§ [ADJOURNED DEBATE.]
§ Order road, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [21st November], "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ And which Amendment was, to leave out the word "now," and, at the end of the Question, to add the words "upon this day three months."—(Mr. Labouchere.)
§ And, the Question being again proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ Debate resumed.
§ Mr. PARNELL (Cork)
Sir, in asking the permission of the House to 1842 say a few words on this Bill, and to state my reasons for voting against its second reading, I desire, in the first place, to declare most emphatically that I approve of its principle absolutely and without reserve, and that I vote against its second reading because I believe the Bill is so designed under the circumstances of the time as to render it impossible that the principle should be duly and efficiently carried out. Associated as I have been during eight or nine years of my political life with this question of converting the tenant farmers of Ireland into owners of their holdings, it would ill become me to oppose any effort which I believe to be honestly designed for that purpose. I can recollect when the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) was Chief Secretary for Ireland that I made my earliest effort in the direction of creating an occupying ownership in that country by the introduction of a Bill which gave the same facilities to the Church tenants for purchasing their holdings which were enjoyed under the Church Act of 1869 by landlords who sought to terminate the tithe rent-charge on their estates. That Bill was a very modest Bill; it simply asked that the Church tenants should be allowed to terminate their tenant ship by paying to the Church Commissioners a sum equal to the annual amount which they would have to pay for 45 or 49 years, calculated at 4 per cent on the capitalized value of their holdings. That was a Bill which sought to create no risk for the Imperial Exchequer. It was a Bill which dealt simply with Irish property; but it was opposed by the Conservative Government of that day, and was defeated by some 50 or 60 votes on a Division in which, I am happy to say, I had the united support of the Liberal Party not then in Office. This is, then, a great conversion, and I congratulate myself on having had no small share in effecting that conversion when I see the Conservative Party of to-day, urged on by the landlords who then obstructed and rendered inoperative the Bright Clauses of the Land Act of 1870, turning their attention to the creation of a peasant proprietary in Ireland as the only way of solving the Land Question. That has always been my opinion, and I believe, before it is solved, we shall have further 1843 advances made by Her Majesty's Government, and that they will see the faults that are inherent in this measure, and that they will correct them by the alteration of those details we have urged upon them during this debate, and will continue to urge during the future stages of this Bill so long as the House gives us an opportunity of doing so. Neither, Sir, is it true that we oppose this Bill for the purpose of adding to the difficulties of governing Ireland. It would be most cruel of us, and most unrighteous, to seek to make any political capital out of this Land Question, and we would never, for a single moment, endeavour to injure any tenants' interests in order that the difficulties of Her Majesty's Government might be increased in Ireland. Our position has always been a plain one. We have on every occasion welcomed the exertions of the Legislature in the direction of mitigating the lot of the tenants in Ireland. We have always endeavoured to modify our action in accordance with the progression and application of those exertions, and if we have not been able to agree with past Liberal and Conservative Governments and accept the halting and imperfect steps which they made towards solving this question, it is not because we denied that they were steps, but because we saw that they were imperfect and that they must be, to a great extent, inefficacious to the object in view. I think an impartial investigation of our conduct and of that of the different organizations over which we had control since the year 1879 will show that we have endeavoured to assist the Legislature by every means in our power in perfecting these imperfect measures, and that we have modified our action in accordance with the completion of those measures; that there was a complete change in our action and in that of our organizations when the Land Act of 1881 was passed; that there was a further change when the Arrears Act of 1882 was passed; and that we had accepted pro tanto and assisted the Government of 1885 when it passed Lord Ashbourne's Act, and that we further welcomed attempts, maimed unfortunately at the last moment, to reduce judicial rents in 1887, and that we cordially received the admission, in 1887, of the leaseholders to the benefits of the Land Act of 1881. Therefore, it is not true, it is most calumniously 1844 false, to say that any of us sitting on these Benches attempted to make political capital out of these measures or attempted to refuse any boon whatever to the Irish tenants on the ground that it might make the difficulties of the Government greater in Ireland. The only fault we have to find in the Government is that they are embarking in this matter with ulterior objects, and that they have taken up this question with a view, not in the best way, to help the tenants; they have taken it up at the solicitation of the landlord class in Ireland, who now, when they see they can no longer maintain their position as landlords, attempt to get out of it by selling their property, as was done in the old days by the slave-owning class of Jamaica, as was said in Dublin the other day by one of their spokesmen, at an "inflated price," at a price that they know to be far beyond the market value. It is to prevent this loss to the Exchequer, and in order that this Bill might carry out its avowed and ostensible object, that we have intervened and endeavoured to press upon the Legislature the necessity of constructing a Bill upon truer and more beneficial lines. I object to the Bill not so much for what it contains as for what it does not contain. In the first place, because it contains no provision for the relief of tenants in arrears with their rents in Ireland. The Government say that to some extent this Bill will assist tenants in arrear in Ireland. But how does it assist them and how partially does it assist them? It may assist a few of the tenants who may happen to be on the purchased estates, an infinitesimally small minority of the tenants of Ireland, by lumping their arrears together with the purchase money. In other words, the taxpayer is called upon to bear the whole burden of arrears, and instead of insisting that the landlords should bear the burden, as you have done in Scotland, to the extent of wiping off fully 60 per cent of this burden, you say the whole of those arrears, so far as affected by the Bill, are to be put upon the shoulders of the British taxpayer. I say that that is an iniquitous consequence. The question of arrears is admitted to be a burning and a pressing question. Owing to your delay in admitting the leaseholders to the benefit of the provisions of the Act of 1881—six long years' delay—owing to your delay in 1845 revising the judicial rents for two years after the fall in prices had rendered such a step absolutely necessary; owing to your action towards the close of the passage of the Act of 1887 through the House of Lords, and a threatening deputation—according to the public confession of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer a threatening deputation of Irish landlords waited upon him and threatened that their allegiance to the Crown would go if certain clauses were proceeded with——
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. GOSCHEN) (St. George's, Hanover Square)
I never made such an admission at all.
§ MR. PARNELL
I am very glad the right hon. Gentleman gives me a certificate of loyalty, and I wish that his party generally and his auxiliaries in the Press would do the same thing, because the threat, as well as I can remember, was that those landlords would join me, and if I am disloyal, as affirmed by the right hon. Gentleman and his Party, my allies would be disloyal too. The consequence of that threat was seen in the action of the House of Lords, following immediately upon it. It was seen in the whittling down of the rent provisions of the Act of 1887. Owing to these causes, the accumulation of arrears had mounted up upon those tenants, and the only suggestion for their revision up to the present moment that has been made by the Government has been that the whole of the tenants, whom you ask that the British taxpayer should become the creditors of to the extent of £10,000,000, shall have the opportunity of going into the Bankruptcy Court. We have not been able to see our way to accept that proposal. I sincerely wish that it could have been otherwise; but when it was made I and my Colleagues discussed it at great length, and with great care and attention, and with every desire to accept it if we saw any possibility of an equitable result. But the conclusion to which we all came without exception—a conclusion arrived at after everybody had expressed his opinion freely and fully—was that it would be unjust and unfair of us to make the shopkeepers and tradespeople of Ireland, who had supported these miserable tenants in many periods of distress, abate their claims for payment of their shop debts 1846 because the tenants had got into a state of bankruptcy owing to those high rents. But if it could be proved that the same justice exists in the claim for abatement of shop debts that exists in the claim for abatement of rents, then we should cheerfully agree in those proposals—if you can prove that the shopkeeper has rackrented his customers as the landlord has rackrented his tenants; but until you prove that, do not talk to us about the equity of your proposals and a desire to share in the crisis which has arisen from the unreasonable and exacting conduct of the landlord. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. A. J. Balfour), when he argued against our proposal in 1887 for the arrears provision, and when we cited the example of the Scotch Crofters' Act, told us that the cases were not analogous. He said the arrears provision for Scotland was passed simultaneously with a rent provision, and the two systems came into operation at the same time; but in your case you ask that where rent-fixing provisions have been at work for seven or eight years there should be grafted upon those provisions the provisions which obtain in the Scotch Crofters' Act, and he therefore claimed that the two cases were not analogous. Even if there be force and strength in that argument—which, for my part, I cannot see—it only carries you a very short distance. Even admiting that it is just and right that tenants who had had their judicial rents fixed should not be admitted to the benefits of a provision relating to arrears, I claim that those tenants constitute a very small minority of the tenants of Ireland, only about 150,000 out of the 750,000 agricultural tenants affected by the Land Act of 1881. You had 120,000 leaseholders then admitted to the benefits of the Act of 1881. Why was not an Arrears' Act granted in respect to those 120,000 leaseholders? Why was not an Arrears' Act granted in respect of all those occupiers—of the 400,000 agricultural tenants in Ireland—who had been prevented up to that time by the load of their arrears from coming into the Land Courts under the Act of 1881? If the argument of the right hon. Gentleman has any relevancy at all, it adds to the strength of our case, because it admits that we have a case, and had a case in 1887, as regards 500,000 at least of the 620,000 tenants in 1847 Ireland. I object also to this Bill because it does not contain provisions to enable the State, which is to supply the money, to decide what estates it is desirable to purchase in the public interest. You leave the decision of that question to the judgment of the landlords themselves. You say that you hope this Bill will have a large pacifying effect in Ireland. But how do you hope it will have that effect? According to the statistics given to us by the hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland (Mr. Madden) in introducing the Bill, out of the 14,000 tenancies brought under the operation of your legislation, 7,000 are in the North of Ireland, and a considerable portion of this number are tenancies on the estates of large absentee landlords, who are not remarkable as being the most rackrenting landlords. I think it will be generally agreed that the large absentee landlords in Ireland are not, as a rule—though there are some exceptions, Lord Clanricarde in particular—the most rackrenting landlords. But the operation of your Bill, which is to restore quiet in the disturbed districts in Ireland—on the congested estates of Kerry, Clare, Galway, and Mayo, whose sad history we have been reading with pain and sorrow in the proceedings before the Royal Commission which is now sitting—the operation of this will not touch those estates. And if the operations of the Commissioners are to proceed as they have proceeded, and as they must proceed under this measure, those estates and those districts will not and cannot be touched. We hear about the Duke of Abercorn's estate being sold, we hear of the great London companies absconding with I know not how much of this money, but we do not hear of a single estate in the congested districts of Ireland where all this crime has taken place—where the people have been driven alternately by desperation and by starvation to these deeds of violence and blood which have so shocked and horrified us—we do not hear of any of those estates being brought under the operation of your Act. Let us clear our minds of cant. If this House is going to vote this money, let it do it with its eyes open. Do not let it imagine that this money is to be devoted to bringing about peaceful relations in the most disturbed dis- 1848 tricts. The Land Commission cannot do this. The Land Commission Court in Ireland is at present flooded with bankrupt estates situated in these congested districts. The landlords and the encumbrancers refuse to sell at any price which the Commissioners could sanction. I could give the House one instance—that of a small estate, the Taafe estate in Mayo, where the population are so congested on the farms in the West of Ireland. The tenants and the landlord have agreed to purchase, but they agreed at such a price that the Commissioners, having regard to the class of tenants, the smallness of their holdings, and the position in which they would stand in periodically recurring bad times, refused to sanction it. I humbly submit that, in addition to the question of arrears, the question of whether this money is really to be used to restore tranquillity in the relations between landlord and tenants should come up; and it can only come up in one way. The only mode in which you can, in dealing with those congested districts, get at the true value of the interests in the property, will be by giving to the Commissioners power to do that which General Gordon, after a residence in the West of Ireland, and after a careful examination of the condition of the people, suggested when he said that the only way to settle the Land Question was by giving power to the Commissioners to purchase any of the estates in the West of Ireland at such reasonable and fair prices as would recompense the landlord for any real interest he has in the estate, but not one penny more. I object to this Bill also because of the insufficient reduction on the judicial rents made by the Land Courts, and because of its temporary character. I know what the difficulties are which the Government have to contend with in dealing with the question of Irish land. I saw the difficulty which the Liberal Government experienced in passing the Land Act of 1881. I saw that they had to contend with almost insuperable—in fact, with insuperable obstacles and difficulties. I saw the Compensation for Disturbance Bill, which was introduced by Mr. Forster, ignominiously rejected by the House of Lords. I saw the many days and nights—I think about 60 or 70 altogether—that were consumed in discussing the Land 1849 Act of 1881 in this House. I saw its valuable provisions struck out one by one in obedience to obstruction in this House—in obedience to threats of rejecting the measure altogether in "another place." I saw the provision that the judicial rent should date from the date of the application, instead of from the date of fixing it, struck out. I saw the claim for the admission of the leaseholders rejected. I saw the Healy Clause cut and whittled down so as to render the protection of the tenant's interest in his improvements inoperative. I saw many other bad and pernicious alterations made in its provisions; but I could not say that it was possible for the Government of that day to have done anything more than that which they attempted to do. But the fact remained; and we now have in Office a Conservative Government which can control the action of the House of Lords. Nay, more—they can control the action of their own followers here; and I would entreat them to reconsider this matter from the commencement, and to give to Ireland the benefit of the same reduction of arrears and of rent which they gave to Scotland. You gave to the Scotch crofters a reduction of 60 per cent on arrears and of 30 per cent on judicial rents. You gave Ireland a reduction of only 19½ per cent. You have extended that reduction for two or three years to come; but you do not know that you will be able to give any reduction, owing to the Lords' Amendments in the Act of 1887. I do not know that the Commissioners will be able this year to give any reduction at all to the Irish tenants. It is possible that on some estates instead of a reduction there may be a rise. But what will be the position of the Government of Ireland if the average reduction of 12 per cent on judicial rents last year is lost this year, and if the tenants find themselves left without any reduction or abatement? My only hope is that the Land Commissioners, seeing the desperate condition of Ireland, may go outside and beyond the law, and interpret by the rule of thumb instead of being bound by the strict letter. But I object to this Bill because, while inviting landlords and tenants to come together and agree as to a price for the holding, it holds out to the tenant but a very partial protection for his interest under the clauses of the Act of 1887. I 1850 say that a bargain cannot be made on an equitable footing on such terms; and that the tenants would have a claim to come to you hereafter and to say, "You have taken advantage of our necessities by compelling us to make this bargain; we consider that we were not free agents in this contract and that we are entitled to repudiate it." That is a result which I should dread above all others. I believe that the Irish Land Question cannot be settled without a large loan on English credit to the Irish farmers; and I desire that the bargain entered into now or at any future time by the Irish tenants shall rest on such a footing and basis as will render the prospect of repudiation entirely out of the question. I also see in this Bill an absence of any effective conciliation of the National sentiment. Believe me, that is a most important point. What was it that gave the strength to the Land League agitation beyond that of any other agrarian movement that was ever known? It was the National sentiment. The National sentiment was the backbone of the Land League. Without that it would have been as potter's clay; and while, by your system of government in Ireland—by your coercion—you are trampling on the National sentiment, you are sowing the seeds of future difficulties of which you know very little. Believe me, every peasant who goes to his village and his home after his six or 12 months' experience of your plank-bed for doing that which in England is lawful to every British subject, carries with him a lesson and a tale which will not be lost, which will not be thrown away upon his companions, which must embitter the feelings with which Irishmen regard your Government, which will do much to render useless those lessons of patience and forbearance which are daily being preached by the Irish leaders. I do not now, Sir, refer to the question of the establishment of a representative authority in Ireland to act as a buffer between the Irish tenants and the State; but I regard this, if we are contemplating any large scheme of purchase, as an absolutely essential condition. You do not now, under your fiscal system, collect any direct taxation from the workers and the humbler classes of the community. You raise almost your entire revenue—your entire revenue so far as they are concerned— 1851 by indirect taxation. The tax-collector does not call at the cottage homes; but if you pass a large measure of this kind—and we must suppose that if this succeeds, as you say the Act of 1885 has succeeded—you will not be able to stop there. You will have created tenants all over the country who are paying 20 or 30 per cent less than their fellow-tenants who are still under the landowners, and you will not have any reasonable answer to make to those men who are left out when they come and say—"You must advance the £70,000,000 or £80,000,000 which are necessary to enable us to obtain a similar reduction." You will either have to do that or go to the landlords directly and say—"Give to the tenants this 20 or 30 per cent that we have given to the occupying owners by our process of purchase." But if this proceeds, if you do provide ultimately the £70,000,000, £80,000,000, or £90,000,000 necessary for turning the occupying tenants of Ireland into owners, what position will you bear towards those people in times of future distress? They will have a powerful representation in Parliament. They will have their 86 Members. ["Hear, hear!" and "More!"] They may have 101 Members. [Ironical laughter.] I do not calculate in that estimate necessarily upon the dispossession of the two hon. Members who sit on this side above the Gangway—the hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell) and the hon. Member for South Londonderry (Mr. Lea)—although we hope to be successful in clearing out that little corner. But even granting the then political existence of those hon. Gentlemen, they will not be separated from us, representing as they will agricultural constituencies, in any claim which we feel impelled to make by the interests of our constituents upon the consideration or forbearance of the Irish Exchequer. [Mr. T. W. RUSSELL: Any just claim.] You will have just as much bother in Parliament then as now. Governments will depend then as now upon the balancing power of the united Irish vote, and you will, in addition, have to go to these 500,000 tenancies under £10 in valuation, many of them under £5, a considerable number under £3 in valuation—you will have to send your tax-collectors to the doors of each of 1852 those cottages with an army of crowbar brigade men and I do not know how many policemen and soldiers. Such a prospect as that no sane Government of a self-respecting State ought to tolerate for a single moment. It is sheer madness, and the madness becomes so stupendous, in view of any attempt to see that too much is not given for those landlords' interests, that it is impossible for me to find any equivalent figure. I do not propose to detain the House at any greater length. I may say this, however, in addition, that you would do well not to shut your eyes to those things. But there is another danger, and the greatest danger of all. I have said that you have not attempted to conciliate the National sentiment of Ireland; that you treat this Land Question as a purely agrarian question. But do you not know what is being done by the agents of disaffection with the young men of the country throughout the length and breadth of Ireland? If you do not, you ought to know. The voters are with us; I believe they will continue to be with us. But how about the hot youth of the country who will be the future owners of those farms, who will be your future taxpayers—what lessons are being taught to those young men? If the National question were settled, if the National sentiment were conciliated, you would have nothing to fear from all the Fenian propagators from New York to San Francisco. There is not a Government agent in Ireland to-day, using the powers of your Coercion Act, but who is a more effective fomenter of this disaffection than O'Donovan Rossa and all his colleagues had ever hoped to become. Those are dangers that you have before you in future, unless you proceed on the task—the great and worthy task—of settling this agrarian question with a due knowledge and appreciation of the conditions which you have to meet. Believe me, it is not merely an agrarian question. The Statesmen and the Governments who consider that they have nothing to deal with except a number of old, and many of them ignorant, tenant farmers tottering towards their graves, and that once such men had been made owners at a reduction in their rents of 20 per cent, that this is the whole Irish Land Question, make a terrible and fatal mistake. I would implore the House and 1853 the Government to meet us in this matter, and to see that, before this Bill leaves the House, suitable provisions at least will be drafted into it for dealing with one of the greatest of those difficulties, the most pressing of those difficulties—the question of arrears. I believe that if this is done the Government and the House will find that this advance on the part of the Legislature will be cordially appreciated and welcomed, and they will reap a rich reward in the administration of Ireland, and in the conciliation and the pacification of the country.
