HC Deb 23 July 1891 vol 356 cc141-98

Lords Amendments considered.

(4.44.) MR. T. M. HEALY (Longford, N.)

I think it would be convenient if the Chief Secretary would state to the House generally the course which the Government intend to pursue with regard to the Lords' Amendments. There are some of the Lords' Amendments to which I and my hon. Friends have no strong objection, but there are others to which we are entirely opposed. One of the latter is the long Amendment moved by Lord Waterford, the object of which is already sufficiently met in the Act of 1888. The Amendment moved by Lord Arran is also of a highly contentious character. It would be absurd to enact that a fee-simple owner should be subject to all the conditions of one who is not an owner. How would Lord Arran like to hold his own estates on the terms he suggests for the purchaser? Undoubtedly the title of the tenants will be as indefensible as that of Lord Arran. Lord Londonderry, an ex-Lord Lieutenant, has introduced a very remarkable Amendment on the question of the composition of the staff of the Land Commission. If the Gevernment desired this alteration in the Bill, it would have been more frank on their part to have asked the present Lord Lieutenant to introduce the Amendment. Will the House believe that the entire body of the Land Commissioners reported in favour of the Bill as it left the House of Commons, and the entire body of the Fair Rent Commissioners reported in favour of Lord Londonderry's Amendment. All the Fair Rent Commissioners are new to their work, every one of them having been appointed within the last two years, Whilst those who have reported in favour of the original clause have been in office since the coming into force of the Act of 1875. To deny to the Commissioners responsible for the working of the Act any voice in the selection of the staff which is to assist them, is a very extraordinary position to assume. The further Amendment moved by Lord Londonderry with respect to the £50 limit I do not regard as of much importance; but I do most strongly object to the Amendment respecting the tenants' interest. The Bill as passed by the House of Commons contained a distinct recognition that the tenant was only buying the landlord's interest, and had an interest of his own. On the question of the annual value, I prefer the measure as it left the House of Commons. On the whole I would advise the Government not to persist in the great bulk of the Lords' Amendments.

(4.54.) MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)

I think the Government would do well to accept the suggestion of my hon. and learned Friend. One Amendment which will provoke opposition is the Amendment which provides that the tenant who asks for an award of three-fourths of the purchase-money shall pay interest at a lower rate. Such a tenant already has a great advantage in not paying anything to the Insurance Fund, and he least requires any additional advantage. The adoption of the Amendment will reduce the fund intended by the Act for the advantage of the labourers. In my opinion it is detrimental to the public interest. As to the Amendment of the Marquess of Waterford, it does more than it professes to do, and makes various changes in the law which will necessitate very detailed attention. Then the Lords provide that the tenant shall buy the holding, although since 1870 he has been a joint owner of the land. I do not know why this change has been made, unless it be because the Lords dislike any reference to the fact that the tenant has already any interest in the holding. I, therefore, ask the Government to consider whether they will not restore this part of the Bill to its original form. The next Amendment is that proposed by Lord Londonderry respecting the proportion between the two classes of tenants. I declined to consider the £30,000,000 as a final amount, and I was, therefore, opposed to the introduction of a limit. As the Amendment of Lord Londonderry tends rather to diminish the action of the limit, I am not disposed to find fault with it, but may I point out to the Attorney General that the language of the first sub-section of Lord Londonderry's clause may be open to serious misinterpretation, for in it Lord Londonderry speaks of the annual share of the county in the guarantee fund, as the amount which is to be deemed to be allocated. But the clause does not propose to limit the amount that may be advanced at any time, and despite the wording of the clause, the county share may all be advanced in any year, or even in any month. But this sentence, "the annual share of the county in the guarantee fund is to be deemed to be allocated," may be held to mean that no more than 1–25th of the share of the county may be allocated in any one year. I would suggest that the clause be rendered less open to misinterpretation by striking out Sub-sections 2 and 3, and somewhat altering the wording of Sub-section 1. The next Amendment, which empowers the Land Commission under certain circumstances to order the Sheriff into possession of the holding, is also open to objection. I say that, as the Land Commission will stand in the position of litigants, they ought not to have the power of ordering the Sheriff to take possession, but it should be vested in some other Court. There is another clause on which I hope we shall get a satisfactory declaration from the right hon. Gentleman. The purchase system has now been in operation for some years, and under the Ashbourne Act the tenants have bought under certain conditions, such as that they shall not sublet, &c. Lord Arran, however, by his new clause, proposes to place tenants buying under this Act under less favourable conditions as to rights of ownership. We know that the law of waste rests upon the Act of 1860, which was passed before the tenants had any interest in the soil, and the Irish Law Courts have so interpreted it that if a tenant alters an outhouse so as to give shelter to an evicted tenant, the alteration, although it may actually improve the holding, is to be deemed to be waste. Can it be seriously contended that if a man who purchases a farm under this Act after 20 or 30 years, when he has paid the bulk of his debt to the estate, gives shelter in an outhouse on the farm to an evicted tenant, and makes the out-office more suitable as a habitation, he should be evicted from his freehold? If so, then I say that the purchase system is being reduced to a farce, and the right hon. Gentleman will have placed such an obstacle in the way of transactions that the Act will have no effectual operation. There are only one or two other Amendments to which I wish to allude. One is the power given to the Lord Lieutenant and the Chief Secretary to make appointments in the office of the Land Commission. The two Purchase Commissioners hold that their names should be included in the Bill with a view to their being consulted in regard to these appointments. The three Land Commissioners do not hold that view. You have already prevented the Land Department interfering with the Purchase Department for one or two years. It may be said that the Commissioners will be consulted in this matter, but unless their names are inserted in the Bill they will not be consulted as of right. I think there should be some reference as of right by the Lord Lieutenant to the Land Commissioners. It can do no harm. I hold that for the efficiency of the Department every opportunity should be afforded the Purchase Commissioners to express an opinion on these matters, and I fear unless the clause is amended as I suggest there will be considerable friction. I further object to the provision giving an appeal to two Commissioners. If it so happened that the two Purchase Commissioners sat in any particular case the appeal would be from them to the three Land Commissioners, and that is really by a side wind restoring to the Bill one of the most objectionable provisions it formerly contained—a provision against which we had a prolonged fight in Committee. We object to any control by the three Land Commissioners over the two Purchase Commissioners. The Government virtually conceded that point to us in Committee. I hope that we shall not be deprived of the concession by a side wind, and that the right hon. Gentleman will restore the clause to the condition in which it left this House. The last Amendment to which I shall refer is that dealing with the average amount of abatements of rent by the landlord. Any arrears of rent cancelled at the time of purchase may, under the Act, be treated as abatements of rent. I do not think that that should be the case, for abatements are reductions of rent granted at the time of payment. I believe the effect of this Amendment will be to lower the number of years' purchase in every case, and operate as an impediment to purchase. For that reason I would suggest the propriety of disagreeing with it.

(5.12.) MR. LEA (Londonderry, S.)

I do not know how far it is desirable to deal with the Amendments in detail. I rather agree with the remarks of the hon. Member on the clause as to waste. It is a matter of considerable difficulty, and I hope the Government will save the House the trouble of further considering it. I also agree with what he said as to the £50 limit. I do not agree with the hon. Member, however, in regard to the appointment of the Land Commission. If the two sets of Commissioners have disagreed upon this point already it will be a bone of contention in the future, and, therefore, I am of opinion that the Government had better keep the matter in its own hands. I always understood that appointments of this nature were made on the responsibility of the Government of the day, and it seems to me that while, of course, they will consider the wishes of the Commissioners, they had better retain the power in their own hands. I hope, too, the right hon. Gentleman will clearly express his opinion as to the Amendment in regard to the power of delegation, because I think it would be very unwise to minimise the effect of that clause.

MR. MACARTNEY (Antrim, S.)

I think the House has already recognised the extreme inconvenience of acting on the suggestion of the hon. and learned Member for Longford in asking: for a statement of the views of the Go- vernment relative to the Amendments at this particular stage. I am unable to perceive how the deliberations of the House can be assisted by the right hon. Gentleman's declaring without further debate which of the Amendments he will accept and which he will object to. I think it would be much better to proceed with the Amendments at once, one by one, than to continue a general discussion.


I am not sure that the course which has been pursued by the House is a convenient one, though I believe it is not without precedent. In the circumstances, however, I cannot remain altogether silent, but I fear the brief statement I have to make will not be fully satisfactory to some of the Irish Members. I cannot say what course the House will take in the matter; I can only indicate what the Government will respectfully invite the House to do. Points have been raised with regard to six or seven Amendments, and in the majority I am afraid I cannot meet the wishes of hon. Members opposite. With respect to the office of the Land Commission, I should be sorry to make myself responsible for any Amendment which would have the effect of preventing individual members of the Commission from expressing their opinion to the Lord Lieutenant and giving him material upon which to form a judgment as to the proper men to be appointed. I am not disposed, however, to introduce anything into the Act which would deprive the Lord Lieutenant of the authority given him. I cannot conceive that the Lord Lieutenant would feel it part of his duty to exclude from his consideration any representation made to him either by the Land or by the Purchase Commissioners. Another point raised is with regard to the phrase "the interest which the tenant purchases in his holding." I think it will be admitted that the modification introduced by the Lords into the measure will have no operative or administrative effect. It is a matter, no doubt, for discussion whether the wording which they have adopted or the wording of the Bill is the most appropriate; but I think it can hardly be maintained that any difference at all will be made in the administration of the Act. I do not think it will be advisable on that point to raise a Debate. As to the Tenants' Insurance Fund, it appears to me that the solution arrived at by the other House is a convenient solution. Another question raised has reference to the tenants who are to be excused, not only from providing for the Insurance Fund, but also from the county percentage—that is to say, those who pay down a fourth of the purchase money. I think it will be admitted that, both in the interests of the Treasury and everybody concerned, it is extremely desirable to encourage tenants to make these substantial advances towards the purchase of their holdings. That was essentially the principle of all former Purchase Acts. While this proposal deprives the county of the half percentage, it relieves the county of all risk. The hon. Gentleman the Member for West Belfast seems to think that in the other House they have departed from the compromise arrived at in this House as to the Court of Appeal which is to sit on a question of value, but I think the hon. Gentleman will see that he is mistaken on that point. The Government only contemplated the case of an appeal from a Commissioner sitting alone, and they decided that in such a case the appeal should always be to two Lay Commissioners and a Judicial Commissioner, one of the Lay Commissioners being a Commissioner appointed under the Act of 1881, and the other a Commissioner appointed under the Act of 1885. They did not contemplate the case of an appeal which, as a matter of fact, has never arisen, in which two Commissioners should sit together as a Court of First Instance. If the Bill had been left in its original shape there would be no appeal at all from two Commissioners sitting together, and the intention of the House that in all cases there should be an appeal in cases of value would have been defeated. I may say at once that if a proviso is introduced to prevent two Commissioners sitting as a Court of First Instance I shall not have the slightest objection to leaving the clause in its original shape. It is only to provide against a possibility which has never occurred that that change has been made. It only remains for me to notice the two long and elaborate clauses which are described in the Amendment Paper, B and G—one relates to the "liability of the tenant after agreement for sale," and the other to "provisions as to holdings subject to purchase annuity." I have a natural leaning towards the clauses. Clause B has been adopted, I believe, with very little modification from the Land Department Bill for which I was responsible, but it will be quite impossible to accept it in its present shape, as it provides no machinery for dealing with the 1 per cent. which will accumulate in the interval between the agreement and the final vesting order. It would at this stage be very difficult to provide the necessary machinery for dealing with the 1 per cent. I am afraid that if you put into the Bill a large rate of interest which the landlord is to get, which he is not to have the trouble of collecting, and which he is to enjoy during the whole period that proceedings are pending, a great inducement to hurry on proceedings will be removed from him. I should much regret that. In regard to Clause G (provisions as to holdings subject to purchase annuity), which I believe is taken almost without a change from our Bill, I have to admit that there are various objections to it. I am one of those who have been constantly striving to find some method of dealing with an undoubted evil of land purchase, namely, the destruction of timber, and it really is largely with a view to that that I introduced in the Land Purchase Bill what now appears as Sub-section (b) in this clause. But further consideration has convinced me that that object, with which the whole House will sympathise, will not be attained by that sub-section, which would prevent the destruction of hedgerow trees, but not of woods and plantations, and therefore I cannot ask the House to accept it upon that ground. As to the provisions about main drainage and watercourses, if a tenant chooses to neglect drains and watercourses, there is ample power to compel him to make them right without asking the Land Commission to step in; and if, in addition, regard is had to the undoubted fact that every restriction placed on the full enjoyment of ownership is so far a check on land purchase, I think we shall probably not be long in coming to the conclusion that if any- thing is to be done in this direction in the Land Department Bill it will have to be in a modified form, and after a more prolonged consideration than is possible in the course of the present Session.

