HC Deb 14 February 1899 vol 66 cc887-923

Another Amendment proposed, at the end of the Question, to add the words,— And we humbly express our regret that, although the Commissioners appointed by your Majesty in 1892 to inquire into the Land Question in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland have reported that 1,782,785 acres of land now occupied as deer forests, grouse moors, etc., might be cultivated to profit, or otherwise advantageously occupied by crofters or small tenants, there is no indication in your Majesty's Speech that arrangements will be made for acquiring some portion of this land, so that the crofters, cottars, and fishermen may be able to live under more favourable conditions than those under which many of them now exist; and 1hat there is no indication that the benefit of the Crofters Act, 1886, will be extended to all crofter tenants holding under lease at the time of the passing of that Act."—(Mr. Weir.)

* MR. WEIR () Ross and Cromarty

I make no apology for moving this Amendment to the Address of Our Most Gracious Majesty, because the grievances which it is sought to relieve by this Amendment are grievances of many years' standing. In 1883 a Royal Commission was appointed to inquire into these grievances, and I should like to call the attention of the House to the words which Sir George Trevelyan, on 8th March 1886, used in this House— I begin by referring to the fact that there are 2,000,000 acres of land not grazed on now, because they have been converted into deer forests, and, in addition, enormous tracts of country have been given up to shootings which were formerly used as grazing ground. I am sure that my honourable Friend the, Member for Falkirk Burghs is not aware of the enormous rental of these deer forests and shootings. It is only 16 years ago that the rental of the shooting in Scotland was £73,000 a year. I would rather take a later date. In the year 1877 the rental of the deer forests and shootings was £233,000, while in the last eight years it has increased to £363,009. And since then it has probably increased to half a million sterling. Most of the land which is used for deer is also suitable for cultivation, and I say that it is a shame that the Government should allow the people of the country to be driven out of it in order that deer may live, and that the landlords may get great rents from sportsmen who are only at their shootings a few weeks during the year. Then he further says— My honourable Friend the Member for Falkirk Burghs talks of the extreme injustice to the landlords of one clause in regard to compensation for improvements. He says, 'Can anything be more contrary to justice and common sense than giving a man compensation for a house which he has built, and which perhaps the owner would not care to have? I say, what could be more contrary to justice and common sense than pulling down a house which a man has built at his own expense and with his own labour, without his landlord having forbidden him to do so, and without giving him a penny of compensation. It has been frequently the case in making clearances for deer forests, and still more frequently for making-clearances for sheep walks, that a man who has built a house and cultivated the ground round him has had to see that ground laid waste and his house pulled down without a penny of compensation for his labour and expenditure. The honourable Member for Wigtonshire followed with a speech, in which he set on foot a class of criticism that has been mainly followed from the opposite Benches. The honourable Member said the Commissioners had made five or six different representations with regard to the measures which ought to be taken with regard to the crofter districts, and that of these we had taken only one, and that was the one that referred to land. Now, Sir, in the first place, I maintain that that was the recommendation of recommendations. It was, I fancy—and the honourable Member for Wigtonshire will not deny it—in reference to the land that the agitation began which caused the Commission to be sent to the Highlands. What are the words of the Commissioners? They say, 'The principal matter of dissatisfaction in connection with the occupancy of the land urged on our notice in almost every district with the utmost vehemence, and with the greatest consensus of authority, is the restriction of the area of holdings.' That is the main question that the crofters have in mind. There their discontent began, and until the grievance is remedied it will not cease. Well, Sir, I read this to show that the grievance is not a grievance of yesterday—it is a grievance of very old standing. I am not going to take up the time and weary the patience of the House by a description of the clan system under which the crofter formally held his land. But I say that the Highland people are entitled to come to this House and, through their representatives, ask the Government to give their attention to the report of the Royal Commission appointed in 1892 to consider this matter. The neglect of the Government to extend the benefits of the Crofters Act to small tenants holding under lease enables landlords to continue carrying out evictions. Crofters who were leaseholders at the time of the passing of the Crofters Act are being driven off the land, while deer forests continue to increase in area. Depopulation is going on to an alarming extent. In 1851 the population of Argyleshire was 96,821, whilst in 1891 it was only 75,915, showing a diminution in the population of 20,879 in 40 years. In Inverness the population in 1851 was 98,417, and in the year 1891 it was 88,362, showing a diminution of 10,055. This is making no allowance for the normal increase during that period. With that decrease in population, one would have thought that the Poor-rate would also have diminished, but, on the contrary, it is all the other way. The Poor-rate has gone up alarmingly; in fact, it is more than double. In 1852 the Poor-rate in six crofting counties was £46,565, whilst in 1892 it was £94,697. In 40 years the population in six crofting counties has decreased by 37,064. In 1851 it was 397,372, and in 1891 only 360,308. There is an erroneous impression in the minds of some members of this House that there is no land in the Highlands fit for men to cultivate, but the Royal Commission which sat in 1892, and reported to this House in 1895, a Commission composed of Liberal and Conservative Members of this House, and a few outside Gentlemen, who sat as experts, divided the land into three classes. They pointed out that 1,782,785 acres of land were suitable for the wants of the people—I hope the Lord Advocate will take note of this, and not as he did two years ago, inform me that my figures are erroneous. My figures are accurate. The Royal Commission divided the land into three classes: they pointed out that there were 794,750 acres suitable for new holdings, 439,188 acres suitable for the extension of existing holdings, and 548,847 acres suitable for moderate-sized farms. We are told time after time that there is no land fit for the people, that the land which is used for the deer forests is not suitable for grazing or arable purposes. It is the fact that this land is available, and it ought to be disposed of as the needs of the people require, and not kept for sportsmen, in order that landlords may get enormous rents. We are told that it is an advantage to the country that these lands should be turned into deer forests because they attract wealthy people to the Highlands. This may be advantageous to the railway companies, hotelkeepers and gillies. The landlord does not spend his money in the Highlands. Not at all; he spends it in London, Paris, and Monte Carlo. It is not expended among the Highland people, and to say that the great rents which go into his pocket, are a benefit to the country is a pure delusion. My complaint is, that although these facts came to the knowledge of the Government in 1892, no step has been taken by the Government to remedy this state of things. Sir George Trevelyan brought in a Bill, on the 22nd of Apri1, 1895, which would have placed half a million acres of this land in the hands of the people; but that Bill was opposed by the right honourable Gentleman the Leader of the House, who was then in Opposition. I wish the right honourable Gentleman was in his place. He claims to be a Highlander, and at one time owned a large Highland estate. When the Bill was under discussion I intimated that if it were allowed to go through its second reading, I would go into the Lobby with him and endeavour, to the best of my ability, to assist him in making it a better Bill, but he opposed it because it was not generous enough, and did not go sufficiently far. When the right honourable Gentleman came into power with a magnificent majority behind him we did hope, and had a right to expect, that he would do something for these people, but, in spite of his criticisms, and in spite of the appeals which we have made for help in this direction, little or nothing has been done. I hone the right honourable Gentleman the Lord Advocate will give us some promise to-day that something will now be done. We shall probably be told that something has been done by the Congested Districts Board. The right honourable Gentleman the Leader of the House complained when the honourable Member for Caithness moved an Amendment last year. He said that they had given large sums of money under the Congested Districts Act; but this was not so. This Congested Districts Act placed £15,000 at the disposal of the Congested Districts Board. The right honourable Gentleman promised us £35,000, but later on told the House that the annual grant of £20,000 under the Highlands and Islands Public Works Act, 1891, would be discontinued. Now, I think this is simply trying to throw dust in our eyes. Let us see what was done with the £15,000 that was granted to the Congested Districts Board. It is stated that the Congested Districts Boards may accept gifts of land. I know of none which are likely to be made. That Board has been in existence since 1897, but I have never been able to obtain any information with regard to the work it has done. The right honourable Gentleman will probably tell us that the report is contained in the Library of the House. I inquired for it last night, and found it there in dummy. All that has been done, so far as I can learn, is that a few rams have been bought. I do not know whether any young cockerels have been obtained in order to improve the breed of fowls. Since the 1st August 1897, this Board has been in existence, and practically nothing has been done. I believe some land has been secured, but only a very small piece. But what about this 1,782,785 acres of land which was reported to be suitable for the people? That is the land that we want to get at. In the time of the late disturbances, gunboats and Marines were sent down to the Highlands, but does the Government for one moment believe that Highlanders are going to be frightened by gunboats or Marines, or even by cold steel or the whiz of bullets. They have a right to come to this House through their representatives and demand that their grievances shall be redressed. I, for one, am not anxious for a repetition of those riotous, anxious times in 1884 and 1885, which the right honourable Gentleman will probably say took place under a Liberal Administration. Some of them did, but some also occurred under the rule of the present Leader of the House. We have every right to expect the Government to do something now, if only in the interests of the country generally. I was recently talking to a recruiting officer, who said, "We used to get 50 or 60 recruits in a few Highland townships, but now there is not a man to be had." This country has spent large sums of money upon war material and ships, but where do we get our finest men from? The Highlands. We ought not to allow Highland families to be driven from their native glens. Lord Roberts speaks of Highlanders as the very finest soldiers. I am not surprised that it costs nearly £100 to get a Highland recruit. Now, the first part of my Amendment refers to the land, the second part refers to leaseholders. The Crofters Commission, up to the end of 1897, dealt with 19,756 applications to fix fair rents. They reduced the old rents on 19,497 applications from £80,373 to £58,910, making a reduction of £21,463, and they reduced arrears amounting to £183,776 by £123,631, leaving £60,145 to be paid. This gives some indication of the rack-renting and robbery which has been going on in the Highlands. I take this opportunity of urging upon the right honourable Gentleman the Lord Advocate that leaseholders should be brought under the Crofters Act. I should just like, with the permission of the House, to refer for one moment to an extract of a speech made by Lord Salisbury in December 1888, at Edinburgh, in which he said— I wish to say one word on the question of arrears, and I wish to say it because it has received a Scottish application. The only argument which I know that at all has any plausibility for remitting the arrears which are complained of in Ireland, is that in the Bill which was passed to relieve the Scottish crofters the question of arrears was dealt with. Now I can conceive no mistake greater than to confuse the question of Irish land with the question of the Scottish crofter. The Scottish Crofters Bill was no Measure for which I am responsible, and I do not profess to admire it in all respects, but it has this particular merit—it was not a disturbance of old, long-established rights. The ground on which you interfered with the position of the Scottish crofter was that you said that up to a comparatively recent period they had held upon a tenure which was not the general tenure of these islands; and that the tenure had, by lapse, by carelessness, by use, by encroachment, been converted into a condition of things wholly and unjustly disadvantageous to themselves. It was said that the old clannish tenure, which was very different from the old ordinary laws of landlord and tenant in this country, had slipped into a law of landlord and tenant entirely to the advantage of the landlord, without any consideration of the valuable interest which the clansman formerly had in the land upon which he lived. That was a very fair argument, and the Act of Parliament which followed from it was that the rule of prescriptions hitherto observed generally in this country should be considerably extended—extended from 60 to 80 years—and that all who had for 80 years been in the condition of crofters should have their ease specially considered. That was a decision perfectly consistent with the ordinary doctrines of the rights of property in general. The case of the Irish tenant was very different. There Parliament in its wisdom set aside the rights of landlords which had existed for many years, many hundreds of years, and had existed by full confession and approval of the law, in many cases by direct provision of an Act of Parliament. Of course, I do not wish to discuss the policy of that Measure. I was myself opposed to it, but that is not my present point. What I wish to show is how different it was from the case of Scotland, to show you how in the case of Ireland you took away from the landlord that which the landlord always had a right to in Ireland for centuries, that which he has a right to in every other country in the world; that is to say, to occupy, if he pleases, subject to all contracts and subject to all compensations, for improvements to the land which he owns. You have taken that away from the Irish landlord. It is a tremendous Measure, and it has nothing whatever in common with the very moderate and limited Measure which in respect of these peculiar circumstances you have applied to the crofters of Scotland. Therefore, I say, the fact that in dealing with the crofters of Scotland you also dealt with the arrears which had arisen under a system that you determined to be varied, has nothing whatever to do with the larger and far more revolutionary Measure which was applied to Ireland. I would ask the attention of the Lord Advocate to the fact that these were the views of Lord Salisbury in 1888, expressed in reply to a speech by Mr. Gladstone. The Crofter leaseholders are now in precisely the same position that they were years ago, and I sincerely hope that some remedy may be found for the grievances of which they complain. If nothing is done serious trouble may happen. In the Highland crofting counties there are frequently to be found two sets of tenants living next door to one another. One has had his rent reduced, and his arrears to a large extent wiped off, whilst another who has the misfortune to> be a leaseholder is left out in the cold, and gets no benefit whatever from the Crofters' Act. What I ask is that these leaseholders should be brought within the benefits of the Crofters Act. That is not an unreasonable request. In some cases arrangements with the landlord can be made, in others no arrangement can be made; the landlords are inflexible or the trustees are inflexible, and the unfortunate tenant is cleared out. I am afraid that some of these days a number of these tenants will put their backs to the wall, and resist any efforts made to evict them.