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL (Paddington, S.)
I have listened with all respect to the hon. Member who has just resumed his place, and I venture to express the opinion that it is possible a large portion of the House and a large portion of the public may experience some disappointment in reflecting on the speech just delivered. Instead of gaining from the hon. Member what his great knowledge of Ireland and his great experience of Ireland would enable him to give—namely, argument bearing on the Bill itself, on the proposals of the Bill, and the manner in which those proposals might be effectively worked—we have heard from him a different communication. We have heard a speech which dealt with matters which I venture to think were largely remote from the proposals of the Government, and largely remote from the subject now under the consideration of the House. The hon. Gentleman indulged to some extent in reminiscences and in retrospect, which were to him apparently of an uncheering and a melancholy character. I see no reason why the hon. Member in looking back, so far as the Party is concerned, over the results of their labours during recent years, should experience any feeling of despondency. My own impression is that he would be justified, looking merely at the condition of the Irish tenantry and the position of this House with respect to the question which deeply interests that tenantry from an agricultural point of view, in saying that the condition of the Irish tenantry is widely different at the present time from what it was when he first entered Parliament. But the objection of the hon. Member to a great extent was based on what the Bill did not contain. He did not, however, state to 1854 the House one objection as to what the Bill did contain. The hon. Member asserted with some plausibility that the Bill had been brought in by the Government at the dictation of the Irish landlords for the purpose of allowing them to sell their land at an inflated price. I do not appeal to the hon. Member to say whether that is a statement which in calm moments, and with a knowledge of the facts, will bear examination. It is possible that in one or two cases, in the wide range of the operation of the Act, a mistake may have been made, but necessarily you must look at the question as a whole. If Her Majesty's Government had asked Parliament to enable them to meet the demands which the Irish landlords had made in their conference in Dublin the other day, and which were referred to by the right hon. Member for the Bridgeton Division of Glasgow (Sir George Trevelyan), then I could understand a charge of that kind being brought forward. But in the conference of landlords in Dublin the other day, if I recollect aright, there was no allusion to the action of the Government. Their demands were of a quite different character, and I have seen nothing either in the utterances of the Government, or in those of the landlords, which would lead me to suppose that the demands of the Irish landlords at that conference in Dublin were of a character likely to receive the support of the Government or the attention of the country. I do not think the hon. Gentleman seriously contends that 17 years' purchase on the judicial rent is an inflated price. The figures, at all events, approximate to that amount, and it cannot be said, looking to the price of land in Ireland in former disturbed times, that there is any justification for the statement that there is an inflation in the prices given to Irish landlords. The hon. Gentleman seemed to assume that the landlords made use of the Act which has been passed, and which it is now sought to extend, for the purpose of exacting from the tenantry arrears which they could not otherwise obtain. But I thought it was the case when a bargain was made between a landlord and tenant for the completion of a sale to the tenant that all the arrears were wiped off as a part of the bargain. [Cries of "No!" from the Home Rule Members.] Does the hon. 1855 Gentleman contend that the arrears are included in the price? [Cries of "Yes!"] And that the price is increased by the amount of the arrears? [Renewed cries of "Yes!"] Then, if that be so, I cannot understand how the price of land in Ireland is so low as 17 years' purchase. Without doubt, if the arrears which have been accumulated on many estates for many years are included in the price of the land, surely that price must have exceeded 17 years' purchase, and must have approximated to 20 years' purchase. It would be well if that statement of the hon. Gentleman were to leave the realm of imagination and enter into the domain of proof. Until it does so it must be difficult for hon. Members taking an impartial view of this matter to accept the statement of the hon. Gentleman in its entirety. The hon. Member declared that a large portion of the operation of the Act had been confined to the estates of absentee landlords, and that their tenantry had profited by the Act rather than the tenantry of rackrenting landlords. But the hon. Gentleman mentioned that the largest operations which have taken place under the Act took place on the estates of the Duke of Abercorn. Yet the hon. Gentleman will not say for a moment that the Duke of Abercorn has been an absentee landlord. Indeed, I doubt whether any landlord in Ireland is more entitled to the approbation of the Irish community for endeavouring to do his duty than the non-rackrenting landlord. The hon. Member did not mention by name any absentee landlord who had profited by the Act.
§ MR. PARNELL
I mentioned as absentee landlords the London Companies, and as an example of the larger landowners on whose estates no particular crisis existed I mentioned the Duke of Abercorn.
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL
Of course the London Companies stand on a footing of their own, and if that question were examined by the House with any care, I think it is not at all unlikely that the views which the hon. Member holds and those which I hold would not, perhaps, very widely differ. But the hon. Member seems to complain that the Act has not yet operated in congested districts—in Mayo, and in Galway, and, I suppose, in parts of Donegal. Well, no doubt the allegation of the 1856 hon. Member in that respect is not open to contradiction; but there are causes at work still in the congested districts which would prevent operations connected with the investment of money in land on a very wide area. There is hardly that amount of tranquillity and that amount of security in certain parts of Ireland which may be considered to be congested that is favourable to the progress of peasant proprietors. But I hope that by the exertions now being made for the restoration of order, and with the assistance and example of hon. Gentlemen opposite, who have great influence in their country, the system of peasant proprietary may be introduced even in these congested and somewhat disturbed districts. That is not a matter which we can dwell upon at present with satisfaction, or one which we can afford to overlook. The hon. Member also objected to the fact that there was nothing in this Bill which would conciliate national sentiment. Now, I appeal to the hon. Member as a shrewd man of business whether in a Bill which deals solely with hard dry matters offact—with investments of money and repayments of money—it is easy to introduce some romance of national sentiment. The two subjects are totally different. National sentiment and national feeling and aspirations are admirable things, and I should be the last to throw discredit upon them, but I really think that where we are dealing with the investment of money and the risk to the British taxpayer, the less we have to do with sentiment the better. Before I pass away from the speech of the hon. Gentleman I should like to ask him this. He said he was entirely in favour of the principle of the Bill—namely, the introduction of peasant proprietorship. I have a right to ask him whether, if he does not approve, what alternative he would propose. May we understand that the hon. Member was arguing in favour of the proposal made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) in 1880. Is that the land purchase of which the hon. Member is enamoured? I know of no other purchase scheme except that of the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian and the Small Holdings Bill. The hon. Member will not accept the Bill now before the House. What I want is for him, as the leader of Irish 1857 opinion, to tell us what alternative proposal he would accept. I think that is a perfectly fair question.
§ MR. PARNELL
I have said that I would accept the Bill if the danger connected with it were removed by a provision dealing with arrears.
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL
I do not think I should be right to go into the question of arrears to-night. That question was fully considered by the House in the last debate, and I think the House has pronounced judgment upon it. I was in favour in 1887 of the Government dealing with arrears in a manner more or less calculated to secure the approval of hon. Gentlemen opposite, and I adhere to that opinion at the present moment. I rather think it is just possible, judging from the expression which have fallen from the Solicitor General for Ireland and from the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the last debate, that the Government still have it in their minds, and that they will probably before long have to make proposals to the House on the question of arrears. [Mr. W. O'BRIEN: Silence gives consent.] I gather that the objection which the Irish Party as a whole take to the Bill is that they are unable to agree to a Bill of this character while coercion is in existence in their country. That was the position taken up pretty strongly by the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon), and it secured the approval of most of his Colleagues. I should like to ask on that point this question—Does the existence of coercion, or what is called coercion, so vex and irritate the Irish Members and the Irish people that as long as it lasts they are determined that no measure of any sort or kind shall be passed for Ireland? [Cries of "No!" from the Home Rule Members.] I thought that could not be the case. The Irish Party are far too intelligent and far too patriotic to place themselves in a position in which they could be held up to public ridicule as men cutting off their noses in order to spite their own faces. But I gather that the opinion of the hon. Member for East Mayo is that the existence of the Criminal Law in Ireland in its present condition hinders the transactions undertaken under this Bill, and that it operates prejudicially to them. Now, I own frankly, though, perhaps, it 1858 may be owing to my want of judgment, that I cannot follow that opinion up—it seems to me to be absolutely untenable. I should be inclined to suggest that the existence of the Criminal Law in Ireland in its present condition would facilitate those operations in land purchase. You cannot have ownership taken up by the State for the tenant unless you have throughout the country perfect freedom from all intimidation, either by individuals or by organizations, to prevent the voluntary action of the persons who may be wishing to operate under the Act. Will any hon. Member from Ireland tell the House in what way the administration of the Criminal Law can possibly impede the free action either of the landlord or of the tenant in bringing the Act into operation? Does it prevent the hon. Members from Ireland, who consider the tenantry to be under their special charge, from watching most carefully over every operation of this kind? [Cries of "Yes!"] In what way?
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL
In what way is it possible? If an estate in the County of Mayo or Galway is to be the subject of sale and purchase, will not the hon. Member for East Mayo be at perfect liberty to examine into the whole of these proposals and to advise the tenantry? [Cries of "No!"]
§ MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)
Unfortunately for the noble Lord's argument, I was deprived of my liberty for doing so.
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL
If I were to follow the hon. Member into that, I should be led into a great controversy. I express a very confident opinion that there is nothing whatever in the present administration of the Criminal Law in Ireland which need prevent any Member of his Party from watching most carefully every operation undertaken under this Bill, and from giving whatever advice he may think fit to the tenants, provided that that advice is in accordance with the law of the land and with the preservation of the public peace. I now turn away from the objections of hon. Members for Ireland to this Bill, which have been mainly of the character which I have described, to the objections which have been taken 1859 by the English Members of Parliament. Now, Sir, the main objection which is taken by the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) and all his supporters, and which is expressed pointedly by the right hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley), is that this Bill, if it stood absolutely by itself, might be considered more or less favourably; but that the great objection, the fatal objection, to it is that it is the precursor of similar measures founded upon similar lines. That is the main objection. There are minor objections to which I may for a moment allude. It was said by the Leader of the Opposition, and dwelt upon by a Scotch Member yesterday, that we should never offer to English or Scotch tenants the proposals now made to Irish agricultural tenants, and that we have no right to make proposals for Ireland which we should not think of making for England or Scotland. But if that objection be true, the circumstances of the land in England and Scotland are not analogous to the circumstances in Ireland. And, moreover, if you had on the part of the agricultural population of England a great demand for State assistance for the purpose of enabling the occupiers to purchase their freeholds, obviously the Parliamentary majority would have to consider that demand, and consider it seriously and favourably, just in the same way as Parliament had to consider the demand of a certain portion of the agricultural population for allotments. But it is notorious that there is absolutely no demand in any part of England. [An hon. MEMBER: Oh, oh!] The hon. Member who says "Oh!" may be able to correct me afterwards in debate; but I know of no demand whatever in England or Scotland on the part of the agricultural community for advances from the State for the purpose of buying their holdings. I know of no part of the country where such a demand exists. There was a minor objection taken by the hon. Member for South Salford (Mr. Howorth), to which he seemed to attach importance—that the effect of this Bill would be to bring about, as it were, the enforced exile from Ireland of the persons now called landlords in that country—that the Bill would lead to the rapid disappearance of resident gentry 1860 in Ireland. If I thought that such would be the effect of this Bill or any legislation of the kind, I should certainly oppose it. But I am convinced that it can have no such result. The landlord who sells his estate sells only the estate which is in the occupation of the tenants. But the hon. Gentleman entirely left that out of the calculation. Everyone who has travelled in Ireland must know that Ireland is studded all over with beautiful and attractive demesnes, and which, if undisturbed by the "alarms and excursions" of tenants and agents or Land Leaguers, will remain in the peaceful possession of resident landlords. The great attraction of these demesnes, together with the attraction of climate and all descriptions of sport, will always bring to Ireland, or keep in Ireland, that class of resident gentry whose existence in any country is, I think it will be agreed on all hands, certainly most conducive to the welfare and prosperity of that country. It must be remembered by the hon. Member for Salford and those who take a similar view that this Bill does not buy out the landlords in any sense of the word. It merely gets rid of the encumbrances on the land. I now come to the main objection to the Bill—and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne (Mr. John Morley) expressed it very well. He said—I object to the Bill, because it pledges the House to land purchase, and to land purchase on the lines of the Ashbourne Act.I beg leave to disagree entirely with that statement, and I do so entirely from a financial point of view. I think it is as certain as anything in this world can be that no Bill similar to this is likely to be presented to Parliament, and I will explain why. The position of the House of Commons with regard to this matter is a rather composite one. We are, as regards Ireland, in the position of trustees who possess an estate of great value, and an estate with which we do not mean to part, and whose duty it is to develop and improve that estate, if possible, by all prudent and legitimate means. But at the same time, we are, as regards the taxpayer, in the position of trustees who are in the possession of funds which they have no right to invest or expend except in sound and legitimate and safe investments. Therefore it is a composite position which we 1861 occupy, and the Bill is undoubtedly one of a composite character. The reason why I feel absolutely certain that no similar Bill will ever be introduced by a responsible Government is that, as a financial operation as distinguished from a political experiment, it is not good enough. I confidently anticipate that in these remarks I shall carry with me the approbation of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I will tell the House why I think that the proposal of a measure such as this on a large scale is impossible. It is that the security for these advances is totally insufficient. Now, Sir, the risk arising from insufficient security as applied to the sum of £5,000,000 may not be great, and it may be a risk insignificant compared with the advantages which you may perhaps derive from the expenditure of £10,000,000. But the risk arising from insufficient security would be far too great for this House to undertake if the proposal contemplated the employment of a larger sum. I will prove to the House exactly why that is. In the first place, I entirely agree with those who have said that it would never do to make the State the immediate landlord of the Irish tenants. That is an argument which I believe will find universal acceptance from all quarters of the House. I agree entirely with the able and ingenious views which the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) took upon that when he pointed out the risk of imposing what would amount to direct taxation, a sort of poll tax, upon the great majority of the Irish people. But what I would dwell upon for a moment is this—that the danger of making the State the immediate landlord of the Irish tenantry was presented to the House of Commons in the most aggravated form in the proposal of the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian. There the State was to advance money practically to the Irish tenants in a very large sum for the purchase of their land, and the powers of resistance by the Irish tenants in case they should be disinclined to repay were fixed and concentrated and effectuated in a Parliament which had absolutely dependent upon it an Executive Government, and an Executive Government dependent upon the action of the absolute majority in Parliament. That would have been a most 1862 formidable obstacle for the British to overcome, in the event of there being adopted any doctrine of repudiation. I know that the right hon. Gentleman attached immense importance to the position of the Receiver General. But what has always struck me was that the Irish Parliament and Irish Executive, if they so desired, would have nothing more to do with the Receiver General than to send a couple of policemen, and firmly but gently convey that gentleman to Kingstown pier and put him on a steam packet for Holyhead—of course giving him a first-class ticket to London. My belief is that "all the King's horses and all the King's men" would never be able to reinstate that gentleman. Passing away from this, there is a general agreement in the House that the policy of making the State the immediate landlord of the whole Irish tenantry is a policy full of risks and full of dangers. That is one reason why I think no measure on these lines will be again laid before Parliament. Under these two Bills it is calculated that 20,000 or 25,000 tenant-owners may be created. That is an experimental number, but it is not a number which is likely to endanger the State, and probably in that number you have reached the limits of prudence. Now I come to the financial risks. The security is perfectly insufficient for a large outlay. What is the security for the repayment of the loan? Nothing whatever but the land. I say that is an insufficient security where you advance the whole of the purchase-money. Under an ordinary mortgage in this country, if you wanted to buy land, you might leave half the purchase-money. In towns you might be able to have three-quarters. But in Ireland you advance the whole purchase-money on the security of the land. That, I say, is an utterly insufficient security. [An hon. MEMBER: We have only to advance four-fifths.] I knew somebody would tell me four-fifths, and that is exactly what I am coming to, and I am anxious to dissipate the argument that there is a security in the retention by the State of the one-fifth of the purchase money. It is an absolute misuse of the word security. If you advance £10,000, and hold back £2,000, where is the security for the £8,000? How is your £8,000 covered? By nothing but the land 1863 itself. The retention of the one-fifth by the State is not a security, it is a limitation of the loan. But the House must recollect that in 15 years this security will have disappeared, that in 15 years, if the tenant has paid £2,000 of the £10,000 advanced, the security has gone—in other words, all the security that will remain for the £8,000 will be the land. I am using this argument to dissipate the objections taken by the Opposition—[Laughter]—you do not wait till the finish of the sentence—the objections taken by the Opposition that these proposals will be repeated. I am inclined to think that these proposals cannot be repeated. I wish to distinguish broadly between large financial operations and justifiable political experiments. [Laughter.] What I desire to say is that large financial operations will never be proposed to the House of Commons. It has been argued that this Bill will lead to other Bills of a similar character, and that is the argument to which I wish, if the Hoase will allow me, to address myself. I have shown that the retention of one-fifth is in no sense of the word a security at all; but now I come to what is supposed to be another security, and that, I think, it is not impossible to destroy; and this is the argument mentioned by the hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland (Mr. Madden) to the effect that the tenant's interest in his holding would constitute a security—the interest in his holding conferred on the tenant by the Land Act of 1881—and the hon. and learned Solicitor General wished the House to be under the impression that the tenant, in consequence of the Act of 1881, had something more to offer in the way of security than if that Act had not been passed. I think the argument was put in this way, and The Times states it in a leading article to-day. At the close of the article The Times says—Finally, it must never be forgotten that the Irish tenant has already an interest in the land, the tenant-right, which is worth as much as, and frequently more than, the landlord's interest, the fee-simple.That appears to me to be the most absurd idea that ever was propounded in a rational organ of public opinion, or even of the most audacious debater. I think the hon. and learned Solicitor General must have 1864 forgotten, or did not know, that that fallacy was settled in the debate in 1885, and that his Predecessor, the Solicitor or Attorney General—now Mr. Justice Holmes—was, on the instructions of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, posted at the Table for no other purpose than to destroy it. It is obvious on the smallest consideration that tenant-right, or the interest of the tenant in his holding, exists only where there is a tenancy, for when a tenant is converted into an owner all the interest that he had as a tenant in the land absolutely disappears. [An hon. MEMBER: That is a quibble.] An hon. Member behind me says that is a quibble. It is no quibble at all, because the impression that was conveyed to the House was that the Irish tenant had more to offer in the way of security on account of tenant-right than if he had no tenant-right. As a matter of fact, the moment the tenant becomes the owner the security vanishes, and he is simply in the position of the owner paying interest on the mortgage. I think it would be most dangerous and most improper if these delusions were not pointed out, because otherwise there might get abroad in the public mind that they might invest public money without incurring dangers they meet with in other countries. Now I know that probably it will be argued by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby—who may speak in this debate—that my criticisms on the insufficiency of the security are fatal to this Bill. But I do not think that that is a fair, or by any means a fair, argument. What I have endeavoured to point out is this, that the fears that this was the forerunner of larger proposals dealing with large sums of money are not justified, for I believe I have shown that no Bill largely dealing with public money can be presented to Parliament. But this Bill is for the purpose of continuing a political experiment which has been well begun, and which heretofore has been attended with the most encouraging results; and a rich nation like the United Kingdom can afford to indulge in political experiments. [Laughter.] Well, a great deal of public money has been expended in experiments of a less promising nature. I do not argue that the £10,000,000 are unsecured. On the contrary, they are secured on land. All I argue is that 1865 the security is insufficient, and that you may risk this security for £10,000,000 when you dare not risk a larger sum. There is one more financial reason that I may venture to offer to the House why a Bill on the lines of this measure dealing with larger sums never can be presented to Parliament, and this, again, is a reason that does not operate on £10,000,000, but which would be fatal to a Bill dealing with a larger sum. Perhaps the House is not aware of the nature of this objection. The objection lies in the very narrow margin which exists between the rate at which the Treasury can borrow and the rate at which the Treasury lend—I should rather say the National Debt Commissioners. Under the Act of 1885 the Commissioners advance money at 3⅛ per cent, but the National Debt Commissioners are barely able to borrow money at something under a fraction of 3 per cent. The margin then only amounts to 2s. 6d. per cent. That has to cover all the expenses of administration in every Department, and various other expenses. This margin has many duties to perform, and, moreover, it is a margin which may disappear any day, because—and the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer will confirm me in this—circumstances