HC Deb 26 January 1886 vol 302 cc443-530

, in rising to move the following Amendment to the Address:— But this House humbly expresses its regret that no measures are announced by Her Majesty for the present relief of these classes, and especially for affording facilities to the agricultural labourers and others in the rural districts to obtain allotments and small holdings on equitable terms as to rent and security of tenure, said, he thought there could be no doubt that depression existed, and that it was felt both in town and country, but especially among the labouring classes in rural districts. It had been suggested that a further reduction might be made in the wages of farm labourers; but, seeing that the rate now varied from 12s. to 9s. per week only, there was scarcely room for any further reduction. Indeed, the only mystery was how a man and his family could exist, far less live in comfort, on such a miserable pittance. Worse than that, there were large and increasing numbers of men out of work altogether. They had been glad to hear the Leader of the Opposition, in his speech upon the Address, refer to the fact that the labourers were now, for the first time, represented in that House, and express his belief that there was a great deal of regret on that side of the House that there was no reference made in Her Majesty's Gracious Speech to the labourers, and to some further means of bettering their condition. Now, although there were so many labourers out of work in the rural districts, yet no one would pretend to say that in the necessities of agriculture there was not plenty of work for them. The land in every direction was crying out for labour; and without labour it was absurd to expect land to produce what it ought to yield. It was said that the farmers could not afford to employ labour. But it was certain they could not afford to farm without labour. Therefore, it came to this—the labourer was standing idle because the farmers could not employ him, and there was no means by which he could get on to the land to work it on his own account. The consequence was that the labourers were flying from the soil, to the great detriment of the land. This was a workman's question in town as well as country. It was not necessary for him to say one word in favour of allotments and small holdings, for everyone who was formerly opposed to them seemed now to have changed his opinion. ["No, no!"] That seemed to be the case at the meeting at Willis's Rooms; and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Chaplin), who on former occasions had strenuously opposed the principle, had, during the past three months, been making speeches of the most gushing character in favour of allotments and small holdings. "Whether that was due to the fact that the labourer had got the vote he would not say; at any rate, the whole question had now assumed a different aspect altogether from what it presented previously. During the Elections the most unbounded interest was shown in this question by the rural population. As to the three acres and a cow, the labourer was not such a fool as to suppose that he would get something for nothing; but he thought that some legitimate means should be provided for giving him access to the land. Once let him got possession of the three acres, there was little doubt that by his own thrift and his own efforts the cow and many other things would speedily follow. He deprecated the leaving of the solution of the question to voluntary associations. He had not a word to say against private enterprize; but he wanted to know why any associations were wanted? If each individual landlord would take the matter in hand, the thing would be done without an association. But what was wanted was something behind that—that if the thing were not done, labourers should not be left to the mercy of voluntary effort, or to the landlord or farmer. Hon. Members, no doubt, knew what was going on between the various sections of the territorial party and the labourers. A Conservative journal at Ipswich had said— Surely the men must now recognize the fact that they may use their votes in such a manner as to injure their best interests. They will get neither three acres of land or a cow. They will have probably less work and lower wages. The labouring men who have gone Radical cannot be surprised if they lose the sympathy and cooperation of Conservative landlords and Conservative farmers. To his knowledge such writings were read to his labourers by a farmer. When they talked of "Boycotting" in Ireland let them remember that these were words read to men content to work for 9s. and 10s. a-week to keep their children from starving. He had visited Lambourne, and there he found a beautiful village falling into decay and the grass growing in the streets. In the whole village there were not two eggs to be got for breakfast. Bear in mind that they imported 2,250,000 eggs daily; but if a French villager visited Lambourne would ho not say—"What fools these English are to send to us when they have every facility here for supplying themselves." There was nothing new in his proposal from what had been brought forward since the time of Elizabeth, except the compulsion where it was needed, and that compulsion would not be carried out where the supply of land was sufficient. As to the recommendation for the sale of glebe lands, whatever reply the Government might make to this Amendment, ho hoped they would not play the labourers false in any way; in other words, that they would not pretend to give a benefit which the suffering labourers would not actually realize. Glebe lands, if sold at all, must be sold without any conditions. Besides, many clergymen had their glebes badly situated for the purposes desired by labourers. In some parts there was plenty of glebe land and few people; while in other districts the people were numerous and no such land. Therefore, the labourers would thank the Government for nothing. What they wanted was machinery by which, where a fair and legitimate demand for land existed, it should be had at a fair price, and on a tenure that would not depend on touching the hat to either parson or squire; but on condition that the holders of it should be independent, paying rent for it, and cultivating it. The labourers had a fair right to ask for that. They wore told that nothing could be done, the price of corn was so low. If they put corn out of the question there was still plenty of scope. They had butter which, in his younger days, used to sell at 7d. per 1b. now double the price; fowls which they used to sell at 1s. 1d. now 2s. 6d.; cheese, pork, vegetables, and other small articles of food, all requiring that minute industry which the large farmer could not well give, but which a peasant proprietary could well bestow. Articles of food other than corn were im- ported to this country to the value, in the aggregate, of £50,000,000, and every pennyworth of which they ought to produce. Fair Traders talked with alarm about a few thousand pounds' worth of foreign manufactures—girders, for instance—brought from Belgium and from France; but they had not a word to say about the fact that we imported £5,000,000 worth of cheese annually into this country. When they had £50,000,000 worth of food imported every year at prices very much higher than those which prevailed 40 years ago, and when they had the material for its production at hand and the labour standing idle, he wanted to know why that food was not produced at home? Supposing a Manchester manufacturer had plenty of material and plenty of labour lying idle, while his books were overflowing with orders, such a state of affairs would not be tolerated for a moment; and yet that was a parallel to the present condition of agriculture. ["No, no!"] They had in this country what prevailed nowhere else that he knew of, a landless peasantry. The agricultural labourer had been reduced by legislation from the position of having an independent interest in the land to that of a more hireling. The labourers had been forced by successive migrations into the towns, and thus they had a proletariat in this country such as did not exist anywhere else that he was aware of in Europe. He claimed for this population a measure of Land Reform which he contended would be, in reality, a most Conservative measure. He was horrified to think that hon. Members opposite—the territorial party—could not see the danger that attached to their present position, a danger from which the measure he proposed would save them; but if they resisted that measure they would go further and fare worse. He had much pleasure in moving the Amendment which stood in his name.


remarked, that it was no slight advantage to a new Member, when he for the first time claimed the indulgence of the House, that he had the privilege of seconding an Amendment which would undoubtedly command the sympathy, if not the active support, of Gentlemen on both sides of the House. There was no Party, from the noble Marquess at the head of the Government to his (Captain Ver- neys')hon. Opponent in North Bucks (Sir Samuel Wilson), during the last Election which had more completely identified themselves with this question than the Conservative Party. In every village and town the Conservative candidate had never failed to explain how he had been misunderstood, and how hard it was upon him that it should be supposed he was not interested in this question of allotments; therefore, hon. Gentlemen opposite would find it difficult to go into the Lobby in opposition to the Amendment. The noble Marquess (the Marquess of Salisbury), in his famous speech at Newport, had even proposed to sacrifice the precious glebe lands to provide allotments for labourers. The hon. Baronet the Member for Honiton (Sir John Kennaway) had divided the House into four Parties—the "Great Conservative Party," the "Moderate Liberal," the "Radicals," and the "Irish." The "Moderate Liberal" he (Captain Verney) had some difficulty in laying his hand upon; but he took it that the moderate Liberal was one of those Liberals who were led by the Liberal Dukes, and the Liberal Dukes had undoubtedly identified themselves with the allotment question. The Radical Party would, as a matter of course, support the Amendment: so, too, would the Irish Members, as representing a warm and sympathetic race, always ready to throw itself on the side of the oppressed, and would countenance every measure for their relief. He claimed, therefore, for the Amendment the support of all Parties in the House. Another reason which concerned all was the fact that whereas for some months past the agricultural labourer was merely "in the air," now he was literally in the House; and every Member must feel how appropriate it was that a house largely elected by the agricultural labourers for the first time in the annals of our Constitution should give its earliest attention to a question which closely affected their interests. The Amendment proposed to address the Queen, in answer to the Speech from the Throne, in such words as would be very grateful and acceptable to Her Majesty, who was always most accessible to the humblest of her subjects—that Sovereign whose whole life had been governed by a "fundamental law" laid down by herself—her loyalty to her people.

Amendment proposed, By inserting, after the word "transient," in the 11th paragraph, the words "but this House humbly expresses its regret that no measures are announced by Her Majesty for the present relief of these classes, and especially for affording facilities to the agricultural labourers and others in the rural districts to obtain allotments and small holdings on equitable terms as to rent and security of tenure."—(Mr. Jesse Callings.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."


Sir, it may, perhaps, be for the convenience of the House if I ask permission at once to reply to the speech of the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Jesse Collings), and to the Amendment which he has placed on the Paper. Of the speech of the hon. Member I am bound to say that, considering his Amendment amounts to a Vote of Censure on Her Majesty's Government, one supported by weaker, feebler, more miserable arguments I never heard in the whole course of my life. Sir, the hon. Member was good enough to warn us of the danger we should incur by opposing his Amendment. I do not see that danger in the least. We are perfectly clear as to our position; and before I have concluded my observations I hope, to some extent at least, to be able to convert the hon. Gentleman, at all events, to a portion of our views. He made one observation in the course of his speech—and which, I confess, somewhat surprised me—that the agricultural labourer in this country was not such a fool as he was thought. I do not know whoever thought he was a fool, unless it was the hon. Member himself; but I am perfectly certain that the agricultural labourer of this country is not such a fool as to be taken in by the speech which the hon. Member has delivered. Now, Sir, the paragraph in the Gracious Speech from the Throne to which the hon. Member alluded in his speech refers in terms of regret to the fact that no material improvement is to be noted in the condition of the trade and agriculture of the Kingdom; and the burden of the hon. Member's Amendment, although I am bound to say his speech was much narrower than his Amendment, is, that Her Majesty's Ministers are to be blamed because they have announced no measures whatever in the Gracious Speech from the Throne for the present relief of those classes who are suffering from the prolonged depression in trade and agriculture. Now, I hope the hon. Member will forgive me if I express my opinion at once that his Amendment is justly open to grave condemnation upon two different grounds—on the ground that it is unreasonable on the one hand, and wholly inaccurate on the other. The hon. Member said nothing in his speech about trade, although his Amendment directly refers to it. His Amendment is utterly unreasonable so far as it relates to the attitude which Her Majesty's Ministers have adopted towards those who are suffering from depression in trade; because he must know, and the House must know, as I had occasion to state last night, that Her Majesty's Government have already appointed a Royal Commission of Inquiry into that subject. Nothing could be more unusual or unreasonable than that, having just appointed a Royal Commission, we should in the Speech from the Throne announce any measure dealing with this question before we have received any Report or recommendation of any kind whatever from the Commission. With regard to the attitude of the Government towards those who are suffering from depression in agriculture, I say that the Amendment is wholly inaccurate. What measures, except those which are referred to in the Royal Speech, did the hon. Member expect that we should announce? It is perfectly true that agriculture is suffering, as it has been suffering for a long period of years, from serious and severe depression. What have been the causes of that depression? It began with a series of bad seasons, such as I know of no parallel to before. When they passed away, and we were blessed once again with sunshine, then the prices of agricultural produce fell to a degree that I believe is without precedent for many years in the history of this country. Does the hon. Member think that we ought to have introduced a measure attempting to deal with those causes? He knows, as well as I do, why it was impossible to do so. I entertain the strongest possible opinion that the present agricultural depression is mainly, if not entirely, owing to the great depreciation of the prices of agricultural produce. [Mr. JESSE COLLINGS: What produce?] All agricultural produce. I should have liked the hon. Member to have named to the House some of those articles to which he referred as having risen in value—[Mr. JESSE COLLINGS: Butter]; but that he entirely omitted to do. That is my opinion as to the cause of agricultural depression; and, as I have said, the hon. Member knows perfectly that we are absolutely powerless to introduce any measure dealing with the prices of food. And even if the present Cabinet had the inclination, which they have not, it would be perfectly impracticable, hopeless, and impossible, in the present House of Commons at all events, to carry such a measure, whatever may be the case at some time in the dim and distant future. Well, Sir, I mentioned last night that, though it was impossible to deal in any way with the question of prices, we had indicated in the Royal Speech our intention to do something which we believe will be in the direction of reducing the cost of production. A sentence in one of the paragraphs of the Royal Speech indicates clearly that Her Majesty's Government intend to introduce measures which will involve the consideration of the whole question of the incidence of local burdens. I say, therefore, it is wholly inaccurate upon that ground, if upon no other—but there are other grounds besides—for the hon. Member to say, in his Amendment, that no measures whatever have been announced by the Government for the relief of the classes suffering from agricultural depression. But the hon. Member, before he has had the opportunity of learning what we may propose, is obliged to flash his own proposal upon the House of Commons without an hour's delay. He says we ought to bring in a measure enabling the labourer to obtain allotments on equitable terms and with security of tenure, and that if we do that he is convinced we shall solve the whole question, agricultural depression will disappear, and all will be prosperous. Whatever the House may think of this Amendment there is one thing about it at all events about which we shall agree, and that i3 that it is by no means original; and, indeed, though the hands are the hands of Esau it is the voice of Jacob; or, it would be more accurate to say, that the hand is the hand of Jesse, but the voice is the voice of Joseph. The proposal we have before us is neither more nor less than our old friends the "three acres and a cow," only dressed up in Parliamentary guise. What we really have to consider to-night is not the short and inconclusive Amendment of the hon. Member for Ipswich, but the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham (Mr. Joseph Chamberlain), which he put before the electors so assiduously, energetically, and ably during the electoral campaign which has just come to a close. I hope the House will not suppose I am prejudiced against these propositions because they are made by the right hon. Gentleman. On the contrary, in some of the objects he has in view I cordially sympathize with him; while of others I entirely disapprove. The hon. Member for Ipswich assumed that it was unnecessary for him to argue the question at the present time, because there was no difference of opinion as to the advantage of allotments and small holdings. I take exception to that observation altogether. I draw a great distinction between allotments on the one hand, and what are called small holdings on the other. What I understand by an allotment is this—a piece of land either immediately attached to, or within a convenient distance from, a cottager's home for which the only capital required is his own labour and his spade, and of a size sufficient to enable him to grow garden produce for himself and for his family, and for another very important member of the establishment—namely, for his pig. Now, Sir, I do not, in the least, wish to dogmatize as to what ought to be the size of an allotment of this kind or the distance it should be from the occupier's home. These are matters of detail upon which, no doubt, Members will have much to say in the future. We have in the House Members who will be able to give practical information on that subject; and among them there is one whose opinion on the point will be of great value. I mean the hon. Member for West Norfolk (Mr. Arch); and, however much some of us may differ from him, I am sure both sides of the House will welcome the hon. Member on this question as the Representative of a class for the first time returned in this House. If I may be permitted to say so, I even hope he will take an opportunity, in the course of this debate, of expressing his views on this question. I remember, some years ago, having the opportunity of examining the hon. Member as a witness before the Royal Agricultural Commission; and I was much struck by the evidence ho gave on that occasion. I hope he will correct me if I am wrong; but, if I am right, he rather seemed to hold the opinion at that time that, for an allotment such as I have described, probably about a quarter of an acre was the most convenient size for a labourer to cultivate for himself, and the distance from his homo ought not, under any circumstances, to exceed more than half a mile. If I am correct in my assumption, they are propositions with which I, for one, should cordially agree. "A small holding," on the other hand, I take to be either a freehold, or small tenancy, on which the occupier lives, to which he looks for his means of livelihood, and on which the whole of the labour is supplied by the family dwelling upon the holding. I say at once I look upon the provision of allotments for agricultural labourers, provided they are not too large, provided they are let at a fair and reasonable rent, and provided they are at a reasonable distance from their homes, as an unmixed good to the rural agricultural population. On the other hand, small holdings, such as I have described, I regard, for reasons which I will presently state, as a much more questionable boon. Let me add that a good deal has been done in this country in the direction of providing allotments already. The other day I saw a calculation made by Major Cragie, Secretary to the Central Chamber of Agriculture, and based upon the latest available Returns—those for 1873, since which there must have been an increase—from which it appears that there was in this country 242,542 allotments of the nature I have described; and as the Census showed there were 765,159 agricultural labourers, the proportion was one allotment to every three labourers in the kingdom even in those days. The hon. Member spoke, I thought, if not in words of condemnation, in terms of the very faintest praise, of an Association—the Landowners' Association—which has been formed in this country within a comparatively recent period. I am greatly indebted to Lord Onslow, the Secretary of that Association, for infor- mation with which ho has supplied me, and which shows what is being done in this direction by that Association at the present time. I am told that a largo number of landowners, including many Members of both Houses of Parliament, and owning among them about 1,800,000 acres of land, have already joined this Association. They have been communicated with as to their views on the subject, and they replied to this effect—they are disposed to solicit applications for land adjacent to villages and not already so let to be hold in allotments, and generally to afford facilities for the extension of the system to the agricultural labourers employed on their estates. I think this is some answer to the question put by the hon. Member for Ipswich as to why an Association is wanted at all. There may be another reason for it. That Association is wanted, I should say, and is, perhaps, eminently necessary, in order to counteract the mischief sought to be done by the hon. Member and some of his associates as between landlords and tenant and labourers of this country. It may be true—I am not prepared to deny it—that there may be something still wanting to be done in this direction; and, where that is the case, Her Majesty's Government are perfectly ready and prepared to encourage and facilitate a wide and general extension of the system of allotments throughout the country. Here, again, I am obliged to charge the hon. Member not only with inaccuracy, but with what appears to me to be extreme impatience on his part; because, before he had heard a word on the subject of the proposals which might be forthcoming from the Government, he took the opportunity of subjecting them to a sweeping condemnation. "Glebe lands! What is the use of them?" says the hon. Member; "we want no glebe lands; we want the labourers to be perfectly free." Nothing would satisfy them but that word which is of so much blessing and comfort to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham—that blessed word "compulsion." The House will recollect that this suggestion to facilitate the sale of glebe lands was among the most prominent of the propositions put forward by Lord Salisbury in the great speech which he made at Newport during the course of the electoral campaign. I am bound to say that when I read that speech I thought at the time that I had never read anything more happily designed than his proposal to meet a double object greatly in need of attention. Every one who is acquainted with the circumstances of the agricultural situation must know that among the classes who have suffered from agricultural depression few people have felt it more, or have suffered from it so much, as that class of the clergy who derive their income from glebe lands. Their difficulties and troubles in this respect are increased by the great difficulty of selling glebe lands under the law as it exists at present. The Government recognize that fact, and they recognize something else besides, and that is that there is still, perhaps in many portions of the country, a large unsatisfied demand for allotments at fair and equitable rents. The importance of this part of the question of fairness of rents has been recognized in all previous legislation, which for many years has dealt with this question. It was only I think in 1876 that my right hon. Friend the present Secretary of State for the Home Department (Sir E. Assheton Cross) passed a Bill called, I think, the Allotments Extension Bill, in which one of the main provisions was that the allotments for which it is intended to provide should be held at fair and equitable rents. That is a doctrine to which I heartily subscribe.


