§ Resolutions reported;
§ 1. " That it is expedient to authorise—
§ (a.) the temporary advance out of the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom of any sums that may be required for making good any deficiency in the Land Purchase Account for the payment of dividends on guaranteed Land Stock and payments to the Sinking Fund;
§ (b.) an annual Exchequer contribution of £40,000 out of the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom to the Guarantee Fund;
§ (c.) the payment out of the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom of the salaries of the Land Commissioners."161
2." That it is expedient to authorise the payment, out of moneys to be provided by Parliament, of the salaries, remuneration, and administrative expenses of the Congested Districts Board, in pursuance of any Act of the present Session relating to the Purchase of Land in Ireland, the Land Commission, and the Congested Districts in Ireland."
§ First Resolution read a second time.
(5.51.) MR. H. H. FOWLEE (Wolverhampton, E.)
I beg to move, in line 8, to leave out " the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom," and insert " moneys to be provided by Parliament." I wish to explain that I move now, instead of having done so when the Resolution was considered in Committee, because the Resolution was only proposed at the last hour of the autumn Session without sufficient notice. Only one day's previous notice was given that this Resolution would be on the Paper, and although the hon. and learned Member for Longford objected to its being passed, it was taken, as the First Lord of the Treasury said at the time, as a formal procedure. I think, therefore, that we are now entitled to discuss it so far as it introduces—as I think I shall be able to show it does introduce—a serious change in procedure in reference to our administration of public money. The Resolution says—Resolved, That it is expedient to authorise the payment out of the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom of the salaries of the Land Commissioners.I propose to leave out the words " the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom," in order to insert the words I have mentioned. This Amendment raises two questions of grave importance; first, the responsibility to Parliament of one of the executive Departments of the Government; and, secondly, the supreme and sole control of the House of Commons over all public expenditure. The three Land Commissioners were constituted by the Land Act of 1881. There is a Judicial Commissioner, and there are two—as I may call them for the purposes of my argument—lay Commissioners. The Judicial Commissioner is to rank as one of the Judges of the Supreme Court, and to hold office on the same tenure and at the same salary; therefore, he is to be paid out of the Consolidated Fund, and is only removable on an address being presented to Her Majesty by both Houses of Parliament. 162 The two lay Commissioners, under the Act of 1881, are paid £3,000 a year each out of moneys to be provided by Parliament. In 1885, under the Ashbourne Act, two additional Commissioners were added to the Land Commission at £2,000 a year for three years only, holding office on the same tenure in all respects as the lay Commissioners under the Act of 1881. At first sight it may seem that there is very little difference between taking the payment of a man's salary out of the Consolidated Fund and taking it out of the moneys to be provided by Parliament, because, practically, the Consolidated Fund is provided by Parliament out of the annual taxation of the year. When we hear the Budget next week, or the week after, we shall find that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will divide his expenditure for the year into three branches. He will tell us what is the charge for the debt, he will tell us what is the charge for the payment out of the Consolidated Fund, and he will tell us what he estimates to be the Supply Services for the year, which will have to be voted in the usual way in Committee of Supply. Payments out of the Consolidated Fund are distinct from the Supply Services. They include the Civil List, certain annuities and pensions and salaries to high Officers of State. All these payments are taken out of the jurisdiction of Parliament. Then, the Consolidated Fund provides for the salaries payable to the Judges. I have no doubt I shall be told, when I am replied to, that the reason for putting the salaries mentioned in the Resolution on the Consolidated Fund is that they are something akin to payments in respect of the Courts of Justice. There are obvious reasons why the Judges should be practically independent of Parliament. This House has never in any sense renounced its control over the Judiciary. I think it a sound Constitutional principle that this House has the right to inquire into the administration of justice in every Court of the land, and it has from time to time exerted that power. But it would not be seemly that the salaries of the Judges should be annually voted in this House and made subject to a certain class of criticism. I think it unfortunate that the County Court Judges have been placed on this footing. It would have 163 been desirable if their salaries had been left to be annually voted by the House, and if that had been done we should not have witnessed the scandals which have been disclosed in a recent Return presented to the House, nearly half the County Court Judges of England being shown to have sat less than 150 days last year. But none of the officials I have mentioned have anything to do with the administration of the funds of the State. The whole of the rest of the Civil Service, including the Diplomai c and Consular Services, have their salaries paid out of moneys to be provided by Parliament. That is, the House has only the right and duty thrown upon it of voting their payment. It is totally irrespective of their appointments. I am not proposing this Amendment with reference to their tenure of office. The tenure of a Civil servant has always been, and I hope will always be, dependent on good behaviour. I do not believe there is a single instance in which the House has interfered, save in the interests of economy. It has never, so to speak, visited its displeasure upon any Department of the Civil Service, or dealt individually with a Civil servant. The gist of the whole arrangement is this, that these officers are responsible to the House of Commons, and the very fact of that knowledge existing, I am sure prevents any misconduct. I will take the House through a certain number of semi-judicial officers of the Civil Service. There are all the Inspectors of the Local Government Board. There are the Lunacy Commissioners, who perform most important judicial functions. Upon their fiat depends incarceration for life, or a certain number of years, of a considerable class of the community. The Vote for the Lunacy Commissioners is submitted annually to the House. Then the Charity Commissioners of England and Wales exercise not only most important administrative, but most important judicial, duties with respect to a large class of property. Yet their decisions are subject to the criticism * of the House of Commons on the occasion of the Vote for their salaries. Take the Railway Commissioners. The head of that Commission is a Judge of the Supreme Court whose salary is on the Consolidated Fund, but the salaries of the two 164 lay Commissioners are voted by this House. But there is this difference between the Railway and Land Commissioners. The Lord Chancellor can remove the lay Commissioners for misconduct. There is no provision for the removal of the Land Commissioners. I will come down to Ireland. No doubt the Chief Secretary is aware that the two Irish Judges of Bankruptcy cannot be removed except by an address from both Houses, yet that their salaries are voted by this House. Then there are the Commissioners of Woods and Forests, and the recently appointed Scotch Crofters' Commissioners. Throughout the whole length and breadth of the Civil Service the policy has been, whether right or wrong, that there should be effective Parliamentary control over every part of the Public Service, by placing the salaries of the officials upon the Estimates. This is not only of advantage to the Public Service, but it is of great value to the officials themselves. If they are subject to Parliamentary control, they have also the confidence and approval of Parliament; and they feel a moral strength in the discharge of their duties which they would not otherwise possess. Why does the Chief Secretary propose this change? What mischief has arisen in the administration of Ireland between the year 1881 and the year 1890 from the fact of the salaries of the Land Commissioners being voted precisely as the salaries of other officials are voted? I do not think their duties are of a very judicial character. They adjudicate as between landlord and tenant, but I do not think that adjudication is strictly a judicial decision so much as a calculation made for the purpose of arbitration. Besides, their task is coming to an end. They have disposed of 300,000 tenants, which represents about three-fourths of their work. And under the new Act their duties will be purely administrative, and will consist in advancing money to the Irish tenants to enable them to purchase the estates of their landlords. I cannot conceive a case of stronger necessity for Parliamentary control. Look at the mischief which might be done if you had a Land Commission absolutely irresponsible to the Chief Secretary and the Lord Lieutenant, and put upon the footing of the Judges, who are removable only by an 165 Address from both Houses. You would have no Parliamentary responsibility; you would at once introduce political influence. Having got men placed there through political influence, they may make ducks and drakes of our money: -they may play the fool all round, and this House will have to pay the money, and will have no power to stop the men who are spending our money. There can be no duties which these Commissioners have to perform which can approach the duties performed by Sir Reginald Welby or Sir Algernon West, of the Treasury and Inland Revenue, and whose salaries are voted by Parliament. Perhaps the Chancellor of the Exchequer will explain the reason of this strange suggestion, namely, that the House of Commons is to cease to be the sole and final authority for the control of the expenditure of the State. Remember, when you place a payment on the Consolidated Fund, you have no further control over it, except with the consent of the House of Lords. While that is a right principle with regard to the Judges of the land and certain great Officers of State, these administrators of public money cannot for a moment be placed on the same footing. I move this Amendment on the ground of policy, on the ground of precedent, and on the ground of principle. It is an unwise policy to remove a Department which is going to have the control of £40,000,000 or .£50,000,000 from the control of the House of Commons. I trust the House will not make any change in our constitutional procedure, for which no justification has been offered, which would involve a great many mischiefs in the future, and which I think is a source of?danger to the administration of the Land Law of Ireland and destructive of the control of this House over the expenditure of the country.
