HC Deb 21 May 1891 vol 353 cc808-80

Considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

New Clause— (Allocation of the sum available for purchase in proportion to the value of holdings.) (a.) The Lord Lieutenant shall, within one year from the passing of this Act, ascertain as nearly as may be and declare as regards each county the proportion between the total number of tenants of holdings for the purchase of which advances may be made under this Act, and the number of such tenants whose holdings are of a rateable value exceeding thirty pounds. (b.) The Land Commission, in making advances under this Act, shall have regard to such proportion, so that as far as practicable the total amount advanced under this Act to tenants of holdings the rent of which exceeds thirty pounds in any county as compared with the total amount advanced under this Act in the county shall not exceed the above proportion, except where in the opinion of the Land Commission an advance to a tenant of the first-mentioned class is necessary for carrying into effect sales on the estate of the same landlord. Provided that if and whenever the Land Commission have made advances in any county to tenants of holdings the rent of which exceeds thirty pounds to the extent hereinbefore mentioned, the Lord Lieutenant may, on the recommendation of the Land Commissioners, if he thinks fit, by order authorise the Land Commission to disregard the said proportion either entirely or to the extent specified in such order, but the order shall not come into operation until it has lain before both Houses of Parliament for not less than thirty days nor if either House passes a resolution objecting to it, and shall not continue in force for more than two years. (c.) Nothing in this section contained shall invalidate any advance actually made,—(Mr. Arthur Balfour,)

—brought up, and read the first time.


I do not know whether I have much to add to what I have already said on this subject in introducing this clause, which deals with one of the most difficult problems which this land question presents. The House knows that the amount of money at our disposal, though large, is limited in comparison to the claims which will eventually be made upon it by the occupying tenants in Ireland. The distribution of the money, therefore, obviously presents a problem of the first importance. The question is whether, by introducing any clause like the present, we can do anything to make that distribution of money to the various tenants in Ireland what the House would desire. We have, of course, no conclusive evidence as to what the distribution is likely to be in the future; we can only judge from the experience of the past, and the figures of the working of the Ashbourne Acts afford very serious material for consideration with regard to this point. Roughly speaking, the tenants at and under £30 are about 92 per cent. of the whole number of those who can take advantage of the Act, which may be taken at 552,000. This is manifestly a number too great to take advantage of the Purchase Act. If these tenants bought in the same proportion under this Act as they have done under the Ashbourne Acts, they would get, instead of their fair share, about 51 per cent. of the money, instead of 92 per cent. The tenants between £30 and £50 are about 7 per cent.; they would get, on the same calculation, 15 per cent. Those between £50 and £100 are about 5 per cent., and I find that these would get no less than 21 per cent. of the money. Tenants of holdings above £100 are about 2½ per cent. of the total number of tenants, and, although only 2½ per cent., they would get 26 per cent. of the money available under the Bill. I cannot believe that any man who knows anything about land purchase would desire that the proportion should follow exactly on the lines of the experiments which have already been made. That being so, we have to consider whether any better machinery can be devised. I am perfectly aware that a very large number of gentlemen in Ireland, for whose opinions I have the highest respect, and who desire to make land purchase a reality, benefiting not one class alone, but all classes equally, are very strongly opposed to this clause. They appear to be of opinion that it introduces a limitation into the Bill, and that it would arbitrarily limit the operation of the Bill. No doubt there is a limitation under the Bill, but that is not introduced by this Amendment. It is introduced by the provision which precludes the country from advancing more than a certain proportion, whatever it may be, of the Guarantee Fund, and from advancing, in the first instance, more than £30,000,000. Now, I am not introducing any limitation by this clause, but the clause really removes a limitation. It will enable a vast number of the smaller tenants in Ireland to purchase who would be excluded if no such regulation were made. Therefore, I repudiate the suggestion that this Amendment has any other object than that of making as far-reaching as possible the blessings which I hope will follow the great measure the Government have introduced. Tenants of over £30 are under a great illusion. Of course, it is true that there would not be so much money for them, but they appear to think they would be excluded from the benefit of the Act by this clause. That is not the intention, although it is a view which seems to be widely entertained by the tenants of Ulster. But what are the facts? They are these—that, according to the Return laid upon the Table, over £5,000,000 will be devoted to the purchase of tenancies of over £30 value. We have had six years' experience of the working of the Ashbourne Act; and in those six years under £4,000,000 have been absorbed by tenancies of over £30 valuation. If it has taken six years for these tenants to absorb less than £4,000,000, I suppose it may be assumed that it would take not less than six years to absorb the sum of over £5,000,000, which would be allocated to them under this Bill. Therefore, I think we should reflect that whatever may be the ultimate operation of the measure, it will give a long period for trying the experiment. In the circumstances, I would strongly press on the farmers in all parts of Ireland not to assume that such tremendous injury is to be done to their case, but rather that they will, without doubt, get an immense benefit under the Bill if it is passed in its present shape. I have been told that this clause would militate against the purchase of estates as a whole. That contingency is expressly provided against by the words of the clause. In any county I suppose the average estate would have the average proportion of tenancies of over £30. No doubt there would be some estates on which the average number is exceeded; but if it is exceeded on some particular estate, on some other estates it would not be reached. Even from the point of view of those desiring to sell only whole estates or large fragments of estates, I do not think that argument has the full value that is attached to it. I perfectly admit that up to this time the landlords who have chiefly desired to sell have desired to sell because they wished to be quit of their connection with Irish land. But I do not think it is right to assume that henceforth the desire to sell their whole estates will come from the land-ords. I believe the pressure will come from the tenant to compel the landlord to sell. It has been argued that the pressure will come from the landlords, but I am of opinion that circumstances point to the probability of the pressure coming from the tenants. That is shown by the deputations that have waited upon me urging me to make the Bill compulsory. Therefore, in a different connection, both landlord and tenant appear to think that the old state of things is coming about. I contend that there is no ground for the objections of the landlords to this clause, and that the tenants should desire to see it passed into law, because it will enable a greater number of persons to take advantage of the Bill. I shall be glad to hear and reply to any objection which may be made against the clause. I beg to more that it be now read a second time.

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

(4.0.) VISCOUNT LYMINGTON (Devon, South Molton)

I am afraid that I must entirely dissent from the view of my right hon. Friend. If this clause is passed, I think it would have a very serious effect on the Bill. I do not believe that the clause if carried would give any relief to poor and impoverished properties, because I do not believe that any landlord will be anxious, or will ever, unless under great stress of circumstances, consent to the sale of his property piecemeal. I think that my right hon. Friend must have somewhat underrated the effect which this clause would have. The general effect of the Bill is to reduce the rents considerably of those who purchase, and to give a purchasing tenant the opportunity of becoming the owner of the freehold. What will be the effect of the clause? The tenant of a holding of under £30 valuation will be able to get his rent reduced very substantially, while his neighbour on the other side of the hedge, who occupies a holding of over £30 valuation, would hold at a rent fixed for 15 years. The tenant under £30 can sell his holding, and should any agricultural calamity occur, affecting either an individual or a district, he can go to the Land Commission and have his rent reduced. I speak with some knowledge of Irish affairs, and I maintain that you are creating a very serious grievance indeed. To start with, I think it is a grave question how far Parliament is entitled to employ the credit of the State for the benefit of any particular class. [Ironical cheers from below the Gangway.] In reply to that cheer, I say that the sole and only justification is that this is being done in order to achieve a great political object. But I fear that if this new clause is added to the Bill the two great objects of the Bill will be defeated. It will restrict the sales, and thus prevent that abolition of dual ownership which is desired, and instead of securing general contentment in Ireland it will create another and very serious grievance. I think that the owners of anything like decent estates in Ireland have a distinct grievance against this clause. It entirely alters the character of the Bill. I do not believe that such a clause was contemplated by the Government when the Bill was originally introduced, and it certainly was never contemplated by the supporters of the Government when the Bill was introduced. What is the position of the owners? The right hon. Gentleman has said that he himself is inclined to believe that the occupiers of land will themselves bring pressure to bear on the owners of property to induce them to sell. What will be the position of the owners? Many may be anxious to sell, but they cannot sell, with all the difficulties and expenses connected with the sale of land, parcels of their property intermixed with what they are prevented from selling. However willing a landlord may be to sell, how can he come to terms with his tenants if he cannot effect a sale of the whole of his estate, and is only to be allowed to sell certain of the holdings on his estate? Not knowing what the Land Commission would do, he could not undertake to sell and find himself left with certain holdings on his hands and all the expense of estate management. It would be perfectly impossible for him to accept the position in which he would find himself placed. Then the holdings which were not sold would become the centres of increased dissatisfaction. What would be the position taken up by the larger tenants? As is well known, it is the larger tenants who are the leaders of rural opinion, and they would not unnaturally be dissatisfied at having to continue paying "fair rents," whereas their neighbours, paying instalments smaller than their former rent, were becoming purchasers of their holdings, and becoming possessed of their own freeholds. [Cries of "No!"] The Chief Secretary has referred to the working of the Ashbourne Act, and he wishes to prevent this Bill from being similarly worked. The Ashbourne Acts were an experiment, and they have been most successful, and have not resulted in the loss of a single shilling to the State. It has been the tenants under £30 valuation who have come into conflict with men like Lord Clanricarde and others—tenants who have had very small holdings indeed. Is the purchase of their holdings to afford them much advantage, for where a man's rent is only a very few pounds, to substitute an instalment of less money for a rent amounts to very little, and are they a class of men who are going to form a safe investment for the money of the British ratepayer? On every ground, therefore, from the point of view of the landlord, the tenant, the peace and contentment of Ireland, and the credit of the State, this clause-appears to be a most unfortunate one, and if I go into the Lobby alone, I shall vote against it.

(4.15.) MR. RATHBONE (Carnarvonshire, Arfon)

It seems to me that the noble Lord who has just spoken has ignored the facts of the case. He argues as if the larger tenants are to be excluded from the operation of the clause. It is not proposed to exclude the larger tenants. They have already had two-thirds under the Ashbourne Acts, and they will have their fair share of the available money. But if all the tenants of Ireland are to be allowed to purchase without any limitation, then £150,000,000 will be necessary, and to this the British taxpayer would not assent. I was surprised to hear the hon. Member for Longford (Mr. T. M. Healy) cheer the observations of the noble Lord. One would have thought that he would have been anxious that the poorer tenants should get their fair share. But, no doubt, it is convenient to keep on good terms with the large tenants, who are the noisiest parts of the community. But we have to consider what is just, and what it is the Bill proposes to do. The noble Lord referred to the successful working of the Ashbourne Acts, but it is to be remarked that only 1 per 1,000 of the tenants under £30 have been sold up, while of the larger tenants 7 per cent. have been defaulters. The main outcry against this clause, as has been shown by the fight hon. Gentleman opposite, has arisen from those outside this House who do not understand it; but I must confess that I am surprised that hon. Members inside the House do not understand it better than they seem to do. There must be some proportion in the disbursement of this money, and the tenants over £30 will get £16,600,000 out of the £40,000,000. Without the limitation proposed by this clause there would be great danger of setting up a new class of small landlords whose action might be most harmful. I venture to say that without the limitation proposed the Bill would be one of the most dangerous measures ever passed, whereas, with the limitation, I hope it may be really a conservative measure. I sincerely hope that the Government will remain firm.

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

I have not much to add to what I have said before; but I must protest against the suggestion that any class of tenants have been wilfully excluded from the benefits of the Ashbourne Acts. The Land Commissioners appointed to administer the Acts have dealt with applications from all classes of tenants, and there is no inclination anywhere to prevent the smaller tenants from becoming purchasers. It is a question of the sufficiency of the security. It is absurd to say that this House or the Commissioners have in any way controlled the application of the funds available under the Ashbourne Acts. But, as a rule, the men who are anxious to buy are the better-off tenants, and why should they be prevented from buying? What will be the result of the clause of the Chief Secretary? The result will be that a certain number of the best class of tenants, of the men best fitted to become peasant proprietors, will be excluded from the benefits of the Bill. I am bound to tell the Chief Secretary that if the limitation contained in this clause had been in the Bill when it was introduced, hardly any Irish Member sitting on this side of the House would have voted for the Second Reading. It alters wholly the principle of the Bill. We were induced to vote for it on the ground that it would confer a great national benefit, and now we find that our chief constituents and supporters are to be excluded from sharing the benefit. I have investigated the statistics which have been laid before the House by the Chief Secretary, and I find that in Antrim only one in every eight of the tenants of holdings over £30 valuation would be able to become a purchaser, if this clause is passed; in Armagh the tenants of holdings over £30 valuation who would be able to buy would be reduced to one in 12, and in Tyrone to one in 13. I do not believe that such a state of things can be regarded as a settlement, or that it would be anything else than a fresh source of irritation in the relations between landlord and tenant. I regret extremely that my right hon. Friend should have thought it necessary, in concert, I presume, with some small section of English public opinion represented in this House, to introduce this clause. I do not believe that there is much difference of opinion amongst Members from Ireland on the question, for they must all recognise that there is hardly a barony in Ireland where it would be possible to sell a property successfully if this new clause is inserted in the Bill. For these reasons I would venture to appeal to my hon. Friends sitting on these Benches to vote against the clause.

(4.25.) MR. SINCLAIR (Falkirk, &c)

To my mind, the object of the Bill is to create a system of peasant proprietary, with the view of creating a change in the system of land tenure in Ireland. The dual ownership which now exists in Ireland has been condemned, and those of us who have supported the Bill have done so because we believed that dual ownership was to be done away with. It is true that under the Ashbourne Acts a good deal of money has been supplied to the class of larger tenants, but it is easy to explain why. These larger tenants are the leaders of public opinion in their respective districts They have been the first to try the experiment of purchase, and they have induced the smaller holders to join with them in purchase schemes. I think that all classes that have enjoyed the advantage of the right of purchase in the past should have the same advantage in the future. If the Government have determined that some limitation in connection with the exercise of the right is necessary, why not agree to the plan which I have ventured to embody in an Amendment? My proposal, speaking generally, comes to this—that tenants in whose case the valuation is over £30 should be asked to pay a larger amount annually in respect of the purchase of their holdings, but I should very much like to see the clause thrown out, and, with it, the Amendment. Assume a case in which the whole of the sales of over £30 have already been concluded in a county and where you have two counties alongside one another, one of £30 and the other of £40. The one of £30, at 20 years' purchase, would cost £600, and that of £40 at 15 years' purchase would also come to £600. Why should the one be excluded and not the other? It seems to me that in the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman we shall unfortunately get rid of the advantage obtained under the present Act of the leadership of local opinion in favour of land purchase, and that we might very easily obtain it. The only objection I have heard raised against my proposal is that it would interfere with the system of insurance provided under Clause 5, but I think I have provided against that, and I see no other objection to it. I trust the discussion that is taking place will induce the right hon. Gentleman to withdraw his clause.

