HC Deb 11 June 1891 vol 354 cc174-241

As amended, further considered.

Proceedings resumed on the Clause (Powers of Land Commissioners),—read a second time [5th June]:— (Nothing in section seventeen of 'The Purchase of Land (Ireland) Act, 1885,' shall be deemed to limit the jurisdiction of any member of the Land Commission under Part V. of 'The Land Law (Ireland) Act, 1881,' and the Acts amending the same, and any tiling done by any member of the Land Commission in carrying the said Acts into effect shall be as valid and effectual as if it were done by the Land Commission: Provided that any person aggrieved by the decision of any Commissioner acting alone in carrying the said Acts into effect, may require his case to be reheard by three Commissioners, of whom the Judicial Commissioner shall be one, but none of such Commissioners shall be the Commissioner before whom the case was originally heard. All rules to be made by the Land Commission for carrying into effect the Land Purchase Acts, as amended by this Act, shall be made by a majority of the Commissioners, which majority shall include the Judicial Commissioner".)—(Mr. Lea.)

*(5.2.) MR. RATHBONE (Carnarvonshire, Arfon)

I beg to move the following Amendment to the proposed new Clause:— In line 7 of the Clause, to leave out from the word "aggrieved" to the end of line 11, and insert the words "may appeal from the decision of any Commissioner acting alone in carrying the said Acts into effect, and if the appeal is on a question of law only it shall be to the Judicial Commissioner, and in any other case it shall be to three Commissioners, of whom one shall be the Judicial Commissioner and one shall be a Commissioner appointed under 'The Purchase of Land (Ireland) Act, 1885.'

This Amendment is drawn to meet the contentions of several Members of the House who desire an appeal, notably the hon. Members for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton), Mid Tyrone (Mr. M. J. Kenny), Cavan (Mr. Knox), and Meath (Mr. Mahony). The Amendment is also drawn to give the appeal the Representatives of the Irish landowners require in cases where the points in dispute have only been decided by one Commissioner, in which, cases they think that mistakes may be occasionally made. Unfortunately, a speech made on a previous occasion infused a personal character into this Debate, and upset the good feeling which up to then had existed on the Bill. I think the Amendment, if adopted, will carry out the wishes of hon. Members on both sides, and entirely destroy the effect of throwing discredit upon any one person. It will be seen that I propose to give the hearing of appeals on questions of law to the Judicial Commissioner. From all sides of the House we have heard an expression of entire confidence in the integrity and legality of the proceedings of this Commissioner, and, therefore, it would be a great pity to encumber the question by requiring more than his decision on these matters. On the other hand, when it comes to a question of fact, the Amendment provides that the case shall be heard by three Commissioners, of whom one shall be the Judicial Commissioner, and another a member of the Purchase Commission. That, I think, will satisfy those hon. Members who, on questions of fact, wish to see effect given to the knowledge and experience of one of those Commissioners whose duty it has been to decide as to the value of holdings. My proposal, if adopted, will do away with the possibility of misconception as to the clause affecting in any way the character of any Commissioner, or as to its putting a Purchase Commissioner into an inferior position to that of a Commissioner who has to fix fair rents. It seems to me that this Amendment, with the other concessions offered by the Chief Secretary, will go far to meet all the more important contentions of hon. Members. By this Amendment no Party will have it all their own way. The Amendment will carry out one of the concessions of the Chief Secretary and a principle advocated by Members on both sides of the House; therefore, it will not be necessary to go more deeply into the matter.

Amendment proposed, In line 7 of the Clause, to leave out from the word "aggrieved" to the end of line 11, and insert the words "may appeal from the decision of any Commissioner acting alone in carrying the said Acts into effect, and if the appeal is on a question of law only it shall he to the Judicial Commissioner, and in any other case it shall be to three Commissioners, of whom one shall be-the Judicial Commissioner and one shall be a Commissioner appointed under 'The Purchase of Land (Ireland) Act, 1885,' "—(Mr. Rath-bone,)

—instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words. 'by the decision' stand part of the Clause."


I wish to raise a point of order, which I think should be present to the mind of the House in discussing this new clause—upon which I do not wish to enter at the present moment. The House will have it in recollection that I made a suggestion to it at Question time just now with regard to a proviso which, under certain circumstances, I was prepared to move. Doubts have since arisen as to whether that proviso would be in order, as it would modify the Act of 1881. It is doubtful whether it would be competent for the House to introduce it at this stage of the, Bill; and as this suggestion is part of the general compromise and arrangement, it is necessary that the House should have before it—if you would be so good, Sir, as to give it—your ruling as to the possibility of introducing such an Amendment as that I propose on the Report stage of this measure.


The question is one that appears to me to be of great difficulty. I understand the proposal is that there should be an amalgamation of the Fair Rent Commission, established under the Act of 1881, with the Purchase Commission, established under the. Act of 1885. It is now proposed by the Amendment to alter the constitution of the body established by the Act of 1881 in a Bill which is strictly confined to the purchase of land, and that appears to me to be a very doubtful proceeding. On the face of it, it appears as if it could not be done on Report.

(5.11.) SIR W. HARCOURT (Derby)

It appears to me that the form in which the right hon. Gentleman proposes to carry out the suggestion which he threw out on Tuesday night is new to us. I understand the Member for West Belfast's suggestion I think it would be much better to work upon the lines of the proposals made by the right hon. Gentleman on Tuesday night. These proposals are, as I understand them—first, that there should be a limit placed upon the time at which the Rent Commissioners should be allowed to come in and act upon the purchase business. That is a proposal originally made by the Member for Meath, which was discussed the other night, and to which the Chief Secretary practically agreed. It was that the Rent Commissioners should not be invited to deal with land purchase for a year, or at any rate until the arrears in the Fair Rent Court had been materially reduced. The alteration cannot be made, it seems, in the exact words proposed by the hon. Member for Meath, but it can in words somewhat similar. That is one proposition. If that is met, I think it will be satisfactory as far as it goes. The second point is with regard to the Court of Appeal, that one Purchase Commissioner should always sit in that Court. That is also a proposal which is favourably received on this side of the House. The third point is thrown out by the Member for West Belfast, and that is, that there should be a right of appeal to the Purchase Commissioners to act in respect to rent business, and the right hon. Gentleman has expressed his willingness to favourably consider that proposal, throwing out, at the same time, the suggestion that if the action of the Rent Commissioners in connection with land purchase was to be postponed, also the action of the Purchase Commissioners in regard to rent should be postponed. I think that is an accurate account of the suggestions made on Tuesday night. If the Government were to incorporate these suggestions in a proviso, I think all difficulty would be removed. I should imagine that all the proposals will be in order.

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

On the question of order, I desire to point out that this is a Bill to amend the Land Purchase Acts, and that in the Definition Clause those Acts include the Act of 1881 and the Act of 1885. The object of the proviso is not to amend the Act of 1881, but the Act of 1885; and in the Act of 1885 there is a provision enabling the Purchase Commissioners on the order of the Lord Lieutenant, to deal with the business of rent. Section 17 of that Act makes an Order in Council necessary before they can deal with rent.


I have not seen the proviso at all; but from what was stated as to the object in view, it seemed to me that the proposal would be outside the scope of the Report stage of the Bill, and could not be inserted without a re-committal and an Instruction to the Committee.


The Purchase Commissioners are now members of the Commission appointed under the Act of 1881. By the Act of 1885 their functions are limited to purchase, unless the Lord Lieutenant, by an Order in Council will allow them to act under the Act of 1881. The object of the Amendment is to get rid of the provision in the Act of 1885 requiring an Order in Council to enable the Commissioners to take part in the administration of the Act of 1881, and, therefore, the Amendment is not an Amendment of the Purchase Act of 1885, but a repeal of one of its provisions.

(5.18.) MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)

The Purchase Commissioners are members of the Land Commission under the Act of 1881. I would call especial attention to the 6th proviso, which deals with an Order in Council. My hon. Friend proposes to do away with the necessity for the interference of the Lord Lieutenant.

*(5.19.) MR. SPEAKER

As I understand it, the Land Act is embodied in this Act; and if the Commissioners under the Act of 1885 are empowered to take any part in the administration of the Fair Rent Commission of 1881, then I think it may be permissible to enlarge the power.


I rise to move the following Amendment to the proposed new clause:— In line 7, after "decision," to leave out to end of line 11, and insert "of any Commissioner or Commissioners may require his case to be reheard on appeal, and the Judicial Commissioner for the time being, the Land Judge for the time being, and a judge of the High Court nominated as an additional Judicial Commissioner in pursuance of this section by the Lord Chancellor, shall hear and determine such appeal, and their decision shall be final.

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

I rise to order. Is this an Amendment to the clause, or a new clause in substitution for it?


It is an Amendment to the Amendment.


I have not seen this Amendment before, but it is clearly in substitution for the clause, and is, therefore, not in order.

MR. KNOX (Cavan, W.)

I have a slight Amendment to move——


The clause is not yet disposed of. It has not yet become a Substantive Motion.

(5.21.) MR. T. P. O'CONNOR

I feel that in discussing the Amendment we are in considerable difficulty, in consequence of the right hon. Gentleman's omission to put on the Paper words to carry out the ideas expressed by him on Tuesday night. I rise rather for the purpose of giving the Government an opportunity of expressing their opinion than to express my own. I think the Amendment a reasonable one. Some of us are, however, a little alarmed lest the words of Thursday should recede very far from the promises of Tuesday. The operation of the Amendment must largely depend on what the Government are prepared to do with regard to the other points which are raised, and I trust the Chief Secretary will now state his views.


I should like to explain the exact position in which I think we stand. The narrative given to the House by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir W. Harcourt) is, I think, substantially accurate in its broad outlines. Where we differ is this: that I think the suggestion of the hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton) is an alternative of the two suggestions I made with regard to appeals, and to the postponement of any intervention on the part of the Land Purchase Commissioners under the Act of 1835. If you are to make the Commissioners perfectly equal, it is evidently contrary to the spirit of that policy to carry out the suggestion of my hon. Friend opposite—a suggestion which, so far from making the Commissioners equal, makes a special provision in favour of one of the 1885 Commissioners by making him always a member of the Court of Appeal. Therefore, if our principle is to be perfect equality we ought not to accept the Amendment of my hon. Friend. In reality there are two policies before the House, either of which I am prepared to accept, but both of which I think we ought not to accept. I would, therefore, seriously urge the hon. Member for West Belfast and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, who have been chiefly occupied in opposing and attempting to modify this clause, to decide which, alternative they will adopt, and not press for taking both alternatives at the same time.


I certainly did not understand that these proposals were to be regarded as alternative; but if they are, I must say that of the two proposals I prefer the one which would postpone the interference of the Rent Commissioners and provide that in every case one Purchase Commissioner shall be a member of the Court of Appeal. I think it necessary that the Appeal Court should always include one Purchase Commissioner who is familiar with the question of purchase in Ireland.


One point seems to have been altogether lost sight of in regard to the arrears of cases in the Fair Rent Department. The Government proposal will not throw any extra work on the Rent Commissioners. It will relieve them rather, because there will be five Commissioners available to do the work of the two Departments, and the Purchase Commissioners will be able to help get rid of the arrears in the Fair Rent Department.

(5.34.) MR. SEXTON

I take it that the offer which was made by the right hon. Gentleman at the close of Tuesday's Sitting was divided into three parts, which we cannot agree now to separate, as they hang together. I certainly cannot accept the right hon. Gentleman's suggestion that they were alternative. The three points were the appeal from the Purchase Commissioners, the time when the Fair Rent Commissioners should be allowed to interfere with the work of the Purchase Department, and the question of equal jurisdiction. Now, I hold that, if equality is to be secured between the Rent Commissioners and the Purchase Commissioners, the latter should be entitled to sit on the appeals in regard to rent just as the Purchase Commissioners sit on the appeals in regard to the purchase business. In the absence of that provision, I say there is no equal jurisdiction. I should, however, be quite satisfied if words were inserted providing that the Court of Appeal shall consist of the Judicial Commissioner, a Kent Commissioner, and a Purchase Commissioner.


And if the Amendment which my right hon. Friend read to the House, dispensing with the necessity for an order by the Lord Lieutenant to enable the Commissioners to exercise powers in regard to fair rent, is carried, I submit that the Purchase Commissioners will have the power which the hon. Member desires them to have.


Yes, but the Fair Rent Commissioners will be three to two, and will always take care that they have a majority on the Bench. We on these Benches are opposed altogether to introducing the Rent Commissioners into the Purchase Department. The business of the Rent Commissioners is to fix rents; they only interfere in cases of conflict between landlord and tenant. But the Purchase Commissioners interfere only in cases of agreement between landlord and tenant, to sanction such agreements. The functions of the two sets of Commissioners are altogether different, and I object to amalgamating them. If, however, the Rent Commissioners are to be called in to assist in the Purchase Department, let that, at any rate, be postponed until they have cleared off the arrears in their own Department. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, I understood the other evening, is willing to postpone their interference until after a certain lapse of time, but that is most inconsistent. Prom the point of view of the right hon. Gentleman, why should their interference be postponed for any definite time? The only reason for postponement that there can be is that they ought, first, to clear off their own arrears; but if a date is fixed the arrears may be then still existing. The proper arrangement, then, would be to postpone the interference of the Rent Commissioners until they have disposed of the arrears in the business of their own department. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will see the reasonableness of that proposal.


It has been urged by the Chief Secretary that, as we are so near agreement, it would not be well to let the chance pass of restoring harmony into the discussion of this Bill. I can quite understand his object.


Order, order! The hon. Member has no right of reply.


I was not replying. I wished merely to refer to one or two fresh points that have been raised.


The hon. Member was speaking, and he has on this stage only the right of speaking once.