Amendments, as far as Clause A, agreed to.

Lords' Amendment considered, in page 7, after Clause 6, to insert the following clause:

(Advance of three-fourths of purchase money.) (A.)—Notwithstanding anything in the Land Purchase Acts or this Act, any advance made after the passing of this Act, which shall not exceed three-fourths of the price paid for a holding, shall he repaid by an annuity of three pounds fifteen shillings per cent. on the amount of such advance for forty-nine years, [and no payment shall be made to the guarantee fund by way of county per-centage in respect or any such advance.]

Amendment read a second time.

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

(5.36.) MR. KNOX (Cavan, W.)

I wish to move an Amendment providing that a tenant who advances one-fourth of the purchase money himself shall not have the whole of the advantage which the Lords propose to give him. I think the House might agree that the tenant who receives three-fourths only should get as good terms as the tenant who receives the whole, and to that extent I think the Lords' Amendment is beneficial; but when it goes further and says that those tenants who are generally large and wealthy tenants are to pay nothing in order to provide better housing for the labourers, I cannot see why the House should assent to that. The smallest tenant who buys under this Bill will pay 5s. on every £100 advanced for the better housing of the labourers. As it is, there will be a great temptation for men to borrow at higher rates in order to enable them, as it were, to pay the one-fourth out of their own pockets. It will be unfortunate if they do this, from the point of view of the State, and of the man himself. I, therefore, propose the Amendment of which I have given notice.

Amendment proposed, in line 4 of the proposed new Clause, to leave out "three pounds fifteen shillings," and insert "four pounds."

Question proposed, "That three pounds fifteen shillings stand part of the Clause.'

(5.41.) COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)

The hon. and learned Member's argument is skilful, but the tenant will have to pay 5s. more if his proposal is agreed to. I protest against any class of tenants having to pay a shilling more to the British taxpayer than is absolutely necessary. I shall certainly vote against the tenant having to pay £4 when the Government are willing to let him off with £3 15s. I have always had great hopes that ultimately when the instalments have been well paid up the House of Commons will lower the percentage, which I think has been fixed higher than is absolutely necessary. If you had one section of the tenants paying £3 15s. and another £4, you would have an irresistible argument in favour of reducing the amount paid by the other tenants. The hon. and learned Member said his Amendment would increase the amount that would be given to the labourers. I think that is a mistake. I quite acknowledge that it is extremely proper that the overflow of the Guarantee Fund, if any, should go into the hands of the labourers. I must say I would sooner help the labourers by a more direct contribution from the State, and I think it would be a very great evil if we assented to the hon. and learned Member's Amendment.


I think it will be accepted on all sides that the House ought to encourage these tenants to pay part themselves. It diminishes the risk to the taxpayer and the localities, but it does more than that, because, if you get a very large body of tenants to pay one-fourth of the purchase money themselves, a much larger total amount becomes available for land purchase than would otherwise be the case. The question is whether the encouragement we give is too much. I do not think it is. I think we may well ask the locality to give up the 5s. per cent. However, I do not wish to prolong discussion, and I will accept the hon. and learned Member's proposal if he will agree to alter £3 15s. to £3 17s. 6d.

(5.50.) MR. SEXTON

The hon. and gallant gentleman below me (Colonel Nolan) says he wants the Irish tenants to pay as little as possible to the British Treasury. I do not yield to the hon. and gallant Gentleman in the desire to secure the best terms for the tenant. That has been the object of the arduous labours we have undertaken on this Bill—labours in which the hon. and gallant Gentleman has given us no material assistance. I object to seeing the tenants treated unequally. I object to seeing the poorer tenants paying £4 per cent., whilst a small class of wealthy tenants escape at £3 15s. per cent., and are thus relieved of the obligation to contribute towards improving the wretched position of the agricultural labourers in Ireland. I doubt very much whether the argument of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland is a sound one. He says it is desirable to encourage the tenants to find part of the purchase money. You may tempt the tenants to their own injury. Tenants may be so eager to make a bargain with the landlords on favourable terms that they may, not having the one-fourth, borrow it upon comparatively oppressive terms, and find themselves, after a short period, unable to repay it. Under these circumstances, the tenant who provides the one-fourth will be as likely as, if not more likely than, any other man to fall into such a condition as will necessitate the sale of his holding and the placing of the burden on the county. However, I am willing to recognise any disposition on the part of the right hon. Gentleman to make a concession, and to recommend my hon. and learned Friend to adopt the homely plan of "splitting the difference."


I withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment agreed to:—To leave out "£3 15s.," and insert "£3 17s. 6d."—(Mr. Knox.)

Further Amendment agreed to, In line 5, to leave out from "no," to end of Clause, and insert "An annual sum, at the rate of two shillings and sixpence for every hundred pounds of the advance, shall be paid and applied in the same manner as the county percentage mentioned in section four of this Act."—(Mr. Knox.)

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Question, that this House do agree with the Clause as amended, put and agreed to.

Clause B (Liability of tenant after agreement for sale), the next Amendment, disagreed to.

Page 7, line 21, leave out from "value," to "then," in line 22, and insert "of the holding as in this Act defined," the next Amendment, read a second time.

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

(6.5.) MR. SEXTON

As the clause left this House it read to the effect that "where an advance for the purchase of a holding is less than twenty times the annual value as in this Act defined of the interest which the tenant agrees to buy in the holding," &c. This is the only place in the whole expanse of this Act in which reference is made to what the tenant buys; it is the only spot in which it is defined. In Committee on the Bill of last year we convinced the Government that they ought to define what is bought as "the interest which the tenant agrees to buy." That corresponds with the fact. It is not the annual value of the holding, but the annual value of the landlord's interest which is bought. If it were the annual value of the holding the tenant would have to buy the landlord's interest and his own interest as well. With all the respect I have for the House of Lords, I cannot be induced to consent to the insertion of these words. The right hon. Gentleman knows that it is not the holding, but the landlord's interest which the tenant buys. What reason can he put forward for inserting these fanciful words, which do not correspond with the facts of the case?


The hon. Gentleman apparently forgets the argument which I addressed to the House earlier in the evening, to the effect that these words would not make any substantial alteration in the working of the Bill, and that it was merely a question of drafting. I still adhere to that view. It is true that the tenants in Ireland are part owners of the holding as a productive machine. Every lawyer will admit that the owner of the holding is in effect the landlord, and the landlord only. If it is technically inaccurate to say that the landlord is the owner of the holding, it is, equally, technically inaccurate to say that the tenant is part owner.


The State is the real owner; the landlord is only a tenant after all.


The hon. and learned Member will admit that I am using the word not inaccurately when I say that a Court of Law would regard the landlord as the owner and not the tenant.




I think that is so. No doubt the landlord and tenant, regarding them as part of a productive machine, are part of one concern. The hon. and learned Gentleman seems to have forgotten that this is not the first Land Purchase Bill passed by the House of Commons. The whole of this Bill is drafted on the two preceding Acts, and I do not think it would be wise or expedient as a matter of drafting to insert in the middle of a new Act fresh distinctions.


You did it in the Bill of last year.


The Bill of last Session was not passed. Considering that the measure is based on two preceding Acts, it would be an unfortunate and an inexpedient thing to introduce new language. The Land Purchase Act has been in operation for six years, and nearly £10,000,000 have been applied, and to say now that the tenant buys only the landlord's share of the holding is surely most superfluous. I think it is not a point on which it is worth while to engage in controversy with the other House. It is not a substantial point, so far as I can make out; it is a question of drafting, and I would, therefore, ask the House in this case to agree with the Amendment made in the Bill by the other House.


If the right hon. Gentleman gets up to say that this is a light matter, let him give in on the point and restore the Bill to its original form. He says that this Amendment does not do anybody any harm, and therefore, let us do violence to the solemn judgment of this House, and let us agree with the House of Lords. The right hon. Gentleman says that the landlord is the owner of the holding, but I would refer him to the language of the Attorney General, who declared that the tenants of Ireland were the owners of half the value of the estates.


What I stated was that in many instances the interest of the tenant had sold for a larger sum than the interest of the landlord.


It would certainly be a remarkable thing if anything could be gained from the correction now made. The Irish Secretary is taking an unreasonable and inopportune course at present. These words have a high declaratory value, just as had the words in the Act of 1881, defining that the tenant was not to be rented on his own improvements. A great controversy centred round those words; and I regard the words now under discussion as having a similar and as high a declaratory value. The Government attach no value to them, and they set up the judgment of the House of Lords against the judgment of the House of Commons. For my part, until we get a Parliament of our own, I prefer the judgment of the House of Commons. If it is a mere matter of drafting I would like to know something about the paternity of these words. I am really surprised that the Government should put the House to the trouble of a Debate and a Division on this matter, and I would point out that concession on small matters might affect our attitude on matters of greater importance.

*MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)

I think the clause ought to stand as it left this House. The House of Lords' Amendment takes away the recognition of the tenant's interest, and I am not disposed that such recognition should be blotted out. I do not think any great fuss need be made about it; I do not think it will affect purchase one way or the other; still I cannot be expected to support the proposal to blot out the recognition of the tenant's interest.

MR. NEVILLE (Liverpool, Exchange)

I beg to differ altogether from the Chief Secretary in regard to the use of the word "owner" by lawyers.


I said the word was used in Acts of 1885 and 1888, and that we had better adhere to it as a matter of drafting.


But earlier in his observations the right hon. Gentleman said that undoubtedly the word owner was used in the Courts of Law. In that respect he is inaccurate. The term is utterly unknown in real property, and when it occurs in an Act of Parliament the Courts have to do the best to put an interpretation upon it. So far as the Amendment is defended as being accurate, I venture to think that my hon. and learned Friend is right, and that the Chief Secretary is wrong.