(4.33.) MR. PICTON (Leicester)

I hope the right hon. Gentleman will do nothing of the kind. For once I have the pleasure of supporting the right hon. Gentleman. As there are marked differences in the various classes in Ireland, the right hon. Gentleman proposes that each different class shall have its fair share, and no more than its fair share, but the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) wants the larger tenants to have more than their fair share. I am not in the least degree surprised that the Representatives of Irish landlords should be suspicious of this new clause, but those who have the interests of all classes of the tenants at heart ought, I think, very warmly to support it. The right hon. Gentleman has shown that tenants holding farms at, or under £30, form actually 92 per cent. of the whole of the farmers in Ireland, although, no doubt, if the values are taken into consideration, the proportion would be very different. The Member for South Antrim (Mr. Macartney) has warned us that it is a very difficult thing for us, sitting in this House, to make regulations for the sale of land in Ireland. We have always said so, but as the House has insisted on doing it we are justified in acting according to the light of natural reason and supporting that which is apparently fairest to all parties concerned.

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

It is a remarkable thing to find an Amendment of this character proposed now for the first time. This question of land purchase has, I presume, occupied the attention of the Government for a very considerable period. Last year they brought in a Bill; and I assume they must have thoroughly considered the provisions of that measure. They did not, however, dream for one moment of attempting anything of the kind now proposed in that Bill. It cannot be said that they were not amply warned that some proposal was necesssry to prevent the adoption of the abominable system of "first come first served," in reference to land purchase in Ireland, leading to mischief. We pointed out that the larger proportion of the money was going to the larger tenants. The Government, however, rejected every Amendment we proposed on the subject a few years ago. This year they had all the advantage of the criticism of last year to assist them, but the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary announced, on the Second Reading of this Bill, that he did not propose to adopt any of the suggestions of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) except that with regard to grazing tenants.


I made no definite proposal with regard to grazing tenants. I suggested that the right hon. Gentleman should inquire as to the nature and character of holdings in Ireland during the Recess, and predicted that if he did so he would find it possible very materially to limit the area of land purchase and the amount of money to be expended in the solution of the question.


I did not, of course, bring in the volumes of Hansard which I had here when the question of the grazing tenants was under consideration; and for the purposes of this Debate I accept en passant the correction of the hon. Gentleman. I say that having accepted, according to the Irish Secretary himself, the suggestion of the hon. Member for Cork with regard to grazing tenants, he deliberately, in a Second Reading speech, said that he rejected the idea of a separate valuation.


I did not do so.


The volume of Hansard containing the discussion is open to hon. Members.


I must correct the hon. Member before he goes further. The proposal of the hon. Member for Cork with regard to valuation was that nobody should be allowed to buy whose holding was over £50 valuation. That resembled the principle of the suggestion made by the hon. Member for Carnarvon; and I said on the Second Reading what I have said to the hon. Member for Carnarvon in the Committee stage, that I could not admit any Amendment which excluded these tenants from purchasing.


I do not see any conflict between what I have stated and what the right hon. Gentleman now declares. If he will allow me to say so I would point out that it appears that his clause is now defended on the ground that it is going to be inoperative. Now, either the clause is going to be operative or it is not. I will assume that it is going to be operative—first suggesting that if it is going to be inoperative it ought to be dropped. If it is going to be operative is it fair that it should be introduced at this stage—at the latter end of the month of May? This Bill was introduced in November. "We are now in the latter end of May. Six months have elapsed since the introduction of the Bill—12 months since the original proposal of the Government was made—and it is only now that this clause is sprung upon the House. I think this is a startling innovation in Parliamentary procedure. But we are told that, so far as the £30,000,000 are concerned, there is ample money for tenants over £30 for five years; we are told further that, so strong is the opposition of the British Radical, that the Government cannot give more than £30,000,000. We are told that this Bill is to pass for all time. It is treated by the hon. Member for Cork in his public utterances as the last sigh, so to speak, of the British Parliament on the question of land purchase in Ireland, and he says that so strong is the objection of English Radicals to land purchase that we shall never succeed in getting more than £30,000,000 out of the British Parliament. That is another way of saying, in my judgment, that with regard to over £100,000,000 worth of Irish land the larger tenants can only get £5,000,000 from the British Exchequer. I will never accept that position—that this Bill is the last hope of the tenants over £30 valuation—


From this House.


I deny it. Assuming that the General Election leaves this House constituted as it now is with a Tory majority, I maintain it would be fatal for Irish Nationalist Members to accept the principle that a final measure of land purchase has been passed in 1891, and that until a Liberal Government gives Home Rule to Ireland there is to be no chance for the tenants over £30 valuation. For my part, I decline to accept that position of the hon. Member for Cork. Now, I would treat the matter from the point of view of the joint interest of the landlord and tenant. The hon. Member for Carnarvon seemed surprised that I cheered the noble Lord, but he did not seem surprised that the Chief Secretary was considerably cheered by the hon. Member for the City of Cork. I am no more ashamed at having cheered the noble Lord than the Chief Secretary is ashamed at having received the cheers of the hon. Member for Cork. I know the estate of the noble Lord in Co. Wexford—an estate on which the Ulster custom has been initiated in that part of Ireland—and I am prepared to endorse every word spoken by the noble Lord as to the pernicious character of the Amendment of the Chief Secretary. It is by the enemies of the measure that the present clause is supported—by such Members as my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, who represents the English "wolf" department of this House. That hon. Member takes up a view highly natural to him, but to my mind, treating the matter from a statistical point of view, it seems a strong thing to say that 8 per cent. of the Irish tenants shall not benefit under the Bill—for the tenants under £30 valuation will number 92 per cent. of the whole. Can the Chief Secretary give from any official source—Land Commissioners, solicitors, or men engaged in valuation—the name of any practical man who has taken part in the working of the Ashbourne Act who has recommended this as a safe and valuable clause? I challenge the Chief Secretary on that point. Does Mr. Lynch, does Mr. John George Macarthy, does Mr. Wrench, does Mr. Justice Munro accept this clause? Has the Chief Secretary consulted the gentlemen who are in esse or in posse on this question. It is said that the proper course would be to go for the interests of the 92 per cent. rather than for those of the 8 per cent. of tenants. The Chief Secretary used, or attempted to use, the most seductive arguments to get the landlords to abate their hostility to the clause. He said —"Pass this clause and you split the Irish tenants into two classes, one who cannot buy and another who, instead of waiting as they have hitherto done for the landlords to ask them to purchase, will have to go to the landlord and beg of him as a favour to permit them to purchase."


I did not use any such words.


I am merely giving the effect of the right hon. Gentleman's statement—taking the prism and dividing the argument into what I conceive to be its separate strands. The right hon. Gentleman, in my opinion, distinctly held out to the landlords the suggestion that hitherto they had been the offerers, going to their tenants and saying, "We want to be quit of our estates; will you buy them?" And this position he now suggests is to be reversed. I oppose the clause because I believe it will shut out the larger tenants, and I object to the small tenants being separated from their more substantial fellows who have hitherto been their leaders and friends. I say it is in the interest of the small tenants that I object to this clause, for I decline to deprive them of the men who have hitherto guided them in these matters. Take the case of the Drapers' Estate. I was myself concerned in fixing the purchasing price of the tenants of the Drapers' Company. We commenced by striking out the arrears, and reduced the purchase money from £80,000 to £69,000, and after that the Land Commissioners took good care to see that there was ample security for the money paid, because they were satisfied with the £25,000 which was taken off the selling price. As a rule, the Land Commission was. satisfied; but in the case of some of the smaller estates, they decided that more than one-fifth should remain out, and it was a very proper course to take. The tenants were delighted at getting their arrears wiped out, and to get the land at the figure we fixed. Yet so careful was the Land Commission that in a case of this kind they took extra security. What is the argument I deduce from this? That the smaller tenants who buy under this Bill will only be allowed to buy if they give a bigger price for their holdings. The Land Commission will say, "We cannot out of consideration for the British taxpayer allow the sale at this figure," and thereby the entire system of land purchase will be blocked and clogged altogether. For these reasons, and while recognising the spirit in which the Government have introduced the clause, and while I am as anxious as anybody can be to see this measure stretched and made to go as far as possible, I say the Government are proceeding entirely upon an erroneous basis, and without having regard to cither the interests of landlords or tenants. It is entirely too late to introduce the clause at this stage; it should first be referred to a Select Committee; and on these grounds I offer the strongest opposition.

(5.2.) MR. SHAW LEFEVRE (Bradford, Central)

Listening to the speech of the hon. Member, the impression made upon my mind amounts to this: that the hon. Member holds that we must be prepared to advance a sum of £180,000,000 for the purchase of the whole of the estates in Ireland, and that he will not be satisfied until that is completed. Now, the principle of the Bill is that £30,000,000 is the extreme limit for which local security can be found. The question therefore is—and it is a difficult one—how best may this amount be distributed, so as to produce the greatest result. Everybody will admit that by converting a large number of small occupiers into owners you get more result for your money than by converting a smaller number of larger holders. Anybody who looks at the result of the working of the Ashbourne Acts will admit also that it is not satisfactory. The Chief Secretary has reminded us, two-thirds of the money advanced has gone to the assistance of the larger tenants above £30, and only a third of the whole amount has been used to convert the small tenants under £30 into owners. Looking more closely into this, we find the result still more unsatisfactory; for if you take the limit of £50, you find that half the money has gone to tenants above that figure; and still more so is it when you take £100 a year, for then you find that no fewer than 460 tenants above £100 rent have been converted into owners at a cost of £2,000,000, or about a third of the whole of the advances under the Ashbourne Acts. Of these 460, no fewer than 114 were tenancies in respect of sums advanced of £3,000 to £5,000, and these are not peasant proprietors in any sense—they are large, substantial farmers; and I cannot reconcile it with recognised public policy that such a class should be converted into owners by advances from the State of this magnitude. Let me give the Committee illustrations of what has happened under the existing Acts. A substantial farmer in Ulster paid four years ago £160 a year rent. He went into the Land Court and obtained a reduction of his rent to £120, a reduction of 30 per cent. He then went to the landlord and got the landlord to agree to a sale at 18 years purchase, and the State advanced £2,100, the interest and Sinking Fund amounting to £86 a year. If we compare this with the judicial rent of £120, and remember that a quarter represents the Sinking Fund, and is, therefore, an annual investment adding to the interest of the owner, we find the true comparison to be this: the fortunate man will pay £64 a year, as compared with a payment of £160, four years ago. Well, I do not think a transaction of that kind, and such a large advance as £2,100, is justified so long as English farmers do not enjoy even the advantage of judicial rents. Then take another case. A gentleman held a farm subject to a ground rent of £150 a year, and held it under a perpetual lease. He was allowed to make terms with his landlord, and to pay off the ground landlord by an advance from the State of £3,000, and so, instead of a perpetual rent of £150, he will pay a temporary rent of £120 a year. Again, I do not think that a transaction of this kind, involving this very large advance from the State for the purpose of converting substantial farmers into owners of their holdings upon such terms as these, can be justified on the grounds of public policy. How can we justify these transactions when we refuse even judicial rents to English farmers? Our object should be to confine the operation of land purchase as far as possible to the class who may be termed peasant proprietors when the transaction is completed. The hon. Member for Longford contemplates a complete reform of the whole land tenure of Ireland, but I do not know that the Chief Secretary ever intended that. I always understood the object of the Bill to be to create a peasant proprietary in Ireland, and if I were to give a rough definition of a peasant proprietor I should say it is a man who cultivates the land he holds with his own hands, or with the assistance of his family, and I think the limit of £30 about describes a man of that class. Above that limit you get to a class totally different, men who employ labour and belong to a totally different class of society. Up to £30 you find the men who may fairly be turned into peasant proprietors, and by its operation among these you will fulfil the main principle of the Bill. The Chief Secretary refuses, as I understand, laying down any definite and distinct limit. I had myself proposed a limit of £50, preferable, I think, to that proposed by the hon. Member for Carnarvon; but the intention of the Chief Secretary is, as I understand it, while refusing to lay down any strict limit, to secure that the distribution of these £30,000,000 shall be somewhat more equal among all tenants than has been the case under the Ashbourne Acts. He finds that the Ashbourne Acts have been unsatisfactory, inasmuch as far too large a proportion of the £10,000,000 has been devoted to tenants above £30, and he seeks to secure that of these £30,000,000 a larger proportion shall go to the class below £30, and that is a principle to which I entirely adhere. I should be prepared to go further; but, so far as the principle goes, it is worthy of the assent of the House, and for my part, I shall support it. I have, however, a fear that the qualifications inserted may make the clause nugatory to some extent; but, at all events, it contains a principle which may prove of great value in the future—that in the advance of the £30,000,000 the smaller tenants shall derive full benefit from the operation of the Act. It must be remembered that only those £30,000,000 will be available, and it is important to consider how the amount can be best dealt with to effect the great object in view. The more the amount can be devoted to turning the smaller tenants into owners the better.

