon. Members below the Gangway, a sentence of death.
§ COLONEL KING-HARMAN
said, the Prime Minister used the expression, and it was often cheered and endorsed by hon. Members below the Gangway. Now, his objection to the Bill was that it was absolutely unnecessary, and would be used for the purpose of annoyance and little else. In his own experience, the difficulties of obtaining land for the purposes in question seldom occurred, and were by no means so great as had been alleged. It had been said that the landlords could not part with their laud. There might be a difficulty in selling it; but there was no difficulty under the present system in letting a plot of ground sufficient either for a place of worship or a school on what 417 amounted practically to a perpetuity. When any difficulty did arise, it, was because the landlord objected to the site selected, but was ready to give another. In the counties with which he was connected there was no difficulty found, and he was always ready to give such sites. Indeed, one of the things most remarkable about Ireland was the large number of handsome Roman Catholic churches that were to be found everywhere throughout the country; for even in times of poverty and distress the people were ready to build churches of a high order. One objection to the giving of sites which he had known to arise was that the tenant farmers did not like to have a church or school in their neighbourhood, on the ground of the damage that the children would do on their way to the school in trespassing after birds and other objects over adjoining grounds. Surely, gentlemen and farmers living in the neighbourhood had as much right to a voice in the matter as the persons who chose the site. He opposed the Bill because its principle was thoroughly vicious and radically wrong, and because its machinery was absurd and ridiculous. There were 40 religious denominations in Ireland, each of whom under the Bill would be entitled to take 12 acres wherever it liked. Any three persons, even persons who might not have anything to do with the parish or know anything about it, might come down and say—"You are very badly off here for a teacher's residence; we shall get you one;" and then these three persons were to become trustees, and the teacher was to be under their thumb. They would have power to go down and take 12 acres of land anywhere they liked for a teacher's and clergyman's residence, and a school and church; and if the Bill passed, people would probably find a church of one particular denomination in Ireland at one end of their land, and a Quaker's meeting-house at the other. Then the Bill could be used, as the Labourers' Act was now being used, simply as an instrument of intimidation and torture. [Laughter.] It was thoroughly well known that the Labourers' Act was now being used so as to put up labourers' houses on the lands of every loyal and respectable man that could be found in a Union; but he (Colonel King-Harman) had never found that the Land League 418 Guardians were as anxious to have such houses placed on their own lands. Whenever there was a man in the district who had voted against them or their Party, it was at once proposed to settle six or seven labourers on his holding. The Bill, if it were passed, would be used in the same way. It would be used for the purpose of terrorizing the tenants. Further than that, the safeguards which were contained in the Bill as to the trustees were absolutely illusory. What was going to be done after they had made the schools? Supposing that the school broke down altogether, what were they going to do with it? Were the trustees to put the money in their pockets? Yet they were to erect these buildings all over the country, and put them into the hands of three trustees, who were self-elected, and over whom there was no control. He also thought that the matter being referred to the Local Government Board was not a sufficient guarantee, as the Local Government Board in Ireland had shown itself to be a remarkably "squeezable" Body at the present moment, as he knew. It was said that this 12 acres of land would not be taken from inside demesnes; but that was all "clap-trap," for the farmer, who only owned from 15 to 20 acres, valued his plot of land quite as much as he (Colonel King-Harman) did his demesne. He supposed that the supporters of the Bill would not take the land from their own friends; but he had as much right to see that his friends would be protected, The Bill he believed to be one of the most absurd ever brought before the House, and was contrary to all precedent and common sense; and he did not see how any Government could support it. He therefore earnestly moved its rejection.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months." — (Colonel King-Harman.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ MR. WARTON
said, he had to complain that the hon. and gallant Member for the County of Dublin (Colonel King-Harman) had taken away almost all the arguments he (Mr. Warton) was about to advance against the Bill. However, 419 there were some of its provisions which had not been criticized, and to which he thought attention should be called, as to his mind they were most absurd. He was deeply grateful to the Irish Members when they brought forward a Bill; for, even although it might be absurd, there was always some fun called forth. He was amused by the reference of the hon. and gallant Member for the County of Dublin to trespassing schoolboys. It reminded him of the manner in which a high authority had described the office of the teacher—It is a gentle task to rear the tender mind, and teach the young idea how to shoot.He, therefore, on account of the poetic originality which was displayed by the Irish Members, was always inclined to forgive them—even for some of their schemes of plunder. He, however, must dissent from the manner in which they drafted their Bills. In the present case the Bill was so vaguely worded that it left in perfect uncertainty the amount of land that might be taken under its provisions. Beyond that, there were several other clauses in the Bill which, he argued, were not sufficiently explicit, a circumstance which, ha thought, was to be attributed to the fact that the hon. and gallant Member who introduced the Bill (Colonel Nolan) was not a lawyer. The effect of the Bill would be mischievous, and its whole object was malicious.