§ Amendment proposed, in line 8, to leave out the words " the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom," and insert the words " moneys to be provided by Parliament,"—(Mr. Henry H. Fowler,) —instead thereof.
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Resolution."166
§ (6.15.) THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR, Manchester, E.)
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton has raised with great clearness and ability a point which the House will have to determine with regard to the salaries of the principal officers connected with the Land Commission in Ireland. With the general principle which the right hon. Gentleman has laid down, that the Civil servants should be responsible, not merely to Parliamentary control, to the control of the House of Commons, but that that responsibility should be brought home to them by the fact that their salaries were annually voted,.I need,not say I do not quarrel at all. The Government do not differ from the right hon. Gentleman upon any question of general principle which appears to regulate the Civil Service, but we hold that these Land Commissioners ought to be regarded as belonging to the more limited category of public officials whose salaries are placed on the Consolidated Fund. Whether that is so or not is the plain issue before the House. The Government have deliberately adopted the view that the salaries of these officials ought not to be voted by Parliament, but ought to be placed, as the salaries of other Judges are, upon the Consolidated Fund. It will be agreed that there is justification for withdrawing from the arena of Party conflict in this House the salaries of those who are called upon to exercise anything in the nature of judicial functions, so that they may exercise them independently without any fear of pecuniary loss. The right hon. Gentleman says he does not propose to interfere with the tenure of the office. The tenure of an office may be made as absolute as you will, but if the salary has to be voted by the House of Commons it would be futile to describe the tenure as permanent. No office can be described as permanent if the salary attached to it depends upon an annual Vote. It is true there are two Judges in Ireland who hold office by a permanent tenure, and whose salaries are, nevertheless, voted by the House of Commons. Those are the two bankruptcy Judges. But this position is anomalous and unjustiable, and if the question should be 167 raised whether they ought not to be placed in the same position as other Judges, there is no general principle on which the existing irrational exception can be defended. If those bankruptcy Judges chose to claim that their salaries should be placed on the Consolidated Fund it would be impossible to resist that claim. The principle being accepted that the salaries of Judges should be placed upon the Consolidated Fund, because if they have to be annually voted by this House the Judges would be brought under the control of a majority necessarily swayed by Party and political motives — the question arises whether the principle is applicable to the particular cases of these Commissioners. I maintain that it is applicable to a degree to which it is not in the cases of some other judicial functionaries. Of course, when the arrangement was made that judicial salaries should be withdrawn from the discretion of Parliament, it was intended that the Judges should be made independent of Court and other influence, and that object is fully attained. But are not the questions which these Commissioners would have to determine the very questions which divide parties and classes in Ireland, and about which controversies have raged? Of all functionaries, are not these Commissioners officials who ought to be protected from the pressure of Party majorities and Party leaders? We have only to look back to the discussions that have taken place upon the Estimates for this Commission, to see the kind of pressure that Members of the House have tried to exert. The Commission has been denounced as having served the interests of the landlords or of the tenants in the decisions they have given, and such denunciations are sure to be heard in the future. In that way pressure would be placed upon these officials by those who represented the majority of occupiers. The right hon. Gentleman appears to be under the impression that the business of the Land Commission is nearly over, but he forgets that rents are fixed for no longer than 15 years, and that on the expiration of that time tenants may come to the Court again. Further, a promise to lower the rents has been habitually held out by Nationalist politicians as a reason for returning 168 them to power. The facts furnish as strong an argument as ever was; urged in the 17th century for making English Judges independent of the chance of a Parliamentary majority and the storm and stress of Party discussion. The duties these Commissioners have to perform are judicial duties in the most important sense of the term. They have to decide questions of property affecting every man in Ireland—whether masses of property shall or shall not be transferred from one-class to another; they have to decide between landlord and tenant, and it is idle to say that, if these men are made the slaves of the Government of the-day—if you place them under the control of the House, as Sir Reginald Welby was under the control of the Chancellor of the Exchequer—their position could command, as it ought to command, the respect of any class in Ireland. In that case they would always be regarded as the slaves of the Party in office, as the tools of the Executive, and either tenants or landlords, owners or occupiers, would have a sense of injustice and grievance. Parliament has passed an Act unparalleled, perhaps, in any country in the world, which handed over to half a dozen men the control of all the landed-property of the country, and it ought not to refuse to those men the independence which would enable them to discharge their trust to the best of their-judgment, with perfect safety to their own position. For these reasons I hope the House will see that the question of tenure is one of vital importance, and will support the Government in making that tenure independent of the action of" the House.
§ (6.23.) MR. R. T. REID (Dumfries, &c.)
I have listened with a good deal of interest to the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman, who has founded his opposition to the Amendment on his desire to free the Land Commissioners from Government or Parliamentary control, and I must say that I am at a loss to imagine how, after what he has said, he will be able to-defend the positions of the removable Magistrates of Ireland, who are not merely judicial officers, but who are also executive officers, in strict subordination to himself. My object in rising, however, is to offer a few words with regard 169 to another part of the right hon. Gentleman's observations. He has compared the control of the House at the present time to the control exercised by the Crown in the 17th Century, and pointed out that as the Judges were removed at that time from the influence of the Crown, it would be a matter of public benefit that these officers should be removed from the influence of the House of Commons in the present century on similar grounds. The fact is that the proposal to place the salaries of these Commissioners on the Consolidated Fund is not a proposal to remove them from the control of Parliament; but rather to remove them from the control of the House of Commons, while leaving them to the control of the House of Lords. When the right hon. Gentleman says he desires the removal of the Commissioners from the hostile criticism of this House because of the judicial duties they have to discharge, I would point out that they do not discharge what can fairly be termed judicial duties. The duties they discharge are, on the contrary, administrative or executive duties relating to the application of enormous sums of money. Those duties the right hon. Gentleman desires to place outside the control of this House, but, in my opinion, we ought to have some means of watching over them, so that we may see how those gentlemen dispose of the funds placed under their control. For my part, I am in thorough agreement with the right hon. Gentleman who has moved the Amendment to the Resolution and I will go even a step further. I hold that none except the very highest Officers of the State ought to be relieved of the liability of having their salaries annually reviewed by this House. The County Court Judges derive their salaries from the Consolidated Fund, but they are in a different position from the Land Commissioners, because they are removable by the Lord Chancellor. The Superior Judges are also paid from the Consolidated Fund, but they discharge duties of a totally different character to those of the Land Commissioners. I shall give my vote most heartily to the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton, because it seems to me that the real vice of the Government proposal lies somewhat deeper than the 170 issue raised by the Chief Secretary. It consists in this: that the object of the-Government in this Bill is to set up a financial scheme which is to permit the expenditure during a period of from 20 to 30 years of a sum amounting to something like 30,000,000 of money, and it is proposed that the expenditure of this vast sum is to be made outside the control of the House of Commons. The proposal to place the salaries of these Commissioners beyond the control of this House is, I think, contrary to the practice of the Constitution. Indeed, I think that nothing could be more contrary to the practice of the Constitution than the object with which this proposal is made, namely, to enable Her Majesty's-Govemment to deprive this House for some 20 years or more of any control over the growing annual and constant expenditure of an enormous amount of national money.
§ (6.28.) MR. T. M. HEALY (Longford, N.)