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

I much regret to find the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) taking the line he is. I have always regarded the right hon. Gentleman as one of those who have spoken strongly against the way in which landlords have been able to raise rents on tenants' improvements. Yet now, when a Bill is brought forward which in the future will make that impossible, the right hon. Gentleman is going to exclude from the benefits of this measure a certain proportion of Irish tenants. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will say that he is not going to exclude them altogether. If, however, the clause is to be practically useless, what is the good of wasting the whole of this evening in discussing it? If this clause is to be be of any use it will exclude a certain number, and I believe a large number, of the larger tenants from partaking of the benefit of the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman may say that it will be modified by the Lord Lieutenant. But if it is liable to modification by one Lord Lieutenant in one direction, it may be modified by another Lord Lieutenant in another direction, and that is an exceedingly unsatisfactory manner for an Act of this description to work. Is it to be worked by the Lord Lieutenant, or is it to work by itself? It seems to me that if this clause is to be of any practical use it will exclude a large number of tenants, who will become centres of dissatisfaction in the future. That peace which we had hoped would be brought about by this measure will be impossible, and there will be fresh agitation and fresh trouble. I ask the Chief Secretary whether it is really worth while to proceed with a clause which will render his Bill nugatory and nearly impossible in operation? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford has given instances of the great benefits men have derived from the Ashbourne Act; yes, and if these cases have occurred, are men to remain contented if in the future they are to be prevented from availing themselves of this Bill? It is an argument against a clause of this kind that it will prevent these reductions of rent in the future. The hon. Member for Carnarvon spoke of the limitation under the Ashbourne Act, and said that two of the larger tenants to every one of the small tenants were benefited—


I said, if we went on as we are doing now, the rental of one out of every two of the larger tenants would be bought, but one from every seven or ten of the smaller tenants.


The hon. Member's figures seemed to show that three small tenants to every large one were able to buy. Then there are the congested districts separated altogether from the rest of the Bill, and including a great mass of small tenants, who may buy with the security of the Irish Church funds. We, in Ulster, are greatly afraid that the landlords will not agree to sell. There is a belief in some minds that there will be a rush into the Land Court the moment this Bill is passed, and the money will soon be exhausted; but in Ulster we believe that a landlord who is getting his 4 or 5 per cent. by rents will not be willing to go into the Court to sell, and that the last men able to avail themselves of the Bill will be the Ulster tenants. The clause will increase this disinclination of Ulster landlords to sell, and, speaking on behalf of Ulster tenants, I shall do my best to oppose the Second Reading of the clause.

(5.22.) MR. PARNELL

It may be a rather startling thing that the right hon. Gentleman should introduce the clause at this period of the Bill, but I think it is a still more startling thing that prior to the speech of the hon. Member for Longford not a single opponent of the Bill was to be found except amongst the Irish landlords. The hon. Member for Longford, in adding himself on as an opponent of the Bill, practically has gone into the camp of the Irish landlords—into the camp which up to this time has been occupied solely by Irish landlords and their representatives. I do not moan to say that the hon. Member for Longford advocates Irish landlordism, but the hon. Member has found himself on the present occasion in their camp; and if that shows anything, it shows that the hon. Member on this side of the House and the Irish landlords on the other side are mistaken in the opposition they make against this clause and in the arguments which they have used against it. I think the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieu- tenant is to be congratulated on having brought forward this clause, even though he has done so at a late period of the Bill, because I am convinced that if it is fairly worked out by the Land Commission and the Lord Lieutenant it will constitute a more important reform for Ireland than has ever yet proceeded from the House of Commons. It has been evident to me for many years that anything like a wholesale scheme of land purchase is utterly out of the question in face of the temper which was exhibited by the English and Scotch constituencies during the General Election of 1886, and in face of the temper which is exhibited, as has since been shown, by the English Liberal Party on this subject as a consequence of that General Election. It has been evident to me that if we are to do any good to the great masses of the Irish tenant farmers by land purchase, some means must be found for limiting the area to the amount of the sum to be expended in carrying it out. This clause has been treated as if it were a clause of exclusion. It is not a clause of exclusion. It is a clause of inclusion. It is a clause which will admit, on the one hand, 120,000, 130,000, and probably 150,000 tenants who would, under the working of the Ashbourne Acts and of the Bill as it now stands, be utterly shut out from land purchase. And what does it exclude? The figures show that it would not exclude 2 per cent. in number of the Irish tenants. It is absurd, therefore, to say that the clause would shut out important sections of the Irish tenantry. Taking them by their number, this clause if passed, I say again, will not exclude 2 per cent. of the tenants, while, on the other hand, it will admit 150,000. Let not hon. Members shut their eyes to such important figures as these. You cannot look on this Bill as a general measure of land purchase, to enable all the Irish tenants to buy. Taking the clause as added to the Bill, it will not reduce very largely the number of tenants over £30 who can purchase. I can understand, to some extent, the Irish landlords being desirous to sell their estates in globo; but this is a question not for the Irish landlords to decide, but for Parliament to decide in the interests of the Imperial taxpayer firstly, and, secondly, in the interests of the Irish tenant farmers. If the Imperial Parliament says to the Irish landlords, "We desire that the money should be distributed equally among the different classes of Irish tenants, we desire that the larger tenants over £30 should not absorb two-thirds or three-fourths of the money; but that it should be fairly shared among the smaller tenants," then I do not see why the landlords should be entitled to pick and choose. Up to the present they have been entitled to pick and choose, and to do so to such an extent that, as we have seen, purchasers have been very greatly composed of the larger class of tenant farmers. This will naturally be so, as long as the 'Bill is left in its present position. The Land Commission, in the first place, were bound to look to the element of security, which was practically the only element put before them under the Ashbourne Acts, and in looking into that element they naturally selected the larger holdings for purchase, because they constituted the best security; and the larger tenants consequently, under the working of these Acts, have been able, in company with the landlords, to go to the Land Commission and get them to give them the preference in the purchases that had taken place. I think that that should be stopped. I think it right that the tenants under £30 should have the same chance of buying as the larger tenants in the future. The money should be distributed as the Chief Secretary proposes in order to carry out the real intentions of Parliament, when, in 1881, a sum of money was allocated for the tentative establishment of a peasant proprietary in Ireland. What was the reason which induced Parliament to make this experiment, and to continue it further in the Ashbourne Acts and the present Bill? Simply because it was brought home to Parliament that social peace and order in Ireland could not be secured or maintained without some very considerable scheme of land purchase, and without considerable reductions in the amounts which the (tenants had to pay. When an offer of £30,000,000 is made, accompanied by the assurance that neither the Tory Party nor the Liberal Party will make any further advance, it is obviously the duty of the Irish Representatives to make the money reach as far as possible, and to make the largest possible number of tenants the owners of their holdings, by providing that the more numerous class of small tenants shall have a proportionate share of the grant. We have often heard that the principle of the greatest good of the greatest number is a sound Radical principle. It is that principle which underlies the proposal of the Chief Secretary. The hon. Member for Longford asserts that the landlords will not sell their estates; but I, on the contrary, believe that the landlords will sell the smaller tenants out under the operations of this Act if this clause be added, and be glad to be rid of them, because there is more difficulty in collecting the rent than with the larger tenants. It is true that in many cases they will prefer to sell their estates as a whole; but if Parliament and the Irish Government are firm, and deal with this question from the point of view of general policy rather than from the point of view of the interests of any class, whether landlords or tenants, I think we shall obtain satisfactory results by establishing in Ireland a class of real occupying owners or peasant proprietors, for whose good Parliament undoubtedly intended these successive land purchase enactments—a result which will not be disappointing to the framers of the measure. I trust, therefore, that the Chief Secretary, having taken so much trouble to collect information on the question, and having had the courage to give up one proposal he has made with a view of doing something in this direction, but which he found did not go far enough, and might be attended by evil results, and having also made this further proposal which cannot have been the result of the mere consideration of the last fortnight, but is probably the result of much longer consideration and information gained during months past, will have the further courage to stand by his guns and continue that course of endeavouring to confer benefit on the smaller class of tenants constituting the poorer portion of the Irish population which he commenced by his Light Railways Acts and which will be worthily succeeded by this clause if he will only stick to it, and ask Parliament to embody it in a Statute.

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

I cannot regard the speech of the hon. Member who has just sat down as consistent with one which he recently made in Ireland, certainly one of the most important speeches he has recently delivered, in which he endeavoured to reconcile the interests of the smaller tenants with those of the larger holders. He then suggested that, while the smaller tenants might be allowed to purchase, the interests of the larger holders might be satisfied by giving each of them a bonus of sums over £600 sufficient to enable him to let his holding and to secure the means of fining down the rent. I was surprised when I read that suggestion, because the hon. Member must have been aware that the financial limit of the Bill is £30,000,000; and if he refers to the Return recently issued by the Chief Secretary, he will see that the issue of such bonuses, according to these figures, would exactly reach the £30,000,000 limit, while not a solitary penny would be left for the 472,000 smaller holdings in Ireland.


That assumes that the whole of the tenants would purchase.


But the proposal has nothing to do with purchase; it was that the larger tenants should have the bonus I have named.


The proposal the hon. Member refers to was one that would have equally divided the available amount between the larger and the smaller tenants.


The hon. Member for Cork has charged my hon. Friend the Member for Longford with having gone into the camp of the Irish landlords because he has said, as I also say, that if any policy of purchase is to be carried out in Ireland it must not be by fragments but by estates. We say this for many reasons: the landlords in Ireland, especially those who want to sell and the tenants who want to buy, have a common interest.


Allow me to explain the figures I have given. There is a footnote to the Return, which says— The number of holdings is taken from the agricultural statistics for 1889, but includes many thousands of holdings which could not come under the Act when in operation —e.g., those not already dealt with under the Ashbourne and former Purchase Acts, lands occupied as villa residences, lands in the occupation of landlords, demesnes, home-farms," &c. Taking into consideration these various holdings, and the double or non-residential holdings, I have made a reduction of 50 per cent. from the 80,000 large holdings of over £30 valuation, thus leaving 40,000 to be dealt with under the Act.


I refuse to accept that kind of reasoning, and I must complain of the exceedingly imperfect and unsatisfactory character of the Return. I think that it would have been easy to furnish an estimate of the holders excluded from it. Knowing something of the circumstances of the case, I presume that, under the categories named by the Chief Secretary, perhaps 20,000 holders might be deducted, on the whole, from the 80,000. I cannot admit that 40,000 have to be deducted.


Taking into account non-residential holders and the category mentioned in the footnote, I calculate that there would be 40,000.


On the other hand, I calculate that the number would be 60,000, and only 4,000 would be emancipated. According to my calculation, then, that would leave 56,000 holders in the one case and 36,000 in the other case unemancipated if the hon. Member for Cork's contention is right; but in either case a majority is left unemancipated. The Government propose to spend £30,000,000, together with the Sinking Fund. Does the Chief Secretary imagine that when this sum has been' spent the Irish land question will be done with? The money may be spent wholly on the large holders or on the small holders, or partly on the one and partly on the other; but after the £30,000,000 have been spent, the great majority of the Irish tenants will still be unemancipated. Indeed, the favour is to be extended to the minority, and not to the majority, who are to be left unassisted. The Government must consider how they are to deal with the remainder, whether in this Parliament or in the Parliament of Ireland, whether by purchase or by lowering the rents. I, for one, decline to regard the question as settled after this expenditure of £30,000,000. Either all the tenants must be made peasant proprietors or the rents of all must be reduced. The result of the Ashbourne Acts was, in my judgment, unsatisfactory. The Government have not obtained with the amount of money spent by the State a return commensurate with the hopes which the State was entitled to entertain from the point of view of policy; and, therefore, I should be glad to consider if some system by which a proper distribution of the money would be assured, thereby securing for the money the creation of the largest number of peasant proprietors. I suggested to the Chief Secretary that he should take the Sinking Fund and the repayments under the Ashbourne Acts, amounting in course of time to £700,000 a year, and, by using that amount as a fund at the discretion of the Lord Lieutenant, to render the system fluid, he would be able to assist the sale of estates and ensure the proper working of the scheme whenever it was threatened to be blocked. That proposal was rejected. I made another proposal which excluded no class of holders, and secured in every county the largest number of peasant proprietors which the money at the disposal of the Government would enable it to create, having regard to the circumstances of the county. My suggestion took the form of proposals for the sale of estates in preference to the sale of holdings, thus encouraging combined action among tenants, and preventing individual tenants of the largest class from coming in and appropriating the bulk of the money without combining with their fellows. I maintain that the limit under the Ashbourne Acts ought to be reduced, say, from £3,000 to £2,000. The clause appears to be as carelessly drawn as the Return is imperfect. In the first paragraph rateable value is spoken of; but in the second paragraph the test becomes rent. What does this mean? Does it mean that the proportion is always to be kept up, and that at no particular time are you to advance a larger sum than is therein indicated? If you mean that, your scheme will never work. Do you mean that the larger tenants may buy up their share at once provided they do not exceed their proportion? If that is your system then it can never work satisfactorily. What proportion of larger tenants will buy? In Connaught there are 120,000 farmers, of whom 7,000 are large. Out of the 7,000 only 219 could buy under the right hon. Gentleman's scheme. In the County of Leitrim there are 14,000 farmers, and under the right hon. Gentleman's scheme, at the average price, only 11 farmers could buy. In that county five large farmers might exhaust the proportion available for the large farmer class. What would be result? The limit of the class would be reached and your whole system of purchase would be blocked, unless the Land Commission should make distinctions. Does this mean that the Commission shall make distinction in favour of one tenant or any number? If only in case of a few, it will be useless. If the exception is general, then it means that we make a rule that is at once to be broken. What, I ask, is the use of laying down a rule which is only to be allowed to operate so long as it has no effect, and, as soon as it has any appreciable effect, is to be broken? I could develop my argument by reference to the possible result in the several counties in Ireland, and particularly in the Province of Ulster, and it must be manifest to anyone that such a rule as this cannot be adhered to. I join the hon. Member for Longford in recognising the spirit in which the clause is brought forward by the right hon. Gentleman and also the difficulties of his position; but I must say that all the circumstances and probabilities point, not to the distribution of the money according to the proportion of the holdings, but to the entire block and stagnation of the system. Either the proportion of the large and small holdings must be maintained, and then the small holdings will carry off nearly all the money from the large holdings, or else the large holdings will be allowed to exhaust their share; and, if that is so, estates cannot be sold, because they will contain a portion of large holders, and there will be no money for them. The limit will be reached not in six years, but probably in one. The men of £300 a year will rush in and buy, and, the limit of the large holdings in every county in Ireland being speedily exhausted, the purchase system will be at an end. Of course, that is a position not to be endured, but what is the use of enacting a clause which when it begins to operate you will have to repeal? I altogether distrust the system of giving such a large discretion to an Administrative Body. I do not know who they may be, they may be partisans of the landlords, and I can conceive such a conjucture of circumstances as may induce the breaking up of the rule altogether in favour of the sale of certain estates. I decline to give any sanction to the principle that the responsibility of this House and of the Legislature should be shuffled off to the Lord Lieutenant, and the whole financial policy of the country in this matter be allowed to become the sport of Party. I have spoken strongly, but I hope not unfairly, and I do not oppose in any factious spirit this clause, the object of which I recognise. I believe the right hon. Gentleman proposes the clause with the best intentions, but circumstances are too strong for him, and I suggest to him that he should withdraw the clause, and reduce the maximum under the Ashbourne Acts. If the right hon. Gentleman does that, he will secure the most speedy working of the scheme, and extend its benefits to a much greater number.