very easy to foresee might make it impossible for the National Debt Commissioners to raise their money at less than 3 per cent, possibly 3¼ per cent. In that case the State would be put to a positive loss. Again, I say that it is impossible for the country to undertake to advance large sums of money—£20,000,000, £30,000,000, or £50,000,000—at anything like this rate. It would be most insecure, most risky, and most dangerous, and almost certainly a losing operation. I have shown that, as regards insufficiency of security and insufficiency of margin of interest, it is absolutely impossible that any large measure of land purchase can be produced to Parliament on the lines of the present Bill. May I, in conclusion, say why I support the Bill as submitted to Parliament? I support it in the first place because it is not a large Bill. It is rather like the poor woman's illegitimate child—at any rate it is not a large one. And I support the Bill for the reason, which is a very sound one, and which is this, that it provides for the continuation of a 1866 machinery and the renewal of a Department which has, by general consent, been admirably conducted, and which has gained a vast amount of credit and experience in dealing with transactions of a most complicated and difficult character, and I do hold that it would be an act of the most reckless folly on the part of the Government and the House of Commons to allow that machinery and that Department to die out. It may be said that £5,000,000 is a large sum to be invested for that purpose. Of the £5,000,000, £1,000,000 has already practically gone, so that really we are only placing £4,000,000 at the disposal of the Department. Well, the £4,000,000 will probably be exhausted in less than two years. Sales are sure to be accelerated, and the £5,000,000 lasted less than three years. Hon. Gentlemen opposite ought to modify their objections on that account. What does their Leader say? He said—"I oppose this Bill because this means postponing the land purchase in Ireland," and I have shown that there is nothing whatever in this Bill which can prevent the Government coming next year or the year after with proposals in another form, or larger proposals for land purchase. Therefore, I support £5,000,000, because it does allow an ample margin of time. Land purchase cannot be approached hastily. It is a subject which requires the deepest deliberation. I see nothing objectionable in the sum of £5,000,000, because it allows a sufficient margin of time. I will not detain the House with any further observations, although there are certain arguments I should like to have brought forward with reference to other indirect and ultimate effects of this measure. I support the Bill simply because, as I have said before, it does not involve appreciable risk; because it can never be a precedent for measures on a larger scale involving large expenditure on land purchase; because it continues the machinery necessary for the welfare of Ireland; because I know, by all the reports, that it repeats an experiment which has had satisfactory results among the tenantry of Ireland, and because it has stimulated in all parts of Ireland an honourable ambition on the part of the occupier to own the land that he tills, and tends largely to remove many sources of irritation and 1867 ill-will. Sir, under these circumstances, when the Bill is looked at fairly, and not from a Party point of view—I do not think I have dealt with it from a Party point of view—it must be seen that many of the dangers which hon. Gentlemen opposite have conjured up are entirely imaginary, and are hardly worthy of the great Party which they represent. Why should we not, if we can, try and find out something with regard to Ireland upon which we can all agree? There is general agreement as to the principles of the Bill. ["No!"] It has been admitted on all sides of the House ["No!"]; as regards the creation of a peasant proprietary in Ireland, at any rate four-fifths of the House are in favour of it. We are pursuing an experiment tending towards that end—an experiment, in its present form, unattended with danger, and I do really appeal with some confidence to hon. Gentlemen opposite, after the elaborate and exhaustive discussion which has taken place, whether we might not now allow the Bill to go forward, and turn the attention of the House to the more special subjects for the consideration of which the Autumn Session was specially convened.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. GOSCHEN) (St. George's, Hanover Square)
I offer my apologies to the House, after having detained it at some length the other day, for so soon intruding upon its indulgence again; but I think the majority of the House will agree that in my position as Chancellor of the Exchequer I have a particular responsibility in this matter from the financial point of view. The Government certainly cannot complain of the general course of the debate, and certainly it is not the Chancellor of the Exchequer who should regret that the greatest possible attention has been paid throughout to the position of the English taxpayer. I have seen in the speeches of many hon. Members two strong currents of feeling, not incompatible, but both natural. One is that we should go forward with a great scheme of land purchase for Ireland, the other that at the same time it should be so arranged that no possible burden or liability should fall upon the British taxpayer. Now, the House seemed at one time to jeer the remark of the noble Lord the Member for 1868 South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) when he alluded to the agreement that there might be upon this question between himself and myself. I venture at once to say that with the greater portion of his remarks, except in regard to the security offered under this Bill, I concur to a very large extent. It is a perfectly legitimate position for the noble Lord to take up that this is an experiment involving a certain amount of risk, and that, nevertheless, it is right to make the experiment. We might appeal even to hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite; they too might think that for the sake of the pacification of Ireland it was not wrong but, on the contrary, expedient to ask the British taxpayer to make the experiment. Because the House will not forget that under the Arrears Bill proposed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) in 1882 not an indirect liability alone, but a direct charge was placed on the public funds for the discharge of a portion of the arrears due to landlords, and when we are taunted with introducing a measure for the relief of landlords, the House might well reflect on that measure which involved an outlay of funds belonging to the State of no less than £950,000. That was the demand made in 1882, and I appeal to that precedent as justifying the contention of the noble Lord that, even if there was a serious risk in this experiment, it nevertheless was one which might legitimately be tried within the limits and to the extent to which we are now appealing to the House. It is not the Government but its opponents who from the first have been anxious to contend that this demand for a further £5,000,000 must lead necessarily to further demands of £20,000,000, £30,000,000, or £50,000,000. We have maintained from the beginning that that was an absolute and entire misrepresentation, whether of the natural results of the experiment or of the intentions of the Government. We take up the position of the noble Lord; we do not wish this process of purchase to be arrested. We do not wish the machinery to be stopped. We are satisfied with the result of the experiment so far, and we are not prepared to take the responsibility of bringing it to an end, and for that reason—not in redemption of our 1869 pledge to attempt to deal with the great Land Question in Ireland, not in redemption of our pledge to see whether we can devise some scheme which would apply to the whole of Ireland, or such portions as it would be most desirable to deal with—we propose the present measure, but simply as a limited and temporary expedient justified by what has gone before, and restricted to such an amount as may enable us to tide over the interval between our present proposal and that which it will be our duty, and we hope it may be in our power, to make. So far, therefore, from objecting to the speech of the noble Lord, in which he showed that it would be extremely difficult or impossible to come for a further demand of this character to the House of Commons, I am not sorry that he has exposed the futile apprehension that we should go forward from £5,000,000 to £10,000,000, and from that to those unlimited amounts which did not frighten the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian in 1886. At the same time the House will expect that I should deal with that portion of the speech of the noble Lord in which he attacked the security for our present advance.
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL
I did not attack the security for the present advance; I showed that there was not security for the future.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
The noble lord did not say that the loss was great; but in a perfectly proper way he did attack the security in this sense—that he denied that the one-fifth retained by the State ought to be considered as security at all, and he further dealt with the difficulty that there is no margin. With regard to the latter point, I am very much in agreement with the noble Lord. The margin is extremely small, and it would not be justifiable to continue so small a margin for such large transactions as some hon. Members think may follow upon the present Bill. I do not dispute the noble Lord's statements. I am glad he has placed them before the House, because there is a general impression, and a dangerous impression, against which every Chancellor of the Exchequer ought to protest, that it is possible for us to borrow at 2¾ per cent or 2 per cent occasionally on short loans, and therefore that we can lend at very 1870 cheap rates for every purpose for which public money is wanted. That is a delusion. The possibility of borrowing on Treasury Bills gives the public the impression that Government can borrow at these very low rates, and might even lend below 3 per cent. But that impression is an entirely erroneous one. Therefore I do not at all dissent from that portion of the argument of the noble Lord. But when I come to his argument with regard to the one-fifth which is retained and not paid out, I am sorry to say I cannot be in agreement with him. The result of his argument would be that when you act as bankers between two parties, and when you guarantee a transaction, your liability is as great if you pay out the whole purchase money as if you paid out only four-fifths.
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL
I said that the retention of one-fifth was, accurately speaking, a limitation of liability, but not actually a security.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
I remember the phrase, and I thought it an extremely happy one. But at the same time, to my mind, a limitation of liability when I have gone bankrupt is very much the same as a payment. If you limit your liability, you are practically limiting your advance. That appears to me to be a proposition which cannot be denied. The cheers, however, with which that part of the argument of the noble Lord was greeted on the other side of the House seemed to indicate that in their opinion we might under this Bill just as well have paid out the whole money to the landlords as retained a portion. ["No, no!"] I will put it to the test. Will hon. Gentlemen, who seem to attach no value to this one-fifth, put an Amendment on the Paper saying that we are to pay out the whole five-fifths to the landlord, because the retention of one-fifth only limits our liability? The landlords are very sorry not to have this paid out to them; they think it a considerable security to the State. It is a security in this sense—that we are not liable for the whole purchase-money, but only for four-fifths, and the remaining one-fifth diminishes the advance we make upon the land, and therefore makes it a safer operation than otherwise it would be.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman, because I hope to show that it is not correct to say that it is only for 15 years. The right hon. Gentleman will be aware that the instalments which are paid represent 3⅛ per cent for interest and ⅞ per cent for the repayment of capital—that is to say, that 17s. 6d. of every £4 paid as an instalment goes to repay the advance, so that by the time the 15 years have elapsed, one-fifth of the capital originally advanced has been paid off. During the 15 years before which you do not pay out the deposit of one-fifth the tenant has not only to pay you interest but also the instalments. Those instalments you keep; they go towards the reduction of the general advance made. Therefore at the termination of the 15 years you stand in the position of having a portion of your advance paid off. I test it by this. It cannot be to the advantage of the tenant that you should keep the one-fifth, and it certainly is not to the advantage of the landlord. It is therefore to the advantage of the State, which holds back a certain portion of the purchase-money until an equivalent portion has been put into its pocket through the repayment of a certain amount of capital every year by the tenant. With regard to the third objection of the noble Lord as to the security offered by the tenant-right, I think he was cheered by an hon. Gentleman below the Gangway in his argument that the existence of the tenant-right did not add to the security in this case; that the fee merged in one man, and consequently that the tenant-right would no longer exist. But the tenant-right in many cases represents the improvements of the tenant, and therefore it must distinctly add to the value. What is paid in the purchase-money is not 17 years' purchase of the value of the tenement; it is 17 years of the rent. The rent does not represent the whole value of the tenement, as there is an additional value vested in the tenant himself. Therefore, you have two values, which would be immediately discovered if the tenancy were put up for sale at any time. Here you have what appears to me to be a legitimate security for these transactions.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
It appears to mo that the owner can only sell that which he has got. He can only sell the judicial rent, and that does not include the value of the tenant's improvements. Supposing it were asked, if the tenant in the value he put upon his holding included the amount he was going to pay the landlord and also the amount representing his own interest—the price representing the two—what would be the position with regard to the 17 years' purchase? It would then have to be reduced by such an amount as would represent the tenant's interest, and if that interest was sometimes half the value of the estate it would represent not 17 years, but possibly eight or nine years. But the contention is that you have paid the landlord 17 times the judicial rent. We have heard that these are exorbitant judicial rents which are multiplied by 17, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby has, for the first time, recognized that in this price of 17 years there is included a most valuable asset which does not belong to the landlord, and which therefore is being paid by the tenant. As to the full value, you can test it, as I have said, by putting up one of these tenancies for sale. You will see then whether or not it will fetch anything in addition to the amount that has been paid to the landlord.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
I will answer. Who will buy? A large number of persons, who are most anxious to buy unless they are prevented by the hon. Gentleman and his friends. There will be no fear of buyers being found when the restraint is removed which is being put in the way of the operation of this Act which we are asking the House to extend. That Act has been successful in spite of the endeavours that have been made to thwart its action. Hon. Members now come forward and say that they are entirely in favour of the principle of the Act, but no one would believe that that was so from their attitude and the methods and measures which they have adopted in Ireland in order to prevent the tenants making use of the advantages which this Act confers. I have been led astray from my argument 1873 by the observation of the hon. Member. I was endeavouring to show that the noble Lord's argument in regard to the small margin is in the main correct, but I do not hold that the security is such as he has described. I think the security is infinitely better. I agree with him, however, that it certainly would be unsafe to put ourselves in the position of landlords to the whole people of Ireland on the basis of such a measure as this. I trust I have not displeased the noble Lord by the attitude which I have taken up. I am glad of the support of the noble Lord against the view of hon. Members below the Gangway opposite, and I am also glad of his support in the defence of the British taxpayer. The hon. Gentleman the junior Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh) suggested yesterday that private enterprize might possibly deal with this matter, and he argued that if the security was good—and in this he touches upon the topic I have been discussing—private enterprize might itself undertake these great operations. Yes; but what chance has private enterprize in Ireland in the present condition of things? Why is it that private enterprize which we should wish to see taking the place of State action is in Ireland helpless, paralyzed, and perfectly unable to perform those functions which it performs so well in other parts of the United Kingdom? It is because there has been that invariable desire to tear up all contracts. Without the sanctity of contract it is impossible that private enterprize can do its duty. If there were private individuals or private associations desirous of lending money for the purpose of these operations, they would be at once denounced as enemies to the people of Ireland, as they have been before, and every attempt would be made to break the agreements into which private enterprize might enter. It is for that reason that we find ourselves in the sad position of having to bring the State itself into contact with so many tenants. It is on account of the failure of private enterprize, it is on account of that serious state of things which has been brought about in Ireland, that we have had to take the course which we have marked out. With regard to the rate of interest, there is no advantage given to the landlords in the present case. The general reduction 1874 of the rate of Consols has seriously diminished the advantage to the landlords under these proceedings compared with the Bill of 1885, because at that time the landlords could invest the four-fifths placed at their disposal in Console giving them 3 per cent, while now they get only 2¾ per cent. The noble Lord the Member for Paddington has replied to the arguments which were raised by the hon. Member for Cork, but there was one remark of the hon. Member to which I should like to call attention. He said that he objected to provisions which were not in the Bill rather than to those which were in it, and he said that there was no provision to enable the State, which provided the money, to settle what estates should be dealt with, and he urged that the estates being dealt with were in the wrong quarters. But would it be wise to give the State the selection of the estates to be bought under the present Bill? I ask the House what charges of corruption, jobbery, and patronage, and every kind of insinuation would not come from quarters where we are not quite unused to such insinuations? What charges would be brought against the Government if it were to select the particular estates to be dealt with under the Bill? We have gone on principle that the voluntary action of landlords and tenants should be the basis of all these purchases. Hon. Members have contended that large estates have been sold under this arrangement, and that we have not got sufficient evidence of sales in districts where we should most desire to see tenants become owners of their holdings. Now, with regard to large estates, it is said that the Duke of So-and-so and such-and-such a company have "walked off" with an immense amount of public money, representing the alleged high price of the property which they sell. I demur to these phrases, which seem to indicate and lead up to the idea that there is something wrong and in the nature of robbery, and that people are "walking off" with money to which they are not fairly entitled. I have heard from almost every quarter the desire expressed that large estates should be held by a larger number of owners. It is against these immense estates that the tide of public opinion has been directed, as will be admitted by the patrons of the Financial 1875 Reform Almanack. They say, "Here is one person who owns 20,000 acres; how dreadful!" Therefore if he sells, and the land is distributed among 1,000 tenants, I should have thought that that was a change in the direction desired by land reformers. It seems to me that the division of large estates among a number of small holders, each living on his own small plot of land, is a change which hon. Members opposite should of all people in the world be most anxious to promote. But is it true that this has been accomplished only in the wealthiest districts? I find that in Monaghan there have been 1,800 applications; in Kerry, 860; in Donegal, 1,706. I think that Kerry was a district to which the hon. Member for Cork alluded as one where he desired that proceedings of this kind should go forward. Well, they are going forward in Kerry. We have it on the authority of the Land Commissioners that in increasing numbers applications are coming in from districts where we should most desire that purchases should take place; and we have evidence already that in some of the districts where they have been effected, progress has been made in restoring law and order. Therefore, do not let the public be under any impression that it is simply or mainly in Ulster that purchases have been made; it is in every district all over Ireland. The larger and more thriving farmers may have led the way, because they are not under the intimidation which has been used in some districts to prevent applications being made; but in every district farmers have come forward and endeavoured to secure advantages which have been obtained by fortunate neighbours in the first instance. If there had been greater willingness on the part of those who lead the tenants to invite them to avail themselves of the operation of the Act, we should have seen a much larger proportion spent in Kerry and in disturbed districts. But, notwithstanding discouragement, the movement is going forward favourably, and we shall be much disappointed if the large sum we ask the House to advance does not go into districts where we should wish to see smaller tenants and less thriving farmers availing themselves of the Act. Of course, you cannot expect the poorest to avail themselves of it first; we acknowledge to the full that you cannot deal 1876 in this manner with those most congested districts to which allusion has been made, because you must have security. We attach the greatest importance to security, and there are places where the security of the holdings is not such as can possibly be accepted. The right hon. Member for the Bridgeton Division of Glasgow (Sir George Trevelyan) took the view that it was the most prosperous tenants whom it was desirable to instal as owners of their farms. We cannot expect that the men who can scarcely live on their holdings, even if they pay no rent whatever, should become owners of them. Therefore, it remains for the House, in its wisdom, to deal with the congested districts in a manner outside the lines of this Act. That will be a portion of the larger plan on which we hope to be able to embark. I trust that no considerations will prevent the House now going forward with this measure, on the principle of which the great majority of the House evidently are agreed, and which I do believe offers sufficient security to justify that experimental action of which the noble Lord has spoken.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)
said, the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington(LORD Randolph Churchill) had asked the Irish Members, if they thought the terms of an unfair purchase were about to be forced on the tenants, why could they not go and advise the tenants against the purchase? The answer had been supplied by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Goschen). The answer was that if the Irish Members went to the tenants and said a word against the purchase they would be charged by the agents of the right hon. Gentleman with intimidation and clapped into gaol. He would give a few examples. On the Ponsonby estate there was a large quantity of arrears. The landlord offered to sell the estate at 22½ years' purchase, and the 2½ years' represented by arrears; and it was for attempting to prevent the tenants from entering into this bargain, ruinous to the tenants and ruinous to the British taxpayer, that several of his Colleagues were sent to prison. The dispute on the estate of Lord Clanricarde would be settled if the tenants were only foolish and dishonest enough to agree to give to the landlord a number of years' purchase which they would 1877 be unable to discharge. If they would only give 22½ years' purchase there would be no more trouble on the estate. But there would be much trouble for the British taxpayer; for 160 men bad been sent to gaol on the estate because they would not give their sanction to this shameful proposal. The right hon. Gentleman had not met the challenge with regard to the arrears.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
I stated in my speech that we repeated the offer with regard to arrears which we had made already.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
