§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY TO THE LORD LIEUTENANT OF IRELAND (Mr. GERALD BALFOUR,) Leeds, Central
In rising to move for leave to introduce the Bill dealing with Local Government in Ireland, it is hardly necessary that I should enter into any question as to the general policy of withdrawing the local administration from nominated bodies and entrust it to bodies chosen by popular election. The question of general policy must now be regarded as a res judicatur, because Local Government in this direction has already been accomplished in the case of England and Scotland, and it has long been felt that its extension to Ireland is only a question of time. But this does not imply that the bodies which have hitherto been entrusted with the work of local administration in Ireland have discharged their functions in an unsatisfactory manner; but I think that everybody is conscious that the existing system has become inadequate—it is no longer in harmony with the spirit of the age, and it cannot be very much longer maintained. Under these circumstances practical men, even among those who view with regret the disappearance of institutions which undoubtedly have done good work in the past, will see that the problem now set up is about to accomplish an inevitable change in the way that will do most good and least harm. Personally, I believe that the reform of Local Government in Ireland is not only inevitable, but is in itself desirable. The grand jury system has worked well enough up to a certain point, but that system has no principle of growth in it. The tendency of the present day is to throw upon local bodies a number of duties which were never considered in connection with local administration a generation ago. You cannot put new wine into old bottles, and in my judgment the reform of local administration in Ireland has now become almost a condition of the further reforms which I hope ultimately to see accomplished. It is, of course, quite possible that the new order of things will at first seem to show a failure, but I believe that it will work through failure to success, and I also believe that that success will be the beginning of a better 1228 and brighter day for Ireland. Sir, while I hold these views, I recognise as fully as anyone perhaps less sanguine about the future than I am that the case of Ireland is in many respects peculiar, and that the establishment of Local Government on a popular basis in Ireland does require more circumspection than the same change in England and Scotland. The advent of the middle classes in Ireland, the fact that Ireland is, for the most part an agricultural community, that the agrarian system existing in the country has, unfortunately, created a marked division of interest and sympathy as between the landlord class on the one side and the tenant class on the other, are among the peculiarities that have to be taken into account, and one cannot be surprised that those in whose hands the administration of the local affairs of the country now rests, who have to pay a large proportion of the rates, should view with some apprehension any change which, while leaving the burden on them should transfer their power to others. They may be right or they may be wrong in anticipating that these new bodies to be created will be extravagant, but I think nobody will be found to deny that any tendency to extravagance that may exist will be greatly increased if it can be indulged in at the expense of other people. Sir, this danger is undoubtedly a danger to guard against. The difficulty has been hitherto to provide against it, excepting by means of an irritating and provocative kind, and seemingly opposed to that democratic principle to which we wish to give effect. This is a difficulty which is to be met, and we believe it can be met. The proposals of the Government have already been stated in outline by my right hon. Friend, the First Lord of the Treasury, in a speech which he gave last year, and which is still within the recollection of the House. Sir, it sometimes happens that schemes which seem plausible enough when first propounded lose some of their recommendations when given effect to in a Bill. The further consideration of this subject has, in this case, not weakened, but strengthened our confidence. Of course, we cannot expect that the Bill which we now submit to the House in fulfilment of the pledge given by my right hon. Friend will escape criticism, but we do hope that it will be fortunate 1229 enough to meet with the same general approval from different quarters of the House, as characterised the first announcement of the policy which it embodies. Now, Sir, I will proceed to describe as precisely as I can the main features of the Bill. As the Scottish system of local administration differs from the English system, although devised on the same general principles, so the system which we propose now to set up in Ireland differs in some respects from both. These differences are not gratuitous, or without good reason. They are due to the fact that in each country the new institutions must necessarily be built up upon the existing law and practice in that country. As an illustration of this, I may, perhaps, refer to the obvious difference that exists between the English and the Scottish system of Local Government. In England we have County Councils, District Councils, and Parish Councils. In Scotland we have only County Councils and Parish Councils, although Parish Councils in Scotland correspond probably more to the English District Council than to the English Parish Council. In Ireland it is not proposed to establish Parish Councils. The parish has never been in Ireland an area of local administration, and to create Parish Councils in Ireland would merely be to add a superfluous difficulty to our scheme. We propose that local administration in Ireland should be divided and distributed between County Councils, Urban District Councils, Rural District Councils, and Boards of Guardians. The franchise for the election to these bodies will be the Parliamentary franchise with the addition of peers and women, and that, of course, will include lodgers. In adopting this simple franchise we follow the Scottish precedent and the precedent of England, which is, however, of a later date than the Scottish precedent. In Scotland the Parliamentary franchise, with the addition of peers and women, makes the Register for these local elections; but in the Bill of 1888, establishing County Councils in England, the franchise did not extend so widely. It was confined in the case of County Councils to occupiers only; but in the Bill of 1894 the same franchise was adopted for District Councils and Parish Councils in England as we propose to adopt in Ireland. It 1230 certainly does not seem any sufficient ground for the distinction which exists in England, and simplicity and economy in the preparation of the Register are secured by so framing it as to make it co-extensive with the Parliamentary franchise, of course, with the addition I have already mentioned, of peers and women. The qualifications and disqualifications for the election of the Council are practically the same as in England, excepting that in Ireland ministers of religion will be disqualified from sitting on County or District Councils. In England ministers of religion are only disqualified from a seat on a Municipal Council, and this disqualification was retained in the Bill of 1888, although it is not thought necessary to extend it to the case of County Councils. Circumstances are, however, somewhat different in Ireland. There is no Irish precedent for an elective body, on which ministers of religion are allowed to sit. The point has been very carefully considered by the Government, and the conclusion we have arrived at is that it would be unwise to depart from the principle acquiesced in, and accepted, so far as I am aware, in Ireland. There is no doubt something to be said on both sides of the question, but I hold to the opinion that the admission of ministers of religion to County Councils would not tend to economy of administration or to a smooth working of the new institution. Sir, I have already said that local administration is to be distributed between four bodies: County Councils, urban District Councils, Rural District Councils, and the Boards of Guardians. This four-fold division, however, will, in the majority of cases, be practically reduced to a three-fold division, inasmuch as any person who is elected a member of a Rural District Council, will represent the area for which he is elected, not only as a District Councillor, but also as a Guardian, and where the union is only an Administrative County the Union will be co-existent with the Rural District, and the Board of Guardians will be a Rural District Council under another name. Now, Sir, this brings me to the question of boundaries. It is extremely desirable for the system of Local Government which we propose to create, that there should be no unnecessary administrative areas; and, secondly, that overlapping of 1231 administrative areas should be reduced to a minimum. In obedience to the first of these considerations, we dispense altogether with baronies as administrative areas, being convinced of the importance of constituting rural districts in direct relation to unions as well as to countries. This, however, creates a difficulty in connection with the second consideration. Rather unfortunately, there are many cases in which unions are divided by the boundaries of existing counties into two, and even three, parts. In order to make the boundaries of unions and counties co-incident, it is necessary either to alter the boundaries of the unions or to alter the boundaries of the counties, or to adopt partly one of these plans and partly the other. If, however, the complete identification of groups of unions with existing counties were to be effected, the changes necessary would be so great as, I am afraid, to render the proposal almost impracticable. The difficulty of the problem would, on the other hand, be considerably reduced by any scheme which permits the cutting up of a union into two boundaries, even with the condition added that each of these parts must be sufficiently large for a rural district by itself. This is, according to the plan which the Government have adopted. The Local Government Board already possess power to alter the boundaries of unions, and, for the purpose of bringing this Bill into operation, we propose that it should be empowered within six months of the passing of the Act, so far as it may be necessary, to alter the boundaries of existing counties also. It will be the duty of the Local Government Board, in exercising this power, to secure that the alterations shall be as small as possible. In regard to the changes of boundaries, they are almost, from the very nature of the case, distasteful to the persons immediately affected, and in England, I believe, this feeling was so strong that the authors of the Local Government Bill for England were forced to content themselves with a moderate measure of reform in this direction. In Ireland, we earnestly trust that we shall be permitted to go somewhat farther than was possible in England, while it is essential to our plan that every county district should be situated wholly within one administrative county. It is also of very 1232 great importance to its proper working that every union shall either coincide with a county district, or, where divided by the boundary of that administrative county, shall be so divided as to make it of suitable size for a rural district each. I have now explained to the House what the new body should be, what will be the areas of administration, and what will be the qualification of the electors, and I pass to describe the constitution and powers of the Councils which we pro pose to set up. Let me, in the first place, take County Councils, apart from county boroughs—of which I shall have something to say presently—and rural district councils. The qualifications will be practically the same as in England. Speaking generally, county councils will take over the powers and the duties of grand juries and Presentment Sessions of counties at large, and the Rural District Councils will take over the powers of the baronial Presentment Sessions. The effect of this will be that any expenditure on roads and other public works payable by the Rural District Council will be proposed, and presented by that Council to the County Council; and the County Council may approve of them or disapprove. If it approve, it will be for the County Council to carry out the work through the County Surveyor. It is clear that this arrangement follows and observes the lines of the system already existing, but establishes a much closer relation between County and District Councils than exists in England. This closer relation is reflected in the constitution of the County Councils. In England, County Councils consist partly of Councillors and partly of Aldermen, elected, not directly, but by the members of the Council. This plan is adopted in England from the precedent of Town Councils, but it has no counterpart either in Scotland or in Ireland, and we do not propose to introduce it into the Irish system. But, whereas in Scotland the Council consists wholly of elected members, in Ireland we propose that the Chairman of every Rural District Council shall be an additional member of the County Council. The reason for this is evident, and will, I hope, meet with the approval of the House. As I have just explained, we propose in Ireland to build on the existing Grand Jury system, and make a District 1233 Council, in its capacity as road authority, subordinate to the County Council. The County Council will have a veto upon the presentments for district roads in rural area. It will have the carrying out of all works in connection with the maintenance, construction, and repair of roads. It will, also, under the new system, be the sole rate-collecting authority in rural districts. It appears, therefore, to be highly desirable that a link should be provided between the superior and subordinate bodies, and this we have done by giving the Chairmen of all Rural District Councils a seat on the County Council, thus securing that the views and interests of the District Councils shall not be set aside for the want of a proper exponent. Sir, it will, of course, be understood that the transfer of the Grand Jury powers to the County Council will be limited to the fiscal and administrative powers of Grand Juries, and it will not extend to criminal business or to the business of Presentment Sessions and Grand Juries in relation to compensation for malicious injuries. On the other hand, it does not appear to us expedient that award of compensation for malicious injuries should be left to the Grand Jury, now that the Grand Jury will cease to be an administrative body. The Bill provides that it should be transferred to the County Courts, whoso decree shall have the same effect as a presentment, with the same appeal, as at present, to a Judge of Assize. With reference to the various powers and responsibilities transferred or conferred upon County Councils, it will perhaps be sufficient on this occasion that I should refer to one or two in particular. The first of these relates to lunatic asylums. It is proposed that the Board of Control shall be abolished, and that the appointment by the Lord Lieutenant of Boards of Governors, and also of asylum officers, shall cease. It will hereafter be the Statutory duty of County Councils to provide and maintain sufficient accommodation for the lunatic poor, and to manage the lunatic asylums. For this purpose, they will act through a Committee of the County Council, or, where the asylum district comprises more than one county, through a Joint Committee, in which each Council will be represented in proportion to the amount of expense that it has to defray in connection 1234 with the asylum. One-fourth of the members of this Committee will be eligible from among persons other than County Councillors; while the powers and responsibilities of the County Council in connection with lunatics, will thus be considerably greater than those of the existing Boards of Governors. The ultimate control of the executive, in cases where the County Council fail to carry out their duties, will be sufficiently maintained by the insertion of a provision in which the appointment and removal of officers will rest with the County Council acting through their Committee, but the concurrence of the Lord Lieutenant will be required in the case of the resident medical superintendent, and in the cases of the assistant medical superintendents. The other duties thrown upon the County Council, which call for special mention, will arise in reference to exceptional distress. It is provided in the Bill that when a Board of Guardians considers the state of exceptional distress to exist within its Union requiring a relaxation of the conditions of outdoor relief, they may apply to the County Council, and if the County Council consider that the circumstances justify the application, they may request the Local Government Board to issue an order authorising the Guardians, subject to the prescribed conditions, to administer relief outside the Workhouse for a limited time from the date of the Order, to poor persons of any description resident in the distressed area. When, at the request of the County Council, such an Order is issued by the Local Government Board, the county will become liable for one-half of the extra expenditure incurred by a Board of Guardians in administering this special form of relief. These provisions are intended to obviate the necessity of passing a special Act of Parliament every time a relaxation of the condition of outdoor relief becomes urgent, while at the same time they impose an efficient check upon the abuse of the exercise of a dispensing power, as well as increase the sources of Poor Law administration within very poor districts. Sir, the powers and duties of the Rural District Councils, outside those which are transferred to them from baronial Presentment Sessions, are the powers and 1235 duties of existing rural sanitary authorities, and they call for no special remarks. It only remains to add generally, as regards County Councils and Rural District Councils, that the Councillors are to hold office for a term of three years and retire together. They are to be elected by single member constituencies, except in certain cases of urban districts returning more than one member to the County Council which form one county electoral division. The county electoral divisions will be fixed by the Local Government Board, and the district electoral divisions will be the present Poor-law electoral divisions. I turn now to urban districts. Six cities and towns will, under the Bill, be constituted county boroughs—namely, Dublin, Belfast, Cork, Limerick, Londonderry, and Waterford. The government of county boroughs will go on much the same as before—[Mr. T. M. HEALY: What about Newry?]—save that their councils will be elected upon the wider franchise already described, and they will obtain such powers and duties of County Councils generally as are provided, and which they do not possess already. In the case of other towns and boroughs every place which is now, or becomes, an urban sanitary district will be an urban district under the Bill, and its affairs will be administered by an Urban District Council. Here, again, we do not propose to interfere with the existing constitution of the local governing bodies, either as to number, duration of office, or time of election—the franchise, of course, will be the Parliamentary franchise. The style or title of the Corporation or Council of a borough will remain unchanged. We propose further that in future all Urban District Councils should be the road authority for their district, and that for this purpose there should be transferred to them, where they do not already conduct it, the business, so far as respects their district, of baronial Presentment Sessions, and also the duties of the Grand Juries in relation to public works, except such public works as are in part or in whole chargeable on the county at large. Urban District Councils will also have the duty of levying and collecting all rates within their district. It will be seen from this description 1236 that the Urban District Councils are more independent of County Councils than are rural districts, and accordingly urban districts, so far as the constituted county electoral division, will be represented only by their elected representatives on the County Council, and will not have the privilege accorded to Rural District Councils of sending their chairman as an additional member to the County Council.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND
