§ MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W., and Sligo, S.)
It cannot be denied, I think, that the Government, with, regard to this Amendment, as well as in a general sense, occupies at this moment a position of great advantage; for whilst they enjoy the dignity and the emoluments of the Government, they are relieved, by the energy of casual allies on the other side of the Table, from the trouble either of framing a policy in the Cabinet, or of defending it in detail. I have to note, at the outset, the absence of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain), who has afforded, I think, to the House and the country a questionable example of British pluck by making his case and showing his confidence in it by running away from the reply. The right hon. Gentleman referred, last night, to the absence of the right hon. Gentleman the late Prime Minister (Mr. W. E. Gladstone); but I think, Sir, considering that the Tory Party have not only taken possession of the old establishment of the late Prime Minister, but placed a couple of bailiffs on the new premises, it is not wonderful that the right hon. Gentleman the late Prime Minister should have decided on a change of scene. I feel it necessary to explain that I am gravely misrepresented to-day in the Press, as having endeavoured to procure a restriction, from the view of Order, upon the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham in the course of his speech last night. In reality, my object, Sir, as you will remember, was to remove the restriction, if possible, and to allow the right hon. Gentleman the utmost scope for his argument. The more he said the better I liked it; for I regard the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham as a political misdoer, who only needs to be given sufficient material to execute the ends of public justice upon himself. The right hon Gentleman condemned the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) as being vague and inconclusive, and he did that in a speech the only reasonable conclusion of which was contrary to his action. But out of the same speech you 672 may draw half-a-dozen contending and conflicting conclusions, according to the passage to which, at the moment, your attention may be drawn. The Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Cork, so far from being vague and inconclusive, is definite and unmistakably clear. He says, in the first place, that he regards the prospect of the winter in Ireland with fear. There is nothing vague about fear. Fear, I think, is the strongest passion of human nature, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham is, perhaps, beginning to understand; for if the Amendment were adopted the Prime Minister would be compelled to withdraw or modify his policy, or else to resign Office. My hon. Friend the Member for Cork fears that, owing to the heavy fall in the price of agricultural produce, the greatest difficulty will be experienced in the coming winter by the Irish tenant farmers in the payment of their present rents, and that they will be unable to pay those rents. He further says that—Numerous evictions confiscating the rights vested in the tenants by the Land Act of 1881, causing wide-spread suffering, and endangering the maintenance of social order will be the result. That we deprecate any attempt to transfer the loss likely to arise due to inability to pay the present rents, from the owners of land to the tax-payers of Great Britain and Ireland, by any extension of State-assisted purchase on the basis of rents fixed when prices were higher than they now are.That is the Amendment, clear, definite, dealing with the declared policy of the Government, addressing itself to the present condition of affairs, and warning the Government and the House of an imminent risk that stands immediately before it. That is the Amendment which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham describes as an abstract proposition. He says it is not the practice of the House to entertain affirmations of that kind, unless they are prepared, at the same time, to recommend some remedy for the state of things which they fear. I say, at once, that is not a Constitutional proposition. It is the duty of private Members, who have to expound the grievances of the people, to expose the dangers to which they are exposed, and to suggest perhaps, if they can, a remedy. But if a case of grievance is proved, the responsibility rests where the power lies—with 673 those who hold the functions and exercise the resources of the Government. My hon. Friend was not bound to provide a remedy, though I may add that, in the course of his speech, I think he did provide a remedy, which, if adopted, would be found to be quite effectual for this purpose. It would be useless and improper, the right hon. Gentleman thinks, to make an addition of this kind to the Address, unless the House were determined to deal with the subject-matter, and supply a full, complete, and satisfactory remedy. But what would follow upon the adoption of this Amendment? If the second clause of this Amendment were adopted by the House, declaring that the British taxpayers must not be plundered to give a fancy price to the Irish landlords, the Prime Minister, as I before observed, would be compelled to withdraw, or, at least, to modify, his declared and admitted policy, or else to resign his Office. If the first clause of the Amendment were carried, declaring that the Irish tenant, from causes beyond his own control, is unable to meet his rent, the noble Lord the Leader of the House (Lord Randolph Churchill) would be compelled, upon the instant, to withdraw the incitements which he has addressed to the landlords of Ireland, and to substitute for a policy of force, a policy of remedial measures. How, then, can the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham call that an abstract proposition which, if it were adopted by the House, would compel the Government to retreat from their admitted policy upon the instant, or to resign their Office? There is no more practical, no more instant way of bringing the Government to task than that adopted by the Amendment of my hon. Friend, and right well the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham knows it. ["Hear, hear!"] Hon. Gentlemen opposite cheer, and, indeed, for that kind of intellectual stimulant the right hon. Member for West Birmingham yesterday had to depend upon the Opposition side. ["No, no!"] I hear the "baa" of the black sheep. Hon. Gentlemen cheer when the right hon. Gentleman declares that the Amendment of my hon. Friend puts forward an unnecessary affirmative and a gratuitous negative. Well, it used to be said in former years that the Party opposite were stupid; 674 and, certainly, they must have preserved their historical character in cheering that sentiment, for what is the meaning of saying that the Amendment declares an unnecessary affirmative? The right hon. Gentleman did not deny its truth; and I say, if it be true, it is not only necessary, but the declaration of it is urgent, and action upon it by the Government is imperative. What does he mean by saying that, in regard to Land Purchase, the Amendment affirms a gratuitous negative? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, like a true Radical of a certain type—a rare type I am glad to say—has such great consideration for an absent person who happens to be a Lord that he debars himself from referring, in the most delicate way, to the policy with which Great Britain has been ringing in the course of the past week. The country knows that the Government, by the highest authority, stands committed to a policy of Land Purchase which must plunder the British taxpayer; because it has been told, in the most unmistakable manner, that, even if the judicial rents are found to be too high, their sacredness is not to be invaded—the landlord is not to lose. The tenant will pay the landlord for the part of the judicial rent which is found not to be too high; and with regard to the part which is found to be too high, the landlord would be paid for it by the State. How can that be said to be a gratuitous negative which opposed itself to that which was publicly declared in the face of the entire country? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham also described the Amendment as an abstract proposition. Yes, it was abstract in the eyes of the right hon. Gentleman so far only as it referred to his old friend the British taxpayer, or to the poor Irish tenants; but it becomes concrete the moment it concerns the position of the Government. "I am not going," he said—To vote for any Amendment, the carrying of which would be equivalent to a Vote of Censure on the Government.That is a simple policy; and, from the point of view of the right hon. Gentleman, it greatly economizes the need of any argument. I do not see why he should not have confined himself to that one solitary sentence. Why should he not have risen at the Table and said— 675 "I am not going to vote for any Amendment, the carrying of which would be equivalent to a Vote of Censure upon the Government?" Of course, if he had followed that general declaration with arguments maintaining it, the speech would have been of some value; but, in this case, the declaration of support of the Government went in one direction, and the facts of admission, without exception, went all the other way. The first observation of the right hon. Gentleman upon that part of the Amendment of my hon. Friend, which deprecates the transfer of loss to the British taxpayer in respect of Land Purchase in Ireland, was that it was an anticipatory repudiation of a policy which found no expression whatever in the Queen's Speech. But what does the right hon. Gentleman find expression of in the Queen's Speech? If we were depending for information on the Queen's Speech our minds would be a virgin page. The noble Lord the Leader of the House, in regard to the Queen's Speech, appears to have adopted a novel and extraordinary policy—the policy of suppressing the intentions of the Government in the document intended by the Constitution to be the vehicle of their expression—in order, apparently, judging by his subsequent attempt in this House, to prevent the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) from discharging his Constitutional function by criticism in reply. But the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham declared not only that the Land Purchase policy, which is to throw the burden of excessive payment of rent upon the British taxpayer, was not contained in the Queen's Speech, but also that the existence of it is absolutely denied. If the Land Purchase policy is absolutely denied by Members of the Government, I challenge the noble Lord to say so. Will he confirm that statement of his ally in distress? Will he absolutely deny that a policy of Land Purchase for Ireland, transferring any loss to be incurred to the British taxpayer, is not to be the future policy of the Government? Really, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham and the noble Lord ought to have agreed more definitely upon this matter before they came down to the House. The country has been told that to revise the judicial rents would be dishonest; that it would 676 not only be dishonest, but extremely inexpedient; that it would not only be extremely inexpedient, but would put an end to all finality in agriculture, and would deprive Ireland of that period of calm and repose which is so necessary for the enjoyment of the blessings of Tory rule, which we all know to be an essential need. The noble Lord, himself an authority of the Government, second in rank, if he be not indeed, in his own estimation, the first, declared that the Land Act of 1881 was final. He declared, in the most solemn language, that it was a very valid and binding contract between the State, the landlords, and the tenants of Ireland. If that be so, how, then, are the judicial rents to touched until the expiration of the 15 years? And as the Prime Minister declared that there is no use in tinkering with the Irish Land Question, or doing anything except making an unlimited substitution of single for double ownership, and as the rents are too high, and must, if necessary, be reduced, in which case the landlords are not to be at any loss, of course it follows that the portion of the judicial rents which is found to be too high must be paid by the British taxpayer. [Lord RANDOLPH CHURCHILL and Sir MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH dissented.] Will the noble Lord, or the Chief Secretary for Ireland, give the House, now, the slightest indication that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham was right when he said that it was no part of the policy of the Government to transfer to the taxpayer any loss involved in the purchase of land from the landlords? But the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, a Gentleman with a proper facility for mental changes, declares that he, like my hon. Friend the Member for Cork, deprecates any transfer of loss to the British taxpayer; and he adds, that he does not believe that the Government will be so foolish as to make any provision of the kind. Well, I think I have conclusively shown that they have already been so foolish; and I may add, that I should be prepared for any folly on the part of any Government which accepts the clandestine guidance of the right hon. Gentleman. Now, the right hon. Gentleman is a master of an art most useful in dialectics, but out of place in frank debate—the art of the 677 suppression of the part of the case which does not suit his purpose. How did he describe the Amendment of my hon. Friend? He said the Amendment deprecated any extension of State-assisted purchase on the basis of rents fixed when prices were high. The Amendment does absolutely nothing of the kind. The Amendment of my hon. Friend is perfectly consistent with State-assisted purchase, no matter what may be the level of the rents. There are two ways of making a safe bargain upon the subject of rent with regard to purchase. One is to fix the annual rent at a fair level, and then to give the ordinary number of years' purchase; and another way is, if the annual rent be too high, to fix a number of years' purchase so low as to neutralize the excess of the annual rent. Is not this what the Amendment does? Does it not deprecate any transfer of loss from the owners to the taxpayers of Great Britain and Ireland? But the right hon. Gentleman, in his speech, denied it, and, turning to us, said—"Why do you not answer me, and prove the contrary?" Now I turn to him, and I ask why, in the language of the Amendment before him on the Table, why does he deliberately leave out, in the Amendment of my hon. Friend, the clause which was its essential point, and which gives to it its character and its meaning? Does he think that conduct of that kind would ever give him an advantage in debate in an Assembly of English Gentlemen? If he does, he will surely find out his mistake. But the right hon. Gentleman was very anxious to know if the late Prime Minister had yet abandoned the Land Purchase Bill; and the right hon. Gentleman, setting himself up as an excellent judge of honour, hold that the late Prime Minister was under an obligation of honour regarding it. What obligation of honour? The late Prime Minister, recognizing a certain amount of moral responsibility, made the Irish landlords an offer the most liberal that they will ever receive. An obligation of honour! Why, Sir, if you allow a man for a certain time to possess himself of the property of another, if you support him in aggression and extortion, if at length you have to abandon that policy, and to take a course of justice and fair play, if at that moment you say to that man—"I am prepared to make you an 678 offer, I am willing to save you, and I can make you this offer the best I can make." Well, if he refuses that offer, spurns it, and, in fact, uses it for the purpose of bringing discredit upon the person who made it, where, I say, is the obligation of honour to renew it? No, Sir; I think if there is any more talk about honour, that the late Prime Minister might say, as Lady Teazle said to Charles Surface—"Had we not better leave honour out of the question?" Certainly, whatever may occur, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian would never make the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham either the judge or the custodian of his honour. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. J. Chamberlain) is not a very simple man, yet he gives other men very much his seniors, and who have very much the advantage of him both in intellectual ability and in experience of life, credit for more than extreme juvenile simplicity; and he wants to know from the late Prime Minister if he has abandoned his Land Bill. In reply, it will suffice to say that the late Prime Minister remembered that the right hon. Gentleman, in accordance with a very curious plan he has adopted—namely, that when seeking to defeat one measure of his opponent he expatiates and descants on the merit of another—had defeated himself (Mr. Gladstone) on the Home Rule measure by recounting and denouncing the dangers of the Land Bill. In playing the game of politics, a Member might, perhaps, be allowed to have the ace up his sleeve once, but he would not be allowed to have it there a second time. Then, as to the question of honour, I will answer that by saying that I believe the Liberal Party of the future will have in concert no concern in any scheme for plundering the tenants of Ireland. The sands in the glass are running out; and, in order to give the glass a second chance of running, it is necessary that the glass should be turned, and that, I am confident, is an act which the late Prime Minister will never be brought to perform. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham says a charge is brought against him, that he himself brought forward, in the Cabinet, a large scheme of Land Purchase, almost as extreme in principle as that of the right hon. Gentleman the 679 late Prime Minister, but more dangerous, and with less security to the British taxpayer. Sir, that is an interesting revelation. It does appear to me that his position in regard to the British taxpayer seems to be one of this nature—that whenever a Tory Government proposes to mulct the British taxpayer in the interests of the landlords, that they should be allowed to do so; but that, when he was on the Continent, a measure of Land Purchase having been brought forward by the Liberal Government, he made such measure a matter of hostile conduct, even when the measure of the late Prime Minister was perfectly safe, and involved not the slightest risk. Then the right hon. Gentleman considered such a scheme a fit measure for denunciation, because he loves the British taxpayer so well, and thinks that if any man is to take a liberty with him it must be himself. He was opposed to the scheme of the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian. ["Oh, oh!"] Another of the scanty flock! The right hon. Gentleman said that he had opposed the Land Purchase scheme of the late Government on the ground that it involved a risk so tremendous that it practically amounted to a certainty of loss. Now, Sir, I deliberately challenge that assertion. I say that the argument of the right hon. Gentleman, that, if the fall in the prices of produce were established, the Irish tenants would show they were not unable to pay the rent which was the basis of this scheme, was not a valid argument, because we had reason to hope, from the fact that 20 years was fixed as the maximum period in the Bill of the late Prime Minister, that the Imperial Commission were to be allowed to fix any minimum they pleased, and special provisions were made in the Bill for cases on such estates, and on those mentioned by Sir James Caird, where economical rents had disappeared, or nearly disappeared; and it was the first duty of the Commission administering the Act to fix a number of years, so that the annual instalment to be paid by the tenant should not be unduly burdensome to him. We had, therefore, good reason to hope that the measure of the late Prime Minister, if carried, would not have involved any practical risk, and would not have resulted in any loss. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham had surpassed the ordinary audacity 680 of militant debate, when he said that his contention was that the Land Scheme of the late Prime Minister was backed by the Land Revenue of Ireland and nothing else. If he has any blushes left, let him prepare to blush. The advances under the Land Purchase scheme of the late Prime Minister were backed, not only by the Land Revenue of Ireland, but by every penny of the Public Revenue. The late Prime Minister fixed the issue—
§ MR. LEWIS (Londonderry)
I rise to Order. ["Oh, oh!"] I wish to know whether the hon. Member is in. Order in discussing upon the Amendment of the hon. Member for Cork the provisions of the Land Purchase Bill of the late Government?
§ MR. SPEAKER
The last paragraph of the Amendment deals with the Land Purchase scheme. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Sexton) is consequently in Order.
§ MR. SEXTON
I may also point out that the alleged defect in the Land Purchase scheme of the late Government formed the reason assigned by the right hon. Gentleman for voting against this Amendment, and I am defending the Amendment. The scheme of the late Prime Minister was backed by every penny of public money of Ireland. Let us suppose the issue of the scheme amounted to £150,000,000; let it also be understood that a great part of the pastural lands were excluded from the operation of the Land Scheme; also that the Purchase Commission had power to say in any case whether the terms of sale were fair, and that the Purchase Commission had power to refuse their sanction to sell at all, and that it was within the discretion of the Imperial Commission to limit these. Suppose there was this issue, then that would involve the Government in Ireland in an annual liability of £2,000,000. Has the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, however, forgotten that the tenant, under that scheme, was to pay 20 years' purchase on the full judicial rent, and that the landlord was only to receive the same number of years' purchase on the nett rent—that is to say, the rent, after deducting from it various charges, calculated to amount to four years; so that while the tenants paid on 20 years, the landlord was to be paid upon 16 years; and the difference of four years upon the rental 681 went, as a guarantee fund, into the hands of the Irish Treasury under the scheme of the late Prime Minister? Then, for this £2,000,000 the Irish Government would have been bound to pay to you, they were entitled to receive from the tenants £2,400,000; that was secured by the Land Bill. There was also the additional security of the Public Revenue. The right hon. Gentleman said last night it only left a few hundred thousand pounds. I hope he has not such a loose manner of managing the finances of Birmingham. The Public Revenue of Ireland amounts to £8,000,000. The charges upon it, under the scheme of the late Prime Minister, amounted to about £4,500,000, but that amount included £1,000,000 for a Constabulary Force. That Constabulary Force was to cease in a couple of years, as soon as the Irish Government could raise a suitable Native Force. [Interruption.] Just so; I am perfectly well aware that a Native Force would be disagreeable to the hoc. and gallant Member for North Armagh (Colonel Saunderson). Therefore, the payment of £1,000,000 sterling in support of the Constabulary would cease, bringing the liability down to £3,500,000. The right hon. Gentleman suggested that the Revenue might fall. Has it ever fallen? Look back upon the records of the Irish Revenue, and you will not find that it has fallen. We take good care that it does not fall. It has been on a steady increase from year to year, sometimes to a very considerable extent. There is certainly no such thing as a falling back in my study of the record of Ireland. Therefore, the right hon. Gentleman is not entitled to raise against us a plea which is not sustained by experience, and which all experience shows to the contrary. The right hon. Gentleman also made a point of the fact that the Imperial control, in the full sense of the word, was to be retained only over the Customs and Excise. But every penny of the Irish Revenue was to pass into, and through, the hands of British Imperial officials, and all the obligations to England would have had to be discharged, before a penny could have been applied to the Public Service of that country. Therefore, the right hon. Gentleman's point about the security altogether fails; for you have the absolute security of a fund of £7,000,000 a-year 682 paid into the hands of an Imperial official, and yet the right hon. Gentleman suggests that that involves risk. If his private fortune is as well invested, he may smile at the uncertainty of finance. I think I have shown that the security is ample; but the right hon. Gentleman goes on to say that he is willing to lend to an integral portion of the Kingdom, but that he is not willing to lend to what would practically be a foreign country. Let me ask him, and let me solemnly ask the House, which looks more like the foreign country, the country which Lord Aberdeen left the other day, or the country to which Sir Redvers Buller went yesterday? Sir, I take these two instances as the types of Union and Disunion. I say, when the people of Dublin—the working men, the trades and the National League—accompanied Lord Aberdeen on his departure, and gave him, as he left their shores, their blessings and congratulations, that instance, I say, was the type of true Union. That incident was also the fruit of the policy of the late Prime Minister—a policy which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham has condemned; and, Sir, if that policy could have been continued, it would have been well, for it is not by the despatch of gallant officers who have solved similar troubles in other parts of the world, that you will solve the problem of disaffection in Ireland. No, Sir, because in that case the Union between the people of this country and the people of Ireland would be a Union which the unnatural combination of intriguing politicians would not be able longer to delay, The Union that should endure cannot be a forced Union procured with manacles, but a voluntary union of hearts. Lord Aberdeen had been in Ireland, and his experience was that you must readily and must effectively meet the desires of the Irish people if they were desired to be loyal to the Throne and to be faithful to the interests of the Government; and he endeavoured to maintain the unity of the Empire by fairly considering their interests and their rights; and Lord Aberdeen witnessed a sight which he declared he could never forget. Sir, the Government's policy is to follow Lord Aberdeen with Sir Redvers Buller. The last time I saw the exploits of Sir Redvers Buller was where they were pictorially depicted. He was sitting on a 683 camel in the Desert. There was a box on the back of the camel. He had a sword by his side as long as himself, and a telescope was placed to his eye as he looked out for Tokar. His being sent to Ireland makes it look more like a foreign country.
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Gentleman does not appear to be dealing very closely with the subject of the Amendment—the difficulty of tenants to pay their rents.