What Bill does the right hon. Gentleman refer to?


I am sorry to say that I am speaking from memory.


Does the right hon. Gentleman refer to the Allotments Extension Act of 1882?


I am referring to the Bill passed by the present Secretary of State for the Home Department in 1876. I think it was called the Commons Act; but I have forgotten the name of the measure. We propose, in consequence, so to alter the existing legislation as to facilitate the sale of glebe lands by the clergy upon terms and conditions which will be specially designed for the benefit and advantage of the agricultural labourers of the country, as well as for the relief of the clergy. The only limit that I remember in this direction in the speech which Lord Salisbury made at Newport was this—that he was not prepared to sanction purchase by compulsion. If the hon. Member for Ipswich knew as much as I do about the condition of the clergy who derive their incomes from glebe lands, and the hardships they suffer, he would be well aware of the fact that there is not the slightest necessity for compulsion in this matter. It is notorious how much many of them have suffered. I know scores of instances myself. I have known, over and over again, of a glebe farm having been given up and placed on the clergyman's hands in such a foul condition that it was impossible for him to find a tenant to take it again. The clergymen who do their duty in their parishes cannot possibly afford the time to superintend their farms in such a manner as is absolutely necessary for their successful cultivation. The result is that in nine cases out of ten, in all probability, you will find that the clergymen placed in this position are not only ready and willing, but are keenly desirous of selling that which, in too many cases of late years, has proved to be nothing but an incumbrance to them. If that be done you will find—and this is my answer to the statement of the hon. Member for Ipswich, who said that proposals of this kind would not be of the smallest use whatever—in a great number of the parishes of England land thrown upon the market of just about the right amount and probably just about the right description, and situated in places such as are requisite and most suited for the agricultural labourers of the country. There remains for me nothing to deal with but the question of small holdings; and, with the permission of the House, I should like to say a few words on that subject. The House will have perceived that I am heartily in favour of a large extension of the system of allotments. I do not believe, however great that extension may be, that it will do anything whatever to remove the effects of agricultural depression. I do not think it is likely to have any effect of that kind; but I do think that it will do more to add to the comforts of the homes, and to improve the material condition of the rural population of this country, than anything else you can do that is either practicable or possible at the present time. But with regard to a large creation of small holdings by the action of the Legislature, I hold a totally different opinion altogether. I am satisfied that not only would it do nothing to mitigate, but, in my opinion, it would have precisely the opposite effect, and it would only tend to aggravate and increase the agricultural depression of which we all so much complain. Something, no doubt, may be said in favour of small tenancies; but I have yet to learn whether by small holdings, as a general rule, small tenancies or small freeholds are meant by the author of this Amendment. I admit that, in many cases, a tenant of a small farm, holding his farm under favourable occupation, has probably been able to weather the storm of depression as well as, and possibly better than, some of his neighbours in larger occupations; but the small tenancy is one thing, and the small freehold is another. My experience is, that of all the classes who have suffered most at this time from agricultural depression the small freeholders of the country have been the worst. I am afraid, however, that the hon. Member for Ipswich and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham differ with me altogether as to the cause of agricultural depression quite as much as I differ from them as to the remedy for it. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham has put his views and his theories very distinctly before the country; and I should like for a moment to remind the House of what they are. The right hon. Gentleman made a speech at Birmingham on the 9th of November last. He there disclosed to the country what were his views as to the real cause of the agricultural depression at the present time. He said that the soil of the country was in a few hands, and that was the real, the true, and permanent cause of the depression which we all regret. His remedy was equally simple. It was not to return to a protective tariff, in order to keep up the rents of the landlords. No, Sir, I should think not. Any man who made that proposition in these days for that purpose would be simply mad, and would certainly be called so. But it is to be found, he says, in a radical reform of the Land Laws of this country. I wish to make two observations on this subject, and the first of them is this. It is an entire mistake to suppose that the Tory Party and Gentlemen on this side of the House generally are in any degree whatever opposed to a large distribution of land among the people of this country. On the contrary, it is the one thing, speaking for myself, that I desire at the present moment more than anything else in the world. And that is a doctrine which I have preached for years past both in this House and out of it. There are many reasons why I should think this desirable to be done; but I will content myself with giving one to-night to hon. Gentlemen opposite, which will be a guarantee of the complete sincerity of my convictions on this point. I wish to see a largo addition to the owners of land in this country, because land is no longer the same safe kind of property that it used to be. [Laughter.] That is not my only reason; I said that there were many; but it is the one reason which I said I would give as a guarantee of my perfect sincerity. It is notorious that, day after day, attacks of all sorts are being made on landed property at the present time from all kinds of quarters of the world, any one of which, or most of which, if carried out, would be most injurious, not only to the land itself, in my opinion, but to those who are unhappily the owners of it. And a large increase in the number of owners of land such as I desire is, I think, the surest and perhaps the only safeguard against the predatory instincts of a class whose Socialistic schemes have found such powerful exponents in these days, and which are so admirably represented by the hon. Member for Ipswich and the right hon. Gentleman opposite. The second observation I wish to make is this—I quite admit that there may be, and I acknowledge that there are, defects in the existing Land Laws; and, where that is the case, there is no person in this House who is prepared to go further in the direction of wise and judicious reform than myself. But, in my opinion, it is perfectly idle and ludicrous on the part of the Liberals, or any other person—I hope the right hon. Gentleman will excuse me for saying so—to assert that they are the cause of the existing depression. What are the facts? As everyone knows, some 10 or 12 years ago we reached a general pitch of agricultural prosperity in this country, such as was not known to have been approached by any other country in the world. Nor was that prosperity confined to agriculture alone. I re- member the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone) making a remarkable speech about that period, which attracted great attention at the time; and in it ho described the general prosperity of the country as being so great as positively to be increasing "by leaps and bounds." And no doubt he was accurate in the statement he then made. But, in the face of such a statement as that, am I not strictly justified in saying that it is worse than idle and ludicrous—it is mischievous in the extreme—for Gentlemen in the position of the right hon. Member for Birmingham to go about the country denouncing the very laws and the very same conditions under which the summit of agricultural prosperity was reached as the sole and only cause of agricultural depression at the present time? If the House will give me its attention a moment longer I can also show them that if the proposals of the right hon. Member for Birmingham were adopted they would inevitably lead in the course of time to the very thing that he abhors—namely, the re-imposition of protective tariffs. How did he support his case on that occasion? He referred to France as an illustration of the advantages of small holdings, and contrasted the number of owners of land in Prance with the number in England. He said that you have 6,000,000 owners of land at present in Franco, and that 5,000,000 of them own less than 10 acres. "That is the condition," he said, "which I wish to bring about in England." Why did the right hon. Gentleman conceal from his Birmingham audience this very important fact—that those 5,000,000 small proprietors in France had never been able to exist without a system of protection; and that so extreme is their position that only within the last few months the protective duties in Franco have been raised to such an extent, as I have been informed within the last few days—though I do not vouch for the accuracy of the information—that the price of bread in some of the towns of France has risen to nearly 1s. a loaf. [Mr. J. CHAMBERLAIN: The duty on wheat is 5s. a quarter.] I am persuaded that that would be the inevitable result in this country from the adoption of the right hon. Gentleman's view. The withholding of this impor- tant fact from his hearers at Birmingham is a specimen of the candour and fairness with which he has dealt with this whole question of land. I can only suppose that he knew the people he was addressing pretty well, and thought that anything was good enough for an audience at Birmingham, who probably were more prejudiced and even less well informed on this subject than the right hon. Gentleman himself apparently was. In making these observations I have no desire whatever to say anything that should be offensive to the right hon. Gentleman; but, at the same time, he took so prominent a position on this question and made so many speeches on it in the Recess, containing so many extraordinary statements, that it is impossible, on this occasion, not to call attention to them. Here is another. Speaking at Hull, on August 5, the right hon. Gentleman said— Now, I go on to the reform of the Land Law. It lies at the root of the whole matter. Agriculture is the greatest of all our industries. When it is depressed all the others follow suit. That is quite true, and I agree with it. Then he went on to describe the enormous market, the great gain that would be produced to our manufacturing interests if by any means a revival of prosperity could be secured to agriculture. Again I agree with him. I remember that some years ago, in some of his writings, Mr. Giffen made a statement on this subject that struck me as truly remarkable. I know not how far it was accurate; but he is admittedly a great authority. It was as to the value of the home market—and agriculture was the main element in the home market as a purchasing power to the manufacturers of this country—and he computed its purchasing power to the manufacturers to be eight times as great as that of all the other markets in the world. Well, in order to accomplish that great purpose this is what is going to happen according to the right hon. Gentleman. He says the land must be held so as to give the largest amount of employment to the greatest possible number of people, and so as to get the greatest possible amount of produce from the soil. I can tell him how to do it. Let him take or buy a good-sized arable farm—I can easily accommodate him with one at this moment—let him trench it—mat is to say, dig it, instead of ploughing it—let him manure it highly, and then grow wheat upon it. In that way he would be strictly fulfilling all the conditions that he desired to lay down in his own words. The general result he will find to be this—that he has employed an incredible amount of labour—in his own words, he would employ the greatest possible number of persons; he would grow a most extraordinary crop, I know not how many quarters to the acre; and at the end of the process he would have an incredible large balance at the bank against him, and he would be extremely lucky if he did not find himself in the Bankruptcy Court. Well, these were the propositions seriously put forward by the right hon. Gentleman. ["No, no!"] What is the use of saying No! no! I have quoted his own words. They have never been contradicted by him, and he cannot deny them. I say that these were the propositions seriously put forward by the right hon. Gentleman in the country to insure the prosperity of agriculture. It would be about as wise—that is to say, it would not be one whit more foolish—for him to go to the manufacturers of this country and tell them to banish all their machinery and all the improvements that science has effected for them, to go back to the hand looms and the spinning wheels of their ancestors, and then go forth and endeavour to compete successfully in all the foreign markets of the world with the other nations who are already embarrassing you so seriously. I ask, what is there in the experience or the information of the hon. Member for Ipswich and the right hon. Member for Birmingham to show that they have any reasonable ground to expect a great agricultural success from turning the farms of this country—as I understand they desire to do—into a number of small freeholds or small holdings? I remember that when the Agricultural Commission was sitting we thought it part of our duty to make a most close and careful inquiry into the whole of the question. Hon. Members opposite never lose an opportunity of having a slap at that Commission and saying how worthless it was, and how much of the public money was wasted on it; but if they will take the trouble to study some small portion of the mass of valuable information con- tained in its Report they would possess a great deal more knowledge on some brandies of the subject than they now show. It was our duty to inquire into the results of this system, not only at home but abroad; and if I am not wearying the House at too great length I should like to give in a few words some of the results of that information. And I ask the attention of the House because it is really a matter of enormous importance. We sent Commissioners to Russia and to Franco.




What does the right hon. Gentleman say?


I said "Question!"


That is the question. The question I am dealing with is an Amendment in which Her Majesty's Government are condemned for not introducing provisions into the Queen's Speech for providing small holdings for the benefit of agricultural labourers. I am endeavouring to show how completely the system of small holdings has failed not only in this country, but in other countries, and the right hon. Gentleman has the assurance to interrupt me by crying "Question!" I am not to be thwarted by the right hon. Gentleman, and I shall make my references to this Report, oven though I may not have done so but for the right hon. Gentleman's interruption. What is the case in France? We sent a man of great ability and who was well versed in this subject to France, and in his Report he says— The peasant proprietor exists rather than lives; he rarely oats meat, his drink in a wino country is made from water poured over the already pressed grapes. And, again, he says— Their wives become prematurely old from field labour, and bent from carrying heavy loads. What is the information that we obtain from Russia? A remarkable article appeared in The Quarterly Review in 1881, and which, I believe, has never been contradicted, in which the following paragraph appeared:— It is agreed on all sides that complete failure has been the result of the experiments made in Russia in 1861 and subsequently by stimulating the conversion of the large estates into small properties. Is not that the question? From one end of the country to the other the peasant proprietors are in a state of semi-starvation; while in several of the other Baltic Provinces, once the richest in agricultural produce, starvation has assumed the form of widespread famine, which the Government is engaged in alleviating by considerable grants of money. So I might go on reading evidence to support my contention that peasant proprietary has been a failure ["No, no!" An hon. MEMBER: Stourton.] Yes, I will take Stourton; for I know something of it, and was several years ago, in happier days, in the habit of hunting in that country, and I am ready to admit that, to a certain extent, the system at Stourton has succeeded. And why has it succeeded there? It is because the population of the village are people who do not look for their livelihood to their freeholds; they are engaged in trades of various kinds, and their holdings, unless my memory has deceived me, are in the nature, not of small holdings, but of allotments, of which I have spoken in terms of so much praise. Let me say one word about the large number of freeholders who have existed, and who do exist, in several parts of the county which I represent. In the Isle of Axholme and along the coasts of Lincolnshire large tracts of country, which were formerly great estates, have all been broken up, and are populated entirely by people of this description. I have visited many of them. I have walked over their farms. I have conversed with hundreds of them. I know something, from my own observation, of their condition and their lot; and I have not the smallest hesitation in saying that, great as have been the sufferings of many classes connected with agriculture during the last few years, they will not compare, for a single moment, with the hardships of the lot which has been borne—borne unflinchingly and in the bravest manner —by the freeholders of the county of Lincolnshire. From all the experience I have had, however much I might desire it in my own interests, I should be utterly unworthy of the confidence of the House of Commons, or of those whom I represent, did I pretend to believe, for a single moment, that the creation of small holdings in great districts throughout the country would have the smallest effect in remedying the agricultural depression we are now suf- fering from. I have nothing more to say upon that head, and I thank the House for the patience with which it has listened to me; but I should like to say one word upon the position of the county Members who have been warned by the hon. Member opposite of the dangers which they incur by their present action. We laugh at those threats. We do not believe in the danger which they for bode for a moment. I speak not only as a Member of the Government, but as a county Member, as a country gentleman; and I would say for myself and for them that this is a question which we feel to be of peculiar interest for ourselves. We claim, Sir, that we have some practical knowledge and experience of this question. We live upon the same estates as those people whom the hon. Member desires to befriend; we dwell among them, and to many of them we are personally known. I have always thought that it is one of the happiest incidents of English country life that you will find on many an estate, for generation after generation, people and landlords dwelling together, whoso families have existed on the same soil for generations past. The sentiments and the feelings that have been engendered by relations of this kind between them have not died away in England, and, please God, they will never do so; and we, the landlords, are prompted in our actions and views upon this question by feelings of regard, as well as by feelings of duty, to deal liberally, generously, and justly towards the people of this country. In fine, I claim this, at least—that we know as much of the condition of the people as those who now come forward on their behalf; and that we are ready to meet and to recognize the just requirements of the rural agricultural population of this country quite as much as, and possibly more effectually than, any Alderman of Birmingham, or any member of the Caucus, however distinguished he may be as a politician and a statesman in this House. I have done. I have endeavoured, as clearly as I could, to put the views of the Government upon this question before the House. I have shown that there is no monopoly whatever possessed by right hon. and hon. Members opposite of the desire to deal out full justice to the agricultural labourers of this country in this respect. I have made it clear that we yield to none in the importance we attach to a wide and general extension of the system of allotments throughout the country at fair and equitable rents, where it does not happen to prevail already. Those are the views of Her Majesty's Government upon this question, and I believe that they are the views of the Conservative Party as a whole; and being what they are, we are met by hon. Members opposite, before they have ever seen our measures, before they can possibly be aware of what they contain, before they have heard the views upon the subject of any one single Member of the Government, with a Motion which is simply a direct Vote of Censure on the Government in reference to this question. That is a matter, of course, for the House of Commons, by its verdict, to decide; the issue rests with them, and not in any way with us. But, speaking for myself and the Government, I say, emphatically, "No" to the Amendment of the hon. Member; and if we should be defeated, then let others prepare for the enjoyment of the heritage which we received from our Predecessors, and which we can assure them that nothing but an overwhelming sense of duty, when we had the opportunity of abandoning it, would ever have induced us for a single moment to retain.


In the closing sentences of his speech the right hon. Gentleman rose to truly an heroic strain, and warned us of the consequences to be expected in the event of our carrying the Motion of my hon. Friend. Upon that subject I shall not enter. I shall always assume, until I know to the contrary, that hon. Gentlemen give their votes with deliberate consideration of the matters before them, and that they are prepared to take the consequences of their votes. But the right hon. Gentleman—if he will permit me to say so, if it does not indicate too much assurance on my part—has taken an extraordinary course on the present occasion. Having been put up in the interests of the Government to make a defensive speech against my hon. Friend's Motion, he has made a speech critical and offensive—I use the term as opposed to defensive—and has found time and space largely to descant upon agicultural depression and the speeches of my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain), with regard to which no issue is raised by the Motion of my hon. Friend. I would venture to pass by those subjects altogether, and to ask what are the reasons, upon the merits of the case, which the right hon. Gentleman has given us to induce us to vote against the Motion of my hon. Friend. He says that the Amendment was proposed in speech of very slight argument and of an extremely concise character. I will not say that it has been opposed in a speech of a character that can be described as peculiarly concise. But the right hon. Gentleman went so far as to accuse my hon. Friend of being inaccurate, unreasonable, and inexact. Now, Sir, I hold that my hon. Friend was not inaccurate, but that his inaccuracy was simply this—that my hon. Friend has declined to recognize the Commission of Inquiry into the depression that exists as a measure of present relief. If this had been the proper place and time for discussing that Commission my hon. Friend might have gone a great deal further, and not only declined to recognize the Commission in that character, but have said a great deal more on the subject of the Commission which, no doubt, on a proper occasion will be said in this House. But my hon. Friend, I hold, is perfectly accurate; and it is impossible to disguise the fact that the point of his Motion is not the general depression of trade or agriculture, but is the duty which my hon. Friend thinks to be incumbent upon the Government and the House, and the assurances which he thinks it right to give the agricultural labourer respecting that duty as to adopting special measures in the rural districts to obtain allotments and small holdings on equitable terms as to rent and security of tenure. The right hon. Gentleman in very decisive terms condemns the system of small freeholds. But his objection is totally irrelevant to the Motion, for there is nothing in the Motion of my hon. Friend which points to small freeholds. It is a Motion which points to obtaining allotments on equitable terms as to rent and security of tenure. There is plenty of security of tenure with freehold. That was, therefore, an entirely irrelevant argument. I was very sorry to hear the right hon. Gentleman condemn the system of the small proprietary class, though that, like almost everything else in his speech, was irrelevant to the issue before us. I regret to hear him utter that condemnation, though my belief is that if we were able to argue the matter a totally different colour would be given to it. The right hon. Gentleman will, perhaps, allow me to say this—that between the periods immediately succeeding the Peace of 1815 and the year 1867, when I myself had in Paris intercourse with the greatest economists of that country, the increase in the taxable agricultural value of France in that period was very considerable, and greater than the corresponding increase in the same period in the three Kingdoms under the rule of Her Majesty. In face of facts of that kind—facts which cannot be shaken—the right hon. Gentleman ought to be slow in condemning the system of small holdings. I will not allow myself to discuss these questions; but I will come to the subject before us, and keep to it in the strictest sense. What has the right hon. Gentleman offered us by way of remedy for the existing distress? He has glanced at a protective tariff; but he has carefully stated to the House that he would not propose, or, at any rate, is not prepared to support, a protective tariff which shall have for its aim the increase of landlords' rent; but while he is so severe on the speeches of the right hon. Member for Birmingham, and is so severe on the proprietary system in France, he has not said one single word in condemnation of a protective tariff generally.


