HC Deb 12 June 1891 vol 354 cc302-76

As amended, further considered.

*(4.18.) MR. KEAY (Elgin and Nairn) moved, in Clause 1, page 2, line 18, to leave out the words— As a temporary advance out of the Consolidated Fund, and every such advance shall be repaid to the Consolidated Fund. The hon. Member said: I must remind the House that I was speaking in support of this Amendment when the Debate stood adjourned last night, and I was endeavouring to support the Amendment by a reference to the Report of the Royal Commission which sat in 1887 upon the Ashbourne Acts. The object of the Amendment is to provide that in ease of the Land Purchase Account being insufficient to pay the stipulated dividends and payments to the Sinking Fund the deficiency should be made good out of the Guarantee Fund, and not by a temporary advance out of the Consolidated Fund, as proposed by the Government. I have pointed out that the Government have brought in this gigantic measure, which involves the guarantee of the British taxpayer for 49 years. It is only fair to the Government to admit that a partial answer has been given to our representations, namely, that these payments will be payments of a much smaller character than the rent with which the Royal Commission on the Ashbourne Acts dealt. There is every likelihood of considerable default on the part of purchasers in paying their annuities, and I have proved that the reason why there has been defaulters under the Ashbourne Acts is that too high terms of purchase were sanctioned. I will take the Poor Law valuation as the only foundation on which we have to go, and I will endeavour to prove not only that defaulting tenants, but tenants who may be expected to default have been subjected to extortion in other parts of Ireland as well as in the south. In some instances the tenant has been made to pay upon a Poor Law valuation of 38 years, and the Chief Secretary told me in Committee that in Cork and the South of Ireland——


I rise to a point of order. I wish to know if it is in order to discuss now a reply which I made to the hon. Member in Committee on the Bill?


I am waiting to see how the hon. Member proposes to make it applicable to the subject before the House.


I apply it in this way. I have proved from Returns that certain tenants have become defaulters in consequence of the way in which they have been "extortionized." Therefore, I contend that when I mentioned the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that the Poor Law valuation was too low, I was introducing a matter which is germane to the subject.


I fail to see how it is applicable to this Amendment.


It has been shown that in Cavan a man named Dermody "defaulted" in consequence of having given 25 years' purchase; in Kildare Samuel O'Neil was made to give 30 years' purchase; in Londonderry James Neil 31 years' purchase; in Queen's County W. Shirley 37 years' purchase; in Armagh a landlord named Cope obtained 42 years' purchase, not of the Poor Law valuation, but of the rent; and in Londonderry a landlord named Morrison was able to secure no less than 45 years' purchase of the rent, I do not allege that all this money came out of the British Treasury, but I do allege that the instalments to the State were levied side by side with the instalments to the landlord, and, therefore, the purchasers became defaulters. In the case of the last man I have mentioned, the yearly payment, instead of being reduced from £100 to £68, was increased from £100 to nearly £200 a year. In instances such as these solvency in the purchasing tenant is impossible. Even the few restrictions which existed under the Ashbourne Act have been removed by this Bill, and therefore all the facilities, not only for extortion but for default, have been increased. The only other argument I would urge in support of the Amendment is that the present clause contains an arithmetical impossibility. How can the advance out of the Consolidated Fund be a mere temporary advance? The clause says that the dividends and payments to the Sinking Fund shall be paid out of the Land Purchase Account, and that if there is a deficiency in that Account it shall be met by a temporary advance from the Consolidated Fund, every such advance being repaid out of the Guarantee Fund. Now, I find from a Return lately laid upon the Table that in the 30th year there will be due to the Land Purchase Account from the tenant purchasers £1,725,000. That means 2¾ per cent. interest and 1 per cent. for the Sinking Fund, or 3¾ per cent. upon £46,000,000, which will be the amount of the advances then made, and which are all in process of repayment. The Land Purchase Account having received £1,725,000, has got to pay out exactly the same amount. It has to do that, if it can—that is, if the tenants pay the full amount into it. If not, the words which I propose to leave out provide that the Consolidated Fund shall step in and make good whatever the Land Purchase Account is deficient in. The last three lines of Sub-section 3 provide that all such temporary advances out of the Consolidated Fund shall be repaid to that fund out of the Guarantee Fund. Now, assuming that the tenants are in default to the amount of £1,725,000, that is the amount which has to be paid by the Consolidated Fund as a temporary advance. According to the sub-section, the Guarantee Fund has to repay that amount to the Consolidated Fund. But the Guarantee Fund has a fixed annual income of £1,125,000 only, and supposing it pays to the Consolidated Fund the whole of its income, there will be a residuum of £600,000 unre-paid to the Consolidated Fund for that year. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said, in reply to me in Committee, that while it is true that £46,000,000 will have been advanced in the shape of Land Stock, yet during the 30 years which have elapsed before the default occurred, there have been payments into the Sinking Fund and accumulations which will give the Sinking Fund an asset of £16,000,000 sterling, and that he will make up the difference by appropriating the income arising there from. But what right has the right hon. Gentleman to rob the Sinking Fund in this way in order to pay up a portion of the defaulting annuities? Moreover, even if he does so, how will this clause be complied with? The clause says that the Guarantee Fund shall pay back the money; but the right hon. Gentleman says that it will pay as much as it has, and that the Sinking Fund will make up the rest. But, so far as I can make out, the clause does not say that; and, therefore, I consider that the terms of the clause are not drawn according to the explanation of the right hon. Gentleman, and that they enact an arithmetical impossibility. Moreover, what is the right hon. Gentleman's explanation, except a statement that the payments into the Sinking Fund shall be paid out of the Sinking Fund? I have heard of robbing Peter to pay Paul; this explanation seems to me to be a scheme for robbing Peter to pay Peter himself. I maintain that it is absolutely incompetent for the right hon. Gentleman under the Bill, and according to the declarations made during the past 12 months by the Government, thus to rob and beggar the Sinking Fund and then to turn round and say, "We have paid our deficits from the Guarantee Fund." If the Government take the income accruing in the Sinking Fund to pay off defaulted instalments they will be using the Sinking Fund to perform the function of a Guarantee Fund in repayment of advances which have been defaulted. The Government have given 20 or 30 different pledges on this point from time to time. On December 8 last I put a question to the Chief Secretary as to Whether the Government had provided that the Sinking Fund should perform the function of a Guarantee Fund to secure the repayment of advances; and, if so, what means had they provided for the repayment of Land Stock in the event of failure on the part of tenant-purchasers to meet their yearly instalments? The Chief Secretary replied that— The Government had not provided that the Sinking Fund should perform the function of a Guarantee Fund for insuring the repayment of advances. Yet here we have the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer coming forward and telling us that in order to meet this £1,725,000 he is going to take £1,125,000 from the Guarantee Fund of that year, and then to make up the difference by appropriating an asset of £443,000, being the accrued income of the Sinking Fund for the same year. The Chancellor of the Exchequer on another occasion gave the Committee an alternative. The right hon. Gentleman said the Government would use the £16,000,000 which had accrued in the Sinking Fund——


I rise to a point of order. I wish to ask whether the hon. Gentleman, in examining the whole of the financial operations of the Bill on the subject of one small Amendment, is not abusing the privileges of the House?


I had great hesitation in interfering with the hon. Member, who is a new Member; but if every hon. Member were to make use of the privileges which are accorded to him in the way the hon. Gentleman is now doing the progress of business would be impossible. I have endeavoured to understand the arguments of the hon. Gentleman, and I say it with great pain that, as far as they are intelligible to me, they are not very relevant.


Of course, Sir, I must be guided by your ruling. But I do not know which of my arguments is irrelevant. My view of the Bill is that it involves a risk to the British taxpayer, and, therefore, my impression is that all remarks are relevant which show that it is arithmetically impossible to apply the clause, which says that all the so-called "temporary" advances from the Consolidated Fund are to be repaid by the Guarantee Fund. But, as the Chief Secretary has always shown the greatest delicacy about his arguments being traversed, I will avoid doing so as far as I can. On January 26 I put a further question to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the right hon. Gentleman said— It is the intention of Her Majesty's Government that the Guarantee Fund should provide for the payment of the whole of the purchase annuities if default is committed. I think the House will now see why I have taken the 30th year for the purposes of my argument, inasmuch as the Consolidated Fund will then have to advance £600,000 more than the Guarantee Fund can possibly repay. I do not see, then, how the wording of the clause can be complied with; and even waiving that point, I do not see how the deficit can be taken out of the Sinking Fund unless the Government are prepared to admit either that they have broken their pledges, or have entirely abjured the intention announced to the taxpayers——


I have just told the hon. Gentleman that his remarks were irrelevant. I have warned him with as much forbearance as I possibly could. I am bound to say that he has repeated his arguments over and over again, and I am unwilling at this moment to put in operation the Standing Order, but if this kind of argument is continued I shall without hesitation apply it.


I think the complexity of the subject will stand me in some stead as an excuse for having transgressed the ruling of the Chair. I will now simply move my Amendment.

Amendment proposed, In page 2, line 18, to leave out from the word "as" to the word "Fund," in line 19, inclusive."—(Mr. Seymour Keay.)

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

Amendment proposed, in page 2, line 21, to leave out from beginning of line to end of Clause.—(Mr. A. J. Balfour.)—Agreed to.

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

I beg to move the Amendment which stands in my name. I should have been glad if it had been possible for me to refrain from moving it; but the Chief Secretary will see that, although this question was discussed in Committee, the proposal I am now making is a new one. It has been criticised as calculated to be destructive of the Bill. But I cannot admit that, for so recently as five years ago the Government pledged themselves in the Queen's Speech to do something similar. If the Amendment is adopted, you will have from the day this Bill is passed machinery for the purpose of considering advances, and that machinery will serve the purpose until County Councils are established. You planted the land system in Ireland; you have kept it there by law, and propped it up by force; it has inflicted great misery and the greatest wrong on the unfortunate people of Ireland; you have maintained it for two centuries, and now the time has come when you can no longer maintain it in the interests of an alien garrison. This Bill has been introduced in the interests of a certain desperate class of landlords; chiefly for their advantage, and at their request. Your land system is part of an Imperial policy. This Bill has been introduced to save the Empire from discredit and trouble. Ireland is as much a part of Great Britain as England or Scotland; indeed, in proportion, it contributes more to the Imperial Revenue than England; and on that ground, I say that the burden you are now imposing should fall not on the local funds of Ireland, but on the Imperial Revenue. Under the Bill you are going to spend £30,000,000. By this you will benefit, perhaps, 2,000 Irish landlords out of a total of 9,000, and about 100,000 out of 500,000 real agricultural tenants. The remaining landlords and tenants will have no benefit from the Bill, while the elected Representatives of the Irish people in Parliament will have no voice in the transactions under the Bill; and yet, if default occurs on the part of those who have entered into the contracts purely for their own advantage, a levy is to be made on the farmers who have bought and paid for their farms, on the farmers who have not taken advantage of the Act, and on nearly the whole of the urban and semi-urban population of Ireland who have no interest in the Bill at all, except their liability for default. This proposal is not only unjust; it is grotesque. The cardinal axiom of Local Government all over the world is the control of local taxation, and yet in this vital matter of local taxation the Local Bodies in Ireland will be entirely helpless. It is not Local Government, it is local farce and general tyranny; and if you are going to keep it on these lines, we must look to some other statesman to put it on a working basis. I have rejected the Chief Secretary's proposal of a plébiscite because the only effective local control would be that which could take cognisance of individual transactions. There are in all three grounds for objecting to it: firstly, before it could be taken, an extensive liability would already have been incurred; secondly, it might be taken at a time when sufficient experience had not been obtained to justify a final judgment; and, thirdly, because it would be unfair and unreasonable to allow the tenants to deprive themselves and their fellows of the benefits of the Act under such circumstances. I therefore propose to give the power of veto to the Boards of Guardians which have local knowledge. The Boards of Guardians are equally composed of representatives of the landlords and the tenants. The ex officio Guardians represent the landed class, while the elected representatives only partially represent the tenants, because of the cumulative vote. If these Boards are allowed to consider whether in any case a transaction under the Bill is safe for the county, the decision will be left with a tribunal which has a strong and natural tendency to encourage land purchase. When County Councils have been created, I propose that they shall take up the work. It is said that County Councils would try to bring down the price of land; but by the time they have come into existence the lines of land purchase will have been laid down, and the average price of land will have been ascertained. It will be difficult for any County Council to attempt to repeal the policy of their predecessors; for every farmer will have an interest in purchase as being himself a possible purchaser, and this interest will outweigh that created by the liability to a levy in case of default. Then the interest of the labourers in every county will be directly in the encouragement of purchase, because the county percentage is to go to the erection of labourers' cottages. Out of every £1,000,000 of Stock issued under this Bill the labourers will get £2,500 a year for the erection of dwellings. They will be induced to take an interest in the County Council elections, and nobody with such an interest would dare to stand in the way of the completion of a fair or even tolerable land purchase transaction. The second reason is that land purchase will mean more employment for labourers, and better wages. The labourers know that when the farmers become owners—when the stimulus of ownership is applied to the possession of the soil—the market for labour will be a dearer and a better one. It is impossible, therefore, to say that County Councils in Ireland will be hostile to land purchase. I regard the hypothecation of our rates without the consent of an elected body as a wanton violation of our constitutional rights, and I regard the withdrawal of the local grants from the Exchequer without our consent as a violation of the Parliamentary contract between Great Britain and Ireland upon which our contributions to the Revenue are founded. I should like to see you trying such an insolent policy on the humblest locality in Great Britain. Why, you have brought about a revolution and beheaded a King for less. I say for my colleagues and myself, and for our constituents, that we here declare ourselves to be clear of all responsibility, and that on Her Majesty's Government, and the majority who support them, the sole responsibility must rest for whatever may occur.

Amendment proposed, In page 2, at the end of Clause 1, to insert the words—"(4.) No Guaranteed Land Stock shall be issued by way of advance for the purchase of any holding, unless the making of such advance shall have been previously approved—

  1. (a.) until elective county councils shall have been established in Ireland by a resolution of the board of guardians of the poor law union in which the holding is situate;
  2. (b) after elective county councils have been established in Ireland by a resolution of the county council elected to represent the county in which the holding is situate."—(Mr. Sexton.)