§ MR. SEXTON
I was endeavouring to deal with the Land Purchase scheme, and that point in the Amendment relating to it. I shall not pursue the subject, but shall put myself right with you. I shall endeavour to point out the reason why the argument of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham is untenable. That right hon. Gentleman said he would give cordial support to any proposal the Government would make for the establishment of a peasant proprietary in Ireland, provided that the whole arrangement was under the complete and effective control of the Imperial Parliament, and carried out, as he described in his speech last night, through the intervention of and by the Municipal Authorities. Will the right hon. Gentleman tell me, and tell the House, or tell the country, now, or at any future time, had the collection of instalments for repayment of Land Purchase in Ireland been made more certain, or more safe, by being collected by the hands of the Imperial Government? I say the difficulty of collection will be greater on that account. If, on the other hand, the collections were made by the agents of the Native Government, the people, I think, would make greater, and even more painful, exertions to meet their obligations. Certainly, a plan such as that of the late Prime Minister, by which the Government would be relieved from the embarrassing necessity of going to the door of every individual tenant and collecting the tax from them, and would have the security of the good faith of the Irish Government and the whole of the Public Revenue—that would be a better system and one more secure than that of the right hon. Gentleman. The noble Lord the Leader of the House contemplates that this Commission shall inquire into the arrangements made in congested districts, in which Local Bodies will have to give security for the repayment of loans. Was there ever a more 684 fantastic proposition? These congested districts are the very places where Sir James Caird and The Times say the economical rent has disappeared; but we do not go that length. It is not necessary for our argument. We only contend that the rents are too high. The noble Lord, in effect, proposed that some Local Body should be constituted, to place on the people the new burden of the defalcations of their neighbours. At any moment, upon the bankruptcy of these Local Bodies, the security of the noble Lord would disappear into thin air. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham has said that he would not vote for an Amendment which, if adopted, would have the effect of a Vote of Censure upon the Government. He says he is willing to wait, and his speech was conceived in the spirit of a waiter. It is long to wait. We are, in spite of the terrible urgency of affairs in Ireland, to wait as long as the Government wish; but let me point out what must be obvious to the House, that when the Government have ceased to wish they will be a Government no longer. ["Oh, oh!"] Well, the right hon. Gentleman met our arguments concerning the fall in prices, by the statement that the enormous sums which are paid for the tenant right are an argument against our contention that the rents are too high. He said that the argument had been previously produced in the course of this debate, and in saying that I suppose he referred to the humorous speech of the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for North Armagh. The hon. and gallant Gentleman is, of course, equal to every emergency. If he had lived at Rome, in the time of Nero, he would have been one to play second fiddle to Nero when the city was burning. The hon. and gallant Gentleman told the House the story of Gweedore—Gweedore, that wretched spot where the tenants by a labour worse than penal servitude have made some soil on the face of the rock, and where every year some of these tenants are thrown on the public funds. The case of Gweedore, as he stated it, was this—there are a large number of tenants paying very small rents, none of them over £4, and some of them as low as half-a-crown, and he stated two or three cases where the tenants of these wretched holdings had been able to sell them for sums as large as £100. It is true 685 that the tenant right of some of these small holdings have been bought at a high price; but those who have paid the money are persons who had originally gone from the district—some of those persons had gone to America, or Australia, or England, or other parts of the world, and, after having by long years of labour scraped together a little fortune, they have gone back to Gweedore to spend the end of their days in the place where they were born. The hon. and gallant Gentleman will not differ from me when I say that the love of these people for their native soil, and the spot where they were born, is passionate in the extreme, and I can tell him these prices of £80 or £100 which these people gave for the strip of bog that is their native spot, is not to be taken as any test of the commercial value of the strip of bog. This passionate love for the place where these people were born, apart from the commercial aspect of the question, is the very reason why the Legislature found it necessary to interfere, the landlords having all the land in their hands, and the land being necessary for the sustenance of the people, because your policy had left them no other means of living. The landlords, in these circumstances, could always command for the tenant right a price absolutely and fabulously in excess of any value which it possessed. If the bulk of the tenants on the Gweedore estate desired to sell their tenant right, they could not do it; but, occasionally, there turns up some returned emigrant, who has some money to fall back upon, and he is willing to give a large sum for the strip of bog as a matter of affection and not of commercial value. What is the value of this splendid estate of which we have heard so much? This splendid estate on the coast of Donegal is valued by the Government official at 7d. an acre. That took in, of course, the good parts with the bad. Had it not been for the good parts, there could have been no valuation so high as 7d. an acre. If the Commissioners had been obliged to value certain parts, they would have laboured under the difficulty of finding any coin small enough to express the amount. These people formerly lived in villages, forming pastoral communities, with common rights of grazing. Captain Hill, the landlord, or rather his father, some 40 years ago, broke up the 686 communities in the villages, put an end to the pastoral life of the people, took from them the only thing that was of any value—the common right of grazing, and, with a cruelty which would open the eyes of the British people, if they knew to what use the laws are turned in Ireland, sent these unfortunate people, without any particle of dwellings, on to the bog as it came from the hand of nature. The tenants, going on to these strips of bog, quarried stone from the granite quarries, and built houses and out-offices for themselves. They drained, fenced, and manured the bogs, turned what had been rough grazing into arable land, and the landlord raised the rent as they went on. Can the hon. and gallant Gentleman deny what I assert, that when £80 or £100 is given for the purchase of the tenant right of one of these holdings, it is given, not for the landlord's legal and equitable rights in the strip of bog, the only thing that belongs to him, but the tenant's interest in the houses, the out-offices, the fences, the drains, the reclaimed soil, and everything which give value to the strip of bog? One other fact—Captain Hill, by threats and other devices, kept the tenants out of the Land Court as long as he could. [Cries of "No!" and counter cries of "He did!"] How, and when, did they go in? He gave them to understand that, if they went into the Land Court, he would swamp them with the cost of appeals. They struggled into the Land Court, nevertheless, at last, and what became of their suffering landlord, whose case has excited the sympathy of the hon. and gallant Gentleman. What did the Sub-Commissioners take off the rents? The average reduction of rent all over Ireland is less than 20 per cent. The reduction of the rents of Captain Hill was 37 per cent. The gallant gentleman felt so outraged at this that he brought the case immediately under the notice of the Chief Commissioners, and the Chief Commissioners were themselves so much startled at this extraordinary reduction, that they departed from the usual course of official routine, and fixed a special sitting on the spot for the examination of the reduction. I here come to a fact which, if the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for North Armagh was not so much an Englishman as not to know when he was beaten, he would admit that his case 687 was pulverized. The Chief Commissioners confirmed the reduction, and the Court which gave and confirmed that reduction of the two-fifths of the rents had before them all the facts stated by the hon. and gallant Gentleman, as to the number of their holdings, the smallness of the amounts of rent, and the sums given for the tenant right. With these facts before them, the judicial tribunal appointed by this House, and responsible to the country, gave this verdict, reducing the rents by 37 per cent; but the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham says that we are to be patient. He says that the late Government came into Office as a Government of Inquiry, and that this Government is also a Government of Inquiry. There is inquiry and inquiry. The late Government made its inquiries of the public bodies in Ireland, and of those who were most competent to give them authentic information upon the matter in question. The late Government also followed up their inquiry by prompt and decisive action; but, Sir, the present Government intend to confine inquiry to a body of their own nominees. Nor do they intend to expedite the action or the Report of their Commission. They have told us it is not to be made before the end of next spring; and when the end of next spring comes and the Report arrives, the noble Lord the Chancellor of the Exchequer declares, in advance, that that Report will require immense consideration. As an admirer of the style of the noble Lord, I am amazed at his phrases, and at a loss to know where he gets them. We cannot certainly have any decision in the shape of a legislative proposal upon the Report of the Commission of Inquiry before the end of the Session of next year. What is to happen in the meantime? The crash will come, unless something is done to confront the difficulty, and avert it during this winter. Yet the right hon. Gentleman opposite and the noble Lord would have us rely upon their Commission of Inquiry. Still, I might have had some confidence in the Commission of Inquiry, if they had been allowed to answer the questions which have been put to them. But the noble Lord has adopted a course destructive of all confidence, for he has laid certain questions before this Commission, of his own 688 nomination, and then has proceeded himself to answer his own questions. Certainly, I should feel no confidence in the decision of a Court, if the Judge of the Court had the selection of the jury, and if, before the jury retired to deliberate, he delivered to them the verdict to which they were to come. The noble Lord says the Commissioners are to be appointed to inquire into what extent and in what parts of Ireland the operations of the Land Act is affected by a combination to resist the enforcement of legal obligations—that is to say, the payment of rent. Would it not have been more judicious on the part of the noble Lord, as a statesman, even from his own point of view, to have abstained from delivering any opinion on the question? He said that Her Majesty's Government were aware that a great and widespread organization had endeavoured, not without success, arbitrarily to control the working of that Act to their own ends. What is to be inquired into by the Commission? I know something about Ireland, and I certainly am not aware of any such organization. If the noble Lord refers to the National League, I can tell him that the policy of the National League is to assist evicted tenants. The policy of that body is to advise tenants to pay the utmost rents which they are able to pay—["Oh, oh!"]—having regard to the value of the produce of their farms. ["Oh, oh!"] Sir, there is a combination of landlords in Ireland. There is a combination by which landlords aid one another with funds and with counsel to promote and stimulate evictions, to take possession of lands from which the tenants have been evicted, and to induce the Government, if they can, to abolish the National League, so that when the tenants are thrown out upon the highways, they may not even have the resources of public benevolence, but be driven to the workhouse. But the noble Lord asks the Commission a second question. The Commission are to inquire whether there has been an exceptional fall in the price of produce. Why, Sir, we might as well have a Commission to inquire whether in Ireland, as in other parts of the world, the sun produces the daylight. What is the meaning of this Commission? The noble Lord had only to examine the file of any newspaper to ascertain that there had 689 been an exceptional fall in prices. He had only to step into the Office of the Board of Trade to ascertain that fact, or, without going outside the circle of the Cabinet, he might have inquired of the Secretary of State for War (Mr. W. H. Smith), in whom the Government have great confidence. ["Hear, hear!"] Certainly, they must have; because they allowed him to turn their Irish policy topsy-turvy in 24 hours. Why did not the noble Lord inquire of the Secretary of State for War why he has taken 40 per cent off the rents of his tenants in Suffolk? The Secretary of State for War is an eminent man of business. I am sure he is not an hysterical philanthropist. He would not take 40 per cent off his rents; he would not even take off 1 per cent, unless there was good reason for it. If the noble Lord had asked the Secretary of State for War why it was that this year he had taken 40 per cent off the rents of his tenants in Suffolk, I am satisfied that the reply of the right hon. Gentleman would have proved to demonstration that it was in consequence of fall in prices. Why did not the noble Lord write to Sir James Caird? I would not ask him to write to the editor of The Times; because, of course, when it is a question of whether the Irish tenant can give security for the land, The Times sets him down as a man of straw; whereas, when it is a question of paying his rent, The Times describes him as a sort of bucolic Crœsus. But Sir James Caird is an eminent man, whose position is such that he could not risk his reputation by any such causeless change of opinion; and he would have been glad to have submitted to him a Memorandum of his own in March of this year, in which he went so far as to state that in the case of four-fifths of the holdings of Ireland, economical rent had disappeared. How otherwise could it have disappeared except by the fall in prices? But the noble Lord gives the Sub - Commissioners and the Land Court credit for the gift of prophecy, for he said that not only did they take into account the state of the crisis, when they fixed the judicial rent, but that they left ample scope for any fall in prices. I challenge the noble Lord and the right hon. Gentleman beside him on this point. They have different functions in the House; for while the noble Lord puts spirit into 690 the serried ranks behind him, the right hon. Gentleman instils fear into those in front of him. I would refer the noble Lord to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for North Meath (Mr. Mahony), which has not been answered and will not be answered, because it is unswerable. What did my hon. Friend say? He was engaged in fixing rents for three years, and began in 1882. At that time the Commissioners took the prices from 1876, and there had been a period of depression from 1877 till 1881. No doubt, the Commissioners fixed rents upon the average of the low prices of these years; but what says my hon. Friend? He says that the period of depression had already lasted so long that, judging by the duration of former periods of depression, they calculated it was near its end, especially as the year 1882, in which they began to fix the rents, was an exceptionally good year. They made up their minds, so far from leaving scope for the fall in rent, that the good time had come. Will the Government inquire of the Sub-Commissioners whether that is, or is not, the case? My hon. Friend referred to the five separate articles on which the Irish farmers pay their rent when they pay it at all; and he showed, taking the average of the years on which the rent was fixed, and the prices of produce in the present year, that the prices had fallen on the different articles from 22 to 45 per cent, or an average of 25 per cent all round. What is the effect of that upon the tenant's ability to pay rent? The effect is greater by far than the nominal percentage. There is an old and general rule which gives one-third of the produce for the rent; one-third for the cost of production; and one-third for the profit of the tenant. Does the House accept the rule, or is there any rule that would better please the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham and the Unionist Liberals or the noble Lord? Suppose we take that rule, and say that the value of the produce of a farm was £60 when the judicial rent was fixed; let us assume also that prices have since fallen by 25 per cent, and that the Sub-Commissioners take the average prices between 1878 and 1882, and upon the average they fix the rent; but if the value of produce has fallen by 25 per cent, £15 is taken off, and where is that to come from? 691 If you take that £15 off the profits of the tenant, you leave him not £20, but £5. I say, in order to place the tenant this year in as good a position as he stood in when judicial rents were fixed, that the £15 should come off the landlord's rent. I must say I frankly regret the argument that if the tenant, in a bad year is to have a remission made to him, in a good year the surplus should be given to the landlord. The landlord is a person who, without doing anything for it, receives a considerable income. The tenant is a person who obtains a fair subsistence by his hard labour; and if any man tells me that when a chance of a good year conies, the tenant is not to be allowed to lay by a few pounds for sickness and old age, but that he must put these few pounds into the hands of the landlord, I say that the doctrine is revolting to humanity and civilization. What is the effect of the argument I have brought before the House? Taking the judicial rents as they were fixed, accepting the rate of one-third for rent, one-third for cost of production, and one-third for tenant's profits, and calculating upon the basis of a fall in prices of 25 per cent, I say that the tenants of Ireland, to be as well off as they were in 1882, should have their rents reduced by 75 per cent. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham endeavoured to embarrass the Irish Party by quoting the speech of an absent Gentleman in this House. He is not here, but I am here to speak for him. This speech was made as far away as Chicago, at the Convention; and the point of the reference to the speech was this—that we are determined to make trouble for the Government in Ireland; that if trouble occurs in Ireland it will be our fault; and that, in point of fact, if the noble Lord the Chancellor of the Exchequer comes down in November, as he expects to do, to propose a Coercion Bill—for that is the real point of his policy, and all the rest is kite-flying—if he comes down in November to propose a Coercion Bill, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham will support him, on the ground that they are entitled to look with suspicion upon the accounts of the inability of the tenants to pay. It may be interesting to the right hon. Gentleman to know this in connection with the Chicago Convention. He used to say, 692 tauntingly, in words which came strangely from the lips of a Radical, that you (the English) are 30,000,000 people, and that we (the Irish) are only 5,000,000. But the Chicago Convention is one of those facts which proves to any intelligent observer that if you are 30,000,000, we are nearer 25,000,000 than 5,000,000. He challenged us to answer whether or not we adopted the language used by the hon. Member for Wexford (Mr. J. Redmond) at Chicago, when he said it would be the duty of the Irish Members to make government in Ireland impossible. Well, the first remark I have to make to that is this—if the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham and the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington have their way, they will soon make the present system of English government in Ireland impossible. And that not because of the resistance of Ireland, as because of the disgust of the people of England. I must again observe that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, in quoting my hon. Friend the Member for Wexford, pursued a policy of unjustifiable reserve. Why did he sever a phrase from its context in his speech? Why did he distort and mutilate it to disguise its meaning? I shall supply the omission. My hon. Friend said—The principle embodied in the Irish movement to-day is just the same principle as was embodied in every Irish movement for seven centuries. The settlement offered was one honourable alike to England and to Ireland, and such a settlement was offered to us by Mr. Gladstone.That was the language frankly and courageously used many thousands of miles away, in the presence of the bitterest enemies of England and those who have suffered the bitterest wrongs at her hands. All those wrongs, however, were forgotten, and the feeling uppermost in the hearts of the Irish race at home and abroad was that of gratitude to the aged statesman who proposed to do us justice. Sir, Ireland was ready to forget and forgive her injuries. She was ready to sacrifice many things for the sake of peace, so long as the one essential principle of her own Senate was granted to her. She was willing, on the day when the doors of her ancient Senate House were opened, to shake hands with her relentless foe, to make peace with the nation 693 whom the Almighty so placed that the two peoples might be friends, but who had been kept apart by avarice, injustice, and passion. [Ministerial cries of "No, no!"] Yes; avarice, injustice, and passion. We have given England the most convincing proof that, on the cession of liberty, we can be trusted friends. It now remains for us to prove, for the thousandth time, that as slaves we can be formidable foes. Sir, I adopt these words of my hon. Friend (Mr. J. Redmond). There is not, in the natural law, nor in the law of nations, nor in the law prevailing between England and Ireland, any obligation upon men, conscious of intellect in their minds, and conscious of men's hearts in their bosoms, tamely to accept slavery at the hands of another nation. The Constitution says we are freemen. We will exert ourselves to the uttermost of our power, as circumstances permit, to maintain the Constitution, and that declaration regards any statesman, or any man who has the position without the intellect of a statesman, who presumes to attempt to violate it. Sir, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham declared that he was satisfied with the results of the General Election. He is evidently consoling himself with that cynical beatitude which declares those to be blessed who expect nothing, and who are promised, as a reward for their lack of importance in this kingdom, a place of satisfaction in another. Sir, I cannot understand the frame of mind of the statesman who is satisfied with an Election which decimated his own Party, which, out of 70 new candidates presented by him and his Friends, returned only five.
§ MR. CHAPLIN (Lincolnshire, Sleaford)
I rise to Order. Sir, I wish to know if the hon. Member is in Order in referring to the late Election? What has that to do with the Amendment before the House?
§ MR. SPEAKER
I understand the hon. Member to be speaking on the Amendment of the hon. Member for Cork, which is now before the House, and on which he is entitled to reply. I think the subject of the General Election has no bearing whatever on the Amendment before the House.
§ MR. SEXTON
Sir, I shall not attempt any further to reply to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the 694 Member for West Birmingham on this subject. But, Sir, I will say, in conclusion, that we know the policy of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, and I will add that it matters very little what his policy may be. He used to be, at one time, perhaps, a somewhat influential Member of this House. Now, if he is the Leader of a Party at all, it is a Party that could be very easily accommodated in a sentry box. He is more a Tory than the Tories themselves. His policy now is to vote for nothing—
§ MR. SEXTON
I am dealing with the Amendment. Recent occurrences poem to have given the right hon. Member for Sleaford a very unquiet mind. The policy of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham is to vote against anything which may have the effect of a Vote of Censure on the Government. The policy of the noble Lord the Leader of the House is to draw bills upon the future, which he does not intend to honour at their maturity. His ostensible policy is an inquiry which is to bear fruit next year; but it will have no relation to the practical facts of politics when next year comes, for he will, long before that time, have brought other forces into play. He has not only assured the landlords of Ireland, but he has incited them by his address to them. Everybody knows to what purpose the Forces of the Crown will be put when they are in the hands of the Government of Ireland. The noble Lord the Chancellor of the Exchequer had said his assurance on the point of the employment of troops was superfluous. Yes, it was superfluous; it was only meant as an assurance, but it acquired a weight from the words he had used. The noble Lord had plainly told the landlords of Ireland that they should exact the full rents this winter, because the payment of the full rents will be regarded as proof, when the scheme of Purchase comes to be considered, that the rents are not too high. Sir, we wait the result with feelings of the greatest apprehension, and I wish to say we will not be responsible for the consequences. I wish also to say, at this moment, that we are not deceived by the noble Lord or the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham; we wish to say that we are convinced that this Commis- 695 sion on the material resources of Ireland will never come to anything. The question of the maintenance of the Constitution in Ireland, and the right of the Irish people to live in their homes, and to be relieved of the effects of an economic crisis over which they have no control, will be tested and tried by the Government. That is the ostensible policy of the Government, and the issue will be tried between the Irish people and the Government before that ostensible policy can be put to the test. Sir, our policy in the matter is clear. It is to stand as far as we can by our people. We will counsel them always to stand by one another. We will ask them not to be intimidated by any words concerning combination. The combination among the landlords must be met by combination for defence on the part of the tenants. No doubt, Sir, we shall bid them remember with gratitude and confidence the efforts of the great statesman to establish peace between Great Britain and Ireland. We shall conjure them also to remember that 1,250,000 of the voters of Great Britain have declared for them. We shall also ask them to believe that the majority against the measure of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian at the last Election was a factitious majority; that it was a majority of only 70,000 upon 2,800,000, being only one in every 40 who went to the poll. We shall point to that majority made up, and more than made up and accounted for, by the plural votes of the Tory squires in England, as a majority not of men but of votes; and that if the majority of votes was against the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, the majority of men was with him. We shall ask the people of Ireland to remember that fact. But we have hope, Sir, we do not yet abandon hope, that the Irish people, even in the midst of their struggle of the coming winter, may be able to avoid excesses and outrages. We have still some hope that the landlords of Ireland will not act harshly. If landlords like the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh (Colonel Saunderson), who have intelligence to consider all sides of the question, think of that, they must feel some concern for the future of their country; and if they use their influence with the landlords of Ireland, we are not without hope that 696 the evil incitements of the noble Lord the Chancellor of the Exchequer may be without avail. But, whatever may happen, there is one thing we shall not do. In the presence of the indication from the Government that the payment of full rents this winter will be forced from the people, before the Commission which is to fix whether these rents can be paid or not has commenced to sit, the Irish Members will not place themselves n the position of estate bailiffs and rent collectors to the landlords of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham thought the hon. Member for Cork was bound to place himself in the position of a rent collector. He says the influence of the hon. Member for Cork has been great in the past, and it will be powerful now, if he used it to induce the tenants to pay their rents. Why, Sir, even the Leader of a Cabinet is not always able to control the passions of the limited number of persons who compose it, although, perhaps, they may have no occasion to complain, except what is given them by their own inordinate vanity and disordered imaginations. How, then, can a public Leader be expected to control a whole people? There are depths of passions, there are extremities of despair which are beyond all public control, and their methods and modes of displaying their exasperation at unjust usage are such as to get beyond the reach of any public Leader. My hon, Friend the Member for Cork, and other members of the National League—I am proud to think I also did myself—used their influence in the early part of this year to the utmost in urging people to bear their wrongs with patience. We used our influence, when we could rationally use it, at the earliest moment at which we were able, to qualify the anger, fear, and despair of the people, by showing them that there was some ground for hope. As soon as we were able to show the people that an English statesman was about to appeal to the English people for justice to Ireland, we used our influence to the fullest extent. But does anyone mean to tell me that if the Irish people are to be confronted with a policy of Sir Redvers Buller, if the policy to be applied to the Irish people by the Government is the method of dealing with savage tribes, of evictions, of refusing to recognize the ruinous fall 697 in the price of agricultural produce, of the Government shutting their eyes to notorious evils, and refusing to recognize the wrongs under which they suffer, does anyone tell me that, in the face of facts and of a policy like that, the Irish Members are to go to the people of Ireland and say to them that they ought to strip their fields, to sell their little stock, to plunge themselves in debt for the purpose of creating an argument against themselves? If we were to do so, does the House not think that the Irish people would condemn us as cowards and fools. We will do anything that is possible in fairness and justice, on the basis of reason, to promote justice and peace between the two nations. From the bottom of our hearts we ardently desire it; but we cannot make ourselves traitors to our country, or degrade it, by asking the people of Ireland this winter to pauperize themselves in order to furnish arguments to their own ruin. There is just one thing in which I agree with the Government. I agree with them that they are not likely to fall into any error, at least in their ostensible policy, by reason of hurry or undue haste. They certainly have fallen into what, I fear, will prove to be for one Party, if not for both, a fatal error hereafter, by making the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham the Dictator of their Cabinet policy, and their Leader in debates in this House. But the Government are protected from further errors from undue hurry or haste; because, as a man who has brought himself to pauperism is protected against robbery, so the Government is protected from error hereafter by having made every possible error at the outset.