I said the present Cabinet has given no indication of any inclination of that kind.


The right hon. Gentleman says that the present Cabinet has no inclination of that kind. I believe that the right hon. Gentleman is not a Member of the present Cabinet, although the Treasury Bench is graced by his presence. But if the answer which he has now given to mo is meant for a definite answer, then, whether the present Cabinet has that inclination or not, the right hon. Gentleman is perfectly free to entertain it. The right hon. Gentleman complains very much that we will not wait to hear his measures. What measures has he proposed for the benefit of the labouring man? Are adjustment of local burdens. Sir, a great re-adjustment of local burdens is wanted; but not in the way suggested by the right hon. Gentleman. It is not a re-adjustment which is to take charges off the rates in order to lay them upon a fund supported and supplied by the labour of the country in a far greater proportion than the rate fund is supplied; the re-adjustment that is wanted is the settlement of accounts with the landed interest, which for many years past has recommended and obtained these transfers from the rates to the Consolidated Fund, every shilling of which, in the rural districts, will ultimately go to nothing but to increase the rent. We are under no obligation to wait for the right hon. Gentleman to give us his measures, unless he assures us that his re-adjustment of local burdens is to be founded on principles altogether different from those upon which they have hitherto been based. The right hon. Gentleman glanced at other measures which were to meet this case. I was astonished, Sir, when I heard him gravely propose this measure for selling glebe land as anything approaching a remedy, or an expedient for a remedy, for the general condition of the agricultural labourer. Why, Sir, I entirely agree with the right hon. Gentleman that there are certain portions of the clergy who have the misfortune to hold glebe farms, and no doubt that portion has suffered extremely; and it may be a great object with them to sell their glebe lands. I am afraid this is a very bad time for the purpose, though I quite admit that good may come out of it. No doubt some questions may arise with the persons to whom they are sold as to the conditions which may be imposed upon the sale. But what I wish to point out is, that to speak of dealing with glebe lands as a general remedy for the condition of the agricultural labourer is preposterous. What is the number of parishes in the country having glebe land, I should like to know? I know something of the ecclesiastical endowments in this country; and I very greatly doubt whether there are more than 200 or 300 out of 11,000 parishes in this country that have glebe farms. [Cries of" Oh, oh!"] I will only say that, while I have great doubts whether there are more, I have great confidence that there are not 500 with glebe farms. You tell me that there are other pieces of glebe. Certainly, there are small meadows and pieces of pasture. But are the clergy willing and desirous of parting with these? Not at all; they are eminently convenient in most places. Where are the vicarages? Do not the vicarages of this country include large portions of the rural population—are they not numbered by thousands? Where are the glebes? They form part of the rectorial endowment, and that is quite enough condemnation of such a proposal.


No; there are vicarial glebes as well.


In accidental cases, certainly, where they have been acquired under special arrangements; but the vicar was essentially dependent upon the small tithes; and the basis of the vicarage was such that there is nothing like glebe land attached to it. In my opinion, it is, as I have said, preposterous to put forward this proposal about glebe land, which is altogether partial and accidental in the mode of its dispersion over the country, as a means of remedying the condition of the agricultural labourer. The right hon. Gentleman says these farms are in the right position. How does he know that?


Many of them.


Some of them are, I have no doubt, and others are far away, not within the limit of half-a-mile which the right hon. Gentleman allows for his boundary. The right hon. Gentleman has, I will admit, been large in his praise of allotments. He says they are excellent things. Does he really rely on the estimate of the number of allotments he gives us on the authority, I think, of Major Craigie, and say there are about 500,000 allotments? Is there a Government Return to that effect? Is it a Government Return, or is it the opinion not of the right hon. Gentleman, but of Major Craigie?


A Government Return taken in 1873.


These allotments have been counted?


Yes; counted.


I am very sceptical as to whether the allotments of this country have been counted and tabled in a Return. But I cannot say that allotments perfectly meet this case. In the first place, an allotment is really what a cottage garden ought to be. It is in the nature of a cottage garden; but it is a very imperfect cottage garden. Exactly so; but the right hon. Gentleman has not said one word about cottage gardens. A cottage garden of adequate size would be a far greater boon to the agricultural labourer than an allotment. The right hon. Gentleman simply tells us that there are about 500,000 of these allotments, and that to the extension of these allotments the Government are extremely friendly. In what way? To their extension by voluntary operation; and not only does he utterly condemn and proscribe any application of compulsion under any form, however equitable, but he has no proposition in any way to bring public assistance to bear for the increase of those allotments. I wish to point out that there is another question entirely vital to the agricultural labourer and lying at the root of this subject. It is not equally applicable, I grant, in all parts of the country; but it is not so much as touched in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. He condemns small holdings on the one side, and approves of allotments on the other; but is there nothing between what ho terms small holdings and allotments? Is there no such thing in any part of this country as pasture for a cow? Is there any question more important either for the physical or moral welfare of the population than an increase in the supply of milk? I believe that there is nothing more important for the welfare of the farmer, nothing more important for the labourer for his health and strength and for the health of his children. I know that Scotland is suffering grievously at this moment from the enormously augmented difficulties of obtaining adequate supplies of milk. The right hon. Gentleman does not throw out any hope or extend the smallest grain of his sympathy to this question; although the Motion of the hon. Member for Ipswich contemplates enabling the agricultural labourer to obtain the command of pasture which may enable him to keep a cow and add partially to his wages, and, at the same time, to obtain a good supply of milk. The whole of that subject has been entirely overlooked by the right hon. Gentleman in his speech. Now, Sir, I have stated the main purpose of my hon. Friend behind me—and I must say I thought he addressed the House, like his Seconder, with much intelli- gence and much moderation—and his main purpose is to obtain a recognition of the condition of the agricultural labourer in respect of the land. I have told my constituents, and it is my conscientious belief, that it is painful and grievous to witness the almost entire divorce between the labouring rural population and the land of the country on which they live. And it is time and it is requisite for the House to consider whether they will give an indication of their feelings in that respect. Now, Sir, it is instructive to refer to history. If this proposition be Socialistic, it is Socialism of very old date; because in the last year of the reign of George III., or in the first of George IV., in close neighbourhood to the ill-omened Six Acts, the unreformed Parliament of that day did recognize the condition of the agricultural labourer as a worthy object, not only of general solicitude, not only of voluntary associations, which seem to be the climax of the views and desires of hon. Gentlemen opposite, but as an object of just solicitude for local public authorities. It gave powers to local public authorities, in the first place, to let lands which belonged to the parish; in the second place, to acquire lands; and, if I remember right, it gave the aid of the public purse to facilitate the terms on which they were to be acquired. Does the House think that that was a right principle or not? The right hon. Gentleman makes no reference to it. His speech, on which he said the Government takes its stand, excludes everything of the kind. There is to be no intervention of authority; there is to be nothing beyond voluntary association. Now, Sir, I say that I recognize the principle which was recognized between 60 and 70 years ago—that this matter is a just subject of public solicitude for public authorities. Here I make what some may call an admission—namely, that before you can make it an object of effectual solicitude of public authorities you must have a thoroughly good and efficient local government. When I read the Speech of Her Majesty it was not satisfactory to mo on that head. What it seems to speak of is the transfer of existing functions to a new representative council; but these enlarged functions it seems wholly to exclude. The right hon. Gentleman has referred to this subject, in my opinion, in a manner so limited and so restrained as to be totally unsatisfactory to the country. I make no attack upon him, or upon any Gentleman, further than to endeavour to expose the futility of his argument and the insufficiency of the provisions he offers; hut this I must say, with regard to the introduction of a public authority elsewhere in Europe—that it is common for local authorities to hold land which shall he made available for the labouring rural population; and I cannot see why something of this kind, when we have good local government prevailing, should not be brought about in this country. I cannot see it for my life. But nothing of the kind is to be found in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. On the contrary, he looks to the action of individual landlords and voluntary associations limited to the extension of allotments.


All I said on this point was that, in the speech I quoted, Lord Salisbury said he would not sanction purchase by compulsion.


That is what he will not sanction. But what I am inquiring is what the right hon. Gentleman says he will sanction. I am speaking of allotments, and that by voluntary agencies, which I suppose can go on and flourish or die entirely apart from any favour of, or encouragement by, the right hon. Gentleman. Now, Sir, the question of compulsion is a question on which the right hon. Gentleman looks as if there were something wicked in the nature of it. But compulsion for public objects is recognized in principle. It may be that it may be found difficult to apply compulsion in the case of expropriations or for the purpose of providing the labouring men with portions of the land. One thing I will say fearlessly in the presence of my hon. Friend—namely, that you can have no compulsion for that purpose which is not consistent with perfect fairness and equity to individuals; but, subject to that condition, compulsion is a matter fit to be examined and considered by this House. I am inclined to believe that with a good local authority and the judicious use of public aid on the safest basis as to security much might be done short of compulsion; but I am by no means prepared to say that compulsion is to be shut out. If it is shut out in the views of the Government I will not consent to shut it out. I will examine it fairly and candidly, and with the belief that should the necessity be found still to exist, it is possible that, like competition in railways, compulsion hanging over landlords may do a great deal of good. Unquestionably there is a great object in view; and if that great object cannot otherwise be obtained, compulsion has nothing in the nature of it which ought to induce us to shrink from its consideration. I think my hon. Friend has stated his case with moderation and fairness, though he entirely avoided associating his Motion with the details of any particular plan. That was no part of the purpose of my hon. Friend. I am not aware that he has receded from any of the details of any particular plan, or that he did not reserve his own liberty on the subject of them. But he points out to us objects of the utmost importance which ought to be attained, objects which are legitimately for the care of public authorities; objects to which the public can lend the most valuable aid; and objects which the public ought to seek, if necessary, even by the agency of the principle of compulsion. To restore to the old local communities of this country something of that character of a community, in which the common interests of the individual labourer may be so managed as to associate him with the soil in a manner much more effectual than that in which he is associated at present—those I take to be views which we ought to thank my hon. Friend for having laid before the House, and I heartily hope we shall adopt his Motion by a large majority.


said, that he would admit that the question raised by the hon. Member for Ipswich was one which not only interested all county Members who sat for agricultural constituencies, but was also of the greatest public importance; and he sympathized entirely with the desire of the hon. Member, so far as it tended towards bringing this question before the country with a view to its early settlement. The hon. Member had expressed regret that Her Majesty's Speech made no specific allusion to the question of allotments. That was not a matter of so much regret to himself, as it would have been if Her Majesty's Ministers had shown a disinclination to deal with the subject by legislation. But he must make an addition to that statement, and it was painful to him to make it. In listening to the speech of his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Chaplin) he found it was true that his right hon. Friend did not say that the Government would not take any action in the matter. At the same time, ho thought his right hon. Friend did not toll the House what the Government would do. Until they heard further from some Member of the Government what course Her Majesty's Ministers intended to take—which he hoped would be before the close of the debate—he must hold that the explanation of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster was not complete or satisfactory to those who, like himself, sat for agricultural constituencies. He had himself given Notice of, and received permission to introduce, a Bill on this question, and he did not yield even to the hon. Member for Ipswich in the interest which he personally took in the subject. He admitted that the hon. Member had great claims upon the gratitude of the public for the devotion ho had shown in working for this cause; but he (Mr. Finch-Hatton) also claimed for himself a humbler, although he hoped a useful, part in it. For more than 100 years his family had granted allotments, and had found the system to succeed. The constituency which he represented—the Spalding Division of Lincolnshire—was composed almost exclusively of those who, in one rank or another, obtained their living from the soil; and he thought he had a right to protest against the manner in which hon. Members on the Opposition side of the House sometimes arrogated to themselves the exclusive right to represent the labourers. It might be interesting to inquire whether the hon. Member for Ipswich, who sat for a borough, had more agricultural labourers in Ipswich than he (Mr. Finch-Hatton) himself had in his constituency. He doubted whether the hon. Member had as many as he had. But the real question which the House had to decide was, whether or not it could go some way towards unravelling the practical difficulties which beset this question? The weakest part of the speech of the hon. Member for Ipswich was, that he did not give any exact definition of what he meant by an allotment of land, nor state whether the principle of compulsion was to be extended to one class, or to other classes of allotments; or whether it was to go further, and create those freeholds which had, in many cases, caused considerable suffering to their owners during the late period of agricultural depression. There was, how-over, an important distinction to be drawn between the different kinds of allotments. First of all, there was an allotment which he might describe as a quantity of land as large as the agricultural labourer would be able to cultivate to his profit in his spare time by his own work. He held that it was to the public advantage to bring within the reach of every agricultural labourer in the Kingdom an allotment of that description; and in the Bill which ho hoped some day to bring before the notice of the House it would be provided that if the voluntary system did not make provision for these allotments being given recourse would be had to compulsion in the hands of local authorities, such compulsory powers, as a matter of course, being safeguarded by proper restrictions. When the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone), while apparently in favour of compulsion, in his speech attempted to deal with matters of detail, he committed himself to several inaccuracies. On the question of glebe lands, the right hon. Gentleman showed that he had no knowledge as to their number, for he said he did not believe that out of the 11,000 vicarages or rectories in the Kingdom more than 200 or 300 had glebe farms. He (Mr. Finch-Hatton) did not think that the right hon. Gentleman was anywhere near the truth when he made that statement. Then the right hon. Gentleman said that these globes were rectorial, and not vicarial at all. That also, he know, was not a correct statement. As to the number of agricultural allotments existing at the present time, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster quoted the number from a Return as being something like 250,000. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian had weighted himself so little with the details of this matter that he did not even know of the existence of this central Return. On that document the whole point of the present number of allotments might be supposed to turn; and yet the right hon. Gentleman did not know of its existence. Then the right hon. Gentleman stated that the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster made no allusion, in his speech, to "cottage gardens," which he said were really more important than allotments to the labourer. It was true that the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster did not refer to "cottage gardens;" but was the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian ignorant of the fact that the Government now in Office carried through the House, last Session, a Bill by which they gave rural, sanitary, and other authorities power compulsorily to take land for "cottage gardens?" The right hon. Gentleman ought to have taken judicial cognizance of that Act. So far he (Mr. Finch-Hatton) did not think the right hon. Gentleman's contributions to the details of the matter were of a very reliable character. He would draw a broad distinction between the allotments of which he (Mr. Finch-Hatton) was speaking and those which were advocated by the hon. Member for Ipswich. The allotments of which he was speaking, and which he would provide for a labourer, seemed to have this claim upon the public—that they would enable him to utilize his spare capital—that was his spare time—in the only way in which he could do so to advantage. There was a growing and urgent necessity for such allotments; for now, when wages were so low that it was difficult for a decent family to keep body and soul together, that was the time when they should give the labourer every facility for adding to his wages. But the case was different if they gave the labourer an allotment so large that it would withdraw him from his daily work and wages, to which, after all, he must look as the mainstay of his livelihood. The real question at the bottom of these difficulties was one that was asked, but not answered, by the hon. Member for Ipswich. That hon. Gentleman inquired why it was that so much land lay idle, and that so many labourers were unemployed? To his (Mr. Finch-Hatton's) mind the simple answer was, because the prices that farmers and labourers equally were able to obtain for what they produced from the soil were not remunerative. But if they were going to have compulsion by public authority, let them take care that they did not compel a man to his own disadvantage. Let them not withdraw a labourer from his work to cultivate two of three acres of land, because that would deprive him of his wages, and the farmer, for whom also they ought to have some thought, of his best labourers at the very moment he wanted them most. But from another point of view, while they advocated compulsion in certain cases, let them take care that they did not get rid of a good deal worth keeping. The hon. Member for Ipswich would admit the great advantage of an extension, as far as possible, of allotments upon the voluntary system; because then they would get landlords to give their attention to the subject, and to the kind of land that was most suitable, and to those friendly good offices as well, which, under a hard-and-fast rule, might easily disappear. The hon. Member had alluded to the voluntary Association set on foot by a Member of the other House of Parliament (the Earl of Onslow), and the statistics of that Association were very useful in showing how far the voluntary system might go. They showed that the owners of 1,500,000 acres of land either had granted allotments already or were willing to do so. But he (Mr. Finch-Hatton) was not there to deny that it would be puerile to rest altogether on voluntary efforts; because they would then get all the good landlords on their side, and leave the bad landlords untouched. He thought and hoped he had made his own position clear to the House upon this matter. There was one class of cases on which he would bring compulsion to bear, another on which he would not. There was a line as broad and distinct as that which divided one side of the House from the other, between the two classes of allotments. There was, however, a third class of allotments that he regarded with favour quite as great as that expressed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian—namely, "grass cottage holdings," or "cow cottages," as they called them in Lincolnshire. But they must remember that there was a very great difference between allotments of, say, half-an-acre and these larger plots of land, and that great difficulty arose when they got to a large allotment. The difficulty in larger plots of land was that, in order to work them properly, the tenant must have some capital besides his own labour. If the House talked about compulsory allotments of this kind to labourers, he would ask, did they propose to provide the tenants of these allotments not only with the land, but with the capital to work it? If they did not, the tenant would have to pay a double rent—the first to the public authority for the land itself, the second to the person from whom they would encourage him to borrow the capital. The labourer ought, in some way or other, to have saved sufficient money to stock the land when it was given to him. But though it would be difficult to apply compulsion in the matter, it might be well to enable the local authorities in certain cases to help a man to place his foot on the first rung of the ladder which would lead him upwards. That approached very nearly to the "old idea of "three acres and a cow." The hon. Member for Ipswich had recommended that cottagers should produce more eggs. He (Mr. Finch-Hatton) did not know how three acres of grassland and a cow would tend to the production of more eggs. The hon. Member had brought for ward an Amendment practically regretting that the question did not find expression in the Queen's Speech. Well, he (Mr. Finch-Hatton) must say that, if the Government did not go further that night than the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster had gone, and announce their intention to take up this matter and deal with it, he should be very dissatisfied, and should find it very difficult to support them. He was not to be told that the simple fact of selling the glebe lands was an answer to this question, or a way out of the difficulty; for although he would admit that it was a happy idea, he did not admit that it covered, or even nearly covered, the whole ground. If, however, the Government would give him an assurance that they would deal with the question he would have far greater confidence in leaving it in their hands than he would have in leaving it in the hands of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Ipswich. One of his reasons for not feeling confidence in the hon. Member for Ipswich in connection with the question was, that the hon. Gentleman had come down into the Division which he (Mr. Finch-Hatton) had the honour to represent, during the late Election, and made a aeries of speeches, in which he explained to the labourers of that Division his own theory as to these allotments. He (Mr. Finch-Hatton) had very much to thank the hon. Member for in the result of those speeches; for he believed they contributed much to induce the electors to transfer their confidence to himself. Another, and even a stronger, reason was, that the hon. Member had already attempted, in his Act of 1882, to deal with a very small part of this great question, but with so little success, that a Committee of that House, appointed to inquire, inter alia, into the working of that very Act, reported that— The obstacles in the way of carrying it out were largely due to the difficulty of interpreting some of its main provisions; and that— further legislation was urgently needed to clear up the obscurities of the Act, and to provide better machinery for its working. That Report was prepared by a right hon. Gentleman who, no doubt, would command the confidence of hon. Members opposite—Mr. Shaw Lefevre. He trusted that before the debate closed they would hear something as to what the Government intended to do; for Her Majesty's Government must know that he, and hon. Members who felt with him, were placed in a great difficulty if they could not know exactly where they stood on this question. That difficulty was very much increased by the peculiar circumstances of the moment. He admitted that, in most cases, it was an inconvenient practice to endeavour to anticipate the discussion of measures of which hon. Members had given Notice; but he did not at all regret the general discussion that had taken place. On the contrary, he hoped it would be the means of stimulating the Government to deal with the subject. Under the peculiar circumstances of the case, it was very difficult for hon. Members on his side of the House to give the hon. Member such support as they might otherwise feel inclined to give; for he respectfully submitted that, important as this question undoubtedly was, it was not the main issue before the country and the House. Believing, as those on his side of the House did, that the Government were prepared to deal with the main issue fearlessly, frankly, and entirely, they very much deprecated that the judgment of the House should be taken, adversely or otherwise, upon Her Majesty's Government on any other question than the main issue. He would, therefore, ask the hon. Member for Ipswich whether, after the assurance with which he (Mr. Finch-Hatton) hoped the debate would close, he would not be satisfied with a discussion on this question? The hon. Member for Ipswich (if he might apply to him for a moment a phrase in which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian had so happily described himself that it had already become classical as an autobiography) was an "old Parliamentary hand," and he ought to be satisfied with the discussion which he had thus been able to secure beforehand for the subject upon which both the hon. Member and he himself proposed to deal; and, although the hon. Member might personally desire the defeat of the Government, still there was the country behind; and hon. Members would not deny that what the country wished was that an emphatic judgment should be pronounced upon Her Majesty's Government upon their Irish policy. If some right hon. Gentleman should get up and say that Her Majesty's Government were prepared to deal with this subject, the issue between the hon. Member for Ipswich and Her Majesty's Government would simply be the academic issue as to whether the language of the Queen's Speech might not be improved by the introduction of the word "allotment," and whether it ought not to be so introduced. There would be no real issue, and a division would not be taken upon anything like a clear and decided difference of opinion between them. He trusted some explanation would be forthcoming as to how far the Government were prepared to go in dealing with the matter; and, if so, for the reasons he had stated, he would again say that he would have far greater confidence in leaving this question in the hands of Her Majesty's Government than in the hands of the hon. Member for Ipswich.