*(6.25.) MR. WEBB (Waterford, W.)

This is a matter of greater importance than it appears. It is a question of whether or not you are going to meet the sentiment of the Irish people, who in all their struggles have never acknowledged that their interest in the land had any right to be taken away from them. It is unfortunate that you should put language into this Bill which will tend to defeat the object of the Bill. But it is of a piece with all ameliorative legislation for Ireland—something is done to make it unpleasant. It was so with Catholic Emancipation, the Catholic communities being then treated in a way to make that measure hateful. If you take away this acknowledgment of the tenant's interest you will make a great mistake.

MR. SHAW LEFEVRE (Bradford, Central)

I really hope the Chief Secretary will not insist upon the Amendment. I gather from him that he did not himself consider the words to be of any importance, his argument being that they are only necessary from a drafting point of view. He has also stated that the landlord is owner of the property. That may be so in strict law, but the Act of 1881 has recognised the interest of the tenant, and I say the very object of this Bill is to do away with dual ownership. Of course the landlord may still be the owner in a certain sense, but in point of fact the tenant is the co-owner, and the words in the Bill as it left this House recognised the interest of the tenant. I hope the Chief Secretary will not insist on the Amendment.

SIR G. CAMPBELL&c.) (Kirkcaldy,

I have no doubt whatever that the words as they left this House were logically correct, and expressed the exact situation of the tenant. If you insert these words you create some confusion.

MR. J. JORDAN (Clare, W.)

All our agitation has been for the recognition of tenant right, and it would be a great pity to insert words which would obliterate that recognition. If they do not alter the matter one way or the other, I do not see why the right hon. Gentleman should stick so tenaciously to them. The House of Lords know very little of the matter further than the collection of rents is concerned. I hope the feeling of the tenants will be consulted; and while I mean no disrespect to that august Assembly the House of Lords, I prefer to stick to the words of the House of Commons as they passed them. I advise the Chief Secretary to forego this Amendment.


The condition which we contend for is adopted already by the Act of 1885, Section 8, which makes it clear that the distinction is already drawn in the previous Act. I fail to see now why we should be asked to accept what is really a change in the law—a change of the terminology to be employed. I venture to think that if this alteration be carried it will be necessary to have a consequential Amendment to the effect that the tenant has a certain interest in the holding. I hope the Chief Secretary will not force us to continue this discussion, especially as we are supported, not only by Members on these Benches, but also by the Member for South Tyrone.

(6.30.) The House divided:—Ayes 143; Noes 116.—(Div. List, No. 371.)

Page 8, line 17, leave out "from time to time," the next Amendment, read a second time.

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


I fail to understand why this Amendment is made at all. Supposing the Lord Lieutenant should be at liberty to revoke not only the first declaration which he made, but also any subsequent declaration. Now, if you take out the words "from time to time," it would rather appear that it refers to only one declaration. The words "from time to time" leave the Lord Lieutenant at liberty to revoke any declaration imposed on the county.


These words are superfluous, and unnecessary words in an Act of Parliament are mischievous.

Question put, and agreed to.

Page 8, line 20, after ("such") to insert ("subsequent or"), the next Amendment, agreed to.

Page 9, line 2, after ("arise") to insert ("or likely to arise"), the next Amendment, read a second time.

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


The right hon. Gentleman will remember that I pointed out to him it might be possible to relieve individual purchasers by giving relief in advance. These words "or likely to arise," will give the Lord Lieutenant power to advance an instalment not quite due, but soon to be due, before the legal title comes into operation.


I think the Amendment would act as the hon. Gentleman has pointed out.

Question put, and agreed to.

Subsequent Amendments, as far as the Amendment in page 11, line 11, agreed to.

Page 11, line 11, leave out Sub-section (3) of Clause 10, and insert new Subsection (3), the next Amendment, read a second time.

(6.50.) MR. SEXTON

It will be convenient now to deal with the question as to the proportions in which the divisions of the money should be made. It was arranged that the county share of the money should be divided into two parts, and that the question of further arrangement should not arise until the large and small farms had taken their full share. Lord Londonderry proposed that instead of waiting for this, 1–25th of the fund should yearly be proportionately divided between the large and small farms. There has been a good deal of misapprehension as to the effect of this proposal, but I think the small tenants need not be apprehensive that they will be damnified, because their interests can be guarded. Now, in the Lords Amendment, page 11, it is provided that, One twenty-fifth of the total amount available for advances under this Act in each county shall in each financial year be deemed to be allocated according to the proportion above mentioned. If these words are allowed to stand it is clear that you cannot issue in any year more that one twenty-fifth of a share of the county stock; but I do not think that that is what was really intended. I can understand that some language must be used, importing that there should be a certain sum set aside in each year, and I would suggest that you should leave out the first sub-section, and that in the second sub-section instead of speaking of the "amount so deemed to be allocated," you should say, "if the advances applied for, and which appear to the Land Commission likely to be sanctioned for the purchase of holdings exceeding £50 rental fall short in any year of the amount so deemed to be allocated to the class of holdings exceed £650 valuation, the difference shall be carried to the proportion of the annual share of the county in the Guarantee Fund."


I would suggest that it would be better to introduce after the word "the," in the third line, the words, "for the purposes of this subsection." Those words would, I think, carry out the object of the hon. Member.


I am inclined to think that the Amendment before the House would be an improvement, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary will stand by the words he has now suggested.


I understand the right hon. Gentleman to suggest that after the word "the," the words, "for the purposes of this sub-section" should be inserted. It is difficult to see precisely what the sub-section would direct the Land Commission to do. I venture to think that the Amendment suggested by the hon. Member for West Belfast is the only one that will carry out his object.

(7.1.) MR. T. M. HEALY

I agree with the hon. Member for Cavan, and would urge the right hon. Gentleman to make the alteration suggested by the hon. Member for West Belfast, and send it up to the House of Lords. The Lords will then see it on the paper, and having considered it, they can send it back to us, and we can consider it a second time. The matter is of great importance, and I do not think it should be hurriedly dealt with.


What is the hon. Member's suggestion?


I suggest the omission of the 1st Sub-section, because so long as you say there is a certain sum to be allocated there will always be a danger of misapprehension, for it may be held that no more can be spent.

Amendment proposed to the Lords Amendment, to omit Sub-section ("a").—(Mr. Sexton.)

Question proposed, "That Sub-section ('a') stand part of the Lords' Amendment."


If the 1st sub-section is omitted the whole meaning of the clause will be obscure.


I think the right hon. Gentleman is wrong. It appears to me the hon. Member's words will carry out the object he and the Government have in view, namely, that we should only consider the 25th part of the total amount allocated to the county under this clause.


If the 1st subsection is omitted the 25th part disappears altogether.


No, no.


There are two ways of describing the same thing. One is calling it the "1–25th part of the total amount available for advances," and the other is calling it "the annual share of the Guarantee Fund." If you multiply the annual share of the Guarantee Fund by 25, you have the total value of the Guaranteed Stock.

Question put, and negatived.

Amendment proposed to the Lords Amendment, In line 8, to omit the words "amount so deemed to be allocated," in order to insert the words "proportion of the annual share of the county in the Guaranteed Fund allotted by Sub-sections 1 and 2 of this section."—(Mr. Sexton.)

Amendment agreed to.

Other Amendments agreed to, After line 10, to add "to be available for the purchase of any holding within the county for the purchase of which advances may be made under this Act."—(The Attorney General for Ireland.) Sub-section (c), line 4, to omit the words "amount so deemed to be allocated," in order to insert the words "proportion of the annual share of the county in the Guaranteed Fund allotted by sub-sections 1 and 2 of this section."—(Mr. Sexton.) Sub-section (c), line 6, to add "to be available for the purchase of any holding within the county for the purchase of which advances may be made under this Act."—(The Attorney General for Ireland.)

(7.9.) MR. T. M. HEALY

The Lords Amendment Sub-section (d) runs as follows:— Returns shall be published by the Land Commission at the end of each financial year in at least one newpaper circulating in each county setting out the amount (if any) carried to the common fund under the provisions of this sub-section in the preceding year and the class of holdings in respect of which such amount has been so carried. I beg to move to leave out "one newspaper," in order to insert "two newspapers." I do so on the very solid ground that if "one newspaper" is retained, the newspaper selected will very probably be the Tory newspaper, whereas, if we have the words "two newspapers," one of them may be the Nationalist newspaper.

Amendment moved to Sub-section (d), line 2, to omit "one newspaper," in order to insert "two newspapers."—(Mr. T. M. Healy.)

Amendment agreed to.


I beg to move to add at the end of Subsection (d)— And such Returns shall be laid before Parliament. No advance shall be sanctioned from the common fund till such Return has lain not less than thirty days before both Houses of Parliament. And if within such period of thirty days either House of Parliament passes a resolution objecting to advances from such fund, no advances therefrom shall be sanctioned. I have no very strong objection to the Lords Amendment. We have extended the principle of this part of the Bill so as to apply the money not only to small holders, but to large holders. I do not like that at all. I hold the policy of this measure to be, as the Chief Secretary has told us over and over again, to increase the stability of Ireland by largely extending the number of peasant proprietors. It seems to me that our original course has been altered, and that it has been decided that a certain amount of British money has to be expended; and that if we cannot find peasants to spend it on, we must spend it in the creation of an additional number of small landlords. I agree with what was said in another place that small landlords are the worst of landlords, and that it will not be to the advantage of Ireland to increase their number. The Bill is altered in one very material particular. It was originally provided that when an allocation of money was made to small tenants in order to apply it to large tenants, the Order should be laid before both Houses of Parliament, and a Resolution of either House would prevent the Order taking effect. The clause providing for the matter being laid before Parliament has now been dropped out, and the consequence is that this House will lose the power of preventing, if it desires to do so, the allocation of this money to small landlords instead of to peasant proprietors.

Amendment proposed, at the end of the Amendment, to add the words— And such returns shall be laid before Parliament. No advance shall be sanctioned from the common fund till such return has lain not less than thirty days before both Houses of Parliament. And if within such period of thirty days either House of Parliament passes a resolution objecting to advances from such fund, no advances therefrom shall be sanctioned."—(Sir George Campbell.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there added."

(7.15.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR

I hope the hon. Gentleman will not press this. He appears to think that if either House of Parliament express an opinion adverse to the proposed allocation by the Land Commission then the old proportion would remain, but he will observe that the only effect would be that if objection were taken nobody would get the advances, and that is not our desire

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


The Amendment I propose by adding another sub-section will, I think, be accepted. Its object is evident: to give direction to the Land Commissioners to give a preference to applications which were previously barred by the fixed proportion of advances. It is not an absolutely binding proviso; it allows a discretion to the Commissioners.

Amendment proposed to the Lords Amendment, at end of Sub-section (d), to add— (e.) "In sanctioning advances out of such common fund the Land Commission shall give the preference, so far as is practicable, to applications which would have been sanctioned earlier but for the amount deemed to be allocated as aforesaid having been insufficient to allow of such applications being sanctioned."—(Mr. Knox.)

Amendment agreed to.

Lords Amendment, as amended, agreed to.

Page 11, line 37, the next Amendment, disagreed to; and a Consequential Amendment made to the Bill.