§ MR. GRAY
said, that the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down (Mr. Warton) was very fond of poetry. He (Mr. Gray) wondered had he ever heard of a celebrated poem entitled "Who Killed Cock Robin?" He wondered had the hon. and learned Gentleman ever heard the historic lines—Who saw him die?I, said the fly, with my little eye,I saw him die.The hon. and learned Member seemed to be possessed of "a little eye" of a most miscroscopic description. He had referred, in a very interesting manner, to the fact that the hon. and gallant Member who had introduced the Bill (Colonel Nolan) was no lawyer. Well, he (Mr. Gray) understood that the Bill had been drafted by a Queen's Counsel, who had probably had as much practical experience of law as the hon. and 420 learned Gentleman who had just sat down. The hon. and learned Member had criticized some of the smaller provisions of the Bill; but he had not attempted to show that there was not a necessity for such a Bill; in fact, he (Mr. Gray) thought he had not touched the main spirit of the Bill at all. His speech would have been more appropriate on the Committee stage. He had also listened to the reckless objections of the hon. and gallant Member for Dublin County (Colonel King-Harman), who appeared to be ready to back himself as a sort of "special prize bamboozler." Probably, however, the hon. and gallant Member knew well how to lay out his money in making bets in that character; but he (Mr. Gray) wished to remind the hon. and gallant -Member that most persons were inclined to be guided by "public form" when doing so; and, therefore, judging by the "public form" of the hon. and gallant Gentleman on the present occasion, he would not be inclined to back him as the special prize bamboozler which he had described himself. In his speech he had managed to discover a considerable amount of absurdity in the Bill—indeed, in the way he had criticized it, it was very absurd. The "idea of people building churches for the purpose of terrorizing landlords" had never been heard of before, most assuredly. [Colonel KING-HARMAN: I said terrorizing the tenants.] He would accept the correction of the hon. and gallant Member; but must say that the idea of building churches for terrorizing those for whose benefit they were erected was exceedingly comic indeed. He was sorry that the hon. and gallant Member had not considered the Bill in a somewhat more serious spirit. It was simply ridiculous to imagine that the churches would be erected with any idea of terrorizing over anyone. The hon. and gallant Member must be aware of the public sources from which the money would come, and must know that the ratepayers would supply the funds required. The money being obtained from private individuals, he (Mr. Gray) would ask the House, was it likely that it would be expended in any scheme for terrorizing over landlords or respectable tenants; but rather for the purpose of supplying a public want in the locality. The fact that the proposal would have 421 to be supported by the Guardians of the Union, and other persons in the district, when there was an intention to erect school - houses, teachers' residences, or manses in a district, ought to be a sufficient guarantee against all the imaginary and somewhat comic terrors which the hon. and gallant Gentleman had conjured up against the Bill. It was manifest that, when a school was proposed to be erected in a locality by public subscription, in order to supply a public want, it was the best possible guarantee that it would be preserved for the purpose for which it was erected. The very name of trustees would be sufficient to guarantee that the buildings would be preserved for their proper purpose, as would the trustees of a marriage settlement, for instance. The other criticisms of the hon. and gallant Member were not at all relevant to the Bill. He (Mr. Gray) ventured to say he could not quote a single Act of Parliament dealing with the acquisition of land in large tracts which contained the provisions which he seemed to think should be required in order to obtain a few acres. [Colonel KING-HARMAN: The Tramways and Public Companies Act.] If that Act did contain those provisions, it was quite an exceptional Act to all others. The hon. and gallant Member had not opposed the main principles of the Bill, but merely some trivial details, which could be better dealt with in Committee. The one and only question, as to whether, in Ireland, when the public of a certain locality were, owing to one circumstance or another, unable to procure land for the public purposes enumerated in the Bill, had not been considered by him at all. There was no doubt, he (Mr. Gray) believed, that that was the case in a number of instances; and, therefore, when it was required for public and useful purposes of that character, some provision should be made for the acquisition of land by Act of Parliament. The hon. and gallant Member had apparently a strong objection to Boards of Guardians; but he (Mr. Gray) would like to remind him that these bodies were already armed with far more power than was sought under this Bill under the Sanitary Acts; and there was no reason why there should not be some provision which would facilitate such useful works as the erection of places of public worship and places of 422 public instruction for children. He would not weary the House by giving any quotations in support of the case, but would merely direct their attention to a communication which he had received from a clergyman in the county he represented (Carlow), which he thought would make apparent to the House the necessity which existed for such an Act. Following the example of a previous speaker, he would not seek to introduce any bitterness into that debate by mentioning the name of the landlord. The letter stated that they had been repeatedly refused the site for a schoolhouse, and had been threatened by the Commissioners with a withdrawal of the teachers' salaries on account of the dilapidated condition of the house. The landlord, who was a dignitary of the Episcopalian Church, refused to grant the site. Would the hon. and gallant Member, who, he believed, showed a most liberal example upon his own estates in this respect, desire that such a state of things as was shown by this letter, and which was not exceptional, should be continued? If the hon. and gallant Member objected to any particular machinery, they were perfectly ready to introduce such safeguards as might be thought desirable; but he thought that the sanction of the Local Government Board was a thoroughly reliable safeguard. As regarded the principle of the Bill, he would ask, was it or was it not reasonable that, in a parish where a site for a church or school could not be found, owing to the hostility of the landowners in the neighbourhood—for they knew that a single landlord would be often the owner of a whole district—some provision should be made for complying with the requirements of the people in this respect? A great absentee landlord, who absolutely put his foot down and refused such facilities, practically controlled a whole parish, and could refuse all reasonable facilities for the education of the children or convenience of the public in his locality. He trusted that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland would see his way to having some of the provisions of the Bill adopted by the Government. They could, of course, then be simplified or improved as far as might be deemed desirable, for the hon. and gallant Gentleman who brought it forward (Colonel Nolan) was not wedded 423 to the machinery, and he would have no objection to alterations in points of detail. However that might be, there could be no reasonable objection to the principle of the Bill. Surely the time had come when the Government should do something in the matter to meet what was recognized as a public necessity, by giving some assurance that they would adopt a course which would give much satisfaction in Ireland, and remove a very just cause of complaint.