said, it appeared to him that the hon. Members for Lincolnshire were as divided in the House upon agricultural questions as they were upon the questions of Protection and Free Trade during the late Election. The hon. Member for the Spalding Division (Mr. Finch-Hatton) seemed to have forgotten that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Chaplin) said "No," on the part of the Cabinet and the Government, to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Jesse Ceilings). [Cries of "No, no!"] The right hon. Gentleman used the word "No" in the most emphatic way—a monosyllable he was not likely to forget. The hon. Member for the Spalding Division, after having spoken for something like three-quarters of an hour with an eager eye towards the door, made an appeal to the Treasury Bench; and the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board cheered him when he said he hoped there would be an announcement made different to that made by the responsible Minister for Agriculture. Was there a Cabinet Council sitting now in order that the Government might make another change of front; and was that change of front to be an additional reason why the House should put confidence in the Ministry? He should have thought twice perhaps a week ago before he supported any Amendment to the Address if the Government had said they were going to deal in a satisfactory way with Ireland. If they had produced Bills which ho thought would tend to the benefit of that country he might have thought twice before he supported this Amendment; but it appeared they had no more opinion upon Ireland than they had upon agriculture. A week ago—nay, not a week ago, hardly four days ago—the House were told to wait until the new Chief Secretary had assumed his duties; and now the Government could hardly wait with common decency for the right hon. Gentleman to return to his place in the House. Now, what was to be said of this Amendment? The House had listened to a very long speech from the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, in which, as he (Mr. Heneage) again asserted, the right hon. Gentleman said "No" emphatically to the proposition of the hon. Member for Ipswich, and now they were told they were to have some other communication.


remarked that he said "No" to the Amendment of the hon. Member. He did not say "No" to his proposition.


, continuing, said, that if one thing had been noticeable in the debate, it had been how closely the hon. Member for Ipswich spoke to his Amendment; and that the proposition he made was quite in accordance with the Amendment; and he (Mr. Heneage) regretted he could not say as much for the speech of the Chancellor of the Duchy or that of the hon. Member for the Spalding Division. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster had spoken of the ruin that had overtaken the freeholders of the Isle of Axholme; but the right hon. Gentleman forgot to say that ruin came upon them because they had not bought their holdings out and out. Their land was heavily mortgaged, and their condition, consequently, was very different from that of people who could pay for the land which they bought. He asserted, both from a landlord's point of view as well as from an occupier's point of view, that neither landlord nor occupier could hold or could farm land with advantage to themselves upon borrowed money; but this did not affect the proposition of the hon. Member for Ipswich, because what the hon. Gentleman proposed to do was to give facilities to labourers to acquire allotments. On all large estates there were plenty of allotments of all sizes, and on that point he differed from his hon. Friend the Mover of the Amendment. As a matter of fact, it was to the advantage of the landlord that there should be allotments of all sizes, in order, if possible, to rear up tenant farmers who might pass on from a small holding to another holding of a larger size. The Amendment simply provided for allotments where there were none already. It was well known that there were a largo number of parishes in which no cottager could get even a garden. That was so in the case of parishes which did not belong to any particular owner—parishes in which it was no particular owner's duty to provide allotments. It was so, too, to a great extent, in the case of cottages which had been built by speculators. With regard to the question of glebe lands, he had simply to say that that was so much a question of benefit to the clergy rather than to the labourer that he might let it pass by. [Cries of "Oh, oh!"] Well, he congratulated the labourers upon any advantages they might get out of the facilities to be afforded from the sale of glebe lands. The main contention was that the allotment of all others which was most precious to any labourer was that of a garden adjacent to his own house, where he could spend a short time after a meal, or on a summer's evening. As to larger holdings, he thought it was very necessary that there should be, in every parish, a certain number of what in Lincolnshire were called cow-cottages. The labourers were divided into three classes. There wore those who were simply the servants of the farmers; there were those who were known as day labourers, and lived in cottages on or near the farms; and there was a third class of labourers, and the most useful class, as a rule—namely, those who were known as independent labourers, who lived in the villages, and who worked by the piece. They were the men who did the greater part of the draining and skilled work on the different farms. It was of the utmost importance to have a number of such men in every parish—men upon whom reliance could be placed; men who, whenever they were not required elsewhere, could work on their own holdings. There was the very greatest difficulty in many parishes to get milk and eggs and butter—indeed, if it were not for the existence of cow-cottages, the ordinary labourer would be unable to get milk or butter. He hoped that if any legislation took place on the lines of this Amendment in the largo open parishes, and in other parishes where the landlords wore not resident, some attention would be given to the subject of cow-cottages. The chief evils which ought to be remedied were those arising from the absenteeism of landlords, and from the possession of so much land by corporations. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners alone held one-twentieth of the land of England. The fact was that where the landlords did not take a real interest in their properties, the agents found it much easier to deal with a few large tenants than with a great number of small tenants; and where the agents had the entire management of estates they found the labourers were neglected. He himself should vote for the Amendment, and he could assure the hon. Member for Spalding (Mr. Finch-Hatton) that he was not, in the least degree, deterred by the possibility of the Government being defeated. After all their vacillation and incapacity, after their inability to save themselves from defeat last night without the help of Liberal Members, it was quite clear the Government could not last very long. If they could not last very long, the sooner they were turned out of Office the better.


said, that he believed there was no county in England in which the cottage garden allotment system was more thoroughly carried out than in Norfolk; and a visit to any cottage garden show in the county would prove how advantageously it worked for the labourers. These allotments, however, were generally confined to the limits of a quarter of an acre, as labourers had no time to cultivate more. On Lord Leicester's estates in Norfolk the labourers were some time ago given half-an-acre in addition to their gardens; but after three years they petitioned to have the amount reduced to one-quarter. He disagreed with the hon. Member for Ipswich, who saw in the extension of allotments a remedy for agricultural depression. What was wanted was such a return of agricultural prosperity as would enable tenant farmers to pay the labourers higher wages. The effect of a general allotments scheme upon the ratepayers of the country would be that they would have to pay very high rates indeed in respect of interest upon the outlay on allotments, when the cottagers, as would frequently happen, could not pay their rents themselves. However, he was entirely in favour of garden allotments, and would support the Bill of his hon. Friend the Member for the Spalding Division of Lincolnshire, which proposed to deal with the subject. He should also be perfectly ready to agree in adopting, in connection with it, the principle of compulsion, which had already been introduced into the country by no less a person than the present Prime Minister in the Act which had been passed last August.


Sir, I have no intention of wasting the time of the House with a long speech; but I think I have a just right to address the House on this subject. I am, as you are aware, the Representative of a class whose interest, whose happiness, and whose comfort I believe Gentlemen on both sides of the House are anxious to improve. With regard to the allotments question, I can remember when it was one of the most difficult things in the world for a labourer in a village to obtain anything like a decent allotment; but during the past 14 years I am happy to say that hon. Gentlemen—both Liberal and Conservative—have, to some happy extent, seen their way clear to grant and extend these allotments. The right hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin), when speaking last night upon the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Forfarshire (Mr. J. W. Barclay), said that the small freeholders in Mid Lincolnshire were in a very destitute condition. I have watched all my life the working of a freehold, and the energy and contentment of a freeholder; and it is quite true that whore a man has had a heavy mortgage on his little freehold he has had a difficulty to face. But I have been pleasantly surprised to find on both sides of the House the great anxiety there is now to improve the agricultural labourers position. Fourteen years ago, when I was asked by my own brethren in the counties if I could institute something to improve their condition, my policy was denounced, my actions were condemned, and not a few labourers were "Boycotted." I know that there are good landlords and bad landlords, and the Amendment of the hon. Member for Ipswich, I think, does not in the least interfere with good landlords who are willing to grant land for their labourers; but are there not places in the country where labourers are almost next to landless? Where have the majority of the unemployed men in our towns to-day come from? They have been divorced from the soil, and they have been driven into our towns. To my mind, the object of the Amendment of the hon. Member for Ipswich is not so much to cure agricultural depression as to cure the poverty of agricultural labourers. How can that poverty be arrested if, during certain portions of the year, the working men in our villages are thrown out of employment? My remedy for years has been this—that if you do not require the services of workmen to till the land of the tenant farmer, then, in the name of common justice and humanity, allow him some land to till for himself. I think the Amendment of the hon. Member for Ipswich is quite opportune. When I read the Speech of Her Most Gracious Majesty the Queen, which expressed sympathy with the distress that was prevalent not only in trade but in agriculture, I took it certainly to mean this—"You are in a terribly poverty-stricken condition. Your lot in life is hard. You are without employment, and without money, and consequently must be without food. I know your lot is hard, but I have no remedy." It seems to me something like this — that supposing as an individual I wore suffering intense bodily pain, and I sent for a medical adviser. He looks at me, he sees me writhing in agony, and he says— "I have not a single ingredient in my surgery that I could apply to assuage your pain." Would it not be natural enough for me to seek the advice of some more skilled physician? If Her Majesty's Government have no remedy for this distress, then, I think, the country will very soon look out for another physician who has a practical remedy already at hand. The right hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire blamed the hon. Member for Ipswich because he had prescribed no remedy; but I confess that I have not yet found hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House prescribing any remedy themselves. If hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House have not prescribed the right sort of medicine, the Government at the present time have every opportunity of finding that medicine and relieving the distress. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lincolnshire said last night that wages had gone down in that county from 18s. to 12s. per week. He expressed great surprise and wonder how these poor people manage to live. Now, I think I shall be quite in place if I ask the right hon. Gentleman to try to live upon that wage for three months himself—then he will be able to solve the problem, no further said that, while wages were low, numbers of men were out of employment. Well, if it is difficult for a man with 12s. a-week to support himself, his wife, and, perhaps, three or four children, what a sorry plight those men must be in who are out of employment and have no wages at all. Hon. Gentlemen have said that about a quarter of an acre is sufficient for a working man in a village. There may be some working men, such as shepherds and carters, who would, perhaps, be contented with a rood of ground; but I venture to say that a very large number of the labourers in Norfolk—and I am speaking now from my own experience in that county— would only be too glad if they could rent an acre or two at fair market price. On the other hand, I do not find any human or Divine law which would confine me, as a skilled labourer, to one rood of God's earth. If I have energy, tact, and skill by which I could cultivate my acre or two, and buy my cow into the bargain, I do not see any just reason why my energies should be crippled and my forces held back, and why I should be content, as an agricultural labourer, with a rood of ground and my nose on the grindstone all the days of my life. We want to put an end to pauperism; and I am prepared to say among my class there are hundreds and thousands of working men who hate pauperism, and who have a perfect horror of the workhouse. But if we are to be cut down to 12s. a-week, which the right hon. Gentleman acknowledged was a very small wage, and if these men by their energy can supplement those wages by another 10.s. or 12s. into the bargain, I want to know why it should not be done, and the pauperism of the country lessened? The right hon. Gentleman spoke of men in France having to work very hard, and appearing very old when they were almost young. He said they carried fodder to the cows, and went milking, and the rest of it; but the right hon. Gentleman forgot to tell us that they were their own cows. I have seen the women in Somersetshire, Wiltshire, and Dorsetshire milking other people's cows, and having very little of the milk which they drew from them. I cannot understand for the life of me why, if an English workman can, by thrift and industry and care, manage to secure to himself and his family a cow, he should not have the opportunity of doing so. The Amendment of the hon. Member for Ipswich moans that. We do not ask for borrowed funds, or for the land to be given us, and we have no desire to steal it. What the Amendment asks, and what I ask hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House, is, whether the time has not come when these thousands of industrious and willing workers should no longer be shut out from the soil, and should have an opportunity of obtaining a fair free hold, and producing food for themselves and their families? Why are these men out of work? Is it because the land is so well cultivated that no more of their labour is required? I travel this country from one end to the other, and I have an idea I know when land is cultivated and when it is not as well as any Gentleman in this House I say fearless of contradiction, that there are tens of thousands of acres of land waiting for the hand of the workman; and what this House ought to consider and aim at is to use every legitimate means to bring the land that cries for labour to the labourer as soon as possible. I am addressing in this House large landed proprietors; and will any hon Gentleman attempt for one moment to deny that the best cultivated estate is the best for the landlord? When I look at this question I go almost out of the region of Party politics. It is not a landlord's, a tenant farmer's, or a labourer's question; it is the question of the people, and they will very soon make it their question. We are not Socialists—not in the offensive moaning of the word; but to a certain extent we are Socialists, because we are social beings. We like social comforts and social society; but we have a great aversion to social society paid for out of the poor rates. An hon. Gentleman said last night that it was beyond the power of the hon. Member for North-West Norfolk to raise wages. I thought it was equally impossible for landlords in this country to force up rent. We have always been told that the price of labour would be regulated by what it is worth in the market. That is just what land has got to be. My idea of justice in land is this—that if I have to sell as a tenant farmer my produce extremely cheap, then I say the rent of my land should be extremely cheap. But the time has come for, and this Parliament has been elected very largely to carry out, some just and wise measure, not only for the improvement of the tenant farmers— and Heaven knows they want something, some of them—but for the benefit of the labourers and for the benefit of the country. When I look around on this side of the House I see several hon. Gentlemen—a fair number of Liberal Members—who have been returned by the votes very largely of the agricultural labourers. They know that during the contests in various divisions the labourers expressed a very great desire for land to cultivate for themselves. They naturally concurred with that idea; but I have never heard any Liberal candidate promise the labourers three acres and a cow. For myself, I never made such a vain promise. Something which dropped from the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate last night somewhat grieved me. When he was speaking of the labourers of Scotland I think he called them hinds. I should like to inform the right hon. and learned Gentleman that though our lot in life has been one of poverty, though we were born in humble cottages, at the same time we look upon ourselves as men. I think hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House would feel very much annoyed if we were to call them aristocratic goats. The labourers of this country know they are men. They have largely contributed to the constitution of this House; and I hope it will be able to show honestly and fairly to the labourers who have sent us here that, at least, we did our best to redress their grievances, to dry their tears, to wipe away their sorrows, and to place them in the position of free men.