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

(5.4.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR

Nobody, I think, will deny the importance of the Amendment which has been moved by the hon. Gentleman, nor the perfect right which he has to move it. The Amendment is one which strikes at the very root of the Bill, but, at the same time, it is one which raises a question which has been brought up on so many occasions before, and has been so often discussed by me, that I am afraid I am not able to offer any new arguments in favour of the position taken up in the matter by the Government. The hon. Gentleman has told us, and with perfect truth, that this Amendment is different in substance from any of those put upon the Paper previously, that the Bill will not be stopped by the acceptance of this Amendment, and that land purchase will not be deferred until such time as the House has established County Councils in Ireland. Well, that is an improvement, no doubt, upon the Amendment moved by the right hon. Gentleman the Mem- ber for Newcastle (Mr. J. Morley), which proposed to defer all land purchase until County Councils are established. I would point out, however, to the hon. Gentleman that, although Boards of Guardians have the advantage over County Councils that they are in existence, they are not really suitable tribunals to deal with this question, because, although the constitution of Boards of Guardians is such that the owners of land have a large voice in their affairs—an advantage they do not always avail themselves of by attending the meetings—unions do not coincide with, or approach coincidence with, the boundaries of the counties in which they are situated. A union is frequently in two counties. Again, a union seldom covers more than a small fraction of any county, and the funds hypothecated are the funds of the whole county, and, therefore, even those who hold the views of the hon. Gentleman opposite must feel that it could only be as a temporary expedient that we could adopt Boards of Guardians as the machinery for carrying out the objects of this Act. With regard to County Councils, which I hope will be established when there is time on as full and extended a franchise as County Councils in England and Scotland, I do not think that the duty of determining the propriety of each case of purchase is a duty which ought to be thrown upon them. I pointed out on a previous occasion that to give intending purchasers the right to determine what purchase shall take place is practically to give them the power to lower the price of land. That argument I still consider to be sound, in spite of the contention of the hon. Gentleman that the intending purchasers will resent any interference with the machinery of purchase which the representatives may interpose.


The will of the landlords is supreme, and they might stop purchase altogether if they chose.


That is true. The consent of the landlord is necessary for purchase, and if it becomes clear that the transactions are regulated by the purchasers no landlord will enter into negotiations with his tenants. But, at the same time, it appears to me that the desire to lower the price of an article of purchase would always out- weigh the more remote consideration, because the tenants would always think that the necessity of the situation will compel the landlord to sell. They would think that if they restricted the price of the land the landlord would not only have to sell, but to sell at a lower price. With regard to the question of the labourers, I wish I could think that the labourers of Ireland will be large gainers by this land purchase scheme. I believe certainly that they will be gainers in consequence of the general tranquillity which will result, because increased tranquillity brings greater enterprise and greater expenditure of capital upon the agricultural industry. I fear, however, that it may prove to be the fact that the sale by the landlords of their estates, however directly it may benefit the tenants, will not, as an immediate effect, improve the position of the labourers. The Government, as well as hon. Members opposite, have done their best for the labourers by introducing provisions of a liberal kind for the improvement of their dwellings, but I am afraid that it is true that the labourers value much more a direct increase of labour than an improvement in the houses in which they live. I certainly do not consider that a certain number of new dwellings will at all compensate them for the loss of employment which I fear may follow—though I hope that it will not—the sale of their properties by the landlords. I think that the arguments which have been brought forward by the hon. Gentleman are not such as will induce the House to alter the decision to which it came on the Second Reading and in Committee. In my opinion, the Amendment would fatally hamper the working of the Act, and might be productive of serious injury to the whole system of land purchase.

(5.18.) The House divided:—Ayes 106; Noes 175.—(Div. List, No. 286.)

Other Amendments agreed to:—Clause 2, page 3, line 10, after "shall be," insert "paid out of that fund to the Local Taxation (Ireland) Account and;" line 11, after "cottages," insert "under the Labourers (Ireland) Acts, 1883 to 1886."—(The Attorney General for Ireland.)

Amendment proposed after the foregoing Amendment, to insert the words "or 'The Housing of the Working Classes Act, 1890.'"—(Mr. Mahony.)

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

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Another Amendment made.

(5.30.) MR. KEAY

In proposing the next Amendment which stands in my name, I beg to say that I wish by it to secure the same facilities for impounding the landlord's contribution as exist under the Ashbourne Acts. The Bill as it now stands provides that only one-half of it shall be impounded even in the case of an irrecoverable debt. I ventured to indicate on a former occasion that there could be no sound reason for the change, which is obviously made solely for the benefit of the Irish landlords. The Chief Secretary replied that the reason was that as a new security, namely, the Guarantee Fund, was now added, it was only just that the landlord should be relieved of half his former liability. But it has been persistently asserted that the additional securities put into the Bill have been added solely in the interest of the British taxpayer, and not for the advantage of the Irish landlord. I therefore believe that the right hon. Gentleman's admission that these fresh securities are inserted for the purpose of partly relieving the landlord from his liability will be received by the country with surprise and reprobation.

Amendment proposed, in page 3, line 30, to leave out from the word "debt," to the word "shall," in line 32, in order to insert the words "such sum."—(Mr. Keay.)

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

(5.35.) MR. SEXTON

Under the Ashbourne scheme the whole of the landlords' guarantee deposit is made liable in case of default. I have looked into the working of the scheme during the last six years, and the result is rather curious. £6,000,000 has been advanced, 14,000 farms have been purchased, and in only seven cases has the guarantee deposit been come upon. Probably, the loss to the landlords has not exceeded £200. It may be said that under this Bill there will be more risk by reason of the large number of transactions. I say it is not a question of risk, but it is one of convenience and public feeling, and I hold that this proposal to relieve the landlords' guarantee is extremely objectionable. You seize the whole of the tenant's property, you take every penny that he has in the world, but when you come to deal with the landlord's deposit you take only one-half of that. I think the fairer plan would be to levy on the tenant to the full extent, then on the landlord to the full extent, and then, and not till then, come on the local funds. Unless you do this I fear there will be great trouble in Ireland hereafter.

(5.40.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR

If the hon. Gentleman raises this question on the general discussion on the Third Reading of the Bill, I think I shall be able to show that the evils he fears are not likely to arise. Surely our proposal is a fair one. There is nothing in the nature of land purchase which requires that the landlord should give a guarantee at all. The hon. Member says the selling landlord is the one party who will benefit by the passing of this Act. I do not go that length. I agree that it is an undoubted boon to find for him a market for his land; but when full allowance is made for that boon, I still remain of the opinion that the great benefit is conferred on the tenant. Under these circumstances, it appears to me that there is nothing unjust in this clause as it stands; on the contrary, it is just and most natural.

(5.42.) SIR GEORGE TREVELYAN (Glasgow, Bridgeton)

I think that the Government, in insisting on this provision in the Bill, differing as it does from the arrangement under the Ashbourne scheme, have been responsible to a great degree for the feeling on this side of the House that Parliament has not been sufficiently taken into their counsels in regard to this Bill. It appears to me that a very strong case has been made out in support of this Amendment. It is a most unfortunate arrangement on the part of the Government that now, directly a fault is committed, you come down at once upon the rates. There is nothing between the rates and the necessity of making good the very first default on the part of the farmers, and this is very much aggravated by the fact that the ratepayers have no means of controlling the advances. The right hon. Gentleman says there is nothing in the nature of things to justify the House in making the landlord actually responsible. But I think an exact analogy may be found in commercial life. One man draws a bill, another accepts it, and then the bank cashes it. In this ease the landlord draws the Bill, the tenant accepts it, and the British Treasury cashes it. In the former case, if the acceptor of the bill cannot meet it, the drawer must; and surely the same should be the policy in regard to those land purchase transactions. The Ashbourne Act recognises that principle as just. After the tenant has been sold up and paid everything he has, the landlord is come upon. He is not indeed sold up, but he loses his deposit of one-fifth of the purchase money. The Government in the present Bill has reduced his responsibility very largely by placing an equal responsibility upon the rates of the county. I think we are bound to make a protest by going into the Division Lobby against this unfortunate proposal.

(5.46.) The House divided:—Ayes 176; Noes 102.—(Div. List, No. 287.)

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

The next Amendment on the Paper in my name was discussed in the Committee, and the Attorney General expressed an opinion that——


Order, order! The Amendment appears to be out of order, inasmuch as it contemplates dealing with a charge on the Consolidated Fund. That cannot be done at this stage.


The object is to save the Consolidated Fund; it would allow the Land Commissioners to make an order for a reduced annuity, at the expense of the landlords' guarantee deposit. I have looked into the matter, and I find it is the fact that the Land Commissioners have sold holdings subject to reduced annuities. It is evidently very desirable they should have power to do so. In many cases it would be almost impossible to get anything like the value of the farm as a capital sum.

Amendment proposed, in page 3, line 34, after the word "Commission," to insert the words "whether on account of interest or principal."—(Mr. Knox.)

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


said the words were unnecessary.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


I think it is requisite that there should be some provision made for the application of money paid in arrear, and therefore I beg to move to add at the end of Section (3)— Suma carried into the Guarantee Fund under this sub-section shall be applied in the same manner, and subject to the prescribed regulations, as the sums carried to the Land Purchase Account in respect of the current half-yearly instalments.

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


accepted the Amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

(6.5.) MR. SEXTON

In the Bill of last year there was a provision relating to the £5,000 which is now paid to the Royal Dublin Society, for the Improvement of the Breed of Horses and Cattle. No such provision is made in the present Bill. If a specific provision was necessary in the Bill of last year, it is necessary now. I therefore beg to move to insert, after "grant," in line 6, the words "and the grant to the Royal Dublin Society for the improvement of the breed of horses and cattle."

Amendment proposed, in page 4, line 6, after the word "grant," to insert the words "and the grant to the Royal Dublin Society for the improvement of the breed of horses and cattle."—(Mr. Sexton)

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


If the hon. Member will turn to the Act of 1888, he will find the £5,000 included in the Probate Grant. I have investigated the matter to-day, and my investigations confirmed my opinion in that respect. It is unnecessary, therefore, to make any particular allusion to the grant in this Act. The draftsman of the Bill also takes that view.


There is no use in pressing the Amendment, but I am at a loss to know what is to become of the £5,000 in the future.


It is to be used precisely for the same purpose as it is used for now, subject to the guarantee. If it is not wanted for the Guarantee Fund it will be distributed as other money which goes to local taxation—will be distributed for local taxation purposes.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

(6.9.) MR. SEXTON

I have now to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to give the House some explanation in regard to the sum of £40,000, which is called the Exchequer contribution to the Guarantee Fund. We all know that under the Local Government Act of 1888 the Government, on the one hand, ceased to make certain local grants, and, on the other hand, they handed over to the Local Authorities the produce of local taxation from licences. That produce is greater than the local grants, and, therefore, the advantage is in favour of the counties. According to the last accounts of Inland Revenue, the licences produced £3,000,000 in England, £300,000 in Scotland, and £185,000 in Ireland. I do not exactly know what local grants were discontinued, or whether there were corresponding local grants made in Ireland. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will give us information on that point. And another point to be borne in mind is that under the new arrangement England began to derive benefit at the year ending the 31st of March, 1890, while Ireland did not get any benefit until the year ending the 31st March, 1891. There is, there-ford, a year's arrear, and I think in equity, some arrangement should be made to make good that arrear.

*(6.12.) MR. GOSCHEN

I cannot say offhand what grants were discontinued. As the hon. Gentleman correctly states, in England and Scotland certain grants were discontinued and certain licences handed over, and that led to profit to the localities. Owing to that profit to England and Scotland it was necessary to give Ireland £40,000. Ireland gets that £40,000 as compensation for loss of revenue. As regards licences, Ireland stands in precisely the same position as before. It receives £40,000 to compensate it for the advantage given to England and Scotland. Ireland is not taxed as England and Scotland are taxed; but, nevertheless, I thought it right that Ireland should receive a sum proportionate to the advantage given to England and Scotland. I cannot help thinking it would be very unwise for the hon. Member for West Belfast to set up a debit and credit account between England and Scotland on the one hand, and Ireland on the other.

Amendments made.

Amendment proposed, in page 5, line 17, at end to insert— (3.) The money paid to the cash portion of the Guarantee Fund shall from time to time during every financial year so far as not required to meet charges on the fund already accrued be forthwith paid to the Local Taxation (Ireland) Account."—(Mr. A. J. Balfour.)

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

(6.16.) MR. SEXTON

I understand this Amendment is intended to meet an engagement the right hon. Gentleman made in Committee. The money is, in the first instance, to be paid into the Guarantee Fund. How long is the money to remain in the Guarantee Fund? Is it to remain there until there is default in any county? Is it intended to pay the first year's over, and if default arises in the first year to meet it in the course of the second year?


The intention is that there shall not be a moment's delay in paying over to a county any money to which it is entitled. Let us assume that money is due on the 1st of May. If there is no default on the 1st of May the money will be paid over in its entirety even though it is anticipated that on the 15th of May there will be default.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments made.

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

I beg to move, in Clause 4, page 6, line 7, to leave out from "named" to. "made" inclusive, in line 9. As a matter of fact, presentments made at the Summer Assizes in July are not dealt with by the County Treasurer probably until the month of August, and in that month he will affix his seal to the warrant. The actual collection will not be commenced until December, and most probably January. Much the same thing takes place with regard to the Spring Assizes. The County Treasurer will not affix his seal to the warrant in the ordinary course until the first week in May, and the collection will not take place until June, and no return will be made until July. As the clause now stands an entirely new system will be set up and will give rise to a great deal of unnecessary discontent.

Amendment proposed, in page 6, line 7, to leave out from the word "named," to the end of line 9.—(Mr Macartney.)

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

(6.24.) MR. SEXTON

I think this part of the clause needs some attention. It is provided that the Treasury may take the money out of the Gurrantee Fund, but it is not stated what is to be the procedure. Is the Lord Lieutenant to have time to make the levy before the Guarantee Fund is touched? Is the Guarantee Fund to be the last resort, or is the money to be first taken out of the Guarantee Fund and then repaid after the levy is made? The hon. Member for Antrim thinks there is some objection to the period named—two months after the next Assize. The hon. Gentleman speaks from experience, and the probability is he is right.

(6.26.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR

The intention of the Government undoubtedly is to give the Lord Lieutenant reasonable time to collect the money before the Guarantee Fund is disturbed. Our hope and confident expectation is that the contingent portion of the fund never will be come upon, but even if it is, there will practically be no disturbance of local expenditure. Therefore, it is an essential part of our scheme that the Lord Lieutenant should have time allowed him.


I think there is a good deal in what has fallen from the hon. Member for Antrim and the hon. Member for West Belfast as to the fixing of the period "two months after the next Assizes." But I would suggest that my hon. Friend should amend his Amendment so that the clause would read— And for that purpose he shall send to the Secretary of the Grand Jury of the county a requisition for the payment of the sum therein mentioned, as the Lord Lieutenant, with the consent of the Treasury, thinks reasonable, and I think the following words:— but not later than two months after the next Assizes at which presentments can be made might be dispensed with. Instead of the word "those," in line 10, I would suggest that "the next," be inserted.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendments made.