They are already urban sanitary districts, and under the Bill they will be governed by Urban District Councils. The position of Boards of Guardians has been pretty clearly indicated by what I have already stated. There will, in future, be no ex-officio Guardians. The duties hitherto allotted to the Guardians as rural sanitary authority will be transferred to the District Councillors, and their duty of levying and collecting the poor rate will be transferred in rural areas to the County Council, and in urban areas to the Urban Council. In rural districts there will be no election of Guardians as such, and the Rural District Council will be the Guardians. In any urban area the Guardians to represent that area will be elected triennially at the time of election of the County and Rural District Councils. Dispensary Committees will be abolished, and their functions transferred to Guardians; but both Boards of Guardians and Rural District Councils will be empowered to appoint local committees and delegate to them certain of their functions. Sir, I now come to what is probably the most difficult part of the Bill, which is the rating and financial provisions. In dealing with these, I must confine myself to the broad principles on which we have gone to work, and even then I am apprehensive that I shall find a difficulty in making myself clearly intelligible to hon. Members before they have had an opportunity of seeing the Bill itself.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND
Certainly. The proposals of the Government, although they may appear complicated and intricate, will tend in the direction, in practice, of administrative simplicity. In the first place, the occupier is in future to be liable for both county cess and poor rate, whether in towns or rural districts. The distinction between cess and poor rate will cease, and the two will be collected together as one consolidated rate. This change in the incidence of rating will, of course, involve a temporary readjustment of rents, in which a tenancy shall have been determined, or in the case of holdings under the Land Act, where a new fair rent has been fixed. These adjustments of rents present a variety of cases, all of which have been carefully provided for in the Bill. In the case of holdings other than agricultural land the problem is simple, and the principle followed is that the rent shall be adjusted so as to prevent, as between landlord and tenant, any change in the burden existing in the financial year 1896–97. That year is taken in the Bill as the standard financial year, and all adjustment of rent has to be made on the assumption that there will be no increase or decrease of poor rate and county cess, taken together, as compared with the total rate in the £ for county cess and poor rate taken together in the standard year. The effect of this will be that the whole of any decrease in the rates will go to the benefit of the occupier; the whole of any increase will go to his disadvantage. Of course, when the rents come to be refixed, it will, in the case of holdings, other than agricultural land, be refixed, having regard to the burden of the rates, and the gain or loss arising from the decrease or increase of rates will be distributed between landlord and tenant according to the ordinary law of supply and demand. As regards agricultural land, the case is complicated by the sums which it is proposed to pay out of the Imperial Exchequer in relief of the rates on such land. The Bill here carries out the substance of the proposals outlined by the First Lord of the Treasury in the House of Commons, in first announcing the intentions of the Government. There will be distributed for the benefit of the spending authorities in each year out of the Imperial Exchequer a sum equal to 1238 one-half of the county cess and one-half of the poor rate deemed for the purposes of the Bill to have been paid in respect of agricultural land in the standard year. This sum is called in the Bill the agricultural grant, and that is the name which I wish to use in speaking of it. So far as possible, provisions are inserted in the Bill for ensuring that the benefit of this contribution—that is to say the agricultural grant—shall go to the occupier as regards county cess, and to the owner as regards poor rates. In the first instance this is secured, as in the case of holdings other than agricultural land by temporary adjustment of rent; but in the case of holdings under the Land Acts the rent-fixing provisions of these Acts are taken advantage of to secure that the same end shall be attained permanently. The Land Commissioners are instructed in fixing a fair rent after the appointed day to fix it on the assumption that the rates on the land are those of the standard year, and that the principle already referred to is observed—namely, that the tenant is to have any benefit from the agricultural grant given in respect to county cess and that the landlord is to have any benefit from the agricultural grant given in respect to the poor rate. Let me add that this instruction to the Land Commission is quite as much in the interest of the tenant as of the landlord. If, on the one hand, it prevents him from having his rent lowered in consequence of any rise in the rates, on the other hand it not only secures to the tenant the advantage of any future decrease in the rates, but it protects him from the danger of having his rent raised in consequence of the relief in respect of county cess given by the agricultural grant. It will be noticed that, when the occupier of land is also the owner of the land which he occupies, he will get a double advantage out of the grant. As occupier he will get relief in respect of county cess, and as owner he will get relief in respect of the poor rate. This is an obvious corollary of our proposals, and I call special attention to it because, from communications that have reached me, I infer that there exists an impression that we have left occupying owners, including tenants who have purchased their holdings, out in the cold. That is not the case. On the contrary, they get, 1239 as I have said, a double advantage from the grant in respect of their double capacity as owners and occupiers. Sir, I have now to mention two further changes which we propose to introduce into the rating system. The Bill provides for what I will call union rating and district rating. By union rating I mean that those expenses of the Guardians which are now levied separately on the electoral division will be charged on the common fund raised equally over the whole union. By district rating I mean, of course, that the cost of all rates and public works and charges on baronies will be charged equally over the whole of the rural district, which, in most cases, comprises several baronies or parts of baronies. This latter change almost necessarily follows from the transference of the work of baronial Presentment Sessions to the District Council.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND
No. This latter change almost necessarily follows from the work imposed upon the District Council. The adoption of union rating, however, may be deemed of more doubtful expediency and may stand in need of some justification. The respective advantages of union rating and electoral division rating have been a subject of discussion in Ireland from the date of the establishment of the poor law system in that country. That system, as originally designed, provided that all expenses of poor law administration must be distributed over the union, and it was only in the House of Lords that electoral division rating was substituted. The object of the change made by the House of Lords seems to have been to hold out an inducement to the landlords to give employment to the poor on their estates, by throwing on certain landlords a larger part of the charge for the maintenance of any person belonging to the electoral division which might have to be supported out of the rates. This reason for electoral division rating will disappear if the proposal of the Bill to make occupiers only responsible for the rates is passed into law. Electoral division rating has, however, been strongly defended on the ground that 1240 it tends to economy in the administration of outdoor relief, and it is, at all events, probably this consideration which has, in recent years, had most to do with its retention in Ireland, notwithstanding that union rating was adopted in England no less than 20 years ago. Recent experience, however, goes to show that the belief that union rating tends to extravagance in outdoor relief is a mistaken one. The experiment was not really tried in Ireland till 1894, when, in certain distressed districts, under a special Act passed by the late Government, outdoor relief was, in fact, made a charge upon the union at large. What is the conclusion to which recent experience points? It is that union-rating, so far from leading to extravagance on the part of the Guardians, tends on the contrary, to economy. You find in practice that the Guardians are quite ready to be liberal when the charge falls on the whole of the division, but when it is collected from, the union they are more careful. Then they become vigilant watch-dogs. I am more than convinced on general grounds that the establishment of union-rating would be a highly desirable reform. But apart from such general considerations, the proposal of our Bill to throw upon the Guardians the whole portion of the poor rate renders it almost a necessity. At present in very poor districts, where most holdings are under a £4 valuation, the landlords pay perhaps four-fifths of the poor rate. This is now to be at an end, for the agricultural grant which replaces the landlord's contribution is to be fixed and unalterable, and if occupiers are to bear the cost of relief the area of contribution must be widened, for individual electoral divisions will be unable to bear it. Unless this is done, measures of relief will in some shape or form become, except in some highly-congested divisions, almost an annual necessity. Let me now call attention to the results of the introduction of union and district rating. Each of these changes will have the effect of shifting the burdens—lightening them in some quarters, and increasing them in others. It almost follows that they must be taken into account in the temporary adjustment of rating as between landlord and tenant, but also in the distribution of the agricultural grant. In other words, these calculations must be made on the 1241 assumption that union and district rating had already existed during the standard years. This will affect the distribution of the agricultural, grant, as is obvious, but that it will affect the total amount of the agricultural grant is not quite so clear. It is, however, a fact—and hon. Members from Ireland will be glad to hear it—that it affects the agricultural grant, not by a decrease, but by an increase. This is due to the fact that the poor rate in towns somewhat exceeds that in rural areas, and consequently union rating will relieve towns, as compared with the country, to the extent of £26,000 a year. Half of that portion, which under union rating will have to be borne by agricultural land, becomes under our Bill charged on the Exchequer, and the amount is estimated at between £11,000 and £12,000. Considering the advantages conferred by the Bill upon agricultural land, I do not think that relief in this way to towns can reasonably be begrudged, especially as there is a small set-off arising from the definition in the Bill of agricultural land. It will be remembered in the English Agricultural Rating Bill of 1896 a certain definition of agricultural land was given. The conditions of that arrangement in Ireland render that definition unsuitable in the present case. We propose to define agricultural land as including everything that is entered in the valuation list as land, except land included within the boundaries of any borough or town which for the time is an urban sanitary district. While that definition excludes all lands and towns from the benefit of the agricultural grant, and therefore deprives towns of a small contribution which they would enjoy under the English definition of agricultural land, on the other hand it includes woods, parks, and gardens, which the English definition would have excluded. Again, there is a great simplification of administration under the Bill, while any loss to the towns is probably less than a quarter of what they would gain by union rating. The total amount of the agricultural grant has not yet been accurately determined. It could not be determined with absolute precision until the exact provisions of the Bill had been decided upon, but I anticipate that it will amount to £730,000 annually. As in England, so in Ireland, there are certain charges 1242 which it is proposed to exclude in making calculations. Those charges fall into two classes—one including charges for extra police and compensation for malicious injury, and the other class comprising charges in respect to railways, harbour navigation, and special expenses, now borne under the Public Health Act. Another class of charges which are really in the nature of temporary charges, are exempted from the provisions of the Bill. Their total amount comparatively is not a large sum; it is not a very large stun in comparison with the total amount of grants. Some of the railway and harbour charges fall very heavy, especially in County Kerry, on particular baronies. I have been anxious to give some measure of relief to those heavily charged areas, even though this could not be done by means of the agricultural grant. I have been unable to give this relief in connection with another financial arrangement which I now proceed to describe, and after the description of which my account of the financial business of the Bill may be brought to a close. The proceeds of the local licences were by the English Act of 1881 transferred to the local authorities in lieu of certain grants-in-aid annually voted by Parliament. It is proposed to do the same in Ireland. But there is this difference between the case of Ireland and the case of Great Britain. In Great Britain the proceeds of the local licences covered the grants-in-aid with a considerable margin to spare. In Ireland, the proceeds of the licences amount to about £200,000, whereas the grants-in-aid, in respect of the maintenance of certain poor law charges amount to £244,000. This is a deficiency of close upon £44,000. That is, perhaps, more than covered by the annual grant from the Exchequer of £79,000; that is to say, in addition to the £44,000 which is the amount of the deficiency, the Chancellor of the Exchequer will allow Ireland a further sum of £35,000 a year by way of a margin. Add this annual grant of £79,000 to the £200,000 yielded by the licences and we reach a total of £279,000, and out of this total sum of £279,000 it is proposed to defray the charges now met out of grants-in-aid, amounting to £244,000; first, of one half of the salary of one trained nurse in every union in Ireland who is actually employed and enjoys the 1243 necessary qualifications; and, seconly, where the average rate of existing harbour and railway charges of any area exceeds 6d. per £, a sum equal to half such excess. I estimate that there will still remain after all these charges have been met sufficient to provide against any excesses in the charges caused by the transfer of lunatics from the workhouses to the asylums. Such transference, of course, cannot take place all at once, but in the meantime any excess of the £279,000 which for the next six months will accumulate, to provide against any possible deficiency in future years, can be disposed of in such a way as may be afterwards directed. I have now said enough to give the House a fair idea of the main features of the Bill. I now leave the financial provisions and come to the transitory provisions of the Bill—those for the transfer of officers and the transitory condition of things before the new authorities could meet. It is proposed that the Grand Juries shall meet, for the transaction of fiscal and administrative business only, for the last time at the Spring Assizes of 1899.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND
The election of the new bodies will follow immediately afterwards, in March, when they will have at their disposal so much of the agricultural grant as has been accumulated during the previous half year, for the payment of the Irish equivalent grant will cease in September of the present year, and the agricultural grant will take its place. The interests of existing officers will, of course, be respected. The existing secretaries of Grand Juries are to become, and continue, secretaries of the County Councils for the space of a year, at the expiration of which either the County Council could require the secretary to retire, or the secretary could retire voluntarily. In either event, the secretary will be entitled to an allowance of the same amount as if his office had not been abolished. If this opportunity is not taken advantage of by the Council, 1244 or by the secretary, he will continue to be secretary of the Council, only removable with the consent of the Local Government Board. On his voluntary retirement at any subsequent date, he will be entitled to an allowance on the Civil Service scale. Other officers will be treated on the same lines as in the English and Scottish Acts. Special provision, however, is made for the case of barony and poor rate collectors. The County Councils will in future be the only rate-collecting authority, and it is obvious that there will no longer be room for a double set of rate collectors. We propose that every County Council shall, within six months of their first meeting, submit to the Local Government Board a scheme setting forth their arrangements for the collection of the consolidated rate, in which the existing rate collectors shall have priority of appointment. Any existing officer continued in the service of the County Council as a collector will be entitled to compensation from the Council, if within five years of the scheme being approved he is dismissed by the County Council for any other cause than misconduct or incapacity.
