HC Deb 12 August 1887 vol 319 cc265-304

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Lords' Amendments to the Commons' Amendments be now considered."—(Mr. A. J. Balfour.)


I was expecting that the First Lord of the Treasury would have made some statement to the House as to the intentions of the Government with regard to one or more disagreements of the Lords to the Amendments in this Bill which were made by this House; and I think, Sir, that such a statement was the more necessary in view of the fact that a vital Amendment has been made in Clause 23 in "another place" on the Motion of the Ministerial Peer in charge of the measure, and evidently by concert with Her Majesty's Government. That is a fact, Sir, which places this House and all those who are interested in this Bill in a very difficult position. We had supposed that the Bill as it went through this House, partly by compromise, and certainly by the abandonment upon our part and upon the part of the Opposition generally of their right to press many vital Amendments, would have been accepted by the Government as the final result so far as this Bill was concerned; and certainly it was the last thing in the world that I expected to find that Lord Cadogan, who had official charge of this measure, should have moved an Amendment of so vital and important a description as that now sent down. I do not exaggerate when I say I regard this Amendment as one which will diminish at least by one-half the value of the Bill to the Irish tenants. It appears to me to fly in the face of all equity and justice, and to be in distinct contradiction of the statements of the Government when the clause was under discussion in this House, and in distinct contradiction of the arguments by which they resisted our arguments. Then it was agreed that full discretion should be left to the Land Commission; but now since the Bill has been taken to "another place" the Land Commission are to be tied up and bound down in such a way as will make it absolutely impossible for than as regards the clause for readjustment of judicial rents to do any sort of justice to the Irish tenants. I had regarded that clause for the readjustment of judicial rents as of a more important and vital character than even the Leaseholders' Clause, and I have discouraged all attempts while the Bill was passing through Committee in this House to put any undue pressure upon the Government in respect of Amendments of a less important character—Amendments which the Government claimed, and probably might fairly claim, should not be pressed. But as regards the question of this readjustment of judicial rents, I have always held it to be the most vital question in connection with the present agrarian situation; and I cannot for a single moment be a party to this tampering with the settlement arrived at in this House, this tampering which was adopted in "another place" on the Motion of Lord Cadogan. Sir, the question of binding the Land Commissioners down by a hard-and-fast-line to re-adjust rents only in the same proportion as the variation in prices is one which strikes at the root of any possibility of settling the agrarian question in Ireland. It was very well pointed out during the debates in Committee in this House that if prices fall 10 per cent a diminution of 10 per cent on some holdings would be too little and on other holdings would be too much, and that the Land Commission would have to take into their consideration the systems of cultivation adopted in different districts, and settle their averages accordingly. But if you put pastoral holdings in the County of Meath, as Lord Cadogan has done, on a level with the tillage holdings in the County of Tyrone, you give to the grazing tenants of Meath an advantage which they are not entitled to, and you take away from the tillage tenants of Londonderry and of Tyrone the advantage to which they are absolutely and more justly entitled. I cannot imagine, Sir, upon what principle the Lords have proceeded in this matter. I was not aware that it was their desire to unsettle this question and prevent the settlement arrived at in this House after infinite trouble and much time being given to obtain fair play. But so far as I have been able to see and to estimate the effects of the Lords' Amendment I would say this—that having regard to the fact that the leaseholders under the Bill as it left this House are deprived of the right of claiming for their improvements the same right which the ordinary yearly tenants possess under the Land Act of 1881, and that now, under Lord Cadogan's Amendment, fully one-half of the benefit which the judicial tenants of Ireland might have reasonably anticipated in the operation of this Bill will have been taken away from them. I think, Sir, and it is my deliberate opinion, that it would be no loss at all to the Land Question or to Ireland if this Bill were postponed for another Session; and if the result of protracted opposition to these Amendments is to postpone the Bill for another Session, all I can say is that I wash my hands of the responsibility—a responsibility which will have been thrown upon us at this end of the Session by an example of, perhaps, the most unjustifiable action, having regard to all the circumstances and the circumstances under which the Bill passed, which the Lords have ever taken even with regard to Ireland. Now, Sir, the action of the right hon. Gentleman in forcing these Amendments on to-night is of another character. The right hon. Gentleman said in reply to my Question that he had consulted the usual channels of information; but, Sir, when he consulted the usual channels of information we had no inkling whatever that Lord Cadogan's Amendment was going to be proposed, much less accepted, or that this Amendment was arrived at after mature deliberation as a Ministerial Amendment. Surely, with this knowledge in their possession, the Government ought to have informed their opponents when initiating this consultation what their intentions were. We did not for a moment suppose that anything more than the ordinary Amendments which had been foreshadowed in the newspapers would have been insisted on. If we had known this settlement, arrived at after such pains, was to be half of it at least undone, the position would have been very different, and we should have claimed from the Government fair time to consider this Amendment and to invite the Members of the House of Commons who are absent to attend in their places in order to discuss the question. Now, Sir, I trust that the Government in the discussion which I suppose will follow will ease our minds in respect to one or two points—that either they will tell us that they do not propose to adhere to Lord Cadogan's Amendment, or else that they will tell us that they will give an adjournment of the debate till Monday. I think, Sir, I am entitled to claim this from every point of view as regards the number of the Amendments and the important character of one or two of them as far as we can see. The questions raised in many of the Amendments, I am not, I confess, sufficiently informed upon. In the short time at my disposal I had to run over them hastily, and I confess I am not able to appreciate their gravity, or weight, or want of weight, so far as to fully understand them. But I look upon the one Amendment which I have particularly singled out as being an Amendment of a vital character, and one to which I wish to direct the attention of the House and the Government. I trust the right hon. Gentleman will give us satisfactory assurances on the points I have named.


said, the hon. Member's speech had partly been directed towards the substance of an Amendment introduced in the Lords and partly to a severe criticism—he would not say attack—on the conduct of the Government in allowing the Amendment to be adopted; and he had complained that no adequate Notice had been given to the Opposition of the fact that this important Amendment was to be introduced in the Lords. Now, he admitted that, the latter point had occurred to him, and he had taken some pains to find out something about it. The Government were extremely anxious to proceed speedily with the Bill, not only for their own convenience, but also for the sake of the good government of Ireland, and especially for the benefit of the tenants They had constantly pressed this Bill forward because there were evictions pending, and if these evictions were carried out before the Bill was passed the tenants could not derive any benefit from it, but if it were passed before the evictions the tenants would have the full benefit of the Equitable Clauses. The Government took means to satisfy themselves that the course they were adopting was not inconvenient to hon. Gentlemen opposite below the Gangway. The Amendment introduced by Earl Cadogan the hon. Member rightly regarded as a Government Amendment, and not as an Amendment introduced in consequence of discussion, or as a compromise following the interchange of opinion; and the Government did not shrink from the position they had taken in introducing the Amendment. They maintained emphatically that the Amendment in no sense altered the substance of the clause as it left this House; but it explained and put it in clear, unmistakable, and precise language what in the opinion of the Government was and always would have been the natural operation of the clause. But it did no more than that. He admitted that for the Government to introduce even explanatory words into this clause demanded some justification; and that justification he would give. By this clause Parliament handed over to three gentlemen in Dublin the settlement of the agricultural income of everybody connected with the land in Ireland, either as owner or as occupier. They were made practically a triumvirate of dictators to settle interests of gigantic magnitude. It was not surprising, therefore, that the three gentlemen should shrink from a responsibility so prodigious and unexampled, which had never been placed on any tribunal in the world in the same manner, and that they should ask that in justice to themselves Parliament should be put in the clearest, the most unmistakable, and the most precise form the exact intentions which animated the Legislature in passing this clause. The Commissioners communi- cated their views on this point to the Government; they said— Considering the enormous responsibility thrown on the Court by the proposal with regard to the temporary remission of judicial rents now before Parliament, we are of opinion that some precise guidance should be given in the Act of Parliament as to the nature of the principle to be applied. He presumed that a request of that kind was not one which any Government could take upon themselves the responsibility of disregarding.


