HC Deb 20 November 1888 vol 330 cc1668-760

Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [19th November],

Motion made, and Question proposed, That leave be given to bring in a Bill further to facilitate the Purchase of Land in Ireland by increasing the amount applicable for that purpose by the Land Commission."—(Mr. Solicitor General for Ireland.)

And which Amendment was, To leave out all the words after the word "That," to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "in lieu of proceeding again to vote the sum of £5,000,000, so as to place the State in the direct relation of landlord to the Irish occupier, under the provisions of 'The Purchase of Land (Ireland) Act, 1885,' it is expedient, especially in view of the lamentable sufferings caused by recent evictions in Ireland, to extend the provisions of 'The Land Law (Ireland) Act, 1887,' so as to empower the Land Court to reduce or cancel the arrears of rents found to be excessive, as welt as to deal with the rents themselves, after the example of the legislation recently and beneficially applied to the crofters' holdings in Scotland."—(Mr. Gladstone.)

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

Debate resumed.

SIR EDWARD GREY (Northumberland, Berwick)

said, he was one of those whom the Amendment placed in a difficult position. The Amendment raised what, to his mind, were two important separate questions, and he was anxious to give a vote in favour of both. His difficulty was that one vote would now be made to destroy the other. In the first place, he thought that, on the whole, the Government was in a great degree responsible for the difficulty in which they were now placed. They were to blame for the fact that it had been possible for the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) to interpose between them and their Land Purchase Bill the subject of arrears, which appealed so strongly to many Members on the Opposition side of the House. He could not understand the excessive deference dis- played on the question of arrears to the opinion of Members of the Opposition. But, however strongly he might feel on that question of arrears, he could not get away from the position that two totally separate questions had been mixed up. He knew that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian in his speech showed how it was possible that arrears affected the question of land purchase; but, so far as he could understand, the right hon. Gentleman put a hypothetical case, and did not show that so far arrears had materially affected the question. And there was this to be said—that this question of arrears did not apply to the whole of Ireland. It applied to the poorer parts. Although he believed the tenants were in urgent need of relief, no Arrears Bill or Land Purchase Bill would ever solve the question in congested districts. But at the present moment there was a large part of Ireland where there was every opportunity for a successful operation of land purchase where the tenants were not in arrear, where, owing to the generosity of the landlords, or to the fair action of the agent, or even to the action of the tenants themselves, satisfactory arrangements had been made. But there still existed in many of those parts a vast amount of antagonism to the landlord, which was sometimes due to personal unpopularity, sometimes to the odium of the system, and sometimes to the unnatural condition of dual ownership. He admitted it was very hard that the question of arrears should be kept waiting, but it would only increase the mischief if they put off the operation of land purchase because they were unable to deal with the poorer districts. He had voted once this Session in favour of an Arrears Bill, and was prepared to do so again, but he could not give his vote in a way which would reverse the vote he wished to give in favour of land purchase. First of all, land purchase as a principle was not only desirable, but was vitally necessary to any permanent settlement of the Irish question; and, secondly, looking not at what was ideally perfectly, but at what, under present conditions of Party government, was practicable, the extension of Lord Ashbourne's Act was desirable. The second proposition was justified by a speech of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) made on the introduction of the Bill in 1885. He had said— I cannot see that very much mischief can be done, either to Irish landlords or to Irish tenants, by its passage; whereas, on the other hand, some knowledge may come to us, from the experience derived from its working, which may tempt all the parties interested in the question—the tenants, the Government, and the landowners—to go further in the future, and, perhaps, to arrive at a final solution of this very important and difficult Land Question is Ireland."—(3 Hansard, [300] 1103–4.) The time contemplated by the hon. Member for Cork had now arrived. They were able to look back on the working of this Act. The hon. Member for Cork had offered, in 1885, to accept the test of experience, and the time had now come when that test could be applied, and with what result there could be no doubt. As for the objections which had been urged, it was said that the Bill was not a complete measure. He did not suppose that it was intended to be; but it would clearly pave the way for more complete measures; and, as far as £5,000,000 could be expended, he believed that good would be done. It was further objected that the measure was a Landlord's Relief Bill. He admitted that it was; the landlord in Ireland who took advantage of this Bill exchanged an uncomfortable for a comfortable position. He obtained security for insecurity, but he paid for it; and the price which he paid passed into the tenants' pockets. This would, of course, only apply where the Act was used fairly, and it had been urged that the Crimes Bill and the distress in Ireland would be used to obtain unfair bargains. Attempts to do so might be made; but there was no evidence as yet that the Government had sanctioned any such bargains, though it was known that the Government had lowered the terms of purchase in a large number of cases. If the Government were careless in putting the Act in force; if they sanctioned terms which the land could not afford to pay, they would be putting a knife to their own throats. If the instalments under this Act became due and could not be paid, then the Government would be saddled with the full responsibility of the loss. But he believed that the Government, during the last two years, had shown that they were perfectly alive to this contingency and most careful to guard against it. Therefore he was not afraid to take his part of the responsibility of granting another £5,000,000 under the Ashbourne Act. Again, there was the danger of bringing the State into direct relations with the tenants in Ireland. That was a question of degree. There was considerable force in it, but there was this answer which qualified it to a certain extent. At the present moment, under the landlord's system, much odium attached to many landlords, but a great deal of the odium was fixed on the State and the Government. The Government in Ireland were at the mercy of bad landlords. If they set the law in force in an unjust way, the Government, according to the Chief Secretary, was bound to support them, and then the odium fell on the State. There was less chance of conflict between the State and the tenants under the Act, when the rents would be fair, than in the present condition of things. Then the present was an excellent opportunity—a better opportunity for land purchase than had been offered in 1885. No one could speak with any certainty about agricultural prospects, but it was known that at the present moment, when the price of land was low in consequence of recent depression, profits were apparently on the rise. An intermediate authority between the Government and the tenants was needed in Ireland, if it could be obtained. But under the present conditions it would take some time to sot up such an intermediate authority, and during that time the economic opportunity would not wait. In all probability it was an opportunity which would never occur again. Suppose it were neglected and better times arrived, it might be that the tenants would have to purchase at such a high value that the instalments paid would be in excess of the rents, and not below them. What inducements would the tenant have to purchase then? In such circumstances purchase could only be carried out by compulsion at a fixed price, which would be opposed both by landlords and tenants. That was a danger which he saw ahead, and that was one reason, especially as the grant of money was comparatively small, why the utmost should be done to take advantage of the present opportunity. Indeed, an objection had been taken to it because the grant of money was so exceedingly small. But in 1886, when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian had introduced a Land Purchase Bill, it had been most unscrupulously used on every Unionist platform in the country, and no doubt it had told with the electors. But why? Because of the large sums of money which had been mentioned in it. The British elector was willing to proceed with this question of Land Purchase; but he knew he was treading on delicate ground, and he would never be induced to proceed otherwise than step by step. He wished to see each step behind him made good before he went further forward. It had been said that those who were genuine Liberals would vote for the Amendment on grounds of justice and policy. He did not know whether one could very well prove the genuineness of one's principles by being over much actuated by considerations of policy. But if the matter were to be regarded as a question of policy merely, the argument was much on his side. The Opposition had, since the last Election, gained many votes in the country; but there was still a large mass of support on the other side. The Opposition needed to win more votes, and they had exhausted their arguments, just as Gentlemen on the other side had exhausted theirs. It was to the side which could show a fresh feature in the controversy that the next gain of electors would belong. What was it that prevented the Opposition at the present moment from sweeping the electors into their net? It was not the outrages which were hawked about the country, and which applied only to a limited part of Ireland; it was not the arguments used by their opponents with regard to separation; it was not even the great powers of ridicule used so freely by the Chief Secretary for Ireland. It was the difficulty of convincing the electors of the country of the genuineness of the Irish Home Rule movement. Many electors had objected to him that the Opposition as a Party and the Irish Party were keeping open the sore of agrarian discontent in Ireland because their agitation was based upon it. [Ministerial Cheers.] Hon. Members opposite adopted that view; he differed from it very widely, and the event would decide between them. But he did say that here was a Bill before the House proposing to deal with the Irish agrarian question, not by repression, not by force, but by allaying discontent by voluntary agreements. If the Opposition opposed that Bill, they would at least give some ground—he did not think justifiable ground, but colourable ground—to some electors to suppose that their suspicions were true. That, as a matter policy, was most dangerous. If, while professing to be in favour of land purchase, he opposed this Bill of the Government's, the explanation which he should have to give as to why, being in favour of settling the agrarian question by any means except force, he had yet opposed the Bill, would be of too subtle and refined a nature for him to conceive or for the average elector to understand. He held, as regarded the Home Rule movement, that it was no spurious growth founded on the surface of agrarian discontent. He held it to be a genuine movement, bound up with the life of the people. Others alight differ from him, but he was sure that no Member would get up in that House and say that on any other ground was the Home Rule cause worthy of support. Few were the opportunities provided of proving conviction by other means than argument. This was the only one which the Government had given so far; and he was sorry that it was proposed that the Opposition should not support the Bill, and so show that they were not afraid of supporting measures for suppressing agrarian discontent. He was sorry that it was proposed that the Bill should be thrown out at the first reading. Besides, he held that this measure was practically doing the work of the Opposition and was paving the way for Home Rule. Whenever the time came for setting up an Irish Parliament what would be needed more than anything else would be Irish credit; and this would not be obtained unless the Irish Parliament were known to be supported by numbers of men in the country who had everything to lose and nothing to gain by political disturbance. Ireland had developed great political activity, which would need large elements of substance and stability whenever Home Rule was passed. He thought that those who believed that an Irish Parliament was coming, and would be successful, were bound to support such a measure, which paved the way for a per- manent settlement of Irish agrarian discontent. But why, if he was in favour of land purchase, did he speak now as he had done? He held very strongly that they ought not to oppose this Bill. They could afford to support it, because they would have many other opportunities of opposing the policy of the Government. There was not the slightest danger, by supporting this Bill, of their policy becoming confused in the mind of the constituencies. Though he understood from the course of the debate that the collective opinion of the Opposition Front Bench was in favour of land purchase, he was afraid he held a different opinion from them as to the action which ought to be taken by the rank and file on this Amendment. There were Members, like the right hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley), whose reputation was so secure for courage and honesty that he might take any opportunity he pleased for enforcing his views. But that was not the case with other hon. Members. This was a question on which the constituencies would not lead, but would follow. He was afraid there were some Members who were watching the constituencies on this question, while the constituencies were watching them. The result would be that when the crisis came there might be a collapse. His difference with his Leaders was one not of principle, but of degree, and it in no way abated his desire to follow them on other occasions. It had been said there would be a struggle on this question which would be sharp and severe for Members, like himself, who were advocates of land purchase. But now was the time to speak. At the present moment they were free. There was no immediate prospect of an appeal to the country. [Mr. ADDISON (Ashton-under-Lyne) Hear, hear! and laughter from the Opposition.] Some hon. Member opposite seemed in considerable doubt about his seat. There was, us he had said, no immediate appeal in prospect; therefore he and others who thought with him could not be accused of creating differences in the ranks of their Party on the eve of a General Election. They could not be accused now of ruining a Home Rule Bill, or seriously postponing the question of Irish self-government. But the time might come when they might be so accused, and then it would be said they ought to have spoken now or not at all. He, and those who held similar opinions upon this question, ought not to reserve an expression of their opinions until their Party were in Office, because then Party pressure would be brought to bear upon them, and they would be told that they had concealed their opinions too long, or, at any rate, concealed the length to which they were prepared to go in support of them.

MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)

I have listened with the greatest possible interest to the speech of the hon. Member who has just spoken (Sir Edward Grey), but I think he was in error as regards our position and as regards the true policy of his own Party. I shall, of course, later endeavour to define what is the position of the Irish Party, at least as far as I can understand it, on this question of Land Purchase in Ireland. It seems to me that the hon. Member who has just spoken, and the hon. and learned Member for Haddington (Mr. Haldane), who support the principle of Land Purchase, on that account consider that they are bound to separate themselves from their Party upon this occasion, are greatly and unfortunately mistaken. Although I gladly and willingly recognize in these two hon. Members the consistent, courageous, and generous support that they have always given to the cause of Irish nationality—and which I know they will willingly continue to give to it until the cause is won, as it will be in spite of what hon. Members opposite may think—yet I think they are in error for this reason, that I understood in the speeches delivered from the Front Opposition Bench in this debate no hon. Members representing the Liberal Party pledged themselves against the principle of Land Purchase. On the contrary, some of the hon. Members who did speak spoke rather in favour of the principle of Land Purchase, and some of them did consider it to be a principal element in the final settlement of the Irish Land Question. What they did say, however, was this—that they considered that the time had come when this question was to be looked upon from a broad and general point of view, and that the taxpayers of this country were to consider what was to be the final policy upon which this great question of Irish Land Purchase was to be eventually settled, and that it was right, and only just to the taxpayers of England, to bring before them the fact that the Ashbourne Act was now going forward with a rapidity which was increasing from day to day and from month to month, and which would, in all probability, as soon as some new phase took place in the Irish Question, owing to coercion or to some other disturbing influence, would bring this question from being a question of £5,000,000 to being a question of £20,000,000 or £30,000,000, and that being so they hold, and from the point of view of the British taxpayer they hold rightly, that it was time that the British taxpayer should consider what was the nature of the security which he had in Ireland for the vast millions of money which he was called upon to advance. That was, I understand, the position of the Front Bench of the Liberal Party, and while, of course, everyone will recognize the perfect right at a time like this of the two hon. Members to whom I have referred to criticize the Amendment moved from the Front Bench, I think they were in error. There were two things in the course of this debate which I confess have filled me with infinite amusement, and the first of these is to see the Gentlemen of the Tory Party of this House, with the most extraordinary fervour, throwing themselves into the cause of the creation of peasant proprietors in Ireland, and denouncing me, and the men who sit with me, for obstructing them in the great work. Why, Sir, did any man who sits on the opposite Benches, or in any part of the House, ever chance to come across a certain document called a card of the Irish National Land League, which was issued in hundreds of thousands all over Ireland in 1880, when the hon. Gentlemen opposite were not so very anxious to create a peasant proprietary in Ireland? And what was one of the first principles of the Land League, banned and put down as it was as being a dangerous association? It was— To procure such an alteration in the law"—I can repeat the words now, for I drew them up with my own band—"as will enable every occupier in Ireland to become, on reasonable terms, the owner of the land he occupies. While you who sit opposite were engaged in denouncing and scouting out of this House every proposal to enable the occupier to become the owner, we were struggling—aye, and suffering—in Ireland for that cause, and yet we are told now by the Tory Gentlemen whose memory of Irish history, if they ever knew anything at all about it, is exceedingly short, that we are to be denounced for obstructing the creation of a peasant proprietary in Ireland. But we are denounced by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) for a totally different reason, and I would ask the House to listen for a moment to that opposite reason which is published under the authority of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. What does he say? But the question is becoming more urgent, because pressure is now being put upon the Government on the one side by the Irish landlords, and on the other side by the Irish Nationalists, to apply to Parliament for another advance of £5,000,000 to continue the Ashbourne Act. So the right hon. Gentleman says, for selfish motives, we are putting pressure on the Government for another advance under the Ashbourne Act, and the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Goschen) denounces us because, for our selfish motives, we are obstructing the Government in their benevolent design of creating peasant proprietors in Ireland. It is really very difficult for the Irish Members, whatever they do, to please or satisfy any section of the Unionist Party in this House. We are, it would seem from the speeches of hon. Members opposite, engaged in eating our principles on this question, in going back from the very object which we put in the forefront of the agitation which we started in 1879. We are accused at one and the same time of being engaged in an attempt, from purely selfish motives, to obstruct the creation of a peasant proprietary in Ireland, while the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. J. Chamberlain) warns the Government against our putting pressure upon them for the advance of another £5,000,000 for the continuance of the Ashbourne Act. It is hard for the Irish Members, under these circumstances, to fulfil their duties to their constituents in this House. But let me direct the attention of the House before I go into the question why it is that I propose to vote for this Amendment and against the proposal to advance another £5,000,000—let me direct the attention of the House for a few moments to the opinions of that exceedingly wise and prudent statesman who retired upon Washington when this question came to be decided. It is a very remarkable fact that the right hon. Gentleman, who has undertaken to settle the whole Irish Question in a 1s. pamphlet published only two months ago, when he saw that this exceedingly important and vital question was coming on for decision, happens to be engaged in a very much pleasanter task in Washington. What is the view of the right hon. Gentleman with regard to the object of the landlords and the effect of this Bill on the landlords' interests? We have been scoffed at when we suggested that this Bill, in the present circumstances of Ireland, could be more correctly described as a Landlords' Relief Bill. I say, mind, under the present circumstances, and I shall point out presently the reason of the reservation. What does the right hon. Gentleman say? He says— They will vote for this proposal because they believe that under the present system of administration in Ireland they can obtain higher prices for their land, and consequently they will prolong that system so to enable them to sell their estates and leave the country with the proceeds of these sales safely invested. This, then, according to the right hon. Gentleman, is the measure of the patriotism and devotion to the Union exhibited by the Irish landlords, and the reason that they support the Coercion Act in Ireland and desire to prolong its operation under the guise of law end order and the integrity of the Empire is, in the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman, because they think that under the administration of the Coercion Act they will get higher prices for their land, and will then be able, with advantage to themselves, to clear out of the country, leaving it charged with a debt to the British taxpayer. I believe the right hon. Gentleman correctly describes the situation, and if it be true, as I dare say it is true, that on all previous occasions when I have spoken with approval of this Ashbourne Act—with certain reservations—I spoke when there was no Coercion Act in Ireland, and when we had good reason to believe that we were within reasonable distance of having an Executive Government in Ireland which would rule according to the will of the majority of the Irish people; and I say here that if we had such a Government in Ireland to-morrow I would be one of the most eager supporters of a proposal of Land Purchase which would transfer the land to the Irish tenant. But I object to these advances now, because I think that the landlords are endeavouring to artificially raise the price of their land with the help of the Coercion Act, owing to the fact that that coercive law is not impartially used as between landlord and tenant, but is used by the Government which now rules in Ireland for the purpose of breaking up the combinations of the tenants, and thereby artificially raising the price of the landlord's land. That is the only motive I have in objecting to any advance at present under the Ashbourne Act. I may say at once, lest there should be any mistake about it, that the point of view from which I look is the point of view of the interest of the Irish occupier. It is not my business, but the business of other Members of this House, to look after the interests of the British taxpayer, for we in Ireland pay a very small proportion of this money; that is your business, and sooner or later you will be called to an account by your constituents on that matter. I may say, in reference to this question, that in the course of the debate last night, or in the Public Press, a statement was made charging me with inciting tenants in Ireland to repudiate their obligations under this Act. I never did anything of the sort, nor did I propose to do anything of the sort. What I did was this—I conceived it to be my duty as an honourable man to state, as I have stated over and over again in Ireland, that I thought the tenants who bought freely under Ashbourne's Act were honourably bound to pay back the money advanced. I have made that statement publicly over and over again; but I thought that when the circumstances were so altered that in my opinion their promises were no longer freely made, and that they were no longer honourably bound to pay, then I ought to come before the taxpayers of Great Britain and warn them—speaking as I do with special knowledge of the people of Ireland—that I thought they were lending their money on a rotten security, and that it was not unlikely that at no distant date a National Party might spring into existence on the basis and with the programme of repudiating these transactions and these liabilities, on the ground that they had been forced on the Irish people at the point of the bayonet. Will anyone stand up in this House and say that I did a dishonourable act in giving that warning? I can see no dishonour in it, and I repeat it here to-day that it is my deliberate conviction that wherever the Irish people, the poor peasants, have willingly and freely entered into any obligations they have discharged it infinitely better than the landlords. I say that in these cases, however, they will not be entering into it freely and willingly, and that, therefore, you are lending the money of the taxpayers on a very rotten and dangerous security. Let me quote again from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. I am very sorry that he is away now, because these opinions would come from him a great deal more forcibly. He ought to be here to defend the interests of the taxpayers who sent him here. What does he say in this pamphlet? If the extent of these transactions is greatly increased, and if the number of debtors to the State becomes very large, nothing will be easier than for the agitators at some favourable time or after a bad harvest to bring about a strike against the payment of the interest, just as they brought about a strike against the payment of rent. That is the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman; he thinks it would be as easy for us, or for those who succeed us, to bring about a strike against the payment of these instalments as against the payment of rent, and that what we have effected in the way of reductions in the case of rent we might also effect in the case of the repayment of these advances. I want to know now on what ground you say that your security is a good security? As I have been dealing with this question of security, I shall say another word on that point. We heard from the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for Ireland (Mr. Madden) and from the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer a good deal yesterday on the question of the security of this loan. I may say at once that in my opinion the chief security which a State should look to in this matter, and the best security which the Government should look to in Ireland, would be in a contented and peaceful and prosperous condition of the country. In lending these large sums of money to the occupiers of the land you can have no security whatever, unless you are absolutely certain of having the people satisfied with the Government under which they live. In a disturbed and discontented Ireland there is no security, and when I spoke in favour of the Ashbourne Act, I spoke in the hope that we were then within measurable distance of the time when the Executive Government of Ireland would enjoy the confidence of the country. But let us examine some of the securities that have been pointed out to us. The hon. and learned Solicitor General said that we had the interest of the tenant, which, he said, was in many instances larger than the interest of the landlord; and the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, rising up afterwards in his place, said he utterly failed to imagine why it was that we laughed jeeringly on these Benches at such a statement. The reason of our laughter was this—that we remember the days when no Conservative Member would admit that the Irish tenant had any interest in his holding at all, and when we heard the Law Officer of the Tory Party in Ireland standing up in this House and declaring that the interest of the tenant in his holding in Ireland was frequently greater than that of the landlord, no wonder we laughed scornfully. It is only a few years ago when, if anyone of us made such a statement, he would be denounced as the apostle of robbery, and be told that the only interest in the holding was that of the landlord. But it will be noticed that the hon. and learned Solicitor General stated afterwards that the Purchase Commissioners in Dublin had refused the applications of, I think, over 1,100 tenants who signed their agreements to buy on the ground that there was no sufficient security. And you would be surprised to hear that when the Commissioners sent down their examiners to look at the farm they did not divide the security—they took the farm as it stood with everything on it. And yet we have the statement that although the sum to be advanced was only the purchase money of the landlord's interest, the examiners found that the tenant's and landlord's interest together was not sufficient security for the sum which the tenant had consented, being a free agent, of course, to pay for the landlord's interest alone. That statement is itself proof positive that there is pressure being put upon the tenants. We have it proved by these refusals that there is coercion used against the tenants even if we went no further to look for it, and, further, that there is no sufficient security. The Commissioners have by these refusals shown a careful interest for the British taxpayer. Would it surprise the hon. and learned Gentleman to learn that there is at the present moment a conspiracy among the landlords of Ireland to force out Mr. M'Carthy from the Commission simply and solely because he would not be a party to their scandalous attempts to pocket the money of the English Treasury, and he holds his position at the will of the Lord Lieutenant, who is at the present moment engaged in trying to force his tenantry to buy their land. It is a scandal that the man who stands between the tenantry of Ireland and the landlords should hold his position at the pleasure of the Lord Lieutenant, who is trying to get 24 years' purchase from his tenants in the County Down, and is going to kick Mr. M'Carthy out as soon as he gets a chance. The men who are endeavouring to protect the interests of the tenants are going to be got rid of at the very moment these £5,000,000 are voted to the Irish landlords, and Mr. Wrench, who would scoop the British Treasury to the bottom, and his friends, the landlords, would be the masters of the situation in the Kingdom.