said, the hon. Member for Ipswich had asked the House to approve of two principles—the principle of allotment and the principle of small holdings. Now, if they came to speak of the principle of small holdings he found himself somewhat at issue with the hon. Member for Ipswich. He would agree with what the hon. Member said, or anyone said, as to the land of the country. He believed there were too few landlords and too few small holdings. An increase in the number of holdings would be to the benefit of the country at large. Prom a purely political point of view, he was sure the Conservative side of the House would be the first to welcome the proposals of the hon. Member for Ipswich to establish a peasant proprietary in the country, for there was nothing which had a greater tendency to make people Conservatives than to know that they had something to lose. He believed it would be for the tranquillity of the country and the stability of its institutions that there should be more holdings. If he might be allowed to say so, there was no one in any part of the House who would dissent from the remark of the hon. Member for North-West Norfolk (Mr. Arch) in the eloquent strains in which ho spoke of the personal aspirations of the agricultural labourers to rise above the position in which they began life, and take a small holding. But if they were to have small holdings they must be in the possession of men who hold as owners or as peasant proprietors their own laud. If ho wore himself about to take a small plot of land he would think over it; and he should come to the conclusion that he would rather be the holder of that land as tenant than as owner of it in his own right, for this reason—because though in prosperous years he would be the gainer, yet in bad years, of which they had had so much experience, he would be thrown back upon his own resources, and when these wore gone he would have no one to appeal to; whereas, if he were only a tenant farmer, he could rely on the indulgence of his landlord. [Ironical cheers from the Irish Benches.] An hon. Member from Ireland, only the other night, had spoken in terms of praise of the generosity of English landlords. When he found he could not carry on his business he would turn to some other mode of life. The hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Heneage), insinuating that the Government wore not in favour of such a thing, said the supporters of the Amendment were in favour of a man buying land if he were able to pay for it. Well, if a man were able to pay for land he would have no difficulty in doing so. There were thousands and tens of thousands of acres offered for sale, as hon. Members would see on looking at their newspapers every Saturday. If it were true, as the hon. Member for North-West Norfolk said, that the new peasant proprietary, whose cause ho advocated, did not want to borrow the capital, where was the necessity for the Motion? But from the point of view of the peasant proprietor there were grave objections to the scheme. A great French authority had drawn a dreadful picture of the condition of the peasant proprietary in that country; and if this wore the condition of a peasant proprietary in that country; and if this were the condition of a peasant proprietary abroad, where so many artificial means were taken to keep up the price of agricultural produce, how, in the more unfavourable climate of England, could a peasant proprietary exist, when no artificial means were adopted of keeping up the prices, and when men with capital behind them were being brought to the verge of ruin in largo numbers? The right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) said he would do anything to increase the production of land; but authorities, both English and French, concurred in saying that the production of wheat was not half as much per acre in France as it was in England. Under these circumstances, he was unable to agree to that portion of the Motion in which the hon. Member for Ipswich asked the House to subscribe to the doctrine of a peasant proprietary. When, however, he came to the question of allotments, that was an entirely different matter. There was no one in the House who would offer the smallest stumbling-block to extending the system of allotments. He could not conceive anything that they should support more than that the man who toiled all day on the property of another should have himself some little property—a quarter or half an acre—which ho might cultivate for his own benefit. During the Election something was said about compulsory purchase being a species of plunder. As a very humble Member of the Conservative Party ho ventured to dissent from that doctrine, for it seemed to him that no charge of plunder could be levelled against the principle that a fair market price should be given to anyone for the land taken from him. The doctrine had been laid down over and over again—in the purchase of land for railways, in the Artizans' Dwellings Act, and in other measures. He was glad to hear the hon. Member for Ipswich say that he believed that voluntary efforts would very largely meet this question of allotments; but if voluntary propositions of landlords did not suffice to meet this, then he believed that it would be necessary, and, if so, then right and justifiable, to carry out some measure by which the common wealth might be protected, and by which men should be given an opportunity in every district of the country of becoming the owners of allotments. But while agreeing with that doctrine, how could he support the Amendment? The hon. Member for Ipswich complained that no measures were announced in the Queen's Speech, and said they wanted the machinery to assist labourers to get the land. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, speaking at Islington on the 16th June, said— The first duty of the new Parliament would be the completion and extension of the system of local government. This was a necessity prior to almost any change in other directions. There were numerous other changes—temperance reform, reform of taxation, and great social questions which were pressing for solution; but local government was the instrument whereby alone it was possible for those matters to be properly and effectually dealt with. On looking at the Queen's Speech, he found that local County Government Boards were definitely put forward; and therefore the machinery which the right hon. Gentleman thought necessary, and which the hon. Member for Ipswich said was all he wanted, was provided. He also found in the Gracious Speech a proposed reform of the laws relating to the transfer of land, and that was all the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham wanted when he said he wanted no new-fangled doctrines, but only the simplification of the transfer of land; and yet the House was asked to say that Her Majesty's Government had not hinted in any way at any reform. He was tempted to believe that the hon. Member for Ipswich must have drawn up the Amendment before he read the Gracious Speech; or, if not, then he was driven to the hypothesis that in his own heart the hon. Member was not afraid that the Government would do too little, but that with a prudent regard to a possible change of voting on the part of the agricultural electors he was afraid the Government were going to do too much. With the permission of the House he desired to refer to another matter, about which the hon. Member for Ipswich had said but little, and that was the condition of the population of their large towns. He hoped that the Royal Commission on Trade would be a success; that the evidence it collected would be valuable, and its Report a benefit to the public. But the presentation of the Report and waiting for the gradual results of an allotment system were necessarily matters of time; and he desired to touch upon a subject which, in his opinion, brooked no delay. He would earnestly press upon the attention of the Government the position of tens of thousands of their fellow-countrymen, who at this moment did not ask for charity, but for some work whereby they could keep body and soul together. There was nothing more remarkable or more touching than the fact that though thousands did not know, when they rose in the morning, whether they would get a crust of bread before night, they would do any sort of work rather than darken the doors of a workhouse. They asked for work. The struggle for existence was very desperate, and could be seen in every trade. Hundreds of men could be seen standing at the docks waiting for a chance of the 10 or 20 vacancies there might be, and in reply to any sort of an advertisement of a situation there were crowds of applicants. All these things spoke of a condition of matters which must be altered if the government of the country was to be continued. People were driven out of the country and came to London trying to find work, and they thus made matters worse. He knew of an instance where he met a man who had walked with his family from Lancashire to London and arrived penniless. He thought how terrible must be the condition of affairs when a man could come to London without a penny and without a friend, go into the crowd, and disappear like a snowflake on the sea. He might be told that that doctrine was a dangerous one—that doctrine of asking for public works to be carried out by the Government. He might be told it was Socialistic. He did not care for that if it saved men's lives. It might be said it was against political economy; but he did not care what it was against if it effected the purpose for which it was intended; and he was bound to say that if political economy told them it was wrong for a Government to use some of its resources to aid those who, from circumstances beyond their own control, could not get work, then he was bound to say the sooner they got rid of such a doctrine the better. He apologized to the House for having thus kept them. He knew how valuable was its time, and it was only because he was almost despairing of the lives of many hard working and honest men who were utterly unable to get help that he had appealed to the House, in the hope that something might be done by the Government, whether it was Liberal or Conservative, to relieve them without delay.


Sir, the House has listened with interest to the two speeches which have just been delivered. All of us must sympathize with the objects which the hon. Mem- ber for East Leeds (Mr. Dawson) and West Norfolk (Mr. Arch) have in view; but heavy indeed will be the responsibility that rests upon hon. Members of this House if, carried away by the objects which these hon. Members and which we all have at heart, they venture in pursuit of these aims to embark on a course which may not lead to the accomplishment of those aims. We all come to the consideration of this Motion fresh from an electoral campaign; we are all bound by speeches which we have made during the Recess. [Interruption.] I trust that hon. Members below the Gangway and from Ireland will remember that they have had a courteous hearing from this House, and that those who may be obliged to speak, perhaps somewhat in opposition to the popular current, may, at least, expect an indulgent hearing. I say that a heavy responsibility rests as much upon those who propose, or vote for, or promote, measures which may not lead to the objects at which they are aimed as rests upon those who oppose those measures, because they do not believe in their hearts and consciences that they will achieve those ends; and so I say, as I have said many times during the late electoral campaign, it is not enough to come forward and profess sympathy with the aims proposed unless we believe the measures proposed will practically realize them. I trust, as Radical audiences have been perfectly prepared to listen to arguments when they believed they were honestly brought forward, so in the House of Commons it may be permissible to come forward, even in what may be a somewhat unpopular cause, and to examine the proposals that are put before this House, in order to see whether they will hold water. I would wish, at the outset of the few remarks I will make, to say that this is a great subject; and those who sit on this side of the House, as well as those who sit on the other side, know how great a subject it is—a subject almost too great to be disposed of in one night's debate—a subject which reaches deep down into society; and a subject, no doubt, which requires careful examination. I ask myself what is really at the bottom of the Motion of my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Jesse Collings)? It is that the State should step in. The position is that it is assumed that voluntary effort has now failed; that the community should come to the rescue; and that we should put upon the community at large tasks which I doubt whether the Local Authorities will be able satisfactorily to perform. If it can be contended, and if there are men who believe, that the substitution of the community for the individual, in this matter, will not promote the object which we all have at heart, but that it may even retard it, I say that they would be traitors to their consciences and traitors to the cause which is before them if they did not speak out before the House of Commons, and tell hon. Members what they believe. I had thought, I may say almost till to-night, that there was a largo body of Liberal opinion which believed, according to the older traditions of the Liberal Party, that to substitute the community in order to do a duty which individuals ought to perform was a somewhat dangerous step to take. Now, Mr. Speaker, I have said that we all come fresh from our electoral campaign; and the hon. Member for Ipswich comes forward at a very early date, supported by a large number of hon. Members on this side, to advocate the cause for which ho contended during that campaign. Similarly, those who have broken a lance on the other side are bound to come forward to state their opinions in this House, as they have stated them to their constituents. We had before us during the campaign what has been called an authorized programme and an unauthorized programme. The unauthorized programme contained four points with regard to which I will not weary the House; because I feel that anyone who read one tithe of the speeches which have been made during the Recess must have been almost surfeited with these four points. Having been engaged in a somewhat warm controversy upon this very matter with my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain), I should like to be allowed to congratulate him, with good humour, this evening, upon the fact that he has transferred a serious item in that unauthorized programme into what is now, apparently, the authorized programme of the Liberal Party. I trust he will accept the compliment in the spirit in which I offer it. But I must say that I did not understand that during the late campaign the acquisition by the community of lands for the purpose of letting out those lands, either in allotments or in small holdings, was a portion of the authorized programme with which we went to the constituencies. I may have been mistaken, and perhaps I was; because I remember the right hon. Member for Chelsea (Sir Charles W. Dilke) said you could, read this question of allotments into the authorized programme. I did not know that on occasions like this you would have to read anything into programmes. I think it is somewhat hard upon those who believed that this was an open question, and that you might be as good a Liberal if you had faith in the action of the individual as if you believed in the action of the State. But now I understand it is put forward, on authority, that the Party, as a whole, will endorse that which has practically been in the unauthorized programme, and which has been the chief point in the programme of my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain). I confess that it is not possible for me to be converted by three days of Parliamentary discussion. Conversions, I admit, proceed, in these days, with some rapidity. I must say that we have seen three interesting days. On the first day there seemed to mo to be a greater conversion towards Home Rule than we had ever judged possible. On the second day there was a large minority practically for introducing the "three F's" into the United Kingdom. On the third day the proposition is, as I understand, that we are to give power to municipalities in order to promote small holdings and allotments under a system of compulsion as proposed by the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Jesse Collings). Although the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone) somewhat reserves himself upon that point, I am bound to say that his reserves were not stated with that firmness which would lead one to suppose that any great resistance would be made if the proposal were pressed. And now, Mr. Speaker, lot me put myself right with the House in this matter. Those who have done me the honour of reading anything that I have said on this subject will know that I do not yield to anyone in my desire to increase the number of the proprietors of land. They will know that I believe, as many hon. Members have stated this evening, that it would strengthen the Constitution, and would lead to untold social advantages, if you could increase the number of those who are proprietors of the soil. I have repeatedly stated, further, that it appears to me a matter of supreme interest that oven if you could not increase the number of proprietors of the soil there should be more persons cultivating small holdings, and especially that the number of allotments should be increased as far as possible. These are not late views. [A laugh.] I do not know why the hon. Member for Argyllshire (Mr. Macfarlane) should laugh.


I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that I was not laughing at anything which fell from him.


No one can anticipate that hon. Members should be acquainted with the antecedents of every Member of this House. But I wish to state it as a fact, which I trust my hon. Friends will accept from me, that long before the recent agitation I had stated in public over and over again this view —that I am entirely in favour of the multiplication of the number of owners, and also entirely in favour of the system of allotments; and if this Motion went no further than this—than to express, as the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone) has expressed to the House this evening, the opinion that the divorce of the agricultural labourer from the soil was a calamity to this country—if that mere abstract proposition was in this Motion, I should vote for it with as great enthusiasm as any hon. Member sitting on this side of the House.


That would be perfectly useless.


That would be perfectly useless, says my hon. Friend. But it was because my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lothian considered that to be the point of the hon. Member's Motion that he has consented to vote for it this evening.


I did not mean to say it would be perfectly useless; but I intended to imply that the right hon. Gentleman would vote for it if it would be perfectly useless.