§ MR. P. MARTIN,
in supporting the second reading, said, it was remarkable that hon. Members who had opposed the Bill claimed credit for having, of their own accord, so far as they were individually concerned, given practical effect to the principle of the Bill. Their criticisms had been directed mainly to the manner in which the Bill had been drafted and the machinery provided. He would suggest it was contrary to precedent and most unfair to thus, on the second reading of a Bill, enter into the discussion of matters which were more proper to be considered in Committee. The only question now to be debated was as to the principle of the Bill—whether it was right or wrong—whether it was reasonable that facilities should be granted for the erection of schools and schoolhouses; and he contended that a strong case had been made out, showing the necessity of the Bill. In his opinion, it was absolutely necessary that compulsory powers should be granted for obtaining sites for places of worship and teachers' residences. Those sites had undoubtedly been refused in Ireland; and he believed that the hon. Member for Carlow (Mr. Gray) had left nothing unanswered in the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Dublin County (Colonel King-Harman). The Bill should, therefore, be allowed to pass the second reading, and any Amendments which it was desired should be made in it should be proposed in Committee. He (Mr. P. Martin) was surprised that the hon. and gallant Member should have thrown aspersions on the Local Government Board. If a dispute arose between parties in respect to a school site, there must be an impartial authority to settle the matter; and where could they have a more impartial authority than the Local Government Board, which was a Government institution? That the Bill was absolutely necessary was clearly proved by 424 the evidence brought before the House. The Reports of the Inspectors of Schools proved that it was required for educational purposes. He believed, under an Act recently passed for Scotland, powers similar to those sought for in the present Bill had been given. He could give several instances where there had been most wanton and unreasonable refusal on the part of owners in fee to grant sites for chapels. Not 20 miles from Dublin there was a very extensive estate owned by a Nobleman now dead, and every lease on that estate contained a covenant that the tenant should not give a site on his land for a church; and the consequence was that for years no Roman Catholic church could be erected, and Divine Service had to be carried on in a room, granted by a hotel-keeper for the purpose. He would remind the House, unless clearly shown that these sites were, in fact, required for the public good, and that the refusal was unreasonable, the compulsory powers could not be enforced. The Bill had been introduced by his hon. and gallant Friend in no sectarian spirit. The principle had been already sanctioned by the Legislature in Scotland and in this country. They already had the principle of compulsory purchase of sites applying to Board schools in England, and also the principle of compulsory purchase of sites for churches of the Established religion in England. Why not, therefore, apply the principle which obtained for the wealthy classes of England to the poorer Catholics and the poorer Dissenters of Ireland?
§ MR. TREVELYAN
said, that as no hon. Member on the Opposition side of the House rose to answer the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny (Mr. P. Martin), it might, perhaps, be convenient if he (Mr. Trevelyan) now stated to the House the views of the Government on the subject. The opinion of the Government was perfectly clear as to the course which they would propose to take. That opinion he would state clearly to the House, and he hoped to be able to commend it to the House also. The Bill contained a great deal that was new. In the first place, the process which it proposed to apply was new. It would apply to compulsory purchases, sections of the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act; but it would apply them under circumstances essentially 425 different from those in which they had been hitherto exercised. The Bill proposed that any persons three in number, with the assent of 100 ratepayers, might present a petition to the Local Government Board, asking for an Order to enable them compulsorily to take land for sites for churches and schools, and for teachers' and clergymen's residences. This petition was to be forwarded to the Board of Guardians, who were, however, only to be the channel of communication with the Local Government Board; and then came the important difference between the mode of proceeding tinder the Bill and that adopted in all Acts of Parliament previously passed dealing with cognate subjects. In all similar cases, at present, an Order made by a Body in the position of the Local Government Board for the compulsory purchase of land was a Provisional Order only. If, for example, the London School Board desired to take a site compulsorily, a Provisional Order only was granted; and if the compulsory taking of the site was opposed by any persons interested, the Provisional Order might assume the form of a Private Bill, when evidence could be taken and the rights of those interested could be ascertained. But, according to the Bill before the House, the Order would be absolute; and when once the Local Government Board had made that Order all persons concerned would have to abide by it. That would be quite a new system of procedure, and the objects to which it would be applied were also new, and that was a very grave matter indeed. Some hon. Members—the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny, and the hon. Member for Carlow (Mr. Gray), for instance—said that a Bill like the present ought to be met at the stage of second reading by acceptance or resistance to its principle, and that the only question to be decided that afternoon was whether the principle of the measure was right or wrong. Now, he (Mr. Trevelyan) should say that he thought these hon. Members were carrying that principle much too far. Wednesday was too often used as if it were Tuesday or Friday, and Bills were brought forward which the House should not accept, and hon. Members voted for them, merely because there was something in the principle of those measures which they approved. Now, there was something 426 in the principle of the present Bill which the Government approved, and with regard to which they would give a practical sign of their approbation; but he thought the Government, if, because they approved of a certain part of the Bill, voted for a principle which they considered utterly unlike that which they should apply, would be establishing a very serious precedent. Their approbation, therefore, would not go far enough to justify them in voting for the second reading. He regretted very much, and thought it very unfortunate, that on Wednesdays Bills of this important character were discussed before such a small section of the Honse. The result was that last year they passed unanimously on a Wednesday a measure into which such alterations were introduced by the Government that it partook of the character of a Government Bill—he meant the Labourers' Bill. Now, that Bill was brought forward and agreed to, in what appeared at the time to be a perfectly unanimous House; and when an assurance was given in consequence by the Government that they would carry it into law, a great number of Members came to them, and appealed to them not to carry out their promises, on the ground that it would be a very serious step to take to establish the new principles embodied in the measure in question. Instead of acting in that manner, Members ought to attend and discuss the second reading of Bills like this, so that the Government might hear their views. Then the Government would know what to take and what to reject, and then a Bill relating to Ireland, accepted with apparent unanimity, or almost unanimity, in what constituted the House of Commons at the moment, might be quoted as a precedent for other measures. Now, what were the objects to which compulsory purchase was to be applied under the Bill? That was the question for consideration, and, as he thought, by far the most important part was that relating to the compulsory purchase of sites for schools. However, he was not at all satisfied with that part of the Bill which related to schools, because, as far as he could gather, the Bill would allow private schools and schools established by religious denominations and not brought under Government inspection to be erected on sites compulsorily purchased. The hon. and 427 gallant Member opposite (Colonel Nolan), in bringing forward the Bill, had made the most interesting speech he (Mr. Trevelyan) had ever heard him deliver, and he had heard him deliver very interesting speeches. He had brought forward a large body of evidence to show the necessity of the measure. The hon. and gallant Member for Dublin County (Colonel King-Harman), who moved its rejection, strong in the consciousness of what he had himself done to help forward education, said there was no difficulty in obtaining sites for schools. Now, that was not the view of the Government as regarded the question. In the opinion of the Government this was a very great and a very crying grievance. The statistics on the