The Government admitted that the question of arrears was a terrible evil, but they refused to deal with this terrible evil, which indeed it was, because, forsooth, the Irish Representatives would not accept their proposal. If the Government thought the measure was needed in Ireland, it was their duty to force it through, despite the opposition of the Irish Members. It was a serious, a terrible difficulty. Here was a Government which insisted on governing a country against the will of the people of that country, and they refused to deal with this difficulty because the Irish Representatives would not accept their offer; but he bad not observed that other proposals of the Government had been abandoned for the reason that the Irish Members were against them. When it was a measure for restraining the liberties of the Irish tenant, the opposition of the Irish Members was futile, but when it was a measure for the relief of the Irish tenants, believed to be sound by the Government, the opposition of the Irish Members was absolutely fatal. The right hon. Gentleman had given no answer to the question of the noble Lord—Is there an arrears difficulty, and how are they going to deal with it? He wished to call the attention of the House to the part of Ireland in which this money for purchase was spent. According to the last Return, 8,193 loans had been issued, amounting to £3,294,000. Of these loans, 4,671 were in Ulster, amounting to £1,284,792; while in Connaught, the poorest and most disturbed Province in Ireland, there were only 377 loans, and the amount was £281,000. Therefore, this Bill was not a Bill for the relief of distressed tenants, for the greater part of the money had been spent on the com- 1878 fortable and strong farmers of Ulster; and it was not a Bill that would allay disaffection, for the greater part of the money had been spent in that part of Ireland happily free from disturbance. The Bill neither relieved distressed tenants nor tranquillized disturbed districts. The Coercion Act would, as he had said, be worked in forcing bad bargains on the tenants. M'Dougall, the agent of Lord de Freyne in Roscommon, had written some time ago a letter in which he said—"Coercion is now coming. Spot every man that won't pay his rent, and we will deal with him under this Act." In this way coercion was to the landlord a most excellent instrument for raising the price of the property he was going to sell to the tenants. Several tenants were about to be evicted on the property of the Marquess of Waterford, and the agent came to them and said—"Buy your farms or go." The experience of the last few years showed that many of these sales were effected under what amounted to duress. The tenant who owed arrears was at the mercy of his landlord, and in many instances he had been told by the agent "to buy or go;" and there were also cases, as on the Ponsonby estate, where the landlord fixed the price at 22½ years' purchase, where an attempt was made by the landlords to recoup themselves out of the purchase-money for the arrears due. The history of Irish land legislation was the history of the breaking of contracts, and the time might come when Parliament would be asked to break these contracts on the ground of the exercise of intimidation by the landlord. The Irish tenant was probably like everyone else. When it was a choice between an immediate evil and a remote and uncertain liability, he would choose the remote and uncertain liability, and trust to the changes that time would bring forth. During the General Election of 1886 he went about the country a great deal—though not with so much effect as during the General Election of 1885, when he had Tory candidates on his platforms—and at the Election of 1886 the Conservative candidates all denounced in the most strenuous manner any scheme of land purchase. There was not a dead wall in England which was not covered with a picture of poor John Bull meeting the Liberal candidate, asking "Is it true 1879 or not that I have to give £5,000,000 to the Irish landlords?" Yet they soon changed their mind; and now a Conservative Government brought forward proposals which one of the ablest financiers on their own side denounced as financially rotten, and which even the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer admitted "might be attended with some loss to the British Exchequer." The Times had brought forward the fact that the Irish Party were now opposing the first principle which the Land League had advocated; but he could not forget that when that principle was announced, The Times denounced it as mere Communism. It appeared to him that the principles which the Irish Party enunciated were usually taken up 10 years afterwards by the Tory Party as their own, while some of the Irish Members had been sent to gaol for advocating them. Where was the Tory Party going to stop? The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer said he only wanted a certain small amount to carry on for a little time, but had he accepted the offer which was made from the Front Opposition Bench he could have got that.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said, he certainly understood the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition to mean that they were willing to give the Government a small amount until the promotion of the gigantic Bill of which the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer spoke, but which they would never see produced in that House. The right hon. Gentleman had told the House that this was not regarded by the Government as a final measure, and that they were under an obligation to deal with the whole question. What would the Government measure be? Would the right hon. Gentleman inform the House how he could carry out a gigantic operation in regard to Irish land which would not be a land purchase measure? They were therefore entitled to regard the proposal contained in this Bill as portion of a large plan for purchasing out the Irish landlords with the assistance of the English Exchequer. They objected to this Bill because it did not meet the requirements of the case, and would 1880 not, under present circumstances, be carried out by means of free bargains. The sales would therefore in the end turn out to be a bad bargain, not only for the Irish farmer, but for the British taxpayer. There was a time when the Irish Members or the Irish people could have received with comparative indifference any such proposal, because the British taxpayer represented one of the oppressors of their country; but now the majority of the British taxpayers are in sympathy with the Irish people and the Liberal Party. A beneficient change had taken place; the Irish people now feel themselves bound by pledges of trust and honour and gratitude to look to the interests of the British taxpayer as sacredly as to the interests of the Irish people. The interests of the British taxpayer and the Irish farmer are identical in this matter, and what is a bad bargain for the Irish farmer is a bad bargain for the British taxpayer, and it is for this reason that the Irish Party felt bound to join their voices against a proposal which might destroy the security of the British taxpayer and the solvency of the Irish tenant.
§ MR. RATHBONE (Carnarvonshire, Arfon)
I want to call the attention of the House to the real position of the question now before it, and to the exceptional opportunity it affords for a settlement which both sides profess to wish for, and which each, from their own side of the question, are most unwise if they do not wish to see put on a sound footing. From what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) said, and from what the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House (Mr. W. H. Smith) said on Tuesday, both are agreed that it is desirable that the machinery of the Land Purchase Bill should not fall into disuse, but be kept in working order till next year, and that the Land Question should then be settled on safe and sound conditions. Surely, when both Parties are agreed, the House is not reduced to such a state of utter impotence that it cannot carry out what both Parties are agreed ought to be done. We are never likely to see in the lifetime of at least the older Statesmen and Members of the House such an opportunity as at present we have before us. The Liberal 1881 Party, and especially our great Leader, are anxious that the Land Question should be settled to make Home Rule safe and possible, while the Conservatives profess to believe that it is necessary to settle it in order to make Home Rule unnecessary. Cannot we suspend for a time the torrent of recrimination, and rise out of the foul atmosphere of mutual suspicion which alone prevents such a settlement? No sensible man can believe the accusations freely launched against one another by heated speakers. I, for one, cannot, and do not, believe that hon. Members below the Gangway are a set of assassins, or that a man of a conscience so sensitive as the Chief under whom I have been proud to serve for 20 years is a man ready to sacrifice patriotism to Party at the end of his long career of public service. I am even unable to believe that men whom I have sat opposite to for 20 years, and been opposed to politically for 50 years, are a set of rogues, idiotically delighting in the miseries of tenants and the imprisonment of their opponents which are causing them to lose by-election after election. I believe that all are agreed that, whoever is to rule Ireland, it is their interest that this question should be settled without delay, and that experienced men on both sides are agreed as to what is to be guarded against and what is to be aimed at in a settlement. If ever there was a case for utilizing the abilities of a Statesman on both sides, is it not the present? Why then do we not do what both sides say ought to be done—carry on the Ashbourne Act until next Session, either limit the amount to, say, £2,000,000, or the time for which it is in force to the end of next Session, and thus fix statesmen on both sides to the determination then to work out a statesmanlike scheme of Land Purchase. You have now—at his age you cannot know how long you may continue to have—the aid of a Statesman with a power of detail unrivalled, and with the consciousness necessary in a great Statesman of the importance of detail in such a measure as this, with the confidence of the British taxpayers possessed by no other man to the same degree, which would enable him to persuade the British taxpayer to furnish on Irish guarrantees the £40,000,000 ultimately necessary to carry 1882 out the conversion into ownership of those tenancies under £30 which it is alone desirable to convert. And here let me point out to the House the immense danger we are incurring in this piecemeal legislation, so often nowadays enacted without regard to the consideration whether the principles you are laying down can safely continue to be applied when the precedents are appealed to, as they are sure to be applealed to in the future. You have given power to the democracy, and they will be sternly, not to say cruelly, logical in applying these principles to their own interests. How are you going to meet the demand of the English, Scotch, and Welsh tenants for a scheme of land purchase on the principles of Lord Ashbourne's Act, unlimited as that Act now is to tenancies under £30 per annum, unprovided with any provision for those extremely poor tenancies for which land purchase alone would afford no possible remedy. If in this and in our other legislation we first made up our minds as to what the sound principles of legislation were, and then applied them, we should be safe, but not when we are forming precedents upon which the English, Scotch, and Welsh democracies may in their turn demand an application of similar principles to themselves, which oven the great financial powers of this country would be utterly inadequate to cope with.
§ MR. BROADHURST (Nottingham, W.)
said, he had to complain that while so important a measure was being discussed no responsible Member of the Government was present, the Front Bench being unoccupied except by the right hon. Gentleman the Solicitor General for Ireland (Mr. Madden). He intended to vote against the Bill, and if his mind had not been made up previously, the speeches he had heard that night from the Government side of the House would certainly have determined him. A stronger condemnation of the Government proposals than that contained in the speech of the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) it was scarcely possible to conceive, although, possessed as he was of extraordinary ingenuity, the noble Lord seemed to have made it square with his consistency to promise support to the Bill. The speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Chan- 1883 cellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Goschen) was in his opinion, another strong condemnation of the Bill. Through that speech ran, from end to end, a strong vein of apology, and in no part of it did the right hon. Gentleman attempt in any way to define the security which it was stated the country had. He admitted that the evil of the Government proposal was perhaps not absolutely unmixed. The Government were approaching, though in a timid and tinkering fashion, one of the greatest problems of our time—the problem how best to distribute amongst a large number of the population of this country the ownership of the land, and how best to provide for doing that in a way calculated to promote the interests of the greatest number. So far the venture of the Government was to be commended, and it even excited curiosity as to what would be the next class of legislation that the Government would submit to the House. If the Government were earnest in the desire expressed by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to see a large number of small proprietors in this country, hon. Members of the House and the country generally would look forward with great expectations to seeing the Government propose next year to legislate for their old friend the "Three Acres and a Cow Bill." If the policy was good for Ireland, it was good for England, good for Scotland, and good for Wales; and he hoped the Government would not stop at the point they had now reached. If the desire of the Government was to distribute property upon equitable terms, and by just and proper and reasonable means they were bound to deal with subjects such as allotments and leasehold enfranchisement at a very early date. The Liberal proposals with regard both to a peasant proprietary in this country and to leasehold enfranchisement were poor, sickly, timid, puny Conservative measures compared with the reckless investment which Her Majesty's Government now proposed to make under the Bill before the House. The noble Lord the Member for South Paddington had contended that there were in this country no similar demand for the soil by the people engaged upon it, or for house property by the working classes of the towns. He wondered whether the noble Lord had consulted with the hon. Member 1884 for the Bordesley Division of Birmingham (Mr. Jesse Collings) before making that statement. That hon. Member would, he hoped, tell the House in the course of the debate that there was a deep-seated and wide-spread desire amongst the small farmers, the labourers, and the working men of the towns, to have small holdings of their own in the one case and the complete ownership of cottage property in the other case. Therefore, he urged that if the Government had any regard for their reputation for consistency, they should as early as possible next Session, submit to the House proposals of the nature he had indicated. It was too much, however, to expect the Government to be consistent on the question of land purchase. The hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) had reminded the House of the great stand which was made against land purchase by the Conservative Party. In the election of 1886, he (Mr. Broadhurst) could bear testimony to the strength of the feeling. He had the good fortune in 1886 to succeed in a contest in one of the largest industrial constituencies in the United Kingdom, and he found, in the course of that contest, the greatest difficulty he had to contend against was the misstatements of the Tory Party and by his opponents in that contest, as to the intentions of that Liberal Party with regard to land purchase. The liability which the Liberal Party proposed to impose on the taxpayers was variously estimated at from £150,000,000 to £300,000,000. The taxpayers were told that they were being called on to pay any sum from £1 up to £5 or £6 per head for the benefit of Irish landlords for the purchase of their estates to be given to the Irish tenants. Placards about the size of that table, with figures a foot or 18in. deep, were hawked about the country, and in every possible way denouncements were made of the iniquities of a scheme which contained every security which human ingenuity could devise. The difficulty of the Liberal Party with regard to the land purchase proposals that had been submitted to Parliament was 10 times greater than the difficulty about Home Rule, and many a seat that was lost to them would have been won by the Home Rule policy had it not been 1885 for the land purchase proposals. Now the Party which came into power in consequence of those exaggerations were proposing to invest £5,000,000 of the British taxpayers' money without a thread of security of any kind. He was not condemning the creation of a peasant proprietary. His name was on the back of the Bill of his hon. Friend the Member for the Bordesley Division ever since it was a Bill, and if his hon. Friend would allow him it would remain on the back of the Bill for the future. What he and his friend objected to was that the Government should deal with a great question and universal requirement of the whole country in this piecemeal fashion and without security. They could not help being possessed by the conviction that in the proposal now before the House the Government had far more regard to the financial welfare and interests of a certain number of Irish landlords than to the creation of a peasant proprietary. He hoped the country would notice what was now going on in that House, and the reckless manner in which some of the country's trustees were dealing with the country's interests. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that private enterprize would not enter into that speculation, because of the unrest of the country and of the disturbing elements at present existing in Ireland. If that were so, upon what ground was the House justified in so investing the trust moneys they were about to vote? He would oppose the Bill with more zeal since he had heard the speech of the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington and the halting, long, and ineffective apology made for that Bill by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
§ MR. JESSE COLLINGS (Birmingham, Bordesley)
said, a good portion of the speech of the hon. Member for Nottingham (Mr. Broadhurst) seemed to be in favour of the Bill before the House. With one part of it he quite agreed—namely, that there was a great demand for small holdings, and he hoped that next year the Government would bring in a measure of a similar character to that before the House to supply that demand. It seemed to him a very poor encouragement to the Government to repeat the experiment in England, when his hon. Friend and others with him 1886 were opposing not only the measure itself, but made speeches such as a considerable portion of that of the hon. Member, which seemed to be dead against the principle of the measure. He could not understand hon. Members going up and down the country expressing themselves loudly in favour of allotments, small holdings, and peasant proprietors, and then when they were in that House, and there was before them a small and moderate measure of an experimental character—the success of which would be the very greatest argument to secure similar advantages for England—doing as his hon. Friend was doing, voting dead against it. He agreed that the reasons given by hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House for voting against that Bill would be too subtle for the constituencies to understand. In all his experience of that House he had never known a debate in which there was so much unreality. The question itself had been avoided by almost every speaker. The question before them was whether they should grant an extra £5,000,000 for the purpose of creating an occupying ownership in Ireland. That was met by a side issue as irrelevant as it was possible to find inside that building. There had been positively nothing said against the proposal itself. They knew that in 1885, when the measure was met by a chorus of approbation. The only complaint up to the present week was that it was not £10,000,000, £15,000,000, or £20,000,000. Not a syllable had been raised against the success of the Act. In 1885 there were only two classes of fear expressed. One was that the Act would be taken advantage of in a limited area; and the other, that only the better class of tenants would avail themselves of it. The right hon. Gentleman who introduced that Bill had, in his able speech, reassured him on those points; the applications were very fairly divided over the four provinces; and as to the class of tenants, the statement was still more satisfactory, a very large proportion of the farms being under £30 rental. He thought the working of the Act was oven better than had been anticipated by its originators. As to payments, the facts were equally satisfactory, and the reason why there had been no objection to the working of the Act was that none could be made. If that Bill were passed 1887 there would soon be in Ireland 25,000 freeholders who had formerly been tenants. With regard to them the question of arrears would be settled absolutely. Dual ownership would be got rid of; they would have less rent to pay; and evictions would be impossible. Then there would be 25,000 centres of law and order. Even if such results were purchased at some risk they would be worth purchasing. He was glad to be reminded that for the 49 years at least there could be no sub-letting, for if they were to have landlords it was better to have wealthy than impecunious ones. His right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) was very careful to say he was not for stopping Lord Ashbourne's Act, but if the money was stopped, it was pretty much the same thing as stopping the Act. As to the objection that there was no security, the argument of the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) that 20 per cent was no security at all, took one's breath away. It was an absolute security up to 20 per cent, and it did not profess to be any security beyond that. If the argument were carried out it would come to this, that if 100 per cent were retained it would be no security. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Bridgeton Division of Glasgow (Sir George Trevelyan) seemed from his speech to have no objection to that Bill, except that, instead of having that 20 per cent security, it did not adopt the principle of his Bill of 1884, introducing the local authority. To argue that there was security under the right hon. Member for Bridgeton's plan and not security under the present Bill was altogether fallacious. Under the present Bill 20 per cent of the purchase money was practically kept in pawn by the State until it had been replaced by the instalments of the tenants. It was extraordinary to find right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Opposition Bench putting forward on that point untenable statements for which an office boy in a commercial counting-house would be reprimanded if he made them. As the hon. Member for Flintshire (Mr. S. Smith) had truly stated, the risk of loss by that plan was quite infinitesimal. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne (Mr. John Morley) said that he was in favour of £1,000,000 or £2,000,000 being ad- 1888 vanced, but not of £5,000,000. Well, was the difference between those two amounts for an experimental operation of that kind so great as to cause a week's discussion over that Bill, and to make that great division? The right hon. Gentleman said he was in favour of a scheme of land purchase, but not in favour of it at any price. Now, the average price under Lord Ashbourne's Act was just over 17 years' purchase for a voluntary arrangement and for a limited amount; and if 17 years' purchase was not in the right hon. Gentleman's view a fair price, how was it that he and other occupants of the Front Opposition Bench were willing two years ago to advance £50,000,000, to become £150,000,000 or £200,000,000, for tenants under what was practically a compulsory arrangement to buy out the landlords at 20 years' purchase? The country ought to understand the scandalous inconsistency of right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Opposition Bench, who were inviting hon. Members on that side to follow them. Then it was alleged that the Bill was a bribe to the tenants; but, if it was such a bribe, what became of the assertion that the Bill victimized the tenants? It had also been called a Landlords' Relief Bill. In fact, during the whole debate hon. Gentlemen on that side had been practically contradicting one another. The Front Opposition Bench complained about the security under that measure; but what was the security which they themselves had offered? The 20 years' purchase, on which their plan was founded, was to be based on the judicial rents in 1886; but the House would remember that in 1887 right hon. Gentlemen stated that there should be a further reduction of 30, 40, and in some case 50 per cent. They were willing to pay 20 years' instead of 17 years' purchase; and in 1887 they had to admit that the security which the British taxpayer would have had for an advance, not of £5,000,000, but ultimately of £150,000,000, was rotten to the extent of 50 per cent. If the Home Rule Bill of 1886 had passed, it would, he had always held, have been an obligation of honour and common honesty to have coupled it with a Land Purchase Bill; because if they put an Irish landlord out of the protection of the Imperial Parliament and made him a foreigner, they were bound to see 1889 that he was not robbed. There were now, he understood, some thousands of agreements between landlords and tenants already signed in Ireland, and only awaiting the money required to complete them. Those tenants had learnt to recognize their right to the freehold on paying, not the old rent, but a reduced sum in the form of an annuity. If that £5,000,000 were refused, these tenants would go back, or the landlords would have to force them back, to the old rent, and the old conditions and heart burnings and difficulties would arise. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle had quoted a paragraph from The Birmingham Daily Post to show that the Liberal Unionists were not in favour of the extension of Lord Ashbourne's Act. The right hon. Gentleman hardly showed his usual clearness, and, he might almost add, fairness, in his reference to that passage, because this was known of the Liberal Unionist policy, that whatever the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) was responsible for, he was not responsible for all the wording and the exact formula in which that policy was set forth; and if they looked at the context they would find that the sentence meant that the Liberal Unionists would not be in favour of an unlimited sum for continuing Lord Ashbourne's Act. They did not regard it as being the best method of settling the Land Question in Ireland, but they were willing to vote for a certain sum in order to carry out the work during the interval, when some large scheme was being prepared. He assented to the statement that there was a great gulf between the Liberal Unionists and the Gladstonians. The division, however, was not caused by anything affecting the Ashbourne Act; it was rather caused by the Plan of Campaign, Boycotting, and other practices, which were held to be fraudulent and criminal, and which were no more political than the Ten Commandments. The Liberal Unionists were ready to suffer political extinction, if necessary, rather than adopt or countenance such practices. One reason why he voted for the Bill was this—that if they found this scheme to be a successful experiment in Ireland, and could obtain a continuance of it—if they found it to be economically sound, and that it advanced the interests of those con- 1890 corned, as well as being for the public good—what greater argument could be found for a similar safe experiment in England? Hon. Members who were going to vote against the measure were going to vote against the dearest hopes of the peasants in England. He thought, however, that the 10,000 or 15,000 tenants who would thus secure their holdings in Ireland, and free themselves from arrears and rack-rents, would be wise enough to remember that those advantages had been obtained by Unionist endeavours, and in spite of the bitter opposition of those who posed as their friends.
§ Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present,
§ MR. HUNTER (Aberdeen, N.)
said, the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) declared that he was perfectly prepared to extend this system of State purchase to the farmers of England, Scotland, and Wales, but he said there had been, up to the present time, no demand from those farmers for State purchase. If the doctrine embodied in this Bill was accepted by the House it would not be long before they heard a demand from the farmers of these three countries. He (Mr. Hunter) would undertake to say that the weakest Member of the House would win any county constituency, where there was a majority of farmers, if he went down and told those farmers that he was in a position to remove from their minds all fear of eviction, that at the end of 49 years the property would be absolutely their own, and that in the meantime their rents were to be reduced 20 per cent. If, however, the same principle of State purchase were applied in the case of Scotland, Wales, and England, as in the case of Ireland, the capital which would be required would be hardly loss than the existing National Debt; Goschens would not stand at 96, as they did now, but at a much lower figure, and the operation would be entirely impracticable. He would suppose that an Irish farmer came over to this country and asked the people voluntarily to back his bill. He would say—"Here am I paying a rent of £100; the Government will reduce the rent to £80. At the end of 49 years there will be a year of jubilee, 1891 and I shall pay no more; but my credit is very bad, and the transaction cannot be carried out. The landlord will not take my name, but he has agreed to take it on those terms if 1,000 good honest Britons will put their names to the bill." Voluntarily, no person would back such a bill. At the General Election there were two cries—"No Coercion!" and "No Land Purchase!"—but would the Government dare to bring forward this Bill if they were within one month of a General Election, instead of three years, as they had been told they were? The noble Lord defended the present Bill upon the somewhat extraordinary ground that it was such a very little Bill, but he (Mr. Hunter) could not admit that there was any argument for advancing £5,000,000, which would enable them to stop short of advancing as many more millions as might be necessary for overtaking the rest of the land in Ireland. They could not make favourites of one set of tenants in Ireland as against the others. If the Bill, however, were as good in principle as he believed it was bad, this was not the time when it could be safely applied in Ireland. Owing to the large arrears which had accumulated, the Irish tenant was not in a position to deal fairly and freely with the landlord on this question. He held in his hand a letter from the agent of Lord Lurgan in North Armagh to a tenant. There was another document which proceeded from the estate office of Lord Lurgan, which set forth that Lord Lurgan wished to give his tenants the opportunity of taking advantage of Lord Ashbourne's Act, and in the inclosed statement they would find the amount at which Lord Lurgan would sell the holding. That was the landlord fixing the price. Thus the landlord proceeded with an eviction notice in the one hand and a contract of purchase in the other. How could any tenant refuse to sign such a contract of purchase? He was not in a position to say whether the purchase price in this case was reasonable or not, but how could they believe that the price named by a landlord with a pistol at the tenant's throat was such as could be guaranteed by the State? The hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) told them, as he had always done, that he was in favour of the principle of this Bill, but he (Mr. Hunter) was not in favour of a Bill which imposed, without 1892 justification, a charge and liability on the taxpayers of Scotland and England, and he doubted whether the hon. Member for Cork, if he had an Irish Parliament, would venture to introduce this proposal there. Certainly, if this proposal was to be dealt with at all, the only competent or satisfactory authority to deal with it was a Parliament sitting in Dublin. He objected altogether to the system of State advances. If money was to be raised on the credit of the State, how would they be able to resist an application to Parliament for money to clean out the slums, to build cheap houses for the working classes at home? If they justified the use of State credit for the purposes of the Irish tenants, he ventured to say that there was a clamant demand nearer home, and that the working men of this country had the first claim upon this credit. He entirely disagreed with those who were in favour of dealing with the Irish Land Question, or the English or the Scotch Land Question, on the system of State Purchase. This system of State Purchase was not necessary in the interest of the tenant or the State, but it was necessary in the interest of the landlord, and the landlord alone. They were told that this was a Bill to create peasant proprietors. What was understood abroad by that was a man who cultivated his own land and owed nothing to anybody. But what was the difference between a peasant proprietor who was mortgaged up to the eyes, and the interest on whose mortgage was equivalent to a rack-rent? They took a man's rent and called it interest. How much easier did it make it to pay a rent by calling it interest? A tenant under the Irish Land Act was absolute owner so long as he paid his rent. In that respect land purchase did not improve his position one single iota. Whatever vice existed in the Land Act of 1881, that vice was intensified, so far as the tenant was concerned, by making the rents absolutely rigid for a period of 49 years. What he thought was the true policy was, first, to get rid of the idea of State aid, and to amend the Land Act in two particulars. In the first place they should make the terms elastic, to enable the tenant or the landlord to go to the Court for a revision of the rent; and, secondly, they should restore the purpose and object of the 1893 Healy Clause. In the interest of the landlord he admitted that this Bill was a good Bill, because for 49 years they would get rid of all liability for depreciation of their property, all costs of collection, and all incidents by which their income might be diminished; but it was not necessary in the interest of the tenant, or in the interest of the State, and, therefore, if they were going to make a bonus to the landlord, let them do it with their eyes open. This was a dangerous precedent, for it would be seen that the £5,000,000 was to pave the way for fresh depredations on the Exchequer—first, for the tenants, and then for Irish industries. That was the logical outcome of the present Bill. If all the other objections to the system of land purchase could be removed he should object to it, because it converted rent into Consols—in other words, it removed from the sphere of taxation the most natural, most suitable, and most appropriate fund to which the Chancellor of the Exchequer could go. Therefore he entirely opposed, as a matter of principle, any scheme of land purchase, because he held that whatever amount of rent was spared from the tenant and remained to the landlord, that that was the fund which, in an increasing degree, ought to be developed, and that it should go on until ultimately they reached that happy state of things which had obtained under the benign rule of our own Sovereign in India, where there were no landlords, and where the tenants were in direct relation to the State, and where so much of the profits of the land as was not necessarily and properly given to the tenant for his labour remained with the State for the benefit of the community, and for the relief of taxation.
§ COLONEL EYRE (Lincolnshire, Gainsborough)
I think the hon. Gentleman the senior Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) would hardly have spoken so disparagingly—I might almost say contemptuously—of mortgagees, if he had carefully considered the various classes of whom mortgagees were composed. Had they been entirely of the wealthy classes I could have understood the hon. Gentleman. But a careful analysis will show the hon. Gentleman that many amongst the poorer classes of his constituents are to be numbered as mortgagees. In fact, so 1894 bound up are all our interests in land that no depreciation in the value of landed securities, or no legislation affecting land, could take place without influencing all classes of the community. The poorer classes, as well as the richer classes, are interested. Take, for instance, that large commercial enterprize, the Insurance Companies. In the life insurances nearly 50 per cent of the capital is on mortgage on land and houses. Every policy, whether large or small, is more or less affected by land legislation. It is a most mistaken idea to imagine that the Land Question means nothing more than the contract between landlord and tenant. There is at this moment in Scotland—and I would particularly call the attention of Scotch Members to this fact—an office, whose name I will not mention, but I may say that it is, perhaps, the largest in Scotland, which has millions on mortgage on land in England and Ireland, and which, undoubtedly, will be affected by the Land Bill now passing through the House. Then, again, there is the Lands Improvement Companies, another indirect means of investment, and whose capital, whilst, in a great measure, borrowed from Fire and Life Insurance Companies, is also considered a safe means of investment for smaller sums, from poorer classes. This question of mortgagees cannot be talked of lightly—it is a most important one. By the Encumbered Estates Act of 1848, Parliament gave security to all who wished to purchase land in Ireland—a better title than owners of land in England, Scotland, or Wales are in possession of, for it was absolutely unassailable on a question of title. Now, farms estimated at from £40,000,000 passed from England into Ireland, partly in the purchase of estates, and partly as mortgages, on the security of the State; and I maintain that the State has no more right to withdraw its name from the back of that Bill than, in a private transaction, has a man a right to withdraw his name from any financial transaction he may have become liable for, without giving a fair indemnification for any loss of security. If the State has granted a certain security on which sums of money were lent, it is contrary to the laws of social and political economy to withdraw that security. Again, very few are aware of the large 1895 sums of money on mortgage, lent by Friendly Societies. The officers of these Associations are in the position of trustees, and, consequently, are by the laws of our land, or by the Court of Chancery, limited in the class of their investments. One Society, the Manchester Order of Odd fellows, out of a capital of, I think, nearly £13,000,000, have more than half of this sum—nearly £9,000,000—on land securities. This sum represents the savings of the poorest classes—its hard-earned shillings and sixpences, with difficulty subscribed in these times of depression and low wages. These are the classes who will be more or less affected by any land legislation which may have a tendency to shake or weaken security. I, myself, know of instances where some of the Rural Friendly societies have had to suffer a loss of 30 or 40 per cent of their capital. I believe that the legislation since 1881 with regard to Ireland has been a mistake. I wish to give hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite credit for honest intentions; but their legislation has proved itself a failure. I shall vote for this Bill, not because I like it, but because I believe it is a step—and the only step—towards the settlement of this difficult question. I have always had an aversion to State interference in the matter of contracts, for I have not seen good result from it; and whatever may be the future land legislation for Ireland, we ought to learn a lesson from the Act of 1881—how dangerous it is to interfere in contracts between landlord and tenant.
§ MR. S. WILLIAMSON (Kilmarnock, &c.)
said, the hon. and gallant Gentleman who had just sat down (Colonel Eyre) had referred to the land legislation of the Liberal Party as opposed to the principles of political economy. He (Mr. S. Williamson) asked the hon. and gallant Member whether it would be in accordance with the teachings of political economy or morality, or any other doctrine, to pass a Bill such as this, to relieve men who had most unwisely over-advanced money on insufficient security? The argument of the hon. and gallant Member would go much further. If he could commend a Bill of this nature applying to Ireland, much more might he argue in favour of a Bill for England, Scotland, and Wales, which would protect those who had over-advanced on 1896 English and Scottish estates, and it was known perfectly well that there were many such. He was not one of those who objected to the use of the National credit for carrying out great and well-considered measures for the promotion of the National welfare and prosperity—for the carrying out of such measures as could not be touched by private enterprize—and he somewhat regretted that yesterday some hon. Members of the Party to which he was attached expressed themselves as opposed to the use of the National credit for the creation of a peasant proprietary in England, Scotland, Ireland, or Wales. He did not. But the use of National credit, if well safe-guarded, was one thing, and the reckless expenditure of money belonging to the State was quite another thing. He objected to this Bill, because the House was assured by those who ought to know best—the great body of the Irish Members—that the risk was too great, and that statement was borne out by the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill), who said that the security for the advances was not enough; and he thought it was further substantiated by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Goschen), who admitted that the margin to enable the Government to carry out this large operation was inadequate—the margin, namely, between the interest paid and the interest which the tenants had to pay. There was another reason, however. He thought it was a very ominous circumstance that after arrangements had been made between a selling landlord and a purchasing tenant no fewer than 1,100 such arrangements had been absolutely refused by the Land Commission. That was a very large proportion of the entire number, and if this was the case in reference to the better class of Irish tenants, what might they expect when they came to deal with the other class? He felt that without the co-operation of the great body of the Irish Representatives it was unwise to proceed with such a measure. He would emphasize what had been brought before the House by the hon. Member for Nottingham (Mr. Broadhurst) in the course of the debate—namely, that the Conservatives, and especially the Liberal Unionists, at the last Election de- 1897 nounced, in the most strenuous terms, what they called "saddling the British taxpayers" for the purposes of such a Bill as this. The electors, particularly the working men, were alarmed, and in a great many cases pledges were exacted from candidates that, so far as was in their power, they would protest against burdening the British taxpayers by any such scheme. He had not himself come under any such pledge, but what he had said prevented him from voting for the Bill, and bound him to vote against it. He had already given his financial reasons, but he had also this political reason, that until they had the concurrence and the approval of the Irish Members to such a measure as this it was unwise to proceed with it. As part and parcel of a great scheme, or as the preliminary step to the introduction of a great scheme, for the pacification and reconciliation of Ireland, he would be prepared to vote for such an amount, but he would require to have it better safeguarded than this, but as it was imperfectly safeguarded, and as it was not part of a scheme for the reconciliation of Ireland by the establishment of an in dependent Legislature for the transaction of purely Irish Business, he felt compelled to vote against the second reading of the measure.
§ SIR JOHN COLOMB (Tower Hamlets, Bow, &c.)
said, if they were to wait until there was a general concurrence among Irish Members before they proceeded with remedial legislation, Ireland would have to wait a very long time. He regarded the Bill as a political expedient rendered necessary by the circumstances of the past few years. There was one argument in favour of the measure which had not yet been touched upon. The effect produced, at all events, in the South and West of Ireland by the operation of the Land Act was that it put a premium upon the deteroriation of the land. He had been told by tenants that it would never do for them to keep their watercourses clear, because the valuers would find the land in a better state than it otherwise would be if the watercourses were kept clear. The operation of the Land Act, which enabled the tenant to get his rent fixed every 15 years, induced him to abuse his land, because by so doing he would get his rent reduced in proportion. They should therefore encourage the creation of a class of occupying owners 1898 throughout Ireland, whoso interest would be, not to abuse the land, but to improve it. On this ground he was heartily in favour of the measure, believing that it was rendered necessary by the operation of the Land Act. He sincerely wished that the debate had elicited a few more facts as to how the Land Purchase Act had been administered, and he thought that some steps should be taken to allocate the money to be voted to different parts of Ireland. Nobody could shut their eyes to the danger of creating in one part of the country a colony of purchasing tenants paying a less rent than tenants who were non-purchasing in other parts. He should also like to see the money used for the purpose of extinguishing the small and weakly class of landlords, who contributed very little to the general prosperity of Ireland, and who, as a rule, pressed unduly hard upon the tenants. If, by passing the Bill, these objects could be attained, the money would be judiciously and well spent.
