§ Considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Clause 1.
§ (12.2.) MR. J. P. X. O'BRIEN (Mayo, S.)
I do not wish to delay this Bill, but I desire to get some explanation. I want to know whether the right hon. Gentleman has obtained thorough information in regard to the districts to be supplied under the Seed Bill? I find that in Gweedore and in other distressed districts in Ireland at the present time, no seed potatoes have been provided. I find there is in Gweedore only one resident Guardian, who is a land-agent, and that the Chairman of the Poor Law Board is the well-known Mr. Olphert. I wish to know whether under this Bill the Government will be prepared to make the Board do their duty and, that failing that, they will themselves be able to undertake the duty which the Board so grossly neglects?
§ (12.3) MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
And will the Government take care that when the seed potatoes are in the ground and grown up Mr. Olphert——
§ DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)
I wish to know what is being done about the seed potatoes in the Island of Achill?
§ Clause agreed to.
§ Clause 2.
§ (12.4) MR. CONYBEARE
I wish to make some observations on this clause, which refers to the Guardians obtaining security for the payment, of the price of seeds sold. During last year Mr. Olphert sent armed forces on to the land of his tenants, rooted up their growing 573 crops and carted them away. [Cries of "No!"] Yes he did; I happen to know it as a matter of fact. I want to know whether the tenants have any security that if they have to pay for these seed potatoes, Mr. Olphert will be permitted to root them up?
§ (12.5.) DR. TANNER
In the Island of Achill a certain number of seed potatoes have been supplied and the Guardians will not be able to obtain security inasmuch as, owing to the abject poverty of the unfortunate people, they have been obliged to eat the seed potatoes supplied to them. I hope some special provisions will be made with regard to the administration of the measure in this particular district.
§ (12.8.) MR. MACARTNEY (Antrim, S.)
I want to ask what steps the Government will take to make the Guardians obtain security where it is possible to do so? I do not think there will be in most cases any security worth having, but where there is I want to know what steps will be taken?
§ *THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. MADDEN,) Dublin University
The object of this Bill is a limited one, and I do not think the clause now before the Committee will justify any general discussion respecting the administration of the Seed Potatoes Act. That Act, passed in the short Session of last year, inherited from the former Act of 1881 a provision under which it was necessary before a supply of potatoes was made to any one cultivating land in conacre, to get the consent of the tenant of the land, who must be a party to the advance. I quite agree that it will be the duty of the Board of Guardians to see that proper security is obtained, and that it will be the duty of the Local Government Board to watch the action of the Boards of Guardians in this respect. The object of the Bill is to enable the Boards of Guardians to deal in proper cases directly with the labourers. I hope the Committee will allow the Bill to be passed, particularly as at this season of the year it is desirable that steps should be at once taken.
§ *MR. MADDEN
This clause does not open the general question of the Seed Potatoes Act, and I, therefore, should be out of order in discussing the point raised by the hon. Member.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ Bill reported, without Amendment.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a third time."—(Mr. Madden.)
§ *(12.13.) SIR J. SWINBURNE (Staffordshire, Lichfield)
Before the Bill is read a third time I should like to draw attention to the extraordinary fact that the Minister for Ireland—the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant—is not present in his place when this important and urgent measure, which so particularly applies to Ireland, is being brought forward.
§ DR. TANNER
I would point out that the Bill is intended to supply seed potatoes to labourers, and as the season is advancing the sooner the potatoes are got in the better.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read the third time, and passed.