(6.11.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR

I do not object to the tone of the hon. Gentleman's speech; though the hon. Gentleman has expressed himself strongly, as he had a perfect right to do, he has not outstepped the limits of Parliamentary debate, or given me any reason to complain. The hon. Gentleman has, however, fallen into a good many inconsistencies—inconsistencies not only in the speech itself, but as between that speech and others previously delivered. What was the ingenious argument of the hon. Gentleman? That in every county it will be possible for large holders—a few large holders—quickly to absorb the money allocated under the scheme, and thereby land purchase will be rendered impossible on every other estate in the county, because on every estate there will be large holders for whom ex hypothesi there will be no money available, and so estates as a whole will be prevented from being sold. But the two halves of the hon. Gentleman's argument do not fit together. First he assumes that estates will not be sold wholesale, and then that they will. He first argues that sales will be effected here and there to the larger tenants, and then he argues that landlords will not sell unless they dispose of their estates in entirety. But it appears to me there is an inconsistency here which destroys the value of the ingenious argument of the hon. Gentleman.


Will the right hon. Gentleman allow me to say that the result of the Ashbourne Acts shows that the large holders can buy alone—they can buy without association with the small holders?


It is clear, I think, that so far as the landlord is concerned, if he cannot sell his whole estate which ex hypothesi is the case, he wil prefer to sell to the small holders, because it is from them that the difficulty and expense of collecting rents arises, and it is owing to them that the cost of management is incurred. The expense is far less in regard to large holdings. What is all this we now hear about selling estates en bloc, or in globo as the hon. Member for Cork says? This, surely, is an entirely new point of view. All through the Debates on the Ashbourne Act and all through the Debate of last year we were deafened by arguments in support of attacks upon two or three big landlords like the Duke of Abercorn, the Drapers' Company, and others, who, to use a phrase that then became familiar had "run off with the swag," and hon. Gentleman were never weary of saying that the money voted by that House to appease the tenants of Ireland had been "collared" by those two or three large landlords. Now these hon. Gentlemen say the only way to manage land purchase in Ireland is to sell estates en bloc. I have not yet done with the inconsistency of the hon. Gentleman. He has a plan of his own which I understand to be that the Land Commission should, as between the various estates, choose for the privilege of purchase those estates in which the proportion of small holders is in excess of the proportion on the other estates. No doubt difficulty will arise under any scheme of land purchase as to whether an agreement between a landlord and his tenants should be accepted; but under the scheme of the hon. Gentleman it will occur every year, and not merely when it reaches or nearly reached the margin of the limit. Suppose half a dozen landlords in a county send in their agreements to the Land Commission for acceptance, each of them being ignorant of what the other has done. They will discover that the Land Commission has selected one or more of their number to the exclusion of the others, and those others will have no grounds on which they can know whether their arrangements will ever be ratified. What landlord after that would ever risk going before the Land Commission, unless he knew the proportion of small holders on his estate was so great as to insure his success in competition with his neighbours? The result as to large holders would be that landlords never would come to an agreement with them. It appears to me that if my scheme is open to objection—and it is open to objection, as every such scheme must be—the objections to the scheme of the hon. Gentleman are much stronger. The hon. Gentleman proposes to reduce the limit of the Ashbourne Acts from £3,000 to £2,000. Again, that proposal of the hon. Gentleman is inconsistent with his principle, that estates should be sold en bloc.


I did limit the principle so far.


That would increase the difficulty of selling estates. I am sure the hon. Gentleman will see that, with every desire to give full weight to everything which has fallen from him, it is quite impossible to give effect to the proposition he has made to the would look with different eyes on this scheme if there was no prospect of any more British money being given for this object. I doubted at the time whether the hon. Member meant that observation for the Committee or for a different audience. The hon. Member must know, and the Committee must know, that there is no more chance of another Irish Land Purchase Bill being brought in, and of more millions of British money being voted for the purchase of Irish land, than there is of the passing of the maddest and most chimerical project that ever emanated from the brain of man.


That is what was said in 1881.


How does the argument of the hon. Gentleman match or fit in with the arguments in which hon. Gentlemen delighted in reference to Clause 6? We were told that by the system of insurance payments we took away all inducement to tenants to buy, that the desire to purchase would be extinguished, and the Act would remain a dead letter; that the temptations to purchase were so slight, and the burdens so great that very few tenants would be found to avail themselves of the provisions of the Bill. Now, when a different question comes up different arguments are advanced and a different object has to be gained, and the Committee are told that estates must be purchased en bloc, because it will be absolutely impossible to keep side by side a system of purchase and a system of ordinary tenancy.


I said that either others must be allowed to purchase or rents must be reduced and the purchase annuity.


That argument loses all its force unless the condition of the purchasing tenant is so desirable that the others will insist on purchasing also. How does this fit in with the arguments heard over and over again on Clause 6, when it was declared that the temptation held out to tenants was altogether insignificant? My task is lightened by referring the hon. Gentle- man to his own previous utterances. I can assure the Committee no one can feel more acutely than I do the great value of the opinion expressed against the clause, but I must honestly confess that the arguments in support of the opinion which has been expressed do not appear to me to be very strong. I quite accept the fact that the hon. Gentlemen who oppose the clause represent a great body of opinion specially instructed on this particular question, to which the Committee ought to give full weight. But having weighed as well as I can the arguments brought forward against the clause, I do not see sufficient reason to recede from the position I have taken up, which is that the passing of this clause will enable 90,000 tenants to enfranchise themselves who without it would not be able to purchase their holdings. That seems to me the paramount consideration, and the objection to the clause on the whole seems to me inadequate to bear the strain which must be put upon them if this clause were to be rejected. For these reasons I must ask the Committee to support the Government in reading the clause a second time.

(6.25.) MR. M. HEALY (Cork)

There is nothing inconsistent between the attitude the Irish Members took up with respect to the 6th clause and the opposition they offer to the clause before the Committee, because each part of the Bill must be considered by itself, as if it were to become operative. We think the operation of Clause 6 may be fatal in its operation against a system of purchase, and we think this clause will throw an impediment in the path of land purchase in Ireland. It is not surprising that we find ourselves joined in our opposition to the clause by hon. Gentlemen on the other side, who look at this question from the landlords' point of view, but I am surprised at the attitude taken by the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Picton). I take it that the attitude of the English Radical Party has not been opposition to land purchase in Ireland, but to British credit being pledged for the purpose, and I should have thought that their policy hitherto would have suggested opposition to this clause. Let me point out that in supporting this clause they adopt a course likely to assist in the fulfilments of their own prophecy of loss to the British taxpayer, because an examination of the figures will show that of these £30,000,000 five-sixths will be advanced on the security of less than half of the land of Ireland. The supporters of the Bill argue that because under the Ashbourne Acts a large proportion of moneys available have gone to the large tenants, there is some legislative enactment preventing the small tenants purchasing. But that is not the fact. If under the existing land purchase legislation the smaller tenants have failed to purchase, it is not because there is anything in the existing Land Purchase Acts which either directly or indirectly has brought about that result. The Land Commissioners deal with the applications indifferently, and if the smaller class of tenants have failed to purchase, they have failed to do so because they could not come to an agreement with their landlords. The inference to be drawn from the circumstances is that in the nature of things it is much more likely that the larger tenants will come to an agreement with their landlords than the smaller tenants. That seems to throw still stronger light on the proposals of the right hon. Gentleman, and to make it still more likely that in practice they will not work. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) has told us that we are demanding that the British taxpayer should pledge his credit to the extent of £180,000,000 sterling in order to bring about land purchase in Ireland. That is not so. We are discussing this Bill as coming from a Tory Government; and we are bound to discuss it on the basis on which that Government bring it forward. They bring forward their Bill on the assumption that no scheme of Home Rule will ever be carried. Under such circumstances are Irish Members to be asked to be content with this advance of £30,000,000 as the only means of settling the land question in Ireland? Either the present Government are going to succeed at the next General Election, or they are not. If they do not succeed in defeating Home Rule it will be quite open for our friends on this side to say, "As we are not prepared to settle the Irish land question ourselves we hand it over to the Irish Parliament." Under this scheme you enable certain tenants to purchase, and leave others still groaning under the rack rents they have to pay. My hon. Friend the Member for Leicester (Mr. Picton) said that the principle of the clause is to give the largest amount of money to the largest number, and to give each man his fair share. But that is exactly what the clause does not do. It selects arbitrarily a certain number of the large tenants and gives to that number the whole of the money available. Is that giving each man his fair share? It is doing the very contrary. What more does the clause do? Besides handing over to a limited number all the money available, it makes the tenants excluded liable to pay for the defaults under the Bill. Is that a rational proposal? Is that a proposal which can be defended on any logical ground? A more intolerable proposal was never brought before a deliberate assembly. I and my friends are as desirous as anybody to make the Act work for the benefit of the smaller tenants as well as of the larger tenants, but we wish to proceed on some reasonable and rational principle. Again, what the clause does in one line it repeals in the next. In the first place it practically excludes the bulk of the tenants over £30 from the operation of the Bill, and then it proceeds to say that the Land Commission for the purpose of the purchase of estates may break down the barrier so set up, and, in the second place, it enables the Lord Lieutenant to totally repeal the clause, while laying down no principle on which he is to act. If the Government believed the operation of the clause will be beneficial they should enact the clause, and leave it to Parliament to modify it afterwards. It is derogatory to the dignity of this Legislature to propose to divest it of legislative power and to hand that power over to the Lord Lieutenant. Personally, I believe the Lord Lieutenant will be compelled, in a short space of time, to put into operation the power the clause gives him. There is one other matter, as bearing on the working of the clause, I wish to mention. How is the clause to operate in the case of estates which are being sold in the Landed Estates Court? Hitherto it has been possible to induce the Judges of that Court, for the purpose of facilitating sales, to split large estates into lots; but how can that be done in future? The Judges will not know whether the Land Commissioners will be prepared to advance the tenant the necessary amount of money. The clause will go a long way to make sales in the Landed Estates Court practically impossible. Personally, I have a particular reason for opposing the clause. The constituency I represent is rural to the extent of some 20,000 of its population. Ninety per cent. of the 20,000 come over the limit proposed in the Bill. I think the tenants of the Liberties of Cork will be obliged to my colleague in the representation of Cork when they learn that on the first occasion when he has thought it necessary to summon his followers from Ireland on this Bill, he has summoned them for the purpose of practically excluding the people of the Liberties of Cork from the Bill.


I think the Irish landlords need feel very little anxiety about this clause. The proposed limitation is not to be applied to the money available under the Ashbourne Acts. £1,000,000 or £2,000,000 sterling are still available under those Acts, and a year or two must elapse before that money is exhausted. Those Acts and this Act will operate side by side, and therefore an opportunity will be afforded of ascertaining whether further relaxations are necessary.

(6.44.) CAPTAIN BETHELL (York, E.R., Holderness)

This is a most interesting clause, especially to me, who practically have no sort of sympathy with the Bill as a whole. [Opposition cheers]. Radicals cheer that statement, but I ought to say that I am not in the least afraid of the British taxpayer being called upon to suffer any loss. For that reason I did not vote against the Bill, though I did not vote for it. With regard to this clause, I do not see any reason, in spite of all the arguments showered upon us, why this great benefit should be given, except possibly to some class of farmers in the congested districts. Naturally, holding this view, I am only too delighted to find my right hon. Friend limit the proposal by declining to give an undue proportion to the well-to-do farmers of Ireland. I have never been able to understand—I do not understand now, although we have had arguments of all sorts—why dual tenure cannot exist. I have asked my Irish Friends, I have asked hon. Gentleman below the Gangway opposite, I have asked Liberals, and I have always been told it is impossible it can exist. I have never been able to get any further than that. I take this opportunity of declaring that with the object of giving this great benefit to the greater part of the tenants of Ireland I have no sympathy whatever. I suppose there is something to be said for the people in the congested districts, and I am delighted my right hon. Friend has so far consented, I believe at the suggestion of certain Gentlemen opposite, to limit the operation of the Act in a great measure to the poorer farmers of Ireland.