The right hon. Gentleman in the speech he has just delivered has stated that it was very desirable that the Land Commissioners should not be treated in the same way as Civil servants, but 1 would ask is it not the fact that there is a proverbial stinginess on the part of the Treasury in proposing first to put the salaries of these gentlemen on the Consolidated Fund, and then in taking precautions in the matter of their pensions that they are to be placed on the footing of Civil servants? When a Judge, whose period of service has only lasted for half an hour, becomes incapacitated for the performance of his duties, whether by ill-health or by any other cause, he is entitled to-a pension; but a Civil servant is bound to serve a period of 10 years before he can have the right to any pension at all.We contend that it is inconsistent to raise these gentlemen beyond the position of Civil servants, but at the same time to say that they shall be put upon that footing in regard to the payment of their pensions. That is the first observation I have to make on this matter. I now come to my second point. There are two Bills before the House: one is-a Land Department Bill and the other a Land Commission Bill. This Resolution deals, as I take it, with the Land Commission. What is the Land Commission? Are we to have a Land Commission and a Land Department? The 171 House has been led into a position of embarrassment because, first of all, there is to be a Ways and Means Resolution for the payment out of the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom of the salaries of the Land Commissioners, who, as I understand, will be three—-Mr. M'Carthy, Mr. Lynch, and the Judicial Commissioner, Mr. Justice Bewley; and secondly, we are to have a Bill to deal with Mr. Wrench, Mr. Fitzgerald, and the whole number of Sub-Commissioners. It is most inconvenient to treat these two Bodies in two Bills, one of which may not come on this Session at all.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The intention, and I believe the effect, of Section 10 of the Bill now before the House is. to make permanent the judicial tenure of the lay Commissioners.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I looked into that point before I rose, and—I speak with great submission—I arrived at the contrary conclusion. There is no section in the first Bill defining what a Land Commissioner is, and in the second Bill you say there shall be constituted a Land Department for Ireland consisting, in the first instance, of these Land Commissioners, one or more of whom shall be styled Judicial Land Commissioners. In the first Resolution you provide for the salaries of the Land Commissioners, and that means the Land Purchase Commissioners; and by the second Resolution, which may never be reached, you deal with the Land Department. It is clear I am right, because you deal twice over in two separate Resolutions with the Land Commissioners. Why do yon do it? The contention of the Chief Secretary amounts to an absurdity. I think I have established my proposition that you have no very great desire to proceed with the Land Department Bill this Session. I presume you intend to use it next year as an excuse for not giving us local government; you will accept the dictum of the Member for West Birmingham that you must deal with the land before local government. It must be remembered that we have been sitting here since November, and that the idea is that we are to rise in May or June—I do not know exactly "which month it is. Last year on the Land Commission Bill, and this Session in the Debate on the Second Reading of this Bill, I raised the very question 172 now under consideration. The matter is much more serious than the Chief Secretary imagines. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the case of the Bankrupcty Judges in Ireland. Ever since the Bankruptcy Acts were passed these Judges have been quite comfortable, drawing their salaries through the annual Estimates. The Bankruptcy Judges are not Judges of the Superior Court, neither are the Land Commissioners. What is the first requisite of a Judge of the Superior Court? He must have at least 10 years' experience at the Bar. Mr. Lynch is a layman and Mr. M'Carthy is a solicitor. Am I to be told that such gentlemen are to be elevated to the rank of Judges? There are two Bankruptcy Judges. They must be persons—I was going to say in modern phraseology " of whose legal knowledge the Lord Lieutenant is satisfied." They must be gentlemen of standing at the Bar: men who require to have 10 years' experience at the Bar are placed on the ordinary Estimates of the year, while laymen, forsooth, are to be raised to the position of Judges of the Superior Court, and their salaries placed on the Consolidated Fund. There is another and still stronger argument. We have not only the precedent of the Bankruptcy Judges, but we have the precedent of the Land Commission. The Land Commission has been 10 years in existence. I should like to have heard the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian with the howling wolves—but the expression is consecrated—with the tumultuous Tories facing him, propose that the salaries of the Commissioners who were to cut down the rents of the Tory landlords should be placed on the Consolidated Fund. What did the present First Lord of the Treasury (Mr. W. H. Smith) do? So jealous were the Tory Party of the new departure that the present First Lord of the Treasury proposed at that time that the Lord Lieutenant should issue a Royal Commission at the end of seven years to wind up the whole affair. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian was on the point of accepting that proposition, when I intervened. It is now proposed, when the burden and the heat of the Commissioners' labours are over, and when, instead of fixing rents, which may be sup- 173 posed—though I could never understand it—to be a judicial function, when they will only have to ladle out the sovereigns after an agreement arrived at between landlord and tenant, to place them on the Consolidated Fund. I have here some mouldy records, which I made at the time, of the way in which the Marquess of Salisbury spoke of the Land Commissioners. He called Mr. John George M'Carthy—one of the very gentlemen who is now to be placed on the Consolidated Fund—one of the fiercest of the Sub-Commissioners. That shows the jealousy with which those appointments were at that time regarded, when they were made for the cutting down of rents. How much more cause now exists for jealousy, when it is intended, so to speak, to give the landlords permanent annuities. Sub-Commissioner Meek was described by Lord Salisbury as one of the most violent persecutors of the landlords. I understand that the gentleman, having turned Liberal Unionist, has since then got a little job from Her Majesty's Government. Nor can we forget the name by which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Thanet (Mr. J. Lowther) dubbed the Submmissioners—" sub-confiscators." I have myself heard denunciations in the House of Lords of these appointments by Peers like the Earl of Donoughmore, the Marquess of Lansdowne, the Earl of Kilmorey, Earl Cairns, and the Marquess of Waterford, but I will not trouble the House by repeating them. Why take from this House the power of reviewing these appointments, and of reviewing the way in which the holders of them act, while allowing it to remain in the Chamber across the Lobby? The Land Act had not been in operation six months when Lord Salisbury, in another place, moved for a Committee to inquire into the character of the Commissioners and into their conduct; but if this proposal were adopted, and a Liberal Administration came into Office in the morning, we should be powerless. This is a matter vital to the case of the tenants. If Parliament puts the salaries of these Commissioners on the Consolidated Fund it will destroy the only means at the disposition of the Representatives of the people f keeping that jealous eye upon them which is absolutely essential, while the House of 174 Lords, the permanent landlord barracks, will be left with the amplest opportunities for criticism. You never dreamt of making this proposal until you had rigged the Land Commission with Tory appointments. Ton wish to have the benefit of two systems—removables and irremovables. The removables, of course, you only require while you are in Office, and you know they will be dismissed when your successors come into power. But long after you have passed away —which we trust will be soon—this £30,000,000 sterling will have to be spent, and you are taking care that the gentlemen who are to spend it shall have Office for the time of their natural lives. I do not object to the sum you propose to spend—the larger the merrier. But I object to giving such a large amount to spend, and at the same time withdrawing the spendees of the money from all Parliamentary control — a control which the House of Commons enjoyed when only £5,000,000 were involved. I therefore say that this is exactly the Bill in which this course ought not to have been taken. £30,000,000 is a very large sum to spend, and at least the salaries of its administrators ought to remain upon the annual Public Estimates. Throughout my remarks I have not referred to the question of the fixing of fair rents, because I assume that that will be brought up under the second Resolution; but I wish to ask the Government whether they propose by their construction that the words " Land Commissioner " should include Sub-Commissioner?
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
The right hon. Gentleman says " No." Well, I have not the Land Act of 1881 just now in my hands, but I venture to say that it will entirely depend on the construction of the Act whether it is so or not. The Treasury Clerks who have to administer this matter may take an entirely different view of the law, and that is another reason why this House should not allow any loophole capable of inducing action contrary to the received intention and purpose of Parliament. I trust that the Government will even yet allow wisdom and prudence to prevail. This is a Resolution which requires to pass through two stages, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolver- 175 hampton pointed out when it came on on the 9th December last. I objected, but as at that moment our minds were burthened with other considerations we did not care to fight the matter to any considerable extent. The Government, therefore, got the stage without discussion, and I do think they should have been now prepared to meet us in a conciliatory spirit. On the grounds I have stated I shall give to the Resolution the strongest opposition possible, and I beseech the Government if they wish to give confidence to the Irish tenant farmers, who will be so largely interested in this matter, to allow at least free Parliamentary discussion on the question of the salaries to be paid to the Commissioners.
§ (7.4.) MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
It is not often that I find myself in entire agreement with the hon. Member for North Longford, but in this matter I hold exactly the same opinion as he does. What is the position the House is in tonight? The question is: Are these Commissioners to be independent not only of landlords and tenants, but also of Parliament; or are they to be subject to the control of the House of Commons? The Chief Secretary has stated clearly that they not only perform judicial functions, but that the functions entrusted to them are vastly more important than most of the judicial functions that are performed in Ireland. That is practically his contention, and I should agree with the Chief Secretary in the contention that the salaries of the Commissioners should be removed from the control and criticism of Parliament if the Commissioners were of the same stamp as the Judges of the Supreme Court, and if they were men of the same standing and position. But what is the proposal in reality? It is simply to put men like Mr. M'Carthy, Mr. Wrench, and Mr. Fitzgerald in the position of Judges of the Supreme Court. I hope, however, the Government will not persist in any determination of that kind. In one sense it is almost ridiculous to make such a proposal to Parliament; and if the matter goes to a Division, the Government will find that there are many hon. Members who do not so entirely approve of the Land Commission as to let go altogether the small control the House now has over it. The question is one which does not 176 need much speaking, and I think the Government would be well advised to let well alone, and to continue in these matters on the same lines on which they have proceeded for the last 10 years. I am perfectly certain that, if such a proposal had been brought forward in 1881, the present Chief Secretary would have been one of the strongest opponents of it. In the circumstances, I shall vote for the Amendment of the right hon.. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton, and I trust that the Government will refrain at the last moment from persisting in a policy which will certainly be resented in Ulster and in every other part of Ireland, and which cannot possibly bring them any credit.