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT (Sussex, North-West)
said, the hon. Gentleman the Member for South Sligo (Mr. Sexton) had gone over a good deal of ground, and had occupied considerable time in endeavouring to make his position clear; but he (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) regretted to say, and he challenged any impartial person to contradict him, he could find no effort on the part of the hon. Gentleman, in the course of his lengthened speech, to let fall one word with the intention of appeasing the discontent which was so rife in Ireland. On the contrary, from beginning to end, the course the hon. Member had pursued was one calcu- 698 lated to be detrimental to the best interests of peace and order in Ireland. A great deal had been said by the hon. Member as to the manifestation of popular respect when Lord Aberdeen left Dublin, and the love which the Irish people had evinced for the last Viceroy, Because of the measures promised by the late Prime Minister. But they had heard a good deal about demonstrations of that kind being got up for a particular purpose; and he (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) maintained that the demonstration in question was an organized demonstration, not the spontaneous outburst of loyalty, not the expression of that steadily growing Loyal Party in whose interest we were bound to maintain law and order. In order to carry out that duty, he was glad that an officer (Sir Redvers Buller) who had done good service in Egypt had been selected, although the name of this officer recalled remembrances that must ever remain dark blots on the record of the Administration of the right hon. Gentleman the late Prime Minister.
§ DR. TANNER (Cork, Mid) rose to Order, and asked whether these references, for which his hon. Friend (Mr. Sexton) was called to Order, were permitted?
SIR WALTER B. BAETTELOT
The hon. Gentleman had twitted them with the smallness of the majority of electors (70,000) by which the present Government was carried into Office at the last Election; but he had omitted to take into account the large number of unopposed returns. ["Order, order!"]
§ MR. SPEAKER
I must remind the hon. Baronet that the preceding speaker was called to Order for touching on this subject, and that the hon. and gallant Gentleman is now following his example.
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT
said, he thought that, in fairness, such statements should not pass without reply. He was proud to consider himself as one representing a majority of the people in favour of the Union, and to be supported by many on the other side of the House.
§ MR. SPEAKER
I must remind the hon. Baronet that he is travelling beyond the Amendment, which has reference to the payment of rents in the ensuing winter.
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT
said, there could be no doubt that the Sub-Commissioners, in fixing judicial rents, did take into account the fluctuations of prices. The speech delivered by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) on the question had simply added fuel to the fire. Everything had been said by the right hon. Gentleman which could prevent the tenants paying their rents. Neither had the right hon. Gentleman, nor the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, said or done any one thing that showed that the depreciation of rents was so great that the tenants were unable, according to the Land Act of 1881, to pay their rents. Previous speakers, also, in dealing with this point, had omitted to take into consideration that the likelihood of a fall in agricultural produce was estimated by the Commissioners before fixing the judicial rents. Hon. Members had likewise failed to recognize the high probability of a good harvest being obtained in Ireland this year, as well as an increase in the price of stock. He was able to say, from his own knowledge, that the price of stock had risen, and was rising, for both cattle and sheep that had recently come over from Ireland had fetched a higher price than obtained a short time ago. These were matters that ought to be considered in connection with a question of this magnitude and gravity; for both of the right hon. Gentlemen he had referred to had stated that the tenants could not pay their rents, and they had tried to make the Government of Ireland impossible by those who were now in authority.
§ MR. BIGGAR (Cavan, W.),
rising to Order, asked whether it was conformable to precedent for an hon. Member (Mr. Caine) who was not a Privy Councillor nor a Member of the late Government to occupy the Front Opposition Bench?
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT,
resuming, said, he would ask the attention of the House to the circumstances of the distress in Ireland in the years 1846, 1847, and 1848, and the outrage and crime by which it was accompanied. It was his fate to be in Ireland at that time, assisting in the work of restoring order, and while the people of England voted enormous sums for the relief of 700 the Famine, the law was rigorously carried out, and Ireland became tranquil. At that time, though crime had followed evictions, it did not appear, from the arrests made, that outrages were committed by the class suffering from evictions. Hon. Gentlemen from Ireland had said—"Give us a Statutory Parliament in College Green; let that be once firmly established, and everything will be peace, and rents will go up." But would that be so? He remembered being at Limerick in 1847–8, when the "Old Ireland" Party and the "Young Ireland" Party were very hostile to each other; indeed, so much so, that it became necessary to protect the latter from the violent action of the former. Indeed, he then only arrived just in the nick of time to prevent Mr. Mitchel, Mr. Martin, and their friends from suffering violence. Mr. Mitchel and many of his friends were afterwards transported for life, or terms of years. And then there was "the cabbage garden business" of Mr. Smith O'Brien, after which Ireland remained quiet, prosperous, contented, and happy for 20 years. He was all in favour of doing everything that was just and generous for Ireland; but when we had treason, cruelty, and murder going on in that country, we were bound to use the powers of the law to maintain order, and repress crime, the only way of making Ireland happy and prosperous. He was anxious that the policy of the Government should be carried out, because he believed it would do more for Ireland than the policy of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian. Nor could he help commenting on the strange circumstance that, when they proposed to do for Ireland what Irishmen had been so long asking for in the way of improving the fisheries, harbours, and arterial drainage, and carrying on other public works, they were now met by the cry that Ireland did not want anything of the kind. He did not know why land should not pay a fair rent; but that was what the hon. Members opposite objected to. They desired that it should be let at prairie value, which was not only unjust, but was an act of spoliation of the owners of land, and would be most injurious to the prosperity of the country. He believed not only that the masses of this country were in favour of maintaining the Union, as, indeed, their votes at the recent Election had proved, but that they 701 would be more and more decidedly in favour of that course the more they came to understand the bearing of the question on their own interests. If the Union were rejected and a Statutory Parliament established in Ireland, such would be the state of things in Ireland that Irishmen would be driven over to England, not by fifties and hundreds, but by tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands in search of work. They would thus glut the English labour market and depress the wages of English workmen. That was not a result that was desirable, or that the English masses could be anxious to promote, when they understood the danger to which the policy of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian would expose them. It was because he, and those who acted with him, desired that Irishmen should be happy and prosperous, and get work in their own country, that they were determined to do all in their power to maintain the Union. That the Union had tended to promote the prosperity of Ireland was, in fact, clear from the admission of the hon. Member who had just spoken—namely, that during the existence of the Union, the Revenue of Ireland had steadily and continuously increased. To what other cause than the Union could that increase be attributed? He knew of none, and that was an additional reason for supporting the policy of Her Majesty's Government.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE (Bradford, Central)
said, he was anxious, before the debate closed, to make a few remarks upon the Amendment and the speech of the hon. Member for Cork; but after the singularly able and effective speech of the hon. Member for Belfast (Mr. Sexton) he had some little hesitation in rising. The hon. Member's speech would make it unnecessary for him to say much which he intended to say; but, so long as Irish questions were to be dealt with in the Imperial Parliament, he thought it was the duty of every English Member who had given some attention to the subject to take part in debates of this kind. He would not follow the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) in his predictions as to what would take place in the course of the autumn in Ireland in consequence of the refusal of Parliament to meet the demands of the Irish Members. He should always feel very great hesitation in expressing his 702 views as to what would take place in Ireland if Parliament finally refused the demands of the Irish people, lest he should appear by anticipation to sanction courses which it would be his duty to deprecate and condemn. He was also exceedingly anxious to avoid saying or doing anything which might seem to embarrass the Government and add to the difficulties of the Chief Secretary for Ireland. He appreciated to the full the difficulties which the Government would have to meet in Ireland and in that House. They had adopted a policy which he believed to be impossible. He believed that they would not be able to carry out the policy which they had proclaimed; but he was unwilling to do anything to increase their difficulties. He said so himself in good faith. There were many instances and illustrations in the history of Ireland in which the demands of the Irish people had been refused by the English Parliament and the English Government, which demands had later on been conceded in answer to agitation and disorder almost amounting to rebellion. The history of Ireland during the last 85 years was full of instances of that character, and they might perhaps judge of the future by the past. He felt sure that the Irish Members and the Irish people would recollect that the present position was very different from any in the past in relation to this subject. The Irish Members did not now stand alone; they had on their side the great majority of the Liberal Party of England, and only a few less than a majority of the electors of England. They might also recollect that they had also on their side the greatest, most powerful Minister of modern times, who had sacrificed himself and his Government on their behalf. Remembering this, he thought it would be very unfortunate if anything should occur in Ireland which would make the task which the Liberal Party in this country experienced—and still had before them—in carrying out the programmes of justice to which they had given their adhesion a more difficult one than it need be. He was quite sure that Irish Members would appreciate this, and he was glad to observe that the hon. Member for Cork did fully appreciate it in the speech which he made a night or two ago. Some hon. Members on the Ministerial side of the House saw in the speech of the hon. Member for Cork an 703 indication of disorder which they seemed to think that the hon. Member approved of. He must say that he had listened to that speech, and had interpreted it in a totally different sense. His belief was that the hon. Member for Cork had deprecated that which he believed might possibly occur, and that he was fully alive to the very great difficulties which disorder and outrage might bring to his policy if they occurred during the coming months in Ireland. He would point out that nobody denounced outrage more than O'Connell did. O'Connell expressed his opinion that outrages were most detrimental to the cause which he had at heart; but, at the same time, he was unable, with all his great influence, to prevent occurrences which he disapproved of, and which did harm to his cause. They must not, therefore, be surprised if things occurred in Ireland which the hon. Member for Cork and his Friends disapproved of, and which would be detrimental to their interests. He would remind the Leaders of the Irish Party that the field of argument on the Irish Question had not yet been exhausted—it was not yet at an end, it was at its very beginning—and he and others on that side of the House still entertained confident hopes that the Party with which they were associated would be able to persuade the people of England of the justice of the cause which they had undertaken. Already many of the difficulties which had stood in the way of the Liberal Party at the last General Election had been removed, and others were in course of removal. He believed the greatest difficulty which they had met with was the Land Purchase Bill. His belief was that apart from the Land Purchase Bill the Liberal Party would have carried the Local Government Bill. He was sure that the Local Government Question was handicapped.
MR. YERBUEGH (Chester)
Sir, I rise to Order. I wish to know whether the right hon. Gentleman is keeping himself to the Amendment?
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, that the subject to which he was alluding was included in the Amendment. He repeated that one of the difficulties which they met with at the last Election was the difficulty raised by the Land Pur- 704 chase Bill. That measure might or might not be necessary; but, at all events, it was unpopular, and it enabled their opponents to raise every possible subject of prejudice against it, and exaggerate it into something of the greatest magnitude. No one was more willing to do this than the Leaders of the so-called Liberal Unionist Party. His right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham was one of those who most freely made use of this prejudice against the Bill. The difficulty raised by that Bill had now been removed out of their way, because they found that the present Government was prepared to propose a measure at least as large if not larger than the Land Bill of the late Government. The criticisms of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham would not have had the same effect in the country if he had been candid enough to say during the General Election what he said in the debate on Thursday night—that he was himself in favour of a large scheme of Land Purchase for Ireland, and also in favour of the gradual substitution of peasant proprietors for the present dual ownership of land in Ireland. Such a scheme as that would practically involve the purchase of all the rights of the landlords in respect of the tenant holdings in Ireland; and therefore the present policy of the Government practically involved, a scheme of Land Purchase larger by far than that of the late Government. He thought it would only have been fair and candid on the part of his right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham if he had given to the country during the last Election his opinions upon this subject. If he had told the country, at the time he was denouncing the Bill of the late Government, that he was himself favourable to a large scheme of Land Purchase, he believed that the main force of his right hon. Friend's argument against the Home Rule Bill would have been lost, and that there would have been much greater success for the Home Rule policy. His right hon. Friend, however, was not prepared to tell the country his views at the last Election, and concealed his opinions. His right hon. Friend had told them that there were Members of the Liberal Party who were endeavouring to ostracize him and to oust him from the Party. He must say that he was not aware that 705 any Members of the Party entertained such a wish. They all had too high an opinion of the right hon. Gentleman's talent and capacity to wish him to be otherwise than a Member of the Liberal Party. His right hon. Friend had wandered from the great majority of the Liberal Party, and this by his own wish and course rather than by any wish of the Liberal Party. During the General Election he had said many things which had given his former friends great pain. He referred especially to the attempts he had made to raise the religious question in a way—
§ MR. SPEAKER
The general action of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham at the General Election has no reference to the subject of the Amendment.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, he accepted the ruling of the Chair. He felt that if the country had been aware that the late Conservative Opposition and his right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham were in favour of a large scheme of Land Purchase, much of the difficulty the Liberals met with in the recent campaign would have been avoided; and it was his confident belief that a very much larger number of the electors would have given their favour to the Irish policy of the late Government, and they might even have been returned with a majority. For his part, he was opposed to any gigantic scheme of Land Purchase, such as the one proposed by the Government, whether connected with Home Rule or not. But if connected with Home Rule, such a measure would be infinitely preferable to the other, inasmuch as autonomy would give content to Ireland; whereas unconnected with Home Rule the only effect of it would be to substitute an alien Government for the landlords in relation to the tenants. At the same time, while opposed to any scheme involving the purchase of all the land of Ireland and the expropriation of the landlords, he should not object to a moderate scheme which would assist the landlords to some extent, as was proposed by the late Government, provided the sum advanced was carefully limited in amount to some £40,000,000 or £50,000,000. But anything like a general expropriation of the landlords, which was apparently aimed at by the present Government, he considered to be danger- 706 ous and inexpedient. Unfortunately, the immediate crisis was not merely a political one—it was also an economic one. It was not seriously denied in any quarter that the great fall of prices of agricultural produce, especially so far as Ireland was concerned, in the last two years had most seriously affected the condition of the Irish tenants. There was one point connected with this to which he would specially call attention, as it had not yet been noticed. He alluded to the condition of the cottier tenants in the West and South of Ireland. This class was not directly affected by the fall of prices, for they consumed almost all that they produced; they were not, strictly speaking,farmers—they were labourers cultivating small plots of land for their own food, and finding employment in England or Scotland during three or four months of the year, and they returned carrying with them £10 to £15, out of which they hoped to pay their rents and help to provide a livelihood during the remainder of the year. The agricultural depression in England had affected these people in this way—that the market for their labour had failed them, and that they were without employment, and, as a consequence, a large body of these small tenants in Ireland during the last two or three years had been thrown on their beam ends, and were totally unable to pay their rents. Everyone would admit that their case was one calling for grave consideration. He asked the Government and the House seriously to consider the position of this class of people. Was it right that in consequence of circumstances over which they had no control, and which had deprived them altogether of the means of paying their way—was it right that they should be subjected to ejectment from their holdings? He said it would not be right. It seemed to him that, looking to the unexpected nature of the calamity which had fallen on those men, their condition deserved the most serious consideration of the Government, and something ought to be devised to save them from general eviction. He recollected when the Land Act of 1881 was under consideration suggesting to the late Mr. W. E. Forster that a clause should be introduced into it similar to the provision to be found in the jurisprudence of many foreign countries, giving to the Courts of Law power to sus- 707 pend evictions in the case of the very small tenants upon equitable terms in the event of any unforeseen calamity occurring rendering them unable to pay rent; but the Government was unwilling to raise the question, and his right hon. Friend said that when such a difficulty should occur Parliament must deal with it at the time. It was his belief that this question must now be dealt with if we were not to have disorder in the districts he referred to. When they came to the case of other tenants, of those who were strictly speaking farmers, living only by the land, the case was different. He was glad to find himself in agreement with the right hon. Member for West Birmingham on this point. If it were the fact that since the fixing of the main body of the judicial rents prices had fallen from 20 to 30 per cent, and if the fall was likely to be a permanent one, then it was clear that a strong case existed for consideration. It was said that the Commissioners must have taken into account the possibilities of a fall. He presumed they went upon some plan of average prices in the past; but the subsequent fall had been, he believed, altogether beyond any experience in the past. The Government, however, had already admitted that there was a primâ facie case for inquiry. He would frankly admit that the subject was a difficult and a delicate one; it must be entered upon with consideration to both parties. What he wished to urge upon the Government was the extreme importance of coming to an early decision upon this subject. The noble Lord the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Lord Randolph Churchill) had said that he hoped the Commission would report at the end of next spring; but he would ask whether it was really necessary that there should be this long interval? The subject, though a difficult one to decide upon, was not one involving a long inquiry. He ventured to think that a Royal Commission sitting for a month in Dublin, after examining the Land Commissioners and ascertaining from them the general basis of their decisions, and after taking the evidence of competent persons upon the actual present prices of produce and the prospects of the future, might easily come to an early Report on this part of the case before the winter set in, and before proceedings became necessary for the collection 708 of the November rents. He desired to emphasize what had been said by the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone). That right hon. Gentleman had said that the appointment of the proposed Commission would raise great difficulties between landlords and tenants with regard to the November rents, inasmuch as the landlords would be unwilling to make an immediate reduction for fear of prejudicing their case before the Commission. He might have added that the tenants would probably be unwilling to pay their rents for the very same reason. There would, therefore, be difficulties on both sides, which, unless they were dealt with at an early date, would probably be increased, rather than diminished, by the appointment of a Royal Commission. It was urgently necessary in the interests of both that the question, having been raised and being admitted as one proper for inquiry, should be set at rest as soon as possible. There could be no reason why the inquiry should be a long one. On this point the Commission might make an early Report. If their Report should involve legislation the responsibility would rest upon the Government for legislating at the earliest opportunity. In any case, the Report would have an important effect upon voluntary arrangements between landlords and tenants. If disorder was to be avoided in Ireland during the coming winter, he felt sure it could only be prevented by producing this Report, and, if possible, legislating in accordance with it. He would, therefore, urge upon the Government the immediate appointment of the Commission, and the promise that they should report on this branch of the subject before the winter set in. If they did not, he should have himself the gravest alarm as to what might happen. If the Government would not give any undertaking on their part, he should feel it his duty to enter a protest by voting with the hon. Member for Cork. He would not on this occasion enter upon any defence of the Land Act of 1881. He would merely point out that whatever method of dealing with the Land Question had then been adopted the subsequent fall of prices would have equally interfered with its successful working; if a universal system of peasant proprietors had been carried out by means of State loans there would 709 now be the same outcry against the interest payable to the State as against the rents. The Land Act did not create a system of dual ownership—it only gave legal sanction and security to a system which in fact existed, and under which the tenants had acquired an interest in their holdings, which, under the then state of the law, was liable to be confiscated. The danger of dual ownerships of land in Ireland was not an economic one, but a political one; and, in his opinion, so long as England refused the demand of the Irish for self-government, so long would the landlords be connected in the minds of the people with that refusal, and would be considered as the impediments to Home Rule. The bad relations of landlord and tenant and every other bad symptom in Ireland were all intimately connected with the question of self-government. They might drive disaffection below the surface by sending a General to act the part of a policeman. They might bribe the tenants into becoming owners by extravagant terms of State loans; they might sweeten the pill of refusal by such treacle as money for material improvements; but they would have done little or nothing to establish the social system of Ireland on a sure and stable basis until they had recognized that its people were the best judges of what they wanted, and the only persons to whom the maintenance of order could be properly trusted.