MR. W. P. SINCLAIR (Falkirk, &c.)

There is more than one Commissioner.


Mr. Wrench is the man whom I have accused of trying to get rid of Mr. M'Carthy, and every honest man in the Commission.


I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman. My remarks were in reference to Mr. Lynch and Mr. M'Carthy. I did not understand that Mr. Wrench had anything to do with it.


The hon. Member need not instruct me on the constitution of the Commission; probably I understand the matter as well as he does, perhaps infinitely better. Now, Sir, I only mention this as one of the objections which I take to the Treasury making these advances. They have not satisfied the House as to who is to administer this act—a difficulty that could have been removed by inserting a clause in their Land Commission Act, which ought to have been passed before we are asked to vote these £5,000,000. We ought to know what is the tenure of the Commission who will administer this Act. Mr. M'Carthy, who has done something at least to check the frauds of the landlords in Ireland, ought to have had his position independent of the will of the Lord Lieutenant, the same as a Judge. That is, of course, a minor but an important objection. I will now deal for a moment with a question which is a very much larger question and of infinitely greater importance—that is the question of the coercion of the tenants. I divide that question into two heads. The first is the use of arrears of which we heard a good deal last night, and of ejectment proceedings under the law. Secondly, I shall have a word to say about the operation of the Coercion Act in raising the price of land in Ireland. It is quite preposterous to say that arrears are not used for the purpose of forcing tenants to buy their land. To quote illustrations for anyone who is acquainted with Ireland is totally unnecessary. We heard one example mentioned the other day by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) which remains unanswered. That case was typical. It is an estate on which at the present moment 2,000 people are either subject to eviction or are threatened with similar pressure. The agent in the case is, no doubt, the agent of other landlords, and what is done to one tenant will be done to any tenant who is in his power. I have got here a couple of cases. I have here the case of the estate of Mr. Pantone O'Kelly, of Clondoney, in the County Kildare. On this estate the tenants were served with ejectments last spring, and at the same time they served notices to have a fair rent fixed. They offered the landlord to purchase their farms at 18 years' purchase of the Government valuation. If we are to judge by the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer last evening, that was a fair and most reasonable offer on the part of the tenants. What was the answer? That the landlord would take 22 years' purchase; but ultimately he offered to take 20 years' purchase, all costs to be paid by the tenants, and when the case came before the County Court Judge, who was to decide at the same time the question of fair rents and the ejectments, the solicitor for the tenants said that the tenants had made a generous offer, and they were willing to abide by it, and he wished for an answer to that offer. Mr. White, the landlord's attorney, said, "Well, you will get our answer now that we withdraw all offers to sell to the tenant. That is our offer." When the solicitor for the tenants said, "What is the use of your fixing a fair rent when you are going to eject the tenants? The object of the Act is to keep the tenants on the soil." Mr. Darling, this fair specimen of the County Court Judges, said, "What is the good of having a pauper in a holding? That is not what the Act was passed for." That is the language of this impartial Judge. That was not the kind of language which a Judge should have used to these people, and I believe that was a gross and wanton insult to the tenants. What has been the consequence? The tenants have declined to pay, the neighbourhood has been thrown into a state of turmoil, crops have been seized, evictions have taken place—and yet we are told that these tenants are not subjected to any pressure to buy their farms at a high price. Well, as a last resource, these tenants have joined the Plan of Campaign, and I am very glad that they have done so. It is deplorable that persons should be driven into such courses. But it is preposterous that we should be deliberately told that no such pressure was going on. It has been going on without question all over the country, and it is absurd for any man to suppose that it would not go on. If you put a weapon so powerful into the hands of a bad landlord, it is absurd to say that he would not use it just as he rack-rented the tenants in the past. But for the Coercion Act, I would not, perhaps, feel bound to oppose this Bill, because if it were not for the Coercion Act we could meet and deal with every one of these individual cases if we were allowed the same rights as the landlords. The only way in which the tenants can make themselves equal in dealing with the landlords is by combining. Yet, when they combine, their leaders are arrested and the people are marked down for imprisonment by those Stipendiary Magistrates, who are in most parts of Ireland the agents of the landlords as well as of the Chief Secretary. The combinations of the landlords, which are just as illegal as those of the tenants, are encouraged in every possible way, and are stimulated when they show any signs of flagging. I say, speaking as a Representative of the farmers in Ireland, I oppose this Bill in every way. I think I would be false to my duty as a Representative of the people of Ireland, and false to the trust of the people of England—for, in spite of the calumnies with which we have been assailed from the Treasury Bench, full as many of the people of England trust in our honour as in theirs—I say we should be false to our friends in England if we did not warn them against this operation, and that the time may come when the tenants of Ireland may use this weapon to strike at their foes. The Resident Magistrates in Ireland think it is not their special duty to deal with ordinary crime, but to protect and facilitate landlords; and to such a pitch has this want of partiality, this one-sidedness in the administration of the law, gone, that we see a man who possesses a power unknown to the law of England over the counties of Clare and Kerry. I speak of Colonel Turner, who, without any sense of shame, takes up his residence in the house of one of the most disliked of the landlords or agents in Clare. He dines at his table, he drives all over the country in his carriages, and expects the people of Clare to look to him for impartiality, protection, and justice. His conduct is nothing short of a public scandal, which, in England, would not be tolerated for one hour. But he only exhibits the spirit which animates all these magistrates from top to bottom, and therefore his conduct is not regarded as anything extraordinary or peculiar. The effect of the operation of the Coercion Act has unquestionably been—and it tended to become much more so in the future—to raise the price of land in Ireland. The landlords know this well, and it is the real source of their enthusiasm for the Union. Their object in supporting Coercion is simply and solely to raise the price of land. The landlords care as little for the Union as we do. Their great object, now that they know we are bound to win, is to clear out with as much as they can, and leave the Union to go where it likes. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer boasted—and the landlords will not thank him for it—that the landlords are only getting 17x½ years' purchase for their rents; but I think we have had a good deal to say to that, and we have pulled down the price of the land by many years' purchase. The letter of an agent who lives down in the County Kilkenny—and he wrote with a kind of a naïve innocence, and, in a boyish way, saying that he had just got a batch of tenants to sign agreements for the purchase of 20 years' purchase of the rental, and, he added, "the very air seems purified by the Coercion Act." What an amazing letter! An agent's idea of the air being purified is that the price of land should go up from 17½ to 20 years'. It is perfectly true that by agitation we have succeeded in pulling down the price of Irish land to something like a reasonable figure. It is true that by years of toil we have freed the Irish tenants from the terrorism that made him little better than a bond slave, and, to some extent, we have elevated him into the position of a man making a bargain with an equal. The business to which the Government set themselves is to bring back the Irish tenant to the condition in which he was found in 1879 and 1880, and he was held down, bound hand and foot, by the Coercion Act. I protest against the cruel, mean, and dastardly conduct on the part of the Government in Ireland. I am not opposed, indeed, to any proposition that the land should pass back to the people who have for so many years been despoiled and robbed of the fruit of their own soil. I have struggled and run great risk in striving for an object which I was denounced for endeavouring to obstruct. I am prepared to run further risk in standing by the people; I am not willing, while they are bound down and trampled upon by armed agents, that they should purchase their land; but I am willing that, as free agents, they shall be able to make free bargains. These are the reasons why I feel called upon to vote against this particular measure. I have no objection to the abstract principle of Land Purchase; indeed, I have always advocated it, although some of my Irish Friends do not agree with me. I have always held—as the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) has held—that the people of Ireland have got to fight for their land or to pay for it. I believe they are not able to fight for it; and it is cheaper in the end to pay for it. Because the effect of coercion has been artificially to raise the price of land, and because liberty does not exist in Ireland under the present régime to enable tenants to make free bargains, I shall oppose this Bill. There has appeared in The Times a remarkable series of articles on the working of the Ashbourne Act, and the arguments of the Government in support of this Bill has been taken almost verbatim from these articles. I have noticed that when proposals are about to be made by a Tory Government, The Times is generally got to write them up in advance. The Times once rejoiced over the prospect of the extermination of small holders in Ireland, and it is refreshing to find it gushing over the fact that they are being increased in number by the operation of this Act. There was an impression at one time that the people of England were anxious to see the small farmers of Ireland turned out of their holdings, and to get rid of them altogether. There are several passages in the articles of The Times that are most instructive, and there is one, referring to the Sherlock estate in the county of Waterford, which is typical of a good many cases. The tenants demanded a reduction of 30 per cent, which the landlord would not give. The tenants acted in combination, and refused to pay, long before the Plan of Campaign had been promulgated. The landlord proceeded to the eviction of five or six tenants, but he got nobody to take the evicted farms. After some time, he was obliged to put back the tenants he had evicted, and with them and others he arranged for the purchase of their holdings on terms which involved a reduction of their rents by 60 per cent, a result which clearly showed that the tenants had been rack-rented, and that they were just in their demands. If there had been no combination, if the vacant farms had been promptly taken by others, the tenants would have had to buy their farms, if at all, on such terms that by-and-by they must have broken down, and their obligations must have been met by the British Exchequer. If it had nut been for the combinations of tenants reducing the terms of purchase, the English Exchequer would have been saddled with bad debts, which humanity would have compelled the Government to forgive. I once heard of a Kerry landlord who wanted his tenants to buy at 20 years' purchase, and who said to one who objected to the terms— What a fool you are. Sign the agreement. The British Government is a good deal richer than I am, and they will not see you starve. I am sure that that argument is being used over and over again—that as the Land League has got reductions from the landlords it will get a great deal more reductions from the British Government, which is richer and more merciful. The hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland, in his speech, said the Bright Clauses of the Land Act of 1870 had not succeeded for many reasons. I will tell the House a couple of reasons. In that day men were infinitely more eager for laud than they are to-day. There was one vacant farm in that day where there are 5,000 to-day. And why is it the Bright Clauses did not succeed when Lord Ashbourne's Act is now succeeding? Because in the day of the Bright Clauses there were 10 or 15 applicants for a vacant farm, there being no combination amongst the tenants, the terms were so ruinous that tenants were terrified, and refused to buy; and then, to my own knowledge, the landlords were not so anxious for peasant proprietorship as they are to-day. Why, in those days, when an estate was to be sold, they clubbed together to buy it over the heads of the tenants, so as to preserve their political power. Where the Bright Clauses succeeded they did so to the ruin of purchasers who paid 25, 27, and 30 years' purchase, besides being saddled with enormous law costs. I challenge any man to give a more satisfactory answer than I will give myself, and that is, that the difference in the condition of Ireland to-day is owing to the lessons we have taught the people. It is the lessons we have taught the people that have raised them from slavery to power. To-day the Irish tenants have two enormous advantages which no amount of persuasion from the Benches opposite will induce them to forego. The first is that by combination and agitation we have removed from their path all competition for their lands, and if they do not choose to buy their farms, all they have to do is to wait till next year or the year after, for no one will buy over their heads. But that is not the only advantage. I hold in my hand a Return, from which I can reply to the Lord Lieutenant's statement that there are only 539 farms in Ireland which the landlords cannot let. I have made inquiries, and I have ascertained that there are to-day in Ireland between 5,000 and 6,000 farms which cannot be let, and will not be let as long as the present system lasts, and I tell the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland that his statement in the North of Ireland was absolutely and entirely false—based, no doubt, on the false information supplied by his subservient police officers. At present the combination against the taking of evicted farms is stronger than over. These 5,000 or 6,000 vacant farms are the bulwarks of the tenants of Ireland, and if you could succeed in letting them to new tenants the price of land in Ireland would jump up to 23 or 24 years' purchase. But you will not do it. The farmers of Ireland know their lesson now.

An hon. MEMBER

It took a long time to teach it.


It did take a long time to teach them, but they know it now. The old policy was that each farmer should cut his neighbour's throat in order that the pockets of the landlords might be filled. But there will be no more of that. The vacant farms going to waste and to ruin are the bulwarks of the tenants of Ireland. A vacant farm in a parish is the best security that the rents will not be raised, that reductions will be given, and that the prices of farms will remain the same. Yes; I shall vote against any more money being voted to work Lord Ashbourne's Act as long as you have coercion in Ireland. Remove coercion and allow ten- ants to combine as freely as landlords, and then I will not object. It is for the British taxpayers to consider what their position is. For my part I have always stated that I should rather, on the whole, see some scheme of Land Purchase carried out; but believe me that the landlords are perfectly convinced by this time that Home Rule cannot long be deferred in Ireland. They would not be so anxious for Lord Ashbourne's Act if they thought Home Rule would be deferred. If they thought they could hold Ireland they would not part with their lands, and certainly they would not part with them for 17½ years' purchase. The landlords are eager to get out of the way, leaving us and the people of Ireland the whole country. They are only eager to get out with as much money as possible. I say here to-day, in answer to the charge that we are meeting purchase with obstruction for selfish motives, because we fear that if the Irish tenants were once satisfied our trade would be done—I say that if I thought so for a single moment, not another hour of my life would be given to a business which is certainly neither pleasant nor profitable. I say that I entered into this movement in the full conviction that the heart and soul of the Irish people were centred in liberty, and that they were ready to make sacrifices to achieve it; that they would never submit quietly to an Executive Government which is not responsible to themselves, and that by being made independent and freeholders in their own country their nationality would be strengthened rather than decreased. If I did not believe so I should do very little further in this Irish movement, for if in the course of my political life in Ireland I have been touched and spurred to great exertions by the misery and suffering and serfdom of the tenants of Ireland, a far more powerful motive with me has always been the desire to emancipate our people from the political slavery in which they have been so long enthralled.


The hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) has indulged in a number of charges against certain classes and persons, and in accordance with his usual practice he has adduced no evidence in support of those charges. He has also imputed to those who are opposed to him the lowest and most sinister motives, while he has, in an equal measure, eulogized himself. But all can agree with the hon. Gentleman's statement that there has been a great change in Ireland during the past year. There is a great change in Ireland since last year, and there will be a greater change next year. The landlords may have sat heavily on the people of Ireland, but the landlords have been nothing to the weight of the Land League. On all sides there are signs of returning prosperity and of a desire to abandon the work of which the hon. Member for East Mayo is the mainspring, and it was the consciousness and knowledge of this that forced the hon. Member for East Mayo and his Friends to oppose all extension of a measure which has done so much for the pacification of Ireland. The hon. Member said he had been at his work for seven years—[Cries of "Oh, oh!"]—well, he had been in Parliament seven years—and he was proud of the results he had obtained. What were those results? They were that the purchase price of land bad been reduced, and that the 5,000 or 6,000 farms were derelict. It was not necessary for the hon. Member to make a long speech to show that he would preach repudiation, and would use any weapon that came to his hand to strike at a political opponent. But the hon. Member knows that land purchase will diminish his power to carry out his threats; and that is why he must oppose this Bill. He, therefore, professes to be solicitous about the interests of the British taxpayer. But, approving of the policy, why should he obstruct it in 1888, when the conditions are so much more favourable than they were seven years ago? If purchase would have been good seven years ago, why should it be bad now? In June, 1883, I accomplished an almost unprecedented feat. I brought forward a Motion on the Irish Land Question, and secured absolute unanimity; and it was on this very question of land purchase. The hon. Member for Cork spoke at length on that Motion, and I think it was the ablest as well as the most moderate speech he ever made on the Land Question. The Motion was to the effect that a revision of the Purchase Clauses of the Land Act was necessary in order to give effect to the intentions of Parlia- ment. The hon. Member for Cork supported the Motion, and on this very question of repudiation he made use of language which is an effective and conclusive answer to the hon. Member who has just spoken. The hon. Member for Cork said— He thought that all careful students of the 'no-rent' movement must be persuaded that it was exceedingly unlikely, if not perfectly impossible, that if the change were made as suggested by the noble Lord, and the tenants were asked to pay a reduced rentcharge, less than the present judicial rents, and the tenants felt they were dragging a lessening instead of a lengthening chain behind them, that there would be refusals to pay, or that any agitation or any political Party would be able to do that which they were not able to do under more advantageous circumstances in the period from 1879 to 1883—namely, to induce them to refuse paying the annual amount which was necessary for the purpose of keeping a roof over their heads."—(3 Hansard, [280] 439.) Therefore, we start on this discussion with the clear and emphatic statement of the hon. Member for Cork that if the land purchase system in Ireland be developed, even though there may be men wicked enough to try to induce tenants to repudiate their obligations, yet the tenants will not be such fools as to hear them. We have only to discuss two questions to-night. First, is this principle of purchase advantageous in itself; and, if it be, is it too much to ask the State to incur the extra risk which this Bill may impose? Two Gentlemen have spoken from the other side in support of this Bill. One bears an historic name—the name of those who have long taken a distinguished place in the discussions of the House, and have maintained its best traditions; and we see with pleasure that the family is still worthily represented by a Gentleman who has made a speech of remarkable ability and moderation, the more noteworthy because it was delivered under the difficulties of not entire consonance with his own Party. Hon. Gentlemen opposite believe in the bona fides of the national movement in Ireland. They believe that the national instincts are so strong that Ireland can in no way be restored to prosperity unless the national aspirations are satisfied. But I believe that the backbone of the movement is agrarian, and is not national or political. Can anyone of common sense believe that if the hon. Member for East Mayo was certain that the movement was purely political, and not agrarian, he would have made that speech to which the House has listened? Would anything increase the power of a national movement more than the creation of a large number of landowners—than the training of a large number of tenants in the principles of local self-government, the first step to a National Parliament? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) stated that he would prove a number of propositions. He told us there was gross and wholesale intimidation, exercised partly by arrears and partly by coercion. He gave us one solitary instance of a man who came, not before the Land Commission, but before the County Court. The persons who advocate and praise this measure the most strongly are the supporters of the tenants and the tenants themselves. In Ulster the demand is, in fact, that the purchase shall be made compulsory. The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin wrote an article the other day in The Contemporary Review, and he expressed himself in the strongest way possible as to the necessity of carrying an Act of this kind. Is it likely that Dr. Walsh, who is in constant communication with members of the organization which is represented by the hon. Member for East Mayo, would advocate a measure which had the effect the late Prime Minister pretended it to have—namely, that of enabling the landlord to obtain unjust arrears of rent? But I find that there are indications in many parts of Ireland that the tenants themselves are withholding rent in order that they may force the landlords to go into the Land Court, and to enable them to purchase their holdings. If we have this concurrence of evidence coming from all sides it is quite clear that the supposition with which the hon. Member started, and in support of which he produced no evidence—that this Act would operate deleteriously for the tenant and favourably for the landlord—is wholly unfounded. This question of arrears is one upon which we are ready to make the same offer this year as we were last year. We are prepared to free tenants from indebtedness, provided that all debts stand alike. The hon. Gentleman who spoke last night drew a comparison between the condition of Ulster—loyal Ulster—and disloyal Munster; and he went on to show that there was a far larger number of ejectment decrees issued in loyal Ulster than in disloyal Munster. It is not the first time that this argument has been advanced; but the House is probably not aware that there happen to be two Ulsters. [Loud Home Rule cheers.] Before hon. Gentlemen opposite cheer me they must recollect what is my point. The hon. Gentleman who spoke last night wished to point out the great advantage which disloyalty conferred upon a district; but there are two Ulsters. There is a loyal Ulster, and outside of that there is a very densely inhabited fringe of territory mainly national or disloyal. It is in that portion, and not in the loyal portion, that the evictions take place; and when Gentlemen talk of the efficiency and power of their organization in preventing ejections and stopping evictions they should remember this—that in the Ulster where a comparison can be made it is in the loyal part, where the National League doctrines are not listened to, that the ejectments are least numerous, and it is in those parts under the sway of the League that ejectments multiply and evictions take place. The hon. Member for East Mayo is in the habit of making violent attacks upon Members of this House without Notice. Last year he informed the House, speaking on the Crimes Bill, that he knew that the Hamilton family were strongly in favour of a Coercion Bill, because without it they could not exact the unjust rents from their rack-rented tenants. Yet the hon. Gentleman the Member for North-East Cork (Mr. W. O'Brien) commenced his observations by saying that the result of this land purchase scheme was that the rich and flourishing tenants on the Abercorn estate would be feathering their nests. How can it be that the tenants who were last year rack-rented can this year be rich and flourishing? It is a great misfortune that the hon. Member for East Mayo, in his eagerness and excitement, allows himself to launch charges which are wholly unsustained and unproved. He said to-night that there was a base intrigue going on to get rid of a Commissioner whom the landlords did not like. He did not produce one scrap of evidence in support of that gross charge, and the Solicitor General says that that charge is wholly imaginary. It seems to me that if the hon. Gentleman wished to put his Party and his cause on a high level, he would use weapons more in accordance with English Parliamentary traditions and customs. The hon. Member for North-East Cork seemed to be of opinion that it was his Association that had protected tenants in other parts of Ireland; but one fact that no one who knows the West of Ireland will deny is that most of the small tenants there are largely indebted to the gombeen man, and the average rate of interest which in Donegal belongs to the gombeen man's charges is over 90 per cent per annum. But when the price of an article has been fixed by the State you call that unjust. Can anything more futile be proposed than to deal with arrears in the way which Gentlemen opposite advocate? But we are ready to renew our proposal of last year, because we know it is the only possible way of giving those poor tenants a fresh and independent start in life. What is the reason why we should try to increase the number of proprietors? It is not because the Land Laws are unjust. There is no country in the world in which the Land Laws are so favourable to the tenants. The real difficulty is that you have 35 on the side of the tenant to one on the side of the landowner. That would be a danger to any State, and it is a danger which everyone who takes an interest in Ireland should endeavour to diminish. In good times there is a great pressure to get land; in bad times there is great pressure on the landlord to reduce the rent. Whenever a question arising between landlord and tenant is brought into this House, the mere fact that there are 35 persons on the side of the tenant to one on the side of the landlord creates friction and difficulty. There has been a great agitation in this House to reduce the rents of the tenants. That agitation is based on the reduction of prices, though the author of the Land Act contemplated that the rents should remain unchanged for 15 years. If there was a rise in prices, would there be any agitation in this House to increase the rents? Not at all. Therefore I contend that the present state of affairs is dangerous to the stability of the community. Towards the close of 1880 I was coming over from Ireland, and I found myself in company with a most distinguished Indian officer. It was the time when the Land League was most active and had largely disorganized several counties in the South of Ireland. This officer had spent a large portion of his time in dealing with land in India, and he told me there were two things he had seen in Ireland which had made a great impression upon him; they were that the land in a particular part of the South of Ireland was the richest he had ever seen in any part of the world, and that the society was more disorganized than in any part of India, except at the time of the Indian Mutiny. There was the richest land in the world, and yet, because of the disproportion between the owners of the land and those who occupied it, the society of the country was reduced to chaos, The late Prime Minister and the hon. Member for East Mayo called attention, not unfairly, to the Bill of 1886. I and my hon. Friends took part in the opposition to that Bill, and I think in that course we were perfectly justified. I have always maintained that the land scheme of the right hon. Gentleman in 1886, which was associated with the Home Rule Bill, was most dangerous. In the first place, the security offered by the Land Bill was an absolute fraud. There were two Bills. The first Bill dealt with the creation of a new Government for Ireland and the great difficulty of the right hon. Gentleman was to establish a financial equilibrium for that new Government. He could obtain a surplus only by assuming that the consumption of spirits would remain as before, and that the Home Rule Party would be able to carry on the government as cheaply as it was now conducted. These two assumptions were, I think, somewhat rash. The whole of the revenues of Ireland were hypothecated once, and then in his Land Purchase Bill the right hon. Gentleman laid hands on the hypothecated revenues a second time. The late Prime Minister said last night that no Land Purchase Bill ought to be supported unless there was a moral certainty of the annuities being paid. Under the Land Bill of the right hon. Gentleman it was highly probable that the securities would be repudiated. Parliament would have repudiated its political and moral obliga- tions to the Unionist and Loyalist farmers in the North of Ireland and elsewhere, and it was highly probable that these men, smarting under the sense of their injuries, and knowing that the political and moral obligations which the Imperial Parliament had undertaken were repudiated in their regard, might have repudiated the financial obligations forced on them, and if they had there would be throughout Ireland a unanimous repudiation. It was for these reasons that many of my hon. Friends who are strongly in favour of land purchase were unable to support the proposals of the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Member for the Stirling Burghs (Mr. Campbell-Bannerman) objected to piecemeal dealing with this question. But anyone who considered it would see that the risk would be not in piecemeal but in wholesale dealing with the question. No one can tell whether in a few years prices may be higher or lower, and if you enter upon a wholesale scheme of purchase you will have to base your actuarial calculations upon present prices. But in the proposal now before the House the conditions and circumstances of the farms will be separately considered, and as the transactions will extend over a length of time the prices may be different and the conditions also. The hon. Member for East Mayo says that the bargain is so bad that the tenants will not purchase; but Gentlemen on the Front Opposition Bench say that the terms are so good that the purchases will be too rapid. It is most desirable that the small occupiers should be induced to come forward and convert themselves into owners. The Solicitor General for Ireland was able to show last night that that was the case last year. Therefore, if the progress of this Act were at this moment arrested, it would not only put a stop to those beneficent negotiations, but would cut out the class for whom this Bill is especially designed. I think I have answered almost all the objections to the extension of Lord Ashbourne's Act. It is a measure which has worked extraordinarily well in every part of the country in which it has been tried. No argument can be advanced against it, except that it is knocking the bottom out of the present land agitation in Ireland. Therefore Her Majesty's Government note with great satisfaction the strong opinion in favour of this measure which has come from almost every section of the House. We support this measure because, although we believe it to be good for the landlords, we know it to be better for the tenants, and best of all for the peace of a community in which for centuries past the antagonism of landlord and tenant has been a cause of constant injury and retrogression.

MR. SHAW LEFEVRE (Bradford, Central)

said, the noble Lord who had just spoken was not open to the same charge of inconsistency on that subject as many of the right hon. Gentlemen sitting near him. He (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) thought he was entitled to speak on this subject, as he was one of those who in 1885 pointed out the objections to Lord Ashbourne's Act, and the difficulties which might be apprehended from it. Time had not removed his objection to the measure, but had rather increased it. For some years past he had taken an active part in promoting all measures for increasing the number of peasant proprietors in Ireland, and the principle on which he had always urged that extension was that it was most important that the tenants should advance some of the purchase-money themselves, and thus show that they were willing to make some sacrifices. That was the principle of all the Acts up to Lord Ashbourne's Act in 1885, when the Government agreed to advance the whole of the purchase-money to the tenants. He held that to be a dangerous principle, inasmuch as it drew a distinction between them and other tenants. He admitted that Lord Ashbourne's Act conferred an enormous boon on the tenants. In fact, he had always looked upon it as a bribe to them to become owners. His right hon. Friend had pointed out that at 18 years' purchase the tenants would be paying 20 per cent less than their previous rent; and at 16 years' purchase 30 per cent less. But one-quarter of those instalments was repayment of capital, and if that were taken into account the saving would be on an 18 years' purchase 30 per cent, and on a 16 years' purchase nearly 50 per cent. His conviction was that that boon was so great that whenever Ireland was again in an ordinary state, when coercion was no longer in force, and other difficulties were removed, there would be a demand on the part of the tenants of a universal and an irresistible character and discontent on the part of those who were unable to avail themselves of the Act. It appeared to him that by dealing with the question in that piecemeal way they were opening up a prospect of having to advance from time to time sums of £5,000,000 as they were demanded. To take a case that was mentioned in an article in The Times of a farm of 250 acres, let at a rent of £229 a few years ago. That was reduced to £169. The tenant purchased at 17 years' purchase. His future payment was reduced to £122, of which £25 consisted of repayment of capital. That reduced his real payment to £97, therefore that fortunate man who three years ago was paying £229, would in future only have to pay £97 for his farm. On what principle could they justify paying English money to reduce rents in Ireland and refuse the same benefit to English tenants? There were men who considered that plan should be extended to English tenants; among others, Sir James Caird. He said that all the economic advantages which might be derived in Ireland equally applied to the case of England, and, for his own part, he would say that all the economic and political advantages to be derived in Ireland from that plan applied also to England. He fully admitted there were many political reasons in favour of increasing peasant proprietors in Ireland, and if the Government had introduced a scheme of a final character, and confined it to tenants of small holdings, he should still be prepared to support it. He supported his right hon. Friend (Mr. W. E. Gladstone's) land purchase proposal when connected with Home Rule. At the same time, he felt bound to say it was of too extensive a character, and if it had gone to Committee he should have felt bound to propose an Amendment to limit its scope. If Home Rule should be again in the field he would still find it his duty to support a measure of purchase limited to small tenancies. Out of the 600,000 tenant-farmers in Ireland, 400,000 were below £30 a-year, so that, for a sum of about £40,000,000, all those tenants could be converted into owners on the plan suggested by his right hon. Friend. It was in that direction they would ultimately have to move, for he very much doubted that they would find the country willing to advance £150,000,000 for the purpose of converting all the tenant-farmers into owners. He opposed the Bill in the main, because it was a piecemeal operation; because these grants of £5,000,000 would go on, and in a short time it would be impossible to put a limit upon the money. He, therefore, held it was not desirable to proceed further in the present direction, but, on the other hand, he believed it was most desirable to deal with the question of arrears. The Chancellor of the Exchequer gave as one of the grounds for defending this measure that it would lead to the pacification of Ireland by destroying the Land League. If he were to adopt the right hon. Gentleman's view of this measure he could not adopt his opinion that it would have the effect of destroying the Land League. It certainly would not have the effect of destroying the influence of the Irish Members. If they were to convert nine-tenths of the Irish tenants into owners they would still find among them the national feeling and sympathy with others who remained tenants. The idea that they could settle this question by depriving a portion of the Irish tenants of the opportunity of becoming owners was a mistaken idea. If they wished to pacify Ireland, in the sense of getting rid of the agrarian difficulty, the question of arrears ought to be dealt with, and it ought to be dealt with at once and speedily. He would most frankly admit that there had been a great improvement in Ireland in the course of the last two years. He should be no patriot if he did not rejoice at that improvement. But the Government flattered themselves that it was due to the operation of coercion. He believed himself that that was an entire mistake, and that coercion had retarded improvement. The improvement which had taken place was due rather to this—that many disputes which existed between landlord and tenant, and which had their origin for the most part in the fall of prices in 1885, had to a large extent been settled. They had been settled for two reasons. First, on account of the Act of last year, which admitted a large class of people hitherto excluded to the benefits of the Land Court, and enabled them to get a reduction of rent, and permitted the re-opening of judicial rents. Another reason was the combination of tenants, which during the last two years had compelled a very large number of landlords to come to terms with their tenants. Wherever these disputes had been settled, and agreements had been come to with regard to arrears of rent, it would be found that peace had been brought about; there was no longer the slightest necessity for coercion, and all the evils known in agrarian disturbances had disappeared. Unfortunately there still remained a very large number of disputes in different parts of Ireland with regard to arrears, and these disputes were the whole cause of any agrarian difficulty which now existed in that country. He ventured to say that if these disputes were brought to an end Ireland, from an agrarian point of view, would be completely pacified. He had carefully examined the greater number of the 1,800 cases which had occurred under the Coercion Act. Out of that number there had been 1,400 convictions, and 19 out of 20 of them could be traced directly or indirectly to some great dispute between landlords and tenants with regard to arrears. He thought the House would be surprised to find how many prosecutions and convictions had arisen out of a single dispute between a landlord and his tenant. He would take the Clanricarde case. There had already been about 40 evictions on the Clanricarde estate, and no fewer than 170 people had been prosecuted in connection with that single case, while 150 had been sent to prison. Out of the 150, 100 had been sent to prison for resisting eviction, and others for acts intimately connected with this matter. On the Massereene estate there had been 50 prosecutions, and 35 people had been sent to prison, about 12 of them for resisting eviction. On the Vandeleur estate 40 persons had been prosecuted and 30 sent to prison. These cases had arisen in respect of arrears which had accumulated between 1885–6 and the present time in consequence of the great fall in prices which led to the dispute between these landlords and their tenants. He repeated that, if the Government would deal with the question of arrears, the disputes in these cases would be settled. How long was this state of things to go on? In the course of a few days they would probably see the forces of the Crown again used for the support of Lord Clanricarde in carrying out harsh and unjust evictions, and no doubt they would hear of numbers of persons being sent to prison for resisting evictions, and also for taking part in demonstrations arising out of such evictions. He implored the Government to deal with these cases. He himself had not dealt with them from a Party point of view. He had been on the spot and had seen these unfortunate tenants who had been evicted, and he knew the position of things, in the districts where they resided, and anyone who had seen such things and who did not endeavour to promote a measure for putting an end to them, would not be worthy of a seat in the House. A measure merely dealing with arrears would, however, not be enough. If this question was to be settled and peace was to be restored provision must be made for the reinstatement of tenants who had been evicted for what were generally regarded as unjust rents. His visits to the Clanricarde estate had convinced him of this. The noble Lord said that the Government abided by their offer of last year with regard to arrears, but Her Majesty's Government might rest assured that that offer was not enough. If accepted it would not settle the question, for it was absolutely necessary that the case of the evicted tenants should be dealt with. He was, however, glad to find that Her Majesty's Government were still of the opinion that the question of arrears required to be dealt with. A remedial measure such as this was surely one in which the opinion of the Irish Members ought to be taken, but instead of accepting suggestions from the Irish Representatives Her Majesty's Government went to the Liberal Unionists for advice. To the success of any remedial measure of this nature the public feeling and opinion was most important, and one would, therefore, have expected to find the Government consulting the Irish Representatives as to the best means of carrying out their object. But the Government, instead of endeavouring to meet the wishes of the Irish Representatives, appeared to have set before itself as its object to pass a measure which would be agreeable to the Irish landlords. The true principle on which to deal with these matters was to endeavour to act in accordance with the views of the Representatives of Ireland. It was because Parliament had proceeded upon this principle in regard to Scotland for two centuries that there was now contentment in that country. There was no case on record of a measure being passed for Scotland since the Union contrary to the wishes of the majority of its Members, but, unfortunately, this could not be said in regard to Ireland. During the last 86 years Parliament had denied to Irish Members the measures they asked for until outrage and disorder, almost amounting to rebellion, had arisen, and then Parliament had given way; but not till then. Now a further step was being taken, and for the first time a remedial measure was being forced on Ireland against the wish of its Members. That was a dangerous course and one full of difficulty. He and his Friends opposed this measure for this reason, and also because they believed that, while it left untouched the real pressing question which was at the root of peace and happiness in Ireland, it was itself based upon unsound economical principles.

MR. FRASER-MACKINTOSH (Inverness-shire)

said, he desired to make a few observations owing to the reference in the Amendment to recent legislation for the crofters, which was a subject he knew something about. The Bill of the Government proceeded upon lines which of late years had been agreeable to the general feeling both of the country and of Parliament, and of which he highly approved—it attempted to increase the number of those who, tilling the soil, also owned it. It proposed to set apart a further sum of £5,000,000 for the benefit of the Irish tenants in this direction, and, being a well-wisher of the tenantry of Ireland, he should certainly support this measure, which he believed would be of great benefit to them. Terms were here given which, he believed, would promote an equitable transference of ownership. In the Highlands of Scotland, if a sum, not of £5,000,000, but of £500,000, were offered them upon the same terms as the Ashbourne Act laid down, they would be only too happy to accept it. In his Amendment, the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) spoke of legislation beneficially applied to the crofters' holdings in Scotland. That, he thought, was not a correct statement of the case in connection with the Crofters' Act of 1886, brought forward by the right hon. Gentleman. Those who were returned in the crofting interest made a severe fight in Committee against many of the clauses in the Bill. They were defeated, and they divided over 30 times; and, finally, on the third reading they divided against the Bill as a protest against its inadequacy to meet the requirements of the case, and he objected to the reference in the Amendment to this Act as beneficial.