§ SIR J. COLOMB (Great Yarmouth)
Will the right hon. Gentleman say what is proposed to be done with regard to the County surveyors?
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND
The existing surveyors will, of course, not be removable except with the concurrence of the Local Government Board.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND
In the case of new appointments the appointment or dismissal of these officers will be in the hands of the County Councils, except in the case of the secretary to the Council, the county surveyor and the assistant county surveyor, who will be dismissable with the concurrence of the Local Government Board. Officers appointed by Boards of Guardians will hold office on the same tenure as at present, and the same person will hold the office of clerk to the union and clerk to the Rural 1245 District Council. It will seem from what I have now stated to the House that we have set ourselves to a somewhat formidable task. The reform of Local Government in England was the subject of two Bills, and the same is the case with the reform of Local Government in Scotland. In the case of Ireland we are attempting the task—and we are obliged to attempt the task—in one comprehensive measure, and this measure has not been merely to provide for the creation of new bodies, but also to provide for and calculate the amount and distribution of the agricultural grant; and, further, it contains various important conditions with respect to the incidence of rates, If all these matters were perfectly new we should have to be obliged to admit that the task is not merely formidable, but perhaps impossible. But, as the House knows, this is very far from, being the case. The ground has already been explored and mapped out and worked over in the Local Government Acts for England and for Scotland. Much of the mere machinery of the Measure can be provided for by means of the very words of the existing Acts, or by means of clauses of existing Acts, altered only in form and not in substance. No doubt, Sir, this was a very proper subject for full and exhaustive discussion, but that discussion has already taken place. It has taken place in connection with the Debates in the English and Scottish Acts, and I think we are now justified in assuming that, if the House desires to pass this Bill, it is no longer necessary that that discussion should be taken all over again. The result of it may practically be taken for granted. At all events, we have ventured to proceed on this assumption, and where machinery is to be provided, or where reservations are required to be included of a formal and noncontentious character, we have given wide but still well-defined powers to the Lord Lieutenant in Council to provide for such matters by means of adaptation and regulation orders. Further, I am prepared to admit that it is a new departure in draftmanship. At the same time, I think the House will consider that we are justified in the course we have adopted. It will have the effect of very greatly lightening the Bill, while at the same time we have hedged it round with precautious, which 1246 will prevent the withdrawal from the full discussion in this House of any matter useful and proper to be discussed. In the first place the subject-matters of these Orders in Council are intended to be strictly confined to uncontroversial matters, and in the case of the adaptation of the English and Scottish Acts, the headings of the subject-matter will be set forth in the body of the Bill, so that if any hon. Member considers that these headings include subject-matter which is not noncontroversial that will have to be dealt with by the addition of a clause in Committee, or on the report stage of the Bill. The full draft of the Orders in Council, as it is proposed they will be submitted to the Lord Lieutenant in Council, will be laid on the Table of this House; and, lastly, these orders to be passed by the Lord Lieutenant in Council within six months of the passing of the Act will be required to be laid upon the Table of the House, and it will be open to either House to object to them by Address to Her Majesty. If such Address is carried, then the order will be ipso facto annulled, and the subject will be again referred to the Lord Lieutenant in Council, who will be empowered to draw out a new order, which will again be laid on the Table of the House as before. Hon. Members will have an opportunity of seeing the Bill, and they will admit that we have created a new precedent, although not one fraught with danger. I have now to thank the House for the patience with which they have heard the statement, which I have done my best to make clear, though it cannot have been otherwise than dry, and I would add some few words in conclusion. I do not think that any hon. Member who has done me the honour to listen to what I have said will be disposed to deny that the proposal I have outlined is an endeavour to carry out the undertaking given by the Government to offer to Ireland a system of local administration substantially similar to that of England, based on the same broad and democratic foundation. The Local Government Bill of 1892 was weighted with safeguards which at that, time were considered necessary in order to meet the not unnatural apprehensions of the land-owning classes that they would be the 1247 victims of extravagant proposals on the part of the new public bodies. These safeguards have disappeared from the present scheme, but in their place we have substituted other safeguards which, we believe, will be more efficient and less irritating. Our object has been to make those in whose hands the power is placed to bear their full share of the burden, to make them feel the full effects of their own extravagance, if they are extravagant, and at the same time to enable them to feel the benefits of their economy if they are economical. All the financial provisions of the Bill will be found to tend in this direction. We have further sought to obliterate all distinctions of interest between one class of the rating community and another. If the Bill passes, owners as such will cease to be directly taxed, and, to a larger extent, they will cease to be indirectly taxed. As occupiers they will still, of course, be in the same position as any other. Thirdly, I observe that as owners may be in future relieved from the obligation of paying their half of the poor rate on agricultural land this will not protect them in their capacity as large cess payers from the results of the extravagance of County or District Councils. It is pointed out that one half or more of the total amount of County cess is contributed by a small percentage of county cess payers, and the inference drawn is that this small minority require special protection. I would point out that this small minority is not a class minority; it is not a minority consisting of owners only, but of occupiers who derive a considerable income from land. That alone is something gained, for the large farmers can in this respect have no interest differing from those other large cess payers. But the argument is not so cogent as many seem to imagine. The pressure of a tax is not in proportion to the amount paid by the individual, but to the amount of sacrifice which the payment involves, and a smaller sum may be as heavy a drain on a smaller income as a larger sum on a larger income. In the case of very small cess payers, it is no doubt conceivable, that they might have more to gain from employment on public works carried out at the expense of the ratepayers than they would lose from any additional rates they might be called upon to pay in 1248 order to maintain such works. Fears have been expressed that the smaller ratepayers will bring great pressure to bear upon District Councils to induce them to spend money on roads which are not really required, and which can only be regarded as in the nature of relief works. We have made, in the Bill, sufficient provision to meet that case. Not only will County Councils have a veto on expenditure on rural district roads, but we have provided that, without the express consent of the Local Government Board, any expenditure on roads in any district has to receive the sanction of the County Councils if it exceeds by more than 25 per cent. the average amount of such expenditure in the district for three years preceding. Lastly let it be remembered that the amount of the Agricultural Grant will cause a large and immediate reduction in the amount now paid for county cess, and that the rates in future upon agricultural land cannot reach near their present level until the rise in expenditure is sufficient to cover the margin so provided for. Speaking for myself, I am by no means certain that the prophets of evil in the matter of extravagance will turn out to be right. I should not be surprised if, in many respects, the new bodies prove to be more parsimonious than the old Much, however, of the success or failure of the new system will depend on the attitude towards it of those in whose hands the administration now rests. The experience of England and Scotland shows that in rural districts the local gentry are the natural leaders of the people, and that the people willingly recognise them as such. In the past that has been the case in Ireland also, and it may be so again in the future. [An Irish Member: Not likely.] Well, everything depends upon themselves. Will they look askance at the new order of things? Will they stand aside in silence, or play the more manly part, and seek from the Suffrages of their fellow-citizens that position which no others are so well qualified to fill? They may meet with rebuffs at first, but let them persevere, and their reward is certain. I rejoice to know that on this subject several friends of my own who live in Ireland, Members of this House, as well as others, have spoken in no uncertain voice. If the spirit which animated them animates Members generally, 1249 the class to which they belong, I for one firmly believe that the changes we now propose will carry with them a healing power rich in blessings for the future of Ireland.
§ MR. SPEAKER
The Question is that leave be given to bring in a Bill for amending the law relating to Local Government in Ireland; and for other purposes connected therewith.