§ MR. MACARTNEY (Antrim, S.)
said, fault had been found with the Government on the ground of delay; but, in his opinion, what they asked for was most reasonable, looking at the unfortunate condition of things that prevailed in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) had made very large assumptions with regard to what he believed to be the policy of the Government. The landlords of Ireland did not wish to appear before the country as beggars, and they did not wish to throw any increased taxation on England. They were very well contented to remain in the position they occupied, provided they were left in secure occupation of the rights which were supposed to be guaranteed to them by recent legislation. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) had said that the result of the late Election was largely 710 affected by the Land Purchase Scheme of the late Government; but they should recollect that that scheme was repudiated, not only by hon. Members opposite, but by many hon. Gentlemen who sought to get seats in the House, and who failed. He thought, therefore, that the argument that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) and his followers were defeated in consequence of the Land Bill could not be sustained. The right hon. Member for Bradford had referred to the cottier tenants of the West of Ireland. He presumed he referred to the small tenants, who were under, say, £5 valuation. A large number of those came over to England every year for the purpose of being engaged as agricultural labourers—for the purpose of supplementing their means of livelihood; and, no doubt, they earned a considerable portion of their rents in that way. He had not seen, however, that the migration of those tenants from the West of Ireland to the agricultural districts of England had been less this year than usual; and, therefore, the argument that they could not pay their rent in consequence would not hold good. He was not aware of any circumstances in England that prevented them from earning the usual amount of wages they took back to Ireland. It was to be regretted, of course, that the tenants should be obliged to have recourse to these extraneous exertions in order to be able to pay their rent; but that was a difficulty—and it had been admitted by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian—over which the best of Irish landlords really had no control. ["Hear, hear!"] The remedy, and he believed the only remedy, to be applied to Ireland was emigration. That idea was at one time entertained by even the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) and his followers. It was proposed to obtain from the State very large assistance for the purpose of migrating. It was an exaggeration to describe the landlords in the way they had been by the Nationalists. The speech of the hon. Member for Cork was throughout an echo of the Chicago Convention. The hon. Member for Cork and his followers were determined to reject the measures the Government proposed to take, and which he believed were, in the opinion of the country, best 711 calculated to advance the interests of the Irish farmers and of all classes in Ireland. The tenour of the speeches of those hon. Members had been the inability of tenants all over Ireland to pay their rents, and the assumed determination of their landlords to extort the last penny. He denied that the Irish landlords, as a body, would do anything of the sort; but, at the same time, so much bitterness had been introduced into the relations between landlord and tenant in a large proportion of the country that he admitted that it was almost hopeless to expect a restoration of the amicable relations which formerly existed between them. No language had fallen, either from the noble Lord the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Lord Randolph Churchill) in that House, or from the Prime Minister (the Marquess of Salisbury) in "another place," upon which could be based any charge of inciting the Irish landlords to act harshly in obtaining payment of rent. The truth was that the policy now taken up by the hon. Member for Cork and his adherents was not so much for the protection of the interests of the tenants in Ireland, as in systematic furtherance of aims, which, at one time or another, had been avowed by Members of the Party. Speaking at Boston in 1881, Mr. Healy said that they believed that landlordism was the prop of English rule in Ireland, and they worked to get rid of it. He went on to draw a comparison between the temptation of our Saviour and the presence of the English in Ireland, and said that the Irish, when shown all the Kingdoms of the world and the glory of them, instead of Baying "Begone Satan," cried out "Begone Saxon." As to the prices of agricultural produce, statistics showed that prices in 1885 were almost exactly the same as they were in 1879, and the Commissioners must have had the latter before them when they fixed the judicial rents. He did not deny that the Parnellite Party represented the greater part of Ireland, but they did not represent it all; and he knew that in his district, though the farmers complained of the depression, they looked to a different source for a remedy. They looked to some protection from foreign competition. The system advocated by the hon. Member for Cork of a triennial settlement of rents would lead to more confusion than existed at the present 712 time in the relations between landlord and tenant in Ireland, and would be extremely disastrous to the agricultural interests of that country at large. He had, from long experience and observation, become perfectly acquainted with the character of the Irish landlords as a class, and was well assured that, unless there were a combination not to pay rent, they would not resort, except at the last extremity, to eviction. It would, undoubtedly, be to himself and those hon. Members from Ireland on the same side of the House a sincere pleasure if, either by the inquiries the Government were about to make, or in consequence of any suggestions which might be made from any quarter of the House in answer to those inquiries, the period of distress, pressure, and strain which had been placed on the relations between the landlords and tenants of Ireland should be removed. The question of the Irish Land Laws was a very difficult and complex one, and he was not prepared to say that it was easy at this moment to know exactly in what direction to proceed; but he believed that proceeding in the direction of a gradual and cautious development of the Land Purchase Act passed last year afforded the safest solution.
§ MR. WILLIAM ABRAHAM (Glamorgan, Rhondda)
said, it was not his intention to have spoken in the debate if it had not been for some words which had fallen from one or two of the speakers that evening. The Amendment of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) deprecated any attempt to transfer the loss on rents from the owners of the land to the taxpayers of Great Britain and Ireland. A more unsound and dangerous policy than that propounded by the Government it was difficult to understand or conceive, because it proposed to transfer the losses of the Irish landlords to the State, than which nothing could be more utterly unfair. If it was a wise policy to make good the losses of Irish landlords, why should not the losses of English, Scotch, and Welsh landlords also be made good by the taxpayers of the United Kingdom? Whatever might be the condition of the Irish tenant farmers, one thing he could say was that the position of the Welsh tenant farmer was bad enough. From his own personal knowledge of the hilly portion of Wales—and the hilly portion was the 713 largest—the tenant farmers would be unable to pay their rents during the coming winter, not owing to their own fault, but owing to the reduced value of the farms. If it was quite fair to make good the losses sustained by landlords in agricultural enterprizes, why not make good the losses in connection with commercial and industrial undertakings? Surely what would be fair in one case would be equally fair in the other. Land in England and Wales was undergoing a similar depreciation to what it was undergoing in Ireland. It was not impossible that the land might recover its former value, or, it might be, that the returns from land might still further continue to be a languishing quantity. Therefore, the landlords ought to bear their losses in the same way that the ironmaster, the manufacturer, the colliery owner, and every suffering interest had to bear theirs. Many thousands of the working classes in this country at the present moment were famishing; and if the policy of the Government were to be carried out, there were toiling millions in this country who would have to bear the cost of such a policy. He was sorry to see that the policy of the Prime Minister in regard to this great subject had found the support of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Joseph Chamberlain). The Amendment of the hon. Member for Cork deprecated any attempt of this kind. Yet the right hon. Gentleman was going to give the policy of the Government a fair and favourable consideration. Nay, what was more, he was going to vote for the ridiculous proposals of the Government. When the supporters of the Government and those who were acting with the right hon. Gentleman combined, they could, of course, carry any proposal, for in the present Parliament it was useless to appeal to any Party to defeat them. He (Mr. Abraham) most sincerely and solemnly, on behalf of his constituents, and on behalf of thousands of Welsh working men, wished to enter his humble protest against any attempt to transfer from the landlords their losses to the taxpayers of Great Britain and Ireland; and he also ventured to caution the Government against making any attempt in that direction, or else they would have reason to regret their dangerous proposal.
§ MR. SETON-KARR (St. Helen's)
said, the answer to the previous speaker's question, "Why should not the same rule as to making up the losses of the landlords be applied to England, Scotland, and Wales, as well as to Ireland?" was simple enough. The landlords of the United Kingdom had made no request for anything of the kind; and the landlords of the United Kingdom had not had their rents judicially guaranteed. It was rather a singular thing to find the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) posing as the friend of the British taxpayer. The hon. Member had never hesitated to sacrifice the interests of the British taxpayer when the interest of Ireland demanded it. The attitude of the hon. Member for Cork in this matter was highly interesting. For the first time, he evinced a tender solicitude for the British taxpayer, and the House might be pardoned for doubting the purity of the hon. Member's motives, seeing that, as first lieutenant to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone), he had advocated the Land Purchase Bill of that right hon. Gentleman, which would have sacrificed the interests of the British taxpayer to the extent of £150,000,000. Of the many startling changes which had taken place within the last six months this was one of the most startling. The basis of the proposal for ignoring the judicial rent fixed under the Land Act of 1881 was the alleged inability of the tenant to pay, owing to the fall in the prices of agricultural produce; but it seemed to him that the premiss had not been conclusively proved. There had been no evidence to show that the fall in the price of oats, butter, and live stock was likely to be permanent. Indeed, the Reports showed that the prices of live stock were recovering. ["Oh, oh!"] There was, however, no evidence of such a fall in the prices of agricultural produce as would justify the Amendment of the hon. Member for Cork; and, on the other hand, there was ample evidence that many tenants were paying their rent surreptitiously. The policy which the Government had shadowed forth was the policy of the Land Act of 1881, supplemented by the Arrears Act of 1882 and the Purchase Act of 1885. The basis of the proposal of the hon. Member for Cork was to ignore the 715 judicial rents of 1881 on the ground that the tenants were unable to pay. He did not think that it had been proved in the course of the debate that that was the case, while, on the other hand, there was much evidence to the contrary effect. It was a very extraordinary thing that the hon. Member for Cork asked the House, in the interests of the British taxpayer, to depart from a policy inaugurated by the English statesman whom he held in the greatest favour. He thought the faint doubts he had expressed as to the purity of the hon. Member for Cork were considerably increased when they recollected these facts; and they were justified in other ways to doubt the sincerity of the attitude of that hon. Member and his followers. Was this Amendment a bonâ fide attempt to bring about a better state of things in Ireland? The hon. Member for Cork and his followers came to that House unallied to any Party—they came as Irish patriots—and by the verdict of the constituencies a Home Rule Parliament in College Green had been denied them. [Cries of "No!"] He appealed to the facts of the results of the General Election and the present constitution of the House. The Imperial Parliament must, therefore, take the Land Question in hand, for it could not be settled by an Irish Parliament in Dublin. Under these circumstances, what good would the Amendment do the Irish-American Party, suggesting, as it did, that the policy of the Land Act of 1881 should be interfered with before the present Government had prosecuted their inquiries upon the subject? As an independent Conservative, he asked the hon. Member (Mr. Parnell) and his followers if they really desired justice for Ireland, or was it not rather the fact that by supporting the Amendment they declined to be conciliated except by a grant of independence, which was beyond the power of the present House to grant? There were, he took it, three courses open on the question of land, if they admitted, for the sake of argument, that the tenants in Ireland could not pay the judicial rent. The first course was that the landlords should proceed to evict when they could not get their rent, and that the Government should not interfere; the second course was to ignore the Land Act of 1881 and 716 to lower the judicial rents; and the third course was that the policy shadowed forth by Her Majesty's Government should be caried out—namely, that in cases where the tenants were really unable to pay these judicial rents some form of State aided payment should be proposed, by which these tenants would be able to pay their rents and the landlords receive that to which they were entitled by recent legislation. As to the first course, he took it that it was not proposed by the Government in all its nakedness; but he might remark that it was a very curious thing that Ireland should be the only part of the United Kingdom in which men should be allowed to break through their legal obligations with impunity, and where contracts were to be looked upon as piecrusts, made only to be broken. It seemed the second course involved the British taxpayers in more of that responsibility which the Land Act imposed upon them. That was a point which was very seldom mentioned. The Liberal Government and Parliament of 1880 passed the legislation by which the judicial rents were fixed, and that imposed a responsibility on the British taxpayers. The latter were, to a certain extent, responsible for the acts of that Government, and for the legislation which was the outcome of their policy, for by their Representatives they entered, into a contract between landlords and tenants. Parliament, after passing such legislation, could not, except with very good reason, interfere with it again in the way suggested. Coming, therefore, to the last alternative, they did not yet know whether the British taxpayers would be burdened at all; but if they were they had the guarantee that it was not to bolster up a foreign country and to pay rents to alien landlords; but it was done on good security, on sound conditions, and to support the industry of an integral part of the United Kingdom. He opposed the Amendment because it was open to suspicion, because it suggested an un-business-like policy, and because it was decidedly premature.
§ MR. O'DOHERTY (Donegal, N.)
said, it was evident that many of the arguments addressed to the House founded on the sacred right of contract and on the faith of Britain ceased to have very much weight with anyone coming from 717 the North of Ireland and representing the tenants there. They had never approved of the Act of 1860, by which Parliament, for the first time, made the relation between landlord and tenant one of contract. From that period they might date the commencement of the land agitation in Ireland in its acute form. There was one matter touched upon by the hon. Member for Rhondda (Mr. William Abraham) and the hon. Member for St. Helen's (Mr. Seton-Karr), which, had been used as dexterously in Ireland for the purpose of preventing Ulster tenants having fair play as it had been used in that House for the purpose of persuading hon. Members that the existence of the tenant right was an argument in favour of keeping up high rents in Ulster. They were constantly told that they ought not to seek to reduce rent in Ulster because a tenant right had been sold for 20 or 25 years' purchase. He wished to point out that the Land Commission had not only not taken into view future depression, but had absolutely refused to hear the tenants' advocates upon this subject. The very interest of the tenants of Ulster, which it was the intention of Parliament to protect, was used as an instrument to keep up the rack rent; but he could assure the Government that the tenants in Ulster would never agree to have their tenant right taken away. It could not fairly be urged that the present rent, which had been fixed without regard to future depression, should be maintained, because the result of such maintenance would be universal bankruptcy in Ulster. There was a consensus of agricultural opinion that the continuance of judicial rents was utterly impossible. Oats were the corn crop of Ulster, and Ireland produced one-third of the whole crop of the United Kingdom. As a grower, he knew that the price had fallen fully one-fourth. A shilling a stone used to be considered the retail price, and now it was 8d. He had sold a growing crop for less than £7 an Irish acre, and for the like crop he had formerly received £10 to £11. Twenty-five per cent was not the limit to which the price of inferior cattle had fallen; some descriptions had fallen as much as 50 per cent. A fall of one-fourth in the price of produce ought to involve a reduction of fully one-half in the rent. It was quite a fallacy to suppose that a fall 718 in prices was represented by an equal reduction in rent. That would transfer the burden to the tenant, instead of dividing it with the landlord. The 13th section of the 3rd clause of the Land Act of 1881 did not afford to tenants under non-judicial rents any remedy against evictions. The statement that it did would not be made in Ireland when the facts were known. The costs of applications to the Courts amounted to a large proportion of the rent due, and most of the few applicants had been refused any delay, unless landlords or their solicitors would consent, and unless they would impoverish themselves to an extent which would prevent them going on at all. He would suggest a remedy for the immediate future, and the principle of it was to be found in the suggestions which had been made from the Government Bench as to the suspension of evictions. It had been pointed out by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) that certain tenants could have evictions suspended pending the consideration and reductions which were sought for by applying to the Court. He would develop that, and make it possible to prevent and defeat ejectments if the landlord refused a reasonable offer—say, two-thirds of the rent. He had heard it stated that reductions would be universal, and that the spirit of the landlords was to smooth matters over. He would leave it to the landlord to proceed under civil bill in the ordinary way for the remaining third, and allow the Court to decide whether, under the circumstances, it would allow a decree. He had himself considerable experience of the Courts in the North of Ulster, and he could say there never was a period when the disposition of the people was greater than it was now to put an end to the long struggle.
§ MR. F. S. POWELL (Wigan)
said, the hon. Member for North Donegal who had just sat down (Mr. O'Doherty) had not wasted the time of the House; and he and others who had addressed the House from the Irish Benches left on his (Mr. Powell's) mind the conviction that this Amendment would not meet the case, but that what was required was further inquiry and deeper investigation. He regretted that reference had been made to the Chicago Convention. He condemned the strong lan- 719 guage which had been used at that Convention, and feared that if outrages were to occur in Ireland the warmth of the present relations between England and America might somewhat diminish. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) had mentioned that when he was a boy there were disturbances in Lancashire. [Sir WILLIAM HARCOURT: I was at school there.] No doubt the right hon. Gentleman was devoting himself so closely to his historical studies that he had not inquired very closely into the disturbances. Speaking from personal knowledge, he asserted that any disturbance which occurred in Lancashire had no connection with the repeal of the Corn Laws. It had been stated again and again by those who took a leading part in that movement, and by no one more emphatically than the right hon. Gentleman the senior Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright), that the repeal of the Corn Laws was a peaceful movement, and that no outrages took place from the beginning of the discussions to the end. No population in the world had suffered so severely as that of Lancashire did from the Cotton Famine. But there was no disturbance during that crisis. There was peace and order, and he might say even contentment, and perhaps happiness. The people of Lancashire passed through that crisis, if not without anxiety as regarded the welfare of the people, without a moment's alarm as to disturbance. What was the result of that action on the minds of the people of the country at large? When it was proposed to confer the borough franchise it was argued that the people who could behave in that way and show so much self-restraint were worthy of possessing the suffrage. It was clear, therefore, that no disturbance was necessary, in this country at least, to accomplish a wholesome reformation. The next point referred to by the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) in his Amendment was the objection made to the transfer of loss from the owners of land by any extension of State-assisted purchase. Some anxiety had been expressed as to whether the English taxpayer would be saddled with an additional burden arising from grants of Imperial money to Irish landlords. It was necessary, therefore, for Conservative Members to make their position on that point clear 720 and distinct. In the earlier portion of the year he opposed the proposal of the late Government for the purchase of land, because he was convinced, after full investigation, that the security was not a valid one, and that, in the end, great loss would be incurred by English taxpayers. But in this case, so far as he could gather from the declarations of the Government, it was no part of their plan that there should be a farthing of loss to the British taxpayer. It was upon that conviction that he and his hon. Friends from Lancashire would give support to the Government in the proposals which they had foreshadowed. Hon. Members from Ireland had a great deal to say about Irish poverty. He regretted that those declarations of poverty should be made, because they were a great weakening of the power of Ireland. It was manifest that a nation which was in the poor condition which hon. Members represented could not be in the enjoyment of credit. Ireland wanted more ample resources and larger means, in order that by taking advantage of them capital might remain in the country, be made to increase, and attracted to it. If Ireland was to take its place among the nations of the world—to use the phrase of hon. Gentlemen opposite—if it was to have a place in the industrial and commercial communities of civilization, there must be more wealth introduced in the country. The declarations of want of means, therefore, were an injury to Ireland; they impaired confidence, and were calculated to impair the resources of that country. They also heard a great deal about the wealth of Irish landlords. But talk of that kind was not justified by the facts. In reality, so far as his observation went, the bulk of Irish landlords were poor. He should like to see among Irish tenants, not only the ability and the willingness to pay their rents, but a willingness to work with a will and with skill. He was by no means convinced, from what he had seen of Ireland, and from what he had read in connection with the condition of the country, that the very best was made of the agricultural resources of that country. If the minds of the agricultural population were withdrawn from political controversy and more firmly fixed on the cultivation of the land, he believed that there would be more prosperity, greater 721 wealth, and more happiness in Ireland. He hoped they would soon have tranquillity and order in Ireland, and that the intellectual force of the Government and the mental and physical energies of the House of Commons would be directed to a solution of the problem unimpaired by the heat of bitter controversy, and uninterrupted by manifestations of hostile feeling towards a country which was most desirous of serving Ireland.
§ MR. SCHWANN (Manchester, N.)
said, he was desirous of expressing his sympathy with the cause of Ireland. He regretted that the question had led to a division in the Liberal ranks, and that the landmarks of the Party had been broken up. So far from regarding the dissentient section of the Party as Unionists, he thought they ought to be called Confusionists, who would find themselves in a very peculiar position whenever they had to return to the constituencies for re-election. With regard to the Amendment, he submitted that the depression in prices, which was patent to the whole world, was likely to be permanent. They could not exaggerate too much the facilities which were given in the present day by the telegraph and the various lines of steamers and otherwise for the carrying of produce from one country to another. As 100 tons of produce could be carried for 1d. per mile by sea, exclusive of handling expenses, the House could easily imagine what effect such rates must have in the bringing of produce from abroad. From the River Plate, as well as from New Zealand, we were receiving a large quantity of mutton, which was one of the staple articles of produce in Ireland. He would give a few statistics, just to show what had been the progress and increase of the shipment of frozen meat to this country. In 1882 the quantity imported was, in round numbers, 189,000 cwt.; in 1883, 286,000 cwt.; in 1884, 503,000 cwt.; and in 1885, 572,000 cwt. Those figures represented an increase in value from £637,000 in 1882 to £1,486,000 last year. Those facts were taken from the Board of Trade Returns, and could not be challenged; and he found from the Report of July that we were now receiving also considerable shipments of frozen mutton from the Falkland Islands. He learned from friends interested in the shipping trade that arrangements were being 722 made on most of the chief lines of steamers now running to mutton-producing countries for frozen compartments to be provided, in order to bring mutton to England from all parts of the world; and he found there were now in this country 26,000 carcases at the Victoria Docks and 20,000 at the West India Docks, making a total of 40,000 carcases at the present moment in London. Of course, this supply was likely to increase, and he hoped landlords opposite would take such facts into consideration before attempting to evict their Irish tenantry at a time of unusual depression. He thought all who had studied this question must be heartily sick of the application of coercion, which had been perfectly useless and provocative of crime. The fatal sisterhood of coercion, eviction, and outrage had followed upon one another's heels. Coercion could not be applied to the Irish people without arousing feeling which led to outrages, which the Irish Members must deplore as being the greatest enemies to the cause of self-government. He was bound to confess that some years ago he also believed in the policy of coercion, and had signed a Memorial in 1880 from the borough he now represented urging the Government to take whatever steps they thought necessary for the restoration of order in Ireland. In course of time many of them changed their opinions. Probably they did not study Irish history until the question became urgent; but they might save themselves the expense of investing in a history of Ireland by recognizing the fact that it was one long history of outrage by England for the last 700 years. It was to be feared that the landlords would follow the advice which had been given to them by the noble Lord the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Lord Randolph Churchill) to evict their tenants, knowing that they would be fully protected. It was difficult for those who sat on that—the Government—side of the House to propose any legislation which could be exactly agreeable to the Irish Members below the Gangway, who not only desired self-government for Ireland, but were in favour of the largo scheme promoted by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone). To that scheme he had given an unswerving support, although he did not pledge Himself to the land 723 measure introduced by the right hon. Gentleman. Therefore, he had no need to act upon the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Joseph Chamberlain), and separate himself from the main body of the Liberal Party. In addressing the House for the first time he wished to express his extreme sympathy with the cause of Ireland, and to assure Irish Members that there were many sitting on the Benches above the Gangway who would work heartily to aid them in carrying out the great object which they advocated and had at heart. In conclusion, he desired to express his thanks to the House for the courtesy with which they had heard him.