§ MR. J. E. ELLIS (Nottingham, Rushcliffe)
said, he agreed with an observation of the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken (Sir John Colomb) that the House required more information of the working of the Ashbourne Act—indeed, it was something of a scandal that Members were left so much in the dark. The Report of the Land Commission was available on the 9th of September last year, but this year Members could not get it on the 22nd of November. They had not had Papers laid upon the Table which were absolutely essential to their knowledge on the subject. The Lord Lieutenant, on the 15th of October, made some most important statements with regard to there-letting of farms, and, when one asked that corroborative evidence in respect to those figures should be furnished to the House, one was met by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary (Mr. A. J. Balfour) with a point-blank denial. No contradiction had been given to the statement of the hon. Member for East Mayo that between 5,000 and 6,000 farms were vacant, and could not be re-let. That was not the way in which the House of Commons, which represented the taxpayers of the country, ought to be treated. So far as they had information, it was not as assuring as it had been represented to be. The fact that 2 per cent of the 1899 money advanced had been repaid was no guarantee for the repayment of the remaining £98. Reference had been made to the repayment of instalments of sums of money lent under the Irish Church Act, but there were some most significant sentences in the Report of the Land Commission last year on the subject which seemed to have been overlooked. The Solicitor General for Ireland had used the following words in the speech on moving for leave to introduce the Bill:—There were also, however, some special provisions as to the purchase of glebe lands under the Church Act of 1863. I find that much greater success attended the operation of that Act than either of the two others to which I have referred. I find that 6,000 tenants became purchasers under that Act, and the gross amount of purchase-money—not the amount of the advances, which will be nearly three-quarters of the amount—was £1,674,000.Now, the Land Commissioners remarked in their Report that the collection of the revenues had been unsatisfactory; that the arrears due on the 31st March, 1887, were £47,787 more than those due at the end of March, 1886. They said that various circumstances had—to use their own language—"proportionately lessened the security on which large advances of public money have been made by the State." He viewed the financial aspect of this measure with the very gravest appreciation, and he thought the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) had unanswerably pointed out the flaws in that respect. During the debate constant reference had been made to the fact that the Bill now before the House was supplementary to the Ashbourne Act of 1885. Many hon. Members had entered the House since the Act was passed, and were, therefore, in a perfectly free position with respect to this matter of land purchase. At that time the Lord Lieutenant of Lord Salisbury's Government was meeting the Leader of the Irish National Party at a house in London with a view to promoting the better government of Ireland. He said that, whatever his opinion of the operation of that Act might be, the circumstances had entirely changed since it passed. He was not one of those who would say that under no circumstances whatever would he be prepared to vote for the helping of Ireland by English credit, but before doing 1900 so there must be a settled Government in Ireland, having the confidence of the people of Ireland, with an Executive in their own hands responsible to that Legislature. In that case only would he be perfectly prepared to go to the aid of the Government in the English credit under certain satisfactory conditions. But he would be prepared to take the course simply and solely as a political measure for the sake of the good government of Ireland, not for the sake of the interests of either the landlord or the tenants of the country. The real fact was that this Bill was an incident in the great struggle going on in Ireland as to whom the "property" created by the toil of the tenant really belonged. The Land Act of 1881 recognized the fact that the tenant's improvements belonged to himself; but that view was not accepted on the other side of the House. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury (Mr. W. H. Smith) had spoken of that Act as the first step in a vicious circle, and the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary was always speaking of the mistaken policy which was then begun. Ever since there had been a continuous struggle between two co-partners as to the rightful possession of certain property; and this Government had systematically attempted to reverse the policy of Parliament in recognizing the rights of the tenant in his holding. The object of coercion was to paralyze the Act of 1881 by stopping the legitimate combination of the tenants to maintain their interests as against the landlords. What coercion really meant was well emphasized by the noble Lord the Member for Paddington the other day in the word "brutality." Another method of neutralizing the Act was to interfere with, and, more or less, control the Land Commission by changing Sub-Commissioners, and, above all, by making no efforts to relieve the block in the Courts, so that every month of this year there had been 50,000 more cases waiting to be dealt with than there were last year. Thirdly, the Government had formed a hard-and-fast alliance with the Irish landlords while putting down the combinations of tenants. A deputation of Irish landlords, headed by the Duke of Abercorn, waited upon the Prime Minister some few months ago, and this was Lord Salisbury's reply to the deputation— 1901I may say, in the first place, that I am very glad to see the results of the convention of landlords in this deputation, that I congratulate the landlords on the united action that they have taken; and, however inconvenient it may in the future prove—I hope it will not—to me, as a Member of the Government, on wider and more general grounds, I am heartily glad of the spirit and unanimity which they have shown. May I be pardoned for the observation, that if that spirit of unanimity and energy had expressed itself in an equal degree among the landlords of Ireland at an earlier period of our recent history, I think we might have been spared some of the calamities which we have undergone. At the same time I also beg leave to assure them, though they will hardly need the assurance from me, of the very deep sympathy with which we regard the sufferings—the extreme and undeserved sufferings—which the mass of the landlords of Ireland have undergone.That action had been persisted in, and Lord Abercorn remarked, the other day, that the organization of the landlords was now stronger than it had been in every county in Ireland. There was no such thing, then, under such circumstances, as perfect freedom of contract between landlord and tenant in Ireland; and it was, therefore, most unsafe to carry out any such purchase scheme as this Bill proposed to assist with £5,000,000 of public money. Landlords who wished to sell could practically compel their tenants to buy by threatening to evict them for the arrears of rent if they did not purchase. He knew a case in which a man who was paying £8 a-year rent, whose valuation was £3 10s., but whose fair rent would be about £4 10s. a-year, agreed to pay 20 years' purchase, or £160, and who, when remonstrated with for consenting to so extravagant a price, said he knew well that the Commissioners would not give their assent, and that he merely agreed so as to stave off ejectment. This was a fair illustration of the kind of influence under which these bargains were being made. The Lord Lieutenant of Ireland was already preparing to take his share of the benefits of this Act, and was bringing pressure to bear on his tenants in the North of Ireland to purchase. Recently his agent issued a circular from the Londonderry Estate Office, which he would quote—
§ "Londonderry Estate Office,
§ Newtownards, 20th February, 1888.
§ Lord Londonderry has decided to take this step (though much against his inclination), mainly owing to the fact that, in the event of another bad season, he will be quite unable to give the reduction which he has granted the last two years, and by giving which he has received absolutely nothing from his own property.
§ As you will see by inclosed circular, you will, by purchasing your holding, still gain a reduction of 20 per cent, which will not be dependent on the will of your landlord, but permanent, and at the end of 49 years your holding will be absolutely your own, free of rent.
§ I am, yours faithfully,
§ CHARLES BROWNLOW."
§ So that what was proposed was that, in order that the Lord Lieutenant might not suffer from the reduction in rents caused by bad harvests, Parliament should advance this money, and give him and other Irish landlords the benefit derived from the high credit of the English Government in the money market. That was a strange position for the Viceroy of Ireland to occupy. On that very estate there were many men who had been vainly seeking to get judicial rents fixed. This 20 years' purchase proposed by Lord Londonderry—it should be borne in mind—was based not on judicial rents. Under Lord Ashbourne's Act Lord Normanton had already got £50,000; the Marquess of Bath, £170,000; the Duke of Leinster, £260,000; and the Duke of Abercorn, £267,000; and now Lord Lurgan and the Lord Lieutenant were preparing to get between them £400,000. The word "voluntary," as applied to these purchase agreements, was really a misnomer over a large portion of Ireland, largely on account of the action of the Government. The Bill was really a measure intended to compensate landlords, and on behalf of those who sent him to that House he protested against this proposal to advance another £5,000,000, under the present conditions, where no freedom of contract existed between buyer and seller. He should not have the slightest hesitation in voting against the proposal.
§ MR. WHITMORE (Chelsea)
said, he desired briefly to state why he should support the second reading of this Bill. It was generally agreed that it was desirable to increase the number of pro- 1903 prietors of land in Ireland, so far as this could be done without undue risk to the taxpayers of this country. He had listened to the speeches delivered from the Front Opposition Bench in support of the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone), and he noticed that in none of them was any objection taken, so far as he could discover, to the principle of the Bill. The speech and the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman himself merely urged that the question of arrears ought, at the present time, to be dealt with instead of land purchase. Those who on that side of the House approved the extension of ownership in Ireland could vote for the Bill with a light heart. He had always looked upon Lord Dufferin's Memorandum of 1881 as embodying the true principles of land legislation. That Memorandum spoke of there being three Irelands—the first of rich soil and large farms, the second of middling-sized farms from 15 to 50 acres, and the third consisting of the cottier tenants of the West. Lord Dufferin's contention was that any system of land purchase should be confined to the second class. As to the first, no one would desire that the large landowners should be expelled from the country, and the reproach hurled at the Government that they were not encouraging the smallest occupiers to buy was entirely undeserved, for it could not be well to stereotype in their wretchedness the unhappy cottier tenants, who, as had so often been said, could not make a living of the land if they had it for nothing. The Conservative Party were as anxious as their opponents to add to the material prosperity of Ireland, and to enter on a course of remedial legislation. The Party opposite saw no permanent remedy but Home Rule. For the time being, however, that question was settled; and why should not hon. Gentlemen opposite join in an attempt which would certainly confer happiness and brightness on many an Irish home? Believing that the Bill would contribute to that result, he should cordially vote for it.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT (Derby)
Sir, I think that in the course of this bebate everybody must have been struck by the singular change of tone which has come over the supporters of this Bill. When this measure was first introduced 1904 it was introduced with a great flourish of trumpets as the continuation of a magnificent and successful experiment that the true panacea for the cure of the ills of Ireland had been discovered; that in the Ashbourne Act you had found the true solution of the Land Question; that the Government was at last going to do that which everybody desired, and to increase the number of occupying owners of the soil. If that was so, of course this measure was a step in advance upon the scheme which was accepted by the Government, and which was to be recommended to the country. I observe that through the Unionist Press of the country it has been held out that this is the true scheme upon which we are to proceed in the future. That is the language which was held when this Bill was introduced. It was introduced with a great flourish of trumpets, as not only a great social reform, but as a political coup d'état; not only as a measure to improve the condition of the tenants in Ireland, but as a great blow levelled at Home Rule. So it was described by the noble Lord the First Lord of the Admiralty (Lord George Hamilton). So it was spoken of the other night—not to-night by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Goschen). So it was spoken of by the noble Marquess the Member for the Rossendale Division of Lancashire (the Marquess of Hartington), and we imagined we were at the beginning of the end of a great scheme. Throughout all the speeches it was indicated most distinctly that it was more valuable, if possible, in its political aspects than it was even in its economical aspects, although they were great. There has been a good deal of cold water thrown upon these pretensions and prospects to-night—a most wholesome douche was administered by the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) in that very interesting speech, and he cooled down even harder than the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whose tone was very different from that in which 40 hours ago he spoke of this measure. Now it is said that this is a political experiment. Now this is what I understand by an experiment. You begin upon the system of seeing how it worked. But you made that experiment in the Bill for the first £5,000,000, and 1905 you may judge of that experiment whether it is a sound experiment on a good financial basis, and whether it has been successful in its social and political results; and, therefore, you ought to be in a position to form a judgment upon it, whether it is a sound system to work upon in the future, or whether it is a system which you ought to drop and take something else in its stead. Now, what is the recommendation of the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington? In his speech, in every word of which I concur except its conclusion, the noble Lord said he gave a hearty support to this Bill, because it was a Bill so bad, so unsound in the principles upon which it was founded, that there was no danger that any Government would be insane enough to follow it in the future. Talk of security—why the security the noble Lord offers us is that the measure being so financially unsound, no Chancellor of the Exchequer—not even the right hon. Gentleman the present Chancellor of the Exchequer—would darn to bring in another like it. I am not going to disparage the noble Lord. I think, whatever I feel about his political opinions or his political course, that he is a man who has made sincere sacrifices for the cause of economy, and I never listen to his speeches upon economical subjects without recognizing the perfect soundness and sincerity of his economic principles, and really nothing but his tenderness for the present Government could induce the noble Lord to have so far departed from his economical principles as to say that £5,000,000 was such a trifle that it really did not signify what became of it. I think I have heard the noble Lord solicitous about much smaller sums. But now he says—"This is a rich country; £4,000,000 or £5,000,000 is a trifle, and though the security is exceedingly rotten, let us advance the money." He makes use of the old illustration; he pleads in favour of the Bill that it is a little one. But there is another illustration which might be applied to the conclusion of the noble Lord. He examines the Bill, he finds that it is unsound in principle, that if carried further it will be mischievous in its consequences, but out of consideration for his friends he finds a verdict, "Not guilty, but do not do it again." Now, under these circumstances, I am justified in saying that this measure thus 1906 recommended stands in a very different position from that which it occupied on its introduction. What is the answer of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer? He says to the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington—"We are very much obliged to you for your admirable argument and for the sympathy you have shown us—and because you find us not guilty, you promise to support us, and we promise never to do it again." I think the country will look upon this Bill in rather a different manner from that of hon. Gentlemen opposite. This Bill is being rushed through the House of Commons. I do not think the country will agree with the view of hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House that this expenditure of £5,000,000 sterling upon an unsound financial basis is a trifle. The ordinary Rules of the House in the discussion of measures which require the gravest discussion have been set aside. Bills are printed before they are introduced; they are taken de die in diem, so that the country can have no time to examine and consider them. Indeed, we are told in the Unionist Press that it is a gracious act of condescension that we are allowed to discuss this measure at all. It is only £5,000,000. Why should you discuss it? To oppose it is an act of incredible meanness. That is the attitude taken in support of this proposal. The majority are ready to vote the £5,000,000. They would be quite as ready to vote £20,000,000 or £30,000,000 or £40,000,000; and if my noble Friend the Member for Rossendale had found this a Bill to advance £40,000,000 he would have risen to a still higher stage of enthusiasm than he exhibited on the first reading. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for Ireland (Mr. Madden) has said that the experiment made by Lord Ashbourne's Act has succeeded. We want to know how this experiment has succeeded? We have asked for information, and we have got none. The Government have no information themselves. Upon all the material elements necessary to judge of this measure—I am not speaking of its economical basis, I am speaking of its social operations—we have failed to extract from the Government any information which would enable the House or the country to judge of its results 1907 What we want to know is, into whose pockets this money has gone? We want to know what class of owners, in what particular districts, have sold the land? We want to know what class of occupiers have acquired the land? This is an absolutely essential element for judging of the experiment, We are not going to take the success of the experiment from the mouth of the hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland, though there is no mouth from which I would take an opinion more willingly. The country ought to know these things. You have had plenty of time to prepare them, and where is the information? We get across the Table of the House a few figures which we are unable to test or to judge of. This very afternoon we were told that a sum of £107,000 was refused. It is most important to know what are the principles, what the grounds of refusal. We can, as I have said, get no information. The hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland said—"Oh, I will hand it to you across the Table." That is not sufficient; the House of Commons ought to know the facts and to be able to examine them before it votes away the money of the taxpayers. We want to know the class of holdings sold and the proportion of each. A few figures are flung at our heads across the Table; but where are the Returns by which we can judge the facts? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne (Mr. John Morley) asked you, if you have not got other things, to give the average number of years' purchase given in each class—a most material thing to know. A second point is the sums advanced under each head. That we are also told is a thing which cannot be supplied. Another question of a most material character was asked this afternoon by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Bradford (Mr. Shaw Lefevre), and the hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland said he would telegraph for information. When Her Majesty's Government comes to the House of Commons with a demand for £5,000,000 out of the taxation of the country, neither they nor we are in possession of information which would justify us in making such a grant. And when such extraordinary measures are taken to rush this Bill through the House, I say it is one of the most unjustifiable pro- 1908 ceedings I have ever known in Parliament. This scheme has come by surprise upon everybody. It has come with surprise upon Her Majesty's Government. How long is it since they determined to introduce the Bill? I do not believe its introduction has been decided upon by themselves more than 10 days. If they decided to do it, they ought to produce the Papers which would have enabled the House of Commons to judge of the necessity of the measure. I believe there has been such a pressure put upon them by the Irish landlords that they have been forced to introduce the Bill before they themselves had time to examine the operation of the previous measure, and now they are using most unusual and undue pressure to force it through the House of Commons. You are hurrying this Bill; you are stamping it. But do not suppose when you have got it through the House of Commons you have got to the end of this Bill. Though you have not supplied the House or the country with the means of justifying the Bill, the country will examine the matter for itself. ["Hear, hear!"] Yes; they will examine it for themselves when the money has been spent and gone, and if they come to the conclusion that this was an unsound system and an improper way of spending the money, what is to be their remedy, and what are they going to say to their Representatives in the House of Commons, who ought to be the guardians of their interests? Do you think they will be any the better satisfied when their Representatives plead that the Bill passed through the House of Commons in a week? This measure has been practically removed from the cognizance and the power of the House of Commons from the manner in which it has been presented and the manner in which you are endeavouring to force it through. As to the Bill itself, in the first place, it is openly avowed that it is a measure intended to operate, and as far as it has gone has been successful in operating, against Home Rule. That was the avowal during the earlier days of the debate of the character and intention of the measure. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer was very great on this subject in his first speech. He was silent about it to-night, because the argument is not to be repeated. 1909 But if the Bill is operating powerfully against Home Rule, why has not the argument been repeated? Because this Bill is not to be repeated.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