§ MR. J. MORLEY (Montrose Burghs)
It was my fortune six years ago to follow the First Lord of the Treasury when he introduced the unfortunate Measure to which the Chief Secretary has just referred, when he mentioned the irritating and provocative safeguards which figured in that Bill. I am sincerely glad to be able to approach the proposals which the right hon. Gentleman has just laid before the House in a totally different frame of mind from the frame of mind which was produced by the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman who sits near him. The Chief Secretary need not have had any misgivings as to the clear ness with which he stated his case. I confess I have never in this House heard such a difficult, complex, and intricate scheme expounded with greater lucidity or greater precision, and I congratulate him both upon the manner in which he has explained the scheme and upon the principles which seem to have animated him and the Government, on the whole, in framing the Bill. I think, so far as we can judge—but, of course, it would be a waste of time to pretend to discuss the details of a scheme of such magnitude and complexity until we have the Bill, and I should not attempt to do so—I do feel clear from his explanation that it deserves what he claimed for it, namely, that it has been framed upon broad and democratic lines. I go entirely with the right hon. Gentleman in some of the remarks he made at the conclusion of his speech, when he said he was convinced or hoped—and he had good reasons for hoping—that these new bodies which he is going to call into existence, would not be extravagant, and would not show any desire to bring excessive pres sure to bear on one class more than another. But the right hon. Gentleman and his friends, when they support these 1250 proposals, will, in this instance, have to unsay a great many things which they said during the discussion on Home Rule. That was exactly the attitude we took in defending the larger proposals. We said that if you gave responsibility and power you might depend upon it that the consequences which ordinarily attach to fiscal and political responsibility would ensue. Now, as I have promised the House, I am not going to discuss at all a single proposal in the Bill; I should ask for a little further information if the Chief Secretary would be good enough to give it to us, upon one point in the Bill. But, speaking upon its general proposals, they seem to me to make entirely and genuinely for the transfer of power from grand juries to a truly popular and democratic elective body. It is 50 years since a Committee of this House reported that the grand jury system was intolerable. Well, 50 years for an Irish reform is not, perhaps, too long a time, and we are glad to have it now at the end of 50 years rather than have to wait 50 years more. I am not sure on the point of the exclusion of ministers of religion. I recollect that, in connection with the Home Rule Bill, Mr. Parnell was for allowing ministers of religion to sit in the Irish Legislature upon the somewhat cynical ground that those gentlemen would be less likely and able to do harm inside than outside. I think that is deserving of some consideration. Something may be said for it from a more generous point of view also. The point that will undoubtedly excite discussion and interest in Ireland will be the entrusting to County Councils, as I understand, all matters relating to compensation for malicious injuries.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND
No. They are transferred to the County Courts from the Grand Juries.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND
Yes. There will be an appeal from the County Court judge to the judge of Assize, just as there is now from the-Grand Juries.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
Just so. The Court of Appeal will be the same as at present. The provisions as to lunatic asylums I 1251 most heartily approve of. The Board of control always struck me as a most anomalous body, and the constitution of Boards of governors of lunatic asylums was one of the most troublesome and thankless duties ever imposed upon a Chief Secretary. Therefore, that change seems to me to be one worthy of all approval. I approve also of the proposal that where there is a case of exceptional distress the Boards of Guardians are to be at liberty to go to the County Council and acquire from the County Council power to deal with those districts in the matter of outdoor relief and otherwise; and, as I understand, the county is to bear half the charge of any exceptional payments that may be required in relieving that distress.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND
That, roughly speaking, is the case. But the approval of the Local Government Board will be necessary.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
Then that is an enormous change. A change for which my hon. Friends from Ireland have been working for some time, and which, I am sure, they will welcome, is in connection with Urban District Councils, where the franchise is to be the Parliamentary franchise. That is an enormous improvement, and a step in the direction of free, popular government. Then there are no longer to be ex-officio magistrates on Boards of Guardians. That is a very important and vital change. Now I come to a point upon which I am not quite sure that I clearly follow what the Chief Secretary has told us—the financial point. Of course, as the First Lord of the Treasury said last year when he announced this scheme, you have two dangers to avoid. You have, first of all, to take care that the landlord who was to be relieved of the payment of half the poor rate should not get that taken from him again by excessive and extravagant administration. There was that danger on the one side. But, on the other hand, it was said that there was a danger that the occupier, the tenant, would be deprived of the relief given in the shape of the county cess by the arrangement proposed, when the Land Commissioners came round to fix the rent. These were 1252 the two dangers. The landlord was not to be rated out of his rent, and the tenant was not to be rented out of the relief you propose to give him. I understand, so far as the tenant is concerned, he is to be protected against the abstraction from him of the boon you are going to give him in the shape of enhanced rent by an instruction to the Land Commissioners not to take it into account. That is, perhaps, doing all you can do, but I fail to understand what is to happen to the landlord. I want to know what is to happen to him. I do not see how you have entirely safeguarded him. Take the case of an extravagant County Council. Suppose their expenditure is grossly extravagant. That, of course, will send up the county charge. I do not see how the landlord is to escape from being hit by the enhancement of the county charge.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND
The Land Commissioners will only take into account the rates in the standard year. Therefore any increase of the rates caused by the extravagance of the new bodies will not be taken into consideration by the Land Commissioners in re-fixing rents.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
But I want to know how the landlord is going to contribute to an enhanced county charge put upon him by an extravagant County Council.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND
He will not contribute as landlord. He is in the future to be relieved entirely from the payment of poor rates. He will no longer pay them as landlord, but as occupier, if he be an occupier.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
Then I am wondering whether you are not giving the landlord more than he is entitled to. As I understand it—of course I don't want to argue it now—you are conferring upon the landlord a total exemption from the payment of any charge for county purposes.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
Then that is a proposal which I call neither broad nor democratic; but I only throw out a note 1253 of warning to the right hon. Gentleman that this is a point upon which I am quite sure he will have to face a considerable amount of criticism. It is a most important and serious point, and I hope he will be able to clear it up, or that the Bill will clear it up.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND
I may just explain that the landlord will, of course, not be liable—will not be punished—if the new bodies are extravagant, because the rent will have to be fixed with reference to the rates of the standard year and not to the rates as they may be hereafter. On the other hand, if the now bodies are economical and able to save money, the whole of such saving will go to the benefit of the occupier, and the landlord will not participate in it.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
Until we see the clause I do not want to continue the discussion. I will only point out this, that the right hon. Gentleman, in an admirable passage, with the spirit of which I entirely sympathise, said he hoped that the landlords of Ireland would take their fair part in this local administration. Yes, but then they will be taking part in that local administration, though they will not themselves be the bearers of any portion of the burden which this local administration may impose. You are taking off the landlord in Ireland a burden which never lay upon him in England. Of course, as everybody knows, the landlord in Ireland now pays half the rates on holdings over £4, and on holdings under £4 he pays the whole of the rates. However, I will not labour it, but that, I am sure, is a part of the Bill which will need to be very carefully examined, because it really goes to the root of the matter, and I am not satisfied quite that the Government have got over the difficulty which the First Lord of the Treasury indicated when he made his announcement last year. As to the other minor clauses of which the right hon. Gentleman informed us, it would be a pure waste of time to say anything about them until we have seen them, and until we have heard what the Irish authorities, and the local authorities especially, think of them. So far as the general purpose of the Bill is concerned, of 1254 course, we on this side of the House maintain, as we have always maintained, that you are beginning at the wrong end—that it would have been better to begin with a large central body, of which Lord Salisbury truly said it would be less likely to fall into error than some of these local bodies. That is the position we still hold, but as the country, and as this House, has not yet assented to that view of the situation, I will only say that I, for one cordially welcome this set of proposals, subject, of course, to all the reservations which further examination and criticism may show to be necessary; and I do not think, so far as I know, that the Bill will find on this side of the House any kind of criticism of which the Government will have any reason to complain.
§ MR. DILLON
I am sure I am only giving expression to the views of all Members for Ireland who sit around me when I say that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary made the clearest exposition of a complicated Bill that I have ever listened to, and that we have acquired a clearer idea of the Bill than we conceived possible at the beginning of his speech. The Irish Nationalist Members, as is well known to this House, adhere to the view, which we have frequently expressed, that the wiser and the more promising way to deal with this Irish problem would be to set up, first of all, that central executive authority, which must count for a great deal in the working of any local institutions in any country, and which would give to those local institutions of Ireland a fairer chance for smooth and successful working than we can hope to have under present circumstances. But while holding those views with undiminished force, we hold that it would be absurd not to give a frank and friendly reception to any serious attempt on the part of the present Ministry to remedy the dreadful condition of things which has prevailed so long in Ireland respecting local government, and I feel bound, at the very outset of the brief utterances I shall make, to recognise that the Bill which has been explained to the House by the right hon. Gentleman is an immense advance on the proposal that was 1255 made in 1892, and that, coming from a Unionist Government, I think it justifies, so far as he has explained it, in all its main details, the promises which have been made that it would be a broad Measure, conferring upon Ireland, with one or two exceptions to which I shall briefly allude, the same privileges which have been given to England and Scot land. Now, there are just two or three points that I propose only to glance at for a moment which the right hon. Gentleman has not dealt with. First of all, I take the question of the control of the police. I confess I hardly expected he would deal with that question. It is a very thorny question, and one which I do not propose to deal with at present; nor do I say for a single moment that I think the Irish Members would be justified in impeding, in obstructing, or in any way belittling a large Measure of local government, satisfactory on all other points, simply because it fails to deal with the control of the police. But I only point out that that is one important particular in which his proposals fall short of the rights that have been conferred upon the people of Great Britain. There is one other point to which the right hon. Gentleman made no allusion; he did not deal at all with the all-important question of the relations between the local bodies which the Bill proposes to set up and the Local Government Board, or Central Authority. I do not, however, press him for further information on that question. I simply mention it by way of reservation, because I have no doubt that it will be cleared up when the Bill is printed and the discussion upon the Second Reading takes place. There is, however, one point in connection with the financial provisions of the Bill to which I would like for a moment to direct his attention. He pointed out that, under certain circumstances, in the event of exceptional distress, such as affects tenants in the West of Ireland at the present moment, Boards of Guardians in the distressed districts may apply to the County Councils for additional powers, and that the County Councils may grant those powers, subject to the veto of the Local Government Board. Now, I can only describe that as an attempt to shove off on the district bodies in the Western counties the duty of providing for exceptional distress, 1256 and to relieve the Local Government Board of their responsibility. I think the words of the right hon. Gentleman, in view of what has taken place, were exceptionally sinister and alarming, when he said that if some provision such as this was not introduced into the Bill, it would be probably necessary for him to introduce nearly every year exceptional legislation to deal with distress.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND
I meant relief in connection with union rating, and not in connection with exceptional distress.
§ MR. DILLON
I understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that if this provision were not inserted it would be necessary for him to introduce exceptional legislation in reference to distress.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND
What I said was that if union rating was not adopted. I was not referring to the provision which enabled the County Council to intervene in cases of exceptional distress.
§ MR. DILLON
What made me allude to that particular provision is this—that it looks to me, as I said before, like an attempt to shove off, on the Western counties the duty of providing for exceptional distress, and of relieving the Local Government Board of that responsibility which they, even this year, are endeavouring to get rid of, but which they are shamed into accepting some share of. As regards union rating as a principle, of course that is a totally different matter, and so long as union rating does not carry with it an attempt to throw upon the poorest districts in Ireland the whole responsibility of dealing with exceptional distress I shall have non-opposition to make to that provision. I come for a moment to the question of assessment of damages. The proposal to transfer the jurisdiction in regard to assessing damages for malicious injuries to the County Court would be a great improvement on the present system, but I can see no reason why the right hon. Gentleman should not go a step further, and either do away with that most invidious power altogether in Ireland, at the same time that he is doing away with grand juries, or transfer the power 1257 to the County Councils. I have no intention of occupying the time of the House by prolonged observations upon the provisions of this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman alluded to the rating provisions. I should be very slow to commit myself in any way for or against these suggestions, until we have had an opportunity of examining them at leisure and in print. I entirely understand the idea which underlies the suggestions the right hon. Gentleman made; I entirely understand that the idea, of the right hon. Gentleman is that in future the landlord, as landlord, shall not be at any additional expense incurred for County Councils. Of course, he will pay as occupier of land, and be on an equal footing with any other occupier, and will have to pay his share in that respect; but I believe that these instructions, which are to be given to the Land Commission, to protect the tenants and occupiers against the allowance made for them passing into the pockets of the landlord, in one way or another, will be, to a large extent, inoperative. There is just one other point in connection with this grant in relief of the rates to which I wish to allude. The right hon. Gentleman laid great stress on the generosity of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in making an additional grant of money to what he called the agricultural grant. But he said not a word about the arrears which are due to Ireland, during the last two years, during which there has been hung up for Ireland's use £160,000 per annum, instead of £730,000, which we are now told is the fair and just sum to which she is entitled. After this Bill passes into law I should hope the right hon. Gentleman will be able to induce the Chancellor of the Exchequer to be able to extend his generosity a little more, and give us, if not the whole, at least a considerable portion, of the arrears which are due to Ireland in respect of the grant in aid to agriculture made to Great Britain. We admit that this is a large and valuable Measure, so far as the right hon. Gentleman has explained it. I think it is a Measure which, if carried out on the lines sketched out by the right hon. Gentleman, would do great good to Ireland, and I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that, so far as we are concerned, although we do not agree with his policy, we would be 1258 disposed to give this Bill fair play, and do our best to work it in all good faith. It is, I am sure, intended as an honest aid to Ireland. I still maintain that the picture of a bright and beautiful Ireland, as drawn by the right hon. Gentleman, would be more likely to be realised by the establishment of such a central Government as we advocate. But when I turned for a moment to consider the future fate of this Bill. I was struck by the extraordinary sentence in the speech delivered by the First Lord of the Treasury to his constituents in Manchester. He said—If we find ourselves unable, by the action of Parliamentary criticism and comment, to create that broad, free, and popular Local Government in Ireland, we shall deeply regret it, but we shall feel that we are not called upon to ask the British taxpayers to give £700,000 to Ireland.Sir, that is not the way in which Governments generally introduce Bills. As a rule, they introduce Bills with the intention of passing them, and they do not do so stating beforehand that if Parliamentary criticism is not in their favour they will not proceed with them. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to treat this Bill fairly, as a first-class Measure. Of course, I know that we do not, as a rule, from these Benches, discuss a Bill in any unfair spirit, but I ask for a fair and reasonable amount of Parliamentary time, and we ask that it should be treated as a first-class Parliamentary Measure, and that the power of the Government shall be used in carrying it through on the broad lines that I have indicated.
