And which Amendment was, at the end of the Question, to add the words—
And we humbly represent to Your Majesty that the frequent recurrence of severe distress in certain districts of Ireland is the source of much suffering to the population of these localities, and calls for the speedy application of an efficient remedy for this social misery and privation by the introduction of legislation during the present Session for the enlargement of holdings, and the carrying out of feasible schemes of migration, in accordance with a resolution passed by the Congested Districts Board of Ireland in 1895, asking for compulsory powers to acquire suitable lands with which to provide increased opportunities of employment for the victims of this chronic distress."—(Mr. Davitt.)
§ MR. JOHN DILLON (Mayo, E.)
resuming his speech: Mr. Speaker, apart from the extremely offensive tone of the Chief Secretary's speech, my great objection to that speech is based upon the fact that, at least in great part, it consisted of elaborate arguments against the enlargement of holdings and migration as a remedy for the wretchedness of the population of the west of Ireland. Now, Mr. Speaker, in order to show the effect which was created on the public mind by the tone of the right honourable Gentleman's speech, I take the following extract from an article in "The Times" newspaper, which was published on Saturday, and which was written very close upon the Chief Secretary's announcement. Now, what does "The Times" say? It says:—The chronic distress on the western coasts is put forward as a pretext for the compulsory acquisition by the State of the grazing lands in order to divide them among small farms for the surplus population. That is an old quack remedy, and it is now clear to sensible men that to adopt it would be 'to feed the dog with his own tail.' But, as the Chief Secretary showed—thereby arousing the indignation of Mr. Dillon—the advocates of this policy have been endeavouring to give effect to it by coercive methods without waiting for the action of the State or the amendment of the law.Unquestionably, the impression given to the general public by the speech of the Chief Secretary is that, after studying 1472 the subject, he has come to the conclusion that the remedy for the chronic misery of the congested districts in the west of Ireland is not to be mainly sought for in the direction either of the enlargement of the holdings or in migration schemes. Now, Sir, I venture to say that this is not the spirit in which this problem ought to be approached, because I hope to show—in the progress of time—and I may add that the agitation of the people, which has been so violently denounced in this House, has already convinced most of those who were connected with the Congested Districts Board, and all those who take an interest in the problem outside—that not only is the proper remedy for the misery of these people to be sought for in the enlargement of their holdings, either by adding to their present holdings, or by migration, but that that remedy is the necessary preliminary to any other remedial Measure. Now, I shall show presently, I think, that the proposals made by the Chief Secretary at the conclusion of his speech are utterly inadequate to apply, or upon which to base, any real attempt to apply a radical and effective remedy to this miserable condition of things. I wish, first of all, to deal for a few moments with one or two other points in the right honourable Gentleman the Chief Secretary's speech. He pointed out, and quite truly pointed out, that, as regards East Mayo and other congested districts, there was not land enough in the immediate vicinity of their present holdings available for the enlargement of those holdings even if they possessed compulsory powers to purchase the land. He then proceeded to say that, as regards migration, it was an extremely difficult remedy, and he intimated that that was a remedy from which very little could be hoped for.
