§ MR. W. P. SINCLAIR (Falkirk, &c.)
wished to ask, Whether it was the intention of the Government to make provision in order to prevent the powers of the Commissioners under the Purchase of Land (Ireland) Act, 1885, from lapsing from want of funds?
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR) (Manchester, E.)
It is our intention, during the present Session, to make a proposal to take steps to prevent the existing powers under that Act from lapsing.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE (Edinburgh, Mid Lothian)
I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury, in consequence of the answer of the Chief Secretary for Ireland, whether I understood him accurately when he made a statement on a former occasion with reference to the Business of the House? I may say that that statement was made partly at my request, and he then very courteously included in that statement an intimation to the House with respect to Bills not yet before the House, but which he intimated the Government intended to introduce during the present Session. The right hon. Gentleman then stated that the only measure of importance not yet before the House which the Government intended to introduce was one for the establishment of a Minister of Agriculture. Am I now to understand the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland to say that it is the intention of the Government to introduce a Bill during the present Session renewing and extending the operation of Lord Ashbourne's Act? Because, if that be so, it will mean a large extension of the system of creditorship between the English Treasury and the Irish landlords, which would, undoubtedly, be regarded by a large number of hon. Members on this side of the House as a 1104 measure of the utmost importance, and would be certain to lead to long discussion.
§ THE FIRST LORD (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)
I ought, perhaps, to have been more distinct in my reference to the renewal of the Purchase of Land Act, on which a Question was put to me in the course of the discussion the other day. But we were under the impression that the object we had in view could be accomplished by a clause in the Land Law (Ireland) (Land Commission) Bill, or by a Bill—[Mr. A. J. BALFOUR: A Bill of one clause.]—Yes; by a Bill of one clause. We did not regard the matter from the point of view taken by the right hon. Gentleman; neither did we regard such a Bill as I have indicated as a measure of so much importance as the right hon. Gentleman appears to attach to it. I regret that I did not at the time make it perfectly clear to the House that the Government, owing to the fact that the demands made upon the funds granted by Parliament in aid of the Commission are almost exhausted, think it right to ask Parliament for a further grant and for further assistance in that direction.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
Then I am afraid that if the intimation given to-day holds good, a new and most important chapter has been opened in these transactions by the proposal of the Government for the further appropriation of funds under this Act. That proposal alters the entire position; and all that took place on a former occasion is, if not subverted, essentially altered, and must be, as far as we are concerned, the subject of further consideration, in consequence of the intimation which has been made to-day.
§ MR. LEA (Londonderry, S.)
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, whether it is not a fact that the system of peasant proprietorship which the House had been desirous of establishing would be absolutely stopped unless some legislation on the subject takes place this Session?
§ MR. JOHN MORLEY (Newcastle-upon-Tyne)
I wish to ask whether these new proposals are to be dealt with after or before the Recess; and, also, whether we were not right in understanding the other night that the Land 1105 Law (Ireland) (Land Commission) Bill is to be renewed in the Expiring Acts Continuance Bill?
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
It was intended that the Land Law (Ireland) (Land Commission) Bill and the Purchase of Land Bill should be dealt with after the holidays. That was our intention the other night. But I have explained to the House that it is necessary that the Land Law (Ireland) (Land Commission) Bill should be put into the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill, as it expires in the month of August.