§ SIR WILLIAM HART DYKE (Kent, Dartford)
said, he felt some difficulty about giving a silent vote on the present occasion. And, first of all, he would ask the indulgence of the House while he made a remark chiefly of a personal character. He regretted that he should have been some few days ago—for the first time in 21 years—called to Order. So long as he had had a seat in that House he had never been called to Order from the Chair until that occasion, when he rose to protest against a statement of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell). The hon. Member for Cork stated in his place that Lord Carnarvon went over to Ireland as a Home Ruler, and that he did so with the knowledge of his Chief Secretary. Now, Lord Carnarvon had dealt with statements of this nature amply and fully again and again in "another place," and the noble Lord was perfectly able to take care of himself. But, for himself, he (Sir William Hart Dyke) wished, and was determined, to take the earliest opportunity of giving the most unqualified contradiction to the statement of the hon. Member that the English language could convey. It was right, further, to state this—that the very first knowledge, or even inkling of knowledge, that came to him that an interview had taken place between Lord Carnarvon and the hon. Member for Cork was some six months after he had resigned the Office of Chief Secretary for Ireland. He had in his possession a letter from the Earl of Carnarvon, written on the 13th of June last, in which the noble Earl gave ample reasons how it was and why it was—that that interview took place solely on the noble Earl's own 724 responsibility and totally apart from any of his Colleagues in the Government—that he withheld all knowledge of it from his Chief Secretary. It might be urged that these matters, being personal, were of infinitesimal importance, having regard to the grave subjects raised in the debate; but, at the same time, he did not apologize for introducing them. The Office of Chief Secretary had never been a bed of roses to its occupants, although whoever took that charming position must be willing to accept all responsibility attaching to it. He noticed that whilst his Successor (Mr. John Morley) still occupied a seat down there on the Front Opposition Bench, he himself, with singular immodesty, as an ex-Chief Secretary, had at once taken a higher position in the House. Passing now to one or two matters that had emerged in the course of the debate, he was bound to say that, having listened with some careful attention to the speech of the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton), he found it, in a certain sense, one of the most difficult speeches to reply to that he had over heard. The hon. Member for Sligo had travelled very far in his speech; and though many hon. Members might endeavour to follow him in what he had said, yet he believed that hon. Members on both sides of the House would endorse his statement that though that speech had been amusing in itself, and contained light personalities, yet he defied any candid man to say he could extract from it any solid argument why the Amendment of the hon. Member for Cork should be accepted by the House, and the policy of Her Majesty's Government repudiated. It was true that the House had had a long and entangled discussion; and he, for one, pitied the Speaker during it. During all the time he had been in Parliament he had never known any occupant of the Chair who had had so much difficulty in dealing with his flock, and in stopping those sheep who wandered from the fold; but for his own part, if he should follow in the steps of previous wanderers, he could assure the right hon. Gentleman (the Speaker) that he would "downcharge" at the lifting of his little finger. This discussion, though somewhat lengthened, had not proved a useless one, either as regarded the position of Her Majesty's Government or of the House in general. During 725 its progress they had discovered various things that were of value both to hon. Members of that House and to the constituencies of the country. In the first place, they had learned this from the careful and able speech of the hon. Member for Cork—that he and those who were now acting with him were prepared to say non possumus to any measure that the Government might propose for the material amelioration of Ireland, so long as they did not accept his formula of an independent Parliament sitting in Dublin. He did not think he was exaggerating what had been the meaning of that speech. It was of value to the House, and still more to the constituencies of this country, to gather for the first time that any measure proposed by the people of this country, or the Parliament of this country, for the amelioration of Ireland would be rejected unless the constituencies of this country were prepared to go back upon the course which they had adopted with so much decision a few months ago, and to accept the proposition of an Irish Parliament. They had learned another thing of equal value—the treatment that they on that side of the House were likely to receive in these Irish difficulties from the Front Opposition Bench. They had had a very long speech with reference to this Amendment from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone). That speech had been a critical one; and though its language and manner had been very mild, yet he must say that the impression which that speech had left on his mind, and on the minds of those who sat on his side of the House, was that it conveyed an earnest desire to make the task of those who had succeeded the right hon. Gentleman as difficult and as thorny as possible. For his own part, he had heard with the greatest regret much that had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman with reference to this difficulty of the collection of rents in Ireland, considering the authority with which the right hon. Gentleman spoke. The impression which that speech had left on his mind was that, though the right hon. Gentleman had not asked the tenants of Ireland not to pay rent, he had given them a hint very much like that conveyed in the intimation—"Do not nail his ears to the pump." At the conclusion of his speech, the right 726 hon. Gentleman had stated that the great difficulty with regard to the whole question was that, while England was governed according to English ideas and Scotland according to Scottish ideas, Ireland, on the other hand, was not in these matters governed according to Irish ideas. He would like to know whether the right hon. Gentleman and his Colleagues followed that statement to its logical conclusion? Were they prepared to adopt the language which they heard upon the Irish Benches with regard to slavery in Ireland, when the fact that a man was compelled to meet the legal obligations into which he had entered was spoken of as slavery? On the very night when the right hon. Gentleman was making his speech upon the question in that House a speech had been made at a League meeting in Dublin by the hon. Member for Westmeath (Mr. Tuite), in which he had told his audience that—The tenants must see, and the Irish people must see, that the land from which a tenant might be cast out must be made for every other man a curse instead of a blessing.That was the programme of an hon. Member who sat below the Gangway; was it endorsed by his Colleagues on those Benches? If it were so, the sooner the people of this country knew it the better.
§ MR. T. D. SULLIVAN (Westmeath, S.)
As the other Member for Westmeath, I also deny having used the words.
§ SIR WILLIAM HART DYKE
The words were reported as having been used by one of the Members of that Party; and the question was whether the late Prime Minister and his Colleagues endorsed such language? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian had somewhat patronized the Government with regard to the difficulties in which they were placed, and had spoken of the complex question before them. The whole question was, indeed, complex and complicated enough; but what was the chief source of these complications? He held that the chief source of them was the past land legislation of the right hon. Gentleman. Speech after speech had been made in this debate from both sides 727 of the House full of bitter denunciation of the policy of the Land Act of the right hon. Gentleman; and the complications which the right hon. Gentleman now talked of were the result of measures which had been denounced at their introduction, and which now had borne bitter fruit. The right hon. Gentleman himself had produced the worst complication of all when he had performed one of the biggest political somersaults ever executed by a British statesman. With regard to the great questions of evictions and the payment of rent raised by the hon. Member for Cork, for his own part he knew something about these difficulties. He would point out to the House that, while Her Majesty's Government were denounced from the Benches opposite because they asked for a Commission of Inquiry, every speech made in that debate proved not only that such an inquiry was necessary, but that any legislation attempted without it must inevitably fail. No statement had been made from his own side of the House with regard to this great Land Question which had not immediately been contradicted by hon. Members opposite; and he might also say that there were very few statements which had been made over there which had not been amply contradicted on his own side. That amply proved the necessity which existed for the inquiry which Her Majesty's Government demanded; and he held that unless the Government proceeded in that way it would be utterly impossible for them to carry out any legislation whatever. With regard to these evictions, he was not one of those who would regard with honour any man who dealt harshly or bitterly with tenants who could not pay. Those, however, who had been watching this question considered—whether rightly or wrongly—that there were many cases at this moment in Ireland where tenants were in difficulties and could not pay their rent; but they had also discovered that there were two classes, and they wanted an inquiry in order to discriminate between the two. There was a class of tenants who were in grave difficulties, and were unable to pay their rents. But there was a vast class, on the other hand, who were trading on the difficulties and disasters of their fellow-tenants, and who could pay and would not. Therefore, to 728 ask Her Majesty's Government to go into some wholesale scheme for the relief of Irish tenants was most unjust and impolitic. Hon. Gentlemen talked as if this Land Question was merely an Irish one, and they ignored the sufferings of the English tenants. It was not an Irish question only. In England during the last 10 years there were thousands of farmers who had become bankrupt, and who had suffered without a murmur; and were we to tell them, as a reward for their loyalty and patience, that for them, nothing would be done, while we were giving an ample measure of relief by State machinery to a huge number of Irish tenants who could pay and would not do so? He wished to urge that consideration in common justice when he heard those long denunciatory harangues against the British Parliament, and all those speeches about the impossibility of arranging our affairs without the intervention of two Parliaments. Why was the Land Purchase Act of 1885 so persistently ignored by hon. Gentlemen opposite? That was said to be the most liberal Act ever passed as regarded the tenants. It proposed to make the Irish tenant in 49 years absolute owner of his holding, relieved of all charges whatever except taxes. How was it that this Act had been left until now, with slight exceptions, practically inoperative? He could see when he went back to Ireland after the passing of the Act that it was frowned upon and its operation was blocked by the National League in Ireland, [Cries of "No!"] He stated facts which came before him. When he was in Dublin he had case after case mentioned to him where the tenants would have taken advantage of the Act; but a hint was given them that for the present, at all events, the Act was to remain inoperative. It had been urged that the judicial rents had been fixed without any regard to a future fall in prices. But it was impossible for any man who had been connected with land even for six weeks not to have brought to his notice what the fall in prices was likely to be. He maintained that the prospective fall in prices must have been taken into account by the Sub-Commissioners in fixing the rents, or, if not, the Commissioners were utterly unfit for the task before them; but he believed that most of the decisions as to the judicial rents 729 were come to after three or four of the worst agricultural years which had been experienced in Ireland. He denied, moreover, that there had been such a fall in prices as it was sought to make out. As far as he understood the policy of the hon. Member for Cork, it was to shut up Ireland by herself, and restrict her from any trading operations with England. [Cries of "No!"] They had hoard it, but he trusted it was not so. Would Ireland be the better for it? When he was in Ireland in July, 1S85, butter was selling in Cork at 7d. per lb. An hon. Friend of his rather depreciated the value of the article; but he was romancing at the time. At that very moment in his own country they could get 1s. 6d. per lb. for as much of that very butter as could be had. A charge had been constantly brought against Her Majesty's Government that under their scheme the taxpayers of this country were to be called upon to pay the difference between the judicial rent and that actually received by the landlords—so that they might not suffer. He had hoard nothing from the noble Lord the Chancellor of the Exchequer to sustain such a charge, though he believed that by the Act of 1881 the State did take an enormous onus upon itself with regard to this question of rent, by its interference with freedom of contract between landlords and tenants. For himself, with regard to peasant proprietary, he did not believe that a complete system could be carried out for the benefit of Ireland. If it could be carried out fully it would be a good thing; but he did not believe in it, because there was a vast extent of land in Ireland on which the small occupier would be always on the verge of starvation. The rents of a great number of those small occupiers in the West of Ireland was not paid out of the land, but out of the wages of able-bodied members of the family, who came over to England for the harvest operations, saved their earnings, and took them back to pay the rent of their holdings. The labour question was not peculiar to Ireland—it extended to England also. At present the towns were being flooded by a large mass of the agricultural population, chiefly because a great extent of land was going out of cultivation; it was laid down in grass, and the labour accounts were re- 730 duced almost to nil. The consequence was a great pressure of labour in the large towns. And they proposed to remedy the evil by placing the whole of Ireland under one huge system of peasant proprietors. But how were they to live? In Galway, Mayo, and other counties there was a vast quantity of rock with bits of grass here and there where small holders could not subsist. Under a huge system of peasant proprietors they would put small squatters upon those patches, and the consequence would be that the evil would be aggravated. The certain result of the establishment of a peasant proprietary would be a misfortune rather than a blessing, for it would still more completely flood the labour markets of England with Irishmen, who would come over to earn the rents of their land during the havest. Among the working classes of this country the effect of Irish legislation upon the labour question in this country had been regarded as of the greatest importance. He mentioned this point in perfect good faith, because, however much hon. Members in that House might differ upon political subjects, his earnest hope was that they would all do their best to prevent anything like a collision between the working classes of England and Ireland. He should like to conclude his remarks by one sentence, which was possibly out of Order; but he hoped that the indulgence of the House would be accorded to him on the ground that he had endeavoured to be good so far. He trusted that hon. Members from Ireland would agree that, whatever opposition he and those who thought with him might offer to the proposal for a separate Parliament for Ireland, they were all desirous to obtain that which they honestly believed would be for the good of that country. What he disliked so much in this debate was the assumption on the part of Irish Members that English Members who sat on the Government side of the House were animated by hostile feelings towards Ireland, and were desirous of retarding its progress and its prosperity. For his part, he repudiated any notion of the kind. He went further, and he wished that that identity of policy by successive Governments which had been so strongly approved by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian as applied to the foreign policy of this 731 country could be applied also to Ireland. He could nol help thinking how different would have been the relations between Ireland and this country during the last 10 or 15 years if there had been something like a continuity of policy adopted towards Ireland by both Parties as they successively came into power. On this matter both Parties had been to blame. He confessed that he had been in former times as bitter a partizan as any man; but he now deeply regretted that Ireland should have been made the football between the contending Parties in the State, which was the reason why the Irish problem was now the most difficult that had ever vexed the souls of politicians. He desired, however, to address one word of warning to hon. Members opposite. We had lately passed through the trouble of an Election in this country; and he was satisfied that the verdict which had been given by the country, hostile to a separate Parliament for Ireland, would, if again challenged, be given in a manner ten times more strong than that which had just been delivered.
§ SIR WILFRID LAWSON (Cumberland, Cockermouth)
Sir, although I do not agree with several things which have been said by the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken, yet I think that most of us will agree with him when he said that every hon. Member in this House has the good of Ireland at heart. The object of a deliberative Assembly such as this is to secure the good of the commonwealth. I shall not detain the House long with any remarks I have to make upon the Amendment; but as the House has now heard speeches from all sections of it, from orthodox Conservatives, Irish Nationalists, orthodox Liberals, and hybrid Liberals, perhaps it is not out of place if a Radical unattached should give his view of the Amendment before the House. I may have had for a moment, perhaps, some misgiving whether the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) ought to be added to an Address in answer to the Speech from the Throne; but I can assure you, Sir, that all my doubts were entirely removed after I heard the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain). I speak impartially in the matter, because all of us know the attitude which the hon. 732 Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) took up in the General Election of 1885. The hon. Member put out a Manifesto to the constituency for which I was standing, directing them to vote against me, and the consequence was that I was kept out of the last Parliament. I appear here to-day to return good for evil; and the best return I can make is carefully to examine the Amendment which has been put on the Paper, and to give my unbiased opinion whether it ought to be carried or not. Now, the first clause of the Amendment declares that—Owing to the heavy fall in the price of agricultural produce, the greatest difficulty will be experienced in the coming winter by the Irish tenant farmers in the payment of their present rents, and that many will be unable to pay those rents at all.That is admitted to be true by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. The second clause naturally follows from the first. The second clause observes that in that state of things—Numerous evictions confiscating the rights vested in the tenants by the Land Act of 1881, causing wide-spread suffering and endangering the maintenance of social order, will be the result.Well, Sir, that is the Irish Question. Eviction is almost the whole of the Irish Question as I understand it. In my heart I regard it as the Irish Question in its intensity. In Ireland—although we have had such difficulty in governing it, and we have not been able to govern it for the last 85 years—in Ireland, I believe, there is less ordinary crime than in almost any other country. And the question of evictions is really and truly at the bottom of the whole Irish Question. Then comes the third clause of the Amendment; and I do not understand that the right hon. Member for West Birmingham really objects even to that clause. The third clause says—That we deprecate any attempt to transfer the loss likely to arise due to inability to pay the present rents, from the owners of land to the taxpayers of Great Britain and Ireland, by any extension of State - assisted purchase on the basis of rents fixed when prices were higher than they now are.I am very glad that the right hon. Member for West Birmingham approves of that also. But that is not the opinion of Her Majesty's Government. What does the right hon. Gentleman say? 733 He says that he does not consent that any money whatever shall be expended for that purpose. But when we take the declaration of Her Majesty's Government, not in this House, but "elsewhere," we find it most distinctly and positively asserted that the public money should be given to those landlords whose rents fall short. Then I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham whether his version of what the Government are going to do, or the Government's own version, is the correct one? The right hon. Gentleman said that he did not like to speak in this House of an absent man, who had no opportunity of giving an explanation. But I should like to ask if he has made any inquiry? Has he tried to get an explanation, or any correction, of the reported utterances of the Head of the Government? If not, he stands in the most peculiar position in which any statesman ever yet stood. For my part, I believe the Government when they say that they are going to pay the public money in recompense to those landlords whose rents fall short. I assume that that is their opinion still. If it is not their opinion, why do they not accept the Amendment now before the House? If they do not propose to give the money of the State to the landlords, let them say so. Let us not be put to the trouble of a division; but let them assert the principle which is contained in the Amendment. If the House is to go to a division I shall certainly give my vote in favour of the Amendment; because I shall believe that Her Majesty's Government, when they declare a particular thing, mean what they say. Now, Sir, I do not think this Amendment involves any difficult matter after all. I think it is easily understood; and I want to know what inducement there is for any real Liberal Member to vote against it at the instigation of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham? Why, the very fact that the right hon. Gentleman said he would oppose it is one of the reasons that would make me support it. Are the men who have been returned to this House by Tory votes to influence the conduct of Liberal Members? I trow not, Sir. They may assume what they like; they may say what they like; they may sit where they like; but they are Tories pure and simple. They 734 are advocating Tory doctrines; they are supporting a Tory policy; and they are the great supporters of the Tory Government. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham says that he supports Her Majesty's Government. He either does not mean what he says, or he is going to support a policy which he himself says is most mischievous, and will be most disastrous to the country. He has told us that it would be one of the most unjust measures that could possibly be conceived, to make up by public money the loss to the Irish landlords. I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman should be in such a position. Certainly, he has taken very extraordinary courses lately. One hardly knows where to find him, or where to have him. He is like a man I heard of the other day—a farm servant—who took very eccentric courses, and did very extraordinary things. One day the farmer in whose service he was went into a barn, and found that the man had hanged himself. Looking at him with astonishment, he said—"I wonder what that man will do next!" The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham has great confidence in the policy which he has declared to the House.
§ MR. GENT-DAVIS (Lambeth, Kennington)
I rise to Order. I wish to ask you, Sir, if the hon. Baronet is in Order in pursuing that special line of argument?
§ SIR WILFRID LAWSON
I shall be happy to state, in a moment, the application of my remarks. I was telling a story about a man who had hanged himself, and the application was to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham.
§ MR. SPEAKER
I think the hon. Baronet had better confine himself strictly to the Amendment before the House.
§ SIR WILFRID LAWSON
I will endeavour, Sir, to obey your ruling; but it is exceedingly difficult for me, or for any of us, to confine ourselves to the Amendment, after such a bad example as that which we have had from the right hon. Baronet opposite the Member for Dartford (Sir William Hart Dyke). But, Sir, I will confine myself strictly to the speech which was made by the right hon. Member for West Birmingham. 735 After he had described his policy at full length, the right hon. Gentleman said that he would pledge himself, if the Government appealed to the country on the subject, that the result would be similar to what it was at the last Election. That was the pledge the right hon. Gentleman gave. I will give no pledge; but I will give a promise. I say that the right hon. Gentleman will find himself very much mistaken. Does he remember what took place in 1885? Why did the Irish oppose the Liberal Party? [Cries of "Order!"] Am I to reply to the speech of the right hon Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, or is he to speak in this House and is nobody to reply to him? I know that the right hon. Gentleman is the autocrat of Her Majesty's Government; but he is not the autocrat of this House, and we have a right to reply to whatever he says. I shall therefore reply to him, unless you, Mr. Speaker, say that he is infallible. [Cries of "Order!"] Well, I have done. All I say is, as I said before, that the right hon. Gentleman will find himself very much mistaken when he goes to the country next time. He will find that the country will overthrow one of the most mischievous and one of the most miserable political combinations which have ever been seen in this country, and which at present bars the way to the tranquillity of Ireland, and the real, genuine, and lasting union of the two nations.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT (Derby)
Mr. Speaker, if I do not vote for the Amendment of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell), it is not because I am in a position to deny any one of the statements that are contained in it. [Cries of "Oh!"] If I may be permitted to refer to my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain), so far I am in exactly the same position as he was. He stated that he agreed with every statement in the Amendment; but he said he was going to vote against it. Now, I am not going to do that, and therefore I do not go so far as my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham. He had a very easy method of accounting for the course he was going to take, and although it is impossible that I can adopt it, it would very much facilitate all political action if his method were pursued. He said that he agreed with all the statements in the Amendment. [Cries of 736 "No, no!"] His exact phrase was, that with regard to the statements in the Amendment he had no objection to make. ["No, no!"] That is the correct rendering of what my right hon. Friend said. ["No, no!"] It is precisely what he stated. ["No, no!"] At any rate, it can be verified at any time by a reference to the report of the speech of my right hon. Friend. The right hon. Gentleman stated that he agreed with the Amendment; but whether he agreed with it or differed from it he was going to vote against it, for it would disturb the position of Her Majesty's Government. He said he felt bound to wait for the plans they had announced, and to give them a careful and favourable consideration. My right hon. Friend is not always in exactly that accommodating spirit. It is only about six or seven months ago, when the same Government was sitting in the same place, and my right hon. Friend was sitting much in the same place which he occupied last night, when a great friend and ally of his, now another of the Members for Birmingham (Mr. Jesse Collings), brought forward an Amendment to the Address of the Government of that day. It was an Amendment which had reference to the Land Question, and it condemned the Government on the ground of their not having brought forward some satisfactory proposition with reference to the Land Question in England. The Government alleged, as they allege now, that they were going to legislate upon the subject, and that they were going to bring forward a plan with reference to the Land Question in England. [Cries of "Order!"] I think I am quite in Order—I am criticizing the course taken by my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham on the Amendment by referring to his conduct with reference to a cognate subject. [Cries of "Order!"] I do not wonder that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sleaford (Mr. Chaplin) is a little sensitive on that subject, because he played a distinguished part on that occasion.