Will the right hon. Gentleman read on?


"Signed, John O'Hagan, E. F. Litton, Frederick Wrench."


Will the right hon. Gentleman give the date of the letter?


Were the Commissioners consulted as to the words of Lord Cadogan's Amendment beforehand?


said, he was not going to enter into other questions. He had explained to the House the opinion — in his view a most natural opinion—which the Commissioners entertained of the responsibility thrown upon them by the words of the clause which, although it was tolerably clear, they thought ought to be developed in a more precise manner. This request was one which the Government could not venture to refuse when they were throwing on the Court a new and unique responsibility. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite, if they had been in a position of responsibility with regard to Ireland, could not have ventured to disregard such a representation. This was why the Government felt themselves compelled to introduce the explanatory words moved by Earl Cadogan. He did not wish at this stage to go minutely into the merits of the Amendment. What it did was to substitute a produce rent for a money rent. In other words, it required the tenants in the year 1887 to give to the landlords in the form of rent the same amount of produce as they would have given in 1882, 1883, and 1884. It did not matter what agricultural commodity he chose for the purpose of illustration; but let them suppose that the produce of a farm was oats. If the rent in 1882 or 1883 had been a produce rent—i.e., payable in the form of so many bushels of oats, then, by the Amendment introduced in the House of Lords, that method of payment, was practically extended to the present year. In other words, the tenant had to pay the same amount of oats to his landlord; but, of course, the landlord got a less money value, because oats had fallen in value, and he got a less amount of value in exact proportion to the fall in the value of oats.


But suppose that he had only five bushels to the acre instead of 10?


said, the hon. Gentleman forgot that the one contention made in favour of altering judicial rents was not that there had been any alteration in the quantity of produce, but that there had been a fall in the prices of that which was produced. It was on the same ground that the temporary abatement of judicial rents had been advocated. Therefore, when he claimed for this Amendment which had come from the Lords that it substituted a produce rent for a money rent he claimed for it that it did away with the grievance which had been complained of in judicial rents—namely, that they were fixed at a time when agricultural prices were higher than they were now. Nor would the tenants of Ireland suffer by the change as compared with the revision of rent by the Sub-Commissioners. Looking at the remissions made last month by the Sub-Commissioners he believed that the alterations under the amended clause of the Bill would be quite as great as, if not greater than, they would be if the judicial rents fixed before 1885 were entirely set aside. If Irish Members desired that temporary abatements of rents should be on a much larger scale than alterations made by the Sub-Commissioners, he would not ask them whether that would be just or unjust to the landlords, but he would ask whether it was a method by which peace and contentment could be produced in Ireland. If tenants who had not yet gone into Court and leaseholders who had not been allowed to go were to have their reductions fixed upon a wholly different scale from the tenants who had them fixed before 1885, would not that produce a condition of discontent and irritation in Ireland which would go far to neutralize the remedial effects that were hoped for from this measure? He should be prepared to go into minute examination of the argument the hon. Member had adumbrated in his speech; but he would not do it now. When the hon. Member said he regarded it as a matter of indifference whether the Bill passed this Session or next Session, he would ask him whether he was prepared to tell the tenantry of Ireland that they were not to have the advantages they would derive from the clauses that provided for the stay of evictions and the distribution of arrears over such a period as the County Court might think fit? Was he also going to deprive them of the revision of judicial rents and of the Equitable Clauses, and was he going to exclude leaseholders from the benefits of the 1st clause? Was he going to say that the tenants now under judicial rents should have no remission for an indefinite period? Was he going to deprive great classes of tenants of remission of rent at least as great as they would derive from any provisions such as he proposed last year or such as he placed upon the Paper this year providing that judicial rents should be again revised by the Commission and the Land Commissioners? He did not venture to measure the responsibility of the hon. Member for Cork in this matter; but he did say that if the tenantry of Ireland really understood what it was that hon. Gentlemen opposite were doing, and how great the advantages were which they would be deprived of through the Parliamentary action of their Representatives, then the hon. Member for Cork would go far to destroy the influence and the popularity which, without doubt, he at present possessed among the tenants in Ireland.


said, that they had listened to one of the most extraordinary statements that had ever been made by a responsible Minister of the Crown with reference to the course adopted by a Government in respect of a Bill of first-rate importance. What had happened? After long and careful deliberation in that House a Bill had been settled, and certainly no one could doubt that the most important and most vital portion of that Bill was the clause with reference to the revision of rents. They had heard, day after day, from the First Lord of the Treasury, that he could not brook au hour's delay in the passing of this Bill, and that the peace of Ireland depended upon its being passed in 24 hours. Well, that Bill wont up out of the House of Commons, and they all remembered the hurry and the skurry with which the most vital question was despatched within half-an-hour on Saturday afternoon. The Government might be said, he thought, without disrespect to that Assembly, to have a pretty fair control of the proceedings in the House of Lords. This Government, who were so anxious to pass this Bill, as the peace of Ireland depended on its passing in 24 hours, did not think it worth while to summon their Lordships to consider the Bill until Thursday; they did not mind wasting four days in the House of Lords. The House of Lords had other things to think of besides the peace of Ireland, and Thursday was good enough for them. He had been very much interested to know what Amendments were to be moved in the other House; but it did not enter into his mind that the Government contemplated stabbing their own measure in the back in the House of Lords. He wished to know what the Irish landlords were going to move themselves in the House of Lords. He tried in the proper quarters to get some knowledge of those Amendments, and his information was that that House—even the House of Lords—did not know what Amendments were going to be moved till an hour and a-half before their sitting. That was the deliberate way in which the House of Lords disposed of a measure of this description. Then the Chief Secretary for Ireland had told the House that the Amendment did not affect the substance of the Bill, and that it was only an explanation. What a method for the First Lord of the Treasury, who wanted to facilitate the progress of this Bill, to adopt—to go for an explanation of a vital clause to the House of Lords! But was this an Amendment which was only an explanation and not an actual substance? In his mind, this Amendment was a matter of such vital substance that it destroyed the whole value of the clause and the whole value of the Bill. He hardly required the knowledge and experience of the hon. Member for Cork to enable him to come to the conclusion that it made the Bill worthless. They were told that the Amendment was presented by the Land Commissioners in Dublin; but why was not that stated to the House of Lords? The proceedings of the Government were most mysterious and past finding out. It was a sound rule that when correspondence was produced the whole of it should be brought forward. What he wanted to know was what the Government wrote to the Commissioners before the Commissioners wrote to them? Had the Government asked the Commissioners what sort of remissions the tenants would get; had they found that the remissions would be larger than they had expected; and had this Amendment been introduced to prevent them being made too large? He had been some years in that House, and he was not aware that when they passed a Statute which the Judges had to administer, the Judges ever wrote suggesting alterations in this way. If the Amendment was merely explanatory, the course the Government had taken was the most clumsy he had ever heard of. If, on the other hand, the proposal was a vital and fundamental alteration of a Bill which had been settled in the House of Commons, he could tell the Government that they were only at the beginning of this discussion; and if the Government had explained to the Commissioners how they wished the Bill to be administered, surely hon. Members from Ireland must be entitled to give their explanation. He was amazed at the Chief Secretary saying that the Amendment would give all and more than all that had ever been proposed in an entire revision of rents. Let them suppose that a rent had been fixed in 1882 a great deal too high at the then prices; how did they give a remedy for that by simply altering the rent according to the scale of prices? It was no remedy at all. A mere reduction, according to scale, would do nothing at all. What they understood was that there would be a large and free discretion left to the Commissioners to deal with the matter according to the equity of the case. But the Government had found out what that meant, and they had determined to withdraw the grant which they professed to have made. That, in his opinion, was the real reason for the Amendment. If it was a mere explanation, why then let it be clear and pass the Bill; but if it was of a very different character, and the Government persisted in it, it seemed to him that they were entering upon a sea of trouble. The Chief Secretary for Ireland, he thought not very discreetly, threatened the hon. Member for Cork with a loss of his popularity in rejecting this Amendment.