Amendments, as far as the Amendment in page 13, line 8, agreed to.

Page 13, line 8, after ("stock") insert— (3.) "The trustees of any incumbrance, charge, annuity, or rent, may at their discretion (nothwithstanding any general prohibition of investment in securities not mentioned in the instrument creating the trust) accept in payment of such incumbrance or charge, or the capital value of such annuity or rent a sum of guaranteed land stock equal in nominal amount to such incumbrance, charge, or capital value. (4.) Where any holdings on an estate are sold by the land judge to the tenants thereof the land judge may accept in payment of the purchase money guaranteed land stock as equal in value to the nominal amount thereof,

the next Amendment, read a second time.

Amendments proposed, in line 8, to leave out from "rent," in line 5, to end of subsection, and insert "guaranteed land stock as equal in value to the nominal amount thereof"; after "thereof," in line 2 of Sub-section (4), insert "or to the Land Commission."—(The Attorney General for Ireland.)

Amendments agreed to.

Lords Amendment, as amended, agreed to.

Amendments, as far as the Amendment at the end of Clause 17, agreed to.

Amendment to add, at end of Clause 17— (2.) Anything done before the passing of this Act, which if done after such passing would have been valid by virtue of this section, shall be deemed to have been validly done, without prejudice to any proceedings with reference thereto instituted in a Court of Law before the passing of this Act,

—the next Amendment, read a second time.


May we have some explanation of this?


The effect of the Amendment is to provide that in such cases where there has been a redemption of certain charges such as is contemplated in the clause antecedent to the passing of this Act, then such transactions shall not be deemed invalid.


There is something crooked under this which we have not got at. The right hon. Gentleman has given an explanation I cannot understand, and there must be some meaning behind for this ex poste facto legislation. It covers, probably, one of those little jobs the Government are ready to undertake for their friends the landlords.


I think we cannot assent to this without some better explanation. It has relation to a matter upon which a noble Lord in another place proposed a clause so outrageous that the House of Lords would give no countenance to it, and it would seem that the Lord Chancellor for Ireland has drawn up words to effect the object desired in a manner not so likely to excite the ire of the House of Commons. What in effect this will do, this ex poste facto legislation, will be to pass an amnesty for an act which, when done, was illegal—


I confess I do not in the least understand the proposal and its retrospective action, and, therefore, propose to disagree with the Amendment.

Lords Amendment disagreed to.

Clause C (Extended investment of purchase money of holding), the next Amendment, read a second time.


Will the right hon. Gentleman say a word upon this?


Without going into the technical details, the object, shortly stated, is to enable landlords who sell out to invest in something besides Consols. The main object is to encourage sales.


It is, I think, a reasonable proposition, and might even be extended.

Amendment proposed, in line 3, to leave out "1887" and insert "1890."—(The Attorney General for Ireland.)

Agreed to.

Amendment proposed, to leave out from the beginning of Sub-section (3), to the word "the," in line 3.—(Mr. Knox.)

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

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause C, as amended, agreed to.

Clause D (Redemption of tithe rent-charge under 50 & 51 Vic. c. 33), the next Amendment, agreed to.

Page 15, line 10, leave out "cottages," and insert "dwellings," the next Amendment, disagreed to.

Clause E (Application of guarantee deposit in case of sale of holding for default), the next Amendment, read a second time.


I am not sure that I understand this. If a holding is sold in default, a person having a beneficial interest in the guarantee deposit may allow this to go towards making good the default in the annuity. That seems reasonable, but that may prejudice the security in the future.

(7.45.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR

I am inclined to think the locality will gain rather than lose by the Amendment.

Lords Amendment agreed to.

New Clause—

(Power to Land Commission to let or manage holdings.)

"F. The Land Commission while any such sale is pending and also if unable to sell, or if they think it useless to attempt a sale, shall temporarily let or manage the holding for such time and in such manner as they think expedient.

For the purpose of the sale or of the management of a holding under the Land Purchase Acts, as amended by this Act, the Land Commission may issue an order declaring the holding to be vested in them, and directing the sheriff to put them or their agent or nominee into possession of the holding, and thereupon the holding shall vest in the Commission as if possession of it had been recovered in an action for the recovery of possession on the title at the suit of the Commission, and the order shall be executed by the sheriff in the like manner as a writ of possession, after a judgment recovered in such an action,"

the next Amendment, read a second time.

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

(7.47.) MR. SEXTON

I should like to know what is to become of the liability to the guarantee deposit during the period the Land Commission hold the farm. If the tenant or purchaser continues to hold the farm and makes any profit, he can pay the annuity, and there would be no liability to the Guarantee Fund. Suppose the Land Commission make some profit, would it not be equitable to provide that that profit should go towards a reduction of the annuity? I propose to add—


Perhaps my hon. Friend will allow me to ask what is meant by the words "such sale"? It seems to me this is a clause to provide that the Land Commission may employ the dismissed servants of the Land Corporation. The hon. Member for South Tyrone intends to get rid of part of his ragged regiment, and the Land Commission, apparently, are going to take them on.

(7.49.) MR. T. M. HEALY

This is a regular emergency clause. In some cases the Land Commission have made mistakes; they have lent too much money. If they are to have power to go on in an emergency way, they will put the State to an enormous amount of expense for the purpose of stocking farms. I do not know who brought in this clause, but if it is the Government I agree they are in a difficulty. Suppose the Government make a loss, is the country to suffer? Suppose there is an outrage on a farm—that the tail of a cow is cut off—are the Land Commission to appear before the Grand Jury and claim compensation? If the Land Commission make a bad bargain, in the name of Heaven let them open their eyes to the fact and sell the farm for the best price they can get!


I do not know what "such sale" means. Perhaps the At- torney General for Ireland will introduce words defining the phrase.


Drop the clause.


Perhaps the simplest plan would be to omit the first paragraph.

Amendment proposed, to leave out from the first word "the," inclusive, to the word "for," in line 5.—(Mr. A. J. Balfour.)

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


But the second paragraph is worse, for it proposes that when the Land Commission consider they have a right to a holding, they may issue an order declaring the holding to be vested in them. The Land Commission, being in the position of litigants, are to constitute themselves the Court. Surely it is an unalterable principle of law that any person or body having a claim on what is primâ facie another man's, must go in some recognised Court to make good the claim.


This seems to be a most despotic clause; and if it is to be introduced at all, it should have been introduced in the Bill as brought in.


I hope the Government will not abandon the clause. [Cries of "Oh!"] Well, I will give my reasons. The hon. and learned Member for Longford said the Land Commission may make a loss. Yes, but if a farm is left derelict the loss will remain, and it is better to try to make something out of it than nothing at all. We have had farms boycotted, and I suppose we shall have farms boycotted in future. If this clause is struck out the Land Commission will have no power to endeavour to make such farms useful and profitable.


From the point of view of a lawyer this is the most amazing proposition I have ever heard. The Sheriff, the most ancient functionary in existence, is to have an order directed to him by whom? By the Land Commission, without legal process of any sort or description, and in a case in which they themselves are litigants. Was there ever since the world began such a proposition? Why is a slur to be thrown on the Court of Queen's Bench, for instance? Have you not got every Court in the land open to you? Is it suggested that the ordinary Courts of Law will not do their duty? If there is any class of litigation offering nice points of technicality it is the law of the Sheriff. Have the Government considered the A B C of Sheriff law? Suppose a Sheriff goes to a farm, can he plead the order of the Land Commission? Is that to be pleaded as a bar to any action? Again, in ordinary cases a Sheriff is entitled to notice of action. Is the Sheriff to have the right of notice if an action is brought against him in these cases? If this clause is to be adopted the Government will have to prescribe forms of writs. You must define the offence, and the powers of the Sheriff and—


If the hon. and learned Gentleman will allow me to speak, I think I may make a suggestion which will shorten the discussion. I agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman that there is great objection to allowing the Land Purchase Commissioners to be Judges in their own case, and, without going to a Court at all, putting themselves in possession of someone else's holding. In its present shape, therefore, the clause is inadmissible. I will now move that the House disagree with the Amendment, on the understanding that I may consider whether it will not be possible to bring up some Amendment to carry out the object which I think we ought all to regard as good. In face of the overwhelming objections urged by the hon. and learned Gentleman I cannot proceed with the clause.

VISCOUNT LYMINGTON (Devon, South Molton)

I think we ought clearly to understand that some provision will be inserted in the Bill subsequently, in pursuance of which a defaulting tenant may be legally ejected from his holding.


The Government are quite willing to consider the suggestion, and no doubt it would be an advantage if, for the purpose of sale, the Land Commission were in a position to give clear possession.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn

Question, "That the House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment,"—(Mr. A. J. Balfour,)—put, and agreed to.

(8.5.) New Clause—

(Provisions as to holdings subject to purchase annuity.)

"G.—(1.) A holding, while subject to a purchase annuity under the Land Purchase Acts, shall, as between the Land Commission and the proprietor for the time being of the holding, be subject to the following conditions of purchase, that is to say, to the conditions specified in section thirty of the Land Law (Ireland) Act, 1881, and also to the following conditions:—

  1. (a.) The proprietor shall not, without the consent of the Land Commission, do any act which, if done by a tenant at will, would as between him and his landlord be waste.
  2. (b.) The proprietor shall keep all main drains and watercourses upon the holdings at the date of the agreement for sale in good order, repair, and condition.
  3. (c.) The proprietor shall permit any person authorised in that behalf by the Land Commission at all reasonable times to enter upon the holding and ascertain how far the several conditions of purchase are being observed.

(2) Where the proprietor persistently, after written notice given by the Land Commission requiring him to observe the same, contravenes any of the conditions of purchase which are set out in this section, or where the holding is liable to be sold for a breach of any of the conditions of purchase specified in section thirty of the Land Law (Ireland) Act, 1881, then, without prejudice to any other remedy, the holding shall be liable to be sold under this Act.

(3) In addition to the remedies already existing the Land Commission may, at their discretion, upon being satisfied that the proprietor has been guilty of a breach of any of the above conditions by an officer of the Land Commission, or other person duly authorised by them in that behalf, summon, under the provisions of the Petty Sessions (Ireland) Act, 1851, such proprietor before the magistrates sitting at any petty sessions held in and for the petty sessions district in which such holding is situate or such proprietor resides, and upon proof of such breach the magistrates may for each breach inflict summarily on the proprietor a fine not exceeding five pounds to be recovered as in other cases of summary jurisdiction.

(4.) It shall be the duty of the Land Commission to enforce the observance of the conditions of purchase,"

the next Amendment, read a second time.

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


I regret that the House cannot agree to the clause, because I think that everyone will suffer if some clause of this sort is not adopted. I fear there are a certain class of tenants who will, in respect to timber and drainage, use their rights as freehold proprietors very detrimentally. But I presume it is out of the power of this House, or of anyone else, to draft a clause which will safeguard the interests of the holding, and, at the same time, preserve to the freeholder that reasonable power over his holding which he ought to possess.


Of course, the objects the hon. Member has in view are useful objects; but if you are going to put these purchasers on a different footing to others, they cease to be proprietors at all.