§ MR. DILLON
Outside all this, says the right honourable Gentleman, there exists the greatest possible reluctance on the part of the people to leave the districts in which they lived, and in which their forefathers lived. Sir, I am perfectly well aware that that difficulty does exist, but is it not preposterous for a man in the position of the Chief Secre- 1473 tary to point to that as an insuperable difficulty, or as one that ought to stand in the way of such a remedy. When we recall what has been the history of the Irish people during the last 50 or 100 years, and remember that the inhabitants have crossed the Atlantic in such enormous numbers, and emigrated to other parts of the world, are we to be told that the difficulty of migrating some 30 or 40 miles in the neighbourhood in which they live is an insuperable obstacle to this remedy? Surely there would be less unwillingness on the part of the people to go from one part of the country to another, than for them to cross the Atlantic or go to Australia. The Chief Secretary has put forward this difficulty as an answer to our demand for the migration remedy. This recalls to my mind how easily that difficulty was passed over when, in past days, this House was asked to adopt measures to facilitate the people of Ireland crossing the Atlantic. We never heard this argument when the Government were passing schemes for shipping the Irish people across the Atlantic from the districts in which they had lived so long. But, Sir, the Chief Secretary went on to draw attention to the case mentioned on page 21 of the 7th Report of the Congested Districts Board, and I understood him to say that this was the first instance in which the policy of migration had been tried. I believe that is true according to all these reports, for I do not remember any previous case of migration. Now let me draw the attention of the House to this particular case. In this instance, migration was tried in the case of two families out of 22 in number, who were taken from one of the islands (Mason Island, on the west coast of Galway) and transferred to an estate called Thomson's Estate, which was on the mainland. The report says that these two families supported themselves chiefly by selling kelp and fish. Well, as I said before, two of these families were transferred from this island to the mainland, and the report says that these two families got farms, and that when they were last heard of they expressed themselves satisfied. That is the first occasion, says the Chief Secretary, on which the policy of migration was tried, and I venture to say that it could not have been tried more unfavourably than by taking these men off 1474 an island where they had grown accustomed to their surroundings, and putting them on the mainland to which they were unaccustomed. They were far more likely to fail and be unwilling to leave their island when transferred among the strangers of the community on the mainland. The first experiment was tried under most unfavourable circumstances, and yet, according to the report of the Chief Secretary, it has proved satisfactory. But, Sir, what is there in that first effort, so far as our information goes, to discredit us in carrying out our larger policy of migration? On the contrary, that first experiment, for what it is worth—and it is a small matter—goes altogether in favour of the migration policy as likely to be the most successful. Now, Sir, I turn for a moment to the extraordinary speech delivered by that solitary politician who is a most earnest supporter of the Unionist cause, I allude to the right honourable Gentleman the Member for South Dublin. His whole speech from beginning to end was a powerful argument against the policy of migration and the enlargement of the holdings as a primary remedy for this distress. He argued—and that is the reason why I feel it my duty to dwell upon this speech—as the authority on which he based his speech that he had made of the subject a particular study, and he has, of course, been in the position to devote particular attention to it, having been a member of the Congested Districts Board from its foundation. But although I was astounded to hear the right honourable Gentleman argue against migration and the enlargement of holdings, he went a step further, and stated his deliberate conviction, based upon his own great experience of the population of Ireland, that he did not think a system of tenant proprietors was desirable. He stated that his experience had lead him to the conviction that the tenant proprietors of other countries had a most dreadful struggle for existence, although he did not say that he was absolutely converted to the policy of the present Government, which they had borrowed from the Land League, of making the peasant proprietors the owners. The right honourable Gentleman said that a policy of peasant proprietorship in Ireland was a policy fraught with disaster, and fraught with 1475 future misery to the Irish people. He further stated that if this year, or within the next few years, every occupier in the congested districts were provided with a comfortable farm of 15 acres at a reasonable price, within 15 years the congestion would be worse than ever. Sir, a more monstrous and grotesque proposition was never enunciated in this House, because if that be true, or had the slightest foundation in fact, then I say that the whole policy of the Government is a policy of madness, and they are plunging the Irish people into a condition of misery greater than anything which they have experienced before. Then he went on to say—and this opinion, to me, had a very sinister sound, and it evoked in my mind, and, I venture to say, the