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

Perhaps my hon. Friend will permit me to say that there is no assertion in the Amendment as to the beneficial effect of the Crofters Act in general. What is asserted is, that the legislation for the admission of arrears to be treated as well as rent was recently beneficially applied.


said, he would come to that point immediately. Power was given under the Crofters Act to the Commissioners to deal with arrears, but these arrears were not judicial arrears, but arrears which had accumulated, in ordinary circumstances, for many years preceding. He would not say whether the decisions of the Commissioners were right or wrong. But on the question of fair rents, and more particularly on the question of arrears, there had not been a meeting of crofters held in any part of the Highlands of Scotland at which the action of the Commissioners had not been denounced. Therefore, he objected to this Amendment putting forward Scotland as an example which Ireland should follow in regard to the arrears question. They had complained over and over again of the Crofters Act. They had brought in Bills for the purpose of of amending that Act. In the course of their discussions one of the most important provisions of the Act—namely, that which gave facilities for the extension of holdings—was admitted by the Colleagues of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian to have entirely failed. All he had now to say was that the Irish tenants would be very foolish indeed to refuse the liberal allowance which the Government offered them, and to adopt this Amendment, which proposed to deal with the question of arrears in a manner which the right hon. Gentleman said had been done beneficially in the case of the Highland crofters, but which the result showed was by no means relished or accepted by them.

MR. NEVILLE (Liverpool, Exchange)

said, he thought it right to explain the reason why he intended to vote in favour of the Amendment and against the Bill. He thought it was almost exclusively a question for the English taxpayer. He did not consider it was a proposal in which the question of Home Rule arose. In considering this question they must take Ireland as they found it—Ireland under the present Government—and they were not entitled to take account of what might or might not occur under a system of Home Rule. Taking Ireland as it was, he ventured to say that the security of Irish land, which was what was offered as security for this proposed £5,000,000, was about the worst that could be conceived. There was not a respectable solicitor in this country who would for one moment advise any client of his to advance sixpence on such security, for the proposal practically amounted to an advance of the whole purchase-money. It was true that certain provision was made for a guarantee fund, consisting of 20 per cent of the purchase-money, but this guarantee fund was only to last for nine years, and for the remaining 20 or 30 years there would be no guarantee fund at all, and if during the first nine years any instalments were not paid, and were, as they would have to be, made good out of the guarantee fund, these would become a first charge upon the land. The existence of this guarantee fund was therefore by no means very valuable as a piece of security. The idea of advancing the whole of the purchase money upon property was not a novel one. It was adopted by building societies, and they protected themselves very much more efficiently than was done in Lord Ashbourne's Act; but this was a very dangerous kind of business, and he knew well that in the north of England many building societies had to be wound up, to the great distress, and sometimes to the ruin, of those who had embarked their money in the enterprise. That was not the only way in which they could show that this security was a bad one. Supposing that hereafter the State, on the purchaser failing to pay his instalments, attempted to realize the security. The only alternatives would be either to sell or evict the tenant; but they had heard from the opposite side of the House that in the present temper of the Irish people, it was extremely difficulty to get anybody to take a farm from which another man had been evicted or to buy a farm which was in the market on account of non-payment of rent. Consequently when the British taxpayer attempted to realize his security he would find himself with this land on his hands—a white elephant which nobody would have anything to do with. The hon. Member for Haddingtonshire (Mr. Haldane) founded his arguments in support of this Bill and the adequacy of the security on the assumption that agricultural depression had touched bottom. That was a bold statement, which the experience of the next 20 or 30 years might very seriously contradict. The hon. Member also referred to the case of some gentleman in Scotland who had broken up his estate and sold it to his tenants with very satisfactory results. That might be so, and the Ashbourne Act might be satisfactory as far as the landlords were concerned, but this House had not merely the interests of landlords to consider. They had to consider whether this proposal afforded such security as would justify them in advancing the taxpayers' money upon it, having regard to the fact that the British taxpayer had never yet been consulted on this matter. However, he did not think that the case against the proposal altogether rested on the considerations as to security. He should like to ask the Liberal Members who intended to vote for the Bill, how far they were committing themselves? It was not a question of whether land purchase was right or wrong, hut it was a question of whether Lord Ashbourne's Act provided the best and wisest scheme for land purchase. And those who voted in favour of the Government proposals were committing themselves to the opinion that Lord Ashbourne's Act was a proper and satisfactory solution of the question of land purchase in Ireland. At the beginning of the present Parliament Her Majesty's Government undertook to deal with this question of land purchase in Ireland. They did not pretend that this Bill was a redemption of their pledge. If the Government had merely asked for such a sum of money as would keep the Act in operation until next Session, when they could adequately deal with this important question, they would probably have met with no opposition; but they now asked for a substantial sum that would enable them to shelve the question during the whole of the life of the present Parliament. Why should hon. Members not take their stand on pledges given by the Government themselves, and say, "You must deal with land purchase in Ireland, and we will not by this side wind enable you to put aside the question during the whole life of the present Parliament"? The Government had taken the House by the throat, saying, "We will keep you here until we have forced you to give up these £5,000,000." This money, he contended, would be very much misapplied if applied to landlords under Lord Ashbourne's Act. The tendency under that Act would be to make sales in those cases where the relations between landlord and tenant were thoroughly unsatisfactory, so that when the State stepped in under the Act they could tolerably well guess that the State undertook the duty of becoming the landlord of people who were discontented or who had failed in paying their rents. They had heard what an enormous boon this Act would be to the Irish tenants. But the Irish tenants did not appear to have been very eager to avail themselves of the Ashbourne Act, judging by the figures that had been quoted and the time that had elapsed since its passing; and this he attributed to the fact that the landlords had been asking exorbitant terms. If this Bill were passed the landlords, he feared, would be enabled to effect many sales at unduly high prices. For these reasons he considered this Bill as a species of brigandage on the public purse which ought to be resisted. If the British taxpayer, in return for this advance of money, were promised the certainity of good order in Ireland, a settlement of the agrarian question, and improved relations between the two countries, he would be slow to oppose the application of public money for so excellent a purpose; but there was no prospect of any such results flowing from this measure. It was not suggested that this was a real settlement of the agrarian question, and so far as it might be a partial settlement it was a settlement on extravagant and unsatisfactory terms, and he therefore would oppose it.

MR. HEATH (Lincoln, Louth)

said, that as one who had opposed the Land Purchase scheme of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian during the General Election of 1886, he desired to express his approval of this Bill. In his opinion the Amendment was really dealt with by the Bill as it now stood. Under Lord Ashbourne's Act the question of arrears was dealt with. The landlord had to satisfy the Commissioners that the purchase price was not too high, and the very fact that they were only dealing with a comparatively small sum offered a premium to the landlord to take the lowest price possible, and in this price the arrears were included. Therefore, under the Act the tenant really got his land at the lowest possible price, and that added greatly to the security of the English taxpayer. One reason which weighed heavily with hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite in opposing the present scheme was that the moment a tenant was converted into a proprietor he tore up his National League card and became a loyal and law-abiding citizen. He would support the present scheme, because it was limited; because the security was better, and the terms of purchase were more equitable, and the collection of the money would be made by a united Parliament.


said, he was of opinion that the method of spending the money of the British taxpayer proposed by this Bill was one which would not commend itself to them at the next General Election. He objected to the Bill because it blocked the way of other reforms in connection with the Estimates. There were still 100 Votes to be taken in Supply, and it might well be said that Parliament had largely lost its hold upon the expenditure of the country. He objected also to the security on which the money was to be advanced as being not a real, but a sham security. He had this year witnessed with his own eyes the turning out of several families from their homes in Ireland for the non-payment of rents which the Land Courts had pronounced to be unjust. He saw the poor man Dunne, whose case had been referred to in the debate, evicted, and the cry of distress that went up when that cruel act was committed still rang in his ears. He contended that it was scenes such as were enacted at Dunne's eviction that made Ireland what it was, and if the Government wanted to meet the difficulties of Ireland they must settle the question of arrears. The evictions were going on by the thousand, and if they were allowed to continue, inconceivable trouble and misery would result. He felt confident that at the next election the people of this country would put a stop to these wrongs. He should support with all heartiness the Amendment of the right hon. Member for Midlothian.

MR. FISHER (Fulham)

said, he could not help feeling immensely struck with the attitude of the Opposition. There was scarcely a single Member of the Opposition who had had the courage to stand up in his place and say that, as a matter of principle, he objected to the Bill. He did not believe the question of arrears was the real question with which they had to deal. The aim should be the multiplication of occupying owners. The hon. Member for East Mayo had boasted that, owing to the action of the organization with which he was connected, there were 5,000 or 6,000 farms vacant in Ireland. What was the meaning of that? It meant that in over 5,000 farms in Ireland there was neither seed time nor harvest, there was no employment for the 15,000 or 20,000 men who would otherwise have been employed on them, and there was no trade in districts in which trade flourished before the agitation commenced, and that there was widespread devastation and ruin wherever that injurious system had penetrated. That was not much to boast of. But he disputed the accuracy of the hon. Gentleman's figures. Every week the Irish Office heard of derelict farms being taken up. Instead of there being 5,000 farms vacant, the number was mush nearer 1,100; and instead of the majority of the farms lately taken being, as had been asserted, situated in Ulster, the fact was that the majority of those farms was in the other provinces. Not very many weeks ago he visited one of the estates where the Plan of Campaign was put in force two years ago—Lord Lansdowne's estate, in the Queen's County. In 1886 two farmers were evicted, one of them holding about 1,000 acres. In the case of some 36 tenants Lord Lans- downe refused to have the evictions carried out. They held on ever since, and now they owed three years' rent. The agent was bound to serve ejectment notices, which were taken out a few months ago, and would become actual evictions next March, unless something was done in the meantime. Lord Lansdowne was willing to take one year's rent. He went over the estate. The property was good, the houses were in thoroughly substantial repair, the rents were not high, and the landlord offered fair and adequate reductions. He would undertake to say if hon. Members went among the tenants they would tell them, as they told him, they could pay the rent three times over if they dared, and that if they paid they would be boycotted. They were willing to pay if there were not some power standing behind them of which they were afraid. He, from his place in the House, denounced that organization as one of the most cruel and iniquitous that ever interfered with contracts between man and man. It was to that organization more than anything else that these horrible scenes of eviction were due, and if the Land League only interfered to put a stop to evictions they would have a very different state of thing in Ireland from what they had at the present time. The case of Dunne had been referred to by an hon. Member. He (Mr. Fisher) would ask how it was, if, as it had been asserted, the National League had nothing to do with him, that Mr. J. Kelly, of the League, was at the inquest, and that the solicitor instructed a barrister usually employed by the League. On the day of his eviction he owed £680 for rent and arrears. The agent offered to take £108, and to make him a present of £572, to give him time to make up the £108, and to allow him to sell his crops to make up the money. The tenant refused, and what was the agent to do? The tenant's wife was informed that if she wished to save her husband from eviction she must get a doctor's certificate. She swore at the inquest she was not aware that her husband was in a dangerous state. What the Chief Secretary said with respect to this case was that the man died from exposure to cold because his relations would not take care that shelter was provided for him. They had full and adequate notice, and could have provided him with shelter; they did not do so in order to add one more to the list of Irish martyrs. It appeared, from a statement in The Dundalk Democrat of February, 1888, taken from the Drogheda correspondent of The Freeman's Journal, that within a few days Captain Singleton, Dunne's landlord, wiped off £574 due by his tenants, and, in addition, gave a reduction of 25 per cent. And now he would give one or two reasons why he supported this policy of Her Majesty's Government. They were often taunted on that side of the House with not opposing absenteeism. This policy of the Government was very much directed to getting rid of absentee landlords in Ireland. If they looked at the figures they would see that the Ashbourne Act had been largely applied to estates on which the landlords never live at all—the estates of the London companies, and of large English landowners. The right hon. Member for Mid Lothian said that if he had land in Ireland he would live on it, and he expressed a desire that Irish landlords should live in Ireland. The Government were taking one step for securing that very desirable result. Again, hon. Members on that side were taunted with having broken their pledges because they were unwilling to confer Local Government on Ireland at present. He always entertained the hope that Parliament might be able at no very distant time to give Ireland a measure of Local Government. But, in his opinion, long before that time you must absolutely and of necessity multiply the number of owners. The one thing to be feared was robbery by rating; but when you multiplied the owners and secured that representation and taxation went together, that those who made the rate were to pay it, and that if they mismanaged the business they would themselves be the sufferers, then it would be safe to proceed with a measure of Local Government. It was for these reasons that he supported the policy of the Bill.

MR. S. SMITH (Flintshire)

said, that he was in favour of the Motion and also the Amendment, and if by possibility the two could be rolled into one he should be happy to vote for them together. But he felt a difficulty in voting either for the one or for the other, because he might be supposed to exclude the one by voting for the other, and, therefore, he intended to adopt the somewhat cowardly course of not voting at all. He held that a large creation of peasant proprietorships was the only solution of the Irish Land Question; and he thought that Lord Ashbourne's Act had, on the whole, worked very well. Previous Acts on that subject, although no doubt safer for the British taxpayer, had proved for the most part nugatory, but Lord Ashbourne's Act was coming rapidly into operation and was producing excellent results. It was urged that any scheme of that kind should be vast, universal, and not of a piecemeal character; but in his opinion a piecemeal operation was, on the whole, the safest and the wisest, because in that way they proceeded cautiously, dealing with each case on its merits. He believed that the risk of loss by the present measure was infinitesimal. It was said that if they adopted such a system for Ireland they must also do something for Great Britain. Well, he thought that they ought to have a scheme of land purchase for the benefit of small occupiers in England, Scotland, and especially Wales. The central Powers of Europe had consolidated themselves by introducing such a system of peasant proprietorships, and in Germany in particular the State had lost next to nothing by the operation, while it had created a strong nation of over 40,000,000 of contented people. It was high time that not only in Ireland but in Great Britain they should follow that course; and in doing so they would be solving some of the most difficult questions of the time. The article of Archbishop Walsh in this month's Contemporary Review supported his argument, They would never have a better opportunity than was now afforded for carrying out a scheme of land purchase, because he greatly doubted whether land was ever cheaper in the present century than it was at this moment; and he believed that in 50 years, instead of declining, land would probably double its present price if they had a good system of peasant proprietorship. The great evil of this country was that they had so very few small owners of land; and, therefore, in the interest of the British taxpayer, if the scheme was to be accomplished by British credit, now was the time to do it, and to do it with great safety. While he said that, he was also entirely in favour of the Amendment, holding that the question of arrears most urgently required settlement. He entreated the Government to deal with the subject of arrears, and he suggested that it was in their power that night to declare themselves in favour of the principle of the Amendment, and to secure in that House a practically unanimous approval of their measure. No more patriotic course could be taken than that which would show that they placed country before Party.


I feel bound to oppose the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian. It is, as the course of the debate has shown, an unhappy Amendment. It is certainly a clumsy and unstatesmanlike, not to speak more harshly, proposal, and I have no doubt that the right hon. Gentleman is by this time most heartily sorry that he ever made such a proposal to the House. It is hardly needful to offer any arguments against it. Indeed, the remarks that were made by some of the most devoted of his usual followers must have convinced the right hon. Gentleman and the House of that; but as an Irish Member I wish to express my own opposition to that Amendment and my strong approval of the Government's proposal, which extends Lord Ashbourne's Act. That Act has been admittedly of great benefit to Ireland, and the present proposal is another step in the right direction. I oppose the Amendment as one of a most mischievous character, and if it were adopted it would be another very great step downward in our legislation. Notwithstanding the statements of the right hon. Gentleman that the Irish tenants are the best rent-payers in the world, I would not throw the temptation of an Arrears Bill in their way. The Arrears Bill, which would follow if this Amendment were carried, would be a direct incentive to the tenants to withhold their rents in the hope that time after time Bills would be passed clearing off arrears on forced terms. Again, it would be a gross injustice to the hard-working tenants who pay their rents, and the results in the end would be to demoralize the tenantry of Ireland. Nor is an Arrears Act needed, and in this I differ with my hon. Friend who has just spoken (Mr. S. Smith), for the landlords are willing enough to come to terms with their tenants as to arrears. Eviction, as I know, is a very painful process, but it is impossible that, as regards these holdings, evictions can be avoided, any more than they can as regards those engaged in any other occupation in life. To allow a tenant to hold his land and not pay rent would be analogous to a shopkeeper obliging the merchant with whom he deals to supply him with goods year by year without receiving payment. There are tenants in Ireland who are unsuccessful because they are idle and do not work their land properly. There are tenants who want skill and means to cultivate and develop the resources of the land. There are tenants who are intemperate, and spend more in drink than would pay the rent, and they are a very considerable number, I am sorry to say. And there is still another numerous class of tenants who live beyond their means; and if you take hundreds of thousands of tenants you will find that their gross produce from the land does not produce £50,000 a-year. How was it possible for them to keep their families and to keep on living in the wretched condition in which many of them do? For my part, I am sure I wish to see all classes of the people live in comfort if the thing were possible, but really the farms are too small, and with such tenants on the land it is not made half so productive as it should be. Such tenants are a positive injury to the community, and they should make way for those who have the power to extract from the land all that it is capable of producing. Then, this fact should be borne in mind: that if one Irish tenant is evicted it makes room for another Irishman, and you remove from the land those who are not doing their duty for those who most probably will. I deplore as much as any hon. Gentleman below the Gangway that evictions in certain cases are unavoidable, but we cannot afford to banish economic laws to Saturn. If in the working of these laws there are hardships, let us do all we can—all that is in our power as philanthropists and statesmen—to remedy them. Doubtless there are remedies; but the remedy is certainly not to be found in an Arrears Bill. The Amendment which is now before the House would not effect a remedy. It would merely block and stop the way of the Government proposal to continue the operation of Lord Ashbourne's Act. It is admitted all round that the operations of that Act have been most beneficial and advantageous to the tenants. Statesmen, high ecclesiastics, and mercantile bodies bear witness to the fact, and it is nothing short of a monstrous proposal to obstruct or delay the extension of the Act. The Chambers of Commerce of the City of Dublin and the City of Belfast have passed resolutions in favour of the Bill; and these are Bodies which are in full sympathy with the tenants, and are composed of men whose views are of great value, because they know that if the tenant suffer the rest of the commerce of the country must suffer. These two bodies are of the highest intelligence and independence, and represent not only one-eighth of the whole population of the country, but the whole of the mercantile and manufacturing community. I speak as an Irishman on this question, and as an Irish merchant I am deeply interested in the prosperity of Ireland. I own no agricultural land, and in holding the balance between landlord and tenant, I would rather incline towards the tenantry as a class, but I believe that the landlords will do their duty reasonably and generously towards their tenantry; and as for the tenantry, I believe that they would cheerfully meet their engagements if they were not deluded by those who have a direct interest in keeping up discontent in Ireland, and pay their rents as well as their other obligations; and I have no doubt that they will rejoice when they find that the Bill of the Government has been carried. I have no doubt that if the tenants were freed from the disturbing elements to which they have been subjected for eight or 10 years past, they would also do their duty fairly and reasonably, and pay their rents as well as Englishmen or Irishmen elsewhere.