subject which he had before him were almost unanswerable, and the complaints respecting it were not in any way exaggerated. Out of 7,302 schools, 1,704 were without out-offices. The Commissioners of National Education had a strong objection to allowing schools to be erected on sites used for strictly religious purposes; and yet in 340 cases the Commissioners had to erect schools on such sites, because they could not obtain sites elsewhere. At present, in the cases of 107 new schools which the Commissioners considered were absolutely required, the promoters of them could not obtain sites; and in 86 of these cases the deadlock was in consequence of the refusal of the landlords to provide the land; and in 21 because of the refusal of the tenants in occupation of the land. Again, in the cases of 246 schools managers found great difficulty in obtaining the suitable sites for the rebuilding and enlargement of schools which were in an imperfect condition. Innumerable instances could be cited from the Reports of the Inspectors to show how impossible it was to obtain sites. In one district every landlord applied to refused to grant a site; in another, where a school had been built, the only title to the site was the goodwill of the tenant; in a third, the tenants would not give up a single foot of ground for school sites, and so on. With regard to this matter the Government had fully made up their minds. In England sites for board schools could be obtained compulsorily, and the Government were prepared to apply to Ireland the same principle 428 which had been adopted in the case of board schools in this country. They were convinced that the necessity was as great as the average necessity in England, and perhaps very much greater than the average existing in England. Scotland was still without powers of this sort; but there were circumstances there which rendered those powers unnecessary. If the Bill stopped at schools, they would have no doubt whatever in accepting it, altering it in Committee. His objections to the Bill on the part of the Government were with regard to the proposal to make compulsory the purchase of land for clergymen's and teachers' residences. The Bill proposed that sites for residences might be purchased for clergymen with five acres of land attached, and for schoolmasters with three acres of land attached. That was an innovation of the gravest sort, to which the Government were quite unable to agree; and he supposed that that was the first occasion in which a proposal to purchase ground compulsorily for the occupation of persons in some private capacity had ever been made in Parliament. He thought hon. Members must take into consideration what an immense vista they opened up. What was there that made it desirable or convenient that a clergyman should be allowed compulsorily to acquire a residence? Why should a clergyman have the privilege of acquiring five acres of land any more than a Member of that House or any other man? Just think what five acres of land was. [Mr. W. E. FORSTER: Hear, hear!] He should suppose that in England there were not fewer than 50,000 persons who would, in some shape or other, come within the category of ministers of religion; and let the House reflect upon the privilege they would be conferring on that body of individuals by allowing each to put in a claim to purchase five acres of land wherever they could persuade the Local Government Board to allow it. It was argued that clergymen were, in some sense, public servants. Even if that were allowed, there were many other people who were likewise public servants. There were tax collectors, and other people engaged in the local government of the country, who were at least as much public servants as clergymen, and who were quite entitled to as much consideration; and if they 429 went into the necessity for the existence of a clergyman in a particular place— he was not going into the question as to the degrees of necessity, which no one would be able satisfactorily to deal with with any certainty—they would have to admit that a doctor was a very important person in a village, and quite as necessary as a clergyman. Then the lawyer also considered himself a very important person; and he (Mr. Trevelyan) could quite see the possibility of a landed proprietor in Ireland, who objected to the opinions of a certain class, refusing to allow an attorney, though the body of the people might trust him, to come within 10 or 12 or 15 miles of some particular centre of population. Hon. Members had spoken of the extreme importance of providing these small properties for clergymen and schoolmasters, on the ground that it would form such a substantial addition to their incomes. But those hon. Members could scarcely have realized what was the nature of the demand they were making upon the community for the benefit of two classes of individuals when they asked that, in a country were land was such a great source of comfort as it was in Ireland, these two sorts of men, taken out of the whole community, should be adjudged the privilege of taking compulsorily small farms for the purpose of increasing their incomes. But hon. Members had spoken with considerable point and effect about the difficulties and scandals that were thrown in the way of education through teachers being quite unable to get residences anywhere near their schools. He had already spoken about obtaining sites for schools. As to houses for teachers, he could only say that the debate of that day would afford matter for very serious reflection to the Government. ["Hear, hear!"] He did not want hon. Members to suppose, for a moment, that he endorsed the idea that teachers, in any case, should have anything like small farms allowed to them.; but he could quite conceive that, if it were a question of adding a residence, and a residence only, to a school in the case where the convenience or the economical advantage of the teachers had to be considered, but where it would be absolutely impossible otherwise to have the teachers housed in a way that would be 430 decent, or in some cases housed at all— he could quite conceive that the Government should consider the propriety of making such residence part of the school buildings; but he must, however, repeat that hon. Members must accept the declaration of the Government, that nothing in the shape of farming land, or land for cultivation, or anything based on the number of acres mentioned in the clauses of the Bill, could, for a moment, be allowed to the classes it was sought to benefit. With regard to the process by which the hon. and gallant Member for Galway wished to carry out his object, he did not agree either with the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny (Mr. P. Martin), or the hon. Member for Carlow County (Mr. Gray), that the machinery of the Local Government Board would be sufficient for making compulsory Orders. The hon. Member for Carlow County and the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny said the Local Government Board might be thoroughly trusted in this matter. He thought the Local Government Board might, for certain purposes, be trusted, and he would presently state what those purposes were; but he did not think it was, as the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny called it, the proper tribunal for deciding whether a school or a teacher's residence was wanted. And as regarded the question of whether a clergyman or minister of religion should have a house, he could not conceive any Government Department that would be a good or proper tribunal; but as regarded the question whether a school or a teacher's residence was wanted, there was only one tribunal that could possibly pronounce a good and valuable opinion upon it, and that was the Board of National Education in Ireland. An absolutely necessary preliminary to any system for granting compulsory sites for schools and teachers' residences was that an application for the compulsory Order should have to pass through the Commissioners of National Education, and they should scrutinize it most carefully, as he was sure they would scrutinize it, both in the interests of local education and next in the interest of public economy. When the Commissioners of National Education had, under this hypothetical scheme for erecting schools and residences on compulsory sites, de- 431 termined that such a school ought to be erected, then the Local Government Board was by far the best tribunal for determining all the questions of place and of the convenience of those whose land it was proposed to take. They had a staff of Inspectors who were accustomed to hold inquiries in reference to the taking of land under the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act for various purposes, for waterworks, burial grounds, and under the Labourers Act, which came most nearly within the class analogous to the cases referred to in the Bill. He did not agree with the hon. and gallant Member for Dublin. County (Colonel King-Harman), whose speech he listened to with very great interest, and with which in some respects he heartily agreed—he did not think that the hon. and gallant Gentleman was quite justified in his sweeping charges against the working of the Labourers' Act, that there certainly had been some most improper applications under that Act, and some that he could characterize as nothing else than absurdities, and in one case as insanity.