(5.46.) MR. PIERCE MAHONY (Meath, N.)

I think there is very little difference between us now. Our great objection to this clause originally was that it interfered with a department where the work was being transacted to the satisfaction of the country. The right hon. Gentleman urged two strong-arguments in support of it. One was the necessity for a Court of Appeal, and the other was the probability that at some future time the Fair Rent Commissioners would not have sufficient work to do, and that it would be very bad to leave them idle while there was much to do in the Land Purchase Department. We have agreed that there should be a Court of Appeal, and that it should consist of the Judicial Commissioner and a Commissioner from each of the two Departments, both being on a footing of perfect equality. The only point now is as to the date at which the Fair Rent Commissioners shall be allowed to take part in the work of the Purchase Department. Is it unreasonable for us to suggest that they shall first get rid of the arrears of work in their own Department? No necessity has been or can be shown for immediate interference with the work of the Purchase Department. I hope the Chief Secretary, therefore, will make this small concession.

(5.50.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR

I may say, with the permission of the House, that I am quite prepared to accept an Amendment such as that suggested by the hon. Member for West Belfast—namely, that in the Appeal Court there shall be one of the Commissioners from each Department. I do that in order to shorten debate.


How about the deferred jurisdiction?


I must adhere to my own proposal about that.


My hon. Friend has on the Paper words which in our estimation carry out the compromise of the right hon. Gentleman as we understood it.

Question put, and negatived.

Remaining words omitted.

Question proposed, That the words 'may appeal from the decision of any Commissioner acting alone in carrying the said Acts into effect, and if the appeal is on the question of law only it shall be to the Judicial Commissioner, and in any other case it shall be to three Commissioners, of whom one shall be the Judicial Commissioner and one shall be a Commissioner appointed under' The Purchase of Land (Ireland) Act, 1885,'

—be there inserted.

(5.54.) MR. KNOX

Is the right hon. Gentleman willing to insert after the word "aggrieved" the words "by the refusal of his application?" I think it is necessary to make some such provision, otherwise we shall have syndicates formed for securing appeals, although the appellants may not have been before the Court on the original hearing.


I protest against the acceptance of this proposal. Such a Motion is not calculated to carry out the undertaking to shorten debate.


Such a remark may be orderly; it certainly is not courteous. I wish again to ask the Chief Secretary if he will agree to an Amendment postponing the equal jurisdiction until the Fair Rent appeals have been disposed of?


That is the point on which I cannot give way. I shall be glad at the proper time to state my reasons.

Amendment proposed to the proposed Amendment, before the first word "may," to insert the words "by the refusal of his application."—(Mr. Knox.)

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


I hope the hon. Member will not press the Amendment. There are many cases in which the orders made may aggrieve persons other than those which amount to a short and sharp refusal of an application.


I will not press it, but I do hope the Government will insert words providing that the person appealing must have been a party to the original hearing.

Amendment to the proposed Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment amended, by adding, at the end thereof, the words "and the third a Commissioner appointed under 'The Land Law (Ireland) Act, 1881.'"—(Mr. Arthur Balfour.)

Amendment, as amended, agreed to.

(6.0.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR

I have now to propose an Amendment which will carry out the suggestion I made on Tuesday with regard to deferring the period at which the Commissioners under the Act of 1881 shall be able to intervene in purchase questions.

Another Amendment proposed, after the foregoing Amendment, to insert the words,— Provided that the duty of sanctioning advances under the Land Purchase Acts and this Act shall be discharged exclusively by the Commissioners appointed under 'The Purchase of Land (Ireland) Act, 1885,' until the expiration of one year from the passing of this Act, or until the number of fair rent appeals lodged for hearing is not more than one thousand, whichever shall first happen."—(Mr. Arthur Balfour.)

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


This would be a mockery. This is not in keeping with the argument we have addressed to the House on the question.


It is in exact accordance with what I stated on Tuesday night.


I told the right hon. Gentleman on Tuesday night that the time limit would be inadmissible; it is not only inadmissible but it is absurd. Remember that there are many preliminaries which will take a considerable time to be carried out. Remember also that there is a large sum of money—some say £1,000,000, but I believe more than £1,000,000—of the Ashbourne money yet to be administered. Remember that this money will take priority of the other; it offers more favourable terms to the tenants, and purchases will be conducted under the Ashbourne system so long as Ashbourne money remains. It is abundantly clear that the Purchase Commissioners will be occupied over a year in administering the money under the Ashbourne Act, and that the system of this Act will not come into operation for about a year. This is a proposal not made as any concession to our demands, but made for the convenience of the Rent Commissioners. The place will not be swept and garnished for them for a year. In the second place, I repeat that I and my friends are opposed to this amalgamation altogether. We think it a bad thing for Ireland and for the Land Commissioners. When it was clear the right hon. Gentleman had made up his mind to insist upon this provision, we saw it was necessary to suggest some compromise, and we offered a compromise which we thought would be accepted. Suppose the Bent Commissioners have not done their work at the end of the year, what is to happen? They are to be taken from their own department. Where is the concession to us who think amalgamation an evil thing in the public interest? I complain bitterly, and with good reason, of the treatment we have received. We have gone a considerable way to meet the right hon. Gentleman. We have just conceded to him on the question of appeal. Surely we might have received a corresponding concession from the right hon. Gentleman. There are 6,000 fair rent appeals to hear, and it may be several years before the Fair Rent Commissioners have finished their own special labours. It is a most essential tiling in the interests of Ireland that the Commissioners should clear off these appeals; but, notwithstanding this, at the end of one year the Commissioners are to be taken away from their duties. We will admit of no compromise on the question that the three Fair Rent Commissioners shall discharge their duties before being intruded into a department which is being perfectly well conducted at present. I shall be found as resolute as the right hon. Gentleman in continuing to insist upon our rights, and in protracting debate to such length as may be necessary to make clear the justice of our demands, and I shall feel extreme regret and some resentment against the Chief Secretary if the conversation which happened on Tuesday is to be considered as leading to a result such as this.

(6.10.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR

I am sorry that the hon. Member should have thought it necessary to use almost minatory language on this matter. For my own part, I made a suggestion to the House on Tuesday in almost the precise words which are now before the House, as the hon. Member will see if he looks at almost any report, whether in the English or in the Irish papers—words implying that there must be an alternative of one year, or a reduction of appeals. The hon. Member has taken exception to the Amendment, and he has a right to do so; but I object to the hon. Member saying that I have gone back on what I have said. I would point out that this Amendment was only accepted by the Government as a compromise. For my own part, I have done my best to suggest compromises, and I believe that it has been said by persons who are Friends of the hon. Gentleman, that everything for which the hon. Gentleman has been fighting has been granted. The fact of that being said by the hon. Gentleman's friends shows that the Government have not been slow in meeting hon. Members opposite half way. With regard to the argument founded upon the question of arrears, that would apply if I were trying to improve the clause, but I do not affect that this is an improvement on the clause. It is intended to please the hon. Gentleman [ironical laughter], or in the hope of pleasing him, that I have introduced it. I will now consider the proposal on its merits. The hon. Member desires that the line should be drawn only with regard to the number of arrears. The first objection to that is that it will undoubtedly occur to certain persons either to set up bogus appeals or to prolong the period during which real appeals are heard. Nothing is easier than to invent facilities for the creation of bogus appeals, and by a very little exercise of dexterity appeals can be made to last 20 times as long as they need. Surely it is only fair to protect the Commissioners of 1881, and to remove all possible ground for supposing that the cases they will have to consider will be either prolonged or unduly increased. There is one other point to which I would like to call attention. The hon. Member for West Belfast throughout all these discussions has talked as if the Fair Rent Commissioners of 1881 are overwhelmed by a mass of arrears, while the Purchase Commissioners of 1885 are able to get through all their work. As I have before said, the latter Commissioners have done their work in a manner that deserves the thanks of the House and the gratitude of the country, but while the amount of the loans applied for is £9,761,000, the loans sanctioned amounts to only £7,900,000, and the loans issued only £6,000,000. So that there are arrears in the Purchase Commissioners' Court as well. Then, again, I would point out that, while the delay in the hearing of appeals before the Commissioners of 1881 is, in the majority of cases, no great hardship to the tenants, delay in settling cases of sale does put great hardship both on landlords and tenants. The majority of appeals under the Act of 1881 are lodged by landlords, so that the hardship is not on the tenants, but on the landlords. So much for arrears under the Act of 1881. But what is the effect of arrears in pending proceedings under the Act of 1885? Neither the landlord nor the tenant knows whether the loan will be ultimately sanctioned, and therefore their relations with one another remain in a doubtful and uncertain state, which is necessarily productive of the utmost degree of hardship. Therefore I am sure that the balance is not so heavily against the Commissioners of 1881 as the Committee have been led to believe. For all these reasons I urge the Committee and hon. Gentlemen opposite to accept the suggestion I made on Tuesday night.

*(6.20.) MR. SPEAKER

I am sorry to have to intervene with a question of order in so complicated a matter, but I am obliged to point out that the Amendment provides That the duty of sanctioning advances under the Land Purchase Acts and this Act shall be discharged exclusively by the Commissioners appointed under the Purchase of Land (Ireland) Act, 1885, until the expiration of one year from passing of this Act, or until the number of fair-rent appeals lodged for hearing is not more than 1,000, whichever shall first happen. On Tuesday night an Amendment was introduced by the hon. Member for North Meath (Mr. Mahony) to the effect that if at any time the number of fair-rent appeals should be less than 1,000, the Lord Lieutenant might require any Land Commissioner to perform the duties of a Land Purchase Commissioner. Therefore, as far as that part of the alternative goes, it seems the House has already come to a decision—they negatived the proposition. It is out of the question to adopt an alternative either of one year or the reduction of the number of appeals to 1,000. The House having decided that they will not allow the limit by the number of appeals to be adopted, I am bound to rule that part of the present Amendment out of order.


May I submit that the proposal of the hon. Member for North Meath was to give power to the Lord Lieutenant to call upon the Land Commissioners. The Amendment before the House proposes that when the number of appeals is reduced to 1,000 a certain result shall follow.


It seems to me to be the same thing in principle.


May I ask what follows from the ruling just given?


The limit by time only will apply.


Would it be in order to insert "1,500" instead of "1,000?"


I think the House will see that that would make no difference in point of principle. The principle was decided by the House on the objection to a limit by the number of appeals.


Does your ruling, Sir, go so far as to say that no change in the number will affect the principle?


Yes; I think' it does.


The House has decided that 500 and 1,000 are not sufficient numbers. Would it not be competent to move that 2,000 be the number?


The House might have a number of Amendments moved leading to endless difficulty. I think the question of time is the only one which is open. If the right hon. Gentleman would amend the Amendment in that way, I believe it would be in order.


May I point out that the House has already had two Amendments before it, one of which proposed that the number of appeals shall be 1,000 and the other 500. Both those Amendments were negatived. Now, it is sought to increase the number proposed by the latter of those two Amendments by 500. I submit that if it was in order to move 500 after 1,000 had been negatived, it naturally follows that it would be in order to move 2,000.


Any Amendment of that sort should have been made at the time the previous Amendment was before the House. It is impossible to go back now.


I think we have some right to complain of the treatment we have received. We are engaged in discussing a matter as to which we have nothing but our memory to guide us.


May I suggest one distinction which has been unnoticed? The Amendments discussed and negatived would have postponed the action of the Rent Commissioners in respect of all purchase business, but this Amendment only relates to the proceedings before the sanctioning of advances. There would be a large number of proceedings afterwards which would not be affected.


I think there cannot be any distinction drawn.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment proposed, after the foregoing Amendment, to insert the words— Provided that the duty of sanctioning advances under the Land Purchase Acts and this Act shall be discharged exclusively by the Commissioners appointed under 'The Purchase of Land (Ireland) Act, 1885.'"—(Mr. Arthur Balfour.)

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

(6.35.) MR. T. P. O'CONNOR

I feel bound to call the attention of the House to the manner in which the Irish Members have been treated. We thought that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary had distinctly assented to the principle that the intervention of the Land Commissioners should be postponed until they had reduced the arrears in their Court to 1,000, or thereabouts. A distinct compromise was offered on Tuesday night, which was accepted, and on Thursday the right hon. Gentleman comes down to the House and reads out a manuscript Amendment, the full extent of which the Committee did not know until light was thrown upon it by the ruling of the Speaker. I do not call that fair dealing on the part of the Government. I will not impute to the Government any sinister motive, but I contend that they have receded from their promise of Tuesday night. Two proposals were made across the floor of the House as compromises, and accepted——


The two compromises I offered were offered in language which could not be misunderstood. Any full report of the Debate, whether in the Times or the Irish papers, will show that the proposal I made on Tuesday is precisely embodied in the Amendment I have just moved.


I have looked at the reports, and the recollection of the Irish Members does not bear out the explanation of the right hon. Gentleman. I admit that the right hon. Gentleman proposed two alternatives, either the alternative of time or that of the number of cases. [Mr. A. J. BALFOUR: Hear, hear.] But that was met by a protest from the hon. Member for West Belfast against the limit of time. We certainly understood that the right hon. Gentleman assented to that protest, and we left the House with the firm conviction that he agreed with us in the proposal that the Rent Commissioners should not intervene until the appeals had been brought down to a certain figure. That this was our belief is proved by an Amendment which has been placed on the Paper by the hon. Member for West Belfast to carry out the proposal. I maintain that the limit of time is entirely inconsistent with the position and arguments of the Government. Their whole position is based on the assertion that the arrears of appeals will be disposed of in 12 months. If that is so, the Rent Commissioners would then be able to intervene, and why, therefore, should the Government object to abolish the time limit? As to the argument about bogus appeals which has been advanced by the Chief Secretary, it is absurd, bad in principle, and not well founded in fact. You cannot imagine that a farmer would be so foolish as to spend £20 on an appeal that would make his own position worse just for the sake of preventing purchase on some estate in another county with which he has no connection whatever. The Chief Secretary is hard pressed for an argument when he uses one so absurd and farcical.