§ (7.9.) MR. J. MORLEY (Newcastle-upon-Tyne)
There was one part of the speech of the Chief Secretary to which I listened with amazement—that in which he implied that attacks 'were constantly being made in this House during the discussion of the Estimates upon the action of the Land Commissioners. Now, so far as I know, no such attacks are made. During the eight years I have been in the House—and I have been as assiduous an attendant as the-right hon. Gentleman himself when the Irish Estimates have been on—I have-found that the Land Commissioners have-been extraordinarily exempt from attacks -of this kind, and, therefore, the assertion of the right hon. Gentleman is entirely erroneous. I do not admit the existence of the mischiefs to which the right hon. Gentleman referred. I agree with the hon. Member for South Tyrone that this is not a question that requires a long Debate, for the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton has placed his Amendment before the House with such lucidity that no hon. Member can possibly mistake the principle on which we are going to vote. It is impossible to doubt that if this proposal is assented to, a very mischievous blow will be struck at one of the soundest political principles? that have hitherto guided Parliament.. The Chief Secretary said it was important that the Land Commissioners should be removed from being supposed to be actuated by fear of pecuniary loss, and also from the operation, of political motives. But does not a similar argument apply to gentlemen like the Secretary to the Treasury and the Chairman of 177 the Inland Revenue Board? The Chief Secretary has actually strengthened the case made out by my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton. It seems to me that there are two principles upon which this proposition ought to be resisted. The first is, that legal and judicial duties should only be intrusted to judicial persons. As the Member for North Longford has pointed out, you are going to trust these particular duties to laymen, for I believe every Member of the Commission, excepting Mr. Fitzgerald, is a layman. Mr. M'Carthy is a solicitor, but not a barrister. The second reason for resisting is, that we have already in the Judges of the Exchequer and Queen's Bench Divisions an ample force for discharging all the duties that are necessary. I do not know whether any communication has been made to the right hon. Gentleman by the Judges, but, at all events, it is notorious that the Judges of the higher Courts have expressed their readiness to undertake the judicial duties in connection with the Land Department. On those grounds, and also because the proposal is an unconstitutional one, I hope that considerable support will be given to the Amendment, for it cannot be denied, after the remarks made by the hon. Member for South Tyrone, that the Government are again going to do what they have often done before in Irish legislation—force proposals upon their own supporters against the judgment of all shades of opinion in Ireland.
§ (7.14.) MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
I am surprised at the sanguine character of the right hon. Gentleman in supposing that by talking of principle he will induce anyone on the other side of the House to vote with him. It is not a question of principle, so far as regards the majority of this House; it is simply carrying out a plan which the Government have conceived. They know perfectly well that they will be defeated at the next General Election, and their main object at present is to bridle what they are pleased to call the democracy. In the other branch of the Legislature the Tory Party have a permanent majority, and, therefore, they are anxious to place matters in such a position that nothing which they do now can be undone, because they will be able 178 to prevent it in the other House. Take, for instance, their Naval Defence policy. We shall be obliged—unless we obtain the consent of the House of Lords, and that we cannot hope for—to continue that policy, although the majority of the people object to paying the money. The Government have put their own henchmen into the Land Commission, and they are now endeavouring to safeguard these gentlemen from the possibility of disturbance by the Liberal Party when that Party obtain a majority. If we want to review their conduct, and perhaps to refuse their salaries, we shall be unable to do so. The object of the Chief Secretary is to take this power out of the hands of the majority. I am one of those who think that a majority should be paramount in the country, yet this you are preventing. Hon. Gentlemen opposite not only want to give effect to their votes now, but they desire to prevent us giving effect to our votes which in the future we have a chance of giving.
§ (7.17.) MR. KNOX (Cavan, W.)
I rise for the purpose of giving right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Government Bench an opportunity of being courteous to the House. On this point, which is one of enormous importance to the future of the land system in Ireland, there has been unusual agreement against the proposal of the Government amongst persons who are not usually agreed in opposing Ministerial measures, and yet it has come to this: that no one on the Ministerial Benches rises to answer or deigns to notice even the hon. Member for South Tyrone. That hon. Member has visited the constituency of nearly every hon. Gentleman opposite, and yet they all treat him with contempt. Surely the hon. Member, if he is a humble and modest man, will some day, like the worm, turn—unless, indeed, the hon. Member told the Government beforehand not to mind what he said, as his' words were only intended for his constituents —that he was addressing the Gallery and not the House; but if the hon. Member is serious, he must resent the insult offered to him in the silence of Her Majesty's Government. The result of the proposal will be to fix on the Land Commission permanently men who are bitterly hostile to the Irish tenants. Every single member of the Land Commission appointed by the present Go 179 vernment is bitterly opposed to the tenants. Mr. Wrench and Mr. Fitzgerald are both landlords' men, and so, too, is Justice Bewley. So strong a landlord's man is the last-named that when an hon. Friend of mine was appointed a joint arbitrator on a Plan of Campaign estate, and he offered the names of 12 gentlemen (one of them an hon. Member opposite) from whom the umpire should be selected, the landlord rejected them all, and would only put forward Justice Bewley. And this is the sort of man it is proposed to fix permanently in office, without the possibility of removal except with the concurrence of the House of Lords. Hon. Members opposite know how constantly the farmers of the North protest against the constitution of the Land Commission. Only the other day the Newtownards Board of Guardians recorded such a protest. But how is it that the Sub-Commissioners, by?whom the real work is done, are not to be made permanent at the same time? Surely, if the Sub-Commissioners are to remain under the control of the House of Commons, the head Commissioners, whose work is mainly departmental, ought also to be under the same control. The fact is, the Chief Secretary, who thinks he may condemn the Irish farmer with impunity, wishes to deceive the British taxpayer. He does not tell him that these Land Commissioners will control the expenditure of £30,000,000. Now, there can be no closer parallel to the Land Commission than the Railway Commission, and yet the salaries of the Railway Commissioners are voted by Parliament year after year, and the Government do not propose to make any change in this system. The Government's proposal amounts to an endowment of Mr. Wrench, the evil genius who advises the Government on their land policy in Ireland. We know that Mr. Wrench has earned the hatred of the farmers in both the North and South of Ireland, and I believe that if the Government persist in this proposal they will have to pay the penalty by losing several seats in the North of Ireland at the next election.
§ (7.27.) MR. T. LEA (Londonderry, S.)
The hon. Member for North Longford said that a constituent of mine who was appointed a Sub-Commissioner by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for 180 Mid Lothian had been re-appointed by the present Government. I wish to-state that is not the case. With regard to the Main Question, I should also like to add my opinion that the Government are making a mistake in this matter. Their proposal sets a very bad precedent, for which there is no occasion; and I hope that they will withdraw from the position which they have taken up.
§ (7.28.) MR. J. STUART (Shoreditch, Hoxton)
I think it is evident from the attitude of the Government that they are determined to impress their Irish policy on the future of this country, after the country has determined to be-done with their Irish policy. They are carrying out exactly the same policy as-they adopted in regard to the Navy, and also in respect of their Coercion Act, which they made permanent. They are, in fact, hopeless of their Irish policy being permanently approved by the country, and are endeavouring to make it permanent in spite of what the country may do.
§ (7.30.) MR.SINCLAIR (Falkirk,&c)
I do not agree with the hon. Member who has just spoken, in the opinion that the country is opposed to the tenour of the Irish policy of the Government, but I must say that I think this proposal is a mistake. As I understand the proposal, it is to make the salaries of the Judges payable from the Consolidated Fund. It has lately been my good fortune to see a great number of people from the North of Ireland, and as an old North of Ireland Member I take a great interest in this subject, and I may say I have not met one person who agrees in the proposal that the salaries of the Commissioners should be removed from the control of Parliament. Throughout the length and breadth of Ireland, so far as I know, the impression is strong that Parliament should retain this control, and that being my own view I am prepared to support the Amendment moved by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton.
