§ MR. ESSLEMONT (Aberdeen, E.)
, in rising to move as an Amendment—And this House humbly expresses its regret that the condition of affairs in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland is very unsatisfactory; that the administration of the Law does not possess the confidence of the people; that the Naval Forces are supposed to he re- 899 quired to overawe a portion of the population; and that the greatest and most pressing grievance of the crofters and cottars has not been remedied by the Crofters Act, which has failed to provide for the enlargement of the present inadequate holdings, and the formation of new holdings, where they are urgently required,said, he appeared in the capacity of the Mover of the Amendment rather by accident than by intention. He understood that in consequence of the course taken last night on the adjournment of the House by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Caithness (Dr. Clark)—the champion of the crofters—he had exhausted his right, and was technically precluded from moving his Motion. He (Mr. Esslemont) accepted in the fullest manner the disclaimer made by the Leader of the House (Lord Randolph Churchill) last night, and did not assume that the adjournment of the House implied the slightest disrespect to Scotland. He might be allowed to say, in the presence of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Scotland (Mr. A. J. Balfour), that the Amendment before the House did not imply on the part of the Mover the slightest reflection upon the action of the present Government. It was not on them primarily that any blame lay in regard to the inadequacy of the measure passed on behalf of the crofters and cottars in the Highlands of Scotland. It was only just to say on behalf of the Leaders of the Opposition, however, that in circumscribing the Crofters Act of the last Parliament—which, he thought, was circumscribed to its very lowest limits—they were very considerably helped by those who were then in Opposition and now occupied the Treasury Bench. Their reason, therefore, for calling attention to this subject was to suggest to the Members of the present Government, and to the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Scotland in particular, that there was a great and good opportunity of doing more ample justice to the Highlands and Islands, to the crofters and cottars, than was done by the Government which preceded them; and he hoped they would take advantage of that opportunity at the earliest possible moment to amend what hon. Members representing the crofters considered and pointed out at the time to be deficient in the Crofters Bill. He was somewhat damped by the answer he got yesterday from the right hon. Gentleman the Se- 900 cretary for Scotland in regard to any intention on his part to espouse a certain class of the cottars and crofters who were labouring under disadvantages over which practically they had no control, and who were still left out in the cold with regard to remedial measures that had been applied to their class elsewhere. He, however, did not intend to enter into that question, believing that it would be beyond the terms of the Amendment; but he hoped on an early day to have an apportunity of calling attention to it, because he believed it was a question which could not be allowed to sleep, but which must be taken up either by the Government or by the people of Scotland themselves. His apology for introducing the question at all on behalf of his hon. Friend the Member for Caithness (Dr. Clark) was that the county which he represented contained more crofters and cottars than any other county in Scotland. Those crofters and cottars, while deserving well, and in some sense better, of the Government, had been entirely left out in the cold. If those of them who were represented by himself (Mr. Esslemont) and the hon. Member for the Western Division of Aberdeen (Dr. Farquharson) had been lawless, and had made great disturbances and had broken the law, if an Army and Navy had been sent to quiet them, they would have been, he believed, better off than they were now, and enjoying the benefits of the Crofters and Cottars Act. They, therefore, thought it rather hard that, having been law abiding, and having waited patiently for the interposition of Her Majesty's Government to deliver the cottars and crofters from the great distress under which they laboured, and the unfair conditions on which they held their cottages and crofts, they should be excluded from the benefits of an Act at least intended to be beneficial to their class. He would remind the Government, and especially the Scottish Secretary, that in Aberdeenshire they had a fisher class which had seemed to receive the greatest consideration from the then Opposition at the time the Crofters and Cottars Act was passed, and that that Opposition evinced a desire to give encouragement to those fishers who were also cottars by helping them in a financial and substantial way in regard to their wants—such as harbours, and the 901 conditions of their tenure. The conditions of tenure under which they existed, it was well known, were very discouraging to their interests and disadvantageous from a financial point of view. He moved the Amendment for the purpose of calling the attention of the Government to this subject, and he was not without hope that the present Secretary for Scotland would give the matter the attention and consideration which it deserved. All they wanted was that the matter should receive inquiry and an impartial consideration, because they were satisfied that the justice of their case would commend itself to any Government, whether Conservative, Liberal, or Radical. The hon. Member concluded by moving the Amendment which stood in his name.
§ MR. McLAREN (Cheshire, Crewe)
, on rising to second the Amendment, said, that although an English Member he was a Scotchman, and had a hereditary interest in Scotch matters, as those hon. Members would easily understand who remembered the long services of his late father as Member for the City of Edinburgh; and he had another reason for being interested in the condition of the Highlands—namely, that a very large majority of the Liberal Party in the capital of the Highlands looked to him to represent them on that occasion. It was his fortune at the Election of 1885 to contest the Inverness Burghs against the hon. and learned Member (Mr. Finlay) who at present sat for that constituency, and he was beaten by a small majority. On that occasion he (Mr. McLaren) received the great bulk of the Liberal vote. The hon. and learned Gentleman received the Conservative vote, and sat in that House in virtue of that vote. As a natural consequence, the hon. and learned Gentleman not infrequently voted with the Conservative Party, and was one of the leading Unionist Members on the Liberal side of the House. The hon. and learned Gentleman was a man of great ambition, and soared high in his political views, having endeavoured to reconstruct the Established Church in a way no Liberal wished it to be reconstructed. [Cries of "Order!" and "Question!"] He begged pardon; but, of course, he had said this to show why on that occasion he (Mr. McLaren) represented a section of the electors of Inverness. It 902 had often been charged against the Crofter and Irish Members that they stirred up ill-feeling in their constituencies for Party purposes, and that the grievances of the crofters were not really genuine grievances. The charge could not be made against him, because he was in no way dependent upon the crofter vote; but it was because he felt sincerely and strongly on this question, and knowing the grievances of the crofters, that he desired to impress those grievances upon the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Scotland (Mr. A. J. Balfour) and the House. For his part, looking to the administration of Scotch law, he considered that whatever a Radical or Liberal Government might be in regard to English or Irish affairs, when it came to deal with Scotch matters it was neither Liberal nor Radical, but Whig. Therefore, Scotland need not be much troubled at the fact that she had exchanged a Whig Government for a Conservative Government. He himself would greatly prefer to have Scotch matters administered in a generous spirit by a liberal-minded Scotch Secretary who was a Conservative, than by a Whig who was under the influence of the traditions of the Edinburgh Parliament House. The Conservative Party had now a very great chance of settling Scotch affairs, and all they asked them to do was to inquire into the justice of the grievances, and treat them in a generous spirit. No one who had any acquaintance with the Highlands could say that the condition of that part of the country was satisfactory; and the description given by the hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton) of the condition of the people of Gweedore would apply with equal truth to many places in Scotland. They all knew of the evictions in Highland parishes in the past. About 18 months ago, when in Sutherlandshire, he met crofters who told him that within their own recollection, and in the recollection of their fathers, while they had been living in their houses the agents of the Duke of Sutherland had come and taken burning peats from the fires in the cottages and set fire to the thatch roof when the inmates were sick in bed. [An hon. MEMBER: Shame!] The Sutherlandshire crofters had, to a certain extent, their revenge, because so far as their representation was concerned they had 903 evicted the son of their Duke, and had elected the son of a crofter to represent them, and probably for the first time in their history they would be adequately represented in that House. Evictions were not only an old story; they had been going on till the Act of last Session. The Report of the Crofters Commission bore witness that there were three landlords who evicted their tenants for giving evidence before that Commission; and that there were other landlords who would not promise security to their tenants if they gave evidence. Although the Crofters Act was now passed, there were landlords in Scotland who were endeavouring to prevent the Act from coming into operation. There was a well-known landlord, Lord Lovat, who was endeavouring to persuade all his tenants to take leases, because leaseholders would not get the free benefit of the Crofters Act. He believed that some of Lord Lovat's tenants were resisting. That was only a fair sample of the determined way in which some landlords were endeavouring to frustrate the intentions of the House in passing that Act. It might be said that the Act having been so recently passed they ought to wait until it had been fairly tested. He admitted the great force of that argument, and he did not press the Government to amend the Act in any of its useful provisions; but there were many points in the Act in which it did not go far enough, and there were grievances which it did not profess to touch. The grievances of the crofters might be classed under five heads—the land, fisheries, justice, education, and deer forests and game. With regard to land, the Act of last Session gave security of tenure to crofters under certain conditions. Some of them were reasonable enough; but one was that the crofters were to be bound by the estate regulations, and if hon. Members knew the iniquity of some of these estate laws in the Highlands they would have hesitated before they did anything in that Act that would sanction even a nominal acknowledgment of them at the hands of the House. There were estate regulations which provided that a tenant should not only refrain from poaching himself, but be liable to a heavy fine if he did not prevent others from poaching, or give them up to justice for so doing. There were also regulations 904 which enabled landlords or agents to enter the houses of crofters at any hour of the day or night to search for arms. Irish Members had made a great stir about the Irish Arms Act; but he wondered what they would say about such regulations as these. There were likewise estate laws to provide against overcrowding, and under these no tenant could have in his house more than one son of the age of 21; all the others had to leave, and likewise every daughter who married had to leave her father's house. These were restrictions that would not be tolerated in England, Ireland, or in any part of Scotland except the Highlands. They were tolerated there because Highland lairds were little kings—little despots who were beyond the reach of the ordinary law. The Crofters Act of last Session was inadequate and defective in many respects, and was hedged round by so many conditions and restrictions as to make its benefits almost nugatory; and the power of the crofters to secure the enlargement of their holdings under the Act was so small that there could be very little amelioration of their condition. The clause with reference to deer forests should not have been put in the Act at all, and it should have been perfectly competent for the Land Commission to take fertile land away from deer forests and give it to any tenant in the Highlands who was able to stock it. One provision of the Crofters Act was that no land should be taken for deer forests if it would injuriously affect the inhabitants of the district generally. Who were the inhabitants of the district generally? One great stretch of country from sea to sea was held by a man whose name was execrated all over the Highlands—an American named Winans—and was one great deer forest. He thought that the landlords who let the land for deer forests were to blame more than those who used the land for that purpose. The Act was not adequate to satisfy the Highlanders. Let them consider what injury the deer forests did. The deer forests were not fenced except to a small extent. Instead of its being the business of the landlord to keep the deer in his own forest, it was the business of the crofter to keep them out of his holding. During the harvest months he had been told of crofters being obliged to sit up all night 905 to guard their crops for fear the deer should come down upon them. If the landlords would have deer for their own pleasure and profit they should be bound to fence their property. It should not be necessary for the crofters to sit up all night and guard their crops. The last Government was a Whig Government as far as Scotland was concerned. The right hon. Gentleman the late Lord Advocate (Mr. J. B. Balfour) had opposed everything proposed by the Crofter Members that was worth having; indeed, if the right hon. Gentleman had been a Tory he could not have offered a more dogged resistance to every Amendment that would have made the Act of any use for the crofter's benefit; and gallantly as the Scotch Members fought him they were unable to make the impression they desired upon the Bill. But they could not expect to gather grapes of thorns, and he was afraid they must wait until a Radical Administration came into power before they could expect the grievances of the crofters to be thoroughly redressed; but, in the meantime, there were some things which the Conservatives could do—some things which did not tread upon Conservative corns—and they would reap the gratitude of the Highlanders, who were prepared to welcome justice with open arms and with gratitude from whoever it came, whether from a Conservative or a Liberal Government. They could see, at any rate, that justice was was done in the Highlands. He did did not mean by doing justice that they were to initiate absurd naval demonstrations. The last naval demonstration was undertaken by the Liberals, and, therefore, the present Secretary for Scotland was not responsible for that; but there was no need for it. There had been no violent deforcement of Sheriff officers; there had been no serious resistance to the law; and he believed the summonses could easily have been served. At all events, there was no resistance; and when the naval demonstration arrived at Tiree the soldiers and sailors were welcomed with open arms. The Highlanders readily extended their hospitality to the invaders, and whisky was served to them all round. What they wanted the Government to do was to see that the officials of justice did their duty; and in this connec- 906 tion he thought they had ground for complaint. As had been shown by a Return moved for by the hon. Member for the College Division of Glasgow (Dr. Cameron), there were a great many Procurators Fiscal who were also solicitors and land agents, and he submitted that this was an exceedingly improper state of things. He did not know that the Irish Members could produce any anomaly equal to that of the Procurators Fiscal in Scotland, who acted as Public Prosecutors, and at the same time as solicitors and factors for landlords. There were 54 Procurators, and of these only eight gave their whole time to their duties, and none of these were in the Highlands. There were 22 who also acted as solicitors in their official districts, and of these 11 were in the Highlands. The remaining 24 acted both as solicitors and factors in their official districts, and of these eight were in the Highlands. It was wrong that the Public Prosecutor should be solicitor and factor for the very landlord for or against whom he might have to act in his public capacity. This grievance told with special force upon the crofters who at the present time had strained relations with their landlords. The Crofters Commission dealt fully with this grievance, and he trusted that the Government would take it into consideration. Even if it should require some additional expense, he hoped they would see the absolute necessity of having justice fairly administered in the Highlands. Another grievance that the Government might take up and remedy without trespassing on Conservative prejudices was that of the fishermen. Clause 82 of the Act of last year provided that the Government might advance to the Fishery Board sums of money to be lent to fishermen for the building of boats and the repair of gear, &c.; and he would like to ask the Secretary for Scotland how much money it was proposed to ask Parliament to vote for that purpose? Unfortunately, the clause only applied to the fishermen in Argyll, Caithness, Ross and Cromarty, Inverness-shire, Sutherland, and Orkney and Shetland, and he hoped that the Government would apply this clause of the Act to the fishermen throughout Scotland. The Act should be further extended in the direction of the building 907 of piers and harbours, in order to make it really adequate; and upon this point he was glad that his right hon. Friend the Member for Berwickshire (Mr. Marjoribanks) had given Notice that he would move that a proportionate amount of money be expended for this purpose in Great Britain as was spent in Ireland. When his right hon. Friend made that Motion he would get the support of all who were interested in the crofters; but he hoped the Government would forestall him and rob him of the credit of it by adopting it for themselves. The Royal Commission of two years ago recommended that no less than 10 harbours should be made in the North of Scotland; and the Commissioners pointed out that no less than 300 lives had been lost off the Island of Lewis in 35 years on account of the want of harbour accommodation. Harbours were wanted in Skye and Tiree, and these places were specially mentioned in the Report of the Commissioners. In his opinion it would be to much better purpose to spend money in this way in Syke and Tiree, where it would do great good, rather than waste it upon military and naval demonstrations. Another point was the question of improved communication; and from the answer given by the Secretary for Scotland, he understood the Government had this matter under consideration. In consequence of this want of communication with the mainland the fishermen were frequently unable to get an extra large catch of fish salted for want of salt that otherwise might be telegraphed for; and in consequence of not being acquainted with, the market prices of fish they frequently had to sell their fish at a much less price than they ought to obtain for it; therefore, if the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Scotland would devote some of his energies to obtaining better telegraph and steam communication with the mainland he would considerably improve the position of the fishermen. Another grievance requiring attention had reference to the cran measure for fish. Fish were principally sold by the cran and quarter-cran; but as there was no regular standard the quarter-cran baskets were constantly becoming larger, the result being that fishermen were really selling for a cran a cran and a-half or a cran and a third. All that was required would 908 be for the Secretary for Scotland to introduce a Bill of one clause, fixing the standard size of the cran.
§ MR. SPEAKER
, calling the hon. Gentleman to Order, said, that his remarks were not pertinent to the Amendment. The Amendment referred to the alleged failure of the Crofters Act to provide for the enlargement of the present inadequate holdings, and the mode of selling fish did not seem pertinent to the Amendment.
§ MR. McLAREN
said, he apologized for trespassing outside the bounds of the Amendment, and remarked that he had said all that he wished to say upon this point. He presumed it would be irregular to call attention to the question of education in the Highlands, which also formed a serious grievance. Upon the question generally he hoped that the Government would deal generously with Scotland in this matter. It was of great importance to the country that the crofting populations of the Highlands should be kept up, who furnished recruits so largely both to the Army and to the Navy. The crofting populations numbered some 40,000 families, and they were an important body for the defences of the country, no less than 4,400 of them belonging to the Naval Reserve of the country. For this reason they should be encouraged by the Government, and their eviction should be stopped. He would also urge that the Act should be altered so as to give further facilities for the enlargement of their holdings, as that would have the effect of stopping emigration, and even to bring back many of the crofters who had settled in other parts of the world. The crofters were not able to enforce their demands as the Irish had done; but he hoped that would be no reason for the Government turning a cold shoulder to their wishes. He hoped the House would recognize that the crofters had grievances which could be redressed without doing damage to any other legitimate interest. The Secretary for Scotland had great powers for the redress of the grievances of these people; and, as an English Member and a Scotchman, he (Mr. McLaren) would urge him to go as far as he considered it to be necessary, and be guided by those who sat on that (the Opposition) side of the House, and who had special knowledge of the wants of the crofters.
At the end of the last paragraph, to add the words—"And this House humbly expresses its regret that the condition of affairs in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland is very unsatisfactory; that the administration of the Law does not possess the confidence of the people; that the Naval Forces are supposed to he required to overawe a portion of the population; and that the greatest and most pressing grievance of the crofters and cottars has not been remedied by the Crofters Act, which has failed to provide for the enlargement of the present inadequate holdings, and the formation of now holdings, where they are urgently required."—(Mr. Esslemont.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ DR. CLARK (Caithness)
said, he did not think it was necessary to offer any evidence to show that the condition of things in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland was at present very unsatisfactory. They had got into a condition of discontent and disorder, and the people who had long been very loyal and law-abiding were now fast degenerating into anarchy and lawlessness. He thought it was time for the House to consider the causes which had brought about the present condition of things. There were two causes which had produced the present state of affairs. The first was, that the law had not been amended, and that the grievances which the people complained of had scarcely been affected by the Crofters Act; and, secondly, the administration of justice in the Highlands was anything but satisfactory. It did not possess the confidence of the people. They had two classes of officials in the Highlands connected with the administration of the law—the Sheriff, who was Judge of the county, and the Procurator Fiscal, who was Crown Prosecutor; and these officials had been using the power the law gave them for the purpose of oppressing and tyrannizing over the people. The Sheriff's generally belonged to the landlord class, their sympathies were with them, and they resented the attempt of the Highland people to get rid of their present grievances, and to get a more secure title to their holdings. The Procurator Fiscals were in almost every case agents or factors of the landlords, and they, too, who had been governing the people, and who had hitherto been little despots, strongly resisted the attempt of the people to shake themselves clear from this kind of domination. The Procu- 910 rators Fiscal, therefore, had been using the terrible power which the Scotch law placed in their hands to tyrannize over the people. He had often heard hon. Members from Ireland complaining of the powers which the Coercion Acts gave the officials in Ireland; but similarly stringent powers were being constantly enforced by the Sheriffs and the Procurators Fiscal against the people of the Highlands. He would give a few illustrations of the way in which the officials used their power. The first case was one which even the Lord Advocate would not be able to support—that of the Rev. Mr. Armour, of Sanday, a gentleman of three score and ten, who had been the champion of the people. Last year he went to a meeting of the Conservative candidate for the purpose of asking some questions. The first was whether the candidate would support Lord Randolph Churchill and the Tories in their obstructive policy. The second was whether he would represent the people or the landlords in Parliament. Beforehand, some of the supporters of the Conservative candidate determined to put down the leader of the people, if he rose, by making a noise or by laying hands on him. The result was there was a little disorder, and the chairman had to close the meeting. The Fiscal was a Tory, and the Sheriff was a Tory, and instead of prosecuting Mr. Harvey, who disturbed the meeting, they actually prosecuted this rev. gentleman, who rose for the purpose of asking a question. The Fiscal—this very just Crown Prosecutor—actually had the audacity to tell the Sheriff that the rev. gentleman when he rose was out of order. He would read the summing up of the Sheriff, who sentenced this poor man to four days' imprisonment for the terrible crime of putting impertinent questions to the Conservative candidate.
§ MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! The facts that the hon. Gentleman is now stating have no reference whatever to the Amendment.
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, the case had no reference whatever to the subject before the House, and he asked the hon. Member to keep within the terms of the Amendment.
§ MR. SPEAKER
I have again to call the hon. Gentleman to Order. What he is now stating has no reference whatever to the Amendment before the House.
§ MR. SPEAKER
Order! I am sorry again to have to interrupt the hon. Member. I would point out to him that the whole question of the administration of justice in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland is not covered by the Amendment. It is the administration of justice so far as the crofters are concerned. The whole point of the Amendment is the Crofters Question.
§ DR. CLARK
said, he desired to show that the crofters in his county were sent to Dingwall Prison for 66 days without having even been tried because of their political opinions, and it was only after considerable pressure that the right hon. Gentleman the late Lord Advocate (Mr. J. B. Balfour) was got to interfere. But perhaps he (Dr. Clark) might be permitted to say something about Sheriff Ivory, who in virtue of his office as Sheriff had committed what in Scotland they called crimes, and for which he would be liable to two years' imprisonment; yet he still remained Sheriff of the county. He desired to say something about the Tiree case. It was supposed that they required in Tiree at present gunboats and marines for the purpose of overawing the population, and that they had a condition of things in Tiree which was very bad indeed. But he wanted to point out that this was not the case, and that the people of Tiree did not require either gunboats or marines, although they were very glad to have them, as they found among them a market for their produce. The result was that the crofters would be more comfortable and richer after the marines had left than before. It had really been a blessing to send the gunboats and marines to Tiree. The Island of Tiree was typical of the general condition of things in the Highlands. The population of Tiree was about 2,700 people. The rental was about £6,300 a-year. 912 The distribution of the land and the condition of things in Tiree would show how utterly inadequate were the remedies of the Crofters Act to meet the grievances the people complained of. About 35 per cent of the rental of Tiree was paid by three persons—a farmer taken from Ayrshire, with three large farms, the factor, and the factor's brother paid over one-third of the rental; a dozen men paid over one-half of the rental; and the remainder was paid by 208 crofter families; while in addition to these there were 320 cottar families, who had no land at all, and who, under the Crofters Act, would still remain landless. The entire number of crofters and families were only about 220. The Duke of Argyll had seen fit to consolidate the crofts, to make large farms, and these men had been petitioning him to get back a large portion of their crofts and a large portion of their grazing lands. They thought when the Crofters Act was passed probably the Duke might be able to give them some of the farms when they became vacant. One farm—the farm of Greenhill—became vacant lately, and they petitioned for that. Generally speaking, they got no reply at all to their petition, and the branch, of the Land League Reform Association down there took it upon themselves to act illegally. When this farm became vacant the chairman of that branch, who was an old bachelor, and lived with his brother on a large croft, used very strong language to deter anyone from applying for it, saying that anyone who did so ought to be hung. The result was that the brother applied for the farm. The people were naturally irritated at this sharp practice, and determined to express disapprobation by acts perhaps not legal. The consequence was that a Sheriff's officer was sent to serve writs upon them. He was accompanied by a man whom the islanders thought had turned traitor. This made them rather angry, and they were now told that the Sheriff officer was deforced, and that marines and gunboats were necessary in order to have the writs served. The Sheriff officer might have been deforced, but they wanted much more evidence than had yet been adduced to show that. Two of the men who were now in prison were miles away when the deforcing—if any at all—took place. Some three or 913 four years ago they had a case of alleged deforcement in the Island of Skye; but it ended in a summary conviction for simple assault, though the Sheriff in that case also wanted gunboats, and marines, and all the rest of it. By-and-bye, when the Tiree case was tried, they should find that the same thing occurred, and that there had been simply misrepresentation. Of course, they knew what had caused it. There was a paper published in Edinburgh which published an account of what was supposed to have taken place. It misrepresented all the facts. It spoke of the people firing from behind hedges. There were no hedges at all in Tiree. He would not characterize that journal in the language used by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for Scotland (Mr. J. P. B. Robertson), and talk of it as an illiterate and mendacious journal; but, undoubtedly, its reports were fearfully and wonderfully compounded, and this was one of the reports which had been shown to misrepresent this law-abiding people of the Highlands, and to give them a bad character. The Crofters Act would have very little effect in Tiree. All the large farms were under lease, so that 208 crofters could not get an extension of the holdings, and the 300 odd cottars could not, under any circumstances, get an extension of their holdings, because the Act would not permit it. In reference to the action of the administration of the law, the Fiscal who went to Tiree, and was one of the agents to the Duke of Argyll, and father-in-law of Mr. John Campbell, the Duke's factor, had himself held, and might still have, an interest in one of the large farms in the Island; yet this was the gentleman who was being sent to report, and upon whose evidence these men had been imprisoned. With reference to the last clause of the Amendment, some hon. Gentlemen were under the impression that the real grievance of the Highland people was rack-rent. He thought, on the whole, the Crofter Commissioners in their Report stated what was the accurate condition of things, that only perhaps on four estates in the whole Highlands they had got to pay rack-rents. Outside that, the real grievance was the want of land. Taking Sutherland as a typical crofter county, last year out of 3,000 crofters 1,200 only paid an average of about 25s. a-year rental. If they reduced it to 914 12s. 6d., what effect would that have upon the comfort of the Sutherland crofters? Their present rental was not 6d. a-week, and if they reduced it to 3d. a-week it would only be the price of an ounce of tobacco. When the Crofters Bill was introduced, he (Dr. Clark) then pressed on the Government that the one question was that of the enlargement of holdings. The crofters had been driven away from the land; and in reference to Tiree, it might be desirable to give the House an idea of the process and method by which the population of the Island had been reduced during the last 30 or 40 years from 4,000 to 2,700, and especially on the estate of the great Duke of Argyll. [The hon. Gentleman proceeded to quote from the evidence laid before the Royal Commission instances of cases of eviction, under harsh circumstances and no alleged good reason, in which crofters' houses and barns had been unroofed, and the other inhabitants forbidden to give them one night's shelter under pain of like treatment, one woman so evicted being confined on the cart which took her away, while another person similarly turned out of his home had been thrown on the parish, which had since supported him at a cost of upwards of £600.] This Island was one of the places where there was rack-renting, and where the rents were paid, not from the crofts, but from the earnings of the children away in the cities in the South. The evidence given also showed that the cottars' children were unable to get milk, and were physically degenerating. Another point on which no action was taken was the truck system. In some parts the people were accustomed to burn kelp, and for this they were paid, according to the evidence, £2 in money or £4 in goods. The truck system still prevailed in many parts of the Highlands, and the Procurator Fiscal was in many cases the agent of the employer. On these and other grounds they asked that this House would try to remedy some of the grievances of these poor people. They had been driven away from the most fertile portions of the territory where there was now large deer forests like that of Mr. Winan's, in which there were 300 square miles for himself and his gillies, while the people were driven away to the islands and the sea-coast. There they tried to do an impossible 915 thing—they tried to make a fair living on land that was neither sufficient in quantity nor good enough in quality to enable them to make a living; and all they asked was that they should have an opportunity of dwelling on their own land which was now misused—he said misused, for although this system of creating deer forests and making large sheep tracks had paid when it was begun, the landlords had soon discovered that the grass which the crofter had created passed away, and was replaced by rushes and heather, and the farms that were formerly able to hold 10,000 sheep, were able now to take no more than 5,000. All they asked was that, in Scotland, they should be able to return to the land tilled by their fathers—the land that was hallowed and rendered sacred to them by many recollections and associations of which they were proud, instead of being driven to Manitoba and other places. The question now was whether this House would compel those people to fall into lawlessness, anarchy, and distress, or whether their just grievances would be remedied and they would be enabled to live on equitable terms in their own land.
§ MR. BAUMANN (Camberwell, Peckham)
said, he was desirous of saying a few words upon the question raised by the hon. Member for Caithness (Dr. Clark), as he (Mr. Baumann) had happened to be in the Highlands at the time of what was known as the deforcement in Tiree. He thought that the House must make considerable deductions from the evidence which had been read by the hon. Member for Caithness when they remembered that it was un-cross-examined evidence. Upon one point, however, they luckily had some counter evidence on the question of Tiree from the proprietor of the Island, the Duke of Argyll, which differed very much from the account which the hon. Member for Caithness had laid before the House. The impression which the hon. Member had striven to make was that the Duke of Argyll had evicted his tenants from small holdings in order to make large farms. This was by no means the case. But hon. Members might like to hear the facts. There were 30 farms upon the Island of Tiree, and of these all but one or two had been divided among crofters and small far- 916 mers below the £100 limit of rental. There were 2,500 acres of arable land divided into crofts and small farms; while there were only 450 acres devoted to larger farms, and there was only one farm which paid a rent of £500 per year. Therefore, there was only one which they in England would call a large farm. Besides the 2,500 arable acres the small farmers and crofters in Tiree had about 2,000 acres of outfield land or green pasture, exclusive of link land, which was very fine grazing land, and other rougher land. He thought, then, hon. Members would therefore see that the Duke of Argyll had not dealt harshly with the tenants in the Island of Tiree. [Laughter.] He did not know why hon. Members opposite should laugh at that statement. He was perfectly ready to go into the history of the Island of Tiree, and it would be seen that previous Dukes of Argyll had tried the experiment of sub-division with the most disastrous results, because the processes of population and sub-division proceeded with such simultaneity, that the greatest destitution prevailed in the Island until the famine of 1846. Nothing could exceed the philanthropy and generosity of the Duke of Argyll to the people of Tiree during the famine of 1846. Out of his own pocket the Duke defrayed the cost of emigrating several families to Canada; and he not only did that, but he gave them the means of starting life afresh in the Dominion. Several of these families were met by Lord Lorne, when he was Governor General, in a happy and prosperous condition in Canada. [Laughter.] He observed that this conduct on the part of the Duke of Argyll was received by hon. Members opposite with jeers. He knew that it was the policy of hon. Members opposite to root a pauper population to the soil—and naturally, because if all this discontent were to cease, where would their clients be? He knew also that they had borrowed from Henry George the silly doctrine that it was every man's right to live and thrive on the soil of the land of his birth, and endeavoured to persuade the people to live on their wretched holdings instead of seeking a land where they could push their fortunes. The Duke of Argyll had been able to show the Commissioners the year before last that he had been able to create a class of small farms without having to resort to unjust, need- 917 less, or oppressive evictions. With regard to the particular case of the deforcement in Tiree, the hon. Member for Crewe (Mr. McLaren) had doubted the necessity of what he had been pleased to call the naval demonstration; but it was the fact that 75 people had simply squatted on the farm of Greenhill, and taken forcible possession of it. Far be it from him to cast any imputation on the courage of that band of 50 commissionaires and policemen, who, under Captain Mackay, on the 21st July, had marched through the Island and succeeded in serving five out of the 75 notices of interdict. But he was disposed to agree with the hon. Member for Caithness that those 75 notices might have been served without serious consequences, though, no doubt, when ladies took off their stockings and filled them with pebbles from the sea-shore the situation was decidedly serious. But the crowd had never exceeded 250 or 300 persons, unarmed; and he was inclined to think that the notices might have been served without having recourse to the gunboats and marines. But a deforcement had been effected, and the police had been forced to retire; and knowing the fundamental principle of the Liberal Party to be the abatement of disorder and the restoration of peace by the abandonment of the law, everybody had thought that the Land League in Tiree had secured a complete triumph, and were to be left in unlawful possession of another man's land. But, unfortunately for the people of Tiree, they had no able editors to write concerning their wrongs; the leading Scotch journals had been all against them; they had no fluent orator to plead their cause with the public, although there was a rumour that the yacht of the late Member for Argyllshire (Mr. Macfarlane) was in the neighbourhood, and the whole Island was thrown into an ecstacy of expectation by the rumoured appointment of Mr. Macfarlane. But although the unhappy islanders had watched far into the night for his venerable form, he had never come, and instead of that man of peace there had appeared two men-of-war, with their old friends the police and 250 marines. The reception of the soldiers by the islanders of Tiree had been remarkable, as showing, in the first place, how easy always was the prompt and fearless execution of the law, and how 918 really contemptible was the power of the Land League—at any rate in Scotland—if promptly and firmly dealt with. The islanders had received the marines with open arms, and if the masses and classes of Tiree were against the soldiers, at any rate the lasses had been on their side, as the women had provided them with honey and other things. Of course, the remaining 70 notices of interdict had been served without the slightest difficulty, the unlawful occupants had been cleared off the farm, and the whole episode was an admirable instance of how easy it was to enforce the law by a mere bloodless display of that force which it was one of the fundamental principles of the Liberal Party to regard as no remedy. At length there appeared a speck on the horizon in the person of the hon. Member for Caithness (Dr. Clark), who took the chair at a meeting held in Glasgow in the month of August, when he applied the following language to the Duke of Argyll—language, which, considering the facts of the case, the House would agree with him in describing as scandalous and outrageous language. The hon. Gentleman was reported to have said—The MacCallum More was well known to have been a great thief and robber. His worthy descendant was playing the same game in the modern 19th century style. This elder of the Kirk, this sanctimonious prig, this pedantic priest of a played out political gospel, who preaches the glory of grab and practices it.
§ MR. BAUMANN
said, of course he accepted the explanation of the hon. Member; but, at the same time, he wished to remark in his own defence, as well as in that of The Scotsman, that these phrases bore the distinct mark of literary preparation. Perhaps the hon. Member—
§ MR. BAUMANN
said, that he should be glad to know whether the report was inaccurate in substance or only in form? He wished to know whether the hon. Member wished to convey to his audience that the Duke of Argyll was a robber and a thief?
§ MR. BAUMANN
Quite so; the report in The Scotsman newspaper, therefore, was not so inaccurate after all in attributing rather apt alliteration to the hon. Member for Caithness. They now knew that the hon. Member wished to impress upon his audience that the Duke of Argyll was a robber and thief. He (Mr. Baumann) had no personal acquaintance with the Duke of Argyll or with any member of his family; but he respected his erudition, he admired his eloquence, and he remembered his long services to his country in successive Administrations; he admired his unaffected piety, and the courageous sincerity of his convictions. The Duke of Argyll was a great and worthy Noble. He hoped he had no undue or exaggerated regard for rank or wealth as such; but he maintained it was simply monstrous that any man, "be he duke or ditcher," should, in the exercise of his legal rights and in the mere defence of his property, be assailed with such rancorous ribaldry by an hon. Member of that House. If the Duke of Argyll had been the most insignificant Member of that House, instead of being a Member of the other branch of the Legislature, the hon. Member for Caithness would never have dared to apply to him such vulgar and venomous scurrility.
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member is referring to some language used outside the House; but if he, as a Member of this House, charges the hon. Member for Caithness with "vulgar and venomous scurrility," it is an expression which is not Parliamentary, and not suited to the dignity or the Forms of this House.
§ MR. BAUMANN
said, he submitted that the term "venomous scurrility" was not half so bad as that of "thief and robber," which the hon. Member admitted that he applied to the Duke of Argyll. He did not know why any man should be treated as a thief and a robber because he did that which they all tried to do every day—namely, enjoy the rights and property which the law allowed them to enjoy. [Cries of "Withdraw!"] He certainly should not with- 920 draw. The expression he had used was an accurate description of the hon. Member's language. Of course, if the principle of private ownership in land—
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member misunderstands me. I have said that the words in question—namely, the expression "vulgar and venomous scurrility—applied to an hon. Member of this House is one that ought not, and cannot, be properly used in this House. I hope the hon. Member will withdraw the expression.
§ MR. BAUMANN
said, he certainly had not understood that to be the ruling of the Chair, and he would at once withdraw the expression in deference to that ruling. It appeared to him, however, that Parliament should either prohibit private property in land by law, or discountenance the gross and exasperating abuse of landlords which they heard so much in and out of the House. No doubt, the condition of affairs in the Highlands was unsatisfactory, and there had been disorder and discontent. Who were the authors of the disorder and discontent that prevailed in the Highlands? For that, he was afraid, the ministers of the Free Kirk were in some degree responsible. They were naturally anxious and jealous lest anybody should shear their flocks but themselves, which they did pretty frequently and closely. The hon. Member for Caithness was responsible for some of the discontent; the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) was responsible; and he was afraid that his hon. and learned Friend (Sir John Gorst) who was now Under Secretary of State for India—praise God!—was responsible also for some of the discontent, for, of course, if his hon. and learned Friend would go on tours in Mr. Macfarlane's yacht there was no saying where he would be landed. He had frequently discussed the whole subject of the crofter population with Highland lairds of the best type—he did not mean gentlemen who appeared once a-year at the Northern meeting, or at the Caledonian ball, in a kilt, but gentlemen who sat with, the tenants all the year round at parochial and school board meetings—and they one and all deplored the lamentable change in the character of the Highland population wrought by the emissaries of the Land League. The 921 people had become a surly and discontented population; and the doctrine that they were to have the lairds' land for nothing had sunk deep into their minds. They were dimly conscious of the great fundamental principle of the Liberal Party—namely, that if you want to get a thing, no matter whether right or wrong, you have only got to kick the shins of the Government hard enough. So long as that was proclaimed to be a fundamental principle of legislation by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite, there would be discontent and disorder, not only in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, in Ireland, and in Wales, but in every part of the United Kingdom. He had only to add that he was glad of the present opportunity of expressing his abhorrence and contempt of those political cormorants who thrived and fattened on the lowest passions of mankind, and who drove a roaring trade by stimulating their neighbours to a constant and continual breach of the eighth and tenth Commandments.