(6.43.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR

I have a suggestion to make, which may meet the views of everybody. The Speaker has ruled out of order any limitation resting simply on the number of appeals, but if the suggestion I am now about to make is in order, it will certainly meet some of the objections which are entertained, and may meet the views of hon. Members opposite. I propose that instead of referring to the number of appeals, I shall say that the Land Commissioners of 1881 shall not be permitted to intervene in purchase work until all the appeals lodged before the 1st of Juno in this year are disposed of.


We agree to that.


I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment now before the House.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


My right hon. and learned Friend will move the Amendment which I have just indicated.

Amendment proposed, In line 3 of the Clause, to insert the words "The Commissioners appointed under the Purchase of Land (Ireland) Act, 1885, shall thereupon have the same jurisdiction as if they had been named in the Land Law (Ireland) Act, 1881, members of the Land Commission, other than the Judicial Commissioners, notwithstanding that no order may have been made by the Lord Lieutenant under Section 17 of the Purchase of Land (Ireland) Act, 1885"—(Mr. Attorney General for Ireland.)

Question, "That those words be there inserted," put, and agreed to.

(6.48.) MR. SHAWLEFEVRE (Bradford, Central)

I have now to move an Amendment which I think will require a little explanation on my part in order to make it acceptable to the Government and to the House. This clause provides for an appeal to a single Commissioner in certain events, and is based on the supposition that a single Commissioner may occasionally fall into error, and that it is therefore desirable to give to persons who may be aggrieved by such mistakes the power of appealing to the other three Commissioners. As I understand it, as the clause is drawn it will give the light of appeal to the landlords and tenants who think themselves aggrieved by the decision of the Commissioner who refuses to concede an advance; but there is another case which is not covered, namely, that of the public, who are concerned in the advance not being too large. I refer, of course, to the Irish ratepayers, who would be responsible for the advance in the event of any defalcation on the part of those to whom it is made. I think that, in cases where advances are not sanctioned by the Commissioners, and there may be an appeal on the part of the landlord or tenant feeling himself aggrieved, it would be wise also to institute a mode of reviewing the decision of the Commissioners in cases where they may have sanctioned advances of too high an amount. As it is at present, there is no power of reviewing the decision of a single Commissioner in this particular case, and this becomes all the more important when we consider the change which is effected by this Bill in the position of the Commissioners. In future the Commissioners will not be under the control of the Irish Executive, or of the Treasury, or of this House, in the event of their making advances of an improper character. Their salaries are to be placed on the Consolidated Fund, and it will consequently be impossible to raise any question in this House as to the action of the Commissioners in these cases. It is, of course, quite possible to conceive that the Commissioners may make mistakes. As a rule, undoubtedly the Commissioners have so far made the advances they have been empowered to make in a proper manner, and with due consideration for the interests of the public; but, at the same time, cases have occurred in which they have been led into making advances such as were not within the policy of the Act, and in other cases they have made excessive advances. I could, if I did not wish to take up the time of the House unnecesarily, adduce many cases in illustration of my argument. Of course, the Commissioners are only human; and having a vast number of cases to deal with, it is not only possible but probable that they will occasionally fall into error. Therefore, what I say is that if you grant an appeal against their decision in the case of grievances felt by landlords and tenants, there ought to be some correlative method of reviewing the proceedings of the Commissioners in the event of the advances they make being too high, and consequently inflicting injustice upon the ratepayers. I think I understand from the gesture just used by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary that he will agree to my proposal. Therefore, I will not discuss it further.

Amendment proposed, At end of the Clause, to insert the words "Provided also that if it appear to the Lord Lieutenant that any advance under this Act by the decision of a single Commissioner is excessive, he may require the case to he reheard by three Commissioners in the manner provided by this Clause."—(Mr. Shaw Lefevre.)

(6.55.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR

I agree, to a great extent, with what has been stated by the right hon. Gentleman, but I think that his Amendment might be amended with advantage, and I certainly do not think it desirable to introduce words which will give the Lord Lieutenant a general power of interfering with the action of the Commissioners with regard to what he may conceive to be the making of improper advances. If the right hon. Gentleman will consent to the Amendment I would propose to his own Amendment, I shall be glad to accept his proposal. The Amendment would be this: that if it appear to the Lord Lieutenant that any advance made by a single Commissioner under this Act is inadequate, he may require the case to be re-heard by the three Commissioners. This would simply be in the nature of a guide to the Lord Lieutenant.


The only point of difference between myself and the right hon. Gentleman opposite is that he does not deal with one of the cases I have mentioned. If he will insert words enabling decisions to be reviewed on the ground that they are not within the policy of the Act, I shall be quite content.


I think the right hon. Gentleman will find that we are substantially in agreement, and what I propose to do, in the first instance, is to make a verbal Amendment by inserting after the second word "that" words "the security for," and then the Amendment would run thus— Provided also that if it should appear to the Lord Lieutenant that the security for any advance under this Act sanctioned by the decision of a single Commissioner is inadequate he may require the case to be re-heard by the three Commissioners in manner provided by this clause.


I accept that Amendment so far as the word "inadequate," but I propose to add after the word "inadequate" "and that the advance is improper."

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

I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not press these words, which would obviously entrust to the Lord Lieutenant powers that would very seriously interfere with the responsibilities and duties of the Commissioners.


Very well, Sir, I assent.

Amendment agreed to.

(7.0.) MR. KNOX

I hope the right hon. Gentleman will accept the Amendment I now have to propose, as it is conceived in a spirit of compromise.

Amendment proposed, in line 14 of the Clause, after the word "shall," to insert the words "after such fair rent appeals as aforesaid have been disposed."—(Mr. Knox.)

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


I am sure the hon. Member and the House will see that these words are perfectly inapplicable.


The only effect would be to prevent the Court sitting at all.


I think there is much to be said in support of the Amendment; but as I want to carry out the compromise as far as possible, I will ask leave to withdraw it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


I now have to move an Amendment, with the object of including in the body which will have to draw up the rules for the administration of the Act, one man who has been engaged in the working of a similar measure.

Amendment proposed, at the end of the Clause, to add the words "and one Commissioner appointed under 'The Purchase of Land (Ireland) Act, 1885.' "—(Mr. Mahony.)

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


I cannot accept the Amendment, as it might stop the whole making of rules. I think the presence of the Judicial Commissioner is quite sufficient.


I think the Amendment will tend to remove rather than to create a dead-lock. At present if the four Lay Commissioners are not of the same mind as the Judicial Commissioners no rules can be made at all.


The presence of the Judicial Commissioner obviously could not lead to a dead-lock. There must be someone to look to the legal character of the rules.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause, as amended, added.

(7.7.) MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)

I beg to move the new clause in my name. I hope that the Government will accept this. I move it for this reason: This Act is one of many experiments, and I think it desirable that a body which has such various functions should lay a statement of its proceedings before Parliament, in order that there may be discussion upon it.

New Clause— (Report of Congested Districts Board.) The Congested Districts Board shall once in every year after the year one thousand eight hundred and ninety-one make a Report to the Lord Lieutenant on their proceedings under this Act, and every, such Report shall be presented to Parliament,"—(Mr. Bryce,)

—brought up, and read the first and second time, and added.

*(7.9.) MR. PENROSE FITZGERALD (Cambridge)

I, too, have a new clause which I desire to see added to the Bill, and I hope to be able to persuade the Government and the House of its justice and transparent fairness. The object of the foregoing Amendment is to give full effect to the intentions of Parliament, as expressed in the 15th section of the Land Law (Ireland) Act, 1887. Under the powers given to them by that section, the Irish Land Commissioners, in cases where they have ordered the redemption of lay tithe rent-charge, have fixed the price at 20 years' purchase. They, at the same time, have recommended the Commissioners of Woods, Forests, and Land Revenues to reduce the price of Crown and quit rents in like cases, from 25 to 22½ years' purchase, and they have likewise recommended the Treasury to reduce the price of tithe rent-charge payable to the Irish Land Commission from 22½ 20 years' purchase.


Order, order! There is a preliminary objection. Has the hon. Gentleman obtained the consent of the Crown to his proposal with regard to Crown and quit rents. If he has not, the hon. Gentleman will not be in order in proposing to deal with them.


If that is an insuperable objection I will confine myself to the question of the tithe rent-charge, and cut out of the Amendment Crown and quit rents. Up to the present the Commissioners of Woods, Forests, and Land Revenues, and the Treasury have declined to sanction any reduction in the redemption price of tithe rent-charge payable to the Land Commission. The result is that the powers conferred upon the Land Commission by the section in question have been exercised to the detriment of the Irish landlord, or tithe owner, while the corresponding concession or abatement, which Parliament clearly intended him to receive, have hitherto been withheld through the refusal of the Commissioners of Woods, Forests, and Land Revenues, and of the Treasury, to give effect to the recommendations made to them on this subject by the Irish Land Commissioners. I need not trouble the House by going into the history of the tithe question in Ireland: it is too long and too involved. But I may point out that the tithe rent-charge is now paid to the Land Commission, and has nothing to do with the Church. It is paid as a tax on the land, and I only propose to alter the price at which it may be redeemed. As the matter now stands, if an Irish landlord is entitled to lay tithe rent-charge of £100 a year from a property about to be sold under the Land Purchase Acts, he may be compelled to accept £2,000 (20 years' purchase) for it, and if he is at the sam time liable as a tithepayer for £100 a year in eccleasiastical tithe rent-charge, payable to the Land Commission, he is compelled, on selling the property under the Land Purchase Acts, to pay £2,250 (22½ years' purchase) to redeem the same. It is needless to point out the manifest injustice and one sidedness of the provisions of the 15th section of the Act of 1887 being thus only partially carried into effect. The blame does not rest with the Irish Land Commissioners, or with the Irish Land Purchase Commissioners, as will be seen by the following extracts from their Reports submitted to Parliament for the years 1888 and 1889:— As regards the saleable value of tithe rent-charge, being of opinion that the redemption price of that charge should he reduced from 22½, years' purchase to 20 years' purchase, we were joined by our colleagues who administer the Purchase Department in making a recommendation to that effect to the Lords of the Treasury. The Land Commissioners also said— Under the 15th section of the Land Law Act, 1887, we were empowered in the cases of sales under the Land Law Acts to fix the redemption price of Crown and quit rents with the consent of the Commissioners of Woods, Forests, and Land Revenues, and of tithe rent-charge, payable to the Land Commission, with the consent of the Commissioners of the Treasury. Accordingly, in 1887, we recommended to the Commissioners of Woods and Forests that the price of Crown and quit rents should be reduced from 25 years' to 22 years' purchase, and we proposed to the Commissioners of the Treasury that the price of tithe rent-charge should he reduced from 22½ years, being the price named in the Church Act of 1869, to 20 years. The Commissioners of Woods and Forests have not acceded to our recommendations, and the redemption price of tithe rent-charge is still under the consideration of the Commissioners of the Treasury. In the cases in which we have ordered the redemption of lay tithe rent-charge we have fixed the price at 20 years. The Commissioners again state— The facilities afforded by the Land Law (Ireland) Act, 1887, for the apportionment and redemption of quit rent, tithe rent-charge, and head rents have enabled sales to be effected in almost all cases discharged of outgoings. While, however, the redemption prices of head rents are being fixed as provided by the 16th section of that Act, and the price of lay tithe rent-charge has been fixed by us at 20 years' purchase, we regret to have to report that no effect has as yet been given to the provisions of the 15th section of that Act, for the revision of the prices of either quit rents or of tithe rent-charge payable to the Land Commission, which have still to be redeemed at the respective rates of 25 years' and 22½ year' purchase. I think the request I have made on behalf of the Irish landlords is fair and just. All we ask is to be put on the same ground as those who receive lay tithes in Ireland. I beg to move the clause omitting the reference to Crown and quit-rents.

New Clause— (Redemption of tithe rent-charge.) Where, under the provisions of the 15th section of 'The Land Law (Ireland) Act, 1887,' the Land Commission have ordered the redemption of any tithe rent-charge, or any apportioned part thereof, the price of any such tithe rent-charge, or any apportioned part thereof, shall in no case exceed 20 years' purchase; and such tithe rent-charge, as soon as may be, shall be redeemed at the price so fixed by the Land Commission, anything in said section to the contrary notwithstanding,")—(Mr. Penrose Fitzgerald,)

—brought up, and read the first time.

Question proposed, "That the Clause be read a second time."

(7.18.) THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. GOSCHEN,) St. George's, Hanover Square

I regret that I am unable to accept the clause. Even if it had been in order to deal with the Crown and quit-rents, I could not have seen my way to advise the Government to accept it, and I think the reasons against it are absolutely conclusive. Redemption at 20 instead of 22½ years' purchase would mean a serious loss to the Irish Church Fund. It would not be fair that landlords coming under the operation of the Bill should be allowed to redeem at 20 years' purchase, while the general body of tithepayers will have to pay 22½ years' purchase. "I admit that the redemption of tithe rent-charge is a serious question, but We certainly could not deal with it in a partial manner as proposed by the hon. Member.

Motion and Clause, by leave, withdrawn.


