§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ SIR JOHN ST. AUBYN (Cornwall, W., St. Ives)
I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Sir John St. Aubyn.)
§ MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
I have a much stronger objection to this Bill than I had to the last. The Bill does not deal, I think, with a single one of the great grievances we in Cornwall complain of. The public of Cornwall are in favour of a far more direct and stringent reform of the laws relating to mining leases than anything contained in this measure. This measure has been condemned by the public opinion of the county as inadequate and useless to remedy the evils which are complained of. The people of Cornwall, taken as a body, are in favour of the establishment of a Mining Commission for the purpose of dealing with mining questions. The china clay industry, in particular, has been ostentatiously excluded from whatever benefit this Bill may give, and there is a very strong feeling against the Bill upon that ground alone. The question of dues upon profits, 1626 which is really the burning question in connection with the important mining industry of Cornwall, is not dealt with at all by this Bill; while questions connected with compensation for improvements, fines, and other matters of great importance to the adventurers and others concerned in the mines in Cornwall, are treated in the most inadequate fashion. It is perfectly well known that a measure has been introduced in this House to extend to the whole country, and to deal in a systematic and a thoroughly reforming manner with all the questions in which great interest is felt in every mining constituency of the country. The passing of this Bill would simply be used as an argument in favour of excluding Cornwall from the benefits of the Mines Bill when it comes to be passed in a future Session. This matter has been fully discussed throughout Cornwall, and the feeling has been most strongly expressed that while all classes are anxious for some reform it would be a very great mistake to rush through Parliament a very inefficient and inadequate reform this Session, thus depriving, possibly, Cornishmen of the advantages of a much more thorough-going measure of reform which may come next Session, or the Session after. I am speaking what is common knowledge in the district to which I allude, when I say that this zeal on the part of the landlords and other interested persons for a reform of the law regulating mines is perfectly new, and was never exhibited before my candidature for a seat in this House last year. Nothing will satisfy them now than to rush through Parliament a paltry Bill, in order to bilk a great measure which practically meets the wishes of all the Mining Representatives in the House of Commons. I have no hesitation whatever in moving the adjournment of the debate upon this Bill, as I did upon the last, but with this difference—that I shall now press it to a division.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Londonderry, S.)
I beg to second the Motion of the hon. Member (Mr. Conybeare). In my judgment, small reforms like this prevent the passing of larger ones. While, of course, it is very nice for hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway on the other side of the House to propose Bills of this kind, we should have great regard for the opinion of those who really 1627 represent the working miners. Practically it all amounts to this—where two-thirds of the landed class in this country want to let a mine, they can do so in spite of the other one-third. What possible advantage does that give to the mining population of the country? None whatever. What good is done to the great mass of people who want to be benefited by Bills of this class? I say none whatever. I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on his moderation in not opposing the Bill by a block. Hon. Members representing English constituencies make a great mistake if they suppose that because we have not many mines in Ireland we do not take an interest in this matter. We do take great interest in it, not only on account of our own few mines, but on account of the interest we take in the mining population of this country, who are displaying such marked sympathy with the people of Ireland at this time. We Irish Members, however, have, perhaps, no right to interfere in a discussion affecting the demands of a place like Cornwall; still, we feel it right to point out that these petty reforms, framed in such a manner as to enable the Government to accept them, often prevent much larger and more beneficial measures being brought forward and carried to a successful issue. These small measures receive the name of "reforms," which in reality they are not. They are intended to make the people believe that something is being done for them. This is only a small Bill touching the fringe of the question, and that is why hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway opposite accept it. We think that hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway are right in offering opposition, and if the hon. Member persists in his Motion he will get our support.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Conybeare.)
§ SIR JOHN ST. AUBYN (Cornwall, W., St. Ives)
If the hon. Member had given attention to the Bill he would not have said, as he did, that the clause which provides that two-thirds of the landed class can control the letting of mines is the only important clause in the Bill. There are other important clauses. I would point out——
§ MR. CONYBEARE
I rise to Order, Mr. Speaker. Is not the Question before 1628 the House the Motion for the adjournment of the debate? The hon. Member has no right to go into the merits of the Bill.
§ SIR JOHN ST. AUBYN
I ask the indulgence of the House for a few moments in order to answer the hon. and learned Gentleman who has just sat down, and to answer the hon. Gentleman below the Gangway. The latter said the measure had been universally condemned throughout the county of Cornwall, and that he thought it was a landlord's measure. He must know that it is not a Bill drawn up and approved solely by the landlords, but by those whose interests——
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member is now speaking to the Main Question, and not to the Motion for the adjournment of the debate.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 72; Noes 69: Majority 3.—(Div. List, No. 102.)
§ Debate adjourned till Thursday 3rd June.