HC Deb 21 September 1886 vol 309 cc1132-251

Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [20th September], "That the Bill be now read a second time."

And which Amendment was, To leave out from, the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words in the opinion of this House it is inexpedient, at the present time, to make any further alteration in the Irish Land Laws,"—(Mr. Penrose Fittgerald,) —instead thereof.

Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

Debate resumed.

MR. JOHN MORLEY (Newcastle-on-Tyne)

Mr. Speaker, I hope that I shall not have occasion to detain the House at any great length while I make a very few observations on the Bill now before us. The debate was wound up last night in a speech from the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Mr. Matthews) of great ability. I cannot help regretting, however, that the first occasion upon which the right hon. and learned Gentleman should have addressed the House should be an occasion upon which, in rather hard and high and imperious tones, he repudiated any prospect upon this question of reconciliation and harmony between the Government, of which he is a Member, and the majority of his own countrymen.


I am not an Irishman.


I beg the right hon. and learned Gentleman to pardon my mistake. I regret that I should have fallen into error; but I suppose that I was led into it by the previous connection of the right hon. and learned Gentleman with an Irish constituency, and the zeal which he previously evinced in his support of the views entertained by the great majority of the Irish Members. Well, Sir, it is quite true, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman said last night, when he told us that the Government, by the mouth of the noble Lord the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in conceding a day for this discussion, had warned the House that there was very little prospect of the Government coming, in the slightest degree, into agreement with the proposals of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell). It is quite true the noble Lord said that; but, while admitting that the noble Lord carefully took that position, I ventured, at the time, to entertain a hope that, upon examination, it might be found that the proposals of the hon. Member for Cork might not be wholly unacceptable to the Government. In the interval, and during the course of the discussion that followed, that hope, which I entertained before the Bill was brought in, has been strengthened rather than weakened; because, in that interval, we have been more and more reason why the Government should not throw away a single possible opportunity of assenting to any reasonable proposal of a conciliatory and harmonious kind. The position of the Government as regards the maintenance of social order in Ireland, the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir Michael HicksBeach) will agree with me, is not altogether a smooth or an easy one. The right hon. Baronet, I am sure, had that feeling in his mind when proposing, during the coming autumn and winter, the carrying out of a firm and a stern administrative policy, such as in 1883–4 and half of 1885 was attempted to be carried out, and was carried out with some degree of success, by my noble Friend (Earl Spencer). But the right hon. Baronet, and the Government as well, must feel that there are great and remarkable disadvantages in their case compared with the position of Earl Spencer. For one thing, Earl Spencer and his administration had the advantage, so far as it was one—and he (Earl Spencer) undoubtedly thought it was one—of the Crimes Act. The right hon. Baronet, however, has no such instrument as that at his disposal. Another thing, I remember, is that when Earl Spencer was able to keep a kind of order the branches of the Land League were then only scores, where now, since the Conservatives came into power last year, they are numbered by hundreds, or thousands. These are two enormous disadvantages; but there is a third which should make the Government especially careful to do all they can, as I say, to throw away no opportunity of conciliating Irish feeling, and to remove excuses, pretexts, and all good or bad reasons for Irish disorders. And the third reason why the Government should give no pretext or reason for the occurrence of disorder is that the Government themselves, by the answer given by the noble Lord opposite last Wednesday, have promised to bring in legislation of the utmost importance, which must unsettle a great deal in Ireland, whether it settles anything else or not. That promise has, undoubtedly, raised expectancy and created a suspense in the minds of the people, which makes it all the more desirable that the Government should do the best they can to remove every excuse for an outbreak of social disorder. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department told us, in plain and straightforward terms last night, that the Government would not assent to the second reading of the Bill of the hon. Member for Cork, as they did not believe it was in any way necessary or justifiable. I am not going to labour the point as to the fall in prices; but I must say it seems to me that the hon. Member for Cork made out a case under that head which has not in the least degree been overthrown, either by the figures of the hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. Penrose Fitzgerald) or any of those who came after him, including the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for Ireland (Mr. Gibson). [Laughter.] Well, I know that a considerable number of statistics were adduced on the other side of the House, but those statistics were not really tested and measured; and I will only give one instance of the want of proper preparation which marked a great deal of the criticism under that head. The hon. Member for Cork stated—what was not denied by the hon. Member for Cambridge, and what was admitted by the Chief Secretary for Ireland on the previous day—that there had been an enormous fall in the prices of butter and of stock. But the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for Ireland got up and said with an air of triumph—"Ah! but there is a rise of 60 per cent in the price of wool." Now, what does that amount to? I am not going to weary the House with many figures. These are the only figures I mean to read; but they will enable the House to see what weight ought to attach to this enormous rise of 60 per cent in the price of wool, and how little that rise affects the argument of the hon. Member for Cork. I have here a Return which was prepared by very competent authorities in Ireland when I was at Dublin Castle. This estimated Return shows that the gross value of the crops grown in Ireland in 1885 was £29,873,000. The value of milk and its products is taken at £14,000,000. The sum estimated for live stock is £16,800,000. Now, on the other side of the question, the total of the wool, the increase in the price of which has so rejoiced the hon. and learned Gentleman, was only £320,000. So that, while there was a depreciation in the prices of produce and stock valued at £30,000,000, all that could be said on the other side was that there was an increase in the prices of an article which represented £320,000. I do not believe any of the other figures were more valuable as an argument in respect of the fall of prices. I am not going to labour, either, the question whether or not the Land Commissioners did take into account a probable fall in prices when awarding judicial rents. All I know is, that when I left Ireland the universal opinion—I think I may say not only among the partizans of the hon. Member for Cork, but also among those who look at the question in a more impartial way—was that rents had not been valued with a view to leaving a margin for a possible depreciation in prices. The hon. Member for North Meath (Mr. Mahony), who has been an Assistant Commissioner, has given us his testimony on the point; and I may say that not very long ago I met another Assistant Commissioner, a gentleman who has been at work since the commencement of the Act, and is at work at this moment, and he assured me that it was a matter of common notoriety that the Sub-Commissioners, in fixing rents, had simply looked back upon an average of five or six years, and had not looked forward to the probabilities of the future with a view of making allowance for a fall. This gentleman told me, too, that since the depreciation became very marked and decisive the reductions in rent had been very much larger, and had brought the rent much lower down in proportion to the Poor Law valuation than had been the case anterior to the 1st of January, 1885. I took the trouble to verify, by looking at his awards, that gentleman's statement, and I found that his statement was fully borne out by the actual figures of those awards. I need not, however, dwell at all on these points; because, after all, the remarks of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department did not deal so much with the merits of the Bill as with the contention of my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone), that the appointment of the Commission does, in fact, constitute a primâ facie case for the second reading of the Bill now before the House. The right hon. and learned Gentleman denied that the terms of the Reference of the Commission bore out my right hon. Friend's contention, that the Government must have some information which led them to suppose that it was at least a possibility, that judicial rents had been fixed too high in view of the depression which has since taken place in the value of produce. He read the terms of the Reference to the Commission, and he laid great stress on the words "if any," as if it was meant to imply that there was no depreciation in prices. What did Lord Salisbury say? The right hon. and learned Gentleman was very indignant with my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lothian, because he did not quote the very words of Lord Salisbury. I do not think that a quotation of the very words of Lord Salisbury in any way shakes my right hon. Friend's case, or the case of those who say that the position of the Government really indicates the possibility of such legislation as this, in some form or other, being expedient. Lord Salisbury said— I have great doubts whether this inability to pay is true to a great extent. You see, Lord Salisbury did not imply that it did not exist to any extent. Then Lord Salisbury went on to say— But if it should turn out that the Courts have made blunders, and that there is that impossibility in any case of paying rent, I think it is not the landlords who should bear the loss; I think this would be one of the cases for the application of the principle of purchase by the State."—(3 Hansard, [308] 67–8–9) The right hon. Baronet opposite the Chief Secretary for Ireland also, on the 23rd of August, used these words— Her Majesty's Government have never, from the beginning of this matter, looked upon the Commissioners who have decided rents as infallible, either in their method or in their knowledge of the question. We admit that it is possible that they may have been wrong; and, therefore, we include this matter in the inquiry which we propose."—(3 Hansard, [308] 298.) But the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Mr. Matthews) complains of my right hon. Friend for applying a strained and undue interpretation to the terms of the Reference and to the position taken by the Members of the Government. I should like to argue that point. Let us see what the Government have said. They have admitted, at any rate, that there is a possibility that the awards of the Commissioners may have been erroneous, and that blunders may have been made. [Ministerial laughter.] Oh, yes; but that is so. Now, upon that admission, the hon. Memberfor Cork and those who support his Bill found the case for such a Bill as is now before us. Suppose your Commissioners should ultimately report that rents in some cases have been too high. ["No, no!"] But you cannot deny the possibility of that being the tenour of their Report; you admit the point to be a doubtful one; by the mouth of the Chief Secretary you have admitted it to be an open question. Well, the Bill treats it as an open question, and does no more than treat it as an open question. ["Oh, oh!"] I say it does no more. The 1st clause gives a purely judicial discretion to a judicial tribunal. The Bill makes the Land Court do in detail, in cases as they arise, what your Commissioners have to do vaguely and at large. Is it not a fair statement of the purport of the Bill that the Land Court becomes under this Bill a Commission of Inquiry, though a Commission, I am glad to admit, with executive powers? The Bill does, in fact, meet, though it does not decide, the point raised by Lord Salisbury himself of ultimate compensation by the State, if Parliament should think fit to accept Lord Salisbury's policy. What he says is that if it should turn out that the Courts have made blunders, and that there is an impossibility in any case of rent being paid, it is not the landlords who should bear the loss. Now, whether Lord Salisbury's view of compensation to the landlords out of the funds of the State be right or wrong, the Bill does not close—does not prejudge—the question whether the State or the landlord is to bear the loss. All that the Bill is founded upon, and what I chiefly value it for, is that if, in Lord Salisbury words, it should turn out that the Courts have made blunders, and that there is an impossibility in any cases of rents being paid, is the position that, whatever may be the rights between the landlords and the State, at any rate it is not the tenants who should bear the loss. The right hon. and learned Gentleman asked how we were to find out whether there has been blundering and consequent hardship? But how is your Commission to find it out, except by going into given individual cases? How are you so likely to get at cases of hardship, severity, and impossibility to pay rent so conveniently as by giving an open access to a Court? The right hon. and learned Gentleman said it would take years to investigate all the cases that may arise; but that is an objection that must apply quite as much to the Commission of the Government as it does to the Bill. To make Lord Salisbury's proposed compensation in given cases possible, how are you going to find out the cases except by judicial inquiry and investigation in Court? I hope some Member of the Government will meet that argument for the Bill. Our contention is—my contention at least is, in giving my support to the Bill—that it provides a better machinery and a better method for answering your own questions which you have put to your own Commission. It gives you a practised tribunal which has enormous daily experience gained by dealing with the very matter in hand, and it insists upon particular and specific proof coming from the parties concerned. The hon. Member for Cambridge asks the hon. Member for Cork to show how the Land Court is to distinguish between what he calls the "can't pays" from the "won't pays"? The hon. Member for Cambridge cannot have very well mastered the details of the Bill, for they show that the difficulty cannot arise. The Court will not have to distinguish between those who cannot pay and those who will not pay; because the onus probandi, the burden of proof, that a tenant cannot pay is thrown by the Bill upon the tenant who makes the application to the Court. I am so anxious that the House should understand the case for the Bill, which, to my sincere regret—and I say it in good faith—the Government are going to throw out—I am so anxious that the case should be understood, that I should like to point out three or four other objections that might have been easily obviated and met, if the Government would only have accepted the principle that there may be cases in which there is a bonâ fide impossibility to pay rent owing to the fall of prices, and that it is desirable that these cases should be investigated by the Land Court, and a judicial decision come to upon the merits of the cases. It has been said, as a reason why the Government cannot support the Bill, that the deposit of 50 per cent of the antecedent arrears of the rent is much too small. If that be all, why should not the Government have tried to alter the terms of the Bill and have raised the deposit from 50 to, say, 75 per cent? I do not say I am personally in favour of that course; but it is obvious that the objection to the Bill, that the amount of the deposit is too low, can be met by an Amendment in Committee. It is said that very few landlords, and no good landlords, would evict if tenants offered what the hon. Member for Cork first proposed—namely, a deposit of 75 per cent. I daresay that is so; but, if this be your objection, you can easily set it right in Committee. A second objection is that the Bill gives relief to tenants whose inability to pay arises not from a fall in prices, but from faults of their own, from excessive drinking of whisky, or excessive subscribing to testimonials. What could have been easier than to remedy what I think is an unfortunate omission in the Bill, by providing in half-a-dozen words that a tenant must show that his inability arose, as is assumed in the Preamble, from the fall in prices? Another objection is that it is said the Bill would give compulsory credit for half the rent, to every tenant who chooses to come to the Court, until his case is disposed of. It has also been maintained that the Bill takes stock out of possible assets. Now, both the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for Ireland and the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department made a mountain out of the molehill contained in this provision as to stock. Does not everyone in the House see that the question whether the stock should, or should not, be an asset is a matter which could be settled in an hour in Committee? In saying that, I pronounce no opinion on the merits of making stock an asset; but it is idle to refuse a second reading to a Bill of this importance and urgency, on account of objections which can so easily be met. It would have been easier for the Government to provide, as they were bound to do by the terms of the Reference to the Commission and by the language of their own speeches, all the safeguards and limitations which the ingenuity of hon. Members opposite could have invented. I do not say that all of us on this side would have approved of all those limitations; but you. have a majority—I wish you were going to put it to better use—and you might have moulded the Bill in its details. You might have made it a condition that the Court should dismiss applications summarily, where it should appear that the landlord has made an offer that the Court thinks reasonable. Landlords might also have had power given them, during the period of suspension, to apply to the Court for leave to issue an execution, if it should appear that crops or stock were being improperly made away with. It might also have softened the prejudices of hon. Members opposite, though I should have regarded the condition with great disfavour, if it had been provided that the remitted arrears should be charged upon the tenant right for a certain number of years, say three or four, on the ground, which lawyers understand, that a tenant ought not to acquire a right to retain his holding by a reduction of liabilities such as the Bill would provide for, and then pocket all the money which might actually come to him from the sale of the tenant right on quitting his holding. These are points in which the Bill might have been modified; and I think it probable that the hon. Member for Cork and his Friends would have been willing to consent to some of these modifications rather than the Bill should make shipwreck. Further, it would have been possible to introduce provisions by which all the dishonest practices indicated by speakers on that side of the House might have been entirely frustrated and rendered impossible. I cannot help thinking that the landlords are making, not for the first time in their history, a grievous mistake in allowing this Bill to be thrown out. I hope no worse thing may befall them. The effect of passing this Bill would have been, for one thing, to shift the odium of refusing a reduction, in cases in which reduction is not justified by the circumstances of the tenants, from the landlords to the Court; and I submit to hon. Gentlemen opposite from Ireland that that would have been no small advantage to the landlord in the relations between himself and the ten- ant. What have the landlords to fear from the cases going into Court? If their position is just; if there is no case for a reduction in consequence of depreciation; if the tenant who makes application in a given case is able to pay his rent, so far as the fall in prices affects his ability, why need the landlord fear any wrong being done or inflicted upon him? Perhaps the right hon. and learned Gentleman will take the opportunity later on of explaining that to the House. For my part, I cannot see it. From the point of view of the Executive Government, everything was to be gained by avoiding such collisions as are too likely to take place if the tenants who are unable to pay their rents from causes not under their own control are evicted and thrown out. It is quite as much the interest of the Executive Government, as it is the interest of the landlords, to get these cases into Court—to get the cases heard, so that there may be no sense of latent grievance in the minds of the tenants, and no want of confidence in the mind of the country at large, and no feeling in this country that injustice is being done. It would have strengthened the hands of the Government in whatever direction they may have elected to proceed as regards legislation in the future, and it would have mitigated the relations between landlord and tenant, if an assent had been given to the second reading of this Bill, subject to such modifications as I have indicated. I am glad, Sir, to gather, from the line taken almost unanimously by those who have spoken on that side of the House, that the necessity which has given rise to this Bill is bringing home to the minds of hon. Gentlemen from Ireland the necessity and the expediency of getting the Land Question settled on a firm and stable basis. Sir, I have always contended, for my part, that it is impossible to have social order in Ireland restored until you have the Land Question dealt with in a bold and courageous spirit. ["Hear, hear!"] Yes; but I do not consider that it will be dealt with in a bold and courageous spirit, if you are going to make the Imperial State the direct landlord of the tenants of Ireland, and if you are going to advance millions of money, as you are about probably to do, from the British Exchequer. That solution is impossible, unless you have an Irish State authority interposed as a buffer between the tenant and the State landlord. I agree most fully that you may deal, and will probably find it convenient to deal, with these two questions in distinct measures; but I submit that the course of this debate has shown that even you on that side know that it is impossible to have peace in Ireland so long as you have a great body of tenants in Ireland in the relations that now exist between themselves and the body of gentlemen whom, by a long and unfortunate tradition, they have been brought to regard with feelings of the utmost hostility.

COLONEL KING-HAEMAN (Kent, Isle of Thanet)

No, no!


What, the hon. and gallant Gentleman says no such feelings exist!


I say not for a long time—not for five years.


Does the hon. and gallant Gentleman say that this relation—this hostility between the landlord and tenant in Ireland is only a matter of five years, and do hon. Gentlemen approve of the statement! Why, Sir, what is the whole history of Ireland but a history of an incessant land war? What has been the reason and justification for all your long array of Coercion Acts, if it has not been for the land war? ["No, no!"] Why, does the hon. and gallant Gentleman think that the White Boys, the Rockites, and all the long list of agrarian mutineers, have only existed since the hon. Member for Cork took part in public affairs? I do not wish to use the word offensively; but a more ludicrous contention could not possibly be brought forward. A noble Duke in "another place," in the course of a discussion this Session, found great fault with me because I said somewhere or other that the Irish land system has been the most wretched and monstrous ever imposed on a country, and he said that was a great historical misrepresentation. I am not going into that question now, and I should not have referred to the subject but for the astonishing assertion of the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite; but I say, without fear of contradiction from anyone who knows what the history of the Land Question in Ireland has been, that it has been a most wretched and most monstrous system. I am not now dwelling on the great historic confiscation; but I make that assertion, that it has been a wretched and monstrous system, because your own Commissions—the Devon Commission, the Richmond Commission, and the Bessborough Commission—all show it. I say that the Irish landlord has been in the habit of preventing the Irish tenant from reaping the fruits of his industry. It is not the historic confiscations of centuries ago that weigh with me, but the constant daily confiscation that went on until the legislation of my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lothian. I am not going to prolong this argument. We shall have abundant occasions before we part with the Irish Question to go over all those points; but I should have been glad if we could have looked forward during the coming autumn and winter—all of us, in all parts of the House, and from all varieties of view—to being in a position—free from exposure to disturbance from agrarian outrage in Ireland—to look fairly into the merits of the questions which constitute the Irish problem. I believe the Bill of the hon. Member for Cork tends, as nothing else can, to give us this chance of a smooth and calm autumn and winter. Without that, depend upon it, when we meet again, whether in February or earlier, the country and the Members of this House will not be able to give the Irish, Question that calm, and full, and reasonable consideration which, as we are beginning to find out by disastrous experience, is more urgently than ever demanded.

MR. CHAPLIN (Lincolnshire, Sleaford)

said, he should not follow the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down into any controversy as to the relations between Irish landlords and tenants, except to remark that those relations had been greatly aggravated since the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian,(Mr. W. E. Gladstone) had tried to deal with the subject. He must also tell the right hon. Gentleman, with reference to his statement that the whole tendency of the Reports of the Bess-borough and Richmond Commissions had gone to prove that the Irish landlords had been for years engaged in depriving Irish tenants of the fruits of their industry, that if he would take the trouble to study them with a little more care he would find that they pointed to an exactly opposite conclusion. Indeed, as a proof of that statement, he might refer to the words of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, who had declared, on the occasion of the passing of the Land Act of 1881, that the great majority of the Irish landlords had been placed upon their trial; and that, having been tried, they had been acquitted. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. John Morley) began his observations by offering the Government some reasons, which he said were far stronger than any which existed some months ago, for their acceptance of the proposals of the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell); and he reminded the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant, in a somewhat ominous tone, that no Crimes Act was now in existence. "Remember," said the right hon. Gentleman, "where some years ago there was but one branch of the Land League throughout Ireland there were now 20 or 30." This was nothing but the argument of fear, which the right hon. Gentleman had used with reference to another Bill, and which his experience at that time should have shown him that the House of Commons, and most certainly a Conservative Government, was not disposed to listen to. The right hon. Gentleman stated that the fact that the Government had resolved upon granting a Royal Commission to inquire into the working of the Land Act of 1881 was an additional reason forgiving support to the Bill of the hon. Member for the City of Cork. That was not a reasonable view to take of the proposal to hold the inquiry. If anything in the way of an argument at all, it was an additional reason for postponing legislation on the Irish Land Question at the present time. With respect to the question of the fall in prices, the right hon. Gentleman dealt with the contention that had been frequently used on that side of the House, that the Commissioners must have taken the fall of prices into consideration in fixing judicial rents. He said that several Land Commissioners whom he had spoken to assured him that nothing of the kind was taken into account at the time. That only showed that these particular Commissioners were totally unfitted for the discharge of the duties with which they had been entrusted. He remembered distinctly that at the time the Land Commissioners sat first of all there was a general expectation of a fall in prices. At all events, the matter was freely talked of at the time. There was one point upon which the right hon. Gentleman offered no explanation, but which he should like to hear explained by some hon. Member opposite. He wished to know how it was that, although so many Irish tenants were unable to pay their rents, as the House was informed, at the present time, they were always able to afford to give such exorbitant prices for the tenant right of any desirable holding? That question must be answered before hon. Members could justify themselves in supporting the proposals of the Bill, for it was absolutely impossible to contend that rents could be excessive so long as people were found every day in abundance ready to give extravagant prices for the privilege of paying these alleged excessive rents. There was another part of this question with which he wished to deal, and to which he desired to call the attention of the hon. Member for the City of Cork in particular. Judicial rents were not the only things that were authorized and provided for by the Land Act of 1881. That Act also authorized, among other things, the sale of tenant right in many parts of Ireland where it had not previously existed. But the Bill of the hon. Member for the City of Cork dealt only with the question of the reduction of rent; whereas it was obvious that if the rents were injuriously affected by the fall in prices the value of the tenant right must be equally affected by that circumstance. The hon. Member for the City of Cork professed to be anxious to do justice to all parties. He (Mr. Chaplin) should like to know whether the hon. Member would accept a modification which would apply the reduction asked for not only to rents but to tenant rights? He doubted very much whether a Bill containing such a provision as to reduce the tenant right by one-half would be so popular in Ireland. The right hon. Member for Mid Lothian had contended that the Reference to the Commission contained an admission of an inability on the part of the tenants to pay the judicial rents and a promise to afford them relief. But it did not follow that because the Government opposed this Bill they were determined not to afford any other form of relief to tenants who were placed in the unfortunate position of having undertaken to pay a higher judicial rent than the circumstances of their particular case rendered it possible for them to pay. He would now deal with the main provisions of the Bill for a few moments. The right hon. Member for Mid Lothian had taunted the Representatives of the Irish agricultural constituencies with having nothing whatever to say in opposition to the measure of the hon. Member for the City of Cork. He, therefore, as the Representative of an English agricultural constituency, desired to state the reason why he was altogether opposed to this Bill. He did not think that he should err greatly if he were to characterize this measure as the most extravagant, and he would even say the most impudent, proposal that had ever been submitted to Parliament. The speech in which the hon. Member introduced his Bill drew more largely on the credulity of the House than any speech he recollected. The hon. Member would have them believe that the operation of this Bill would be perfectly simple and easy, and that only a limited number of tenants would come under its consideration. He (Mr. Chaplin) doubted if that would be so. All that was intended was to compel the bad landlords in Ireland to do what the good landlords in Ireland and in England were already doing. He took issue with the hon. Member for Cork on each of these points; and he held that this Bill did nothing more nor less than postpone all proceeding for the recovery of one-half of the rents in Ireland, in all cases for a year, and in many cases for a period to which no limit whatever was assigned by the Bill. The Bill provided that a judicial tenant might make a certain application; and until that was disposed of all proceedings, even for the recovery of the half-year's rent, must be suspended for an indefinite period of time. What must such provisions of necessity lead to? The tenant would have to satisfy the Court of two things—first, that he had paid half his rent; and, secondly, that he could not pay the balance without depriving himself of the capital necessary for stocking his holding. By making such an application the tenant had nothing to lose, while he had much to gain; and it was not at all impro- bable that the provisions of the Bill would have the effect of inducing the greater portion of the tenants in Ireland to make such an application to the Court. In that case, what would become of the assertion of the hon. Member for the City of Cork that his Bill would apply to the cases of only a small number of the tenants? What new duties would this measure entail upon the Court? It might, doubtless, be easy enough for the Court to satisfy itself that half the rent had been paid; but how was it to satisfy itself in each individual case that the tenant could not pay the rest of the rent without depriving himself of sufficient capital to carry on and to stock his farm? This latter question was one which would depend upon a great variety of circumstances, each of which must receive the most serious consideration. The proposal, in fact, would involve a careful personal inspection, by a duly qualified person, of every single holding with regard to which the claim was made; and if he was right in his estimate of the probable number of claims, it would mean a general re-valuation of all the statutory holdings in Ireland. He hoped it would not be supposed from what he had said that he was lacking in sympathy with the agricultural tenants in Ireland. He had had too much experience himself of agricultural depression in this country at the present time; but he did wish to say this, in justification of their brother landlords in Ireland—that they were placed in a totally different position. The landlords in England had never come—and he hoped they never might—under the sinister influence of the legislation of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian. They might depend upon it that, if that should unhappily occur, there would be an end, as had happened already in Ireland, to the good feelings which had existed for so many years—and, thank God, still existed in England—between the landlords on the one hand and those who dwelt on their estates on the other. [Mr. MUNDELLA: The Agricultural Holdings Act.] The Agricultural Holdings Bill! If he remembered right, the Agricultural Holdings Bill was nothing but a copy of the measure on that subject which he had introduced himself on two or three occasions previously in the House. The legislation of the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian had altered the position of the Irish tenant altogether from what it had formerly been. The Irish tenant was now under the strict and severe regulation of the law. The whole matter had been altogether taken out of the hands of the landlords, and the contract entered into was between the tenants on the one hand and the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian, as representing the State, on the other. The right hon. Gentleman had insisted upon depriving the landlords of their rights and privileges, and had insisted upon the rents being judicially fixed. But, on the other hand, the right hon. Gentleman had induced Parliament to give the landlords, in return, a guarantee that under no circumstances would the judicial rents be interfered with for a period of 15 years, and that if from any cause the rents were not paid they should recover possession of their land. That was a distinct understanding, and it was an honourable understanding, on the part of Parliament, which Parliament, by all the pledges it had made, should adhere to. If this had been an arrangement between individuals, no one would dream of repudiating it for a moment; and he had yet to learn that the honour of Parliament and the good faith of the State was less to be prized and less to be observed than that of any individual in the country. But he held that Parliament was under an obligation of honour to the Irish landlords; but although, in his opinion, Parliament was barred from further interference with the landlords, he did not say there might not be further opportunities of giving relief to all classes. That was the position which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian took up last night when he said the Solicitor General for Ireland had declared against any relief in any shape whatever. That was not so. There might possibly be cases where tenants were really unable to pay their rents. They might even be so numerous—he (Mr. Chaplin) could not say, for he had no information—as to amount to a national calamity. But a national calamity was a thing to be borne, not by one class, but by all classes of the community. Why was that burden to be thrown on the landlords alone? The Government and the Parliament of that day recognized the principle that the landlords alone should not bear the burden in the case of the Arrears Bill; and if the necessity for giving the tenant relief had arisen now, he (Mr. Chaplin) knew no reason why the same principle which was adopted then should not be adopted in the coming Session of Parliament. Again, there was another mode in which relief might be given, though he confessed that he (Mr. Chaplin) was afraid of shocking the susceptibilities of hon. Gentlemen opposite by mentioning it. What was the cause of this trouble at the present time? Everybody admitted that it was caused by the fall in prices alone. Then a rise in prices would be the rational and certain remedy for the present state of things. Was it in their power to bring about in any way a rise in prices? Of course it was; it could be done in a moment. The hon. Member for the City of Cork last night gave the House a long list of articles the prices of which he said had fallen considerably. He, however, much to his (Mr. Chaplin's) surprise, omitted to mention one article. He said nothing about sheep. Now, as his information from Ireland went, sheep had risen very considerably in price lately. He (Mr. Chaplin) was told that 6s. a head was not too much at which to place the rise in price; but that was very judiciously omitted by the hon. Member for the City of Cork from his list. [An hon. MEMBER: He mentioned mutton.] Yes; but he thought the hon. Member for the City of Cork said that mutton had fallen, and he (Mr. Chaplin) did not understand how mutton could have fallen and sheep had risen. Then the hon. Member mentioned butter. That, no doubt, was a commodity of the greatest possible importance in the South of Ireland. But why had butter fallen? It had fallen from the simplest reason in the world—from the enormous increase in the consumption of American butterine, which he (Mr. Chaplin) believed was a nasty adulterated compound of which he had very little experience. Well, then, why not prohibit, or at all events limit considerably, the sale of butterine in Ireland? He was well assured, from all the confirmation that reached him, that no measure could be more popular in the South of Ireland at this time—that, in fact, it was infinitely more popular than a National Parliament or Home Rule for ventilating their obsolete opi- nions. In venturing to express these unorthodox opinions, he was well aware that he would be told they were contrary to the opinions of political economy. Political economy, indeed—in Ireland, above all places in the world! Why, political economy had been consigned to Jupiter and Saturn years ago by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. E. Gladstone), so far as rents were concerned, and why on earth, then, should they not be accompanied by American butterine? He had mentioned two things which might possibly afford means of relief to some tenants in Ireland who were suffering from the fall in prices, and, for all he knew, there might be a great many others. He only mentioned these in order to show that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian and his Colleagues, and the hon. Member for the City of Cork and his Friends, laboured under an entirely erroneous assumption when they supposed, because Gentlemen on the Ministerial side were determined to oppose this particular Bill, they were also absolutely opposed, in all circumstances, to the giving of relief to the tenants. He hoped the few words he had had an opportunity of saying that night might, in some degree, remove that erroneous impression. He had nothing more to add. He was very grateful to the House for having listened to him so attentively. He thought it had been abundantly shown in the course of the debate that they could not interfere further with the rents of the Irish landlords until the expiration of the statutory period, when, of course, Parliament could do exactly what it pleased without a distinct breach of solemn engagements of honour and good faith. It had also been shown that the necessity for this Bill had not been proved; and further, if the necessity should be proved, that there were other means of relief for the distressed tenants which it was open to Parliament to adopt. That being so, he hoped Parliament would offer a determined opposition to the passing of a measure which, if carried, would cast a merited and standing stigma upon its honour and good faith, upon the authors of the Land Act of 1881, and above all upon the reputation—whatever of it still remained after the declaration of last night—of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian.

THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON (Lancashire, Rossendale)

I am aware that hon. Members on both sides of the House are anxious to arrive, if possible, at a decision upon the question which is now under discussion, and also that there are a large number of Members far better qualified to discuss the details and principles of the Bill than I am, who have still to address you; and I shall, therefore, endeavour to trespass for as short a time as possible upon the time of the House. I can assure it that I have no intention of attempting to go into the discussion of all the points that have been raised in the debate so far as it has proceeded. But, Sir, my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) made last night a somewhat direct appeal to Gentlemen sitting on this side of the House, who are supposed to be specially pledged to the support of the Irish policy of the present Government; and he appealed to us, as he appealed to every other Member of the House, to give a candid consideration to the arguments which he placed before us. Therefore, I feel bound, as shortly as I can, to state the reasons why I find it impossible to arrive at the conclusion announced by my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lothian. My right hon. Friend has not committed himself to any of the proposals contained in this measure. He has committed himself simply, as I understand, to the assertion that a case has been shown for a measure of relief for some portion of the tenants of Ireland who hold on statutory conditions. I shall revert, in a very few minutes, to the particular position my right hon. Friend has taken up. Before I do so, however, I want to point out that my right hon. Friend has not only abstained from committing himself to the proposals of the measure, but he has also equally carefully abstained from committing himself to approval of the language and arguments by which it has been supported by the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell). My right hon. Friend passed by altogether and declined to follow the hon. Member for the City of Cork either into the question of the fall in prices and its effect upon the ability of the tenants to pay, or into the statistics which he gave upon the subject of evictions. Although my right hon. Friend (Mr. John Morley) has to-night made some observations on the subject of the fall of prices, I have observed that he also has entirely declined to follow or to support the case laid before the House by the hon. Member for the City of Cork, as far as it rested upon an alleged increase of evictions by the landlords for the payment of impossible rents. Now, my right hon. Friend (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) has rested his support of the second reading of the Bill exclusively upon the fact that it has been announced by the Government that a Commission is to be issued to inquire into the operation of the Land Act in Ireland, and upon the terms of Reference to that Commission which have been announced in this House. He has said that the appointment of that Commission contains an admission and a promise. Well, Sir, I suppose that to some extent it may be said that an undertaking to inquire into any matter whatever does contain an admission and a promise. But I fail to see in this particular case that the appointment of a Commission, or the terms of the Reference to the Commission, bear out the contention of my right hon. Friend that a case is thereby established for the present relief of any portion of the tenants of Ireland. It appears to me that the reasons which I gave the last time on which I ventured to address the House on this subject show a good and reasonable cause for the appointment of a Commission to inquire into the agrarian question of Ireland. We all admit—it has been admitted again this evening by my right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley)—that the agrarian difficulty in Ireland is at the root of the whole difficulty of the Government of Ireland. It is admitted also that the attempt which was made by the legislation of 1881, and by subsequent legislation, has not altogether solved the agrarian difficulty in Ireland. It is admitted that the relations between landlords and tenants, although I hope in many instances they have been improved, have not been placed upon a thoroughly satisfactory footing—that the sense of security which it was the object of the Act of 1881 to give to the tenantry of Ireland, and thus induce them to devote their time and their energy to the improvement of their holdings, has not been fully realized. The fact is admitted that the system of double ownership which was established by the Act of 1881 has not been, up to the present time, a complete success. It appears to me, therefore, that the time is now fully ripe for an inquiry, and a complete inquiry, into the reasons which have prevented that legislation from having all the beneficial effects which were anticipated from it, and for endeavouring to ascertain what is the cause of the partial failure of that legislation. At the same time, when that inquiry is instituted, it is perfectly reasonable that, amongst other things, the Commissioners should be directed to inquire what are the causes which have impeded and frustrated the beneficial operation of the Act, and whether those causes are mainly due to the impediments which have been placed in its way by the action of the National League; or whether they are in any degree due to bad times and the fall in prices, which undoubtedly have had a very considerable effect upon the interests of all classes connected with agriculture during the last few years. At the same time, I must say that I do not find that there is in the terms of this Reference to the Commission any such admission as that which is alleged by my right hon. Friend to be found there—that there are in Ireland at this moment judicial rents which the tenants are incapable of paying, and that a case is thereby established for the suspension of the ordinary process of the law for the purpose of recovering those rents. And, Sir, I venture to think that, up to a very short time ago, my right hon. Friend himself did not find in the appointment of this Commission any reason for establishing the admission which he now seeks to draw. My right hon. Friend, on the 24th of August, spoke, after the terms of the Reference to the Commission had been made known to the House, and upon the Motion of the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell). Now, the hon. Member for the City of Cork asked the House to declare that there was in Ireland, on account of the fall of prices, a state of things which would make it impossible for the Irish tenants during the coming winter to pay their rents. My right hon. Friend's words, in speaking to the Motion of the hon. Member for the City of Cork, were these— I can perfectly understand why, with the knowledge which the hon. Member possesses, and with the responsibility which he feels as an Irish Member, he should find himself entitled and bound to make declarations respecting the difficulty of the payment of rent in Ireland and respecting the probability of evictions, in which it would hardly be warrantable on my part to join, though, on the other hand, it is not in my power to assert the contrary of what has been stated by the hon. Gentleman. The reason why I do not wish to enter into a proceeding of that kind is this—that I think, upon the whole, it is for the advantage of the country that no attempt should be made by the House at large, as distinguished from the Representatives of Ireland, and those who may think fit to act with them—that no attempt should be made to procure a precipitate or hasty decision by the House upon the policy propounded by Her Majesty's Government. It would not be fair to the Government; it would not be fair to the House."—(3 Mansard, [308] 411.)


I criticized their policy.


Yes; it is quite true that my right hon. Friend did proceed to criticize the policy of the Government; but what I desire to point out is this—that when my right hon. Friend used these words he had before him the fact of the appointment of the Commission, as well as the terms of the Reference to it, and he had also before him whatever he has now of the admission and the promise.


I said the same thing then.


My right hon. Friend may have criticized the policy of the Government in the same terms; but what I am trying to point out is that at the time he spoke the words which I have quoted he declined to even join the hon. Member for the City of Cork in an expression of opinion with regard to the payment of rents during the ensuing autumn and winter; and that now he is prepared, not only to join the hon. Member for the City of Cork in an expression of opinion, but he is also prepared, and has pledged himself, to take some action not proposed by the Government, which he said only a few weeks ago it would be unfair on the part of the House to attempt. Now, I maintain that, in order to justify such legislation as is proposed by the hon. Member for the City of Cork, it would be incumbent upon him to place before the House a case of overwhelming strength—a case very different, indeed, to that which he has presented to the House. The hon. Member for the City of Cork has presented to the House a case founded partly upon a fall of prices and partly upon an increase in the number of evictions. Now, I am not going to discuss these two points at any length. They have been already tolerably fully discussed, and will, no doubt, receive further elucidation in the course of the debate. But as to the question of prices, it is not necessary for us to assume that the Commissioners had, in fixing the judicial rents, in their minds such a fall of of prices as has taken place. If we are to doubt the fairness of the rent we want to consider a great many things besides this question of prices. We know that the rents were fixed at a time very shortly succeeding a period of great agricultural distress, a period of very bad seasons; and what we want to know is, not merely what the prices were which the Commissioners thought would be obtained for agricultural produce, but what they considered would be the probable value of the out-turn of the produce of the holding of which they were settling the rent. I maintain that it is not at all proved that the Commissioners have over-estimated, in any of the cases where they have decided the rent, the probable present value of the agricultural out-turn of the holding. Then, as to evictions, the hon. Member for the City of Cork says that the Return of evictions is very alarming; but he is obliged to admit that during the last quarter of 1885 and during the first quarter of 1886 they were actually decreasing; and if there is an increase in the second quarter of the present year, or in the time which has elapsed of the present quarter, the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for Ireland has shown, in his speech last night, that that is only in accordance with what has taken place in previous years, and that an increase in the number of evictions has always taken place in these special quarters in which it is now alleged that the increase is so alarming. But before the House can proceed to pass legislation of this character—founded upon a Return of evictions, it appears to me that we want to know a great deal more upon the subject of the evictions than we can obtain from the bare Return quoted by the hon. Member for the City of Cork. He stated, and I believe it will not be denied, that in this Return are included a large number of evictions for other causes than non-payment of rent. And even with regard to those evictions for non-payment of rent, before the House draws a definite and final conclusion from the figures quoted it will be necessary to know how many of them are for nonpayment of rent recently due, or for arrears long standing, the existence of which arrears shows that the tenants are either unable or unwilling to pay any rent at all for the holdings they now occupy. It would, I think, also be desirable that we should know something of the proportion of these evictions for non-payment of rent which have taken place, or are taking place, on the holdings which are under statutory conditions. But without any information of this kind, and solely upon a bare Return of a certain increase in the number of evictions, we are asked to proceed with legislation which, at all events, it will be admitted on both sides of the House is of a totally unprecedented and somewhat revolutionary character. "Well, Sir, we are told—we have been told tonight by my right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley)—that this is a question of social order. I certainly shall not deny that in Ireland the question of social order is, and always has been, intimately connected with the agrarian condition of the country, and more or less with the prevalence, the frequency or otherwise, of evictions. But when the House is asked to legislate in this fashion upon the rights of property for the purpose of securing social order in Ireland, it appears to me that it will do well to attach a good deal of importance to what may be the opinion of those who are responsible for the government of Ireland on this question. There has been no responsible Government of Ireland which has ventured to propose such legislation as this. Her Majesty's present Government do not desire to propose such legislation, and the Government which they succeeded proposed no such legislation, nor did they express any readiness to entertain it. I consider that when a responsible Government says to Parliament that the state of social order requires certain measures, even though those measures may involve an interference with the rights of property, Parliament will incur great responsibility if it does not sanction those measures. I think that it incurred great responsibility when the House of Lords, in 1880, rejected the Compensation for Disturbance Bill. I think Parliament would have incurred great responsibility in 1882 if it had rejected—as it was asked to do—the Arrears Act which was passed in that year. But I maintain, at the same time, that Parliament will incur still heavier responsibility if, when the Government, who are in the first instance responsible for the maintenance of law and order in the country, do not ask to have their hands strengthened by such legislation as that now proposed, but, on the contrary, assert that such legislation would be prejudicial, in their judgment, to law and. order, and would give encouragement to Socialistic, Communistic, and lawless ideas—I say that Parliament would incur a still heavier responsibility by forcing upon the Government measures of relief for a particular class at the expense of the rights—the ordinary rights—attached to property. I say that no responsible Government has proposed legislation of this kind. The late Government had a state of facts before them very much similar to those which we have now. The depreciation of prices is not a matter of the last few months. It is alleged that the fall in prices prevailed during the whole of last year. The legislation proposed by the late Government would not have dealt with the immediate question of rent or evictions in Ireland; and the late Government did not think it necessary to propose any special legislation dealing with this question of a temporary relief to the tenants; and if we may judge from the reception which the suggestions of my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) received from those Benches at that time, the late Government would not have been disposed to give a very favourable consideration to such legislation if it had been proposed by anybody else. As I have pointed out before, the action of the late Government was entirely opposed to any idea such as that put forward, that judicial rents were impossible rents, or were fixed on a scale which made them unfair. The inseparable connection which the late Government maintained existed between the Government of Ireland measure and the Land Purchase Bill may be at an end; but still my right hon. Friend and his Colleagues cannot escape from the responsibility which attaches to them of having proposed the latter measure, and they cannot escape from the inferences which we are entitled to draw as to the frame of mind in which they proposed it. The plan of the Land Purchase Bill was founded upon the judicial rents which had been settled by the Land Commission. The basis of the transaction which the late Government proposed to take place between the landlords and the tenants of Ireland and the taxpayers of this country depended upon the judicial rents, where judicial rents existed, whether they had been settled in 1882, 1883, 1884, 1885, or 1886. Those judicial rents were to be the basis of the transaction; and in cases where judicial rents were not found the Land. Commission was to take as the basis of the transaction a proportion between the judicial rents settled in the district and Griffith's valuation. Therefore, I think I am justified in urging to the House that at that time, in the opinion of my right hon. Friend, no case existed for the assertion that the judicial rents, or any part of them, had been framed upon a wrong or an excessive valuation. As I have said, my right hon. Friend is committed to this proposition only—that there is need for some temporary relief in certain districts; and that in consequence of the admission made by the Government by the appointment of a Commission there must be a temporary suspension of proceedings for the recovery of rent. The details by which this measure is to be worked out are to be settled in Committee. That appears to me, Sir, to be an impossible procedure which is suggested by my right hon. Friend. My right hon. Friend does not, will not, commit himself to the details of the plan of the hon. Member for the City of Cork. The Government reject the basis of the plan, and they cannot be expected to make themselves responsible for all the alterations in the details. My right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley), it is true, has this evening suggested certain modifications of the plan in detail; but we do not know whether my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lothian will accept as a satisfactory scheme the Bill modified as proposed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle; and still less do we know—I should be very much surprised if we heard it in the course of this evening—that the hon. Member for the City of Cork and his Friends would consider the Bill modified, as proposed by the late Chief Secretary, to be a satisfactory solution of this problem. Sir, it seems to me that the House is not in a position to elaborate a new scheme in place of that which is set before us by the hon. Member for the City of Cork. We must either accept the main provisions of the measure or reject it altogether. In my judgment, the plan of the hon. Member for the City of Cork is not one which any alteration in detail ought or could render acceptable to the House. In my opinion, it is not as it professes to be—as it is defended as being—simply a Bill for arresting the process of ejectment in certain cases. It may far more accurately be described, in my judgment, as a Bill for stopping altogether for a time the collection of rent all over Ireland, and for making the eventual collection of more than one-half the rent in Ireland a matter of extreme difficulty. Let me point out for a moment what the operation of the Bill would be in the case of a tenant who is already considerably in arrears, and who will next November owe another half-year's rent. Will that tenant under this Bill, or under any modification in detail introduced into it, have any inducement whatever to pay any portion of the rent accruing due, or of the arrears due, to make any payment whatever to the landlord when the next rent day comes? It appears to me that under this measure such a tenant would only have to refuse to pay altogether—to refuse to pay a farthing. He will put his landlord to his remedy of ejectment. The landlord will have to bring a process of ejectment against him. It will be in his power to suspend that process of ejectment by paying at the last moment half the arrears and half the rent; and whatever may be the decision of the Court when the case comes before the Court and has been decided the landlord will only be able to recover half those arrears; the other half of the arrears and the half of the rent due would only be recoverable by a new process of ejectment and a new series of legal proceedings. It seems to me, Sir, that this Bill offers a temptation to every tenant to withhold the payment of his rent until the landlord has been driven to take legal proceedings against him. He will be able to take that course with perfect security from the knowledge that he can always arrest the legal proceedings of his landlord by the payment of half his debt, and that it will be a matter of the most extreme difficulty for his landlord ever to recover the other half. Any modification of detail such as is proposed by the late Chief Secretary will only mitigate, will not remove, the fundamental injustice which appears to me to be contained in the principle of the measure by placing an impediment in the way of the only legal remedy which the landlord has for recovering his rent in the case of every holding and every tenancy in Ireland. Sir, I say this legislation, as far as I know, is absolutely without precedent in the history of all our dealings with the agricultural interest either in England or Ireland. Reference has been made to the Arrears Act, and a portion of a clause in this Bill is, I believe, copied from the Arrears Act. But the Arrears Act was legislation of a totally different character. It was introduced under totally different conditions. It was introduced for the purpose of giving a fair start to the Land Act of 1881. It was essentially of the nature of a compromise—a compromise between the landlords, the tenants, and the State; and it insisted that each should make certain sacrifices and each obtain certain advantages. It had all the elements of a compromise. It was a compromise which was generally accepted by all the parties to it; but in this case there are no elements of a compromise whatever. The utmost the landlord can secure immediately under this Bill is half the rent that is due to him, whatever may be the circumstances of his creditor; and great difficulties will be placed in the way of his ever obtaining any more. The Government of my right hon. Friend in 1880, of which I was a Member, had to deal with a state of things in some respects similar to the present. In 1880 there was an agrarian crisis in Ireland of a far more acute description than anything which has been proved to exist at the present time. Parliament had already taken various measures which testified to its conviction that, owing to a succession of unprecedentedly bad seasons, a serious state of destitution and want prevailed in certain districts of Ireland. The Government of my right hon. Friend felt themselves compelled to legislate in reference to the state of the agricultural tenant. Well, Sir, in this far more acute agrarian crisis, did the Government proceed on any principle in the slightest degree similar to that which we are now asked to adopt? Not in the slightest degree. In the Compensation for Disturbance Bill my right hon. Friend pointed out that there was no such thing contained in that measure as a suspension of the legal powers of the landlord to recover his rent. He pointed out that every remedy which the landlord possessed for the recovery of his rent was left entire and untouched by his Bill. That Bill merely provided that in certain districts, during a certain time, the tenant should not lose by eviction for non-payment of rent the benefit which had been conferred upon him by the legislation of 1870. The tenant would receive no compensation under that Bill unless he could prove—first, his inability to pay; secondly, that that inability was due to recent visitation of bad seasons; thirdly, that the tenant was willing to accept reasonable terms; and, fourthly, that those reasonable terms had been unreasonably refused by the landlords. Those were the conditions which my right hon. Friend at that time thought sufficient to meet a far more serious agrarian crisis than is admitted to exist now. But what has happened since 1880? The position of the tenant has been enormously strengthened and improved, and every protection which it was proposed by the Bill of 1880 to confer upon the tenant is already possessed by him without any additional legislation at all. What was the idea in the mind of Parliament at that time of a reasonable offer to be made by the tenant that the landlord might unreasonably refuse? It was either that he should endeavour to agree with his landlord as to the terms of rent on which he should remain, or that the landlord should permit him to sell his interest in the holding, and that he should satisfy such portion of the arrears as he could, and he should not be turned out destitute into the world. Well, but, Sir, that power of selling his interest is already possessed to the fullest extent by the tenant, even, if he is under process of ejectment. The Returns which have been given to the House show that, even in the present times, the interest of the tenant which he possesses is a valuable interest, for which he is able, in most cases, to obtain a very considerable sum; and, therefore, I say that the tenant already possesses, without any special legislation for the purpose, every power for his protection against unjust or harsh evictions which my right hon. Friend in 1880 thought it necessary, by special legislation, to confer upon him. Now, Sir, under these circumstances, what are the reasons which would make it necessary for the House to adopt the proposal which has been brought before it by the hon. Member for the City of Cork? It is perfectly true that the language which has been used in this House by the hon. Member, both in this and previous debates with respect to the agrarian question, has been studiously moderate; and the hon. Member has refrained from anything like language which would be calculated to intimidate or threaten Parliament. But, Sir, we have heard from adherents of the hon. Member perfectly distinct intimations that the political controversy on the subject of the Government of Ireland is, during the coming autumn and winter, to be transferred to the agrarian question. The hon. Member for Belfast (Mr. Sexton), in a speech in this House not very long ago, virtually adopted the language which has been used by the hon. Member for Wexford (Mr. J. E. Redmond) and Mr. O'Brien in their speeches at the Chicago Convention. We have been told that the policy of the Irish National Party was to be one of fight; and we were told that during the coming winter a strike would be raised against rents, which it was asserted in home cases it was impossible to pay, and in all cases were exorbitant. Well, Sir, we know from the language used that the policy of the Party of the hon. Member for the City of Cork is to transform the political agitation into an agrarian agitation during the coming winter, and we must be prepared from that knowledge for what that knowledge entails. It is perfectly evident that it is necessary for the hon. Member for the City of Cork and for his Party not altogether to alienate Parliamentary and popular sympathy in this country; and, therefore, in the struggle—the agrarian struggle—which it is the announced intention of his lieutenants to commence in the winter, it is obviously necessary that some grounds should be laid in this House by a proposal, however wild, however impracticable, which may appear to offer an excuse for the agrarian agitation with which we are threatened. I quite admit that it would be very agreeable and pleasant if, by the acceptance of any reasonable proposal, we could deprive the friends of the hon. Member for the City of Cork of the weapon which they propose to employ during the autumn and winter. It would also be very agreeable if we could devise some means by which there might be no pretence for anyone to say that the rights of the landlords were being harshly used over the tenants. I trust that the landlords of Ireland will know and will remember what is the responsibility which rests upon them. It is admitted that many of them have already recognized the necessity which is cast upon them, and have made reasonable abatements in cases where they have appeared necessary. But, Sir, I would point out that there is still more which some landlords in Ireland can do. There are some landlords who are in a position to use great influence with their neighbours; and they should not be satisfied with making the reductions which they themselves may consider necessary in the case of their own rents, but they may use the influence which they possess in order to impress upon others that it is necessary for them, in certain cases, to make similar sacrifices. Sir, I hope that those who are in that position will use their influence in that direction, and I have no reason to think that they will not use that influence. But, Sir, however agreeable it may be to put into the hands of some legal tribunal the power which would relieve us from the possibility of a conflict between the interests of the landlords and the interests of the tenants in the coming autumn and winter, I do not think the House will be justified in dealing with this question merely in its political aspect, and as a move in the political game. The House has to consider, first, whether that which it is proposed to do is warranted by the principles of justice and equality between man and man; and if it finds that it is not so justified, then the House will not be entitled, however tempting it might be, to use its power for the purpose of depriving any class of the community of rights guaran- teed to them by law. I cannot think that even for far stronger reasons than have been laid before the House it would be justified in accepting this measure, which, in the absence of inquiry—in fact, on the very eye of inquiry—will absolutely destroy one of the most essential principles of the settlement of 1881—namely, the security on one side of the statutory tenancies which have been created for a period of 15 years, which will deprive the landlords of the rights which have been left and secured to them by the Act of 1881, and will lay down the principle that in a period of agricultural distress the whole burden, the whole loss, is not to be shared among the different classes affected; but is to be borne entirely and solely by one class, because that class is not in a position to protect its interests and its rights.