I venture to hope that the clause which stands in my name will be more acceptable to the right hon. Gentleman. As I have had the advantage of gathering his views from the Amendments which appear on the Paper, I need not detain the House at any length. I am afraid that the references to Crown and quit rents will come under your ruling, Sir, in the last clause, and I shall therefore omit them. But I do think the question of head rents may well be dealt with in the manner proposed in the clause. I think they come within the same category as tithe rent-charge. And then with regard to Land Improvement Charges, I certainly cannot see why, where a money has been lent for the improvement of land, it may not be repaid in the coin we receive as the price of the land. I do not think it would necessarily involve a loss to the Exchequer. Again, I cannot help thinking that the instalments of the Succession Duty ought to be treated in the same way. I shall move the clause on the understanding that the references to Crown and quit rents are omitted, and I shall throw myself on the generosity of the right hon. Gentleman in regard to the other matters involved.

New Clause— (Application of Guaranteed Land Stock in sale proceedings, for payment or redemption of Crown rents and other charges.) In the course of any sale proceedings if it shall appear to the Land Commission that any Crown rent, quit rent, tithe rent-charge, land improvement charge, or other Government charge, including Probate Duty or any instalment or instalments of Succession Duty, arc-payable or redeemable out of the purchase money, and may be paid or redeemed without injury to, and without waiting to ascertain the priority of any other charge, the Land Commission may, on the application of the landlord, order the payment or redemption of said charge, by transferring to the proper party or department stock to the nominal amount payable in respect thereof, or pending payment may transfer to the separate account of such charge stock to the nominal amount thereof, and, until such payment or redemption, the interest on said stock shall be paid to the Department entitled to the annual payment in respect of such charge,"—(Colonel Waring,)

—brought up, and read the first time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause be now read a second time."

(7.25.) MR. GOSCHEN

Bearing in mind the concessions we have made to the tenants in this matter, I am prepared to accept the principle of this clause so far as the Sinking Fund will permit, and in relation to the question of tithe rent-charge, I do not think the Sinking Fund could possibly meet the case of Land Improvement Charges and Succession Duty payments. We are bound to see that there is no loss to that fund, but I will accept the principle as to head rents and tithe rent-charge.

Question put, and agreed to.

Clause read second time.

Amendments made.

Clause, as amended, added.


I am so anxious to facilitate the progress of this Bil at this stage that I do not propose to move the clause that stands in my name respecting advances by Land Commission of fine to landlord on purchasing holdings.


I beg to move the 1st clause which stands in the name of my hon. Friend (Mr. Kenny) giving power to a Land Judge to receive applications from occupying tenants.


The hon Gentleman cannot move a clause for another hon. Gentleman on the Report stage.


I beg to move the clause which stands in my name. I would remind the Chief Secretary that I put this clause down in consequence, I will not say of the promise but of the hope held out in the Committee stage that the Government would be able to accept such a clause. Its object is to give those towns which have an agricultural population, and in which land cannot be provided attached to the dwellings, the opportunity of making use of the funds provided for the purpose of labourers' dwellings under the Act.

New Clause— (Use of moneys provided by this Act for labourers' dwellings.) It shall be lawful for any local body to use moneys provided by this Act for labourers' dwellings, in acquiring and repairing existing dwellings, and providing new dwellings with or without a garden attached, subject to such rules and regulations as may be prescribed by the Lord Lieutenant, notwithstanding anything in the Labourers (Ireland) Acts, 18S3 to 1886, to the contrary,"—(Mr. Mahony,)

—brought up, and read the first time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause be now read a second time."

(7.35.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR

There are two clauses on the Paper dealing with this important subject. I agree partly with one clause, and partly with the other. I agree that it is a useful thing to enable labourers to be provided with cottage gardens, and I agree that there might be a power given to acquire and repair existing dwellings, but I do not think there ought to be a power to repair dwellings that are not acquired.


That is not my intention.


I think the better course would be to read the other clause a second time, and that then the provision proposed by the hon. Gentleman respecting the acquiring and repairing of existing dwellings should be introduced into it.

Motion and Clause, by leave, withdrawn.

New Clause— (On sale of settled land purchase-money may he applied to redemption of certain terminable charges.) When any land, being settled land within the meaning of 'The Settled Land Act, 1882,' is sold under the Land Law (Ireland) Acts and such land is subject to any instalment mortgage created under the provisions of the fifty-second section of 'The Irish Church Act, 1869,' or to any land improvement charge, or drainage charge, as defined by 'The Land Law Ireland Act, 1887,' or to any instalments or annuity payable in respect of the purchase of any tithe rent-charge under 'The Irish Church Act, 1869,'or' The Irish Church Act (1869) Amendment Act, 1872,' or to any annuity created under this Act, it shall be lawful for the trustees of such settled land, or other person to whom the purchase-money thereof is payable, to apply the same in the redemption of any such instalment mortgage, charge, instalments, or annuity, as aforesaid, or such part of same as may at the time of such sale be apportioned in respect of the land sold,"—(Mr. Smith-Barry,)

—brought up, and road the first and second time, and added.

(7.38.) MR. SEXTON

I beg to move the clause standing in my name. I should like to recapitulate what has happened upon this subject of the evicted tenants. My hon. Friend the Member for West Cavan (Mr. Knox) moved in Committee an Amendment prohibiting sales in a case where a tenant had been evicted from a holding for a certain number of years except to the evicted tenant. That was rejected. I then moved an Amendment to provide that no advance should be made to a landlord for the sale of a holding from which a tenant had been evicted if the Commission were satisfied that the landlord had unreasonably refused to submit the dispute to arbitration. That proposal was also rejected. My hon. Friend and myself then tried a third course.


I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman. The alternative view of this clause is that its operation is to be either by agreement or compulsory. If it is to be compulsory it is out of order.


The main object of the clause is to ask the House of Commons to sanction compensation to the outgoing tenant.


The words— Such agreement shall operate as a determination of the new tenancy created as aforesaid, and the Land Commission may by injunction put the former tenant into possession of the holding "— constitute a very compulsory enactment.


I had no idea that those words would be interpreted as meaning that the operation should take place without consent. I will leave out that sentence. I am very grateful to you, Sir, for the manner in which you have pointed out the defect in the clause, and I shall endeavour to put my case very briefly before the House. Failing, as I have said, to secure the principle of arbitration, I asked the House to grant a preference to the evicted tenant where he was willing to give as good a price as the outgoing tenant. That proposal was also rejected. The result, however, of the three discussions must have convinced the Committee that in regard to the evicted tenants there is a case which calls for attention. The hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell), after conferences of a very public character in this House, introduced a clause on the subject, and it is now provided that in the case of a tenant evicted during the last 12 years, where the farm is untenanted, the landlord may agree, without any formalities, to take him back and place him in possession of the holding. By the clause of the hon. Member for South Tyrone, the Government have dealt with the vast majority—perhaps four-fifths—of the cases of evicted tenants since the agrarian movement began, and the question now is, are the Government going to do anything to deal with the balance of those cases? The retention of the farms of evicted tenants by planters will operate acutely in the disturbance of social order, and will be a real menace to the public peace. The conflict will wage round the person of the new tenant as long as he remains. The Amendment is based on the supposition that the planter is anxious to get out of the farm he has occupied temporarily, and to go back to his former occupation. So long as those farms are in the hands of the new tenants, it is useless to expect that the evicted tenants will go back as a body to the vacant farms. So far all the tenants have acted together. The right hon. Gentleman knows that not only public policy but his own reputation is directly bound up in the working of this Bill, and no man has a greater interest than he in removing obstacles to its successful working. No such obstacle will be greater than the presence of the new tenants on the evicted farms. The only question remaining is the question of compensation. I think the new tenant ought to have compensation for disturbance in accordance with the principle of the Act of 1870. I do not propose, however, that the Imperial taxpayer should be in the least concerned in the matter. The general opinion of the representatives of Ireland is that part of the Irish Church surplus could not be turned to better account than in helping to re-introduce the evicted tenants to their farms. The fund amounts to £1,500,000 sterling. It is only the interest of the fund that is to be used as a guarantee. I think that public money could not be bettor spent than in closing up for ever this agrarian sore which has troubled Ireland so grievously during the last 12 months, and which, if it is not closed, will undoubtedly remain a source of trouble. I declare that if some evicted tenants are allowed to return to their farms and others are not, you will produce social disorder the most acute that can possibly be conceived, and I cannot look to the future and say to myself or to this House in regard to the districts where the evicted farms are situated there is any hope for order or respect for law. If these were the last words I should ever utter in the House of Commons, I would say to the right hon. Gentleman that he never had so fit an occasion of restoring these evicted tenants without any injury to any legal rights and at the expense of an Irish fund, and thereby securing not only the consolidation of social order in Ireland, but, in my opinion, a measure of success for his great policy of land purchase which he cannot otherwise achieve.

New Clause— (Compensation to tenants agreeing to quit their holdings.) When the tenancy in a holding has been determined since the first day of May in the year one thousand eight hundred and seventy-nine, and a person other than the former tenant is at the date of the passing of this Act in occupation of the holding under a contract of tenancy created since the determination of the said former tenancy, the landlord and the former tenant may, with the consent of the person so in occupation, notwithstanding such new tenancy, enter into an agreement under the Land Purchase Acts as amended by this Act for the sale of the holding to such former tenant, and such agreement shall have effect in all respects as if no new tenancy had been created. Where any such agreement is made the Land Commission may determine what compensation, if any, having regard to all the circumstances of the ease, should be awarded to the person in occupation of the holding under the new tenancy for the loss or inconvenience sustained by him in consequence of the determination of such tenancy, and shall pay to him the amount of compensation so ascertained, and any liability incurred by the Land Commission under this section shall be a charge on the Irish Church Temporalities Fund. In this section the word "landlord" includes the successors in title of a landlord, and the word "tenant" includes the personal representatives of a tenant,"—(Mr. Sexton,)

—brought up, and read the first time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause be now read a second time."

(7,53.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR

The hon. Gentleman has spoken on this subject with an earnestness which I am sure impressed everybody who heard him, but I think, nevertheless, I can show some reasons why the clause ought not to be accepted. The Amendment as submitted is a great improvement on previous suggestions, because the hon. Member has wisely excluded from it everything that savours of compulsion. As the clause stands neither the landlord nor the tenant is placed under duress in any way. From that point of view I have no objection to offer to the clause; and if I were considering the personal interests merely, it does not appear to me that there are any valid arguments to be urged against it. If the money which may be required to induce a tenant to leave his holding were forthcoming from any private source, I would not regret that it should be used for the purpose; but, by taking the interest of the Church surplus, we should be using money publicly allocated by Parliament to Irish purposes, with the guarantee of the British Exchequer, for the purpose of restoring to their holdings persons who, from whatever motives, have engaged in an agrarian conspiracy. It is not easy for me to argue my case to the best advantage without raising controversial heat on the merits or demerits of a question upon which I do not wish to enter. It is, however, quite impossible for me to assent to the employment of public funds for the purpose of restoring these Campaign tenants to their holdings. I quite agree the money is not to go into the pockets of the reinstated tenants, and so far my objection is mitigated. The broad fact remains that money allocated to general purposes would be devoted to restoring a particular class of evicted tenants to their holdings. With much regret, and fully recognising all the hon. Gentleman has done in proposing the Amendment in this shape to mitigate objections to his main purpose, I am, nevertheless, reluctantly compelled to come to the decision that, on the whole, it is one that the House ought not to entertain.

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

I am almost certain the hon. Member for West Belfast exaggerated the extent of the mischief he desires to correct. The Plan of Campaign Estates may be roughly stated to be the Luggacurren, the Coolgreaney, the Massereene, the O'Grady, and the Olphert. The O'Grady Estate has never been replanted; it is entirely worked by The O'Grady. On the Olphert Estate there is only one planter. The Luggacurren Estate has been sold to the tenants. The case of the hon. Member, therefore, narrows itself down to the Coolgreaney Estate and the estate of Lord Massereene. There are nine planters on the Massereene Estate and 20 or 25 on the Coolgreaney Estate. There is little probability of carrying a clause specially for the Plan of Campaign Estates, on which not more than 40 substituted tenants are to be dealt with. I quite agree that it would be a good thing if some arrangement could be come to, but I think that should not be by public money, but by private assistance; and as the amount is small, I do not see why that should not be done. When we leave the Plan of Campaign Estates and come to other estates upon which evicted farms are vacant, I ask this question: How can it be expected that a new tenant will take a vacant farm from which a previous tenant has been evicted if a clause like this is passed restricting the tenancy in the manner proposed?


The restriction will only be imposed by his own will.


Quite so; but I know Ireland very well, and I know that, though the Act applies no compulsion, there is a compulsion which can be applied outside the Act. That is what I fear, and that is what should be avoided. While I am anxious that this difficulty should be dealt with, I do not see how we can by this Bill apply public money for the purpose, and I do not think it is reasonable that we should do so.


I should very much regret that this Bill should pass without something being done to settle this question. Although the clause of the hon. Member for West Belfast may not be exactly what we all desire, yet I heard the Chief Secretary, with great regret, say that the Government were unable to accept it even if amended. I agree with the hon. Member for South Tyrone that the number of evicted tenants, that the number of farms in the occupation of what he calls substituted tenants, or as they are generally called planters, is very small. They are confined principally to the Massereene, the Coolgreaney, and the Luggacurren Estates.


I pointed out that on the Luggacurren Estate the holdings had been sold.