* DR. FARQUHARSON () Aberdeenshire, W.

I do not think anybody can take exception to the line adopted by my honourable Friend when, in the exercise of his duty to his constituents and in the fulness of his knowledge, he has brought this subject before us, in a speech which I do not think anyone can describe as a mere debating society exercise, dealing with abstract and impracticable principles which have no bearing on the condition of things at the present moment. I think he has also been well advised to take advantage" of what is really the only opportunity which we poor semi-excluded private Members have of bringing forward Debates on subjects of interest to our constituents. Of course, if we are kept down in one direction it is quite plain we must crop up in another. I am very sorry that my honourable Friend's colleagues representing Highland constituencies are absent on this occasion, and still more do I deplore the absence of my honourable Friend the Member for Orkney, who was to have seconded this Motion, and who has much greater practical acquaintance with the subject than I have. I am pleased to have the honour of doing so in his absence, and of making these few observations, because, although I am not what is ordinarily called a crofter Member, still I represent a county which contains a large number of small farms, of small people very like the crofters, who live almost exactly in the crofting traditions, and whom we have tried on many occasions, I am sorry to say unsuccessfully, to bring within the scope of the Crofters Act. In my own constituency in Aberdeenshire there are a great number of people living very like crofters, under conditions very much the same as those in Lewis and Skye and other parts of the Highlands. Now, it is quite evident that we are not to have a very great crop of Scottish legislation during this Session, and I do not think we can grudge the little time that we take on this occasion in ventilating a Scotch grievance. I think we Scottish Members, on the whole, are rather an unobtrusive and retiring set, and we only overcome our native modesty and interfere with the settled order of things and the smooth running of official programmes under certain conditions, that is, when we are smarting under an intolerable sense of injustice, when we want to inform and develop public opinion outside this House and instruct Ministers as to what the condition of public opinion really is from our own practical experience. There is surely nothing in this grievance brought before the House by my honourable Friend on this occasion at all revolutionary, and I am quite certain of this, that there is nothing confiscatory. All that is wanted is to complete the work that has already been begun. We have heard a good deal lately about various reasons for which Royal Commissions are appointed. The Leader of the House last night practically admitted that they are occasionally appointed to stave off inconvenient questions with the object of acting as an anæsthetic upon the public mind, a kind of zareba behind which the Ministers and candidates may safely retreat when pressed by inconvenient questions. Whatever may have been the reason for the appointment of the Crofter Commission, there is no doubt of its complete, satisfactory, and brilliant success—a success which no doubt is largely due to a number of men, one of them lately dead, Lord Napier of Ettrick, whose abilities were shown in the conduct of that Commission and in the admirable report that he wrote, and the skill and charm with which he put the case before the country was such that it ultimately became irresistible; it was also due to the energy and initiative of one whom I may call our late right honourable Friend, Sir George Trevelyan, whose name is equally honoured in this House and out of it, not only for legislation, but many other matters that he has placed on the Statute Book. There is no doubt about the success of the Crofters Act. I was reading the other day the remarks made by the Chairman of the second Commission, in which he pointed out that the Crofters Act had infused new life into these men. They have now got new hope for the future, and confidence that their improvements will not be confiscated, and that all they do for the benefit of the land will become their own property. They have begun to build their farmhouses, they are building barns, they have cultivated the soil better than they did before; and, best of all from the landlords' point of view, they are now paying their rents regularly and well. Well, all we want now is to carry this excellent system one stage farther. You know the Crofters Commission has only carried out two essential particulars; the crofter has only got fair rent and fixity of tenure; the extension of his holding, which was urgently recommended by the Crofters Commission has not been carried out. In order to get some information upon that point, the Crofters Commission of 1892 was appointed and sat, and it made a report, and if a political accident had not so prematurely terminated the useful career of the Liberal Government, I am quite certain it would have carried out legislation in order to put that crowning stone upon the edifice which we had raised so successfully on a former occasion. My honourable Friend says there is plenty of land now in the Highlands fit for the accommodation of these poor cramped up people. We know perfectly well that they are able to use it, and we look to the Government now in the full opulence of power to suggest machinery. It is not for us to suggest machinery to carry out the Commission's recommendations, whether by a system of land purchase recommended by my honourable Friend, who was a member of the Commission, or by the re-appointment of the old Crofter Commission which laid down regulations by which these things might be carried out. I am not going to suggest machinery. I hope we shall get some sympathetic words from the Lord Advocate. If he cannot accept the Amendment I trust, at all events, he will be able to give us some glimmer of hope during the period of office that may remain to him that he will do something to tackle this interesting and necessary question. There is no possible idea of anything confiscatory. If land is taken no doubt a fair price will be paid for it. All about Skye and these Highland districts is very poor game country; there is very little game. I do not suppose there will be really very great interference with the sporting rights of proprietors, and if the sporting proprietors are at all embarrassed there as they are in other districts with which I am familiar, I have no doubt they will be glad to get something tangible in hand in agricultural value instead of depending on their sporting estates. We have been told the old story about emigration. Of course, that is a policy of despair. You cast people out of the country to which they are passionately attached. I do not think you ought to do that until you are, at all events, convinced that there is not room for them to remain in their own country, and, as this Report of the Commission of 1892 has shown emphatically, a large portion of the territory of the Highland districts may usefully be employed for the purpose. I think it really would be a pity to drive people away to uncongenial soils and climates, and very hard and trying conditions of life, before, at all events, there is a reasonable attempt made to plant them down in their own country under less unfavourable conditions than those which they now occupy. That my honourable Friend should raise in this House the grievance of the leaseholders is natural, for it is very cruel and crushing. That one man should have his rent adjusted by the Commission, and that the other man next door should have none of these advantages, is hard and trying, and there are precedents in other countries which will show that a system of putting leaseholders under new conditions has been tried with benefit to that special class of the community. Therefore I am glad my honourable Friend has brought forward this Motion. I have great pleasure in seconding; t, and I hope we shall get some sympathetic words from the authorities I see sitting opposite.