No; I beg the right hon. Gentleman's pardon. I said if he caused by Parliamentary action the Bill to be lost.


Who was it that was losing the Bill? If the Government had stuck to their guns in the House of Lords things would have been different. But the great difficulty which they had with the combined Unionist Party on both sides was that they put down clauses and Amendments and then took measures to defeat them. They made a grand concession, and then got the Privy Seal to knock it on the head in the House of Lords. This farce had been gone through during all the proceedings on this Bill. What was the explanation that had been offered by the Prime Minister? Did he tell the people of Ireland that the Bill was a measure of justice which the Government, on their conviction, had offered to Ireland as a measure of peace? Not at all. He said it was a Bill of which he disapproved; which contained germs of evil which he had always denounced. The fashionable germ theory was introduced. In ordinary cases when a doctor saw germs of a disease he endeavoured to get rid of them; but this political doctor endeavoured to multiply them by passing a measure which he said contained germs of evil. Did Lord Salisbury say—"I sympathize with your sufferings and I am ready to redress your wrongs?" Not at all. He said—"I dislike this Bill; I hate this Bill; I would not give this Bill if I could help it; but it is necessary for me to buy the votes of Ulster." That was the political morality of the Conservative Party. Lord Salisbury said—"I want the votes of Ulster, that they may go against the votes of the majority of the Irish nation; and therefore I will give the tenants of Ireland that which I do not approve or believe to be just." Was that the way to earn the respect of the Irish people? But there was another class, the landlords of Ireland. What did he say to the landlords of Ireland—this great moralist, the Prime Minister of England? Did he say—"I call upon you, indeed, to make great and painful sacrifices. They are sacrifices the burden of which I understand; but I believe they are just; that they are concessions which you ought to make to your tenants in humanity and justice?" Not at all. What Lord Salisbury said was this—"I know that these are unjust demands made upon principles which I cannot approve, involving a system of legislation which I conceive to be detestable; but I will mulct you of hundreds and thousands of pounds because it is necessary for me to buy the Ulster votes." What a remarkable thing that we should have had in both Houses of Parliament on the same night declarations from two of the principal Members of Her Majesty's Government that they were supporting two Bills, both of them affecting the land, and that both Bills were framed upon principles abhorrent to their nature; that in order to buy political support they were ready to support the measures; but that they would be traitors to their consciences if they did not denounce their principles. These were the political ethics of the high-flown moralist of the Exchequer and of the Foreign Office. These were the principles which were going to command the respect of the Irish nation and the support of the English people. In his opinion they would do neither the one nor the other. This Bill had one thing, and only one thing, which was good in it, and that was the clause the Government had taken the trouble to destroy. They had left open, unfortunately, one grievance which he had hoped, from the conversation last Saturday, the Government would have remedied in the House of Lords, especially after the invitation of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain). There was a Liberal Unionist who proposed an Amendment which would have done justice. He held his noble Friend the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington) personally responsible for having destroyed at the last moment all hope when he came forward and hardened the heart of the Government to refuse accommodation on this subject. He was bound to say that the unfortunate gentleman who was put forward to move the Amendment had the courage to vote for it; but how many of the Liberal Unionists came forward to support it? [An hon. MEMBER: Seven.] Only three on Saturday. But there was one voice they would like to hear on this Amendment from the Lords. Where was the hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell)? He wondered whether the hon. Member would say that the interests of Ulster, which were so sacred, so dear to him, had been protected by the Government, and that he believed the explanation which had been given about the alteration in the clause, which was of vital consequence to the people of Ireland. Where was the hon. Member, that he might tell the House what he thought of what had been done about the town parks? They heard the hon. Member for South Tyrone the other night get up and glorify this Bill and the Government of which he was so obedient and humble a supporter. Where was the hon. Member now? He believed the hon. Member was canvassing for the Government somewhere in Cheshire. What did the people of South Tyrone think of that? He did not know how far the hon. Member for South Londonderry (Mr. Lea) was satisfied with the changes. The hon. Member for South Tyrone had said that there would not be a single town park in South Tyrone which would not be relieved by the Bill. All that was knocked on the head, while the hon. Member was canvassing in Northwich. That was the way Liberal Unionists played fast and loose with the principles they professed and the constituents they represented. He protested against the manner in which this Bill had been dealt with. The Government could have done with it what they liked in the House of Lords. They were like the potter—they had the clay in their hands, and could mould if; as they pleased. But they had refused to make any provision for the arrears of exorbitant rents; they had knocked on the head the clause for the temporary readjustment of rents. They had, in spite of the Report of the Cowper Commission, practically excluded town parks from the Act of 1881; and, in his opinion, from the Amendments made in the House of Lords, the Bill, as had been said by the hon. Member for Cork, was hardly worth having or taking. As to the appeal made by the hon. Member for Cork, the view of the hon. Member and his Friends ought to prevail as to the time when this measure should be discussed. If the Government thought they would do any good in Ireland by rushing this Bill through the House of Commons as they had rushed it through the House of Lords, with these Amendments, they would be entirely mistaken. They might just as well not pass this Bill at all as pass it under circumstances in which it could be said, and would be justly said, that they had not given the Representatives of Ireland an opportunity of considering these Amendments, and moving others which they might think fit. The right hon. Gentleman deplored the delaying of the Bill; but the delay was entirely due to the conduct of the Government in attacking the measure in its most vital provision, bringing it down in hot haste, and expecting it to be passed without reflection or deliberation.

THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)

said, he would not refer to the description which the right hon. Gentleman opposite had given of the motives which influenced the Prime Minister and the Government in proposing a measure which they believed to be necessary for the peace of Ireland, and which they had designed with the sole object of doing justice to all interests in that country, The representations made by the right hon. Gentleman were precisely in his usual vein, and the country would know how to appreciate them. The Government were accustomed to misrepresentations of their motives and of the course which they followed. The right hon. Gentleman laid great stress upon what he spoke of as the fundamental alteration made in the Bill by the House of Lords. The Government absolutely denied that there was any alteration in spirit or substance made in the Bill by the House of Lords. They had given a complete explanation of the circumstances in which it had been made, and they would be wanting in their duty to Parliament and the country, and especially to the tenantry of Ireland, if they had not introduced words which they believed would carry out all the intentions of Parliament, and certainly all the intentions the Government had in proposing this Bill. Those words were justified by the discussions which had taken place in Parliament, by the Report of the Cowper Commission, and by all the experience that had been gained with regard to the adjustment of rents during the last 12 months. His right hon. Friend had explained the matter so thoroughly and so ably that he did not think it necessary that he should travel over the same ground again. He asserted that under this provision, as guarded in the clause which bad come down from the House of Lords, the tenant would gain everything that it was intended he should have or that he expected to have, and that it would secure a temporary abatement of rent equal to all expectations. The right hon. Gentleman had talked about buying political support. The right hon. Gentleman was, no doubt, endeavouring to buy political support by casting to the winds all his former protestations, and by posing as the friend of those who only a few months ago he denounced in every part of England and in that House. The Government were indifferent to the opprobrium which the right hon. Gentleman was anxious to cast upon them, if they were simply able to do their duty by the people of Ireland and by the people of the United Kingdom and as Ministers of the Crown. The Government had a great responsibility imposed upon them, and they were not inclined to buy support by promising concessions and boons to those to whom they had no right to give more than in justice they were entitled to receive. The right hon. Gentleman had reproached the Government because no provision dealing with the arrears of rent had been introduced into this Bill; but did he remember that the proposal made on Saturday by his right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland was distinctly repudiated by hon. Members below the Gangway opposite speaking on behalf of Ireland, and was declared to be worthy of determined hostility? He (Mr. W. H. Smith) denied that the House of Lords, by the introduction of these changes in the Bill, had in the slightest degree injured the Bill itself. Was the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby going to consider as useless a Bill which admitted 110,000 leaseholders to judicial rents, which placed them in the position of the ordinary tenants of Ireland, which en- titled every tenant subject to notice of eviction to have that eviction stayed, and which permitted every tenant whose judicial rent had been fixed prior to 1885 to obtain a temporary abatement? If the right hon. Gentleman was of opinion that such a Bill was worthless, that it mattered little whether it passed this Session or not, then the right hon. Gentleman was assuming a responsibility far greater than any that had been assumed by any individual in that House before.