said, he desired to explain that, while hon. Members might be able to support the general policy of an extension of the Purchase Act, and to hope that a large measure of that sort might be introduced, it was perfectly consistent in them to oppose the present measure, which was only a dole to the landlords to keep them on their legs. The Members of that House had been gratuitously presented with a printed circular containing much information bearing on this measure from the landlord point of view. But while these parties had evidently known the intention of the Government, and while the supporters of the Government were prepared with their arguments, the opponents of the measure had not had time to bring before the House the circumstances and facts which they thought would influence the judgment of the House, possibly to the extent of rejecting the Bill. Stress had been laid on the fact that the instalments due under Lord Ashbourne's Act had, with trifling exceptions, been paid up. He could, however, show the fallacy of that contention. It was true that hundreds of tenants in the County Kerry had purchased; but he could not put his hand on five solvent tenants in that county who had purchased. The tenants who had purchased were the evicted tenants, the broken tenants, and the tenants who had been long under arrears; but he might be met with the argument that if the broken tenants were able to pay their instalments, how much bettor able to carry out their contracts with the Government would be the more solvent tenants. But the Government have been chiselled in this, and had been willingly chiselled, while the British public have been unknowingly chiselled. He would give a very common case in Kerry of the farms which had been purchased under the Ashbourne Act. A tenant had been evicted for nonpayment of rent, owing three and a-half years. That tenant was induced by the landlord to come to a settlement, urged on by the prospect of cold and wet and hunger, and he made an agreement for 20 years' purchase. The landlord would say to him—"If you sign for 20 years, it will be in reality only 17, for I will wipe out three years, and keep in hand the rent to pay the first two instalments." The real transaction, in many cases, under the Ashbourne Act was that the landlord nominally received 22½ years' purchase; but, being glad to receive 19 or 20 years', paid the tenants two and a-half years' rent in order to enable him to pay the first two or three instalments. Then there was mountain land in the county of Kerry which was worth not more than 10 or 12 years' purchase, but 20 years' purchase was exacted, and the tenant assisted in this way to meet the earlier instalments. This was the secret of the payment of the instalments up to the present. They were actually being paid by the money which the State had left for the purchase. It might be said that that was a very good arrangement for the tenant; but hereafter, when he had to pay the instalments out of the land, he would be a broken man, and would not be able to carry out his contract with the State. He declared positively his belief that before very long the Purchase Commission would have a great portion of the County Kerry on their hands for sale, and was it probable that any man would go in and undertake to make instalments out of the land on which another man had been broken? Acting on a desire for the peace of the County Kerry, he had, when men had come to ask his advice upon the question of purchasing under the Ashbourne Act, said to them that if they were getting a bargain that they could keep they ought to purchase, but if their only object was to gain time and to stave off the evil day by entering into a bargain which they could not keep ultimately, he recommended them not to purchase. Men had actually come to him and told him that they were purchasing for the purpose of saving their families from the roadside, and if they could do so it mattered very little to them if they had to break the bargain afterwards; and he could only warn the Government to expect a general breakdown in County Kerry as the later instalments became due. He would sincerely hope to see the whole question taken up, even in the spirit of Lord Ashbourne's Act, with this exception—that they could not send down a Commissioner merely as a banker's man to see whether the security was good, but to go into the whole merits of the case to see that there was no compulsion, to see how the arrears accrued, and that the tenant was not buying his own property in the shape of his own improvements. He approved the general principle of the Ashbourne Act, but he objected to its being worked in conjunction with the Coercion Act as an engine of destruction against the tenants. It was generally represented that the landlords and the tenants entered into a voluntary bargain, and that if the bargain were not just, it was corrected by the State. But in the estimate of the value of a farm, that which the tenant himself had erected—his house, the drains, barns, and permanent improvements—were included, so that the tenant was obliged to pay for his own property. He impressed upon the Government, if they carried this Bill in spite of the opposition given to it, the necessity of expanding it next Session. The first thing they had to do was to open the door of the Land Court to all the tenants in Ireland, and the Irish Party were determined to knock and knock and knock till the door was open to perpetuity leaseholders. He wished to refer to a statement made by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer last night, and though it was not very pertinent to the subject of debate, it was a good instance of official accuracy. The right hon. Gentleman said the influence of the National League was waning in Tralee. If it were waning, why in the name of goodness did not the Government allow it to wane? It was a strange thing that this so-called Unionist Government would not let it wane. That very day he had been served in the Hall of the High Court of Justice by a constable from Tralee with three summonses for attending three meetings of the National League in Tralee. Why not let the League wane? He made no appeal ad misericordiam. Let them do what they liked; he did not care. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer stated as a proof of his assertion that the National League was waning in Tralee, that a ukase issued by the League in regard to the election of Poor Law Guardians had been ignored and several Unionists elected. Why, the fact was that all the nominees of the League had been elected on the Board, and the elected seats of the entire Board—42 in all—were in the possession of the Nationalists. If the League was waning, how was it all the Members of the Board of Guardians in Kerry who had been elected were Nationalists, and how was it that Mr. Latchford, the Protestant Nationalist, was at the head of the poll? But perhaps the right hon. Gentleman referred to the recent election of Town Commissioners. [Mr. T. W. RUSSELL: "Hear, hear!"] The hon. Member for South Tyrone thinks he has got a plum. I will give it to him to suck very soon. If the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer finds a Unionist among the Town Commissioners recently elected I will resign my seat in favour of that Unionist, and, if necessary, work in his behalf. This was a specimen of the sort of political facts which were made the factors in the promotion of crime and outrage in this country. Notwithstanding that the Government forced these £5,000,000 down their throats, the Nationalists were not frightened at the prospect. So long as the people looked to those who had advised them before, and followed their own instincts of manliness and right, they would steer clear of the dangers and temptations that were thrown around them. They would be able to do what would be the best for them in the future. The Government was throwing their sum of £5,000,000 as a sop to the landlords, and the landlords ought to be ashamed of themselves for allowing the Government to palter with this country in this way. The Government should have thrown open the door to every tenant to put him in a position to make a free and fair settlement on equal terms with the landlord before they proposed the extension of Land Purchase. If that were done, and if the Government then advanced, on its own security, or on local security, as much money as would enable all the peasantry of Ireland to become proprietors of the land they occupied, they would be doing a wise and salutary thing.

MR. W. P. SINCLAIR (Falkirk, &c.)

said, he could not but regret that the Bill proposed by Her Majesty's Government had been met by the Amendment moved by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone). The Amendment proposed to deal with the question of arrears, and no doubt that was a question which ought to be dealt with. It would have been dealt with, however, in the Bill introduced by the Government last year had it not been for the opposition of the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) and the other hon. Gentlemen who were associated with him in opposing such a settlement. Lord Ashbourne's Act, when first brought in, was certainly sanctioned by the chiefs of the Liberal Party; the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian was present when it was introduced, and he said not one word against it. The hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) spoke in favour of the Bill, and said it would be a misfortune if such a Bill, subject to certain Amendments, were not passed into law this Session, while the hon. Gentleman the Member for South Aberdeen (Mr. Bryce), who was opposed to the Bill, observed that— There was no use in opposing the Bill at that stage, especially when it had not only the support of the Government, but that of the Chiefs of the Opposition and of the Leaders of the Irish Party."—(3 Hansard [300], 1635.) The hopes entertained of the Bill had been amply justified. It was very remarkable that the conditions laid down by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, when he introduced his Land Purchase Bill, were peculiarly applicable to the Bill now before the House. He said— I conceive it is quite right, under an arrangement of this kind"— He only proposed £50,000,000, and not the entire amount which he estimated would be required— That we should secure to Parliament the opportunity of exercising its judgment afresh on the subject we now submit to it. In the working of Lord Ashbourne's Act he ventured to say, in the words of the right hon. Gentleman, that the public credit had been duly maintained, the repayments duly met, and the whole complex machinery so well oiled that the Act deserved to be continued in working order. The conditions were not onerous to the tenant. Had the Act worked well, and did the experience of its working justify the hopes expressed by many speakers that a further grant of money would be necessary? He ventured to say that in the working of Lord Ashbourne's Act it would be found that the public credit had been duly maintained, the payments duly made, and the complex machinery by which it was worked kept well oiled. The principle of the Act was the mutual agreement of the price between landlord and tenant, which had to be approved by the Commissioners before the advance was made. Then, again, the sale could only be to a person who was at the time occupying the land, and not an outsider. The securities the Government had were the security of the tenant-right, of the im- provements which would be made, the 20 per cent advanced by the State, and the great security that there was no other debt to be met by the tenant. Another great advantage was the gradual removal from pauperism, and the tendency to keep rates down. That was an important point, because in a great many places the rates had been scandalously increased in consequence of the mismanagement of the Nationalist Boards of Guardians. The purchasers of farms would also spend their money in the future on the improvement of the farms instead of putting it in the savings bank, because the work they did would be for themselves and not for the landlord. That would make the police duties easier, and tend to keep down agitation. Something had been said with reference to the Crimes Act. It was, however, no detriment to the working of Lord Ashbourne's Act. One of his constituents from Antrim was present when that Act was passed. He asked him what the people in Antrim were saying about the Act, and the reply was, "We are not saying much about it up there. We are a law-abiding people, and it will hurt us." That was the way the Act should be looked at. It would help the working of Lord Ashbourne's Act, by preventing intimidation and the growth of the desire to put an end to law and order. He believed a great number would become owners, and a considerable body of Conservative opinion would spring up. The whole evidence would show that the working of the Act in the past had been valuable, and was tending to settle the country, and the belief was that the further advance of £5,000,000 would greatly increase that effect. With regard to the two Commissioners—Mr. Lynch and Mr. M'Carthy—they were both servants of the State, and would do their duty as such. They would ascertain whether the security offered under the Bill was sufficient, and if it was not they would refuse the advance. He was sorry to hear the remarks made by the hon. Member for East Mayo with regard to Mr. Wrench; and if there was any conspiracy to take away Mr. M'Carthy—and he did not think that there could be—they might be quite sure that so long as he did his duty, as he had done in the past, in the interests of the tenants and also of the State, there would be a very consider- able desire in the House of Commons to keep him in his present position. He believed that the Bill would have a very wholesome, Conservative influence in making the tenants more contented in the future than they had been in the past. The evidence of those who had arranged to purchase under the Act proved this to be so. In making the advances to the Irish people the Government were in a very safe position, because the security which they had in the tenant-right was of great value. He knew of one case where the farm was bought by the tenant for £530 and sold for £1,230. On an estate in Tipperary, with a rental of £436, the value of the tenants' interests amounted to £10,500, which was over 24 years' purchase of the holdings. In making this advance to the Irish people he believed Her Majesty's Government had a most safe security, because he believed it was the wish of the Irish people to pay their just rents. The voluntary action of the people in taking advantage of the provisions of the Act showed that they were willing to incur this debt, which they believed was a just one. There was one important point to which he wished to draw the attention of the House, a point which, he was sorry to say, had not been sufficiently kept in view by hon. Members who discussed the subject on both sides of the House. It was the very great and important difference between rent and the instalments of purchase-money and interest which were paid under this Act. A very valuable Return had been printed in August, 1887. It was a Return which he had asked for, and which gave the amount paid under this head during each year of the 49 years over which the instalments ran, both in principal and interest. He felt convinced that if these calculations were brought under the notice of the tenants to a large extent, they would admirably serve the purpose of bringing home to their minds the great distinction between the payment of rent and the payment of instalments; and he trusted that steps would be taken to bring this distinction clearly before the minds of tenants who might become purchasers under this Act, and, indeed, before the country at large, which required to be informed on this subject. It would be well, too, to show the very moderate expense of the working of the Act. He found that the whole expense of working the Act only amounted to some £15,000 to £20,000, which was a very small sum indeed for the amount of work done and the amount of money advanced. He ventured most earnestly to hope that not only would this Resolution be carried, but that the Bill would be passed into law; and, as its working in the past had been so favourable, he hoped the Government, when the £5,000,000 now asked for was expended, would be able to come to the House with an equally satisfactory statement of the working of this Supplementary Act, and that they would thereby be encouraged to come again in the same laudable spirit with a scheme which would in the end enable them to secure the peace, happiness, and prosperity of Ireland.


said, that a sufficient condemnation of the Amendment was that it did not offer either a negative to the Motion of the Government or an alternative; and the Amendment certainly involved more contentious matter than the Bill. Up to the moment that the Bill was announced it was not understood that there was anything contentious about the Ashbourne Act. He did not believe that the Bill would burden the British taxpayer or relieve the Irish landlord to the detriment of the Irish tenant; and it was clear that the Irish tenants would gain largely indeed. He looked forward to the time when in Ireland there would be a large number of occupiers cultivating their own properties, and that in this way an end would be put to the distressing evictions out of which so much political capital had been made by Gentlemen opposite. The British Exchequer would hold ample security, and the risk to the British taxpayer would be infinitesimal; while there could be no doubt of the benefits to be conferred on the poor tenants of Ireland.

MR. FLYNN (Cork, N.)

said, that the Members who knew Ireland could not ignore the fact that it was really the arrears that lay most heavily on the energies of the country, and that these accumulations were the most pressing grievance, and constituted a question of the greatest urgency. Until there was some effort made to meet the case that had been laid before the House by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, they were entitled to say that there was no answer to it. They adhered to the doctrine of the Land League that every effort should be made to multiply occupying ownerships; but there must be free bargaining between landlord and tenant, and purchases must not be forced at the point of the policeman's baton. A comprehensive measure dealing with arrears would do far more good than £10,000,000 or £20,000,000 advanced under the Ashbourne Act. Its operation must necessarily be confined to comparatively few individuals in few districts, whereas remission of arrears would embrace a large number in all parts of the country. Most of these arrears had not arisen under judicial rents; and there were 300,000 holdings the rents of which had not been fixed judicially; they had been fixed out of Court, for fear of what the landlord could do, and the terms were more disadvantageous than the tenants would have obtained in the Land Court. In many instances, before their cases could be heard in the Land Court, the landlord, taking advantage of the power which the arrears gave him over his tenants, evicted them, and deprived them of their holdings. In a recent case, a tenant on the Downshire estate had his rent fixed by the Commissioners; but the landlord appealed, and, pending the hearing of the appeal, evicted the tenant for arrears of rent. Incidents were daily occurring in Ireland of this nature, which showed the dire nature of the burden of arrears. Men were being turned out of their holdings, their improvements being confiscated, and they themselves being reduced to beggary because they were unable to wipe off the arrears of unjust rent. They were entitled to say that there was a distinct blot in their legislation, and it was the duty of the Government to deal with it. He had recommended the tenants to enter into combination for their own protection against the rapacity of their landlords, and for this he had been sentenced to three weeks' imprisonment. This was a landlords' Bill, introduced in the landlords' interests, as was, indeed, indicated by the jubilant chorus that was raised in a certain quarter of the House when the hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland (Mr. Madden) explained the nature of the proposal—a chorus that reminded one of the hounds in full pursuit of their quarry. He and his Friends were not opposed to a well-devised scheme of land purchase. On the contrary, this had always been placed in the forefront of their programme. But no scheme—and certainly not this scheme—could work smoothly and fairly and for the benefit of the Irish tenant so long as he was fettered by the scourge of unjust arrears.