Amendment proposed, in page 6, line 14, after "collection," to insert "at the ordinary rate."—(Mr. Sexton.)

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


I do not think the words are necessary, but, if they are, I will have them inserted in another place.


I prefer to have them inserted here, and, if they are not necessary, struck out in another place.

Question put, and agreed to.

*(6.30.) MR. KNOX

I beg to move the Amendment standing in my name. The point raised by it is of so much importance that, although I do not think it necessary to raise a long discussion upon it on the Report stage of this Bill, I am, nevertheless, of opinion that I am justified in bringing it forward once more in the hope that the Government may see their way to the acceptance of my proposal. Formerly we proposed that the charge should fall in the same manner as in the case of the poor rate, that is to say, that in the case of occupiers rated at less than £4 the charge should be met by the owner. But that proposal was rejected, and it was urged that, for instance, in the County of Donegal, where the majority of the occupiers are rated at less than £4, they would not feel the burden levied on the county at all. We had to admit that there was something in that contention, and that it was only fair that the burden should fall upon all classes. With a view, therefore, to meet the objection then raised, I have framed this provision, and in doing so have used the language employed in the Land Act of 1870, with certain modifications. The law as to rating in Ireland divides the poor rate between occupier and owner. The county cess is similarly divided in the case of any tenancy created after the year 1870, in consequence of a clause inserted in the Land Act of that year. It was considered desirable in the interests of the public that in future tenancies the burden should be equally divided; but, at the same time, it was deemed unjust to divide the burden in respect of past tenancies, because in those cases it was assumed that the rent had been fixed as between occupier and owner on the understanding that the owner would not have to bear any part of the county cess. In the case of some of the later burdens put upon the counties it has been specially provided that they should be shared between the owner and the occupier. It was urged by the Chief Secretary that if the charge were placed on the owner as well as on the tenants injustice would be done; but it is evident that the landlords who take advantage of this Act, and sell their "states, will derive a certain amount of benefit from it, while the landlords who do not sell will also derive benefit from the general tranquillity which is expected to be the result of this legislation. I say, therefore, that if they do get these benefits they ought to contribute their quota of the charge to be incurred; and, therefore, I propose that those landlords who remain in the counties shall bear their share of the burden as well as those tenants who do not purchase. To put it shortly, the effect of my proposal will be this: In the case of the tenant who takes advantage of the Bill and buys, the tenant will have to pay the whole rate under my Amendment as under the Bill, while the landlord who takes advantage of the Act and sells will pay nothing. In the case of the tenant who does not take advantage of the Bill, and does not buy, under the Bill as it now stands the whole of the burden will fall upon him, whereas, in my opinion, he should only pay one-half. In the case of the landlord who does not take advantage of the Act, and does not sell, one-half of the burden will, under my Amendment, have to be borne by him. I say it is unfair that, in the case of those tenants who could not buy, they should have to bear a share of the burden that would fall on the county as a consequence of the default of the other tenants who take advantage of the Bill. It was argued by the Chief Secretary that it would be possible for the non-purchasers to prevent these men from falling into default. I think that that argument is very farfetched. We know that the Irish tenants have successfully combined for purposes common to them all, but it is too much to expect that they will be able to combine to force those who take advantage of the Bill to pay their instalments. Therefore, I say that on these grounds my proposal is a reasonable one, and as I have endeavoured to frame it so as to meet the objections I have thought it possible to urge against it, I venture to hope that it will be accepted by the right hon. Gentleman.

Amendment proposed, in page 6, line 16, after the word "presentment" to insert the words— Any person who is liable to pay a rent in respect of any premises in such county may deduct from such rent, for each pound of the rent which he is liable to pay, one-half of the sum which he has paid under any such presentment or order in respect of each pound of the rateable value of such premises, and so in proportion for any less sum than one pound: Provided always, that it shall not be lawful under this Act for any such person to deduct from the rent payable by him for such premises, a larger sum than one-half of the amount of the cess which has been paid by him in respect of the same under such presentment or order."—(Mr. Knox.)

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

(6.42.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR

The House is aware that this question could arise only if by the amount of default in any county the contingent portion of the Guarantee Fund was affected. I am quite unable to conceive of any circumstances in which a result so extreme could occur without there being something in the nature of a conspiracy. If there were any conspiracy on the part of purchasing tenants it will be admitted it must form some part of a large political agrarian combination. If there were such a combination it would be hard that any part of the consequent penalty should fall on the landlords, who would be the victims, and not the authors of it. The tax would be levied at the instance of the Lord Lieutenant in lieu of the contingent portion of the Guarantee Fund, and it ought, as far as possible, to have the same incidence as that fund, which fell almost entirely upon the occupier. For these reasons I cannot accept the Amendment.


If the right hon. Gentleman conceives that men who have under the Land Purchase Act acquired the substantial rights of ownership of the land they occupy are likely to conspire together for the purpose of destroying that ownership by refusing to pay the annuities which give them their title to the property, he must have formed a very peculiar notion of the character of the Irish people. If such a conspiracy could by any possibility occur, it is not the landlords who would be the victims. A conspiracy against what? Against the payment of the annuities. Due to whom? To the landlords? No: due to the State. How, then, could the landlords be the victims of any such conspiracy? Therefore, the argument of the right hon. Gentleman clearly falls to the ground. The incidence of the tax ought to follow, as far as possible, the incidence of the contingent portion of the Guarantee Fund. The facts do not bear out the right hon. Gentleman's pretension. The Guarantee Fund is drawn merely from the class who pay on the county cess, and so far as the argument goes I think it is more in support of the Amendment of my hon. Friend than of the argument of the right hon. Gentleman. I think it is a great hardship that this burden should be thrown on the county cess. You cannot say that you have a right to levy upon a tenant because you are complying with some demand of the tenant. The tenant could struggle on somehow, while this Bill is the only means of escape of many landlords from ruin. It is not only the fortunes of certain landlords which are concerned, but the interests of the whole class, because the sale of these estates will greatly tend to tranquillise the country by settling the agrarian question in Ireland. I say that by this clause the interests of the landlords are served more directly and in a more important decree than the interests of the, tenant.

(6.50.) The House divided:—Ayes. 89; Noes 161.—(Div. List, No. 288.)

Question put, and agreed to.

Further Amendments made.

(7.3.) MR. SEXTON

I have given-notice to move the omission of Subsection 1 of Clause 5, and I shall, if necessary, divide against it. The right hon. Gentleman in advocating this scheme said he anticipated there might be a rush of applications for the £30,000,000, and he desired by this clause to discourage the applications and reduce-their number. But the effect of this provision will fall heavily on the small farmers, while large farmers will be encouraged. Inasmuch as the right hon. Gentleman has numbers on his side I will not now attempt to fight out the question, but I do appeal to him to modify the plan. I do not suggest that there should be any change in the case of transactions at 19, 18, or 17 years' purchase, but when the period is below 16, then the tenants' Insurance Fund will be above the annuity, and therefore in such a case I would have an alternative plan accepted by inserting in the clause, in line 11, after the words. "annual value," and "or 20 per cent. in excess of the annuity, or 4 per cent. on the purchase money, whichever shall be the lesser amount." That, I think, would meet the difficulty, and at the proper time I shall be prepared to move such an Amendment.

Amendment proposed, in page 7, line 7, to leave out Sub-section (1) of Clause 5.—(Mr. Sexton.)

Question proposed, "That the words of Clause 5 down to the word 'first,' in line 10, stand part of the Bill."

*(7.15.) MR. SHAW LEFEVRE (Bradford, Central)

I venture to make an appeal to the Chief Secretary on this point. I cannot but think he would act wisely in accepting some such compromise. For my part, while this Bill has been before the House I have endeavoured to support every Amendment which would have the effect of confining the operation of the Bill to purchases by small holders. It seems to me that the policy of the Bill should be mainly in that direction, and rather against purchases by large tenants. The effect of the clause as it now stands would be to discourage the purchase of small holdings. I have not met a single Irishman who thinks the clause would have any other effect than seriously limiting the number of such purchases. I cannot but think the Chief Secretary has failed to appreciate that. From a passage in a speech of the Chief Secretary's I gathered that it was the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman that it would be a sufficient tenant's insurance if one year's instalment were laid by to meet bad seasons. I fully appreciate the desire of the right hon. Gentleman to have some insurance fund. I think he will admit that I have uniformly supported him in all matters connected with the credit of the State. I would support the right hon. Gentleman now if I did not think that the clause would undoubtedly have a very serious effect in discouraging the purchase of small holdings. It will do so by putting money into the insurance fund in excess of the amount which appears to be necessary. I hope, therefore, he will accept some modification which will secure that the sum shall not exceed more than one year's instalment, instead of one and a half, as will be the case in regard to many small holdings.

(7.22.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR

The right hon. Gentleman and hon. Members opposite have habitually talked as if the tenants' insurance clause inflicts a great fine and a hardship upon the purchasing tenants in Ireland, and any one who has not looked minutely into the matter would suppose from hearing them that for the privilege of becoming owners of their land the tenants are required to pay a great deal of money which they would otherwise keep in their pockets. What are the facts? The money which the tenants had to pay as insurance is never taken away from them, except in case of default, and it ultimately either gives a lesser annuity or makes the tenant the freeholder of his land, without any annuity to pay, at a much earlier date than otherwise would have been the case. So much for the use to which the tenant fund is to be put. Now what sacrifices are asked of the tenants in order to contribute to this tenants' insurance fund? The sacrifice which the tenant is asked to make consists of holding his farm at at least 20 per cent. less rent than that at which he had been holding it previously. Can that be described as inflicting an injury on the tenant? I think that even in the language of strong rhetoric that can hardly bespoken of as extorting money from an unwilling purchaser; it is to be regarded as enforcing insurance on the part of the tenant against a rainy day—insurance the full benefit of which he gets himself, and of which the Government get not one penny. The tenant ultimately gets, with interest, all that he has to put by before the end of the 49 years during which his annuity is to run, and, therefore, it is absurd to describe this as a hardship. What are the benefits? They are great. It will lessen the primary difference between the annuity paid on holdings which are bought, and the rent paid for holdings which have not been bought. One great point made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, in the Second Reading Debate last year, was that a landlord's position will become intolerable if he remains on his estate and does not sell. The hon. Member for West Belfast has attempted to meet that argument by contending that the difference between rents and the annuities under the Ashbourne Acts has not produced the consequences which might have been feared. I am not sure that the hon. Gentleman is right; I have received Reports from time to time indicating that the immense reductions on holdings sold at a small number of years' purchase has rarely led to difficulties on the estates of neighbouring landlords, and undoubtedly where there is plenty of money going, as there will be under this Act, considerable pressure may be put on a landlord who did not wish to sell by his tenants. If the whole benefit of the reduction is to come upon the tenants at once, it will place the landlord who does not wish to sell in a position of difficulty, and may lead to some local disturbance. Those evil consequences will be greatest in the very cases where, by this Amendment, hon. Members opposite wish to minimise the effect of the tenants' insurance. On an estate, the present rent of which is £100, the annuity at 12 years' purchase would be £48, and at 10 years' purchase, I sup pose it would be about £40. If in the West of Ireland a reduction of 50 per cent. on the old rent was suddenly made on an estate, so immediate a fall must produce difficulties on neighbouring estates. For the reason stated I hope the hon. Gentleman will not press his Amendment. I should deeply regret if this provision was found to interfere with the rapid sale of land, but if the purchaser is not to consider in the slightest degree the fact that he becomes an owner of land, then we must absolutely give up all hope that what has been called the magic of ownership is to produce any marked effect upon the cultivation of holdings. There is good reason, however, to believe that the fact of ownership will produce such an effect, and if it does, it will be proved conclusively that they are animated by something more than the mere desire for an immediate annual reduction, and value the privilege of being owner in fee simple of their holding, and if that be so it is not much to ask that this privilege should be obtained by some sacrifice. I hope the House will not reverse the decision they came to in Committee.

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

I do not think the right hon. Gentleman recognises the very serious nature of this clause. He has pointed out that if the Bill were put into operation without some such clause, it would have a very injurious effect on those landlords who do not sell, because their tenants would dislike to see their neighbours making smaller annual payments than their own; but I want to know what is to happen at the end of five years. Surely, if it be necessary to put in a provision of this kind to protect the landlords on neighbouring estates, the protection which the Chief Secretary pretends to afford them must be a very imperfect one if it is only to last for five years. The Chief Secretary says the Insurance Fund belongs to the tenant, and it is no hardship to ask them to pay a large sum, because it will ultimately be applied to their own benefit. That is perfectly true, but does he not see that under this Bill be will be dealing with a number of men to whom a very small extra annual payment will be of great importance. The right hon. Gentleman has alluded to districts in the West of Ireland where land may be sold for 10 years' purchase, and he has referred to the position of landlords on the neighbouring estates, where the tenants may be paying 60 per cent. more than those who have purchased. I fancy that in those districts there are many landlords who would have been glad if they could have received 40 per cent. of their rents during the last five years. I am afraid that on many estates there are landlords who have not been able to get anything like 40 per cent. of their rents, and lam confident that if this clause is maintained and applied to the congested districts, it will inevitably lead to a large amount of repudiation, not necessarily brought about by conspiracy, but as the mere result of absolute inability on the part of the tenants to pay the instalments. One very objectionable feature in the clause is that it proposes to make purchasers under the Act, for 20 years, pay a larger amount annually than they are paying under the Ashbourne Act. The right hon. Gentleman has mentioned the estate of the Glensharold Estate. Now, supposing that a few years ago that estate had been sold at 20 years' purchase under the Ashbourne Act, the tenants would have got a reduction of 20 per cent., but it would have led to a repudiation on their part, because they would not have been able to pay.

(7.40.) The House divided:—Ayes 103; Noes 51.—(Div. List, No. 289.)

Clause 5.


I beg to move in Clause 5, page 7, line 10, to leave out "first." The object of this Amendment is to give the purchaser time by cutting off two years. The Chief Secretary will know that many tenants are embarrassed by reason of the bad season—the cold weather which we have experienced having led to a bad state of things. In many cases the farmers have been obliged to put the cattle into meadows, having no more food to give them; and this, added to the fact that the price of butter is low, has really had a very serious effect upon the farmers. It is therefore that I wish to give them an opportunity to recover before being called upon to make this extra payment.

Amendment proposed, in page 7, line 10, to leave out the word "first."—(Mr. Mahony.)