This is a verbal quibble. If this is an admirable measure against Home Rule, why are you never to have such another Bill again? If you use this particular measure to defeat Home Rule, do you think you are going to recommend it to the Home Rulers of Ireland? If you choose to take that line, if this Bill has for its object to defeat the national aspirations of the Irish people, if you take that attitude against them, how can you complain if they should not take a very friendly attitude towards you and your Bill? It has been asked in whose interest is this Bill promoted. I do not think it requires the wisdom of Solomon to divine whose child this Bill is. Any body who hoard the enthusiastic cheers of the Irish landlords when this Bill was announced; anybody who had seen the rapacious rush and the voracious appetite with which they darted at the £5,000,000 might, I think, easily have discovered in whose interest this Bill has been promoted. Why, Sir, anybody who listened to the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh (Colonel Saunderson) would have supposed that the £5,000,000 were already jingling in the pockets of himself and his Friends. On the other hand, it has not been received with the same enthusiasm by the Representatives of the tenants of Ireland. That, I know, is a great recommendation in the eyes of hon. Gentlemen opposite. Indeed, as far as I can see, the foundation of the Unionist policy is to do nothing that Ireland and the Representatives of the Irish people desire, and to force upon them everything which they do not desire. That is the cardinal principle of Unionism, especially as expounded by Liberal Unionists on this side of the House. If a measure for the benefit of the Irish people is recommended from those Benches—note it down, it is a Parnellite scheme. If the hon. Member for Cork approves of it, reject it on that account. If he asks for it, do not let him have it. But if you can discover anything which he thinks not good for the Irish people, then sus- 1910 pend all Orders of the House and proceed with it de die in diem. That is the fundamental principle of the Unionist Party. This measure is a thoroughly Unionist measure; it is a measure which has all the recommendations. It is enthusiastically supported by the half-dozen or dozen hon. Gentlemen who represent the landlords of Ireland; it is disapproved, for the reasons that have been given, by the Representatives of the Irish tenants; and therefore it is certain it must be right, and at any hazard and at all cost it must be forced upon the House of Commons and the Irish people. That is the principle upon which you have proceeded in the past and are proceeding now. I have found some difficulty in understanding exactly the principle which particularly recommends this Bill to the Government and hon. Gentlemen who sit on that side of the House. It appears that they think it an admirable, measure because it will rid Ireland of the Irish landlord. I could understand why it should be approved on that ground by hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway on this side of the House. Hon. Gentlemen opposite think what will most conduce to the pacification of Ireland is the getting rid, to the largest extent, of the Irish landlord. They seem to think that this Bill possesses the miraculous virtues which were attributed to St. Patrick in former days, and if you can only have millions enough, you may boast in Ireland that as there are certain animals from which it is supposed to be free—that Ireland was entirely destitute of landlords. That is a singular view coming from the opposite Benches. I concur in it, I am sorry to say, to some extent. For this I believe—that it is the conduct of the Irish landlords in the past, and I regret to say, as far as the law permits them, in the present, that has caused the ill-will that has existed and which still exists between the English and the Irish nation. Therefore, so far as the Bill tended to remove a class which has done so much evil to its own country and to ours, I should be willing to support it on that ground. The Irish people have too long regarded the English Government as an instrument in the hands of the Irish landlords for that which they look upon as a system of extortion and oppression. On the other hand, the landlords have been trusted too long by 1911 the English Government as a garrison by which they hold a hostile country. It is to these two fatal errors that I trace the greater part of the evils that have arisen between England and Ireland in former days. No doubt those relations were complicated and aggravated by differences of religion and of race. A great deal has been done to remove those feelings by the liberal legislation of Parliament on religious questions, and there is comparatively little of that now left, although Liberal Unionists go from time to time to Ireland and endeavour to see if they cannot blow up the smouldering and smothered embers of dead religious hatred into a flame, and whether they cannot trade upon them. But no doubt one main and principal difficulty that exists is the agrarian difficulty. You try to persuade yourselves that there is now nothing but the agrarian difficulty. We do not agree with you in that. We believe there is a political difficulty as well, and that those difficulties are inseparably connected with and re-act one upon the other. I do not, of course, enter into the political difficulty now, but what is the agrarian difficulty, and who are the authors of it? I will tell you who I think are the authors of the agrarian difficulty. Read the Devon Commission; read every Commission that you have appointed, and you will see the shameful history of the authorship of the agrarian difficulty in the abominable and wicked injustice with which the tenants of Ireland have been treated by the landowners of Ireland. What were we told the other night by the hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland? He said the property of the tenant is equal to the property of the landlord? And how was the property of the tenant treated by the landlord? For years it was confiscated without shame and without remorse, and the owners of that half of the property were driven by millions across the Atlantic, where they still remain. ["No!"] Is it denied that you have driven the occupiers of the soil who have that half of the property until they obtained the defence of the Land Act of 1881? When Parliament at last, from a sense of shame, endeavoured to protect that property from the confiscation to which it was subject, how was that legislation encountered? 1912 We were told to-night the language in which the Tory Party have spoken and continue to speak of that attempt to protect that property—they called it an act of robbery. That is the history of the origin of the agrarian difficulty. Well, we find ourselves in the presence of that agrarian difficulty. We have made many attempts to protect the property of the tenant. We made an attempt in 1870, but the landlords managed to evade it by raising the rents, and consequently it was necessary to pass the Act of 1881. At this very moment the landlords are using the arrears for exactly the same purpose, in order to defeat the beneficial endeavours of Parliament. It is said that arrears have nothing to do with this question. It seems to me that they have everything to do with it. You will not believe that. The Representatives of the Irish people tell you that it is so, and that is why you will not believe it. You have refused to listen to the Representatives of Ireland upon this Land Question, and you refuse to listen to them now. I shall make this confession, not only for the other side, but for our side of the House—that I believe it is a clear mistake to suppose you can settle any land or agrarian question in Ireland unless you do it with the advice and consent of the Representatives of the Irish people, and I do take blame to ourselves that if the Act of 1881 did not have full success it was because it was not passed and considered with that full concert of the Irish Members and Representatives. But then you say—"This is to be a sort of compensation to the landlord." Well, you have tried your hand at compensation before and not with more success, and I doubt whether this £5,000,000 of compensation will be more popular or more successful than your previous experiment. You say it is a safe experiment to make. I am now going to say a word on the financial part of the question. In my opinion, three years is much too short a period to enable you to judge whether the experiment is safe or not. Why, a bubble insurance company will go on paying for two years, some even for 5 years; but that does not prove the principle is sound in itself, unless you examine their books, and then you find it will not bear investigation. The noble Lord the Member for South Pad- 1913 dington made some observations on the thorough unsoundness of the financial basis of this scheme, which the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer partly admitted, and, as I thought, in other respects very imperfectly answered. The right hon. Gentleman admitted that the margin was a great deal too small. [Mr. GOSCHEN: No.] For a Chancellor of the Exchequer to admit a margin to be small would be to put himself in a false position. I make this admission to the right hon. Gentleman, that I think he gave an explanation of the 15 years' security. Therefore, I will not question that. But, on the question of using the tenant-right as part of the security for the repayment of the money, I think his answer was entirely inconclusive and unsatisfactory. I start from the statement of the hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland that the property of the tenant is equal to the property of the landlord. You sell the property of the landlord at 17½ years' purchase—I will call it 18 years in round numbers. Does that or does it not include the tenant-right of the occupier? One of two things; let us examine the question on both hypotheses. I will suppose, first of all, that it does include the tenant-right of the occupier. If it does, then in the annuity the tenant will pay interest not only on the property of the landlord, but on the property which belongs to himself. ["No!"] That is on the hypothesis that the tenant-right is included. If the 18 years' purchase includes the tenant-right the tenant will pay the annuity on that half of the property which belongs to himself. Therefore what ought to be advanced would only be nine years' purchase, which would be the property of the landlord; and that is the only advance for which you have true security in the rent of the land that you buy. Then the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer says—"It does not include the tenant-right; it only represents the rent due to the landlord." See what the consequence of that is. If that be so, then there is something that is the equivalent of the same sum of 18 years' purchase which belongs to the tenant. [Cries of "Why?"] That is quite obvious. I cannot explain why twice two makes four. Well, under the circum- 1914 stances, if the tenant has the same value in the property as the owner has, and if the owner has a sum which is represented by 18 years' purchase, then the tenant has a value in the property of the same amount. What is the consequence of that? The consequence is that if the tenant acquires the property he ought at once to be able to sell it for 36 years' purchase. If he cannot get 36 years' purchase for it he has been defrauded. That is the absurdity in which the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer is landed, or the horns of a dilemma on which he has elected to be impaled. [Laughter and "No!"] Well, I may have fallen into an error. But now mark how serious this is. I know you are ready to vote at five minutes' notice £5,000,000 or £50,000,000 of public money, but these are matters which ought to be carefully considered; and I say that the manner in which you are dealing with and scamping this Bill, without giving time and patience to examine questions of this kind, is discreditable to the House of Commons. I do not dogmatize on the matter, but these are propositions which deserve to be examined, and you ought to know, when you are buying at 18 years' purchase, what is the property, to whom it belongs, and how the money is to be distributed. While an argument of this kind is advanced you try to clamour it down. That shows the spirit of the legislation in which you have embarked and the way in which you are disposed to deal with public money. Another thing was said by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He was answering the argument that you were giving the landlords 3 per cent, and that that was too much; and he said—"Oh no, that is not so, because the poor man can only invest in my new 2¾ per cent securities, and therefore he would get less for his money." Well, I am afraid the right hon. Gentleman cannot have read the quotations to-day, because his own new securities are at a very heavy discount—I think at 96 or something of that sort, whilst the old Consols are, I think, at 101, so that if you choose to buy old Consols belonging to the people who were wise enough not to convert, you can get 3 per cent. They are not at all reduced to buying the stock of those gentlemen who for 1s. 6d. were advised by their 1915 bankers to convert a stock that was worth 102 into a stock that is now worth 96. It is always said that cheap advice is bad. Advice tendered at 1s. 6d. has caused the loss of £5 per £100 to the gentlemen who were unwise enough to take it. I was not a holder of the old Consols, but if I had been, I think I should have had something to say to the banker who for 1s. 6d. had given me such bad advice as to convert. Well, it cannot be denied that the arrears are part of the purchase money under this Bill. And what is the consequence of making them part of the purchase money? The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer says that in some cases it will only make a difference of one half-year's purchase money; but I am told that in many instances it will be as much as two years' purchase money and more. These are points about which we ought to have information. Before you judge whether the security is a bad or a good one, you ought to know how much you are to pay for arrears. If this is to be a good security for the money advanced, the arrears ought to be excluded. The only real security is the profit-yielding rent. I say it is a perfectly unsound thing to give anything in the way of a year's purchase for arrears. You might as well give so many years' purchase for the mortgages on an estate. And if giving so many years' purchase for arrears is to make your security so much the less valuable, what is the conclusion from that? Why, that you ought to clear away the question of arrears before you can deal fairly and justly with the question of purchase. You ought to buy free of arrears; and, to do that, you ought to have a plan for clearing the estate of arrears. Until you do that you can never have a sound and fitting basis of purchase. It has been said that this is a free contract between the parties. If it were so, I should have a very different opinion of the Bill from that which I now entertain. I believe there is no freedom of contract in Ireland between landlord and tenant. The whole object of the Coercion Act, and the manner in which it is being worked, was to prevent free contract between landlord and tenant. The noble Lord the Member for South Paddington, in oblivion of recent events, says—"Why does not the hon. Member 1916 for East Mayo go and advise his constituents?" You take care that the hon. Member for East Mayo shall not go and advise his constituents. Suppose that he did, or that half-a-dozen Members went to Ireland and held a meeting to recommend the tenants under no circumstances to buy under this Bill, why they would all be in prison to-morrow. The tenants of Ireland have not fair play in this matter. They are not allowed to be advised by their Representatives. Why, they were denounced to-night by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer for intimidation in doing that, and it was treated by him as a crime. [An hon. MEMBER: Yes; intimidation.] Well, but the right hon. Gentleman did not treat the bankers as intimidating their clients by advising them. He actually says across this House that for a Representative of the people of Ireland to advise them that it is not a good bargain for them to buy is intimidation.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
Will the right hon. Gentleman excuse my interrupting him, but to advise and to intimidate strike me as entirely different operations. I never discussed the giving of advice. What I spoke of was the organization which intimidated intending buyers.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
According to the Government, if anybody meets anybody else and gives him advice he is intimidating. I do not desire to misrepresent the right hon. Gentleman, but I think he has repeated what I said. Well, the great defence of this Bill is that it is a very small affair. It cannot, however, be a small affair. It is utterly impossible that you can have the tenants who are enjoying lower rents in the form of an annuity under this Purchase Bill living side by side with other tenants who pay the higher rents of the Land Court. Therefore, it is absolutely impossible; you cannot stand on this Bill. You must either stop this operation—you ought to stop it if it is financially unsound—or you ought to go on with it, because you can justify those two exceptional classes of tenants. Have you on the other side asked yourselves what are the risks? It is admitted that there are risks. Supposing those rents are not paid, and supposing you evict the tenants, what are you going to do with those farms? Is the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer 1917 going to work them himself? Or is he going to have the hon. and learned Attorney General and the right hon. and learned Member for Bury as Emergency men? The thing is absurd. Do you deny it is impossible that in any one of those farms the rent may not be paid? It is not impossible, and, therefore, what are you going to do? Are you going to leave the tenant paying no rent? Are you going to evict him; and then, after evicting him, what are you going to do with him? I should like to hear from the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury (Mr. W. H. Smith) what is his well-considered scheme for dealing with those evicted farms? I regret very much that in discussing this Bill we have not the presence and the assistance of my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain). I was going to say that his absence was unfortunate—except for the cause, which is very fortunate; but in his absence I should like to speak on his behalf. He and I have often held sweet counsel, and I do not think that there has ever been any subject upon which we have been more entirely, more constantly, or more consistently agreed than in our condemnation of the principle and the operation of the Ashbourne Act. Now my right hon. Friend, at a very critical period—on the 21st of April, 1886—addressing the electors of Birmingham, used these words—If you like to be hopeful, if you are more sanguine than I am, you may believe that the tenants will be willing to pay these rents extorted from them by the decision of the Parliament at Westminster, and against the opinions of all their trusted leaders. You may believe that, but then comes the question, Will they be able to pay them? Whether it be because they are unwilling, or whether it be that they are unable, it is not the landlord who will suffer. He will be spending the income derived from British Consols, in London or in Paris, at his fancy and according to his will.[An hon. MEMBER: Or in the Albany.] I wish the House to listen to the conclusion of this speech, this eloquent peroration, which, I believe, has not been forgotten and will not be forgotten by the constituencies of this country—Working men of England and Scotland, where is your remedy? You will be Irish landlords, you will have to evict the tenants, you will have to collect your rents at the point of the bayonet. I refuse to be a party to such 1918 contingencies. British credit, built up as it has been by past generations, is a precious reserve to be held for times of need and necessity, and I will not anticipate it for the benefit of the Irish landlords. We also have a land question in England—there is a land question in Scotland—there is a land question in Wales, and I am inclined to maintain these resources for cases which I think may be more urgent and more deserving than those of the Irish landlords.The Loyal and Patriotic Union are fond of printing and disseminating leaflets. I recommend them to strike off a number of copies of that peroration, and I have no doubt that they will be energetically and gratuitously distributed by the hon. Member for the Bordesley Division of Birmingham (Mr. Jesse Collings). Those are the declarations that were made for the purpose of defeating the scheme of Home Rule. You talk of the mandate you had from the country. The hon. Member who spoke last (Mr. Whitmore) referred to that mandate. You said you had a mandate against Home Rule. I will not discuss that question with you now. But you had a stronger mandate—it was a mandate against land purchase. What do you think of that mandate, and how have you observed it? When speaking of the Land Purchase Bill of 1886, my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lothian used very memorable and pregnant words. He said, "The sands are running out." In my opinion the "sands have run out" on that question. And I do not know that I should be inclined to turn the hour glass over again. I will not argue as to the differences between our plan and your plan in its details in respect to security, but there was one enormous difference between our plan and yours. We offered a plan to a people whom we desired to conciliate. We believed that far beyond any pecuniary securities was the security in the faith and the good will of a reconciled Irish nation. And that was the basis of the proposals that we made. But what are your proposals? You are to become, on the part of the English Government, the proprietors of the land of a nation whom you treat as a hostile people, and as a conquered country—a people whom you keep under the iron heel of your coercion. I believe that under those circumstances no securities, were they ten times greater than those you offer, would be of any value, and that is why I believe that no 1919 system of land purchase that you can propose, accompanied by a hostile attitude towards the Representatives of the Irish people, whom every day you are defaming, slandering, persecuting, and prosecuting, or the Irish nation, whom you are treating—out of the mouth of your Prime Minister and others—as an incurably dishonest people—that no system of land purchase, whether large or small, can have the smallest effect. And, therefore, I am entirely and strongly opposed to these proposals which are now made. I believe that no more damaging, no more disastrous proposal for their own position and influence in the country was ever made by any Government. [Laughter.] Oh! you laugh now, but as the French proverb says, "He laughs well, who laughs last." And I believe that these £5,000,000, which, with this reckless haste, you are squandering upon the Irish landlords, without even allowing decent time for Parliament to consider it, is a course of proceeding for which you will have to render a heavy account before the constituencies of this country. At all events, I rejoice that, by their voting to-night, the Liberal Party will discharge themselves from all responsibility for this measure—for a measure which I believe is demonstrably unfair to the Irish tenant, and which I am confident is utterly unjust and ruinous to the English taxpayer.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. MADDEN) (Dublin University)
said, that, in the absence of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. A. J. Balfour), the duty devolved upon him of dealing with the various objections which had been urged against the proposals of the Government. The right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down (Sir William Harcourt) had occupied a great deal of his time by imputing to Members of the Government sentiments which they had never entertained, and which, certainly, they had never enunciated. The right hon. Gentleman had begun his speech by alleging that a change had come over the course of the debate. He had stated that at the beginning of the debate the measure before the House had been presented as the true solution of the Irish difficulty, while at the end of the debate the Government had receded from that position, and had presented 1920 the measure to the House as a small Bill only involving a trifling sum of money. If the speeches delivered at first did differ from those delivered at that moment, it was because they were dealing with very different subjects. It could not be justly thrown in the teeth of his Colleagues that they had not repeated in the second discussion the sentiments and opinions fully expressed on the first discussion. In discussing the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) upon the Motion for leave to introduce the Bill, the Government were discussing the measure as compared with a rival scheme—namely, that of dealing with arrears. And, therefore, as between the settlement of the Land Question by way of purchase and the alternative offered to the House, they had presented this solution as the mode of dealing with the question, and to that they adhered. But it was another thing to accuse the Government of presenting the measure to the House as the ultimate solution of such a great question. The position stood thus. It was not possible to have, at this moment, the ultimate solution of the question. There must be an interval, and the practical question was whether in that interval this successful system was to be allowed to drop or whether it was to be continued until the country was able to make up its mind, and a system had been matured which might be brought before the country as capable of offering an ultimate solution. The right hon. Gentleman had also referred to the attitude of hon. Members disputing about a miserable £5,000,000. Having regard to the very large view of the right hon. Gentleman and his Colleagues two years ago, it was comprehensible that this should present itself to the mind of the right hon. Gentleman as a miserable sum. The measure of 1886 had contemplated advances of £50,000,000, which might have reached £200,000,000. In reading the debates upon Lord Ashbourne's Bill, when introduced in 1885, he found that the ex-Attorney General of the Government, of which the right hon. Gentleman was a Member, had objected to the Bill on the ground that it was a ridiculous sum, and asked for £20,000,000. The Government, however, did not regard it as a miserable sum, but they wished to 1921 proceed by steps and to feel their way. Let them commence with £5,000,000 and see how the plan succeeded. Then, having observed the working of the present scheme, they would be in a better position to bring before the country an ultimate solution. The right hon. Gentleman had then proceeded to put a question which he agreed was the question of all others to be discussed in relation to the Bill before the House. How had the experiment succeeded? The right hon. Gentleman said he wanted facts and information as to how the Act had worked in different districts. Well, that was exactly the information which he laid before the House when he asked for leave to introduce this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman could find the information in the Reports which had been published year after year. Then it was alleged that the Government were rushing the Bill through the House—that certain information was asked for only to-day and had not been obtained. Why, it was announced on the 10th of July by the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury (Mr. W. H. Smith) that this proposition would be brought before the House in the Autumn Session, and if hon. Gentlemen had placed their Questions on the Paper a fortnight ago they would now be in possession of the information they required. Then it was said that this measure was recommended to the House because it would operate against Home Rule. The persons who purchased under the Bill would be removed from the temptations of the argarian agitation which was advocated in the name of Home Rule; they would be in an independent position and able to form their opinions on political questions without intimidation. That was the way in which the Bill would operate from a political point of view. The right hon. Gentleman drew a humorous picture of what he called the rush of voracious landlords to take advantage of these £5,000,000. But did it not occur to the right hon. Gentleman that for every voracious landlord rushing to take advantage of the Bill five or six tenants must also be rushing to take advantage of it? No landlord would rush to take advantage of the Bill unless his tenants were rushing to meet him. This Bill was not brought forward in the interests 1922 of the landlords, nor did he say that it was exclusively in the interests of the tenants. It was in the interest of both landlord and tenant. It had been said that the Bill would have the effect of getting rid of Irish landlords, and reference had been made to different opinions as to whether that was desirable. Now, he altogether denied that this was a Bill which, either in its actual operation or in its tendency, would have the effect of getting rid of the Irish landlords. He would rather describe it as a measure to get rid of dual ownership. Several times the question had been asked on the other side of the House—"What about England and Scotland?" Neither in England nor in Scotland had that extraordinary position been forced upon the landlords which had been forced upon the Irish landlords—namely, the position of dual ownership. ["Oh, oh!"] That position, he maintained, did not generally exist, either in England or Scotland. No legislation had been applied to the English tenant-farmers which could be compared to the legislation of 1881, which forced upon the Irish landlords a quasi-partnership with their tenants. Another topic was referred to by the right hon. Gentleman, who stated that the landlords were using the arrears in order to force purchases. He traversed that statement as a matter of fact, and said that no proof had been laid before the House of any such assertion. Let them test for a moment the argument which the right hon. Gentleman proceeded to found upon it. He understood the right hon. Gentleman's argument to be that the arrears would be added on to the value of the land, and that the bargain would therefore be a disastrous one for the tenant and a dangerous one for the State.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, that what he said was that the landlord went to the tenant and said,—"Unless you will purchase, I will evict you on your arrears."