minds of my colleagues sitting round me, most sinister recollections—that he had had experience of people in the United States and other foreign lands, and he had come to the conclusion that the instincts of the Irish people were rather pastoral than agricultural. That reminds me of the time when a Lord Lieutenant came down to a part of Ireland, and drank to the successful mother of flocks and herds, and rejoiced at the disappearance of the people. Well, I do not agree with the right honourable Gentleman in that, because I think the Irish people have been forced into pastoral occupations, and the operation of forcing them has been one of the most unmitigated curses that ever fell upon Ireland. I believe that the Irish people have the passion for agriculture and the holding of small farms; but it is because they have bitter experiences in Ireland of the treatment they received on the land that they naturally incline to those new countries, and to take what they consider to be fairer rights. So much for the opening part of the speech of the honourable Member for South Dublin. "King Charles' head" then appeared upon the scene. Then the right honourable Gentleman told us what agricultural co-operation and creameries had done, and his remarks were received with universal laughter from the Irish Benches, and he got somewhat irritated. Now, I have no objection either to co-operation or to these creameries, and I never had any; nor shall I have any objection to 1476 them so long as the right honourable Gentleman does not use his co-operative societies as a political engine; but when I found that this movement was brought before the Fry Commission as an argument against the reduction of rents, then, I say, the co-operative system is being used for an illicit purpose. Witness after witness before that Commission said, "You can get your seeds through Mr. Plunkett's Society for half the price. If the price has gone down, and you can get all the things that are necessary at half the price, then rents ought to go up instead of going down." It is only in that way that I object to a co-operative society being used, as it was used in this House on Friday, as an argument against the enlargement of holdings. I put this question to the right honourable Gentleman: If he were planted on three acres of bog, and paid 10s. an acre rent for it, how could he co-operate, unless the Co-operative Society is for the purpose of showing who would starve the soonest?
§ * MR. PLUNKETT
The honourable Gentleman puts a question to me. I may say that I never argued against either the enlargement of holdings or migration in a single word I used. I said that, in order to make them successful, it is absolutely necessary to improve the farming industry, and that the only way of improving that industry is to adopt those methods which have been adopted elsewhere.
§ MR. DILLON
I do not object to the methods or improvements in the skill by which the people may improve their holdings, but the right honourable Gentleman is somewhat singular in his method of expressing his views, because he conveyed to me, and to other Members on this side, that he was not in favour of enlarging the holdings—at all events, until he had succeeded in morally elevating the people through the operation of the Co-operative Society. Now, I object to the sequence of the remedies. I say that, first of all, you must give the people a holding on which they can live, and that is the first step. Then, by all means, give them your creameries, technical instruction, and your co-operative societies for what they are worth. Let the co-operative societies spread, and let more creameries 1477 be built, but, first of all, lay a sure foundation and a safe foundation by giving the people holdings upon which they can live at a reasonable and fair price. If you begin by applying these other remedies, which I think are greatly over rated, and neglect the really important remedy of the enlargement of the holdings, then I say you will be beginning at the wrong end, and anything you do in the way of technical instruction and the like will simply result in adding to the rents of the landlords, or giving them a better chance of getting their rents. The only other ground on which I object to the co-operative system is the mere risk of using it as a political weapon. I charge the right honourable Gentleman now, frankly, with using this condition of the Congested Districts Board and the Co-operative Society as a political instrument. I remember well the right honourable Gentleman when, in 1890, fresh from his American experiences, he called upon me and told me that he was no politician, and that he had no interest in politics. He told me that his whole interest was in economic questions. I am betraying nothing of a confidential nature by making these statements, because he said it in public, and it aroused my sympathy and interest very much. Well, for two or three years the right honour able Gentleman pursued that course, and he was placed on the Congested Districts Board as a non-politician. When I asked the First Lord of the Treasury, who was then the Chief Secretary for Ireland, whether he considered it a right thing that a Member of this House should have a seat on the Congested Districts Board as a non-politician, active Unionist politician, he replied that if he had known that he intended to seek a seat in this House, he very much doubted whether he should have made that appointment on that Board. When I see the right honourable Gentleman become not only a bitter Unionist politician—
§ MR. DILLON
The right honourable Gentleman has two voices; he is sometimes all agreeability, and sometimes a politician.