MR. R. T. REID (Dumfries, &c.)

said, he could not help thinking that if the noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington) would carry his recollection of past events a little backward, to a period before it had become his custom to whisper his preferences into the ears of Conservative confidants, he thought the noble Marquess would recall that the Party who had followed him before, and most of whom now followed the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, were not accustomed, for the sake of mere Party convenience, knowingly and willingly, to sacrifice the principles of equity and justice against any class whatever. The noble Marquess recommended them not to accept the Bill, because, amongst other reasons, he said they ought to look for advice to Her Majesty's Government in a matter of this importance. He (Mr. Reid) would like to know whether the noble Marquess had been on this very subject concerned in the task of giving advice to that very Conservative Government whom he now asked them to treat as persons to give advice? The truth was that he was afraid the noble Marquess had come to regard the principles which he had followed for a considerable time as lacking some of the virtues which they once possessed; and because those of them who still adhered, erroneously perhaps, but, at all events, as they believed, conscientiously to those opinions, because they could not see through the same glasses as himself, the noble Marquess said they had lost some of the merits he saw in them before. He (Mr. Reid) wished very shortly to state the grounds on which he was prepared heartily to support the principle of the Bill. And let him first say that he was not prepared to support all the details of it, and there were some of them, he thought all would recognize, were capable of great improvement. The crisis in Ireland at the present time was, in his humble judgment, quite as serious as that of 1880. The Land League, denounced at that time, had not the power the National League now had, and it would be true to say the National League almost governed the country at the present time. He did not enter into the reason for that; but the position in Ireland now was that they had prices so low that he believed they had not been so low for 15 or 20 years, and whether the National League desired it or not, unless something were done in reference to the present highly-fixed rents, settled as they were by Act of Parliament, for the purpose of preventing evictions where rents were impossible, he believed a serious state of things would arise in the course of the coming winter. Let him ask—for the question was one the House ought to consider—was it established as a fact that prices were such that the rents could not be paid? Not in all cases, but in a large and appreciable number of them. The statement of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) that the prices were exceedingly low was not questioned either by the noble Marquess or the Members of Her Majesty's Government; indeed, the noble Marquess went so far as, in a very eloquent passage, to entreat the landlords in Ireland to be moderate and temperate in the use of their power, and to exhibit forbearance to the tenants who were unable to pay their rents. The noble Marquess seemed to little appreciate how that cut away the ground of his own contention when he said there was no crisis in Ireland in which the people were unable to pay their rents. The hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. Penrose Fitzgerald), who moved the Amendment, made a similar appeal, and during his speech compared the prices of 1885 with those of 1852; but he took extremely good care not to go through the prices obtained at various times during the last 10 or 15 years, knowing perfectly well that if he had done so it would have appeared that prices were ruinously low at the present time. It had, he thought, been shown that the situation was such as to justify the introduction of a Bill of this exceptional character; and the Government, at any rate, must be in possession of confidential Reports sent to them from all the best authorities in Ireland. The House was aware of one communication from Sir Redvers Buller, who, having been sent on a mission, into the particulars of which he (Mr. Reid) would rather not enter, had thought it part of his duty to write the Government that "throughout Kerry and Clare the rents uniformly were too high." ["When?" "Where?"] He could assert only what he believed to be stated in that House. [Cries of "By whom?"] The Question was put by the hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton) to the right hon. Baronet the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant, whether it was not the case that Sir Redvers Buller had written a Report, in which he said that the rents in Kerry and Clare uniformly were too high? and the answer was—"Yes, Sir." [Mr. A. J. BALFOUR: No.] He at once accepted the correction. He was not himself in the House at the time. He presumed that no hon. Member remained in the House throughout the whole of every Sitting; and one must be excused in trusting in some measure to reports in the newspapers. He would, of course, not pursue the subject for a moment; but that did not in the least affect the argument he was entering upon. This, however, he would Bay—that he held the Government were in possession of private information necessarily upon this subject, not obtained specially, but information which came to them in the course of their official duty. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for Ireland (Mr. Gibson), and the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite the Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Matthews), addressed elaborate and most powerful arguments against this Bill, dealing with details, and also with the criticisms that had been made on the Opposition side of the House; but he did not hear either of these hon. and learned Gentlemen, nor had he heard any Member of the Government, with all the information which was necessarily at their disposal, say, on his responsibility, what they might very easily say if it was true, that, in their judgment, the situation had not arisen in which there was an impossibility or a general inability to pay rents in Ireland. He considered the House was entitled to have from the Government, who were in possession of all the information on the subject, a statement whether or not, according as their information went, it was the fact that, in many cases, the fall of prices had prevented the rent from being payable in different parts of Ireland? Those were the grounds which led him to think that, almost by admission, there had been established a serious case, in which some interposition and some relief were necessary. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sleaford (Mr. Chaplin) had described the two nostrums by the application of which the Tory Party were going to give whatever relief was required. The first of these was the payment of their rents by the State. The other was the protection of articles of food, so as to raise prices to such an extent as would enable the tenants to pay their rents. Such suggestions were not deserving of serious consideration; and, therefore, he would pass on, without discussing them, to a consideration of the provisions of the Bill, to which he would refer for the purpose of meeting an argument of the Secretary of State for the Home Department, and of the noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale. It had been urged, both by the noble Marquess and the right hon. and learned Gentleman, that to interfere with the statutory rents before the expiration of the 15 years that were requisite under the operation of the Act of 1881 was a breach of good faith and a violation of the principle of that Act. But, in his (Mr. Reid's) judgment, this Bill was a necessary complement of the Act of 1881; and either it or some Bill of the same kind, if closely looked at, was essential for the purpose of carrying out the true principle of the Act of 1881. What was the principle of that Act? It was that Parliament, from long experience of the unhappy relations between Irish landlords and tenants, had found that they could not allow the landlord and tenant in Ireland to make their own bargain in regard to the matter of rent; and that it was for the interest of the public and the State that the tenant should be protected by not being liable to pay more than a fair rent—one which would enable him to live in decency and moderate comfort. Now, circumstances had arisen, if his view of the facts was right, which had made that which originally was a fair rent to become an unfair rent in every sense of the word; and it was a corollary of the Act of 1881 that Parliament should step in and prevent the landlord insisting on being paid an exorbitant rent. He quite agreed that it might be a hardship to the landlords; but, so far as the tenant was concerned, could there be anything clearer than this—that if it was unfair to the tenant to pay by open contract too large a rent in 1881, and if it was contrary to the interests of the public that that should be permitted in 1881, how could it become fair to him, or reconcilable with the true interests of the public, that in 1886 he should pay a rent which, in point of fact, was not a fair rent, merely because there had been a statutory fair rent fixed in the meantime? It so happened that the fall of prices had made the rents too high in many cases. He quite agreed that it might have been that prices had risen instead of fallen; and he thought it was possible that prices might hereafter rise above the level upon which the rents when fixed were based. It seemed to him, in that case, that if they interfered with rents by reason of the prices being too low, there would be no answer if they were asked to interfere with a fixed rent in the event of prices becoming higher. For that reason he thought it was also a necessary corollary, even to the temporary Bill introduced by the hon. Member for Cork, that it would follow that they ought to have a more frequent revision of rents in Ireland than every 15 years, in order to have statutory rents either adjusted by a sliding scale or more commonly adjusted. With the principle of the Bill he agreed most heartily. He, however, thought the measure required a good deal of improvement; and he thought, also, if the Government did not venture upon that course, which he believed, if they did venture upon, would be fatal to them—namely, a course of buying out the Irish landlords out of the State funds—a scheme he had always opposed—if the Government abstained from that, and next Session endeavoured to see that rents should really be fair, so that when prices were good the landlord would get more, and when the prices were bad the tenant would pay less, he believed by that means even the practical operation of the Bill would be perfectly free from any injury to the landlords. In the inflamed condition of Irish feeling, he thought it was hopeless to trust to the voluntary action of Irish landlords for the preservation of good feeling and quiet. He did not, however, wish to be uncharitable to Irish landlords. Although there were some bad landlords, he did not believe that, as a body, they were worse than their predecessors. He would not apply to them the language which the Earl of Clare applied to their predecessors, when he said their occupation was to grind to powder the tenants on their estates. He did not wish to make any sweeping assertion against Irish landlords; but everyone knew that some among them had been very guilty of shortcomings in the discharge of their duty to their tenants. As he had before observed, the noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale had made a very strong appeal to Irish landlords. But it seemed to him (Mr. Reid) a great anomaly that the late Government, of which the noble Marquess was one of the most trusted and respected Leaders, should have passed a Bill which was based on the assumption that Irish landlords were not to be trusted in their dealings with their tenants; and that they should, nevertheless, be expected to hope for unprecedented forbearance during the coming winter from those landlords in answer to the appeals of the noble Marquess. It was also an unfortunate thing, but he believed it to be the fact, that the Government of this country had become very unpopular, chiefly because it had been regarded by the Irish people as the collectors of rent for Irish landlords. Speaking without any Party feeling, he would regret if the Bill were rejected and no substitute put in his place, because he was afraid it would be regarded by the people of Ireland as only another proof that the way in which the Irish best and most thoroughly knew the Government of Great Britain was as a rent-collecting Government.

COLONEL KING-HARMAN (Kent, Isle of Thanet)

said, he did not recollect that he had ever heard a Bill brought forward in that House so "damned with faint praise" as the measure they were then discussing had been in the speeches made by its professed supporters, from the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Gladstone) downwards. In his opinion the principle of the measure was entirely erroneous, and it was based on misconception and misrepresentation. What was really wanted in Ireland was not a further reduction of rent, but the suppression of the National League; and he believed the latter course would be the outcome of the inquiry which the Government were about to make. Lord Spencer's Government had dealt with the Land League so effectually that it had disappeared and hidden itself for weeks and months, and only emerged cautiously and branch by branch in the name of the National League. It ought to have been strangled in its infancy; but, unfortunately, it had been allowed to continue its growth until now it was so strong, and its influence so great, that he believed such evidence would be forthcoming of the strength and nature of its evil influences that the Government would be compelled to put it down as Lord Spencer had put down the Land League. The right hon. Gentleman the late Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. Morley) had made a statement that prices of produce bad fallen so low as to render the payment of rent in Ireland in many cases impossible; that statement had been challenged, and the right hon. Member had promised to prove it before he concluded; but he had sat down without doing so. The right hon. Member had, indeed, tried to show, with reference to the rise in the price of wool, that there had been a poor clip in Ireland in 1885, and that, consequently, the rise of price would not affect the Irish farmers to any great extent. Surely the right hon. Gentleman was aware that a rise in the price of wool was hailed with the greatest satisfaction by agriculturists as usually preceding a general improvement in trade and prices. [Laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway opposite laughed; but he doubted whether they knew very much about it. He held in his hand a telegram, from a gentleman whose word was to be taken implicitly, which had arrived that evening from Skibbereen—a district where there was as much distress as anywhere—and it spoke of the fair held there yesterday. It said— The fair was in every respect a great improvement on recent fairs. Largest attendance of buyers seen for three years. Splendid supply and brisk demand, exceeding all anticipations. Milch cows averaged £14; on the whole, very satisfactory and cheering to farmers. He had been trying to ascertain from the portions of Ireland which he knew best what the state of affairs exactly was in the West and in the centre of Ireland. The hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) spoke of the potato blight as having broken out with great severity. The accounts which he (Colonel King-Harman) had from Longford, Roscommon, Sligo, and Westmeath, agreed that the potato and oat crops were never better. In Sligo, especially, oats were a splendid crop, even on the mountain side, and in places where it had been more or less a failure for the last four or five years. Hay was in such profusion in Sligo that it was being shipped in large quantities to England, leaving sufficient supply in the county, and at a better price than it had been for some years past. At Longford butter was selling at 11d. per lb., and oats fetched 11s. per barrel of 14 stone. Now, the only argument adduced in support of this Bill was the inability of the tenants to pay the judicial rents consequent on the depreciation of prices; but in face of the facts he had adduced he could not imagine how that contention could be made good. He perfectly agreed that prices were very much lower than they were in 1874, which was the culmination of a number of good seasons—good alike in produce and in prices. He remembered that in 1874 beef sold at 80s. per cwt.—he sold it at that price himself—but he did not remember that the landlords in Ireland raised their rents in consequence. On the contrary, what they learnt and what they could prove was this—that between 1840 and 1880 rents were raised in England by 23 per cent, in Wales by 34 per cent, and in Scotland by 49 per cent; whereas in Ireland they were absolutely diminished during the same period, and how much further they were cut down by the Act of 1881 hon. Members opposite knew as well as he did; but, taking the statements of the hon. Member for Cork as accurate, it was from 18 to 22 per cent. Very little had been said on his own side of the House, and nothing at all on the other, to answer this extraordinary fact, which was adduced quite early in the debate. If the agricultural tenants were in this miserable pauperized condition that they were represented to be in; if they were absolutely unable, as one hon. Member stated, to support themselves in common decency; if they were quite unable to pay the reduced rents, how was it that they were able to give such enormous prices for the goodwill of their neighbours' holdings directly vacancies occurred? One ounce of fact was worth a bushel of theory, and he would give the hon. Gentleman an ounce of fact with regard to this particular question. Only yesterday he telegraphed to his agent with regard to the selection of one of two tenants, who had both offered full sums for the goodwill of a farm coterminous with theirs. It was a small farm, the rent of which was £32. The adjoining tenants were not men who had been in America and made their money there, and who had come back with the insane desire of giving about 16 times the value of what the holding ought to be. They were small farmers who had made their money by farming in Ireland, and in no other way; and either of these men, in order to become the tenant of that small farm, offered £170 in hard cash. Besides that, when he doubted the bona fides of one of them, both of them came into the estate office, and each deposited before the agent £170. And these were the downtrodden and oppressed people who, according to the hon. Member for Cork and his Friends, could not feed themselves and pay their rents, and to protect whom hon. Members below the Gangway were pressing the Government to assent to this Bill, and to banish political economy even further than Jupiter and Saturn—he supposed to Uranus or some undiscovered planet. Now, he put it to the House, had any case been made out by the hon. Gentleman who brought in the Bill, showing any destitution in Ireland that would warrant such a measure as this? He asked hon. Gentlemen to remember that whilst English farmers had suffered severely by five bad years since 1879, and by a heavy depreciation of wheat, in Ireland farmers had had a succession of four or five exceedingly good years. [Laughter.] Hon. Members below the Gangway laughed; but he appealed to those above the Gangway to listen to him without prejudice, and not to disbelieve him, simply because he happened to be a landlord. He referred them for proof of his assertion to the Reports of the Registrar General, which could be obtained in the Library; and on consulting them they would find that what he said was backed up by figures and facts which he defied hon. Members below the Gangway to contradict. The Irish landlords did not want anything exacting or harsh. He saw no reason why it should be supposed that Irish landlords were bigger fools than English landlords, or that they wanted to evict their tenants and turn them out upon the roadside, or to send them to the workhouse, and thereby raise the rates, which they themselves must pay. They wanted to keep their people quite as much as English landlords did, and in many parts more; because there the soil was only fit for spade husbandry; and, if only for pecuniary reasons, they would wish to keep the tenants upon it. The fact really was that all these cries had been got up, and were being kept up, with one object. He did not believe that hon. Gentlemen opposite were at that moment rejoicing at the good weather that was now prevailing in Ireland—["Oh, oh!"]—as the farmers were. He remembered that in 1879 the hon. Member for Cork addressed a meeting of farmers and labourers in Tipperary at a time when the rain was pouring down in great quantity, and the heavens were overcast by tempestuous clouds, and, telling them about the reduction of rent which he intended to bring about, he expressed his pleasure at the wet weather which prevailed, and remarked—"The heavens are with us." He remembered also how that extraordinary sentiment was flashed across Ireland from one end to the other, and how the opinion was engendered that the hon. Member blessed the bad weather then because it gave him an accession of power; and very probably his Party were now regretting the fine weather with which Providence had blessed Ireland during the last few days. ["Oh, oh!"] The hon. Member for Cork had made a great many rash observations. He was sorry the hon. Member was not in his place; but he very seldom was. The hon. Member put out his figures very glibly, but not quite so accurately as could be wished. For instance, he stated that there were 500,000 small tenants in Ireland the rents of whose holdings would be less than the cost of a process of eviction—namely, £2 16s. The Government Returns, on the other hand, showed that the total number of tenants whose holdings were less than five acres, which would be about the equivalent of £2 16s., was only 105,600. Moreover, many of these tenants had shops and other avocations, and were by no means dependent upon their land. He asked the House not to rely upon the hon. Member for Cork's figures, unless they were verified by the official Returns. Another point which the House should consider was that if the Irish tenants did get lower prices for their produce, they had to pay wonderfully less for their chief articles of consumption. Flour had fallen 33 per cent during the last three years. American flour was selling at any Irish port at 9s. 6d. per 100 lbs.—that was, a little over 1d. a lb., and Indian corn had reached a lowest price on record—namely, 20s. 2d. per quarter, and there was always an unlimited supply of it in the country. He asked the House whether, with potatoes plentiful, oats a better crop than ever before, with a rise in almost every description of produce, and with food cheaper than ever before, this was a time that Gentlemen from Ireland should come to that House, and ask it to pass, as a matter of urgency, such a Bill as this; and he contended that it was a measure which, if the House had time to consider it, no business man would support. He hoped that, with the facts and figures before them which he had stated, hon. Gentlemen would do nothing of the kind. They knew perfectly well what the meaning of it was. Something must be done to foster and foment and keep up the agitation, and something must be done to show the Irish people—at least, that unfortunate part of them that submitted to be duped by agitators and by those who led them astray for their own selfish interests—that the English people and the British Parliament would not listen to them. A case of dire distress, if it were true, which it was not, had been set before the House; but he asked the House not to take for granted the truth of such statements, and not to support a measure which was entirely opposed to political economy, and which was not wanted. He particularly appealed to the English and Scotch Liberals, as men of common sense, not to be persuaded into following the hon. Member for Cork into the Lobby; and he trusted that the number of hon. Members comprised in that following would be exceedingly small when the division was taken.

MR. WALLACE (Edinburgh, E.)