§ MR. PICTON (Leicester)
said, that the hon. Member who had last addressed the House (Mr. Baumann) had made an exceedingly able speech; but, at the same time, he (Mr. Picton) was not sure that the hon. Member had been proceeding in the wisest groove on the Crofters Question. When they remembered the great grievances that were connected with it, and the amount of human suffering associated therewith, he could not but feel surprised at the tone of the hon. Member. The hon. Gentleman had not had a good word to say of any section of humanity except Dukes and Lords. He, at the same time, thought it worth his while to attack the ministers of the Free Kirk. He stated that those ministers managed to fleece their flocks; but this was scarcely possible on the part of a ministry that were dependent upon their congregations for their income. He had thought, indeed, that the sacrifices which the Free Kirk ministers had made for their religion might have saved them from that taunt of the hon. Member. He did not wish to follow the example of the hon. Gentleman in regard to the remarks that he had made with reference to the Island and Highland population of Scotland; therefore he should not deal in unjust aspersions upon individuals, because they had only to deal with a system. What they 922 urged was, that inasmuch as land was absolutely essential to the life of every man, and there was only a limited quantity, our law should take care that those who had a tenure in any portion of the surface should be compelled to hold it on conditions compatible with the good and happiness of the whole community. He believed that "live and let live" was the policy of the Highland LandLeague—the same policy that the National League of Ireland stood up for. There could be no doubt that the condition of affairs in the Islands and Highlands of Scotland was unsatisfactory. The crofter had asked for sufficient land to provide for the necessities of his family, and was refused. This, then, was the very gist, the very crux, of the whole question. The people had been driven from their old holdings, and they were living scattered along the sea-shore, where they were famished. The landlords held that it paid them better to let their lands for sheep, and that, in fact, human beings could not be supported there; but the crofters stated otherwise. They stated that they could make the lands let to them remunerative. The crofters did not want to rob the landlords; they were willing to pay them a reasonable rent for the land, and they maintained that they could make a living on the lands let for sheep walks. In other words, the crofters contended that the land should be held by the Scotch lairds in such a way as would make it capable of conferring benefit upon human beings, and not upon sheep and deer. The hon. Member for Camberwell stated that he had conversed with lairds upon the Crofters Question. Well, he (Mr. Picton) might state that he had conversed with Highland tenants in the parish of Lochalsh, and he found that within a generation or two where there was now a deer range there had been some 60 crofting families, who had since been driven to the sea-shore, or to Canada or elsewhere, and the total number of persons in these families could not be less than between 300 and 400. Why should not the same state of things exist at the present day? The crofters did not ask to go on the land for nothing. They were willing and able to do what they could with the land, which had in many places deep soil, and to pay a fair price for the use of it. He thought the hon. Member for Caithness (Dr. Clark) had acted only in accordance 923 with his duty in urging the House to adopt some declaration on this question. So far as regarded the enlargement of the crofters' holdings, the Act passed in the last Parliament had not done everything necessary to meet the just demands of the poor tenants, for the people in the Highlands would not rest satisfied, any more than the people in Ireland, so long as they were dissociated by the action of the landlords from the land on which they were born, and on which their forefathers flourished. The time had gone by when such savage measures could be adopted as were taken a generation or two past, when people were driven from their holdings, when their roofs were fired, their homes pulled down upon their heads, and the sick and the dying were turned out on the roadsides. These things could not be done at the present day. They would shortly find that in the North of Scotland there was a little Ireland; and, although a small section of discontented people, they could make it very uncomfortable for any Government, as did the discontented people on the other side of the Irish Sea, The crofters had now reason to complain of the deer running down from the deer parks, to the great injury of the tenants. The 13th section of the Crofters Act attempted to deal with this matter. What was the advantage of having deer parks at all if it were not for the number of gillies that found employment in connection with their support? That was a kind of menial occupation, compared with a free life on a man's own land. This was a case in which the land was being used in the interest of the few, and in opposition to the welfare and even the lives of the people. He should like to know how many enjoyed the sport of deer-stalking? He doubted if more than 1,000 persons, including the menials who were employed in looking after the guns and driving the deer, enjoyed the sport of deer-stalking as it was called. What was the extent of the lands which were used for the purposes of this recreation or sport? According to the Report of the Royal Commissioners, no less than 2,000,000 acres of land were set apart for deer parks. To his mind, it was something terrible to think that that land should be squandered and wasted in this way, especially when the people declared that, if allowed, they could 924 make their living out of it. It had been stated that only deer would pay upon the ground now occupied by them in the Highlands of Scotland. He believed that there was no doubt of the fact that where deer could live there also cattle could live. It had been stated that sheep could not prosper, because they would require wintering; but so did deer also require wintering. Indeed, it was possible for one to see, in some parts of the Highlands, hay actually left uncut for the wintering of deer. ["Oh!"] Now, hon. Members might cry out "Oh!" but he declared it was a fact that at the head of Loch Duich might be seen hay upon Mr. Winan's property, the hay being preserved for the wintering of his deer. He thought that no more sad spectacle could be seen than land given up to the use of deer that could provide for human beings in happiness and comfort. It was that kind of thing that they were bolstering up and favouring by the moderate and half-measures of land reform in the Highlands. It was high time that the thing was taken in hand thoroughly. He had confidence that the noble Lord who represented the Government in the House, whatever might have been some of his defects in the past, understood the true interests of the people; and he read the noble Lord's past history wrongly unless he had the courage likewise to follow out any convictions at which he had arrived. Stranger things had happened in the past than that a Tory Minister should devote his energies to defend the rights of the people; and he, therefore, relied upon the noble Lord to secure the welfare of the poor crofters, who looked to the land for their sustenance, while, at the same time, he preserved the fair rights of the landowners. It had been pointed out and laid down by Joshua Williams and other legal authorities that no man could have absolute property in land. All that he could claim was a tenure, and he was only entitled to that tenure on condition that it was worked to the advantage of the whole community. He had much pleasure in supporting the Amendment.
§ MR. MASON (Lanark, Mid)
said, that anyone who had visited the Highlands and Islands must have seen for himself that there was great suffering amongst the great body of the people. The condition of the Highlands and 925 Islands, as the Amendment stated, was very unsatisfactory, notwithstanding the Act which was passed last Session. He desired to address the House with regard to the Island of Arran, in which he had recently an opportunity of witnessing the condition of affairs, and could speak from personal observations. Arran was, perhaps, the grandest of the Islands in the West of Scotland. It was fertile and salubrious. It possessed numerous material resources—coal, freestone, slate and ironstone. Fish abounded on its shores; but, although the Island was such a magnificent one, the population did not exceed something like 6,000 souls, and the rental did not exceed £11,000 per annum. There were no artificial harbours of refuge, and there were no tramways in the Island. He made these statements thinking that the Government in power, evidently a benevolent Government, would think a little of the condition of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, and would give a portion of the money they were going to lavish upon the development of the material resources of Ireland to Scotland. It was, of course, very easy to be very benevolent out of other people's pockets, and the taxpayers might have something to say with reference to the money the Tory Government proposed to spend in developing the material resources of Ireland, and to show there was a better way of developing the resources and improving the condition of the people than by the way proposed by the Government. The inhabitants of Arran were chiefly engaged in agriculture, and the farmers were poor. They were dependent almost entirely upon their landlord. He need hardly state that the landlord was the Duke of Hamilton, who was almost the sole proprietor of the Island. There were no leases given to the tenants, who were yearly occupants. The rents were largely paid, not by the fruits of the soil, but by the money received from visitors from Glasgow, in the summer months, and who went to Arran in large numbers, and paid high rents for the miserable dwellings they occupied. These people were attracted by the beauty of the scenery and the salubrity of the climate. If capital were to flow into the Island, it could now be made into a paradise. But the people were poor, and why? Because there was no security for capital. The tenant had no security whatever if 926 he laid out £100 that he should ever see 1s. of it again. As he had said, there were no leases given to the tenants, and the proprietor of the Island positively refused to either sell or feu any land for building purposes. The result was that these wretched houses, in which the poor people were compelled to dwell, and for which they received large sums from visitors in the summer time, were not equal in many respects to the stables of right hon. Gentlemen opposite, in London or elsewhere. That was a condition of things which ought not to exist in this country. He, a few weeks ago, conversed with the poor people themselves. [Interruption.] The Secretary for Scotland cheered. [Mr. A. J. BALFOUR: I did not.] Well, at all events, those on the other side cheered; but if the Secretary for Scotland were to visit Arran and entered one of the houses of the poor people, such a tall man, if he desired to stretch himself, would have to put his feet out at the window. His (Mr. Mason's) family were staying in the Island lately, and to his surprise he found that all the vegetables they required from day to day came from Glasgow, even although Arran had a magnificent climate and a good soil. The reason for this was, the farmers said, there was no use planting vegetables in the early spring, because the deer would come over the hills and devour every plant they put in. The Island was practically a deer forest, for in the spring months, after the crops were sown, the farmers were obliged to sit up and watch night after night, and this guard had to be repeated in the harvest time. Such was the condition of the people—a condition of things resulting from the fact that the Island was in the hands of one proprietor, and that the landlord took an exceptional and peculiar view of the duties which were required as to the land. The Crofters Act was passed for the purpose of improving the condition of the people in the Highlands and Islands; but the Act did not include Arran, although attempts were made in the House to make the Act apply to that Island. It would have been a benefit if they had got Arran included in the Act; but it would have been a greater benefit still if they bad been able to carry the clause giving the cottars the same advantages as the crofters. A clause had 927 been carried in the House of Commons giving to cottars the privileges of the Act without compelling them to reside upon the land, which was struck out of the Bill by the House of Lords. That had not been forgotten, nor likely to be forgotten, by the people of Scotland. The farmers in Arran, in conversation, did not complain personally of the Duke of Hamilton. He was regarded as a kindly, genial-hearted landlord, and they spoke well of him; but he was not often there. He only resided in Arran three or four weeks in the year, and he came North for the purpose of killing grouse, and enjoying sport in shooting the deer which he kept in such large numbers. The farmers, he repeated, spoke kindly of the Duke, and carefully also, for of course they were dependent upon him, and said nothing against him. The boatmen down at the shore were much more outspoken, and, while they said nothing bad about the Duke, were not afraid of him; but they said that the people of Arran were in terror of those under the Duke, and were in terror of saying anything or doing anything which would in any way give offence to the Duke or those serving under him. The Native population of Arran were industrious, hardworking, and thrifty; and he believed that, with proper security for the outlay of capital, the development of the material resources of that beautiful Island would go forward with leaps and bounds. He had not the slightest doubt but that the rental of the Island could be increased tenfold in a few years, and that the population, instead of being 6,000, might be 50,000, 60,000, or 100,000. Property had its duties as well as its privileges. He feared that its privileges, such as he had been describing, had been very much abused, and that the duties had been very much neglected. What was wanted as a remedy was a thorough reform of the Land Laws. That lay at the root of the whole matter; and if those proprietors, such as he had described, would not grant proper facilities, and be wise in time, then he thought Parliament would be perfectly justified in stepping in and compelling them to do so. The time had come when a thorough reform of the Land Laws was absolutely required for the accommodation and the comfort of the increased population, and the well-being of the 928 inhabitants of the country. He never was in favour of the proposal which had been made to confer upon Local Bodies the power to acquire land for granting allotments. He thought the proper course would be to give Local Bodies power to compel reluctant and unwilling landlords to sell to willing purchasers at a fair valuation, and thus responsibility would be taken entirely off the hands of the ratepayers. The Crofters Act was not at all satisfactory to the people of Scotland. They regarded it as a mere step in a direction. It affirmed a very important principle, which he believed in a very few years they would drive home—namely, that this House was entitled to compel unwilling landlords to do their duty. Now, the way in which Scotch questions had been treated in this House had created a very strong feeling in Scotland that the Scotch people were not getting justice in Parliament. He could assure the House that there was a very strong feeling growing up amongst the Scotch people, and that they were determined to have the management of their own affairs. In other words, that they were going in for Home Rule. They had come to see that that House was being congested with work; that there ought to be devolution; and that Scotch local affairs should be settled in Scotland, and not at Westminster.
§ MR. SPEAKER
The remarks of the hon. Gentleman have no reference to the Amendment now before the House.
§ MR. MASON
said, he was just finishing. His contention was that, if they had the management of their own affairs, they would have an improved Crofters Act. They would be enabled to accomplish that which that House did not give them; and, consequently, they were prepared for that purpose to join hands with those who were fighting the battle.
§ MR. DALRYMPLE (Ipswich)
said, he was induced to trouble the House with a few remarks, owing to the special subject which the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had taken under his protection. He did not think anything he could say would disturb the self-satisfaction of the hon. Gentleman in his treatment of the Land Question. But really the hon. Gentleman ought to recollect that people had been in Arran before him, and that those who had been connected with Arran for many 929 years must be presumed to know a great deal more about it than he did. He did not think he ever heard, in the course of a speech made in that House, so many mis-statements on any subject as the hon. Gentleman had made in reference to Arran. He went into the geological and the scenic beauties of Arran in a very picturesque manner. He also went into the questions of population, property, and he (Mr. Dalrymple) knew not what besides, and in the course of his remarks indulged in what could only be described as romance in reference to Arran. He spoke of the small population in Arran. The House was probably not aware that a great portion of the Island of Arran was mountain and rock; and the only time in recent years that there had been anything like a decrease in the population of Arran was when a certain clearance took place in one part of the Island, greatly to the advantage of the Island, because it was well known that, from the peculiar character of the Island, intermarrying of the population had been such that the race was rapidly deteriorating. The hon. Gentleman spoke of there being no piers and harbours; but within his (Mr. Dalrymple's) own knowledge, during the years he represented the county, several piers had been erected, and at least one was in process of erection at the present time. Then the hon. Member said many of the farmers were very poor. No doubt, many of the holdings might be poor, but there was plenty of money in Arran; and it was well known to those who knew the circumstances of the Island that it would have been greatly injured, instead of being benefited, if it had been put under the Crofters Act. There were leases in many cases. In the smaller holdings there were no leases; but it was well known that the system suited the people there, and the proof of the success of the system was that hardly anyone was ever disturbed in his holding, but that the people were there from generation to generation. They were safe in the hands of the proprietor, and they knew it well. The hon. Gentleman spoke of the wretched dwellings in Arran; but it was strange, if that were so, that during the summer, as he himself said, they were occupied by Glasgow people. And he might mention here, in reference to the charge against the landlord 930 of Arran of refusing building leases, the reply of the late Duke of Hamilton, that if he allowed everyone to build in Arran his people would not be able to make their rents in summer from the people of Glasgow. The hon. Gentleman had evidently picked up his knowledge of Arran from some persons on shore; but he would remind the hon. Member that persons resident for a short time in a place were liable to be gulled. Although exceptional in its circumstances, still it was wonderful how prosperous the small holders in Arran were; and he ventured to say that the great bulk of the tenants there would tell the hon. Member that they would be very sorry to have any change. He doubted whether much benefit would accrue to the crofters and small holders of land in Scotland from this discussion. No one supposed the Crofters' Question would be re-opened again immediately; and, at the same time, he did not believe there was a man in the House who would not do what he could to benefit the occupants of small holdings in Scotland if a real case could be made out for legislation, and not propounded on fanciful and rhetorical descriptions such as those in which the hon. Gentleman had indulged.
§ MR. J. O'CONNOR (Tipperary, S.)
said, that the Irish interest in the debate was owing to the circumstance that the environment of the difficulty of the peasantry of Ireland was very similar in some respects to that of the crofters. His Party altogether agreed with the Amendment. Complaints were often made that the time of the House was wasted. Amendments were suggested last year to the Crofters Bill by Members who understood the question, and these Amendments were neglected and defeated. That was the reason they were now discussing this subject. A chord was struck in the breast of every Irishman by the part of the Amendment which referred to the use of the Naval Forces to overawe the population of Tiree. They had witnessed the Forces of the Crown used in Ireland for the terrible purposes of eviction. It was an unfortunate state of matters that it should be necessary, in order to get grievances removed, to drive the people to the brink of armed revolution. It was a terrible state of matters that the experience of the House should teach that it was necessary there should be a ter- 931 rible agitation abroad, and an almost total suspension of Business in that House, in order to compel the obstinate supporters of landlordism to recognize the justice of a case and amend the laws complained of. The Highlands and Islands of Scotland had been their recruiting grounds, and the illustrations of Tel-el-Kebir showed a Scotchman leading the assault on the ramparts; but if the policy of the Duke of Argyll were to be carried out fully, where would they obtain their Scottish recruits in the future? The opponents of the Government had been twitted with the physiocratic heresy of Henry George. ["Hear, hear!"] He had to say that his Party did not deny all property in land, but believed in real property so regulated that it might be used for the greatest benefit of the people and the general prosperity. He had learned with astonishment that there existed in Scotland an Arms Act in perpetuity, and that men had been fined for being found with some old, rusty weapons. He had thought that Arms Acts were confined to Ireland. A fellow-feeling made one wondrous kind, and he was drawn irresistibly to the crofter when he found that he was persecuted for exercising the right of an Englishman and of a free man to possess arms. He had learned, also, that the crofters were retarded in their desire to marry. Now, he quite sympathized with Scottish Members who wished to remove these restrictions from the social condition of the crofter, and he would support the Amendment, because he thought it was just, that it was patriotic, and that it was conceived for the public advantage.
§ MR. ANDERSON (Elgin and Nairn)
said, he would not have interposed in this debate but for the fact that he represented a constituency in which there were a great number of crofters. The hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Dalrymple) had asked them to tell the House the real grievances of the crofters upon this question, and then the House would consider them. Well, he had a real grievance to tell the House, which was this. He represented a constituency in which there were several hundred crofter tenants. These crofter tenants were hard-working men, who, out of the barren hillside, had made land which grew good crops. They had worked industriously and hardly, and in many 932 cases he regretted to say that, having made their land fertile, the factors came round and put on a rent which ought never to have been permitted. To his mind, that was confiscation of the property of the crofter. There were other features in the crofters' position to be noted. They had to suffer if they did anything at all unsatisfactory to the laird, even of the landlords of the very best type, who appeared to be among the friends of the hon. Member for Camberwell (Mr. Baumann). With regard to the hon. Gentleman's remarks, it would be very amusing, indeed, in Scotland to hear that one of the Metropolitan Members had been informing the House of Commons of the conduct of the landlords of the best type, and giving his opinion of the conduct of the ministers of the Free Church of Scotland. It was a novel thing to find Metropolitan Members coming out on the Scotch platform. The general position of the crofters, he (Mr. Anderson) maintained, was a very hard one; because, having spent their industry and toil in making their land fertile, if they did not give satisfaction to the laird—and, of course, lairds were liable to be offended, like other human beings—they were turned out of their holdings without a single 6d. of compensation. He regretted to say that that was the position of the crofters whom he represented. Further, they wanted their holdings enlarged. In those counties there were enormous tracts of territory owned by some four or five individuals. The hon. Member for Camberwell had expressed astonishment that the lairds of the best type did not get on with the tenants of those great principalities. [MR. BAUMANN: I did not say so.] He (Mr. Anderson) understood the hon. Member to say that the lairds of the best type had told him that there was some dreadful feeling existing among the Highlanders. One of the causes of that was that the lairds—even the lairds of the best type had the practice of despising the crofters. They looked at the crofters with—no, they very seldom looked at them at all—they did not know half-a-dozen of them by name, and in very few cases did they live amongst them. When some crofter wanted his holding enlarged and made an application to the factor, he was told—" Do not come to me for two or three acres. You will spoil 933 the outlines of this beautiful domain. You cannot have it." Did the House think that the crofters had not the natural feeling of Scotchmen that the laud of Scotland was intended, not for the lairds, but for the people? Even the hon. Member for Camberwell might have some doubt lest this feeling of dissatisfaction had some real and substantial ground. If the hon. Member went to the root of the matter, and mixed, not with his friends the lairds, but with the crofters, the tenant farmers, and the fishermen, he would come back from his next visit to the North impressed with the conviction that these people had the strongest grounds for complaint against even the very best of lairds. Now he came to the grievance which his constituents more especially suffered from. It was this—that although it was conceded by the last Parliament that the crofters of the county of Inverness were entitled to have certain rights and privileges—fixity of tenure in a modified form, fair rents, and power to increase their holdings—the same rights and privileges were not allowed to the crofters of Moray and Nairn. The three counties were mixed up, and the crofters were situated in exactly the same position; yet those in Moray and Nairn had not even the privileges given to their brethren over the Borders. He asked the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Dalrymple), who apparently had not been successful in recommending his views to his own countrymen, and had been obliged to come to an English constituency, whether that was not a real grievance? He had appealed to Her Majesty's Government. Yesterday he addressed a Question to the Secretary for Scotland asking the right hon. Gentleman if he did not think some legislation ought to take place for the purpose of introducing the crofters of Moray and Nairn into the Crofters Act; but he regretted to say that the answer was apparently that cold official answer which had come up to the present time from the Secretary for Scotland on all the points upon which he had been interrogated in that House. The right hon. Gentleman did not give a cold "No," but sheltered himself behind what was done in the House last Session. He (Mr. Anderson) did not share the feelings of the hon. Member for the Crewe Division of Cheshire (Mr. 934 M'Laren), who seemed to expect great things from the Secretary for Scotland and from Her Majesty's Government on this subject; for he confessed that, when he heard that the important post of Secretary for Scotland had been confided to the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. A. J. Balfour), he felt a feeling of dismay. He had taken the trouble to follow out the political career of the right hon. Gentleman on this question, and he found that he had taken a very prominent part in debates in that House—especially upon matters relating to the land—and he found, especially with regard to the Agricultural Holdings Act of 1883, that he took the most prominent and active part, and, assisted by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin), who went by the name of the farmers' friend, had on every possible occasion tried in every way they could to cut and pare down the interests of the tenant farmers, and to support the interests of the landlords. He had occasion himself, during the recent contest, to mention the name of the right hon. Gentleman. He could not help telling him that when his constituents were informed that he had appeared in a debate in the House last Session as the champion of the owners of deer forests his name was not received with any flattery. He would recommend the right hon. Gentleman, if, after these discussions were at an end, he chose to pass his vacation in the Highlands and Islands, to go there under another name; because if there was anything which was abhorred and hated in the whole of the Highlands of Scotland it was the deer forests. He supposed the right hon. Gentleman would have the conduct of all legislation with regard to the land; but if the Government thought that the Scotch people would accept legislation with regard to the land upon the lines that the right hon. Gentleman had hitherto followed they were woefully mistaken. Laud measures there must be, for the great question in Scotland was the Land Question. Perhaps it was presumptuous in him to give advice to the Government; but he would ask them not to suppose for a moment that because there had not been a rebellion in Scotland, because there had not been a refusal to pay rents—perhaps there had not been disorder in Morayshire—therefore there was not a very deeply-rooted feeling amongst 935 Scotchmen to have a far-reaching amendment of the Land Laws. He thought it was quite possible that on this question of the Scotch Land Laws there would be some serious matter presented for the consideration of the Government. On the Irish Question the Government seemed to consider themselves perfectly safe. On that question they had, unfortunately, the support of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) and other Members of the Liberal Party; but he (Mr. Anderson) would venture to throw out for the consideration of the Government that he did think, judging from the views expressed in Scotland by that right hon. Gentleman, that when the miserable land legislation which apparently seemed to possess the mind of the Secretary for Scotland was brought into the House, one of the first to condemn and vote against it would be the right hon. Member for West Birmingham. At least, he seriously hoped so, and he believed the people of Scotland hoped so too; because the right hon. Gentleman had discussed in Scotland the question of the land, and his views had been received there with acclamation, and he believed those views had not undergone any change. Therefore, it was not at all improbable that when the Land Question came to be dealt with, it might be thought right to lend to the Secretary for Scotland some of the larger and more far-reaching views which it was reputed possessed the noble Lord the Leader of the House and some other Members of the Government. He trusted the Secretary for Scotland would take what he had said in good part, as he meant it as friendly criticism on his past history; and he would appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to include the crofting counties he represented within the Crofting Bill of last Session.
§ DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)
said, after the terrible picture given of the condition of the people in the Highlands of Scotland, there was no apology necessary to be granted to the noble Lord the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who last night sought to prevent the adjournment of the House in order that this debate should not have the due publicity which its merits deserved. He (Dr. Tanner) could not help feeling his heart sink at the terrible picture presented, regarding men who belonged to a kindred race with 936 himself, whose sufferings he hoped would make them warmer friends of a nation equally oppressed. With reference to the speech of the hon. Member for Peckham (Mr. Baumann), notwithstanding the defence contained in it of the Duke of Argyll by the hon. Member, he believed that the M'Callum More, great Nobleman as he was, had in that House been convicted and found guilty of dealing certainly not in a proper way with the tenantry of his estates on the North-West Coast of Scotland. They had instances enough of the state of affairs in Scotland of the tyranny of these landlords; and he asked, how long was it to exist? Were the Government going to take action, or were they merely going to sit on the Treasury Bench and draw the salaries to which they were entitled? Why should not the M'Callum More, like any man with a heart in his bosom, try to practise the great doctrine of "Live and let live?" He repeated that many instances had been cited of landlord tyranny and want of human feeling; and he asked whether the Government would take notice of this state of affairs? In his opinion, they ought to do something in the matter. It did not require a pair of spectacles or a microscope to see, as the Amendment stated, that the condition of affairs in the Islands and Highlands of Scotland was very unsatisfactory. Were they to go on allowing the people to be evicted? If Her Majesty's Government were to adjust these matters, it would be for the benefit of the landlords as well as the tenants. It was evident that the administration of the law did not possess the confidence of the people, seeing that the law was taken advantage of by one section, who were living like vultures on another section of the community. Her Majesty's Government ought to promote a policy of conciliation, instead of one of extermination. He maintained that the time was coming, if it was not already there, when Her Majesty's Ministers would be obliged to pay attention to the wants of the people. This was not an age in which men could simply sit on one side of the ditch and wait to see which way the cat would jump. The cat had already jumped. The democracy of Scotland, of Ireland, of Wales, and of a part of England—of Cornwall—were all in arms, and they were determined to see that justice was done to 937 the masses. They were determined to no longer sit quietly and be trampled upon; and he would like to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the right hon. Gentlemen who sat on the Treasury Bench what they were going to do on this occasion? Were they simply going to sit on the side of the ditch and wait? It would be better if they adopted a policy of conciliation, instead of promoting a policy of extermination; for in doing so they would place themselves in a right position in relation to a magnificent arm of the Empire, and place it in the position which it ought to occupy, instead of placing it in a contemptuous position. It brought to his mind the application of the moral of the old fable, describing in the case of the boys and the frogs that what might be sport to the former would be death to the latter. Although they were in that House, and it was the month of August, they were not there to promote sport; and all he had heard from the Scottish Representatives that night led him to say, in the same way, that these evictions in the Highlands, which might be sport to M'Callum More, et hoc genus omne, might be death to these poor crofter people.
§ MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! The hon. Member has been dealing very irrelevantly with the subject of the Amendment for some time, and it is now my duty to call his attention to the fact. I must also remind the hon. Member that a certain amount of courtesy is due from the Members of one branch of the Legislature to those of the other. The hon. Member has been alluding to a noble Duke in "another place" in a manner which violates the obligation of courtesy due from a Member of the House of Commons to a Member of the House of Lords.
§ DR. TANNER
said, he would pass to the fourth part of the Amendment, from which it would appear that the most pressing grievances of the crofters had not been remedied by the Act of last Session. He considered that those who had no experience of eviction horrors talked in the most heartless manner about them. He would again remind the Government that they were in Office to do more than merely draw their salaries and sit on a Bench. They had a duty to perform in stopping unjustifiable and inhuman evictions, whether in Ireland 938 or any other part of the United Kingdom. He deprecated such remedies as manacles and emigration for people suffering not mainly by their own fault. That was the natural point at which people would begin to have no confidence in the administration of the law. Bad laws badly carried out would not be productive of good. The crofters' law was inadequate to the ills of the crofters.
§ MR. SPEAKER
again interposed, and said: I must call the attention of the House to the continued irrelevance and tedious repetition of the hon. Gentleman; and I must now ask him to resume his seat.
§ MR. HARRIS (Galway, E.)
said, he regarded the subject raised by the Amendment as one of the most important that could be discussed in that House, or any other Representative Assembly. In it the question of the maintenance of social order and the interest of the public at large were deeply involved. It was a question that had caused disorder in every part of Her Majesty's Dominions. It had brought trouble upon India and Ireland, and now it had risen up in Scotland. He had spent a great many years of his life in studying the Land Question.
§ MR. SPEAKER
I must remind the hon. Gentleman that he is not applying himself to the discussion of the terms of the Amendment.
§ MR. HARRIS
, having read the text of the Amendment, said, he would endeavour, as far as possible, to keep within its limits. He wished to say that he never wrote his speeches, and he urged that as an excuse on the present occasion if he should go beyond the terms of the Amendment. He hoped he would not go beyond the terms of the Amendment. He must say that the crofters were only asserting their rights, and he felt bound to express his satisfaction in the change of character evinced by the Highlanders, and which had been deplored by the hon. Member for Peckham (Mr. Baumann). It was not the poor Highlanders who should be exterminated; but such men as the Duke of Argyll and the lairds, who were the worst revolutionists in clearing the country of its inhabitants, as the landlords did in Ireland, and substituting 939 deer, and grouse, and black cock in their stead. he hoped the Highlanders would come forward like men and assert their rights. It was a question between brutes and men. Let the men assert their manhood. He hoped the crofters would continue to kick the shins of the Government, to use the simile employed by the hon. Member for Peckham, until their grievances were redressed.
The hon. MEMBER said
Mr. Speaker, I beg to direct your attention to the fact that there are not 40 Members present.
§ MR. HARRIS
, continuing, said, that in a contest between men and the brute creation the former must assert their manhood, and that was what they were doing in the Highlands. No hon. Member in that House had a higher regard for the rights of property than he had. But they must remember that property had its duties as well as its rights—
§ MR. SPEAKER
I must ask the hon. Member to maintain some relevancy to the Amendment. This is the second time I have called attention to it.
§ MR. HARRIS
said, that on this, as on all occasions, he bowed to the ruling of the Chair; but if the question of the rights of landlords was not involved in the question of the crofters he did not know what was. He wished to know whether the transportation of the people of Scotland, and the forcible diminution of their numbers, was a justifiable thing for the Government of this country to seek to effect? He would proceed to deal with the questions of emigration and taxation.
§ MR. SPEAKER
I must call the attention of the House to the continued irrelevancy of the hon. Member. I have repeatedly warned the hon. Member, and I must now ask the hon. Member to resume his seat.
§ THE SECRETARY FOR SCOTLAND (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR) (Manchester, E.)
Sir, if I may judge from the manner in which you have found it to be your duty to call the last two speakers who 940 have addressed us to Order, I shall not be very far wrong in saying that probably all those in this House who have a right to address it, either from their knowledge of the subject, or from their connection with Scotland, and desire to do so, have already spoken. Therefore, I think it will probably be convenient to the House, and in the interests of Business, if I were to get up, even at this inconvenient hour, when the House is not usually full. A very large amount of ground has been traversed in the course of this debate. We have discussed the large question of Land Reform—
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
We have been engaged in discussing a large question of Land Reform, and we have travelled down from stage to stage until one hon. Member gave us some interesting biographical details about his stay in the Island of Arran. It is impossible, with any regard to the time of the House, that I should exhaustively discuss the various topics that have been, brought before it; nor shall I be able to go fully into all the arguments that have been used. But before I give to the House an account of the general view which the Government take of this question, it will, perhaps, be convenient that I should allude to one or two of the remarks that have fallen from previous speakers. The hon. Member for East Aberdeen (Mr. Esslemont), who began this debate, avowedly did so in order rather to get over the technical difficulty that arose out of the events of last night than because he felt himself impelled to discuss the question of the crofters. Therefore, the only remark I have to take notice of was that in which he complained of the inadequacy of the Bill passed by the late Government last Session. The hon. Gentleman said the Bill was so inadequate, and it went such a little way towards redressing the grievances of the crofter population, that he expected the House would ere long have again to take up and reconsider the matter. I shall have some further remarks to make upon this part of the subject; but, in the meantime, let me remind the hon. Gentleman and the House that under the Bill of last year the crofters of Scotland are under a 941 more favourable land system—if they estimated it by the number and magnitude of the rights which it removes from the landlord—I would say that the crofters of Scotland are under a more favourable land system at the present moment than the inhabitants of any country throughout the world, Ireland not excepted. You will search in vain the laws of Europe, America, or the Colonies, for any land system which gives to the tenants privileges such as those conferred on the crofters by the Bill of the late Government. If they do not sufficiently protect the rights and privileges of that class, all I can say is, that the tenants of England, of Scotland, of Ireland, Prance, Germany. America, and our Colonies, live under the most unjust system of laud legislation ever devised by human beings. I have nothing to complain of in the tone of the observations made by the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Picton); but I think that although that hon. Member has not a profound knowledge of his subject, he spoke with the accents of true sincerity, and with a manifest and earnest desire that the condition of the class for whom he conceived himself to be speaking should be ameliorated if possible, and so far as he did that he deserved their thanks. If I might use the common expression, I would say that, although the hon. Gentleman's heart was in the right place, he had not any very adequate knowledge of the subject which, he discussed. He seems to have derived his whole knowledge of the complicated and difficult question from an occasional stay in some island during the summer months, and has gained all the information he has from the gossip of a few shepherds and cottars. Anybody who knows anything of the Highlander must have been aware that, with all the charms and graces of his most interesting race, perfect, rigid, historical accuracy is not to be expected of him; and I think the hon. Gentleman would have done well if he had selected more authentic information than that he has quoted to the House. The hon. Gentleman has dwelt in passionate language upon the evil which has been inflicted on ancestors of the crofters by landlords two or three generations ago. I do not think the House is concerned with what has happened two or three generations ago. We can- 942 not go back upon ancient wrongs. What we have to do is to consider the present condition of affairs, and the course to be adopted in justice and fairness to all existing interests. If the hon. Gentleman will look into the question of the Sutherland evictions, I am sure he will find that the transportation of the people from the interior to the sea coast was honestly and generously done in the interest of the people themselves. ["Oh, oh!"] Yes, Sir; they were transported from a place where they could not get their livelihood to one where they could, because at that time the kelp industry was in a flourishing condition; and it ought to be remembered that the proprietors of the Sutherland property spent, both before and after the evictions, more than the whole year's rental derived from the estates in support of the starving population who lived upon them. I think that facts like these ought to induce the hon. Gentleman to do common justice to those who are no longer here to defend themselves, even to a Highland landlord. But this question of transportation from the interior to the sea coast has no bearing upon the condition of the crofter population in the most disturbed districts at this moment. I would remind the hon. Member that there has been no transportation from the interior to the sea coast of the population in the case of Uist, and the Lewis, of Long Island, Skye, or Tiree. In the latter case, so far from being evicted from the holdings which they were possessed of two generations ago, the crofters received at that time holdings which they never had before. That should convince the hon. Member that statements about the Highland landlords, who were guilty of these removals, have very little reference to the present question. I will now say one word upon the question of deer forests. Most of the speakers who have alluded to this question have denounced me as the author of a clause adopted in the Bill of the late Government, by which they are pleased to say the deer forest system was bolstered up. Now, this is the clause which I got introduced—If the land form part of a deer forest, and if the assignation of such land for the purpose of this Act would seriously impair the use of the remainder as a deer forest, and would act injuriously on the prosperity of the inhabitants 943 generally of the district in which such deer forest is situated.The plain English of that is that where deer forests were for the benefit of the community at large—of crofters and cottars alike—there, and there only, should the deer forest cease to be subject to the provisions of this Act, which provided that land should be taken compulsorily for the extension of holdings. How the author of that clause can be described as one desirous of bolstering up a system inconsistent with the well-being of the inhabitants of the Highlands I am utterly unable to understand. There are districts in the Highlands which are fit for nothing on earth but letting for sporting purposes, for deer and game. They consist of rock and heather, which can by no possibility support either Highland cattle or crofters, and which, as sporting land, gives a larger support than otherwise they would have to the inhabitants of the district in the shape of wages, and also has otherwise the effect of bringing into the country an enormous quantity of wealth of Southern origin. How any man who is a friend of the crofters can object to such a system I am at a loss to understand. The hon. Member for Crewe (Mr. M'Laren), and the hon. Gentleman who followed (Dr. Clark), referred to the question of Procurators Fiscal and Sheriffs in Highland counties. As I am the only Member of the Government who is to address the House on this subject, I must point out that, though vague general accusations have been levelled against these officials, not a single specific case has been brought forward.
§ DR. CLARK (Caithness)
You ruled me out of Order, Sir, when I was bringing forward specific cases, such as that of Sheriff Mellis and others.
§ MR. SPEAKER
I ruled the hon. Member out of Order because he was referring to the action of the Crown Prosecutor in an election case. I said that had nothing to do with anything connected with the Crofter Question, and the Procurators Fiscal could only be brought into the matter so far as their action bore on the Crofter Question, and that the case of the crofter constituted the whole point of the Amendment.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The whole House were aware that had the hon. 944 Gentleman a case to bring forward in which the Procurators Fiscal or the Sheriffs had been guilty in connection with the Land Question of malpractices you would not have ruled him out of Order. The hon. Gentleman brought forward no such case, and I think I have a right to assume that no such case exists. We have been told that the Procurator Fiscal is almost always a lawyer, who is in the employment, and very likely the actual agent, of some landlord. I do not deny that fact. I go farther, and I say that, in some respects, I regret the fact. But what is the alternative? You are dealing with counties in which the population is sparse, and the wealth is small, in which the number of persons who are competent to exercise the functions of Procurator Fiscal is extremely limited; and if you are to carry out the principle advocated by some hon. Gentlemen opposite, of saying that the Procurator Fiscal should be deprived of all private practice, you will inevitably find yourselves landed in this result—that the Procurators Fiscal in the future will be very inferior and very idle men. The work they have to perform is not in these districts adequate to fill up the time of one man; and even if you could find a lawyer of standing in no private practice, or who would give up his private practice and attend only to the work of the Procurator Fiscal, I believe the result of the idle life which you compel him to lead would be that the faculties which God had given him at the beginning of his office would shortly rust, and he would become utterly incompetent. While, therefore, I feel the force of the argument, I do not see how we can alter the existing system. The hon. Member for Crewe further said that the expenditure of public money in the way of loans to fishermen was the best, and, in some respects, the only method of benefiting the fishing population of the Highlands, and that he wished to see a large extension of the principle. He must be aware that provisions enabling the Treasury to grant loans to fishermen on the West Coast of Scotland are embodied in the Crofters Act. But the hon. Member desires that loans should be granted to fishermen all over Scotland. I entirely take up with the hon. Member's views; and I should be delighted to put my hand into the public 945 purse and be able to scatter money from one end of Scotland to another for works of public benefit. But what would my noble Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer say to that? Would the Treasury, would the House, and would the Representatives of English constituencies not resist any proceeding of the kind? And I appeal to the hon. Gentleman whether he is not endangering the loans we get from the Treasury now for the fishermen in the West Coast of Scotland, when he asks that the advantages which, by hard labour, my Predecessors in Office extracted from the Treasury shall be extended to other parts of Scotland? If this were to be done the result must be that the Representatives of the great towns in England, and in Scotland also, will ask what claim this particular population has for such exceptionally favourable treatment, and we may lose even the small advantages we have succeeded in obtaining. I observe that the main staple of the arguments that were used by hon. Gentlemen opposite consisted of abuse of the whole landlord system, and of landlords especially in the Highlands. It is on that frail foundation that hon. Gentlemen have largely built in their criticisms of what is at present going on in the Highlands. It fills me with melancholy to see the ignorance which is displayed by those who ought to know something very much more to the point than they do when they make these sentimental and oratorical attacks. I suppose that, in clouding the public vision on this question, it is not merely ignorance, but sentiment which has cooperated with ignorance, to prevent a true view being taken of the Crofter Question. We are all too much accustomed to look at Highland questions from a romantic point of view, through a mist of romance; and I observe hon. Members are in favour of extending the lenient judgment which we pass on the "Rob Roys" of the past to the more vulgar and violent acts of spoliation which are encouraged by the Land Leagues of the present. ["Oh, oh!"] But is this attack on the landlords justified by facts? It will, I think, be admitted that in America, in the Colonies, in Belgium, and wherever small freeholds exist, the owners of the freeholds treat them purely commercially, and attempt to extract from them all they can 946 yield. The owners of land in America and abroad treat their land as a manufacturer treats his mills, as an Irish tenant treats his tenant right, and sells it, or lets it, to the highest bidder. I do not blame them. But this system, whether it is justifiable or not, is not the system which obtains in England or in Scotland, and, least of all, does it obtain in the Highlands of Scotland. There it is not, and it never has been, the practice for the landowner to look at his land merely as a source of profit. It can be proved by overwhelming evidence that they have been accustomed, as a class, to spend money upon their land for the benefit of the people, irrespective altogether of the returns in the shape of profit, and they have never, as a class, been guilty of exacting from the small tenants the full competition value of the land which is let to them. ["Oh, oh!"] Does any hon. Gentleman deny it?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The hon. Gentleman who denies it is the same who was just now recommended to discontinue his address, owing to the fact that he was incapable of confining himself to the question. I would take, for example, the Sutherland property. I believe that, for generations, the whole rents of the property have been spent upon it. Only a few years ago the owner of the property spent £2,000 or £3,000 in public works on the estate. I believe in the Lewis every road in the Island has been made by the owner. The expenditure by the owner in various ways is at least £400,000. I do not think if you abolish landlordism, you will ever get private individuals, or the Government of this country, to spend any parallel sum.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
If the hon. Member had given me his attention he would have heard what I said. Even take the case of South Uist, which is one of the most disturbed districts. For years the owner of the property has spent the whole income derived from it in plans for the benefit of the people. I ask whether these, and many other facts of a similar nature which I could adduce, are not sufficient entirely to absolve landlords in these parts from any 947 of the charges which have been levelled against them to-night? It has been said that rack rents largely prevail. The whole evidence we have, including the Report of the Crofters' Commission, goes directly to contradict the statement, and to show that crofts are rarely exposed, on a purely commercial principle, to competition in any form. With regard to the Island of Tiree, which I will take as an illustration, the hon. Member for Caithness said, and said truly, that while 12 individuals paid more than half the rent of Tiree, the remainder of the rent was paid by 208 crofters, and the hon. Member adduced from that fact that the system of landlordism in Tiree was monstrous. I, however, deduce from it a very different conclusion. The small tenants in Tiree rent very much the largest part of the Island; they rent also the best land in the Island. The actual portion that the crofters hold is 10,300 acres, and the large farmers have only 6,800 acres. Of arable land the crofters hold 3,700 acres, and the large farmers only 618 acres; so that if you consider the quality of the land as apart from its quantity, the case is stronger than I put it if you consider only quantity. Inasmuch as the crofters, therefore, hold much the largest portion of the arable land, there can be no doubt of the accuracy of the deduction that the landowners exact nothing like a competition rent for the laud from the poor crofters.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I have studied the map of the Island, and I know the acreage of all the holdings. I think that argument, apart from any other, ought to convince the House conclusively that, whatever other injury the crofters of Tiree suffer from, they do not suffer from the landlord putting up the crofts to competition rents.