* MR. HEDDERWICK () Wick Burghs

There is, in my opinion, ample justification for the Amendment which has been moved by my honourable Friend, but I confess that while I make that statement I have very little hope of any practical issue from the Amendment itself tonight, and taking that view of the Motion, I shall be very brief in the observations which I have to make with regard to the questions which it raises. In the first place, Mr. Speaker, I should like, if I may, to put one or two questions to the right honourable Gentleman opposite. I should like to ask the Lord Advocate, in the first place, whether he accepts the finding of the Deer Forest Commission as an accurate representation of the facts. I should like to ask him, in the second place, whether he admits that there is congestion in various parts of the Highlands, owing to the insufficiency of the land. And I should like to ask him, in the third place, what the Government have done, or what the Government propose to do, to relieve that congestion. Mr. Speaker, I think these are fair questions; I think they are questions which we are entitled to ask, and I hope the Lord Advocate will give mo something like a fair and straightforward answer to them. The Government, Mr. Speaker, claims to be sincerely interested in the relief of agricultural distress. They have passed various Agricultural Rating and Relief Acts. Opinions may—and in fact do—differ as to the value of these particular Acts, but, at all events, the Government stand by them as proof of their zeal on behalf of distressed agriculture. Well, Sir, if that is so, in the Highlands there is a section of the community which exists in such dire distress that it would be almost impossible to paint in too dark colours the conditions in which these people live. There are some people, I know, who say that the poverty and distress which exists among these crofters to whom I refer is so great that it is useless to attempt to do anything on their behalf, and that they ought to be cleared off the land. I think that is a very hard thing to say. Poverty is not a crime, but even if it were a crime we have long ceased to punish crime with expatriation; and Certainly the last thing which any Government, in my opinion, should wish to do, is to deprive itself of the possible services of these people. Why, Sir, we know that the possession of many admirable qualities is quite compatible with extreme penury, and we know that in the case of the crofters that is so. In times past they have been a source of strength to the State when the State was in perilous circumstances, and if they are bundled out of the country, it may be that we may suffer grievous loss in times of peril that may be yet to come. But, Sir, I fear that if nothing be done by the Government on behalf of these poor people, the wish of these politicians who would be glad to see them cleared off the face of the earth may very likely be gratified, and that at no very great length of time, without any enforced removal at all. I take the figures which have been given us to-night by my honourable Friend, and I ought, to say that I have not verified them myself, but I have no reason to doubt the care of his researches or the accuracy of his results. And what did he tell us? Why, Sir, he told us that, taking the six crofting counties of Scotland, in 1851 the population amounted, if I have the figures accurately, to something like 397,000 inhabitants; that in 1891, after a lapse of only 40 years, that population had decreased to 360,000, thus showing a decrease in 40 years of something like one-ninth of the total population of the six counties. Well, Mr. Speaker, these figures are very striking. It has been said that— Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey, Where wealth accumulates and men decay. I do not suppose that anybody for a moment doubts the truth that lies embodied in these words, but if the condition of a country be perilous where wealth accumulates and men decay, what is to be said of the prospects of a country where not only do the men decay, but the wealth, instead of accumulating, diminishes in a far greater proportion than the decrease of the population? I take my honourable Friend's figures on that point again. He has told us, I presume with accuracy, that taking a complete period of 40 years, the poor rate in these six crofting counties has risen from something like £46,000, I think, to £98,000. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, you have, in the course of a period of 40 years, a population decreasing by one-ninth, and at the same time an increase in the poor rate of more than twice the original amount named. I think that, Mr. Speaker, is a very shocking state of affairs. Surely that is a state of affairs that must appeal most powerfully to a Government which professes to be the friend of the distressed agriculturist. Surely these figures are startling enough to make the Government consider whether there is not something very far wrong in the condition of these six crofting counties. Well, what do the Government propose to do? What is the remedy for this state of affairs? The Congested Districts Relief Act is no remedy. My right honourable Friend the Lord Advocate knows in his heart that that Act is no remedy. Then what, Mr. Speaker, is to be done? What is wanted by the people? They want more land. More land, yes! that is the only true remedy for the conges- tion which exists in these crofting counties. Is there not land to be had? Why, Sir, we have the result of the labours of the Deer Forests Commission. That Commission issued its Report more than three years ago, a report which shows that there are over one million acres of land suitable for cultivation by the crofters to be had cheap in the Highlands. On the other hand, we have a Chancellor of the Exchequer whose coffers have long been overflowing, and in these circumstances I want to know why the Government, who profess to be the friends, the friends, the sincere friends, of the agriculturists, are not prepared to do something which will be of real value for these unfortunate people who are suffering so terribly in the North of Scotland. Mr. Speaker, I await an assurance from the right honourable Gentleman. I hope that he will endeavour to give me an explicit answer to the questions which I have put to him. If he can see his way to do anything in the direction of converting some portion, at least, of the land which has been reported upon by the Commissioners, and which I have referred to as being suitable for cultivation by crofters—to their use, he will confer a benefit upon a section of his countrymen which will be remembered long after things which perhaps engage his attention more have been forgotten.

* MR. SHAW-STEWART (.) Renfrew, E

I desire to say a word or two, seeing that I have the honour to be one of the members of the Royal Commission referred to. In the first place, I would like to point out that the Mover of this Amendment speaks in the Amendment of nearly two million acres of land now occupied as deer forests, grouse moors, etc., which might be cultivated to profit by the crofters. I should like to point out that more than half a million of these acres were allocated by us for moderate-sized farms, and that was expressly stated in our report.