Question proposed, "That the word 'first' stand part of the Bill."


I see and appreciate the object of the hon. Member, but I do not think that his Amendment will produce the effect which he anticipates, and I must, therefore, give it my opposition.


I will not press my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


In moving the insertion in page 7, line 10, after "purchase-annuity," of the words "or until a sum equal to the amount of one year's instalment have been accumulated," it is not necessary for me to make any speech in support of the proposition, though I may say I do not think the Chief Secretary has answered my argument in the observations he made in his last speech.

Amendment proposed, In page 7, line 10, after the word "purchase-annuity," to insert the words "or until a sum equal to the amount of one year's instalment shall have been accumulated."—(Mr. Shaw Lefevre)

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

(7.55.) The House divided:—Ayes 38; Noes 89.—(Div. List, No. 290.)


The Amendment 1 now have to move is one to which I think the Chief Secretary will have no strong objection. It only provides that in the event of the Land Commissioners being of opinion that the 80 per cent. would be more than a tenant could reasonably pay in the year, then the Commissioners shall have liberty to fix the payment at a lower rate, but even then the sum must be in excess of the annual instalment, so as to provide for the Insurance Fund. Unless the Chief Secretary has made up his mind to make no concession, I do not think he can object to this. The whole matter will be left in the hands of the Land Purchase Commissioners, and if they decide that the tenant is able to pay the 80 per cent., then the tenant will have to pay it, while if they decide that he cannot pay it, then they may reduce the sum. The reasonableness of the Amendment appears on the face of it, and I hope it may be accepted.

Amendment proposed, In page 7, line 11, after the word "value," to insert the words "unless the Land Commission shall certify that, in their opinion, having regard to all the circumstances of the case, 80 per cent. of the annual value would be in excess of a fair and reasonable annual payment for the holding, in which case the annuity shall be such lesser sum as the Land Commission shall direct, not being less than 5 per cent. in excess of an annuity of 4 per cent. on the advance."—(Mr. Mahony.)

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

(8.4.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR

I can hardly conceive circumstances arising such as the hon. Gentlemen contemplates.




Glensharrold, no doubt, supplies a case in point, but an altogether exceptional case. The great mass of tenants occupy a totally different position. Only in those cases where a judicial rent has been fixed, at a rate now thought excessive, in the early years of the Fair Rent Act of 1881, can such a case possibly arise. In reference to the extreme case of the Glensharrold Estate, the hon. Member earlier in the evening made a speech in which I understood him to say that the Land Judge had allowed a permanent reduction of 30 per cent. on the original fair rent, so that according to the opinion of the Fair Rent Judge, the amount would be 70 percent. of the original fair rent. The tenant, therefore, would have to pay 10 per cent. more than the fair rent fixed by the Judge. That is an exceptional case, but even there I do not think the difficulty of 10 per cent. for five years is a serious one. I do not think that, in any case, we can proceed on the theory that the rents are wrong, and I should not be willing to throw on the Land Purchase Commissioners the burden of revising judicial rents, and that is what this Amendment amounts to.

(8.7.) MR. SEXTON

In order to carry out a doctrine based on a belief in the inveterate folly of the Irish people, the right hon. Gentleman will insist on exacting 80 per cent. of the annual value, even when the Land Commission and Mr. Wrench, his own particular Commissioner, certify that this would be an unfair and unreasonable payment for the holding. There is little practical good to be derived from the Amendment, but there is something. It was almost worth while to move the Amendment to extract from the Minister in charge of the Bill the declaration that his Insurance Fund must be filled up, even though his own department may be of opinion that it will inflict an unfair and unreasonable burden upon the tenant.

(8.10.) The House divided:—Ayes 35; Noes 87.—(Div. List, No. 291.) (8.15.)

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

I beg to move the Amendment which stands in the name of my hon. Friend (Mr. Knox.)

Amendment proposed, In page 7, line 11, after the word "value," to insert the words "or such less sum as would not be greater than the average annual amount actually paid by the tenant or his predecessors in title, as rent to the landlord during the ten years next preceding the date of the advance, unless such less sum shall be less than four per cent. on the advance when the annuity shall be such sum as the Land Commission may determine."—(Mr. Webb.)

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

Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present,


I think there is one fatal objection to the Amendment. Supposing there had been a strike against rent on an estate, if you took as the test the amount actually paid by the tenant or his predecessors in title, great injustice would be done.

*(8.53.) MR. KNOX

I hope that, in some form or other, this point may be dealt with. While I do not want to press the Amendment in any pedantic fashion, I would point out that there has been nothing like a strike against rent in Ireland, although there has, no doubt, been during the last few years some irregularity in payment. Unless some modification is made in the clause, the effect of purchasing may be to make a tenant pay more than he has been paying for some time past. I think there are not many cases in Ireland where the tenants have successfully evaded the payment of rent throughout the whole of the last 10 years. If it were otherwise, it would not be much of a tribute to the effectiveness of the rent - extracting machine which Her Majesty's Government have been employing in Ireland. What I want to provide against is the exaction of a larger sum from the tenant after he has purchased than he has been accustomed to pay in the past. There are numbers of cases where landlords have allowed the tenants abatements year by year to prevent them going into the Land Court. There is another class of cases where the rent was fixed in 1881 or 1882 by Commissioners who adopted a high standard of value. It is well known that at the beginning of the fixing of fair rents there was a great inequality in the decisions of various Sub-Commissioners. In these cases the landlord has usually allowed abatements, and the tenants have got to regard the abatements as a matter of course. If such tenants bought under this Bill, they would pay more than they had been in the habit of paying. I hope that if the right hon. Gentleman cannot accept the Amendment, he may accept an Amendment to the definition of "annual value."

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

*(8.58.) MR. KNOX

The next. Amendment which stands in my name is in a more complete form, the suggestion I brought before the Committee, and which the Chief Secretary advised to re-introduce in a more carefully drafted form. I have drawn it very carefully, so as to exclude any suspicion of fraud. The Land Commissioners' valuer may find in any case that, although a holding would be good security for 13 years' purchase, it would not be good security for the full amount of 80 per cent. of the nominal rent, and he might report that the advance could be sanctioned if some provision were made for half of what the tenant would be called upon to pay during the first five years. It might be that the landlord would be very ready to pay a certain sum in order to get the sale through, and in that case the proviso would be of advantage to both parties.

Amendment proposed, In page 7, line 22, after "holding," to insert the words "(2.) If, after application has been made for an advance, the Land Commission by order declare that an annuity equal to eighty per cent. of the annual value of the holding would be more than the purchaser could pay without impoverishing the holding, and that the advance can only be sanctioned if the landlord pays to the Land Commission, or allows the Land Commission to retain out of the purchase money, as purchaser's insurance money, a sum in such order mentioned, and the landlord agrees to so pay or allow the Land Commission to retain such sum, the Land Commission may sanction an advance for the purchase of the holding on condition that such sum be so paid or retained. When an advance has been made for the purchase of a holding on such condition, the sum be paid or retained, with interest at the prescribed rate, shall be applied by the Land Commission in part payment of the purchase annuity during the first five years of the term, and the annuity actually payable by the purchaser during such five years shall be such Bum as will be sufficient to make up the annuity to eighty per cent. of the annual value of the holding."—(Mr. Knox.)

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

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

I object to the Amendment as tending to promote collusion between landlord and tenant. I do not think it would be in favour of the tenant at all. If in favour of anyone it would be in favour of the landlord by enabling him to get more than he ought.


I also take that view and must oppose the Amendment. I think it would lead to unnecessary complication, and I do not think it would tend to the advantage of the tenant.

Question put, and negatived.

(9.8.) MR. SEXTON

I have an Amendment on the Paper to omit Subsection 2 of Clause 5, but I do not propose to move it. I desire, however, to move an Amendment to the subsection. The subsection runs thus:— All such reductions shall be made by the Land Commission on the application of the proprietor for the time being of the holding charged, and so on. I would move to insert after "application" the words "by letter or otherwise."


I do not see any objection to the Amendment.


I would suggest that the words should be "in writing by letter or otherwise."

Amendment proposed, in page 7, line 24, after "application" to insert "in writing by letter or otherwise."—(Mr. Sexton.)

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

Other Amendments made.

(9.15.) MR. KNOX

The next proposal I have to make is to apply the Chief Secretary's principle the other way about. The Chief Secretary proposes that where purchase is unusually rapid, the term of the extra annuity shall be extended. I propose that where purchase is very slow, the Lord Lieutenant may declare that the purchase annuity shall not continue for the period of five years to be 80 per cent. of the annual value. I think this might be found to be a very useful provision, and I hope the Government will accept it.

Amendment proposed, In page 7, line 37, after the foregoing Amendment, to insert the words "or if one thirtieth part of the capital sum available for land purchase in any county under this Act shall not have been advanced within two years alter the passing of this Act, and it appears to the Lord Lieutenant on the report of the Land Commission, that it is expedient that the purchase annuities to which this section applies in the county should continue for less than five years to be eighty per cent. of the said annual value, and he so declares by publication in the prescribed manner."—(Mr. Knox.)

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


If the Amendment were accepted it might have the effect of stopping land purchase in a county.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Other Amendments made.

(9.22.) MR. SEXTON

Sub-section 5 is intended to enable the Lord Lieutenant to use the Reserve Fund either for the purpose of voting money in distressed districts, or for the purpose of saving the county from a levy. I do not think that more than one purpose is provided for. If you wait until the deficiency arises, that is to say, until the date for the payment of the annuity has gone by, you will be too late, I should think, to assist the persons liable to pay. Why should the power given in this section be only put in force when a deficiency has been reached?


Would not the view of the hon. Gentleman, with which I heartily sympathise and agree, be met if, everything after the word "interest" were left out of the clause?


I have no doubt if the learned Attorney General will undertake to see that the two cases in which the fund can be applied shall be clearly defined in another place, that will be sufficient.


We will do that.

*(9.27.) MR. KEAY

I have to propose the Amendment that stands on the Paper in my name. Sub-section 2, which I wish to omit, entirely changes the character of the Bill, and is in itself of the most enormous importance in regard to the amounts of the advances which will take place under it. If the Sub-section were omitted, the Bill would be a Bill for the advance of £30,000,000 to the tenants or landlords of Ireland, and the advances would in every case begin to be recouped after the first year, so that the risk imposed upon the taxpayers would grow less and less as time went on. By this Sub-section, however, the whole position is changed. The result may be shortly stated in this way, that the advances to Irish tenants or landlords during the first 49 years of the operation of the Bill with this Sub-section included, will amount, not to £30,000,000, but to no less than £74,000,000. The Bill, as it stands, is a perpetual Land Purchase Bill, and if my calculation be correct, the amount of lendings which would take place in the second 49 years would amount to no less a sum than upwards of £200,000,000 sterling. The present state of the House does not altogether encourage one to deal with the enormous question raised by this clause, and I do not propose to do other than simply suggest how this sub-section will operate to vitiate what would otherwise be a consistent policy throughout the Bill. The first effect, then, of this re-lending, as it is called, is to reduce the Guarantee Fund to a state of bankruptcy. It also has a similar effect on the Sinking Fund. Assuming that default takes place at the end of one year, or 10 years, or 20, 40, or 49 years, the result is to drain the Sinking Fund in case of default perfectly dry, so that the whole payments into the Sinking Fund will have to begin again, and the British taxpayer will have to go on guaranteeing loans under the Bill not for 49, but—in case of default in the 40th year—for 89 years. Now, of course, these matters are very recondite, but the Bill has been framed—whether purposely or not—in such a manner that it is a very difficult matter to explain clearly and succinctly the effect of this new and unparalleled experiment in what is called re-lending. The reason why the Guarantee Fund is bankrupted in the very first year, as I have already said, is obvious. Assuming that the £30,000,000 are lent at once, according to the Return supplied to us by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the first re-lendings which will have taken place at the end of the first 12 months will amount to £300,000. Well, new instalments will, of course, arise as due from the new tenant purchasers in consequence of this re-lending, and these instalments in the very first year at 4 per cent. will be £12,000; and the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer has now admitted that this £12,000 will not be provided for in the Guarantee Fund—that is to say, that the income of the Guarantee Fund for that year will be overdrawn to the extent of that £12,000. Of course, the amount will increase in almost geometrical progression every year. Not to detain the House, I will only mention that at the end of the 49th year the excess of tenants' instalments over the income of the Guarantee Fund for that single year will amount to £1,700,000. The only answer which has been given by the Government to this is—and I will state it as succinctly as I can—that undoubtedly there do arise these tenants' instalments outside the pale of the Guarantee Fund; but they say, "We shall use to cancel them the accumulations which we have acquired in our Sinking Fund during all the years preceding the default." All I have got to say is—and the Government I may say admit this—that if the course here suggested is taken, instead of a 49 years' obligation resting on the British taxpayers to guarantee these loans, the obligation—assuming defaul to take place in the 40th year—will begin all over again, so that the British taxpayers will have to guarantee the whole of the debt not for 49, but for 89 years. The Government, of course, have given us plenty of assurances to the contrary. They have told us that the Guarantee Fund will be able to recoup these defaults shilling by shilling. This, I believe the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary will admit, must have meant year by year; for it is absurd to say that the Guarantee Fund could pay up default shilling by shilling, if the default of the shilling were to occur in one year and to be met only 49 years after it was due. We were told by the Chancellor of the Exchequer also that any deficit in the Consolidated Fund, which will arise under this re-lending process—and no such deficit would arise if the subsection were struck out—we were told that any deficit arising in the Consolidated Fund, from its making the advances which are called temporary in the Bill, will be "at once recouped from the Guarantee Fund." I need not remind the House, especially as I have had an opportunity of making some remarks upon this subject before, which, not repeating, I will now only summarise—that the idea that these temporary advances can be thus at once recouped is absurd altogether, because the Guarantee Fund will be overdrawn. In consequence of the re-lendings to which I have called attention, the Guarantee Fund will have no money to repay the advances, which will have been made to an enormous extent. I might, perhaps, within the limits allowed me, venture to inquire of the right hon. Gentleman how his Sinking Fund is to be kept up under this re-lending operation? We know there is to be 1 per cent. for the Sinking Fund, year by year, until advances are repaid, and that when Stock is cancelled, such cancelment does not diminish by one jot the obligation to collect the same amount yearly for the Sinking Fund payments. We know, further, under the principle which is the very A B C of Sinking Fund finance, that, if part of the Stock is cancelled by the application of the accretions to the Sinking Fund, that fact does not diminish the obligation to pay yearly into the Fund not only the annual amount of the Sinking Fund contribution, but also the amount of all the dividends which are saved from the public in consequence of the cancelment of the Stock. I know that the subject is difficult, and I am not going to detain the House by any elaboration of it. I have, however, stated the broad principle which, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer knows as well as I do, or better, forms the A B C of all Sinking Funds, that if the Sinking Fund is to be preserved, it must continue to receive these fixed payments which I have humbly endeavoured to describe, and that it will be impossible for him to carry the 1st clause into effect if this sub-section in regard to re-lending is not struck out. I may be pardoned if I allude to what I thought might possibly have been the intention or view of the Chancellor of the Exchequer when I made my Motion last night in regard to a verbal alteration in Clause 1. The right hon. Gentleman objected to the alteration without assigning any reason, but that the words "nominal amount of the capital" were the usual mode of expression. It may be that the right hon. Gentleman intends to represent his view of the Sinking Fund payments to mean that they should be 1 per cent. on the amount of Land Stock which may be outstanding at any time. I do not know if the Chancellor of the Exchequer will do me the honour of giving any indication of his view "Yes" or "No" to that; but if he will make the calculation for himself, he will find that such a position is utterly untenable, inasmuch as the Government Tables themselves provide that these 1 per cent. Sinking Fund payments with all their accumulations of compound interest are necessary to redeem the Stock in 49 years; and if he were to allow the annual payments to be diminished below 1 per cent. on each and every advance which had been made, then in no case would the Government Tables for 49 years' redemption be complied with at all. If he were to reduce the Sinking Fund payments from the fixed point, if he were to say that 1 per cent. should be paid only on the Stock outstanding—that is to say, that after he has cancelled part of the Stock the 1 per cent. should only be paid on the remainder, then in no case could the tables be complied with, for it would require 58 or 59 years, instead of 49 years, to cancel the Stock. I merely throw out the suggestion. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman desires thus to transgress the ordinary rules of Sinking Funds, and allow payments to be diminished. But I assume that he will not do so, and that he will adhere to the A B C, as I have called it, of Sinking Fund payments. If he does this, then I assert most boldly that the Bill necessitates the right hon. Gentleman receiving such payments from the tenant purchasers as will be fixed payments, and so will pay off the Stock in 49 years after issue; and that if the tenants' default under the relending operation, there is no money in the Guarantee Fund to pay at all, and that the only resource which he has got is to destroy the Sinking Fund absolutely, and begin again, using the Sinking Fund for the unlawful purpose of meeting the default of the tenants, and then declaring that the loss of £38,000,000 of interest which will thus take place on the 30th year is no loss to anyone. I may remind the right hon. Gentleman that on the 26th January he was good enough to assure the House, in reply to the question to which I have already referred to-day, that it is the intention of the Government that the Guarantee Fund shall be able to pay off the whole of the purchase annuities if default is committed. I will only add this further remark. It appears to me, although I am not a lawyer, that according to the arrangement of his own Bill the right hon. Gentleman has provided that this Sinking Fund shall be honestly kept up, and if there is a flaw in some way in the Bill which will enable him not to keep it up according to the ordinary rules of Sinking Funds, but which will enable him to destroy the Fund by meeting defaults from it, then I think we are entitled to some explanation as to how the Bill provides for this, and also how this wholesale destruction of the Fund would consist with all the assurances of the Government that the taxpayer would only be asked to guarantee the Land Stock for 49 years from date of issue.