§ DR. CLARK
said, he wished to remind the right hon. Gentleman that the Crofter Commission pointed out that in Tiree there was rack rent; and he himself, in his remarks, had stated that, generally speaking, they did not complain of rack rents in the Highlands, but that in four districts the Royal Commissioners found rack-renting—namely, in Tiree, a portion of Skye, in Caithness, and Orkney.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I am aware of what the hon. Member has stated; but I think, nevertheless, that the facts I have given to the House, which cannot be disputed, dispose of the argument as to rack-renting in Tiree. I quite agree that there is a large part of the population in the Highlands who are in a very miserable and unhappy condition—not, perhaps, so bad as some hon. Gentlemen suppose; but still their position is far inferior to what this House would at all wish to see. The cause of that is not the rent exacted from them by the landlords. The truth is that the difficulty which has to be encountered in the Highlands is not a question arising out of the amount of rent; it is the question of population. I confess nothing gave me more pain to-night than to hear one speaker after another say he trusted the people would not emigrate, and that no effort should be made to induce them to do so, at the same time pouring contempt on those benevolent landlords who had spent money in promoting voluntary emigration and assisting emigrants with capital. Some things in politics are matters of speculation, while others are matters of certainty, and the proposition that I now assert is not a matter of speculation, but of certainty, and any hon. Gentleman can convince himself of that by no more formidable process of investigation than is supplied by the first four rules of arithmetic. If, in the Lewis, the land available for crofting were divided, not merely among the crofters, but the squatters also, it would, I believe, give a holding of only £5 annual value to each crofter, leaving no additional land whatever for the enlargement of existing holdings. The best authorities on the Highlands are agreed that if a man is to live by his croft alone, without supplementing it by wages, a £10 croft is the very smallest, and there are very few parts in the Highlands in which you can go beyond £20 crofts. That fact, therefore, shows conclusively that the distress among the crofter population can only be relieved by emigration. If the whole of Skye and the Long Island were divided among the crofters, excluding cottars, it would give them 19½ acres a-head; and the crofters themselves asserted before the Commission that 57 acres a-head was the smallest quantity on which they could live and 949 thrive. Thus it is shown that the condition of the people of these Islands cannot be improved until you diminish their numbers, and so give room to the remainder to extend their holdings.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I think it is based upon the requirements of a man with a wife and family; but, at all events, my statistics run on all fours, and, therefore, it makes no difference whatever for the substance of my argument. This being, broadly speaking, the true cause of the evil in the Highlands, to what is to be attributed the sudden agitation on this question which has arisen during the last five years? If any man had left this country six years ago, and had known nothing of what was passing here, and had now revisited Skye, Sutherland, Lewis, the Long Island, and Tiree, he would find it absolutely impossible to understand the strange change which had come over the whole face of society in that time. He would have left the population of those districts law-abiding, peaceable, and loyal. He would come back, and I am afraid, in too many cases, find them contemners of the law, victims of the Land League, determined not to pay their just debts to the landlord, and, indeed, very unwilling to pay just debts to anybody else. I am afraid we owe this, with many other blessings, to Ireland. ["Oh, oh!"] There can be no doubt that this agitation in the Highlands of Scotland had its origin in Ireland. The proof of that assertion may, I think, be conclusively established by the original pamphlets and the original placards which made their appearance in the early time of the agitation in 1881. But during the course of the last three or four years the question has been treated somewhat differently in the Highlands of Scotland to what it has been in Ireland. Each country has its own peculiarities, arising from the different characteristics of its population. In Ireland the agitation against the landlords has largely taken the complexion of a patriotic agitation, for if I any person in that country desires to participate in that which is not legally his own he usually puts a patriotic 950 complexion upon his agitation. There is, however, no Nationalist question as yet in the Highlands, and there the subject is taking a new and most interesting development. I would remind the House of the curious difference which exists between the arguments used in this House in support of the crofters, and the arguments which the crofters themselves believe in and are influenced by in the Highlands. The hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Picton) repudiated, from his knowledge of the Land League, that they ever went in for the schemes of the Socialism of Henry George.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I am afraid the hon. Gentleman has given a very imperfect study to the periodical literature which is circulated in the Highlands. That literature bases the land agitation partly upon Scripture and partly upon the doctrines of Mr. Henry George; and I am bound to say that I do not know whether they misunderstand Scripture, or misunderstand Mr. Henry George more utterly and completely. The essence of the plan of Mr. Henry George is that the State should become a universal rack-renter of the tenant. [An hon. MEMBER: No!] Yes; I have read Mr. Henry George, if the hon. Member has not. Mr. George was of opinion that the land should be taken without compensation from the landlord, and so far I think the crofters agree with him; but he was of opinion, not that it should be given to the tenants, but that it should be let out on the highest competition rent to anybody who would bid for it; and if the facts I have submitted regarding rent in the Highlands have any foundation in truth, the position of the Highland crofter under Mr. George's system would be infinitely worse than under the present system. The truth is, that all these Socialistic schemes have two halves. By the first half, property is taken from the present owner; and by the second it is transferred to the State. I observe that the crofting population, and those who agitate it, entirely believe in the first part, but have no intention whatever of executing the second. I think it is only due to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Leicester to refer to a speech of Mr. Donald Sinclair, President of the Tiree Land League, in which Mr. Sinclair an- 951 nounces that the "Tiree Land League does not stand alone, but has at its back the Land Restoration League." I may remind him that the principles of the Land Restoration League are very much those I have stated to the House. This Mr. Sinclair has had a chequered career. I observe that one of his admirers announced that he had laid it down as a condition of his becoming President of the Tiree League that its meetings should be opened and closed with prayer. I have no objections to that. And he says further—"All his actions and those of his fellow-crofters had been prompted by their interpretation of Scripture." Quite so; and, as I said before, it is partly from a misunderstanding of Scripture, and partly from a misunderstanding of Mr. George, that the theories in question have been founded. I attach the less weight to the particular interpretation which Mr. Sinclair places on Scripture from the fact that I understand that, not long ago, he was convicted of theft at Glasgow. I now come to the consideration of some of the particular outrages which have unfortunately taken place in the Highlands. I imagine that every man in the House, even if there be a Socialist present, is desirous that law and order should be maintained, and I therefore appeal to everyone to assist the Government in maintaining law and order. But I make this concession to the House. Some crimes there are which, though we feel bound to punish, we cannot feel it in our hearts to condemn. But are the outrages against law and order which are taking place, and which have taken place in the Islands of Scotland, of that character? Sir, from all the investigations I have made into this question, I am afraid I must say they are not. I have already told the House of what character is the landowner of the Island of Uist. She has spent for years and years, for the benefit of the Island, the whole income derived from the Island, and the rents have not been raised; and if any person deserved consideration at the hands of her tenants it would be her. Let me read an extract from a placard circulated in South Uist—Rules for guidance in the struggle for freedom against landlord tyranny. Spare human life. Kill no man, except it be in self-defence. Destroy the enemy's property.[An Irish MEMBER: Hear, hear!"] There 952 is still one hon. Gentleman who has the courage of his opinions.The enemy is the landlord, the agent, the capitalist, and the Parliament which makes and maintains inhuman and iniquitous laws. Cut down the telegraph wires and posts; carry away the wires.And so forth. And this is the advice which is circulated among the crofters of South Uist.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The hon. Gentleman probably knows that much better than I do. They took that advice. Among other things, they cut down the telegraph wires. I and my Predecessors have always been urged by friends of the crofters to induce the Treasury and the Post Office to improve communication in the Highlands. Well, the telegraph in question was guaranteed by a subsidy from the owner of this property, and the people for whose benefit it was put up took the advice of the circular I have read, and proceeded cut it down. Many other acts of violence also occurred. Carriages were overturned and fences torn down, and tie fences which enclosed a large area of land which had been reclaimed by the proprietrix were pulled down, and the crops upon it have been destroyed, and that part of the Island is rapidly returning to the condition of waste from which it was reclaimed for the benefit of the crofters. It will, perhaps, be said that the rents on this property are excessive, and that the people were driven, in spite of the liberality of the landlady, by poverty to these crimes. Here is the condition of one of these tenants in Benbecula, who has refused to pay rent for some years:—He is the fortunate owner of four cows, a heifer, two bullocks, three horses, a colt, and 17 sheep; and his rent is only £8. Here is one more:—Hia rent is £3 13s.; his stock is three cows, three bullocks, a horse, and a colt, yet he has not paid a farthing of rent for the last three years. But in truth, it does not require proof from me to show that the "No Rent" agitation in the Highlands is not the result of poverty, but the result of agitation, because we have it from the mouths of the agitators themselves. Their leaders have over and over again at public meetings advised the tenants not to pay, saying—" We can pay; but we decline to pay." In face of that fact, I defy 953 anyone to say that poverty is the cause of this "No Rent" agitation. But the "No Rent" agitation has not been the sole manifestation of lawlessness in the Western Highlands. The crofters have on more than one occasion forcibly invaded land to which they had no legal title whatever, had broken down the fences, and had put their stock upon it. Take the case of the Braes, in Skye. There the tenants, for two generations at least, have never had anything to do with the farm lands; but, in consequence of the agitation, they suddenly determined to drive their stock upon it in spite of the landlord. In the interests of peace the landlord ultimately gave way. The farm had been let to a tenant at, I think, £135, and he agreed to let it to the insurgent crofters for about £75. How has that sacrifice been rewarded? The first year's rent was paid by, I think, some philanthropist in Glasgow. Not a single sixpence of the rent has been paid since, and at this moment the land is most inadequately stocked, and has only got upon it a few head of sheep belonging to the more prosperous of the crofting community of the Braes. What has occurred at Braes is borne out by what has occurred again at South Uist. There the owner became alive to the fact that the cry of "more land" was rife in the Highlands. She tried to meet that cry, and gave largely extended holdings, and broke up large farms to do so. She lost heavily in diminished rent by the process. That does not measure the extent of her losses, for no rent at all has been paid. The land is now lyingidle, without being any good to the tenants, or to the community at large. In Tiree, without a single eviction, the extent of land belonging to each crofter has been increased during the present owner's management from 31 acres to 57 acres, or nearly doubled. There has not been a single eviction in Tiree during the last 40 years, except for non-payment of rent; and these increases in the holdings have been obtained either through voluntary emigration, or through families dying out. Whatever might be a justification for the illegal taking of land, poverty cannot be that justification; because unless the man can stock the land it is of no use to him. The result of the lawlessness which has prevailed is just what might 954 have been expected. The crofters began by breaking their contracts with the landlord; they have gone on, breaking their contracts with other people. Not only at this moment are rents in arrear in Skye at least two years, but rates are in arrear, and shopkeepers' debts remain unpaid. If a community is allowed to be wholly lawless in one particular, it cannot be expected to be law-abiding in others; the sore will inevitably spread; and as these people began with the idea that it was just to rob landlords, they now deem it no less justifiable to rob the community and their ordinary creditors. We are gradually becoming more familiar in the Highlands with all these dark phenomena with which we have been so long familiar in Ireland. The village tyrant is becoming a familiar phenomenon in the Highlands. There is peace there, for the same reason for which, as we are told, there is peace in some parts of Ireland; but I think it is quiet more nearly allied to social death than to repose. The House must think I have drawn a most gloomy picture of the state of society in the Highlands. No man feels it more than myself. I love, and have always loved, the Highland population. [Laughter.] I have known them from my youth; indeed, I have done what some hon. Gentlemen opposite have not done—lived among them—and I defy any man to live among them and not love them. I cannot deny that they have enemies, and these enemies, in the present crisis, have got the better of them. I do not think they are suffering from either bad Land Laws or bad landlords; and though I grant they have to contend with a barren soil, with inclement skies and stormy seas, yet neither soil, nor skies, nor seas are, in my opinion, the worst foes they have to contend with. My profound conviction is that their worst enemies are those who would throw the slightest impediment in the way of the superfluous population in these congested districts seeking in other climes a happier home. I am sorry to say some of those who profess to have most at heart the happiness of those people are most responsible for the prejudice, which is not of long standing, but which is now growing up, against a wholesome and a natural emigration. You may brave the laws of this House; if the laws be bad you may repeal or 955 alter them; but you cannot brave or alter the laws of nature, and it is against the laws of nature alone that you struggle when you insist that a population shall live on land which cannot, by any possibility, be made to produce an adequate amount of food to support them. I look forward to time, and education, and the teaching of inevitable necessity gradually to remove these evils. If I could be instrumental in doing something more positively in regard to emigration I should wish to do it. I cannot at this moment see my way to do it; but I will consider the question. In the meanwhile, before the salutary effect which that emigration must produce comes upon us, I conceive that the duty of this House is plain. I am, as hon. Members are aware, no fanatical admirer of the Crofters Act. I have never pretended either that the principles embodied in that Act were sound principles, or that they would be of great benefit to the crofters in the direction in which they hoped to be benefited. But one advantage of that Bill I foresaw at the time, and experience has confirmed that view: it makes it quite certain that we can exercise the forces of the law, and yet be guilty of no hardship to the tenants in the Highlands and Islands. Under that Act every tenant possesses fixity of tenure. He may also claim a fair rent, and, under proper conditions, an extension of his holding. If, therefore, we carry out the law, as we hope to do, we, at all events, derive from that Act the satisfaction of knowing that we do not, and cannot, from the nature of things, be guilty of a harsh measure to the tenants of Scotland. There are those who think that, the Irish judicial rents having been fixed when, prices were higher, hardship has been done; but that particular hardship cannot arise in this case, because the rents are not yet fixed. The rents will be fixed when prices are at their very lowest. I therefore would appeal to the House, and, above all, to hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench opposite, whose policy we propose to continue, to support us in doing what we can to restore to something like law and order the disturbed districts of the Western Highlands and Islands. I say that partly in the interests of the great principles of law and justice, partly in the interests of the landlords—even a landlord may have justice done him occasion- 956 ally, but, most of all, in the interests of the unhappy people who live in these districts; for if there be any truth whatever in the principle which has always guided the action of this House, it is undoubtedly true that no society can prosper so long as law and order are utterly disregarded among the people comprised under it.