I said so.


And it is added that "such lands are not, in our opinion, adapted for ordinary crofters." That reduced the number of acres to something very large, I grant, but very far from two million acres; rather less than a million and a quarter. Well, but there is another paragraph in the report which I should like to draw the attention of honourable Members to, and that is that we recommended that this acreage might be available to tenants under certain conditions. What were those conditions? They were these: That the tenants should be possessed of the means requisite to equip and stock their holdings. Well, Mr. Speaker, it is not easy to find many tenants, unfortunately, in the Highlands who are in this position, able without aid to equip their holdings and to stock their holdings; and the only possible way, in my mind, that these recommendations can be given effect to would be by a system of land purchase. Yes, but that system of land purchase is just what the friends of the honourable Member who moved this Motion object to. It is one of the remedies which they take the strongest objection to, and I do not think it is very reasonable for them to expect the Government to attempt to remove these evils by means of land purchase, when these Gentlemen who profess themselves to be, and undoubtedly are, possessed of considerable information as to the territorial economy of the Highlands—it is not reasonable for them, to expect the Government to propose a land purchase scheme to remedy these evils if these Gentlemen tell the Government that that scheme would be of no use whatever—because that is what they have been saying. Well, the honourable Gentleman who has just sat down spoke of the expatriation of the Highlanders as being a very unhappy and unfortunate thing. I agree with him. But expatriation, unpleasant as it is, is far preferable to the conditions under which a great many of the inhabitants of the Highlands voluntarily live. This state of things could not have been remedied oven by a scheme of land purchase. Take, for instance, the island of Skye. If the whole of the land of Skye were free to-morrow to enable you to put out the best part of the 3,000 and odd cottiers, there is not land enough to maintain those men in any decency, not to say comfort. Expatriation has a ring about it which is unpopular, and it is very much looked upon as a remedy which, ought not to be pressed. But in spite of this I do say that a great many of the able-bodied men in Lewis and Skye would be far better seeking their fortunes elsewhere than living at home, eking out a miserable existence. I hold very strongly, that the only remedy for those who wish to remain on the land and cultivate it at a profit is a scheme of land purchase; and until the honourable Gentlemen on the other side agree upon a reasonable scheme I do not think it is right for them to blame the Government in the matter. I do not think it is right to say that the Government have done nothing, because the Congested Districts Board, which they introduced, has not been long in existence, and I think it is capable of doing much, and will be a very useful palliative. If it does1 as much for the Highlanders as the Congested District Board for Ireland has done for the people in the West of Ireland, the Government will have done a very good tiling indeed by setting up that Board. That is all I wish to say, and I hope that the honourable Members opposite will combine and recommend a scheme of land purchase such as the Government might be able to take up.

MR. J. CALDWELL () Lanark, Mid.

Instance after instance has been mentioned by the honourable Gentleman, whom I highly respect, but he has wound up his speech with the remark that the grievance of the Highlanders would be best remedied by a system, of land purchase. But, of course1, the honourable Gentleman was aware that there were eight members of that Commission, and that he was one of the minority. Only three of them were in favour of a system of laud purchase, the other five being against it. I mention that to show that the system, of land purchase has really no support, and I should be very much surprised indeed if the Government took up that position. Them, another matter which the honourable Member referred to; was this: He took exception to what I think the Lord Advocate said in 1897 with regard to the amount of land which was available for the crofters. Now, if the honourable Member and the Lord Advocate will refer to the Motion they will find that it alludes to land merely for the extension of existing crofts. The motion also refers to land for crofters and small tenants. Now, I am sure that the honourable Member who has just spoken knows perfectly well that for crofters and small tenants the amount of land which the Commission reported was available is the amount mentioned in the Amendment—namely, 1,782,785 acres. What the honourable Member referred to is only a portion that related not merely to the crofters but to the small tenants, and that was the fallacy into which the Lord Advocate fell when he was replying to some observations of mine in 1897. Now, then, that disposes practically of everything, I think, that was said by the honourable Member. The case of the Highlanders in Scotland resembles very much the condition of the congested districts in Ireland. You have got a Congested Districts Board in Ireland, and we have got a congested district too in Scotland, and probably we shall have some observations from the honourable Gentlemen below the Gangway, who have had considerable experience in the working of the Congested Districts Board in Ireland. Now, the condition of the Highland crofter is similar in many respects, though very much worse than those in the congested districts in Ireland, because the Highlands—I see the right honourable Gentleman shakes his head—have got the worst soil and climate, and the yield per acre is very much less than in Ireland. I think I could also show that, owing to the barrenness of the Highlands, they have not the facilities for maintaining a, large population. I venture to say that I am quite within reasonable limits in saying that the condition of the Highland crofter is infinitely worse than that of the Irish peasant. Take, for instance, what has been done already to show the state of distress in the case of the Highlands. The case has been such that even the present Government, and their predecessors1 have found it necessary to take vary large sums of money every year out of Scotch money for the purpose of relieving distress in these crofting counties. We go to the Local Government Act passed in 1890 by the predecessors of the present Government, and we find £10,000 a year is specially allocated for the relief of the rates in these crofting counties. Then there is the sum of £15,000 a year which is taken out of the hands of the Congested Districts Board for subsidising the fisheries), the greater portion of which will go to' these districts. I venture to say that when you find the people of Scotland being taxed as a whole for the benefit of others to the extent of £40,000 a year, they are fairly entitled to ask this question, "How is it that this distress exists?" Are there no means of relieving this distress without taking this enormous amount, which is an increasing grievance every time this money comes into the coffers. But that is not all the money which these crofting counties require. In addition there are special allocation grants out of the Imperial funds. We find every year on the Estimates—I think last year it was £15,000—a large sum out of the Imperial purse for the purposes of the; Congested Districts Board. Then the Government also gave a guarantee with regard to opening up means of communication. Well, then, we are dealing with the problem in, the Highlands, a population of the United Kingdom where there is admittedly: great, distress. We are admittedly paying large sums of money every year purely out of Scotch money and out of Imperial money. I venture to say that that, is a problem which we are entitled to ask the Government to take into their consideration, and to see whether the condition of these people: has been improved by all this expenditure, or whether other means should not be adopted for relieving the distress. Now I think that, the whole policy of the Government is, nothing more than a system of doles, and is not a system which will relieve the distress that exists in the Highlands. If you are going to relieve the distress in the Highlands, then two things are necessary. You must first increase the quantity of land for cultivation. We know perfectly well that in the Highlands there is a combination, of the two industries, the crofting and the fishing, and they require both in order to gain a livelihood. When the Crofters Act was passed it was made one of the points in it that provision should be made for the purpose of increasing the holdings of the crofters. These holdings are very small in amount, and they do not extend to more than £2 or £3 a year, and it is obvious that, that size is not a croft which would bring much return to a crofter and his family. The Crofters Act made provision for increasing the crofts, but the conditions were such as practically to make that provision become useless, because the land had to be adjoining the same croft, and it is obvious, that a man in a circle, or in the inner circle, could not get more land without coming across another crofter. Then the land must, be held of the same proprietor. All parties were agreed that an increase of land to the existing crofters was a necessity of the situation, and that that was necessary to relieve distress. Hence the appointment of a Royal Commission, and hence the Royal Commission reporting that there was plenty of land available. Remember that upon this matter of land for the crofters being considered in the He-use, time after time it was said that there was no land available. They said that the land that is not occupied is not considerable, and there is no land for the purpose of increasing the holdings. Well, it was to meet that argument that this Commission was reported, and appointed, as you know, by both sides of the House; and this Commission, with the exception of the point of land purchase, unanimously reported that there was plenty of land available to carry out the very object which both parties are agreed is the best way to relieve the distress. Increase the land, and the power of producing an income for a family, and thereby you get rid not only of doles, but you place the population in a position to live by their own exertions. Now I come to the part about, the Congested Districts Board. This Board was appointed in August, 1897, and what, have they done? Why, we have had no report from them, but we had an opportunity of getting information from the Government when the estimate for the Congested Districts Board was before this House in the month of August last, after they had been about a month in office. We ask for information. We ask this question in Supply, "What, have the Congested Districts Board done during the lass year they have been in office?" The Lord Advocate could not give us a single word or item. We pressed him to tell us one thing, but he said he could not do so., because he had not the information. He was getting £15,000 for the next year, and we said to him, "If you are going to get, this £15,000, what are you going to do with it? Tell us what you are going to do with it if you cannot tell us what you have already done." But the Lord Advocate could not tell us what they were going to do with that money, and here we are again to-night without that information. This is the only op- portunity we, have of getting information, and what do we find? Why, that the Commission have reported now, and the Lord Advocate has put, the report upon the Table of the House, and it is there for the purpose of all Members to see. But what has been done? We know-nothing about it, and are we, the Scotch Members to allow this opportunity on the Address to pass without saying a single word, when we remember that we had not a single word about it last year, and we have not a single word about it at the present moment? I venture to say that that would be a most inexcusable thing to expect Scotch Members to do. I may say that I hoped, at any rate, that the Lord Advocate would have spoken and told us what he had done. Well, now, another point of this Motion is with regard to the leaseholders. It is perfectly well known that in the Crofters Act only those who were not leaseholders had the benefit of that Measure. Now let us see how that works? In the case of those who had no leases at the time of the Crofters Act being passed their rents were reduced about 25 per cent., but at that time a good many crofters, happened to have leases, and knowing that legislation was going to come, a good many of the Highland landlords gave the tenants leases, so that they would not be under the Act. We do not want, at this, time of the day, to discuss the question of the leaseholders. Why were the leaseholders not included under the Scotch Act when, it was first passed? What has taken place in the case of Ireland? Why, in Ireland the present Government included the leaseholders in the Act. Now, as the crofters are practically the same interest, they are entitled to the same privileges, and all that we ask in Scotland is this: that, a principle of that kind introduced into Ireland by the present Government under conditions, exactly similar to those of Scotland should be also applied to the crofters in exactly similar circumstances, and that this rule should be applied in the case of Scotland as well as in Ireland. We have a right to ask the Government why these leaseholder are not entitled to be admitted to- the benefits of the Crofters Act in the very same way as the leaseholders in, Ireland? Now, I have never looked at this crofters' question from a party point of view, but entirely from a crofter's point of view. I admit that the Government have, done something for the crofters, but if you look at it carefully you will find that whatever they have done always took the form under which the landlord got the lion's share. Take the £10,000 a year given for the reduction of leases. Why, in Scotland the rates are levied, one-half on the owner and one-half on the occupier; therefore the landlord gets £5,000 a year, which is one-half of that sum. The deer forest tenants and the tenants of the large farms get the bigger portion of the other half, and it is a very small portion of that £10,000 that goes into the hands of the crofters. The same thing you will find with regard to the opening up of communication and the making of roads. It is all very well to say make roads in the Highlands and railways. We admit that they do good to the population of the Highlands, but does it not do good to the landlords in the Highlands? Is it not a fact that by opening up the Highlands by making roads and railways you thereby improve the property of the landlord far more than the benefit that it can possibly give to the crofter. The Government will give you an occasional grant in aid of education in the district, because one-half of it goes into the landlords' pockets. They will give you money for making roads, because all this tends to improve the property of the landlord more than, it benefits the crofters, and I venture to say that if you are going to deal with a problem, of this kind we are entitled, now that that Commission has sat and reported that land is available—and bearing in mind that we were told in 1890, just at this time last year, that they were considering a scheme, and that it was premature for us to press them as to their method of dealing with the distress in the Highlands, because the Congested Districts Board had only been recently appointed, and they had not had time to report—to know what has been done. A year has elapsed since then, and we are entitled to ask for information. I venture to say that, while I do not put the matter personally from a party point of view, on the other hand, I would say that the best thing for the Scotch Members, from a party point of view, to do would be that the Government should do nothing, and that they should keep the crofters in starvation, and leave the Liberal Government to throw the land open, as I think it will be thrown open when the Liberals come into power.