Amendment proposed, in page 9, line 23, to leave out from the word "not," to the word "exceed," in line 24.—(Mr. Keay.)

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


I do not propose to enter at length into the discussion of the question raised by the hon. Member. I wish to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has considered the effect on his re-lending clause of the words he last night introduced into Clause 1 of the Bill? The right hon. Gentleman introduced words into the 1st clause which, in my opinion, make it more certain than before that all money borrowed for the purpose of this Act must be repaid through the operation of the Sinking Fund at, or before, 49 years from the date when the loan was issued. The Chancellor of the Exchequer will not deny that he has inserted words to this effect. It is absolutely clear now that every amount borrowed must be paid at the end of 49 years. On the other hand, it is admitted by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that there must be great retardation in the event of defalcations occurring some years after the re-lending process has been in operation. The subject is somewhat difficult to explain, but, as I understand the argument of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in answer to what has been put before the House by the hon. Member for Elgin and others as to the re-lending clause, is that if defalcation occurs at any time after the re-lending clause has been in operation it will be open to him to use the Sinking Fund for the purpose of cancelling debt to the extent to which it exists, and the right hon. Gentleman then contends that the effect of this will be that the outstanding debt will be reduced to £30,000,000. He then contends that he is entitled to commence a new Sinking Fund from that date, and he says the Guarantee Fund will be sufficient to meet the interest and Sinking Fund of this £30,000,000. But the effect will be to retard the full repayment of the original Stock by a certain number of years beyond the original term. If that retardation is possible under the Bill, then I admit there is no objection from a financial point of view; but the question arises whether the retardation is possible under the special terms of the Bill, and I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer will admit that if the retardation is not expressly allowed under the terms of the Bill, if he is bound by those terms to repay the money within 49 years from the date when it was first borrowed, then the guarantee cannot be enforced years after the period when the Stock ought to be repaid. I should like to call the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the terms of Clause 1 as amended yesterday, and I ask whether he is not bound to maintain such a Sinking Fund as will repay the original sum borrowed within 49 years from the date of borrowing? If so, it appears to me that the scheme of retardation is not possible for him, and that the guarantee, if he attempts to enforce it after 49 years have expired, will not be legally binding, and it will be open to those against whom it is enforced to raise the legal question against him. Let us suppose that a defalcation has occurred, and that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has used the Sinking Fund for the purpose of cancelling debt, and that the outstanding debt is reduced to £30,000,000. Let us suppose it is extended over a period beyond the original 49 years, and that the Lord Lieutenant issues a precept for calling from the ratepayers £1,200,000, it would be open to the ratepayers to question the legality of that precept, and on this issue would arise the question whether, under the terms of the Act, the process of retardation is permissible. Now, it appears to me that under the special terms of Clause 1 retardation is not permissible, and that the Government are bound to repay the original sum borrowed within 49 years. That is a legal question, and I have not felt justified in simply expressing my own opinion. I have had the opportunity of putting the point before one of the ablest of lawyers specially qualified to express an opinion in relation to questions of a financial character. Mr. Fletcher Moulton, and he after carefully considering the Bill, has expressed the opinion, which he has authorised me to quote, that there is no power under the Bill as it now stands providing for this retardation, and that the Government will be bound, should the Bill become law as it stands, to pay the sum borrowed within 49 years of the date of borrowing. If, then, the retardation process is not possible, the guarantee cannot be enforced beyond the date when the original sum ought to have been repaid. The point is one of considerable importance, and I hope, before the Bill passes, the Chancellor of the Exchequer will give it his attention; and if the opinion of the able lawyer I have quoted should be confirmed, it will be desirable to omit in another place this sub-section. It is a question upon which I do not express an opinion without hesitation; but I certainly do think there is no power in the Bill allowing the Government to retard the process of repayment beyond the specific term of 49 years. The guarantee is, then, bad, and the scheme of re-lending unsound.

*(9.55.) MR. GOSCHEN

I can assure the hon. Member for Elgin that, though he has repeated his arguments over and over again during the course of these discussions, it is in no spirit of discourtesy that we abstain from continually making a reply to speeches which have-already been fully dealt with in the earlier stages of the Bill. Evidently this question exercises the mind of the hon. Member very much, and we have endeavoured time after time to convince him of his errors, apparently without success, for the only effect is that he quotes them at length in every speech, and then asks us again to reply to his arguments, and I see no end to this, so we must leave the matter as it stands, and the House must decide. The right hon. Gentleman opposite has raised a point, and in support of his own opinion quotes that of Mr. Fletcher Moulton, and he hopes that if this opinion is confirmed we will have the matter put right by dropping the sub-section. But we-should take a precisely different course. If we find that Mr. Fletcher Moulton is right in his interpretation of the words of the clause, and that the words as drawn do not give us the power sought to be obtained, the Government will change the language so as to obtain that power, because it is clear that it can be given with safety to the taxpayer. I know the value of Mr. Fletcher Moulton's opinion, but I know from experience that the opinion of a lawyer very much depends on the manner in which the case is put before him and the arguments used, and I should not be surprised if Mr. Fletcher Moulton qualified his interpretation if I had the opportunity of putting my views before him by the side of those of the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman says we are absolutely bound to pay off in 49 years, but the right hon. Gentleman does not quote us quite correctly. The words provide that for the purpose of such redemption a Sinking Fund shall be established. All that we have done is to indicate, but not to pledge, the redemption of annuities within 49 years. I carefully indicated to the draftsmen of the Bill that no words should be used which should pledge the Government to the period of 49 years. The whole arrangement of the Sinking Fund is such as not to give any positive pledge to that effect which, if we were to violate, would bring us into conflict with the law. I regret the idea that there is going to be a general repudiation. The hon. Gentleman's theory is that in every county on a given day there is to be a universal strike. Even in that case we are perfectly safe: we have in the Sinking Fund and the accumulations ample security. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford agrees that there is no possible loss of capital.


A postponement for 49 years.


A retardation of payment only will take place. But, assuming a general strike to occur, the advances will be met for 12 years by the ¼ per cent. local contribution. The hon. Member suggests, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford suggests, that we should go on lending after a default takes place.


I never made any such suggestion. In Committeee I said I thought the Treasury would stop re-lending whenever a default took place.


I also should like to say that not one of my remarks to-night was based on the supposition that re-lending would take place after default was made.


Then we can go on comfortably until 1910; the ¼ per cent. contributions will cover us till then.

(10.2.) MR. E. ROBERTSON (Dundee)

I do not understand that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) disputes that the operation of re-lending may be perfectly safely conducted. As I understand, the situation is this: that we are going to spend £30,000,000 sterling, and for that we have security in the shape of certain Irish revenues. We are never going to spend more than £30,000,000, and we are never to have less than this revenue to fall back upon. Therefore, it does not seem to me that it matters whether we re-lend or not But I do not understand what object the Chancellor of the Exchequer had last night in introducing his new words into the sub-section. I do not think the public interest is involved in the question whether these annuities should be paid off at the end of 49 years, or should be allowed to run on, but the legal difficulty stated by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford is one that, I think, should be settled in a moment by the Attorney General for Ireland. It appears to me that the difficulty very probably arises from the place in the section in which the new words are introduced. They make the clause read "and for the purpose the such redemption at the expiration of 49 years." That seems to me to be directory rather than restrictive, or, in other words, to absolutely define the period when the redemption shall take place.

(10.7.) MR. SEXTON

The words were put in at my suggestion, and I should like to hear more about them before they are struck out. I objected to the words the Chancellor of the Exchequer brought up, and suggested that after the word "redemption," in line 12, we should put in the words "within the term of 49 years from the data of the issue of such stock." I imagine the Treasury would find themselves in difficulty if at any time Stock remained unredeemed for more than 49 years, unless the Treasury were able to show some sufficient reason for the delay.


I will carefully consider the matter.

Question put, and agreed to.

An Amendment made.

*(10.12.) MR. KEAY

I now beg to move, in Clause C, page 9, line 36, after "payments," to add— But any such order shall not come into operation until it has lain for not less than 30 days upon the Table of the House of Commons, nor if a resolution objecting to the Order has been passed by such House.

This Amendment also relates to what is called the re-lending clause. My desire is that there should be some check upon the operations of this clause and upon the vast advances which I have already stated it is calculated to make in addition to the original £30,000,000. I propose that re-lending should not take place until the House of Commons has had an opportunity of considering whether the operation is free from danger. I estimate that in the first 49 years the re-lendings alone will amount to £42,000,000 sterling. This at once shows that the matter of re-lending is one of grave importance, and one that should not be entered upon in any given case unless the House has had an opportunity of pronouncing upon it. I may point out that the provision I propose was contained in the Bill of last year, and I ask why it should not be inserted in what is practically a similar Bill of this year? The replies I got in Commit tee consisted of one or two misstatements of fact. The Chief Secretary told me that the reason why the surveillance of Parliament was provided for in last year's Bill and not in this was that the Ashbourne moneys were to be re-lent under the Bill of last year, and were not to be re-lent under this Bill. But I was able to convince the right hon. Gentleman that that was a mistake, for, after consideration, he admitted that not only the Ashbourne moneys, but the immense re-lendings under the Bill of last year to the same vast amount as under the Bill of this year, were to be placed under the control of Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman had another answer for me, and that was to the effect that the Ashbourne moneys were to be re-lent under last year's Bill without security, and that, therefore, the control of Parliament was necessary on that ground. This, again, is a complete error, inasmuch as every penny of the Ashbourne money was to be re-lent on exactly the same security as the new £30,000,000. It is entirely erroneous, therefore, to allege that there was, under last year's Bill, any reason whatever, which is not equally applicable to the present Bill, why Parliament should be invoked to control the re-lending. There is only one other argument adduced against such a salutary provision as that contained in this Amendment. It was said by the right hon. Gentleman that the Government preferred to reject this Amendment, and to exclude the re-lending from the control of the House of Commons, because, if the Amendment were accepted, Parliament would be mainly occupied in deciding matters connected with re-lendings under this Bill, which would very much better be left to the control of the Treasury. I can hardly think that that was a serious argument on the part of the right hon. Gentleman. He knows very much better than I do that the forms of the House are such as to make it perfectly absurd for anyone to allege that any opportunities exist under its rules under which the House could possibly be mainly occupied in passing resolutions against re-lendings under this Bill. I therefore respectfully venture to submit that the only arguments which have been adduced against this proposal are neither weighty nor accurate. In consequence, we are in this position: that the Government have knocked out of their Bill a valuable provision for subjecting to the control of Parliament its re-lending operations without a single reason having been adduced for doing so other than the three which I think I have now successfully controverted.

Amendment proposed, In page 9, line 36, after the word "payments," to insert the words "but any such order shall not come into operation until it has lain for not less than thirty day's upon the Table of the House of Commons, nor if a resolution objecting to the order has been passed by such House."—(Mr. Keay.)

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

The House divided:—Ayes 42; Noes 137.—(Div. List, No. 292.)

Other Amendments made.


The Amendment I have to propose is for the purpose of curing what appears to me to be a defect in the Bill, namely, that there is no power given to the Executive to stop advances in the event of payment of annuities falling into arrear in particular districts. Of course, it will be admitted that wherever that is the case advances ought to cease, but it is a very disagreeable task to leave to the Land Commission to say at what particular period this shall take place, and, therefore, I propose that this shall be done on a notification from the Treasury.