said, he rose for the purpose of expressing, as a Member wholly unconnected with Ireland, a few reasons which had induced him to give a hearty support to the second reading of this Bill. He did so, first of all, because he was unable to see how it was possible to carry out the principle of the legislation of 1881 without this Bill, or something in the nature of it. That legislation was legislation distinctly for the protection of the tenant. At that time the landlord needed no protection, but the tenant did; and the spirit of the Act of 1881, as well as the legislation that preceded it, was for the protection of the tenant. That was its essential character, for the Act provided that, during the continuance of a statutory term, a tenant should not be compelled to pay a higher rent than was fixed at the commencement of the term. Nothing was said about satisfying the rights of the landlord to exact a higher rent. The mistake made by many hon. Members opposite was that they regarded the rent, of which the Act of 1881 spoke, simply as what one might call an "arithmetical" rent, and not as an "equitable" rent, and there was a very great distinction between these emphases of the term. The rent spoken of by the act of 1881 was a "fair rent," determined by the Court, "considering all the circumstances of the case, holding, and the district." He wished especially to direct attention to the expression, "considering all the circumstances of the case, the holding, and the district." Since the legislation of 1870 the word "fair," as applied to rent, meant that, whatever became of the share of the produce that went to the landlord, out of that produce, if it were possible, the tenant must have his own personal subsistence, and also the means of continuing his capacity for cultivating the soil. Prior to 1870 that was not recognized as the correct distribution of the produce of the soil; but the Legislature at that time accepted and settled that principle, and it was now too late to question it, unless they were prepared to repeal all the legislation that began in 1870. He submitted that a rent that was to be arrived at by considering all the circumstances of the case, and to be continued for 15 years, could not be fair unless an unexpected and exceptional fall in agricultural prices was one of the elements taken into consideration; and no one would say that a positive and exceptional fall was not one of the circumstances which it was intended should be taken into account. It also appeared to him that an exceptional fall in agricultural prices was exactly one of those circumstances that could not be taken into consideration beforehand, because it could not be foreseen. It could only be taken into consideration by a body of Commissioners composed of prophets, and prophets were not always at hand. The Legislature had, therefore, put itself in the paradoxical position of expecting the Commissioners to expect the unexpected. But if all the circumstances had not been considered the rent was not a fair one, and the Legislature must correct the miscarriage of its own machinery, if it intended to carry out its original promise. That was not only justified, but demanded, by the legislation of 1881; and even if it were not so, it was completely justified by the legislation of 1870. At the time of the passage of the Land Act of 1870 the landlords had a right, by the Common Law, to whatever rent they were able to exact by means of unlimited competition from their unfortunate tenants, just as now they said that they had a right by statute to a judicial rent for 15 years. He did not see why a statutory right should be more sacred than a Common Law right. The practical question to him was the question whether there had been this unexpected and exceptional fall in agricultural prices. He had listened with great attention to the discussion on both sides, and the impression made upon his mind was very strongly in the direction of a belief that this fall had taken place, and, possibly, had not yet reached its termination—that it had been a serious fall, and one that the Legislature could not with propriety disregard. He was not going to discuss the statistics, because there was evidence before him which was better than statistics—namely, the testimony of persons of experience, whom they believed to know fully all the circumstances of the case, and in whose veracity and trustworthiness they could place confidence. They had here a combination of three very remarkable classes of witnesses, who were equally well qualified, and who all agreed in the same testimony. They had the testimony of the Representatives of Ireland, of the landlords of Ireland, and of those who acted as umpires between the tenantry and the landlords—namely, the Land Commissioners. When he found all these witnesses conspiring in one testimony, the effect left on his mind was that of absolute conviction. There could be no doubt that hon. Members from Ireland stated most distinctly that there had been a very serious and exceptional fall in prices. Although hon. Members opposite might refuse to take their testimony, yet there could be no doubt that the Irish Members were competent to give an opinion, each as to his own district. He also differed entirely from hon. Members opposite in having full confidence in the trustworthiness of the Irish Members; but he rejected at once, as unworthy of consideration, the representation he heard, and had seen given, of these hon. Gentlemen as simply a company of venal agitators, animated by their own selfish purposes, and as having no real love for their country; their real anxiety being, it was said, to humiliate England, and to exalt themselves. He had studied closely the public utterances and the public action of hon. Members from Ireland; and he had been deeply impressed, not only with their eminent ability, but with their general honesty of purpose, the genuineness of their patriotism, their dutiful attention to the claims of their country, and their courageous pertinacity in bringing forward their grievances in the face of great discouragement and opposition. Believing both their competence and their trustworthiness, he was satisfied to accept their testimony, and did not require statistics. With regard to the right of the Irish Members to speak on behalf of the Irish nation, while not claiming infallibility for the people on all occasions and on all matters, yet he thought that on all occasions, when not overborne by force, or beguiled by fraud and misrepresentation, the verdict of the people might be regarded as one of wisdom and veracity, and safely acted upon, and he was bound to regard them as the mouthpiece of the Irish nation in this matter. Then he had the testimony of the landlords of Ireland, which was all the more valuable that it agreed with that of those who spoke the words and beliefs of the Irish people. Hon. Members opposite, while, on the one hand, they denied that it was impossible for the tenants to pay judicial rents, and endeavoured to show that there had been no fall in prices, and, therefore, that there was no necessity for intervening in the interest of the tenant, always finished up by asking, on the other, that they, the landlords of Ireland, might be trusted to do all that was right in remitting such portion of the rents as they might think fit; because, on account of that fall of prices which they had before been industriously denying, they were reducing rents 20, 30, 40, and even 50 per cent. He believed so much of the landlords of Ireland as to be certain that, in business matters of that kind, they would not do that which was foolish and stupid and causeless; and if they had lowered their rents in that way, that, to his mind, was one of the strongest possible testimonies that the rents required lowering, that prices were falling, and that the nature of the legislation which was now proposed was in harmony with the facts of the case. In his view, therefore, it would be better not to trust the landlords in the matter, and he thought that the legislative proposal contained in the Bill of the hon. Member for Cork was in harmony with the actual facts of the case. His third witnesses were the Land Commissioners of Ireland. No denial had been, or, he believed, could be, given to the statement that the Land Commissioners in recent weeks and months had lowered rents by a percentage which was even greater than that which had been suggested by the promoters of this Bill. On these three grounds of testimony, therefore, he was clearly convinced that this alleged necessity for intervention on account of a fall in prices had been made out. At all events, it had been so clearly made out, to his mind, that it had settled what his vote should be; and when he found this confirmed by the notorious fact of the agricultural depression produced by competition from the West he could reasonably have no shadow of doubt left in his mind. Accordingly, he did not feel the necessity of troubling himself with going into all the statistics that had been given in this matter. He would only say, the little attention he had been able to give to them, as much as a Member whose time was very fully occupied could be able to give, had satisfied him that the conclusion at which he had arrived, on the personal testimony of experts, was trustworthy and reliable. At all events, if the evidence did demonstrate the conclusion in support of which it was brought, it justified him in saying that a primâ facie case had been made out; and, if that were so, the duty of the Legislature was still the same. In that case, it was the duty of a just Government to make arrangements, so that, if it turned out as was alleged, a mode of dealing with it should be ready when the occasion arose. There could be no harm, at all events, in being prepared. If it should turn out that the Bill was not needed, if it should prove that this fall was a false alarm, who was to be harmed? The Bill would simply not be needed, and the Land Court would not be put to the trouble of investigating that which required no investigation. The only inconvenience would be to the landlords, who would be compelled, for a short time, to be kept out of their rents to which they might have been entitled at an earlier period. Considering all the circumstances of the case, he did not think it was asking too much of the landlord class, in their position, to submit to this temporary loss and inconvenience for the sake of a very much larger body of people. The best authority he could find for taking up the position he did was that of the Government itself, in the language of the Reference to the Royal Commission; because, unless the ability of the tenants to pay the judicial rents had been affected by the fall in prices, there was no ground for the appointment of the Commission. The nature of this Reference was, to him, a clear indication that there was something that required to be provided against; and, if that were so, why should there be delay? If there was any reason for going into this matter at all in the interest of the tenants, that remedy should be applied without delay. It must, moreover, be kept in mind that, in dealing with this question, the House of Commons was engaged, not in investigating a scientific question, but one that concerned the happiness and the lives of thousands of people. In certain papers put before him by the Loyal and Patriotic Union he found that evictions were spoken of as trivial matters. Probably the arithmetical proportion of these evictions to the population might appear trifling as a mere matter of dry statistics; but, to him, the fact that 20,000 tenants, out of a total of 500,000, were evicted and ruined in a year appeared to him to indicate an appalling amount of human misery. It had been asserted that outrages had been the fewest where the number of evictions had been the greatest; but hon. Members opposite might carry the argument still further, and might contend that, if the whole of the tenants were evicted, Ireland would become a paradise of tranquillity. He believed it to be true that ruin would lead to desperation, and that injustice would cause resentment, and that where they had these feelings evoked on anything like a large scale there would be outbreaks of revenge of a serious nature. He considered this Bill was a most moderate and Conservative proposal in respect to land policy generally. Hon. Members must remember that the question of Irish land was not exclusively an Irish question. If they had allowed it to be dealt with in a Parliament of Irish people they might have insulated the question; but, since the Party opposite had insisted on having principles connected with it threshed out in the Imperial Parliament, they must bear in mind that they were only forcing them more and more on the attention of the Imperial population. He would tell hon. Gentlemen opposite that certain very remarkable meditations were fermenting in the minds of the people of this country with respect to the policy which was to be pursued with respect to land. The landless millions were beginning to look around them, and to see with surprise that England was taken possession of by a comparatively few thousands of individuals, who, with a small percentage of honourable exceptions, they regarded as an idle, selfish, and overbearing class, spending in luxury and in frivolous self-indulgence the wealth that had been procured through the tears, the sweat, and even the life-blood of a pinched and frequently half-starved population. These people were beginning to ask how it was that this landholding oligarchy, whose Chiefs had also clothed themselves with hereditary power and honour, had come to be possessed of all England, and had shut the real people of England out; and many of them were beginning to form a belief that the so-called title must originally rest simply on a transaction of violent seizure, and that those who had subsequently purchased, having purchased in the full knowledge of what these people believed to be an original act of spoliation, could be in no better position as regarded title than those from whom they derived it, and who had acquired it by the original act of spoliation to which he had referred. In days when the landholding oligarchy were supreme, and when the landless millions were politically powerless, these musings might have been, and doubtless were, treated with very little alarm, as being unworthy of consideration. But nowadays the tables had been turned. Although the complete emancipation of the landless ones was only a few months old, the question was, Would the millions, now they had the power in their hands, leave the thousands in unquestioned possession of all England without the consent of its people? He confessed he had his doubts upon that question. He should not be surprised that more or less revolutionary ideas were shaping themselves in the minds of many of the people. He, for one, although he had some doubts on the general question of the ownership of land, deprecated all violent and sudden revolutions; because he knew that, though useful and beneficial to succeeding generations, they were always afflictive of much misery and suffering to the present one; and he hoped he had sufficient love for his species to desire the happiness of the generation that was existing, as well as of the generations that were still non-existing; but he must confess that if the landowners of this day refused to be moderate and conciliatory in the coming struggles about the land, which were as certain to come as they were sitting there, he could foresee that something like violence and danger would arise in the settlement of the question. It was just because this Bill, or the principle of it, at all events, seemed to him to give landholders an opportunity of encouraging a land policy as regarded Ireland that should advance the question, not by violent jerks and by sudden and cruel ruptures, but by a smooth, gradual, and gliding movement, that he should support its second reading. It was upon that ground and many others that he regarded this measure as not only good for Ireland at the present moment, but also for England and for Scotland in the times that were to come.

MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)

said, that feeling, as he did, that every word he uttered in the debate would be canvassed in his constituency, and having made up his mind to give an unhesitating and unfaltering vote against the second reading of the Bill, the House would, perhaps, bear with him while he gave his reasons for so doing. The measure of the hon. Member for Cork had one recommendation—it was not complicated; it was sublime in its simplicity. If ever a man was sent to the House I pledged in favour of the leaseholders he (Mr. Russell) was. On every hillside of South Tyrone he had pledged himself to vote for any measure that would give leaseholders the advantages of the Land Act. He was pledged to the leaseholders, but not to the leaseholders plus whatever the hon. Member for Cork chose to stuff into a Bill along with them. The leaseholders ought never to have been excluded from the Act of 1881. He might be told that contract was a sacred thing; but that was an argument against the whole Act of 1881. When that Act was passed, and contract violated in every way, it was rather hard to leave the leaseholders out of it; and he hoped that the Government would turn their attention to the question during the Recess. If the condition of Ireland was as the hon. Member for Cork represented it to be, this Bill would not meet the emergency. The number of tenants in Ireland in December, 1884, was 565,000, and up to that time only 157,000 fair rents had been fixed. That left 400,000 tenants utterly outside the provisions of the Bill. They were the leaseholders, the holders of town parks and glebe lands; those whose rents had been fixed since December 1884; those whose claims had not been adjudicated upon; and those who had never gone into Court at all. Not one of these would get one iota of advantage from this Bill, which was to relieve the pressing necessities of the Irish people. Hon. Members who voted for the Bill would be voting for a Bill for the advantage of 150,000 tenants, who had had abatements of rent, and would do nothing for those tenants who had had no abatements at all. The average reduction of 1882 was 20.5 per cent; in 1883, 19.5; in 1884, 18.7; and in 1885, 18.1 per cent; so as a simple fact those who got their rents fixed in 1885, and who were abitrarily excluded from the action of this Bill, got smaller reductions than those whose rents were fixed in 1882, 1883, and 1884, and who were to be benefited, as the hon. Member had said. What was the reason for this? It was because they were such a numerous class—about 20,000. He never had a high opinion of the way the hon. Member for Cork and his Friends would treat a minority in Ireland. He had I said so everywhere; but he had never I expected to convict them out of their own mouths, as was the case when they excluded these tenants from the benefits of the Bill. The Land Commissioners in the present year had reduced the judicial rents 9 per cent below those fixed in 1882–3–4; and on that basis the hon. Member for Cork asked the House to authorize the Land Courts to reduce judicial rents by 50 per cent. Why were the judicial tenants up to the end of 1884 to have relief, and those of 1886 to be treated in this way, while the tenants of 1885 were to receive no abatement whatever? He was not himself a landowner, and he had not the slightest connection with landlords or landlordism. His whole connection was with the farming class. [Laughter.] Yes; it was quite true that he was independent of landlordism, and he was not afraid to say that in Ireland they owed to it much of the trouble and the difficulties from which the people had been suffering. But when he was told that the people of Ireland were now face to face with a crisis such as they experienced in 1880 he entirely dissented from such a statement. In 1880, if the Irish people were not in the midst of a famine, they were but slowly recovering from its effects; but this year there was the prospect of more than an average harvest—[Cries of "Oh, oh!"] Well, let them read The Farmers' Gazette. Anybody who had been in Ireland lately knew that it had been more than an average year; and they ought to be very thankful for it. He was always inclined to regard the condition of any people from the consumption of luxuries, for they were always the barometers of prosperity. [A laugh.] Of course, hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway knew what he was coming to. He would take the year 1877, when he found that the cost of the spirits and beer consumed in Ireland amounted to £12,169,915. 1877 was an exceptionally good year; but 1880 was an exceptionally bad year, as he had already stated, and in that year the consumption of spirits and beer fell off by some £3,000,000—went down to £9,174,803. He well remembered hon. Members below the Gangway making a great argument of this decrease in the expenditure of the people, which they attributed to their destitution. Now he came to the present year, in order to see what this spirit and beer barometer indicated. He found that for the 12 months ending March, 1886, this so-called distressed country—a country not of large towns, there were only six large towns in it, but a country almost exclusively agricultural—consumed spirits and beer to the amount of £11,250,000. He was not finding fault with the Irish people for being over much addicted to the consumption of spirits and beer. They consumed far less per head than the people of either England or Scotland; but what he said was this, that the figures he had quoted—an expenditure of £11,250,000 upon spirits and beer—was not evidence of the distress which hon. Members below the Gangway declared was prevalent in Ireland at the present time.

Mr. M. J. KENNY (Tyrone, Mid)

Where do you get those figures?


From the Excise Returns.

MR. HARRIS (Galway, E.)

How much of the spirits is exported?


, continuing, said, that the figures he had given represented the consumption that had taken place in Ireland. He was too old a hand in a matter of this kind to mix statistics of export up with the statistics of home consumption. The question was whether the pressure on the Irish people was so great as to warrant them in interfering with the national contract of 1881 without a syllable of inquiry. Three weeks ago he had voted against the Amendment to the Address brought forward by the hon. Member for Cork, in which that hon. Gentleman raised nearly the same issue as was contained in the Bill now under notice; and he (Mr. Russell) had not found, after giving full consideration to all the circumstances, in anything that had occurred in Ireland since, nor in what had been stated in that House, anything calculated to alter his opinion. He was not, fortunately, in the position of hon. Members below the Gangway, of whom the hon. Member for Cork might say of each—"When I say come he cometh, when I say go he goeth, and when I tell a third to do this he doeth it." The Government had given the names of the Royal Commission that evening, and not a word of objection had been raised. The Government had promised an early inquiry, and he should, like to say that this was a subject that would not brook delay. He was perfectly satisfied that there had been a fall in prices. He did not dispute or doubt that for a moment. The inquiry which, was to be held must be searching. It would be possible for the tenants to wait now; but matters would not brook anything like trifling. He had faith in the present Government. Indeed, he was not ashamed to say that he had more faith in the present than he had in the last Government. He believed that the Government recognized the gravity of the situation, and, believing that they seriously intended to grapple with the Irish Land Question, he would vote against the second reading of the Bill of the hon. Member for Cork. The hon. Member for East Edinburgh stated that every eviction crusade was followed by crime. He (Mr. Russell) disputed that altogether. If he thought that was a fact, he might, perhaps, be inclined to vote for the second reading of the Bill. But what were the facts? What inducement had the landlords to evict their tenants? Did the landlord who evicted get anything by evicting his tenants? He did not get his rent, and he had to pay the costs. True, he would get his land; but it was of no use to him. He could not let it to anyone, and if he put Emergency men upon it the cost was very great. The landlord could not evict for six months' rent; he would not evict for even a year's rent. If the Eviction Returns were complete it would be found that people were not evicted in Ireland for a year's but for three and four years' rent, unless as the result of combination. Hon. Members said that crime followed evictions. If they took up the Parliamentary Returns they would find that in Ulster, where the percentage of evictions was highest, the percentage of agrarian crime was lowest. He had lived in Ireland 30 years, and had been a close observer of what was going on there, and if he got a map he could trace the course of this land agitation by a line dotted with blood. Crime did not necessarily follow evictions; it followed this agitation. Class was set against class; everything honest was openly reviled and scouted. If this Bill was passed, in the first place it would block the Land Court. Every man who had got a judicial rent would rush into Court, and every landlord would resist this 50 per cent reduction. The whole of the Sub-Commissioners would be reconstituted and sent over the country, and he could hardly imagine a greater calamity to Ireland than that would be. It was an amusing thing to see how the Land Commissioners worked. They took the present rent and jotted that down, then they jotted down Griffith's valuation, then the landlord's valuation, and then the tenant's, added them all up, and divided by four, and that was the judicial rent. He knew of no greater calamity than to reconstitute those Commissioners and allow them to make ducks and drakes of other people's property. It would take three or four years to settle the matter, and meantime you would have on the one side some 400,000 farmers in open and absolute revolt, and on the other 150,000 favoured tenants. Within the last six or seven weeks hon. Members must have noticed that the applications for loans under Lord Ashbourne's Purchase Act had increased. The tenants purchasing under that Act had made arrangements by which the reduction in the payments came to something like 16 per cent on the judicial rent. Hon. Members from Ireland below the Gangway did not want that land purchase scheme to go on; and this Bill was placed before the tenant farmer, and a reduction of 50 per cent was dangled before his eyes, in order to stop the progress of Lord Ashbourne's Act. Under the Bill the landlords would not get back the land; but there was nothing to prevent the gombeen man, who was the prince of scoundrels in Ireland, from obtaining possession of it. In fact, everyone under the Bill, save and except the landlord, might have a shot at the tenant. He was glad to have the opportunity of giving his reasons for voting against the Bill, and he should be equally ready to explain them to his constituents. He recognized the fall in prices, and was anxious to assist the tenant farmers in difficulties which were not of their own creation; and he refused to compare the circumstances of the present day with the circumstances that obtained under Griffith's valuation. Labour was higher, the cost of living had increased, and the necessities of every class had increased since the days of Griffith's valuation. He, therefore, refused to make the comparison. He admitted the fall in prices; but he had no reliable information as to the extent of the fall, or how far it affected Irish tenants, or whether it was temporary or permanent in its character. He had received pamphlets on each side; but they could not legislate upon pamphlets. He declined to be a party to the upsetting of contract until these facts were ascertained, and that could only be done by the Royal Commission. He did not believe that the Irish landlords were thirsting for evictions, because all their interests were against evictions. The landlords, in his opinion, or, at any rate, the great majority of them, might be trusted, and it was to their interest to recognize the gravity of the situation. He did not think that the landlords of Ireland were going to play into the hands of the hon. Member for Cork so quietly as he thought they would. The Act of 1881 was a great charter. It gave fixity of tenure to the Irish tenants, and appointed an impartial tribunal to fix a fair rent. After that Act came Lord Ashbourne's Purchase Act, under which the whole of the purchase money could be advanced to tenants who were willing to buy. Before he stepped in and assisted to undo the solemn contracts which had been made under these Acts, he must have before him that evidence which the Royal Commission only could produce. It might be said that this Bill of the hon. Member for Cork was but a temporary measure; but he should like to hear the hon. Member or any of his Friends talking in that sense in Ireland. There was not one of them who would dare to say in Castlebar or Cork that this Bill was meant to be of a temporary character. Because he believed that the Bill was not brought forward with any honest intention, and because it was, in his opinion, an impossible Bill, and would stand in the way of the work which the Government intended to undertake, he should give an unhesitating and an unfaltering vote against it.

MR. J. W. BARCLAY (Forfarshire, W.)

said, he thought all the objections of the hon. Member who had just sat down might have been met in Committee. If the tenants under leases were not properly dealt with, he might have taken measures to have their case properly attended to in Committee. He (Mr. Barclay) intended to vote for the second reading of this Bill; but, at the same time, he thought it would have been more in the interests, not only of the tenants but of the landlords, if the Bill had been drawn on wider lines. It proposed to deal only with impecunious tenants; but he was prepared to appeal to the principle stated by the noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington), of equity between man and man, and make the Bill apply generally to the rents of all tenants in Ireland. That was the natural consequence of the position which this House took up in 1881. For good and sufficient reasons Parliament at that time interfered for the purpose of revising rents in Ireland. The Land Courts fixed these rents according to the circumstances of the time; but if they were able to prove that circumstances had materially changed since then, as a natural consequence this House was bound again to take such measures as they might think necessary for fixing fair rents. The right hon. Member for Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin) contended that Parliament having inter- fered to fix fair rents in 1881, was bound to guarantee the payment of the rents so fixed for the next 15 years. If that were so, then Irish landlords were by the Act of 1881 more fortunate than landlords in England and Scotland. The whole question turned on whether the rents fixed by the Land Courts three years ago were fair rents now. The Irish landlords blamed that Act for the fall of rents; but in point of fact the primary cause of the reduction was the great fall in the values of produce since 1878. The reduction of rents in England and Scotland had been considerably more than the reduction of rents in Ireland, and he could only regard the Act of 1881 as a means whereby the landlords of Ireland had been more tenderly dealt with, and as protecting them from the effect of that fall in values which had come directly on the landlords of England and Scotland. The fall in price of agricultural produce during the last three years was sufficient to justify them in saying that the judicial fair rents fixed in 1881 were not fair rents now. Another matter which was too often disregarded was that this fall in price of agricultural produce was not, to any appreciable extent, counterbalanced by any decrease in the cost of production, which, under normal conditions, was about three-fourths of the price. The fall in price, therefore, fell entirely upon the rent and the tenant's profit, and the tenant whose rent had not been reduced was the sufferer. If people in England with capital and science at their disposal, were unable to make their land pay, he asked how this was to be accomplished by the poor, ignorant Irish tenant? One argument used by the opponents of the measure was that, as tenants had paid in the past, they would continue to pay their rents in the future. He was afraid that hopes built upon such an anticipation were doomed to disappointment. Rents had been paid in recent years not out of the profit on the land, but out of the tenant's capital in hopes of better times; but a day of reckoning was at hand, and could not long be postponed. This Bill was based on the necessities of the case to assist the impecunious tenants who could not pay their rents. How, under any circumstances, could landlords get rents from such men? True, they might evict; but the force of public opinion was against them and against those who took the place of evicted tenants. Experience showed it was impossible to press on people laws repugnant to their sense of justice, and he believed that public opinion would be able to resist all force, civil or military, which the Government could bring to bear. In conclusion, he ventured to suggest that it should be referred to the Land Commissioners to consider the cases of the tenants in each district or county, and having before them the prices on which the rents were fixed, to make general reductions corresponding somewhat to the reduction which had taken place in the prices of produce compared with those on which the rents were fixed. He appealed to the House to take this opportunity of dealing justly and equitably, if not generously, with the Irish people.


I was very much struck, Sir, by the complaint made last night of the unreality which has distinguished the discussion on this Bill, and I confess that I think that complaint was made with some justice, when I recollect the circumstances under which the Bill has been brought forward. The measure before the House is a most important measure; it is introduced by no less a person than the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell), who, as we all know, has great authority in Ireland. Yet, Sir, during the whole course of the debate, only one Member, besides the hon. Member for the City of Cork, representing hon. Members who sit below the Gangway opposite has addressed the House on this important question. That cannot be because the speech of the hon. Member for the City of Cork was considered to be absolutely conclusive, for I have observed that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for New-castle-on-Tyne (Mr. John Morley) have neither of them accepted either the premises or the conclusions of the hon. Member for the City of Cork; and, therefore, Sir, I confess I am somewhat puzzled to account for the silence of hon. Members below the Gangway opposite. [An hon. MEMBER: Do you wish us to speak? The hon. Member for the City of Cork is supported by very eloquent Members in this House, and by many others who, at any rate, we have learnt to regard as being very fluent indeed; and, therefore, Sir, if there had been any desire on their part to express their opinions in support of this Bill, I have no doubt they would have been able to place very powerful arguments before the House. But they have not done so, and yet they cannot consider that their case is proved. [An hon. MEMBER: Give us another day.] Do they want this Bill to pass? That is the point upon which I desire to ask the attention of the House. Why, Sir, we all know very well that if that were the case they would not be wanting in their efforts to take part in this debate. I am afraid that they have not done so, because they do not really care for this Bill; and that it has been brought forward, not with any idea that it should become law, but simply as a measure upon which the Separatist Party above and below the Gangway opposite can unite for a moment in embarrassing the Government of the day in dealing with Ireland. How are we to deal with it? We can only deal with it in one way. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. John Morley) has, in addressing the House to-night, admitted that we are perfectly in accordance with all our previous declarations in declining to assent to the second reading of this Bill. I think he expressed a little regret that we had found ourselves unable to meet the views of hon. Members below the Gangway; but he admitted that, in the policy we had laid before Parliament, and in the opinions we had expressed, we were in complete accordance with our previous declarations.

MR. JOHN MORLEY (Newcastle-on-Tyne)

I beg the right hon. Gentleman's pardon. What I meant to convey was that the Government were acting in accordance with the assurance which the noble Lord the Chancellor of the Exchequer gave to the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) when he asked for a day for the discussion of his Bill.


Yes; but the right hon. Gentleman does not, I am sure, mean to say that there was anything in the statement of my noble Friend opposed to anything he had previously said. Well, Sir, we have taken up our position and we have declared our policy. We have informed Parliament of our intention to inquire into this matter, by means of a Royal Commission before we propose any measures to Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman tried to prove that our proposal to appoint a Royal Commission and his action in assenting to the second reading of the Bill amounted to the same thing, and he even went further by suggesting that the inquiry by a Royal Commission would take as long as the inquiry proposed by this Bill to be made into the circumstances and condition of the tenants. All I have to say as to that point—and, after all, it is a very small point—is this, that our proposal is for a general inquiry; whereas the inquiry which the right hon. Gentleman contemplates is an inquiry into particular cases before a Court; and, certainly, it is perfectly clear that if the Bill of the hon. Member for the City of Cork were to become law, very prolonged and costly litigation would be necessary before the cases could be disposed of. The right hon. Gentleman argued that we have asserted the inability of the tenants to pay their rents on account of the fall in the prices of produce. I do not think he carried that point quite as far as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian; but it was carried further by another hon. Member who addressed the House to-night and charged me personally with having stated that there was a general inability on the part of the tenants in Ireland to pay their rents. Well, Sir, I have never stated anything of the kind. It is admitted that, for one reason or another, there is a certain amount of non-payment of rents in Ireland, and it is admitted that there have been, and that there still continue to be, combinations in Ireland by which the payment of rents is hindered. It is also admitted that there has been of late years, and especially in the last year or 18 months, a considerable fall in the prices of agricultural produce. These are facts which are notorious; but what we want to find out is what effect these facts have had upon the operation of the Land Act. That is the point upon which we propose that the Royal Commission should make inquiry, and when the right hon. Gentleman says that I admitted that it was possible that, owing to the fall in prices, some tenants in Ireland might be unable to pay their rents, of course, I only stated that this possibility was one of the points into which the Royal Commission would inquire. The right hon. Gentleman wishes to found legislation of a very drastic character, upon a possibility of this sort. Well, Sir, we simply decline to follow him in any course of that kind. We cannot think that the Bill of the hon. Member for the City of Cork is one that can be accepted in principle, in the light and airy way in which it was accepted by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-on-Tyne. As a mere assertion of the fact that, in his mind, the fall in prices had rendered it impossible for the tenants to pay the judicial rents, leaving it an open question as to how that matter should be dealt with. That is not our view of the mode in which we should approach the consideration of Bills presented to this House. It constantly happened, under the late Government, that Bills proposed, especially by Irish Members, were accepted in principle, though the Members of the Government who accepted their principle either objected to or left open for further consideration all their details. And in the same way this evening the right hon. Gentleman talked of accepting the principle of this Bill, and of leaving its details an open question, and went on to inform the House of certain alterations which he or we might suggest in the details if the Bill ever got into Committee. I wonder if he noticed the very significant silence of hon. Members below the Gangway when he was making that suggestion. He mentioned one point which he said would be settled by an hour's discussion in Committee. Is that his experience of the alteration of Bills dealing with Irish affairs? The fact is that this Bill is proposed by the hon. Member for the City of Cork as one which he wishes the House to accept in detail as well as in principle; and I should like to know what authority the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian and the right hon. Member for Newcastle-on-Tyne have for accepting the principle of this Bill, shadowy as that principle is, and thinking that it would be possible for them, or anyone else, to mould the Bill in Committee into a shape which they may desire, but which the hon. Member for the City of Cork may disapprove? I may remind the hon. Member for the City of Cork, who, I believe, has not shown such interest in his own Bill as to induce his continuous presence in the House—I would remind him of his own words that "this is a temporary Bill to meet a temporary emergency." I agree with the hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell), who addressed the House so eloquently a short time ago, that the Bill of the hon. Member for the City of Cork would not be regarded in Ireland as a temporary measure to meet a temporary emergency in the South and West of Ireland. If this Bill were to become law it would be accepted and interpreted in the South and West of Ireland as a Bill breaking up the settlement established by the Land Act of 1881. This Bill condemns the main principle on which that settlement was arrived at. The hon. Member for the City of Cork, who is not responsible for that Act, told the House yesterday that, owing to the fall in prices, it had proved of no benefit to the Irish farmers; that it had injured the landlords by the reduction of rents by some 20 per cent; that it would injure the tenants by 3 per cent; and he might have added that it would injure the labourers also by depriving them of employment which they previously obtained. Well, that is not surprising to us who, in 1881, took exception to the principle on which the Land Act was based as being contrary to those great truths of political economy which cannot be violated by Parliament with impunity. [MR. W. E. GLADSTONE: Hear, hear!] It is surprising that the right hon. Gentleman should cheer that, because, at any rate, he has held up that Act as a settlement of the Irish Land Question.