§ (7.31.) MR. MACARTNEY (Antrim, S.)
I also have just returned from the North of Ireland, and have been in my own Division, and I must say that I have not met anybody who has expressed himself in accord- 181 ance with the view the hon. Member has just expressed. My impression is that the farmers in the North of Ireland—-I do not speak for others— are anxious that the Commissioners should be removed from criticism as much as possible. ["Hear, hear ! "] Yes, from that sort of criticism that would induce them to alter their action one way or the other. Though some hon. Gentlemen think this a laughable matter, I am perfectly certain that if they were conversant with these views in the North of Ireland they would agree with me that if there is one thing which is deprecated by the farmers in the North of Ireland, tenants and everybody else interested in the work of the Land Commission, it is that criticism in this or the other House should be supposed to have any effect on Commissioners small or great. I am bound to say I have never yet heard, and I have heard the Bill discussed in three or four counties in conversation by both Conservatives and Radicals—I have never yet heard those objections raised against the Government proposal which have been urged to-night. I hope sincerely that the Government will stick to the course they have proposed.
§ (7.35.)The House divided:—Ayes 180; Noes 142.—(Div. List, No. 121.)
§ (7.48.) MR. T. M. HEALY
In order to make the matter clear, and that arguments may not be repeated on duplicate Resolutions moved from the Treasury Bench, I move to insert in Clause "C" of the Resolution after "land," the word " purchase." That will confine the Resolution to the Land Purchase Commissioners. The Government contend that their second Resolution has a meaning distinct and separate from the first one. The Chief Secretary gave me an answer a while ago, and I do not say for a moment that answer was not correct, but if it be so then the second Resolution must be inaccurate, they cannot both be correct. The second Resolution is to authorise the payment of salaries and allowances to Commissioners of the Land Department. Now is the House going to vote these two things?—
§ MR. E. ROBERTSON
I rise to order, Sir. It is perfectly impossible for us to know what the hon. and learned Member is talking about, for we have not a copy 182 of the Resolutions before us. My point " of order is, ought we not to have the Resolutions on the Order Paper of the Day?
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I may say that I have had to go back to the Votes for December 9 to find the Resolutions.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
It is necessary to go back to our record of proceedings on December 9 to understand these Resolutions, such is the charming arrangement of our proceedings. In the second Resolution, which is not on the Paper of to-day,and which has not yet gone through Committee, it is proposed to ask the House to vote a second time salaries for the Land Department, having already voted a sum for the purpose under the Resolution now before us. Now, if the-Chief Secretary is correct in the answer he has given me, he is asking the House to stultify itself, for, according to the right hon. Gentleman, we have provided for the salaries of the whole of the Land Commissioners, and yet we are to be asked by. Order No. 4 to vote them a second time. I ask the House to consider the absurdity of the position. I declare it is inexpedient and absurd. Having some knowledge of the way in which officers of the Treasury draft Resolutions, I have come to be not unnaturally suspicious of the practices of the Treasury when they are trying to get money Resolutions through the House. It cannot be contended that I am not right on this point, that you are twice providing for the salaries of the Commissioners. That is not denied. What then underlies the second Resolution? I call the attention of the House to the? drafting of the Resolution. First you provide under this article now under consideration, payment of the salaries of the Commissioners out of the Consolidated Fund. Are there to be pensions? for the Commissioners to come out of some other fund? Are the salaries to come out of the Consolidated Fund and pensions to appear on the Estimates year by year? Mark the distinction of ' language in the two Resolutions. The first Resolution in no way deals with pensions, in no way deals with allowances,, it makes no provision except for salaries, 183 but your second Resolution covers both heads. Why is this? I propose to move an Amendment which will introduce a definite meaning, though, perhaps, it may not be technically correct, for I have had to do it hurriedly. Land Purchase Commissioners may not be the statutory language, but? we may make it clear in the language of the Bill. I move that the Resolution shall deal only with the the Land Purchase Commissioners, and my object is plain. I wish afterwards to shut out from this Resolution all questions affecting the Land Commission proper. Observe that in the original drafting of the Act of 1885 a clause provided that those gentlemen who were Land Commissioners and Land Purchase Commissioners were to be one and the same thing, but we took exception to that, for we had not that confidence then and still less have we confidence now in the appointments made by the Government, and we moved an Amendment to Section 15 of the Act of 1885 to the effect that the additional members of the Land Commission appointed under the Act should specially attend to the business imposed on the Commission by that Act. Accordingly we had specialised Land Commissioners quoad purchase, Mr. J. G. M'Carthy and Mr. Stanislaus Lynch dealing with the purchase of land. Then in 1887 you appointed a Judicial Commissioner and gave him special powers in regard to the Act, so now you have two lay Commissioners and Mr. Justice Bewley, and you propose to consolidate the five into a Land Department. Now you proceed to provide in this piecemeal manner for the Commissioners of the Land Department, but there is no such thing in existence yet as a Land Department. Why, if the contention of the Chief Secretary is correct, is there any need for any money Resolution dealing with the Land Department? Mr. Justice Monroe is to be a member, and he is already provided for. Mr. Justice Bewley is provided for out of the Consolidated Fund; Mr. Fitzgerald and Mr. Wrench are provided for. What, then, is the meaning of your two Resolutions?
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. MADDEN, Dublin University)
For the additional salaries under the second Bill.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
You are proceeding according to this strange Parliamentary method with two Resolutions relating to the salaries of the Land Commissioners. One relates to their salaries of £2,500 as members of the Court for fixing fair rent; the other to the salaries to be given to them of £500 in respect of their duties as members of the Land Department, which the Government propose to constitute. The Land Department Bill, however, may not pass. It cannot be pretended that I, taking only a critical interest in this matter, have given that study to it that the draftsman of these Resolutions has; but it is not at all unreasonable that we should ask for more light on this second Resolution, and why it is that we have these two stages on each, and four discussions in the House of Commons. It comes to this, that according to the law and logic of the right hon. Gentleman we shall be in order in discussing the whole thing over again on the second Resolution, as if we had never had the matter before us before. I do not think that is a procedure a great Department like the Treasury should adopt. We pressed a moment or two ago for an answer to the question put forward by the hon. Member for South Tyrone and we have not had an answer. I presume the Chancellor of the Exchequer is ashamed of the entire transaction, and certainly a more clumsy and slovenly way of transacting financial business I have never heard of. We shall certainly have the Debate all over again, because this business is not conducted in a workmanlike way, and the thing is left in a most unsatisfactory state. The right hon. Gentleman will have an opportunity of speaking again on my Amendment, which I hope the House will accept. I have not had the opportunity of referring to the Act of 1881; but I should not be surprised if it should turn out that the Treasury so construe it that the case of the Sub-Commissioners is met by the Resolution. The construction to be put on this Resolution it will be for the Treasury to determine, and I hold that we should not leave the matter in the loose way in which it stands at present.
§ Amendment proposed, in line 9, after the word " land," to insert the word " purchase."—?185
§ Question proposed, " That the word 'purchase ' be there inserted."
§ (8.1.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I think I can clear up the difficulty in the mind of the hon. and learned Gentleman. I agree with the hon. Member that the procedure is a cumbrous one, but it is necessary according to the Rules of the House.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I appreciate the hon. Member's point. In Clause 10?of the first Bill certain money is thrown on the Consolidated Fund, but this cannot be done without a Resolution of the House. Accordingly, we proposed a Resolution. In Bill No. 2 we also deal with salaries by throwing them on the Consolidated Fund; therefore, we have to pass another Resolution. It is not our fault, but that of the Rules of the House. It would be contrary to the Rules and Regulations of the House to have one set of Resolutions for two Bills.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Each of the Hills deals with the salaries of the Land Commissioners, though in different ways, and therefore two Resolutions are required, one for each Bill. To have obviated this it would have been necessary to alter the whole structure of the measure. But this matter of the Resolutions is a mere matter of procedure. The Resolutions are necessary in order to found the Bills upon them, but the Bills alone are operative.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
If this second Resolution is not passed, what will be the position of these gentlemen in regard to their salaries?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
They will have the same salaries that they receive now. Bill No. 2 is to equalise the salaries, and the hon. Member will see "that if we are to carry out the policy of the Bill we have no choice but to do what we are doing. The hon. Member need have no fear of the action of the Treasury Clerks, because what will bind the Treasury will not be the Resolution "but the Bill, and the Bill only.