Amendment proposed, In page 10, at end, add, "When it appears to the Treasury that the payment of annuities in any county has fallen into arrears, and that there is probability that the share of the county in the cash portion of the Guarantee Fund will be exhausted in meeting the claims on the Land Purchase Account, they shall certify the same to the Lord Lieutenant, and the Lord Lieutenant shall thereupon direct the Land Commissioners to cease making advances in such county until the Treasury shall notify to the Lord Lieutenant that, in their opinion, the advances may again be safely resumed."—(Mr. Shaw Lefevre.)

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

(10.37.) MR. MACARTNEY

I regret to have to occupy the House for a short time on the subject-matter of Clause 7, but the opinion I hold as to the general policy in its effect on land purchase in Ireland, and especially in my own constituency, is so strong that I feel bound to enter a final protest against the clause. While doing so I am quite ready to admit that the effort the right hon. Gentleman made to meet the objection to the clause as it was originally framed by extending the limit has to a considerable extent removed objections then urged against it. But in doing this the right hon. Gentleman has swept away all basis of principle for the clause. When the clause had the £30 limit the effect on land purchase, according to the figures in the Return presented by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, which I take to be fairly correct, would have been to exclude 80,000 holdings in Ireland of the valuation of £5,900,000, exceeding half the total valuation in Ireland. With the extension of the limit to £50 the number of holdings is reduced to something like 44,000, or nearly by half, but the valuation of the area of land which still remains excluded is only reduced by one-fifth; and an enormous proportion of the acreage of Ireland is under the clause expressly excluded, unless the Lord Lieutenant exercises his special powers, from the operation of the Bill. Whereas the holdings under £50 valuation, which give a total aggregate valuation of £5,600,000, are capable of using £27,000,000 under the Act, holdings over £50 valuation, with a total valuation of over £4,400,000, get hold of £2,700,000 only, a disproportion it appears to me impossible to justify on any ground whatever. What is the history of this clause? My right hon. Friend has not always been in favour of the principle adopted in the clause. On the First Reading he stated strongly his objection to the adoption of the principle. He had considered it, I suppose, with great care on the suggestion of the hon. Member for Cork, and he told the hon. Member on moving the First Reading that he thought the limit suggested was too rigid, and that it would leave outside the Bill and discontented an important section of the agricultural community in Ireland. He would not accept the limit of £50 valuation; but he proposed in another way to limit the scope of the Bill. Well, the limitations he provided in the Bill were not found acceptable to any portion of the Irish Representatives in the House, and my right hon. Friend did not occupy the time of the House in attempting to defend them; but certainly, if I had anticipated for a moment that striking out the clause originally limiting the scope of the Bill would have led to this limitation, I would have preferred the limitation displaced. When we had a discussion on May 7th on the original clause my right hon. Friend said he would be grateful for any observations that would assist him in coming to a decision on the point, and I think he will recollect that hon. Members on both sides expressed opinions more or less strongly against any limitation whatever of the character now before us being maintained in the Bill. It appears that the right hon. Gentleman has not been considering so much the opinion of Irish Representatives as yielding to the sentimental view of certain English Representatives, who, for reasons well or ill-founded, desire to see the benefit of land purchase confined to a certain section of the Irish tenants. Now, I certainly understood, as I think did my hon. Friends when the Bill was introduced, that the object was, so far as the money would go, to throw open the scheme of purchase to every tenant no matter what his holding or position, and it was on this basis that I, at all events, supported the Second Reading; but now my right hon. Friend has adopted the principle that it will be better for the future of land purchase, and better for the position of agriculture in Ireland, to exclude tenants who have the largest holdings, and who, so far as material prosperity goes, are in the best circumstances. I should like to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether this clause has his approval, because I recollect a very important portion of a speech he made last year on the Second Reading of the original Land Purchase Bill in which he told the House that the position in which Irish land was placed was eminently unsatisfactory, that the system of dual ownership was ruinous to agriculture in Ireland, and he also informed us that the Bill was introduced not only for the promotion of social order, not only to assist landlord and tenant, but for the purpose of improving the economical conditions of ereland by the promotion of a more Ifficient condition of agriculture than the present system in the interest of landlord and tenant afforded. Now, what is the position the Chancellor of the Exchequer must accept if he approves of the clause? That he will leave subject to this fatal system he described so eloquently last June, which is ruinous to landlord and tenant and disastrous to agricultural prospects, an area and valuation very nearly approximating to half the total value of the acreage in Ireland. If that is his conclusion, I cannot conceive how the hopes he has held out of agricultural prosperity in Ireland can ever be realised in that country. What is the argument upon which the supporters of the clause base themselves? They object to allowing the larger tenants of over £50 valuation to participate fully in the benefits of land purchase because they are wealthy, because occupying larger farms they offer the best security to the State, and because, as I understand hon. Members opposite to say, they must be contented with their position, inasmuch as they have been law-abiding in the past. Now, I cannot conceive any one of these reasons influencing anyone desiring to see a land purchase scheme succeed in Ireland. I fail to see why the large tenants, who are the men most capable and less likely to be affected by agricultural calamities than the small tenants because they carry on a system of mixed farming, should be excluded. I cannot see why the small tenants, who are not likely to be such good subjects for the experiment of creating occupying proprietors, are to have nearly the whole of the money provided for the purposes of land purchase turned over to them. I have another objection to the clause, that it will create the greatest difficulty in the transfer of property from a landlord to his tenants by the uncertainty it will introduce into every negotiation between the landlord who desires to sell and a portion of his tenants. At what period—and I have never yet been able to get an answer to this question—is the landlord to be satisfied, supposing the amount of money allocated, or which can be properly allocated, to tenants over £50 valuation is exhausted—at what period is he to ascertain that the Lord Lieutenant will exercise the exceptional power vested in him for the promotion of land purchase to advance further and additional sums to complete the sale of an estate? It is perfectly obvious, and I think hon. Gentlemen opposite will assent to this view, that in order to negotiate the sale of an estate or any portion of it, it is absolutely necessary that the vendor should have clearly in mind what are the terms upon which he is going to sell, and it is equally necessary that the tenants who are going to be parties to the purchase should know that if they accept his terms there will be no practical difficulty in the arrangement being carried out. But under this clause, as I read it, it will be impossible for the landlord to attempt to negotiate the sale of his property with any hope of success unless, in a county where the sum which can be allocated to the tenants of over £50 valuation has been exhausted, he knows that the Commissioners are prepared to make the necessary advance. I may say, generally, that I believe there is no instance on record in any country where, as a matter of practical experience, it has been found that a large number of small proprietors have been able to hold their own by the side of large tenant farmers except under exceptional circumstances which do not exist in Ireland. It is a well-known fact in England, and we find it exemplified among the "statesmen" of Cumberland and the small owners in the Lincolnshire fens, that in times of agricultural difficulty the small freeholders are the first to succumb, while large tenant farmers hold on and are able to get out of the difficulty. I am extremely surprised to find hon. Gentlemen like the hon. Member for Carnarvonshire (Mr. Rathbone) who, I know, support the Bill in the sincere desire to see its operation productive of good, take up what I cannot characterise in any other way than as an amiable "fad" on this question. I cannot believe, if that hon. Member had sufficient practical knowledge of this class of tenants whom he particularly wishes to bring within the purview of the Bill, that he could believe it is for the benefit of any portion of Ireland to turn over to them such a great proportion of this money, while at the same time excluding from the operation of the Bill the better class, the wealthier class of tenants in Ireland. But there is, apart from this, a special argument I would press upon Her Majesty's Government, and it is one in which my own county is specially concerned. I do not know how they will answer it, but there is the fact that by this clause the Government are about to exclude from the operation of the Bill the men who for years have supported the policy of the Government. Then turn to other parts of Ireland, in the West and South; who there will be excluded? The larger and more substantial farmers who have been law-abiding during past troubles, to whom Her Majesty's Government have appealed, and not in vain, to resist temptations to join illegal combinations and conspiracies. What is their reward now? They are deliberately excluded from this great benefit Her Majesty's Government propose to confer upon tenants in Ireland. I am bound to say they will have good reason to complain of the position in which they are placed. I do hope that, even at this late hour of our proceedings, my right hon. Friend will be induced to re-consider the position he has taken up—a position which does not rest on any considerable amount of support from any section of Irish Representatives. Though I know the great proportion of Irish Members on the other side will not concur with me in the argument I have just addressed to Her Majesty's Government, still it is a notorious fact that only a very small section of Representatives from Ireland support this clause, and I think, as regards the general interest of the country, and to facilitate the operation of the Bill, my right hon. Friend would be well advised if he were now to consent to modify, if not entirely to get rid of, a clause he only introduced as an afterthought, as a concession to what, after all, is only a sentimental opinion among some English Representatives. I move the omission of Clause 7.

Amendment proposed, in page 10, to leave out Clause 7.—(Mr. Macartney.)

Question proposed, "That the words of the Clause down to the word 'which,' in line 14, stand part of the Bill."

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

I will only occupy a very few minutes, for it is not desirable now to re-open the whole question The speech we have just heard displayed that wonderful power of imagination which so often distinguishes speeches from Irish Representatives. The hon. Member has spoken of the exclusion of the larger Irish tenants from the Bill; but, in truth, the object of the clause is to prevent exclusion, to prevent the larger tenants excluding the small tenants from the opportunity of purchase, and it is founded on no speculative or sentimental idea, but upon the actual figures giving the result of the operation of the Land Purchase Acts in the past. The larger holdings have absorbed two-thirds of the money intended for tenants generally, and this is a provision to secure a more general distribution. The large tenants are not excluded; a very large portion of the money can be availed of by them without any limitation, and, in fact, the clause is little more than an indication that we do not intend that the whole of the money shall be devoted to the purchase of larger holdings, and where it is necessary to complete the sale of an estate the Land Commission can relax and the Lord Lieutenant can abolish the limitation. The clause is so moderate in its provisions that I am surprised that the hon. Member should have any desire to touch it. He is not even right in saying that the great bulk of the Irish Representatives agree with him in principle. No doubt Irish Members have said they did not wish for a limitation, but they frankly gave their reason; they expect in time to get the whole sum necessary to buy up the whole of the agricultural estates in Ireland; and if there was a certainty that there would be no further advance in the purchase system, they would have supported the original clause. The hon. Member spoke of the smaller holdings giving the worst security; but I have only to go to the actual experience of the working of the Ashbourne Acts to show that he is mistaken, that while default in payment of instalments is represented by 7 per cent. on the larger holdings, it is only 1 per 1,000 on the small holdings. The clause is founded on fact and experience, not sentiment.

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

When these provisions were inserted in Committee, I was, unfortunately, unable to be present; and as this clause has created considerable excitement in Ulster, and especially in my own constituency, I am glad to have an opportunity of expressing my views with regard to it. I am free to confess that the Amendment adopted in Committee, raising the limit of valuation from £30 to £50, obviated a good deal of difficulty. The hon. Member for Carnarvonshire (Mr. Rathbone) stated that the real reason for the insertion of this clause is that the large tenants under the Ashbourne Acts secured two-thirds of the money advanced. Has the hon. Gentleman considered why this was so? I believe there have been two reasons for it. I am sure I shall not offend hon. Members below the Gangway when I say that they have not always occupied the same position in relation to land purchase as they occupy now. Beyond "yea" or "nay" they have advised the tenants not to be in a hurry to buy, but to wait, and probably they would get better terms. Now, the smaller tenants were precisely the men open to that advice; and the larger tenants, who were precisely the men not open to it, bought regardless of it. That is one reason. The other reason is the action of the Land Commissioners. These gentlemen were appointed to carry out a great experiment, and they were naturally anxious that the experiment should be as successful as possible. They preferred, I suppose—I do not blame them for it at all—to sell to the larger holders, whose security was better, rather than to the smaller tenants, whose security was not so good. Owing to these two causes the state of facts which we all lament has been brought about. But I submit neither of these two causes can operate in future. It will be impossible to tell the tenants in future, large or small, to wait now for better terms, and, if given, the advice will not be taken. After these Debates the Land Commission is not likely to err in the same way again, and they will be inclined, I should say, even to give the smaller tenants the preference. In what position does the Chief Secretary place the Ulster Unionist Members by this clause? I ask him why irritate a considerable number of men in each county for so small a matter? What am I to say to those 900 farmers in Tyrone whose valuation is above £50, and a large percentage of whom cannot possibly purchase under this Act? I shall be forced to tell those 900 men that they are practically excluded from the Act, and their answer will be irresistable. They will say that during the last 10 years, when the foundations of social order have been sapped, when the resources of the Government have been strained to the uttermost, they have stood by law and order, paid their rents, and resisted agrarian socialism, and for this service to the State—and it has been a service to the State—their reward is that they are excluded from this enormous boon. On the other hand, we find that the greatest efforts are made to bring the Campaigners under the Act—the men who have been employed for years sapping the foundations of all that is valuable in the State. These men are brought under the Act and are rewarded. I say it is a difficult position that the Act places the Ulster Members in. [Irish Nationalist cheers.] Hon. Members below the Gangway may enjoy it. We do not. Then there is the difficulty as regards estates. In one estate in my constituency there are probably 10 or 12 men who will be excluded by this clause. If the landlord of that estate sells to the small holders he will have to keep up his whole agency expenses and office expenses for the small number of large holders who cannot buy. The very discretion given to the Land Commission in such cases shows the utter unworkable-ness and worthlessness of the whole thing. I should like to ask the Chief Secretary what he thinks will happen if the small holders decline to take advantage of the Act to the extent that is expected. We have heard that these men are heavily weighted by the Insurance Fund, and, if they do not purchase, are the funds to lie dormant, and this while there are large tenants willing to buy and owners willing to sell? Lastly, I desire to point out that in carrying this clause the Chief Secretary will be acting in opposition to every supporter he has in this House from Ireland. There is not a single Irish Member, except, perhaps, my right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Madden), who will go into the Lobby with him. It may be advisable—it may even be right—to kick your friends, but I should have thought the Government would at least, have considered what they would gain by forcing on the clause. They have not even gained that section of the Irish Party which is so ably led by the hon. Member for West Belfast.


I beg your pardon; I do not lead any section of the Irish Party.


Well,' I will not go into that question; if I did, I do not know where I should land myself. At all events, if the hon. Member has not led them in these discussions, I should like to know who has. I say he has not only led them, but led them most ably. The Government, I repeat, in thus kicking their own friends have not secured even the support of the Irish section I have referred to. The Irish Members voted against the Government on the last occasion, and I hope they will do so again on this. I trust, however, that even at the eleventh hour the Government will see their way, I will not say to get rid of the clause altogether, but to make some modification in it which will relieve their friends the Ulster Members from the difficulties in which they will otherwise be placed.