MR. W. E. GLADSTONE (Edinburgh, Mid Lothian)

No; only as against you.


And yet the moment statements come from Irish Members which affect his own mind, and before we announce our intention of dealing with the subject at all, merely because we announce a Commission of Inquiry into the operation of that Act, he charges us with having so disturbed it—[MR. W. E. GLADSTONE: Hear, hear!]—thathe, forsooth, isobliged to be foremost in its destruction. There can be no doubt that the Bill of the hon. Member for the City of Cork does upset, not temporarily, but permanently, the settlement which was attempted by the Land Act of 1881. I will not detain the House by discussing the question of the leaseholders, whose position the hon. Member for the City of Cork proposes to alter. The hon. Member frankly explains that he inserted a clause bringing them within the scope of the Land Act of 1881, not so much on account of the fall in the price of produce, as because he thought that they had waited too long already; but I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman and those who have consistently opposed up to this moment the admission of leaseholders to the benefits of the Act of 1881, can say that their case is so urgent that it ought to be dealt with at once, in the manner proposed by the hon. Member, and with so little consideration as Parliament, in September, could devote to it. I will not ask the House to dwell on that matter. [SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT: Hear, hear!] I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby agrees with me on that point, and I hope to hear from him that he and his Colleagues on that Bench object to that clause of this Bill, and agree with me that the position of the leaseholders, in whatever way it may be dealt with in the future, at any rate, at present, is not so urgent that it ought to form part of any measure which the House is now asked to accept. Now, I quite agree with the hon. Member for the City of Cork that if he had proved that a considerable number of the tenants of Ireland could not afford to pay their judicial rents on account of the fall in prices, Parliament ought at once to take some measures for maintaining them in their holdings and relieving them from the possibilities of eviction pending a further consideration of their case; and that neither the season of the year, nor the labours that we have already undergone, ought to excuse us from promptly and quickly dealing with the question. But what I say is this—the difficulties with which this question is beset are very great, and those difficulties have been practically admitted by the action of the hon. Member himself. Why, this is the third proposal which the hon. Member for the City of Cork has made within the last month for dealing with this matter. On the 25th of August he suggested that there should be a revision of rents every three years, according to prices to be fixed by a man in an office in Dublin, with power to the Court to discriminate as to evictions, when the tenant lodged, not 50 per cent, but two-thirds of the rent due in Court. Then, again, on the 3rd September, he proposed that there should be power to suspend proceedings on ejectments on payment of three-fourths of the original rent into Court. Now we have a very different proposal, and although the hon. Member may have very good grounds, though he did not show them in his speech, for altering his mind on this question, yet the difference between his proposals proves that this is a question of no small difficulty, and not to be dealt with by this House without, at any rate, very careful consideration.


I beg the right hon. Gentleman's pardon; I have not altered my mind at all.


Even if the hon. Member has no further proposals to make, he has certainly altered his proposals, if he has not altered his mind. But if he has, he will have an opportunity, in replying upon the Amendment of the hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. Penrose Fitzgerald), of stating how he proposes to modify the Bill, so as to bring it into accordance with the wishes of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian. I think the hon. Member had at first more than the judicial tenants in his mind—at any rate, he did not confine his statements to judicial tenants. Now, my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor General for Ireland (Mr. Gibson) has shown that this Bill, as it now stands, would only apply to about 100,000 of the 500,000 existing Irish tenants—namely, to the holders of judicial tenancies who have had their rents fixed up to the end of the year 1884. He will have nothing to say to those who have have had their rents fixed since January 1st, 1885. They are to have nothing, while the others are to have practically all the benefits of the Bill. I have inquired into this matter, and I find that the percentage of reduction made by the different authorities in the judicial rents, as compared with the former rents on tenancies before the 1st of January, 1885, was 18.320 per cent, and on tenancies after the 1st of January, 1885, 17.248 per cent, so that the tenants the hon. Member does not propose to benefit have actually had a less reduction, on the average, in their rents than the tenants for whom the hon. Member invokes the powers of this Bill. Let me carry that a little farther. The hon. Member, and some other hon. Members, made a good deal of the abatements which have been made by the Land Commission during the earlier months of the present year; but when I come to look at the figures, I find that for September, October, November, December, 1885, and the month of January, 1886, the percentage reduction on the rents was very much the same as it had been in previous years. Why does the hon. Member stop at the 31st of December, 1884? If the Land Commissioners have fixed the rents of the tenants up to the 31st of December, 1884, at too high a rate, surely, according to those figures, they have committed the same error up to the end of January, 1886. The reductions for February, March, April, May, June, and July, 1886, were, no doubt, larger than they had been before—from 6 to 8 per cent, I think—but they do not justify the proposal of the hon. Member to reduce the judicial rents 50 per cent. More than that, these reductions are the only foundation of the hon. Member's argument, and they are fallacious, because, in the last few months, the work of the Land Commission in fixing judicial rents has been very small indeed. Up to the end of December, 1884, judicial rents amounting to £2,350,000 in all were dealt with, while in May and June, 1886, judicial rents to the amount of only £7,565 were dealt with. You will find the same thing running through all the months of 1886. You will find, no doubt, higher reductions, but made upon a very small number of rents, and therefore you cannot calculate averages upon them, so as to test the work of the Commission. The hon. Member for the City of Cork proposes that those who were so fortunate as to have their judicial rents fixed before the end of December, 1884, are to benefit by this Bill. Well, now, in all of these cases, the Bill proposes simply to get rid of that obligation arising from judicial decisions under the Land Act of 1881, which was affirmed so lately as June last by the late Government, with the tacit consent of hon. Members below the Gangway opposite, as so sacred a compact that the proposed Irish Parliament was to be especially prevented from meddling with it; and now we are asked to get rid of 50 per cent of these judicial rents, without even an inquiry into the state of the circumstances. And for what reason? Of course, the whole basis of the argument of the hon. Member has been the exceptional fall in the prices of produce; but any hon. Member who has studied this Bill will see that, in the enacting parts of it, there is not a word about the fall in the prices of produce. The tenant, whatever may be his position, occupying under a judicial rent fixed before December, 1884, may simply decline to pay that rent, and may obtain the suspension of proceedings for the recovery of his holding on payment of half-a-year's rent into Court, so that he may apply to the Court to lower his rent on the ground of his inability to pay in accordance with the provisions of the Bill. But that inability may be due to any other cause than a fall in prices. It may be due to his having given too much for his tenant right. It may arise from incompetency or reckless expenditure, through which the tenant may have rendered himself unable to pay his rent, and yet, on the general argument of the fall in the prices of produce, he is to be excused half that rent on application to the Court, if he can show his inability on any ground to pay what the Court has adjudged to be a fair rent for his farm. It is not necessary to dwell longer on this point, because I think it has been completely dealt with already in the course of the debate. The Bill, in this respect, is simply a Bill for permanently reducing the judicial rents fixed before the 31st of December, 1884, by 50 per cent. Upon what grounds is it proposed that that should be done? I do not wish to impute motives to any hon. Members; but I confess that it seems to me the result of the acceptance of such a proposal as this by Parliament would be, in the first place, to give a death-blow to the purchase, by the tenants, of their holdings under the provisions of the Land Act of 1885, which was unanimously passed by Parliament; and, secondly, to give the Irish tenants, quite irrespective of their necessities, a very large slice out of the property of their landlords. The ostensible reason is, that the Commissioners under the Land Act have fixed the judicial rents without due regard to the possible fall in the prices of produce. I should like to know very much when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for New-castle-on-Tyne first arrived at the conclusion that it was possible that the Commissioners under the Land Act could have taken such a course as that? I should like to know from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby when he addresses the House—as I presume he will—when that conclusion was first arrived at? The Land Commissioners were immaculate for a longtime. When they were attacked from the landlords' point of view, no language could be too strong to describe the iniquity of the attacks. Now, they are thrown overboard altogether, and it is to be taken for granted, without any inquiry at all, that they have not done their duty by taking into consideration the possible fall in the price of agricultural produce in fixing judicial rents. The hon. Member for the City of Cork drew a comparison between the prices of farm produce which prevailed before 1884 and between 1884 and 1885. I ventured to assert, in a previous debate on this subject, that I did not believe that looking at the amount of the judicial rents then fixed, it was possible that the Assistant Commissioners could have fixed them merely on the prices which then prevailed. I quoted to the House the relation between the totals of the judicial rents fixed up to the end of the year 1886, and the valuation of the same properties under Griffith's valuation. I showed that the judicial rents amounted to £2,603,000 on properties valued in Griffith's valuation at £2,440,000, and I went on further to show the prices of produce on which the rents were fixed by Griffith's valuation. More than five important articles included in the Schedule are absolutely higher at the present time than they were in 1852, and I think, Sir, that that, generally speaking, proves that the judicial rents could not have been fixed on anything like the prices which prevailed between 1881 and 1884. Unless it was proved not only that prices would fall from the point at which they stood at the time of Griffith's valuation, but that the fall would be permanent and even increasing, there could be no real ground for any general reduction in judicial rents. The hon. Member for the City of Cork interrupted me on that occasion, and he asked me what the relation between the judicial rents and Griffith's valuation in particular counties was. I have looked further into the matter since, and I find that in the three counties of Cork, Limerick, and Kerry, the judicial rents are considerably higher than Griffith's valuation. That being so, I went on to inquire why; and I found that this was the reason—that the valuation of these counties was commenced in the years immediately succeeding the Irish Famine, and that they were settled, finally, by the middle of 1853, when the country was still suffering from the effects of that famine, when agricultural affairs were much depressed, and when poor rates were very high. Therefore, the valuation in these counties was fixed at a very low rate as compared with the valuation of counties fixed in succeeding years down to 1865. Furthermore, I also found that in these counties there had been large sums of money expended in improvements by loans from the State since Griffith's valuation, not to say anything about the private expenditure of landlords or tenants. There had been an actual expenditure in the counties of Cork and Kerry of £400,000 each, and in the county of Limerick of £284,000, money advanced by the State for the improvement of property by drainage and other works. Therefore, Sir, upon all these grounds, it is perfectly clear there would be reason why judicial rents fixed between 1881 and 1884 in these counties should be considerably higher than Griffith's valuation in 1853. Besides that, I have noticed that nothing was said about the fall of prices until the rejection of the Home Rule Bill of the late Government. Prices were lower in the spring and early summer than they are now; prices are distinctly rising at the present moment. I have an account here, taken from The Farmer's Gazette of Ireland, and I am very glad to see it, which shows that at Banagher Fair, on the 15th of September, 11,300 sheep had been penned, and that only 350 remained unsold, and that prices had gone up 5s. to 6s. per head higher than they were last year. The horse trade also was very good. I have also a letter from Messrs. Hudson, the large provision merchants of Ludgate Hill, who say that the price of Cork butter is 30 per cent higher at the present moment than it was on the 30th of June last; firsts, which were at 75, are now 105; seconds have advanced from 62 to 83; and thirds, which were then 54, are now 70. That is borne out by the hon. Member for the City of Cork himself, who told the House, that although the price of butter had risen, it was an unfortunate thing that the Cork farmers had no butter to send. So much for the first ground on which the proposal of the hon. Member is based; but he takes another ground, and that is the dread that the landlords will largely resort to evictions during the coming autum and winter, because the tenants are unable to pay their rent, and he quoted to the House figures, dating from some time back, of the total number of evictions. Now, Sir, I quite agree with what fell from the noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington), in the earlier part of the evening, as to the eviction statistics. They are utterly misleading. ["Oh, oh!"] Yes, they are, and I will explain to the House why they are. Certainly, I shall make it my business to see that they are, in future, so stated as to give a fair report to the House of what actually takes place. The hon. Member for the City of Cork quoted a certain number of evictions in certain quarters of the year. I will not enter into the comparisons, but I will simply remind the House that so far as the quarter ending June 30th last is concerned, the total numbers—on which fact I lay no stress—were less than the corresponding quarter of the previous year; and, further, that the numbers in any quarter have nothing whatever to do, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-on-Tyne knows very well, with the Lord Lieutenant or the Chief Secretary who may happen to be in Office in that particular quarter. They are the result of previous processes in the Courts of Law. They come into execution at irregular dates, in regard to which the Government of the day can have no influence whatever. It is possible, no doubt, that the figures of evictions may increase during the current quarter as compared with the corresponding quarter last year; but what I would wish the House to remember is this—that the number of evictions increasing is no proof of the inability of the tenants to pay the rent. It may be that a combination to resist the payment of rent prevents the tenant from paying the rent. Therefore, if tenants who are able to pay do not pay, landlords have to resort to eviction as the only course open to them, and then after eviction, the authority of the combination is kept up by outrages. Therefore, Sir, if evictions should increase, I repeat that it is no proof of inability to pay. But I will go into the figures with regard to evictions. I am glad to find that for the week ending September 11, there were, in the whole of Ireland, only 19 cases in which tenants were absolutely evicted from their holdings. Cases of this kind vary from week to week in a most extraordinary manner. If you analyze the figures, and take away from the total number of evictions, the number of tenants reinstated as tenants or caretakers, I believe it is within the truth to say that, out of all the tenants in Ireland, the evictions for the year 1885 do not amount to three out of 2,000 tenancies. Further than that, there are many cases of reinstatement which do not come to the knowledge of the Government at all—for instance, where tenants are not reinstated at the moment as tenants or caretakers, but come in again under the power of the six months' redemption at a later date. Then, again, many of these evictions are due to debts to creditors who are not landlords at all. I will give the House some curious figures on this point. I have looked into the statistics of evictions in the month of August, 1886. They were reported as 482 in number, including 2,374 persons. Now, I find that if you eliminate from these numbers all except actual cases of evictions for non-payment of rent—

MR. T. C. HARRINGTON (Dublin, Harbour)

Judgment evictions on title, or a bill of sale.


Title has nothing whatever to do with the Bill of the hon. Member for the City of Cork. The observation of the hon. Member, therefore, is altogether irrelevant; the Bill of the hon. Member for the City of Cork would not stop a single eviction on title.


Oh, yes, it would.


Proceedings for recovery of rent are stayed.


Evictions, as I have said, numbered 482 in August, and out of that number only 264 cases were due to the non-payment of rent—namely, 64 in Leinster, 53 in Ulster, 99 in Munster, and 48 in Con-naught. I will tell the House something more, which I think will show that those evictions, at any rate, were due to other causes besides the fall in the price of produce during the past year. I find that out of the 264 cases, the number in which one year's rent was due was 26; 1½ years' rent, 58; 2 years' rent, 60; 2½ years' rent, 34; 3 years' rent, 38; and between 3 and 10 years' rent, 48 cases. I think that shows that, if you simply wish to look at this matter from the point of view of the effect upon the tenant of the fall in prices which has occurred during the last year or 18 months, you must eliminate a great many cases of long arrears. But there is something more. I cannot tell at the present time how many of those cases are cases in which judicial rents have been fixed, but my impression is that they are a very small number indeed. The Bill of the hon. Member only applies to judicial rents. It would not be necessary to stop evictions in cases where judicial rents were not fixed, if the tenants fell into difficulties, and in those circumstances desired to apply to the Land Court for the fixing of judicial rents. The evictions, to prevent which we are asked to make this great change in the law, are only those of judicial tenants whose inability to pay is due to the recent fall in prices. With regard to that small number of cases—and it is very small—I have already stated to the House, in a previous debate, that in the case of these tenants, the County Courts are empowered, by a general order of the Judges, to suspend, at their discretion, the execution of the judgments; and a similar jurisdiction has always been exercised by the Supreme Court. I do not know, therefore, what more you want in order to guard against the few cases of undue hardship which may occur. I am quite certain that there is no ground whatever, looking at the facts of the case, for anything like the proposal of the hon. Member, which is, as I have already stated, a simple suspension of 50 per cent of the judicial rents fixed before 1884 over the whole of Ireland. Well, Sir, I have detained the House too long, and I really do not wish to reiterate anything I have previously said upon this subject. But I noticed that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-on-Tyne expressed a great desire to get the Land Question of Ireland settled on a firm and stable basis. Well, Sir, that is a desire in which I can assure him we sympathize with him most heartily. But we do not think that the best way to get the Land Question of Ireland settled on a firm and stable basis is to upset the great settlement of 1881 at the first proposal of the hon. Member for the City of Cork. We think that these are matters sufficiently difficult and important and complicated to require you to look before you leap. The right hon. Gentleman prefers to leap, before he looks, and I think, if he landed in the second reading of this Bill, he would have very considerable difficulty in choosing ground on which to put his foot at the next stage. I regretted to hear from a right hon. Gentleman who speaks with the honesty and the fairness of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-on-Tyne, taunts directed against Her Majesty's Government, for desiring to risk millions in making the State the direct landlord of Ireland. Sir, it is precisely because we do not desire to make proposals to Parliament which have not a substantial basis, and which we are not able to justify by sound and cogent argument, that we have decided on the inquiry which we have already stated to the House it is our intention to institute. We believe that there is scope for inquiry, both in regard to the Land Act of 1881 and the Land Purchase Act of 1885. We have already stated to the House the terms of Reference to the Commission, whose appointment I have intimated to the House this evening. We propose that that inquiry shall be begun as soon as possible, and brought to a completion without any unnecessary delay, and upon the result of that inquiry we hope to submit proposals to the House next Session. The right hon. Member for Newcastle-on-Tyne tells us that our position in regard to social order in Ireland is not an easy one. He reminds us that we are under great disadvantages as compared with the Government of Lord Spencer. I know very well—nobody knows better—that the position of the Irish Government in this matter is not an easy one, that we are under great disadvantages; and I must state to the House that the position of affairs in Ireland now is such that it may well be that we shall have to ask the House to empower us to deal with the situation at an earlier date than may be anticipated. But we have no right to try to make our position in Ireland easy by the means which the right hon. Gentlemen suggests. He tells us that we make no attempt to secure peace and harmony with the Irish Party. I am very well aware what the value of peace and harmony with the Irish Party might be to the Government of Ireland; but we have no right to buy peace by doing injustice. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, in 1881, characterized his own amendment of the Irish Land Law as one which had removed all injustice as between landlord and tenant. We take our stand upon that settlement until, by inquiry, it is proved to be wrong. We will not buy peace in Ireland by doing that which we are not convinced is right. We desire, as much as any hon. Members in this House can desire, to govern Ireland Constitutionally, in accordance with the wishes of the Irish people. But, Sir, we will not attempt to govern Ireland by a policy of blackmail. It is because that attempt has been made so often by right hon. Gentlemen who sit on that (the Front Opposition) Bench, from time to time, yielding to coercion and dictation on the part of hon. Members below the Gangway, that we are landed to-day in the great difficulties that environ the Irish Question, and that the hon. Member for the City of Cork has been emboldened to place before this House a Bill which, though purporting to be a mere instalment of justice to the poor Irish tenants, is an act of gross injustice to the landlords of Ireland.