Why should my hon. Friend consider that I would vote for it if it would be perfectly useless? That is the kind of spirit to which I object. I consider the hon. Member's Motion not to be of much utility, as I shall show if I continue my remarks. But my argument is this—that my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lothian has said that the point of my hon. Friend's Amendment is that it expresses the desire that we should put an end to the divorce of the agricultural labourer from the soil. I say again, though I may excite the hilarity of hon. Members, that if this were a mere abstract proposition I would vote for it. But I should know, at the same time, that I was not doing much to promote the cause which my hon. Friend has at heart. It may be asked, then, why object to the Motion of my hon. Friend? I think it was remarked by some hon. Member this evening that you ought not to raise false hopes; and I believe that in this Motion of my hon. Friend there lurks a danger of raising false hopes among a great portion of the agricultural labourers. Therefore, I do not think I am justified in voting for it. You think otherwise; therefore you may be justified in voting for it. But those who believe that in the particular plans put forward by my hon. Friend there lurks the danger of arresting that spontaneous development which is now in progress will vote against it. Is there no progress now? [Mr. JESSE COLLINGS: No.] My hon. Friend says "No." I cannot admit that. I believe in the progress of public opinion; and if the hon. Member wishes it, I will give him the credit of having stimulated that public opinion, and of having done good service thereby; but I believe that the public opinion roused during this discussion will be infinitely more valuable in promoting the system of allotments and small holdings than the legislation which he wishes to stimulate. I admit that landlords have been roused. I believe that all that has been said may have stimulated some landlords who were somewhat blind to their duty. It may have encouraged them to perform that duty. But I say that that public feeling has been roused; that there is in progress at this moment a large development of the system of allotments; and that there are a large number of landlords who are most anxious to pro- mote it; and why should they not do so? Is there anything against the interests of landlords in promoting the system of allotments? Most proper distinctions have been drawn this evening between the system of allotments and small holdings. I agree with those who think that while it is absolutely certain that the extension of the system of allotments would be of vast advantage to the whole community, the question as regards small holdings is not so decided. With regard to small holdings, it is an economical question upon which there is much to be said. I make this admission to my hon. Friend and to the House, if hon. Members care to know my opinion on the subject. Although it may toll against my own argument, I should prefer to see a larger number of persons farming their own land as small holdings than a larger number of holdings under an opposite system. I am so convinced of the social advantages of having a large number of persons interested in the soil, of having the agricultural labourers interested in the soil, that I would gladly put up with a smaller aggregate production of wealth in order to see this larger number interested in the soil. I make that admission in order that hon. Members may see that I am not blind to this movement which has been so encouraged by the right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain). But I would ask the right hon. Gentleman this. You want machinery to carry this system out. It is all very well to pass an abstract Resolution; but I think everyone will agree—my hon. Friends on this side of the House will agree—with me when I say that no man would be justified in voting for the Resolution of my hon. Friend unless he, at the same time, believed that you can invent such a machinery as would carry it out satisfactorily. You would not vote in the abstract for such a proposal, raising the hopes of the agricultural labourers, if you thought that your machinery would ultimately prove imperfect. My hon. Friend believes that there can be a perfect machinery, and therefore he is justified in submitting his proposal to the attention of the House. But other hon. Members say—"Why not try it as an experiment?" I say it is a dangerous experiment, because, by trying the experiment, you may discourage the voluntary movement that is now going on. I can fancy that many landlords who are now prepared to give allotments might much prefer that they should sell their land to the community, and that then the community should undertake all the disagreeable labour of collecting the rents from the tenants of all those small allotments. I think you would remove a great part of the duty from the landlords, and would remove from them that to which I attach the greatest importance—namely, the sense of duty that they ought to give these allotments. ["No!"] Surely, although they may disagree with me, hon. Members will see that that is an extremely probable result. Do you believe that if the State or the community comes in and says, "On me rests the responsibility of carrying out this movement," you will not discourage the individual action of the landlords? ["No!"] That may be a matter of opinion; but, conscientiously holding it, I am bound to believe that it will discourage the sense of duty and responsibility on the part of the landlords, and I am bound to express that opinion to the House. Then, if the House will permit me, I will enter for a moment upon another question—Are we certain that this machinery would succeed? It may be an extremely costly process. We have had to-night a curious proposition put before us—namely, that the small freeholders have done worse during the late agricultural depression than the other farmers of small holdings. Why should a man who pays no rent fare worse than the man who has to pay rent? Here are holdings farmed by individuals who have no rent to pay, and yet it is said that they have not done so well as those who pay rent. Why is that so? I can imagine one good reason for it; and it is that, in regard to those small holdings, the repairs have to be done by the landlords, and the farm buildings have to be looked after, and that all those various items of expenditure the landlord has to bear, while the tenant of the small holding has only to look after his own affairs; whereas, on the other hand, the small freeholder has to pay for the repairs himself. What, then, is the result? On the small holdings, under your proposed system, who is to do the landlord's repairs? Suppose you have got in some neighbourhood 40 or 50 small holdings, I ask my hon. Friend who is to do the land- lord's repairs? I cannot get an answer from my hon. Friend. I am not going to be so discourteous as to press him for an answer; but I will repeat—who is to do the repairs? I will tell him who would have to do them. They would have to be done by the landlord. And who, under this plan, is the landlord? The community—that is, the ratepayers. Then, I ask, in those small holdings, if there are to be any farm buildings on them at all? Are the ratepayers, composed of all classes of the community, to step in and make the landlord's repairs on all of them? And are the Local Authorities to do all the jobs on the farm? Are they to see to the drainage? Are you to have an army of Inspectors and officials of the Local Authorities who are to do all these jobs? I say it is a far more serious thing for the Local Authorities to undertake this work than the hon. Member who proposes this abstract Resolution seems to imply in the Resolution. I ask my hon. Friend, as a candid man, whether I am not entitled to put to him this question? [Mr. JESSE COLLINGS: No!] My hon. Friend says that I am not entitled to put it. Then I must say that he has the courage of his opinions. [Mr. JESSE COLLINGS: Mere rhetoric] I should like, however, to press this matter, and to ask my hon. Friend for an answer. My point is this— the repairs must be done by somebody. You may say that the tenant can do them himself. If so, then he will be in the position of the freeholder, who has not succeeded. The answer must be either that the tenants must undertake the repairs themselves, or the Local Authorities are to do them; and I submit the point of my argument to the House, to the country, and to the ratepayers at large—namely, that any system under which the ratepayers are to become the landlords of these small holdings will involve them in a very considerable expense indeed—will involve them—and here is my point— in so large an expenditure, and in so much liability, that I doubt whether much will come of the proposals of my hon. Friend. I have argued against the substitution of the community for the individual for the performance of a duty which the individual ought to perform himself. I go beyond that, and I say that the whole business of landowning, if you put it into the hands of the Local Authorities, is surrounded with so much expense, so much danger, so much liability to jobbing, so much liability to parish squabbling and dispute, that I fear the excellent intentions of my hon. Friend will fail, and that he may have a vast machinery raising great hopes in the minds of the agricultural population, and that those hopes, when we come to work them out in a Bill, will not be fulfilled. Those, therefore, are just as much the friends of the agricultural labourers who say that they are against this proposal, and do not believe it will be effectual, as those who put it before the House with a light heart. But there was another point in the speech of my hon. Friend to which I wish to be allowed to allude. He spoke of the right of the labourers to the land. Then, are the Local Authorities to have no option in the matter? I ask, how will it be if the Local Authorities do not give effect to the notion that the labourers have a right to the land? If they are frightened at the expense, and do not give effect to the notion of my hon. Friend that the labourers have a right to the land, is it not dangerous to use language in this House, and to endorse that language by a Resolution passed by a majority of this House, which will convey the impression that we believe that the labourers have a right to the land, and then leave it to the Local Authorities, who may give effect to it, or who may adopt a very different principle? I am as anxious as anyone that the labourer should have the land; but it is not only a question of the rights of agricultural labourers, but of the town artizans that is concerned. I ask the hon. Member, and those who are going to support his Amendment, whether they hold that in towns all the artizans have a right to their tenements? The agricultural labourer, my hon. Friend may contend, cannot live without the land. He is depressed in his condition, and the House desires to raise his status; and therefore my hon. Friend says he has a right to the land. But are there not tens of thousands of artizans in the large towns who wish to have their tenements at a fair and equitable rent? And then is the next step to be, when we pass from the fair and equitable rent for agricultural land, a fair and equitable rent for house property for the artizans? I notice that cheers are no longer general from hon. Members around me; and I should like to know from my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone) whether, if a proposition had been made that the artizans in the towns were entitled to a fair and equitable rent for their tenements, he would have endorsed it? But see the danger we are incurring when we embark upon the question on the ground of right. Is it not certain that the artizans in the towns would follow out this concession as to right, and would say you must regulate the rents of our tenements for us in the towns on the same principle as you regulate those of the agricultural labourer? I know men in this House who are perfectly prepared to undertake a measure of that kind. But if that is not the view of the majority, I ask is it wise—is it not in contravention of all past traditions of both sides of this House — that the community should undertake this great task, which my right hon.—my triumphant Friend the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) has called "restoring the labourer to the land?" Are we going to embark upon that course? The right hon. Member for Mid Lothian quoted an old Statute of about 70 years ago to show that there was nothing new in the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. The right hon. Gentleman said that the Statute of George III. had for its object the very aim of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham. But why should this old Act be quoted by the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian if it has not been successful? I am opposed to the Resolution and to the measures of my hon. Friend, because I believe that past legislation in that direction has failed. [Mr. JESSE COLLINGS: No; it was not compulsory.] Yes; my hon. Friend says it was not compulsory. But then compulsion is the very point which has been reserved by my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lothian. My hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Jesse Collings) and my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham have achieved great things already in introducing the articles of their unauthorized programme into our discussions; but they have not yet succeeded in inducing the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian to accept the principle of compulsion; and if there is no compulsion, then the proposals of my I right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham will share the fate of the Act of George III. With the experience I of that Act before us, I ask is it wise to embark afresh, upon this legislation? [An hon. MEMBER: Make it compulsory.] Yes; with compulsion you will do much. But is the Liberal Party prepared to adopt the principle of compulsion? ["Yes!"] That is not a general cheer. Nor do I observe a cheer from my right lion. Friend the Member for Mid Lothian. If compulsion is introduced, well and good; you may run great danger, at the same time you may give some effect to the proposals of the hon. Member for Ipswich. But if there is no compulsion, you will be simply stopping what is now in progress in the way of development, without having the advantage of the hon. Gentleman's proposals. I must thank the House for having listened to what I have, most reluctantly, laid before them—namely, an economical argument upon a night when the fate of the Government is at stake; but I wish to say, in conclusion, that I will protest, with all the energy in me, against any charge that may be made against me, that because I and those who think with me may vote against the Motion of my hon. Friend, we are, therefore, wanting in sympathy with the objects he has at heart, or at all wanting in sympathy with Liberalism. I want to know since when this proposal formed part of the creed of the general Liberal Party? ["Oh!"] If I am challenged upon this point I am perfectly prepared to take up the challenge. I ask what was the date of the conversion—if they are converted—of the Leaders of the Liberal Party upon this question? If this proposal is to be part of the creed of the Liberal Party, I ask why was it not included among the points of the Manifesto of my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lothian? Why were there not five points instead of four in that Manifesto? I protest against any charge that may be made against any who, like myself, pleaded before our constituencies the cause of freedom and of free contract—the cause of individual duty against the duty of the State—that because we cannot go into the same Lobby on this question, after three days of the Session, we are wanting in allegiance to the Liberal Party. I believe that everyone on this occasion is entitled to vote precisely as he chooses. It is not included—it cannot be included—in the authoritative programme of the Liberal Party, because, if it were so, my right hon. Friends—those of them who have been silent on this point during the late Elections—would have felt it their duty to plead it before the country at the time, and then the electors who went to the poll and who returned hon. Members to this House would have known whether or not they were voting for a compulsory system of allotments and free holdings, and adopting practically the programme of my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) and my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Jesse Collings).


The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Chaplin) drew attention to the excessively miserable condition of 5,000,000 or 6,000,000 of the French peasantry; but I did not understand the right hon. Gentleman to adduce anything in the shape of facts to illustrate that misery. There is, however, this fact by which the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down could illustrate it beyond the possibility of contradiction—namely, that in 1871, when the great French Loan was contracted, it was nearly all subscribed for in Franco by the very peasantry whom the right hon. Gentleman has to-night pictured as being in exceeding misery on their small holdings. There are one or two matters which have been raised this evening which seem to me to demand a little attention. The hon. Member for the Spalding Division of Lincolnshire (Mr. Finch-Hatton) has invited hon. Members from Ireland not to proceed to a division on the ground that the issue which is raised is not what he calls the main issue. Why, in every election contest in the country this very question was raised by hon. Members opposite, and by many candidates who are not there now, in the hope of casting ridicule upon the Liberal Party. If, then, it is not the main issue, I know not what is. What is the main issue? Is it something sprung upon us because the Cabinet has collapsed, and desires to find a new issue to relieve them in the country from the difficulties of their present position? Were it not for one or two words which have been spoken with authority by the right hon. Gentleman who has just addressed the House, and which demand some reply, I would leave the matter here. But the right hon. Gentleman has asked whether labourers have rights to land, and whether artizans in towns have rights? Surely artizans in towns and labourers in the country have a right to life. Life—not all endurance from day to day; life not mere suffering and the dragging on of an existence from week to week; but life with some real pleasure and comfort in it. The country must be poor indeed which cannot give that life. The land hitherto has been held by the landlords under restrictive laws, which have given the labourers but little freedom beyond the mere right to exist; and the amount of misery produced in the country has been so terrible that a Return laid on the Table of the House in 1867 shows such a state of our agricultural population as would be a disgrace to any civilized country in the world. A lamented Bishop recently deceased—[A laugh]—whom I honour, although other hon. Members may not —placed on record the condition of the agricultural population in the Eastern and Southern districts of England in words so terrible that if they did not come from a high authority it would be impossible to believe them. The right hon. Gentleman asks if there has not been some improvement? Yes; there have been improvements; but to whom are thanks duo? To the agricultural labourers themselves and not to the landlords, who remained deaf and dumb and motionless until the ghost of a vote frightened them in their sleep. The improvements never came until the agricultural labourers united themselves, and they have slowly come since the agricultural labourers united themselves. ["No!"] Either hon. Members who shout "No!" have not made themselves acquainted with the facts, or they desire to ignore them. Unfortunately, the facts are beyond dispute, and we are asked now whether compulsion is to be used towards the owners of the land? Why not? The landlords have compelled the labourers as long as they dare; they have held them down by law as long as they could; and now there is an endeavour, on the part of those who have votes, to free themselves. And now the very remedy the landlords have employed is complained of, and they resent every proposal to apply the lash they have so remorselessly used themselves. [A laugh.] I am not astonished that hon. Members laugh at these things, because it shows one of two things— either that they have not made themselves acquainted with the condition of the people upon whom they live, or that they are willing, for the sake of a Party vote, for the moment to ignore it. It is my intention to go into the Lobby with the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Jesse Ceilings); and I will only say, in conclusion, that there is one item of repairs neglected by the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, and that is the impossibility, in any bill of repairs, of rehabilitating a shattered Cabinet.


I should be sorry to detain the House at any length, and should not have risen only that I desire to say a word in answer to the charge which has been made by the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh). The hon. Member says it is not sufficient to say "No" when he charges the landlords with never having moved hand or foot in support of the labourers. I admit that shouting "No!" is not a sufficient answer; but I could produce proof that, somewhat more than 40 years ago, the landlords did their best to help their labourers by providing suitable allotments at fair and just rents. I feel sure that the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Jesse Collings) will himself admit that the charge which the hon. Member for Northampton has made is, in the case of many landlords, most unjust. I admit that there is a great deal to be said in favour of the action of the hon. Member to-night; and, for my own part, I have always been a cordial supporter of the system of allotments, and even of small holdings. I should not, however, have risen at this late hour if it had not been for the challenge of the hon. Member for Northampton, which made me anxious to express my regret that in supporting a Motion like this, which he ought to have advocated in a non-Party spirit for the benefit of the community at large, he should have taken advantage of the occasion, under the pretence of advancing the labourers' interests, for the purpose of making an unjust attack upon landlords who have always done their best to improve the condition of their agricultural constituents.


rose after a pause, during which Mr. Speaker again put the Question. The right hon. Gentleman said: I waited, Sir, until you put the Question, because I certainly supposed that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) would, in the course of this debate, have given his opinions to the House; and I more especially thought so after the challenge that has been thrown down, in no ambiguous language, by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Goschen), who sits on the same Bench with himself, and who is one of the Members of the same Party. The speech of that right hon. Gentleman has been one of the most interesting delivered in the course of a most interesting debate. I shall have something to say, although not much, in regard to the right hon. Gentleman's speech later on; but the chief interest of that speech to those who sit on the Government Benches consists in the fact that it was the concluding scene of a drama which has been acted during the past six months, in which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Edinburgh and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham have been struggling together over the body of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone). The result of that struggle was long ambiguous. We did not know which right hon. Gentleman would pull the hardest, and which would come triumphant out of the contest. I apprehend that the doubt has this evening been settled by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Edinburgh admitting himself to be beaten. He has relinquished the last hold on the body of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, and he has surrendered that right hon. Gentleman, body and soul, to the care of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. Now, Sir, the accusation levelled against Her Majesty's Government in this debate is that we have not, in the course of the Queen's Speech, announced to the House that we were going to bring forward measures to relieve that agricultural distress, the gravity of which Her Majesty's Speech has acknowledged. Sir, what foundation is there for that charge? There are no fewer than four measures mentioned in the Queen's Speech which have a direct bearing on the question before the House, and dealing with the tenure of land in this country, and the condition of those classes who depend upon land. We have, in the first place, made an announcement that the incidence of rating is going to be altered. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian boldly assumes that any measure for altering the incidence of rating proposed from this side of the House would be of a nature to take the rates off the land and throw them upon labour. What right has the right hon. Gentleman to make that rash assumption? Until he sees the measure before the House, it would be well for him not to assume that the Government mean to carry out the programme which he has been good enough to lay down for them. Then there is the Bill dealing with the sale of glebe lands; the Bill dealing with land transfer, which is made a cardinal point in the Royal Speech; and no hon. Gentleman opposite will, I presume, have the hardihood to say that a Bill for facilitating land transfer is not likely to be for the benefit of the agricultural labourer. Then, finally, we have a Bill which, more than any other, bears on this question—the Local Government Bill. When that Bill comes before the House, if ever it does come, hon. Gentlemen will be in a better position than now to judge how far the Government mean to deal with this question. As my right hon. Friend (Mr. Chaplin), in his admirable speech at the beginning of this debate, pointed out, there are two questions which have been brought before the House about which, absolute confusion seems to reign in the mind of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. There is the question of allotments on the one side, and on the other that of small freeholds and small tenancies. Not only are those questions totally distinct, but they belong, in my opinion, to totally different provinces of legislation. Allotments, like sanitary questions, are connected with the general comfort and well-being of the population. Dealing with allotments will not be an attempt artificially to alter the natural channels in which industry is flowing. But to substitute small freeholds for large freeholds, and small holdings for large holdings, though I should agree with those who have spoken this evening that thereby great stability might be given to our institutions, and great solidity to the bases of our society, is a question belonging to an entirely different province of legislation, and one which should be entered into by a Government with the utmost caution. It will be admitted, I think, that any effort to alter artificially the channels in which a great industry should flow should have in its favour a great primâ facie case. Is there a great primâ facie case for the Government at once taking in hand a measure for a great multiplication of freeholds and small farms? We have ample means of making a comparative estimate of the systems of tenure by looking on the Continent, seeing what is going on there, and comparing it with what is going on hero. The right hon. Gentleman opposite spoke of the labourer being divorced from the soil; and the hon. Gentleman who brought forward this Motion described the labourer in the present circumstances in England as being in a state of dependence. In what way, I ask, is the agricultural labourer divorced from the soil any more than the miner is divorced from his colliery, or the cotton spinner from the mills in which he works? Is it degrading for an Englishman to work for weekly wages? If it is not degrading, then why do hon. Members apply these depreciatory epithets to that great mass of our fellow-countrymen who, like the artizans in the towns, and the agricultural labourers in the country, are working for weekly wages? I quite agree that we should endeavour to improve the condition of the agricultural labourer; but is it certain that their condition would be improved by a Bill which would produce a large increase of small holdings and small farms? I wish to lay before the House one or two facts which ought to convince hon. Members that they should pause before any such legislation is undertaken. In the most prosperous Provinces of France, where these small tenements the right hon. Gentleman speaks so highly of exist in large numbers, I find that the weekly wages amount, in some cases, to 8s. 5d., in others to 8s. 9d. and 8s. 2d., and in some districts the labourer gets 1s. per day. When I heard the hon. Member for North-West Norfolk (Mr. Arch), who made an admirable and interesting speech, describe how hard it is for a labourer to live on 14s. a-week, I was reminded of a sentence in a French treatise relating to Normandy, in which the writer enthusiastically says— In these districts wages are 13s. a-week. Is not that enough to produce contentment and harmony between the labourer and farmer? Such, Sir, is the condition of the labourer in the most favoured Provinces of France, where these small holdings flourish. As I am on this subject, I would remind the House that while it is true, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) says, that there are 8,000,000 peasant proprietors in France, it is also true that 3,000,000 of them are too poor to pay taxes. On the ground of indigence, they are excused from paying taxes. When I am told that the English labourer is ill-housed and ill-lodged—a proposition which may be true partially of certain districts in the country, but which emphatically is not true as a general proposition dealing with the whole country—I am reminded of descriptions of the average peasant house in Normandy. These descriptions are given by the same authority I have already quoted—an authority not an enemy to small holdings—who says that the peasants live in houses narrow, low, inconvenient, dirty, and unwholesome. Then, again, let me remind the right hon. Gentleman that a Commissioner sent out in connection with the Agricultural Commission describes the system of small holdings in Belgium to be one of high rent and low wages. I am not saying that, on general, social grounds, I do not desire to see a large increase in small freeholds and small tenures; but I am trying to explain to the House that in making a comparative survey of countries where these small tenures exist, and of this country, there is nothing to convince me that the one is so superior to the other as to induce us to enter upon the difficult and almost hopeless task of creating such tenures, except in so far as this result would naturally follow from increased facilities for the transfer of land. So much for the first part of the question. I now come to what is more immediately before the House— namely, the question of allotments; and I have here to supplement the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy (Mr. Chaplin). The hon. Gentleman the Member for Grimsby (Mr. Heneage) boldly assumed, in the course of his speech, that there has been a change of front on the part of the Government. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that there has been no change of front. The Government propose, as they always have done, that in the Bill dealing with Local Government power should be given to the Local Authority to be constituted by that Bill to deal with this question of allotments. It is, and always has been, the intention of the Government to give those Local Bodies power to deal with this question. I feel as much as any man in the House the force of the criticisms passed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Goschen) upon any attempt to give power of any kind to the Local Authority to deal with this question. But I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that it is nothing new in English legislation to give such powers to Local Bodies. Powers are already given. The right hon. Gentleman alluded to the Act of George III.; but that Act is not the only one relating to this point. The Act of George III. was amended in the time of William IV.; but the Act of William IV. is not the only or the most recent Act. There is still another Act, which was passed in 1843, which gave power to certain bodies to deal with parts of common lands, and let them out as allotments. If there is any fundamental and vital objection to the possession of powers of this kind by a public authority, that objection clearly would apply to the case of those authorities who have, by the Commons Act, power to deal with these questions. The Government do not conceive, in the provision which they intend to submit, that they have departed from the sound "traditions of English legislation." Now, Sir, I want to know why the Government are threatened with a hostile division because they have not mentioned in Her Majesty's Speech that this specific and special question is to be dealt with in the new Local Government Bill? There is another question of still greater importance than the question of allotments—the question of temperance. Well, this has not been mentioned in the Queen's Speech. That also will be dealt with by the new Bill. But hon. Gentlemen come down and threatened the Government with a hostile Motion, not because the question is not to be dealt with, but because we do not catalogue the special provisions, in detail, which our Bills are to contain. Is that consistent with the traditions of Parliament? Now, the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Gladstone), on the first night of the debate on the Address, used these words— I wish, to say that, so far as is possible, and so far as I may venture to recommend a practice which I believe to be to the advantage of the House, I do believe it is best, as far as we can, that we should be content to recognize the Speech from the Throne and the Address moved in consequence of it as presenting to us an outline of what we have to do, rather than a convenient occasion for the discussion of the several parts of it in detail. I wish that the practice of the right hon. Gentleman was in accordance with his theory. The Government have presented in outline, as recommended by the right hon. Gentleman, the measures they wish to present to the House without giving the details; and because we have done so we are threatened now with a hostile vote. Sir, if the object of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Jesse Collings) is simply and solely to benefit the agricultural labourer—if he has nothing in view but to extend the system of allotments, would not his best course have been to wait until the time comes when the Government bring in their measure, and then to amend it, if he thought it required amendment, or to reject it if he thought it deserved rejection, and to substitute something else? Can anything, from the labourers' point of view, be gained by the Amendment now before us? Absolutely nothing. Pass this Amendment to-night by what majority you choose, and not a single labourer in the country will be one iota nearer to the possession of his allotment. The fact is so patent, so obvious, that I am almost tempted to conclude that those who move this Amendment and those who support it have some other object in view than that which lies ostensibly on the face of the Motion of the hon. Gentleman. But if there is another object in view, as may be inferred from the recent conversion of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) to the doctrines of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain), that object is, and can only be, to turn out the Government and come in themselves. If that be sc, would it not have been more simple— would it not have been more straight forward, more in accordance with the traditions of the House, to move on this Address a Vote of "No Confidence" in Her Majesty's Government? The Government tell you it is a subject with which they mean to deal themselves. The Government tell you it is a subject with which they always intended to deal; and if hon. Gentlemen are determined not to wait to see their proposals— if their object is to hurl the Government from their places and come in themselves, against that we have nothing to say. We only complain of the means adopted to attain that end. I do hope, in order to preserve intact the traditions of the House, as to the manner in which it deals with the Queen's Speech, it may seem good to the right hon. Gentleman opposite to withdraw his support to the Amendment, and to bring forward a Vote, at a later stage of the debate, which would raise the true issue which is before the House. Not the issue of allotments, but the issue of Ireland—the issue of Ireland, which, while you have the agricultural labourer and his fortunes on your lips, during the whole course of this debate, I doubt not, occupied your minds.