(8.11.) MR. T. M. HEALY

I look upon this as the expiring kick of the Irish landlords. I would suggest to the Government, in regard to the future, that as they have said they would endeavour to bring up words to effect this same purpose, they should do so. Let them bring up some Amendment which will have the effect of preserving the timber on the holdings of the peasantry; they will not find us opposing it. Ireland is almost soaked with water, and the necessity of doing something to keep the trees on the land is very great. The Government should have Inspectors going all over the country and preventing the destruction of timber save where the tenant wants it for firewood, or for "mending his plough or gates," as, I think, an old Statute phrases it. I do not think trees should be allowed to be cut down for the purpose of sale, except with the consent of the land Commission. No doubt it is a strong thing to interfere with a man's liberty, but I think the circumstances would justify us in compelling the tenant—during the 49 years, at any rate—to consult the Land Commission before cutting down timber for the purpose of sale. When these Amendments go back to the Lords I think the Government might well insert some words dealing with this forestry question.

*SIR J. COLOMB&c.) (Tower Hamlets, Bow,

I think the opportunity should not be lost of doing all that may be possible to preserve the shelter of trees in Ireland. From my own experience it is deplorable to see the disappear- of shelter absolutely necessary for the welfare of the stock on the farms. Therefore, I join with the hon. and learned Member opposite in begging the Chief Secretary and the Government to endeavour in another place to do all that is possible with regard to the preservation of timber. I know one district in Ireland where the tenants not only cut down trees and have got out of the habit of digging turf, but have actually got into the habit of cutting down the furze and hedges. The result is that the agricultural value of the district is seriously declining.

*(8.16.) MR. T. W. RUSSELL

I greatly regret that the Government did not deal with this when the Bill was before the House. It is a matter of the greatest importance in Ireland. I admit that the old landlords cut down the timber very considerably. In my own constituency at the present time they are cutting down the timber and selling it. We are creating a new race of proprietors, and, as a matter of fact, already under the Ashbourne Acts the damage they have done is immense. The new purchasers are cutting down the trees for the purpose of sale in every direction, and I think it a great pity that the Government did not deal with the question in the Bill.


It is an easy matter for hon. Gentlemen to say that we ought to bring in an Amendment in the House of Lords dealing with this question, but as a matter of fact, I have puzzled over this question as over the other numerous and complicated questions raised by the Bill. The real difficulty, as far as plantations are concerned, is that they are not parts of the holdings, and it is not possible to advance money upon them. The State might be asked to buy woods as well as turbary. Investments in turbary the Treasury expect to be recouped, whether it is or not; but woods are an investment of doubtful value. They do not come to maturity for many years, and during all the time they require careful supervision. I do not feel that I could go to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and say, "Advance the British taxpayers' money in order to preserve timber." I have thought whether something might be done through the County Councils. It would hardly be fair to landlords to stop them from cutting down trees in woods on the ground that by so doing they diminish the security for the money advanced on their holdings; and a provision of that kind, even if it were equitable, would not meet the whole case. I will consider whether anything can be done in the future, but I can assure the House the Government have often thought of the matter and have not been able to arrive at any conclusion.


This question is an important and difficult one, and I may remind the House and the Chief Secretary that in most countries in Europe, especially in France, where small ownerships prevail, the local authorities have power to prevent the cutting down of woods and plantations where they are necessary for the cultivation of the land and for shelter.

(8.21.) MR. JORDAN

I think some means should be devised by which both landlords and tenants may be prevented from cutting down timber in the country. I know cases where landlords have cut down timber and where tenants the moment they have bought out the landlords cut down every tree in the place. Something should be done to prevent these people from cutting down all the timber, and to require them to re-plant wherever they cut down. That system is in practice in Westmoreland. There they cut down the timber every 15 years; but they replant as they cut down, so that they have always timber to cut, and have always timber growing. It is the greatest possible pity that some scheme cannot be devised for the re-afforesting of Ireland. We have mountains that are fit for little—that are nude and bare—and it would be a great advantage to the country if some steps would be taken to plant them with trees.

Question put, and agreed to. (8.23.)

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

Page 16, line 34, after the word "redeemed" insert "and the sinking fund payments and dividends on account of stock cancelled," the next Amendment, read a second time.


I should like to ask the Government the meaning of this Amendment. Is it intended to modify the wording of Sub-section 2, Clause 1, in regard to the sinking fund payments?


The insertion of these words was the result of a discussion which took place upon the subject. They were intended to meet the case of what would happen in regard to the sinking fund dividends. If you purchase stock and cancel it before the end of the term for which the annuity is payable, you must pay into the sinking fund the sum that would otherwise have had to be paid in dividends on the stock.


Seeing that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has returned to his place, I beg to repeat the question which I put to the Government just now. I wish to ask him whether the words it is now proposed to add are intended to modify in any way Subsection 2, of Clause 1. Since the discussion which took place upon the subject in this House I have seen the opinion of a Barrister who was consulted in regard to it, and that opinion was to the effect that the process of retardation which the Chancellor of the Exchequer alluded to will not take place under the clause as it stands. What I desire to know is whether the words it is now proposed to add will cure that defect?


As I can only address the House once I shall be glad if the right hon. Gentleman will allow me to reserve what I have to say upon the point he has raised until I am enabled to reply generally to hon. Members who desire to discuss this Amendment.

*(9.0.) MR. KEAY (Elgin and Nairn)

I think the Government might be saved a great deal of time if they had not pressed this Amendment. As I read it, and I admit it is worded in a most guarded manner—it is an attempt on the part of the Government to correct the erroneous arithmetic of the Bill with regard to the Guarantee, Sinking, and Consolidated Funds. I go upon the assumption that this very innocent looking Amendment is intended to comply with an undertaking given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and by the Attorney General for Ireland after my right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford had quoted the opinion of Mr. Fletcher Moulton, to the effect that the dividends and Sinking Fund payments provided for in Clause 4 could not be met in case of default, because there is not enough of money in the Guarantee Fund to meet them. On that occasion the Chancellor of the Exchequer stood up and said if it were found that any such difficulty was likely to arise, the Government would take steps to provide a remedy. Later on the same evening the Attorney General for Ireland when pressed on the same point said the Government would carefully go over the matter, and, if necessary, insert suitable words in another place. Now, I have examined the various Amendments which have been introduced in the other House, and I fail to find any except this which is calculated at all even to deal with this difficulty. Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us if this Amendment is intended to correct the arithmetical error to which I have drawn attention? I look upon it as an attempt to correct the arithmetic of the Government, but it is being done in a way which is not so outspoken and fair as one would have expected from the Government. It is an endeavour to give power to the Treasury to make rules to destroy the Sinking Fund which is provided for in Clauses 1 and 4 of the Bill. The Chancellor of the Exchequer confessed that the amount of Stock outstanding in the 30th year would be £46,000,000, and that the Sinking Fund payments in respect of that Stock would amount to £1,845,000, or deducting the county percentage, £1,725,000 in that year alone. I reminded the right hon. Gentleman on that occasion that the Guarantee Fund would only amount to £1,125,000, and I asked him how the deficit of £600,000 was to be made up. I could get no reply either from him or from the Chief Secretary: in fact, I was held up to obloquy, and the Chief Secretary was in the habit of engaging ostentatiously in a buzz of con- versation whenever I raised the point [Laughter.]


Order, order!


In fact the right hon. Gentleman accused me of invincible ignorance.


Hear, hear.


Order, order!


He also accused me of being in a muddle upon this question, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer went so far as to say that I had discovered a mare's nest. Now, I once more ask him how these dividends and Sinking Fund payments of £1,725,000, to be compulsorily met under Clauses 1 and 4 of this Bill, can possibly be met by a Guarantee Fund of £1,125,000 only?


Order, order! I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman, but I think he has misconceived the purport of the Amendment. I do not think that under it he is entitled to go into the whole financial policy of the Bill. That is quite outside this clause.


I have no intention of going into the general finance of the Bill. That is the last thing I would do. I take it that this is a provision to enable the Treasury to make rules for the cessation of those very dividends and payments to the Sinking Fund, which Clauses 1 and 4 of the Bill enact shall be paid out of the Land Purchase Account if the tenants pay, and out of the Consolidated Fund if they do not pay. I desire to point out that this is nothing less than a destruction by means of a rule of the Treasury of the Sinking Fund created by the Bill. This is the device now adopted by the Government to enable them to cover their retreat from the impossible arithmetical position which they have hitherto taken up. I am sorry the right hon. Gentleman will give me no indication that this is the object of the Amendment, and I am bound, therefore, to assume that it is. Assuming that it is, the question then arises, Will it effect its object? I take it that in the 30th year the right hon. Gentleman will try to cancel Stock to the amount of £16,000,000.


I rise to order, Sir. May I ask whether I should be in order in moving that the hon. Member be no longer heard during the remainder of the Session?


No; but the hon. Member is travelling very wide in discussing a question which I told him is out of order.


I am sorry if I cannot make my point clear. Although the Chancellor of the Exchequer may cancel £16,000,000 of the whole £46,000,000 of Stock issued on the 30th year, he will not be absolved from keeping on the paying into the Sinking Fund the same yearly amounts, not only of Sinking Fund payments, but of dividends on the cancelled Stock according to the very fundamental principle of Sinking Funds, seeing that Clause 4 provides that these payments are to be made yearly on the whole amount of the advances. Moreover, his doing so is absolutely necessary to save the British taxpayer, seeing that in any case the purchase annuities cease on the 49th year. All I have got to tell the Chancellor of the Exchequer is that, if he alters these payments in the way he proposes, by only paying 1 per cent. on outstanding Stock, the capital of every loan will only be paid off in 58 years instead of 49 years.

*(9.22.) MR. GOSCHEN

I do not know whether to condole with, or congratulate, the hon. Gentleman. I congratulate him on his evident enjoyment of his conundrums, but, on the other hand, I condole with him because it seems that this question of the Sinking Fund weighs on his brain to such an extent that he cannot put his questions within the ordinary compass, and what he calls a simple question degenerates into a series of propositions which no single person in the House can understand. I am bound to say that one or two sentences that fell from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford, and from the hon. Member for West Belfast, seem to me to show a much better understanding of the subject than —I say it without disrespect—the long rigmarole of the hon. Gentleman. Time after time the hon. Gentleman has been answered; but he never seems to be able to take an answer, and although he has given such an extraordinary amount of attention and mental energy to this question, he has failed entirely to see one phrase in the Bill, which is of very considerable importance, namely, that this capitalstock is to be redeemable in accordance with Sub-section 2 of Section 2 of the National Debt Conversion Act of 1888. I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman has ever taken the trouble to look at that section. If he had he would have seen that practically it contains an answer to all his questions. Evidently Mr. Fletcher Moulton had not the section I have referred to before him. The right hon. Member for Bradford treated matters as if there would be a contract between the State and the stockholders that the stock should be paid off in 49 years. But there is no such contract. There is no clause in the Bill which gives the stockholder the right to say that he cannot be paid off for 49 years. His stock cannot be paid off for 30 years; but after that time it is redeemable on such notice as Parliament may direct. Hence the necessity for regulations with regard to the dividend on cancelled Stock.


Does not the right hon. Gentleman admit that a continuation of the annual payments into the Sinking Fund of both the dividends and Sinking Fund payments on account of Stock cancelled, forms the very A B C of the principle of a cumulative Sinking Fund?