§ (8.6.) MR. T. M. HEALY
As there are two Bills which deal with finance, the two Resolutions are necessary, but what the right hon. Gentleman has not explained is, why Clause 10, which makes the Resolution necessary, should have been introduced at all. The right hon. Gentleman has only got out of one absurdity by getting into another. He says two Resolutions are necessary, because there are two Bills before the House, each of which deals with the salaries of the Land Commissioners in a different way. Is that not in itself absurd? Why should we have two proposals? I say the proper place for Clause 10 of this Bill is in the second measure. If we are to have proposals regulating the salaries and tenure of office of the Land Purchase Commissioners, the proper place for them is in the Bill dealing with the Land Purchase Department, and we should have some explanation of the extraordinary anomaly presented by this Resolution.
§ (8.9.) MR. KNOX
I beg to support the Amendment more on the merits than on the technical point. I object to the Resolution, because it endows Mr. Wrench. The Opposition during last Session spent a considerable amount of time in preventing the passage through the House of a measure which was described as the Publicans' Endowment Bill. Well, I venture to say that if the opinions of the Irish people had been taken by plebiscite it would have been found that for every one opposed to the endowment of the publicans there would have been 10 opposed to the endowment of Mr. Wrench. Go where you will amongst the farmers of Ireland you will find the name of Mr. Wrench the name to conjure with if you want to defame the present Government, and why should the Government, when they are as we hope nearing the end of their tenure of Office, propose to leave Mr. Wrench as a permanent legacy to their successors? The object of the Amendment is to impose a check on the constitution of the Land Commission. The Bill is supposed to be a Land Purchase Bill. The Government have brought into it a provision that has nothing todo with Land Purchase, but which 187 only concerns the fair rent portion of the Land Commission. We object to that; and hold that it is irrelevant to the Bill, and altogether unjustifiable. I am told that Mr. Wrench was frequently consulted in the preparation of this Bill, and it seems to me that in Clause 10 we have strong internal evidence of the fact, for we find that Mr. Wrench has provided for the permanent endowment of himself out of the Consolidated Fund. In every other part of the Bill we find that the Land Commissioners referred to are those acting under the Act of 1885, that is to say Mr. Lynch and Mr. M'Carthy; but when we come to this 10th section we find that, though this is a Land Purchase Bill solely, there are others who are to have a finger in the pie. The object of the Government is not so much to endow Mr. Lynch and Mr. M'Carthy— and we know they do not love them too Well—but, loving their own creation, they desire to endow Mr. Wrench, Mr. Fitzgerald, and Mr. Justice Bewley— creatures after the Chief Secretary's own heart, whom the Irish farmers abhor. These men, friends of the landlord party, are to be established for the term of their natural lives as Land Commissioners for the fixing of fair rents. They are to be made irremovable unless a landlord House of Lords agrees in demanding their removal. I ask, could there be any worse system imagined? In a short time the work of fixing fair rents will begin—the 15 years for which they have been fixed will have expired— and such men as Mr. Wrench, Mr. Fitzgerald, and Mr. Justice Bewley will be called upon to discharge the functions of the men whose qualifications were thoroughly canvassed in 1881, when the Land Act was passed. Though it may be unusual to fight the merits of the question upon a money Resolution, yet where the Government are trying to carry out so iniquitous a proposal as this before the House, it is the duty of the Representatives of Irish tenant farmers to fight them line by line and word by word. I strongly support the Amendment, because I think that in connection with the Land Purchase Bill we should deal solely with land purchase, and that men who have nothing to do with land purchase should not be endowed, as it were, by a side 188 wind. The proposal of the Government is a huge landlord job, and we, therefore, intend to look ahead. I would suggest to the Chief Secretary that he should drop the Land Department Bill, which will be fought line by line if persisted in. In this way he would greatly facilitate the passage of the Land Purchase Bill through the House. (8.16.)
§ (8.50.) COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)
As I understand the Resolution before the House it is merely to give power to-deal with certain money questions. These preparatory Resolutions do not bind the House, or the Government, or anybody to anything of a restrictive character. It does not limit discussion of the Bill, and only allows the Land Purchase Commissioners, instead of the Land Commissioners generally, to be paid out of the Consolidated Fund. Anyone who opposes the preparatory Resolution must, on the whole, be generally opposed to the Bill. I am not opposed to the Bill generally, and it might be put into good shape in going through Committee. If I disliked the Bill I should be inclined to oppose these preparatory Resolutions; but as it may turn out a good Bill, I do not see the slightest use in opposing the Resolutions. I am not at all inclined to pursue the policy of fighting the battle on these preparatory Resolutions, and I hope that the people of Ireland will know that they do not bind anyone to anything. They simply enable the Government to lay their proposals on the Table. As to the general policy of putting salaries on the Consolidated Fund, I am rather in favour of it. I think it a good thing for Irish officers, particularly, to be paid out of the Consolidated, rather than any other Fund. Ireland contributes double what it ought to the Consolidated Fund, and she gets extremely little from it. At any rate, I think the Government ought to be permitted to state their proposals in the Bill, and it is merely preventing further discussion of a Bill which might be made useful if we debate these preparatory Resolutions, which in the case of all money Bills, are usually passed as a matter of course.
§ (9.0.)The House divided:—Ayes 81; Noes 134.—(Div. List, No. 122.)189
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, " That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."
§ (9.10.) MR. T. M. HEALY
I acknowledge the strange metamorphosis that has taken place in the House since the Member for Wolverhampton moved his Amendment. Within two or three hours the Government have had support from the Member for South Tyrone and from the hon. Member the Parnellite Whip on the very question which they opposed in the earlier part of the evening. That exactly shows what I have contended all along, namely, the anxiety of the landlord party in this House so to rig the Land Commission that it shall be enthroned for the next 15 years, when the judicial rents will again commence, and when they will have to deal with the purchase of land. The House and the country should understand this matter. Here are two Bills, and the Government have proposed two Resolutions, one proposing to place certain Gentlemen on the Consolidated Fund who have nothing under heaven to do with the original Bill, because it is a Purchase Bill. Therefore, the Member for South Tyrone, and the hon. and gallant Member for Galway, on behalf of his Party, have supported the Government in introducing into this Land Purchase Bill a proposal to make permanent the fair rent Commissioners, Messrs. Wrench, Fitzgerald, and Bewley, who are to have the fixing of fair rents for the next 15 years. But what does this Resolution do? It provides that the salaries of Messrs. M'Carthy and Lynch shall be placed on the Consolidated Fund, but it does not do what the Government originally intended—govern the salaries of Messrs. Fitzgerald, Wrench, and Bewley. The Government say they want to equalise the position of the Fair Rent Commissioners and the Land Purchase Commissioners, but this Resolution leaves the salaries of the latter untouched. Yon have these gentlemen opposing the proposal that the salaries of the Land Purchase Commissioners shall be placed on the Consolidated Fund, and you have them voting against the Amendment which, at any rate, ought to confine the mischief to the Purchase 190 Department. That shows the genuineness of the opposition offered to the Government by the hon. Member for South Tyrone; and we may judge fairly of his earlier declaration that he was opposed to the salaries of the Land Commissioners being taken off the Estimates. When I move my Amendment, which, at any rate, excludes the Fair Rent Commissioners from the purview of the clause, the hon. Member votes in the very opposite direction. That clearly shows, to use the American phrase, that he was only talking bunkum—that he was only talking to his constituents. Much as 1 mistrust Mr. Wrench in his dealing with the fair rent question, I shall mistrust him more if he is to be imported into the Purchase Department; and if that importation is to proceed, I ask that you shall have a levelling down, and that Mr. M'Carthy and Mr. Lynch shall have equal powers in connection with the fair rent department. But will this be done? Certainly not, because, as I understand it, the power which was given to the Land Commission by the Land Purchase Act of 1835 still remains intact, as defined by Section 17, which confers it, and can only be exercised for the sole purpose of purchase by the two gentlemen who are there nominated. This, in my judgment, is a very serious consideration. You are driven to pass this Resolution by the framing of your Bill, because it would be absolutely unnecessary except for Clause 10; and even with Clause 10 it does not equalise the position of the Land Commissioners, as it leaves then-salaries unequal and their purchasing powers unequal. This position of affairs is due to tricky draftsmanship, which is a procedure that always defeats itself, because the moment you begin to trick in draftsmanship, the House begins to be suspicious, and you will find that, in this instance, the trick will not help you in expediting your measure. The House requires explanations on this subject; and the moment explanations are needed, the Government are exposed to criticism which would have been saved had this trickiness been