The Motion of the honourable Member deals with two different subjects. It complains that the Government have not proposed legislation following upon the report of what is generally known as the Deer Forests Commission, and also it seems to be a specific grievance that there is no indication, in the Queen's Speech that the benefit of the Crofters Act will be extended to all crofter tenants who held leases at the time of the passing of the Act. I should not have thought it necessary to have to remind the honourable Member of the reason that was given to Parliament for the passing of the Crofters Act at all, had it not been that he seems to have refreshed his memory. He took the trouble to quote a speech of the Prime Minister's in 1888, in Edinburgh, in which the Prime Minister most accurately gave the particular reasons on which the Crofters' Act rested, but I cannot congratulate the honourable Member upon seeing the application of the passage which he quoted. Mr. Speaker, these peculiar benefits were given to the crofters under the Act of 1886, and the reason was because Parliament was satisfied that, as an historical fact, there existed in the case of the crofters a customary tenure of a peculiar character, and a tenure which, although nominally and for the matter of that legally, was a tenure at will, yet had, from the custom of centuries, been recognised, not as a tenure at will at all. It was felt that, in the peculiar state of circumstances, this tenure, which was merely customary, ought to have some legal sanction and recognition. It followed, of course, from that, and perhaps before I say any more I ought to point out that, taken along with that, there was also the point that, as a matter of fact, in the great majority of cases, the improvements upon the holdings had been done by the crofters themselves. I am sure any honourable Members who have thought out this question of land tenure at all—and there are many here who have had occasion to think it out—will see that this execution of improvements by the tenant can be the only justification for what is called a dual proprietorship in the land. It was almost a necessity of the Government propositions in 1886 that the benefits of the Crofters Act should only extend to those who historically held their customary tenure, and should not extend to the small tenants who held leases. Several honourable Members thought they made a point by pointing out that the present Government, or at least the same Administration, in the case of the Irish Act extended to Ireland this privilege under the original Act. The fallacy of that argument has been pointed out again and again by my right honourable Friend the First Lord of the Treasury, but I suppose I must repeat it once more, as the old fallacy has been trotted out again with a semblance of novelty by the honourable Member who has just sat down. What was done in the Irish Act was merely an acceleration. Under the terms of the original Irish Act, as soon as the tenancies came to a termination, then the next tenant got the whole of the benefit of the Act. Accordingly, all that was done by the provision referred to was that the period was accelerated, and a tenant under an existing lease was given that advantage at once which otherwise he would have had to wait for. Anyone can see that that is different from the position of the Scotch crofters. If you extended the provision of the Crofters Act to the small tenants you would then be going beyond the range of the Crofters Act altogether. The honourable Member for Aberdeen, West, admitting that he did not represent a crofter county himself, apologised for interposing in the Debate—although the honourable Member need not in the least have done so—because, he said, there were many in his constituency who were not crofters, but small tenants, and he was anxious to see the provisions of the Crofters Act of 1886 extended to them. Now, when I pass from that to the second portion of the honourable Member's Motion there is, I think, another fallacy that has underlain practically every speech that has been made this evening on the other side of the House. All the honourable Members speak as if the Deer Forests Commission of 1892 had reported in favour of certain things to be done, and as if there was nothing in the world for the Government to do except to frame a Bill upon the lines of the recommendations of that Commission. Now, if honourable Members were as familiar with the matter as I am, they would know that the Deer Forests Commission reported on no such lines. It has already been pointed out by the honourable Member for Renfrew, East, that he and another Member of that Commission added a very strong opinion that no scheme would be at all possible except a scheme of land purchase. The honourable Member for Mid Lanark, with a sweep of his hand and in grandiloquent tones, thought he had scored a point against my honourable Friend behind me when he said that he (the Member for Renfrew, East, was in a minority, of two out of nine Members on the Commission. If I were only defending my honourable Friend I might say that so far from the Member for Mid Lanark scoring a point against the honourable Member for East Renfrew, he only accentuated his argument, for he said— How can you expect us to go in for a scheme of land purchase when we find a majority of the Commission do not agree that land purchase is the best way of going to work? Now what did the majority of the Commission say? The Commission said—I am now quoting the text— The problem for consideration is, has the result of our inquiry been to enable us to schedule any lands; and, if so, what lands which, with a due combination of old arable or land suitable for cultivation along with pasture held in common, may reasonably be deemed capable of rearing a profitable stock or of profitable occupation' by an industrious tenant possessed of the means requisite to equip the stock and holding? And not only that, they went on to say— We desire to add that the occupants of these lands must be selected with care. Well, Sir, I think that was a most cautious determination; and all that they reported was that there were 1,700,000 acres of such land—of which 794,000 acres were capable of cultivation for new crofts, 439,000 acres for extension of crofts, and 548,000 acres for farms of a moderate size. The House will observe that they did not commit themselves or make any recommendation at all upon what scheme was to be put in practice in order that that land might be made available. On the contrary, they indicated with the very greatest care that although as a matter of agriculture and nothing else, this land might be cultivated with profit, it could only be done if the tenants were not only industrious, but equipped with the necessary means and selected with the necessary care. A great deal has been done, and yet honourable Members have spoken as if the Government had nothing to do but to take up that report and find everything ready to hand. What have the Government done? The Government have not been idle. On the contrary, they have started the Congested Districts Board, and they have intimated that the Congested Districts Board have been endowed with a substantial amount of money. Honourable Members have asked, "What have the Board done?" The honourable Member for Mid-Lanark was perfectly eloquent about finding this report in "dummy," as if he had never heard of that before. I sometimes wish that other things were found in "dummy." He need not blame me. I do not manage these things. I have other things to attend to besides reports in "dummy." But the honourable Member will not have to control himself very long, for certainly within a week or ten days the report will be in his hands. I humbly think that when honourable Members come to read that report they will find that it is a document full of promise. It is necessarily a very difficult question this, and I am quite certain that all those who really wish the welfare of the Highlanders—as I know many honourable Members on both sides of the House do—will agree that whatever is done in this direction should be done with the steady resolve to help those who are prepared to help themselves. And I venture to say that when the report comes to be studied it will be found that that is the leading principle kept in view by the Congested Districts Board. I may as well set at rest the gloomy anticipations of the honourable Member who moved the Amendment. He seemed to be very apprehensive that the money will not go to the Highlanders, but bi wasted in expenses. Well, if he will look at the accounts in the report he will find that at the end of the financial year, which comes down to 31st March, 1898, the expenses were limited to the very modest sum of £402. The Congested Districts Board have had many things to deal with. Extension of holdings is not the only way of helping the crofters. The Board have done a great deal not only by buying rams, but by assisting in the rearing of stock, and also, with very good results, in providing proper seeds—especially seed potatoes. Certain experiments have been made in that direction with great success. But even in this matter of enlarging holdings and creating new holdings something has been done. I think that all those who are disposed to look at the matter deliberately will agree that this is a matter in which it is absolutely necessary to proceed with great caution and deliberation. I do not pretend that a great deal has been done as yet. But at the same time a beginning has been made, and I am quite sure it will interest honourable Members to know that one of the first places in which new holdings have been created, with the help of the Board and the assent of the proprietor, has been on the estate of Sir A. Campbell Orde, which estate, I am afraid, has been frequently mentioned in the time of a former proprietor in other than terms of praise. In the same way there is a scheme on foot, and which I hope will soon be settled, in the island of Bernara, South Harris. There must be always difficulty in getting land that is particularly suitable for small holdings, for honourable Members will remember that the report of the Deer Forests Commission only dealt with the question of the suitability of the land itself. It did not deal with the question of what you are to do in cases of land on an estate which at present is partly suitable for small holdings and partly not. There is always a difficulty, and there would be an injustice in picking out the eyes of an estate, and there would be a waste of money in acquiring land, only part of which would be useful for the purpose for which it was bought. The honourable Member for Mid-Lanark must always remember that it is going utterly beyond the mark to make use of large figures and talk of the ground indicated by these large figures as suitable for meeting the problem of congestion in connection with the fisher population. Because, quite apart from a legislative enactment—the contiguity clauses of the Act of 1886—contiguity is a physical fact which you cannot get over. It is perfectly impossible to find land for everybody near enough to the fishing crofters. I have said enough to show that the Board is tackling the problem, and that what it has done is more or less an experiment, but an experiment which, if successful, can be repeated, but not to be undertaken at once on too large a scale. It is, however, I humbly think, an absolute justification for the Government not accepting the Motion, which in its terms manifests that the action of the Congested Districts Board has not been appreciated.