I would point out to the right hon. Gentleman opposite that it is very possible that after 30 years the 2¾ Stock may be made 2½ Stock, and then the question will arise, What will become of the difference in the dividend? There is no provision as to that; it has been intended to give a certain amount of elasticity in this matter to the Treasury, and they will have power to deal with such a case and also with the case of a universal strike. The real cardinal point, however, is that the suggestion which has been made rests on the fallacy that the Stock will have to be redeemed on a given day.


I am sorry to have to trouble the right hon. Gentleman with another question—


A simple question may be allowed, but the hon. Member is not entitled to speak again.


The right hon. Gentleman has just wound around my point. Will he explain how Clause 4, which provides for the Sinking Fund and payment of dividend to the Land Purchase account, provides for re-payment to the Consolidated Fund of the dividend on cancelled stock?


I do not think that the hon. Member will find any provision enacting that the dividend on cancelled stock shall be re-placed.

Lords' Amendment agreed to.

Other Lords' Amendments agreed to. Page 17, line 31, leave out from "of" to "and," in line 34, and insert, "The Assistant Commissioners and such of the persons for the time being employed by the Land Commission as the Lord Lieutenant,

the next Amendment read a second time.

(9.40.) MR. SEXTON

This is an Amendment to which the Irish Members feel it their duty to offer as strenuous an opposition as their numbers and the form of the House will allow. I recall the important circumstance that the alteration the Lords have made is not an alteration of anything inserted by the Government in the original Bill as to which it might be pleaded the Government had not carefully considered the point in debate. This Amendment proposes to strike out part of a compromise arrived at in this House after debate. An Irish Member moved an Amendment to the effect that the Land Commission should have some share in the choice of officials, and although there was not a long discussion upon that, its importance was fully recognised; the only reason why there was so little debate on the question being that the Government at once accepted the Amendment and that acceptance largely assisted the passage of the Bill. Had there been any disposition on the part of the Government to resist the Amendment, there would have been considerable and very animated Debate. The acceptance of the Amendment greatly facilitated the passage of the Bill at the moment and on subsequent clauses. I wish to avoid too strong a term, but it provokes a feeling the reverse of satisfactory when we find that a concession which soothed our feelings then is withdrawn by means of this Amendment. Generally, I lay down the principle that a Government should long hesitate before withdrawing in another place an Amendment, to which in this House they asserted as a concession. On more than one occasion I happened to be at the Bar of the House of Lords when the Lord Chancellor of Ireland successfully pleaded against an Amendment on the ground that the matter sought to be amended had been introduced in the House of Commons, as a concession and after Debate. This argument was successful on other occasions, it was not used in relation to this Amendment, which was introduced without speech or argument in its support. It is an extremely unsatisfactory course—the acceptance of an Amendment here after Debate, and its exclusion in another place on Motion formally made, not supported in Debate, not sustained by any kind of argument. I can only say we shall try to do what we can to prevent this alteration. It is not a candid, straightforward way of meeting us to rush through such an Amendment as this, excluding a concession previously made, and doing so at the eleventh hour, at a stage when we are few in numbers, and can address the Chair but once. We have two Amendments made, and the first is significant as showing its animus rather than in its practical importance. We said in the Bill as it left us that the persons appointed to be Civil servants should be persons selected "by the Land Commission, including Assistant Commissioners and Inspectors appointed under the Purchase of Land (Ireland) Act, 1885," and approved by the Lord Lieutenant and the Treasury, and now the Lords have struck out the reference to the Land Purchase Act, 1885, and have included the Assistant Commissioners, and, with a general reference, such of the persons employed by the Commission as the Lord Lieutenant for the time may determine. When we included the Inspectors by special reference, it indicated an expectation that it was this class which might suffer prejudice in future arrangements. I claim on the part of the officials of a most successful Department that nothing shall be done which by implication may be held to cast a slur upon them, and that the names of those officials inserted by this House shall remain. In the organisation of the staff it was recognised that the Land Commissioners should have a voice. There is no objection at all to the final power resting with the Lord Lieutenant. The right hon. Gentleman has said he will not assent to any tampering with the Amendment of the Lords which would take away from the Lord Lieutenant any power which he now has. I take that to mean the final power of appointment, and to this I do not object. Possibly there is here a way out of the difficulty. It seems to me that by the clause as it left the Commons the Lord Lieutenant would possess that power, and that the duties of the Land Commission would be merely consultative. There would be three coordinate powers—the Commission, the Treasury, and the Lord Lieutenant. It cannot be pretended that the Commission would have greater power, and the Treasury and the Lord Lieutenant agreeing against an appointment, the Commission could not enforce a different view. The Lord Lieutenant would be the deciding power. I need not consider the possibility of the Lord Lieutenant and the Treasury disagreeing; this is not a matter of money, but of men, the choice of individuals, and the Treasury would accept the use of that local knowledge, which in some matters the Lord Lieutenant has. If our words were left in, the Commission would have a consultative power, not a decisive power of appointment. The final power would be with the Lord Lieutenant. You may say that the consultative power the Commission will still have, and so they will, in a sort of way; there may be an informal talk with Mr. Wrench, but what I want to secure is that the Purchase Commissioners, who are the minority, should have a voice in the matter as well as the majority—the Fair Rent Commissioners. Probably the latter alone would be consulted if it were left to the discretion of the Lord Lieutenant whom he should consult. We want to provide that all the five members of the Commission shall be consulted, and that the minority shall have the opportunity of presenting their recommendations to the Lord Lieutenant in a formal memorandum. A memorandum which has been presented to the House on the subject of appointments discloses a sharp difference of opinion between the majority and the minority of the Land Commission. There is no necessity to provide protection for the Bent Commissioners. Their views, as the views of the majority, will prevail. There seems to be some idea of letting the Inspectors suffer simply because they have been under Mr. MacCarthy. I object to anything being done in this House which would tend to cast an imputation upon the officials of the most successful Department which has ever been instituted in Ireland. The minority of the Land Commission have deserved well of the Government; they have fostered the credit of the State; they have administered your funds wisely and economically, and if you cast a slur upon the officials under them, you discourage good administration. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will assent to some Amendment which will insure that not three of the Land Commissioners only, but all five of them shall have a voice in the selection of the permanent staff. I hope that, while retaining the final power to the Lord Lieutenant, he will agree to keep in the Amendment we arrived at, or that if he thinks it necessary to regard the susceptibilities of the Lords, he will secure the object we have in view by another form.

(9.55.) MR. LEA

There is not, I think, any great difference of opinion. We all agree that the Land Commission ought to be consulted. The hon. Member for West Belfast wants the words "Land Commission" left in, and of course the Land Commission means the majority of the Commissioners. If the Land Commission were left in, the majority being Fair Rent Commissioners the result would be to place the choice in the hands of the very gentlemen the hon. Member for West Belfast objects to. I believe that the custom has always been for the Lord Lieutenant and the Government to consult the Land Commission, and I understand the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to say that the old practice will be continued in that respect. The hon. Member for West Belfast admits that the final power of selection ought to be in the hands of Lord Lieutenant, but if the Land Commission are given powers equal to those of the Lord Lieutenant in that matter, the Lord Lieutenant will not have the final power of selection. The Lords' Amendment is a practical one, restoring, as it does, a state of things which has always worked satisfactorily.

(9.57.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR

The hon. Member for West Belfast has raised two distinct issues on two Amendments, as to one of which I think he admitted it was rather a question of language than anything else, though he said, I think, that the one Amendment betrayed an animus against the Purchase Commisioners. The Bill, as it originally stood, did not mention specially the Inspectors' appointments, but only the Assistant Commissioners. The reason that they alone, out of all the officials connected with the fixing of fair rents, were mentioned was that there appeared to be some legal doubt as to whether they were persons "employed by the Land Commission." They were certainly not appointed by the Land Commission. It was said by lawyers that unless the Inspectors were mentioned by name it would not be competent to appoint them as permanant officials, and they were therefore specified in the Bill in this House. When the Bill came to the House of Lords the Treasury vehemently objected to those words. They said the Inspectors were only one of a number of classes of precisely similar status; that they did not require to be mentioned in the Bill on account of any legal difficulty, and that if they were mentioned they would claim special rights of sole appointment. The Treasury said we shall have a state of affairs in which we shall have placed on our shoulders the pressure of an intolerable burden, and for that reason, and that reason alone, the change was made. The main point of the objection is to the words which practically exclude the Land Commission from any collective or official position in the selection of the permanent staff, and throw the whole burden of patronage on the Lord Lieutenant. The patronage exercised by the Lord Lieutenant is a burden not merely on the Lord Lieutenant but on the Chief Secretary, and, speaking for myself, I should be glad to have nothing whatever to do with it. It is a nuisance, and it is one of the most intolerable burdens that is or can be thrown on any official But let us consider what the merits of this case are and whether the Lord Lieutenant has any right to dispossess himself of the responsibility. The hon. Member for West Belfast acknowledges that some Amendment is necessary. I think he will agree with me that we must make one authority paramount, and that that authority ought to be the Lord Lieutenant. If it be admitted that the Lord Lieutenant is to be supreme in this matter, how best can the information with regard to the proper men to promote be conveyed to him? The hon. Gentleman appears to think that the Land Commission, in their collective capacity, should be asked to give the names of men most fitted for promotion. It appears to me that if we are to ask the Land Commission collectively to report to the Lord Lieutenant we may do great injustice. I do not believe that the Land Commission-are going to be divided into a majority and a minority. I believe they will act together as one Department, and that there will be no cleavage between the Commissioners of 1881 and the Commissioners of 1885, as appears to be assumed in too many of our discussions. [Cries of"No."] Yes, I think that has been assumed. But, for the sake of argument, let us assume that cleavage exists. In that case you will have the majority composed of the Commissioners of 1881 and the minority composed of the Commissioners of 1885. The larger number of officials in the Land Depart- ment are officials who have worked under the Commissioners of 1881. They are the officials of whose merits the 1881 Commissioners have ample knowledge; and if the majority of the collective body are to be supreme, and there be a cleavage, and there are vacancies to be filled up, the Commissioners of 1881, being the majority, will very naturally say, "Well, we know such and such men, and we do not know the others; we will recommend those with whose qualifications we are acquainted." In that case, it is conceivable a list may be sent to the Lord Lieutenant comprising the names of every official who has worked under the Commissioners of 1881. The Lord Lieutenant has thrown upon him the onerous, difficult, and most burdensome responsibility of determining who are to be the permanent officials. Of course, the Lord Lieutenant can ask advice, and, of course, he will ask the advice, not merely of the three Gentlemen appointed under the Act of 1881, but also of the two gentlemen appointed under the Act of 1885. Each of these gentlemen will have the right, and, indeed, the duty, of approaching the Lord Lieutenant and communicating with him on the views he holds with regard to the various officials with whose qualifications he is well acquainted, and the Lord Lieutenant, instead of being bound by Statute to regard the Land Commission as a whole, will have before him the informal, but not the less important, evidence given by each one of the five gentlemen composing the Commission with regard to the various persons to be appointed. I think the arguments I have ventured to lay before the House are enough to show, not merely that some change is necessary, but that the change actually made in another place is more likely to allow fair weight to be given to the opinions of each individual member of the Land Commission than any statutory mention of the Commission in its collective capacity. I therefore hope the House will agree with the Amendment.