avoided. Members of Parliament are, as a rule, plain, blunt men, who begin to take exception the moment they find the Government acting in this manner. A 191 more irregular proceeding was never foisted on Parliament than that of dealing with these Commissioners' salaries in two pieces and requiring special Resolutions for the purpose. I say it is a thing hitherto unheard of. If you deny this I ask you to quote precedents for it, if any there be. I say that to deal with this matter by means of two Resolutions is a revolutionary procedure utterly opposed to constitutional practice. We know what it has sprung from. Last year you bad only one Bill; you now have two, and you have transferred to the first of those Bills everything that is objectionable to the tenants and favourable to the landlords. In addition to this, you put Mr. Wrench on the pig's back; for you do not care what happens to him by placing him in the first Bill, while the others are placed in the second. I say that this is a most unfair and unconstitutional way of treating the House. Mr. Wrench is entitled to no better treatment than Mr. Lynch or Mr. M'Carthy. Both these men have held their appointments for a considerable period; they have done good work, and up to the present no fault has been found with them. You say you are -anxious to equalise their salaries with those of Mr. Wrench and Mr. Fitzgerald. If so, why have you not put them in the first Bill? The reason is clear. It is because you do not intend to equalise their salaries. The first Bill has no more to do with fair rent than with the opium traffic. It has as little to do with the Land Commission of 1885 as it has to do with the Drainage Act. And yet you propose to make Mr. Wrench and Mr. Fitzgerald permanent officials under the circumstances I have put before the House. I say it is a monstrous and scandalous way of treating the House of Commons. And how do you do it? You do not do it in a draftsmanlike manner nor even in a crafty manner.You do it in a way that would not puzzle a schoolboy; and this is the way in which you, who complain of the time of the House of Commons being wasted, compel the waste of that time by the necessity of exposing an unconstitutional trick. Mr. Wrench may have thought it a clever -thing to have drafted into the first Bill, which has nothing to do with his position as a fair rent Commissioner, a Resolution 192 making that position permanent and taking his salary off the Estimates, in order to put it on the Consolidated Fund. But to have been clever, it ought to have been done frankly, boldly, and outspokenly, and this is exactly what has not been done. In his speech on the Second Reading of the two measures the Chief Secretary declared his anxiety that everyone should stand in the same position as to salary and powers and tenure of office. Will that be so? No; because the second Resolution is not intended to be passed, and, therefore, the only man who is to be a gainer under the Bill is the very man whose position we take exception to. We object to Mr. Wrench having his salary taken off the Estimates and placed on the Consolidated Fund, and that objection is strengthened tenfold when we find gentlemen like the hon. and gallant Member for North Galway (Colonel Nolan) supporting, on behalf of a Party which largely consists of landlords, and aided by the hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell), this nefarious transaction on the part of the Government; for I do not hesitate to say it is a nefarious transaction. Moreover, it is a scandal that men representing the tenants' interests in this House should support the Tory Party in backing up the landlord members of the Land Commission. We are not surprised that the hon. Member for South Tyrone, who so eloquently denounced the Government not long ago, should now give them his support; but we are surprised to see the hon. and gallant Gentleman who represents the tenants of North Galway taking a similar course, especially when wo know that the Government do not intend to carry out their proposal in a manly, straightforward manner, but rather under cover of a draftsman's trick. I denounce this as unconstitutional, absurd, and unnecessary, and I say with regard to the clause on which it is pretended to be based that it has no business in the Bill at all. When you split the Bill of last year into two the proper course would have been to have omitted this clause from Bill No. 1 and have dealt with it in Bill No. 2. You may reply that the second Bill deals with a separate matter. Granted that it does; still, if there are any matters that 193 ought not to be separated from each other, they are such matters as the salary, tenure, and position of the Land Commissioners. We know already what friction prevails in the Land Purchase Department, and when you propose to empower Mr. Wrench to sit side by side with Mr. M'Carthy and Mr. Lynch
§ MR. SPEAKER
I must ask the hon. Member to confine his attention to the Question before the House. I warn him that during the last quarter of an hour he has been repeating the same thing over and over again, although in a slightly varied form of words.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I thought that on a subject of this kind it was necessary to give illustrations, but of course I bow to your decision. It should be remembered, however, that throughout this Debate we have had no word of explanation from the Government. This Resolution was originally passed without discussion, and it is only at this stage that we can require from the Government suitable explanations. If they refuse to make them it is only fair that they should be pressed to do so if necessary over and over again. Still, Sir, I accept your ruling; and as I shall have another opportunity when the clause itself comes to be dealt with, I will reserve what I have further to say on this point. But I do ask the Government to give us some explanation on this subject.
(9.30.) COLONEL NOLAN: I only rise because the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Longford has alluded to me in his usual manner. He makes the most reckless statements, and never evinces the slightest wish to ascertain the truth of them.
§ MR. SPEAKER
Order, order ! The hon. and gallant Gentleman is using language which is scarcely Parliamentary.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
I will merely say the hon. and learned Gentleman is so gifted in the sense of hearing that he professes to know what I said when he was out of the House. The hon. and learned Gentleman has totally misinterpreted the views which I gave expression to earlier in the evening. I stated clearly that I spoke only for myself as a Member of 194 Parliament, though to a certain extent, of course, I always speak for Galway. I maintain that it is to the interest of every tenant in Galway that the Government should be enabled to lay before the House the whole of their propositions regarding the advance of the purchase money. The question as to who gets the appointment is of very little importance to the tenants of Ireland, and may be described as a mere " bar " question. The passing of these Resolutions is a mere matter of form, and consequently I said, a short time ago, I would not offer the Resolutions any opposition. I did not support them. I have given neither support or opposition to the Resolutions, because they bind us to nothing. The hon. and learned Gentleman has attacked me simply because I am opposed to him in Irish politics, and because I disapprove of his making one speech one week and a diametrically opposite speech another week. If he takes the trouble to inquire he will learn that I made a very moderate speech. I threw over no one. I am anxious to hear the Government proposals, and I have bound myself to nothing. But I will give the hon. and learned Gentleman my opinion of the Bill in general. I do not say it is a good or a bad Bill, but I think it may be moulded into a good or a bad Bill. [" Hear ! "] If hon. Members agree with me they ought to allow the Bill to be considered in Committee.
§ (9.37.) MR. CHANCE (Kilkenny, S.)
I am afraid the hon. and gallant Member has fallen into error. The statement he has addressed to the House would lead one to suppose that the observations he made some 30 minutes ago were addressed to the Main Question. The hon. and gallant Member's previous observations were not addressed to the Main Question before the House, but to the small point as to whether the Land Purchase Commissioners alone should be made permanent officials and freed from Parliamentary control, or whether such freedom of control should be extended to Messrs. Wrench and Fitzgerald and Bewley. In his opinion it would be beneficial to the people of Ireland that these three gentlemen should be freed in every respect 195 from the control of Parliament. He knows that in the next five years these gentlemen, when placed on the pedestal of Judges of the Superior Court, will have the fixing of his rents and those of every landlord in Ireland. This is no mere " bar " question. The Resolution deals with the supply of money to make good deficiencies which may arise in a certain fund, and it takes away permanently from the control of Parliament all questions relating to the administration of that fund. It should be established as a certainty that an honest and uncorrupted tribunal will be created, not only for the fixing of the purchase money, but for the fixing of fair rents.
§ (9.40.) MR. LABOUCHERE
The hon. and learned Member for Longford has said this is an endowment Resolution for Messrs. "Wrench, Fitzgerald, and others. I have a still stronger reason for voting against the Resolution. Your attention, Sir, was called to the fact that the Resolution does not appear on the Orders of the Day. You said, in reply, that that was usual on the Report stage. Of course that is perfectly correct; but still, I submit that a Resolution of this importance ought to appear on the Orders of the Day, because the House is now being asked to pass a Resolution of which many hon. Members do not know the wording. The Resolution says that it is " expedient to authorise " a temporary advance from the Consolidated Fund of any sums that may be required, and practically empowers the Committee on the Land Purchase Bill to deal with the moneys. I do not consider it to be expedient to authorise the Committee to do anything of the kind. I object to any species of Imperial guarantee being given in order to make purchases of estates in Ireland, and I shall meet the Resolution with a negative.