* MR. THOMAS SHAW () Hawick

The discussion has raised a question of no slight importance for a considerable class of Her Majesty's subjects. The question at the present moment is not one of a constitutional character, and there can be no objection to it on broad grounds. It is a question largely of administration, affecting the peace and welfare of an important section of Her Majesty's subjects. I think this House was entitled to consider that after a year's operations of the recently constructed Congested Districts Board, we should have something further than a promise,—something of the nature of substantial performance which could have been pointed to by Her Majesty's Government. One of the most interesting speeches which have been delivered was that by the honourable Member for East Renfrew, whose position in this matter is certainly one of great influence and power, because he was a conspicuous and useful member of the Deer Forests Commission; and therefore he will permit me, without reflecting in any sense on the spirit in which that speech was delivered, to express the disappointment with which I listened to his observations with regard to the expatriation of the Highlanders of Scotland. It used to be said that the problem consisted of the bald alternatives of abject poverty at home or exile abroad. And my honourable Friend is prepared for the latter of these alter- natives. But the House will recollect that it was in view of the allegations that this was the only alternative, that a Commission was appointed to inquire whether it was necessary for crofters to go to a foreign shore in order to get a living, or whether, on the contrary, there was land available in the territory of Scotland itself. Now there has been an answer in the affirmative in a large sense on that subject. It is now established beyond all doubt and beyond all question that there are in Scotland one and three quarter millions of acres of land suitable for cultivation by small tenants; and that for tenants even of the crofter class, for new holdings and the extension of holdings, there are no less than one and a quarter millions of acres available. In the face of that ascertained fact, is it not deplorable that any honourable Member of this House should now go back on the old exploded alternative of abject poverty at home or exile abroad? Surely, Sir, the Government could give us something, in view of the now ascertained facts, which would enable us to cherish some hope for the Highlanders of Scotland, that they will devise some effective machinery whereby to place that available land at the disposal of the people of the Highlands. In regard to the Lord Advocate's observations as to leaseholders, that is a matter which I will come to in discussing the second branch of the Amendment: but I am bound to say here that he has really slammed the door of hope in the face of all leaseholders within the Highland area. On this matter of available land let me say what I consider has been the real substantial difficulty on the subject of the operations of the Congested Districts Board. Mr. Speaker, the Congested Districts Board have large powers; they have power to purchase land, power to divide land among the crofters, power to fence land and to make land accessible by roads, and power to plant buildings on the land. But we have to repeat the complaints made against the Congested Districts Board in Ireland—that you have failed to give them what is at the bottom of all sound administration of the land— power for the acquisition of the land itself. My right honourable Friend the Lord Advocate cited the case of North Uist. The citation was singularly infelicitous, because that was a case which demonstrated to everyone who knew the elementary facts of the position that without compulsory powers of acquisition of land it would be impossible to effect reform until the death of that landlord. I rejoice that a change has come over the administration of that estate, and that the present proprietor is willing to treat with a public board for the acquisition of land within its bounds. I fear it was not so in the past, and accordingly, unless compulsory powers could have been put into operation, the Congested Districts Board would have been entirely helpless. Throughout a large portion of the Highlands there is a similar clamour for land, and the existence of available land is proved. The Government, however, has not surmounted the barrier raised by those landlords who are not willing to accept the position of parting with their land, even to a public authority, and who can therefore obstruct the boasted beneficial effects of the Board's administration. The Lord Advocate has stated that the Congested Districts Board was full of great promise. I expect very little more from it unless Ave have those compulsory powers. The promise will not go further than the report that the comparatively small sum of £402 has been paid in expenses, and that seed potatoes have been distributed. But these things will do nothing to satisfy the land hunger that is felt all over the Highlands. You have proved first, that there is available land; secondly, that there is a class of people willing to cultivate the laud; and thirdly, that Parliament has provided money for the purpose of bringing the people to the land. Therefore, in those circumstances should we not have a little more than promises and something in the nature of performances? I may point out that in Scotland our case is worse than in Ireland, for this country has not the alleviation of the operation of the Encumbered Estates Court. In Ireland it never can be said that there is an absolute dearth of available land, because by the operation of the Encumbered Estates Court there is, at all events, some area of Irish land for which the Congested Districts Board may become an applicant. But here in Scotland we have nothing of that kind at all. We are devoid of any opportunity of taking advantage of powers of acquiring land whenever the landlord has any objection to the scheme. I hope that in any early report of the Congested Districts Board there may be some effective expression of opinion in favour of the compulsory acquisition of land, without which I see very little ray of hope in the solution of the problem we have in hand. The other topic dealt with in the Amendment is the grievances of the leaseholders. And here I am free to admit that there is a certain legal and technical ground for the position my right honourable Friend the Lord Advocate has taken up in this matter. I may say that the legal and technical ground was very largely taken up in the case of the leaseholders in Ireland. But, Sir, not only there, but here, higher ground has also been taken up in regard to the position of the leaseholders. It is said that if we interfere with the position of the leaseholders we should violate the rights of contract, and that such violation would be confiscation. I was interested to hear what the head of the present Government said in 1887, when the Government of that day adapted itself to the circumstances of the time and gave to the leaseholders of Ireland the benefit of the Irish Land Act. With one sweep of the hand Lord Salisbury abolished all those legal and technical difficulties which the Lord Advocate has endeavoured to set up to-night. I cite two or three sentences from Lord Salisbury's remarks in the House of Lords on 22nd April, 1887. His Lordship said— I cannot close my eyes to the fact that these leaseholders will form their standard of what is right and just, not from any theories or doctrines or knowledge of law, but from the practice which they see sanctioned by statute, with respect to their neighbours; and when they see persons in whom they cannot see any essential difference of condition from that which they occupy, and when they see their neighbours enjoy advantages which they do not enjoy, it is impossible to say that though their discontent is illogical, therefore it is unreasonable or unintelligible. And his Lordship went on to say that the Government would then support the Bill of 1887, which gave leaseholders the benefit of the Irish Land Act. If you come, apart from these legal and technical points, to look at it, what is the situation? There is one man holding land side by side with another, under the same climatic and other conditions, under the same landlord, with the same hardships, with the same set of circumstances, where the improvements on the holdings have been similarly made in large or even complete measure by the tenants. Then one of these tenants—the tenant holding only from year to year—has conferred upon him the boon of fair rent, fixity of tenure, and all the security on the head of improvements; while the other tenant —the leaseholder—has none of these advantages. Surely, Mr. Speaker, it is time that we should adopt a precedent which we have been so fortunate as to find in the case of the Irish Act. Can it be said that the leaseholders in the Highlands are less well ordered or less deserving of the recognition of Parliament than the Irish leaseholders? I put the case thus: As you have a precedent in Ireland, so you should follow it now, not by making fine-drawn distinctions which the leaseholders cannot understand, but by giving, under equality of condition, equality of treatment by the law.