said, he had looked forward with great interest to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) on the present occasion, and, after listening to him, he might be allowed to lay an offering of admiration at his feet. His unparalleled powers as an orator were never more conspicuously manifested than when he was making the best of a bad case. In skating lightly over thin ice he was unequalled. In regard to the present Bill, the right hon. Gentleman had a difficult part to play. While posing before the public with his supporters below the Gangway as the friends of the Irish tenants, he had to oppose a measure which in Ireland was one of the most popular proposals ever made in that House. The right hon. Gentleman displayed immense ingenuity, but there was one great defect in his speech, he avoided arguing in favour of his own Amendment. He had read his speech—from beginning to end, and he had failed to discover that the right hon. Gentleman attempted to show the House that this proposition of his could be looked upon as a substitute in any shape for the proposal of the Government. The proposal of the right hon. Gentleman dealt simply with arrears, and that of Her Majesty's Government was not one which was meant to deal with the question of arrears. Her Majesty's Government had made a proposal to the House which was meant to establish in Ireland an independent and law-abiding class, to encourage that class which any statesman or man who loved his country would wish to encourage—the thrifty and industrious class. The right hon. Gentleman had devoted his attention simply to those tenants and their relief who happened to be in arrears in rent. He thought it was hardly fair of the right hon. Gentleman to advocate the extinction of arrears in Ireland without informing the House how and when those arrears had ac- crued. That point was of immense importance—that the House and the country should bear in mind how it was, why it was, and when it was, that those arrears of rent which the right hon. Gentleman proposed to deal with had accrued in Ireland. The House would remember that a Bill had been passed in 1882 dealing with arrears and sweeping them away. The present arrears had accrued since 1882 under the Land Bill which had been passed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian himself. When the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) had introduced his Arrears Bill he had not complained that the rents which had been established by the Commissioners in Ireland up to 1885 were excessive rents; because if anyone took the trouble of examining the percentage of rent bated by the Commissioners up to 1885, they would see that the percentage decreased up to 1885, and that it was not until 1886, when the great agricultural depression occurred, the arrears of rent could be or were looked upon by the hon. Member for Cork himself as arrears of excessive rents. But the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian had not spoken a word about this; he had spoken of the arrears as though they were unjust arrears which were sought to be extorted by the Irish landlords for rents which they themselves had imposed on the tenants, whereas the rents had been fixed under the Bill which the right hon. Gentleman had said was to be a final settlement of the Irish Land Question. The right hon. Gentleman had gone on to give instances of the injustice that was occurring in Ireland. But before he proceeded with that he would make one remark about the right hon. Gentleman's speech. It was not, however able, an argumentative speech. It had not been meant for argument; it had been meant only for reference on a future occasion. He would explain to the House what that implied. It was possible—such things had happened before—that in the course of a short time the right hon. Gentleman might change his mind. And, if in the course of the next year or two the right hon. Gentleman should be subjected to that change, which had occurred on former occasions, he might refer to that speech and might take any line he pleased. He might say, "Why, I approved of the Ashbourne Act, because at the outset of my speech I commended it." Or he might take the opposite view and might say, "I entirely disapproved of the principle of the Act, because at the latter part of my speech I condemned it." Or he might, in a short time, believe, as he had believed in former times, that the Irish tenants were men whose probity and solvency might be absolutely depended upon, and he would prove it by referring to the speech, and would say, "I pointed out in the House of Commons that in all the world you cannot find such good rentpayers as the Irish tenants." Or he might say, "I believe that the Irish are neither honest nor solvent, for did I not point out in the House of Commons that they were covered and crippled with arrears?" Then the right hon. Gentleman had proceeded to deal with the question of arrears. He (Colonel Saunderson) had never been more astonished than he was when he listened to the right hon. Gentleman on this question. The right hon. Gentleman had said that the Irish landlords were the victims of a vicious system, and had pointed out what the great vice was in the following words:— I doubt very much whether there are many Members in this House who are unaware of the great use arrears can be put to by those who understand how to manage them judiciously. He (Colonel Saunderson) knew that the right hon. Gentleman was a great financial authority, and as he himself never had yet learnt what the use of arrears was in Ireland, he had hoped to gain some light on the subject. Then the right hon. Gentleman went on to say, "You can evict upon arrears." Ah! there the right hon. Gentleman had discovered the great use that an Irish landlord could make of arrears. Of course they could evict upon arrears; but if the right hon. Gentleman disapproves of the Irish landlords and the system under which they lived in Ireland, because they could evict on arrears, was the right hon. Gentleman ready to give effect to legislation in the right direction—to pass a law that no Irish landlord should evict upon arrears. When the right hon. Gentleman had made that statement he had heard on the other side of the House a sort of sigh of horror and commiseration arising, especially from the Scotch Radicals. He should like to ask any Scotch Separatist—[Cries of "Order!"]—any Scotch Member who supported the Leader of the Separatist Party—how he himself dealt with men who owed him money? He would like to ask any candid man on the other side of the House—the right hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne (Mr. John Morley), for instance—to say, for the sake of information, what course he would suggest to the Irish landlord whose tenant absolutely refused to pay anything whatever. Then the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, after having drawn that fearful picture, had said that the Irish landlords weighed their tenants down with a weight of arrears. According to the right hon. Gentleman Irish landlords seemed to love arrears. The right hon. Gentleman had gone on to say— You can evict upon the rent last due men who had been so crippled by arrears that on that account they had not been able to meet their current rent. He should like to know how landlords were to meet their current expenses upon arrears. Could the right hon. Gentleman believe such a monstrous absurdity as that? What good did it do an Irish landlord to have his tenants in arrears? Did it give him pleasure that an agent should meet him after rent day and say, "We have had such a splendid time in the office; no rent, but plenty of arrears." Why, absurdity was stamped on the face of such a proposition. Irish landlords were like other landlords, they liked rent. Yes, he pleaded guilty to the soft impeachment. But he never heard of a landlord in any country who liked arrears. Then the right hon. Gentleman had given a desperately hard case which had occurred on a property in Ireland—the case of a Mary Connetan, and had shown how terribly hard it was. And this had really been the only case that the right hon. Gentleman had given. Fancy! the right hon. Gentleman, with the possession, as he had, of an immense fund of information from the lynx-eyed Gentlemen below the Gangway, who were able to pop on anything occurring in the country, had been unable to back his proposition in the House last night with any better illustration than that one which he had taken. The case was that of a woman who had seven acres and a house for which she paid the enormous rent of £3 12s. in the year. How terrific was that rent! He would like to call the attention of the working-men in the large cities in this country to the position of the Irish tenant who owned seven acres and a house, and paid for them the sum of 2¼d. a day. Why the paradise of working-men, three acres and a cow, was a fool beside it. With seven acres they could keep a bull as well. The right hon. Gentleman had not informed the House who the happy landlord of this lady was; but the right hon. Gentleman had given geographical indications by which hon. Members might find the poison out. It reminded him of Nottingham and those geographical indications by which they had been enabled to find out Dopping. There was a flavour of Dopping in all that, as well as of the candid well-informed friend. He said to himself, "Has the professor been on the warpath again?" He ventured to prophesy that when further inquiries were made it would be found that there was some hiatus in the story of Mary Connetan as there had been in the story of Colonel Dopping. So much for the case that the right hon. Gentleman made out on the arrears question. In point of fact he made out no case at all. He said there were arrears. Nobody denied that. He never informed the House how those arrears arose, but he simply said—"There are arrears, let us deal with them, and let that be in lieu of the proposal of the Government." He heard the speech of the right hon. Gentleman last night, and he read it, but he could discover no more arguments in favour of an Arrears Bill than he (Colonel Saunderson) had stated to the House. But he had read other speeches, notably the speech of the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon), who devoted a great part to the defence of the British taxpayer—a novel position for hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway to occupy. The hon. Member for East Mayo apparently agreed absolutely with that part of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian that the security would be bad. Now he (Colonel Saunderson) did not profess to be a great financial authority, but the speech of the right hon. Gentleman struck him as most remarkable with respect to the great defect he thought there was in the security to the British taxpayer. The right hon. Gentleman said— It is simply this—the State is to lend 80 per cent of the money for the purpose of enabling the landlord and the tenant to settle their transactions together, and is further to advance 20 per cent of its own money as security. That was to say, that the 20 per cent added to the indebtedness of the British Government, so that if the British Government kept 50 per cent or 100 per cent its indebtedness would be greater still. [Laughter.] There was laughter below the Gangway from the Chancellors of the Exchequer of the Irish Parliament. The hon. Member for East Mayo had spoken in a more practical tone, and the hon. Member, if no one else, had more than justified the objections urged by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) and others as to the insecurity of the advance of £100,000,000 or £150,000,000 proposed by the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian. The hon. Member for East Mayo said— Speaking as an honest man, I feel it my duty to declare to this House that if this loan is granted I shall use the payment of the instalments as a lever in Ireland so long as the coercive policy of the Government is maintained. That meant that the hon. Member and his friends intended to use the doctrine of repudiation unless their demands were complied with by the British Parliament. What then would have been the position of this country had Parliament, in a moment of incredible insanity, consented to adopt the measure of 1886? They would have had the hon. Member for East Mayo, in furthering the object which he had so openly avowed—namely, the establishment of Ireland as a separate Kingdom—using the payment of far greater instalments as a lever to force and constrain this Parliament to comply with his wishes. That was to say, the hon. Member would go through the country advising the tenants—the House knew what his advice meant; they called it threatening—as he had dont before that— If any man back down in the fight now that coercion is passed I warn the Government that I shall denounce him by name on public platforms, and his life will not be a happy one in Ireland or beyond the sea. That was called giving advice to the Irish tenants. But, if the hon. Member chose to use this lever and went about Ireland advising the people not to discharge their legal obligations, he would probably have to go into temporary retirement in Tullamore or elsewhere. The hon. Member had got to confront the law passed by this Parliament, which would prevent him from intimidating the poorest and meanest of his countrymen. It was because the Government had been armed by that House with powers to frustrate such an attempt that he believed the security that was offered to the State was ample, and that the obligations into which the Irish people would enter to the State would be loyally and honestly fulfilled. There were two policies presented to the House and the couutry; they on that (the Ministerial) side held one policy; hon. Gentlemen opposite held the other. It would be conceded as fair and rational that every Act of legislation which that House adopted by the advice of Her Majesty's Government would be framed and directed with a view of furthering the great policy which Her Majesty's Government maintained. On the other hand, every proposal emanating from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian would very naturally partake of the character of the policy which he believed in, and of which he was the head. The right hon. Gentleman on a recent occasion stated clearly his views on that subject. He said— Gentlemen, what I wish to state to you is this—that the Irish people cannot, and the Irish people ought not, to acquiesce in a Government which is against them, and is a Government of unequal laws. Yet these laws had been passed by this Parliament; they were the laws of the land. They did not cease to be laws because hon. Gentlemen opposite objected to them. They remained upon the Statute Book until that authority which created should repeal them. And, therefore, when the right hon. Gentleman said, as he did the other day, that the Irish people ought not, and could not, obey the Government and the law; and that by proving to the House and the country that the Government were incapable of maintaining the law they must give up Ireland as a bad job, it was very natural that every effort which he and his Party made with regard to purchase should be made with a view to show that the law would not be, and could not be, carried out in Ireland. No measure could be devised by the wit of man better calculated to carry out that purpose than the Arrears Bill which he had recommended. It was a premium on national dishonesty. It mulcted the good and merciful landlord who had been so ill-advised as to allow arrears to accrue, while it exonerated the hard landlord who made his tenants pay up to the day. He had heard Lord Clanricarde abused in most unmeasured terms because he forced his tenants not to be in arrears. He was not arguing whether Lord Clanricarde was a bad landlord, but he maintained that the Arrears Bill and the arguments of the right hon. Gentleman exonerated Lord Clanricarde, because he had not, at any rate, the pernicious habit of allowing arrears to accumulate. It deterred the honest tenant from fulfilling his obligation. Then he did not know anything which caused more heart burning among honest Irish tenants than seeing that, whereas they had always paid their just debts, their neighbours, who had gone scot free, and had not paid, because they had been ordered not to pay, were getting whitewashed by Act of Parliament. Could anyone conceive any more powerful lever that could be placed in the hands of hon. Gentlemen opposite—especially the hon. Member for East Mayo and those like him—who go about the country telling the tenants to hold on to the money and to pay no rent, and that an Arrears Bill would be brought in? If they did not desire continued agitation and further misfortunes they ought to reject the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman. He saw the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) was present. He (Colonel Saunderson) hoped they might hear him on that occasion. The other day the right hon. Gentleman said at Birmingham that "while the sun shone the stars did not appear." The right hon. Gentleman added that he intended on another occasion "to twinkle his best." He was very anxious to see the right hon. Gentleman "twinkle" on this occasion. He would like to hear from so great an authority on Irish land an answer to some of the objections he had ventured to urge. The proposal of the Government, hon. Gentlemen below the Gang- way opposite knew well, would have the effect of knocking the very bottom out of the organization to which they belonged. He knew in his neighbourhood an estate had been sold, and one of the tenants said to a friend of his—"Now that I have got the land, sorra a ha'porth of money they'll get from me." That was the spirit which it was thought desirable to establish in various parts of Ireland. No one was more opposed than he was to a great, violent, and heroic measure of Land Purchase. No one in that House would have opposed it more strenuously than he himself would do. He should look on it as bad for the State and an absolute misfortune to Ireland; but he believed that the gradual making of Irish tenants owners of the land they tilled would be the best way of solving the Irish Question. They had now two roads along which they could tread. They had the experience of the past to teach them that the arrears road had been a lamentable failure. They had, on the other hand, the Ashbourne Act road, which had been pre-eminently successful. With anticipations of further success from travelling in the same direction, in the name of Ireland and of its best interests, he besought the House to reject the way proposed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, and to tread the way which he believed led to peace, happiness, and prosperity.

THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON (Lancashire, Rossendale)

Mr. Speaker, I am anxious to say a few words upon this question, but I have no intention of trespassing at any length on the attention of the House, and for this reason among others—the issue which we have to decide to-night appears to be one of a very limited character, and I do not think that we, who are prepared to support the policy proposed by Her Majesty's Government, would assist them by saying anything which would tend to unduly protract this debate, considering that the only obstacle that I can see that is likely in the slightest degree to endanger the success of their policy is the obstacle, not of argument, but of time. I shall, therefore, endeavour to confine what I have to say within a moderate and reasonable limit. We have listened this evening to a very remarkable speech from the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon), on which I should like to be allowed to say one or two words. That speech did not appear to me to be a very cogent argument either against the Land Purchase Bill or in favour of the Amendment of my right hon. Friend; but I think it was one of the most cogent arguments I have ever heard in favour of the policy of what the hon. Member and his Friends call the policy of coercion. When we have said, as we often have said, that there existed in Ireland a combination, or, as we frequently termed it, a conspiracy, for the purpose of depreciating the value of the property of one class for the benefit of another—if we said that the method by which that combination was carried out was the method of intimidation, and of organized intimidation, we should be contradicted, as we frequently have been contradicted. But that is precisely what the hon. Member for East Mayo has, I will not say confessed, but boasted to-night that he and his Friends have done, and have done successfully. He says that, to the great advantage of the British taxpayer, and to the still greater advantage of the Irish farmer, he and his friends have succeeded in reducing the value of the fee-simple of the land in Ireland from over 20 years' purchase to something like 17 years' purchase, and he tells us how this has been accomplished. He says they have destroyed the competition by which the tenants were in former times cutting each other's throats. And how has that competition been destroyed? He has not told us that the hunger for land has diminished in Ireland, or that there are a smaller number of persons who desire to become possessed of land. He tells us that the process in which he exults has been accomplished simply by the action of the National League—by the action of himself and his friends—which has rendered it impossible for any farm from which, from any cause, a tenant has been evicted to be occupied safely by any other tenant.


Will the noble Lord allow me? I am watching closely what he has said, and as this is a matter of considerable importance it is only fair to me that he should be accurate, because he professes to give my exact words. I never used the word "safely," nor was there a single syllable in my speech from beginning to end in which I indicated that the result was to be, or had been, achieved by intimidation.


I was not professing to give the exact words of the hon. Member for East Mayo. I have never been fortunate enough myself, nor have I heard of anyone else who was fortunate enough, in referring to a speech of the hon. Member for East Mayo, to avoid a contradiction from him.


Do I understand the noble Lord to mean that I am in the habit of telling falsehoods and of repudiating the words that I have used? ["Hear, hear!" from the Ministerial side of the House.] Hon. Gentlemen opposite cheer that. All I can say is that it is not the treatment due to a Member of this House, or the usual custom of this House.


No, Sir; I do not intend to make any imputation whatever against the hon. Member. I only say that the hon Member requires an exactitude in interpreting and reproducing what he conceives to have been his argument, to which it is very difficult, indeed, for anyone to attain. The hon. Member told us what, in his opinion, was the cause of the depreciation in the value of the fee-simple of Irish land. He said the cause which led to that depreciation has been the existence of 5,000 unlet farms in Ireland, and he said, as I understood, that he and his hon. Friends in this House, and the National League, of which they are Members and Representatives, will not permit any of those farms to be re-let to any other tenants. The hon. Member says he never referred to intimidation as the means by which this admirable result has been arrived at; but I want to know what he means by intimidation, or by what other means than intimidation he and his friends will take care that those farms will not be let again? Does he assert—can he assert for a moment—that there are not thousands of honest and industrious men in Ireland who are willing and prepared to take those farms? Can he assert of such men that they would be guilty of any moral offence if they were to take that step? But the hon. Member says that he and his friends will take care that they shall not; and I ask him, if he asserts now that in his speech he meant no reference to intimidation, what other means there are, except the intimidation which exists, by which this prohibition is to be enforced? I maintain that this confession and exultation in the existence of a combination—which we on this side of the House are justified in calling a conspiracy—for an illegal purpose justify everything that we have said, and, more than that, justify everything that we have done to oppose resistance in the name of law and order against a system which works by such means. I have said that I do not want to touch upon a great variety of subjects, and I shall say very few words indeed on the Amendment of my right hon. Friend, as far as relates to the question of arrears. I think we are justified in passing by that Amendment without much discussion, because I do not admit that it is a legitimate Amendment. I do not say, for a moment, that it is not legitimate from my right hon. Friend's point of view; that it is not a piece of legitimate Party tactics; but the sense in which I contend that it is not a legitimate Amendment is this—that I altogether deny that the subject brought forward in the Amendment in competition with the proposal of the Government is in the least connected with the original subject matter of the Motion. The arrears question and the purchase question are not subjects which are connected. They are subjects which are completely separate and distinct, and may be dealt with in a great variety of ways. An Arrears Act may be right and a Purchase Act may be right; they may both be wrong, or one of them may be right and the other wrong; but whatever they may be in this respect the one is certainly not an alternative to the other. If you reject this Bill and pass this Amendment, you will not advance one single step nearer towards the settlement of the arrears question. If, in the opinion of my right hon. Friend and of hon. Gentlemen sitting on this side, as it seemed to be the opinion last night of the hon. Member for North-East Cork (Mr. W. O'Brien), the two questions can be properly dealt with in the compass of a single measure, you would not have taken the course which has been taken of moving the rejection of this Bill. You would have waited until we arrived at the stage of Committee, and would then have moved clauses dealing with the arrears question; or if that would not have been within the scope of the Bill, you would have moved an Instruction to enable the Committee to deal with the arrears question as well as the purchase question. But by the rejection of this Bill and passing this Resolution you will not, as I have said, advance a single step nearer to the settlement of the arrears question, which is to be the substitute for a Purchase Bill. It is not necessary for me to argue that the arrears question is not a very important or a very urgent one, although my own opinion is, and it may be taken for what it is worth, that the urgency and importance of the arrears question have been very much exaggerated, and that the relief which could be given to tenants of Ireland by passing an Arrears Act has been immensely overrated. But whether it be an extremely important or urgent one or not, I contend it has not, in the slightest degree, been forwarded or brought nearer to solution by arguments such as have been addressed to us last night and to-night. My right hon. Friend, in moving the Amendment, did not touch upon a subject upon which he is generally very apt to deal—upon the statistics relating to evictions, or to the manner in which the question of arrears bears upon those statistics. My right hon. Friend preferred last night to deal with the question of arrears from what I may call an à priori point of view, and gave an opinion upon the subject of arrears which appears to have been mainly evolved from his own inner consciousness. As has been pointed out by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for North Armagh (Colonel Saunderson), who has just sat down, he did not support the views which he put forward upon this subject by any facts whatever, except one single instance. My hon. and gallant Friend has dealt with that matter, and has relieved me from the necessity of saying much upon it. I think the solitary case which he brought forward was one which requires very accurate investigation. It is certainly a very remarkable case, for which, I think, if my right hon. Friend has been rightly informed, it would be very difficult to find a parallel, either in Ireland or in any other country. For what appears to have taken place, if the right hon. Gentleman has been accu- rately informed, is that an Irish landlord has refused to accept the current years' rent with two years' arrears and a certain amount of law costs, for the sole purpose of obtaining a right in future to extort a rack-rent for seven acres of bad land, with a cottage upon it, which was valued by himself at the rate of £3 12s., and by the Land Commissioners at £1 15s. per annum. I do not say that the facts may not have been as they have been reported to my right hon. Friend; but I say it is a very peculiar and a very remarkable case, and I do not think he will find a great many Irish landlords who would have taken a similar course, under similar circumstances. My right hon. Friend has indulged in a disquisition on the uses of arrears, and he appears to think that, for some reason or other, an Irish landlord absolutely delights in arrears, and uses them as a means by which he may defraud his tenantry of the benefits which were designed to be conferred upon them by the Land Act of 1881. My hon. and gallant Friend has dealt with this question also, and upon it I need, therefore, only say a very few words. My right hon. Friend said that tenants may be evicted for arrears, and again, that tenants may be evicted for the rent just due; that they may have been so crippled by arrears that they are unable to meet their engagements for the rent just due. Now, I want my right hon. Friend or some of his Friends to explain for him how a tenant is crippled in the payment of a rent now due by the existence of arrears? What are arrears? They are instalments of rent due in former years which have not been paid. How is the tenant crippled in the payment of last year's rent now due by the fact that he has failed to pay the instalments of rent due in several previous years? That is the way in which my right hon. Friend has dealt with the question of arrears. He has avoided the principle, and he has avoided special cases except this remarkable one, and he has dealt with it front what I venture again to call an à priori point of view. The hon. Member for North-East Cork, who spoke last night, and dealt with this question in a different manner, also refused to go into any cases of actual evictions which have taken place on account of arrears. He preferred to deal with the notices of eviction given under the 7th section of the Act of last year, and to dwell upon the hardship and the deprivation of rights which followed from these notices to a great number of Irish tenants. But the hon. Member altogether forgot to inform the House that those notices of eviction could not be served upon the tenant until the landlord had obtained a decree of the Court. He forgot to inform the House that the Act gave the Court the power of taking the arrears into consideration and postponing their payment, and of ordering their payment by such instalments as to the Court seemed just. Until we know how far this power has been invoked, and how far it has been exercised, and until we know how far those decrees of eviction have been caused by an absolute refusal on the part of tenants to offer any reasonable settlement, or by the refusal on the part of the landlord to accept reasonable offers, it is quite impossible to draw any sound conclusion from the statistics presented to us by the hon. Member last night. I maintain that nothing has been presented to us in the course of the debate which has, in the slightest degree, made it easier to the House to deal with this question of arrears, however important or urgent it may be. The Government and the Unionist Party have never refused to deal with the question of arrears. They have made a proposal upon the question, and the difficulty which has been found has not been an indisposition on the part of either side of the House to face the question; but it has been found in the failure to agree upon the mode in which this question should be dealt with. We failed last year to come to any agreement upon the question. We failed equally in the present year to come to any agreement upon it. It may be deplored that the subject should remain an unsettled question; but surely the whole responsibility does not rest upon one side of the House or the other. The responsibility, if responsibility there is, does not rest solely upon the Government which proposed its own plan, but it must be shared in some degree, at all events, by hon. Members representing Irish constituencies below the Gangway, and by other Gentlemen sitting in this House, who refuse to deal with the question upon any lines except those which commend themselves to their own judgment. I have to ask whether this failure—perhaps unfortunate failure—on the part of the House to arrive at an agreement as to the manner in which the subject of arrears ought to be dealt with ought to constitute a reason why we should refuse to give an answer to the simple question whether the operation of the Land Purchase Act of 1885 should be continued or should be abandoned. Now, Sir, it appears to me that it is a question rather more of administration than of policy. The principle of the Act has already been approved by Parliament. An organization has been created for carrying out the principle proposed by the Government and approved by Parliament. Transactions have been entered into between landlords who are ready to sell and tenants who are anxious to buy. Those transactions are temporarily suspended owing to the want of funds to carry on further operations. Surely the parties to those transactions have a right to know whether the policy which dictated the passing of this Act in 1885 is to be continued, or is to be abandoned? For what reason is it to be abandoned? Has it proved a failure? On the contrary, it is the only experiment—the only successful experiment—which has been tried in the direction of creating a peasant proprietary in Ireland, and of increasing and multiplying the number of occupying owners in Ireland. The policy has formed a part of the legislation of a number of years. It formed a part of the policy of the Irish Church Act. It formed a part of the policy of the Land Act of 1870, and again of 1881; but not one of the proposals contained in those Acts has been fully successful. They have all been more or less, up to the present time, failures. The hon. Member for East Mayo said that those previous experiments had been failures, because the price of land at that time was too high; but there have been other causes for the failure of the experiments. The policy of those Acts required that a considerable portion of money should be found by the tenants, and it was found in practice that this proportion of the money could only be raised at usurious rates, which crippled those who raised them. They have also failed, in part, from the want of any organization, such as now exists, entirely devoted to carrying out the principle of the Act. They have failed, in part, I believe, through the laudable anxiety of the Treasury, the Board of Works, and other Departments, which have been entrusted with their execution, to take care that no loss should accrue to the Exchequer. But the present Act has been, up to the present time, a success. If that success had been purchased at the cost of any risk to the Exchequer, I should be the last to say that the experiment ought to be continued any further. I should have been the first to say that it ought at once to be abandoned. But it has not been contended, for a moment, in the course of these two nights' discussion, that there is any sensible risk in regard to any portion of the £5,000,000 which have already been advanced, or that there is any prospect of a loss accruing of the £5,000,000 now proposed to be advanced by the House. I should like to ask the House what is the use of trying an experiment if, when it is found to be successful, it is to be abandoned? It ought to be abandoned if it had proved to be an unsuccessful experiment, but what is the use of a successful experiment if it is not prosecuted further? I do not say, for a moment, that the success of this experiment has been such as would warrant the House consenting to its extension to an unlimited extent. I do not say that experience would warrant the House granting £50,000,000, £100,000,000, or £200,000,000 for its further prosecution. My right hon. Friend argued last night that he was debating this question on the assumption that it is to be made the foundation for a great, complete, and final measure, I altogether deny that position. I say that by the continuance, to a limited extent, of the experiment already commenced, the House is committed to no such liability. What may be claimed for the operation of the Act is that it has, to a limited extent, had a beneficial effect: that it has enabled, with mutual satisfaction to both parties, tenants to become the owners of their holdings; that it has elicited the approval of a great number of persons of very different political opinions and differing almost upon every question. It may be claimed for it that it has done this without injustice to anyone, without risk or injury to the British taxpayers or to the British Exchequer. Something more has been accomplished. By the experiment now being carried out experience has been gained and is being gained which cannot fail to be of value in the further consideration by Parliament of this subject. We want to know something more in relation to this question of Irish land purchase than the security and the immunity of the British Exchequer. My right hon. Friend contended last night that under the plan which he proposed in 1886 the security of the British Exchequer would have been completely guarded. But does my right hon. Friend altogether ignore or neglect the consideration of the position of the Irish Exchequer or the Irish taxpayer? If it is probable, as he contended yesterday, that under a great extension of this scheme, either through inability or unwillingness to pay, the British taxpayer might ultimately become involved in very great loss, would not that same risk have been incurred under the plan of my right hon. Friend by the Irish Exchequer and by the Irish taxpayers? Under his own plan, no doubt, it is open to him to contend that the English Exchequer and the English taxpayer would have been secured; but does he think that he is justified in imposing on the Irish Exchequer and the Irish taxpayer a liability which, according to his own showing, is so great and so extremely risky? What is being done under the operation of this Act? The experience we are gaining under the operation of this Act is this. We are gaining experience and information as to the capacity of Irish tenants to make punctual payment of the instalments due from them, and to continue the payment of those instalments. We are gaining information as to the capacity of the Irish tenant to be converted into a prosperous occupying owner. We are gaining information as to whether the beneficial results arising from a process of this description are of a character which warrant Parliament either in imposing some financial risk upon the Imperial Exchequer or upon local resources for the purpose of furthering this policy. We are obtaining in a safe, in a satisfactory, and in a complete manner, experience on all those questions which cannot fail to be of value to us before we have ventured to embark on any scheme of a more ambitious character, whether such a scheme involves a great extension of the use of Imperial credit, or whether it is based on the use of more limited local credit. I say that that experience which is being gained under the continued operation of this Act is invaluable for all those purposes. It is being gained at no risk, at no loss to any British interests whatever. It is, so far as it has gone, an experiment which has been tried with satisfaction to all parties and all classes in Ireland. It has, to a limited extent, as far as its operations have gone, been attended with pacifying and peaceful influences; and I say that no ground has been shown why this experiment, successful to the extent I have indicated, should be abandoned and should not be further prosecuted. It appears to me that Parliament could be guilty of no more wanton, and I believe of no more mischievous, act, than that in consideration of some end which experience has shown we are, at all events, at present unable to attain, we should abandon the prosecution of a policy which, as far as it has gone, has been attended with unmixed success.