(6.46.) MR. M. J. KENNY (Tyrone, Mid)

I think that the greatest argument against the proposal of the Chief Secretary is that the great bulk of Irish opinion is against it. I invite any Member representing an Ulster constituency, and who expects to be re-elected, to get up and support the clause of the Chief Secretary. I do not believe there are three Representatives from Ireland with the slightest chance of re-election who will support the clause. That being so, I think the Chief Secretary will, in the process of time, find that, as is the case with all proposals made for the settlement of Irish difficulties in defiance of Irish opinion, these proposals will ultimately break down. I set against the dialectics of the Chief Secretary, skilful as they are, the general opinion of the tenants of Ireland, and I undertake to say that in the long run the general sense of the people will prevail. Since the Chief Secretary gave notice of this clause there has been created in the North of Ireland a feeling of absolute consternation. Every section of opinion—Orange, Nationalist and Liberal Unionist—has combined on this question. The most faithful and most docile supporter the policy of the Government has had in the province of Ulster for the past six years has been the Northern Whig. That paper has not given us very much guidance recently on the general question of land purchase, but since this clause has been placed on the Paper it has turned round and attacked the Government for its action in the matter. In the same way every association of tenant farmers that has met in Ulster so far has attacked the proposal of the Government, and now we have the accredited Representatives of the Government in Ulster speaking against it. Under these circumstances it is certain that the proposal of the Government will break down. There is at present a. certain amount of land in the Land Court under the authority, and to a certain extent under the discretion, of a particular Judge. The moment you introduce this artificial distinction the discretion of Mr. Justice Munro becomes fettered. It will be absolutely impossible for him to sanction sales of the property that has come into his Court and, as far as land purchase operations are concerned, over the greater part of Ireland they will break down. I sympathise with the smaller class of tenants-in Ireland, and agree that it is perfectly fair that they should get their proportion of this money, but you propose to give them their proportion not on the basis, of value but on that of numbers, thereby excluding the great bulk of the well-to-do tenants of Ireland, who certainly are entitled to as much consideration as any other class of tenants. I find that under the proposal of the Government, as far as Tyrone is concerned, not 1 in 13, as the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary suggested, of holdings over the value of £30can be sold, but only 1 in 30.8. It will be absolutely impossible to hope for any settlement of the land question when such an enormous bulk of the best class of the tenantry will be excluded from any chance of a settlement. As the purchase is to be by agreement, and the interests of tenants and landlords will come ultimately to the same thing, I see nothing inconsistent in supporting the arguments advanced by gentlemen who speak as landlords. I believe that under the combined pressure of landlord and tenant the artificial distinction of the Chief Secretary is bound to be broken down, and therefore I, as representing an agricultural constituency in Ulster, shall vote against the clause and give it all the opposition in my power.

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

I will not stand between the Committee and a Division for more than a few moments. I wish to explain why it is that, although I sympathise with the purpose of the Amendment, I find myself compelled to vote against it. The hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Picton) put the case, I think, as strongly as it could be put in favour of the Amendment. He assumed that what we were really discussing was whether this money should be fairly divided between large and small tenants or not. If that were simply the question before the Committee I do not think anybody on this side of the House would have any hesitation in voting in favour of the clause. We are just as strongly as the hon. Member for Leicester in favour of the fair distribution of the money among the small tenants. My hon. Friend said this was a question on which he could not claim to have any special information, and I think that if he were as well acquainted with the affairs of Ireland as we are, he would see that the reason why we vote against the clause is that it does not carry out the object which he desires to see achieved. I think the Chief Secretary is entitled to the recognition that has been fairly given to him of the spirit and purpose with which the clause has been introduced. I have listened to every word of this Debate in a perfectly impartial spirit, because—to be candid— I had not made up my mind as to the vote I would give when I entered the Committee this evening. The conclusion I have come to is, that if this clause were operative—and all the probabilities are that it will be absolutely inoperative —if it became operative it would mean, that if a certain number of large farmers were to go in for land purchase, land purchase would be at an end. It has been pointed out that five large formers would exhaust all the money that could be given to large farmers in a particular county. I will take the case put by the hon. Member for West Belfast. If five large farmers in a county exhaust all the money allotted under the Act to that county, it will prevent land purchase transactions on every other estate in the county. The Chief Secretary, when asked as to the consistency of such a proceeding, points back to remarks made by us in condemnation of the large landlords who received considerable sums under the Ashbourne Acts. May I point out that those remarks were mainly made by hon. Members above the Gangway rather than by those below it, and that when they were uttered from these Benches they were made with an entirely different purpose to that implied by the right hon. Gentleman; they were made in order to point out the inconsistency of the right hon. Gentleman's own Party, members of which were the first to take advantage of the Act. I come now to the second objection. The right hon. Gentleman said that my hon. Friends assumed, in one part of their argument, that purchase would take place not by estates, and in another that it would be by estates. No doubt on some estates only a certain number of large farms will be purchased; and on other estates the landlord will absolutely refuse to sell unless every holding, large and small, is included in the transaction. It is quite conceivable, therefore, that in one county a landlord, by selling five or six large farms, will exhaust all the funds applicable for the purpose in that county; and I contend, therefore, that this new clause will have the effect of arresting land purchase by putting it in the power of the large farmers to grab all the money. Whether it be inconsistent or not, I am in favour of purchase by estates; and hon. Members opposite from Ireland will, I think, agree with me that that is the only really substantial form in which a land purchase system can be carried out. I quite admit that my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester is entitled to vote for this clause on account of his general objections to a land purchase system, but he is not consistent in voting for the clause if he thinks that by so doing he will benefit the small farmers of Ire- land. I think that, on the contrary, he will injure them. I am of opinion that the clause, even if passed, will prove inoperative. I would like to call my hon. Friend's attention to the undemocratic principles embodied in the clause. Under it there is a suspensory power. The Lord Lieutenant, on the recommendation of the Land Commission, can suspend the operation of the clause altogether. I ask my hon. Friend, in the name of the democratic principles which we both of us profess and. practice, is it right to remove from this Legislature the control of an Act of Parliament which it has passed, and to place it in the hands of a Party official—to give the Lord Lieutenant, in fact, the power of using or abusing it? The Lord Lieutenant may, at his discretion, refuse to put in force the provisions of this clause. That is evident. But I will carry the argument one step further. If my hon. Friend will study the clause he will find it gives the Lord Lieutenant power to interrupt the operation of the clause in favour of one particular county. That is bad enough. If you had a Tory Lord Lieutenant who wanted, for some electioneering purpose, to make a discrimination in favour of a county where the Tory vote is strong, as against a Nationalist county, he would be able to do it under this clause; he could exclude the Tory county from its operation and include the Nationalist county in its operation. That is not all, the Lord Lieutenant could actually exclude a particular estate, he could even except a particular individual. How, in the name of the democratic principles which we both so earnestly hold, can the hon. Member for Leicester vote for such a clause? I join in the recommendation that this clause should be withdrawn.

(7.10.) MR. CHANCE (Kilkenny, S.)

I regret that this clause has been introduced, because I look upon it as an entire reversal of the land policy of 1870. The right hon. Gentleman is not wise in coming to the Committee at this stage, and telling us that he looks upon this as an experiment. This is not a subject on which he ought to experiment. He tells us that £30,000,000 must be considered to be the limit of money to be used for land purchase. That statement in itself is sufficient to justify Irish Representatives, whether from Orange or Green counties, in condemning the clause. Even if the clause in itself were beneficial I should decline to vote for it if it laid it down as a principle, that no more than£30,000,000 was to be applied to land purchase. The right hon. Gentleman seems to think he has settled that point by his mere declaration; but if he had examined, as we have done, the history of Irish land purchase, he would know that there is hardly a declaration made by Tory Ministers which they have not been obliged, at a subsequent date, to swallow. I am rather puzzled as to what this clause really means—or rather, I was puzzled, because now I have come to the conclusion that it means nothing at all. Evidently the right hon. Gentleman himself doubted the wisdom of the principles it involves, or he would not have given the Lord Lieutenant power wholly and absolutely to suspend its operation. At present the landlords try to sell both small and large holdings on their estates; they would not dream of selling only the large holdings and retaining the small ones, thereby involving themselves in considerable expense in collecting small and uncertain rents from the poorer tenants. But what will be the effect of this clause? A dozen large tenants will buy in one county, and then the whole of the other large tenants will be excluded from the operation of the Bill, and a landlord will only be able to sell his smaller holdings, unless he adopts the fraudulent and suicidal policy of cutting up the larger holdings. Seeing the expense he may be put to by the Land Commissioners in investigating the title, &c., he will not be willing to sell the small holdings at such a price as he would accept if the large farms were sold as well. Therefore, one effect of this clause would be to increase the number of years' purchase extorted from the purchasers of small holdings. That surely would be very dangerous. On that ground, and also because of the intimation of the right hon. Gentleman that the clause is to be taken as fixing the limit of money to be advanced at £30,000,000, I shall vote against the clause.

(7.20.) MR. JORDAN (Clare, W.)

As a Representative of the small farmers of West Clare, I sympathise with the spirit of the new clause, and if I thought the limit of money advanced was never to exceed £30,000,000 I would vote for it. But notwithstanding the declaration of the Chief Secretary that no more than £30,000,000 will be advanced, I do not believe the grant can remain at that point. It must be increased, were it only in the interests of Ulster. I cannot, therefore, support it, for by keeping to that limit discontent will be created among those who are unable to come under the Act. I am anxious that the whole of the tenantry of Ireland should have an opportunity of availing themselves of the advantages of the Act.


Surely there must be some collusion between the Chief Secretary and the Member for Cork. May I suggest that our objections to the clause would be modified by a provision that tenants of holdings over £30, who will be excluded from the Act, shall also be excluded from the burden of taxation arising under it?

(7.23.) The Committee divided:— Ayes 111; Noes 26.—(Div. List, No. 238.)

(7.30.) MR. T. M. HEALY

I beg to move to omit from the new clause the words "the Lord Lieutenant," in order to insert "the Land Commission." This clause deals with a matter which should not rest in the hands of a political official connected with the Government. It seems to me that if the matter is left in the hands of the Lord Lieutenant, as proposed by the clause, it will not be dealt with in a manner satisfactory to the parties interested, for the Lord Lieutenant will not have the same acquaintance with questions of land purchase as the Land Commissioners whom I propose to substitute. Questions under this clause might be decided for or against a tenant solely on the declaration of the Lord Lieutenant, and that, to my mind, would be highly undesirable. I also object to the word. "shall" in the clause, and think it should be "may."

Amendment proposed to the new Clause, line 1, to omit the words "the Lord Lieutenant," in order to insert the words "the Land Commission."—(Mr. T. M. Healy.)

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

(7.35.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR

It is a matter merely of calculation and not of policy which the clause refers to the Lord Lieutenant, so that there is nothing to be gained by referring it to the Land Commission, who will have no means of obtaining these statistics. The Lord Lieutenant can have no party interest in such a matter, and the Land Commissioners cannot take his place.

MR. MACNEILL (Donegal, S.)

If it is a question merely of calculation the Registrar General would be the proper person to exercise these powers, and I would suggest that he should be substituted for the Lord Lieutenant.


I am surprised to hear that the Land Commission have no means of ascertaining the statistics which have to be ascertained under this clause. I should have imagined that they would have been much more likely to have had the means of ascertaining the statistics than the Lord Lieutenant. It seems to me that the Government must have had some sinister object in trusting to the Lord Lieutenant in this way. The Land Commission is a Department of the State in which we have some confidence, but we have no confidence in the Department of the Lord Lieutenant, and why he should be dragged into it I cannot conceive. I shall certainly go to a Division.


If the Registrar General is a competent person to tabulate the results of the Census, I think you might very well leave in his hands the much less difficult work of defining the number of landholders of less than £30 valuation. I call to mind that in an earlier clause of the Bill the duty of determining the share of the county in the Guarantee Fund—a duty not unlike that which would be imposed on the Lord Lieutenant under this clause—was entrusted to the Lord Lieutenant, and the Government promised that the per- sons interested should have an appeal if it was thought that hardship was inflicted. Well, there may be hardship inflicted under this clause, for there is not only the rate book to be taken into consideration, but there are several excluded classes who may be included by the action of the Lord Lieutenant to the detriment of a great many people. If the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary does not agree to placing these powers in the hands of a public Department, I trust that, at all events, he will allow those whose interests are affected an opportunity of checking the action of the Lord Lieutenant in the matter.

(7.40.) MR. CHANCE

The Government seem anxious to throw the responsibility for this on the Lord Lieutenant, but it might happen that we might have a Lord Lieutenant who was not an expert at arithmetic—


Order, order!


He might not understand this question of rents, and might not be an expert at statistics.


The hon. Member is trifling with the Committee.


I have no desire to do so.


The hon. Member must be well aware that this is not a personal function of the Lord Lieutenant.


A portion of the section directs him to "ascertain," and what I wish to point out is that he has no special knowledge himself of these matters, whilst the Land Commission will have special knowledge. If it is not a personal function why should the Lord Lieutenant's name appear here at all? If the work is to be done by someone else we should be told who is to do it. You, Mr. Courtney, have pointed out the most powerful argument in favour of the Amendment. It is obvious that we ought to deal with realities and not with phantoms, and that we should, therefore, know who is to be entrusted with this work. The Registrar General's Department is most ably conducted. The Registrar General has all these statistics at his finger ends, and it is obvious that the rational and reasonable choice lies between the Land Commission and the Registrar General.

(7.45.) MR. M. HEALY

There is something more than a collection of statistics required under the clause.


It may satisfy hon. Members if I say that we shall be ready to carry out the analogy of the former clause, and give an appeal to persons who consider themselves aggrieved.


The Lord Lieutenant is not the man to collect the statistics. This clause cannot stand as it is at present, because it would require an enumeration of every class of owner, agricultural and non-agricultural. The section would have to be administered with knowledge, and that would require something more than a collection of statistics. There will have to be a discrimination made between the different classes of holdings; why, therefore, should the right hon. Gentleman be so obstinate in his refusal to accept the Amendment? Another objection I have to the clause, as drawn, is that the Lord Lieutenant is given a discretionary power, and I do not think he is a person to exercise such a power in a matter of this kind.


The right hon. Gentleman says there shall be an appeal, and I would ask him with whom that appeal will lie. Who will be the authority ultimately responsible — the Land Commission or the Registrar General? The latter official, I would point out, has fixity of tenure, and is a person in whom we have confidence. Who is to be the authority above the Lord Lieutenant to whom we are to appeal?

(7.50.) MR. M. J. KENNY

The Lord Lieutenant will have to go to the Land Commission to obtain the information he wants, and I therefore think it would be desirable to omit the Lord Lieutenant and substitute the Registrar General in conjunction with the Land Commission.


I would suggest that the Government accept the words "prescribed authority," and leave out the words "Lord Lieutenant." Will the right hon. Gentleman say what his proposal about the appeal is?