§ MR. CHAPLIN (Lincolnshire, Sleaford)
I rise to Order. I wish to know, Sir, whether the right hon. Gentleman is in Order in making reference to a debate which took place last Session, on a Motion moved in another Parliament, which has nothing whatever to do with the Amendment now under discussion?
§ MR. SPEAKER
I understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that his remarks had reference to a cognate subject.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
If this contention is set up, I must say that I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Cockermouth (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) that it is preposterous that my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham should, for an hour by the clock, stand here abusing all the Gentlemen among whom he sits, and yet that we are not to be allowed to reply to him. That is a contention which I confess would make Parliamentary life intolerable.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Lord RANDOLPH CHURCHILL) (Paddington, S.)
I must rise to Order. [Cheers and cries of "Shame!" from the Home Rule Benches.] Mr. Speaker, I am bound, Sir, to ask you, in the interests of the order of debate in this House—["Oh, oh!"]—whether the last remark of the right hon. Gentleman opposite was consistent with due respect to the Chair? ["Oh, oh!"] You yourself, Mr. Speaker, I will remind you, repeatedly called the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham to Order during the course of his speech. You distinctly prohibited the hon. Baronet the Member for Cockermouth from travelling beyond the limits of the Amendment, and the right hon. Gentleman opposite who is now leading the Opposition—["Order, order!"]
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)
Mr. Speaker, I rise to Order. I wish to ask you, Sir, whether the noble Lord is in Order? [Cries of "Order!"]
§ MR. SPEAKER
The noble Lord the Chancellor of the Exchequer has himself risen to a point of Order. I call upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
In rising to a point of Order, the point of Order to which I feel bound in the interests of debate and the dignity of this House—["Oh, oh!"]—to direct your attention is, whether the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, by his last, remark has not distinctly questioned the ruling of the Chair?
§ MR. SPEAKER
If I understand the Chancellor of the Exchequer rightly, he accuses the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby of having spoken of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham as abusing his Colleagues, and of infringing the dignity and order of the Chair. Of course, any interpretation of that kind would be quite out of Order, for if the right hon. Gentleman had transgressed I should have called him to Order. A further point of the Chancellor of the Exchequer is, whether the right hon. Gentleman was justified in following the course for which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham was called to Order. That I understand to be the question put to me by the noble Lord the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I must say that I do not consider that when a right hon. Gentleman has pursued a course which has brought him under the notice of the Chair, and required him to be called to Order, the remarks he had made are a fit subject for subsequent discussion.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
It is not in my recollection that my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham was called to Order for stating that he was about to support Her Majesty's Government under all circumstances. That was the remark upon which my observations were founded. Upon that I stated that that was not the course which the right hon. Gentleman had on all occasions followed; and I was also going to point out that, with reference to that course, my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham had given his reasons, upon a former occasion, for not taking the same course which he said he would take on the present occasion. I was about to refer to what he had stated. He said, on the 26th of January—If it is asked why we have thought it necessary to support an Amendment hostile to the Government, and why we have not waited for the proposals they intend to make, we say that we support the Amendment because we have no confidence that the Government will either do justice to the agricultural labourer, or to any question with which they may have to deal.Now, I say that that is a course which is net entirely consistent with the principle which the right hon. Gentleman laid down last night. Well, my right hon. Friend has stated that he is going 739 to vote against this Amendment on account of the complete confidence he has in the intentions of Her Majesty's Government, and that he is going to support the Government in consequence of the complete distrust he has of my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone). As the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dartford (Sir William Hart Dyke) has said, it is well that some of these positions should be cleared up, and I think that they have been cleared up by this debate. Sir, I do not quite understand the tone in which my right hon. Friend addressed us last night. I do not understand the meaning of that extraordinary soreness which he seemed to display. He always speaks on these subjects to the Gentlemen among whom he sits as if he were sore all over. We have none of that feeling towards him. [Cries of "Oh!"] Well, I can speak for myself; I have not. He addresses us in a tone very different from that of my noble Friend the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington). My noble Friend, we are sorry to know, differs from us fundamentally upon the question of this Amendment. But he admitted frankly the other night that he did not claim to represent the majority of the Liberal Party. He claimed, of course, to exercise his own discretion in this matter, and to act upon his own judgment; but he did not presume to denounce the Liberal Party for their conduct. The noble Marquess did not, like the right hon. Gentleman, tell the Liberal Party that they would wander for 40 years in the wilderness until they cast themselves at his feet and adopted the principles which he has laid down. Well, Sir, we may have to wander in the wilderness. ["Hear, hear!" from the Ministerial Benches.] Oh, yes; that happened to the "Chosen People" before they entered upon the Promised Land. But they did not follow the first man who invited them to go after the fleshpots of Egypt. Sir, it was the lot of the Liberal Party, at the end of the last and at the commencement of the present century, to wander for many years in the wilderness of Opposition on account of their fidelity to their principles, some of which were very closely connected with the Irish Question. Every species of prejudice was roused against them; and if my right hon. Friend the 740 Member for West Birmingham thinks that the Liberal Party of to-day are unequal to the sacrifices which were made in former days, and which are regarded as the most glorious period of their history, when they had to fight against the Tory Party and the seceding Liberals of those days, he will find he is very much mistaken. And if he thinks that by threats of exclusion from Office he can coerce us into a blind support of a Tory Government and a Tory policy, I can assure him that he does not understand the spirit of those Gentlemen with whom he has to deal. Whatever may be the case with my right hon. Friend, we at least claim the right to examine this Amendment upon its merits by the light of Liberal principles. Now, Sir, my right hon. Friend says that he has been ostracized by the Liberal Party. Why, Sir, I think it is rather the other way. He has ostracized the Liberal Party on his own single shell. That is my reply to the right hon. Gentleman; and I will now, Sir, go directly to the words of this Amendment. This Amendment deals, first of all, with the subject of rent. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) complained of me the other day for what I had said upon the subject of rent. Now, I did not introduce the question of rent. What I said upon the subject was a commentary upon the language of the noble Lord the Chancellor of the Exchequer in reference to rent. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary says that I have written up "no rent" and run away. I have done neither the one nor the other, I have not written up "no rent," and I have certainly not run away. I thought it necessary to point out the danger which would inevitably arise from the language employed by the noble Lord. I said I thought it was a provocation—whether so intended or not—of course, I judge no man's intentions, but I judge only the natural consequence of his words—and I said I thought it was in the character of a provocation to conflict. The noble Lord's language rather reminded me of an epigrammatic phrase which has been productive of such remarkable effects "elsewhere"—that what he said about rent might have been condensed into a single phrase—"The landlords will fight and the landlords will be right." I thought it neces- 741 sary to point out that effect and to protest against the danger of language of that description. I am happy to say that that interpretation has been entirely repudiated by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland. I think, if the debate had only produced that result, it has not been without its use. I think the right hon. Gentleman fulfils a very useful part. Sitting by the noble Lord, he is always thereto explain away the noble Lord, and to repair the occasional indiscretions of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Well, Sir, this question of rent is urgent. It is admitted, as it is stated in this Amendment, that it has, and must have, a direct effect upon social order. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dart ford said—"How comes this question to be complicated? How comes social order to be involved in rents? It is all in consequence of the legislation of the Party who sit on that side of the House." [Ministerial cheers.] Oh, yes; there never were any agrarian disturbances before the Land Act of 1870! Is it the right hon. Gentleman's experience, from his brief residence in Ireland as Chief Secretary, that agrarian disturbance and agrarian discontent and the evils of Ireland arose for the first time in 1881, or 1870? I think he has still something to learn, if he is of that opinion. But we are told by the Government—We are going to have a Commission, and you ought to wait for that Commission." Well, Sir, but there are some people who cannot wait for this Commission. The Government say they have no intuition upon this question. Well, there is a large class of people who do not want intuition. They understand it thoroughly by bitter experience. They know they are not likely to require information from a Commission on the subject. We have had, in the course of the debate, a great deal of à priori reasoning as to the value of rents. We have been told, of course, that the Land Commission took into account the future depreciation which was to take place. Well, Sir, I must say that seems to me to be a most improbable and unreasonable theory. Even if we have not in the hon. Member for North Meath (Mr. Mahony) a very competent witness as to the fact that they did not and could not have done so, how could any surveyor, or land agent, in settling the rent for a lease, say of 15 years, in England, specu- 742 late upon a future depreciation, of which he could know nothing, or on a future rise in prices? What he does is what any sensible man would do. He looks back over 15 years, and in fixing the rent he is guided by the fluctuations of the past, and not by the fluctuations of the future, of which he knows nothing. Then we have all sorts of explanations to get rid of the fact of this alteration in value. The noble Lord thinks that it is the bad butter of Ireland. We had another very original theory from the hon. and gallant Member for North Down (Colonel Waring), who thought that the distress of the Irish peasantry was due to the fine gowns worn by the daughters of farmers in Ireland. But we have had some important testimony on the subject from a Gentleman who sits on this side of the House, and is, I believe, a follower of the noble Marquess the Member for Eossendale—namely, the hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell), who spoke, I think, yesterday, and who commenced his speech by saying, what is perfectly true, and what I have no doubt his constituents would expect him to say, that the fall in prices has been such that the present rents cannot be maintained. This is important and impartial testimony. A Gentleman mentioned to me to-night an important resolution which has been carried in County Down, in flourishing Ulster, to the effect that in the present state of prices rents cannot be maintained. I alluded the other day to the opinion of Sir James Caird, and I have been greatly taken to task in doing so; but I was not the first person who cited Sir James Caird in this House. The Gentleman who vouched him as a witness was my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham. I am bound to say he did not concur altogether in the opinion of Sir James Caird; but he pointed out what I have pointed out also—what an enormous and necessary effect the expression of that opinion must have had upon the minds of the tenantry of Ireland. But I take neither the opinion of landlords on this matter, nor the opinion of the representatives of the tenants, as I think both of them are likely to be pretty strongly biased. I am perfectly willing, if you please, to accept the view that Sir James Caird is a reckless sort of writer, who says things he does not mean, on very important sub- 743 jects—who says one thing one day and recalls it another. Well, I will accept that view of Sir James Caird's character, if you please. But I saw the other day a very important piece of evidence upon this subject, given by a witness who, I think, will be considered to be a valid and important witness. He was a witness before the Royal Commission on the Depression of Trade—Mr. Murrough O'Brien—who is superintendent of land sales under the Land Commission, and is probably a man who knows as much on this subject as anybody you will be able to put upon your Commission. This is what he told you last March of the fall in the price of cattle, which is one of the main elements of depression in Ireland. First of all, he says, that store cattle have fallen 50 per cent below the prices of 1877 and 1878. Now, that is a very important statement—a more important statement, I think, than anything which was said by the noble Lord the Chancellor of the Exchequer as to the bad manufacture of butter—and I would refer hon. Members, without waiting for the close of spring, if they require information upon this subject, to that gentleman's evidence. I will not detain the House by reading more than one single answer. He says—I do not think, as long as prices are so very low, that the existing rents, taxes, and the subsistence of the population can be provided for as they ought to be—that is, I do not think the existing rents can be maintained under the depression if it continues. If they are maintained, it means that some of the population must go, or live in a very much poorer way than they do at present.Now, Sir, I venture to say that that is as good authority as that of any Commission you may be able to appoint; but, as this matter is of such infinite and urgent importance, I will venture to refer to another authority. This is not a National League authority, nor an authority biased in any way by the conflicting interests in Ireland. It is an authority that all the House will respect. It is the Report—and a Report which is on the Table of the House—of Mr. Tuke upon the question of the condition of Ireland. Now, I will not refer specially to the part which relates to the Island of Achill, because I know the circumstances of that particular case are singular, and should not be taken as a specimen of the condition of the country generally, except this, which I will quote 744 even of Achill. Mr. Tuke says that he asked a merchant at Westport whether the rents were paid, and he answered—"Yes, up to March, 1885; but now it is impossible." And he gave as a reason for it, among others, that they could then get a price for cattle; but that now, if they drove the cattle to the fairs, they could not get a price, and the shopmen would not give them a bag of meal (14s.) for a beast. They had sold cows for 15s., and now had no milk for their own family. "And this," says Mr. Tuke, "is due to the impossibility of getting a sale for the cattle. I have heard it everywhere." But I pass from the Island of Achill to the mainland of Ireland—to the coast of Connaught. [A laugh] The coast of Connaught, with all respect to the noble Lord (Lord Randolph Churchill) is the mainland of Ireland. It is not an island, although Ireland is. So entirely is the noble Lord denationalizing Ireland that he will not allow me to speak of the coast of Connaught as being on the mainland of Ireland. Subject to that interpretation, Mr. Tuke says—these are the notes that he took—In this visit I had the great advantage of being accompanied by Mr. A. E. Home, the Resident Magistrate, whose acquaintance with the district and sympathy with the people gave much added weight to any information I might obtain.Then he says—John Malley's rent is £2 4s. He paid his rent last. November two years, but could pay none since. This is the case with every man in Clewbay.Mr. Tuke goes on to say—One man who had one cow took it to five fairs, and he was not even asked the price of it.A laugh.] Oh, you may laugh at these things! I was sorry to hear the laugh of the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh (Colonel Saunderson). I am sure that he does not mean a want of sympathy.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
I will read the hon. and gallant Gentleman something he will not even smile at. Mr. Tuke says—In the village (Doobeg) there are 13 houses, in which 87 people live. Hugh Cattigan's daughter lately died for want of proper nourishment, and he had not the few shillings necessary to buy a coffin for her, until his neigh- 745 bours, who are almost as poor as himself, subscribed the pence which they received for the eggs sold, and the Mulvanny police subscribed their shillings to buy the boards required to make the coffin.I will go on now with the question of rent and the fall in agricultural prices. Mr. Tuke continues—Martin Patton's circumstances are about the same. He sold a four-year-old cow after calving for £3, and was at three fairs before he succeeded in selling her. He sold her in Newport Fair, and bought Indian meal with the price of her, but that is all used now. He bought this cow last year at Achill Fair, from a man named Cafferkey, of Meelin, for £11.For which, be it remembered, he could only get £3. Mr. Tuke proceeds—The police who accompanied us stated that the people are far worse off now than in 1879–80, and that not one of the Doobeg men has potatoes to sow. They saw them dig them last harvest, and they were not worth digging, being no bigger than marbles.I do not feel justified in detaining the House by reading more. ["Hear, hear!"] I am sorry that hon. Members opposite should be so impatient at being told these facts, because they are the very facts that they declare they desire to know. After all the speeches we have heard on the other side of the House, ridiculing and throwing doubt upon the existence of this distress, and asserting that the fall of prices has not made a difficulty about paying rent—[Cries of "No!"]—after all that has been said on the other side of the House, I think it is necessary that people should understand the magnitude of the evil, and the greatness and urgency of the danger that is involved. [An hon. MEMBER: The example is not a fair one.] The hon. Member says it is not a fair example. Then he must allow me to record one more sentence. Mr. Tuke says—It would be quite beyond the limits of this Report to give details as full as the above of all the districts visited during a journey prolonged over a period of two months, and extending over largo portions of Mayo and Galway. Suffice it to say that these faithfully represent the condition of thousands of the small holders of land scattered along the whole coast line of Connaught.MR. Tuke, I need not say, is not an agitator, and that he is not saying these things, or painting a gloomy picture, for base political purposes. This is the very evidence hon. Members opposite profess to desire as to the real condition of the tenantry of Ireland; and Mr. Tuke tells 746 us most distinctly that the effect of the fall of prices is to render them unable to pay rent. [Cries of "No!"] The area of special destitution which he points out is West of a line drawn from Derry to Skibbereen, and he says that it represents one-third of Ireland. The population which lies to the West of that line, he says, is in a state of poverty and destitution. But in that state of things what are the Government going to do? That is the practical question which we have a right to ask, and it is the question raised directly by this Amendment. Now, there is one man who, undoubtedly, foresaw the character of the present danger, and the inevitable consequences of it. That man is my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham. In April last, he said that there had been a fall in prices of from 20 to 40 per cent. He now says 20 to 30 per cent; but if there has been a fall of prices of from 20 to 30 per cent even, you do not want any Commission to tell you that that practically concludes the question. Where in the world is there any industry which can continue to pay rents with a fall in the profits of 20 to 30 per cent? Take land which yields a profit of £5 per acre. Would such land be able to pay rent? But if it be true, as my right hon. Friend said, that the fall of prices has been from 20 to 40 per cent, it practically concludes the question. My right hon. Friend gave an illustration which goes further than that. He said that this agrarian question is necessarily connected with the question of political discontent. An hon. Member opposite referred to what I had said in regard to the Bread Tax. I spoke of my own experience in the year 1843, when, in the midst of bread riots at that time, men were shot down in the streets of Preston. I was there at the time, and the very illustration which occurred to my right hon. Friend in his argument occurred also to me, but for an exactly opposite purpose. This was before the repeal of the Corn Laws, and there was, undoubtedly, great disorder in those days. There were the Chartists and the Bread Riots. There came, however, a subsequent period, which was the period referred to by my right hon. Friend, and then, although the sufferings of the people of Lancashire were as great, perhaps greater, yet he is quite right in saying that they 747 were borne with exemplary patience. But why? Because they occurred years after 1843, and they were not complicated by political discontent. The people knew that the evils from which they were suffering were not caused by mischievous legislation. Well, my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham foresaw all this. He said—"There will be a disturbance. Prices will fall, rents cannot be paid, political discontent will arise, and the Government must do something at once." What did he propose? He proposed to stay evictions for six months. Does he propose that now? Does he urge it upon Her Majesty's Government now? His proposal was a stay of evictions for six months, and not the issue of a Commission. But he is ready now to inquire, by Commission or by a Committee composed of all Parties in this House, into the best method of removing the political discontent of Ireland, by devising the best scheme of Home Rule. [Cries of "No!"] Yes; the right hon. Gentleman said so. In so many words, he declared his readiness, if the two Bills of the late Government were withdrawn, to vote cordially for a Resolution for establishing a Legislative Body in Ireland for dealing with Irish affairs. I am, therefore, entitled to claim my right hon. Friend as a witness to the necessity for dealing with this question. He complains that the proposal of his for the stay of evictions was not encouraged, and that my right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne (Mr. John Morley) said that it would not have been an easy one to carry, suggesting that the difficulty would have come from the Irish Members below the Gangway. What I said at the time to my right hon. Friend was—"This is an admirable proposal; but have you got the consent of your allies to it? What does the noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington) say to it? What does Mr. Goschen say—what does the Tory Party say to the proposal to stay evictions?" My right hon. Friend, who, a few months ago, was profoundly impressed with the danger of the situation, is now prepared to support the Government in a course which will certainly afford no remedy at all for six months. What is the plan the Government have for dealing with this state of things in reference to rents? 748 My right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne says it is rather difficult to ascertain what is their real view. It is, however, of great importance to know what it is, and the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland will have an opportunity of making it perfectly clear. Do they or do they not—we ought to have a definite answer to the question—do they or do they not admit that the judicial rents ought to be dealt with if it should be found that those judicial rents are too high? If they admit that the judicial rents ought to be dealt with, do they contend, as it has been contended, that the difference between the judicial rents and the fair rents, in the present state of prices, is to be paid out of the pockets of the ratepayers for the benefit of the landlords? My right hon. Friend the Member for Dartford (Sir William Hart-Dyke), who spoke so well just now, professed entire ignorance and astonishment that anybody should propound so preposterous a doctrine, and he said he could not think where it came from. I cannot tell him where it came from, but I will tell him what it is—If it should come out that there is any impossibility in paying rent, I think it is not the landlords who should bear the loss. I think this should he one of the cases for the application of the principle of purchase by the State, and that the State, and not the landlords, should bear the loss.That was the statement of the Prime Minister. Now, I call upon the Government in this House—this is the House which represents the taxpayers—the House of Lords does not represent the taxpayers, and we have the right to demand of Her Majesty's Government in this matter whether they accept that proposition which I have quoted, or whether they do not? It is perfectly ridiculous to suppose that the Prime Minister of this country should make statements of that character, and that we should not know whether they are seriously meant or whether they are all a farce. Therefore, I ask the Government to give some explanation in reference to that statement. If the statement is accepted by the Government, I hope, at all events, it will not be supported by my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham. My right hon. Friend said so, and I hope he will abide by it. He said—and there are un- 749 doubtedly traces of his early manner in what he said—At all events, I do not admit for a moment that there is any sanctity about judicial or any other rents.