Yes; I know the hon. Member said so, but I was told very recently by a Land Commissioner that this is not the case—that the estate had not been sold under the Ashbourne Act. But whether these holdings are sold or not, it is agreed that the number of tenants in this condition are small, and it is extremely desirable that these tenants should be dealt with in some way under this Bill. From personal inquiry on the Coolgreaney Estate, and from information I have not to the same extent of the Massereene and Luggacurren Estates, I know that the great bulk of those in occupation are not substantial tenants, and that a very small sum would be sufficient to induce them to make way for the evicted tenants. I went over the Coolgreaney estate, and I found that the 15 or 20 tenants were not substantial men. One of them was a clerk in the Post Office, receiving a salary of about £2 a week, and he was in possession of 17 farms handed over to him by the landlord, and I take it that a very small sum would induce that gentleman to go and enable the evicted tenant to be replaced. But few as the tenants are this is a burning question in Ireland, and nobody can doubt it. If the Chief Secretary can see his way to a settlement of this difficult question, I believe he will do more for the success of the Bill than anything he has yet done. If the question is not settled it will give rise to further serious difficulty, and in the interest of law and order, and for the success of this measure, we should take this opportunity of effecting a settlement. Practically, the difficulty the Chief Secretary finds is the advancement of the money from the Church surplus. I understood the Chief Secretary to say he would be glad too see the question settled, and he thought it was a matter to which people might subscribe for the purpose of effecting a settlement, but surely he should take into account public opinion in Ireland, and surely public opinion is in favour of such a proposal as the hon. Member has made? If that is so, it is not such a strong measure to take this money from the Church surplus not to hand it over to the Plan of Campaign people, but to compensate the people who have come into possession of these farms, and who, in the interest of peace and a settlement of land difficulties, it is desirable to remove. I believe the proposal of the hon. Member is well worthy of consideration, and I should very much regret if this Bill should pass without some such settlement of this difficulty.

(8.8.) MR. S. SMITH (Flintshire)

Perhaps the Government can devise some alternative plan. We are all at one in the desire that this question should be settled, and we feel most keenly that if it remains unsettled it is the seed of a future crop of evils. It is but a small question, but it is a spark that may cause a great conflagration. Behold how great a fire a little spark kindleth. All over Ireland are these sparks, and depend upon it they will blaze into troubles again. We need not argue the general question of the wisdom or unwisdom of the Plan of Campaign; that is not the point before us. What we want to effect is a fair and just settlement of an agrarian difficulty we do not want to be troubled with again. So far the Bill has been conducted with such fairness, such a, real desire to settle all interests, and the Chief Secretary has shown such a conciliatory disposition, that I think he should want little encouragement to go a little further and complete the task. What has happened in regard to these estates let us consider byegones, let us forget these things, and wipe them so far as we can from our memories. I do hope the Government may yet see their way, in a modified sense, to accept the clause. Suppose we go back to 1885 instead of 1879?


No, no!


If the Government are not prepared to go so far back as 1879, then to 1885 would be something gained.


No; we do not want that.


Well, I am anxious to bring about a settlement—a reconciliation—and to make this Bill a message of peace to Ireland.


I think the Government would do well to follow the advice tendered by hon. Members on this side. The hon. Member for South Antrim (Mr. Macartney) does not support this proposal; but then his sympathies are not usually with the people in the south and west, where these troublous spots are more frequent. If the Amendment were accepted, there would be a great prospect—I do not say a certainty—of peace and quiet in Ireland from the termination of these disputes. A very sincere friend of ours has proposed to minimise the proposition by substituting 1885 for 1879, but that would be extremely awkward, leaving many fights still unsettled. The proposition of the hon. Member for West Belfast, it will be observed, interferes with no private right; the consent of the landlord is required; the consent of the old tenant is required; the consent of the occupier is required, so that the rights of the three parties interested are carefully preserved. If you take the 101 Irish Members, omitting the University Members, I am sure you will find that more than 85 are in favour of this use of the Irish Church Temporalities Fund—a purely Irish Fund. A very small amount of money would be required. For instance, on the Clanricarde property I believe the compensation would not amount to more than £3,000 or £4,000, and I think that £20,000 or £30,000 from the fund would make the Bill the means of settling land purchase in Ireland, putting an end to the remains of what has been in some ways a very discreditable agitation. I should be surprised at the refusal of this means of a settlement if I did not remember that at different epochs in the history of land tenure in Ireland the Conservative Party have behaved very foolishly. When the hon. Member for Bradford wanted to buy up estates on 20 or 30 years' purchase of the old rents, the Irish landlords did all they could to defeat that proposition. I need not say that most of them are sorry they did not close with the offer, but, of course, other times other customs, and that chance has gone. Is it not everybody's interest to put out the last sparks of the conflagration? We are getting to the end of this Parliament, and it is just at such a time that strong agitation may spring up again, and will be most difficult to quell. Here is the opportunity to prevent such a state of things, and I believe that in 12 months you would save the amount on public expenditure alone. (8.15.)


I do not think the right hon. Gentleman quite realises how small this proposal is in one way, and yet how large an amount of good it may accomplish in another. Admitting that there is a small number of cases which would come under the clause, then it follows that the demand upon the Irish Church Surplus Fund would be small. But small though the number of cases may be, the sore will be a serious one if nothing is done for this class of evicted tenants. What will be the feelings of these people if they find all the other evicted tenants re-settled in their holdings and they themselves excluded from the benefit of the Act? I venture to say their feelings will be very bitter, and I hold that if the Bill passes without this clause it will not contribute to peace in Ireland. All difficulty and danger would be avoided by providing this small sum of money to enable settlements to be arrived at voluntarily between the landlords and these evicted tenants. Under this clause, be it observed, there will be no compulsion whatever. The Government are refusing this clause simply because they do not approve of devoting a portion of the Church surplus to private cases, but the vast majority of the Irish Members, representing the great majority of the Irish people, are in favour of this money being used for this purpose. The passing of this clause would affect the whole country; therefore, I think the object for which the money is asked might fairly be described as a public purpose.

(8.54.) MR. O'HANLON (Cavan, E.)

I do not see how the Government can refuse this clause, or how they can regard the Bill as satisfactory without it. They must see that these people were originally evicted because the rack rents imposed by the landlords made them unable to discharge their liabilities, and that land grabbers were put in to take their places. Let the Government remember how these evicted tenants have suffered, having no property in the world save their holdings which have been handed over to land grabbers, and let them also remember that the land grabbers will not suffer by being brought out at a reasonable price. It cannot be supposed that the Land Commissioners would exercise the powers of this clause unfairly. They would be likely to be extremely careful owing to their position, and I, therefore, would appeal to the Chief Secretary most earnestly to make this concession, and endeavour to make the Bill workable in every part.

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

I desire to support this clause. Happily the long discussions we have had on this Land Bill are now drawing to a close. I am sure we are all glad of it, because the discussions have been long and exciting. The Bill may not be all we could wish; still, I believe that we on this side of the House are quite in accord with Members on the other side, and with Members on this side who are generally opposed to us, in our desire that the Irish people should derive the maximum benefit from the measure. Then how should we act in regard to the evicted tenants? Should we not adopt the measures most calculated to render them contented? We are not called upon to decide the question of right and wrong, and to give judgment upon all that has been done in the course of the land war that has been waged in Ireland. That is not a question which well be settled in our time. We may all have our opinions with regard to it, but we are all anxious that it should be brought to an end, and that all bitter feeling should be eliminated from the country. If it were our desire that confusion should continue in Ireland, we should not wish for anything better than that the present state of things should continue. We are anxious, however, that it should not continue, and that something should be done for the evicted tenants. What we are here for is to try by statesmanship to effect something of a compromise. We are not here to deal with questions as though we were engaged in an internecine war. We must give and take, and I think everyone must see that it is to the advantage of all that something should be done to put an end to the difficulties existing between the two parties affected by this clause. Various proposals have been made and have been rejected, and now we have come to one that is singularly moderate, and I fail to see how any of its provisions can be objected to. If the clause were passed no landlord need be injured by it. If he thought that by reinstating an evicted tenant he would lose dignity, he could refuse to allow the clause to be put in force on his estate. If the present tenant is well satisfied with his holding, he need not assent to its being occupied by another person. There is nothing mandatory in the clause, and the amount of money required would be very small indeed, especially when you consider the troubles it may avert. If this very moderate clause is rejected, I am greatly afraid the conviction will continue in Ireland that the Government do not desire a compromise under the circumstances. I most earnestly trust this new clause will be allowed to pass.

(9.9.) MR. MAC NEILL (Donegal, S.)

I cannot conceive on what ground the Government say "nay" to this clause. The very essence of compromise, and founded as it is on simple justice, I cannot understand why the Government object to it. The money which it is proposed to use is entirely Irish money, and it cannot be more wisely spent than for the reinstatement of the evicted tenants as intended by the clause, the practical operation of which would lead to a better feeling between landlord and tenant, and to a great increase of good feeling among all classes in Ireland. It is a step in the direction of arbitration, and if the Government wish to get rid of trouble and tumult, I do not see why they should oppose the proposition.

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


I cannot conceive anything more fitting than that funds which once belonged to the Church should be applied to the purposes of conciliation and bringing about peace. The clause, as I have said, goes in the direction of arbitration, and it is one of which nobody can take advantage; it cannot set class against class. I have seen these tenants evicted together with the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Macartney), who viewed them from one side and I from the other, and he knows, as I do, the misery and ruin of these poor families. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bradford has written and spoken to the effect that nine-tenths of the outrages in Ireland are the result of agrarian folly, and of evicted people being kept out of their homes. The state and misery which is brought about and perpetuated by the state of things which has so long existed as between landlord and tenant in Ireland has been described even by the Government officials as "devil's work." I ask the Government are they going to give an impetus to this horrible state of things, or will they not do something to put a stop to it. The scenes which I myself was witness to as late as last November, have made an indelible impression upon my mind, and I would appeal even to hon. Members upon the opposite side of the House to endeavour, in the interests of humanity, to force the hands of the Government so as to make them rise to a full sense of the responsibility which weighs upon them in this matter. The case is one which is certainly deserving of every effort that can be made in the direction I have indicated, and yet what do we find taking place in this House? Why, that whenever a proposal is made from this side that is likely to have a beneficial effect in the relations between landlord and tenant in Ireland, hon. Members on the other side do all they can to obstruct, and will come pouring in from the smoking-room and the reading-room whenever their votes are needed for that purpose. It is enough to create a feeling of utter despair in the minds of those who, while anxious to mitigate the evils which now exist in Ireland, nevertheless witness the heart-lessness by which the conduct of the Government is actuated. Why, I ask, do the Government refuse to accept the compromise which is now offered? Why will they make no attempt in the direction of conciliation? We offer to meet them more than halfway in these points, but our offer is contemptuously rejected. Having myself had of late some special experience of the feeling of English constituencies, I can only say that the rejection by the Government of this clause will be received by the English people with a feeling of exasperation and contempt for an Administration which can allow such atrocities as are constantly being enacted in Ireland to be perpetuated.

(9.20.) MR. P. J. POWER (Waterford, E.)

In supporting this clause I do not propose to enter at length into the merits of the question. Undoubtedly, it is one upon which the Chief Secretary naturally holds strong views, and, notwithstanding the successive Amendments which have been brought forward by my hon. Friend the Member for West Belfast in connection with this subject, the Government have felt compelled to stand out against his proposals. I think, however, that the proposition now before the House is a fair compromise, which any reasonable man ought to be able to accept. There is nothing compulsory in it, and I regard it as a clause which will work in the interests of all classes of the British community; because, in the first place, it will assist in making peace in Ireland—that peace which the Government profess so earnestly to desire—for you never can have peace in that country until this running sore is stopped. As it is, a large force of extra police is occupied in watching the evicted farms, and if this clause be carried the necessity for the employment of these men will be done away wite. The clause will also be in the interests of the landlords and the tenants, as it will offer increased facilities to both parties for bringing about arrangements which otherwise would not be made. There can be no doubt, so far as the evicted tenants are concerned, that in the majority of cases where there are caretakers on the evicted farms, these men are anxious to get out of their present position if they could do it without loss to themselves. My hon. Friend proposes to leave the arbitration on these cases to the Land Commission, and to establish a sliding scale, as it were, somewhat in the nature of that provided by the Act of 1870, in regard to compensation for disturbance. I venture to say, that in giving compensation under this proposal, no injustice need be apprehended, and that the sums demanded or given would be comparatively small, because the improvements which have been effected by the men whose interests are at stake have been comparatively insignificant. The compensation would not be so much for improvements on the farms as in the nature of allowances for disturbance. Under these circumstances I cannot understand why it is that the Government refuse to accept this very moderate proposal. I am sure that if the English Members could only visit Ireland, and judge for themselves of the merits and demerits of this question, they would at once arrive at the conclusion that this proposal is a most reasonable one. I trust, therefore, the Government may see their way to its acceptance.

(9.25.) MR. M'CARTAN (Down, S.)

I think that if the Government and hon. Members on the other side generally had been disposed to discuss this question as a pure matter of business, they would at once have consented to the very reasonable proposal of my hon. Friend. My hon. Friend has fully demonstrated that the proposition is a reasonable one, and ought to be accepted by the House. Moreover, the Chief Secretary does not complain of the proposal as being unfair. His complaint went mainly to the question of money, and a complete answer was given to that argument by the speech of the hon. Member for South Tyrone, which clearly showed that after all, the proposal, if accepted, would not require a large amount of money. I quite agree with the arguments which have been advanced for the purpose of showing that this proposal if accepted will restore peace and tranquillity to Ireland, and on the other hand I am convinced that unless it is accepted we shall have more trouble in that country. It involves no injustice either to the landlord or those in possession of the farm, and I cannot understand on what ground the Government refuse to accept it. I see that the First Lord of the Treasury is in his place, and I should be glad if he would rise and inform the House as to the reason why the Government refuse to accept this moderate proposal, a proposal which I say is necessary in the interests of peace, and in the interests of justice; a proposal that will remove the existing centres of disaffection, and bring about a better state of things throughout the country. In the interests of common justice, peace, and order, I advise the First Lord of the Treasury to accept the Motion. If it is not accepted we shall find the day will come when he and all of us will regret that this opportunity was neglected, because further agitation and discontent are sure to arise. I entreat the Government to reconsider their position, they have now the power to end debate and prevent any further acrimony being imported into these proceedings.