said, that the right hon. Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) had made a charge of omission as well as of commission against the Government. The right hon. Gentleman had charged it with having neglected to take the opportunity offered to them in the House of Lords of introducing some clause dealing with the arrears of rent. The First Lord of the Treasury had dealt partially with that charge; but as the right hon. Gentleman had referred to the part he (Mr. J. Chamberlain) took in the matter, he should like to say a few words upon it. It was pointed out on Saturday that the Bankruptcy Clauses had been withdrawn, but that the tenant was left without relief from arrears of rent, or if he were insolvent from the embarrassment of his other debts; and he (Mr. J. Chamberlain) suggested that it might be possible to submit some other plan which adopted the principle the Government laid down, and which would relieve the tenant without his going to bankruptcy. His right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, speaking after him, said that although his suggestion was not so good as theirs, which was that the Bill should give power to deal with the arrears of rent only, he thought it ought to be accepted, and for himself and his hon. Friends he would accept it if the Government were prepared to deal with it. The Chief Secretary for Ireland, on behalf of the Government, said they were prepared to accept any such suggestion, provided that all the debts of the tenant were dealt with in the same way and at the same time.


said, he stated that if the plan of the Government meant the revival of the Bankruptcy Clauses under another name, he would have nothing to do with it, and he came to the conclusion, after hearing the speech of the Chief Secretary, that the proposal was a revival of the Bankruptcy Clauses.


said, he had offered on behalf of the Government to adopt any reasonable plan by which the debts of all creditors should be treated alike and on. The same basis. So far, undoubtedly, that was a proceeding in bankruptcy; but he expressed his perfect readiness to drop the name of "bankruptcy," and he said he would adopt as cheap and simple a machinery as could be devised consistent with an equitable arrangement.


said, the Irish Members were willing to agree that where an action was brought against a tenant by landlord or shopkeeper, the County Court Judge should have power to deal with such actions simultaneously, and treat them in the same way; but they were not willing that when actions were brought by the landlord procedure should be adopted which would compel other creditors who had not brought actions to come into Court also.


said, that his proposal on Saturday was that when the tenant was brought into Court, whether for arrears of rent or for the debt of another creditor, if his debts were of small amount the Court should be allowed to call for a schedule of all his creditors and to direct them to enter into a composition, payable by such instalments as the Court might think fit. It was after he had made that suggestion that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby said he thought it ought to be accepted. Then the question arose whether the Irish Members would accept the clause without undue discussion; and upon that the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon), speaking on their behalf, refused to accept the arrangement, but said that they were quite willing to deal with other creditors as well as with the arrears of rent as the cases of each were brought into Court, but that they would not agree to the simultaneous treatment of all debts. He hoped the hon. Member for East Mayo would admit the correctnes of his statement.

MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)

replied, that he had only one correction to make, and it was of slight importance. What he said was that the Irish Members insisted that the debts should be dealt with when the creditors came into Court.


submitted that it was perfectly clear, whatever the intention of the hon. Member might be, that they could not have a simultaneous dealing with all debts. It was absurd to suppose that at one stroke all the creditors, acting independently, would come into Court at the same time with their debts. What would happen would be that either the landlord or a single creditor would come into Court, that thereupon the Court would make a composition, leaving all the other debts to be dealt with subsequently from time to time in a series of proceedings, as the several claims were brought into Court. What he wanted to point out was this—that the suggestion which he ventured to make, which the Government were willing to accept, and which the right hon. Member for Derby, on behalf of himself and his Friends, thought ought to be accepted, was refused on behalf of the Irish Members by the hon. Member for East Mayo. Therefore he said—and he was going to Ireland to say it, and he was glad, therefore, to say it in their presence first—that the whole responsibility for refusing to the tenants of Ireland this enormous boon was wholly upon the hon. Members who professed specially to represent the Irish tenants.


I also refused it.


said, he should be sorry to detract in the slightest degree from the importance of his right hon. Friend. He said he refused it.


The moment I heard the statement of the Chief Secretary I said we would have nothing to do with it.


said, he thought the House would agree that when his right hon. Friend spoke there was very little difficulty in hearing him. He did not hear him refuse that offer, and he did not know whether any other Member of the House did. He should have been very glad, then, if the Government had been able to deal with this matter; but he agreed that it was quite impossible for them to do so in view of the threat of persistent opposition raised to the only suggestion which it was possible for them to adopt. Now with regard to the important change which had been made in the House of Lords in the clause dealing with revision of rent, his right hon. Friend took two objections on the merits. He said, in the first place, that, as the clause was now worded, it would not admit of a revision of rents which might have been unfair at the time they were fixed. But that was a perfectly new contention on the part of his right hon. Friend. All these debates had proceeded on the assumption that at the time the rents were fixed by the Court they must be taken to have been fair rents. Otherwise it was nonsense to refer to a Court to refix rents when they declared that the Court had already shown itself unable to fix fair rents in the first instance. If they might be guided by the Report of the Cowper Commission, there was no pretence in that Report for the argument that it was desirable to revise rents except in relation to the fall in prices. The first objection, he submitted, fell to the ground; it was a perfectly now one evolved from the inner consciousness of his right hon. Friend, and he thought that, on further reflection, he would see that no importance was to be attached to it. Then his right hon. Friend went on to say that a reduction of rent which was determined by the fall in prices was insufficient because, as the fall in prices affected the whole produce of the farm, the reduction of rent ought to be much greater than the proportionate fall in produce. Now, that was a fallacious or at least a very incomplete statement of the facts. He remembered the hon. Member for East Mayo having charged him with having declared that the reduction of rent ought to be exactly the same as the reduction in prices. He had never said anything of the kind. What he had said was that the reduction of prices was shown by the Cowper Commission to be on the average 18 per cent; and, further, he stated that the Cowper Commission also showed that in recent fixings of rent the Commissioners had given reductions from 10 to 14 per cent, and in some cases even more above what they gave in the earlier fixings. From that, no doubt, he gathered that in any abatement of rent which might be made in consequence of the fall in prices it was probable that the reduction in the rent would be not very different from the percentage shown in the reduction in prices. But that was not necessarily the case. He would point out to the hon. Member for East Mayo why the reduction in prices ought not to extend over the whole produce and be deducted from the rent. There were three reasons, in his opinion, against such a course. In the first place—and this was the least important—it was only fair that in crises of this kind the loss should be shared by all parties, and he did not think it had ever been contended, even by the Irish Members, that the whole should fall on the landlord. The second reason was this—if it were true that all prices had fallen, then the tenant had an advantage in everything he bought. In seed, in meal, in everything he had to buy he got the full advantage, and that advantage ought to be deducted from the disadvantage which only accrued from that portion of the produce which he sold himself. And that was the third point—what you had to look at in fixing the rent was not the total amount of produce, but the total amount which was sold off the farm, because it was only on that portion of his stock and produce that he sold off the farm that he suffered by the fall in prices. On that account it appeared to him that nothing could be more unfair than to say, as he thought the hon. Member for East Mayo did, that the rent of a farm was only equal to one-third of the produce, and that, therefore, the reduction in the rent ought to be three times the amount of the percentage of the fall in prices. Any calculation of that kind would be grossly unfair. He had dealt, then, with the two principal grounds upon which, on the merits, his right hon. Friend had condemned this Amendment of the House of Lords. But though he could not follow his reasoning, he confessed he was also sorry that this Amendment had been introduced. He could not feel satisfied that the Government were right in their contention that it made no practical change in the operation of the Bill. If it did not it would have been much better not to have passed it, and he could not doubt that the fact that it had been introduced carried with it the inference that some very considerable change would be introduced in consequence. He could not but point out to the House what, at all events, was the nature of the change which this altera- tion would bring about. In the clause as it stood a large discretion was given to the Court, and as the hon. Member for Cork had very well pointed out, it might well be that the fall in prices which would justify the equivalent reduction of rent in one district in Ireland would not justify so great a reduction in another. As between different classes of tenants the Amendment might effect most considerable injustice. It might be that it would make no difference at all as to the average of reduction, but undoubtedly it would make a very great difference indeed in favour of those pasture tenants in Meath to whose case the hon. Member for Cork had alluded, and against those too ants in other parts whose circumstances demand larger consideration. He confessed he was under the impression that it was the desire of the Government and the House to leave a very large discretion to the Court in dealing with this matter; and he thought it was clearly the right course for the House to take. He did not think the House was competent in a matter so complicated to adopt any unbending rule of reduction throughout the whole of Ireland. If they were, it would be a much simpler thing, instead of a reference to prices, to have adopted the principle of saying that there should be in all the judicial rents fixed previous to 1885 one uniform reduction of 15 or 18 or even 20 per cent. He preferred greatly, then, to leave a large discretion to the Court rather than to tie them up, as this Amendment would do, to adopt the fall in prices uniformly as the one determining factor in the reduction of rents. He would venture to ask the Government to tell the House clearly, in the first place, what was the object which they desired to attain by means of this Amendment. He understood the Land Commissioners had come forward to say that as the Bill was drawn it did not give them sufficient guidance, and he was, perhaps, not wrong in imagining that they felt, if they were to be guided by a strict interpretation of the words of the clause as it left the House, that the result would be that while in some cases, perhaps, they might be unable to do as much as they would like for the tenant, yet—and this was the real point—in other cases they would feel themselves compelled to give to a tenant under this clause a larger abatement and a greater reduction than would be the equivalent of the new rent which they would fix to the tenant who came into Court in 1885. That was to say, to two tenants in exactly the same position—one having his rent fixed in 1882, and another who had not yet applied for a reduction of rent who would come into Court in 1887—they would think it necessary to give an abatement in the case of the first tenant which would leave his rent considerably below the new rent which they were going to fix for the tenant who came into Court in 1887. He did not know whether he appreciated the position, but he thought that would be the difficulty of the Land Commissioners which the Government were trying to meet. If that were the case, clearly the operation of the clause as it originally stood would bring about a state of things not contemplated by the House, not fair to a certain class of tenants, and certainly not fair to a certain class of landlords. But he did not like the method with which it was proposed to meet the difficulty. There appeared to him to be two alternative methods which, might, perhaps, be taken into consideration by the House. One alternative would be instead of limiting the discretion of the Court to leave a larger discretion to it. If the Court found that it was limited and fettered by the reference to the prices which was contained in that clause, the difficulty might be got rid of by taking out the reference to prices and giving such abatement as if they were fixing the rents now for the first time. The other suggestion was this. It would be to leave the clause as it left the House, and to add a Proviso to the effect that the abatement to be given to the tenants under this clause should place them in a position similar to that of tenants in the same circumstances who might have had their rents fixed after 1885. That would put tenants who had their rents fixed before 1885 and tenants who had their rents fixed now, whether leaseholders or not, on the same footing. These were the alternative suggestions which he ventured to offer to Her Majesty's Government. He was bound to say for himself that he conceived there was a real difficulty which the House was called upon to deal with, and which he thought the intelligence and experience of the House ought to be able to deal with, even now at the last moment. He did not like the particular form of dealing with the difficulty proposed by the Government; and certainly if a Division were to be taken that the Lords' Amendment be inserted—which to his mind made so serious a difference in what he understood to be the principle of the clause, and which so considerably fettered the discretion of the Court—he, for one, should feel bound to disagree with the Amendment.

MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)

said, he had made a careful study of this question of bankruptcy or no bankruptcy, and he had come to the conclusion that any scheme that could be proposed by the wit of man for dealing with all the debts of the tenants on an equal footing simultaneously and compulsorily would end in a bankruptcy scheme. When the Chief Secretary was appealed to on a former occasion regarding this question, he said that no proposal could be made for dealing with all the debts in the way suggested except one, and that would be a very expensive process. On that occasion he offered—although he and his hon. Friends believed it to be a vicious and unjustifiable principle to adopt—to consent to the treatment of all debts of the Irish tenants on an equal footing and at the same time, if the debtors chose to come into Court at the same time. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham in his speech now said no simultaneous treatment would be possible on such terms as that; but it would be perfectly easy, after notice had been given to the landlord that the tenant intended to come into Court, if the remaining creditors chose to intimate their intention of coming in, for the Court to postpone the case until all the creditors were represented. The reason why he drew that line between this arrangement and anything involving the principle of bankruptcy was because he felt that if they once passed that line they would be drawn, in spite of themselves, into a system of bankruptcy which would do infinitely more harm than good in Ireland. It would, in fact, lead to the eating up of all the little properties that remained to the tenants by lawyers and officers of the Court, and would leave the tenants bankrupts and paupers. The right hon. Gentleman in his speech en- deavoured to throw the responsibility upon the Irish Members of the failure of dealing with the question of arrears in Ireland. It was not the first time that responsibility was thrown upon their shoulders in that House, and he could assure the right hon. Gentleman that it was not the first time that a Chief Secretary for Ireland and other English statesmen had undertaken to destroy their popularity in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Chamberlain) had stated that he would come over to Ireland and state the magnitude of their crime and responsibility. With that wisdom which signally distinguished him, the right hon. Gentleman had selected Belfast as the place of his first appearance. If the right hon. Gentleman carried out his intention, and appeared in Belfast and certain other cities of Ulster, he undoubtedly would have large and enthusiastic audiences, and probably the chair would be taken by the Duke of Abercorn and some other great proprietors in those places. The audiences would be composed of the landlords and agents, and the Orangemen of Ulster, who now recognized in the right hon. Gentleman one of their most ardent and trusty champions. He would be very glad to see him coming over to address the Orangemen of Ulster, and the Irish Members would not be at all disconcerted by his appearance there. It was with the deepest regret that he noted Amendment after Amendment had been inserted in the Bill in the House of Lords, some of the utmost importance and some of the most petty and contemptible character, but every one, without exception, aimed at the interest of the tenant. On the great question of arrears no effort had been made in the House of Lords to deal with it, notwithstanding the professions of the Government. On Saturday last he took means to convey to the Government the information that oven if they would draft roughly any clause dealing with the question it would be considered by the Irish Party in the most friendly spirit and with a desire, if possible, to arrive at some conclusion. But the Government, having that offer before them, were too busy drafting their 42 Amendments to destroy its benefits to give a single moment to deal with this great question, which would prove destructive to the measure as one likely to bring about peace and contentment in Ireland. The Irish Members were prepared to bear their responsibility and to go before the people of Ireland on this question, and they had not the slightest doubt in their minds of the acuteness and intelligence of their countrymen being quite sufficient to place the responsibility on the right shoulders. As the Bill left this House the wording on the whole was satisfactory; and what did the Bill as it left this House ask the Land Commissioners to do? It said—"Having regard to the difference in prices affecting agriculture, they were to determine what reduction ought equitably to be made on the judicial rent," &c. "Ought equitably to be made"—that had a meaning different from what was put upon it by the Chief Secretary for Ireland, or it had not. No matter how acute the ingenuity that might be applied to them, they could not take out of these words the meaning that the reduction was to be an arithmetical reduction calculated on the fall of prices. Having regard to the fall of prices the Commissioners were to exercise their own discretion, and to give to the tenant what reduction ought equitably to be made. That principle was absolutely and totally distinct from and irreconcilable with the principle introduced into the Bill by the Amendment in "another place." The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham brought forward three reasons why, in his opinion, it would not be just for a greater reduction of rent to be made than the exact amount of the fall of prices. He said it was admitted on all sides that the loss should not be borne by the landlord alone, but that it should be divided between the landlord and tenant. That was the principle on which the Irish Members always proceeded—they never claimed that the loss should be borne by the landlord alone. He did not admit that that was always a just principle when dealing with rack-rented tenants in Ireland, but still they had accepted the principle that the loss should be borne equally by the landlord and tenant. The right hon. Gentleman completely misstated or misunderstood the bearing of this case. Then the right hon. Gentleman accused him of having left out of sight the benefits which the tenant derived from the lowering of agricultural prices. The food on which the tenants lived had hardly altered in price during all those years. They lived largely on Indian meal and other cheap kinds of food; and the difference in the price of their food, therefore, scarcely entered as an element into the determination of the case with which that Bill dealt. The Chief Secretary for Ireland stated that, according to the principle of the Government, if a man gave so much oats in rent three years ago, he would still give the same quantity of oats. He asked the right hon. Gentleman to consider how that principle would work in relation to the wheat lands in this country to-day? Supposing a man three years ago gave as the rent of his land one-fourth of the wheat he grow, and was able to live and prosper on such a system, would he consider it just that he should give one-fourth of the wheat which he grew to-day? Did he not know that there were hundreds of thousands of acres out of cultivation in this country which they could not get men to cultivate, even if they gave it to them rent free? He was at a loss to understand how the Chief Secretary for Ireland could say that that Amendment of the Lords simply interpreted the original meaning of the clause. It was really a radical and revolutionary change of the principle of the clause; and to expect that the Irish Members should, at a moment's notice, consent to have that great change in one of the most vital parts of the measure debated and decided upon was most unreasonable. The Amendment in relation to town parks and other Amendments striking seriously at the interests of the tenants all sank into insignificance as compared with the present Amendment. He maintained that they had made out an overwhelming case for the adjournment of the debate, to allow them to consult opinion in Ireland, and to get back to the House Members who had left thinking that that great controversy, at least, was settled. A more extraordinary course had never been taken in regard to a Bill which the Government had declaimed to be urgent than the introduction of 42 Amendments at that time of the Session, almost all of them more or less taking away the benefits which the Bill conferred on the tenants. Considering the attitude which the Government took up in that House, considering the intense anxiety they had professed to get the Bill passed quickly in order to prevent eviction, and con- sidering also that they were all-powerful in the House of Lords, surely noble Lords should have been prevented from moving those Amendments. He knew that noble Lords said they were not moved in the interests of the landlords; but that they were all meant for the benefit of the people, even including the Amendment striking out the 2,000 limit from the Town Parks Clause. The Government hurried the Bill through the House at the last Saturday Sitting; then they waited from Saturday till Thursday before bringing it again before the House of Lords, when they allowed 42 Amendments to be made, which would possibly postpone its passing for perhaps a week longer. Without wishing to say anything offensive to the Government, he regarded all their talk about the urgency of the measure as the merest imposture. What, however, was important to the Irish people was that the Bill, when it did pass, whether this week, next week, or three weeks hence, should be a real and substantial Bill, conferring benefits on the people commensurate with the labour expended upon it, and not a Bill which would prove to be a sham, a delusion, and a snare.