(11.12.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR

I do not propose to deal at length with this question, important though I admit it to be, for it was fully discussed on a former occasion. My hon. Friend the Member for South Antrim has talked as though I had acted with inconsistency in regard to this clause and some statements I previously made, but the hon. Member is utterly mistaken. The course I objected to, and still object to, is to draw the £50 limit on any line of so absolute a character that no one who does not come within that limit shall be able to buy at all. That was the only proposal on the subject I previously had before me, and it never occurred to me that I should be asked to deal with the matter in the particular manner now proposed. I absolutely deny the statement which has been made, that we are excluding the purchase of holdings of over £50 value. It is perfectly true, of course, that some tenants over £50 who would have bought will no longer be able to buy. But, in fact, there is no exclusion in the matter, and the clause ought really to be called an inclusive clause. Its object is to include, and that only will be its effect. What we do with this £4,000,000 is this: it is earmarked for purchasers of holdings of above £50, and we deal with these purchasers on the principle of first come first served. The result, therefore, is not correctly described by saying that certain persons who would otherwise have been able to purchase will not be able to do so. There will, as I have said, be certain persons who will not be able to buy, but an enormous number who were not before able to buy will now be able to do so. The hon. Member for South Tyrone has asked what he can say to his constituents in Ulster if the clause is passed. Well, I will only ask the hon. Member to explain the clause to them, for I am perfectly certain that if they fully understand it there will be no such objection to it as the hon. Member fears. As to the objections urged by the hon. Member in reference to the exclusion of estates and to small holders holding back, provisions are at this moment in the Bill that fully meet them.


May I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman can say at what period the landlord will be able to ascertain that the money will be advanced by the Commission?


A landlord making his bargain under this Bill must always be in doubt. He must first be in doubt whether or not the Commission will sanction the sale at all, and again whether there will be money enough. Hon. Members discuss the clause as if the Government had £90,000,000 or £100,000,000 to dispose of. If they had, no such suggestion as is contained in this clause would have come from my lips or have been introduced at my suggestion into any Bill. It is because we have only a comparatively small and limited sum that we are bound to exclude a certain number of Irish tenants, and to direct the stream of Imperial charity—[Mr. MACNEILL: No, no; not charity]—well, of Imperial munificence or assistance—[Cries of "No, no," from the Irish Members]—well, then, to direct the stream of Imperial assistance into the channel which we think most beneficial to Ireland. That ought not to be, and cannot be, described as a scheme for excluding large tenants. Hon. Members have addressed to me personally an argument which, I think, perhaps, they would have hesitated to use in the House. They have said "Are you not aware that the people who have supported the policy of the Government throughout all the troubles in Ireland are the tenants of over £50 valuation?" Am I really to believe that the great bulk of the larger farmers in Ulster are tenants of over £50 valuation? Why, what is their total number? I think my hon. Friend said there were 700.


There are 8,000 in Ulster, 900 in Tyrone.


In his constituency. He has more than 900 supporters in Tyrone.


He means 900 in the whole county.


On the admission of the hon. Member, there are 900 such tenants in South Tyrone, and it is a libel on the great bulk of the tenant-farmers of Ulster to say that those below the £50 valuation are not to be counted among the friends of law and order.


I never said anything of the kind. What I did say was those farmers who are excluded for no other reason than that their valuation is above £50, and who have during the past 10 years struggled to do right, are now to be punished, while those who have struggled to do something else during that period are to be rewarded.


That is not my argument. The hon. Gentleman below the Gangway on this side of the House not only said that those tenants of above £50 valuation who would otherwise be able to purchase, would be prevented from doing so by this clause, but he implied that these persons were distinguished for their loyalty above others in his constituency.


I never said that, or intended to say it.


I accept the correction, but I must point out that it demolishes the hon. Member's argument. There is, I now understand, no distinction in loyalty between the farmers of above £50 valuation and those of below £50 valuation. Therefore, the clause will enable a very large number of loyal farmers to buy, and will only exclude a very few. Does not the hon. Member for Tyrone see that he has only to go down to his constituents and explain to them the real object and effect of the clause—namely, that it will enable a large number of tenants to buy who otherwise would be unable to do so—to get their support for the policy of the clause? My hon. Friend finished up his speech by asking what the Government gain by proposing this clause, and urged that hon. Members below the Gangway on this side, and hon. Members on the other side of the House, who usually support the Government, both oppose the clause, while the support of the party led by the hon. Member for West Belfast has not been secured for it. I admit that the clause has not been introduced for a merely Party advantage, or to obtain a merely temporary gain. It has been introduced—and it certainly has greatly added to my own troubles and to the labours of the House—to make the Bill as good a Land Purchase Bill as ingenuity can devise. All those who have the interests of land purchase at heart, when they understand the clause—that it does not interfere with the sale of whole estates; that it can, if necessary, be altered by the Lord Lieutenant and Parliament; and, above all, that its object and effect will be to enable small holders to buy who would other wise be excluded from the purview of the Act—all these people, including the constituents of the hon. Member for South Tyrone, will be as earnest for the passing some limitation of this kind as the Government itself has been.

(11.24.) MR. SEXTON

The hon. Members for South Antrim and South Tyrone seem incapable of understanding the policy of land-purchase. I have held from the first that the only limitation to be recommended is that which would extend the benefits of ownership as widely as possible. But with that I have always coupled the declaration that in my judgment there is no safe ground for the full extension of the policy of land purchase, except that of offering every possible facility for the sale of estates. Before I come to that point, however, I have to say that I think both the hon. Member for South Antrim and the hon. Member for South Tyrone displayed very indifferent judgment by referring in the face of the House of Commons to the political opinions of any class of Irish farmers. The Chief Secretary has disclaimed any intention of applying the money for any Political Party in particular; but if the example of the hon. Members for South Tyrone and South Antrim is to be followed, I can assert that I have known large farmers in Ireland who have been leaders in the Plan of Campaign, leaders of the Land League and the National League, and leaders of that political Party of which I am a member. The bulk of the large and the small farmers are on the side of the Party to which I belong, and, therefore, I feel bound to study the interests of both classes. As I have said, the main object is to facilitate the sale of estates. The higher the line of demarcation is placed, the more danger there is that the sale of estates will be embarrassed. The money allotted to the farmers who are above the line of demarcation will be diminished as the line is raised, and the sooner it is exhausted the sooner will the process of purchase be blocked, except in case of some relaxation of the rules. I have no confidence in the discretion either of the majority of the Land Commission or of the Lord Lieutenant. The large farmers in Ireland are the chief employers of labour, and I believe the main hope of the labourers in that country lies in allowing the large farmers freely to purchase their holdings. The right hon. Gentleman says that if he had £90,000,000 or £100,000,000 to spend in land purchase he should not wish the clause to stand. It is just because he does not think that £30,000,000 is final that I object to the clause. So far from closing the land question in Ireland, the grant of £30,000,000 sets the Government upon an incline plane, to the end of which they must travel. They have become by their own act the slaves of logical necessity. In order that it may not be said I have lent any countenance to the idea that the £30,000,000 is final, I shall vote against the clause.


I cannot agree with the hon. Member in the action he is going to take. I agree that £30,000,000 is not going to settle the land question in Ireland, but what chance does the hon. Member see at present or in the near future of getting any more? Where is he going to get it from, and which British Party is going to give it him? It is because that I see no immediate prospect of any more that I wish the £30,000,000 should be spent in the best possible manner so as to benefit all classes of farmers in Ireland. That is exactly what I think the clause will do. It would give the poorer and less intelligent men a chance of getting their share in the land purchase scheme. I do not think the price of land in Ireland is likely to go up owing to any rush by the large farmers to the Land Purchase Courts. The reason why I support the clause is because it will enable a very much larger number of tenants in Ireland to purchase.

(11.40.) The House divided:—Ayes 190; Noes 34.—(Div. List, No. 293.)

Another Amendment made.

Amendment proposed, in page 10, line 15, after the word "Act," to insert the words "or the previous Land Purchase Acts."—(Sir George Campbell.)

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

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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

I have now to move the Amendment which stands in my name, and the object of which is to make the clause applicable to transactions under the Ashbourne Acts. I object very strongly to the loophole which the clause gives as it stands in favour of the large tenants. It is true that the agitation has come to a great extent from the large farmers. When we look at statistics we find that. Lister is pre-eminently the country of small farmers—very excellent small farmers—small farmers of the Scotch type. There are few larger farmers. They are excellent men in every way except when then want to get the money of the British taxpayer. If you give the money to them, how can you refuse it to the Scotch farmers? If you turn these farmers into proprietors the result will be that their sons will turn into gentlemen and will not cultivate the land at all.

Amendment proposed, in page 10, line 21, to leave out the word "expect," and insert the words "and the amount available in such proportion shall be applied to cases."—(Sir George Campbell.)

Question, "That the word 'except' stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.

Further Amendment agreed to.

Clause 7, page 10, line 22, leave out "the first-mentioned class," and insert "any of such holdings."—(The Attorney General for Ireland.)

(12.5.) MR. RATHBONE

I beg to move the Amendment that stands in my name. So far from the clause being so very restrictive as is supposed, I am advised that, unless the words I propose to insert are agreed to, it will hardly give the indication it is intended to give that the whole sum shall not be given to the large farmers.

Amendment proposed in page 10, line 23, after "sales," to insert "of other holdings the rent of which does not exceed fifty pounds each."—(Mr. Rathbone.)

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


These words would not, I think, strengthen the "clause.


I think the clause is thoroughly explicit without these words. I do not, however, see that the Amendment can do any harm.

Question put, and agreed to.

Verbal Amendments agreed to.

(12.10.) MR. KNOX

I beg to move the Amendment standing in the name of my hon. Friend (Mr. A. O'Connor). When Clause 12 was inserted in Committee it was dealt with somewhat hurriedly. The Chief Secretary accepted it as a compromise, but suggested that any Amendment might be inserted on Report.

Amendment proposed, In page 13, line 9, at end of Clause 12, to insert the words, "Provided that (a.) bonâ fide agricultural labourer who is occasionally employed on the holding may be deemed to be a labourer employed on the holding within the meaning of the said section and the said Acts as applied by this Act, even though he is sometimes employed on other holdings; (b.) It shall be the duty of the inspector appointed by the Land Commission to report whether the holding affords sufficient security for the advance applied for, to inquire into the condition in respect of house accommodation of every labourer employed on the holding, and to report to the Land Commission accordingly; (c.) If an order has been made in favour of any labourer employed on the holding no proceedings for the recovery of a penalty under such order shall be defeated by reason only of the labourer having been dismissed from such employment; (d.) The Landed Property Improvement (Ireland) Acts as applied by this section shall be deemed to apply as if the Land Commission was substituted for the Board of Works; (e.) The Land Commission may at any time before the determination of the purchase-annuity make any order for the repair or rebuilding of any cottage built or improved under this section, and the provisions applied by this section and this section shall thereupon apply as if the order had been made on an application for an advance."—(Mr. Knox.)

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


I hope the hon. and learned Gentleman will not press this Amendment. I cannot accept the 1st Sub-section; the 2nd appears to me unnecessary; and as to the others, I think they would be very difficult to work out, and would be neither necessary nor desirable.

(12.16.) MR. A. O'CONNOR (Donegal, E.)

This Amendment is not at all of a party character. Its only object is, if possible, to do some service to the labourers. I am only too glad to recognise the spirit in which the Attorney General for Ireland, and the Chief Secretary approached the question on a former occasion. I would ask the Attorney General for Ireland whether, with reference to paragraph (a) he would think it well to accept the definition of agricultural labourer given in the Act of 1885? The right hon. and learned Gentleman will recollect that the definition of agricultural labourer in the Labourers' Act of 1883, was found to be imperfect and inadequate, and that the definition was enlarged in the Act of 1885. If that definition were incorporated in this Bill, the object I seek would be attained. As to Subsection (b) I would point out that one of the reasons why the Labourers' Acts have been so ineffective is, that first of all, the labourer had no locus standi to appear before the Court; and secondly, when the locus standi was secured to him nominally he could only go into Court at very serious risk to himself. The result is that there are many farms altogether unprovided with the accommodation for labourers which ought to be provided. I am anxious to secure simplification of procedure and accounts, as well as unity of administration and control, but I can quite believe there are practical diffi- culties. As to the last paragraph, I placed it on the Paper in consequence of a doubt as to whether the 2nd section of the Labourers Cottages Act, 1882, applied to Section 19 of the Act of 1881. The Act of 1882 was intended to amend the Act of 1881, but it is not specially directed to Section 19.

(12.19.) MR. MADDEN

I am prepared to agree to the following words— The expression 'labourer' shall mean a man or woman whose occupation during the ordinary season of agricultural work is the doing of agricultural work for hire on the holding, and includes a 'herd.' I am also prepared to agree to Subsection (c).


Perhaps it would be well I should ask leave to withdraw the Amendment in order that Sub-section (a) may be put in the altered terms.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment proposed, In page 13, line 9, at end, to add, "the expression labourer shall mean a man or woman whose occupation during the ordinary season of agricultural work is the doing of agricultural work for hire on the holding, and includes a 'herd.'"—(Mr. A. O'Connor.)

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

(12.21.) MR. MACARTNEY

If I understand this sub-section rightly, it will enable every labourer, occasional or otherwise, to set up a claim for fixity of tenure, and to compel the tenant purchaser to provide him with a cottage. If that is so, I ask the hon. Member whether he thinks it is at all calculated to forward land purchase. I feel perfectly certain it would be one of the greatest impediments to agreements for sale being arrived at in cases where there are labourers on the farms. It would be better, if you wish to benefit the labourer, to proceed by way of Amendment of the Labourers' Act. In the interest of land purchase, I appeal to the hon. Member to withdraw his Amendment.

(12.23.) MR. A. O'CONNOR

If the Amendment were calculated to stop or embarrass the purchase, I should not press it. I fancy the hon. Gentleman can scarcely have studied Clause 12 of the Bill. If he has, he must recognise that this is merely the incorporation into this purchase system of a provision which was in the Bill of 1881 with reference to the fixing of fair rent. That provision was that when, in the opinion of the Fair Rent Commissioners, a certain holding was so situated that it was proper in fixing rent, to impose terms on the tenant as to accommodation of land or buildings for the labourers, they should have the right to insist on those terms. The clause in the present Bill provides that a similar discretion and authority shall be vested in the Purchase Commissioners on the occasion of an offer to purchase, as was vested in the Pair Rent Commissioners on an application for the fixing of fair rent. With regard to the words the Attorney General for Ireland has handed to you, Sir, I think they rather weaken the definition of an agricultural labourer in the Act of 1885. By leaving out the words "of some person or persons," he has restricted his definition to persons who are occupied on the land of the tenant only, whereas under the Act of 1885 the labourer might be employed, not only on the land of the actual tenant sometimes, but also sometimes on the land of other persons.