(10.12.) MR. T. M. HEALY

I have never been able to understand why the hon. Member for South Derry (Mr. Lea), whose position, at any rate, is that of a representative of tenant farmers, should have made himself in this business the champion of the one Commission whose name, rightly or wrongly, has been most intimately connected with the interests of the landlords of Ireland. The hon. Member was returned by the votes of tenant farmers. Mr. Wrench is the most rampant member of the Land Commission. From the day Mr. Wrench stood on the square at Moneghan at the head of the Orange Party, and objected to the Land Act of 1881, what has he been? The chief partisan of the landlords. This is the man whose interest is championed in this House by the hon. Member for South Derry. I have never objected to the action of the hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell) in this business, because I have always regarded him as a landlord's man; he never pretended to be anything else; he is the Parliamentary emergency man for the Landlord Party. But the case of the hon. Member for South Derry is entirely different, because he has always posed as an independent man—independent of the landlord or tenant—and, therefore, his action is, to my mind, inexplicable. There has been a longstanding objection by the Landlord Party to the Purchase Commissioners, and from the hour that Mr. Wrench was appointed on the Land Commission, he attempted to obtain dominion over the Purchase Commissioners. For what? Was it in the interest of the tenants who elected the hon. Member for South Derry? It was nothing of the kind. It was in the interest of the Kildare Street Club and the landlord party. The whole object of the action of the Government in this business has been to put at the head of the Land Purchase Commission a man on whom the Irish landlords could rely. I ask the hon. Member for South Derry if he thinks if Mr. Wrench had been in command of the Land Commission at the time, the Drapers' Company would have been induced to consent to an arbitration by which the Company took £30,000 less for their estate than they originally asked? What is now the position of affairs? Every man of the five Commissioners is a nominee of the Tory Party. Every man whom the Liberal Government appointed in 1881—we did not like the appointments—is dead. The present Commissioners are all new men. When the Chief Secretary speaks of the 1881 and the 1885 men, he seems to convey the idea that the 1881 Commissioners are old and experienced servants of the State, and the others are the reverse. But the 1881 men were not appointed in 1881, but only appointed under the Act of 1881. Judge Bewley was appointed this year, and Mr. Fitzgerald was appointed last year. I make no complaint of these men; indeed, I am surprised how well Judge Bewley has turned out. The Chief Secretary struck the right key when he spoke of the invidious duty connected with the making of these appointments. Is it to be wondered at that a man of judicial mind like Judge Bewley should wish to wash his hands of these personal questions? But if these words are omitted we know that, while Mr. Justice Bewley and Mr. Commissioner Fitzgerald will not bother themselves about these appointments, Mr. Wrench will bother himself and everybody else. We are told that if the Lords' Amendment is accepted the Lord Lieutenant will be the determining authority. Now, the Lord Lieutenant, being merely a ceremonial personage and a figure-head, will not trouble himself about a long list of names, but will go to the most energetic men he can find to give him advice. He will go to his club and chat over this matter with three or four of the most prominent men of the official class, and the most prominent and the most wire-pulling of these men will be Mr. Wrench, who will settle the whole thing. The Lord Lieutenant and Mr. Wrench between them will fix the names. To say that the Lord Lieutenant will do this thing on his own responsibility is all nonsence. I say Wrench, Wrench, Wrench is the only man who will have anything to say to it. [A laugh.] Hon. Gentleman opposite laugh. Of course they know that before there is any change of administration the whole Department will be manned with a permanent Tory staff. Certainly, when I get back to Ireland, I shall advise the tenants to have nothing to do with purchase as long as the present Government is in office unless they are offered a very tempting piece of land at a very cheap price. If the tenants are wise they will have nothing to do with the Purchase Act until they see what the Dissolution of Parliament brings about. For the first time in the history of the Land Department the salaries of the Commissioners are made a charge on the Consolidated Fund. Is that not a most cogent fact in the situation? Does that not affect the hon. Members for South Derry and South Tyrone?


I voted against it.


I do not know whether the hon. Member's colleague will say the same?




I am glad to think they have something to show when they go back to their constituents. We shall have no power over the appointments. Once this Bill passes we shall have no power of criticism. Is that not a terrible state of things? [Laughter.] I wish I could send to Ireland a photograph of the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh (Colonel Saunderson) laughing over the consummation he and the Government have achieved. I wish I could present the spectacle of this House and the landlord party chuckling over the admirable manner in which the tenants of Ireland have been dodged out of all power to criticise the appointments of the Land Commissioners. Who are the individuals who have protested against the action of the House of Commons in regard to this Amendment? I have been told that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has done so.


The hon. Member is referring to the other Amendment.


Who is responsible for the present Amendments?


Lord Londonderry.


Then, that enforces my position. It is not a Government Amendment at all, and it, therefore, cannot be defended on the ground that it had an official parentage, or that it is a drafting Amendment, or one founded on principle. I would remind the House of what occurred when the Landed Estates Court was constituted. The power of making the permanent appointments was not taken away from the Judges. The Judges were to make the appointments with the approval of the Lord Chancellor. And in 1881 we had a long discussion on this subject, the result being that the Land Commission were given a voice in the selection of the staff; and there was a provision in the Act with regard to the employment of persons formerly in the employment of the Church Temporalities Commissioners. I took exception at the time to that staff being placed under the Land Commission, because I held that, having been under Judge Lawson, they would probably be all Tories by profession. The answer I got was that the appointments would simply be made in order of merit—in order of the official hierarchy, I suppose. But in spite of that pledge given in this House by the then Attorney General, the entire staff of the Church Temporalities Commissioners were placed, so to speak, at the disposal of the Land Commission, which was obliged to employ them. And in the Ashbourne Act of 1885 the Commissioners were given the power of veto in regard to staff appointments. In the same way under the Judicature Act the Judges were given the power of selecting the staff, and, strange to say, under the Land Department Bill of the Government, the same power of revision and supervision was given to the body constituted under the Statute. Now, however, for the first time, in the House of Lords, Lord Londonderry, for no reason that I can understand, has got this provision struck out, and has managed to get a very objectionable Amendment inserted in its place. I say that this Amendment can only be regarded as a Vote of Censure on the Purchase Commissioners. It is a mark and stigma put upon them by Lord Londonderry and the Chief Secretary. No doubt they will appreciate it. They will also appreciate the fact that they are to have no voice in the staffing of their own Department. We are told that they will be consulted. Lord Zetland may consult them, but their opinion will be overruled by Mr. Wrench. I would ask if some pledge cannot be given that in the appointments that are to be made recognition will be given to the length of past services. I have no love for the Sub-Commissioners as such, nineteen-twentieths of them being landlords' agents, but at the same time, the existing Sub-Commissioners are men of experience, and preference should be given to them. They are bound to go more or less into the evidence before them, and therefore must have obtained some knowledge of the condition of the tenants. I would ask, are they to go back again into the melting-pot, and is Mr. Wrench to have the right of selecting whom he pleases—of preferring those who have come in at the eleventh hour to those who have borne the whole heat and burden of the day? I read in the Northern Whig—the organ of the landlords in the North of Ireland—some time ago that the Chief Secretary had caused to be assembled in Dublin a number of the employés of the Fair Rent Commission for the purpose of putting them through some kind of competitive examination for positions under the Land Purchase Commission. ["No, no!"] I do not say it is correct. I imagined that the information came from the hon. Member for South Tyrone or the hon. Member for South Derry, who ought to know something of what is going on. I would say that the men who received an invitation to Mr. Wrench's "At home" would be about the least desirable men in the country for these appointments. Every one who was supposed to have a sympathetic mind towards the tenants was excluded from the gathering. Well, there is never smoke without fire, and the belief is that the Purchase Department is going to be manned by ex-police officers, Orangemen, and landlords' men. The Government in this matter have got Lord Londonderry to do for them what they had not the courage to do for themselves. In this House they had not the courage to move an Amendment proposing the amalgamation of the two Departments; so the hon. Member for South Derry moved it for them, in that way reversing the policy that began in 1885 when we were supporting the Tory Party—when we were putting them into office, and almost regarding some of them as of our own creation. The whole course of the Government in this business has not only been malevolent as regards the tenants, but also hypocritical, because, whilst not daring to do this themselves, they have been delighted to accept the work of others not occupying a responsible position. I contend that the whole action of the Government thoughout this matter has been neither fair nor favourable to the tenants, but has been in the interests of the landlords, and I protest against it with all the energy in my power.

*(10.47.) MR. T. W. RUSSELL

It is a great pity the hon. and learned Member for North Longford was not in the House when the Bill was going through the House of Lords. The hon. Member has rung the changes on the assertion that the Government got Lord Londonderry to do work which they were ashamed to do themselves. Well, I have the records of the House of Lords in my hand, and I find that the words in question were left out of the Bill not on the Motion of Lord Londonderry at all, but on that of the Lord Privy Seal, who was in charge of the measure in the other House.


It was suggested by Lord Londonderry.


What right has the hon. and learned Member to say that?


I have the authority of the Chief Secretary.


I have the authority of the Records of the House of Lords, and all this declamation that has been poured out about the Government using others to do what they are afraid to do themselves falls to the ground when it is brought to the simple test of fact. The hon. and learned Member was not even in the House when the Bill was passing through the Report stage, and yet he now comes forward and makes assertions without taking the least trouble to ascertain the facts. He commenced his speech by saying that the hon. Member for South Derry had taken special delight in championing the cause of Mr. Wrench. I did not think that very relevant to the argument, and I should just like to say that if the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Longford had watched the progress of the Bill in the House of Lords as I watched it, he would have seen that those who attacked the clause sent up from this House were such Lords as Lord Waterford, Lord Castletown, and the Duke of Abercorn. Those were the noble Lords who sought to pull the clause to pieces, and to establish the power of the friends of the hon. and learned member, who I have as much right to say championed the cause of Mr. John George MacCarthy as he has to say that my hon. Friend championed the cause of Mr. Wrench.


I am not ashamed to avow it, and he is.


I do not think my hon. Friend is championing any man The hon. Member for Longford gave a graphic sketch of what would take place when this clause was passed. He pictured Lord Zetland dropping into the Kildare Street Club and there practically at the bidding of Mr. Wrench appointing four or five leaders of the landlord party to be Sub-Commissioners. Well, it struck me as singular that the hon. and learned Member should be so glad to take the word of the Chief Secretary to-night as to what was done in the House of Lords. I wonder he did not take the word of the right hon. Gentleman that he, as well as the Lord Lieutenant, would have something to say as to these appointments. As for the Kildare Street Club I could almost say that Lord Zetland has never set his foot inside it. At any rate I say that in suggesting that the appointments would be made by the Lord Lieutenant the hon. and learned Member forgets that the Chief Secretary will have his share of responsibility in the matter. The Amendment, which was inserted in this House without discussion, introduced a new feature into the Land Commission system. Did Lord Spencer or Mr. Forster take the advice of the Land Commission in making these appointments? No; they appointed all the Sub-Commissioners on their own responsibility. Up to two or three years ago that course was followed by every Lord Lieutenant and Chief Secretary. Since then the system has been altered, and the Land Commission has been consulted. The practice has been this. When there have been 12 appointments to be made they (the Land Commissioners) have sent up a list of, say, 20 names, and the Lord Lieutenant has made the final selection on his own responsibility. The Amendment struck out in the House of Lords was to give the Commission not a consultative voice, which they had already, but a coordinate power, the exercise of which would almost certainly lead to a collision. The fact that the salaries of the Land Commission have been placed on the Consolidated Fund does make the matter serious. But I spoke and voted against the Amendment, and my speech was as much a dress-parade speech as that of the hon. and learned Member to-night. I do not believe that what the hon. Member for West Belfast indicated will take place under this clause. I am certain that in the making of these appointments the Land Commission in both its Departments will be consulted. I believe that any other course will be a fatal and a wrong course. This is a Land Purchase Bill, and it would be impossible for the Lord Lieutenant to leave out the Land Purchase Commissioners from consultation. I say it is one thing to consult these gentlemen and another to introduce a new principle into our system—that of a co-ordinate power in making these appointments.