*(9.31.) MR. KNOX

I hope that a compromise will be arrived at which will enable us to proceed rapidly with the remainder of the Bill. Two arguments have been brought against the Amendment of my hon. Friend—the one by the Chief Secretary for Ireland, the other by the hon. Member for South Tyrone. That of the hon. Member for Tyrone was, I think, founded on a misapprehension. He argued that if the clause were carried it would be impossible to get anybody to take an evicted farm in the future. I suppose his argument proceeded on the ground that in case evictions take place in the future, public opinion in Ireland would force the man who might take an evicted farm to sign an agreement for sale under this clause. Now, let me call the attention of the hon. Member to the fact that the clause does not deal with any future cases. Observe the words are— When a tenancy has been determined since 1879, and a person other than the former tenant is at the date of the passing of this Act in occupation of the holding under a contract of tenancy created since the determination of the former tenancy.


I quite understand that, what I ment to say was this, that if Parliament takes such a step at the present time, no man in the future would have any security whatever.


But what is my hon. Friend's proposition? Actually he is so anxious for peace that he proposes to give out of a Public Fund a greater amount of compensation than the tenant would be entitled to by law if the landlord evicted him. My hon. Friend proposes to confer a greater benefit upon the planter than the planter under the present law could by any conceivable course of circumstances be entitled to. The planter, I need hardly remind the House, is a future tenant, he cannot get a fair rent fixed. However great the fall in agricultural produce, however ruinous the conditions of his tenure, he cannot move the Court to get a fair rent fixed. His interest in the holding is virtually nil, the market value of his interest in the holding almost absolutely nil. He can be evicted upon payment of very slight compensation. But my hon. Friend's proposal places the occupier in a much better position. The hon. Member for South Tyrone did not then, as I imagined, misapprehend the effect of the clause as applying only to tenants now in occupation. His argument is, that if now on this occasion the House of Commons, in order to give peace to Ireland, passes this clause, giving these exceptional advantages to the planter, then no landlord will ever be able to get it planter again. Well, I think no more far-fetched argument was ever brought before the House. The hon. Member must know that the pressure he speaks of will exist just as much in the case of these tenants, and indeed to a greater degree, than if the clause were passed. Popular opinion will act as compulsion to get the man to leave his holding, and popular compulsion will get him to leave his holding without any compensation; how, then, is it an injustice to ask him to leave with compensation and of his own free will? I venture to think that no more generous proposal has ever been made on this subject than this put forward by my hon. Friend, and I venture to think that if this proposal were carried, these gentlemen would go hack to the places whence they came a, great deal richer than ever they were before. Indeed, it might be an objection to my hon. Friend's proposal that it would encourage planting and the occupation of "blackleg" in the future. Then I turn to the argument of the Chief Secretary, who, I think, admitted there would be no injustice to landlord or tenant, but he contended it would not be a right thing to do in the interest of the State. But we propose that the money shall be paid from an Irish Fund, applicable solely to Irish, purposes, and we do not believe the sum required would be very large. The hon. Member for South Tyrone has shown that in the case of the planters on the Plan of Campaign Estates not very much money will be wanted. I am sure, if these gentlemen would show the accounts of their farming operations for the last few years, they would not be entitled to very large compensation for the profits they would lose by leaving their holdings, and even in other cases little would be wanted. There are a number of cases all over Ireland where land grabbers are in possession, but they hate their position, and feel the disadvantage —to put it mildly—of being at issue with the popular sentiment of the district. They would be only too glad to accept terms of compensation and give up possession. In my own Division there is a case which has been the occasion of no little difficulty. There is a man who holds five farms, and he is so hated that people have left chapel on finding him present; and though their spiritual superiors remonstrated with them, they walked five or six miles to attend Mass rather than worship with the man to whom they had such an antipathy. That is a case of ordinary land grabbing, and this proposal would, if carried, be the means of settling the difficulty. This man's only motive for grabbing the farms is avarice; he is a greedy sort of man, and not of particularly good character. The police, I believe, who have the duty of watching him, find it difficult to protect him from injury in drunken rows in which his habits involve him. He has no love for the land. He has a farm of his own, which there is no objection to his occupying, and by a very small expenditure you could satisfy this man's claim and bring peace to the district. The name of this grabber is known for miles around. If he goes to a fair 10 miles off four policemen have to protect him through the whole course of his buying and selling operations. In the interest of the Imperial Exchequer this provision should be inserted in the Bill. To the Imperial taxpayer it is more than equitable—it is generous. He will be relieved of this cost of police, and the burden of the relief will fall upon an Irish fund. The amount of money needed would not be much; but if it will influence the Chief Secretary, I suggest that he might accept the clause, limiting it to agreements made within six months of the passing of the Act. I would rather that the clause should pass as it is; but if the right hon. Gentleman will accept the compromise. I think we may then proceed rapidly with the remainder of the Bill. If we were certain that equitable arrangements would be come to on this question, we should have very much less objection to the absence of local control than we have at present. Our great fear is that from the absence of such control there will be sales effected of which, popular opinion will never approve.

*(9.40.) MR. RATHBONE

I hope the Government will re-consider this question. It is on all sides admitted that the desired object is one that should be accomplished. We have heard from the hon. Member for South Hunts (Mr. Smith-Barry), and he has shown by example the importance he, from the landlord's point of view, attaches to a reconciliation such as this proposal would effect. The Chief Secretary, I understand, has admitted the importance of the object sought to be attained by the Amendment, but he does not see his way to appropriate a public fund to the purpose, and it has been suggested that public subscription might effect the desired end. If I knew there was a possibility of that I should feel the greatest pleasure in giving my assistance, but I do not see how it can be arranged. I am told by those who have knowledge in these matters that the amount of money required would not be large; and when the Chief Secretary objects to the application of the Church Fund to the purpose, surely he has hardly considered that the bulk of that money was originally contributed for religious purposes; and can there be a purpose more religious, more holy, than removing this one obstacle which seems to stand in the way of reconciliation? Could this money be devoted to a better purpose?

MR. LEA (Londonderry, S.)

It is open to the hon. Gentleman to adopt the suggestion that he with other friends should provide the means for reinstating the former tenants. But the basis of the proposal in the clause is that the compensation should come from the Irish Church Fund, and who contributed to that fund? The glebe tenants contributed to it by the payment of their annual instalments regularly; and now hon. Gentlemen seek to make it available as a fund for the relief of tenants who would not pay their rents. On behalf of the glebe tenants of Ireland, I say the House has no right to take their money for the reinstatement of tenants evicted because they could and would not pay their rents.

(9.44.) MR. T. P. O'CONNOR

Contrast the tone of the two speeches we have just heard. The speech of the hon. Member for Carnarvon does credit to his heart and sense; the resentful, vindictive tone of the remarks of the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down is unworthy of him and the occasion. We are dealing with almost the last controversial point in the Bill, and I do most sincerely trust that we shall be able to settle this as satisfactorily as we were able to settle within the last few hours another controversial point in the Bill. Before I say more I think it is due on behalf of my colleagues and myself to congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for West Belfast on the manner in which he has fought this question of the evicted tenants. I am sure they will appreciate the assiduity and vigilance with which he has devoted himself to their cause; and whatever may be the fortune of this Amendment, no man can honestly say that my hon. Friend has not exhausted every possible means of bringing them relief. I hope, too, that I may be able to congratulate the Chief Secretary on the final result of this discussion. If he will accept this proposal he will do the very best day's work he has done for his Bill and his own reputation. Nor will I pass over this portion of the Bill without congratulating hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway on the assistance they have given us towards the settlement of another part of the Bill. I deplore extremely that their sense of duty has caused them to separate from us on what is, after all, a small remnant of the same question. I hope before the Debate ends they may see their way to change their attitude and join in our appeal to the Government to settle this vexed question. How narrow, after all, are the limits of this question. We have given, by arrangement between the Government and this side of the House, a mode of return for the tenants evicted from farms still unoccupied, and these form the vast majority of the evicted tenants. I do not suppose that more than I in every 10 or 15 farms throughout the country is in the occupation of a new tenant, and we are haggling over what is, whatever the proportion, a very small remnant. I do not wish to stir up controversy, and if I use the words "planter" and "land-grabber," I do so not in a passionate sense, but as the only means of designating the class. Everybody knows that wherever one of these farms is occupied by a grabber or planter there is a source of annoyance and disorder. Can the hon. Member for South Tyrone deny either of these two propositions—first, that purchase in Ireland will in nearly every case be by sale of the whole estate; secondly, that it will be next to impossible for any landlord to sell his entire estate in any form when he insists on including these planters or grabbers among the purchasers? Therefore, a score, or even half a dozen, of such occupiers will prevent the sale of an estate, and, indeed, other estates in the district. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary has objected that this proposal involves the application of a public fund to private concerns. In face of the history of land legislation for Ireland, that argument can have no force however it may apply in other cases. For good or for evil, the House has abandoned all the ordinary principles of finance in dealing with land legislation for Ireland. Whether for good or evil, I have not now to express an opinion. I only call attention to the fact. In 1882 the Arrears Act was passed. I cannot remember whether the right hon. Gentleman opposed it or not; but, as it was a measure of land reform, I daresay in those his unregenerate days he did; but I believe it was an Act not very much opposed in this House. That Act took money out of this same fund for the purpose of paying the debts due from one class (the tenants) to another class (the landlords). That was a phenomenal transaction such as would not be sanctioned in dealing with any other problem; but it was done on grounds of public policy—it was demanded in the interests of public order and peace between landlords and tenants. I say, therefore, that in the face of these facts in past history the argument of the Chief Secretary is deprived of any force whatever. Now, my hon. Friend has thrown out a suggestion to which I hope we may have an answer before the Debate closes. We ask that the claims of evicted tenants to occupied farms shall be limited to agreements signed within six months. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is in his place, and I pat this point to him in his vicarious position as guardian of the Public Purse. This is a question of money. These planters and land grabbers require public protection, and my hon. Friend (Mr. Knox) has given an instance where four policemen are engaged in protection duty on behalf of one man. It is an undesirable, cruel, unhappy, state of affairs. I am sorry it should have come into existence. I desire to see it pass out of existence as soon as possible. It may be estimated that each policeman costs the Exchequer £100 a year. Here, then, is an expenditure of £400 a year upon one land grabber—a capital sum of £10,000 and the expenditure of a few hundreds would relieve the Exchequer from this burden! There is not, then, any financial argument against this Amendment. I most earnestly press this proposal upon the attention of the Government, and I believe that if we could send a message to-night that the Government have conceded this Amendment, it would be received throughout Ireland with a feeling of joy and satisfaction, and would augur well for the success of land purchase, opening wide the gate to a settlement of agrarian difficulties.

*(9.56.) MR. W. H. SMITH

I enter fully into the spirit in which the hon. Gentleman has just spoken. If it were possible for the Government to do anything more to open the gate wide to a return of that perfect peace we all desire to see prevail in Ireland we would most cordially accept the suggestion. But we do feel that the proposal made to us is one which it is impossible for us to accept. I say so with the greatest possible regret, because the Government desire to see any evil which may now remain in Ireland entirely removed, but the principles involved in the suggestion of the hon. Member for West Belfast are such that the Government are utterly unable to accept them. The hon. Member for Carnarvon has made reference to a suggestion which is perfectly open to himself and his friends to adopt, namely, to make private arrangements that will bring about the desired result; but we cannot make use of a public fund, of which we are the Trustees, for the purposes for which the hon. Member for West Belfast desires it to be used.


It was done in 1882.


Yes; it was done in 1882 I know, but that does not appear to us to justify the acceptance of this proposal now. We would be only too glad to see harmony restored throughout Ireland, but we cannot, in the circumstances in which we are placed, consent to appropriate public money for the purpose of compensating tenants who have a perfect right to remain where they are in order that others may take their places. We regret that the former tenants should be placed in the position they now occupy. It is a misfortune, however, I think it is for their friends to relieve them from. We cannot charge ourselves with the responsibility of doing so; and, least of all, can we charge ourselves with the serious responsibility of using a public fund, for which we are Trustees to use it to the best advantage, for any such purpose.