§ MR. MADDEN
said, he thought he had not much misrepresented the right hon. Gentleman, who had maintained that arrears would be used to enforce unfair bargains on the tenants. But the right hon. Gentleman ought to remember that the amount of the purchase-money, whether it included arrears or not, had 1923 to be brought before the Land Commissioners before they accepted the security. When the purchase-money was settled between landlord and tenant, he did not see that, on the question of amount, it mattered at all whether or not arrears were included. An inspector was sent down, an elaborate system of valuation was put in force, every circumstance was taken into account, and the Commissioners saw that the State had full security for the money advanced. What was the danger? Where was the hardship upon the tenant? In protecting the State the Commissioners afforded a general though indirect protection to the tenant, and that was a view which he thought had not been sufficiently presented to the House. Another question to which the right hon. Gentleman had directed attention was that of the security, but he accepted the argument of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer as regarded the retention of one-fifth of the purchase money. He (Mr. Madden) did not feel inclined to labour that point. He thought it was a mere dispute about words, as to whether it should be called a joint security for the entire amount advanced, or a diminution of risk as to one-fifth. As regarded the security afforded by the tenant's interest in the holding, let him put a concrete case. Assume that a farm was worth £100 a-year; the landlord's interest worth £70; and the tenant's part worth £30. Assume the rent to be £70, which, at 17 years' purchase, would be £1,190. What did the tenant buy? He bought the £70 a-year, the landlord's part. But there was the £30 a-year which the tenant had not bought, and that, with the £70 a-year, which represented the landlord's interest, became security to the State. He had not heard that argument touched. Was that no security; was that no margin in a transaction of this kind? Three propositions might be submitted to the House. First, he failed to observe that any real attempt had been made to prove that the Act had been a failure. Then, again, it had been generally conceded that some system of land purchase was the ultimate solution of the Land Question, and when, in addition, it was proved that the Ashbourne Act, so far as it had operated, had been a success, and, lastly, when no other solution was possible in the immediate present, an 1924 entire case was made out for the extension of the Act in the manner proposed by the Government. He believed that both landlords and tenants would benefit by the passing of the Bill, and that the measure, if adopted, would conduce to the advantage of Ireland and to the interests of the Empire at large.
§ DR. CLARK (Caithness)
spoke in opposition to the Bill. One danger, he said, they must look at was the growth of Socialism; and he ventured to say that if they placed private property on a different basis from what it was now they would be helping on the Socialistic movement. He opposed the Bill because it would not settle anything.
§ It being Midnight, Mr. Speaker rose to interrupt the business.
§ Whereupon Mr. William Henry Smith rose in his place, and claimed to move "That the Question be now put."
§ Question, "That the Question be now put," put, and agreed to.
§ Question put accordingly, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 299; Noes 224: Majority 75.1928
|Addison, J. E. W.||Bentinck, W. G. C.|
|Aird, J.||Beresford, Lord C. W. De la Poer|
|Allsopp, hon. G.|
|Ambrose, W.||Biddulph, M.|
|Amherst, W. A. T.||Bigwood, J.|
|Anstruther, H. T.||Birkbeck, Sir E.|
|Ashmead-Bartlett, E.||Blundell, Col. B. H. H.|
|Baden-Powell, Sir G. S.||Bolitho, T. B.|
|Bond, G. H.|
|Bailey, Sir J. R.||Bonsor, H. C. O.|
|Balfour, G. W.||Boord, T. W.|
|Banes, Major G. E.||Borthwick, Sir A.|
|Barclay, J. W.||Bristowe, T. L.|
|Baring, Viscount||Brodrick, hon. W. St. J. F.|
|Baring, T. C.|
|Barnes, A.||Brookfield, A. M.|
|Barry, A. H. S.||Brown, A. H.|
|Bartley, G. C. T.||Burdett-Coutts, W. L. Ash.-B.|
|Barttelot, Sir W. B.|
|Bates, Sir E.||Burghley, Lord|
|Baumann, A. A.||Caldwell, J.|
|Bazley-White, J.||Campbell, Sir A.|
|Beach, right hon. Sir M. E. Hicks-||Campbell, J. A.|
|Carmarthen, Marq. of|
|Beach, W. W. B.||Cavendish, Lord E.|
|Beadel, W. J.||Chamberlain, R.|
|Beckett, E. W.||Chaplin, right hon. H.|
|Bective, Earl of||Charrington, S.|
|Bentinck, rt. hn. G. C.||Churchill, right hon. Lord R. H. S.|
|Bentinck, Lord H, C.|
|Clarke, Sir E. G.||Goschen, rt. hon. G. J.|
|Coddington, W.||Granby, Marquess of|
|Coghill, D. H.||Gray, C. W.|
|Collings, J.||Greenall, Sir G.|
|Colomb, Sir J. C. R.||Grimston, Viscount|
|Compton, F.||Grotrian, F. B.|
|Cooke, C. W. R.||Gunter, Colonel R.|
|Corbett, A. C.||Hall, C.|
|Corbett, J.||Hamilton, right hon. Lord G. F.|
|Corry, Sir J. P.|
|Cotton, Capt. E. T. D.||Hamilton, Lord E.|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Hamilton, Col. C. E.|
|Cross, H. S.||Hamley, Gen. Sir E. B.|
|Crossley, Sir S. B.||Hanbury, R. W.|
|Crossman, Gen. Sir W.||Hankey, F. A.|
|Cubitt, right hon. G.||Hardcastle, F.|
|Currie, Sir D.||Hartington, Marq. of|
|Curzon, Viscount||Hastings, G. W.|
|Curzon, hon. G. N.||Havelock-Allan, Sir H. M.|
|Dalrymple, Sir C.|
|Darling, C. J.||Heathcote, Capt. J. H. Edwards-|
|Darling, M. T. S.|
|Davenport, H. T.||Heaton, J. H.|
|Davenport, W. B.||Herbert, hon. S.|
|De Lisle, E. J. L. M. P.||Hermon-Hodge, R. T.|
|De Worms, Baron H.||Hervey, Lord F.|
|Dimsdale, Baron R.||Hill, right hon. Lord A. W.|
|Dixon-Hartland, F. D.|
|Dorington, Sir J. E.||Hill, A. S.|
|Dugdale, J. S.||Hoare, E. B.|
|Duncombe, A.||Hoare, S.|
|Dyke, right hon. Sir W. H.||Hobhouse, H.|
|Egerton, hon. A. J. F.||Houldsworth, Sir W. H.|
|Egerton, hon. A. de T.|
|Elcho, Lord||Howard, J.|
|Elliot, Sir G.||Howorth, H. H.|
|Elliot, hon. A. R. D.||Hozier, J. H. C.|
|Elliot, hon. H. F. H.||Hubbard, hon. E.|
|Ellis, Sir J. W.||Hughes, Colonel E.|
|Elton, C. I.||Hunter, Sir W. G.|
|Ewing, Sir A. O.||Isaacson, F. W.|
|Eyre, Colonel H.||Jackson, W. L.|
|Farquharson, H. R.||James, rt. hon. Sir H.|
|Feilden, Lt-Gen. R. J.||Jardine, Sir R.|
|Fergusson, right hon. Sir J.||Jarvis, A. W.|
|Jeffreys, A. F.|
|Field, Admiral E.||Jennings, L. J.|
|Finch, G. H.||Johnston, W.|
|Finlay, R. B.||Kelly, J. R.|
|Fisher, W. H.||Kennaway, Sir J. H.|
|Fitzgerald, R. U. P.||Kenrick, W.|
|Fitz-Wygram, Gen. Sir F. W.||Kenyon, hon. G. T.|
|Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W.|
|Fletcher, Sir H.|
|Folkestone, right hon. Viscount||Kimber, H.|
|King, H. S.|
|Forwood, A. B.||Knatchbull-Hugessen, H. T.|
|Fowler, Sir R. N.|
|Fraser, General C. C.||Knightley, Sir R.|
|Fulton, J. F.||Knowles, L.|
|Gathorne-Hardy, hon. A. E.||Lambert, C.|
|Laurie, Colonel R. P.|
|Gathorne-Hardy, hon. J. S.||Lawrance, J. C.|
|Lawrence, Sir J. J. T.|
|Gedge, S.||Lawrence, W. F.|
|Giles, A.||Lea, T.|
|Gilliat, J. S.||Lechmere, Sir E. A. H.|
|Godson, A. F.||Legh, T. W.|
|Goldsmid, Sir J.||Leighton, S.|
|Goldsworthy, Major-General W. T.||Lennox, Lord W. C. Gordon-|
|Gorst, Sir J. E.||Lethbridge, Sir R.|
|Lewisham, right hon. Viscount||Robertson, Sir W. T.|
|Robertson, J. P. B.|
|Llewellyn, E. H.||Robinson, B.|
|Long, W. H.||Rollit, Sir A. K.|
|Lubbock, Sir J.||Ross, A. H.|
|Macartney, W. G. E.||Rothschild, Baron F. J. de|
|Mackintosh, C. F.|
|Maclean, F. W.||Round, J.|
|Maclean, J. M.||Russell, Sir G.|
|Maclure, J. W.||Russell, T. W.|
|M'Calmont, Captain J.||Salt, T.|
|Madden, D. H.||Sandys, Lt.-Col. T.M.|
|Makins, Colonel W. T.||Saunderson, Colonel E. J.|
|Malcolm, Col. J. W.|
|Mallock, R.||Selwyn, Captain C. W|
|Maple, J. B.||Shaw-Stewart, M. H.|
|Marriott, rt. hon. Sir W. T.||Sidebotham, J. W.|
|Sidebottom, T. H.|
|Maskelyne, M. H. N. Story-||Sidebottom, W.|
|Sinclair, W. P.|
|Matthews, rt. hn. H.||Smith, rt. hon. W. H.|
|Mattinson, M. W.||Smith, A.|
|Maxwell, Sir H. E.||Spencer, J. E.|
|Mayne, Adml. R. C.||Stanhope, rt. hon. E.|
|Mildmay, F. B.||Stanley, E. J.|
|Mills, hon. C. W.||Stephens, H. C.|
|Milvain, T.||Stewart, M. J.|
|More, R. J.||Stokes, G. G.|
|Morgan, hon. F.||Swetenham, E.|
|Morrison, W.||Sykes, C.|
|Moss, R.||Talbot, J. G.|
|Mount, W. G.||Tapling, T. K.|
|Mowbray, rt. hon. Sir J. R.||Taylor, F.|
|Temple, Sir R.|
|Mowbray, R. G. C.||Theobald, J.|
|Mulholland, H. L.||Thorburn, W.|
|Muncaster, Lord||Tollemache, H. J.|
|Muntz, P. A.||Tomlinson, W. E. M.|
|Murdoch, C. T.||Townsend, F.|
|Newark, Viscount||Tyler, Sir H. W.|
|Noble, W.||Vincent, C. E. H.|
|Norris, E. S.||Walsh, hon. A. H. J.|
|Northcote, hon. Sir H. S.||Waring, Colonel T.|
|Norton, R.||Webster, Sir R. E.|
|O'Neill, hon. R. T.||Webster, R. G.|
|Paget, Sir R. H.||West, Colonel W. C.|
|Parker, hon. F.||Wharton, J. L.|
|Pelly, Sir L.||Whitley, E.|
|Penton, Captain F. T.||Whitmore, C. A.|
|Plunket, right hon. D. R.||Williams, J. Powell-|
|Wilson, Sir S.|
|Powell, F. S.||Winn, hon. R.|
|Price, Captain G. E.||Wodehouse, E. R.|
|Puleston, Sir J. H.||Wood, N.|
|Quilter, W. C.||Wortley, C. B. Stuart-|
|Raikes, rt. hon. H. C.||Wright, H. S.|
|Rankin, J.||Yerburgh, R. A.|
|Rasch, Major F. C.||Young, C. E. B.|
|Reed, H. B.|
|Ridley, Sir M. W.||Douglas, A. Akers-|
|Ritchie, rt. hon. C. T||Walrond, Col. W. H.|
|Abraham, W. (Glam.)||Asquith, H. H.|
|Abraham, W. (Limerick, W.)||Atherley-Jones, L.|
|Acland, A. H. D.||Balfour, Sir G.|
|Acland, C. T. D.||Ballantine, W. H. W.|
|Allison, R. A.||Barbour, W. B.|
|Anderson, C. H.||Barran, J.|
|Asher, A.||Blane, A.|
|Bolton, J. C.||Harcourt, rt. hn. Sir W. G. V. V.|
|Bolton, T. D.|
|Bright, Jacob||Harrington, E.|
|Bright, W. L.||Harrington, T. C.|
|Broadhurst, H.||Harris, M.|
|Brown, A. L.||Hayden, L. P.|
|Brunner, J. T.||Hayne, C. Seale-|
|Buchanan, T. R.||Holden, I.|
|Burt, T.||Hooper, J.|
|Buxton, S. C.||Hunter, W. A.|
|Byrne, G. M.||Illingworth, A.|
|Cameron, C.||Jacoby, J. A.|
|Cameron, J. M.||Joicey, J.|
|Campbell, Sir G.||Jordan, J.|
|Campbell, H.||Kay-Shuttleworth, rt. hon. Sir U. J.|
|Campbell-Bannerman, right hon. H.|
|Kenny, C. S.|
|Carew, J. L.||Kenny, J. E.|
|Causton, R. K.||Kilbride, D.|
|Channing, F. A.||Lalor, R.|
|Clancy, J. J.||Lane, W. J.|
|Clark, Dr. G. B.||Lawson, Sir W.|
|Cobb, H. P.||Lawson, H. L. W.|
|Coleridge, hon. B.||Leahy, J.|
|Colman, J. J.||Leake, R.|
|Commins, A.||Leamy, E.|
|Condon, T. J.||Lefevre, right hon. G. J. S.|
|Conybeare, C. A. V.||Lewis, T. P.|
|Corbet, W. J.||Lockwood, F.|
|Cossham, H.||Lyell, L.|
|Cozens-Hardy, H. H.||Macdonald, W. A.|
|Cox, J. R.||Mac Innes, M.|
|Craig, J.||M'Arthur, W. A.|
|Craven, J.||M'Cartan, M.|
|Cremer, W. R.||M'Carthy, J|
|Crilly, D.||M'Donald, P.|
|Crossley, E.||M'Donald, Dr. R.|
|Davies, W.||M'Ewan, W.|
|Deasy, J.||M'Lagan, P.|
|Dillon, J.||M'Laren, W. S. B.|
|Dillwyn, L. L.||Mappin, Sir F. T.|
|Dodds, J.||Marjoribanks, rt. hn. E.|
|Duff, R. W.||Marum, E. M.|
|Ellis, J. E.||Mayne, T.|
|Ellis, T. E.||Menzies, R. S.|
|Esmonde, Sir T. H. G.||Molloy, B. C.|
|Esslemont, P.||Montagu, S.|
|Evershed, S.||Morgan, rt. hn. G. O.|
|Farquharson, Dr. R.||Morgan, O. V.|
|Fenwick, C.||Morgan, W. P.|
|Ferguson, R. C. Munro-||Morley, right hon. J.|
|Finucane, J.||Morley, A.|
|Firth, J. F. B.||Mundella, right hon. A. J.|
|Fitzgerald, J. G.|
|Flower, C.||Murphy, W. M.|
|Flynn, J. C.||Neville, R.|
|Foley, P. J.||Nolan, Colonel J. P.|
|Foljambe, C. G. S.||Nolan, J.|
|Forster, Sir C.||O'Brien, J. F. X.|
|Foster, Sir W. B.||O'Brien, P.|
|Fowler, rt. hon. H. H.||O'Brien, P. J.|
|Fox, Dr. J. F.||O'Brien, W.|
|Fuller, G. P.||O'Connor, A.|
|Gardner, H.||O'Connor, J.|
|Gilhooly, J.||O'Connor, T. P.|
|Gill, T. P.||O'Doherty, J. E.|
|Gladstone, H. J.||O'Gorman Mahon, The|
|Gourley, E. T.||O'Hanlon, T.|
|Graham, R. C.||O'Hea, P.|
|Gully, W. C.||O'Keeffe, F. A.|
|Hanbury-Tracy, hon. F. S. A.||Oldroyd, M.|
|Parker, C. S.|
|Parnell, C. S.||Stack, J.|
|Paulton, J. M.||Stanhope, hon. P. J.|
|Pease, Sir J. W.||Stansfeld, rt. hon. J.|
|Philipps, J. W.||Stevenson, F. S.|
|Pickersgill, E. H.||Stewart, H.|
|Picton, J. A.||Stuart, J.|
|Pinkerton, J.||Sullivan, D.|
|Playfair, right hon. Sir L.||Sullivan, T. D.|
|Plowden, Sir W. C.||Swinburne, Sir J.|
|Power, P. J.||Tanner, C. K.|
|Power, R.||Thomas, A.|
|Price, T. P.||Thomas, D. A.|
|Priestley, B.||Trevelyan, right hon. Sir G. O.|
|Provand, A. D.|
|Pugh, D.||Tuite, J.|
|Randell, D.||Waddy, S. D.|
|Redmond, J. E.||Wallace, R.|
|Reed, Sir E. J.||Warmington, C. M.|
|Rendel, S.||Watt, H.|
|Reynolds, W. 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.|
|Sheil, E.||Bradlaugh, C.|
|Sinclair, J.||Labouchere, H.|
|Spencer, hon. C. R.|
Bill read a second time, and committed for To-morrow.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.