§ (9.42) MR. E. ROBERTSON (Dundee)
I am glad the hon. Member for Northampton has alluded to the extraordinary circumstances under which this Resolution is now before the House. The Government have said nothing at all for the last two or three hours, but I hope they will feel it due to the House to explain how it is that the Resolution has been brought forward under such extraordinary circumstances. The ruling 196 which you, Sir, gave on the point of Order which I raised earlier in the evening by no means removes from the Government the serious responsibility they have incurred of asking the House to discuss a Resolution of which hon. Members have no means of obtaining a copy. Through the action or inaction of the Government in failing to provide the House with proper information we have been discussing for four or five hours a Resolution of which nobody knows the terms, and I hope the ountry will take notice of the fact. I do not think the Government are treating the House or the country with proper respect.
§ (9.45.) MR. T. W. RUSSELL
I trust the House will permit me to make one or two observations in reply to what has fallen from the hon. and learned Member for Longford. It is quite true I supported the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton and opposed the Amendment of the hon. Member for Longford. I fail to see any inconsistency in that course. The House having rejected the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman I decline to follow the hon. Member for Longford in any guerilla warfare designed to delay the Land Bill going into Committee. That is what the present proceedings mean, and I wish this country and Ireland to distinctly understand it. I shall be no party to it, and I distinctly decline to assist the hon. Member for Longford in any plan or scheme for delaying what I consider to be a great and beneficent measure for Ireland.
MR. J. E. ELLIS (Nottingham, Rush-clift'e)
The hon. Member for South Tyrone is entirely mistaken in supposing that the object of those of us who support the position taken up by the hon. Member for Longford is to delay the Land Bill.
MR. J. E. ELLIS
In my opinion, the point involved in this Resolution is one which might fairly claim the attention of the House of Commons for the whole evening. I must convey my thanks to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton for having raised this 197 question. No reply has been given by the Chief Secretary (Mr. A. J. Balfour) to my right hon. Friend's luminous speech. The whole sum and substance of the Chief Secretary's speech was practically this: That the state of Ireland in relation to the land question, after the present Government have been in power for several years, is such that a course has to be pursued in regard to the Land Commission which is pursued in no other Department of the State. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Balfour) could not cite a single precedent for the course he is taking. Immediately on the Land Bill being read a second time I placed on the Paper an Amendment similar to that which the right hon. Gentleman has moved, and I can promise the Chief Secretary that the Government will not escape from the necessity of a thorough examination of this whole matter when we come to the Bill itself. I think the course pursued by the Government has been somewhat extraordinary. Beyond the rather airy speech, a few minutes in length, of the Chief Secretary, not a word has been said by the Government in defence of the principle involved in this Resolution: The only support from the Benches opposite has come from the hon. Member for Armagh. If a discussion of this kind had taken place at the time when the Chief Secretary was sitting on this side of the House, the Adjournment of the Debate would have been moved long before this if the Government had sat silent. The Land Bill of 1881 had been in this House 43 nights when the present First Lord of the Treasury moved its re-committal, in order to make it obligatory that at the end of six years the position of the Land Commission should be inquired into. Speaking after much time spent in investigating the matter, I do not hesitate to say that, so far from that Commission being a body that should be withdrawn from the control of Parliament, it is one of the first bodies that should come within the scope of Parliamentary control, and should have its proceedings strictly investigated. The Reports of the Auditor and Controller General for the years 1887-8-9 and 1890 bear out what I am saying, and show that the proceedings of the Land Commission ought to be overhauled by a Com- 198 mittee or a Royal Commission from top to bottom.
§ (9.56.) MR. M. HEALY (Cork)
The hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell) has endeavoured to justify his inconsistency on this question by charging us with endeavouring to delay the Purchase Bill. If there is anyone responsible for the delay which has taken place it is those who have drafted the Bill. We have asked in vain for some explanation of the final form which these Bills have taken. Last year the Government embodied their Irish land policy in one Bill; this year they have two Bills, and they have placed themselves in their present ridiculous position by making different sets of proposals dealing with the Commissioners. We have asked for some explanation of this extraordinary proceeding, but in vain, although our question is a natural and reasonable one. It has been said that the Resolution before the House is a mere matter of form, but I deny this, because this Resolution is really the root of Clause 10 of the Bill. Moreover, a very sinister distinction is involved in this matter between the two sets of Commissioners. It is plain that the object of the Government is this: not intending to go on with the second Bill, they have imported into the first one the only proposal relating to the status and pay of the Commissioners and giving them fixity of tenure. The other portion of the proposal, which places Mr. M'Carthy and Mr. Lynch on an equal footing, has been embodied in a Bill which we have come to the conclusion the Government do not seriously mean to proceed with, but that is a point I do not wish to labour now. But I do say the Government have not met us fairly in this matter. We have asked a reasonable question and we get no reply, and if there has been any such delay as that the hon. Member for South Tyrone speaks of, then the responsibility for that must be placed on the shoulders of those who countenance this tricky species of draftsmanship embodied in this Bill and these Resolutions.
§ (10.5.)The House divided:—Ayes 175; Noes 116.—(Div. List, No. 123.)199
§ Resolution 2,
" That it is expedient to authorise the payment, out of moneys to be provided by Parliament, of the salaries, remuneration, and administrative expenses of the Congested Districts Board, in pursuance of any Act of the present Session relating to the Purchase of Land in Ireland, the Land Commission, and the Congested Districts in Ireland,''
§ read a second time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, " That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."
§ (10.17.) MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
The complaint which I have to make in respect to this Resolution has, I daresay, been made in reference to the other Resolution which has occupied the attention of the House this evening, that no intimation of the Resolution appears on the Notice Paper. I think it is rather discreditable to Her Majesty's Government that when important Resolutions of this character are brought before the House of Commons we should have absolutely no notice of them. How in the world are Members of Parliament to do their duty in the House unless they have timely notice, and can come down to the House prepared to deal with the important points of a complex measure? But apart from this, which may be, perhaps, considered an unimportant matter of procedure, I object to the Resolution in its entirety and on its merits. I do not consider it is expedient to authorise the payment of moneys for the purpose mentioned in the Resolution, and I think it is our duty not to allow this Resolution to pass without examining it from every point of view, and, if necessary, taking the sense of the House upon it. My principle object in rising is to try and extract an assurance from the Chief Secretary that when this Resolution is passed the Government will not, in the course of this or a following Session, pass a sort of omnibus Bill saddling the country with these payments in perpetuity. What is wanted is that Parliament should have the control and constant supervision over the expenses under this abominable, this atrocious Bill. I do not know that I should be in order in proposing an Amendment.
§ MR. CONYBEARE
I have no intention of proposing any Amendment; but I think we have a right to know from the Government whether they propose, acting under this Resolution in any Bill they may pass later, to follow the precedent they set in the Naval Construction. Act, and in which they themselves then copied Prince Bismarck, of getting voted a large sum for a particular purpose for a series of years. Such a practice, until this revolutionary Government came into-Office, was foreign to the Constitution of this country. We want an assurance that the Government will not follow this bad precedent, but that payments under the proposed Bill shall be subject to annual Parliamentary control. In view of the magnitude of the operations contemplated under this Bill, in view of the magnitude of the losses the country is almost certain to suffer in the future, our duty, as guardians of the interests of our constituents, is to scan minutely every proposal connected with the scheme, and to do what we can to minimise the evil-We are asked to pass a Resolution authorising the payment of salaries to a Congested Districts Board, but we do not know what that Board is or what it, is likely to be. The constitution of the Board is only dealt with at the tail-end. of this long and complicated measure, and I object to having our hands tied from the outset by the passing of this Resolution, and the Government given control of this large sum of money for a Board not yet constituted, which is yet in limbo. We have a right to know much more about this Board, and these Congested Districts, for we have our suspicions that these proposals cover a new system of jobbery, and for the distribution of patronage among the-fledglings of the Irish Bar or the half-starved hangers-on to a rotten system of administration.
§ (10.27.) The House divided:—Ayes. 192; Noes 121.—(Div. List, No. 124.)