Sir, I think the House and the country will note with considerable alarm the tone of defiance and menace with which the right hon. Baronet opposite the Chief Secretary for Ireland is embarking on his mission of peace. We have never asked the right hon. Gentleman or the Government to seek peace through injustice; but what we have asked them to do is to seek peace in Ireland by a process which we believe to be just and right. [Cries of "Oh!" from the Ministerial Benches.] Yes, you may differ in your opinion as to that which is just and right; but for the right hon. Gentleman to accuse us, or any Members in this House, of deliberately seeking peace through "blackmail," is a charge which I venture to repudiate as indecent, unfounded, and uncalled for. The right hon. Gentleman commenced his speech with a very singular complaint. He said that the Irish Members had not spoken enough in this debate. Well, that was not a very prudent challenge to make to Irish Members towards the end of September. I suppose, the House is pretty well aware of what the views of the Irish Members below the Gangway upon this Bill are, and it was not at all unnatural they should desire that the views of hon. Members from England and Scotland upon it should be stated to the House. Well, Sir, having taken notice of the second, and, fortunately, the shorter part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech, in which he menaced the House with an early meeting, for purposes which we can easily detect, I will turn my attention to the earlier and more tranquil portion of his speech. It is not denied, and I, for one, do not deny for one moment, that this is a Bill of a most exceptional character. [A laugh.] hope hon. Members opposite who laugh will agree with me that it is an exceptional Bill, which can only be justified on exceptional grounds. Therefore, the question we have to consider, in voting upon this Bill, is whether there are such exceptional grounds as will justify a Bill of this description? The Chief Secretary for Ireland just now said that nothing had been heard about low prices, and their effect on the ability of tenants to pay their rent, until the Home Rule Bill was rejected. [An hon. MEMBER Hear, hear!] An hon. Member says "Hear, hear!" Will he kindly say "Hear, hear!" to what I am going o read? Now, Sir, before the Home Rule Bill was rejected—on the 20th of March—a very high authority indeed—not a Nationalist authority—gave its views on the question of low prices and the reduction of rent. I really believe that the hon. Gentleman who cried "Hear, hear!" and some others, conceive that the idea of low prices, as affecting the ability to pay rent, is a wicked invention of the Nationalist Party. There are many hon. Members who are in the habit of reading The Times newspaper every morning, and this is what that great and infallible authority said on the 20th of March—long before the Home Rule Bill had been rejected. I want to show the House that the notion that this was an invention of the enemy, and that nothing was heard of the fall of prices until the Home Rule Bill was rejected, is altogether unfounded. Now, that great leader of public opinion—An hon. MEMBER: Hear, hear!]—I am glad that hon. Gentlemen opposite accept it as such—that great leader of public opinion stated on the 20th of March— Upon facts unhappily too patent to all the world—the fall in agricultural values on a soil to a great extent poor, worn out, and badly farmed—not only has rent disappeared, but cultivation has almost become impossible. It is not too much to say that the rental of 528,000 holdings in Ireland is practically irrecoverable by anybody, whether landlord, English Government, or Irish Government. Holdings of an average value of £6 offer no margin to meet such a fall in values as has already occurred, and that is very likely to be more seriously felt. We have reason to believe that the full extent even of existing shrinkages of values has not yet been experienced, and in that case all the weaker men, together with many of the comparatively strong, will go down, and their rentals will have to be written off as a bad debt. Thus one-third of the total rental of Ireland is worthless, and the other two-thirds are obviously and apart from all political difficulties indefinitely depreciated. Now, that was not invented after the rejection of the Home Rule Bill. It was not the idea of the Nationalist Party; but it was the deliberate opinion of The Times newspaper on facts patent to all the world. It is quite true that The Times now says exactly the opposite; but then you may set one authority against the other. I only quote The Times for the purpose of showing how ridiculously extravagant and absurd is the statement that the fall in prices was not invented till after the defeat of the Home Rule Bill, or that it was the invention of the Nationalist Party. I quoted in a former debate, and I will not quote again, another authority, neither a Nationalist authority, nor one subsequent to the rejection of the Bill. Mr. Murrough O'Brien, in his evidence before the Commission on the Depression of Trade, stated that the fall in prices would very seriously affect the ability of the tenants to pay their rents. I also quoted Mr. Tuke, to the same effect. An hon. Member complained that I did not also cite the remedies proposed by Mr. Tuke; but that was not the object with which I quoted him. I also quoted him to show that the fall in values had seriously affected the ability to pay rents, and that, according to Mr. Tuke, one-third of Ireland in the West was affected. Then, it is quite plain that these opinions were not invented at the moment for political purposes, because they are opinions which were promulgated and stated by more than one authority long before the rejection of the Home Rule Bill—six months ago. The hon. Member for the City of Cork has referred to the judicial decisions of the Land Commissioners in 1885. That is a most important circumstance, and I cannot think that the Chief Secretary for Ireland sufficiently appreciated the cogency of the argument. What are the facts? In Leinster, taking as the standard the Government valuation, which is practically, for Poor Law purposes, Griffith's valuation, the main body of judicial rents were 15 per cent above Griffith's valuation. During the first four months of this year they have been 16 per cent below. That is a difference of 31 per cent. Now, these facts have never been really dealt with on the other side of the House during this debate. In Connaught, the main body of rents were settled at 13.2 per cent above Griffith's valuation; and in the first four months of this year they have been 18 percent below, or a differ- ence of 31 per cent again. These are not the opinions of individuals, or things invented for political purposes by the Nationalist Party, but they are judicial decisions upon actual cases, and under the circumstances of the time. Well, in Munster, again, it is the same, although as regards Ulster, owing to peculiar circumstances, the case is different. In Munster, the rents were 25.8 per cent above the Government valuation in the former period; and in the first four months of this year they were 2.1 above it, which shows a falling off of 23 per cent. These are facts you have got to deal with, and I venture to say that you have not yet dealt with them. Answer this question—Why is it that the Land Commissioners, during the last four months of last year and the first four months of this year, have been fixing rents upon values so much lower than they were in the same districts formerly? I have before me the Blue Book which gives the rents fixed in the months of May and June at pages 34–5–6. There are whole columns of the rents, of which, we have heard something of the Marquess of Clanricarde. What is the character of these judicial decisions? I will take one. The rent adjudicated upon was £25; the Government valuation was £21; and what was the rent judicially settled? It was £17 10s. In another case, the figures are, £41 rent, £39 valuation, settled rent £31. In another case, the rent £12 10s., valuation £12, settlement £9; and so on, all through these pages, there are figures representing a reduction ranging from 25 to 30 per cent. These are facts which have to be dealt with. Is it a fact that when other judicial rents were settled, they were settled upon a similar basis? What does the right hon. Gentleman say to this? He said that the fall of prices was great in 1885; but he finds that the judicial rents settled in 1885 were very much the same as in the previous period. That may be so; but everybody knows there is a great difference between the effects of the first year of a depression and those of a second year of depression. It is not until the second year that the real stress comes upon the tenants. It is because the Commissioners have found the long continuance of this depression that they have arrived at their decision to reduce the rents. The right hon. Gentleman says it is quite true that the number of cases adjudicated upon is much less than it was in former times, and he does not see that that is an argument that tells very much against him. Why is it that few cases are coming in, or that any cases are coming in at all? In the former years since 1881, all the tenants who thought their rents were too high, and who thought they could get an advantageous reduction, came into Court to get them adjudicated upon. Those who did not come in, were those who thought, in the average run of the decisions, they would gain no sufficient advantage in the reduction of rent. But who are the people who have been coming in now? It is the men who did not come in before, because they thought they would get no reduction of rent, but who know that, under present prices, they can come into Court and get great reductions. Then I say, and all I ask myself and those who will vote for this Bill—[Interruption]—the manners of the House of Commons are not what they used to be in days gone by. I repeat again, that I ask myself, and I ask those who are going to vote for the second reading of the Bill, is there not a strong primâ facie case of probable injustice if you do not do something that is calculated to stay evictions? ["No!"] Well, that is the question. ["No!"] You may answer "No;" but I am going to give reasons why the answer should be "Yes," and I ask for the patience of hon. Members. I have given some evidence of the opinions that have been expressed, and I have stated what appears to be some cogent evidence in regard to judicial decisions; but there is evidence of another character. There have been, I am happy to say, in some parts of Ireland voluntary reductions going on. The hon. Member for the City of Cork has stated the case of Lord Fitzwilliam, as one proof that the fall in prices has created a necessity for the reduction of rents. I would call the attention of hon. Gentlemen to a paragraph appearing in The St. James's Gazette, which is not a Nationalist paper, a statement which gives the names of several landlords who have made reductions of 20 per cent, 25 per cent, and even 40 per cent. I want to know if that is not some evidence that there is a case for a reduction of rent? But can you be satisfied, ought you to be satisfied, with the probability that all landlords are likely to act as those landlords have acted? I would ask the opinion of some hon. Members of this House on the subject as to whether or not there is a case for the reduction of rent. What is the opinion of my noble Friend the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington)? He has objected to this Bill, on the very ground that there is no case for the reduction of rent. The greater part of his speech was received—and I am not surprised at it—with enthusiastic applause from hon. Gentlemen opposite. Yes; but there was one striking passage in his speech which was received with a remarkable silence, and that was the solemn appeal which he made to the landlords of Ireland. [Cries of "No!"] Not a cheer then. [Renewed cries of "No!"] Every man on those Benches was dumb; there was not a cheer. ["No, no!"] Hon. Members who were not here then, but who are here now, are very ready to cry "No!" My noble Friend appealed to the landlords of Ireland to act with a sense of their responsibilities. Responsibilities for what? Responsibilities for the existing judicial rents? Was that what my noble Friend meant? He appealed to the landlords in Ireland not only to do so themselves, but to use their influence to the same end with others. We have had no such appeal as that from the Chief Secretary for Ireland. All his speech was a justification, and an argument, to show the landlords of Ireland that there was no case whatever for a reduction of rents, and that anyone who spoke of it was preaching injustice. [Cries of "No, no!" from the Ministerial Benches.] I appeal to my noble Friend the Member for Rossendale; he knows something of the condition of Ireland; he made an appeal to the landlords to have due regard to their resposibilities, and to use their influence with their neighbours; and he gave the strongest indication as to what his view is as to the necessity for dealing kindly with the tenants. Well, Sir, that is not the opinion of the Loyal and Patriotic Union. I am very glad to see that my noble Friend is not always in accordance with them, though I believe he did attend one of their autumn festivities. They declare, in their pamphlet, that there is nothing in the agricultural condition of Ireland which requires any change or any remission of rents. To prove that is the whole object of their pamphlet, and that is what they have declared. I was rather amused to find, in that rather large pamphlet, the drink argument, which has been served up in this debate more than once. The objection I have to the drink argument is, that I believe it is an argument entirely unfounded and untrue. What is the nature of that argument? The nature of it is, that the Irish people must be more prosperous, because they drink more than they used to do. But is it true that they are drinking more? I took up yesterday the latest Returns of the Board of Trade—the Return for August. Taking out the quantity of spirits kept for consumption in Ireland—it only deals with the whisky consumed and not exported—it appears that in the first six months of 1884, the consumption was 2,423,000 gallons; in 1885, it was 2,343,000 gallons; and in 1886, it was 2,209,000 gallons, a regular but most rapid decrease in the first six months of 1886. Well, the drink argument is a very silly argument at the best; but when you are using the silly arguments of the Loyal and Patriotic Union, you may as well have your facts correct. Well, then, I confess that, upon these and other grounds which I have stated, I come to the conclusion that there is a very strong primâ facie case for the belief that rents upon the present prices may be and are too high. I would ask the Chief Secretary for Ireland, upon his own responsibility—for he has official information, he has the means of knowing—is he prepared to say that the rents are not too high upon the present prices in Ireland, or any part of it? Well, Sir, let him be aware of the answer to that question. If he says "No," what does that mean? It means telling the landlord in Ireland that there is no reason why he should reduce his rents, if the Chief Secretary, on his own responsibility, says that there is nothing in the condition of Ireland which should lead to the conclusion that rents are at all too high. But, if that is so, why should any landlord reduce his rents? What reason is there? Therefore, if that be so, it is a distinct justification to the landlords for proceeding for the utmost farthing and evicting the tenants. [Ministerial cries of "No, no!"] You cannot escape from that conclusion. If there is no reason for lowering rents, why should rents be lowered? ["Hear, hear!"] Then hon. Gentlemen accept that conclusion. If rents are exacted, and not paid, evictions must follow. But if the right hon. Gentleman were to take the other course, and say that there is possibly and even probably a case for the reduction of rents, what is the Government going to do? They say they are going to appoint a Commission. I will not argue technically upon the terms of that Commission; but every man of common sense will admit that you do not propose a Commission to inquire unless you think there is something wrong. I do not presume that Her Majesty's Government would appoint a Commission to inquire into the advantages, if any, of the Monarchial form of Government, and then say that they express no opinion upon the subject, or that they would appoint a Commission to inquire into the advantages or disadvantages, if any, of continuing an Established Church. That is not the way an Executive Government proceeds with respect to a Royal Commission. They do not appoint a Commission unless they think there is something wrong, something that probably has to be amended. Well, but, if you are to have a Commission, I entirely agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-on-Tyne that the Commission proposed by the hon. Member for the City of Cork is a far better Commission than that proposed by Her Majesty's Government. The Commission proposed by that hon. Member is the Land Commission, which knows all about the matter, which for five years has had experience of the condition of the tenants, and has a knowledge of all the tenements through the length and breadth of Ireland. It is a Commission which will bring full knowledge to bear on the inquiry; and, if there are grounds for doing so, can give relief and redress. Therefore, that is proceeding by a Commission which will have power to give relief. But your Commission—how is it going to proceed? Is it going to examine in detail or in gross? Is it going to decide, by looking at one place, where the rents are too high, that they are, therefore, too high in another place? That would be most unjust; it would be most unsatisfactory. The only way to come to a conclusion on the matter is to examine into all the places; or, at all events, to give to every place an opportunity of laying its case before a tribunal fitted to judge. My noble Friend the Member for Rossendale made an attack upon my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lothian with regard to what he said about the Commission, which attack was not altogether warranted. [Laughter.] Well, I give that as my opinion, and I have a perfect right to express an opinion on the matter. I am sure that it was from inadvertence that my noble Friend quoted one part of my right hon. Friend's speech and omitted to quote that which immediately follows the words which he read. My right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lothian said, on the 24th of August, on the subject of the Commission— Even on the snowing of the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Plunket) himself these evictions will take place before the Report of the Commission and, à fortiori, before it is possible that there can be any legislation upon it. Therefore, we are in this position—that we are saying to the tenant, 'You must pay your rent in November on pain of eviction,' and, at the same time, we are insinuating—and more than insinuating, we are carrying with considerable authority into his mind—the belief that his rent is an unjust rent by appointing a Commission to inquire whether it is unjust or not."—(3 Hansard, [308] 422.) And yet my noble Friend has indicated that, with the full knowledge of the terms of the Commission, my right hon. Friend has entirely omitted to state that there was any ground whatever for any proceedings with respect to the stay of evictions. Then it is said that this may be all very true, and that rents may be too high temporarily in consequence of a temporary fall in prices. The landlords, it is said, will give relief in those cases. I am not going to say anything against the landlords of Ireland. I do not hold at all, as one hon. Member in this debate has said, that they have a double dose of original sin. I think they are very like other people, and I think that when a strong Government tells them that there is no case for a reduction in rents, and tells them also that the whole power of this country shall be at their disposal to levy rent, the landlords of Ireland will take the Government at their word. Now, I cannot admit that the landlords are to be taken as very sound and impartial judges of their own case. They protested against the Land Act of 1881, I dare say in perfectly good faith. They said—"Our rents are fair, and not too high; why, then, should you legislate against them?" Parliament, in spite of what they said, passed the Act. The rents were submitted to examination, and what was the result? Why, that they were reduced nearly 20 per cent. The landlords, unfortunately, therefore, had been 20 per cent wrong in their estimate of fair rents. I hear constant complaints that the Land Act reduced rents in Ireland by £500,000. I dare say it did; but what is the conclusion to be drawn from this? It is that, for years before the passing of the Act, the landlords had been levying £500,000 a-year more than they ought. Well, Sir, my noble Friend the Member for Rossendale has made a solemn appeal to the landlords of Ireland to regard their responsibilities. He did not always confine himself to appeals of that character. In the year 1880, as he has stated, he was a Member of the Government which proposed the Compensation for Disturbance Bill. That Bill was rejected by an overwhelming majority of the House of Lords, and my noble Friend said that a great responsibility was thrown upon the people who rejected it. This was no doubt the case, and the rejection of the Bill was the cause, I believe, of most of the misfortunes and of the horrors which followed. In like manner, I believe your rejection of this measure will be responsible for a deal that may ensue. Now I will read what my noble Friend said on that occasion. He was speaking of the Act of 1870, and he said— The principal object of the Act was, as I have already stated, to give security to the tenant, subject, of course, to the payment by him of reasonable rent; but the bad harvests which have prevailed in this country, and still more so in Ireland, have rendered the payment of a reasonable rent in that country an impossibility. Almost all over England the landlords have most willingly submitted to a reduction of rent; but the bad harvests, which in England have produced partial failure of the crops, have in Ireland produced an almost total failure. In some parts of Ireland the impoverished"—mark these words—"circumstances of the tenant have placed in the hands of the landlord a weapon which the Government never contemplated, and which has enabled the landlord, at a sacrifice of a half or a quarter of a year's rent, to clear his estate of hundreds of tenants whom, in ordinary circumstances, he would not have been able to remove, except upon payment of a heavy pecuniary fine. I ask whether that is not a weapon calculated to enable landlords absolutely to defeat the main purposes of the Act? Supposing a landlord wished to clear his estate of a number of small tenants, he knows that this is the time to do it; and if he should lose this opportunity, he can never have it again without a great pecuniary sacrifice. Therefore, the exceptional circumstances of the times have placed in the hands of bad landlords in Ireland—and such there are—a power which will enable them absolutely to defeat the purposes of the Land Act of 1870."—(3 Hansard, [253] 1715.) Well, under those circumstances, he did not make an appeal to the landlords in Ireland. An appeal to the good landlords was not necessary; an appeal to the bad landlords was useless. What did my noble Friend do? He was one of the responsible Government which proposed and carried through this House a Compensation for Disturbance Bill—a Bill which was described and denounced by the Party opposite in exactly the same language as is now being used against this Bill. Now, Sir, see how this operates. Is it quite impossible that you will have harsh treatment or hard cases on the part of landlords under existing circumstances? Is that so? I referred before to Mr. Tuke's pamphlet to show what is going on in Ireland now; and anyone who will take the trouble to look into that publication will see cases given illustrative of the enormous sacrifices made by individual tenants, whose names are set forth, in order to meet the claims of their landlords. These are not stories told by the Nationalist Party. They are told by Mr. Tuke, and confirmed by the police. Page after page shows how the tenants under notice of ejectment, and in a condition of absolute starvation, are paying the rent at every possible sacrifice, in order to keep the roof over their heads. Sir, it is very often said—and I believe really that part of the great alarm felt on the matter is owing to this—that the condition of things in Ireland is very often judged by the conditions which surround landownership in England; yet the cases are very different. I do not think that families in such circumstances as those referred to in Mr. Tuke's pamphlet would have been put under notice of ejectment. I have never heard of such cases in England. ["Oh, oh!"] Hon. Gentlemen opposite may have heard of them—I do not know whether it is an English or Irish Member who expresses that disapproval. In England a very large part of the rent—I believe as much as two-thirds—really represent the interest on money which the landlord has himself expended on the farm. In Ireland not always, perhaps, but as a rule, it represents no part of the rent. The rent in Ireland is the rent of the land, and nothing but the land. All the means of occupying and the means of cultivating it have been exclusively provided by the tenant; and that fact is one of enormous importance when you come to consider where the burden ought to fall in times when it is difficult or next to impossible to pay the existing rents. The hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. Penrose-Fitzgerald), in his able speech the other night, said that the landlords of Ireland were being attacked on account of their fidelity to British rule. I think, however, that British rule has been attacked on account of the landlords of Ireland. I think it is because British rule has been employed so long in maintaining a land system which was unjustifiable that the feelings and hearts of the Irish people have been alienated from it. The right hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Matthews), the other night, said that Parliament had no moral right to deal with this question of rent—that it was precluded; and I think my noble Friend, the Member for Rossendale followed in the same strain. I should like to ask those two Gentlemen how far they are prepared to carry that doctrine? Supposing they were convinced that the fall in prices had made the payment of rent absolutely impossible, would they still maintain that Parliament has no moral right to give relief to the tenants? Well, Sir, the doctrine of the Home Secretary is not a new one; it is, on the contrary, very old. We know it in very familiar language. It was laid down in a great case decided at Venice— It must not be; there is no power in Venice Can alter a decree established: 'Twill be recorded for a precedent; And many an error, by the same example, Will rush into the State. It cannot be. Yes; the doctrine was enunciated by the noble Lord the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Lord Randolph Churchill), on the first night of the Session, amid the enthusiastic cheers of the landlords who sit behind him. They seemed to exclaim— A Daniel come to judgment! Oh, wise young judge! Oh, excellent young man! But it would have been well if the noble Lord, like Portia, had accompanied his judgment with the condition that the exaction and execution of the bond should be unaccompanied by the loss of not a drop of Christian blood. The right hon. Baronet the Chief Secretary for Ireland invited us, challenged us, demanded that we should stand by the Act of 1881. That is all very fine; but is he going to stand by the Act of 1881? What is the object of his Commission? He tells us, and the noble Lord told us on the first night of the Session, that they considered that the Act of 1881 was thoroughly wrong in its principle; that it was founded on a dual possession; and that one of the main objects of their inquiry was to set aside the principle of the Act of 1881, the principle of dual possession, and substitute for it the principle of sole ownership. What right have people to talk of standing on the Act of 1881, and engage in a campaign against the fundamental principle of it? Then, Sir, it is said—the hon. Member for Cambridge said—"Oh, there is another remedy—namely, the sale of land." Ah, Sir, that is the keynote to the whole matter. The landlords want to force the purchase of their land at the expense of the English Exchequer. I spoke to an Irish Tory Member the other day, who said that rents must be kept up, because they were the great leverage for forcing the sale of the land. That sentiment transpired, I think, in the speech of the hon. Member for Cambridge, though it was well wrapped up. That is the real policy of the landlords; and when we are asked to rely on the landlords of Ireland to make abatements where it is necessary, it must be remembered that it is to their interest, if they want to force a sale, to keep up their rents. What are the Government going to do under the circumstances? They are going to do nothing themselves except to inquire. They have told the landlords that there is no case for any reduction or remission of rents. What are the prospects—I do not mean of the disturbance of social order, but the material prospects—of the tenants during the coming winter? I do not know whether or not they are true; but I have seen the most alarming accounts of the condition of the potato crop in Ireland. I hope they are not true; but, if they are, the outlook is a most serious one. ["No, no!"] The noble Lord opposite seems to doubt it.


I was asking the Chief Secretary if he had heard of it.


Well, I take it from the same authority as that I have already quoted—not a Nationalist newspaper, but the St. James's Gazette—that the potato blight has developed itself most extensively within the last three weeks in the South and West, and is extending throughout those districts. The authority given for this is T. J. Clancy, in his butter report—a butter merchant who travels the country. I cannot vouch for the truth of this statement. I do not know the gentleman who makes it, or whether he is the Member—


It is not the Member for Dublin County, but a Conservative.


At any rate, if the statement is well-founded, it discloses, no doubt, a very formidable state of things. What are the Government going to do?—nothing but inquire. They have told the landlords that there is no case for any reduction or remission of rent. ["No, no!"] Well, if not that, what has been the line of argument all through on the other side of the House, except that there is no reason for the reduction of rent? If the Government tell the landlords that, depend upon it they will take them at their word. On this side of the House, I think, the majority of us have come to the conclusion that there is a case made out. We consider that there may be, and probably will be, great injustice, great hardship, great oppression of tenants, unless there is some measure of relief extended to them. We believe that, there being that danger, measures should be taken to prevent that injus- tice; that there should be a proper tribunal appointed—namely, a Land Commission—to do justice between the parties, to secure the landlords, in all cases, at once a moiety of the rents and arrears; and that the question of the reduction of rent, "if any," should be left to the Court to decide. Well, Sir, the Government reject these and all other proposals as a remedy for the dreaded evils of the coming winter. They have the power, they have the majority, and they also will have the responsibility. I am not surprised that the Party opposite is. par excellence, the landlords' Party, and their policy the landlords' policy. I do not complain of the Tory Party taking up that line; but what I want to know is, what is the course the Liberal Party are going to take under these circumstances? This is an occasion pregnant with future consequences. The division which is to take place is an important one. It will be remarkable by those who vote in it, but still more remarkable by those who absent themselves from it. What the great majority of the Liberal Party will do I think I know. They will vote with the Leader of the Liberal Party. My noble Friend the Member for Rossendale has left us in no doubt as to what he is going to do. He made to-night as stout a landlord speech as I ever heard in my life. I do not think I have ever heard the high prerogative of the landlord put on so nigh a level. I do not complain of my noble Friend for that. It is quite natural. I remember a story which I think is told of Joseph II., the Head of the Holy Roman Empire. He was discussing matters with a Liberal politician, and in the course of the conversation he said very frankly—"As for me, I am a Royalist; it is my profession." Well, I do not complain of my noble Friend. What he has done is quite natural; he is a landlord; it is his profession. My noble Friend, though a most important Member, is not the only Member of the Dissenting Liberal Party. But at this fall of the year he sits there very like "the last rose of summer." There is, no doubt, one "lovely companion" by his side—the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Grimsby (Mr. Heneage); but the others are mostly "faded and gone." The noble Marquess described this Bill as revolutionary and Socialistic. Where is my right hon. and learned Friend the Constitutional Adviser of the Dissenting Liberals (Sir Henry James)? Where is the voice of Birmingham? We have heard one voice, and that from the Treasury Bench; but at Birmingham "they are seven." Where are the six? It reminds me of the constellation of seven stars, the Pleiades, in which there is occasionally a star missing. In the Birmingham constellation there are several bright particular stars missing to-night. Where is the senior Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright), the great champion in former days of the impoverished tenants? Has he come to the conclusion that force is the only remedy? Well, but there is another Member for Birmingham absent to-night, my right hon. Friend (Mr. Joseph Chamberlain), who, a few months ago, proposed as the only and necessary remedy for the maintenance of social order in Ireland the suspension of evictions. Where is my right hon. Friend? What has become of the eminent and select body, the Radical Unionists? There is another Member for Birmingham (Mr. Jesse Collings) distinguished from all—he will be recognized by the House when I say he is the hero of "three acres and a cow;" the friend of the poor tenant all over the world. When I ask where he is, I am reminded of a celebrated apostrophe of Lord Chatham—"Gentle shepherd, tell me where." Birmingham used to lead the Liberal and Radical opinion of England; but, upon this great and critical question, what is the voice of Birmingham? Why, Birmingham speaks with one voice, and the voice of Birmingham is the voice of a Tory Minister. This Liberal Union does not seem to be much of a union after all. Here is a question most critically important to Ireland; they are, if anything, a Party united on Ireland. What is going to become of that Party to-night? How many are going to join my noble Friend, and how many are going to join hon. Gentlemen who are in seclusion? Well, these are interesting subjects of inquiry upon which we shall, perhaps, have light at another time; but, whatever the Dissentient Liberals may do, our course is clear. Acting upon the principles of the Liberal Party, we shall do what we can, while there is time, to prevent oppressive and dangerous exac- tion, and to avert the grave dangers in which we foresee the policy of the Government will involve the country.

MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)

Mr. Speaker, I feel that after the brilliant speech we have just heard it will be very difficult for me to engage the attention of the House while I go into the matters of detail on which I consider myself obliged to enter. I think it was hardly fair or generous of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) to charge the Irish Party with giving an air of unreality to this debate, when he must have known that many Members of the Irish Party were anxious to address the House. Several attempts have been made by my hon. Friends during this evening's debate to address the House; and so anxious was I myself to be permitted to speak on behalf of the Irish Party, that I availed myself of the ordinary channels of communication, and I was only prevented rising to speak at half-past 9 o'clock by the information that the right hon. Gentleman himself intended to speak at that time. Under those circumstances, it is hardly fair or generous in the right hon. Gentleman to charge us with taking no interest in this Bill. The Government might easily know, if they have any true information from Ireland, that we do take an interest in this Bill, and that we could not fail to take an interest in this Bill, representing, as we do, the great mass of the Irish tenantry. Sir, I listened to the tone of menace and defiance which characterized the speech of the Chief Secretary for Ireland with a great deal of regret, but without the least alarm—with a great deal of regret, because, in introducing this Bill, the Government might at least do us the justice to believe that our motive honestly was to procure for ourselves, as well as for them, an interval of peace in Ireland, during which we might lay before the people of England the cause in the justice of which we firmly believe. It is not because I fear the landlord Party of Ireland if this Bill is defeated, or because I believe that the landlord Party in Ireland will come out of the struggle which must inevitably ensue better if this Bill is defeated. But the reason why I listened to the speech of the Chief Secretary for Ireland with the deepest possible regret is that I fear that the opportunity which is now given to Ireland to lay before the minds of the English masses, who now, for the first time in my lifetime, are willing to listen to our appeal, a true statement of the Irish cause—a cause which we believe in, and for which we have struggled—will be lost if this Bill is defeated. I look forward to the failure with no fear as to the ultimate result, and with no belief that the Irish landlords will profit by this new act of folly on their part, but with the most perfect knowledge that just as they have suffered for the rejection of the Compensation for Disturbance Bill, so will they suffer for the rejection of this Bill. In the speeches of most hon. Members who dealt with this subject there was a sad want of true appreciation of the situation. We were met with quibbling argument, with figures which I can hardly think that the men who quoted them believed to be correct. Not one of the hon. Members opposite who attempted to answer us can say that we did not give them an ample opportunity of stating their case, and yet not a single one dealt with the grave issues which lie beneath this question. I invite attention to this fact—and it is a fact which this country ought to know and observe—that though there are in the House many Members representing the landlord and Conservative Party in Ireland, not a single one of them has spoken on this Bill. It is a strange thing—an ominous thing—that the Motion for the rejection of a Bill affecting the tenant farmers of Ireland, and affecting directly no other class, should be made by an hon. Member (Mr. Penrose Fitzgerald) who represents the borough of Cambridge, and seconded by another hon. Member (Mr. Lewis) who represents the City of Londonderry, and that the hon. Members—and there is a fair number of them in this House—who are landlords themselves, and who represent Irish county constituencies, have not opened their mouths against this Bill. I say that is an ominous and important fact, and I believe that the true reason which underlies it is this—that while they will go into the Lobby against this Bill, they know, because they live in Ireland and have estates there, that the results in Ireland which will follow from the rejection of this Bill will be results of enor- mous interest and of enormous danger to all who have landed estates in Ireland; and they know, whatever mock heroics may be indulged in by English Catholic snobs or by London solicitors, who have no connection with Ireland, except Irish Tory seats, which cost them dear, that the circumstances in which we are placed are circumstances of the utmost gravity and difficulty. Sir, I have said that no Member for an Irish county constituency has addressed the House against this Bill; but I must make one exception. We have had a speech from the hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell), a Gentleman who seems to desire, on this occasion, to add one more to the many wreaths of laurel which, he has already won in the House for performing the marvellous feat of standing on two stools. The hon. Member is a nominee and servant of the Tory Orange landlords of South Tyrone, and he does his work well for his masters; but I beg leave to state, without troubling the House long with the errors of that Gentleman, that the tune which we hear him sing here is a very different one from that he sang on the platforms before the tenant farmers of South Tyrone; for I have it from a gentleman, in whose veracity I have the most perfect confidence, that he listened to the hon. Member addressing meetings of his constituents at the last election, and that speaking to the poor tenant farmers of South Tyrone, whom he was then trying to inveigle into voting for him, the hon. Gentleman used these words—"The radical rents cannot be paid, and, what is more, they ought not to be paid." That is the language which does for the county Tyrone farmers; but the language we have heard to-night is the language which suits the English House of Commons. Now, I wish to say a word or two in answer to the criticisms which have been made as to the probable way in which the Bill which has been introduced by the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) would work in Ireland. It has been stated by hon. Members—nearly every Member who spoke from that side of the House made the statement—that it would probably take months and years to work this Bill; and when I heard that it makes me strongly suspect that hon. Members have not studied this Bill, or the working of similar Acts. One argument which was greatly relied upon, and received with enthusiastic cheers on that side of the House, was that my hon. Friend the Member for the City of Cork pointed to the example of the Arrears Act, under which 132,000 cases were completely disposed of within eight or nine months. It was said—"Ah! but these were cases in which the landlord and tenant made joint application." But are hon. Members who use that argument aware of the implication which lies under it—namely, that the landlord, tenant, and the Court entered into a combination to defraud the English Treasury? It was the English Treasury that had to advance a year's rent to the Irish landlords. What was the wording of the Act? That the Court "shall inquire" whether the tenant is able to pay. It is assumed—the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for Ireland (Mr. Gibson) triumphantly assumes—that no inquiry was made, and that the landlord and tenant came together, and that the landlord, the tenant, and the Court entered into a tripartite confederacy to defraud the Public Revenue. I make the hon. and learned Gentleman a present of that argument. If there was such a combination, the Solicitor General for Ireland has a very low opinion of the morality of Irish lawyers.