§ MR. DILLON
He may be mild in the eyes of the honourable Member for South Belfast. It was said in the Debate the other day that there are directors and directors, and I suppose I may say there are Unionist politicians and Unionist politicians, and I am rather afraid he is a more dangerous Unionist politician than the honourable Member for South Belfast. But, from my point of view, he is a bitter Unionist politician, and I hold the view that no Member of this House ought to be a member of the Congested Districts Board, because it gives them an opportunity of distributing privilege and money among the constituencies. But when I see the right honourable Gentleman going to Belfast, as he did the other day, delivering an oration there explaining the object of the Co-operative Society, and for the purpose of disinfecting Irishmen with common sense—I do not know whether he meant that for the honourable Member for South Belfast—I say that it is upon that aspect, and upon that aspect alone, of the Congested Districts Board that I object. The right honourable Gentleman sometimes poses as if he contained in himself alone all the wisdom connected with this whole problem, but I want to remind the right honourable Gentleman, in this very connection, of a very remarkable speech, which I have always regarded as one of the wisest and most instructive that has ever been made on the Co-operative Society as connected with the Congested Districts Board. He will remember the speech very well, because it was made by a very able Irish Bishop in these congested districts—I mean the Most Rev. Dr. Healy, the Bishop of Clonfert. The reason for this speech, the right honourable Gentleman will remember, is this: He was asked by- the right honourable Gentleman, or some of his friends, to come to a meeting at which this programme in connection with the Congested Districts Board was being discussed for the purpose of placing the Co-operative Society, and all those other 1479 societies, before the public. Now, this is what the Bishop said—Father Finlay must admit, as an economist, that, in face of foreign competition, the elements of successful agriculture are capital, labour, and technical skill. What do I find in the West, and other parts of the country? I find that the very best lands in the whole country are gone out of cultivation, without capital, labour, and skill and they are at the present time in exactly the same state as in the days of Adam. It cannot be denied that the plains of Roscommon, the plains of Mayo, and the plains of Galway are in that state at this moment. All the best land has gone out of cultivation, inhabited merely by herds and cultivated by graziers, who are breaking up every day in face of foreign competition and unable to pay their debts. I say, therefore, the first element in successful competition in agriculture in Ireland is the sub-dividing of the good lands, and the putting of the people to till the lands that they inherited from their forefathers. I do not propose in doing that to be unjust to any man. If any man, landlord or grazier, is deprived of his lands I will give him their full market value for them. What our friends Mr. Plunkett and Father Finlay are doing in this, they are striving to make the best of the present agricultural economic conditions in the country.I do not think it would be possible to put the whole circumstances in better or more forcible language—They are striving to make the best of the present agricultural economic conditions in the country. For that they deserve all credit. But I would wish them also never to let these other two points disappear from public view. I have heard priests again and again when they were reproached for apparent indifference to the efforts to help the poor people, say, Yes, but they are beginning at the wrong end: they are simply enabling the tenants to pay rents to the landlords, rents that' they can badly afford. Why do they not with equal clearness put forward these things that I have been referring to if they are really anxious for the agricultural prosperity of the country. I have no doubt that that thought is in the minds of a great many priests and a great many people, and there is no doubt at all that there is a good deal in it.Then the Bishop goes on to say—But I want men like him to tell Mr. Balfour and to tell the other leaders of the Unionist Party in England and Ireland that never will there be peace, never will there be happiness and prosperity in the country until this radical cure is effected.Now what is the radical cure to which the Bishop referred? Why, it is the splitting up of the grazing land of Ros- 1480 common, Galway, and Mayo, and its division into small farms, and he distinctly takes the view which I have endeavoured to impress upon the House now, that the whole scheme of the right honourable Gentleman and the Chief Secretary for Ireland is beginning at the wrong end and trying to make the best of the present economic conditions in the country, which is an impossible and preposterous task, instead of beginning at the right end and altering the economic conditions. Sir, the policy of the right honourable Gentleman the Member for South Dublin and the policy of the