It does not appear to me that hon. Gentlemen are quite serious in this matter. The suggestion which we have accepted and which has called forth the statement from various hon. Gentlemen that they do not understand it, was made by the hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton). The gentleman who cannot grasp the proposal of the Government is the gentleman who originally made it.


It is true that we suggested an appeal when we were dealing with a section of an entirely different kind. We did not, however, get it.


It is to be brought up on Report.


Yes, it is to be brought up on Report. It seems to me that we have no other course but to press this Amendment to a Division, although, if we had some indication of the intentions of the Government, we might not do so.

(7.56.) MR. CHANCE

The right hon. Gentleman asks us to trust him, although we are completely in the dark as to what he is going to do. Our knowledge of Governments in general does not induce us to trust them in the dark. The only appeal you can give from the Representative of the Crown is an appeal to this House, and that, I understand, the right hon. Gentleman does not propose.


It appears to me that it would not be so satisfactory to give this power to the Registrar General or the Land Commission as it would be to give an appeal to the Courts. If we are to understand, however, that the Lord Lieutenant, having determined what is required by the 1st sub-section, there shall then be an appeal or rehearing by a Judicial Authority, I think that is as much as we can expect to get.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

(8.2.) MR. CHANCE

I beg to move the Amendment standing in my name, namely, in line 3, to leave out the words "tenants of." The meaning of my Amendment will be better understood if I point out that it is to get rid of a difficulty that would be otherwise created owing to the number of people in the agricultural districts who are found bearing the same name. I have known as many as 13 persons in one district having the same surname and Christian name, and I put it to the Committee how is it possible for the Irish authority to discover who these people are? It would be impossible to say whether the Patrick Duffey of one parish is or is not the Patrick Duffey of the adjoining parish.


I have no objection to the hon. Member's Amendment.

Amendment agreed to.


I have another Amendment, the object of which is to insert in the same line, and in the place recently occupied by the words "tenants of," the words "agricultural and pastoral."


I have no objection.

Amendment agreed to.

(8.7.) MR. LEA

I have now to move as an Amendment to this clause that the limit shall be extended from £30 to £50, and I hope the Chief Secretary will see his way to accept this alteration. My own feeling is that the clause as it stands is damaging to the Bill, and I desire to mitigate, as far as possible, the evil it might otherwise effect.

Amendment proposed, in line 6, to omit the word "thirty," in order to insert the word "fifty."—(Mr. Lea.)


I cannot agree with the Amendment of my hon. Friend. Had it been the case of England, the argument of the hon. Member might have been held to apply, because property worth £30 per annum in Ireland, being only the value of the landlord's share of the freehold, would be worth £50 here, and a tenant's holding of the value of £50 in Ireland must necessarily be a considerable holding. I think there is considerable danger in extending the limitation in the way proposed, and, furthermore, I do not see what answer you could make to the English farmer were he to apply for relief under similar circumstances.


I, on the contrary, hope the Amendment will be pressed to a Division, because it will tend to minimise the evils the clause would otherwise occasion. I am sure the hon. Member for South Derry has the sympathy of every hon. Member sitting on these Benches.

(8.12.) MR. M. J. KENNY

I am not sure whether this Amendment is altogether a wise one, for this reason: that if it were not adopted, it is quite certain that the operation of the clause will be such that it must be repealed within a short time; whereas if the Amendment is carried, it may continue to work four or five years longer than otherwise. I doubt whether it would be prudent to defer the repeal of the clause for so long a time, but, taking into view the whole of the circumstances, I shall give my support to my hon. Friend's Amendment on the ground that it is a move in the right direction.


I shall give my vote for the Amendment, because I should like to see the Act tried, and in order that it may be tested for at least a certain number of years.

(8.18.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR

I am very sorry the hon. Member's Amendment was not placed on the Paper. The figures connected with it are, roughly, as follows:—The tenants under £30 are 472,000 odd. They are 85 per cent. of the total number of tenants, and they get about 26 per cent. of the money. The tenants between £30 and £50 are about 38,000 odd. They are 7 per cent. of the total number of tenants, and they get about 15 per cent. of the money. The number of tenants under £50 would be, in round numbers, 500,000, or about 92 per cent. of the whole, and they will together get about 51 per cent. of the money if the analogy of the Ashbourne Acts is followed. In that case nearly one-half of the whole of the money will go to the tenants above £50. If I believed that the feeling raised in Ulster and elsewhere would be mitigated or destroyed by my hon. Friend's Amendment, I would gladly accept it, but I have no sufficient assurance that that will be the result. In the absence of such an assurance, I think we ought to retain the figure on the basis of which we have discussed the Bill. I believe that the grossest abuses of the system are to be found above £50, and not between £30 and £50. It is in the higher regions of value that the grossest abuses occur.

(8.25.) MR. M. HEALY

The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary has accepted so much in the direction of this Amendment that he seemed to have a difficulty in refusing it, and I therefore am encouraged to hope that a little further discussion may induce him to withdraw his opposition to the proposal. I would remind him that this is the first occasion in the history of the land agitation upon which the limit he proposes has ever been adopted. It is true there was a £30 limitation in the Arrears Act of 1882, but in that case there was the distinction between a gift and a loan, and this is the first time in the history of land legislation when tenants of over £30 have been excluded, while tenants of a less amount have been admitted. Moreover, owing to the fact that in some counties, such as Kerry and Clare, the rents are frequently two or three times the amount of the valuation, a large number of tenants will be practically excluded from the operation of the Act. Surely this is not what the right hon. Gentleman had in contemplation when he drew this clause. I think the limit of £30 would be most dangerous, and I do, therefore, urge on the right hon. Gentleman to adopt a limit of £50, which would certainly be much better.

(8.31.) MR. SEXTON

The right hon. Gentleman has met the Amendment with his usual opposition, but I would urge upon him to accept it, as an extension of the limit to £50 would afford him very good security. Is it not obvious that a great proportion of the tenants would be brought in under the Act by the extension of the limit?


The tenants who would be thus brought in constitute 2.5 per cent. of the total number.


That is one-fiftieth of the tenantry. It is evident, therefore, that if the money to be paid out to the tenantry is to be limited by the relative proportion according to the holdings, it would give rise to a great deal of abuse. The limit of £30 would act as an impediment to sell in every province, county, and barony, while a limit of £50 would leave sales perfectly free. As an Ulster Member I would advise the right hon. Gentleman to accept the Amendment.

(8.35.) MR. SINCLAIR

The Chief Secretary for Ireland has asked whether his acceptance of this Amendment would destroy the opposition to the clause. I do not think it would do that; but it would undoubtedly go far to mitigate the feeling of opposition to which the clause has given rise, and it would tend to smooth the future passage of the Bill through its various stages.


I hope the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary will allow me to say that his acceptance of the Amendment would tend to mitigate the very strong feeling which I have against this clause. I think a limit of £50 would constitute a far better dividing line than one of £30, and, therefore, I trust that the Chief Secretary will give way on this point.


I also may say that the acceptance of the Amendment would go far to gain stronger support for this clause.

(8.38.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR

There is one objection to the Amendment which hon. Gentlemen seem to have forgotten. Of course, under the clause the money is given not in proportion to the value of the holdings, but in proportion to their number. The amount to be allotted under the proposed Amendment to holdings over £50 will be almost insignificant. The change from £30 to £50 is considerable; but if there is a general expression in favour of it, I shall not be averse to accept the suggested compromise. It will, however, be more convenient that the final assent to the change should be given at a later stage of the Bill.


What is the number of tenants who would be affected by this change?


About 5 per cent. of the total number.


I think it would be better to accept the Amendment at once, and then cancel it, if necessary, at a later stage.


I would appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to yield to the very general expression of opinion from various sections of this Committee in favour of this Amendment.


Very well. I will accept the Amendment.

Amendment agreed to. (8.45.)

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

(9.20.) MR. SINCLAIR

In moving to leave out Sub-section (b) in order to insert the Amendment that stands in my name—


I do not think the hon. Member's proposal is consistent with that which has been already passed in this clause.


As I understand the first part of the clause, its object is simply to provide for obtaining information as to the number of holdings of various rentals which will be the subject of advances under the Act, and my proposal is to endeavour to bring under the Act those of higher valuation by the repayment of a larger amount of principal than would be the case under the system proposed in the Bill.


There is no connection, as far as I can make out, between Sub-section (a) of the proposed clause and the words the hon. Member proposes to put in. There ought to be sufficient connection between them to make them run into the same clause.


Then I take it that your ruling is, Mr. Courtney, that I can only move it as a new clause?


The hon. Member could propose to amend the clause, but his proposal is of such a character that there is no connection between the first and the second part of the clause as he proposes it. The Amendment, therefore, appears to me to be inadmissible.

Amendments proposed, in line 9, to leave out "to tenants," and insert "for the purchase of;" leave out "tenants of," and insert "agricultural and pas- toral;" line 10, after "pounds," insert "each."—(Mr. Chance.)

Amendments agreed to.

(9.24.) MR. CHANCE

I now beg to move to leave out from "proportion," in line 12, to "landlord," in line 14. The clause now reads— Except where, in the opinion of the Land Commission, an advance to a tenant of the first-mentioned class is necessary for carrying into effect sales on the estate of the same landlord. That is exceedingly indefinite, and what I propose to do later on is to move to add, at the end of line 26— Notwithstanding anything contained in this section, it shall be lawful for the Land Commission to make advances to carry out the sale of an entire estate or entire section of an estate. I am sure that is the intention of the Government, and therefore I hope they will agree to the Amendment.

Amendment proposed, in line 12, after "proportion," to leave out all the words to the word "landlord," in line 14, inclusive.—(Mr. Chance.)

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

(9.26.) MR. MADDEN

These words are taken from the Act of 1888; they are the words under which the Land Commission have acted for some years, and I am not aware that any difficulty has ever arisen.


If a landlord with 10,000 acres sells one holding of 5 acres to some labourer, he immediately evades the operation of the whole section. I am sure the object and intention of the Government is that the rule is to be departed from only for the purpose of completing transactions on estates or sections of estates. I do not profess that the Amendment is one of exceeding importance; and if the Government will promise to consider the matter later on, I will ask leave to withdraw the proposition.


I shall be glad to consider the matter before the Report stage.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

(9.28.) MR. CHANCE

I now move to add to Sub-section (b)— Provided always, that in the application of this sub-section the rateable value of improvements made by a tenant, or his predecessors in title, shall be excluded from the rateable value of a holding; and two or more holdings, whether in the same or different counties, held by the same tenant, shall be deemed to be one holding. The reason I have for moving the Amendment is that, no matter at what figure you fix the limit, you will always get into this difficulty—you may have a tenant who is on the border line, say £49. The man may want to improve his holding—to erect buildings, for instance — but he will always feel that if he erects buildings, and they are valuable, they may bring him over the £50 limit, and cause him to lose the benefit of the clause. It is most undesirable that anything should be done to prevent a tenant improving his holding. I am sure the Government will not feel any difficulty in accepting a proposal which will prevent the section operating in any way to prevent a tenant improving his holding.

Amendment proposed, at the end of the clause, to add the words— Provided always, that in the application of this sub-section the rateable value of improvements made by a tenant, or his predecessors in title, shall be excluded from the rateable value of a holding; and two or more holdings, whether in the same or different counties, held by the same tenant, shall be deemed to be one holding."—(Mr. Chance.)

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

(9.30.) MR. MADDEN

The subsection takes as a test not rateable value but rent; therefore it would be impossible to accept the Amendment.


I put down the Amendment to the clause as originally drawn. Now that the clause has been amended, the Amendment has got out of gear; but on the Report stage I will press on the Government to admit rent as the test. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


I now beg to move, in lines 22 and 23, to leave out "either House passes," and insert "within the said period of thirty days both Houses pass." This Amendment is inserted in a previous clause of the Bill, and I do not think it would be advantageous to give to one of the two Chambers the power of paralysing the purchase of land in Ireland against the advice and opinion of the authority—whoever it may be— who has power to suspend the operation of this section.

Amendment proposed, in lines 22 and 23, to leave out the words "either House passes," and insert the words "within the said period of thirty days both Houses pass."—(Mr. Chance.)

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

(9.34.) MR. PICTON

I object to this Amendment, which I consider quite contrary to the spirit of the arguments already used by the Irish Members. I entirely approve of the language of the clause as it stands in this respect. Hon. Members formerly objected to its being left to the Lord Lieutenant's discretion or some other Irish authority to do a certain thing without sufficient control by Parliament. When the reply was made that there was to be an appeal, and that the assent of Parliament was necessary, it was said that that appeal would be to the House of Lords, and it was then pointed out that either House could by itself consent to the exercise of the discretion by the Lord Lieutenant. We understood that the Irish Members were rather gratified by that. ["No, no!"] It is proposed by the clause that this House shall of itself have power to prevent the use of the discretion of the Lord Lieutenant, and I think that is a good proposal. No doubt the Government have carefully considered the point; but whether or not, I hope the Chief Secretary will not allow an Amendment of this kind to be carried when there are so few Members present, and when there has been so little opportunity of considering the matter.

(9.39.) MR. SEXTON

The argument of the hon. Member is not applicable to this clause. In Clause 5 it was arranged that when the Lord Lieutenant issues a declaration requiring that purchasers under the Act shall continue to pay a higher rate of purchase for longer than five years either House of Parliament may, if it thinks fit, cancel the declaration. That was a case in which the Lord Lieutenant may increase the burden contemplated by the Act, and the Committee there did well to provide that either House of Parliament might cancel the declaration. But later on, in the same clause, where the Lord Lieutenant has power to declare that in consequence of exceptional distress the occupiers in a county instead of being affected should be relieved of the Reserve Fund, it was provided that the order to cancel the declaration of the Lord Lieutenant should be passed by both Houses of Parliament. The principle is clear that where the Lord Lieutenant imposes a burden one House can upset it, but where he confers a benefit both Houses must agree in preventing it. The hon. Member (Mr. Picton) will, therefore, see that the action of the Committee on Clause 4 does not afford him a strong argument in this case. In the present case, I think that where the will of the Lord Lieutenant is defeated it should he by both Houses of Parliament.