SIR JOHN G. S. KINLOCH () Perthshire, E.

I rise to support the Amendment, but on somewhat different lines from that taken by the Mover. The line which I take up may appeal to the party of the Lord Advocate. I frankly admit that I am an admirer of deer forests and grouse shooting from the point of view of the Scotsman who looks after the pennies. I consider that they are of very great importance to Scotland. They bring in an enormous amount of wealth. The confiding Englishman gives us large rents. If you put the deer forests in the right place they can do no harm, but when you plant them in a crofter neighbourhood you create a scandal and raise an indignation against deer forests which ought not to be aroused. I say deer forests and sporting grounds in their proper place are good for the people and the country. We who own deer forests in the right place consider that those in the West country close to crofter settlements have caused a scandal which is exceedingly hard on us and a great abuse. The Mover of the Amendment referred to gamekeepers and ghillies in a very contemptuous way, and spoke of them harshly as non-producers. I say that they are a most respectable class of men, and that they have sons and daughters who do a great deal of good. These sons and daughters are well educated, and go out into the world and take places as ministers, doctors, and clerks. A more industrious set of people you cannot find in the country than the gamekeepers and ghillies.


I support the Amendment, not on the side of the deer forests, but on the side of protection of the improvements made by the crofters. The fact is, there are a large number of crofters in my constituency, and they are very much interested in the development of crofter legislation which will grant them protection for the improvements they have made on their holdings. They regard themselves as having a reversionary interest in such legislation, and they hope and expect to get it from the Government some day. I believe that in 1884 and 1885 this protection would have been given to them if they had not then remained so quiet, but had caused some disturbances, as was the case in other parts of the Highlands. When a Bill to extend the Crofters Acts to my constituency came before the House I made an appeal to the Leader of the House, and he replied to me in very cordial and sympathetic terms, when I pointed out to him the necessity for the protection of the improvements of the crofters. He said he was in entire sympathy that these improvements should be protected. With reference to what the honourable Member for East Renfrew said as to land purchase, I say that my constituents have no desire for land purchase. They do not want British money for the purchase of their crofts. All that they want is proper protection for their improvements, but the Leader of the House refuses to give them that protection by the method which has proved so eminently successful in the crofting counties. We are entitled to a remedy for our grievance, but the only way the Leader of the House has indicated for providing the protection we desire is in the Agricultural Holdings Bill. But the English Agricultural Holdings Bill is put at the very tail of the Mea- sures referred to in the Queen's Speech. And if the English Bill is at the end of the Queen's Speech, the Scotch Agricultural Holdings Bill will come after that, which renders it a greater impossibility for anything being done.

Question put, "That those words be there added:"

The House divided:—Ayes 142; Noes 117. (Division List No. 9.)