Chief Secretary for Ireland might be fairly compared to the policy of a town council or municipal body in this country, who, after having resolved upon some great scheme of improvement to reconstruct an insanitary area, proceeded to spend the money of the ratepayers without first buying out the landlords and securing their improvements against confiscation. If any municipal body did that they would be greatly condemned by every reasonable man. We have a large and comprehensive scheme for this condition of affairs in the West of Ireland, and you might as well pour your money into a sieve as to pursue the present policy, which is useless until you stop the leakage by setting up a real economic condition of affairs upon which all these other remedies can safely rest. That is the view which I take with regard to the speech of the honourable Member for South Dublin. There is one other point that I want to allude to before I turn for a few moments to the remedies which have been proposed by the Chief Secretary, and that is the case which has been made out both by the Chief Secretary and the Member for South Dublin that the agitations which have gone on in the west of Ireland have obstructed the work of enlarging the holdings. Now, Sir, there is in the Seventh Report of the Congested Districts Board, on page 86, some figures showing the progress that has been made by the Board in buying estates and enlarging holdings. In that table I find that up to the month of August, 1896, only three estates had been bought. That is to say, the Board was formed in the 1481 year 1891, so that it was five years after the Board was formed that three estates had been bought, and the first of these estates was purchased in 1893, and the last in 1896, or at the rate of one small estate per annum. The Chief Secretary complained, last year, when he was denouncing us in connection with the Land League, that—For some years there has been an agitation in the district against the holders of evicted and grazing farms.He also quoted some acts of violence which he said had been committed in the month of February last, and in reference to one or two of these acts he used very strong language about the consequences of the agitation. But it is a very remarkable thing that just in that very year when the agitation commenced, in 1896, the speed of the Congested Districts Board in carrying out these reforms began to increase, and therefore the effect of that agitation was to accelerate the work of the Board.
§ MR. DILLON
I am only pointing out the fact, which you cannot get over. Although you may give reasons, it is a thing which is absolutely undeniable in the history of Ireland that until there is an agitation nothing is done, and whether it be by an appeal in this House or a demonstration outside, just in direct proportion to the extent and vigour of the agitation is relief given to us and our condition improved. Since 1896 no less than nine estates have been purchased, and a great number of others are in progress towards that result. I am perfectly convinced that the programme which we have put forward, and which was only taken up by this House after a long delay, will be carried out by the Government in time. I only regret that we have got to travel by the same road that has been travelled by the Land League, and by other agitations before the present time. Now, Sir, this condition in the west of Ireland is no new thing. It has lasted for a great many years. We have had it all through the century, year after year, and I want to know why this question has only been taken up within the last seven or eight 1482 years. It has only been taken up, as everybody knows, because we took it up from these Benches. The people have been so long patient, until at last they started an agitation which has forced the attention of this House and of the country. Now, Sir, I must refer again in this connection to that very remarkable letter which was published in "The Times" in 1893 by the present Secretary to the Local Government Board, because some of the language which he used on that occasion—he was then, of course, in opposition, and therefore spoke with greater freedom—gave such a striking picture of the condition of things which existed in the west of Ireland that it cannot be too often called attention to in this House. Now, this is what the honourable Member for South Tyrone says in a letter published in "The Times" on the 15th of December, 1893—The condition of the De Freyne and similar estates in the west of Ireland is simply appalling. The estate is part of a large congested district. The land is mainly cutaway bog, every acre of it cut and reclaimed by the labour and sweat of the tenant. Even were this land of the best quality, and were it held rent free, the 2,000 tenants on the estate could not live. By wages earned abroad, as England is curiously called in these parts, a precarious existence is eked out. In a good year, as this undoubtedly has been, rents are fairly well paid. In bad years, and in that western area they are the rule, instalments only are paid, arrears consequently accumulate, and in due time they become a hopeless mountain of debt. Evictions then take place, and scenes