MR. JOHN MORLEY (Newcastle-on-Tyne)

Mr. Speaker, I cannot but regret that my noble Friend should have commenced his speech with what—I do not wish to call it an attack—is a series of innuendoes against my hon. Friend the Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon). Sir, I think that the position of my hon. Friend the Member for East Mayo, in point of truthfulness and in point of honour, stands as high as that of any hon. Gentleman in this House. As regards the language which my hon. Friend is charged with using, and which the noble Lord has thought, apparently, to be of so guilty a character—I heard what my hon. Friend said, and I declare I cannot see that he used a single phrase or a single expression which I have not myself heard, in years gone by, used again and again by the leaders of English Trade Unions. I presume, and I have a right to presume, that my hon. Friend the Member for East Mayo meant what the leaders of Trade Unions used to mean—namely, that they would bring to bear esprit de corps. [Laughter on the Ministerial side of the House.] Well, I cannot see why you should laugh at the notion of tenants having esprit de corps. Landlords have enough esprit de corps. I will, however, pass on from that episode with the repetition of my regret that the noble Lord should have thought fit to make an insinuation of that kind against the veracity of my hon. Friend. Then, Sir, the noble Lord came to my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone), and he made a series of criticisms, the force of which I do not at all wish to disparage, on the position taken up by my right hon. Friend; and he fell upon an expression used by my right hon. Friend last night, to the effect that tenants were crippled by arrears; and the noble Lord said he could not understand how a tenant could be crippled by arrears. How, the noble Lord asked, could he be crippled by not having made a payment that was due? Well, my right hon. Friend, of course, did not mean that he was crippled by the want of the money which he had not paid, but by the fact which, I suppose, even hon. Gentlemen in this House may be able to understand, that a man may owe a debt which he cannot pay, and which he does not pay, and yet which may weigh upon him and hang like a millstone round his neck. If I owe a man £1,000 which he may recover, I am crippled in that respect. In Ireland this expression has a peculiar force and appropriateness, for in Ireland there has long prevailed a vicious habit of keeping alive and piling up arrears, and my right hon. Friend meant, of course, what I presume my noble Friend might have understood, that arrears hung round the tenant's neck and to a very fatal extent crippled his freedom of action. Then the noble Lord came to rather closer quarters and said that this Amendment was, in his view, not a legitimate Amendment to the original Motion. He said that the proposition of the Amendment about arrears might be right or might be wrong, but that the two propositions to deal with arrears or to deal with purchase were not true alternatives. It is quite true that in one sense they are not alternatives, but I submit that they are alternatives in the sense in which my right hon. Friend meant them. They are alternatives in point of time. It is a question, according to the Amendment of my right hon. Friend, whether the Government should take up arrears, or whether they should take up purchase; and our position is, and the position of my right hon. Friend's Amendment is, that the more urgent question is the question of arrears, and that, therefore, the more urgent question ought not to have been shirked and avoided. The hon. Member for Southport (Mr. Curzon) last night said that he and his Friends did not grudge the time given to this debate. That is a very fine landlord sentiment, but we do grudge the time that is not devoted to dealing with the most urgent grievance that now exists in Ireland. My noble Friend says that he thinks the urgency of arrears has been greatly exaggerated. He, along with the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh (Colonel Saunderson), maintained that my right hon. Friend had made no case in support of there being a grievance in connection with arrears. They both said that my right hon. Friend had relied upon an illustration, and upon that illustration they cast some doubt. Sir, it is not in the least necessary to rely upon illustrations. It is not necessary to go one inch behind the position taken up, and the admissions made, by the Government themselves. The Government admitted, in the beginning of this year, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not deny it last night, that there is a question of arrears, and that there is a grievance in connection with arrears that ought to be dealt with; and he goes so far as to say that the Government have a remedy for it. If there were no evil the right hon. Gentleman would not have proposed a remedy. But the noble Lord says—"Oh, you have to share the responsibility for the remedy not having been accepted." What can the noble Lord mean by such an argument? Are you so tender of our feelings that you will pass no measure for Ireland unless you have our sympathy? You are in this position, and it is a most fatal position; you admit the grievance; you admit that arrears are a grievance and a dangerous mischief; you propose a remedy. Then why not insist on your remedy? You have a majority, and the sense of responsibility is wholly and solely yours. I will turn for a moment to the speech of the hon. and gallant Member who preceded the noble Lord in the debate. I was very much surprised and very much pleased to hear the remarks of the hon. and gallant Gentleman upon the line alleged to have been taken by my hon. Friends below the Gangway. He said—it was quite edifying to hear him—"How long were they to submit to non-acquiescence in the law?" The law had been passed, he said, by this Parliament, and yet they made light of it. Why, how many a time has the hon. and gallant Member told the House and the country that he and his Friends will not acquiesce in a particular law, though it should be made by this Parliament? Then the hon. and gallant Member referred, upon the question of land purchase, to the opinion of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain). I shall have occasion to refer to that by and by. He will find that the opinion of that right hon. Gentleman does not make so much in favour of his argument as he supposes. But about the arrears our position is this. It is an urgent question. I am not going to labour the point. But as reference has been made, in the course of this debate, very often to an article by Archbishop Walsh, I should like, as the First Lord of the Admiralty read a passage from that article, to read a passage from it also. If the authority of the Archbishop is given upon one part of the subject, I think we may claim that it is equally good on another. The Archbishop says— The arrears incubus is for the moment the essence of the Irish Land Question. Then he says— No one acquainted with the circumstances of this country and anxious for the maintenance of peace within its borders can fail to feel the deepest misgivings as to the perils by which the existence of social order in many districts in Ireland is now seriously threatened—perils which can be averted only by the prompt application of some legislative remedy for the protection of thousands of tenants now helplessly overweighted by excessive rents which they cannot pay, and living from day to day under the terror of evictions impending for nonpayment of rent. If the authority of the Archbishop is to be taken in favour of Lord Ashbourne's Act, we have a right equally to appeal to it in favour of proceeding first of all with arrears before you deal with land purchase. Now, I turn to the question of land purchase. The noble Lord said truly enough that the Act has been an experiment. But I submit that there has not been anything like length of time enough to test the force and worth of that experiment. I say more than that. I say that the Irish Government themselves—I will show it in a moment—do not know, have not taken the trouble to inform themselves, of facts which are most important to our minds to test this experiment. The other night—about four nights ago—I asked the Chief Secretary if he would give us a Return showing two points—points to which I attached very great importance. Those two points were—first, what was the average number of years' purchase for certain classes of holdings when the rents were under £10, from £10 to £30, and of holdings from £30 to £50? Then I wanted to know what sum had been advanced under each of these heads? The Chief Secretary told me he believed there would be no difficulty in procuring that information for me. I now find—I do not make any complaint of the right hon. Gentleman—that that information cannot be got. But what does that show? It shows that the Irish Government themselves, and the Chief Secretary, when they sat down to frame and devise a land policy for Ireland, came to the conclusion that the true land policy is the extension of Lord Ashbourne's Act; and they came to that conclusion without knowing two particulars of that kind, which anybody acquainted with the Irish Land Question at all will agree are vital to the elucidation of the problem. I hear every day from Ireland various accounts of the artifices and devices which are pursued in the working of this Act. I hear of tenancies being created for the purpose of making the basis of transactions of sale and purchase—and there is now a case pending in the Courts of Dublin, or elsewhere, in which a man is sued for rent, and pleads that the tenancy was a sham one, which was entered into in order to facilitate a purchase and sale. There are plenty of other devices. I was surprised to hear the Chancellor of the Exchequer say there was no connection between arrears and land purchase. Why, Sir, the other day, during this month, a Land Commissioner expressly called attention to the fact that the Com- missioners had been obliged to make a new rule. And why? Because they had found out that in one case the landlord had taken proceedings to recover one-and-a-half year's rent after an agreement for the sale of an estate. In another case they discovered that negotiations for the sale of an estate were delayed so that a decree might be obtained for arrears of rent. The effect of—I do not know whether to call them fraudulent, but I will say equivocal—transactions of this kind is to depreciate the security upon which the Chancellor of the Exchequer laid so great stress. I do not wish to go into further details. I am submitting to the House that you are going to vote for an extension of this Act upon the basis of an experiment having been successful, when you do not know, and the Government does not know, what the real conditions of the operations have been. There is another point to which I wish to call the noble Lord's attention. He talks of the success of the experiment. Now, the object of the Government in pressing forward land purchase at this moment is what? As I understand it, it is twofold. It is, first of all, to avoid difficulties in the collection of rents; the second is to build up a bulwark of thrifty, prosperous, saving men against future agitations. Well, I want to call the attention of the House to one fact alone which has been given to us as to the distribution of the fund. We have only the figures for the expenditure of £3,294,000. Now, remember that of this sum only £521,000 has been expended in what I call the West of Ireland—that is Connaught; Donegal, in the Province of Ulster, and Kerry and Clare in the Province of Munster. You have, therefore, one-sixth of that fund only expended in the West of Ireland. Now the rural population of the West of Ireland—I call rural population that which dwells outside of places containing 2,000 inhabitants—is 1,270,000, and the rural population of the East of Ireland is 2,658,000. Therefore you have this result,—that twice the population takes five times the amount out of the Ashbourne fund. Of course, I know why that is. It is because the mean value of the land per statute acre is much lower in the West than in the East of Ireland. I know that; but I wish the House to observe what a test this furnishes of the impression produced by this Act, and of the success of the experiment my noble Friend is contented with. It shows the small impression this Act is producing on the most wretched and the most turbulent part of Ireland, and that part of Ireland which stands most in need of social improvement. I call that a most important fact, and I will quote the evidence of Mr. Lynch, who was examined by Sir James Caird— Then you would have the State to buy what is a bad bargain for anybody else?—I do not say it would be a bad bargain. But you must have regard to the state of these districts, which are reservoirs of agitation. As long as you have them, so long will you have Ireland disturbed. It is from these reservoirs that the stream of discontent is carried into the more favoured districts in Ireland, and you must apply some remedy to this state of things. I submit, Sir, that as far as the evidence goes I have now proved that the experiment is making no real or effective mark in that part of Ireland which gives the Government of Ireland the most concern. When, therefore, the success of the Act is spoken of, I hope that will not be forgotten. It is assumed that because the Act has been maintained for a year or two the experiment must be regarded as a success. Why, the instalments under the Irish Church Act were for a considerable time paid with as much regularity as I have been glad to see the instalments under the Purchase Act have been paid. But the time has been far too short, and you must anticipate the operation of causes which have been constantly foreseen, and they have been foreseen by nobody more clearly than by leading Gentlemen of the two Parties who will go into the Lobby to-night in favour of the Motion for the introduction of the Bill and against the Amendment of my right hon. Friend. To-night the noble Lord opposite the First Lord of the Admiralty (Lord George Hamilton) referred to a speech and a Motion which he made in 1883. I remember that speech very well. It was made a short time after I got into the House, and I used then to listen to speeches with a simplicity which I have found it difficult to maintain. The noble Lord brought forward a scheme which contained many admirable features, but he prefaced that scheme by these remarks— It might, with equal truth, be asserted that few conditions could be more dangerous to Go- vernments than that they should be the creditors of a large portion of their subjects, especially if those so indebted were also politically disaffected towards them. This was the great objection which had hitherto existed against a rapid conversion of tenants into proprietors in Ireland through State agency. To bring the State face to face with hundreds of thousands of tenants to whom the doctrine of repudiation of contract was too familiar would be a perilous condition for all concerned."—(3 Hansard, [280] 415.) The noble Lord has there put, in better language than I could, the very idea in my mind in resisting the proposal to extend Lord Asbourne's Act. The noble Lord was seconded—after founding his Resolution on the proposition that it was a dangerous and perilous state of things to bring the State into immediate contact with hundreds of thousands of disaffected tenants—the noble Lord was seconded by the right hon. Gentleman who is now Chief Secretary for Ireland. As I have already said, the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh (Colonel Saunderson) referred to the opinions of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain). I heard both to-night and last night lively cheers from my hon. Friend the Member for the Bordesley Division of Birmingham (Mr. Jesse Collings) whenever remarks were made in favour of the Ministerial proposal. Now, I am sure that my hon. Friend is acquainted with The Birmingham Daily Post. An article appeared in that paper of distinguished parentage, and what does the writer of the article, or the well-known inspirer of the articles in the paper to which I refer, say? He says— A growing expansion of the Ashbourne system of purchase might lead ultimately to a financial transaction, not less extensive, and certainly not less dangerous to security than the scheme embodied in Mr. Gladstone's Bill.

MR. JESSE COLLINGS (Birmingham, Bordesley)



Then we have the whole machinery of the Unionist mind laid bare in another passage which is very short, and therefore I will venture to read it for the benefit of my hon. Friend and others who agree with him. It says— If, yielding to pressure from landowners and Nationalists, the Government decide upon asking Parliament to expend further grants under Lord Ashbourne's Act, the Unionist majority would probably support Ministers in their proposal, rather than see their position endangered; but such support would be given with reluctance, and with grave apprehensions that there would be little security for the ultimate repayment of the advances, or that purchases so carried out would really aid in establishing the pacification of Ireland. I do not know how these Gentlemen are going to vote. They are going, I suspect, to support the proposal which they believe to be more dangerous and more expensive and ruinous than the proposal of my right hon. Friend. Yes, Sir; and this is the Party who go about the country and say that there is a great moral gulf which divides them from us. There is a gulf, and their political morality lies at the bottom of it.


was understood to express dissent.

MR. HALLEY STEWART (Lincolnshire, Spalding)

If you wish to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman, go to the other side. [Cries of "Order!"]


Do not address me, Sir.


Order, order!


I regret if I have said anything to irritate my hon. Friend.


Not at all.


Now, Sir, I should like to say a word in reference to some remarks which fell to-night from my hon. Friend the Member for Northumberland (Sir Edward Grey). I listened to the speech of my hon. Friend with almost as much admiration, I think, as if it had been delivered in favour of our own proposal. It was marked with such excellent taste, and altogether was so honourable a performance, that I regret that there should be, even for a moment, a division between my hon. Friend and myself. I feel pretty sure that it is the last division that there will over be between us. My hon. Friend, in a perfectly friendly way, challenged me to say whether I still hold that Land Purchase is part of the true policy of dealing with Ireland. Sir, I have no hesitation in answering the question of my hon. Friend. My position on that subject is exactly what it has always been. I have always said that it would be unfair and inexpedient to throw upon an Irish Parliament a question of such deep interests, and so involved with such old passions and with such bitter roots in old historic memories. I am there where I have always been. But although I am for Land Purchase, I am not for Land Purchase at any price, and that is the difference between me and my hon. Friend the Member for Haddingtonshire (Mr. Haldane) who spoke last night. I, at least, dissent—we all dissent—from the method in which it is proposed in Lord Ashbourne's Act to carry out Land Purchase. We object to it because it is dangerous, and I object to it for some other reasons which I hope the House will excuse me for mentioning. I beg the attention of my hon. Friend the Member for Haddingtonshire especially to this point, and perhaps the Chancellor of the Exchequer may possibly consider a question I will venture to put to him. In the Bill of 1886, which throughout this debate has been most persistently misrepresented—in every respect, almost, it has been misrepresented—in the Bill of 1886 there was one particular provision which I desire to call attention to, and that was that the price paid to the landlord was 20 years of the net rental, whereas the price paid by the tenant was 4 per cent of the gross rental. The meaning of that was that the Irish authority received 4 per cent on the gross and it paid 4 per cent on the net, and it pocketed the difference. What is the meaning of that? I am sure the Chancellor of the Exchequer will not be slow to see the meaning of it, and a great principle to which I feel bound to adhere was embodied in that provision. The principle was this—that if you are going, as you are in this measure to-night to resort on a great or moderate scale either to the use of Imperial credit, you are bound to see that though the Irish tenant gets the main benefit, and the larger benefit, yet that that benefit shall not be exclusive, but shall be shared by the whole of the taxpayers of Ireland. It might have been wiser to reserve permanently a portion of the annuity. I will not argue that question now, but I say that your improvident and unreflecting plan resorts abundantly to British credit, without the wholesome and salutary principle which was embodied in our Bill of 1886 that some portion of that great boon should be distributed among the Irish taxpayers at large. I do not approve of the policy of the advances under Lord Ashbourne's Act, because I do not approve of any resort to British credit which does not contain the principle I have laid down, and I think my two hon. Friends the Members for Northumberland and Haddingtonshire, with whom I so much agree, have failed to notice that a principle of that kind, and so important, is entirely absent from the proposal which they are going to support. It is said that it is only £5,000,000 after all, but it is impossible for anybody to believe for one moment that this can be the end of it. I do not like to say that it cannot be even the intention of the Government that it should be the end of it. I do not think it is any great breach of charity to believe that the Government, in bringing forward this proposal for the extension of Lord Ashbourne's Act, are animated simply and solely by the desire, not of settling the Irish Land Question, but of getting for themselves three smooth years in which coercion may work its perfect way. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said last night, as he very often says—"We do not regard this proposal as the redemption of the pledges we made to Parliament and to the country." But I want to know what the Government, then, are waiting for? Why do they wait? We have heard that for two years and nearly a half they have been preparing—sometimes that they have already prepared—a scheme for the comprehensive settlement of the Land Question. Why do not they produce it? If they do not produce it now, we may depend upon it if they get those £5,000,000 to carry them on for three years to come, we shall never see their land scheme, and, without suspecting too much, I myself do not believe that that land scheme is in existence, even in the minds of right hon. Gentlemen opposite. That is one reason why I vote against this measure; and by voting for it you are voting for the indefinite postponement of the real settlement of the Irish Land Question; you are embarking upon an experiment most hazardous in itself; you are committing Parliament to an indefinite expenditure on utterly false and erroneous principles, and, in order to do that, you are neglecting the one thing it is important you should do in the interests both of justice and of social order—namely, the grievance connected with arrears. For these reasons, Mr. Speaker, I for one shall, without the slightest hesitation, go into the Lobby as a means of indicating two things—first, that arrears ought to be dealt with; and, secondly, that I can never be a party to the expenditure of £1,000,000, £2,000,000, or £3,000,000. Of course, I might, for a moment, have assented to £1,000,000 or £2,000,000. [A laugh.] There is no inconsistency in that. I would have assented with my right hon. Friend to a temporary extension of the Act to enable the Government to bring in their scheme, if they had any scheme; and, as they have no scheme, I, for one, wish to protest, in the most strenuous manner of which I am capable, against persistence in a policy which is full of hazard to the English taxpayer, and which will not conduce by one atom to the real pacification of Ireland.