[Mr. CHAMBERLAIN: Hear, hear!] Why, that is the author of the doctrine of ransom. The words are there, but I want to see the action. The voice is the voice of Jacob; but we want to see what the hands are like. My right hon. Friend went on to say—If rent cannot be paid so as to leave a bare subsistence to the tenants, there is no doubt that the landlords must bear the loss.I want to know whether the Government accept the doctrine of their supporter, the chief advocate of their policy, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham? It is imputed to the Government that—Under no conceivable circumstances will they touch judicial rents, even if the Commission were to report in favour of the reduction; but my own impression is quite different.Well, that must have been obtained from some private communication. He continues—I have not understood that the Government have pledged themselves in such a way as to the future, and it would be very unreasonable that they should do so. If any Commission reported in the sense I have suggested, no Government would undertake the responsibility of maintaining the judicial rents.I ask the Government—Do they accept that statement, that no Government will undertake the responsibility of maintaining the judicial rents? That is the view which my right hon. Friend takes of the policy of the Government. And now let me read the statement of the Government upon that subject from the mouth of the noble Lord. The noble Lord said—A serious mistake will be made by anybody who thinks that the Government contemplate any further dealing with the Land Question in Ireland in the direction of any revision of the rents by the interposition of the State; that is altogether apart from the policy of the present Government.My right hon. Friend says—I have not understood that the Government have pledged themselves in such a way as to the future, and it would be very unreasonable that they should do so. If any Commission reported in the sense I have suggested, no Government would undertake the responsibility of maintaining the judicial rents.750 Looking at the statement of my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham, and comparing it with that of the noble Lord, I must congratulate the Government upon having so admirable an exponent of their policy as the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman explains away all its weak points, and assures the House that the Government—neither Lord Salisbury nor the noble Lord opposite—really do intend the things that they have said. The right hon. Gentleman will stand bail for them; he is the real author, the real director, of the policy of the Government. Why, they have only half learnt their lesson. The right hon. Gentleman says that the policy of the Government is not understood by those who have accepted it, and it is necessary that he should get up to explain away the blunders that they have made. Is nothing to be done? My right hon. Friend has spoken of the effects of political discontent. Yes, you may abuse political discontent as much as you like; but, as long as you do not remove it, it will always act upon people in distress; and distress, where political discontent exists, will always be much more productive of social disorder than distress where political discontent does not exist so much. Why has Ireland, for the last 12 months, been comparatively happy and tranquil under the Government of Lord Carnarvon and Lord Aberdeen? Why, because the people of Ireland had hopes. But beware you do not deprive the people in distress of hope; that is the way to compel them and to provoke them to the resistance of despair. These are the warnings which it is our duty to give. We have tried to remove the cause of discontent; you have refused to do so; with you must rest the responsibility; it is our duty, and we have the right, to point this out. No doubt, the Government will denounce me for pointing it out. Oh, yes; I remember the time when the same language was used towards Mr. Cobden and Mr. Bright. They were denounced as the authors of social disorder. Nothing is more striking in that way than the painful reflection that even such a man as Sir Robert Peel could rise in the House of Commons and accuse Mr. Cobden of inciting to assassination—unworthy language from whomsoever it proceeds. On the subject of Land Purchase, the 751 right hon. Member for West Birmingham said a good deal that was very characteristic of him; it was a favourite subject of attack on the policy of the last Government in the mouth of my right hon. Friend. As I have shown, he condemned the principle of the Land Purchase scheme as indicated by Lord Salisbury and by the Chancellor of the Exchequer; but, nevertheless, he is going to vote against the Amendment and in support of Her Majesty's Government, having complete confidence in them for the future. But he will not allow us to object to a scheme of that character. He insists that we must support the scheme of Her Majesty's Government, although he differs from it; but he says—"This is exactly like your scheme." If it is exactly like our scheme, it is a little hard upon us that he will not allow us to be converted by his eloquence and arguments. He says—"You are bound in honour to stick to the Land Bill of the late Government; that scheme—which I have demonstrated to the people of the United Kingdom—is injurious to the interests of everybody. I will not allow you to abandon it; honour demands that you should adhere to it." And if we do not he threatens us with the most terrible of all fates—we shall be Dissenting Liberals. "You will become," he says, "even like myself." That is a terrible threat. Hon. Gentlemen behind should beware of it; he will allow us no repentance; we must stick to the Land Bill of the late Government in order that we may perish in our sins. He says the country at the last Election gave an irrevocable and irreversible verdict; but, in spite of that irrevocable and irreversible verdict, my right hon. Friend says—"You cannot and shall not abandon the Land Bill." Well, I am not myself a great believer in irrevocable and irreversible verdicts. My earliest political recollections are of a great Conservative Parliament, elected with a real Conservative majority, in the year 1841, to maintain the sacred doctrines of Protection. That was the irrevocable and irreversible verdict given by the constituencies. It was the issue put to the country; and yet that very Parliament, with that very Ministry, repealed the Corn Laws. So much for irrevocable and irreversible verdicts. If there was anything of an irrevocable and irre- 752 versible verdict pronounced at the last Election, I should say it was pronounced on the subject of the Land Act. I hope my right hon. Friend will allow us to seek salvation with him. Still, our scheme was a totally different one from that propounded in outline by the Government. I will not go into details, as that has been amply done already; but besides the additional security that we offered—disparage it if you will, it was something more than the Government offered—there were collateral securities they do not propose; there was the important distinction that it left the Irish Government to collect the rents, and it did not call upon the English Government to collect the rents. In my opinion that was a very important distinction. It did another thing still more important. It was part of the scheme for giving political contentment to Ireland, whereas yours is part of a scheme for refusing it. But the plan of the Government raises enormous sums which are to fall simply and directly upon English credit. My right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham says he has always been in favour of a great Land Purchase scheme. I thought he had always said he had been in favour of Home Rule. I cannot say that his efforts in promotion of these two causes have been singularly successful. What has been his action? It appears now that any scheme of Home Rule probably not favoured by my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lothian, or any Land Scheme which commended itself to the late Prime Minister, are to be regarded, if it comes from those opposite, with some favour. But so determined was he to make war on the late Prime Minister and his Land Bill, that he struck out right and left, and the arguments he used and the appeals he made to the interests, prejudices, and passions of every section of the community were arguments and appeals which were fatal, and will be fatal hereafter to every scheme of Land Purchase. ["Question!"] Now, in speaking on the second reading of the Land Purchase Bill, what did he say? He said—"Remember the precedent you are making." These are the arguments which destroyed the Land Purchase Bill of the late Government, and will destroy the scheme of the present Government. He said— 753If I had no other reason for objecting to the proposal, one sufficient reason would he that before long you may want all this money for yourselves. You are refusing aid to the people of Scotland, you are refusing State aid to the crofters, one of the most deserving classes in the Kingdom. You cannot refuse it to the crofters and the agricultural labourers of England, and grant it to the people of Ireland. These are considerations which the House will do well to weigh before the second reading of the Bill.Yes, Sir, I admit the force of these arguments, and I tell my right hon. Friend, in making those arguments popular, he has destroyed in advance the Land Bill, not only of the last Government, but the Bill of the Government that has come after them. Well, then, he said we are bound to treat the question of Home Rule and the question of Land Purchase as inseparable. He has tried to pin us to that, but he will not succeed in doing so. He cannot have his irrevocable and irreversible verdict, and yet treat it as if it had never taken place; and I say, in answer to my right hon. Friend, and I am speaking the opinions of my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lothian, that the two questions are not inseparable. [An hon. MEMBER: How will the landlords like that?] There is nothing new about it. Did not my right hon. Friend warn you some months ago that "the sands were running out? "I do not say that the Land Purchase Bill is a bad thing in itself. I think that a great number of arguments can be advanced in its favour; but, Sir, the Conservative Party, by the language they held at the last Election, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, have done all they can to make it impossible to pass it. The noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale boasted that he had been so discreet as to say nothing about it. Well, considering the noble Marquess's position in reference to Ireland, there is nothing surprising in his discretion. Now, Sir, you may depend upon it, that whenever the Tory Party come to propose a Land Bill, it is not only from this side of the House that they will meet with opposition, but I venture to say that they will meet with very strong opposition from the other side of the House. The Tory Party will find their Land Bill destroyed by the same arguments by which they and others have destroyed our Land Bill. On the other side of the House, also, you 754 will find dissentient Conservatives. I heard some remarks the other day from that side of the House of the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Howorth). He is a generous kind of man. He stated that the working men of England "were prepared to bear a national fine in favour of the landlords in Ireland." That is a grand doctrine. The hon. Member for Salford has long been a respected teacher of the Conservative Party; but they are not all quite obedient pupils. There arose, on those Benches opposite, the hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Addison), and he said that—He must claim to represent a working class constituency and the working men of that constituency; and he wished to say that his constituents objected to pay one shilling of English taxation either towards the landlords or the tenants of Ireland.To the working men of his constituency—No measure would be so unpopular as that which saddled the taxation of this country or the industries of this country with any charge whatever for the relief of landlords in Ireland. If the landlords in Ireland were not able to obtain their rents, they would be but in the same position as the unhappy manufacturers in Lancashire and in the North generally, who when they could not get their money were obliged to go without, or do with less. The best way for either the landlord or tenant to get a living was to practise industry and sobriety.. … One thing he hoped the Government would not do was to assist the landlords with the money of hard-working Englishmen.I do not wish in this matter to bind the opinion of any man except myself on this question of the Land Purchase Bill. I have said distinctly that the two questions are separable, and in saying that I believe I express the opinion of my Colleagues. But this opinion I wish to state on my own responsibility—that whatever may be the argument in favour of the Land Purchase Bill, and of changing the system of dual ownership, as it is called, into one of single ownership, I believe that the difficulties which have been created in the way of it, and the arguments used on that side of the House and by Liberal Unionists on that subject, have made it a practical impossibility. I believe it never can receive that support which would be necessary to the dealing with such vast sums of the public money. My right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham has shown that you cannot 755 confine it to Ireland alone; you must extend those immense grants of public money to Scotland, if to Ireland; you must extend them to the agricultural labourers of England; and if you give an extension of this character to transactions of this kind, you will raise the amount to such a gigantic figure as the nation would never sanction. That is my opinion as to the future of Land Purchase. Then what is the situation in which the Government leave the Irish Question? There are difficulties in the minds of hon. Members which can hardly be denied. The Government have no provision to meet them. They rely on the ordinary law, and, if necessary, they will come for the extraordinary law. They have tried that before; we have tried it before—[Laughter]—yes, and it is because we have found that it always failed, that we have determined not to try that method any more, but to seek a new departure and a better way. That policy has failed. I have come to the conclusion that it will always fail. Well, you have come to an opposite conclusion. You have got the power, and you will try the old way. It is our duty to tell you that we believe it will not be successful in the future any more than it has been in the past. You will try your scheme; you have the authority, and with you must rest the responsibility of the future.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR, IRELAND (Sir MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH) (Bristol, W.)
It is with great diffidence that I venture to trespass for a short time on the House after the solemn prophecies of the Leader of the "Chosen People." I am encouraged, however, in that course by the recollection that the prototype of the Party which now arrogates to itself the title of the "Chosen People" had to wander for 40 years in the Wilderness; that two of them only ever reached the Promised Land; and that their Leader was not one of those two. Sir, I think that the history of the modern "Chosen People" may possibly be not unlike that of their prototype, if, according to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman to-night, they are to be a Party without any fixed principles of political action. The right hon. Gentleman told us that he was saying nothing new when, alluding to the irreversible verdict of the country at the late Election, he expounded the present 756 policy of what I was going to call the Separatist, but, as that may be insulting, I will call the non-Unionist Party. Sir, there is nothing irreversible about the right hon. Gentleman. There was not a trace of his early manner this evening—of that manner in which he dealt with "the foul conspiracy of the Land League," and alluded to hon. Members who now sit in this House as "preaching the doctrines of treason and assassination." No, Sir, all that is changed; and it is funny to hear the right hon. Gentleman of all men in this House twitting the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) with inconsistency, and comparing himself to Cobden and Bright, the most consistent politicians known in our political history. Well, the right hon. Gentleman and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham have sat opposite to me for some years past. I have learnt to admire their qualities and their powers. I think the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham is more than a match for the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby; but when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby reminds the right hon. Member for West Birmingham of his action with regard to an Amendment to the Address in answer to Her Majesty's Gracious Speech from the Throne in February last, I am very glad to congratulate the right hon. Member for West Birmingham on his having learnt wisdom by the remarkable consequences that followed from that Amendment, and on having found that the principles he has advocated are more likely to be promoted by not repeating that example. But there is one feature about the speech of the right hon. Gentleman to-night which is to me very extraordinary, and it is this. We have had two important speeches in the course of this debate from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone), the Leader of the non-Unionist Liberals. On the second occasion, the right hon. Gentleman claimed and obtained the indulgence of the House, in order that he might go at full length into the whole policy of Her Majesty's Government; yet not one word did he say as to the announcement which, the right hon. Gentleman has made to-night. To-night, 757 for the first time, we learn that the "inseparable" Land Bill, commended by every consideration of honour and every obligation of duty, is now a separable measure from any proposals for Home Rule. Is it that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian shrank from making this announcement himself, and left it to the right hon. Gentleman opposite, as the most reversible of his Colleagues in the late Government? Now, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) has dwelt a good deal upon a very valuable Report which has been recently presented by Mr. Tuke. He quoted statements in that Report with regard to some very distressing cases, as if they were really specimens of the state of affairs existing throughout the whole of Ireland, and he asked us what we were going to do on that Report. Well, I am afraid that the right hon. Gentleman has not read the whole of the Report, and I think it was unfair of him not to state to the House that the recommendation with which Mr. Tuke concluded his Report is precisely the same as that which has been undertaken by Her Majesty's Government—namely, that we are going to refuse Home Rule for Ireland, and that we are going to attempt reproductive works, especially in connection with the fisheries and better communications. But the right hon. Gentleman is inquisitive as to our policy. He asks us hypothetical questions as to what we are going to do if the Commission on this Land Question should report in a certain way. Well, Sir, we decline to answer those inquiries just as often as the right hon. Gentleman may choose to make them. We should not have appointed this Commission, if we had been prepared without the inquiry of the Commission to announce our policy. We should be playing with the question; we should be stultifying ourselves, if we were able to state how we should meet the Report of that Commission, without knowing what the Report would be. I have only to say that my noble Friend (Lord Randolph Churchill) and myself differ in no respect on this question from one another. I defy the right hon. Gentleman to find any real difference between our speeches in the House on this matter. My noble Friend and I have stated the policy of Her 758 Majesty s Government on this subject, and at this hour of the morning (12.35) it would be absolutely disrespectful to the House if I attempted to reiterate what has already been said. Of course, I have something to say, and I shall say it as shortly as I can, with respect to the Amendment of the hon. Member fur the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell). I find that one argument runs through all the speeches by which it has been supported, including the speeches delivered on the Front Opposition Bench, and it is this. The inability to pay rent is predicted generally during the coming winter, as if it were solely on account of the fall in the prices of produce. They presume that evictions are likely to occur from this and from no other causes. I confess I question very much the extent of that inability as stated by hon. Members opposite. I do not deny that it does exist, because otherwise Her Majesty's Government would not have appointed a Commission to inquire into it. The hon. Member for the City of Cork seems to take it for granted that the judicial rents were fixed by the Sub-Commissioners at certain rates, without sufficient regard to the late fall in prices, and that those rates were such as to make it impossible to pay those rents at the present price of produce. He adduces no proof whatever in support of this assertion; but an hon. Member who followed him spoke with the authority of his own experience in the matter. The hon. Member told the House that the Sub-Commission, of which he was a Member, had considered the question of the variation of prices, but had not sufficiently considered it; in fact, he admitted that he was wrong when acting as a Sub-Commissioner in supposing that a cycle of good years was going to begin at a very early date. If the hon. Member was wrong once in such a matter, may he not be wrong again? This is what I want to put before the House—that it is by no means proved that the fall in prices is of a permanent character, and even if it were, the prices are not now low enough to make it impossible that the judicial rents generally should be paid. I will quote a statement from a Report which I have lately received from the Land Commissioners on this subject. The hon. Member for South Sligo (Mr. 759 Sexton) challenged us to show that the Sub-Commissioners, in fixing the rents, left a margin for the fall in prices. Hon. Members will admit that prices from 1881 to 1885 were higher than they are now; and I think it is clear that the Sub-Commissioners generally—whatever may have been the experience of one particular Sub-Commissioner—cannot have fixed the judicial rents on the prices which prevailed then. Up to June 30 of this year, the total amount of judicial rents fixed in Ireland amounted to £2,618,970; while, turning to Griffith's valuation on the same holdings, we find that the amount is £2,447,877, showing a difference of not much more than £170,000 between the judicial rents and Griffith's valuation. Does that not show that the judicial rents, if they were fixed on the prices at all, were fixed on a scale very little above Griffith's valuation? I never heard in Ireland that Griffith's valuation was a high one, except, perhaps, in Ulster. In the South and West of Ireland, to which the hon. Member for the City of Cork's Amendment is particularly addressed, Griffith's valuation is considered very low. [Cries of "No!"] Griffith's valuation was fixed on the prices of these articles—wheat, oats, barley, butter, beef, mutton, and pork. The prices of fire of these articles were considerably lower at the time of Griffith's valuation than the present prices are. I do not want to weary the House; but, if I am permitted, I will give a few figures which bear on the subject. I find that the price of wheat, quoted in the Act of 1852, on which Griffith's valuation was based, was 7s. 6d. a cwt. of 112 lbs.; it is now 6s. 5d. The price of oats was 4s. 10d. for this weight in 1852; it is now 6s. The price of barley was 5s. 6d. for the same weight; it is now 6s. 3d. The price of butter was 65s. 4d. in 1852; it is now 64s. 8d. The price of beef was 35s. 6d. in 1852; it is now 52s. 6d. The price of mutton was 41s. in 1852; it is now 56s. The price of pork in 1852 was 32s.; it is now 48s. An hon. Member, speaking from that quarter of the House, told us the other day that potatoes—though they are not included in the produce calculated in Griffith's valuation, they are certainly very important articles of produce—have considerably risen in price between 1878 and 1884. I have obtained these 760 figures from the highest authority—the Valuation Office of Ireland. If these things are so, it is also the fact, as I think everybody knows it is the fact, that the prices of articles of consumption which, at any rate, the better class of farmers in Ireland use, have considerably fallen. The price of labour has risen, yet the small farmers employ very little labour; and, finally, the means of sending produce to market have very much improved in Ireland. I think if all these matters are taken into consideration, the House will hardly believe that there is sufficient ground for the statement of the hon. Member for South Sligo that a crash will come during the next winter, unless something be done to avert it, or that, as a general rule, it is impossible that rents fixed on a valuation evidently very little above Griffith's valuation can be paid by the tenants in Ireland, notwithstanding the prospect of a good harvest which is before them.
§ MR. PARNELL (Cork)
Can the right hon. Gentleman give the House the information he has received from the Land Commission on the subject of the judicial rents outside Ulster—in the Provinces of Leinster, Munster, and Oonnaught—above the Poor Law valuation?
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
I have not the figures by me; but I quite understand what the hon. Member is alluding to. He is objecting, and I think very fairly, that you must not generalize too much in this matter.