§ DR. E. McDONALD (Ross and Cromarty)
(who rose amid cries of "Divide!") said: I shall try to be as short as I can; but I must reply to part of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Scotland (Mr. A. J. Balfour). I freely acknowledge that the right hon. Gentleman has spoken as I should expect a landlord who is a fair and charitable landlord to speak. I know that, as far as he is concerned, he is one of the good landlords in Scotland. We find no fault with him, personally, at all. The right hon. Gentleman has told us that the crofters live under the best land system we have in this country, or anywhere else. I quite agree with him that the system is good, if it were thoroughly carried out; but what is the good of a land system where a man can only get an acre of land to cultivate? It was pointed out in the last Parliament that it was impossible, no matter how good the Land Law might be in theory, to carry it out entirely in practice, and I have no doubt that the Commissioners will show before long that that is the case. The right hon. Gentleman talked of the ignorance of the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Picton) about the Crofters' Question. I differ entirely from him. I know that the hon. Member for Leicester has lived for months among the crofters, and that he has made it his special study to inquire into their condition. I believe that there is not another man, either from the South of Scotland or from England, who knows more about the position of the crofters than the hon. Member for Leicester. Therefore, I do not deem him chargeable with, ignorance of the subject. The right hon. Gentleman referred also to the Sutherland evictions; and he attempted to show that what has taken place has been for the good of the people of Sutherland. Let us hope, in all charity, that it was so intended, and that it was upon that ground upon which families who had been comfortably living in their own 957 homes were driven out of the glens which they had occupied for a long series of years down to the sea coast. It is certainly very hard to believe that evictions taking place under such circumstances were for the good of the people who were the victims of them. It must also be borne in mind that evictions have been carried out in other parts of the Highlands where the people were not already living on the sea coast. The object has apparently been to place the land in the hands of large farmers. The land hitherto held in the crofting villages has been taken and the people sent away, and since then the crofting villages have been converted into large farms. That is what has been done in Uist and Lewis, and in many other places. The right hon. Gentleman has pointed out that the crofters of Tiree had the best of land. Now, can any hon. Gentleman in this House who has ever travelled in the Highlands tell, by looking at the land, whether it is occupied by a crofter or a large farmer? As a matter of fact, wherever you see good land it is sure to be in the possession of a large farmer, notwithstanding the fact that the land itself was made by the crofters in former times. Nobody denies that there may have been an influx of wealth into the Highlands since the conversion of large tracts of land into deer forests; but I would point out that this wealth is not spent in the Highlands, nor is it spent in connection with deer forests themselves, except in the payment of the gillies. The owners of the deer forests take their own servants and provisions with them from London; they buy nothing in the locality, and all they spend is what they give to their gillies, who are a portion of the population of whom the people have certainly not too much reason to feel proud. We have heard a great deal about the agitation in the Highlands; but it is not necessary to point out that unless we have the fuel any attempt on the part of agitators in Scotland as well as in Ireland to set fire to it would be useless. Another point referred to by the right hon. Gentleman had connection with the administration of justice. The right hon. Gentleman stated that we have been unable to point out any case in which the Sheriff's or Procurators Fiscal have acted wrongly. One of my hon. Friends was stopped, when he was 958 trying to give an instance of that kind—namely, the case of Sheriff Ivory, Sheriff of Inverness, who acknowledged that, in insisting upon seeing certain telegrams in Portree which he had no right to see, he had been guilty of an offence for which he might have received two years' imprisonment. The only excuse of the Sheriff was that he did not know he was doing wrong. That is one instance; but there are others which might be enumerated. The right hon. Gentleman spoke about the difficulty the crofters have in carrying on agricultural operations. I would remind the right hon. Gentleman of a speech which he himself made upon the Crofters' Bill in the last Parliament. At that time he pointed out the cruelty of offering the crofters land without supplying them with the means of stocking it. [Mr. A. J. BALFOUR: Hear, hear!] The right hon. Gentleman says "Hear, hear!" Now, I carefully listened to the speech he delivered tonight, in order to see if he intended to carry out the proposal which he was so indignant with the former Government for not having carried out; but I failed to hear any promise whatever on the part of the right hon. Gentleman of assisting the crofters in stocking their crofts. I have no doubt that the right hon. Gentleman would willingly do something in that direction; but there are other reasons which may influence his Colleagues in declining to support him. It has been suggested on the other side of the House that it would not be a bad thing to make loans to the Island fishermen. We have been told, in reference to similar advances which have been made in Ireland, that the Irish small tenants have paid off every halfpenny of the loans granted to them. Although we know very well that the landlords have not repaid their loans, the small tenantry of Ireland have. Then, what is there to prevent the Government from granting loans to the people of the Highlands and Islands for the purpose of obtaining boats and nets and other implements, to enable them to carry on the fishing industry? Surely that would be a far better way of spending the public money than throwing it into the sands of Egypt or the swamps of Burmah. It would be very right and proper to give loans of money to these people, and I do not think the right 959 hon. Gentleman really meant what he said when he contended that it would be wrong to give such loans. I have no doubt that he meant grants, which is a different thing altogether. It is said that a great deal of ignorance and sentiment is mixed up with this question of the crofters. Still, talk as you like about putting down the crofters, every man of common sense in this House must know that the crofter agitation will never be allayed until these people get justice. The Government must bear in mind that they have a Celtic population to deal with. The Celts of Ireland, Wales, and Cornwall will never tamely submit to be deprived of their rights by the landlords. No doubt, the land of the Saxon has been taken away without a word of remonstrance on his part; but it is very different with the Celt. His idea of the tenure of land is the reverse of that of the Saxon, and when the Celt has got his way you may depend upon it that the Saxon also will begin to see that he has been robbed, and will stand it no longer. We have heard a great deal about rack rents in Ireland; but I have always said in this House that there has been very little rack-renting in the Highlands. Out of the four gentlemen mentioned in the Report of the Crofters' Commission as having rack-rented their tenants, two of them—Major Eraser and the Duke of Argyll—have had gun-boats sent to protect their estates. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Scotland puts himself in front of the Commission, and declines to accept as accurate the evidence supplied in their Report. He intimates that he knows better; nevertheless, I think that those who have been over the ground ought to be the best judges of what is right and what is wrong. We are told that the Highlands are over-populated, and that over-congestion is the disease from which the people are suffering. It is proposed, in order to remedy the evil, that the people should be sent out of the country—a remedy which has already been tried in Ireland to the extent of deporting one-third of the population. But in the case of Scotland I maintain that there is no congestion of the population at all. On the contrary, vast tracts of land, suitable for cultivation, have been converted into deer forests, employing only a few gillies upon thousands of acres of land. 960 There can be no congestion of population where such a state of things prevails; and I, for one, refuse to advise the Highlanders to go to a foreign country while there are such vast tracts of land in the Highlands which they can occupy. I know the attachment of these people to their country, and what a terror it is to them to conceive the idea of going away. No doubt, it may be true with regard to the young—as was stated of Scotchmen in olden times—that when they go to England they never take a return ticket; but the older people have no desire to leave the country of their own will so long as there are thousands of acres of good land which have been converted into deer forests ready to receive them. The proper way of dealing with this so-called over-population is to open out these vast tracts of land, and place the people upon them. We shall never be able to deal with the congestion of population except by extending the occupation of the land; and when that is done all the difficulties which now exist will speedily disappear. We have been told that the people of the Highlands are determined not to pay their just debts, either to the landlords or anybody else. Can the right hon. Gentleman prove to this House that these people have got the money to pay their debts? [Cries of "Yes!"] It is very easy to say "Yes." I wish it were true; and I am certainly not of the opinion which the right hon. Gentleman has expressed. The right hon. Gentleman, I know, has an intimate acquaintance with the crofters; but I quite disagree with him in thinking that they have money which they decline to part with. I know that they have not got the money, and that they cannot pay their rents. How can a man with a croft of £2 10s. or £3 a-year pay his rent, when the fishing, which is the only source from which he procures the money, has altogether failed, as it has this year, and when the crofter has a family of half-a-dozen to provide for? How can a man in such circumstances procure the money to pay his rent? I contend that the system is altogether wrong, and that we should do our best to put it right. The hon. Member for Peckham (Mr. Baumann) has spoken of the agitation which has been going on in the Highlands. I believe the hon. Gentleman 961 went down to my constituency two years ago; but I had not the pleasure of meeting him. He made a strong speech in support of the Tory candidate; but it was of so unsatisfactory a nature that he was requested not to address the electors again. There is another point to which I desire to call attention. We have heard, over and over again in this House, a great deal stated in reference to the money spent by the landlords on their estates; but I would ask if that money has been spent in improving the crofters' holdings? Nothing of the sort; for that is a thing which is not known in the Highlands. The Duke of Sutherland is said to have done a great deal for the improvement of his estates. No doubt, the Duke of Sutherland has expended considerable sums in improving his estate as a commercial speculation; but he has done it for the large farmers, and not for the crofters. I do not deny that the money may have been spent; but it has been spent in building castles, and in laying down beautiful gardens. So far as the Island of Lewis is concerned, the speculation entered into there was of a most stupid character, and the money was, in reality, thrown away into the moss. [Cries of "No!"] I know the fact better than anyone in the House, and I could point out places where hundreds of thousands of pounds have been expended upon improvements which may never come to anything, because the people who attempted to carry them out knew nothing of the land with which they were dealing. We have heard a great deal about the money spent by the landlords on their estates; but we have heard very little of the money spent for the use and benefit of the landlords themselves. Such a thing as spending money upon the crofters is never known, although very large sums have been ill-spent on the Landlords themselves. [Cries of "No!"] We have been told by The Scotsman and other newspapers what has been done by Lady Matheson in the way of breaking down large farms in Lewis, and giving them to the crofters, and it is said that the same thing is going on in Skye at this day. And why? Because the landlords cannot get anybody to take large farms, and they are, therefore, breaking them up for their own benefit. It is very easy to let a small farm when 962 it is impossible to find a tenant for a large one. There are one or two other facts which I should like to place before the House. In the first place, I wish to refer to an eviction which occurred last week. It is a case in which a Procurator Fiscal was the agent of the landlord and the evictor. There was a disturbance, and the Procurator Fiscal charged the tenant with having deforced him. while acting as the landlord's agent. In that case, the Procurator Fiscal had a force of police at his own disposal for carrying out his own evictions. The case occurred at Dornach, on Lady Matheson's estate, and the Sheriff was Mr. Fraser. There have been some similar instances. I will take the case of a gentleman who assumes to be the head of the Mackenzies. A short time ago he evicted a man named Roderick Macrae, who had six acres of croft. Now, every inch of that croft was taken out of the barren land and moss, either by Macrae, or by his father before him. He had built a house upon it, which cost £60. Owing to bad times he had fallen a little into arrear with the landlord, and therefore he was evicted; and instead of receiving the value of the house which he had built for himself the house itself was pulled down, and the man is now living on the roadside with his wife and six children. I only received this information to-day, and if I have been misinformed I shall be happy to apologize to the House later on. There is only one more point I wish to refer to, and that is a case in which the present Lord Lieutenant of Inverness-shire—lord Lovat—is concerned. The House will be aware that every leaseholder who allows his lease to expire, and does not take out a new lease, becomes a crofter. Lord Lovat, desiring to evict the crofters, has sent out a circular through his agent to the following effect:—I am instructed by Lord Lovat, in consideration of the present circumstances (that is, the Crofters' Commission corning round) to offer to alter the terms of your lease, and to reduce your rent from so many pounds to so many pounds for five years, commencing Whitsuntide last. Please acknowledge receipt.Now, is Lord Lovat dealing fairly with these people? He knows that they are about to come under the Commission, and why not allow the Commissioners to sift the matter for themselves? On 963 Lord Lovat's estate in Inverness-shire the tenant has to contribute towards the schools, and to pay the salary of the schoolmaster. He is also required to pay a penny per pound above his rent for statutory assessment, or to give two days' service once a-year of his men, servants, horses, and carts, to assist in draining, repairing, and cleansing out streams—in which, of course, the landlords fish; to assist, further, in erecting embankments thereon, failing which—bear in mind this is all done for the improvement of the landlord's estate for nothing—failing this, the proprietor may employ other labourers with horses and carts, and charge the expense to the tenants along with the next year's rent. His Lordship has issued another estate regulation, in which he reserves to himself the whole game of every kind—rabbits, deer, wild fowls, and the fish in the rivers and burns within his property, with right of access thereto, with power and liberty to himself and others having permission to hunt, fish, and sport thereon, without being liable for any claim for damages or compensation, whether occasioned by game, rabbits, or otherwise. At the end of this regulation there is a provision that the terms contained in the regulation are to be binding, notwithstanding any modification or alteration which may hereafter take place in the existing law. It is a matter of indifference to Lord Lovat and other landlords what laws may be made by this House. They make laws for themselves, and they desire to do what they like. I must apologize to the House for the length at which I have detained it. There is a great deal more which I might say; but I have no desire to keep hon. Members longer. There is, however, one point with reference to the law of the Highlands which I think I ought to mention. The Amendment points out that in the administration of the law the people of the Highlands have no confidence. Let me give an example to show what occurred in the Island of Skye. The only lawyer there who has dared to take the part of the tenants, the only man in whom the people had the slightest confidence, has just been dismissed by the present Lord Advocate from the office of Sheriff Clerk Depute. The Predecessor of the right hon. and learned Gentleman had the case four times before him; but he 964 did not see his way to dismissing this gentleman. As soon, however, as the present Lord Advocate came into Office a private inquiry was held, and this gentleman, who had held office in Skye for 19 years, was dismissed without any rhyme or reason, and he has not been told yet what his crime is. How can the people have the slightest confidence in the administration of the law under such circumstances as these, when gentlemen are dismissed from the positions they have occupied for years without being informed why? I know that there are certain charges which are supposed to have been made against this gentleman; but the least that ought to have been done was to let him know what the charges were, so that he might have been able to defend himself. He was, however, told nothing of the sort; and now the people of Skye, instead of going to the nearest lawyer to conduct their cases when they conceive that they are treated with injustice, have now to go all the way to Inverness. Gentlemen of the Legal Profession who reside nearer Skye are afraid of losing their practice or promotion and future prospects if they take up the cause of these unfortunate people; and the result is that if they want legal advice they have to go at least 100 miles to obtain it.
§ MR. A. SUTHERLAND (Sutherlandshire)
I do not intend to trespass very long upon the time of the House upon this occasion, and I will only ask for the indulgence of the House for a few minutes. Probably I should not have addressed the House at all if it had not been for the speech which has been delivered by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Scotland (Mr. A. J. Balfour). I had expected to have heard some statement from that right hon. Gentleman that would have allayed the fears which are undoubtedly felt throughout the Highlands of Scotland that the law will not be administered in a manner satisfactory to the people, and that he would have assured them that the scales will be held evenly between landlord and tenant. But I regret very much to say that the lone of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman dispelled any such hope that I may have entertained. I could have wished that the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Lord Advocate for Scotland had had charge of the Ministerial statement, because I con- 965 sider that that right hon. and learned Gentleman's popularity in Scotland—I hope he will pardon me for mentioning it, but it is the fact all the same, for the right hon. and learned Gentleman is extremely popular in Scotland—I had hoped that if he could have spoken on behalf of the Government the irritation which is bound to be felt in consequence of the tone of the speech of the Secretary for Scotland would have been avoided. I am, Sir, to all intents and purposes, a crofter myself, and I think I ought to know something about the people I belong to. Nevertheless, I have come now to this House to learn, for the first time, that the crofters of Scotland are really different from what I have known them to be all my life. I have heard statements to-night in regard to the people I belong to which have very much astonished me, although I have been very intimately acquainted with them all the days of my life. As to the remarks which were made by the hon. Member for Peckham (Mr. Baumann), I believe that if the Highlands suffer more from one thing than another it is in consequence of the opinions of Gentlemen like the hon. Member, who go to the Highlands for the first time in their lives, and after a sojourn of two or three days think that they know all about the country, and that nobody knows anything about it except themselves. I have no objection in the world to the hon. Gentleman having an opinion about the Highlands; but if he will return to Scotland several times I think he will learn a great deal more about the Highlands than he appears to know at present.
§ MR. A. SUTHERLAND
I am glad to find that the hon. Gentleman has the honour of being a Scotchman; but I cannot admit that his account of the condition of the Highlands was at all an accurate one. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Scotland found fault with what fell from the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Picton), and characterized the source of the information of the hon. Member as gossip. Let me point out to the right hon. Gentleman that a great deal of what he himself has brought forward hero to-day to prove that there has been lawlessness in Scot- 966 land is, in my estimation, the merest gossip. He stated, with regard to the constituency which I have the honour to represent in this House, that crime is rampant there. I should be glad to learn the right hon. Gentleman's authority for making that statement. I have not been so long away from that county that I should not have heard if any such state of crime existed in it. But I will tell the House what I do know. Shortly before I left Sutherlandshire, I saw upon the roadside two women living in a but which they had erected, after having been evicted from a house which their father had put up, without a single penny of expense to the landlord. I presume that the right hon. Gentleman knows something about the history of Sutherlandshire. If he had not referred to that county I should not have detained the House by introducing the matter. There are, however, in the history of that unfortunate county circumstances which it would be well that we should—all friends of the landlords especially—try to bury in oblivion. The right hon. Gentleman told us that the Sutherland clearances have been undertaken from benevolent motives. I am ready to admit that that is quite possible; but the mistake which was made was this—that the people themselves were never consulted, and they, at least, ought to know something about what was for their own advantage. There are many points of view from which the Sutherland clearances may be regarded. The right hon. Gentleman said that it is necessary to take the state of the Highlands as it is at present. The right hon. Gentleman has forgotten that the present condition of Scotland arises directly out of what took place 80 years ago, and a provision in the Crofters' Act, with which I believe the right hon. Gentleman himself had as much to do as anybody, provides that crofting parishes are to be defined according to what the state of things was 80 years ago. That directly brings home to us the fact that all the trouble already existing in the Highlands arises from the policy which has been pursued there during the last 100 years. If the state of the Highlands is unsatisfactory as this Amendment declares, and as everyone who has any knowledge of the Highlands will be ready to admit—if that be so, and we have every reason to believe that it is so, then the whole of the blame attaches 967 to the landlords of the Highlands, because they have been practically omnipotent there for the last 100 years. Everything that exists there to-day is directly attributable to their action. I am not going to follow the right hon. Gentleman into the question of the agitation in the Highlands. That is entirely unnecessary, and I scorn to follow him into that field. The claim of the Highland people rests upon something higher than that. What we want in the Highlands is leave to live and prosper in our own land, and to have, at least, equal rights with sheep and red-deer. To say that the question in the Highlands is a question of population is to show, in my estimation at least, very little knowledge of the subject. There has been a great emigration from the Highlands, as the right hon. Gentleman knows very well. But has that benefited the people left behind? Not in the slightest. The difficulty which at present arises is that there is a certain amount of population—none too much for the land—that the land is there, and that the land is wasted. There is the land, and there are the people; let us bring the two together. But at present the land is lying out of cultivation; and how can it be held that the land is over-populated, when we see the large tracts of land which are devoted to deer forests? Practical foresters tell me it is notorious that deer will not live in some places where sheep could live; they require better land. I know of large forests where sheep have been reared within my own memory, and where human beings had lived before, but which have now been turned into deer forests. I simply wish to say that I am as anxious as the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Scotland that lawlessness should not exist in the Highlands. Notwithstanding all that, the right hon. Gentleman has said tonight, in accusing the Highlanders of lawlessness, that they have not been lawless hitherto, and I am anxious that they should be kept in a law-abiding condition; and the only way to do that is to bring the law into some sort of accord with the sentiment of the people. The present is a golden opportunity for the Conservative Party to distinguish itself by its treatment of this question; because it is the fact, Sir, that the Highlands have hitherto owed nothing to the 968 Liberals. It is also a fact that the Highland people have always borne such a good character that they can appeal to all sections of this House. We can appeal to the Conservatives for support to the Amendment, because they have been no worse, as far as the Highlands are concerned, than the Whig Party—the Highlanders have been treated better by the Conservatives than by the Whig Party. That is one reason why I was sorry for the tone in which the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Scotland spoke. They can appeal also to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) and his Party in this House, because the right hon. Gentleman went to the Highlands a year ago, and delivered a speech at Inverness which delighted the hearts of all Highlanders. We, therefore, claim the support to this Amendment of the followers of the right hon. Gentleman. It is unnecessary to appeal to our Irish Friends. The similarity of the condition of affairs in Ireland and in the Highlands of Scotland has created a lasting sympathy between the two peoples. You will find that the people in the Highlands have not the slightest difficulty in understanding the Irish Question, simply because the condition of the people in Ireland is exactly the same as that of the people in the Highlands. I can claim also the support of the Radical Members for this Amendment, because the question to be solved in the Highlands is identical with the question which the democracy of England have so much at heart; and I therefore appeal to all branches of the democracy throughout the country with the most perfect confidence. In accordance with the intimation which I conveyed at the opening of my remarks, I will not detain the House further than to say that it is because we want to have law and order preserved in the Highlands that we make this appeal to Her Majesty's Government to hold out some hope to the people of the Highlands that justice will be administered with some regard to the existing state of matters there. It is admitted that we have Land Laws there which are notoriously in favour of one class. That is bad enough in all conscience. The task of reforming these laws is, in itself, a sufficient task for any body of men to have in hand at 969 one time; and we do not want to be embarrassed, in the legal and Constitutional agitation we are carrying on, by Laving the administration of the law against us at the same time. It is handicapping us far too much. I therefore appeal to Her Majesty's Government that they should give some consideration to the wishes of the Highland people in regard to this matter. But if, instead of doing that, the Government mean to throw down the gauntlet to the people of the Highlands in the way the right hon. Gentleman has done this evening, then all we can say, who have any knowledge of the Highlands, is that we wash our hands of all responsibility. I had hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would have assisted us in maintaining law and order in the Highlands, and treat us in a more charitable spirit than he has adopted. By so doing he would have inspired the people of the Highlands with hope; and they would have waited patiently, in the meantime, for the legal and Constitutional redress of their grievances through the medium of this House.