I made no such imputation.


I never accused the hon. and learned Gentleman of making the imputation; but I said the imputation was implied in his argument. If he denies the imputation, then he asserts that the Courts did honestly investigate each case. Let him read the Act. What does the Act require? That the Court shall protect the public, and ascertain whether the tenant is able to pay; the Court shall satisfy itself the tenant was not able to pay, and not able to pay for certain specific reasons. This very Court to which we propose to refer the working of the Bill did, in six months, deal with 135,000 cases, and finished them all. Is there, I ask, any likelihood of anything like so many cases coming under the operation of this Bill? I will deal hereafter with the gross misstatements as to the number of cases. which, will come under this Bill; but I will now draw attention to the way in which this Bill, if passed, would really work. My belief is that the vast majority of the Irish landlords, seeing what is before them, if they do not do justice, will make settlements with their tenants without going into Court at all, and that out of the 200,000 or 300,000 tenants who would come under the operation of the Bill three-fourths or four-fifths would come to an amicable settlement with their landlords without going into Court. My estimate is that, if this Bill were passed, not 20,000 cases would come before the Irish Land Court; and, with the experience of the present staff at the disposal of the Court, I have perfect confidence that it could dispose of every single case under this Act in six months. Well, now, I want to say a word or two in reply to the argument which has been so lavishly used about the small number of tenants to which this Bill would apply, and the enormous number who would be left out. We tried to make the Bill as moderate as we thought was consistent with the interests of the public peace, and now it is made a charge against us that we have not included the tenants whose rents were fixed after the 31st of December, 1884. I myself do not think it was fair to stop there. But why did we do it? Because we wanted to bring forward a Bill as slightly open to hostile criticism as possible. We knew we had to deal with the House of Commons, which is not very easily brought round to our view. Although we ourselves knew that the fall of prices did not affect the decisions of the Land Court until after the date named in the Bill, we felt it might have been argued, if we had gone to December 31, 1885, that we were including in our Bill the very tenants whose rents had been settled after the fall in prices. Now, what are the facts of the case? The hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland stated yesterday—I do not know where he got his figures; but I know they are entirely wide of the mark—that the Bill would exclude 70,000 tenants whose rents were fixed in 1885. Now, the tenants whose rents were fixed up to December 31, 1884, and who, consequently, will get relief under this Bill, number 153,465. The tenants whose rents were fixed during the year 1885, and who are left out of the Bill—hon. Gentlemen are perfectly welcome to put them in if they like—number 21,900, not 70,000; and the tenants whose rents have been fixed during the present year, and whose rents we do not claim to revise, because they have got the benefit of the fall of prices, number 19,500. I believe that of the 153,000 judicial tenancies to which the Bill would bring relief, not 20,000 would come before the Court. I believe that as soon as the Irish landlords saw how things were going in the Court a general settlement would take place all over Ireland on the basis of the few decisions given in the Court. There is no earthly reason why the Land Courts should not dispose of these cases with the utmost celerity. The operation of going over the land and valuing has been done; there is no occasion to repeat it. The records are in the possession of the Court, and can easily be got at, so that all that needs to be done is to inquire into the condition of the tenants, an operation exceedingly easy of performance. I will deal now for a few minutes with the two main arguments on which we rest this Bill. The two main arguments on which we have rested our case for the necessity of this Bill are these:—First of all, the totally unlooked-for and unexpected fall in agricultural prices which has taken place this year—coming on the top of another depression, through which everyone in Ireland expected we were about to pass; and the calamitous character of the season for the last month in Ireland—over the South and West—which is more serious than has been supposed. The second strong point in our argument is, what we consider to be the probable action of the landlords during the coming winter. In respect to the first of these reasons, the question of the reduction of prices has been so fully dealt with that I do not propose to enter into it now at all; but there are a few points connected with agricultural depression which I most reluctantly ask the House to have the patience to allow me to put before them. First of all, I wish to refer to the stale old argument which has done so much so much service and injured us so much in England, and which, if the House will allow me to trespass long enough on its time, I should like to dispose of once for all; and that is the state- ment, repeated over and over again, that the valuation of Ireland was made in a time of great depression, and that, consequently, we must go back to the prices of 1852, or to the Act of 1852, in order to understand on what basis the valuation was made. Now, once for all, I entirely and utterly contradict that statement; and I shall be obliged to read to the House a very few brief extracts from the evidence taken by an important Committee of this House, which sat to inquire into the question of Griffith's valuation in Ireland in 1869. These extracts I shall read with a view of proving two propositions—both of them of the very utmost importance. The first is this—that in the opinion of Sir Richard Griffith his valuation was up to the full value of Ulster in 1869—the full letting value of Ulster, taking into account all the tenant's improvements. I think every hon. Member will admit the importance of that statement when I say that it takes into account all the tenant's improvements, which in Ulster—in 1869 I believe—were more than three-fourths of the entire value of the property. Secondly, he said that from 15 to 20 per cent added to the valuation of the three Southern Provinces would bring them up to the same standard as Ulster; and, thirdly, that in this valuation all the tenant's improvements—building and draining and fencing—were fully included. The valuers on the farms valued as they found them, and made no allowance whatever for the improvements made by the tenants. Sir Richard Griffith stated in reply to a question— The fact is, the improvement in agriculture was so great when we were valuing Ulster that it was shown by a Member of the Committee that our valuation was based on a scale too high, and to be nearly up to the rents. I know that on an estate of my own in Londonderry my valuation came out higher than my own rents. Sir Frederick Heygate, then a Member of this House, and a Member of the Committee, was asked— What is your experience as to the way in which land is let? and he replied— Generally to the highest bidder. I do not think they always do it; it would be very injudicious. The landed proprietors do not always take the highest bidder. It is perfectly clear that outside Londonderry and a portion of the town he was of opinion that rack-renting was practised all over Ireland. Now, I come to the evidence of a gentleman who ought to have great weight in this House, for he is at present the Conservative Representative on the Land Commission in Ireland, Mr. John Vernon, one of the largest land agents in Ireland, who has an experience in these matters of over 40 years. He was asked by a Member of the Committee— Is it your opinion that official valuation differs much from the rack-rental of the proprietors?—In some parts of Ireland," said Mr. Vernon," it does, and in some not much. Is it your opinion that the official valuation should represent the rack-rental?—Yes; I think it ought to be a uniform rate, to represent as far as possible the full value. I want to prove that, in the opinion of Sir Richard Griffith and all these valuers, the official value was pretty nearly up to the rack-rental value in 1869. Now, I just want to read Mr. Vernon's opinion about the relation of the valuation to the value of farms in 1869. He was asked— Do you think the value of tillage farms has increased? He answered— Not more than the cost of production. The cost of production in Ireland, and particularly on the small holdings, has increased largely. Taking this element into consideration, have you reason to think there is an increase in the value of land in Ireland compared with what it was in Ireland years ago?—I think the valuation in Ireland of 15 years ago would not hold good in many parts of Ireland. Could the value be higher than it was 16 years ago?—No; because I think the cost of producing is so much more. This even applies to grass lands, where the coat of producing has just increased in so great a proportion. I have shown that, in the opinion of Sir Richard Griffith and of Mr. Vernon, in many parts of Ireland the value now known as the Poor Law value was close on the rack-rental value of Irish land. Now I come to the last proposition. I want to prove the horrible injustice done to the tenants in Ireland. Mr. John Baldgreen—now Sir John—was asked— In making these reductions (in respect of poor rates) for your valuation, did you ever take into account the existence of tenant right in the North of Ireland?—No. That was not an element in your calculation?—It never was. I assert, and every Irish tenant in Ulster will bear me out, and I defy even the hon. Member for South Tyrone to deny it, that in Ulster, in 1869 and in 1862. when that valuation was completed, the whole valuation of the Province was more than half comprised of the unrewarded and unrecompensed labour of the tenantry. The improvements, the drains, the fences, were all made by them, and thousands and millions of acres of worthless bog and of waste mountain were brought into cultivation by their exertions, when these valuers came and placed upon the land a valuation which, by their own mouths, I have now proved was up to the rack-rental of the Province, confiscating at one fell swoop one-half of the value of Ulster from the tenantry. Mr. Vernon, in confirmation of this assertion, was asked this question, he being the agent of Lord Bath in the county of Monaghan— As far as you know, was the intrinsic value of the land taken without reference to the various interests that may have grown up by use and by the letting of the land? His reply was— I believe that to be the case. Now, there is an act of the most bold and sweeping confiscation. They talk to us about robbing the landlord, but how about Griffith's valuation? Sir Richard Griffith admitted, upon being asked, that in the valuation he took an enormously high view of the agricultural prospects of the country. I think it has been proved that within the very last year the fall in values has averaged 20 percent. But are we to conclude that the Irish Land Commissioners, in settling the rents, looked only to the values of the depressed years, 1881–2–3? We have heard from the lips of the Commissioners themselves that when they settled rents they settled them on an average, going back to the years 1877–8–9, and taking them into account as well as the depressed years, 1881–2–3. If that be allowed—and I say I have it on the authority of the Commissioners—the reduction is infinitely greater. Supposing a reduction of 25 per cent in the value of produce, what reduction is the tenant entitled to? The question has not been sufficiently put to the House. Sir Richard Griffith, who was no friend to the Irish tenants, in his instructions to his valuators said— One hundred acres of tillage produces £592, and the cost of production is £359. Therefore, the amount to be divided between landlord and tenant is £233; and that is considerably less than 50 per cent of the total produce. But will anyone deny that in Ireland there has been absolutely no fall in the cost of production—not one shilling to the unfortunate tenant—and, therefore, he can bear a less cost on the net profit? Now, according to the calculation of Sir Richard Griffith, the net profit is considerably under 50 per cent of the gross profits on a tillage farm. What is the conclusion we arrive at on a fall of 25 per cent? The tenant is entitled to a reduction of at least 50 per cent, and probably more, on a tillage farm. The figures with regard to a purely grass farm differ very slightly; hence I contend that a clear case is made out for a reduction, from the calculation of the prosperous years in Ireland, of, at least, 50 per cent, those years being 1877–8, and this would not leave the tenants in as good a position as they were in 1877–8. In continuation of this evidence, let me quote a very instructive and remarkable case. A rent was settled by agreement in Ireland in 1880, about the time of the passing of the Land Act, and there was a reduction given of £30 on a rental of £185. Having got that reduction in 1881, the tenant applied to the Land Court in May of the present year, and got a further reduction of £50, being a reduction of nearly 30 per cent on the rent fixed by himself in 1881. I ask, can there be a case more strongly bearing out our contention? It will be found reported at page 13 of the Report of the Judicial Rents for the months of May and June last. Supposing the tenant had been unfortunate enough to apply to the landlord in November, 1881, or in 1882, or 1883, his rent would have been settled at £150, whereas the Laud Court now comes in and reduces it fully 30 per cent—that is a case well worthy consideration by this House, because it bears so directly on our contention as to the necessity for further reductions of rent. Now, I wish to direct attention to a few more evidences of depression. In the month of November last the Central Antrim Tenants' Defence Association—a purely Protestant Association, which worked against us at the General Election—passed a resolution to the effect that 50 per cent will not meet the depression of prices; that the depression is so great that if it continues it will be quite impossible for the tenants in Ulster to pay rent and live. Further, this Association says that the tenant right of Ulster farms is unsaleable, except in choice and exceptional farms. We have heard a volley of assertions from the hon. Member for Londonderry as to the enormous prices given for Ulster tenant rights. All I can say is that I am perfectly content to place against the authority of that hon. Gentleman the authority of the Central Antrim Tenants' Defence Association. That is not all. I turn to still more remarkable testimony in Ireland as to the present depression, and of the deplorable state in which farmers are. I refer to an occurrence which took place in Kildare last week. At a meeting of the Kildare Board of Guardians the clerk brought forward a letter from another Board of Guardians calling attention to the sufferings of the farmers, and a resolution was proposed setting forth that the interests of the landlords as well as the tenants would be best promoted by the making of substantial abatements, and that 50 per cent off the Government valuation is the least that can do any good. The chairman of the meeting was a large farmer in Kildare, and there were several landlords present. Baron de Robeck, a landlord and a tenant farmer, said— I agree with everything Mr. Fenton has said, except regarding the percentage of reductions. I would agree to that, too, in a certain way; but I agree with Mr. Fenton as to the depreciation in prices. I am sorry to say that the bad weather this season has altogether spoiled the crop. I would agree to everything he said except to draw a hard-and-fast line at 50 per cent, as what one man might want might be too much for another. It may be necessary in some cases, but it is not necessary in all. Here is a well known Conservative landlord, who stood in the Conservative interest for the County of Kildare at the Election in 1885, and his declaration at a meeting of the Kildare Board of Guardians is that a reduction of 50 per cent may be necessary in some cases, but not in all. He agreed, finally, in the reso- lution. Other landlords followed. Major Burrowes, a Deputy Lieutenant of the county and a large landowner, supported the resolution. Mr. Mansfield, an ex officio Guardian and a large landowner in the county, supported the resolution. And what was the result? That a resolution calling on the Government to put a stop to evictions was passed. Not a single voice, except the voice of two individuals, in the whole meeting was raised against it; and these gentlemen did not object to the resolution, but said it was not the proper business of the Board. I want to know, Mr. Speaker, if this is not evidence to impress on the House the necessity for something being done, where are we to go for evidence? If you will not believe Irish Nationalists, will you believe Presbyterian landlords, will you believe Conservative landlords in the county of Kildare? It is utterly impossible to answer or contradict any of these facts. There was only one point in the speech of the hon. Member for Londonderry which I consider to be in the least worthy of consideration. It is perfectly true, as pointed out by the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt), that all the speeches from the Ministerial side of the House were addressed to showing that there was no strong and urgent cause for the reduction of rent in Ireland. The very proof of that fact is this—that the only strong point in the speech of the hon. Member for Londonderry had relation to what he made out to be the increasing wealth of the Irish farmers in live stock and cattle. I have noticed in this debate a moat extraordinary perversion of figures. I do not say it was a deliberate perversion; but I believe the figures were supplied to hon. Members by agencies, and hon. Members who made use of them did not look into them for themselves. What did the hon. Member for Londonderry say? He said that there was an increase of all kinds of stock in Ireland, with the solitary exception of pigs. Will hon. Members listen to the true facts of the case? From 1884 to 1885 these are the figures. In horses there was an increase of 2,035, and this increase entirely took place in two-year-olds; and we who know the country will attribute this to the fact that farmers, having found the rearing of cattle entirely unprofitable, have resolved to try their hand at the rearing of horses. There was a decrease in one-year-olds, which shows that the experiment did not answer the expectations. Another item, the mention of which created some laughter, was that of asses. The Irish farmers do their carting with asses; but in the number of these animals there was a decrease of 912. The hon. Member for Londonderry quoted the figures in cattle, and he led the House to believe that there was an increase in wealth in Ireland in cattle. Last year, however, the net decrease in horned stock in Ireland was 44,824, and that only very slightly brings before the House the real facts, which are alarming and appalling in the extremest degree. There was an increase of milch cows of 1,300, a slight increase of three-year-olds—3,502—and why? Because the Irish farmers could not get any price for them. This is a thing to which I would beg the attention of hon. Members. In one-year-old stock there was a decrease in one year of 48,936, and why? The Irish farmers killed their calves, because they found they could not pay for rearing. I know the reason of that appalling decrease is the reason I tell you—the farmers were so dispirited and broken-hearted by the prices they were offered for store cattle that they killed the calves. Now, these figures utterly contradict the statements of the hon. Member for Londonderry, and reveal a condition of things which, to those acquainted with the real life of the Irish farmers, about which the hon. Member knows nothing, is simply appalling. The hon. Member pointed out that the people of Ireland have increased the amount of land under cultivation. He pointed out that there was an increase in the land under tillage of 76,000 acres, and of 59,000 acres as meadow and grass land. Now, the increase in land under tillage is only 17,000 acres, and of that 15,000 is in flax in Ulster and 2,000 in potatoes. We are told by hon. Gentlemen opposite that oats is the really paying crop; but what is the fact concerning oats? Why, that there has been a decrease in the number of acres sown with oats of 13,364. That looks, does it not, as if the wealth of the Irish farmers was increasing? I have alluded to the figures of the hon. Member, because they certainly surprised myself. I did not know how to account for them, so I had the figures made out to-day and carefully checked. It has been said that the Land Commissioners, in settling the rents, were friends of the tenants. That is a most audacious assertion. Why, Sir, hundreds and thousands of tenants I know in Ireland have refused to go into the Land Courts, because the Land Commissioners were mainly and largely men with landlord sympathies. I have here a Return which answers that completely. Out of 33 lay Land Commissioners appointed under the Land Act, 17 were landlords or agents—that is, 50 per cent of the members of the Land Commission were either landlords or agents. I do not know that anybody will venture after that to say that the Land Commissioners were in the tenants' interest. Now, what is it we ask you should do by this Bill? We ask you to make Irish landlords do what English landlords are doing—nay, we ask you to make Irish landlords do a great deal less than English landlords always have done. If the Irish landlords would act as English landlords have generally done, there would have been no necessity for any of the Bills which have been passed in this House. It is useless for men to talk of Irish landlords having been tried and found not guilty. If that is so, why were the Compensation for Disturbance and the Arrears Bills brought in? Here are a few rents which have been reduced in England and Scotland—£600 to £330, 45 per cent; £523 to £360, 31 per cent; £750 to £331, 56 per cent; £330 to £270, 27½ per cent. In view, too, of the reductions of 40, 45, and 50 per cent made this year in Scotland, can it be said we are making anything like an extraordinary or extravagant demand if we ask, not for a reduction of 50 per cent, but that the tenant, on condition of paying 50 per cent of his rent, shall be at liberty to apply to the Court to decide what reduction he is to have? Now, the second main reason for our Bill is the conduct of the landlords. I admit, if it could be shown that the Irish landlords were reasonable men, and could be calculated upon to act in the face of this crisis as many undoubtedly will act and have acted—if the great majority could be expected to act reasonably, there would be no necessity for this Bill. But is that the fact? We deny it. We say that past experience has shown that the Irish landlords cannot be trusted to act fairly in this matter. It is perfectly impossible for me to go into the whole of our cases; but I must ask the House to have patience while I refer to some of the recent actions of some leading Irish landlords to show that these men cannot be expected to act reasonably; and that if you refuse us this Bill you will drive the Executive Government in Ireland into courses which the moral sense of England will condemn. We have heard a good deal of Lord Clanricarde. We know that this gentleman is an absentee landlord; we know he lives in London and on the Continent; that he never sees his estate, and never spends a shilling amongst his tenantry. Now, I want to call the attention of the House to certain reductions recently made on the estate of Lord Clanricarde. Lord Clanricarde's tenants came into Court in the month of May this year. If you ask me why they did not come to the Land Court before, I will answer that they were afraid to do so, because, as in the case of so many other estates in Ireland, terrorism was held over the head of the tenants in the shape of hanging gales and costs of appeals, and they were warned that, immediately they appealed to the Court, every penny of arrears would be taken out of them by writs in the Superior Court in Dublin. The tenants, however, went into Court at last. In one case, the tenant's rent, which was £30, was fixed by the Court at £15; in another, £7 10s. was reduced to £3 5s. This is on an estate where the tenants have been compelled, by the threat of writs from Dublin, to pay up to the last penny for the last five years since the Land Court has been sitting. This is the landlord whom you expect to act reasonably and to be merciful to his tenants. These two reductions I have picked out of a long list containing dozens; and, having got these relating to a certain estate, I have gone to other estates and have got others of a similar character. The point of the argument is fully borne out by the two cases I have quoted; for they show that where a landlord has bullied and threatened a tenant to prevent him from entering the Land Court—when, at last, the tenant has entered the Court—he is adjudged to have been paying double what was a fair rent. This is the case of a landlord who has 3,000 or 4,000 tenants in Galway. Now, to come to another case in the Province of Connaught—of Mr. Martin McDonald, of Dunmore, who, to my knowledge, bullied and threatened his tenants from going into the Courts. They at last went, and the result was that a rent of £2 8s. was reduced to 17s. 6d.; one of £2 1s. 3d. to 16s. 6d.; one of £2 6s. 5d. to £1 2s. 6s.; one of £2 2s. to 18s.; and one of £2 to 17s. These are all cases in which, in my opinion, there ought to be no rent at all. The Commissioners were ashamed to do full justice. I know what Mr. Martin McDonald's tenants are. They are men who were evicted from their former holdings, and left naked and bare on the mountain side, and ordered to reclaim it, and then rent was put upon the land which they reclaimed, and the mud huts which they built. This is another landlord on whose forbearance the Government are relying. Then let us come to Mr. Loftus Tottenham. His tenants entered the Land Court, having, after a long pause, at last mustered up courage in the month of April last; and the general reductions average very close upon 50 per cent. This is one of the gentlemen who would get up in this House and defend the Irish landlords. Rents of £5 15s. have been reduced to £3; of £2 to £1 5s.; of £11 to £6; of £7 to £4 5s.; of £7 6s. 4d. to £3 12s.; of £5 to £2 10s.; and of £5 10s. to £3. This gentleman would, no doubt, ia this House indulge in an appeal to us to rely on the reasonableness of the landlords. I now come to a case with which I am personally acquainted—that of a noble Lord whose estate has been referred to—Lord Annaly, whose agent boasts that he can bully any tenant in Ireland into submission, and that he trampled on the Land League. So he did, I am sorry to say, and he used to go strutting about Dublin, stating that he had broken down the Land League, and had tolerated no mediation from them. At last Lord Annaly's tenants summoned up courage to go into the Land Court, and here are some of the reductions—£20 14s. to £11 7s.; £8 10s. to £4 15s.; £13 to £6 6s.; £20 to £12; £4 to £1 15s.; £24 to £13 10s. I was denounced, in a speech in Dublin, by Lord Annaly's agent, because I recommended the tenants to combine and ask for 25 per cent reduction. I will leave the House now to express its opinion as to whether this agent has much room to be proud of what has taken place; this gentleman who boasted and bragged in Dublin that he had beaten down the Land League, and made the tenants pay the last penny. Now I come to Lord Kenmare. We have been told that we have been unjust to Lord Kenmare; and this is a case to which I invite the attention of the Chief Secretary for Ireland, because I warn him that in the case of Lord Kenmare's estate he will have great trouble this winter. It was stated in a letter the other day that there had been very few evictions on this Nobleman's estate. I tell the House the statement in that letter was not true; and, even if it was, the sting was in the tail of it; for the agent said that if the rents were not paid he would proceed to evict every tenant who would not pay. What is the case with regard to the Kenmare estates? Here are some of the reductions made by the Court—£27 to £17; £6 to £3 10s.; £6 to £4; £35 to £22; £25 to £18; £50 to £40. I admit all this time that I am picking out the worst cases; but, I say, is this House prepared to support, by the force and authority of the law in Ireland, men who are capable of dishonesty, such as this man, who can be declared in the face of England to have been guilty of this gross injustice to our countrymen—men who have been proved to have exacted 100 per cent more than their own just rents for years and years past? The House will see that the landlords not only charge the unjust rent, but they make the unfortunate tenant pay up the arrears on the old valuation. This noble Lord, who, no doubt, is shocked at the dishonesty of the Irish Land Leaguers, was applied to the other day for the poor rate and county cess in respect of farms from which his tenants had been evicted; he refused to pay, and the magistrates refused to decree on it. There is the honesty of the Irish landlords. I come new to another landlord, Lord Midleton, whose son is a Member of the present Government, and is, therefore, able to speak for him. Lord Midleton's tenants applied for a reduction the other day; and a deputation was sent, representing some judicial tenants and some who were not judicial tenants, to ask for a reduction. What happened? Lord Midleton refused to see the deputation, or to discuss with them the propriety of a reduction. His reply was—"Not a penny under the judicial rents."What was the consequence? Not a man who was in arrear but who immediately had a writ. There are in Ireland, at this moment, landlords who boast and brag that they would not take a penny under the judicial rent, who will not be persuaded into giving reductions, and who look upon the judicial rents as sacred. I do not want to weary the House; but I am entitled to make as strong a case as I can in respect to the question which is all-important at the present moment—namely, what right the Government have to anticipate that the Irish landlords will act justly by their tenants? I think I have made out a pretty strong case. ["Oh, oh!"] Yes; I think I have, and I will wind up with a reference to an hon. Member who is here, and ought to be able to answer for himself, at all events he moved the rejection of this Bill—and I must say I think they ought to have selected another champion to undertake the defence of the landlords, and show the impolicy of passing a Bill to relieve the Irish tenants. That hon. Gentleman and his brother are not popular landholders in the South of Ireland. I will go further, and say they are harsh and cruel landlords. I have got some facts here which I think will make hon. Members believe that I speak nothing more than the absolute truth. Here is a circular, dated the 15th of March, 1873, signed Penrose Fitzgerald, and issued to his tenants, At this time, I may say, the farmers had reached the very summit and acme of prosperity and high prices. The circular says— He was informed that whilst some of his tenants held at a fair rent, and some very much under the real value, I am bound to say that the form of the circular to an outsider would not appear very unreasonable. He said— That his desire was to act fairly and justly to every tenant already in occupation—to leave him such a margin of profit as would enable him to live in comfort and respectability.