(10.0.) SIR G. TREVELYAN (Glasgow, Bridgeton)

I deeply regret that the right hon. Gentleman has taken the course he has thought it his duty to adopt. I speak from the point of view of a Member who has all along deeply regretted the introduction of this Bill, although I pay the warmest tribute to the motives which have induced Members on both sides to support it. But when once the country has made an immense sacrifice for the purpose of establishing peace and tranquillity in Ireland, it surely is sticking at a very small matter, when we have put out of sight very great and received principles, if we abstain from spending £5,000 or £6,000—I do not suppose it will be very much more—or even £50,000 or £60,000 for the purpose of restoring tranquillity to Ireland. For my own part, I would far more willingly make large sacrifices for the purpose of doing away with the relics of the miserable contest which has been proceeding for the last 12 years than I would make sacrifices for the purpose of assisting the large tenants in the prosperous parts of Ireland to purchase their holdings. The right hon. Gentleman has made reflections on the tenants who have been evicted. I cannot understand that the right hon. Gentleman should feel that these gentlemen have not acted in accordance with what he and many of us think right. He says it is for them and their friends to find their way out of the present difficulty. Well, that sounds very well; but has the Government applied that principle to this question throughout? I am most thankful to say it has done no such thing. These same tenants, if no other tenants have been superinduced into their holdings, are allowed to become purchasers not by their own means, but by means of the money advanced by the Treasury of this country. I trust earnestly that the clause inserted with the consent of the Government will be taken advantage of, and that the class of tenants who have allowed themselves to be evicted, but whose farms have not been occupied, will become absolute owners of their land in time, and become so not by the bounty of men like my hon. Friend the Member for Carnarvonshire (Mr. Rathbone), but by means of money lent to them on easy terms by the British Treasury. In principle, what is the difference between them and the few tenants whose farms have been occupied for four or five years? I defy the Government to find any difference whatever between the two cases. If public money is to be used, one class of tenants have as much right to it, and have as little right to be debarred by their own shortcomings from enjoying it, as the others. The right hon. Gentleman says that we can give no instances of public money being applied to these purposes. The Arrears Act of 1882 is a clear case in which the funds of the Church of Ireland were applied to a like purpose; not, indeed, for the purpose of restoring to their holdings tenants who had lost them by not paying their rents, but for preventing tenants from being evicted. In this case we ask not that £2,000,000, but that a sum which, in my opinion, cannot exceed £50,000, should be devoted to a purpose which, if Ireland had a Parliament of her own, would be the first purpose to which the remainder of the Church surplus would be put, for the purpose of doing away with the relics of this miserable and unfortunate quarrel. It is most strange that the Government should refuse to accept this Amendment considering what they have called upon Parliament to do for the sake of restoring tranquillity to Ireland. It is inconceivable they should stop now, because we are in a most fortunate position in Ireland at the present time. I do not give the reasons for it—I am willing that everybody should give their own reasons—but Ireland is undoubtedly settling down. It has been steadily settling down, in my opinion, since the great revolutionary excitement of 1881. Crime has been steadily diminishing, and will never revive unless those centres of crime which now only exist on a few estates are allowed to remain. There is no crime there now, but every one who knows Ireland is aware that the time may come, if not now, 10 years hence, 15 years hence, when, if you leave the people in their present condition, you will have the greatest danger of crime reviving. I do not agree with this Bill at all. I am sorry it has been introduced; but I think it is a noble Bill in its inception, and the right hon. Gentleman may worthily pride himself upon it. But I do not believe the Chief Secretary's work will be complete, I do not believe he will have shown the noblest qualities a statesman can show, unless he accepts this Amendment, which has hitherto not been opposed by any argument which can justify the refusal of so very great a boon to Ireland and to the United Kingdom.

(10.10.) MR. COMMITS (Roscommon, S.)

I am at a loss to understand on what ground this Amendment is opposed. It is said that it would mean the application of public funds to a private object. Surely the promotion of the public peace and the restoration of order cannot be described as a private object. Things are done every day with public money without having such a great object in view. Men are removed from the premises they inhabit to make room for a railway, or to bring about the widening of streets. Ample compensation is to be given to the squatters who are removed, if compensation is necessary. If this Amendment is not adopted, what chance is there of benefit resulting from this Act? Some £33,000,000 of British credit is to be devoted to the purpose of restoring peace in Ireland, and now at the last moment, when only a few thousands are required, are we to lose the ship for a ha'porth of tar, as the good old proverb says? It will be cheaper to provide the money that will be spent under the Amendment than to pay the cost of the police that will be required to defend the planters and preserve order. As to the Church Fund being allocated, Parliament is practically a trustee for its use, and can apply it to any purpose beneficial to Ireland. The question involved is the peace of Ireland, and I trust the Chief Secretary will agree to strengthen his measure by making this small concession.


With the permission of the House, may I ask whether it would remove the Chief Secretary's objection to the clause if the words "the maximum amount to be applied shall not be more than £50,000" were inserted?


The hon. Gentleman will gather, I am sure, from my former speech, that I am not at all influenced by the question of amount. If it were merely a question of money, I should be glad to meet the hon. Member, but it appears to me that a principle is involved, and to the adoption of that principle, I am afraid, with, great regret, it would be impossible for the Government to assent.

(10.20.) The House divided:—Ayes 87; Noes 129.—(Div. List, No. 285.)

New Clause— (Application of Guarantee Fund under Labourers (Ireland) Acts.) When under the provisions of Section 2 of this Act the whole or any portion of the county percentage is applied towards the cost of providing labourers' cottages in any county, so much of the sixth section of 'The Labourers (Ireland) Act, 1883,' as enacts that an improvement scheme shall provide for a plot or garden not exceeding half a statute acre being allotted to each dwelling shall not apply."—(Mr. Macartney.)

—brought up, and read the first and second time, amended, and added.

*(10.37.) MR. SHAW LEFEVRE

The clause I have now to move is one of considerable importance, namely, for the purpose of limiting the amount of an advance to any one purchaser to the sum of £2,000. If Clause 7, introduced by the Chief Sectretary, dividing the proportion of advances above and below £50 had remained as originally moved, I should not have thought it necessary to move this clause, but the qualification introduced later by the Chief Secretary, and especially the qualification enabling the Land Purchase Commissioners to dispense with that proportion in the case of the sale of the whole of an estate, renders that clause almost nugatory. The only value of the clause is that it lays down a principle which may be of great value hereafter in the preference given to advances for the purchase of small rather than large holdings. The clause I now move is, in fact, identic with the clause I moved in 1885, and again in the discussion of the second Ashbourne Act in 1888. In 1885 I moved a clause proposing to restrict advances to £2,000, and the Government then accepted the limitation. At a later stage of the Bill, however, it was raised to £3,000, and the limitation was afterwards altogether removed "in another place," In 1888 I moved the clause again, and after a long debate the Chief Secretary agreed to insert a limit of £3,000, with power given to the Land Commission to raise the limit to £5,000, for the purpose of effecting the sale of a whole estate. I was supported on that occasion by all the Irish Members on this side below the Gangway, and especially by the hon. Member for West Belfast, who told the House that he considered that the limit of £3,000 was rather largo, and that £2,000 would be amply sufficient. The experience we have had since 1888 shows that my limit was a judicious one, and that the qualification introduced on that occasion has not practically had any effect; in limiting advances in respect of holdings above £2,000, as compared with the original Act of 1885, for it appears that in 1888, according to statements made in the House during the discussion of the second Ashbourne Act, advances in respect to holdings above £2,000 in value at that time, amounted to no less than 200, involving an aggregate amount in advances of £860,000 out of a total of £3,500,000. The latest Returns before the House show that there has been advanced a total sum of £6,200,000, and the advances over £2,000 have been 420 in number, involving anamonnt of £1,800,000, showing that the proportion of advances in respect of large holdings has rather increased since 1888, when there were 114 cases of advances between £3,000 and £5,000. Now, I ask the House whether any public policy is involved in advances of this magnitude, whether there is any object of public policy to be served in advancing such largo sums to convert into owners tenants who are not peasant proprietors in any sense of the term, but are large farmers like the large farmers in England, except that they have received the enormous advantage of having their rents reduced under the Land Act of 1881? A large proportion of these hold large grazing farms, and another large proportion have been made into tenants on land consisting originally of demesne land, and made into farms to enable proprietors to take the advantage of advances under the Ashbourne Act. These are cases that do not come with in the purpose of the Land Purchase Act, and the policy with which land purchase was initiated. I have on various occasions pointed out many cases of a questionable character. Among others, I quoted the case in which the holder of a rent-charge of £120 a year was allowed to purchase that rent-charge from the owner by an advance of £3,000, and thus his rent-charge was converted into a temporary annuity of £94. In an earlier discussion I quoted several cases to show the character of the transactions that have taken place under these large advances. I quoted one case especially where a landlord was able to cut up his demesne land into five farms, which he let to one tenant, and that tenant was able to obtain an advance of £2,000 on each, and turn himself into a large proprietor. There are other cases I might bring under notice. There is the case of a gentleman who created a tenancy on a farm by letting it to another farmer at £120 a year, and then made an application to purchase through the Land Commission. The Commissioners advanced the money at the rate of 20 years' purchase, or an amount of £2,400, and three months afterwards the temporary purchaser reconveyed the land to the former owner, who was thus enabled to get a loan on his own land at an easy rate, repayable by instalments. There are many such cases, and they nearly always arise out of these large advances. It appears to me, therefore, desirable that some limitation should be placed on the amount of the advances granted under the Bill. Here is another case, that of a man who bought a tenant's interest in a farm for £800, the rent of which farm was £120. He then went to the Land Commission and was enabled to convert the tenancy into ownership at 19 years' purchase, receiving an advance of £2,300. The rent of the farm was, therefore, reduced to a temporary yearly charge of £92. Then he sold his interest in the farm for £1,500, and pocketted, therefore, not only the £2,300 received from the Land Commission, but the £700 difference between which he bought and sold the tenant's interest for. In another case a speculator bought two farms, the rent of the one being £100 and of the other £110, giving for the tenants' interest £800 and £900. Then, without going into possession, he got the landlord to effect a sale through the Land Commission for £2,000 in the one case, and £2,400 in the other. The speculator then sold the two farms subject to the payment of the instalments for £1,500 and £1,700, pocketting the difference without going into occupation at all. These cases are continually occurring in Ireland. I do not for a moment blame the Land Commission for the transactions, because I do not think they know the facts, or have the means of knowing, nor am I quite sure they could prevent the transactions, but I do say that the want of a limit works almost entirely in the interest of such transactions, and it is to the interest of the House that some limit should be imposed. There is no public policy involved in converting these large tenants into owners. The tenant in Ireland who pays £120 a year in rent, representing a capital sum of £2,000, is equal in status to an English farmer who pays £200. We have no right to advance large sums of money for the purpose of converting these large farmers into proprietors; if this is done, it will be certain to create jealousy in the minds of English farmers. The true policy is to limit the advance as I propose to £2,000. I do not draw an absolute line and say that there shall be no advance on a farm of over £2,000 valuation, but that the particular advance shall be limited to £2,000; the tenant may find the difference out of his own pocket or by borrowing elsewhere. The effect of this Amendment would be to save a large sum of money which could he employed for converting small tenants into owners. I believe I am right in saying that the number of holdings in Ireland above £120 is about 32,000 out of a total number of 550,000 holdings, but though the number is small the acreage and rental is very large. I believe the aggregate rental of these 32,000 holdings amounts to £3,800,000, more than a third of the total rental of Ireland. I move the first paragraph of the clause now, leaving the second paragraph relating to demesne lands to be dealt with as a separate clause, and I hope I shall receive some support from the other side of the House.

New Clause— (Limit of advances to two thousand pounds.) The amount advanced to any one purchaser under this Act, or under the Land Purchase Acts of 1885 and 1887, in respect of any agreement for purchase made after the passing of this Act, shall not exceed the sum of two thousand pounds,"—(Mr. Shaw Lefevre,)

—brought up, and read the first time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause be now read a second time."

(10.55.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR

I should have had considerable sympathy with the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman if it had not been for the Amendment which I moved, and which has been accepted. I do not think it advisable to impose a further limit. The right hon. Gentleman has given cases of what he considers to have been abuse of the intentions of Parliament in regard to land purchase, but I think that under my clause these cases will be precluded. I hope, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman will not press his Amendment.


I recognise the force of the illustration the right hon. Gentleman has given in support of the Amendment, and it is true that in a speech in a former Debate, though not by Amendment, I suggested that the limit of £5,000 should be reduced. By the clause to which the Chief Secretary has referred, these large holdings are restricted, for though they bear a large proportion to the total rent of Ireland, they are to receive only 1–15th of the stock, £2,000,000 from the £30,000,000, the Lord Lieutenant very properly having the power to remove the restriction when it is desirable to do so to effect the sale of the whole of an estate. The Lord Lieutenant has the farther power to remove the limitation when it appears that the smaller tenants do not desire to avail themselves of their proportion. I consider that there are limitations enough in the Bill to secure the interest of the small tenants, and I do not think that it would be wise to impose another restriction which could not be relaxed except by Parliament. There are many estates where, with a considerable number of small holdings, there are holdings of over £120 rent, and the adoption of this Amendment would have the effect of preventing the sale of these estates, while it would enhance the price of the smaller holdings, because the landlord would have to separate and break up his estate. Therefore, much as I desire to see a large number of small holders, I think the restrictions already in the Bill are sufficient to accomplish that result. I thank the right hon. Gentleman for the spirit in which he has moved the clause, but, under all the circumstances of the case, I hope he will not press it.

(11.1.) MR. MACARTNEY (Antrim, S.)

If there is any substance in the instances brought forward by the right hon. Gentleman, his speech amounts to a charge of the gravest character against the Purchase Commissioners. The right hon. Gentleman has practically told the House that in the proceedings of the Purchase Commissioners there has frequently occurred in Ireland a misapplication of the funds under the Ashbourne Acts. Either the right hon. Gentleman is grossly incorrect in his facts, or the Purchase Commissioners are unworthy to retain their position for a moment longer. If the right hon. Gentleman believes in the instances he has quoted, it is his duty to invite the House to remove the Purchase Commissioners from their position.


I think it desirable that the right hon. Gentleman should withdraw his Amendment. The Bill is drawn chiefly in the interests of the small tenants. I have always advocated the interests of the smallest tenants, but I am cognisant of the fact that there are many excellent men amongst the Irish landowners, and I do not think we should shut out any section of them from this Bill. I think the proprietors of demesne lands should remain in the position in which they are at present.


My right hon. Friend (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) made no attack whatever on the Purchase Commissioners, who have carried out their instructions laid down in the Act of Parliament, nor does his proposal involve any such attack. Under the Act of Parliament the Commissioners were enabled to make advances up to £3,000, and that they have done. The right hon. Gentleman only seeks to alter the law so as to require them to act differently.

(11.5.) SIR G. CAMPBELL&c.) (Kirkcaldy,

[Cries of "Divide!" and "Agreed!"]: I do desire to make an attack on the Purchase Commissioners. I asked a question of the Chief Secretary the other day as to a letter which appeared prominently in the Times signed "Agricola." In that letter some startling facts were given, and they have not been since denied, the Chief Secretary only stating that the events related must have happened before a certain date. One fact narrated in that letter was that a landowner sold to his son two farms for £3,000 apiece with the consent of the Purchase Commissioners, and instances of similar transactions were referred to. Such dealings as were disclosed in that letter are contrary to the spirit of the Land Act. Whoever the Land Commissioners are who sanctioned such proceedings, I say that they abused not only the Act, but the power of giving away the money of the British taxpayer. The object of these Acts is to create a peasant proprietary, and it was never intended that the money of the British taxpayer should be devoted to a hocus-pocus transaction between one landlord family and another. I heartily support the Amendment of my right hon. Friend.