§ MR. J. B. BALFOUR (&c.) Clackmannan,
I do not propose to stand very long between the House and a division; but, having had a chief part in carrying the Crofters' Bill through this House in the last Parliament, and reference having been made to certain matters with respect to which I may, in some sense, be said to have been officially responsible, I do not think it is right that I should vote upon this Amendment without shortly stating the course which I propose to take. I am, Sir, unable to support the Amendment in either of its branches. Although not the first in order of precedence in the Amendment itself, one of the paragraphs of the Amendment refers to the Crofters' Act of last Session. This House is asked to affirm, in answer to Her Majesty's Gracious Speech from the Throne—That the greatest and most pressing grievance of the crofters and cottars has not been remedied by the Crofters' Act, which has failed to provide for the enlargement of the present inadequate holdings, and the formation of new holdings where they are urgently required.In short, the House is asked by the Amendment to condemn, in answer to the Speech from the Throne, an Act of Parliament which is hardly two or three months old, which is only now 970 being put into operation, and in regard to which, of course, we have not yet had time for obtaining experience. I say that it would require some very strong and very clear evidence—for evidence derived from experience there can be none, and all that could be applied would be in the nature of argument—to justify an appeal from the last Parliament to the present in favour of an amendment of the Act. Now, Sir, whatever position the House may be disposed to take in amending an Act of Parliament founded upon experience, and which has proved to be defective, I am quite sure that it will be always ready to lend an ear to anyone who would be able to point out any defects in an Act of Parliament; but it would be somewhat rash and inexpedient to take that step in respect or an Act which was only placed upon the Statute Book the other day. The Commissioners are now only starting on the performance of their duties; they have been designating the areas which are crofter parishes within the Act; they are laying down rules and regulations, and they are zealously setting themselves to work.
§ MR. J. B. BALFOUR
I have no doubt that is so; and yet that is the position in which we are asked to affirm the proposition that the Crofters' Act has failed to remedy the grievances of which the crofters and cottars complain. I do not propose to enter into any examination of the Crofters' Act itself, because I am afraid it was my duty to detain the House, on an occasion now almost memorable, when it became my duty to say a great deal upon many of the lines and clauses contained in it. But I will say this—that that Act, whatever defects are contained in it in the judgment of some persons—and I do not suppose that anyone is prepared to maintain that it is perfect—is a larger measure in favour of the occupying cultivators of the soil than has ever been passed by the British Parliament, or, as far as I know, of any other country. It not only gives fixity, in the sense of perpetuity of tenure, on certain reasonable conditions being fulfilled; but it also gives the right to have a fair rent fixed by an impartial tribunal, together with a scale of compensa- 971 tion for improvements of much greater liberality and much greater breadth than that which was given either in England or Scotland by the Agricultural Holdings Act of 1882. I only mention this for the information of hon. Members who were not in the last Parliament; but there was one point which was dealt with by the Act which was of a novel character. It made provision, which, as far as I am aware, had never been done in any other measure, for enlarging existing holdings. That was a very large proposal—a very novel, a very important, but in our judgment a sound and a just proposal, looking at the historical conditions of the persons affected; but it required to be made with considerable caution, and to be accompanied by certain safeguards. I am not going to examine now what they are; but I will just say this—that with respect to the matter of deer forests very little respect was shown for deer forests by the Bill, because we provided that deer forests, whether they were under lease or not, might be taken for the purpose of enlarging holdings. We considered that, as a matter of public policy, sport should not be allowed to compete with the use of land which might be turned to account in providing the means of subsistence. Taking that view, we showed no respect for deer forests; but while the Bill was passing through the House the Amendment which has already been read was inserted in the measure. I think that when the matter is fully understood by the House no one will deny that what we had regard to, in proposing or accepting that Amendment, was the general benefit of the inhabitants of the district, and that it was not an unreasonable limitation to impose in what was certainly a novel and an important Bill. I can only say that if the land is so occupied, or the crofters so situated, that there would not be that amount of benefit which we had hoped, and still believe, will be given by the Act, I should be ready to assist in amending it. I am not satisfied, however, that the Act will not confer a very large amount of benefit. But, as I have said, it has not yet been proved by experience; but we believe that it will have the effect of adding very materially to existing crofts, particularly in the way of the restoration of those old pastures, the deprivation of 972 which has been an undoubted hardship to the indigenous inhabitants of the Highlands, and which I believe has produced a great deal of the poverty and dissatisfaction we have had to lament in recent years in those localities. I entirely agree in a great deal that has been said by hon. Members as to the conditions of Highland life, and the necessity of providing the people, in order to make their position comfortable and continuous, with some outlying land as a run for their cattle. We did our best to provide that. Something has been said in regard to the resistance which I felt it my duty to offer to certain Amendments that were proposed at the time the Bill was passing through the House; and it has been alleged that we were rather too stiff in that matter. I may mention, for the information of those who were not then in the House, that the course which was taken with regard to this Bill was not a course which was followed with respect to this Bill only. Something has been said to-night in regard to Home Rule. I am not going to enter into that question, except to say that we have had a modified but satisfactory mode of Home Rule, in reference to Scotch questions, which has been in existence for some years. It has been the custom for the Scotch Members, in conference with the Government, to come to an understanding on all Scotch questions; and effect has invariably been given, not only by the Government, but by the House, to any understanding thus arrived at by the Scotch Members, that course was followed in regard to this Bill, because my right hon. Friend (Sir George Trevelyan), who was then Secretary for Scotland, invited the Scotch Members to meet to consider the Bill, as introduced, along with another Bill. It was a full and very representative meeting which lasted for some hours, and at which the main questions relating to the Bill were discussed. And what was the result? A number of points were considered on that occasion in regard to which the prevalent sense of the meeting was that the Bill might be safely enlarged, and every one of the resolutions adopted at that meeting was given effect to. Every one of the Amendments was placed upon the Paper and incorporated in the Bill. I have desired to say this, because a different idea has been prevalent. I am quite 973 quite aware that there were very large, very debatable, and very important questions raised and fully discussed during the passing of the Bill through the House; and in regard to these I will say nothing more than that the judgment of the House was taken upon them, and that that judgment is expressed in the Bill. Whatever may be said in regard to the introduction of any further Bill by way of amending the existing Act, it would be both unsafe, and, I may also say, hardly respectful, without having had any experience of the working of the Act, for the House to pronounce a condemnation of the measure in answer to the Speech from, the Throne. I do not propose to enter now into the details which have been referred to—because I think they may be more profitably discussed on some future occasion—as to the state of the law in particular localities. Several grievances which we have hoard of before have been mentioned, and among others the combination of public offices in the hands of the same individual; also the fact that public officials have also held private positions which might be considered inconsistent with the performance of their public duties. It may be in the recollection of hon. Members who had seats in the last Parliament that the two Governments, of which I had the honour to be a Member, did make an important departure in this matter in regard to the appointment of Procurators Fiscal. They did so for this reason—that, although there may have been no complaint, and very little feeling on the subject, in some localities, yet in others there were many considerations of expediency which pointed to the necessity of having a man of certain position, of experience, and of standing to perform the public duties of Sheriff Clerks and Procurators Fiscal. Even although conflict did not exist, it was felt that if any strained feeling should hereafter arise, it was most desirable and expedient that there should be a complete severance of official and private duties, particularly in regard to one class of duties; and the Government made it their business, when new appointment! came to be made, and wherever adequate salary could be given, to make it a condition that the gentleman appointed should restrict himself exclusively to his official public duties. We adopted that course more especially in reference to 974 appointments to the office of Sheriff Clerk and Procurator Fiscal, and I have no doubt that our Successors in Office will agree with us in the general principle we inaugurated, and which we acted upon to the best of our ability. I am quite aware that we did not cover the whole ground; because there have been cases where individuals have held offices which we have had no power to divide. We did, however, make an endeavour, as far as we were able, especially in those counties where unhappily there had been disturbances, to secure that the public officials should have no private interests to serve; and when we left Office I think that, with the exception of one or two cases, we had very nearly completed arrangements for restricting public officers in future to the performance of their official duties. I trust that the present Government will follow our example, and in view of the responsibility which attaches to them that they will see that the official duties are kept separate and distinct wherever it is possible to do so, and by that means not allow even the idea or the feeling to go forth that there is anything objectionable in the way in which justice is administered. Something has been said in the course of the debate in regard to certain particular cases; but as you, Sir, stopped the hon. Member for Caithness (Dr. Clark) and other hon. Members from entering into these questions, it would not be right in me to follow the same course. But I was surprised to hear the remarks which fell from the hon. Member for Rossshire (Dr. M'Donald) in reference to the Sheriff of Inverness-shire, whom he accused of having pursued a line of conduct which he has himself absolutely and emphatically denied. An explanation was given in this House at the time, and it is not necessary that I should repeat now what I said then on the matter. If he had been guilty of the conduct imputed to him, he would not only have rendered himself liable to be dismissed from office, but it would have been the duty of the Government to see that such a thing did not occur again. Another matter was referred to by the same hon. Member, in regard to which I also feel it my duty to say a word, because, if I did not, an erroneous impression would be conveyed. The hon. Member referred to a gentleman who some time ago held an official position in 975 the Isle of Skye, and whom, he said, had been dismissed from his official position for practising in his profession. I think I know the gentleman to whom the hon. Member refers. He was the holder of a public office, and the hon. Gentleman has stated that he had been dismissed from that office by the present Lord Advocate, although I had inquired into the charges against him, and had refrained from taking action upon them. That is not quite correct. It was a case which demanded, and which received, the most careful and the most dispassionate consideration; but it had not gone beyond that stage when I left Office in the month of June last. The gentleman in question held a very high character; and he received, as every man is entitled to receive, that benefit of that high character, and of the opinion which was entertained of him by the tenants. I have no doubt that those circumstances were also taken into consideration by the present Government. But there are certain things which may be considered inconsistent with the continuous tenure of a public office; and in the case of the gentleman referred to I have no doubt that the Government arrived at a right and wise decision, and I cannot, with any justice or propriety, say that it was an act of our Successors in which they took any vindictive proceeding against a particular individual, because he had acted as the friend of the tenants against the interests of the landlords. I do not propose to enter into any of the other matters which have been mentioned; but I am satisfied that wherever it has been found necessary to supplement the ordinary force of law by the introduction of extraneous forces, it has always been, and must have been, to those who had to do it, a matter of profound regret. I think it may be said that, on the only occasions on which recourse has been had to such forces, the expeditions themselves had nothing whatever to do either with evictions or the collection of rent. My right hon. Friend the late Chancellor of the Exchequer (Sir William Harcourt) made a speech upon that subject the other day; and he then laid it down, most clearly and distinctly, that the reason why those expeditions were sent out was purely in support of the police in the event of their being overpowered in the execution of the law, and I am glad to say that when they 976 were sent the expeditions were effective, and that nothing like a collision with the people took place. Nothing would have been more unfortunate than any collision of the kind. These poor people of the Western Highlands had, by some means or other, been led into error; but when they saw that the forces of the Crown were there they became disabused of their error. Somehow or other they had received the impression that the police were not a force they were bound to obey; that they were acting without the sanction of the Crown or of the law; but, to their credit be it said, as soon as they found that the police were supported by the majesty of the law, then they ceased to persevere in the courses which had led to the despatch of the expedition against them. I will only, in conclusion, express an earnest hope that every person, whether in this House or out of it, who has any influence with these people, whose welfare we all of us have so much at heart, will, in consideration of the remedial measures upon which some of us, at all events—whether successfully or not I will not undertake to say—have bestowed so much time and care, use their influence with those who may be disaffected to induce them not to break the law. I have considerable knowledge of the feeling in different parts of Scotland, and the effect of some recent occurrences in the Highlands has been rather to alienate sympathy that would otherwise have been extended to these people. No man deplores more than I do that there should be any malpractices which should lead to the alienation of sympathy from a people who have been formerly free from all sorts of agrarian crime, and who even now are singularly free from all ordinary crime. But, having regard to what I have already said, I submit that there is no sufficient reason for affirming the propositions of the Amendment; but that does not imply any want of sympathy with the people to whom it relates.
§ MR. J. NOLAN (Louth, N.)
(who rose amid loud calls for a division) said: I do not propose to occupy the attention of the House for many minutes, and I would advise hon. Members on the other side to take notice that if they wish to shorten the debate they will act wisely in giving me a courteous hearing, rather than by trying to shout me down. I did 977 not intend to take any part in the debate at so late an hour; but, having listened to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Scotland (Mr. A. J. Balfour), I think the language which he applied to some of my Colleagues, and the tone in which he spoke, calls for a few words of remonstrance. It is all very well for the right hon. Gentleman, from the lofty position he appears to occupy, in his own estimation, to look down with lordly contempt upon my Colleagues for their want of information as to the affairs of Scotland. But having, as the right hon. Gentleman proposes to have, the interests of Scotland at heart, he ought rather to welcome the interest we manifest in Scotch affairs than attempt to decry it. I may say, on behalf of my countrymen, that we feel a very deep interest in Scottish affairs, for "a fellow-feeling makes us wondrous kind." We feel that as Irishmen our sympathies ought to be given to the people of a country who are allied to us in race, in language, and especially in the treatment they have received at the hands of exterminating landlords, in the long-suffering patience with which they have endured it, and in the fact that they would have been allowed to suffer in silence if they had not thought fit to attract the attention of their Rulers by taking active measures to bring their grievances prominently forward. They are, further, like the people of Ireland in finding that the remedy which has been applied to their grievances is altogether an insufficient one. There is another reason, Sir, why I take a special interest in tins Crofter Question, and it is this. In the Carlingford district of the constituency which I have the honour to represent there are a number of people who are similarly treated to the crofters of Scotland, seeing that they occupy barren and sterile land, and find it necessary to eke out a livelihood by fishing, and other avocations of that kind. Apropos of this, I may mention—what I had no opportunity of mentioning in the course of the debate on the affairs of Ireland—that in this district there are no less than 150 people who are threatened with eviction, because they are one year in arrear with their rent. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Scotland has expressed an opinion that the crofters of Scotland are in a better posi- 978 tion than the tenantry of any other country. In connection with that assertion I should like to say that at the time the Crofters' Bill was about to pass the third reading I received a communication from the Highland Society of Liverpool, consisting of people very closely connected with the crofters, assuring me, in the strongest terms, that if the Bill were passed it would not meet the difficulties of the case. Since then I have had an opportunity of consulting Highlanders of considerable intelligence, and they have fully endorsed what was said by the Highland Society of Liverpool. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of foresting, and he said that the formation of deer forests in Scotland had conferred benefits upon the Highlanders. That is another matter upon which very considerable difference of opinion prevails. All the Scotchmen I have met with tell me that they look upon the deer forests in the Highlands as an unmixed evil. Upon this subject I am reminded of one of the arguments advanced by the Pilgrim Fathers when they were appropriating the land of the red men in America—namely, that it was not fair or right that large districts should be left for a few deer to range over, when they might be made a corn-producing country, capable of feeding the toiling millions in Europe. Before I leave the subject I would remind the right hon. Gentleman and the House that deer cannot live upon rocks any more than the people. I was much struck with a statement made by the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Picton), that he had seen large tracts of arable land set apart for the use of game during the winter. A very short time ago I saw a gamekeeper engaged in raising pheasants close by a very large cornfield. I saw young pheasants running in and out of the field, and I ventured to call the keeper's attention to the fact that the corn would not be worth much. "Oh!" he said, "if the corn goes we shall have the game." I therefore took it for granted that in the eyes, not only of the gamekeeper, but of those who employed him, arable ground is of no consequence in the Highlands, so long as the game is there. The right hon. Gentleman said that it was useless to go back to history, and to rake up the wrongs which have been perpetrated upon these people, 979 and the robberies that have been effected. I have no doubt that there are certain persons who have a strong dislike to go back to the past, and particularly those who are now enjoying the spoil. When the right hon. Gentleman speaks of the doctrine of spoliation having been put forward by the Land League and the National League of Ireland, I would ask him to bear in mind the part which has been played in the matter of property by the predecessors of those who now claim all right and title to the land. The right hon. Gentleman spoke about the love which he bears to the Highlander; but when I view the clearances which have been effected in the Highlands, and the fact that he pleads an excuse for them, I am reminded of Mokanna's love for mankind. I was present during the crofters' debate in the last Parliament, and I listened with great attention to the speeches which were then made. I was forcibly struck with the fact that both the right hon. Gentleman and the then Treasury Bench seemed to agree with one another very well, when it came to a matter of whittling down the concessions granted to the crofters by the original Bill. The right hon. and learned Gentleman who has just addressed the House from the Front Opposition Bench (Mr. J. B. Balfour) has given ample proof that things have not changed since in this particular. The hon. Member for Peckham (Mr. Baumann), in the course of his remarks to-night, in speaking about property in land, alluded to it as if the whole of the land in a certain portion of the Highlands belonged to the Duke of Argyll. I invariably notice that when hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House talk about property in land it is always about the landlords' property that they speak. They never seem to take into account that the tenant has any property at all. They seem to forget the fact that the tenants have got property in the land. The people of the Highlands of Scotland, as well as of Ireland, have been and are being constantly robbed of the fruit of their labour, and of their interest in the land. According to the Brehon law, which, I take it, prevailed at one time in the Highlands of Scotland, as it did in Ireland and in this country, the land did not belong to a few aristocrats, but to the people. Even according to the feudal system that was introduced into this 980 country by the Normans, the land was not given to the aristocracy to become their own property; but the aristocrats simply possessed a life interest in the land, and they were required to discharge very distinct and very important military services as a condition of their holding the land. I should like to know what would have become of them if they had refused to fulfil the conditions? Even n our own day, according to the law of the land, there are many of the great estates in the country in which the so-called owners have simply a life interest, the land being entailed on the nearest male heir. Now, Sir, I do not intend to trespass any further upon the time and the attention of the House—["Hear, hear!"]—but if anything could induce me to do so it would be the manifestations of impatience which have been made by our courteous Friends on the Ministerial side of the House. It is just possible, Sir, that they object to my unpractised style; but I may remind them of a story which is told of Von Moltke, when his artillerymen were bombarding Paris. There was, I believe, if I may venture to tell the story—there was a message sent to him, informing him that some of his shells had struck some of the public hospitals in the city, and he very humanely replied that he intended to alter the position of his batteries, and that with the change of position and a little more practice upon the part of his artillerymen these things would not occur. I hope, Sir, that with a little more practice I shall not weary hon. Gentlemen. As to the ownership of the land, perhaps I may be allowed to quote a great English authority—Mr. Mill. Mr. Mill writes—The land of any country belongs to the people of that country. The individuals called landowners have no right, in morality and justice, to anything but the rent or compensation for its saleable value.And further on, in speaking about the "peculiar burthens" which landlords sometimes complain of, he says—What has been epigrammatically said on 'peculiar burthens' is literally true when applied to them—that the greatest 'burthen on land' is the landlords. Returning nothing to the soil, they consume its whole produce, minus the pittance strictly necessary to keep the inhabitants from dying of famine; and when they have any purpose of improvement, the preparatory step usually consists in not leaving 981 them even this pittance, but turning out the people to beggary, if not to starvation. When landed property has placed itself on this footing it ceases to be defensible, and the time has come for making some new arrangement of the matter. When the sacredness of property is talked of, it should always he remembered that any such sacredness does not belong in the same degree to landed property. No man made the land. It is the original inheritance of the whole species. Its appropriation is a question of general expediency. When private property in land is not expedient it is unjust.And another great English, authority—Herbert Spencer—said, in Social Statics—Equity does not permit property in land. For if one portion of the earth's surface may justly become the possession of an individual, held for his sole use and benefit as a thing to which he has an exclusive right, then other portions of its surface may be so held, and our planet may thus lapse into private hands. It follows that if the landowners have a valid right to its surface, all who are not landowners have no right at all to its surface. Hence such can exist on the earth by sufferance only. They are all trespassers. Save by permission of the landlords they can have no room for the soles of their feet—nay, these landless men may be equitably expelled from the earth altogether,These are authorities which may be fairly weighed against the hon. Gentleman with regard to the exclusive ownership of land claimed by him for landlords. In conclusion, I beg to say I have read the Amendment of my hon. Friend (Dr. Clark) with very great attention; and I beg to say that I, as an Irishman, as one who feels the deepest sympathy with the people of the Highlands of Scotland, endorse every word of it, and am prepared to give it my hearty support.