SIR E. J. REED (Cardiff)

I cannot imagine that the Government will accept this Amendment, which proposes to take away from the House the power given to it to refuse its sanction to an order of the Lord Lieutenant. We already feel that we have given up a good deal, and if we are asked to accept this we shall feel that we are being pushed too far.

(9.44.) MR. PICTON

My objection is entirely on account of what has taken place on this clause. Where the protection of the taxpayer is concerned the House of Commons should insist on having a discretion of its own. We are dealing with the interests of the taxpayer, which are generally supposed to be commended to the care of this House. I am strongly of opinion that either House should be allowed to defeat the discretion of the Lord Lieutenant in this matter.


The Committee will see that the analogy that has been drawn from Clause 5 does not hold good in regard to the clause we are now discussing. Clause 5 deals with the provision for exceptional agricultural distress, and enables the Reserve Fund to be called in aid in a certain event. That can only be done if it appears on the Report of the Land Commission and the Local Government Board—both of which Bodies must concur—that there is exceptional distress, which renders it necessary to have recourse to the Reserve Fund. When these Bodies have pronounced an opinion it cannot be departed from, unless with the consent of both Houses of Parliament. That is not a case in which the policy of the Act is changed, but in which it is really carried out. But this Amendment is a very different matter. If the policy of the legislation is to be reversed, it should be by the consent of both Houses of Parliament.

(9.47.) MR. CHANCE

I think it would be convenient if we dealt with the first part of the Amendment first. I think the Government are prepared to assent to it. I would ask leave to withdraw the Amendment as at present proposed.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment agreed to, in line 22, after "if," to insert "within the said period of thirty days."

Amendment proposed, in lines 22 and 23, to leave out the words "either House passes," and insert the words "both Houses pass."—(Mr. Chance.)

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

(9.50.) MR. CHANCE

I would point out that the object of the Bill is to devote £30,000,000 to land purchase in Ireland, and it does not seem to me that this object should be interfered with, unless with the consent of both Houses of Parliament. I fully admit that the hon. Member who spoke from the Front Opposition Bench (Sir E. J. Reed) is consistent in the attitude he assumes, as he has all along objected to allowing British credit to be used in the interest of the Irish tenants. But he is prepared to allow Ireland to settle the land question for itself by a Home Rule Parliament. The Government are not prepared to allow that. They desire to settle the matter for us, and if they do it, I would ask them to do it openly and frankly. Do not let them allow this power of withdrawing a large portion of this £30,000,000 from us to remain in the hands of the Lord Lieutenant without the check of the assent of both Houses of Parliament.

(9.53.) MR. MAC NEILL

I would remind the Committee that a Tory House of Lords may acquire the power of crippling the hands of a free Executive Government, especially if it is not disposed to view with favour the political tendencies of the Party in power at the time. Certain landlords, or tenants, may be obnoxious to them, and they may prevent this money being utilised in the manner proposed in the Bill. They may paralyse the hands of the Executive in dealing with this matter. This proposal as it stands gives an equal power to both Houses in the letter although in the spirit it does nothing of the kind. I do not remember any Bill, in my experience, in which under any circumstances the House of Lords and the House of Commons were placed in contrasted situations in reference to their power, so that either could paralyse the action of the other.

(9.58.) MR. SEXTON

I wish to ask the Attorney General for Ireland in what case it is proposed that this proviso shall come into operation? I doubt very much whether any Member of the Committee has a clear conception of the use that may be made of the proviso. I have been endeavouring to speculate as to the kind of case that would arise. It might appear to the Lord Lieutenant that the small tenants in any county would not be likely to exhaust their share of the money because they were not inclined to apply. In such a case the question would be whether the fund in that county should be allowed to remain idle or not. I would press on the right hon. Gentleman the contention that no authority of less power than that which originated the Act should have power to interfere with the execution of the Act.

(10.3.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR

I am asked, under what circumstances the Lord Lieutenant would stop the operation of the Act under the sub-section. Of course I am unable to prophesy in this matter. The reason and justification for introducing a sub-section which allows the Lord Lieutenant to interfere is that we are obviously and avowedly in a period of tentative experiment. It is true we have expended £6,000,000 of money in land purchase, but we have still much to learn on the subject. It is because we cannot penetrate into the future with a prophetic gaze that we give to the Lord Lieutenant the power to modify the course of the experiment if it should seem to him to be taking an unfavourable turn.


I suppose you have some case in view.


I might be able to imagine cases, but I do not suppose my power of imagination can deal with all the possibilities which may occur in the historic future. The question is as to what power shall deal with this subject. I think we ought not to go to a less authority to modify the Act than that which has passed it. It will be plain to the hon. Gentleman that, if his Amendment be carried, it will be possible for the Lord Lieutenant, with the concurrence of one House of Parliament, to alter a policy which can only be carried into effect with the assent of both Houses. Although we ought to leave a loophole to the Lord Lieutenant to deal with future difficulties if they arise, there should be no fundamental alterations in the policy or working of the Act unless he has behind him the authority of the two Houses of Parliament which has passed the Act. For that reason we think it necessary to adhere to the wording of the clause, by which the concurrence of both Houses is required for the alteration of the Act, just as their concurrence is required for the Act to come into existence.

(10.6.) MR. CHANCE

The right hon. Gentleman has argued excellently against his own clause, under which either House will be entitled to stop the application of money to an object for which it has been granted by both Houses. I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman upon the ingenuity with which he has argued against his own clause.


We shall offer the most strenuous opposition to the withdrawal of this limitation.

(10.10.) The Committee divided:— Ayes 109; Noes 14.—(Div. List, No. 239.)

(10.17.) MR. RATHBONE

I have now to move an Amendment providing that the sum advanced for the purchase of a holding above the limit of £50 shall not exceed one-third of the whole sum to which the county is entitled. I think that is a liberal allowance, because as the large holdings have got two-thirds of the Ashbourne Act money I think that a third of the £30,000,000 would be amply sufficient. As the clause at present stands it appears to me that it is within the power of any owner to produce that position of necessity which allows the Land Court to make each case an exception. A landlord has only to refuse to sell unless large holdings are included in the purchase, and thereupon the necessity arises, and therefore I think some general limitation is necessary.

New Clause—

(Limitation of Loans.)

The amount to be advanced under this Act for the purchase in any county of holdings of which the annual value exceeds fifty pounds shall not exceed such proportion of the whole amount available under this Act for the purchase of holdings in that county as the Land Commission may fix, having regard to the relative number of holdings of an annual value over and under that amount in the several counties. The proportion so fixed for holdings of an annual value of more than fifty pounds shall not in any county exceed one-third of the whole amount available under this Act,"—(Mr. Rathbone,) —brought up, and read the first time.

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

(10.20.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR

I hope the hon. Member will not think it necessary to press this. I am sure the efforts he has made to preserve the great bulk of the money to the small tenants of Ireland are deserving of every consideration from the Committee. The Committee have carried out a great deal of what my hon. Friend desires to attain, but I do not think the object would be attained by the Amendment on the Paper. When the figure stood at £30 it might have been desirable to provide that the tenants under that amount should have the advantage of two-thirds, but now that the limit had been raised to £50, I am inclined to think that the hon. Member will not gain very much for the class he has in view, and he may lose something, for the Land Commission may take it as an instruction not to pass the limit of two-thirds—a limit which, as experience has shown, does not fall very far short of that which actually prevails. On the whole, I am inclined to think that the Land Commission would rather be induced by the Amendment to deal laxly with Subsection 2 of the clause, and that probably the result would be that more money would go to the tenants over £50 than would be the case if the Amendment was left out. I hope, therefore, the Amendment will not be pressed.

(10.23.) MR. RATHBONE

I feel there is force in what the right hon. Gentleman says. My object is to prevent the clause being absolutely unjust in its operation by reason of the exceptions, but the means of attaining my object is affected by the alteration of the limit of £30 to £50.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

(10.24.) MR. RATHBONE

My second Amendment is to the effect that the Land Commission, in considering applications for advances for the purchase in any county of holdings of which the rateable value exceeds £50, shall have regard to the amount at their disposal for the purchase of such holdings and to the requirements, whether immediate or prospective, of the several estates in that county. The right hon. Gentleman, on a previous occasion, said this was a matter worthy of consideration, and it carries out a suggestion made by the hon. Member for West Belfast that the Commissioners should have this discretion. I hope, therefore, that it may be accepted.

New Clause—

(Limitation of Loans.)

The Land Commission, in considering aplications for advances for the purchase in any county of holdings of which the annual value exceeds thirty pounds, shall have regard to the amount at their disposal for the purpose of such holdings, and to the requirements, whether immediate or prospective, of the several estates in that county," — (Mr. Rathbone,) —brought up, and read the first time.

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


As the hon. Member has referred to this as carrying out a suggestion of mine, I may be allowed to say that it is merely a fragment of a proposal I made, and standing alone it does not effect the purpose I had in view.


I have the heartiest sympathy with the object aimed at, but I think my hon. Friend will, on consideration, see how difficult it would be for the Land Commissioners to carry out his suggestion. For the Commissioners to have regard to the "immediate or prospective" requirements of the county would be to plunge them into a sea of speculation as to the course of future land purchase in the particular county. They would have to take into consideration a number of facts which could not come before them as judges, though they might as politicians, and on this shifty and sandy foundation they would have to build up the whole fabric of their conduct in dealing with the several estates. It would be practically impossible to ask any business Department to undertake the work which this Amendment would throw upon them.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

MR. KNOX (Cavan, W.)

I have to move a small Amendment to provide for a small detail which does not appear clear in the clause as it stands. We provide a certain amount for the large and the small tenants, and we provide also for exceptional cases, and it is these exceptional cases that I wish to provide shall not be included in the total of advances for larger holdings.

Amendment proposed, In line 24, to add "Provided also that where an advance has been made to the tenant of a holding of which the rent exceeds £50 per annum, because, in the opinion of the Land Commission, it was necessary to carry into effect the site of the estate of the same landlord, such advance shall not he taken into account in estimating the total amount advanced to the tenants of holdings the rental of which exceeds £50."—(Mr. Knox.)

(10.30.) MR. MADDEN

I do not think it necessary to discuss this Amendment, for the present is clearly not the proper place to insert it. I will undertake that the point the hon. and learned Member raises shall be considered before we reach Report stage.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Verbal Amendment,—(Mr. Chance,)—agreed to.

Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, be added to the Bill."

(10.35.) MR. SEXTON

We doubt the utility of the clause, and shall divide against it. Before we part with the clause, let me draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to a point which he has very gracefully evaded. The experiment we have before us is to ascertain whether the tenants of Ireland are willing or able to purchase their land on the terms proposed. The result of the experiment means the success or failure of the Bill. I assume that so long as the tenants in the two classes are able to take up their farms on the terms prescribed, the experiment will not be interrupted, and for this reason I suggested that the power of the Lord Lieutenant in the proviso should not be brought into operation in any county so long as the larger tenants exhausted their share, and the smaller tenants were able and willing to take up the amount allocated to them. I assume that so long as this is the operation of the clause there will be no interference of the Lord Lieutenant under the proviso. But I Wish also to direct attention to the distinction between the rental and the rating value, Observe that, in the first place, the Lord Lieutenant will make an apportionment upon the rateable value over and below £50. But when we come to the 2nd clause, we find that the Land Commission is to proceed upon the basis of rental value, not rateable value, and thus the Commission may find themselves in an embarrassing position by reason of this distinction.

(10.40.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR

If we could have arrived at the rentals of all the holdings, I think the rental would be the proper basis not merely for Sub-section 2, but Sub-section 1, instead of the rating; but, as a matter of fact, we could not get statistics to enable us to determine the relative proportion of rentals over and under £50. We are reduced, therefore, to a method which is somewhat rough and ready, and have framed our estimate of the two classes above and below £50 upon the basis of rating, as we have no other data at our disposal. The difficulties and inequalities that may arise, however, are theoretical rather than practical, and I think we should apply the clause harshly if we adhered throughout to the basis of rating. With individual cases, of course, the rent is at once ascertained, but with classes that is not so. The rating gives a broad general ground for determining the general proportion; but when you come to the discussion of individual cases before the Court, then the rent determines whether a man should be included in this or that class. Rating was determined 30 years ago, and under circumstances no longer applicable to the present position. While I admit the value of the hon. Gentleman's criticism, and agree that the clause would run more smoothly if we went upon rental in both instances, I think we shall do well to keep to the rateable value in the first paragraph, and to the rental where there is that basis to go upon. To attempt to put rental in the first instance would be to throw upon the Lord Lieutenant and Council the duty of determining a question as to which they would have no information to proceed upon. The hon. Member asks as to the exercise of the power vested in the Lord Lieutenant to intervene and alter the operation of the clause. It is, of course, difficult or impossible to foresee the positions that may arise, and this is intended simply with a view of meeting the unforeseen. We do not contemplate that any tenant will be deprived of his privilege of purchase under this provision, but I will go no further than to say it is conceivable that a position might arise in which, in the interest of the working of the land purchase scheme as a whole, such a provision might be usefully exercised.

(10.45.) MR. SEXTON

The explanation of the right hon. Gentleman is satisfactory, and I may explain that in reference to the question of rateable value and rent I only wished to indicate the advantage of uniformity in the construction of the clause.


Will the right hon. Gentleman consider, between now and Report, the expediency of some compromise whereby, where a judicial rent is not fixed, the delay of from 18 months to 2½ years, on an application to the Commission to have a fair rent fixed, may be obviated?


There is one point which has not, I think, been considered — that is, that this provision will work harder against the tenants of Ulster than elsewhere in Ireland. There are more large tenants in Ulster than in other parts of Ireland, and in a great part of Ulster the judicial rents have been fixed recently, and are rather less than the valuation, and so the amount available for the big tenants will be smaller than if the annual value were inserted in the clause. In other parts of Ireland the difference will not be so great. It is a well-known fact that Griffith's valuation began in the South just after the famine, and was calculated on a low scale when prices were low. But the scale rose as time went on, and the valuation in Ulster came last. It is not altogether, perhaps, relevant to this clause; but perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will consider whether it would not be possible to frame a clause to provide that when the rent is less than the rateable value the rateable value should be taken as the standard in the 2nd sub-section as well as in the 1st?