MR. LEA (Londonderry, S.)

maintained that the Bill was distinctly damaged in several points by the Amendments introduced in "another place." It seemed to him about the strangest and even the maddest thing which the friends of the Government in the other House could have done to introduce Amendments to weaken a Bill which had done credit to the Ministry. Benefits were held out to the tenants by the Bill, and then they were taken away again—a course of proceeding which tended to destroy the credit of the Government. If they could even now reject those Amendments, he begged them to do it. The House of Commons had fixed the limit for town parks to towns of 2,000 inhabitants; but the Lords had struck out those words and inserted an Amendment which would cause great consternation to the people of Ireland, and the people of Ulster particularly. It seemed to him absurd to say that the Government could not have prevented this if they had so chosen, and he would ask them now to maintain 2,000 as the limit of the Town Parks Clause. He believed that the 20th clause, as it applied to the Court valuers, was most re- pugnant to the Irish people. Would the Government reject that Amendment? That was the point on which the people of Ulster had a very strong feeling.


said, he intended to move the House to disagree to the Lords' Amendment on this point.


said, that in that case he would not say another word on that point. If the Government would further meet them on the subject of town parks, he believed that two of the most objectionable Amendments of the House of Lords would be disposed of.

MR. MOLLOY (King's Co., Birr)

said, that when the Bill left that House Irish Members had hoped that it would be of some little benefit to the unfortunate tenants of Ireland, and that it would have enabled them to pass over the intermediate time before a larger and more efficient measure could be introduced. But, judging from the Amendments which had been introduced in the other House, it would seem that the Lords looked on the Bill as so injuring their interests that they felt justified in doing whatever they could to destroy its effect. By no other explanation could the extraordinary Amendments which had been introduced be accounted for. The First Lord of the Treasury had stated that the Bill as amended carried out all the intentions they ever had, and that the tenants would gain everything they had intended them to gain. How it was possible that the Bill, destroyed as they maintained it was, carried out all the intentions the Government ever had was an explanation he must leave to somebody on the Treasury Bench. The Lords had done everything they could to minimize the benefits which the Bill would confer on the tenants, and they had succeeded in doing so. He sincerely regretted the mangling of the Bill in the House of Lords. If the Bill were passed in its present shape he could not look forward to its having any remedial effect in Ireland. The only effect which it would have of any real and permanent character would be the facility with which it would permit evictions to be carried out.

MR. JOHN MORLEY (Newcastle-on-Tyne)

said, he did not rise to go into the details of the Amendments which had been made in "another place." The right hon. Member for West Bir- mingham before he sat down closed his remarks with, the proposal of two alternative suggestions. Those suggestions, both or either of them, appeared to him to be worthy the most serious consideration of the Government and of the House. He had the less difficulty in assenting very cordially to the spirit of those suggestions because they amounted in effect to a recognition of the principle for which he and those who acted with him had been contending from the beginning of the Session. His right hon. Friend's proposals did include a general revision of rents, and that was the principle for which the right hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment on the Bill (Mr. Campbell-Bannerman) and he himself when he moved the Amendment to "Urgency," in the case of the Crimes Bill, endeavoured to press upon the House. The right hon. Member for West Birmingham now advocated the principle from which in the earlier stages of the proceedings on this Bill be emphatically and powerfully dissented. That being the case, and his right hon. Friend having made suggestions of that kind, they in that part of the House were not at all likely to dissent from weighing and considering them, and he ventured to hope that Her Majesty's Government would even now not resist the postponement of this discussion. He did not for a moment make any charge against the Chief Secretary on account of the discussion being brought on that night. The House would believe that the right hon. Gentleman did take all pains last night to ascertain whether it would be agreeable to the House generally that the Bill should be taken that night. But the debate having taken the turn it had, and suggestions having been made of great weight and importance, he thought the Government would be well advised if now, at the eleventh hour, they gave the House further time for the consideration of these proposals. There were one or two remarks which fell from his right hon. Friend (Mr. Chamberlain) as to which he should like to say a word or two. His right hon. Friend informed the House that he was going to Ireland to tell the Irish people that the responsibility for the refusal of great provisions of relief would rest upon hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, because on Saturday evening last the hon. Member for East Mayo pointedly and emphatically rejected the proposals brought forward. The right hon. Gentleman should not forget that all that was necessary for him and his Friends to do was to support the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Inverness (Mr. Finlay). That Amendment aimed at permitting the composition of one kind of debt—namely, rent, and rent alone. Now, if his right hon. Friend and those who acted with him had adhered to what was in effect their own Amendment, there would have been no necessity for his right hon. Friend to start a new hare, as he did on Saturday afternoon, and there would be no cause for his now throwing blame on Members below the Gangway for resisting a principle to which they have never assented. The right hon. Member for Derby could not have assented to that proposal in the form in which it was made, because it involved the revival of the Bankruptcy Clauses under another name, and with some slight changes of procedure. Now, knowing how resolutely they on that side of the House had resisted in every shape the cumbrous, destructive, and ruinous proceedings in bankruptcy throughout these discussions, it was impossible that the right hon. Member for Derby should have assented for a moment to the introduction of a clause which would have been bankruptcy under another form. He only made these remarks on what fell from the right hon. Member for West Birmingham in order to make clear their position on this matter, and also to make clear the position of his right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham in not supporting the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Inverness. His right hon. Friend, and those with whom he acted, had only to have lifted their little finger in order to carry that Amendment. He did not want to go further into controversial matters; but he trusted what he had said on the matter of adjournment would receive the consideration of the Government. The suggestion which his right hon. Friend had now made embodied the principles for which they had been contending throughout the Session, and, as such, he thought they were well worthy of the consideration of the House and the Government; and, bearing in mind the importance of the issue at stake, he hoped that the Government would not for a merely nominal or apparent point of honour lose the chance of making this Bill an efficient and beneficial measure.