§ MR. ALEXANDER BLANE (Armagh, S.)
Mr. Speaker—Sir, I will just draw the attention of the House for one moment to that portion of the Amendment which states "that the administration of the law does not possess the confidence of the people." One of the reasons why the law does not possess the confidence of the people is, in my opinion, that the law comes to the Scottish people in a foreign garb. Scotch laws are not made by Scotchmen for their own benefit; but they are made in an Assembly in which Englishmen, who have very little interest, perhaps, in Scotland, outvote the Scottish Representatives. Until the Scottish people demand and obtain the resuscitation of their own Parliament in the Register House, Edinburgh, this part of the Amendment 982 —"the administration of the law does not possess the confidence of the people"—will hold good. We were told by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Scotland (Mr. A. J. Balfour) that these crofters, these men who are the descendants of those who have carried your bayonets throughout the world victoriously, are robbers. ["Oh, oh!"] We were told that very distinctly. It is a nice state of affairs when, in this House, a portion of the people in Her Majesty's Dominions, not very far away, are told that they are altogether dishonest. I cannot for the life of me see why the existence of the Scottish people should not go before law and order. The existence of the people should always go before law and order. Law and order were only broken when the laws are found to be antagonistic to the rights, liberties, and sentiments of the people. It is because British law, or even the Norman law, so well referred to by my hon. Friend (Mr. Nolan)—
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Gentleman is trifling with the House. I must ask the hon. Member to confine his remarks strictly to the Amendment.
§ MR. ALEXANDER BLANE
With reference to that portion of the Amendment to which I drew attention a few moments ago—namely, "that the administration of the law does not possess the confidence of the people," I believe that until the Scottish people make laws for themselves in Edinburgh there will always be this non-confidence.
§ MR. FLYNN (Cork, N.)
Notwithstanding the impatience of hon. Gentlemen opposite, I am very anxious to make some observations on this most important Amendment for a reason which ought to be satisfactory to every Member of this House, and that is that I take a very great interest in the subject-matter of the Amendment. I have listened with considerable attention to the course of the debate this evening; and the case which has been made by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Caithness (Dr. Clark) in moving his Amendment has not, I think, been met by any arguments which have been put forward from the other side of the House. One portion of this Amendment refers in specific terms to the lamentable fact—That the greatest and most pressing grievance of the crofters and cottars has not been remedied by the Crofters' Act, which has failed 983 to provide for the enlargement of the present inadequate holdings and the formation of new holdings where they are urgently required.Sir, those Members who had the privilege of sitting in this House in the previous Parliament can recollect most distinctly how the Scotch Crofter Members, dealing with the Crofters' Bill, brought forward night after night Amendments calculated to improve the Bill by making it more workable and suitable to the condition of their people. Night after night the Irish Members, and the Radical Members also, divided with the Scotch Crofter Members, in order to make the Bill a real Bill, such a Bill as would benefit the people it was intended to benefit. But, Sir, Amendment after Amendment was brought forward, only to be out-voted by English Members who knew nothing of the question, and whose ignorance of the question was only equalled by their utter want of sympathy with the intentions of those who brought forward the measure. Sir, it will be within your recollection that many of the Lords' Amendments to the Crofters' Bill were opposed by the hon. Members for Kirkcaldy, Aberdeen, and Wick, and that those hon. Gentlemen distinctly refused to take any responsibility for the measure.
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Gentleman is going into the Crofters' Act. He has said nothing yet pertinent to the Amendment.
§ MR. FLYNN
I was simply referring, Mr. Speaker, to the fact that the Amendment recites that the most pressing grievance of the crofters has not been remedied by the Crofters' Act; but, Sir, with reference to the speeches which have been made from the Government Benches against this Amendment, I only wish to make a few observations. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Scotland has declared in unmistakable terms—[Interruption]—he has in very clear terms—[Cries of "Order, order!"] Mr. Speaker, I can assure hon. Gentlemen opposite that I intend to make a few observations upon this most important Amendment, and if any interruption of this kind—
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Gentleman is nearly approaching the conduct 984 of a previous hon. Member who, I said, was trifling with the House, and I must caution him to speak with more relevancy to the Amendment.
§ MR. FLYNN
The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Scotland has charged, in effect, that the disturbances in the Highlands of Scotland are not due so much to the depressed condition of the people, are not due so much to rack-renting, or to the grievances of which the crofters complain, but is due to the fact that agitators have got amongst them, and that demoralizing and dishonest doctrines have been spoken. In effect, the right hon. Gentleman has charged a large portion of the population of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland with dishonesty.
§ MR. FLYNN
It will be within there collection of the House that the right hon. Gentleman referred to the fact that not only were rents not being paid in these places, but that the debts contracted with ordinary creditors were not being paid. In pursuing the matter he said that the sore spreads. If that is not making a charge of dishonesty in effect, I fail to understand what the language means. But, Sir, if the people of the Highlands do not feel aggrieved; if there is no rack-renting and unfair evictions; if the conditions of life are not harsh and wretched in the extreme, how can it be possible that agitators going amongst them can produce the disorders to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred? Sir, you cannot have smoke without fire; you cannot have these disorders without there being grave and deep causes for their existence. Sir, it is a sad commentary on the civilization of the present day; it is a sad commentary on the condition of things that in a country which has found so many brave men to fight for the maintenance of the honour and glory of the British Empire—
§ MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! I must call the attention of the House to the irrelevancy and tedious repetition of the hon. Member, and ask him to resume his seat.
§ MR. CONWAY (Leitrim, N.)
Under ordinary conditions, Sir, I should have been content to have given a silent vote; but after listening to the speech of the Secretary for Scotland (Mr. A. J. Balfour) I certainly do think I am within my right in rising to protest against the language he used with reference to Ireland by adopting a system of argument by analogy. He over and over again levelled his shafts at Ireland and left the main question. Sir, the House is in possession of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, and I am within my right in commenting upon it; and with the object of making my comments as brief as possible I took a few notes. First of all, the right hon. Gentleman laid down the dictum that no one in this House had a right to speak on Scottish questions, except those who have connection with Scotland. If that argument is to hold good, I wonder what right we had last night to talk about Burmah; and, Sir, to come nearer home, I wonder how many Members on the opposite side of the House would have any right to speak about Ireland?
§ MR. CONWAY
Sir, I am trying to reply to the observations of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Scotland.
§ MR. CONWAY
I have no wish at all, Sir, to run counter to your ruling; but, inasmuch as the speech of the right hon. Gentleman is in the possession of the House, I thought I was within my right in commenting upon that speech. [Mr. SPEAKER: Order, order!] With regard to the Amendment the right hon. Gentleman had to shift his responsibility in discussing that Amendment by remarking that the main course adopted by us was to abuse the landlord system. I think the system itself affords sufficient opportunity for hon. Gentlemen to abuse it. The system, as enunciated by the right hon. Gentleman, was supported by instancing a few cases of good landlords. Sir, in the time of the Slave Trade there was an endeavour to uphold slavery by instancing the cases of 986 a few good slave owners. The slave system was rotten, and fell to the ground; the landlord system is rotten, and will inevitably fall to the ground. The Scotch Members, in this Amendment, state that they object to the Crofters' Act because the condition of the crofters is unsatisfactory. I am in thorough sympathy with that statement of the Scotch Members, and will vote for this Amendment. It is also stated in the Amendment that the Scotch crofters have no confidence in the administration of the law; and after reading in to-day's paper a speech of Lord M'Laren I am not surprised at this want of confidence. Speaking at Inverary, Lord M'Laren said the crofters had been "deluded by agitators." Oh, but the delusion has been found to be a sad reality, a sad reality of crofter life, and I believe the speech of the Secretary for Scotland will stimulate such a feeling in Scotland that at the next Election it will not be found that 12 Gentlemen have been returned to swell the Tory ranks. This noble and learned Lord went on to state "that the landlords would be protected"—yes, at the expense of the tenants—and he held out the hope that there would soon be a gunboat placed at the service of the authorities in Scotland for the purpose of intimidating the people. When these speeches were made, when they were reported so recently as to-day, this Amendment of the Scotch Members is very timely; and those who sympathize with the Amendment will, by going into the Lobby, show Lord M'Laren and those who think with him that there is in a part of the House the determination that justice shall be conceded to these crofters.
§ MR. O'HANLON (Cavan, E.)
Mr. Speaker, I wish to say a few words with reference to the Amendment before the House. I wish to say that if the condition of the people in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland is so unsatisfactory as it has been represented it is the duty of the House to find a remedy. If the administration of the law does not possess the confidence of the people there must be some cause. Have we Irish Members, who have seen our own countrymen oppressed by landlordism, not the right on this occasion to raise our voices on behalf of the poor Scotch crofters who have been driven from the Lowlands into the mountain caves?
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Gentleman is also trifling with the House. I must ask him to speak more relevantly to the Amendment.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 121; Noes 203: Majority 82.989
|Abraham, W. (Limerick, W.)||Lalor, R.|
|Allison, R. A.||Leamy, E.|
|Anderson, C. H.||Lewis, T. P.|
|Asquith, H. H.||M'Arthur, W. A.|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||M'Cartan, M.|
|Biggar, J. G.||M'Donald, P.|
|Blake, T.||M'Donald, Dr. R.|
|Blane, A.||M'Donald, W. A.|
|Borlase, W. C.||M'Ewan, W.|
|Bright, Jacob||M'Kenna, Sir J. N.|
|Broadhurst, H.||M'Laren, W. S. B.|
|Brown, A. L.||Mahony, P.|
|Burt, T.||Mason, S.|
|Cameron, J. M.||Molloy, B. C.|
|Campbell, H.||Morgan, O. V.|
|Carew, J. L.||Murphy, W. M.|
|Chamberlain, R.||Nolan, Colonel J. P.|
|Channing, F. A.||Nolan, J.|
|Clancy, J. J.||O'Brien, J. F. X.|
|Colman, J. J.||O'Brien, P.|
|Condon, T. J.||O'Brien, P. J.|
|Connolly, L.||O'Connor, A.|
|Conway, M.||O'Connor, J. (Tippry.)|
|Conybeare, C. A. V.||O'Connor, T. P.|
|Corbet, W. J.||O'Doherty, J. E.|
|Cossham, H.||O'Hanlon, T.|
|Cox, J. R.||O'Hea, P.|
|Crawford, D.||O'Kelly, J.|
|Crilly, D.||Parnell, C. S.|
|Dillon, J.||Piekersgill, E. H.|
|Ellis, J. E.||Picton, J. A.|
|Ellis, J. E.||Pinkerton, J.|
|Esmonde, Sir T. G.||Power, P. J.|
|Farquharson, Dr. R.||Priestley, B.|
|Fenwick, C.||Provand, A. D.|
|Finucane, J.||Reid, R. T.|
|Flynn, J. C.||Robinson, T.|
|Foley, P. J.||Roe, T.|
|Fox, Dr. J. F.||Rountree, J.|
|Gilhooly, J.||Russell, E. R.|
|Gill, H. J.||Schwann, C. E.|
|Gill, T. P.||Sexton, T.|
|Gourley, E. T.||Shaw, T.|
|Gray, E. D.||Sheehan, J. D.|
|Harrington, E.||Sheehy, D.|
|Harris, M.||Shirley, W. S.|
|Hayden, L. P.||Stack, J.|
|Hayne, C. Seale-||Stanhope, hon. P. J.|
|Healy, M.||Stuart, J.|
|Holden, I.||Sullivan, D.|
|Hooper, J.||Sullivan, T. D.|
|Hunter, W. A.||Sutherland, A.|
|Illingworth, A.||Swinburne, Sir J.|
|Jacoby, J. A.||Tanner, C. K.|
|Jordan, J.||Thomas, A.|
|Kelly, B.||Tuite, J.|
|Kenny, M. J.||Wallace, R.|
|Labouchere, H.||Watson, T.|
|Will, J. S.||Clark, Dr. G. B.|
|Wilson, H. J.||Esslemont, P.|
|Winterbotham, A. B.|
|Addison, J. E. W.||Duncan, Colonel F.|
|Agg-Gardner, J. T.||Duncombe, A.|
|Ainslie, W. G.||Dyke, rt. hn. Sir W. H.|
|Ambrose, W.||Edwards-Moss, T. C.|
|Amherst, W. A. T.||Egerton, hn. A. J. F.|
|Anstruther, Colonel R. H. L.||Egerton, hon. A. de T.|
|Asher, A.||Ellis, Sir J. W.|
|Ashmead-Bartlett, E.||Elton, C. I.|
|Baden-Powell, G. S.||Evelyn, W. J.|
|Baird, J. G. A.||Ewart, W.|
|Balfour, rt. hon. A. J.||Eyre, Colonel H.|
|Balfour, rt. hon. J. B.||Farquharson, H. R.|
|Balfour, G. W.||Feilden, Lt.-Gen. R. J.|
|Banes, Major G. E.||Fergusson, right hon. Sir J.|
|Barttelot, Sir W. B.||Fielden, T.|
|Bass, H.||Finch, G. H.|
|Baumann, A. A.||Fisher, W. H.|
|Beach, right hon. Sir M. E. Hicks-||Fitzgerald, R. U. P.|
|Bective, Earl of||Fitz-Wygram, General Sir F. W.|
|Bentinck, Lord H. C.||Fletcher, Sir H.|
|Bentinck, W. G. C.||Flower, C.|
|Beresford, Lord C. W. De la Poer||Folkestone, right hon. Viscount|
|Bethell, Commander G. R.||Forwood, A. B.|
|Blundell, Col. H. B. H.||Fraser, General C. C.|
|Bristowe, T. L.||Fulton, J. F.|
|Brodrick, hon. W. St. J. F.||Gathorne-Hardy, hon. A. E.|
|Brookfield, Col. A. M.||Gedge, S.|
|Bruce, Lord H.||Gent-Davis, R.|
|Burdett-Coutts, W. L. Ash.-B.||Gibson, J. G.|
|Burghley, Lord||Gilliat, J. S.|
|Caldwell, J.||Godson, A. F.|
|Campbell, J. A.||Goldsmid, Sir J.|
|Charrington, S.||Goldsworthy, Major-General W. T.|
|Churchill, rt. hn. Lord R. H. S.||Gorst, Sir J. E.|
|Clarke, Sir E. G.||Gray, C. W.|
|Coddington, W.||Grimston, Viscount|
|Coghill, D. H.||Grotrian, F. B.|
|Cohen, L. L.||Hamilton, right hon. Lord G. F.|
|Colomb, Capt. J. C. R.||Hamley, Gen. Sir E.B.|
|Cooke, C. W. R.||Heath, A R.|
|Corry, Sir J. P.||Heathcote, Capt. J. H. Edwards-|
|Cotton, Capt. E. T. D.||Heaton, J. H..|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Herbert, hon. S.|
|Cross, H. S.||Hill, right hon. Lord A. W.|
|Crossman,Gen. Sir W.||Hill, A. S.|
|Curzon, Viscount||Holland, rt. hon. Sir H. T.|
|Curzon, hon. G. N.||Holloway, G.|
|Dalrymple, C.||Holmes, rt. hon. H.|
|Davenport, H. T.||Hornby, W. H.|
|Davenport, W. B.||Howard, J. M.|
|Dawnay, Colonel hon. L. P.||Howorth, H. H.|
|De Lisle, E. J. L. M. P.|
|De Worms, Baron H.||Hozier, J. H. C.|
|Dickson, Major A. G.||Hubbard, E.|
|Dimsdale, Baron R.||Hughes, Colonel E.|
|Dorington, Sir J. E.||Hughes-Hallett, Col. F. C.|
|Dugdale, J. S.|
|Hunt, F. S.||Pearce, W.|
|Isaacs, L. H.||Pelly, Sir L.|
|Jackson, W. L.||Penton, Captain F. T.|
|Jarvis, A. W.||Percy, Lord A. M.|
|Jennings, L. J.||Powell, F. S.|
|Kay-Shuttleworth, rt. hon. Sir U. J.||Raikes, rt. hon. H C.|
|Kelly, J. R.||Rankin, J.|
|Kenyon, hon. G. T.||Ridley, Sir M. W.|
|Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W.||Ritchie, rt. hon. C. T.|
|Korans, 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.|
|Knowles, L.||Russell, Sir G.|
|Lafone, A.||Russell, T. W.|
|Lambert, I. C.||Sandys, Lt.-Col. T. M.|
|Lawrance, J. C.||Saunderson, Col. E. J.|
|Lees, E.||Sellar, A. C.|
|Legh, T. W.||Selwyn, Captain C. W.|
|Lethbridge, Sir R.||Shaw-Stewart, M. H.|
|Lewisham, right hon. Viscount||Sidebotham, J. W.|
|Llewellyn, E. H.||Sinclair, W. P.|
|Long, W. H.||Smith, rt. hon. W. H.|
|Low, M.||Smith, D.|
|Lowther, J. W.||Smith-Barry, A. H.|
|Macartney, W. G. E.||Spencer, J. E.|
|Macdonald, rt. hon. J. H. A.||Stanhope, rt. hon. E.|
|Maclure, J. W.||Stanley, E. J.|
|Manners, rt. hon. Lord J. J. R.||Tapling, T. K.|
|Marjoribanks, rt. hon. E.||Temple, Sir R.|
|Marriott, rt. hn. W. T.||Tollemache, H. J.|
|Matthews, rt. hon. H.||Tomlinson, W. E. M.|
|Maxwell, Sir H. E.||Townsend, F.|
|More, R. J.||Tyler, Sir H. W.|
|Morrison, W.||Waring, Colonel T.|
|Mount, W. G.||Watson, J.|
|Mowbray, rt. hon. Sir J R.||Webster, Sir R. E.|
|Mowbray, R. G. C.||Webster, R. G.|
|Mulholland, H. L.||Weymouth, Viscount|
|Murdoch, C. T.||White, J. B.|
|Whitmore, C. A.|
|Wilson, Sir S.|
|Winn, hon. R.|
|Wodehouse, E. R.|
|Wortley, C. B. Stuart-|
|Wright, H. S.|
|Northcote, hon. H. S.||Douglas, A. Akers-|
|Paget, Sir R. H.||Walrond, Col. W. H.|
|Parker, hon. P.|
§ Main Question again proposed.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Sexton.)
§ MR. PARNELL (Cork)
What I must suggest for the consideration of the Government is, whether it would not be more convenient to the House to commence the important debate which will take place on the Motion of my hon. Friend the Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton) at an Evening Sitting, rather than at a Morning Sitting on Wednesday? If the Government would acquiesce in that suggestion, as far as I and my hon. Friends are concerned, we 990 should not be unwilling to withdraw from our opposition to the present stage of the Address to-night, provided it was understood that my hon. Friend should be allowed facilities on Report for bringing forward and discussing his Motion. Under those circumstances, I do not see that the Government need not be able to get through their other Business and start upon the Estimates on Monday.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Lord RANDOLPH CHURCHILL) (Paddington, S.)
As far as I could understand from the remarks of the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) the whole of the rest of the week will be occupied with the debate on the Address, and also that no debate on the Address is to take place to-morrow—to-morrow is to be lost. ["No, no!"] Sir, that is not an arrangement which would conduce to the progress of Public Business, or to the convenience of the House; nor can I admit that the hon. Member, by the conduct of his Party in the course of the evening, has any title to make a suggestion for the convenience of the House which will have any weight with Her Majesty's Government.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Debate adjourned till To-morrow.
§ House adjourned at half after Twelve o'clock.