§ MR. J. REDMOND (Waterford City)
I realise very little can be gained at this moment by the discussion of the details of this Measure, but I think possibly it may be of use for a few words to be spoken by one or two Members on these Benches, so that the House may realise that upon this Measure, so far as the Nationalist representatives are concerned, there is no difference of opinion at all, and in the passage of the Bill through this House. I trust that all sections of the Nationalists here will be able to act together. For my part, I wish to associate myself with the compliment which has been paid by the 1259 hon. Member for East Mayo on the lucidity with which this Bill has been introduced, and I think it is only fair to say frankly to him and my colleagues, that if the Bill is accurately sketched in his speech to-night, then it is an ample fulfilment of the pledges given last year, which pledges were received with great pleasure by all sections of people in Ireland. I will not venture to speak upon the details of the Bill until we have the Bill in our hands. However, I may be permitted to make one or two comments. With regard to the much-contested point of compensation for malicious injuries, I admit the proposition by the Government is a very plausible compromise, that is, the transference of this jurisdiction to the County Court, with an appeal to the Judge of Assize, but I am not entirely satisfied with that proposal. I myself, remember that when this question of Local Government was being discussed some years ago, I made the proposal with regard to that Measure which, I think, will be far preferable to that contained in the Bill. I proposed that this should be tried by a Judge of Assize with a common jury, in the same way as an ordinary traverse of a presentment, and that would have met the case, whereas now the proposal that is made is that the County Court should first deal with it, and then an appeal taken to a Judge at Assize, sitting without a jury.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND
Not necessarily without a jury. It will be exactly the same appeal as at present.
§ MR. J. REDMOND
Yes, but the appeals of the County Court are tried by a Judge of Assize without a jury.
§ MR. J. REDMOND
If it is to be tried as an ordinary traversal, with a jury, at Assize, then that entirely meets the objection I made. I was dealing with it as though it would be tried like an ordinary appeal from a County Court judge without a jury. Very well, I pass from that. I have only two observations to make—one with regard to the Local Government Board, which would be the central governing authority. Of 1260 course, I admit that it is very difficult for a Government to propose a Central Governing Authority which would have the confidence of the Irish Nationalists under the present circumstances. The Local Government Board in England is in an entirely different position to the Local Government Board in Ireland. The Local Government Board in England has a Parliamentary Representative on the Front Bench, and is in touch with public opinion here. The Local Government Board in Ireland is not in touch, and is not in the same position as in England. I admit the difficulty of providing a Central Authority until you have in Ireland a system of Home Rule, without which no system of Local Government could really successfully be worked. On the question of finance I have no more to say than this: I have listened to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose, if I understood him correctly, with some mistrust, because I understand last year when this proposal was made that it was greeted with a chorus of approval from all sections, including even the Front Opposition Bench. What was the proposal? The right hon. Gentleman truly says it is not a very broad or democratic proposal. I admit that, but it amounts to this—that it is the price to be paid by the Irish people for the purpose of getting this system of democratic and popular local government. It was put forward on that ground by the First Lord of the Treasury, and it certainly was so accepted in every quarter of the House where it was mentioned.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
Let me correct my hon. Friend, there was no plan and no system last year. The right hon. Gentleman said they hoped to devise a scheme which would prevent either of the two evils coming forward.
§ MR. J. REDMOND
My recollection cannot have led me so far wrong as to lead me into this mistake. Was it not stated by the First Lord of the Treasury last year that half of this money would go to relieve the landlords of the poor rate, and the other half to relieve the tenants of the county cess? Is not that the plan that was then mentioned, and publicly approved on that Bench by the 1261 right hon. Member for Stirling. On that account I hope the somewhat faltering nature of the approval from the Front Opposition Bench does not mean that this Bill will, on that ground, encounter very much opposition from the Liberal Party. I have listened with the greatest possible sympathy to the appeal the right hon. Gentleman made to the landlord class to assist in the proper working of this Bill, and I sincerely hope that his appeal will be effectual with them, and more than that, I hope the appeal he has made to them will also be made by the friends and representatives of the people to the people to reciprocate that feeling. If this Bill is worked successfully, I believe it will constitute an unanswerable argument for Home Rule, but I believe it cannot work successfully unless it is worked in a spirit of broad-mindedness and toleration on both sides. Of course, grand juries, owing to their constitution, have been to a large extent failures, but it would be absurd to deny that on every one of the juries in Ireland there have been country gentlemen who have shown the greatest aptitude for business, the greatest industry, and the greatest ability; and I say it would be a monstrous thing if by working the elections for these County Councils upon narrow sectarian or political lines men of that class were excluded from the service of their country on these Boards. Therefore, I sincerely hope those who speak with authority to the people of Ireland will reciprocate the appeal which was made by the Chief Secretary to the landlords, and that we may find in the future these bodies representing all classes of the people working in perfect harmony, and without any trace of political rancour, for the good of Ireland.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON (Armagh, N.)
I think my right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Treasury has underrated the Measure so ably described in the House by the Chief Secretary for Ireland. I think the general consensus of opinion expressed freely on all sides of the House was that a proposal of that kind would be acceptable. Of course, I do not intend now to ask the House to criticise this very complicated and difficult Bill; but perhaps I may say a word or two on behalf of the class to which I belong, and 1262 in whose name I have more or less the right to speak. First of all, let me say a word about grand juries. Of course, this is in one sense a revolution, it takes; the power away from the class that has used it for so many years and gives it to another. Well, Sir, I, and I think most reasonable men in Ireland, have seen that this was a necessity, and for my part I last year cheerfully accepted it. I think there are not very many landlords in Ireland who, however they may dislike this necessity, and, of course, they do, and I never found anybody yet who liked power taken away from himself and given to somebody else, but however I believe they may dislike that, they must see, and we see, and I think the House sees, that that necessity could not be postponed. With regard to grand juries, I have had the honour to act as foreman of grand juries in my county for a very great number of years, and I have heard the right hon. Gentleman this very afternoon rather scoff at the name; but I defy anyone in this House who may have critically examined into the conduct of business by Irish grand juries to point out a case of malversation of public funds, or maladministration of business which they have to perform.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
I do not want 100, I want one. I defy any one of them to bring forward a case of maladministration of the affairs of that country. I must say I do not agree with my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland in the view he has expressed that a new system shall be less expensive than the old one. Sir, this is an experiment you are about to try. At first, I think, this is inevitable, that at first the cesspayers and the ratepayers in Ireland will find it somewhat costly. I hope I am wrong, but I believe, undoubtedly, that will be the case, for this reason: that in the nature of things the gentlemen who will be elected in Ireland to carry on county business will be gentlemen who have never had anything to say with regard to the county business before. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland said that the case was in our hands. Now, how can it be in our hands? The 1263 legislation of this House and the legislation of the past generally produced the necessity of every landlord in Ireland having a law suit with his tenants once every few years. That is a question which is extremely unpopular. It has one side, however, it may be liked by—the other side. That, Sir, I do not think will improve the relations between the gentry of Ireland and the future voters, but it will bring about in those boards the presence, of course, of the class to which I have the honour to belong. Then I will say to my right hon. Friend and to the hon. Member for Waterford—so far as I know I am speaking for myself and a good many of my friends, and I am sure I speak for the great majority of the gentlemen and landlords in Ireland—that we have no intention of sulking, we have no intention whatever of sitting with our hands folded; but you will find that those who own land in Ireland will come forth and offer themselves for election by the new voters, and it will not depend on them, as my right hon. Friend has said, but it will depend upon the good sense of the new voters whether that class which has for so many years, and so successfully, carried on county business in Ireland find themselves on the new boards. Well, Sir, I sympathise entirely with every word that has been spoken on the subject by the hon. Member for Water-ford. I think this will offer a great opportunity to Irishmen of all classes, and of all creeds, and of all political thought to meet together for a common purpose—namely, for the benefit of their country. So far as I am concerned, Sir, I can only say this: that any action I may take and any Amendment I may support during the progress of this Bill through this House will have one object alone. I will certainly not attempt to defeat the Measure, for I accept it completely. My object, as an Irishman knowing something, at any rate, of county business, and I think the object also of my hon. Friends, will be directed to making this Measure a permanent success. Of course there are many things in the Bill that I do not at present understand. My right hon. Friend says that this Bill is to take effect in 1899. Now, I should like to have heard 1264 from the Government that the £730,000 is to be earmarked for Ireland, that they will put the £730,000 by for Ireland.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
So far as I can see, the Irish lawyers will have the benefit of it. So far as I understand my right hon. Friend, this will involve a new Land Bill, and all the rents in Ireland will have to be resettled, and I imagine the lawyer class are somewhat hurrying this Measure on, and we do not know whether the landlord is to pay the shot or the county or the Government, but I am afraid it will be the landlord. However pleasant it may be to fee a lawyer, all I can say is I do not think the doing so tends to the wealth of any class of the community I think that this Bill, complicated in its character, will receive your careful consideration. The speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester equally applies to this. All I can say is this: that no threat, from whatever quarter it may come, will prevent us taking steps to make this Measure a really honest, good, and lasting benefit to Ireland, and I am sure my right hon. Friend will see that this will not be from any evil design on our part to impede this Measure, but so that we should really understand these questions in Ireland, and know what probably will be the result in the future of the action of the House; but we have only one object in view, that is to make it a success for Ireland and her people.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I can assure my right hon. and gallant Friend, with regard to his challenge as to the grand jury, we are quite willing now to fight the matter very hard. With regard to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, I think he is entitled to claim to the fullest extent that he has carried out the pledges that have been made by Her Majesty's Government in former Sessions on this subject. I think I may further add that this Bill will be received in 1265 Ireland from one end to the other with comparative satisfaction, and we also feel that this House has for the first time brought in that kind of Measure for the relief of the country which I may describe in the words of the Croat Book as the "shadow of a mighty rock within a weary land." Now, Sir, the right hon Gentleman, in his very lucid speech, left two points uncovered, untouched on, for which we must await the terms; and I, for myself, reserve my criticism on the apportionment of the rate between landlord and tenant, and the machinery by which he proposes to carry out that proposal. Perhaps I may tell the right hon. Gentleman that there is a very easy means of getting at the apportionment. I think the House wonders that, with the able assistance they have in Ireland, they do not propose to the tenants of Ireland some scheme of purchase by which the landlords could finally disappear with a sufficient sum in their pockets. I think with respect to the clause as to compensation or voluntary purchase, some scheme of that kind, although it bore the aspect of over-generosity to the landlords, would be well received by the tenants in order to bring about some final settlement of the land question. I have only dealt with tenantable lands in the hands of certain gentlemen, whom I should be very sorry to see disappear from the locality altogether, and I cordially agree with what the hon. Member for Waterford has said, that Members will, in their localities, take up and treat this Measure in a fair spirit: and if they do I am sure it will be. So far, at any rate, as the districts with which I am acquainted are concerned, I may say, there is no desire for anything else, except a friendly co-operation in making it work with new districts and new Boards. But the landlord party have recently, to some extent, come into contact with the popular party in the matter of financial relations in Ireland, and whether it has improved these financial relations or not, I think it has greatly improved the relations which have previously existed between the two classes, and a better understanding, comparatively sneaking has been arrived at on both sides, and if the same spirit continues, the landlord party will get more than their share in the administration of 1266 the Bill of the right hon. Gentlemen. There are two other matters which I will comment upon on the present occasion. I attach immense importance to the power of road-making in Ireland, and I heard, with some dismay, just now, on the part of Her Majesty's Government, that this power of road-making would come in some way under the restraining check of the Local Government Board. He said, if the capital expenditure for making roads exceeds 25 per cent. in any one year, then it would have to receive the approval of the Local Government Board. Sir, permit me to say that it is exactly in those districts where roads are required that these provisions will work injuriously. In Kerry, the difficulties of your work will be intensified, and the roads there are in a most picturesque position, leading to the lakes, and through a very beautiful country, where it would be possible, to a great extent, to finish the construction of the roads to the most magnificent passes in Ireland from the County of Cork to the County of Kerry, where there are unfinished roads on the property of