§ COLONEL KING-HARMAN
said, he did not make a sweeping charge. He did not comment on particular cases.
said, he understood the hon. and gallant Member to refer to particular cases of a very serious class, indeed, of improper applications; but he (Mr. Trevelyan) had not yet heard any complaints, neither had he any apprehension that the Local Government Board would not be a perfect guarantee against any cases of injustice under the Act, and, above all, against cases of the Act being put in force for purposes of strife. The hon. and gallant Member approved of the Bill, before it became an Act, on the second reading, on the ground he (Mr. Trevelyan) said that he trusted the Local Government Board; and he earnestly hoped that the hon. and gallant Gentleman would acknowledge in the course of one or two years that that trust had not been displaced. If he should have reason not to make that acknowledgment, all he (Mr. Trevelyan) could say was that the Irish Government would have laid themselves open to about as serious an imputation as could possibly be brought against any Government in the world. The state of things then with regard to the Bill was this—the Bill contained in it provisions 432 which a Government could not possibly endorse in a second reading. To give a second reading to a Bill proposing to give residences and small farms to ministers of religion, however glad the Government would be to see them obtain these advantages by other means, was what would, he thought, lay them open to very great inconvenience. He did not want to make any vague promises to the hon. and gallant Member for Galway (Colonel Nolan). He was a veteran in the House, and no one knew the condition of the Business of the House better than the hon. and gallant Member; and he (Mr. Trevelyan) was glad to say that it was better than it was this time last year. The condition of Business being what it was, gave him very great hopes indeed that the Government would be able to introduce a Bill, which he actually had in his pocket that moment in draft, and which would go very far indeed, and which would satisfy, he thought, what he might call all the legitimate aspirations of the hon. and gallant Member. Under these circumstances, he earnestly trusted that the House would not proceed to a Division upon the Bill. He would use every personal faculty that he had to try and get that Bill passed into law this Session; and though he was not going to make a public declaration as to the exact order in which it would come forward in the Irish Business, he might state that it would come forward as soon as they could possibly put it down after the Bill which stood first on the list of Irish Bills —that was to say, the Sale of Intoxicating Liquors on Sunday (Ireland) Bill.
§ MR. EUGENE COLLINS
said, the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland had made it a ground of opposition to the Bill that it would be an innovation to give powers to the Local Government Board in Ireland to make Orders, empowering persons to purchase lands compulsorily for purposes of this Act, without coming to Parliament for authority to do so, either by Bills or Provisional Orders; and he stated the fact that, in England, land for school board, and other such public purposes, could only be acquired under powers conferred by Provisional Orders. He (Mr. Eugene Collins) desired to direct the right hon. Gentleman's attention to Acts already in operation, under which much larger quantities of land 433 could be acquired, without coming to Parliament. He might mention the Irish Tramways Acts of 1860 and 1861; by those Acts, land could be compulsorily acquired for the purposes of tramway projects. The applications for that purpose were first brought before Presentment Sessions; then they were referred to the Grand Jury for approval; and, finally, brought before the Lord Lieutenant in Council, who could definitely sanction them without the necessity of coming to Parliament, unless serious opposition were offered. He would, therefore, suggest—and he had no doubt that the hon. and gallant Member for the County of Galway (Colonel Nolan) would comply with the suggestion—to introduce a clause in Committee, providing that the applications under the Bill should be similarly dealt with, so that there should be a final appeal to Parliament from the Order of the Local Government Board, in the case of opposition of a serious character being persisted in. With such an undertaking from his hon. and gallant Friend, perhaps the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland, on the part of the Government, would agree to allow the Bill to be read a second time.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said, he thought the debate was very disappointing indeed. The Bill was introduced by the hon. and gallant Member for the County of Galway (Colonel Nolan) in a speech which was as conciliatory and as temperate in tone as any speech that had been delivered in that House. In fact, if his hon. and gallant Friend made any mistake whatever, it was really in making admissions against his case. In the first place, he (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) must express his strong disappointment at the attitude taken by the hon. and gallant Member for the County of Dublin (Colonel King-Harman), who had the reputation—he did not know whether it was deserved or undeserved; but he assumed it to be so, and he believed it was so—of dealing upon the very points raised in the Bill with no stinted liberality whatever towards his fellow-countrymen; and how he could get up and oppose that being made compulsory by law on a very small minority of his fellow-landlords, which he himself voluntarily approved of, was a position which he did not understand. 434 He had lately visited that part of the country where the hon. and gallant Member resided, and he understood that among the friends of the hon. and gallant Member were many Catholic priests, who had supported him notwithstanding the unpopularity they incurred by so doing. Under those circumstances, he was surprised at the attitude he had taken up, and at his reluctance to allow this small measure of justice to be meted out to the Catholic priesthood. The action of the hon. and gallant Member showed the gratitude with which their support was regarded. The attitude of the Government also had been very disappointing to him. In fact, he was reminded of two very true sayings in regard to the attitude of the Government on this question. There was an old Latin saying that "those whom the Gods wished to destroy they first made mad;" and there was the well-known expression of Campbell that in the sunset of life a man about to depart from existence seems to get a more than usually clear appreciation of circumstances and facts." He did not know whether the Government was in a moribund condition or not; but he must say that he thought it displayed all the madness of persons about to be destroyed, the want of intelligence of those about to depart from existence. There had not been a single measure brought forward by the Irish Members which had not been confronted by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland with the most obstinate, and he must say the pedantic opposition. Last night the right hon. Gentleman assumed an exactly similar attitude with regard to the proposal to increase the remuneration of teachers in the Convent Schools. He congratulated the right hon. Gentleman in having secured for his Government a combination of the hatred of all the farmers, all the clergy, and all the nuns in Ireland. He wanted to know what the particular objections of the right hon. Gentleman were? He noted, with some satisfaction, the presence during the debate of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster), though he must say that he could not express his satisfaction at the attitude he had shown by his cheers on this question. The Bill proposed to deal with a grievance which, as Leader of the Dissenting Party in 435 this country, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford was constantly bringing before the English people—that was the refusal by the landlords belonging to one religious persuasion, whether from motives of mistake or religious sentiment, to give facilities for the erection of places of worship belonging to