Will the hon. Member read the whole of the circular?


It is too long to read it all. ["Oh. oh!"]


Read it all.


Well, if hon. Members like, I will do so; but I do not think it will improve the hon. Member's case. He goes on to say— No general valuation of the estate was made during the present century.


I have asked the hon. Member to read the whole of the circular.


He says—this is the part the hon. Member considers important— I am informed that, whilst some of my tenants are paying fair rents, others hold the land at very much under its real value. I do not think it necessary to read any more of this document. I have stated already that I have no fault to find with it; and I merely wished to quote it to show that the estate was valued in 1873. Then I have here a statement, which the hon. Member is at liberty to contradict, in reference to some recent occurrences on his estate. I give it on what I consider to be very good authority. First, there is the case of William Wall, rent fixed in 1873 at £61, reduced about three years ago to £56, which is the present rate. The Poor Law valuation is £43. No abatement off the March gale of 1885 was offered; an abatement of 20 per cent off the September gale was offered. The tenant hesitated to accept it, and was served with a writ, and had to pay full rent and costs. ["Shame!"] Yes; I find that because he did not accept 20 per cent he was immediately served with a writ and compelled to pay full rent and costs. This statement is in reference to a recent occurrence upon the hon. Member's estate. There are a number of other cases on the estate where the rental is far above the Poor Law valuation, and in which the offers of payment of the rents by the tenants shortly after gale day were met by writs of eviction. Luke Sheehan had paid a rent of £26, the Poor Law valuation being £20. The rent had been fixed three years ago by the tenant's acceptance of the landlord's offer; it has been without abatement, and was accepted by the tenant because he had no confidence in the landlord. In another case the rent was settled at £28; the Poor Law valuation is £22; rent was settled three years ago; an abatement of 15 per cent has been allowed on the rent fixed by the landlord. The tenant objected to sign the agreement until the agent's clerk said to him— Unless you sign it, you will be compelled to refund the allowance you have had for the last three years. In the next case the rent was £62, and the Poor Law valuation £48 5s. 0d.; no abatement previous to this year; but 20 per cent was offered if the previous rents were paid. In the next case the rent is £54, and the Poor Law valuation £41; 20 per cent has been allowed off the last two half-gales. I am rather surprised at that; but it cuts two ways—it shows that the rents were extravagantly high. When the tenant ceased to accept the rent he got a writ from the Superior Court, and was compelled to pay the full rent and costs. I am quoting these cases as an illustration of the forbearance of the landlords. Cornelius M'Donald paid £32 in rent; the Poor Law valuation was £26. On September 12, 1885, he owed a year's rent; he offered to pay the year's rent with 25 per cent reduction; but this was refused. He asked for an interview with the agent; but this also was refused. He was served with a writ on the 1st of January, 1886, and his interest was sold by the Sheriff. A short time after friends of the tenant lent him sufficient money to pay the full rent. Mr. Penrose Fitzgerald's solicitor replied that his employer could not accept any offer, as matters had proceeded too far. He was evicted on the 31st of last August. Though he made an offer to settle the eviction, the very bailiff of the landlord would not listen to him when the rent was proffered. [Cries of "Shame!"]


Order, order!


The landlords gave grossly insufficient abatement of the exorbitant rent. A strong argument was used just now as to the evictions on title for rent. There are other evictions on title. The landlords now cling to the evictions, which they have discovered to be most fatal and ruinous to the tenant, to sell out his interest in the land under a decree of judgment, by which he forfeits his six months' redemption, and is deprived of all the rights that Parliament has conferred upon him. The hon. Gentleman who moved the rejection of the Bill, in common with all his forbearing brethren in Ireland, will say that these evictions are just. I will say no more about the forbearance of Irish landlords. Is there an English landlord sitting on these Benches who would not be ashamed to sit silent if such charges as these were made against him? Is there one single English landlord who, when his tenant had offered to pay 75 per cent of the rent, who, after the poor wretched tenant had been put to enormous cost, his interest sold out, and robbed of his rights by this cruel process of law, would proceed by ejectment? Is there an English landlord who, when his tenant would come and offer the gift of his relatives and friends, the full amount of the pound of flesh, the full rent with double costs, those of the judgment of decree and of the eviction of title, would exercise the sort of forbearance of their Irish brethren? I do not believe that there is a landlord in England or Scotland who would find it in his heart to act as I have described; and the hon. Member for Cambridge, who stood forward in this House speaking of the forbearing landlords, does not deny it. He knows what I have said is true, and yet he poses in this House as the Representative of the forbearing Irish landlords. Is it to men whose forbearance is like this that you are going to trust for the peace of Ireland? I appeal to English Members—do you look forward with satisfaction to having, during the coming winter, your forces placed at the command of the Lord Kenmares and the Lord Annalys—do you look forward to the satisfaction of having the livery of English soldiers and Irish Constabulary moving in enormous masses to inflict on a wretched and impoverished people as cruel an injustice as ever was done in the name of law? Hon. Members tried, by trivial, contemptible, and pettifogging arguments, to show the forbearance of the Irish landlords; but I maintain there is not a man in this House who does not know that if the landlords of Ireland try to get, as they can get, and as you must let them get if you do not pass this Bill, the full measure of their legal rights in the coming winter, wrong—cruel and intolerable wrong—will be done to starving and industrious men in Ireland, and the Irish tenants will be taught that, in the hour of their despair and misery, this House turned a deaf ear to their cries, and treated their sufferings with jeers and contempt. When referring to the question of evictions, I heard with astonishment the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for Ireland (Mr. Gibson), in one of those flights of stormy eloquence of which he takes so many, declare that only 1,300 families have been turned out of their homes in three months. The figures of the right hon. Baronet the Chief Secretary have gone on steadily rising, so that we may expect that at least 2,000 families will be turned out in the coming winter. I put it to this House, is it not indecent for a Member representing the Government of Ireland to place before this House, as an argument against giving any relief to the tenantry of Ireland, the statement that only 1,300 families were turned out of their homes in three months? I wish to draw the attention of the House to the question of Irish evictions, and more particularly with reference to one county, and that is the county of Kerry, where the greatest trouble will arise. Wherever you have evictions there will come the trouble. I only point to this particular county, because I want to bring to the minds of English Members two or three facts; for until they understand them they can never understand the cause of agrarian disturbance in Ireland. Every Irishman knows that, up to two or three years ago, the county of Kerry was one of the most peaceable counties in Ireland. Every landlord—and I may even refer to the notorious Mr. Samuel Hussey himself—could wander through the most lonely parts of that county, and would be welcome in the poorest hut. Seven or eight years ago there was not a landlord in Kerry who would not be as safe and as welcome in the house of his humblest tenant as anyone else. How has the change come about? No landlord in Kerry now dares to venture from his home without a guard. One would suppose that they were in one of the most dis- turbed spots of a far-off Eastern land. Let us look at a short and simple record. In 1877 the total number of evictions in the county of Kerry families was 17; in 1878, it was 26; in 1879, it was 70; in 1880, it was 191; in 1881, it was 192; in 1882, it was 293; in 1883, it was 403; in 1884, it was 410; in 1885, it was 358, making a total, in these disturbed and fatal years, of 11,304 families driven from their homes in that county alone. I put it to this House, is not that explanation enough for any reasonable man for the present condition of affairs? And when we look at the last Returns we find that this state of things, so far from improving, is going on steadily from bad to worse. During the three months ending on the 30th of June last, we find that in the county of Kerry there were 187 families driven from their homes. Of these 73 were restored, giving a total of 114 families driven in three months from their houses out on the roadside. In the face of this, am I to be told that this House is to rely upon the toleration and forbearance of the Irish landlords? I appeal to hon. Members, is it reasonable to expect that we shall be content with assurances like these? We do not rely upon the forbearance of the Irish landlords, because we who have read the history of Ireland know it is a rotten reed to lean upon. I have never denied that there have been landlords in Ireland who have acted the part of just and reasonable men. You never hear of them, because they do not dispute with their tenants; but there is always a large residuum sufficient to keep the country almost in a state of civil war—men who have had no bowels of compassion, men who boast and brag that their tenantry fear them. It is against this class of men we demand protection from this House. If this House refuses to give us any protection—if this House comes to the conclusion that the tenantry of Ireland must be left, as they were left six years ago, without any relief except what they can win from their own exertions, all I can say is that, in my opinion, this House, and more especially the Unionists in this House, make a deep and grievous mistake. It has been said to me privately by hon. Members on that side of the House and by Unionists on this side, as an argument against our demand for the national self-government of Ireland, that this House is never deaf to an appeal from the Irish Members—they have often told me that if we only brought forward our grievances they would be remedied. Well, an immense majority of the Representatives of Ireland ask that this Bill should pass. It would seem that the Government have made up their minds not to give us the Bill. That is a mistake for the Unionists of England. It is a deeper mistake for the landlords of Ireland. The Government seem to think, or at least they say, that we introduced this Bill in bad faith. I deny it. We introduced it as the most moderate measure that we could lay before this House, and as one which we honestly thought would bring peace during this winter to Ireland. I do not say it would save all classes of tenants in Ireland from hardship. I know there are tenants in Connemara and Gweedore whom this Bill would not save; but what I do say is that it would avert a crisis; that the trouble which would come, if the Bill were passed, would be local and trifling; and that we should be in a position to exercise our influence with the people to calm them down and help them to bear what they have to bear. I remember only too well that the very same class of arguments was used against the Compensation for Disturbance Bill in 1880. I recollect as well as if it were only yesterday leaving the House of Lords when that Bill was thrown out rejoicing, because I thought the rejection of the measure meant the ruin of the Irish landlords. I am five years older since then. I know what a struggle between the tenants and the landlords means better now than I knew in 1881; and while I am prepared to go into that struggle, and while I am confident of the result, I am anxious—sincerely and honestly anxious—that the truce of God, to use the words of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Joseph Chamberlain), should be prolonged in Ireland until, at least, we can have an opportunity of laying before the people of England our claims, the case in which we believe, and in the justice of which we believe, and which we are confident would recommend itself to their reason and to their conscience. I look forward with dislike and dread to the tumult of passion which will be let loose in Ireland by the rejection of this Bill; and while, as I say, I fear not the consequences, I am sorry that the Government has sent us back to our country with a message of hatred and defiance; sent us back to tell the people that this House will do them no justice; sent us back to tell them, as we told them in 1880, that to save themselves from ruin and extermination they have nothing to trust to but the combination which saved them in 1880, and which won for them every single right they have gained. Our course is clear. We have to-night brought forward this Bill with a sincere desire to have peace this winter in Ireland. This House has denied the Irish tenant justice. I go back to Ireland to tell the tenant that if he wishes to live he must trust to his own exertions, and not to this House; and so long as I have life and liberty—so long as the Government leaves me my liberty—I shall tell the people of Ireland to continue in that course of persistent and determined agitation by which in the past they have won every single liberty and every single concession which has been granted them, and by which, in the future, if they only show perseverance and bravery, they will win, in spite of the Irish landlords and in spite of this House, the right to live as freemen in the land of their birth.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 202; Noes 297: Majority 95.

Abraham, W. (Limerick, W.) Campbell, H.
Carew, J. L.
Acland, A. H. D. Chance, P. A.
Allison, R. A. Childers, t. hon. H. C. E.
Asher, A.
Asquith, H. H. Clancy, J. J.
Atherley-Jones, L. Cobb, H. P.
Austin, J. Cohen, A.
Balfour, Sir G Coleridge, hon. B.
Barclay, J. W. Colman, J. J.
Barran, J. Commins, A.
Barry, J. Condon, T. J.
Biggar, J. G. Connolly L.
Blake, J. A. Conway, M.
Blake, T. Conybeare, C. A. V.
Blane, A. Corbet, W. J.
Bolton, T. D. Cossham, H.
Borlase, W. C. Cox, J. R.
Bright, Jacob Cozens-Hardy, H. H.
Bright, W. L. Craven, J.
Broadhurst, H. Crawford, W.
Brown, A. L. Cremer, W. E.
Burt, T. Crilly, D.
Buxton, S. C. Crossley, E.
Byrne, G. M. Davies, W.
Cameron, J. M. Deasy, J.
Campbell, Sir G. Dillon, J.
Dillwyn, L. L. Morley, rt. hon. J.
Dodds, J. Morley, A.
Duff, R. W. Mundella, rt.hon.A. J.
Duncan, D. Murphy, W. M.
Ellis, J. Nolan, Colonel J. P.
Ellis, T. E. Nolan, J.
Esmonde, Sir T.H.G. O'Brien, J. F. X.
Evershed, S. O'Brien, P.
Fenwick, C. O'Brien, P. J.
Finucane, J. O'Connor, A.
Flower, C. O'Connor, J. (Kerry)
Flynn, J. C. O' Connor, J. (Tippry.)
Foley, P. J. O'Connor, T. P.
Fox, Dr. J. F. O'Hanlon, T.
Fry, T. O'Hea, P.
Gane, J. L. O'Kelly, J.
Gilhooly, J. Palmer, Sir C. M.
Grill, H. J. Parnell, C. S.
Gill, T. P. Paulton, J. M.
Gladstone, rt. hn.W.E. Peacock, R.
Gladstone, H. J. Pease, A. E.
Gourley, E. T. Pickard, B.
Gray, E. D. Pickersgill, E. H.
Grey, Sir E. Picton, J. A.
Gully, W. C. Pinkerton, J.
Harcourt,rt.hn. SirW. G. V. V. Portman, hon. E. B.
Potter, T. B.
Harrington, E. Power, P. J.
Harrington, T. C. Power, R.
Harris, M. Price, T. P.
Hayden, L. P. Provand, A. D.
Hayne, C. Seale- Pyne, J. D.
Healy, M. Quinn, T.
Holden, I. Redmond, W. H. K.
Hooper, J. Reed, Sir E. J.
Howell, G. Reid, R. T.
Hunter, W. A. Reynolds, W. J.
James, hon. W. H. Richard, H.
James, C. H. Roberts, J. B.
Joicey, J. Robertson, E.
Jordan, J. Roe, T.
Kelly, B. Rountree, J.
Kenny, J. E. Rowlands, J.
Kenny, M. J. Rowlands, W. B.
Labouchere, H. Russell, E. R.
Lacaita, C. C. Sexton, T.
Lane, W. J. Shaw, T.
Lawson, Sir W. Sheehan, J. D.
Lawson, H. L. W. Sheehy, D.
Leahy, J. Shirley, W. S.
Leamy, E. Smith, S.
Lefevre, rt. hn.G. J. S. Stack, J.
Lewis, T. P. Stanhope, hon. P. J.
Lockwood, F. Stansfeld, rt. hon. J.
M'Arthur, A. Stepney - Cowell, Sir A. K.
M'Arthur, W. A. Stevenson, F. S.
M'Cartan, M. Stuart, J.
M'Carthy, J. H. Sullivan, D.
M'Donald, P. Sullivan, T. D.
M'Donald, W. A. Summers, W.
M'Ewan, W. Swinburne, Sir J.
M'Kenna, Sir J. N. Talbot, C. R. M.
M'Lagan, P. Tanner, C. K.
Mahony, P. Thomas, A.
Maitland, W. F. Tuite, J.
Marjoribanks, rt. hon. E. Wallace, R.
Marum, E. M. Warmington, C. M.
Mason, S. Watson, T.
Mayne, T. Watt, H.
Molloy, B. C. Wayman T.
Montagu, S. Will, J. S.
Morgan, O. V. Williams, A. J.
Williamson, J. Woodall, W.
Williamson, S. Wright, C.
Wilson, C. H. TELLERS.
Wilson, H. J. Redmond, J. E.
Wilson, I. Sheil, E.
Addison, J. E. W. Corry, Sir J. P.
Agg-Gardner, J. T. Cotton, Capt. E. T. D.
Ainslie, W. G. Cranborne, Viscount
Ambrose, W. Cross, H. S.
Amherst, W. A. T. Crossley, Sir S. B.
Anstruther, Colonel R. H. L. Cubitt, right hon. G.
Aahmead-Bartlett, E. Curzon, hon. G. N.
Baden-Powell, G. S. Dalrymple, C.
Baggallay, E. Davenport, H. T.
Bailey, Sir J. R. Davenport, W. B.
Baird, J. G. A. Dawnay, Colonel hon. L. P.
Balfour, rt. hon. A. J. De Lisle, E. J. L. M. P.
Banes, Major G. E. De Worms, Baron H.
Bartley, G. C. T. Dickson, Major A. G.
Barttelot, Sir W. B. Dimsdale, Baron R.
Bass, H. Dixon-Hartland, F. D.
Bates, Sir E. Donkin, R. S.
Baumann, A. A. Dorington, Sir J. E.
Beach, right hon. Sir M. E. Hicks- Dugdale, J. S.
Beach, W. W. B. Duncan, Colonel F.
Beadel, W. J. Duncombe, A.
Beckett, E. W. Dyke, rt. hn. Sir W. H.
Beckett, W. Eaton, H. W.
Bective, Earl of Ebrington, Viscount
Bentinck, Lord H. C. Egerton, hn. A. J. F.
Bentinck, W. G. C. Egerton, hon. A. de T.
Beresford, Lord C. W. De la Poer Elliot, Sir G.
Bethell,Commander G. R. Elliot, G. W.
Bickford-Smith, W. Ellis, Sir J. W.
Birkbeck, Sir E. Elton, C. I.
Blundell, Col. H. B. H. Evelyn, W. J.
Bond, G. H. Ewart, W.
Bonsor, H. C. O. Eyre, Colonel H.
Boord, T. W. Farquharson, H. R.
Bridgeman, Col. hon. F. C. Feilden, Lt-Gen. R. J.
Bristowe, T. L. Fergusson, right hon. Sir J.
Brodrick, hon. W. St. J. F. Fielden, T.
Brookfield, Col. A. M. Finch, G. H.
Bruce, Lord H. Finch-Hatton, hon. M. E. G.
Burdett-Coutts, W. L. Ash.-B. Finlay, R. B.
Burghley, Lord Fisher, W. H.
Caldwell, J. Fitzgerald, R. U. P.
Campbell, Sir A. Fitzwilliam, hon. W. J. W.
Cavendish, Lord E. Fitz-Wygram, General Sir F. W.
Chaplin, right hon. H. Fletcher, Sir H.
Charrington, S. Folkestone, right hon. Viscount
Churchill, rt. hn. Lord R. H. S. Forwood, A. B.
Clarke, Sir E. G. Fraser, General C. C.
Cochrane-Baillie, hon. C. W. A. N. Fry, L.
Coddington, W. Fulton, J. F.
Colomb, Capt. J. C. R. Gardner, R. Richardson-
Commerell, Adml. Sir J. E. Gathorne-Hardy, hon. J. S.
Compton, F. Gedge, S.
Cooke, C. W. R. Gent-Davis, R.
Corbett, J. Gibson, J. G.
Giles, A. Knightley, Sir R.
Gilliat, J. S. Knowles, L.
Godson, A. F. Kynoch, G.
Goldsworthy, Major-General W. T. Lafone, A.
Gorst, Sir J. E. Lambert, I. C.
Gray, C. W. Laurie, Colonel R. P.
Greenall, Sir G. Lawrance, J. C.
Greene, E. Lawrence, W. F.
Grimston, Viscount Lechmere, Sir E. A. H.
Grotrian, F. B. Lees, E.
Grove, Sir T. F. Legh, T. W.
Gunter, Colonel R. Leighton, S.
Hall, A. W. Lethbridge, Sir R.
Hall, C. Lewis, C. E.
Hamilton, right hon. Lord G. F. Lewisham, right hon. Viscount
Hamilton, Lord C. J. Llewellyn, E. H.
Hamilton, Lord E. Long, W. H.
Hamilton, Col. C. E. Low, M.
Hanbury, R. W. Lowther, hon. W.
Hankey, F. A. Lowther, J. W.
Hardcastle, E. Lubbock, Sir J.
Hardcastle, F. Lymington, Viscount
Hartington, Marq. of Macartney, W. G. E.
Hastings, G. W. Macdonald, right hon. J. H. A.
Havelock-Allan, Sir H. M. Maclean, F. W.
Heathcote, Capt. J. H. Edwards- Maclean, J. M.
Heaton, J. H. Maclure, J. W.
Heneage, right hon. E. Macnaghten, E.
Herbert, hon. S. M'Calmont, Captain J.
Hermon-Hodge, R. T. Mallock, R.
Hill, right hon. Lord A. W. Manners, rt. hon. Lord J. J. R.
Hill, Colonel E. S. Marriott, rt.hn.W.T.
Hoare, S. Maskelyne, M. H. N. Story-
Hobhouse, H. Matthews, rt. hon. H.
Holland, rt. hon. Sir H. T. Maxwell, Sir H. E.
Holloway, G. Mayne, Admiral R. C.
Holmes, rt. hon. H. Mildmay, F. B.
Hornby, W. H. Mills, hon. C. W.
Howard, J. More, R. J.
Howard, J. M. Mount, W. G.
Hozier, J. H. C. Mowbray, rt. hon. Sir J. R.
Hubbard, E. Mowbray, R. G. C.
Hubbard, rt. hn. J. G. Mulholland, H. L.
Hughes, Colonel E. Muncaster, Lord
Hughes-Hallett, Col. F. C. Muntz, P. A.
Hulse, E. H. Murdoch, C. T.
Hunt, F. S. Newark, Viscount
Hunter, Sir G. Noble, W.
Isaacs, L. H. Norris, E. S.
Isaacson, F. W. Northcote, hon. H. S.
Jackson, W. L. Norton, R.
Jarvis, A. W. O'Neill, hon. R. T.
Jennings, L. J. Paget, Sir R. H.
Kelly, J. R. Parker, hon. F.
Kennaway, Sir J. H. Pearce, W.
Kenyon, hon. G. T. Pelly, Sir L.
Kenyon-Slaney, Col. Penton, Captain F. T.
Ker, R. W. B. Percy, Lord A. M.
Kerans, F. H. Plunket, right hon. D. R.
Kimber, H. Plunkett, hon. J. W.
King, H. S. Pomfret, W. P.
King-Harman, Colonel E. R. Powell, F. S.
Knatehbull-Hugessen, hon. H. T. Puleston, J. H.
Raikes, rt. hon. H. C.
Rankin, J.
Rasch, Major F. C.
Reed, H. B.
Ritchie, rt. hon. C. T. Theobald, J.
Robertson, J. P. B. Tollemache, H. J.
Robinson, B. Tomlinson, W. E. M.
Rollit, Sir A. K. Townsend, G. F.
Ross, A. H. Trotter, H. J.
Rothschild, Baron F. J. de Tyler, Sir H. W.
Verdin, R.
Round, J. Vernon, hon. G. R.
Royden, T. B. Vincent, C. E. H.
Russell, Sir G. Waring, Colonel T.
Russell, T. W. Watson, J.
Sandys, Lieut-Col. T. M. Webster, Sir. R. E.
Saunderson, Col. E. J. Webster, R. G.
Sclater-Booth, rt. hn. G. Weymouth, Viscount
Wharton, J. L.
Sellar, A. C. White, J. B.
Selwyn, Capt. C. W. Whitley, E.
Shaw-Stewart, M. H. Whitmore, C. A.
Sidebotham, J. W. Wilson, Sir S.
Sidebottom, W. Winterbotham, A. B.
Smith, rt. hon. W. H. Wodehouse, E. R.
Smith, A. Wolmer, Viscount
Smith-Barry, A. H. Wood, N.
Spencer, J. E. Wortley, C. B. Stuart-
Stanhope, rt. hon. E. Wright, H. S.
Stanley, E. J. Wroughton, P.
Swetenham, E. Yerburgh, R. A.
Talbot, J. G. Young, C. E. B.
Tapling, T. K. TELLERS.
Taylor, F. Douglas, A. Akers-
Temple, Sir R. Walrond, Col. W. H.

Words added.

Main Question, as amended, put.

Resolved, That, in the opinion of this House, it is inexpedient, at the present time, to make any further alteration in the Irish Land Laws.

House adjourned at a quarter after Two o'clock.