Lord Bantry and Lord Lansdowne, where it would be a great and beneficial work to construct a road, even on the tourist road. It would be a great means of benefiting the country and benefiting the unfortunate people who now carry their loads on their back. I venture to say that the proposal is desirable, and, so far as the enactment goes, I have no desire to put any restriction on the making of the roads. I think if the Government will take out that restrictive provision from their Bill it will be much more acceptable. There is another point in the Bill with regard to the lunatic asylums, and I believe that proposal will be received with general satisfaction by all classes. I do not, however, understand the right hon. Gentleman to say anything on the subject of the grant. I take it that the statutory grant will continue as a separate grant as it did in the past. I should like to say, speaking at large, for the safeguarding the positions of the officers of the Grand Juries, that, as the measure is not to come into operation until March of 1899, I think it would be only fair that those powers as to those officials should only be in regard to the appointments that had already been 1267 made. It would be a very wrong thing indeed to allow jobs and officers to be appointed in the Government. We have been approached during the Recess by gentlemen connected with the Poor Law bodies and others to see that they get their rights, and I can assure the House that every Party, without distinction to politics or sect, are anxious that these people shall get paid. I rather resent the proposal to give these gentlemen a right to retire in the first year. I think it is rather a hardship on the County Councils. For instance, a number of these gentlemen are quite young men, and it is not unlikely that the County Councils might desire to have their services, and yet these gentlemen are to have the right to march off with their pension or allowance. I think the county should have the right to the services of these gentlemen so long as no new task is placed upon their shoulders. And I think any gentlemen connected with the counties, if they receive this Bill in a receptive manner, would find that the new county administration would rather lean on them as a guide, and that they would come to be the props, the pillars, the foundation, on which that administration would rest. Unless the County Councils are disposed to get rid of these gentlemen they should not have the right to retire into private life—some of these gentlemen have only been appointed within the last two or three years. I can quite understand the Government saying that gentlemen who are 60 years of age, or whose offices are abolished, should have the right to retire with an annuity or a grant; but to say that a young man, with only two or three years' service, should be allowed to retire upon an annuity or gratuity to come out of the ratepayers' money, is a thing that I cannot comprehend. I am sure the Government will see their way to make some change upon that point. I would also like to say that if the Poor Law authorities are to be restrained from making new jobs in the interval, that the Government themselves, on the question of the Asylum Boards, should similarly refrain from making new jobs. I regret that instances have occurred in appointments which have been made in asylums appointments, and I think they should as steadily refrain from similar 1268 jobs. I think they should place upon themselves the restrictions they propose to place upon the Guardians and rating authorities. There are two or three other matters I should like to say a word as to. I was glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman say what he did, but I do think it is a hardship that the country is to bear the expense of the Parliamentary Register. If you reckon up the costs of the Parliamentary Register last year, it amounts, I daresay, to some £150,000, and I do think some automatic means ought to be devised to remit that burden from the ratepayers. The right hon. Gentleman has stated that, like in the English Act, lodgers will be included; but I would point out that the English Act does not include lodgers. Then another thing I would like to say a word upon, and that is the £10 occupation. In England a £10 occupier cannot vote unless he resides within seven miles of the constituency; but in this case you might have a £10 occupier residing in London coming over to vote in Galway. Then again, it is not necessary to say that England should have a lodger vote for Parish Councils. The Parish meeting in England is an aggregate meeting, and really has very little power.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
On the whole, I am not quarrelling with the Government, because they are in a very great difficulty; but let me point out what their proposal is. Roughly, the distinction between the lodger and the inhabited householder is very small, because the landlord resides on the premises; but if the landlord chooses to march out of the house, the lodger immediately becomes the inhabited householder. Again, the landlord must pay the rates, or he cannot vote, but the lodger can. The least we can ask of the Government in this matter of the lodger vote is that they will give us the English law in its entirety; that there is now an opportunity of extending it to Ireland, and that they will take advantage of it. There is one other matter I should like to observe. In 1269 England the Coroner is appointed by the County Council.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
The next point that I mention is that I hope that the Clerks of the Peace may also be elected secretaries to the County Council. A Clerk of the Peace in England is always a secretary to the County Council. There is a good deal to be said for the introduction of that reform. The Government will carry the House and the country with them in their proposal with regard to the union rate. I do not think the landlords now have any objection to raise on the score of right, but I am not so sure that I entirely concur with the Government in their proposal for the lopping-off of counties from the benefit of the Local Government Board. I should like to see a local inquiry on the subject before that was acceded to. The only other remark I wish to make is in regard to malicious injuries. The Government, no doubt, were in a difficulty with regard to that. It is not likely that we should be so blind as not recognise the difficulties of the situation; but I would suggest to the Government that they should retain the tribunal of first notice—the County Council—which will be in the position of Judge of Assize. Judge of Assize would then be the determining authority. There will be very little difference in it because the Judge of Assize is now the deciding authority, but I think the Judge of Assize would feel very much strengthened in his position in granting or refusing these grants for malicious prosecution if he had something in the nature of a grand jury to fall back upon. Finally, I say, I make this proposition to the Government. They propose that this Bill should come into operation in March, 1899. I gladly heard from the hon. and gallant Member for Armagh the suggestion that the money portion of this scheme should date at a much earlier epoch, but I am loath to believe that the Government meant anything else. May I make this further suggestion: the elections of May taking place in March, 1270 1897, must necessarily take place triennially in March. The month of March is, in my judgment, not a suitable time for holding the elections.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I was going to suggest the month of June. It is a most convenient thing when you are holding these pollings to have the long summer days for the purpose, because it enables people to go and come from the polling in the daylight, and it is equally convenient for the officers to conduct their business in the daylight, and it is more likely to bring aged people and women to do their duty at the poll, rather than in the winter months. The Government have before them a very large task, but I do not think it too large, seeing that they have the goodwill of everybody in the House to rely upon. I join with the hon. Member for Waterford in deprecating any opposition to giving the landlords their fair share of this grant. I am quite willing, as a measure of social peace and political reform, to give the landlords what they are getting, and I hope no pedantic opposition will be offered upon this point on this occasion by Gentlemen who may not come from our country. I can understand opposition from my hon. Friend the hon. Member for Mayo, who has so strong a feeling against landlords that he would only give them their return ticket, but I do not see that anybody else not connected with our country has the same right to intervene in a matter of this kind. When English Bills are before the House, Irish Members do not intervene, though we may have our duties to discharge in the Division Lobbies. But I can only make this assurance: That I never understand the merits of any English question that I vote upon. I, therefore, would now suggest that, as we cannot suppose the Englishmen cannot take a keener interest in Irish questions than Irishmen do in English questions, that we may fairly be relieved from the criticism upon this question. There remains, however, the position of the House of Lords. The Government will have considerable difficulty in that quarter with regard to certain of their proposals. We have had 1271 a taste of their quality upon the Bill of 1896; but I trust on this occasion that—as the proposal is sandwiched with a considerable amount of jam for the landlord party—even the House of Lords will make up their minds to swallow this Bill without a wry face. The right hon. Gentleman, in his manner as well as his policy, is to be heartily congratulated on this occasion.
§ *MR. LOUGH
I think, in looking at any of these Irish proposals brought before this House, there are two standpoints from which we should examine them. The first is the broad standpoint of principle, upon which the Bill is based. Now, from the broad standpoint of principle, I think everybody must congratulate the Government upon the happiness they always enjoy when they face the Irish question by bringing in a Bill of this character, and approach the Irish people with a Bill based on broad democratic and liberal lines. And upon this measure they are certainly to be congratulated. Now, the rule we ought observe in examining the details of any Irish proposals—and everybody here seems to be agreed upon it—is a very wise and liberal provision; but we ought, from that very fact, to be upon our guard, because it is in passing measures in this very liberal manner that we have made the greatest mistakes in Ireland. Everybody who has stood up and spoken tonight is in favour of this measure, and it is in no unfriendly manner that I now rise to examine the details of it. My reason for carrying out that practice is that we were asked by the right hon. Gentleman, the First Lord of the Treasury to give suggestions to the Government. I will, in the most friendly way, point out that, throughout, one of the difficulties which the Government has to contend with in carrying out these very wise provisions is the assessment of the rates in various parts of the country. Let us take that point: in one district it is 1s. 2d.; another 2s. 4d.; and in another 8d. in the pound. Now, the right hon. Gentleman has explained that for the purposes of the Bill, it will be assumed on the assessment of the rate which has already been levied. The effect of that will be that in the places where they paid 2s. 4d. in the £ last year they will only pay 7d. next, and 1272 so obtain relief to the extent of 1s. 9d. in the £, whilst in the places where they paid 8d. last year, they will only get relief to the extent of one penny.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND
That would not be so, because the amount paid under the grant will be spread over the entire area.
§ *MR. LOUGH
I will also mention the railway charges. If there is any charge of which the rates ought to be relieved, and which Ireland might claim to be released from entirely, this railway charge is one. No local authority had anything to say when the arrangements were made by which this rate was imposed. It was devised in this House, and even 6d. in the £ is a high rate to levy when it is remembered that no Irish Authority has any effective control over the companies. Resolutions of the Grand Juries and recommendations from the inhabitants of the districts through which these railways pass, have had no effect whatever on the companies, and there is no provision in the Bill which gives the County Council any control in return for the advance which it is asked to make.
§ *MR. LOUGH
I happen to live close to two of these railways, and nothing could be more oppressive to the inhabitants than to have to pay such a high rate in return for the very bad and dear service which they receive. There are two other points I desire to make. With regard to the large grant of money towards relief of the Rates provided by the Bill, I believe a great many Members for English constituencies think that this consideration on the part of the Government will go some way to settle the demands of Ireland for financial relief. Two considerations go some way to show that that will not be the case. The first is that the principles on which this grant is made on the land was devised in 1896, two years after the Report of the Royal Commission on the financial relations between the two countries. Since that time half the rates have been paid in England, Wales, and Scotland. When the same relief is extended to Ireland it is merely putting right one new financial inequality, but it does not settle claims 1273 founded on other instances of unfair treatment. Since 1894 the increase in taxation has been £700,000 per annum, so I do not think the Government would expect us to find in the Measure—although everybody has received it in the most hopeful manner—a solution for the financial claim. Upon the question of Home Rule one does not like to argue in an angry spirit with a Government which is introducing a liberal and democratic Measure for the benefit of Ireland. But I think that the creation of these local authorities will strengthen the demand for a central authority which would work in harmony with the democratic local bodies, and so these County Councils will increase rather than diminish the demand of the Irish people for Home Rule. To the First Lord of the Treasury I would make the appeal to go on in the spirit in which he has started. He has already produced a good Land Bill, he has approached the question of the Catholic University in a friendly and liberal spirit, and there is now a good Local Government Measure before the House. If he could see his way to proceed still farther with this work of settling the Irish question, and undertake to deal with the question of a central authority, and so bring the Irish question to a final solution, he would make the Irish legislation of this Parliament famous in the annals of the country.
§ *MR. MICHAEL DAVITT (Mayo, S.)
I desire, in a few words, to disassociate myself in the strongest manner possible from what has been said on these (Irish) Benches in respect of the Irish landlords. I think they are not entitled to the praise and gratitude of the Irish people, or of the Members of Parliament who come here to represent the Irish people. I hold quite a contrary opinion. Without any desire to say anything harsh about the landlords as a class, I maintain that the whole of the poverty of Ireland, which is to be relieved by the measure now before the House, the Local Government Bill, is due to them and the landlord system. I, for one, shall give the greatest opposition in my power to proposals by which Her Majesty's Government propose to provide for the relief of their political supporters in Ireland out of the public purse. If such 1274 legislation were proposed in any State in America it would be called "Boodling." Under this Measure the landlord class will receive something like £700,000 a year. Every penny of the grant will eventually go to the landlords. It will increase the value of their property, and will cause them to increase the number of years purchase to the tenants who might wish to buy their holdings; and I assert that that is a matter to which the Government ought not to be a party, and I desire to disassociate myself in the strongest possible manner from what has been said on these Benches upon that part of the measure.