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
What I was seeking to establish by the figures I have quoted is this—that, generally speaking, there cannot be that impossibility to pay the judicial rents in Ireland which has been loudly stated by hon. Members below the Gangway, and which has been supported by the authors of the Land Act sitting on that Bench. I do not at all deny that the judicial rents may possibly be high in particular cases and in particular districts, which are mainly affected by the prices of those articles of produce, such as butter, 761 which have fallen as compared with Griffith's valuation. That is the reason we propose that the Commission shall ascertain,not—asthe hon. Member for South Sligo put it—whether prices had exceptionally fallen, but how the operation of the Land Act is affected by that fall in prices; and, without inquiry, I venture to say it is utterly impossible for the House to consider that the question can be fairly dealt with. Of course, we are told by hon. Members below the Gangway that evictions in large numbers will take place during the ensuing winter, on account of inability to pay these judicial rents to which I have alluded. Well, now, Sir, it has already been stated by me, speaking previously on this question, that to say nothing of the remissions which landlords have made in rents, not being judicial rents, and which I do not in the least doubt they would be prepared to make again, the tenant not under a judicial rent can appeal to the Court against a writ of eviction, in order that the execution of that writ may be stayed, until he is able to obtain a fair rent for his holding. The answer that has been given to that statement by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Hackney (Sir Charles Russell) is that such appeals have been very rare, in consequence of the difficulties that lay in the way of prosecuting them. But the tenants in Ireland find no difficulty in going to the Courts, as has been shown by the working of the Land Act, when left to themselves; and, considering that out of the total number of tenants in Ireland no less than 460,000 would be able to take this course, I cannot see how that danger of unfair eviction could exist in their case which has been so broadly stated by the hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of Cork. But, then, when I come to leaseholders, or tenants holding under judicial rents, of whom I believe there are about 140,000 in Ireland, I am informed by my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General for Ireland (Mr. Holmes) that even with regard to them the County Courts are empowered by the general order of the Judges to suspend at their discretion the execution of ejectments, and that a similar jurisdiction has been always exercised by the Supreme Court. Of course, I am aware that is only a suspension; but, as far as 762 I gather, that power of suspension is precisely what the hon. Member for the City of Cork, in his own speech, suggested should be given; and, considering that the Courts have this power already, considering that they may, if they choose, exercise it, I am bound to say I cannot see how right hon. Gentlemen opposite can suggest an alteration of the law. As I have said, I do not at all wish to detain the House, and I will only say a few words upon the last paragraph of the Amendment of the hon. Member for the City of Cork. Now, the hon. Member has put throughout his whole speech, and throughout his whole Amendment, and so have those who support it, the inability to pay as the solo ground of non-payment of rent in Ireland. Sir, we cannot take that view. We have included in the terms of the Reference to the Commission the duty of inquiring how far the operation of the Land Act is affected, not only by the alteration in prices, but also by the combinations that exist to resist the fulfilment of legal obligations; and I am astonished that in the speeches that have been delivered from that Bench, no allusion, so far as I remember has been, made at all to that which is, to our minds, the most important element in this question. Therefore, Sir, feeling as we do that, if there be non-payment of rent in Ireland during the winter, that non-payment will generally arise, not from inability, but from un willingness to pay, unwillingness, perhaps, easily fortified by a little terrorism, or due entirely to terrorism—if that be so, obviously we cannot accept the interpretation which the hon. Member for the City of Cork places, I suppose, on the third paragraph of his Amendment. That paragraph seems to us to be based on an entirely unwarrantable assumption. If non-payment of rent is due to combination and unwillingness, what would be more unjust than that the landlords of Ireland should be fined on account of non-payment due to these causes? Sir, we have put forward, as the ultimate object of this Commission and of our land policy, the extension of the present system of converting occupiers in Ireland into owners. I was sorry to hear the mode in which that matter was treated by the right hon. Gentleman (Sir William Harcourt) to-night. I 763 confess I had thought, until I heard his speech, that the whole House was practically agreed in sympathy with that object, provided it could be carried out with fairness to owners of land, to the occupiers of land, and to the taxpayers of the country. Well, the hon. Member for South Sligo told us that the Land Purchase Bill of the late Government, which is now dead, which is separated from their Home Rule proposal, in his opinion did not involve the slightest risk to the country, although, at the same time, he was strongly supporting this Amendment, which says that many tenants will be unable, on account of poverty, to pay their rents. What was the hon. Gentleman's reason for such an assertion? He said that he and his Friends had reason to believe that the 20 years named in the Bill as the number of years' purchase would be in some remarkable way whittled down in operation. I should like to know his reason for thinking so; because it seems to me almost an insult to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) to suggest, as I think the hon. Member for South Sligo did, that he had put before Parliament a Bill apparently giving to landlords in Ireland 20 years' purchase for their estates, intending, at the same time, to appoint a Commission to whittle it down practically to nothing. Well, I am bound to admit that, so far as my opinion goes, there must be some risk in any scheme of Land Purchase in Ireland. It may be that there must be some loss to the State in effecting it. We wait to deal with that question until we are furnished with the facts, until we have the suggestions of the Commission, until we are able to make up our own minds on those subjects; and all I will say now is this—that we shall approach the consideration of the question, I believe, in ample time to legislate next Session in regard to it, with the determination of doing justice to all interests affected, including that of the British taxpayer, in whose behalf hon. Members opposite are so remarkably anxious. Sir, the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Hackney (Sir Charles Russell) twitted us the other evening with not being supported in our policy by the great 764 majority of the Irish Members. Well, Sir, we may not be supported by them at present. Perhaps, when our policy on the question of land is developed, when practical proposals are laid before the House, we may be more fortunate in that respect; but I think it is strange that this taunt should come from an hon. and learned Gentleman who was a Member of the late Government, who, a very few months ago, specially reserved this dealing with the Land Question for the Imperial Parliament, and would not allow the Irish Representatives in Dublin to deal with it themselves. Why, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-on-Tyne has stated more plainly than any of his Colleagues the necessity for dealing with the Irish Land Question in the Imperial Parliament. He stated, if I remember right, that that necessity was due to the position of the landlords in Ireland, and to the mode in which Parliament had heretofore dealt with them; and I think he intimated very clearly his belief that, owing to the opinions held by hon. Members below the Gangway on the subject of the relations between landlord and tenant in Ireland, there would be great danger of injustice to the landlords, if the Land Question were left to be settled by an Irish Parliament; and yet an hon. and learned Gentleman, who is himself responsible for that policy, taunts us because, in its initiation, our policy does not command the support of hon. Members below the Gangway. Sir, there is one question which was asked by the noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington), and which was not answered in the speech of the hon. Member for South Sligo to-night. [Cries of "Belfast!"] Why was it that, pending the consideration by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian of the question of Home Rule for Ireland, pending the consideration of his measures by Parliament and by the country, we heard nothing whatever, either in this House, or, so far as I know, in the country, of this condition of the Irish farmers, which is now brought before us as so terrible and so urgent that we are to deal with it by what amounts to a complete reversal of the Land Act, without even any previous inquiry? Prices were 765 lower as regards stock during earlier months of 1886 than they are now, and yet I believe the spring and summer rents in Ireland were fairly paid, and why were they fairly paid? Because the pressure which prevented their payment was withdrawn. The hon. Member for South Sligo said, to-night, that the National League advised the tenants to pay the utmost rent they were able to pay. Another hon. Member said they denied there was any conspiracy against the judicial rents, and that not a single Member sitting in that quarter of the House would encourage the tenants in such a policy. Well, Sir, I wish those doctrines were promulgated a little more throughout Ireland. The House will remember the witty suggestion made a long time ago, when the Government of this country appointed Bishops to the Established Church of Ireland, that very admirable and religious men were selected by the Ministers of the day, but that when these men set out on their journey to Ireland they were waylaid on Hounslow Heath by highwaymen, who robbed them of their credentials and obtained installation in their place. I am almost afraid that the difficulty of communication with Ireland which then was felt must exist in some mysterious fashion still, so that the counsels of patience and moderation, and fulfilment where possible of legal obligations, which I have no doubt are given by hon. Members with perfect sincerity, change their nature before they reach the wilds of Connaught. I may be wrong, but reports have reached me, from which it would seem that there must be individuals, almost at the present time, making speeches in the South and West of Ireland, masquerading under the names of hon. Members of this House, who, when they sit here, are perfectly Constitutional and loyal. I agree with the hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of Cork that there is a gloomy prospect before us; but I differ from him absolutely as to the reason. He and the hon. Gentleman the Member for South Sligo dwelt on the great advantage to their Party which has been gained by the association with them, and the enrolment under their banner, of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian and his followers in Great Britain. They went on to an- 766 ticipate that, before long, that support would be increased, and would bring them success in that which is the great object of their desires. I think, for my own part, that the anticipations of the hon. Members and their Friends in this respect are not likely to be realized. I believe, with my right hon. Friend the Member for Dartford, that the more the people of Great Britain understand what is meant by a separate Government and Parliament for Ireland, the less they will like it. But the hon. Members may be right. It is possible that by Constitutional means the Irish Home Rule Party may convince the reason of the people of Great Britain; but, Sir, one thing I will venture to say, and that is, that the people of Great Britain never will be coerced by a "no rent campaign," backed by intimidation, into conceding to Ireland anything but that which their reason and judgment tell them is right.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 181; Noes 304: Majority 123.770
|Abraham, W. (Glam.)||Cossham, H.|
|Abraham, W. (Limerick, W.)||Cox, J. R.|
|Acland, A. H. D.||Craven, J.|
|Acland, C. T. D.||Crawford, D.|
|Allison, R. A.||Crawford, W.|
|Anderson, C. H.||Cremer, W. R.|
|Asher, A.||Crilly, D.|
|Asquith, H. H.||Dillon, J.|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Ellis, J. E.|
|Balfour, rt. hon. J. B.||Ellis, T. E.|
|Barran, J.||Esmonde, Sir T. G.|
|Biggar. J. G.||Esslemont, P.|
|Blake, J. A.||Farquharson, Dr. R.|
|Blane, A.||Fenwick, C.|
|Borlase, W. C.||Ferguson,R. C. Munro-|
|Bradlaugh, C.||Finucane, J.|
|Bright, Jacob||Flower, C.|
|Bright, W. L.||Flynn, J. C.|
|Broadhurst, H.||Foley, P. J.|
|Brown, A. L.||Forster, Sir C.|
|Burt, T.||Fox, Dr. J. F.|
|Buxton, S. C.||Fuller, G. P.|
|Byrne, G. M.||Gane, J. L.|
|Cameron, J. M.||Gilhooly, J.|
|Campbell, H.||Gill, H. J.|
|Carew, J. L.||Gill, T. P.|
|Chance, P. A.||Gladstone, H. J.|
|Channing, F. A.||Gourley, E. T.|
|Clancy, J. J.||Gray, E. D.|
|Cobb, H. P.||Grove, Sir T. F.|
|Coleridge, hon. B.||Harrington, E.|
|Commins, A.||Harrington, T. C.|
|Condon, T. J.||Harris, M.|
|Connolly, L.||Hayden, L. P.|
|Conway, M.||Hayne, C. Seale-|
|Conybeare, C. A. V.||Healy, M.|
|Corbet, W. J.||Holden, I.|
|Hooper, J.||Pinkerton, J.|
|Howell, G.||Plowden, Sir W. C.|
|Hunter, W. A.||Portman, hon. E. B.|
|Jacoby, J. A.||Potter, T. B.|
|Jordan, J.||Power, P. J.|
|Kelly, B.||Power, R.|
|Kenny, C. S.||Provand, A. D.|
|Kenny, J. E.||Pyne, J. D.|
|Kenny, M. J.||Quinn, T.|
|Labouchere, H.||Redmond, W. H. K.|
|Lacaita, C. C.||Reynolds, W. J.|
|Lalor, E.||Richard, H.|
|Lane, W. J.||Roberts, J.|
|Lawson, Sir W.||Roberts, J. B.|
|Lawson, H. L. W.||Roe, T.|
|Leahy, J.||Rowlands, J.|
|Leamy, E.||Rountree, J.|
|Lefevre, rt. hon. G. S.||Russell, Sir C.|
|Lewis, T. P.||Russell, E. R.|
|Lockwood, F.||Schwann, C. E.|
|Lyell, L.||Sexton, T.|
|M'Arthur, W. A.||Shaw, T.|
|M'Cartan, M.||Sheehan, J. D.|
|M'Carthy, J. H.||Sheehy, D.|
|M'Donald, P.||Sheil, E.|
|M'Donald, Dr. R.||Shirley, W. S.|
|M'Donald, W. A.||Simon, Sir J.|
|M'Ewan, W.||Smith, S.|
|M'Kenna, Sir J. N.||Stack, J.|
|M'Laren, W. S. B.||Stanhope, hon. P. J.|
|Mahony, P.||Stepney - Cowell, Sir A. K.|
|Mappin, F. T.|
|Marum, E. M.||Stuart, J.|
|Mason, S.||Sullivan, D.|
|Mayne, T.||Sullivan, T. D.|
|Molloy, B. C.||Summers, W.|
|Morgan, O. V.||Sutherland, A.|
|Morley, rt. hon. J.||Swinburne, Sir J.|
|Murphy, W. M.||Tanner, C. K.|
|Nolan, Colonel J. P.||Tuite, J.|
|Nolan, J.||Waddy, S. D.|
|O'Brien, J. F. X.||Wallace, R.|
|O'Brien, P.||Warmington, C. M.|
|O'Brien, P. J.||Watson, T.|
|O'Connor, A.||Watt, H.|
|O'Connor, J. (Kerry)||Will, J. S.|
|O'Connor, J. (Tippry.)||Williams, A. J.|
|O'Connor, T. P.||Williamson, J.|
|O'Doherty, J. E.||Wilson, H. J.|
|O'Hanlon, T.||Wright, C.|
|O'Hea, P.||Yeo, F. A.|
|Pease, A. E.||TELLERS.|
|Pickard, B.||Illingworth, A.|
|Pickersgill, E. H.||Parnell, C. S.|
|Picton, J. A.|
|Addison, J. E. W.||Banes, Major G. E.|
|Agg-Gardner, J. T.||Baring, Viscount|
|Ambrose, W.||Barnes, A.|
|Amherst, W. A. T.||Bartley, G. C. T.|
|Anstruther, Colonel R. H. L.||Barttelot, Sir W. B.|
|Anstruther, H. T.||Bates, Sir E.|
|Ashmead-Bartlett, E.||Baumann, A. A.|
|Baden-Powell, G. S.||Beach, right hon. Sir M. E. Hicks-|
|Bailey, Sir J. R.|
|Baillie-Cochrane, hon. C. W. A. N.||Beach, W. W. B.|
|Beadel, W. J.|
|Baird, J. G. A.||Bective, Earl of|
|Balfour, rt. hon. A. J.||Bentinck, Lord H. C.|
|Balfour, G. W.||Bentinck, W. G. C.|
|Beresford, Lord C. W. De la Poer||Ellis, Sir J. W.|
|Elton, C. I.|
|Bethell, Commander G. R.||Evelyn, W. J.|
|Biddulph, M.||Ewing, Sir A. O.|
|Birkbeck, Sir E.||Eyre, Colonel H.|
|Blundell, Col. H. B. H.||Farquharson, H. R.|
|Bond, G. H.||Feilden, Lt.-Gen. R. J.|
|Bonsor, H. C. O.||Fergusson, right hon. Sir J.|
|Bridgeman, Col. hon. F. C.|
|Field, Admiral E.|
|Bristowe, T. L.||Fielden, T.|
|Brodrick, hon. W. St. J.F.||Finch, G. H.|
|Finlay, R. B.|
|Brookfield, Col. A. M.||Fisher, W. H.|
|Bruce, Lord H.||Fitzgerald, R. U. P.|
|Buchanan, T. R.||Fitz-Wygram, General Sir F. W.|
|Burdett-Coutts, W. L. Ash.-B.|
|Fletcher, Sir H.|
|Burghley, Lord||Folkestone, right hon. Viscount|
|Caine, W. S.|
|Caldwell, J.||Forwood, A. B.|
|Campbell, J. A.||Fry, L.|
|Campbell, R. F. F.||Fulton, J. F.|
|Cavendish, Lord E.||Gathorne-Hardy, hon. A. E.|
|Chamberlain, rt. hn. J.|
|Chamberlain, R.||Gedge, S.|
|Chaplin, right hon. H.||Gent-Davis, R.|
|Charrington, S.||Gibson, J. G.|
|Churchill, rt. hn. Lord R. H. S.||Giles, A.|
|Gilliat, J. S.|
|Clarke, Sir E. G.||Goldsmid, Sir J.|
|Coddington, W.||Goldsworthy, Major-General W. T.|
|Coghill, D. H.|
|Collings, J.||Gorst, Sir J. E.|
|Commerell, Adml. Sir J. E.||Gray, C. W.|
|Greenall, Sir G.|
|Compton, F.||Greene, E.|
|Cooke, C. W. R.||Grimston, Viscount|
|Coope, O. E.||Grotrian, F. B.|
|Corbett, A. C.||Gurdon, R. T.|
|Corbett, J.||Hall, A. W.|
|Corry, Sir J. P.||Halsey, T. F.|
|Cotton, Capt. E.T. D.||Hambro, Col. C. J. T.|
|Courtney, L. H.||Hamilton, right hon. Lord G. F.|
|Cross, H. S.||Hamilton, Lord C. J.|
|Crossman, Gen. Sir W.||Hamilton, Lord E.|
|Cubitt, right hon. G.||Hamilton, Col. C. E.|
|Curzon, Viscount||Hamley, Gen. Sir E.B.|
|Curzon, hon. G. N.||Hardcastle, E.|
|Dalrymple, C.||Hartington, Marq. of|
|Davenport, H. T.||Hastings, G. W.|
|Davenport, W. B.||Havelock - Allan, Sir H. M.|
|Dawnay, Colonel hon. L. P.|
|Heath, A. R.|
|De Lisle, E. J. L. M. P.||Heathcote, Capt. J. H. Edwards-|
|De Worms, Baron H.||Herbert, hon. S.|
|Dickson, Major A. G.||Hervey, Lord F.|
|Dimsdale, Baron R.||Hill, right hon. Lord A. W.|
|Dorington, Sir J. E.||Hill, Colonel E. S.|
|Duncan, Colonel F.||Hill, A. S.|
|Duncombe, A.||Hingley, B.|
|Dyke, rt. hn. Sir W. H.||Hoare, S.|
|Hodge, R. T. H.|
|Edwards-Moss, T. C.||Holland, rt. hon. Sir H. T.|
|Egerton, hn. A. J. F.|
|Egerton, hon. A. de T.||Holloway, G.|
|Elcho, Lord||Holmes, rt. hon. H.|
|Elliot, hon. A. R. D.||Hornby, W. H.|
|Elliot, G. W.||Howard, J.|
|Howard, J. M.||Newark, Viscount|
|Howorth, H. H.||Noble, W.|
|Hozier, J. H. C.||Norris, E. S.|
|Hubbard, rt. hn. J. G.||Northcote, hon. H. S.|
|Hubbard, E.||Norton, R.|
|Hughes, Colonel E.||O'Neill, hon. R. T.|
|Hughes - Hallett, Col. F. C.||Paget, Sir R. H.|
|Parker, hon. F.|
|Hunt, F. S.||Pearce, W.|
|Hunter, Sir W. G.||Polly, Sir L.|
|Isaacs, L. H.||Penton, Captain F. T.|
|Isaacson, F. W.||Percy, Lord A. M.|
|Jackson, W. L.||Pitt-Lewis, G.|
|James, rt. hon. Sir H.||Plunket, rt. hon. D. R.|
|Jarvis, A. W.||Plunkett, hon. J. W.|
|Jennings, L. J.||Powell, F. S.|
|Johnston, W.||Price, Captain G. E.|
|Kelly, J. R.||Puleston, J. H.|
|Kennaway, Sir J, H.||Raikes, rt. hon. H C.|
|Kenrick, W.||Rankin, J.|
|Kenyon, hon. G. T.||Rasch, Major F. C.|
|Kenyon - Slaney, Col. W.||Reed, H. B.|
|Ridley, Sir M. W.|
|Ker, R. W. B.||Ritchie, rt. hon. C. T.|
|Kerans, F. H.||Robertson, J. P. B.|
|Kimber, H.||Robinson, B.|
|King, H. S.||Rollit, Sir A. K.|
|King-Harman, Colonel E. R.||Ross, A. H.|
|Knatchbull-Hugessen, hon. H. T.||Royden, T. B.|
|Russell, Sir G.|
|Knightley, Sir R.||Russell, T. W.|
|Knowles, L.||Sandys, Lt. -Col. T. M.|
|Kynoch, G.||Saunderson, Col. E. J.|
|Lafone, A.||Selwyn, Captain C.W.|
|Lambert, I. C.||Seton-Karr, H.|
|Lawrance, J. C.||Shaw-Stewart, M. H.|
|Lawrence, W. F.||Sidebotham, J. W.|
|Lea, T.||Sidebottom, T. H.|
|Lechmere, Sir E. A. H.||Sidebottom, W.|
|Lees, E.||Sinclair, W. P.|
|Legh, T. W.||Smith, rt. hon. W. H.|
|Lethbridge, Sir R.||Smith, A.|
|Lewis, C. E.||Smith, D.|
|Lewisham, right hon. Viscount||Smith-Barry, A. H.|
|Spencer, J. E.|
|Long, W. H.||Stanhope, rt. hon. E.|
|Low, M.||Stanley, E. J.|
|Lowther, J. W.||Stewart, M. J.|
|Macartney, W. G. E.||Sutherland, T.|
|Macdonald, rt. hon. J. H. A.||Swetenham, E.|
|Talbot, J. G.|
|Maclean, J. M.||Tapling, T. K.|
|Maclure, J. W.||Taylor, F.|
|M'Calmont, Captain J.||Temple, Sir R.|
|Mallock, R.||Theobald, J.|
|Manners, rt. hon. Lord J. J. R.||Tollemache, H. J.|
|Tomlinson, W. E. M.|
|Marriott, rt. hn. W. T.||Tottenham, A. L.|
|Maskelyne, M. H. N. Story-||Townsend, F.|
|Tyler, Sir H. W.|
|Matthews, rt. hon. H.||Verdin, R.|
|Maxwell, Sir H. E.||Vernon, hon. G. R.|
|Mills, hon. C. W.||Vincent, C. E. H.|
|More, R. J.||Walsh, hon. A. H. J.|
|Morgan, hon. F.||Waring, Colonel T.|
|Morrison, W.||Watkin, Sir E. W.|
|Mount, W. G.||Watson, J.|
|Mowbray, rt. hon. Sir J. R.||Webster, Sir R. E.|
|Webster, R. G.|
|Mowbray, R. G. C.||Weymouth, Viscount|
|Mulholland, H. L.||Wharton, J. L.|
|Murdoch, C. T.||White, J. B.|
|Whitley, E.||Wortley, C. B. Stuart-|
|Whitmore, C. A.||Wright, H. S.|
|Wiggin, H.||Wroughton, P.|
|Williams, J. Powell-||Yerburgh, R. A.|
|Wilson, Sir S.||Young, C E. B.|
|Winn, hon. R.|
|Wodehouse, E. R.||TELLERS.|
|Wolmor, Viscount||Douglas, A. Akers-|
|Wood, N.||Walrond, Col. W. H.|
§ Original (Question again proposed.
§ Motion made, and Question, "That the Debate be now adjourned,"—(Mr. S. Smith,)—put, and agreed to.
§ Debate adjourned till Monday next.