(10.52.) MR. M. HEALY

I would ask whether, in connection with this clause, and, indeed, in regard to the provisions of the Bill generally, it will not be necessary to introduce an express enactment limiting advances to agricultural tenancies absolutely. I have in view the case of town holdings in Kanturk bought and sold under the Land Purchase Acts, and it becomes important, when the amount is limited, that any portion of the advances should not be absorbed in respect to town holdings. I think the hon. and learned Gentleman will admit that this is an important matter. We think that the sum set apart for land purchase ought not to be absorbed by the tenants of houses in towns to the detriment of agricultural tenants.


I do not think that the question arises directly on this clause, although the Amendment which the hon. Member suggests might very properly be discussed in another place.

(11.0.) MR. T. M. HEALY

I think it is material to this clause. The holdings we are now discussing are those under £50 value. My point is this: that the larger tenantry are hit hard enough by this clause, without robbing them to the further extent of allowing the amount available under the Act to be reduced by sales of town holdings, the tenants of which would come in under this clause. The Land Commission would be doing great wrong to the larger tenants in a county if, for the purpose of enabling a whole estate to be sold, they handed over to the town tenants a portion of the money which would otherwise go to the larger tenants. While, no doubt, this House would be very glad to do all it can for the benefit of the urban tenants, it will not be willing to sacrifice the larger class of agricultural tenants in Ireland for the mere purpose of enabling houses in towns to be bought with moneys provided under the Land Purchase Act. The Land Commissioners undoubtedly will be prepared to facilitate the sale of estates so far as they consist of agricultural land, but they cannot be expected to do more than that.

(11.4.) The Committee divided — Ayes 108; Noes 22.—(Div. List, No. 240.)

(11.14.) MR. KNOX

I beg to move the clause which stands next in my name, and I hope that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will see his way to accepting it in some form or other. It seems to me that the great danger of pledging local securities under this Act is to be found not in the actual burden which will fall on the localities, but in the fact that the borrowing powers of those localities will be seriously impaired by the extent to which the securities have been pledged. So far as the ordinary borrower is concerned, it is impossible by any provision in the Bill to provide against that danger; but I venture to think that, so far as the Government is concerned as a lender, it should make some special provision in regard to this. The Chief Secretary and other Members of the Government have from time to time expressed an opinion that the contingent portion of the Guarantee Fund is never likely to be touched, and that it has only been put into the Bill in order to reconcile the British taxpayer to the loan of the money. If they believe that, then let them come to a distinct bargain by accepting this clause, which will not increase the risk.

New Clause— The Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland, in considering the description and certainty of the security offered for repayment of any advance applied for from them by any local authority, and the Treasury in directing such Commissioners, shall not take into account—

  1. (a.) The charge which may under this Act he imposed upon any grant forming part of the cash portion of the Guarantee Fund, unless a deficiency in the Land Purchase Account shall actually in any year become payable out of such grant;
  2. (b.) The charge which may under this Act be imposed upon any grant forming part of the contingent portion of the Guarantee Fund; or
  3. (c.) The possibility of a levy being made upon any county under Sub-section 3 of this section,"—(Mr. Knox,)
—brought up, and read the first time.

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

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

The hon. Member can scarcely expect us to accept this clause as it stands. Although we do not believe at the present moment there is any risk, there might still be a strike in the locality, and it would be the duty of the Commissioners of Public Works to consider the risk that might be incurred. But the clause as it stands directs that under no circumstances shall that risk be taken into consideration.


I think the right hon. Gentleman admits in principle the contention of my hon. Friend and the hardship inflicted on the borrower by the pledging of the security. The prospect of a strike is extremely vague, and I would therefore suggest that the clause might be accepted, with the modification that the liability had not arisen under the contingent portion of the Guarantee Fund, but had arisen out of the cash portion.

(11.20.) MR. GOSCHEN

I am unable to accept that. I think that no compromise is possible on this clause. I hope the hon. Members will allow things to take their natural course, and not press this clause to a Division.


I think the clause is a reasonable one from all points of view. I do not propose to interfere with any of the creditors of the Local Authority except when the creditor is the Government. The right hon. Gentleman says there is a probability of default under this Act. I ask, how are the Commissioners to tell whether a strike is probable or not? I hope some direction will be inserted in the Bill, otherwise it will work disastrously in many parts of Ireland.

Question put, and negatived.

(11.24.) MR. KNOX

I confess that my reason for putting forward the last clause was to pave the way for the next one in my name, which will, if accepted, enable any purchaser under this Act to purchase Land Stock through the medium of Savings Banks. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has promised to accept a suggestion made by my hon. Friend the Member for North Kilkenny that purchasers should be able, if they choose, to pay their annual instalments in Stock instead of in cash; but that provision will be of no use to the smaller purchasers if they have to go to the expense of instructing a broker in Dublin to buy Stock for them. I would therefore suggest that the Stock should be purchaseable through the medium of the Savings Bank.

New Clause—

(Purchase and sale of Guaranteed Land Stock through Savings Banks. 43 and 44 Vict., c. 36.)

Regulations as to investments in and sales of Government Stock made under 'The Savings Bank Act, 1880,' may include provisions for the investment in and sale of Guaranteed Land Stock at the request of any depositor in a Post Office Savings Bank, and such regulations may further provide for the purchase of Guaranteed Land Stock at the request of any person liable to pay an annuity under the Land Purchase Acts, as amended by this Act, at any Post Office Savings Bank prescribed in such regulations,"—(Mr Knox,) —brought up, and read the first time.

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

(11.25.) MR. GOSCHEN

I am willing to take a more benevolent attitude towards this clause than I did to the last. I agree that depositors should be allowed to invest in the Guaranteed Land Stock, which is practically Government Stock, in the same way as they can invest in Consols. We all, I think, desire that the Stock shall become as popular as possible. The hon. Member and myself have the same object in view, but, as I doubt whether the clause as worded will carry out that object in the best manner, I suggest that the hon. Member should withdraw the clause, and that the matter shall be dealt with hereafter. In the meantime I will communicate with the Postmaster General, and consider what is the best course to take.


The right hon. Gentleman did not tell us whether he will carry out the pledge he gave us at an earlier stage with reference to enabling purchasers to pay their annuities in Stock.


Yes. I am prepared to give effect to that pledge at the proper time.


Under the circumstances I ask leave to withdraw the clause.

Clause, by leave, withdrawn.

(11.28.) MR. CHANCE

In regard to the new clause I have now to propose, I desire to draw the attention of the Government to two points, one of which is of a somewhat technical nature. The clause in the Act of 1887, under which the investment of a guarantee deposit will take place, does not contain a single word importing any discretion on the part of the Land Commission as to the character of the investment. It is therefore possible the investment may be in Irish land. Now, a guarantee deposit might be drawn upon at very short notice, and any serious delay in realising it would cause a great disturbance of all the accounts which find a place in the Bill. A guarantee deposit invested upon the security of land could not be realised quickly. It is well known that the Landed Estates Courts are crowded with estates for sale, and that it is impossible in 90 per cent. of the cases to induce any one to purchase except tenants getting grants or loans under a land purchase scheme. Nothing could be worse than to invest money intended to prevent loss in the very operations in which the loss may be incurred.

New Clause—

(Investment of Guarantee Deposit.)

(1.) No portion of a guarantee deposit shall be invested upon the security of land; (2.) The Land Commission may, in their discretion, refuse to authorise an investment of a guarantee deposit,"—(Mr. Chance,) —brought up, and read the first time.

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

(11.33.) MR. MADDEN

It is true there are no words here which expressly give a discretion to the Land Commission; but such words are not necessary to enable the Commission to exercise discretion judicially between the various classes of investments which are open to them. Any security that is not immediately available would be unsuitable to the investment of the guarantee deposit. I have no objection, on the part of the Government, to the introduction of words carrying out the intention of the hon. Member without limiting the proposal to land. We might adopt some such words as these, "No portion of the guarantee deposit shall be invested in any security that is not readily available."


My hon. Friend has pointed out one class of security in which it is impossible that the money could be readily available, and I presume, therefore, there can be no objection to stating in the Bill that there shall be no investment in land.


I would suggest these words— No portion of the guarantee deposit shall be invested on the security of land or any other security that is not readily available.


I do not see why we should specify land when we are laying down a general rule.


Would the case not be met by a proviso that the Land Commission shall invest in such securities as are most readily realizable? There is a similar proviso in the Land Purchase Acts.


I quite agree that there should be an injunction that the Commissioners are not to invest in any security that is not readily realizable, but I think it would be well to adopt the words last suggested by the hon. Member for South Kilkenny.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.


I move the clause now in the altered form.

New Clause—

(Investment of Guarantee Deposit.)

No portion of the guarantee deposit shall be invested in a security that is not readily realizable,"—(Mr. Chance,) —brought up, and read the first time.

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

Clause added.

(11.41.) MR. CHANCE

I beg now to move a clause providing that where a holding is sold by a mortgagee to a tenant the sale may, for the purposes of the Ashbourne Acts and this Act, be deemed to be a sale by a landlord to a tenant. The first thing I have to point out is that a mortgagee is not included within the term "landlord" in the Land Purchase Acts. Although the mortgagee may be the real owner of an estate and may be entitled legally to sell it by private contract to anyone in the street, he cannot sell it to the tenants, or if he does they cannot get an advance of one penny under the Purchase Acts, except by presenting a Petition to the Court and waiting probably a couple of years. What has been the result of this flaw in the Land Purchase Acts? It has been that the Land Judges of the Chancery Division have in their Court scores of estates lying derelict, and a source of trouble to everyone concerned. Every one of those estates might have been sold to the tenants if this provision had been adopted. In this clause I do not give to the mortgagee any power of sale. The clause will not be operative unless the mortgagee is legally entitled to sell the estate; it gives him no power whatsoever; it merely provides that the tenant purchasing from him shall be entitled to get an advance under the Act as if the purchase were from the landlord. I trust the Government will accept this new clause.

New Clause—

(Advances in the case of sales by mortgagees.)

Where a holding is sold by a mortgagee to a tenant the sale may, for the purposes of advances under the Land Purchase Acts and this Act, and of guarantee deposits under the said Acts, be deemed to be a sale by a landlord to a tenant,"—(Mr. Chance,) —brought up, and read the first time.

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

(11.46.) MR. MADDEN

I do not think the hon. Gentleman was justified in referring to the omission of the power he now proposes to give from the Act of 1885, as constituting any flaw or defect in that Act. On the contrary, it never has been the policy of any of the Land Purchase Acts to place the mortgagee in the position of the landlord with regard to the negotiations with tenants and sales to tenants. The hon. Member knows that sales of land in Ireland are, as a rule, effected through the instrumentality of the Land Judges Court. [Mr. CHANCE: At great expense.] Well, it is found that the ad- vantages gained by selling through the Court is more than an equivalent for the cost. The Act of 1885 provided that where a holding was sold by the Land Judges Court the sale should be deemed to be a sale by the landlord to the tenant. That was a different thing to leaving the sale of the holding a matter between the first mortgagee and the tenant. The first mortgagee simply sees he is himself secure; he has no general interest in the management of the estate. It would be an extremely dangerous thing to give to a man who may have a charge of £1,000 upon an estate which may have a value of £10,000, power, without the intervention of any Court, to act as the landlord.

(11.53.) MR. CHANCE

I am afraid the right hon. and learned Gentleman's remarks are liable to be misconstrued. He spoke as if the mortgagee had no power of sale to the tenant.


Mortgagees have power of sale in Ireland, as in England; but, as a matter of fact, in Ireland sales of mortgaged estates are usually carried on in the Land Judges' Court.


I do not think the majority of the Committee understand that there is nothing whatsoever to prevent the mortgagee going into the streets and selling an estate piecemeal if he chooses to the first man he meets. It must not be supposed there is anything in the Irish law which compels a first mortgagee to go into the Chancery Division. The mortgagee can sell to the tenant or to any one else. Neither in the Act of 1885 nor in this Bill have the Government attempted to interfere with the right of the mortgagee to sell if he likes, by private contract, to the tenant; but they say to the tenant, "If you are wicked enough to buy from the mortgagee we will not give you any money." They deprive the mortgagee of the market which is afforded by the Ashbourne Acts, and which, as everyone knows, is practically the only market in Ireland, and they say to the tenant, "We shall only give you this money if you deal with the landlord and the landlord only." Nothing could be more unreasonable than that. The result has been that mortgagees have failed to realise. I do hope there will be greater attention paid to this subject than has been paid to it hitherto.

(11.57.) MR. KNOX

I beg to support the Amendment of my hon. Friend, which I think is one of capital importance. I feel that all hon. Members will agree that the cases in which sales are most desirable are the cases of encumbered estates. Practically at present, in the case of mortgaged estates, the tenants cannot buy unless the landlord is willing to sell. I confess I do not feel very much sympathy with the mortgagee in most instances. I should not much mind if he did lose something; but it is hard on the tenant that he should not be able to buy directly from the man who is really the owner of the estate. The mortgagee has the power of sale. He can sell to the tenant if the tenant has in his pocket the money to buy with, but the tenant cannot get an advance from the State to buy from the mortgagee, though he can if the sale is from the landlord. I think that is an unjust state of things. It is undesirable in the interest of land purchase that sales should be prevented in those cases in which the interest of the State most requires that the landlord's interest should be bought out.

(11.59.) MR. M. J. KENNY

It is true that for many years past private investors have ceased to invest in Irish land, and that therefore there has been only one purchase of Irish land in the Landed Estates Court. That Court has endeavoured to effect sales directly to the tenants, and it has always encouraged sales directly to the tenants, for that purpose frequently breaking up estates into lots. Since the Ashbourne Act a different state of things has come about.

It being Midnight, the Chairman left the Chair to make his report to the House.

Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.

House adjourned at five minutes after Twelve o'clock.