MR. RATHBONE (Carnarvonshire, Arfon)

said, that the clauses he first put on the Paper would have carried out what was proposed by the House of Lords' Amendment. The clauses he moved would have enabled the Land Commissioners to take into account any serious deficiency of crops in a given area; but the Chief Secretary said there was not time to argue out a scheme of that character. He therefore hoped the Government would now adhere to their original idea, and leave a wide discretion to the Commissioners.

THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON (Lancashire, Rossendale)

said, he thought it was to be regretted very much if that evening were altogether lost for the purpose of consideration of the Lords' Amendments; and he should like to ask if the Government were inclined to consider the appeal made to them to postpone till Monday the consideration of the Lords' Amendments with regard to the revision of rents, whether the Members from Ireland would have any objection to go on with those other Amendments which did not bear on that question?


said, he should he quite willing to go on with the Amendments until the first really important one was reached—namely, that relating to town parks.


said, the Government desired to act fairly with hon. Members below the Gangway, and to consider any Amendments which they might propose to the Lords' Amendments. They did not wish to take them by surprise, or act unfairly towards them. On a previous night every effort was made to arrange satisfactorily for to-night's proceedings. The Coal Mines Regulation Bill had been fixed for Monday, and, considering the importance of the interests it involved, he did not think he should be justified in further postponing it. It was, therefore, for the House to consider what course it should adopt; but he might say that if the Land Bill were postponed it would not be possible to take it up again until Thursday, and that was a delay which he deprecated in the strongest possible manner. He wished to prevent eviction in Ire- land if he possibly could; and he believed that a postponement till Thursday would be attended with serious consequences to those tenants whom they wished to protect.


said, that to save time he would say that they consented to the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman to adjourn the debate, either now or when they reached the Town Parks Amendment, on the understanding that it would be taken up on Thursday.


expressed the hope that if that were agreed to satisfactory progress would be made as far as that clause.


said, he was of opinion that all the clauses might be dealt with except the Town Parks Clause.

MR. COURTNEY (Cornwall, Bodmin)

said, it would involve a great loss of time if the House did not proceed with the Lords' Amendments to-night. He would suggest that the House should proceed with the consideration of the Amendments, and defer the consideration of the two Amendments relating to town parks and the revision of judicial rents.


said, he would agree to the suggestion, on the understanding that reasonable despatch would be made with the other Amendments during the present Sitting.

Lords Amendments to Commons Amendments and Consequential Amendments to the Bill, and Lords Reasons for disagreeing to certain of the Commons Amendments considered.

Consequential Amendment, to leave out in page 1, line 22 of the Bill ("Every lease limited to continue for any life or lives").

On the 1st Amendment, striking leases for lives out of the 1st clause,

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do agree with the Lords in the said Amendments."—(Mr. A. J. Balfour.)

MR. O'DOHERTY (Donegal, N.)

said, that he could not see on what principle leases for lives should be left on a different footing from other leases. He hoped the Government would refuse to agree with the Lords in this Amendment, which displayed the littleness of mind prevailing in the other Legislature.


said, he felt bound to point out that the hon. Gentleman was not speaking in the spirit of the understanding which had been arrived at with regard to the progress of the Bill. It was hardly fair for the hon. Member to waste the time of the House with such observations.


said, that he declined to give way. What he wished to draw attention to was the littleness of mind which the House of Lords had exhibited in dealing with this matter.


was of opinion that the Lords' Amendment made the clause clear, and that it ought to be accepted.

Question put, and agreed to.

Amendments, as far as the Amendment in line 9 of Clause B, read a second time.

Several agreed to.

Several disagreed to.

Lords' Amendment, in line 3 of Clause B, to leave out the words "orally or in writing," read a second time.

MR. A. J. BALFOUR moved that the House do agree with the Lords in the Amendment. The Amendment struck out words which provided that a lease to which Section 1 would otherwise apply should be deemed to be within the said section if made, or agreed to be wade, "orally or in writing."

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."—(Mr. A. J. Balfour.)


urged that the words "orally or in writing" should be retained, and remarked that when the matter was before the House the insertion of the words was proposed by the Attorney General for England after some discussion had taken place.

Question put, and agreed to.

Next Amendment, to leave out, in line 9, the words "or otherwise," disagreed to; but an Amendment made to the words "or otherwise" so reinstated by adding the words "with the consent of the landlord."

MR. GIBSON moved that the House do agree to the Amendment made by the Lords in Clause C (sub-letting to labourers and others)—namely, to add at the end— This section shall not apply to sub-letting made by a tenant during a statutory term, nor to sub-letting made after the passing of this Act.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."—(Mr. Gibson.)

MR. CHANCE (Kilkenny, S.)

said, he hoped that the House would not agree to the Lords' Amendment, as ample precaution had already been taken against sub-letting, and the Land Act of 1881 gave the Land Commission power to sanction sub-letting in certain cases.


said, that the object of the Amendment was to prevent the practice of sub-letting from increasing enormously. It was therefore proposed that the condonation which the Court could give to sub-letting should be limited to cases in which the sub-letting had taken place before the tenant came into Court to get a judicial rent. After the tenant had come into Court to get a judicial rent, he would not be allowed to sub-let.

Amendment proposed to the said Amendment, to leave out the words "to a sub-letting made by a tenant during a statutory term nor."—(Mr. Dillon.)

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


said, he proposed to strike out of the Amendment the words "sub-letting made by a statutory term nor," so that the Amendment would then apply only to sub-letting made after the passing of the Act.


said, that he had heard no substantial reason for omitting the words.


remarked, that the Lords' Amendment as now proposed to be amended would sufficiently provide for the case of future sub-letting.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 117; Noes 76: Majority 41.—(Div. List, No. 373.)

Original Question again proposed.


said, he was opposed to the Lords' Amendment as a whole. If he had his own way in the matter, so far from any additional restriction being imposed, he would extend the operation of the clause. The clause, as it left this House, was, if anything, too narrow. He moved to disagree with the Lords' Amendment.


said, it was not competent to the hon. Member to make that Motion, as a Motion that the House agree to the Lords' Amendment was already before the House.


said, he would content himself with voting against the acceptance of the Lords' Amendment.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

Question put.

The House divided: —Ayes 113; Noes 71: Majority 42.—(Div. List, No. 374.)

Amendment, in page 3, line 3, to leave out the word "exact," the next Amendment, disagreed to.


said, he moved to agree to the Lords' Amendment which provided that it should not be necessary to advertise the notice of ejectment in a newspaper circulated in the district in which the holding was situated. He would urge the House to accept the proposal, on the ground that if the provision were adhered to, and there was only one paper in a district, the landlord would be left practically at the mercy of the newspaper proprietor and might be charged a most exorbitant price.

Amendment, in page 3, line 8, to leave out "shall be published in a newspaper circulating in the district, and a copy," the next Amendment, read a second time.

Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment.


pointed out that when the House was in Committee, the Chief Secretary agreed that notice of the landlord's intention to dispossess a tenant through the post should be published in a newspaper circulating in the district.


said, he thought it would be better to amend the Amendment by inserting the words "and a summary of such notice shall be posted on the police barracks or the court-house." He would propose to amend the Amendment in that way.


said, he protested against the Lords' Amendment, which destroyed the only safeguard of the tenant for obtaining proper notice of the landlord's intention to dispossess him. The publication in the newspaper would be far more efficacious than the mere despatch of the notice of ejectment through the post and the placarding on the walls of the police station. He was perfectly willing that the wording should be so altered that the landlord could discharge his legal obligation by proving that he had delivered in the newspaper office a properly legally drawn notice, and paid the ordinary rate for its insertion, thus throwing the responsibility for its non-insertion upon the proprietor of the newspaper. No newspaper proprietor, he believed, would refuse to insert it.


said, there could be no doubt that the arrangement in the Bill would be effective. Serious difficulties had suggested themselves to their Lordships in "another place," and especially to the noble and learned Lord who knew as much about Ireland as anyone in this House, with regard to publication in a newspaper, and honestly and in the interests of justice he thought the suggestion of the Chief Secretary was not an unreasonable one, that the element of publicity would be sufficiently attained by the posting of the notices on the police barracks or court-house of the district. He might point out that the notice in the first instance would have to be personally served as an ordinary writ, and a copy of it sent to the tenant in a registered letter. If it were made compulsory to publish it in a newspaper the proprietor of a party newspaper might prevent compliance with the necessary formalities by declining to insert the notice, or levying black mail for its insertion.

MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)

said, that the hon. and learned Attorney General for Ireland had not met the point which had been raised by the hon. Member for East Mayo. To require that certain notices should be published in newspapers was nothing new to our law, and such notices were published in the case of Parliamentary elections. They could not secure sufficient publicity by posting these notices on the door of a police barrack, for in many districts in Ireland they would have to travel a great distance before they came to such an institution. He objected to depriving the unfortunate tenants of some slight protection which might still remain to them, and he considered it absolutely necessary that these notices should be published in the newspapers. He must deny that any real hardship would be entailed upon the landlords by requiring them to advertise such notices in the newspapers, and contended that even if any injustice to them was apprehended through the newspapers exacting an excessive price for advertisements of that description that injustice might be easily prevented by the adoption of such a provision as the hon. Member for East Mayo had suggested for limiting the charge to a sum which was reasonable and fair. It was the whole history of landlords in Ireland to confiscate tenants' property. And in Scotland——


Order, order! The hon. Member is travelling beyond the Question before the House.


said, he would only add that he hoped the people would never rest until this odious provision was repealed.

Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present.

MR. WALLACE (Edinburgh, E.)

said, according to the clause the eviction would have taken place before the notice could appear in the newspapers. When the personal service of the notice had taken place the eviction would be effected; and he could not, under the circumstances, see that any Amendment was necessary.


said, he must enter a protest against the alteration which had been made, and which was intended to do away with all the outward show of eviction. They held in Ireland that eviction scenes were a protection to the tenants. The tradesmen and the bankers of tenants were entitled to know the position of their customers, and they would be kept in ignorance if eviction could be carried out by the delivery of a registered letter. A tenant might be a ruined man and the shopkeepers know nothing about it. The Attorney General for Ireland had spoken of the probable extortion of Irish newspapers for these advertisements; but he (Mr. E. Harrington) thought the newspapers could bear favourable comparison with the Irish lawyers. The right hon. and learned Gentleman must surely know that there was a legal charge, beyond which the newspapers could not go. The Bill, when it left that House, was bad enough as a measure of relief for the Irish tenants; but since then it had been into the lions' den, and returned with the marks of the lions' "clause" upon it.

MR. M'CARTAN (Down, S.)

said, he wished to remind the Government that the object with which this provision was put in the Bill was to prevent the perpetration of frauds and acts of the grossest injustice, and to prevent the landlords from entering into collusion with, their tenants and so depriving creditors of money to which they were entitled. The only object for omitting this provision from the Bill was to enable creditors to be deprived of their rights.


said, he would appeal to hon. Members from Ireland sitting below the Gangway opposite to allow some progress to be made. There was a distinct understanding that the proceedings that evening should not be prolonged, but that a rapid decision should be arrived at on the Amendments. He ventured to suggest that the course which had been pursued on the Amendment now before the House was not in accordance with the understanding to which he had referred. Hon. Gentlemen, no doubt, attached great importance to the question; but their arguments had been stated over and over again with great clearness, and nothing further was to be gained from a continuance of the debate except the postponement of other Business. The Government were anxious to meet the wishes of hon. Gentlemen in a fair spirit; but only one result would follow from the course now being pursued, and that was the obstruction of the Business of the House.

MR. CLANCY (Dublin, Co. N.)

said, he did not think the statement of the right hon. Gentleman was at all warranted by the facts. The Irish Members attached great importance to this matter, and claimed the right to discuss it. He did not think that too much time had been occupied in debating the point. He might point out that seven Amendments had been considered in an hour and a-half, and the right hon. Gentleman might think himself very fortunate if other seven Amendments were agreed to in the same time. The rest of the evening had been spent in discussing the general question. If the discussion had been prolonged, it was simply because no attention whatever had been paid by the Government to the arguments advanced from the Irish Benches.

MR. HARRIS (Galway, E.)

said, he objected to any secrecy in connection with evictions, and also to the way in which the Bill was being treated. The Bill contained some large and broad principles, but those principles were disfigured by the bad, mean, and pettifogging ways of the noble Lords in "another place."


Order, order! The hon. Member cannot speak in such terms, without disregarding the courtesy due from one House to the other, and, moreover, his remarks are not pertinent to the Amendment before the House.

MR. P. J. POWER (Waterford, E.)

said, it was absolutely necessary that those transactions should be made known to the public. The Irish Members did not insist upon having these notices inserted in any particular organ. The landlords could have the notices inserted in their own Tory organs if they liked.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 144; Noes 93: Majority 51.—(Div. List. No. 375.)

On the Motion of Mr. A. J. BALFOUR, insert words providing that— A summary of such notice in the prescribed form should be posted by, or on behalf of, the landlord on a police barrack or court-house of the district in the prescribed manner, and within the prescribed time.

Consequential Amendment made to the Bill.

Amendment in page 3, line 41, nest Amendment, agreed to.

Amendment, in page 3, to leave out lines 42 and 43, and in page 4, lines 1 to 3, the next Amendment disagreed to; but an Amendment made to words so reinstated, by inserting after "rent," in line 43, the words— Of a holding where the rent does not exceed £100 by the year, or where the plaintiff elects to take advantage of, and proceed under this section.

Consideration of Lords Reason for disagreeing to the Amendment made by the Commons, in page 6, line 21, postponed.

Amendment, in page 6, line 32, to leave out "parcel of land," and insert "holding," the nest Amendment, read a second time.

Further Consideration postponed.

Amendment to Cause D, the next Amendment, agreed to.

Amendments to Clause E, by leaving out, in line 6, "counties, poor law unions, or other," and by inserting, after "areas," "fixed by them for that purpose;" and by leaving Out, in line 12, "counties, unions, or other;" and by leaving out, in line 14, "counties, unions, or;" and by inserting, after "respectively," in line 18— So that the rent fixed under the provisions of this section shall differ by the difference in prices as aforesaid in the respective years; and by leaving out, inline 19, "counties, unions, or;" and by inserting after "Commission," in line 20,— This section shall not apply to any rent fixed or revised upon appeal or re-hearing by the Land Commission subsequent to the first day of January one thousand eight hundred and eighty-six; and by leaving out, in lines 28 and 29, "counties, poor law unions, or other," and inserting "such;" and by adding, at the end of the Clause— The powers and duties conferred and imposed by this section shall be exercised by the three Commissioners forming the Land Commission, and shall not be delegated to or exercised by any sub-commission or sub-commissioners, or any other body or person, —read a second time.

Further Consideration postponed.

Lords Reason for disagreeing to the Commons Amendment to leave out Clause 20. considered:

Resolved, That this House doth insist on their Amendment to leave out Clause 20, to which the Lords have disagreed.

Subsequent Amendments agreed to. [Special Entry.]

Postponed Amendments and Lords Reason to be taken into Consideration upon Thursday next.