Abraham, William (Cork,N.E.) Hayne, Rt. Hn. Charles Seale- O'Kelly, James
Allan, William (Gateshead) Healy, Maurice (Cork) O'Malley, William
Allen, W. (Newc.-under Lyme) Healy, Timothy M. (N. Louth) Pease, Joseph A. (Northumb.)
Asquith, Rt. Hn. Herb. Henry Hedderwick, Thos. Charles H. Pickersgill, Edward Hare
Austin, Sir John (Yorkshire) Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H. Pinkerton, John
Austin, M. (Limerick, W.) Hogan, James Francis Pirie, Duncan V.
Baker, Sir John Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C. Power, Patrick Joseph
Barlow, John Emmott Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley) Price, Robert John
Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire) Jacoby, James Alfred Provand, Andrew Dryburgh
Billson, Alfred Jones, Dd. Brynmor (Swansea) Reckitt, Harold James
Birrell, Augustine Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire) Redmond, John E. (Waterford)
Blake, Edward Jordan, Jeremiah Reid, Sir Robert Threshie
Bolton, Thomas Dolling Kay-Shuttleworth, Rt.H.SirU. Richardson, J. (Durham)
Broadhurst, Henry Kearley, Hudson, E. Rickett, J. Compton
Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson Kilbride, Denis Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)
Bryce, Rt. Hon. James Kinloch, Sir John Geo. Smyth Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)
Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn Labouchere, Henry Robson, William Snowdon
Burt, Thomas Lambert, George Roche, John (East Galway)
Buxton, Sydney Charles Langley, Batty Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Caldwell, James Lawson, Sir Wilf. (Cumb'land) Schwann, Charles E.
Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H. Leese, Sir Jos. F. (Accrington) Scott, Chas. Prestwich (Leigh)
Cawley, Frederick Leng, Sir John Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)
Channing, Francis Allston Lewis, John Herbert Shee, James John
Clough, Walter Owen Lloyd-George, David Sheehy, David
Colville, John Logan, John William Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarshire)
Crombie, John William Lough, Thomas Souttar, Robinson
Daly, James Macaleese, Daniel Spicer, Albert
Dalziel, James Henry MacNeill, John Gordon Swift Stanhope, Hon. Philip J.
Davies, M.Vaughan (Cardigan) M'Dermott, Patrick Steadman, William Charles
Davitt, Michael M'Ghee, Richard Strachey, Edward
Dillon, John M'Kenna, Reginald Sullivan, Donald (Westmeath)
Donelan, Captain A. M'Laren, Charles Benjamin Sullivan, T. D. (Donegal, W.)
Doogan, P. C. Maddison, Fred. Tanner, Charles Kearns
Duckworth, James Maden, John Henry Tennant, Harold John
Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan) Mappin, Sir Frederick Thorpe Thomas, Alf. (Glamorgan, E.)
Farquharson, Dr. Robert Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand Tully, Jasper
Fenwick, Charles Molloy, Bernard Charles Wedderburn, Sir William
Ffrench, Peter Morgan, W. Pritch. (Merthyr) Weir, James Galloway
Field, William (Dublin) Morris, Samuel Whittaker, Thomas Palmer
Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmund Morton, Ed. J. C. (Devonport) Wilson, Hy. J. (York, W.R.)
Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.) Moss, Samuel Wilson, John (Govan)
Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Moulton, John Fletcher Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)
Gibney, James Murnaghan, George Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)
Gilhooly, James Norton, Capt. Cecil William
Goddard, Daniel Ford Nussey, Thomas Willans TELLERS FOR THE AYES
Gold, Charles O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork) Mr. Thomas Ellis and Mr. Causton.
Grey, Sir Edward (Berwick) O'Connor, Jas. (Wicklow, W.)
Hammond, John (Carlow) O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)
Harwood, George O'Keeffe, Francis Arthur
Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir A. F. Balfour, Rt H GeraldW. (Leeds) Bethell, Commander
Archdale, Edward Mervyn Banbury, Frederick George Biddulph, Michael
Arnold-Forster, Hugh O. Barnes, Frederic Gorell Bigwood, James
Arrol, Sir William Barry, RtHA.H.Smith-(Hunts) Blakiston-Houston, John
Ashmead-Bartlett, Sir Ellis Barry, Sir Francis T. (Windsor) Blundell, Colonel Henry
Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John Barton, Dunbar Plunket Bond, Edward
Bagot, Capt.Josceline FitzRoy Beach, Rt.H.SirM.H.(Bristol) Bowles, T. Gibson (King's Ln.)
Bailey, James (Walworth) Beach, W.W.Bramston(Hants) Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John
Balcarres, Lord Beckett, Ernest William Brown, Alexander H.
Balfour, Rt.Hn.A. J. (Manch'r) Begg, Ferdinand Faithful Butcher, John George
Carlile, William Walter Hill, Sir Edw. Stock (Bristol) Platt-Higgins, Frederick
Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs.) Hoare, Ed.Brodie (Hampstead) Plunkett, Rt.H.Horace Curzon
Cecil, Evelyn (Hertford, East) Hoare, Samuel (Norwich) Pollock, Harry Frederick
Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich) Hobhouse, Henry Powell, Sir Francis Sharp
Chaloner, Capt. R. G. W. Holland, Hn. Lionel Raleigh Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward
Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry Hornby, Sir William Henry Purvis, Robert
Charrington, Spencer Howell, William Tudor Rentoul, James Alexander
Chelsea, Viscount Hubbard, Hon. Evelyn Ridley, Rt.H. Sir Matthew W.
Clare, Octavius Leigh Hutton, John (Yorks. N.R.) Ritchie, Rt. Hon. Chas. T.
Coghill, Douglas Harry Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick Round, James
Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse Jessel, Capt. Herbert Merton Russell, Gen. F.S. (Chelten'm)
Colston, Chas. Ed. H. Athole Johnston, William (Belfast) Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)
Cook, Fred. Lucas (Lambeth) Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir J. H. Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)
Courtney, Rt. Hn. Leonard H. Kenyon, James Saunderson, Rt.H. Col. Ed. J.
Cripps, Charles Alfred King, Sir Henry Seymour Savory, Sir Joseph
Cruddas, William Donaldson Knowles, Less Seely, Charles Hilton
Cubitt, Hon. Henry Lafone, Alfred Seton-Karr, Henry
Curzon, Viscount Laurie, Lieut.-General Sharpe, William Edward T.
Dalbiac, Colonel Philip Hugh Lawrence, Sir E.Durning-(Cor) Shaw-Stewart, M.H.(Renfrew)
Davies, Sir Hora.D. (Chatham) Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool) Simeon, Sir Barrington
Dixon, Hartland, Sir F. D. Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.) Smith, Jas. Parker (Lanarks.)
Donkin, Richard Sim Lea, Sir Thos. (Londonderry) Spencer, Ernest
Dorington, Sir John Edward Llewellyn, Evan H. (Somerset) Stanley, Hon. A. (Ormskirk)
Doughty, George Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R. Stanley, Edw. Jas. (Somerset)
Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine Stanley, Henry M. (Lambeth)
Doxford, William Theodore Long, Rt. Hn. W. (Liverpool) Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)
Drage, Geoffrey Lopes, Henry Yarde Buller Stewart, Sir Mark J.M'Taggart
Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V. Lowles, John Stock, James Henry
Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas Loyd, Archie Kirkman Stone, Sir Benjamin
Fardell, Sir T. George Lubbock, Rt. Hon. Sir John Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley
Fergusson, Rt.H.Sir J.(Man'r) Lucas-Shadwell, William Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Field, Admiral (Eastbourne) Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred Thorburn, Walter
Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne Macartney, W. G. Ellison Thornton, Percy M.
Firbank, Joseph Thomas Macdona, John Cumming Tritton, Charles Ernest
Fisher, William Hayes Maclure, Sir John William Valentia, Viscount
Fison, Frederick William M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool) Wanklyn, James Leslie
Folkestone, Viscount M'Calmont, H. L. B. (Cambs.) Warde, Lieut.-Col.C.E. (Kent)
Forster, Henry William M'Killop, James Warr, Augustus Frederick
Foster, Colonel (Lancaster) Malcolm, Ian Webster, R. G. (St. Pancras)
Gedge, Sydney Massey-Mainwaring, Hn.W.F. Webster, SirR.E. (I. of Wight)
Gibbons, J. Lloyd Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M. Welby, Lieut.-Col. A. C. E.
Godson, Sir Augustus Freder'k Milbank, Sir Powlett Chas. J. Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon-
Goldsworthy, Major-General Monckton, Edward Philip Whiteley, George (Stockport)
Gordon, Hon. John Edward Monk, Charles James Whiteley, H. (Ashton-under L.)
Gorst, Rt. Hn. Sir John Eldon Montagu, Hn. J. Scott(Hants.) Williams, Jos. Powell- (Birm.)
Goschen, RtH G.J.(St.George's More, Robert Jasper Wilson, John (Falkirk)
Goschen, George J. (Sussex) Morrell, George Herbert Wilson, J.W. (Worcestersh.N.)
Goulding, Edward Alfred Murray, RtH. A. Graham (Bute) Wodehouse, Rt.Hn.E.R.(Bath)
Green, Walford D. (Wed'bury) Murray, Charles J. (Coventry) Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm
Greville, Hon. Ronald Myers, William Henry Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart-
Gull, Sir Cameron Newdigate, Francis Alexander Wyndham, George
Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord Geo. Northcote, Hn. Sir H. Stafford Wyvill, Marmaduke D'Arcy
Hanbury, Rt.Hn. Robert Wm. O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens
Hardy, Laurence Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay TELLERS FOR THE NOES
Hare, Thomas Leigh Parkes, Ebenezer Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.
Heath, James Penn, John
Helder, Augustus Pilkington, Richard

having called on Mr. HERBERT ROBERTS,

MR. LAMBERT () Devon, South Molton

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, my Amendment, which stands next on the Paper, contemplates, as you will observe, the assistance of deserving poor to secure State-aided pensions. As I understand, my Amendment is out of order, because a private Member has introduced a Bill; but may I, Sir, draw your attention to the fact that no private Mem- ber has a right to introduce a Bill into this House involving a charge on the public revenue, and I submit with great deference that, as my Amendment suggests State-aided old-age pensions, any private Member introducing a Bill with that object would be out of order, and that, therefore, my Amendment is in order.


No point of order arises, because no honourable Member is entitled to any precedence over the Member who first catches my eye; but I have not the least objection to inform the honourable Member that his Amendment is out of order, because the discussion on it would be the same as that which will take place on the Bills on the subject which stand on the Order Book.


Would you allow me to ask, Sir, whether a Bill proposing a charge on the public revenue would be in order as emanating from a private Member?


That, no doubt, is the general rule laid down; but the point does not arise now upon any particular Bill, and I will not decide it until it arises. The subject of the honourable Member's Amendment to the Address is relevant to several Bills on the Order Book, and he will have an opportunity of submitting his views to the House when one of them comes on. He cannot now anticipate discussion on a Bill which is on the Order Book.

Main Question again proposed:—