persons of another persuasion which they did not possess. That was a power they ought not to possess; and it was to protect the Catholics of Ireland against that mistaken view of the obligations of a landlord to insist upon his own creed alone to have a facility for the erection of a place of worship, at which the right hon. Gentleman, as chief champion of the Dissenters in England, so constantly protested, that this Bill was entered. From the cheers of the right hon. Gentleman, when the Chief Secretary for Ireland made some particular point which commended itself to his special admiration, the point in his speech which the right hon. Gentleman apparently thought was the strongest was the point in which he said—"Why should a Catholic priest get five acres of land any more than anybody else?" But did the right hon. Gentleman not know that the proposal of the Bill was not that a Catholic priest should get five acres of land for his own benefit as an individual; but that it should be given to the congregation of the priest, who, out of their own pockets, raised the money for the purpose of the erection of his chapel and his house? The proposal was, not that the land should be given to the priest as an individual, but that it should be given to him and all his successors enjoying the confidence of the congregation, and that this should be permitted to the congregation, in spite of the whims and caprices of the landlords. The object was simply to rescue the congregation from the despotism of a landlord who would not consent to sell on religious grounds. The hon. and gallant Member for the County of Dublin (Colonel King-Harman) spoke of this as an unexampled interference with the rights of property. The most land that could be taken under the Bill, for one of the purposes dealt with under it, was five acres; and the hon. and gallant Gentleman knew as well as any hon. Member that legislation had permitted railway companies to take 1,000 acres. The proposal of the Bill 436 was not that land should be taken for nothing; but that land should be taken at a fair valuation, settled under Government auspices. The second proposition was that the land should be taken for what were practically public purposes. They were unable, in many parts of Ireland, to get a site for the house of a clergyman, in the only place where a site was possible, owing to the caprice and despotism of the landlord. The purpose of the Bill was just. The uses to which the Bill should be applied were public uses. There was no interference with the just rights of property, and the Bill was urgently demanded by a serious grievance which pressed very hardly on a large portion of the people.
MR. LYULPH STANLEY,
in supporting the Bill, said, he did not think it was material to its case, whether they wished to have Catholic schools built or not. The objects of the Bill were, at any rate, innocent and harmless. When any section of the public were willing to club together, and found some object of sufficient interest to them to make it desirable, they should subscribe money and erect buildings for the purpose of carrying out these innocent and harmless objects—it might be by a church, or a school, or a social or political club, representing the common want or desire of a considerable aggregation of people —they ought not to be shut out from giving effect to their wishes by the accumulation of the soil in the hands of a few individuals. The refusal of such claims, whether made by Catholics or others, struck at the root of property in land far more than the Socialistic theories of Mr. George or anyone else. He supported the Bill on wider grounds than the desirability of erecting Catholic schools and chapels. Whatever might be the views of men, it was unreasonable that a local magnate should be able to say— "Your opinion should be extinguished, and I will extinguish it so far as I have power to do it." The Bill was a step in the right direction. It asserted that the State would step in on behalf of the mass of the people and enable them to get some advantage from the land on which they lived. As regarded the question whether the area of land to be taken was to be five acres, that was a question of detail unaffected by the principle of the Bill, which was all that was affected by the second reading.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
said, he would like to ask why it was that the Chief Secretary for Ireland drew a distinction between Catholic schools and churches? It might be that he recognized the utility of the school in Ireland, but could not recognize the utility of the Catholic Church in Ireland, even to a Catholic population. The right hon. Gentleman must be still under the influence of those views of Catholicity to which he gave expression in dealing with Catholics and Pagans in India, when he declared that the rites of Catholic Churches were as idolatrous, as degrading as any performance in the temples of Aboriginal Pagans. The right hon. Gentleman expressed his views now with a greater regard to appearances; but he (Mr. O'Donnell) could not see any reason, but the reason of unreasoning sectarianism, in the opposition of the Government. Its objects were of the greatest importance, and yet the Government proposed to veto a demand so moderate and so limited as that contained in its provisions. The reception given by the Government to this Bill also taught a wider lesson. It threw a strong light upon their attitude with regard to much larger questions of land reform; for if the Government would not permit or facilitate the acquisition of land for such public purposes as these on the fairest terms of purchase, how could Irish Members look forward with the slightest confidence to the fulfilment of certain electioneering declarations of theirs upon those questions? The omens visible on the Treasury Bench that day declared that if they put off attempts for the realization of their National aspirations till the Government helped them to a satisfactory settlement of the Land Question, even in the smallest degree, they should be putting off the agitation for the satisfaction of their National demands till the Greek Kalends at the very least, and they might be playing the game of Her Majesty's Government.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Lyulph Stanley) had taken a far juster view of this matter than the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Arthur Arnold). He (Mr. Sexton) was surprised that the latter Member should have fallen into the gross error of considering an Irish question from the state of opinion and facts in England, where land was in the hands of members of 438 various religious denominations, so that it was easy generally to find someone willing to sell. For the purposes of the Bill, it was only necessary to consider the case of the Roman Catholics, they being the vast majority of the three principal religious sects in Ireland—Catholics, Episcopalians, and Presbyterians. Out of the 5,000,000 of persons in Ireland, there were only 100,000 who did not belong to one or other of those three great communions. It was also perfectly notorious that the smaller communions of 100,000 souls were sufficiently provided with places of worship, and no such question as that apprehended by the hon. Member for Salford could possibly arise in Ireland. With regard to those three great communions, he did not believe any intelligent Member of any one of those three great Bodies in Ireland would have the least objection that the Local Government Board, in making inquiry under the Bill, should, as an element in that inquiry, consider whether, in the particular case, the congregation was so numerous as to have need of a place of worship erected under the Act. He was astonished that the hon. Member for Salford should have separated education from worship in this case. Freedom of worship was certainly quite as much a matter of State concern as education, and in the term "freedom of worship" he included the matter of facility for carrying on that worship, and if such facilities were denied there was practically an end to all freedom of worship. In that case a matter of public concern was interfered with, if chapels could not be built where they were required; and public interests were prejudiced, if schools could not be built where they were needed, and