Mr. Speaker, the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down opened his speech by a direct challenge to myself, and an inquiry as to why I had not, up to that moment, addressed the House, and favoured hon. Members with my views on this subject. Well, Sir, certainly I thought that the House, and all who had any interest in this matter, were sufficiently acquainted with the opinions I have expressed in the country over and over again, and that it was not necessary to delay the House from a division by any repetition of them. The right hon. Gentleman, however, thinks that I was called on to do so after the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Goschen); and he stated that my right hon. Friend made a direct appeal and challenge to me. I certainly did not understand his speech in that light. He offered me his congratulations, which I accept in the spirit in which they were offered; and he repeated, with great eloquence and earnestness, the arguments against the proposals I have supported in the country—arguments to which I have already, again and again, replied; and the only now point in the speech of my right hon. Friend was the naive and ingenuous expression of his disappointment at finding that three acres and a cow are a part of the authorized programme. My right hon. Friend has really no one to blame but himself for the disappointment which he has experienced. What right had he to say, as he did in the country, that the poposals which I have made again and again in favour of the wider distribution of land, and for increasing the facilities for allotments for labourers—what right had he ever to say that that was excluded from the authorized programme of the Liberal Party? I read the Manifesto of my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone) with atleast the same attention as my right hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Goschen); and I found in it a statement that the Liberal Party, if they were called into Office, would be prepared to bring in a great scheme of Local Government; and the hope, also, that it might be possible to extend the functions and authority of those Local Bodies, so as to secure that a larger number of persons should be placed upon the land. Well, Sir, all that I can say is that, under the circumstances, I thought myself justified in making the proposals which I have made, which were in some sort the details and the fringe of the great programme of the Liberal Party; and if it was not included, at any rate it was not excluded; and there was no reason to suppose that there was any other Member of the Liberal Party except my right hon. Friend (Mr. Goschen) who was pledged against it. Well, now, Sir, the debate has shown that I was right, and my right hon. Friend was wrong. He has congratulated mo, and I sincerely and respectfully condole with him. And if, Sir, I were inclined to condole with my right hon. Friend when he made his own confession, I am still more inclined to con- dole with him after the speech of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. A. J. Balfour). For what has the right hon. Gentleman told us? He has told us, forsooth! that it was always the intention of the Conservative Government to do this thing, which is, in the eyes of my right hon. Friend, the greatest heresy of which any Government can be guilty—that they are going to call in the aid of the community to assist individuals in doing that which they ought to do for themselves. They are going to ask the community to undertake the repairs of small holdings, and they are going to introduce into local government jobbery and mismanagement. And, Sir, these statements have been made by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, and my right hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Goschen) has promised to vote for them. My right hon. Friend is going to exchange sides; but I do not think he will gain much by the exchange. The right hon. Gentleman opposite says this has always been the intention of the Government. Well, Sir, never was a secret better kept. Why, Sir, what happened at the beginning of the evening? We listened to alengthy and most earnest and vigorous speech from the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy (Mr. Chaplin); and not one suggestion, not one hint, did he give us of any intention on the part of the Government to produce this great scheme for facilitating allotments in connection with their Local Government Bill. Not a bit of it. Not only so; but after the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Jesse Collings) proposed the Amendment, the right hon. Gentleman wound up his eloquent oration by saying— "I shall meet, on behalf of the Government, the proposition of the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Jesse Collings) with a bold and uncompromising 'No.'"


My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy is not present; but I am sure the right hon. Gentleman does not wish to misrepresent my right hon. Friend. What he said he should meet with an uncompromising "No" was the Amendment of the hon. Member for Ipswich.


Quite so; but all I can say is that our ideas of what constitutes a bold and uncompromising "No" must differ very considerably. The right hon. Gentle- man (Mr. Chaplin) was going to meet the Amendment with a bold and uncompromising "No!" But how does the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board meet it? He meets it by the statement which I am bound to say no Member on the other side ever heard a word of before, that the Government are going to deal with this subject by giving large facilities for the increase of allotments in connection with their Local Government Bill. That is not a hold and uncompromising "No;" but I should rather, under the circumstances, say that it is a compromising "No." It is a very curious thing, Sir, that this kind of compromising negative has come before from the right hon. Gentleman opposite, for I remember a discussion we had across the Table in this House at the end of the last Session of the last Parliament about the Bill for medical relief. Then, also, the proposal was made by my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Jesse Collings)—whom I must congratulate on his success in converting the Government Bench—and then, also, the answer given was, in the first place, a bold and uncompromising "No;" and, in the last place, complete and humiliating surrender. But the surrender did not carry the counties, and the surrender in the present Parliament will not save the Government. I am sorry that it should have fallen to the lot of the President of the Local Government Board to be the channel for these two confessions on the part of his Government. The right hon. Gentleman asked why it is that we have thought it necessary to support an Amendment hostile to the Government, and why we have not waited for the proposals which he intends to make? I can only reply that we could only judge the nature of those proposals, before the astounding statement which we have just listened to, by the description of them in the Queen's Speech; and there the proposals of the Government were described as a transfer of the functions of the Quarter Sessions and other county authorities to a new Local Authority. We were not told how this new authority was to be constituted; and I have some difficulty in believing that the constitution of such a body according to the view of the present Government would have been satisfactory to the House. Further, what we were told as to the intention of the Government to effect a transfer of functions, in our opinion, clearly precluded them from making such a proposal as the President of the Local Government Board now says they always had in their minds. At the present moment, the Quarter Sessions cannot purchase land for allotment. If, therefore, the Local Government Bill is to be a Bill for the mere transfer of functions, how can it contain the provisions which we favour? [Mr. A. J. BALFOUR: The Guardians.] Oh, then, it is to the old, unused, unsuccessful powers which wore committed to the Guardians by an Act of George III., 70 years ago, that the Government intend to revert—an Act which has been ridiculed already in the course of this debate. This is the valuable power which the right hon. Gentleman is prepared, and which he and his Government always intended, to transfer to the new authority whom they will create if this House permits them to do so. Well, Sir, I do not think that it is upon promises of this kind that the House can rely. We support a hostile Amendment, in the first place, because the condition and claims of the agricultural labourers being one of the great questions raised at the last Election, it is our bounden duty, at the first opportunity, to raise their claim, and call upon the Government to do them justice; and, in the second place, because we have no confidence that the Government will either do justice to the agricultural labourer or to any other question with which they may be called upon to deal.


Sir, I am glad that at last, after a long and interesting debate, we have a clear statement from the Bench opposite as to the real intention and meaning of the Motion before the House. We do not wonder that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) feels it incumbent upon him to attempt to redeem all those wild and astounding promises that were made at the General Election to the deluded agricultural labourer. But it is even more of a piece with the political history of the right hon. Gentleman that he should take up a Motion which, I believe, has been brought forward in all sincerity by the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Jesse Collings), and by the hon. Member for North-West Norfolk (Mr. Arch), whom I am sure all of us are glad to welcome in this House, whatever we may think of his opinions —it is even more of a piece with the past conduct of the right hon. Gentleman that he should use this Motion as what, to the great bulk of those who will vote for it, it really is—namely, a Party move to turn the Government out of Office. Sir, in the course of the debate we have had a speech from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Goschen), who is still a Member of the great Liberal Party; and we have had that speech replied to, but not adequately, by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. Sir, I think the House will await with some curiosity the reply to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham which I anticipate will be made by the noble Marquess the Member for the Rossendale Division of Lancashire (the Marquess of Hartington). I am surprised to hear the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down say that he had no reason to believe that any other Member of the Liberal Party, except the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Edinburgh, objected to the inclusion of these proposals of his in the authorized programme of the Leader of the Opposition. What was it, then, to which the noble Marquess opposite referred when he spoke of proposals of a Socialistic tendency which, in his opinion, were not included in that programme? I should like to hear this evening from the noble Marquess what is his opinion of the scheme which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham has now triumphantly enforced upon the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone)—whether he still maintains his opinion that it does not form part of the authorized programme of the Liberal Party, and that it is of a Socialistic tendency? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham was very hard upon my right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board (Mr. A. J. Balfour), because ho said that he had made a disclosure never heard before, to the effect that Her Majesty's Government intended to propose that the Local Authorities in the counties should be invested with powers to facilitate the acquisition of allotments by the labouring classes. I can only say that, so far from that being a new principle, as has been said in this debate, it is a principle which has been accepted and adopted in legislation for many years past; and although there are points connected with the question of compulsion to which I cannot hold out to the right hon. Gentleman any hope that Her Majesty's Government would be able to adhere, yet, if the right hon. Gentleman does attach any importance to the statement made by my right hon. Friend that the Local Authorities will be invested with these important powers, instead of supporting the hon. Member for Ipswich, he ought to have invited him to withdraw his Motion, in order that we might have an opportunity for laying our proposals before the House. The hon. Member for Ipswich has taken a long and, as I believe, a sincere interest in this question. He took up the case of the agricultural labourer before the agricultural labourer had a vote. I cannot say as much for the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. I believe that in all guilelessness, in all earnestness, and, I may say, in all impatience, the hon. Member for Ipswich has placed this Motion on the Notice Paper; but I cannot help thinking that some one craftier than himself has since that, so to speak, "got at" the hon. Member; for I believe that otherwise he would either, after discussion of that which is, after all, a mere detail in the great programme of legislation, have withdrawn his Amendment, in order that he might put forward to the House his own proposals in the shape of a Bill or a Motion, or that he would have endeavoured to engraft Amendments on the Government scheme rather than press to a division this evening a proposition vague and inconclusive in itself, and one which, as my right hon. Friend has already said, could not, even if carried, advance the cause of the agricultural labourer one inch in the direction in which he desires to go. No, Sir; as we now know, this is not a move for the benefit of the agricultural labourer. It is a move on the part of the Opposition, made for two reasons—in the first place, to turn the present Government out of Office. Well, I can assure hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite that if the result of the division to-night should be unfavourable to Her Majesty's Government we shall accept the decision without regret. We assumed Office reluctantly; and we shall leave it willingly as soon as we are assured that we do not possess the support of this House. But, Sir, the success of this Motion will have another and graver result than the defeat of Her Majesty's Government; and that is very well known to those hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway who took so novel and remarkable an interest earlier this evening in securing a division on the Motion of the hon. Member for Ipswich before Thursday next. Those hon. Gentlemen know well that the success of this Motion will not only defeat Her Majesty's Government, but that it will also defeat the policy which Her Majesty's Government have announced that they believe it to be their duty to pursue with reference to Ireland. That result may be grateful to them; but will it be equally grateful to hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite? ["Hear, hear!"] Then let them undertake the difficulties which we have had to face. But this I will say—if the probable result of this Motion be, as hon. Members in that quarter of the House desire, to place in Office a right hon. Gentleman who only on Thursday last made a speech in this House full of the vaguest possibilities with reference to the future connection of the two Kingdoms, then I do earnestly and sincerely press on hon. Members who value the Legislative Union between Great Britain and Ireland as much as we do to think once, twice, and thrice before they allow their sincere desire to promote the interests of the agricultural labourer to induce them, through this vague, unnecessary, and untimely Motion, to commit the future of their country to the gravest dangers that ever awaited the people of England.


Sir, the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has called upon me to state my opinion, and the course I shall take on this Amendment, before the House goes to a division; and I must admit that, considering the large amount of attention which I have been called upon to devote to the subject in the course of speeches to my constituents some short time ago, it is not unreasonable that I should state, in the fewest possible words, what course I feel bound to take. Now, Sir, I am not going into a discussion on the merits of this question at this hour of the night. I might have been prepared to do so at an earlier period of the evening, or I may be prepared to do so on a future occasion. All that I think I need say is this—that I agree to a very great extent with much that has fallen from my right hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Goschen); and I feel bound, in consistency with the language which I used to my constituents at the Election, to oppose the Amendment of the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Jesse Collings). Sir, my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) has made some observations, which I think he was perfectly justified in making, upon the want of consistency which has characterized the statements of Her Majesty's Government in this and other matters. Certainly, it is extremely difficult to recognize the statement which has just been made by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Focal Government Board (Mr. A. J. Balfour) with the statement made in an earlier period of the evening by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Chaplin). I can well understand that my right hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh can have very little more satisfaction in supporting Her Majesty's Government than he would have in supporting the Motion of the hon. Member for Ipswich. But while I agree with my right hon. Friend in the course he is going to take, I may say that if there had been time I should have put my opposition on a somewhat lower and somewhat different ground from that which he has taken. I have never said that I was opposed to legislation on this subject. On the contrary, I have always said that provision for allotments and possible provision for small holdings to be occupied by the labouring classes, or by a small class of tenant farmers, was an object which was very much to be desired. I have said that I desired that object to be accomplished by natural and self-acting means, and that it was through the operation of those natural causes, freed from all restraint, that I looked forward with so much hope to a better distribution of the land of this country. But I have never proposed or said that the operation of the public authorities must necessarily be excluded from this question. I have admitted that the compulsory acquisition of land for various public purposes has been sanctioned by various enactments; and that, therefore, I was totally unable to join in the cry of confiscation which has been raised in reference to this question; and, further, that if I were satisfied as to the details and the proper constitution of the authorities to whom such powers might be safely entrusted, I was not going to commit myself against the consideration of such questions. Therefore, I entirely agree with what was said by my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham when ho stated that this question was not excluded from the policy which was laid before the country by my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone). Certainly, I have never treated it as excluded, and I have never considered it as excluded. But what I have never understood until this evening is that it was intended that the Liberal Party should be invited, at the first assembling of Parliament, to lay down a vague and wide declaration establishing a principle without having under consideration the details of the measure by which that principle is to be carried out, or the character of the authorities to whom its execution is to be entrusted. That, Sir, is the reason why I find myself Tillable to support, and on the contrary obliged to oppose, the Motion of the hon. Member for Ipswich, which appears to lay down a principle novel in itself, and of very wide extent, without taking any security from the House that that principle will be carried out in a satisfactory manner. The objection that I have always taken since this subject has boon before the country is that it has been given a far wider importance than that which belongs to it. I thought that it raised too great hopes—I trust not false hopes—in the minds of the agricultural labourers of the country. I thought that it led them to think that by the operation of Parliament, acting through some Local Authorities not defined and not yet created, the prospect was being held out to them that their position was to be definitely and permanently improved; whereas, I believe, all great or permanent improvement in their position is only to be effected in the same way as that of other classes in this country has been accomplished— through their own exertions, and through the increased and increasing prosperity of the whole country. Sir, I trust that the condition of the labouring classes has within recent years—I am not speaking of the last year or two—been greatly improved. I believe that the wages of the agricultural labourers have been increased; I believe that their standard of living has improved, and that their houses have also been improved. To what has all this improvement been due? It has been due to the increased spirit of independence, to the increased intelligence and power of combination which has been exercised by those agricultural labourers, in the same way as the other labouring classes throughout the country have been able to improve their condition. But if you are to tell them that they are to look forward to some other agency — not to their own exertions, or to their own power of combination, but that they are to look to something which, if it is not charity, very closely resembles charity—then, Sir, I am afraid you will take away from them one of the greatest inducements and one of the greatest stimulants to exertion which have, to a great extent, already improved their condition, and which, I believe, will, if left to their full operation, still further improve their condition. Well, Sir, I also attach great importance to the consideration—much dwelt upon by my right hon. Friend (Mr. Goschen) to-night—that the hopes which were thus raised might be doomed to disappointment of another character. These benefits are to be conferred on the agricultural labourers by Local Authorities at the expense of the rates, or, if not at the expense of the rates, by the investment of money raised on the security of the rates. What guarantee have we at present that even if legislation of this sort be carried into effect the representatives of the ratepayers will be inclined to give it any very extended operation? We have already, in our great intelligent manufacturing towns, some experience upon this point. The representatives of the ratepayers have already the power of expending the rates for various purposes of public improvement; but they have shown themselves extremely slow to exercise it. They have shown themselves generally far more careful of the ratepayers' pockets than anxious to embark in new and untried schemes for the benefit of those for whose interest powers were granted. Well, Sir, what reason is there to believe that very similar results will not happen in rural communities, and that the representatives of the ratepayers, however they may be elected, will not be very slow in risking the money of the ratepayers, which it is their duty to administer in schemes of this sort? Therefore, Sir, I think that great disappointment is likely to ensue from the comparatively limited operation which I anticipate any scheme in this direction is likely for a very considerable number of years to have. I am extremely anxious not to delay the House upon this question— I do not know that there is anything further that it is absolutely necessary I should refer to. The House will easily understand that it is not an agreeable duty, but that it is, indeed, a painful duty on my part, to separate myself in any degree from those with whom I have so long acted, and with whom I hope to be able still generally to act. I can entirely bear out what has been said by my right hon. Friend to-night— that I have never understood that the advocacy of these measures was in any degree excluded from the policy of the Liberal Party. I have always recognized that any Member of the Liberal Party was free to advocate those measures, and to advocate them to the very fullest extent; but also, in justice to my right hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Goschen), I must admit that I had never until to-day understood that the laying down of a wide, a far-reaching principle of the kind embodied in this Amendment was to be adopted as part of the policy of the whole Liberal Party. I am anxious to say that, in my opinion, the whole of this question depends upon the details of the proposed measure. I am anxious to see the details of the measure, whether it be brought in by Her Majesty's present Government or by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Jesse Collings). To any measure dealing with this question, from whatever quarter in the House it may be introduced, I am willing to give a candid and, I hope, a fair consideration. But certainly, Sir, I feel it would be inconsistent with everything which I have said upon this subject during the last few months if I were to take this, the earliest and the strongest opportunity of which I can avail myself, of placing in the Address in reply to Her Majesty's Gracious Speech a paragraph pledging myself and pledging the House to the adoption of a principle without having any conception whatever of the authorities by whom that principle is to be carried out, or of the details by which it is to be administered.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 329; Noes 250: Majority 79.