Question put, and agreed to.

Amendment proposed, After the foregoing Amendment to add "(b) It shall be the duty of the Inspector appointed by the Land Commission to report whether the holding affords sufficient securtiy for the advance applied for, to inquire into the condition in respect of house accommodation of every labourer employed on the holding, and to report to the Land Commission accordingly."—(Mr. A. O'Connor.)

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

(12.30.) MR. MACARTNEY

It is not necessary because we have added one sub-section that we should add this. As a matter of fact to add this subsection would be to encumber the Bill It is the practice already for the Commission to do what is proposed by this sub-section. I hope the Government will not accept it.


It is already the duty of the officer of the Land Commission to report upon the holding in several different respects. A visit must be paid to the holding, and no charge, or excuse for charge, is furnished by this Amendment. Perhaps the word ought not to be "Inspector," because there is not an officer with that technical designation. But I put it to the Government that if they do not make it the duty or function of some independent authority to inform the Land Commissioners of the real circumstances of the case, the Land Commissioners will not be possessed of the knowledge, and will not have the materials before them necessary to form a judgment. The labourers simply dare not move, the tenants will not, and the landlords have no interest in the matter. There is no one to protect the interests of the labourers except the Land Department and their officers. Therefore, I ask the Government to accept this sub-section.

MR. M'CARTAN (Down, S.)

I think it is absolutely necessary for the protection of the labourers that such a duty should be imposed on the Land Commission.

(12.35.) Mr. A. J. BALFOUR

The original section in the Act of 1881 says that the Commissioners, if satisfied there is necessity for improved buildings, they are to act as the section provides. In my opinion the Land Commissioners, with the section before them, would be acting very improperly if they did not make themselves acquainted with the condition of the labourers on the holdings and carry out the views of Parliament. But undoubtedly the words do not compel them to do so, and, therefore, though I think the Land Commissioners will not require the direction contained in this sub-section, the direction, so far as it goes, is a salutary one, and I see no reason why it should not be added to the Bill.

Question put, and agreed to.

Amendment proposed, After the foregoing Amendment, to add, "(c.) If an order has been made in favour of any labourer employed on the holding no proceedings for the recovery of a penalty under such order shall be defeated by reason only of the labourer having been dismissed from such employment."—(Mr. A. O'Connor.)

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

(12.37.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR

As I understand it, this sub-section does not impose any limitation on the power of a farmer to dismiss a labourer, nor does it impose any penalty. All it does is to provide that if an order is made in favour of a labourer's cottage, that order shall stand, although the labourer is dismissed; the mere fact of the labourer being dismissed shall not of itself void the order. That appears to me to be right enough.

Question put, and agreed to.


I do not propose to move Sub-section (d), but I move Sub-section (e).

Amendment proposed, After the foregoing Amendment, to insert the words, "(e.) The Land Commission may at any time before the determination of the purchase annuity make any order for the repair or rebuilding of any cottage built or improved under this section, and the provisions applied by this section and this section shall thereupon apply as if the order had been made on an application for an advance."—(Mr. A. O'Connor.)

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

(12.40.) MR. SHAW LEFEVRE:

Before we pass away from Clause 13 perhaps the Government will say what are their intentions with regard to the auditing of the accounts under the Bill. I would point out that it is quite unusual to give the Treasury power to make rules and regulations with regard to the auditing of accounts. Elaborate regulations with regard to audit were made under the Land Act of 1881. I presume that those regulations will apply to the working of this Act.


The intention of the Treasury is that the audit shall be conducted by the Comptroller and Auditor General. There is no desire to in any way lessen the responsibility of the Comptroller and Auditor General.


I understand I cannot move Sub-section (a), which stands in my name; but I beg to move Sub-sections (b) and (c). Sub-section (b) merely provides for a reduction of the staff of the Land Commission when public business is such as to permit of its being reduced. Subsection (c) provides that when a fresh appointment of a Land Commissioner takes place the salary shall not exceed £2,000. I attach great importance to the latter sub-section, because we have ample proof that competent men can be got to perform the duties of Land Commissioner, other than a legal Commissioner, at a salary of £2,000.

Amendment proposed, In page 13, line 30, at the end of Clause 14 to insert the words, "(b.) As soon as the state of the business in the Land Commission permits the number of the Land Conmissioners shall, as vacancies occur, be reduced to three, one of whom shall be a judicial Land Commissioner, and, until the number of the Commissioners is so reduced, any vacancy occurring in their number shall not be filled except on a certificate from the Lord Lieutenant that in his opinion the state of business in the Land Commission requires the vacancy to be filled."—(Mr. Mahony.)

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


I have great sympathy with the Amendment; but the hon. Member will, I hope, see it cannot be accepted. We have agreed that in every Court of Appeal there shall be one Lay Member of the Commission under the Act of 1881, and one Lay Member of the Commission under the Act of 1885. If one of them retired and this Amendment were accepted it might interfere with the whole machinery of the Appellate Tribunal.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment proposed, In page 13, line 36, at the end of Clause 14, to insert the words—(c.) Subject to the provisions of this Act, with respect to the existing Land Commissioners, each of the Land Commissioners other than a judicial Land Commissioner shall be appointed by Her Majesty under the Royal Sign Manual, and shall hold his office by the same tenure as if he were a county court judge in Ireland, and shall receive such annual salary not exceeding two thousand pounds as the Treasury may assign."—(Mr. Mahony.)

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


Without binding myself to any figure, I should like to say that if there is to be absolute equality of duty and jurisdiction between the four Commissioners it seems to me that, as a necessary consequence, the salaries of the Commissioners ought to be equal.

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

I quite agree with the importance of equalising salaries, but I think it is possible to level down.


We have already settled the tenure of the office, and I do not think it would be wise to alter it. As to salaries, I think we must insist upon the principle of attaching equal salaries to equal duties.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Other Amendments made.


I move to leave out the last sub-section, in order to allow the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to make the statement we have been long expecting respecting the names of the gentlemen who are to be appointed. I wish to know also whether there is any truth in the statement that the Government intend to appoint both unpaid and paid members of the Congested Districts Board?


Those questions can be asked without moving an Amendment.

(12.48.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR

There is no truth in the statement that we intend to appoint paid and unpaid members of the Congested Districts Board. Her Majesty has approved the appointment of the following five gentlemen:—The Hon. Horace Plunkett, the Rev. Charles Davis, P.P., Mr. James H. Tuke, Mr. J. P. Cairnes, and Mr. Charles Kennedy. These gentlemen have been selected because they have shown a deep interest in improving the condition of the poor of Ireland. Mr. Plunkett has spent much time and trouble in this work in various parts of Ulster. Father Davis is known for his work to all the Members of this House. Mr. Tuke's labours in Ireland are also well known, and are not at all confined to the promotion of emigration, as some gentlemen think. Mr. Cairnes is an ex-Governor of the Bank of Ireland, and has been much engaged in the promotion of philanthropic objects in Dublin. He has lately, I have been given to understand, presented a very large sum of money for the erection of labourers' dwellings in the town of Drogheda. With regard to Mr. Kennedy, I believe he will be found to be connected with almost all philanthropic schemes in Dublin, and he has displayed great interest in promoting the welfare of the poorer class of the community. I am sure these gentlemen will bring to the service of the Board the same desire to do good as they have shown in other and less responsible spheres.


Is there no person appointed from Ulster?


No, Sir.


Of course the responsibility for the appointments rests with the Government, but I can only say I wish the Board every success.


I wish just to say about Mr. Tuke that he has been most active in the promotion of all industrial enterprises.

(12.54.) MR. MACARTNEY

I beg to move, in Clause 16, page 15, line 23, to leave out "five hundred thousand," with the view of raising a question as to the allocation of the Church Surplus Fund. That fund has hitherto been applied to a purpose which can hardly be called of general public importance. The right hon. Gentleman not only provides money, but promises to develop almost everything that can be developed in the congested districts. The only thing he seems to forget to provide is "elbow grease," which is a most important thing in that part of Ireland. There are other portions of Ireland where the people have borne on their shoulders very severe burdens for the purpose of advancing the interests of their districts. I have specially in my mind that portion of the arterial drainage of Ireland which is carried on in my own constituency. Last year a Bill was introduced for the purpose of facilitating the drainage of the River Bann. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary had to abandon that Bill, but he admitted on bringing it forward that it was necessary to contribute a certain portion of the expense of the works, because if the whole expense were thrown on the occupiers of the soil, the rent they would have to pay would far outweigh the benefit that would accrue to them. I want to ask my right hon. Friend if he will consider the claims upon the Church Surplus Fund of those districts in which the people have themselves attempted to improve their position; and whether, if an application be made to him for the revival of the Bann Drainage Bill, he will consider the claims that may be made on him to provide a portion of the funds that may be necessary for carrying it into effect? I put forward this question as an instance of the grievance which we, in the North of Ireland, feel has attended the disposal of the Church Surplus Fund. The largest proportion of the money has gone into the hands of those who have long been the objects of public charity.

Amendment proposed, in page 15, line 23, to leave out the words "five hundred thousand."—(Mr. Macartney.)

Question proposed, "That the words 'five hundred thousand' stand part of the Bill."


I shall be glad to consider any proposal my hon. Friend may make when the proper time arrives. I hope again to introduce the Bann Drainage Bill, and, if so, the money will be obtained, not from Irish sources at all, bat from Imperial sources.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

(1.0.) MR. SEXTON

I have a proposal to make which I trust may receive favourable consideration. It in no way will impair the efficiency of the guarantee. It is a very undesirable thing to lock up this sum of £1,500,000 for an indefinite number of years. You have extended the operations of the Board to capital undertakings, such as the building of fishery piers and the construction of small harbours, and it may become apparent that the guarantee will really not be needed, repayments being regularly made, and that the money might be used for works of the first utility. It would be the mere pedantry of finance to lock up this amount of £1,500,000 so that it would be doing no earthly good, depriving the population of certain districts in the West of capital expenditure which would be of the greatest benefit to them, and conferring no advantage on the country at largo. I would strongly urge upon the Government that there should be power given to the Treasury to devote, should they think fit, a portion of the amount to the use of the Congested Districts Board. I beg to move an Amendment to that effect.

Amendment proposed, To add, as a new sub-section

: "The Land Commission may, with the consent of the Treasury, place at the disposal of and pay and apply as may be directed by the Congested Districts Board for the purposes of this Act, any part of the principal of the Church Surplus Guarantee which may not, in the opinion of the Treasury, be required for the Congested Districts Guarantee Fund."—(Mr. Sexton.)

(1.5.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR

I agree with the hon. Member that it may be possible that before the labours of the Congested Districts Board are brought to an end, it may appear desirable not to rigidly tie up the capital for the Guarantee Fund. Of course, in so far as the capital sum is diminished, the Guarantee will be diminished, and the power of purchase in the congested districts curtailed. This power, I think, cannot be too strictly limited, and, therefore, I should like to see the consent of the Lord Lieutenant added to that of the Treasury, and though I do not lay stress upon this point, I should like to add the words "having regard to the interests of land purchase in the Congested Districts counties."


With the addition of the Lord Lieutenant the matter will be left as one requiring special attention.

Amendment amended, by the addition after the words "opinion of the Treasury" of the words "and of the Lord Lieutenant."

Amendment, as amended, agreed to.

Other Amendments agreed to.


Though the hour is late, I think the importance of the subject warrants my calling attention to the Amendment of which I have given notice to Clause 20. By this I propose somewhat to enlarge the powers given to the Congested Districts Board. I want the House to realise the sort of population the Board will have to deal with. It is a population which has been a source of anxiety to the Government of this country ever since the Union, and it will be to the lasting credit of the Chief Secretary that he has been the first British statesman who has made an organised effort to deal with this part of the country. His effort does not go so far as we could wish, but I give him all the credit of a first attempt in this direction. The population you have to deal with is very poor, and you cannot deal with the people as you would in other districts. As indicating the difference, let me mention that there are large districts where the valuation per head of population is between 5s. and 6s., while in other parts of Ireland it averages £15, or 60 times as much. In these districts, where small holdings abound, the people have many rights in common, grazing rights, turbary rights—rights to them very important—to bent grass for thatching, to limestone, and on the seashore to sand and seaweed. The exercise of these rights gives rise to many disputes, and, in case of sale, the control over these rights will be removed, and I do not know what is to happen unless there is some authority, like the Congested Districts Board, to step in and acquire these common rights I speak of. I, therefore, propose that the Congested Districts Board shall have power to purchase or lease such rights, and make rules for the exercise of them by the occupiers.

Amendment proposed, In page 19, line 3, after the word "agriculture," to insert the words "providing grazing, heather or bent grass for thrashing, turbary, limestone, seaweed, or seasand."—(Mr. Mahony.)

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

(1.15.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR

I hope the hon. Member will not think it necessary to press this. He has four Amendments down, and the others I shall be very glad to accept; but I do not think this particular Amendment is germane to the subject-matter before us. The hon. Member has told us with perfect truth that in Ireland the subject of rights of turbary, and in a lesser degree the other subjects he has mentioned in his Amendment, do lead to grave disputes among tenants, and he is aware that in the Land Department Bill we have introduced elaborate provisions, by which we hope the Land Commission will deal with these different matters, the importance of which I fully recognise. But I think that any provisions of the kind should have application to the whole of Ireland, and that to enforce such provisions comes more properly within the functions of the Land Department than of the Congested Districts Board. In any case, I do not think this matter is germane to the clause, which deals with the promotion of Irish industries.


So far as rights of turbary are concerned, I do not know how they could be satisfactorily dealt with unless by the Congested Districts Board.


Will the right hon. Gentleman consider these matters in connection with the turbary provisions of the long leaseholders' clauses?



Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

(1.18.) MR. SEXTON

In his next Amendment my hon. Friend refers to Sub-section (a), but I would suggest that the reference to the sub-section should be omitted, inasmuch as the powers of the Congested Districts Board are really to be found scattered through Part II. of the Bill.

Amendment proposed, in page 19, line 8, to leave out "this sub-section," and insert "part two of this Act."


The hon. Member is quite right, there is no objection to this.

Amendment agreed to.

Other Amendments made.

Bill to be read the third time upon Monday next, and to be printed. [Bill 363.]

(1.25.) MR. SEXTON

Will it be possible to circulate the Bill as amended on Monday?


Yes; I am informed it will be printed in time.