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

Mr. Speaker, I have no intention, Sir, of continuing the debate by attempting to answer the right hon. Gentleman who has claimed the right to reply upon the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian. I shall not attempt to follow him in the remarks he has made. But there is one remark which fell from the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian which calls for a few observations from me which I trust the House will allow me to make. The right hon. Gentleman made a pointed reference to me in regard to the discussion which took place when it was my duty on the 10th of July to ask for the whole time of the House in order that its Business might be properly transacted. I was told yesterday by the right hon. Gentleman that I then made no reference to the proposal which the Government have now made to the House for the extension of the Land Purchase Act, commonly known as Lord Ashbourne's Act. I was told that I had broken a pledge and a Parliamentary obligation. Now, there is nothing I regard as more binding upon any hon. Member of this House than any Parliamentary obligation he may make. It is necessary that these obligations should be most strictly and honourably observed by all, and especially by those who are responsible for the conduct of the Business of the House. But I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman, when he made the charge, was himself forgetful of the fact that on the 10th of July, when I made the statement, I referred particularly to the Land Purchase Act as a proposal which would require the consideration of this House. I will refer to the words which I then used, and which are reported in Hansard. I stated that it would be the duty of the House, in regard to the Land Purchase Act, to deal with it in the Autumn Session. On the 12th of July, when I was challenged by the right hon. Gentleman with not having made an explicit statement with regard to the Land Purchase Act, I again repeated the statement that it would be the duty of the Government to invite the House to consider this proposal in the Autumn. I make these observations in order to make the matter quite clear. But I am told by the right hon. Gentleman that the Opposition is now prepared to grant a further extention—a limited extension—of funds for the purposes of the Land Purchase Act if that had only been asked. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer stated to the House yesterday that I had taken the usual course to ascertain what the views of the Opposition were with regard to such limited extension of the Ashbourne Act as might be sufficient to carry us over to the next Session of Parliament. I had taken that course with the earnest desire of obtaining from the House the facilities necessary for keeping alive the Act and to give us the amount necessary to ride over the interval, so that Parliament might be able to consider the question in the early part of next Session. But I was told, in reply, by those who were capable of conveying to me the opinion of the Opposition, that, consistently with the views they entertained, they could not agree to any further grant, however limited, during the remainder of the present Session. That communication was made to me on the 13th of July; therefore there was no alternative open to us but to continue in the course we then indicated, and which we are now forced to take—namely, to ask the House to provide a sufficient sum to enable the operation of the Act to continue. I have thought it desirable to make this statement, in order to put myself right with the House. I refrain from entering into a defence of the Act until we come to another stage of the Bill; but I am quite satisfied of this—that we shall be able to give abundant reasons for the continuance of a course which has been' I believe, beneficial to the best interests of Ireland, which has given hope to a large number of tenant occupiers in that country, and which will, I have no doubt, result in advantage to the United Kingdom.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 330; Noes 246: Majority 84.

Addison, J. E. W. Burghley, Lord
Agg-Gardner, J. T. Caldwell, J.
Aird, J. Campbell, Sir A.
Allsopp, hon. G. Campbell, J. A.
Allsopp, hon. P. Carmarthen, Marq. of
Ambrose, W. Cavendish, Lord E.
Amherst, W. A. T. Chamberlain, R.
Anstruther, Colonel R. H. L. Chaplin, right hon. H.
Charrington, S.
Anstruther, H. T. Churchill, rt. hn. Lord R. H. S.
Ashmead-Bartlett, E.
Baden-Powell, Sir G. S. Clarke, Sir E. G.
Bailey, Sir J. R. Cochrane-Baillie, hon. C. W. A. N.
Baird, J. G. A.
Balfour, G. W. Coddington, W.
Banes, Major G. E. Coghill, D. H.
Barclay, J. W. Collings, J.
Baring, Viscount Colomb, Sir J. C. R.
Baring, T. C. Compton, F.
Barnes, A. Cooke, C. W. R.
Barry, A. H. S. Corbett, A. C.
Bartley, G. C. T. Corbett, J.
Barttelot, Sir W. B. Corry, Sir J. P.
Bass, H. Cotton, Capt. E. T. D.
Bates, Sir E. Cranborne, Viscount
Baumann, A. A. Cross, H. S.
Bazley-White, J. Cross, W. H.
Beach, W. W. B. Crossley, Sir S. B.
Beadel, W. J. Crossman, Gen. Sir W.
Beaumont, H. F. Cubitt, right hon. G.
Beckett, E. W. Currie, Sir D.
Beckett, W. Curzon, Viscount
Bective, Earl of Curzon, hon. G. N.
Bentinck, rt. hn. G. C. Dalrymple, Sir C.
Bentinck, Lord H. C. Darling, C. J.
Beresford, Lord C. W de la Poer Darling, M. T. S.
Davenport, H. T.
Bethell, Commander G. R. Davenport, W. B.
De Lisle, E. J. L. M. P.
Biddulph, M. De Worms, Baron H.
Bigwood, J. Dimsdale, Baron R.
Birkbeck, Sir E. Dixon-Hartland, F. D.
Blundell, Col. H. B. H. Dugdale, J. S.
Bolitho, T. B. Duncombe, A.
Bond, G. H. Dyke, right hon. Sir W. H.
Bonsor, H. C. O.
Boord, T. W. Ebrington, Viscount
Borthwick, Sir A. Egerton, hon. A. J. F.
Bristowe, T. L. Egerton, hon. A. de T.
Brodrick, hon. W. St. J. F. Elcho, Lord
Elliot, Sir G.
Brookfield, A. M. Elliot, hon. H. F. H.
Brown, A. H. Elliot, G. W.
Bruce, Lord H. Ellis, Sir J. W.
Burdett-Coutts, W. L. Ash.-B. Elton, C. I.
Ewart, Sir W.
Ewing, Sir A. O. Hill, A. S.
Eyre, Colonel H. Hoare, E. B.
Farquharson, H. R. Hoare, S.
Feilden, Lt.-Gen. R. J. Hobhouse, H.
Fellowes, A. E. Holloway, G.
Fergusson, right hon. Sir J. Houldsworth, Sir W.H.
Howard, J.
Field, Admiral E. Howorth, H. H.
Fielden, T. Hozier, J. H. C.
Finch, G. H. Hubbard, hon. E.
Finlay, R. B. Hughes, Colonel E.
Fisher, W. H. Hunt, F. S.
Fitzgerald, R. U. P. Hunter, Sir W. G.
Fitzwilliam, hon. W. H. W. Isaacs, L. H.
Isaacson, F. W.
Fitzwilliam, hon. W. J. W. Jackson, W. L.
James, rt. hon. Sir H.
Fitz-Wygram, General Sir F. W. Jardine, Sir R.
Jarvis, A. W.
Fletcher, Sir H. Jennings, L. J.
Folkestone, right hon. Viscount Johnston, W.
Kelly, J. R.
Forwood, A. B. Kennaway, Sir J. H.
Fowler, Sir R. N. Kenrick, W.
Fraser, General C. C. Kenyon, hon. G. T.
Gathorne-Hardy, hon. A. E. Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W.
Gathorne-Hardy, hon. J. S. Ker, R. W. B.
Kerans, F. H.
Gedge, S. Kimber, H.
Giles, A. King, H. S.
Gilliat, J. S. Knatchbull-Hugessen, H. T.
Godson, A. F.
Goldsmid, Sir J. Knightley, Sir R.
Goldsworthy, Major General W. T. Knowles, L.
Lafone, A.
Gorst, Sir J. E. Lambert, C.
Goschen, rt. hon. G. J. Laurie, Colonel R. P.
Granby, Marquess of Lawrence, J. C.
Gray, C. W. Lawrence, Sir J. J. T.
Green, Sir E. Lawrence, W. F.
Greenall, Sir G. Lea, T.
Greene, E. Lechmere, Sir E. A. H.
Grey, Sir E. Legh, T. W.
Grimston, Viscount Leighton, S.
Grotrian, F. B. Lennox, Lord W. C. Gordon-
Gunter, Colonel R.
Haldane, R. B. Lethbridge, Sir R.
Hall, A. W. Lewisham, right hon. Viscount
Hall, C.
Halsey, T. F. Llewellyn, E. H.
Hamilton, right hon. Lord G. F. Long, W. H.
Lowther, rt. hon. J.
Hamilton, Lord E. Lowther, hon. W.
Hamilton, Col. C. E. Lubbock, Sir J.
Hamley, Gen. Sir E. B. Lymington, Viscount
Hanbury, R. W. Macartney, W. G. E.
Hankey, F. A. Mackintosh, C. F.
Hardcastle, E. Maclean, F. W.
Hardcastle, F. Maclean, J. M.
Hartington, Marq. of Maclure, J. W.
Hastings, G. W. M'Calmont, Captain J.
Havelock - Allan, Sir H. M. Madden, D. H.
Makins, Colonel W. T.
Heath, A. R. Malcolm, Col. J. W.
Heathcote, Capt. J. H. Edwards- Mallock, R.
Maple, J. B.
Heaton, J. H. Marriott, rt. hon. Sir W. T.
Herbert, hon. S.
Hermon-Hodge, R. T. Maskelyne, M. H. N. Story-
Hervey, Lord F.
Hill, right hon. Lord A. W. Matthews, rt. hon. H.
Mattinson, M. W.
Maxwell, Sir H. E. Selwin-Ibbetson, rt. hon. Sir H. J.
Mayne, Admiral R. C.
Mildmay, F. B. Scton-Karr, H.
Mills, hon. C. W. Shaw-Stewart, M. H.
Milvain, T. Sidebotham, J. W.
More, R. J. Sidebottom, T. H.
Morgan, hon. F. Sidebottom, W.
Morrison, W. Sinclair, W. P.
Moss, R. Smith, right hon. W. H.
Mount, W. G.
Mowbray, rt. hon. Sir J. R. Smith, A.
Spencer, J. E.
Mowbray, R. G. C. Stanhope, rt. hon. E.
Mulholland, H. L. Stanley, E. J.
Muncaster, Lord Stephens, H. C.
Muntz, P. A. Stewart, M. J.
Murdoch, C. T. Stokes, G. G.
Newark, Viscount Talbot, J. G.
Noble, W. Tapling, T. K.
Norris, E. S. Taylor, F.
Northcote, hon. Sir H. S. Temple, Sir R.
Theobald, J.
Norton, R. Thorburn, W.
O'Neill, hon. R. T. Tollemache, H. J.
Paget, Sir R. H. Tomlinson, W. E. M.
Parker, hon. F. Townsend, F.
Pelly, Sir L. Tyler, Sir H. W.
Penton, Captain F. T. Vincent, C. E. H.
Plunket, rt. hon. D. R. Walsh, hon. A. H. J.
Plunkett, hon. J. W. Waring, Colonel T.
Pomfret, W. P. Watson, J.
Powell, F. S. Webster, Sir R. E.
Price, Captain G. E. Webster, R. G.
Puleston, Sir J. H. West, Colonel W. C.
Quilter, W. C. Weymouth, Viscount
Raikes, rt. hon. H. C. Wharton, J. L.
Rankin, J. Whitley, E.
Rasch, Major F. C. Whitmore, C. A.
Richardson, T. Wiggin, H.
Ritchie, rt. hn. C. T. Williams, J. Powell-
Robertson, Sir W. T. Wilson, Sir S.
Robertson, J. P. B. Winn, hon. R.
Robinson, B. Wodehouse, E. R.
Rollit, Sir A. K. Wood, N.
Ross, A. H. Wortley, C. B. Stuart-
Rothschild, Baron F. J. de Wright, H. S.
Wroughton, P.
Round, J. Yerburgh, R. A.
Royden, T. B. Young, C. E. B.
Russell, Sir G.
Russell, T. W. TELLERS.
Salt, T. Douglas, A. Akers-
Sandys, Lt.-Col. T. M. Walrond, Col. W. H.
Saunderson, Col. E. J.
Abraham, W. (Glam.) Bolton, J. C.
Abraham, W. (Limerick, W.) Bolton, T. D.
Bradlaugh, C.
Acland, A. H. D. Bright, Jacob
Acland, C. T. D. Bright, W. L.
Allison, R. A. Broadhurst, H.
Anderson, C. H. Brown, A. L.
Asher, A. Brunner, J. T.
Asquith, H. H. Burt, T.
Atherley-Jones, L. Buxton, S. C.
Austin, J. Byrne, G. M.
Balfour, rt. hon. J. B. Cameron, C.
Balfour, Sir G. Cameron, J. M.
Ballantine, W. H. W. Campbell, Sir G.
Barbour, W. B. Campbell, H.
Barran, J. Campbell-Bannerman, right hon. H.
Biggar, J. G.
Carew, J. L. Hooper, J.
Causton, R. K. Howell, G.
Channing, F. A. Hoyle, I.
Childers, right hon. H. C. E. Hunter, W. A.
Illingworth, A.
Clancy, J. J. Jacoby, J. A.
Clark, Dr. G. B. James, hon. W. H.
Cobb, H. P. Joicey, J.
Coleridge, hon. B. Jordan, J.
Colman, J. J. Kay-Shuttleworth, rt. hon. Sir U. J.
Commins, A.
Condon, T. J. Kenny, C. S.
Conway, M. Kenny, J. E.
Conybeare, C. A. V Kenny, M. J.
Corbet, W. J. Kilbride, D.
Cossham, H. Labouchere, H.
Cox, J. R. Lalor, R.
Cozens-Hardy, H. H. Lane, W. J.
Craig, J. Lawson, Sir W.
Craven, J. Lawson, H. L. W.
Crawford, D. Leahy, J.
Cremer, W. R. Leake, R.
Crilly, D. Leamy, E.
Crossley, E. Lefevre, right hon. G. J. S.
Davies, W.
Deasy, J. Lewis, T. P.
Dickson, T. A. Lockwood, F.
Dillon, J. Lyell, L.
Dillwyn, L. L. Macdonald, W. A.
Dodds, J. MacInnes, M.
Duff, R. W. Mac Neill, J. G. S.
Ellis, J. E. M'Arthur, A.
Ellis, T. E. M'Arthur, W. A.
Esmonde, Sir T. H. G. M'Cartan, M.
Esslemont, P. M'Carthy, J.
Evans, F. H. M'Donald, P.
Evershed, S. M'Donald, Dr. R.
Farquharson, Dr. R. M'Ewan, W.
Fenwick, C. M'Lagan, P.
Ferguson, R. C. Munro- Mahony, P.
Finucane, J. Maitland, W. F.
Firth, J. F. B. Mappin, Sir F. T.
Fitzgerald, J. G. Marum, E. M.
Flower, C. Mayne, T.
Flynn, J. C. Menzies, R. S.
Foley, P. J. Molloy, B. C.
Foljambe, C. G. S. Montagu, S.
Forster, Sir C. Morgan, rt. hon. G. O.
Foster, Sir W. B. Morgan, O. V.
Fowler, rt. hon. H. H. Morgan, W. P.
Fox, Dr. J. F. Morley, rt. hon. J.
Fry, T. Mundella, rt. hn. A. J.
Gardner, H. Murphy, W. M.
Gaskell, C. G. Milnes- Neville, R.
Gilhooly, J. Newnes, G.
Gill, T. P. Nolan, Colonel J. P.
Gladstone, right hon. W. E. Nolan, J.
O'Brien, J. F. X.
Gladstone, H. J. O'Brien, P.
Gourley, E. T. O'Brien, P. J.
Graham, R. C. O'Brien, W.
Grove, Sir T. F. O'Connor, A.
Gully, W. C. O'Connor, J.
Hanbury-Tracy, hon. F. S. A. O'Connor, T. P.
O'Doherty, J. E.
Harcourt, rt. hon. Sir W. G. V. V. O'Gorman Mahon, The
O'Hanlon, T.
Harrington, E. O'Hea, P.
Harrington, T. C. O'Keeffe, F. A.
Harris, M. Oldroyd, M.
Hayden, L. P. Palmer, Sir C. M.
Hayne, C. Seale- Parker, C. S.
Holden, I. Parnell, C. S.
Paulton, J. M. Stack, J.
Pease, Sir J. W. Stanhope, hon. P. J.
Pease, A. E. Stansfeld, rt. hon. J.
Pease, H. F. Stepney-Cowell, Sir A. K.
Philipps, J. W.
Pickersgill, E. H. Stevenson, F. S.
Pinkerton, J. Stewart, H.
Playfair, right hon. Sir L. Stuart, J.
Sullivan, D.
Plowden, Sir W. C. Sullivan, T. D.
Potter, T. B. Summers, W.
Power, P. J. Swinburne, Sir J.
Power, R. Tanner, C. K.
Price, T. P. Thomas, A.
Priestley, B. Thomas, D. A.
Provand, A. D. Trevelyan, right hon. Sir G. O.
Quinn, T.
Randell, D. Tuite, J.
Redmond, J. E. Vivian, Sir H. H.
Redmond, W. H. K. Waddy, S. D.
Reed, Sir E. J. Wallace, R.
Rendel, S. Wardle, H.
Reynolds, W. J. Warmington, C. M.
Roberts, J. Wayman, T.
Roberts, J. B. Whitbread, S.
Robertson, E. Will, J. S.
Robinson, T. Williams, A. J.
Roe, T. Williamson, J.
Roscoe, Sir H. E. Williamson, S.
Rowlands, J. Wilson, C. H.
Rowlands, W. B. Wilson, H. J.
Rowntree, J. Wilson, I.
Russell, Sir C. Winterbotham, A. B.
Samuelson, G. B. Woodall, W.
Schwann, C. E. Woodhead, J.
Sexton, T. Wright, C.
Shaw, T.
Sheehy, D. TELLERS.
Sheil, E. Marjoribanks, rt. hon. E.
Sinclair, J.
Spencer, hon. C. R. Morley, A.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill further to facilitate the Purchase of Land in Ireland by increasing the amount applicable for that purpose by the Land Commission ordered to be brought in by Mr. Arthur Balfour, Mr. Solicitor General for Ireland, and Mr. Secretary Matthews.

Bill presented, and read the first time. [Bill 385.]

House adjourned at half after Twelve o'clock.