(10.56.) MR. SEXTON

We wish that the Land Commission should be consulted, but not as a matter of grace. What we wish to secure and what the right hon. Gentleman himself desires might be effected by adopting in this clause language which has been adopted elsewhere more than once in the Bill when the Lord Lieutenant has to act on the initiative of the Land Commission. I would suggest that the words "such persons as the Lord Lieutenant and the Treasury on the Report of the Land Commission shall determine" should be inserted. That would leave the power of appointing in the hands of the Lord Lieutenant or the Treasury, and would only give the Commissioners the power of reporting—but it would give the minority of the Commission the power as well as the majority, in case there was a difference amongst the Commissioners.

(10.58.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR

I think that would be open to the objection which has been made before—that it would require collective action on the part of the Land Commission. I think that each separate member of the Commission should be able to express his opinion, and I desire to see that principle firmly embodied in the Bill. I accept the words "after receiving Reports from the Members of the Land Commission."


The several members?


Yes, I would gladly accept those words.


The reception of Reports would not mean their consideration. I would rather say "on the Report of the several members of the Commission."

Lords' Amendment agreed to.

Amendment agreed to, to the Lords' Amendment, after "Treasury" to add "after receiving and considering Reports from the several Members of the Land Commission."—(Mr. A. J. Balfour.)

Page 18, line 22, after "alone" to insert "or of any Commission," the next Amendment, read a second time.


The right hon. Gentleman stated earlier in the evening that after the Bill left this House he discovered that there was no provision made for appeals from two Commissioners sitting together in the Court of First Instance. There is a difficulty as to the constitution of that Court of Appeal, and it seems to me that it might be got over in one of two ways. It might be provided that where two Land Commissioners sat in the Court of First Instance one of them should be a Purchase Commissioner. That would prevent the possibility of a decision of the two Purchase Commissioners being reviewed on appeal by the three Rent Commissioners. The other method is that which the Attorney General for Ireland himself suggests, namely, that you shall never have more than one Commissioner sitting in the Court of First Instance.


The last mentioned arrangement is the better of the two ways of settling the difficulty.

Lords' Amendment and subsequent Lords' Amendments disagreed to.

Amendment proposed, to insert, after Sub-section 1— Provided also that every order of the Land Commissioners for carrying the Land Acts into effect shall in the first instance be made by a Commissioner sitting alone."—(The Attorney General for Ireland.)

Amendment agreed to.

Other Lords' Amendments agreed to

After Clause 24 insert (H).

(Powers under 44 & 45 Vict., c. 49, ss. 43, 44.)

"H. The powers of delegation conferred on the land commissioners under the forty-third and forty-fourth sections of the Land Law (Ireland) Act, 1881, shall not apply to the discharge of duties arising under the Land Purchase Acts,"

the next Amendment, read a second time.


Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us the effect of this?


This section of the Act of 1881 not only enables the Land Commission to appoint and make use of sub-Commissioners, but enables the Land Commission to delegate to them the function of fixing fair rents. Of course, it was never intended that the Land Commissioners should delegate any duty in relation to sanctioning agreements for sale or duties in relation to title arising thereon. This clause prevents the powers of delegation being used for purposes for which they were never intended.

Lords' Amendment agreed to.

Other Lords' Amendments agreed to.

Page 27, lines 7 and 8, leave out ("the interest which the tenant agrees to buy in") the next Amendment, read a second time.


Of course, we should not consider ourselves justified in raising a Debate upon this, or in putting the House to the trouble of a Division, after contesting the point earlier, but it must not be inferred from our silence that we abandon our protest. If you insist on saying the tenant buys something he does not really buy, we cannot prevent your doing so.

Lords' Amendment agreed to.

Page 27, line 11, after ("is") insert ("to be,") agreed to.

Page 27, lines 11 and 12, leave out "the average amount of abatement allowed by the landlord," the next Amendment, read a second time.

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

(11.10.) MR. KNOX

I move to disagree with the Lords in this Amendment. It will be remembered that in discussion of the point to which this Amendment is directed it was represented that to take into account all abatements might be putting a premium on non-payment of rent, and although we thought that argument far-fetched, we, as a compromise, agreed to the words which the Lords now propose to strike out. The clause, as we left it, provided that in those cases where the judicial rent fixed in the earlier days of the Land Act now proves to be higher than the tenant can actually pay, the abatement shall be taken into account in fixing the annual value, and for fixing the amount the tenant shall pay in the first five years after purchase. I am sure that to accept the Lords' Amendment will go far to stop land purchase in Connaught. On every well-managed estate there has been considerable abatement on the judicial rent, and if these are not taken into account, the result will be that the purchasing tenant will in the first five years pay more than he has been paying hitherto, and no tenant will be prepared to do this, and so land purchase will be at a standstill until this Act is amended. This is not a consummation desired by the Chief Secretary, who has often expressed a wish that this Act should be extended rather more than the Ashbourne Act to the West of Ireland. I know that in many parts of the West the effects of this Lords' Amendment will be fatal to purchase. So far as I understand the objection to the Amendment made in this House, it is that the abatements would include those arrears which a landlord may have remitted immediately before the purchase, and that as an inducement to the tenant to agree and purchase, a hanging gale might be included in the abatement. Now, this difficulty might be met by providing that instead of the average amount of allowances, abatements, and remissions in the five years next befere the time of purchase, the words should run "the five years preceding the last gale day before the date of purchase." In that way we should exclude a remission which the landlord may have made as an inducement to a tenant to make an agreement and purchase. That, I think, would be a fair compromise.

(11.15.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR

was understood to say: I think the hon. Gentleman will, on reflection, think it unnecessary to press his objection. As originally introduced, the insurance amount was based upon the judicial rent, but it was afterwards pointed out that in some cases the judicial rent had not been practically acted upon, and we were asked, "how is it to be expected that a tenant will enter into an agreement for purchase when he will for five years be called upon to pay 10 per cent. more than his present rent?" We accepted an Amendment. But then we were met with the difficulty that the abatement might include an abatement made in respect to the agreement to purchase. The hon. Member proposes to avoid this, but he cannot altogether avoid the difficulty that the abatement might be held to cover a conspiracy to refuse payment, or an amount of arrears so long due that a landlord hopeless of recovering might wipe it off as a bad debt. After much consideration we have adopted the plan embodied in the Lords' Amendment, by which judicial and non-judicial rents are placed upon the same footing, the Commission making a re-valuation.

(11.20.) MR. SEXTON

I admit the force of much the right hon. Gentleman has said, and we are desirous of arriving at an understanding with the Government without a wearisome discussion. The clause has been injured in one respect if it has been improved in another. I do not think the proviso at the end is an improvement. The purchaser may apply to the Land Commission to have the annual value fixed, but observe, this is to be after the advance has been sanctioned, so that he will be left in the dark up to the time of purchase and unable to avail himself of any information this proviso gives. I consider the Lords' Amendment an extremely shabby one. It has not even the merit of being selfish, because neither the rent nor the landlord's purchase-money is affected by it. The only effect of striking out the words will be to decrease the apparent number of years' purchase. I trust the Government will agree to the suggestion of my hon. Friend that the basis of calculation shall be the actual, not the nominal, rent, and that on an average over five years.

(11.25.) MR. T. M. HEALY

I join in the appeal of my hon. Friend. We have no desire to occupy time in discussion and Division. The Lords want to make a fictitious rent the basis for purchase instead of the actual; rent. The Lords throughout these Amendments have been fighting for their own selfish interests, whereas we are fighting for the cause of half a million of tenants. If you accept this you leave out the real guiding and effective words, which would enable a tenant to know what amount of insurance he would have to pay upon the basis of the actual rent after deducting the abatements made by the landlord.


The question of the amount of the insurance will be determined by re-valuation.


Then the advance must be sanctioned in the dark?


The amount of the advance has nothing to do with the tenants' Insurance Fund.


I imagine the tenant would like to know the basis upon which the bargain is being made, and what he will have to pay as insurance. Is not that the whole point? Yet the Government propose to strike out what I conceive to be the guiding words. The right hon. Gentleman has shown himself willing to make reasonable concessions on other points. Is this one worth fighting for? I hope he will give way.

*(11.33.) MR. MADDEN

I hope the hon. and learned Member will reconsider the position he has taken up. The Amendment abolishes the hard and fast rule that the judicial rent is to be the test in all cases where such a rent has been fixed. That rule would undoubtedly have worked unfairly in some cases, such as those brought before the House when the matter was discussed on Report, and the Amendment will allow the tenant to go before the Commissioners and re-open the question. In a case where the judicial rent is £100 a year and the landlord or receiver has accepted £75, it will be open to the tenant to have the annual value fixed on a revised valuation.


What we complain of is that the tenant will not be able to know his true position before he has bound himself to purchase his holding.


The question under discussion has nothing to do with the amount of the purchase-money, but merely with fixing what shall be the purchase annuity for the first five years. The tenant knows that the judicial rent will be primâ facie taken as the rent on which the amount of the first five annual payments will be fixed, but by this clause he has power given him to go before the Commissioners and complain that the judicial rent is too high.

(11.39.) The House divided:—Ayes 114; Noes 67.—(Div. List, No. 372.)

Page 27, line 16, leave out from "purchase money," to "such," in line 19, and insert— Provided that after the advance applied for has been sanctioned the purchaser may apply to the Land Commission to determine the annual value to the holding, and thereupon,

the next Amendment, read a second time.

Amendment proposed in the words inserted by the Lords, to leave out the words, "after the advance applied for has been sanctioned."—(Mr Knox.)


The object of this Amendment is to have the amount of advance and of the annual value to be settled at one and the same time instead of having two different inspections.


I concur with the object of the hon. Member. I only doubt if it will be effected by his proposal. I will not, however, oppose it.

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

Amendment proposed, at the end of the Lords' Amendment, to add the words "when sanctioning the advance."—(Mr. Knox.)

Question, "That those words be there added," put, and negatived.

The remaining Amendment agreed to.

A Consequential Amendment made to the Bill. Committee appointed, "to draw up Reasons to be assigned to the Lords for disagreeing to certain of the Amendments made by the Lords to the Bill, to which this House hath disagreed."—Mr. Arthur Balfour, Mr. Attorney General for Ireland, Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Fisher, Mr. Mowbray, Mr. Jackson, Mr. Sexton, and Mr. Macartney.—To withdraw immediately.

Ordered, That Three be the quorum.