if teachers were compelled to weary themselves by walking miles between the schools and the houses they were compelled to occupy. The hon. and gallant Member for the County of Dublin (Colonel King-Harman) might have spared his eloquence, and the hon. and learned Member for Bridport (Mr. Warton) his wisdom, in the opposition they had given to the Bill, because they need not have been under any concern that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland would have shown any predilection for public feelings or interests. He (Mr. Sexton) had observed lately that whatever the demand made by Irish. Members might be, the 439 course of the right hon. Gentleman was always one and the same. The right hon. Gentleman admitted the grievance, but would do nothing to remedy it. Sometimes, even, he would go so far as to prove the case, and then, having wound in and out, he always concluded by declaring that no reform would proceed from him, and that he would take no steps as regarded it. It was new to him (Mr. Sexton) to learn that a Bill was to be condemned because it contained new proposals. That plea came with bad grace from the Minister of a Government which had carried the most novel measures of coercion that had ever been applied to Ireland. After paying very careful attention to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, he (Mr. Sexton) was reluctantly compelled to say that he could discover no principle whatever in it. The right hon. Gentleman declined to give what the people required, and offered them something which they did not want. He objected to give the Local Government Board power to order the compulsory sale, except in cases where there was no objection to the sale on the part of the landowner. The right hon. Gentleman did not seem to remember that, under any scheme of the nature which he had mentioned, it would be necessary to obtain the consent of Parliament. If the case for the schools was strong, the case for the school teachers was very much stronger. As to them, the right hon. Gentleman mentioned that he had before him 40 pages of Reports from Inspectors which were against the measure; but he seemed to have overlooked those which had been quoted by the hon. and gallant Member for Galway (Colonel Nolan), which contained extracts from the Reports of Inspectors in Ireland, who had stated that the teachers in Ireland were living in hovels many miles distant from their schools, and were, therefore, obliged to walk to and fro daily long distances, which exhausted their energies. They were also under the necessity of living in dwellings which exposed them to the contempt of the parents of their pupils. They, therefore, from these causes, sustained a loss of health and sacrifice of energy which left them without spirit, and in a condition of lassitude which prevented them from being able to discharge their duties adequately. He 440 thought it would be more consistent and more frank if the right hon. Gentleman had stated why he relied upon one set of Reports and rejected another equally trustworthy. It was true that an Act was passed some years ago, in 1875, to enable teachers' residences to be erected in suitable places; but there were 6,000 such teachers in Ireland, and up to the present the residences proposed to be provided under the provisions of the measure had only been erected at the rate of about 45 residences annually since 1875; so that, at that rate, it would take 150 years to procure accommodation for the Irish teachers under that arrangement. There was no difficulty as to funds, public money was available, and a house could be built for £200; in fact, a teacher could be accommodated with a suitable dwelling for the small sum of £5 a-year; but the body represented by the hon. and gallant Member for the County of Dublin, the landlords, obstinately refused to assign suitable sites for the purpose required. About the most amusing, and, at the same time, the weakest, passage in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman was that in which he referred to the claims of the clergy of Ireland. The fact was, he was not able to combat the evidence which had been advanced in favour of the Bill. He could not answer the claims which had been advanced by the eminent Bishop of the diocese of Loughrea, who had been for years vainly trying to get a suitable site for his church. For, although the people of that town had in other ways been very much, attended to by the Government, as when they were under the régime of Mr. Clifford Lloyd they seemed likely to be forced to allow the grass to grow in their streets, it was strange that their other wants should be so entirely neglected. The Chief Secretary for Ireland had spoken in a manner of the clergy in his speech, which had both amused and surprised many Members of the House. He had shown very little sympathy with their request; indeed, he (Mr. Sexton) considered that the proverbial incapacity of Englishmen to understand the wants of Ireland had been more than usually exhibited in the remarks he made. The right hon. Gentleman appeared to consider clergymen in the light of public servants. He (Mr. Sexton) did not know whether, in England, people were in the 441 habit of regarding the clergy as "public servants;" but all he could say was that, in Ireland, they were regarded in the light of public guides rather than public servants. He had placed them in the same category as public servants, taxpayers, and tax collectors.
§ MR. TREVELYAN
explained that he had carefully distinguished the two cases, and considered them separately. He distinctly stated that the clergyman was not a public servant, and in that respect differed from the schoolmaster.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, that if the right hon. Gentleman had not argued as he had stated, then there was no meaning in his words. It would be well for the priests in Ireland if they were on the same level with tax collectors. The Government were very scrupulous about laying hold of a piece of land for a site for a church, a school, or a teacher's residence; but they had very little scruple in regard to the obtaining of a site for a Coastguard station or a police barrack, each of which had a little plot of ground about it. The Government, also, were not so extremely chary about land in the Phœnix Park for the Viceregal Lodge, or for the residence of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland himself, or for the heterogeneous collection of gamekeepers, who absorbed large portions of the Park, which was supposed to be the property of the people. The people were, moreover, shut out from some of the most desirous parts of it by the grants which had been made in this way. He felt sure that when the speech of the right hon. Gentleman was read in Ireland, it would be regarded as the most extraordinary effort of Parliamentary ingenuity which they had had in recent times. It was unworthy of a Minister of the Crown, and would be for ever regarded in Ireland as a proof of the right hon. Gentleman's incapacity to understand the feelings of the people of the country. His language amounted to a doctrinaire argument, that it was something horrible to propose that 5,000 clergymen in Ireland should possess about a quarter as much of the land of the country as was held by the hon. and gallant Member for Dublin County, who opposed the second reading of the Bill. He could not help thinking that the land might be trusted with much more fearlessness to the clergy; for if the 442 landlord in Ireland had been proved to be a bad popular master, the priest had always proved to be a faithful popular guide. Therefore, it would be looked upon in Ireland as the most extraordinary speech which had been made by a Liberal Gentleman representing a Liberal Administration during the last quarter of the 19th century. The right hon. Gentleman would never fail to be remembered, even when he himself and his Administration had long passed away, as the Gentleman who had admitted the justice of every effort to remove a grievance from the people, but had never made an effort to remedy one. The comparison between clergymen and tax collectors, drawn by the right hon. Gentleman, would be regarded as an affront by the Roman Catholic clergy of Ireland and the majority of the people who worshipped in their churches.