§ MR. COURTNEY (Cornwall, Bodmin)
I should like to be permitted to associate myself with those who have gone before me, and express my congratulations to the Government for the lucidity and brevity with which the Bill has been introduced. I do not think I ever witnessed a more admirable exhibition of Parliamentary exposition. As to the Bill itself, it was conceived in the most liberal spirit. The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has taunted the hon. Member for Armagh with the manner in which he has received this scheme in regard to the distribution of the grant, because it will tend to largely relieve the landlords; but the safeguard proposed by my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary appears to me to be entirely sufficient to obtain a fair proportion for all the particular classes whom you intend to benefit. Sir, the Bill seems to me to be a large and liberal Measure, and I have the greatest confidence that it will attain the results which my right hon. Friend anticipates and intends, while it is as broad a Measure as the right hon. Member for Montrose could have devised. Of course, the success of a Measure of this kind must depend upon the character and number of the Members who are chosen to sit in the County Councils, and with respect to that point I should like to ask a question of my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary. Under the English Act some counties, such as Yorkshire, are sub-divided, and I should be glad to know whether in Ireland, under this Bill, any counties are to be sub-divided?
§ MR. COURTNEY
That is what I wanted to know; and I should like my right hon. Friend to say what he supposes the average number of these Members who will compose these Councils will be. Will they be something like our English County Councils? Can my right hon. Friend give any suggestion as to the average size of these County Councils, for their successful working will depend largely on their size?
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND
I must, of course, speak with reserve, but my idea, speaking generally, is that the County Councils will consist of about 30 members.
§ MR. COURTNEY
Of course, it is no confession on my part to say that this method of election is not the one which I approve; but as I have failed to realise my ideal in England and Scotland, I cannot propose to make Ireland the basis of an experiment which has not been allowed to be applied to other parts of the United Kingdom. I would simply end my remarks, as I began, by congratulating my right hon. Friend on the admirable way in which he has introduced this Measure, the success of which I hope and believe will be fully equal to his expectations.
§ MR. J. C. FLYNN (Cork, N.)
Mr. Speaker, I have no desire to throw one discordant note into the chorus which at present has welcomed this particular Measure, and I should desire particularly to associate myself with all those Members who have recognised the lucid, clear, and able manner in which the Chief Secretary has introduced this Measure. But, Sir, while I say that, I do not propose to indulge in any expression of unreserved gratitude until we have seen the Bill in print and it comes before the House for second reading. Mr. Speaker, I was one of those who opposed the principle of the Agricultural Rating Bill for England, the Bill in aid of agricultural rates in England in 1896, and, I think, the same argument on which that Measure was opposed applies emphatically to such Bills for Scotland and Ireland. In my opinion, Mr. Speaker, the principle 1276 on which those Measures proceeded was vicious, and vicious in the extreme. I have always contended that local burdens should be liable to local resources, and, as a corollary of that, I have always held, with regard to Rating Bills, that these indirect doles to landlords are most vicious in principle. If the landlord is unable to get his rent from the resources of the land for the reason that its productiveness has failed and that prices have gone down, I would submit that the pressure should be borne by him equally with the other classes of the community. However, Sir, politics have been defined as the science of compromise, and as a compromise between classes hitherto hostile in Ireland, and a compromise in the directtion of peace, I join in welcoming the Bill; and in that respect I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary and the Government of which he is a respected Member. But at the same time I, of course, quite agree with all that has been said by the hon. Member for West Islington that it must not be supposed either in this House or in this country that, in welcoming this Bill and doing all we can to encourage its progress through all its stages, we are waiving our claims upon this House, or Parliament, or the country at large, to discuss the financial claims to redress which rest upon entirely different grounds and upon broader and higher principles. It has been said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bodmin that the right hon. Member for Montrose could not have framed a larger Bill than this; and as to difficulties which may arise in this House or another place, the right hon. Gentleman will not require from me any suggestion as to the quarter which difficulties of this kind may be expected to come from. I should like to ask the Chief Secretary a question with regard to baronial guarantees. I did not find an answer to it in his lucid speech, and, of course, it was impossible for him to throw light upon every detail of the Bill. I do not know how localities will stand in future with regard to baronial guarantees as to railway construction.
§ MR. FLYNN
We should like the County Council, if possible, to have some larger powers than Grand Juries have at present, or than Poor Law Boards have. The Poor Law Boards have only a power of remonstrance. When they give a guarantee they part with all control. In the constituency I have the honour to represent, as I understand the case, a guarantee has been given in connection with which, under the present Grand Jury system, there will be no satisfaction to the cess payers, for although the railway is a public convenience to the locality, not one penny of reduction has been made. At present no local body has more than the power of remonstrance, and I would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether it would be possible under this Bill, in connection with baronial guarantees for the construction of railways, to give some power to the County Council. It would be for the interest of the public at large, as well as for the localities concerned. There is only one other matter of detail which I will mention, and, of course, I am sorry, after the right hon. Gentleman's able exposition of the Bill, to inflict upon him unnecessarily questions of detail. But in the course of his lucid speech I ventured upon an interruption. He was speaking as to secretaries of Grand Juries having an option of voluntarily retiring, and I would ask him, in connection with that, what is to become of the staff? I believe that under the Grand Juries Act no power was taken or given for the secretary of the Grand Jury to appoint a staff, and that, therefore, the secretaries had themselves to employ their clerical staff, so that, although they have done all the work for the various Grand Juries, from a public point of view they are not public servants at all, but more or less the private servants of the secretary to the Grand Jury. I do not know whether there is any other matter which I wish to bring before the right hon. Gentleman. I only hope that if the Bill cannot be enlarged and widened in its scope, whatever may be done by the Party opposite or in the country, the right hon. Gentleman will not consent to introduce any further unnecessary or irritating safeguards or restrictive powers which are not at present a part of the Bill.
§ *SIR ALBERT K. ROLLIT (Islington, S.)
Sir, as an English Member who has had long experience in Municipal Local Government, I desire to say one or two words on this Bill. When I was first elected to this House, in 1886, I declared very strongly to my constituents during the election, and afterwards in this House, in favour of Local Government for Ireland as a Measure which I believed would carry with it some of the great advantages which had been and were being produced by self-government in our own country, and I welcomed extremely the announcement made shortly afterwards from the Treasury Bench that Irish Local Government would be dealt with similarly and simultaneously with English and Scotch Bills on the same subject. Well, Sir, those Bills were carried, to the benefit of both countries, but I confess that when the Bill of 1892 was proposed from the Treasury Bench, it failed in some very important respects to fulfil the declarations which had been made by the Conservative Government of the day. Sir, the Bill, its essentials, and in its main structure, was not open to such strong objections as were expressed with regard to it in some parts of the House. The franchise was wide, and its areas were good, but it had safeguards which were not only bad, but which I said, and I think, would have been illusory. For that reason, having advisedly committed myself so strongly to the principle of Local Government for Ireland, I have thought it my duty ever since to support Local Government Bills for Ireland, from whatever part of the House they may have been produced, and I have consistently spoken in favour of and helped forward the Municipal Franchise Bill, Bills for improving County and Poor Law administration, and other Bills connected with municipal and county government for Ireland when they have been moved from the Nationalist Benches; my name has been on the back of several of them; and I well remember how in 1887 some half-dozen of us, including the late Lord Randolph Churchill and Lord Curzon, supported the Irish County Government Bill of 1887 against our own Party, but in that we believed to lie our pledged duty to our constituents and to the State; and, Sir, in the end, they do best 1279 for their Party who do their best for the State. Well, Sir, those being my views, it may well be understood why I welcome the wideness of this Bill which the right hon. Gentleman has proposed to this House—a Bill which seems to me to carry with it every recommendation to those who believe as I do in Local Government as a good measure for Ireland, as well as for other parts of the United Kingdom, as a matter of right and justice, for equality is equity, and of advantage, and consequently as of a very healing character. An appeal is made to this House, and I am glad to join in it, in connection with this Measure, and to men of all Parties, to contribute to removing the differences of Ireland and to promoting united action, and I trust that appeal will not be made in vain, and that those who are qualified by education and position will lead, as they can if they will, and if they will make the necessary sacrifices of leisure and pleasure, which carry with them high compensations in public gratitude for the fulfilment of public duty. There are one or two points of detail on which I will say a word. As I understand—I had not the opportunity of hearing the first part of the right hon. Gentleman's able speech—a proposal with regard to aldermen does not exist in this Bill as in the Act for England. I opposed in 1888 the proposal to have county aldermen in the case of England, and I think this new departure may prove to be productive of great advantages. I understand the right hon. Gentleman to say that the chairman of the Rural District Councils would be ex-officio members of the County Councils. That seems to me to mark an improvement in local government by co-ordinating its various branches and by making local government by the County Council more essentially local by bringing into it representatives of local knowledge and experience, which must be of great advantage. I hope that, as in England, not only chairmen of County Councils, but of District Councils will be enabled to occupy the position of ex-officio magistrates. At any rate, I think the suggestion is worthy of consideration. A remark made about Registration seems to me to be worthy of very great attention, because at present every inconvenience, 1280 obstruction, and impediment is placed in the way of the duly qualified voter, whereas every facility ought to be given to him to get upon the register, from which it should be difficult to get off, and this both in Ireland and England, where Registration reform is most urgently needed. If some sort of automatic system could be devised it would be a great reform. Now, Sir, there is only one other point which I wish to touch upon. Some danger attaches to the views of those who rightly, but too strenuously, advocate economy in local government, for it is too often forgotten that mere unwillingness to expend money is not necessarily economy. We want an enterprising administration of local government in our various counties. The object should be to make those works which will prove to be productive and remunerative to those who undertake them, both in giving them greater enjoyment of health and strength, and making a good return; and it cannot be too often remembered that in these local matters parsimony is not necessarily economy, but may be the reverse. I hope this united administration in Ireland will be characterised by some fearlessness in regard to rates, when rates may prove to be advantageous, and that there will be enterprise as well as economy in the development of local government and institutions and public works to the great advantage of the country.
§ MR. SERJEANT HEMPHILL
(Tyrone, N.): In this Bill—which I regard as one of great promise, and from which I certainly think it possible to expect that great benefits will flow to Ireland—there are one or two points to which I would like briefly to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary and of the House. On these points, it may be, perhaps, owing to my own want of attention, I have not found in the very lucid and able statement of the right hon. Gentleman explanations which are altogether clear to my mind. Now, first, I did not hear from the right hon. Gentleman in what position exactly the tenants of holdings valued under £4 a year were to be placed. As I understand, and as the House, or, at least, the Irish Members, are aware, at present the tenant of 1281 such a holding does not pay any poor rates, nor is he liable for any poor rates, and the whole weight of the poor rate falls upon the landlord. Now, under this new system is there any change in that respect? Will such tenants still be exempt from all poor rates? As I understand from the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, the poor rates, and the county cess as they are now called, will be consolidated. There ceases to be a distinction, and I do not know what provision there is that will exonerate the occupying tenant of holdings valued under £4 a year from being liable for so much of that rate as consists of poor rate. That is a point which requires clearing up.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND
Perhaps I may say that in my statement I did not go into every variety of detail, but if the right hon. Gentleman will wait he will see how the Bill is drawn.
§ *MR. SERJEANT HEMPHILL
I only wished to call attention to this point, because it is an important matter; but I will pass over it, and touch upon another matter, on which I think little light is thrown, relating to compensation for malicious injuries. Anyone who knows the circumstances of Ireland knows that some of the most important duties discharged by Grand Juries are with regard to what are called malicious injuries. They form the subject of presentments where a house is burned, or other malicious injury done to property, or malicious injury done to the person. There are provisions at present to enable the Grand Jury, under certain conditions, to award compensation, and the compensation so awarded forms a very large and heavy item or the county cess. Now, I think there is a little obscurity in the proposals of the Bill, as put forward in the statement of the right hon. Gentleman. At present the proceeding is this: The person whose property is supposed to have been maliciously injured, comes before the Baronial Sessions, popularly called Road Sessions, to get a presentment, which, if given, goes before the Grand Jury at the Assizes. The Grand Jury can reject or approve of the presentment passed by the Road Sessions; and if the presentment passes 1282 both the Grand Jury and the Road Sessions, any cess payer can apply to the Judge for liberty to enter what is called a traverse which enables him, if the Judge allows it, to bring the question before a common jury in the ordinary way. Will the right hon. Gentleman say how is the proceeding now to be initiated? Is it to be initiated at once before the Judge of Assize, or is there to be a preliminary application to the rural district or the County Council?