Abraham, W. (Glam) Carbutt, E. H.
Abraham, W. (Lime-rick, W.) Carew, J. L.
Chamberlain, rt. hn. J.
Acland, A. H. D. Chamberlain, R.
Agnew, W. Chance, P. A.
Allison, R. A. Channing, F. A.
Arch, J. Clancy, J. J.
Armitage, B. Clark, Dr. G. B.
Asher, A. Cobb, H. P.
Ashton, T. G. Cobbold, F. T.
Atherley-Jones, L. Cohen, A.
Baker, L. J. Coleridge, hon. B.
Balfour, Sir G. Colman, J. J.
Balfour, rt. hon. J. B. Commins, A.
Barbour, W. B. Compton, Lord W. G.
Barclay, J. W. Condon, T. J.
Barry, J. Connolly, L.
Bass, Sir A. Conway, M.
Beaumont, H. F. Conybeare, C. A. V.
Beith, G. Cook, E. R.
Bennett, J. Cook, W.
Biddulph, M. Cook, T.
Biggar, J. G. Corbet, W. J.
Blades, J. H. Corbett, A. C.
Blaine, A. Cossham, H.
Blake, T. Cox, J. R.
Bolton, J. C. Cozens-Hardy, H. H.
Bolton, T. H. Craven, J.
Borlase, W. C. Crawford, D.
Bradlaugh, C. Crawford, W.
Bright, W. L. Cremer, W. R.
Broadhurst, H. Crilly, D.
Brown, A. H. Crompton, C.
Bruce, hon. R. P. Crossley, E.
Brunner, J. T. Crossman, Gen. Sir W.
Bryce, J. Currie, Sir D.
Buchanan, T. R. Davies, R.
Buckley, A. Dilke, rt. hn, Sir C. W.
Burt, T. Dillon, J.
Buxton, E. N. Dillwyn, L. L.
Byrne, G. Dixon, G.
Cameron, C. Dodds, J.
Cameron, J. M. Duckham, T.
Campbell, Sir G. Duff, R. W.
Campbell, H. Duncan, D.
Campbell, R. F. F. Durant, J. C.
Campbell-Bannerman, Elliot, hon. H. F. H.
right hon. H. Ellis, J.
Ellis, J. E. Jordan, J.
Esmonde, Sir T. Kay-Shuttleworth, Sir
Esslemont, P. U. J.
Fairbairn, Sir A. Kelly, B.
Farquharson, Dr. R. Kenny, M. J.
Fenwick, C. Kenrick, W.
Finlay, R. Kilcoursie, Viscount
Finlayson, J. Kinnear, J. B.
Finucane, J. Kitching, A. G.
Fletcher, B. Labouchere, H.
Flower, C. Lacaita, C. C,
Flynn, J. C. Lalor, R.
Foley, P. J. Lane, W. J.
Forster, Sir C. Lawson, H. L. W.
Foster, Dr. B. Leahy, J.
Fowler, H. H. Leake, R.
Fox, F. Leamy, E.
Fry, L. Leicester, J.
Fuller, G. P. Macfarlane, D. H.
Gardner, H. MacInnes, M.
Gaskell, C. G. Milnes- Mackintosh, C. F.
Gibb, T. E. Maclean, F. W.
Gilhooly, J. M'Arthur, A.
Gill, H. J. M'Carthy, J.
Gill, T. P. M'Carth'y, J. H.
Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E. M'Culloch, J.
Gladstone, H. J. M'Donald, P.
Glyn, hon. P. C. M'Donald, Dr. R.
Gourley, E. T. M'Iver, L.
Gower, G. G. L. M'Kenna, Sir J. N.
Grafton, F. W. M'Lagan, P.
Grant, Sir G. M. Mappin, F. T.
Gray, E. D. Marjoribanks, hon. E.
Green, H. Marum, E. M.
Grenfell, W. H. Maskelyne, M. H. N.
Grey, Sir E. Story-
Grosvenor, right hon. Mason, S.
Lord R. Mather, W.
Gurdon, R. T. Mayne, T.
Haldane, R. B. Mellor, J. W.
Hamilton, J. G. C. Menzies, R. S.
Harcourt, rt. hn. Sir W. Milbank, Sir F. A.
G. V. V. Molloy, B. C.
Harker, W. Montagu, S.
Harrington, E. Morgan, rt. hon. G. O.
Harris, M. Morley, A.
Havelock-Allan, Sir Morley, J.
H. M. Moulton, J. F.
Hayden, L. P. Mundella, rt. hn. A. J.
Hayne, C. Seale- Newnes, G.
Healy, M. Noel, E.
Healy, T. M. Nolan, Colonel J. P.
Heneage, E. Nolan, J.
Henry, M. O'Brien, J. F. X.
Hibbert, J. T. O'Brien, P. J.
Hingley, B. O'Brien, W.
Hobhouse, H. O'Connor, A.
Hooper, J. O'Connor, J.
Howard, E. S. O'Connor, T. P.
Howell, G. O'Doherty, J. E.
Hoyle, I. O'Hanlon, T.
Hunter, W. A. O'Hea, P.
Ince, H. B. O'Kelly, J.
Ingram, W. J. Otter, F.
Jacks, W. Palmer, C. M.
Jacoby, J. A. Parker, C. S.
James, C. H. Parnell, C. S.
Jenkins, Sir J. J. Paulton, J. M.
Jenkins, D. J. Peacock, R.
Johns, J. W. Pease, Sir J. W.
Johnson-Ferguson, J. E. Pease, A. E.
Pease, H. F.
Joicey, J. Pickard, B.
Pickersgill, E. H. Stack, J.
Picton, J. A. Stafford, Marquess of
Pilkington, G. A. Stansfeld, rt. hon. J.
Playfair, rt. hon. Sir L. Stevenson, F. S.
Portman, hon. E. B. Storey, S.
Potter, T. B. Strong, R.
Powell, W. R. H. Stuart, J.
Power, P. J. Sturgis, H. P.
Price, T. P. Sullivan, D.
Priestly, B. Sullivan, T. D.
Pugh, D. Sutherland, T.
Pulley, J. Swinburne, Sir J.
Pyne, J. D. Tanner, C. K.
Quilter, W. C. Taylor, F.
Rathbone, W. Tennant, Sir C.
Redmond, J. E. Thomas, A.
Redmond, W. H. K. Thompson, Sir H. M.
Reed, Sir E. J. Trevelyan, rt. hn. G.O.
Reid, H. G. Tuite J.
Rendel, S. Vanderbyl, P.
Reynolds, W. J. Wardle, H.
Richard, H. Warmington, C. M.
Richardson, T. Wason, E.
Rigby, J. Watson, T.
Roberts, J. (Crnvn. E.) Watt, H.
Roberts, J. (Flt. Bghs.) Wayman, T.
Robertson, E. West, Colonel W. C.
Robinson, T. West, H. W.
Robson, W. S. Weston, J. D.
Roe, T. Whitbread, S.
Rogers, J. E. T. Will, J. S.
Roscoe, Sir H. E. Williams, A. J.
Russell, C. Williams, J. C.
Russell, E. R. Williams, P.
Ruston, J. Wilson, Sir M.
Rylands, P. Wilson, H. J.
Salis-Schwabe, Col. G. Wilson, I.
Samuelson, Sir B. Wilson, J. (Durham)
Saunders, W. Wilson, J. (Edinburgh)
Sexton, T. Winterbotham, A. B.
Shaw, T. Wolmer, Viscount
Sheehan, J. D. Woodall, W.
Sheehy, D. Woodhead, J.
Sheil, E. Wright, C.
Shirley, W. S. Yeo, F.
Small, J. F.
Smith, W. B. TELLERS.
Spencer, hon. C. R. Collings, J.
Spensley, hon. H. Verney, Captain E. H.
Spicer, H.
Addison, J. E. W. Beadel, W. J.
Agg-Gardner, J. T. Bentinck, rt. hn. G. C.
Ainslie, W. G. Beresford, Lord C. W.
Allsopp, G. De la Poer
Ambrose, W. Bethell, Commander
Amherst, W. A. T. Bigwood, J.
Ashmead-Bartlett, E. Birkbeck, E.
Baden-Powell, G. S. Blaine, R. S.
Baggallay, E. Blundell, Col. H. B. H.
Baily, L. R. Bonsor, H. C. O.
Balfour, rt. hon. A. J. Boord, T. W.
Balfour, G. W. Borthwick, Sir A.
Barnes, A. Bourke, right hon. R.
Bartley, G. C. T. Bridgeman, Col. hon.
Barttelot, Sir W. B. F. C.
Bates, Sir E. Bristowe, T. L.
Baumann, A. A. Brodrick, hon. W. St.
Beach, right hon. Sir J. F.
M. E. Hicks- Brookfield, A. M.
Beach, W. W. B. Brooks, J.
Bullard, H. Gathorne-Hardy, hon.
Burdett-Coutts, W. L. J. S.
Ash. -B. Gent-Davis, R.
Burghley, Lord Gibson, J. G.
Campbell, Sir A. Giles, A.
Chaplin, right hon. H. Goldsworthy, Major-General W. T.
Charrington, S.
Churchill, rt. hn. Lord R. H. S. Gorst, Sir J. E.
Goschen, rt. hon. G. J.
Clarke, E. Green, E.
Coddington, W. Greenall, Sir G.
Cohen, L. L. Gregory, G. B.
Commerell, Adml. Sir J. Grey, A.
Grimston, Viscount
Compton, F. Gunter, Colonel R.
Cooke, C. W. R. Hall, A. W.
Coope, O. E. Hall, C.
Corbett, J. Hallett, Colonel F. C.
Cotton, Capt. E. T. D. Hughes-Halsey, T. F.
Courtney, L. H.
Cranborne, Viscount Hamilton, Lord C. J.
Cross, rt. hn. Sir R. A. Hamilton, Lord E.
Cross, H. S. Hamilton, Lord F. S.
Crossley, Sir S. B. Hamilton, right hon. Lord G. F.
Cubitt, right hon. G.
Curzon, Viscount Hamilton, Col. C. E.
Davies, D. Hamley, Gen. Sir E. B.
Davies, W. Hanbury, R. W.
Dawnay, Colonel hon. Hankey, F. A.
L. P. Hardcastle, E.
Dawson, R. Hardcastle, F.
De Cobain, E. S. W. Hartington, Marq. of
Denison, E. W. Haslett, J. H.
Denison, W. B. Heaton, J. H.
De Worms, Baron H. Hervey, Lord F.
Dimsdale, Baron R. Hickman, A.
Dixon, G. Hill, Lord A. W.
Dixon-Hartland, F. D. Hill, A. S.
Donkin, R. S. Holland, rt. hon. Sir H. T.
Duncan, Colonel F.
Duncombe, A. Holmes, rt. hon. H.
Dyke, rt. hon. Sir W. H. Hope, right hon. A. J. B. B.
Eaton, H. W. Houldsworth, W. H.
Ebrington, Viscount Howard, J.
Edwardes-Moss, T. C. Howard, J. M.
Egerton, Admiral hon. F. Hubbard, rt. hn. J. G.
Hughes, Colonel E.
Egerton, hon. A. de T. Hunt, F. S.
Egerton, hn. A. J. F. Hunter, Sir G.
Elliot, hon. A. R. D. Hutton, J. F.
Ellis, Sir J. W. Isaacs, L. H.
Evelyn, W. J. Jackson, W. L.
Ewart, W. James, rt. hon. Sir H.
Ewing, A. O. Jennings, L. J.
Farquharson, H. R. Johnston, W.
Feilden, Lt-Gen. R. J. Jones, P.
Fellowes, W. H. Kennaway, Sir J. H.
Fergusson,rt. hn. Sir J. Kenyon, hon. G. T.
Field, Captain E. Ker, R. W. B.
Finch, G. H. Kimber, H.
Finch-Hatton, hon. M. E. G. King, H. S.
King-Harman, Colonel E. R.
Fisher, W. H.
Fitzgerald, R. U. P. Knatchbull-Hugessen, hon. H. T.
Fitz-Wygram, Sir F.
Fletcher, Sir H. Lawrance, J. C.
Folkestone, Viscount Lawrence, Sir T.
Forwood, A. B. Lawrence, W. F.
Fowler, Sir R. N. Lechmere, Sir E. A. H.
Fraser, General C. C. Leighton, S.
Gardner, R. Richard-son- Lethbridge, Sir R.
Lewisham, Viscount
Llewellyn, E. H. Ross, A. H.
Lloyd, W. Round, J.
Long, W. H. Russell, Sir G.
Lowther, hon. W. St. Aubyn, Sir J.
Lubbock, Sir J. Sandys, Lieut.-Col. T. M.
Macartney, J. W. E.
Macdonald, right hon. J. H. A. Saunderson, Maj. E. J.
Sclater-Booth, rt. hn. G.
Maclean, J. M. Seely, C.
Macnaghten, E. Selwin-Ibbetson, rt. hon. Sir H. J.
M'Calmont, Captain J.
M'Garel-Hogg, Sir J. Seton-Karr, H.
Makins, Colonel W. T. Sidebottom, T. H.
Manners, rt. hon. Lord J. J. R. Sidebottom, W.
Sitwell, Sir G. R.
March, Earl of Smith, A.
Marriott, rt. hn. W. T. Smith, D.
Marton, Maj. G. B. H. Stanhope, rt. hon. E.
Maxwell, Sir H. E. Stanley, rt. hn. Col. F.
Mills, C. W. Stanley, E. J.
Morgan, hon. F. Stewart, M.
Mount, W. G. Sturrock, P.
Mowbray, rt, hon. Sir J. R. Temple, Sir R.
Tipping, W.
Mulholland, H. L. Tollemache, H. J.
Muncaster, Lord Tomlinson, W. E. M.
Muntz, P. A. Trotter, H. J.
Murdoch, C. T. Tyler, Sir H. W.
Newark, Viscount Valentine, C. J.
Norris, E. S. Vincent, C. E. H.
Northcote, hon. H. S. Walsh, hon. A. H. J.
Norton, R. Waring, Colonel T.
O'Neill, hon. R. T. Watson, J.
Paget, R. H. Webster, Sir R. E.
Pearce, W. Westlake, J.
Peel, right hn. Sir R. White, J. B.
Pelly, Sir L. Whitley, E.
Percy, Lord A. M. Winn, hon. R.
Plunket, rt. hon. D. R. Wodehouse, E. R.
Pomfret, W. P. Wortley, C. B. Stuart-
Powell, F. S. Wroughton, P.
Price, Captain G. E. Yorke, J. R.
Puleston, J. H. Young, C. E. B.
Raikes, rt. hon. H. C. TELLERS.
Ritchie, C. T. Douglas, A. Akers-
Robertson, J. P. B. Walrond, Col. W. H.

Main Question, as amended, proposed.


Of course, Sir, we quite appreciate the nature of the vote at which the House has arrived; and I think that the proper course for me to take, remembering that the ordinary meeting of the House to-morrow would be at an early hour, is to move that the House, at its rising, do adjourn until Thursday next.


The right hon. Gentleman has not yet moved the adjournment of the debate.


Then, Sir, I first move the adjournment of the debate on the Address.

Motion made, and Question, "That the Debate be adjourned till Thursday," —(Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer,)— put, and agreed to.


I beg to move that the House, at its rising, do adjourn until Thursday next.

Motion made, and Question, "That this House, at the rising of the House this day, do adjourn till Thursday,"—(Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer,)—put, and agreed to.


I am afraid I am again in fault on a matter of form. My intention was to move the immediate adjournment of the House. I beg to move—"That this House do now adjourn."

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn." —(Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer.)


Mr. Speaker, I do not see why the House should not go on and get through with its ordinary Business. As we have beaten the right hon. Gentleman once this evening, I hope he will not put us to the trouble of boating him again on this question of adjournment.


It appears to me, Mr. Speaker, from my recollection of many critical votes in this House, that the course proposed to be taken by the right hon. Gentleman on the present occasion is in accordance with the usual custom and the precedents. Therefore, if the Government feel that in consequence of the vote that has been arrived at by the House it is desirable that they should examine their position, it is the uniform custom of the House to suspend the immediate prosecution of Business; and I think that the adoption of any other course would be inconvenient, and would probably lead to confusion.

Question put, and agreed to.

House adjourned at a quarter after One o'clock.