§ MR. DILLWYN
said, he felt it his duty to support the second reading of the Bill, although in some respects he thought it went too far. Those points, however, might be altered in Committee; but he supported the Bill on the ground that, as regards the schools, the quantity of land required should be obtained for them, as it was of the utmost public importance that there should be facilities afforded for the education of the people. He also thought that, where a parish required a piece of ground for the erection of a place for religious worship, they should have an absolute right to do so.
§ MR. FINDLATER
said, that he was prepared to support the second reading of the Bill in its integrity, because such a measure was required in the present state of affairs in Ireland. He would, however, deprecate, in the strongest manner, the entirely unprovoked personal attack which had been made by the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) upon the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland. During the whole of the debate he (Mr. Findlater) had been in the House, and had listened with the closest attention to the observations made by the right hon. Gentleman; and he had not heard him utter a single word which could, by the greatest ingenuity, be tortured into an insult to Roman Catholic clergymen in Ireland. If he had done so, although he (Mr. Findlater) was a Protestant, he would 443 have resented it as strongly as any Roman Catholic Gentleman in the House. He (Mr. Findlater) supported the Bill, because he believed it to be a most useful one. It was possible it might require to be amended in Committee in order to carry out the objects of its introducer; but that had nothing to do with the principle. That a measure of the kind was required there could be no doubt. Why, in the county he (Mr. Findlater) represented (Monaghan) it was known to many that a nobleman, a proprietor of land, refused the Commissioners of National Education a site for a school; and they had to erect a wooden structure of a temporary character for the purpose. The correspondence which took place on the subject appeared in the papers, and was matter of public notoriety. The same territorial magnate recently—he (Mr. Findlater) supposed to prove his consistency, having had a quarrel with the Monaghan Town Commissioners, because they succeeded in upsetting an election of the old Tory Commissioners made by his agent—had already ejected them from the Town Hall, in which they held their meetings. In effect, he had practically ruined the town, because he would not grant facilities to the local body to make improvements. The sooner, he (Mr. Findlater) thought, there was some modification of the extreme right of the owners of land required for reasonable public purposes obtained, the better would it be for the community at large. Where it was required, power should be given to take it. He should, therefore, support the second reading of the Bill.
§ MR. PLUNKET
said, he thought that nothing could be fairer or more moderate than the way in which the hon. and gallant Gentleman who had introduced the Bill (Colonel Nolan) had stated his case; and he (Mr. Plunket) would admit that he thought that there was a great deal in it. It was, no doubt, a considerable misfortune in Ireland that there was such a want of provision for school teachers, and everyone ought to desire to see the deficiency removed. But when the hon. and gallant Gentleman went on to speak of applying the compulsory provisions of the measure to obtaining sites for churches generally where they were wanted, and proceeded still further to speak of acquiring sites to enable clergymen who were to offi- 444 ciate both as regarded schools and churches, he (Mr. Plunket) thought there might arise great injustice and inconvenience to landowners. On that point he could not, therefore, hold with him as regarded the Bill. He could not see why a clergyman should be given a compulsory share of the land of somebody else. It had certainly been stated that there were not sufficient facilities for conveying land for these purposes; and, for his own part, he would heartily rejoice if such facilities could be increased, as he thought that their absence was a great disadvantage to the country. With regard to what had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland, he (Mr. Plunket) entirely concurred with him in his objections to the machinery of this Bill; and he would add that in Ireland the danger of injustice to the landowner under such a measure would be far greater than in England, since in Ireland any amount of evidence against the landowner could be brought forward of people who, no doubt, thought that they were stating the truth. As regarded the scheme shadowed forth by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland, for the Government giving greater facilities for the erection of schoolhouses on a plan similar to that adopted in England, speaking as well as he could from the information he (Mr. Plunket) possessed, he could not see any objection. Of course, a great deal must depend upon the machinery, which at present appeared somewhat faulty; but, so far as he could see, he was inclined to accept and concur with it. He would remind the House that, in 1879, a Bill was brought in by the hon. and learned Gentleman the present Solicitor General, seeking to give similar powers with regard to sites for churches as those contained in the present Bill; but the measure of 1879 was opposed by the Liberals because of its compulsory character, and came to nothing. The ground upon which he objected to the Bill was not hostility to the main object —namely, that there should be proper sites for churches and schools and schoolmasters' residences. What he objected to was, that it was now proposed to adopt a system of giving some vague powers for public undertakings of this kind, and conferring more compulsory powers I against the existing rights both of occu- 445 piers and owners of land. All that involved a principle which, had never yet been adopted by the House, and therefore he must oppose the Bill.
§ COLONEL NOLAN,
in reply, said, that he most heartily thanked the hon. Member for Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn) for the support he had given to the Bill. He could only say further that, in Committee on the Bill, the Irish Party would be quite ready to accept any Amendment that might be considered necessary. He could not agree to withdraw the Bill, notwithstanding that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland had promised to deal with the case of the teachers.
said, that he rose merely for the purpose of repudiating the attack—the unwarrantable attack— which had been made on Irish landlords by the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton). As far as the County Fermanagh was concerned—and he (Mr. Archdale) knew the county well — the landlords acted most generously, and were always ready to give sites not only for schools, but for teachers' residences. He could also assure the House that those gentlemen, and himself included, not only took the very greatest interest in the educational establishments of the county, but many of them were school managers as well. He himself was a manager of two schools, and he had given residences to both of them. He quite agreed with the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland, dealing with the sites for schools, and would support it when brought forward. As regarded the Bill under notice, he quite agreed with its principle; but he was bound to oppose it on account of its clauses. Some very dangerous courses of procedure were contained in them, and he should therefore give his vote against the Bill.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided: —Ayes 77; Noes 122: Majority 45.—(Div. List, No. 68.)
§ Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
§ Second Reading put off for six months.