§ *MR. SERJEANT HEMPHILL
Well, I do not quite understand how it is to be. I hope the House will bear with me for a few moments, while I explain the difficulty which is in my mind. I do not find whether, if a malicious injury takes place, in future the party injured is under any limit of time. Now, he must make application within a certain number of days after the commission of the offence.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND
I may toll the right hon. Gentleman that the procedure is settled by rules, but I really think these details are hardly proper for discussion on the first reading.
§ *MR. SERJEANT HEMPHILL
I do not want details, but I want to know whether the initial tribunal is to be the County Court judge.
§ *MR. SERJEANT HEMPHILL
Then there will, perhaps, be a right of appeal to the Judge of Assize. Well, of course, I reserve my criticism for that part of the Bill until I have its provisions before me, but I am bound to say that as at present advised, it does not appear to me to be a very happy mode of ascertaining the compensation to which the injured person may be entitled. The only other 1283 point to which I wish to advert is this I am afraid very much that the effect of the general provisions will be to throw possibly an additional burden upon the tenant for the relief of the landlord. What I mean is this: In an exceptionally bad year, if there is a failure of the crops or excessive distress, which has occurred, and may occur again, in Ireland, the rates may be considerably higher than the standard rate of 1896 or 1897. Now, no matter how high your consolidated rate may become, as I understand, the result is to relieve the landlord altogether from it, and any increase must necessarily fall upon the occupying tenant. I am assuming that the occupying tenant is now liable, for argument's sake, because it was stated by the right hon. Gentleman that he, generally speaking, was so liable, but that means very serious results for the tenant, and, therefore, when you are framing a clause with regard to it, I trust there will be some provision made which will prevent an additional burden being thrown upon the tenant's shoulders. There is another matter I very much wish to comprehend as to this Bill. In fixing a fair rent, the amount of the county cess which will form part of this consolidated rate is to be taken into account in favour of the tenant. I am afraid there will be enormous difficulty in apportioning that in such a way as to do full justice to the tenant, and I do trust that the attention of the House, when the Bill is in our hands, and before its consideration on second reading will be drawn very closely to that matter, and that the section will be so drafted that it will be impossible for the tenant to be in a worse position than he is at present, by reason of the county cess being consolidated with the poor rate.
§ MR. CAREW (Dublin, College Green)
Before we agree to the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman I should like to call attention to one point. I wish to ask the Government a question as to whether they will entertain in this Bill a proposition for extending the boundaries of the City of Dublin. In 1883 a Commission sat, which unanimously reported in favour of such a proposal, and I am sorry that the Chief Secretary should not have taken advantage of the opportunity 1284 which this Bill affords for making such a provision. I intend to move an Amendment at the proper time, when the Bill goes into Committee, and I hope that the Chief Secretary will reconsider his position in the matter. However, that is all I intend to say on this Bill at present, and I will only add that I congratulate the Chief Secretary on securing such practical unanimity, both from these benches and from the other side of the House, in regard to his proposals. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will signalise his tenure of office by passing this Measure in addition to his Land Bill.
§ MR. VESEY KNOX (Londonderry)
I hope I am right in supposing that this Bill will come into operation in 1899.
§ MR. VESEY KNOX
I am glad to elicit that fact, and I also gather from the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that the English Bill will not be followed in one respect, and that is that there will be no distinction between the rating of arable land and the rating of houses. In England, as the right hon. Gentleman is aware, agricultural land is only rated one half its assessed value, and I hope that principle will not be followed.
§ MR. VESEY KNOX
I gathered that that was so. I think it would be an invidious thing if they were rated at only half their assessed value. There is another point—as to the area of the District Councils. As I understand, in the case of the ordinary Poor-law Union, which forms part only of one county, the area for the District Council would be the area of the Poor-law Union, less any part of the Poor-law Union which may be in the local sanitary district. I confess that I think that is somewhat too large an area. I think it is an unfortunate decision on the merits of the question. Secondly, as I understand it, in the case where a Union includes part of two counties, if each part is large enough to be a separate district, it would be given a separate District Council, but the two parts will still remain one for 1285 Poor-law purposes. Therefore, the Poor-law Board will meet together just as at present, with the same area. I confess that generally, on that part of the Bill, I think the right hon. Gentleman would do well if, at a subsequent period, when the redistribution of areas is dealt with, the Poor-law system should be treated with a very broad hand. He has shown by the Bill which he introduced into this House last year, or the year before, that he is not much in love with the present system of Poor-law administration, and I think it would be a very good thing if, in small counties, the county were to be made one Poor-law Union. At present the number of poor houses which are hardly used at all is a source of great financial waste. However, on these points we shall probably have an opportunity of discussing hereafter an Amendment, and I will not, therefore, dwell upon them now. The area should be small enough to allow of a District Council meeting being attended without the loss of a whole day, and such an area should be fixed for Poor-law relief as will tend to economical administration. There is one other point. I think, in many cases, it would be a very objectionable thing if Freemen are to have municipal votes. For one thing, Freemen are not attached to any part of the borough, and there is an obvious difficulty in allowing them to assign themselves to any ward they may choose, because they would naturally assign themselves to the ward in which their votes would have the greatest political effect. I agree generally with my hon. Friends in congratulating the right hon. Gentleman on the manner in which this problem of Irish Local Government has been approached.
MR. P. O'BRIEN (Kilkenny City)
I desire to say a few words, and to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on the manner in which he has introduced this Bill. I desire also to join with my hon. Friend the Member for Waterford in expressing a sincere hope that difficulties will not be put in the way to prevent the aristocracy serving their country on these boards. I hope this class will be given every inducement to come in, both for the reason that believe it to be in the best interests of 1286 Ireland that they should place their great business capacity and their educational training at the service of their country, and because I believe that the bringing of this class into direct contact with the masses of the people in matters of Local Government will result in making every one of them not only Home Rulers, but active agents in hastening the day when Ireland will possess an independent Parliament. I am certain that that is bound to be the result, because they will learn from association with the people that the people desire to have them there, and they will take that pride in helping to benefit their country on the local Councils that they will not rest until they secure in their own capital a Parliament of their own. I desire to ask for a little explanation from the right hon. Gentleman. He omitted Kilkenny, which I represent, from the list of towns which he mentioned in his speech, and which he proposes to deal with under his Bill. I want to know why the city of Kilkenny is omitted. Kilkenny is by far more ancient, both as a city and as a Corporation, than those he has mentioned. I further wish to know whether Peers and women are eligible to sit as County Councillors?
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND
Of course, Peers will be allowed to sit as County Councillors, but the Government has left the law in Ireland as to women exactly as it is in England. Women will be enabled to sit on the District Councils, but not on the County Councils.
MR. P. O'BRIEN
Unless the right hon. Gentleman can give some satisfactory reason for leaving out Kilkenny, I should like Kilkenny included. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to kindly tell me on what grounds Kilkenny has been left out.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND
It was necessary to draw the line somewhere, and the Government have drawn it at a population of 25,000. All urban districts in Ireland will be, to a certain extent, autonomous under the Bill.
§ MR. FLAVIN (Kerry, N.)
I should like to ask what will be the position of existing medical officers under the Bill?
§ MR. JASPER TULLY (Leitrim, S.)
I should be glad if the right hon. Gentleman will give me information on one or two points. Like all the Irish Members, I welcome the Bill, because I think it will let a good deal of fresh air into the Local Government of Ireland. Some hon. Members object to this Bill on various small grounds. I think, on the contrary, that we should welcome it in every possible way if it proves anything like what has been outlined by the right hon. Gentleman. With regard to Urban Sanitary Authorities under this Bill, I think in small places it would be to their disadvantage to be created urban authorities, because they will have to pay their own cost of collecting the rates, and the making of roads, whereas if they were rural authorities, the county would contribute towards the collection of the rates and the making of the roads. What will be the position of those small bodies of Town Commissioners? The rates collected by these bodies are swallowed up by the salaries.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND
Facilities will be given to such towns to become urban sanitary districts. If they do not become urban sanitary districts, their powers will remain the same as now.
§ MR. TULLY
I think it would be an advantage if Town Commissioners were abolished where they are not a sanitary authority. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will do something that will be welcomed in this direction. Another complaint has been made that the bodies constituted under this Bill are likely to be extravagant. I think, on the contrary, that the danger we may have to expect under this Bill is that they will err on the other side. My experience of the West of Ireland tells me that it is not the large ratepayers, as a rule, who grumble about an increase of taxation. It is the men who are rated at £5 or £10 or £20 who make the most fuss; they complain considerably more than the men who are rated at £100 or £150. I think the result of the passing of this Bill will not be to encourage extravagance in the administration of local affairs in Ireland; it will work, in my opinion, more in the direction of parsimony. 1288 I would rather fear its results in that direction. One of the things we suffer from in Ireland at present is the extremely bad state in which the public roads are kept, and to put them into good condition would involve so large an expenditure that I am afraid the men who will be elected on these new bodies will shrink for a long time before consenting to incur it. I should like to inquire from the right hon. Gentleman how the accounts will be kept by the new bodies, and what system will be adopted with regard to publishing those accounts, so that the people concerned can see them.
§ MR. TULLY
I have some knowledge of the Grand Jury system of accounts in Ireland, and I think that is the best system. I am quite aware that tremendous frauds have been carried out in connection with these accounts, but the system is far ahead of the system of accounts adopted with regard to Poor Law Boards and Town Commissioners. The Grand Jury issue a book at each assizes, in which is set forth every penny expended, the name of every contractor, the amount he receives, and the names of his sureties are all set forth. In the case of Poor-law Unions it often happens that not even the Guardians know how the money is expended or to whom it goes, and, in one union, the Local Government Board auditor was not able to trace how the money was going.
§ *MR. SPEAKER
The matters to which the hon. Member is referring are rather remote from the question before the House.
§ MR. TULLY
I was merely illustrating, Sir, the desirability of insisting, under this Bill, that the accounts should be presented in such a form as to be intelligible to the man in the street. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will make some provision for the publication, annually, as in the case of the Grand Juries, of a proper report, so that the ratepayers throughout Ireland may have some means of seeing how the money is spent, to whom it goes, the price of the contracts, and the names of the contractors. 1289 I conclude, by joining with the hon. Gentlemen who have spoken tonight, in bearing testimony to the excellent manner in which the right hon. Gentleman introduced the Bill. I am sure the Bill will be highly popular in Ireland, and will secure for the right hon. Gentleman a great deal of popularity in our country.
§ MR. J. CALDWELL (Lanark, Mid)
This is a Bill which proposes to give to Ireland popular Local Government, and in so far as the Bill carries out that object, it will have the hearty support of the people of Scotland. The right hon. Gentleman must notice, however, that in introducing a Measure of this character he is doing away with the objection which was stated so largely to the Home Rule Bill—namely, want of confidence in the ability of the Irish elector to manage his own affairs. I should like, however, to know the grounds on which the Government justify giving £765,000 out of the Imperial Treasury to Ireland, while conferring upon her the same measure of Local Government which England and Scotland enjoys. This is a point which affects the whole of the ratepayers of the United Kingdom. If Ireland is not entitled—and I suppose the contention on the other side has been until lately that Ireland is not entitled—to anything more than she has, then we want to know why it is that it is necessary to give a sum of £765,000 a year to the landlords and tenants—particularly to the landlords—in Ireland, in order that Ireland should enjoy this Measure of Local Government. We know what was said on a former occasion when the sum of half a million of money was proposed to be given out of the Imperial purse for local management in Ireland. If Ireland is entitled to £765,000 now, it takes away the feet from all that was said before by the opposite Party with regard to that grant.
§ Bill brought in and read a first time; Second Reading fixed for this day fortnight.