(11.8.) MR. H. H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)

I sympathise with the motive of my right hon. Friend in moving this clause. The right hon. Gentleman must see, however, that the judgment of the House is against it, and that there is a wish that the discussion should not proceed further. I would suggest to my right hon. Friend that the clause should not be further pressed.


I will not press the clause, but I must disclaim having made any attack on the Land Commissioners. I expressly said that I did not hold the Commissioners to blame for what had occurred, and that I held the evils of which I complained to have taken place in consequence of the Act as it stands.

Motion and Clause, by leave, withdrawn.


I now move an Amendment providing that No advance shall be made under this Act or under the Land Purchase Acts of 1885 and 1887 in respect of any holding which at the time of the passing of 'The Land Purchase Act, 1885,' was part of the demesne lands of the owner thereof. This is another subject, and I do not think the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary will object to it. It is in respect of lands which at the time of the passing of the Act of 1885 were part of the demesne lands of the landlord that abuses have frequently taken place. Landlords have, in many eases granted tenancies out of demesne lands for the express purpose of obtaining advances. I am told that in these cases not only have holdings been created out of demesne lands, but that advertisements have actually been inserted in newspapers for purchasers for such holdings, and offering premiums to purchasers. I consider that such holdings do not come within the policy of the Purchase Acts of 1885 and 1887. It appears to me to be a great abuse that advantage should be taken of these Acts to bring about the sale of such holdings.

New Clause— (No advance shall he made in respect of certain demesne lands.) No advance shall be made under this Act or under the Land Purchase Acts of 1885 and 1887 in respect of any holding which, at the time of the passing of 'The Land Purchase Act 1885,' was part of the demesne lands of the owner thereof,—(Mr. Shaw Lefevre,)

—brought up, and read the first time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause be now read a second time."

(11.11.) MR. MADDEN

The Government cannot accept the Amendment. I would call attention to what its practical effect would be. It would prevent advances being made in respect of any agricultural holdings which in 1885 happened to form part of a demesne. When a demesne has been divided into ordinary agricultural holdings, why in the world should the tenants of such holdings be excluded from the benefits of the measure?


The point raised by the right hon. and learned Gentleman might be very well met by inserting the words "which within five years of the date of the application was part," &c. Surely the House would not wish to pledge Imperial credit for such purchases as the right hon. Gentleman referred to in moving the clause.


I hope the Amendment will be withdrawn. I have met many very deserving tenants who are settled on holdings which have formed part of demesnes; and then it must be borne in mind that in a large number of cases not even a lawyer can say whether the lands have been demesne lands or not. The fewer limitations we introduce into the Bill the better it will be. It is already overloaded with restrictions.

(11.15.) MR. SEXTON

There is some difficulty in dealing with this subject. I admit that since 1885 there have been cases involving hardship on the occupying tenant. If a man has a holding and is a legitimate tenant, it does not matter whether the land was formerly a part of a demesne or not; that man has as good a right to assist ance from the State as any other tenant. On the other hand I think there is some solid ground on which the right hon. Gentleman stands. Large amounts of stock may get into the possession of landowners in respect of colourable sales effected to sons and nephews, the stock going into the pockets of the landowner, and the land remaining practically where it was. I think the operation of the Act should be confined to bonâ fide agricultural tenants, in order to prevent people masquerading as tenants in the interests of the landowners.


Does not the Land. Commission now deal with colourable tenancies? I would ask whether the Land Commission in ordinary course have the power to refuse advances in the cases contemplated?


The Commissioners would be bound to refuse applications made by men who are not bond fide tenants, and to treat colourable tenancies as frauds on the Act of Parliament.


[Cries of "Oh!"and"Divide!"]: I am very glad, indeed, to hear the right hon. Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland say that colourable tenancies of the kind referred to would be an abuse of the Act. But what I want to know is, what security have we that the Acts will not be abused in the future as they have been in the past—for we know that farms have been sold to sons and nephews in order to secure the purchase money from the State? It seems to me that the best way to prevent abuses would be to limit the size of the farms to which the measure should apply. There is always a danger of the creation of colourable tenancies on large farms.


After the statement of the learned Attorney General for Ireland that these sales would be an abuse of the Act, and would not be allowed, I do not think it necessary to press the clause. I have no doubt that notice will be taken of the right hon. Gentleman's statement, though we must not lose sight of the fact that when the Bill passes this House we shall lose all control over it.

Motion and Clause, by leave, withdrawn.


The clause I now beg to move is a necessary complement to the clause moved earlier in the evening, which the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary agreed to, namely, to give a right of appeal or a re-hearing of a case when, in the opinion of the Lord Lieutenant, the advance has been made an insufficient security. It must be obvious that unless such a clause as this is agreed to no one will have an opportunity of knowing what takes place, and that therefore there can be no representation made to the Lord Lieutenant pointing out that advances have been made on insufficient security. The whole proceedings of the Land Commission are in the nature of private proceedings, and there is to be no publication of the fact of an advance having been made, so that there is no probability of a representation being made to the Lord Lieutenant in favour of a rehearing of the case. What I propose is that the Commissioners should be bound to publish their advances in such manner as the Lord Lieutenant shall direct, and that no advance shall be actually made until six weeks after such publication. I am told that a much longer interval usually elapses between the decision and the advance, but I think there should be some statutory provision of this kind so as to give persons who object to a decision of the Commissioners the opportunity of bringing their objection under the notice of the Lord Lieutenant.

New Clause— (Decisions as to advances to be published.) The Commissioners shall make public their decisions as to advances under this Act, and under the Land Purchase Acts of 1885 and 1888, in such manner as the Lord Lieutenant shall by rules direct, and no actual advance of money shall be made in respect of any decision by a single Commissioner until six weeks after the date of such publication,"—(Mr. Shaw Lefevre,)

—brought up, and read the first time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause be now read a second time."


I do not think this clause is necessary. With regard to the six weeks, the right hon. Gentleman has told us perfectly truly that under no conceivable circumstances could the interval be shorter than six weeks. With regard to the first part of the clause, I would point out that the proper method of setting the Lord Lieutenant in motion is not to make him the recipient of all the stray gossip about the sales that take place. If it is necessary to take action, the Commission will inform the Lord Lieutenant of the facts.

(11.25.) SIR G. CAMPBELL

I am very much disappointed at the refusal of the Chief Secretary to accept this very reasonable clause. We do not want our money to be muddled away in secret, and publicity is, after all, the best check you can have. I would point out that a single Commissioner can decide in favour of an advance under the Act. If he refuses an application there is an appeal; but if he grants it there is no appeal. The Commissioners will be independent of the Government and the Lord Lieutenant, so that the only check upon them will be public opinion, to which the Chief Secretary refuses to give an opportunity of being heard.


The objection of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary is good as against the second part of the clause; but with regard to the first part, it appears to me that it is not for the information of the Lord Lieutenant that the provision is required. If a single Commissioner sanctions a sale at too high a price, the Lord Lieutenant, though he has power to order a re-hearing, may not have the requisite knowledge. Unless Local Authorities and others know what is going on they will not be able to inform the Lord Lieutenant, and, therefore, his power may be rendered nugatory. If the Amendment, which has been accepted at the instance of my hon. Friend, is to be rendered effectual, the Lord Lieutenant must not only have power to order a re-hearing, but the decisions of the Commissioners must be published.


I think there is something in what the hon. Gentleman says, and I will accept the clause down to the word "direct."

Question put, and agreed to.

Clause read a second time.


I now move the omission of all the words after "direct," in line 3.

Amendment proposed, in line 3 of the Clause, to leave out all the words after the word "direct."

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


If the right hon. Gentleman is right in saying that under no conceivable circumstances can an advance be made within six weeks, the latter part of the clause is unnecessary. I made inquiry on that point from one of the Land Commissioners who was sitting in the Strangers' Gallery this afternoon, and he told me that, although it was very unusual indeed that an advance should be made within six weeks, it was possible that it should be.

(11.29.) SIR G. CAMPBELL

If the decisions are to be published as soon as they are given, I think the second half of the clause is unnecessary.

Question put, and negatived.

Clause, as amended, added to the Bill.

Amendments made to the Bill.

*MR. KEAY (Elgin and Nairn)

I beg-to move what is a drafting Amendment, namely, in Clause 1, page 2, lines 13 and 14, to leave out "nominal amount of the capital," and insert "amount of the advance." The intention of the Government is that the Sinking Fund payments referred to in Sub-section 2 of Clause 2 should be payable on the amount of the advance. Clause 2 states that the Land Commission shall establish a land purchase account, and then Subsection 2, Sub-head A, declares what the Sinking Fund payments should be, namely, that they are to be 1 per cent. on the amount of each advance. I do not see why the expression should be changed to a less declaratory one in the sub-section now before the House. It must be remembered that the "nominal amount of the capital" is what is stated here. There is no definition in the Bill of what the word "capital" means, and it is, therefore, that I move to substitute the words "amount of the advance" as consistent with the words used in other parts of the Bill. The wording of the present Bill is much inferior to the wording of the Bill of last year in this respect, and the deficiency had better be supplied by the Government accepting my Amendment.

Amendment proposed, in page 2, lines 13 and 14, to leave out the words" nominal amount of the capital," and insert the words "amount of the advance,"—(Mr. Keay,)—instead thereof.

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


I cannot accept the Amendment of the hon. Member, which is not a mere drafting Amendment.

Question put, and agreed to.


I rise to move the Amendment which stands in my name, namely, Clause 1, page 2, line 18, to leave out from the word "as" to the word "fund," in line 19, inclusive. This Amendment, if accepted, will prevent the general assets of the taxpayers of this country from being pledged for the purposes of the Irish landlords. I shall endeavour to indicate to the House the grounds on which I think the words I propose to omit throw enormous responsibility on the Consolidated Fund. In the first place, there is a special risk thrown on the British taxpayer, the great disadvantage of which is shown by the last Report of the Royal Commission on the Ashbourne Act in 1887. In that Report the Commissioners say they found, on investigation, as to the extent to which the tenants were able to meet the judicial rents fixed on the 15 years' limit, that it was impossible for the tenants to maintain the fixed annual payment for that term. They consequently recommended that the payments should be reduced from being revisable only every 15 years to being revisable every five years. Well, Sir, what did the Government do? Why, the Chief Secretary brought in a Bill for the extension of the Ashbourne Act of 1885, although the Royal Commission had said the tenants could not meet the fixed annual payments for 15 years, and he asked for £5,000,000 on the same terms, binding down the tenants to make re-payments by fixed instalments for 49 years. But there is another special risk to the British taxpayer which I desire to obviate by my Amendment. Last year there was a proposal that 20 years' purchase should be the maximum limit; but this year there is no limitation whatever to the amount to be advanced. The operations of the Ashbourne Act have shown that, under it, there has been the greatest possible amount of over valuing of holdings, in spite of all the care the Irish Land Commission have taken in the performance of their duties. But it is not possible for the Land Commissioners to perform their duties properly when they are not allowed to fix or modify the terms of purchase as between landlord and tenant. They have been careful as to the amount of direct advance from the British Treasury, but they have no jurisdiction as to the landlord forcing the tenant into a collateral obligation to pay him a separate instalment on another part of the purchase money besides the money advanced by the Treasury. In order to prove how dangerous this is to the British taxpayer, all we have to do is to look at the Return which has been presented to this House—the Return of defaulters under the Act. This will show how ruinous has been this system of over valuing and running up the purchase money; because we find that, on a careful average, the whole of the advance made to the Ashbourne purchasers has only amounted to 19 years' purchase of the valuation; while in the case of the defaulters we find that the average amount of the purchase money paid by these poor men who have now lost their holdings, and been thrown upon the world, is 25 years' purchase instead of 19, and there are cases in which the purchase money exacted, and which the British taxpayer now has partly to meet, has been as high as 38 years' purchase. The result will be that the instalments to be exacted from the tenant purchasers under this vast and complicated measure will, in many cases, amount to much more than the rent now being paid to the landlord. What hope is there that the tenants will be able to fulfil bargains based on such a state of things as this? It is well known that judicial rents are now fixed pretty much at the rate of 20 per cent. below the Poor Law valuation. I have shown that the defaulters have had to pay 20 per cent. above that valuation, and the result is that the re presentations made by the right hon. Gentleman in bringing in this Bill have been utterly falsified. The right hon. Gentleman pledged himself that the man who paid £100 of rent would only have to pay £68 by way of instalment.

It being Midnight, Further Proceeding on Consideration, as amended, stood adjourned.


I beg to give notice that at the commencement of business to-morrow I shall move the suspension of the Twelve o'clock Rule in reference to the Land Purchase Bill. I wish to make an appeal to hon. Members opposite to facilitate the conclusion of this stage of the Bill.


I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that the Irish Members are quite as anxious as the Government to get the Bill through. Although we do not think the suspension of the Standing Order necessary, we shall not object to it. I hope the Government will not, under the circumstances, force the House to sit until a very late hour.


The Government have no intention to force the Bill through the House against the wish of hon. Members, and the House will not be asked to sit to an unduly late hour; but I think that it is desirable to suspend the Rule in the hope that the Bill may be passed that evening.

MR. CRAIG (Newcastle-upon-Tyne)

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman to define what he means by an unduly late hour?


Order, order!

Bill, as amended, to be further considered to-morrow.