such, as those with which Englishmen now are painfully familiar will inevitably follow. It is a miserable condition of affairs. Will the day ever come when a Government shall be found willing to look these facts in the face, and, instead of passing on, stay and deal with them?That letter was written six years ago, and the district to-day is exactly in the same condition as when the honourable Member for South Tyrone described it. Not one single thing has been done to alleviate or improve the condition of those people, and if the spirit of the right honourable Gentleman the Member for South Dublin continues to animate the decisions of the Congested Districts Board we shall have to wait a long time before anything is done. The right honourable Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland commenced his speech the other day by indulging in a ferocious 1483 onslaught on the Irish Members. The right honourable Gentleman charged me with never having made any fruitful suggestions for the government of Ireland. Such a charge seems to me preposterous, when, in order to make suggestions that would be fruitful, I must be possessed of some means of putting them into effect. I may, however, remind the House that in December, 1893, in a letter published m the "Manchester Guardian" and the London papers, I made suggestions which I believed would apply an effective remedy to this miserable condition of affairs; but, of course, not the slightest attention was ever paid to them. I do not complain of that, because we are accustomed to it, but I think it is rather hard to be taunted in this House with making no fruitful suggestions, when the fact is I have made many suggestions, which have never been paid the slightest attention to. These are some of the suggestions I have made—First, the constitution of a board so formed as to secure the confidence of the people living in the districts to be dealt with. Secondly, the appointment of at least two paid commissioners who could give continuous attention to the work, and a reasonable staff of surveyors. Thirdly, an income of at least £100,000 a year for about 25 years. Fourthly, a power conferred upon the Board to purchase compulsorily from the landlords their interest in all farms situated in the congested districts area, and valued to the poor at under £10 a year, the price of the landlord's interest to be estimated by an impartial tribunal. But I would be willing, for the sake of avoiding bitterness, to give them a fair number of years' purchase, say ten years, of what they can prove to have been their average net annual receipt for the last ten years. Fifthly, power to keep a system of registry of title, quite apart from and far simpler than that generally in use for real estate, so that small holders could dispose of their holdings without the intervention of attorneys, in the same fashion as Ulster tenants now sell their tenant-right. Sixthly, power to the Board to purchase compulsorily grass and waste lands for the purpose of enlarging the holdings of small tenants or of migrating small tenants to new holdings. This work would be simply undoing the horrible clearances by which a good deal of this congestion was created. The total population of the congested districts is 560,000, say 100,000 families, the poor-law valuation being £556,000 a year. This would give a rental, probably, of about £500,000 a year, or an average of £5 a family. (This figure appears to be too high; but I take my figures from the report of the Congested Districts Board.) The net annual receipts of the landlords, calculated as indicated above, would, on a rental of £500,000, 1484 be less than £350,000 a year. Three millions and a half would purchase this at 10 years' purchase, giving to the landlords a good deal more than their property is really worth. The interest payable to the Government on three and a half millions would be £140,000. By this operation the Congested Districts-Board would be placed in a position to reduce by 50 per cent, the nominal rentals of the tenants under their jurisdiction, while retaining the margin between £140,000 due by them to the Government and £250,000, being half the nominal rental of the district, to meet bad debts, the balance to go towards making up the income of the Board. The money for this purpose has already been provided by Parliament under the Purchase Act of 1891; and I may say in this connection that unless some such scheme as I have suggested is put in force, the thirty millions-provided by Parliament by the Act for Irish land purchase, will be all absorbed without-bringing any benefit or relief to the very class of tenants who most required relief, and whose necessities Parliament was most anxious to deal with. For, as the purchase system is at present administered in Ireland, the small western tenants are practically excluded from its operation. Seventhly, the Board, when reducing the rents of the small holders, and thereby conferring a great benefit on them, should be empowered to affix certain conditions to the holdings—(a) no sub-letting or sub-division; (b) no mortgaging. And I see no reason why the American homestead principle should not be introduced, namely, that the house implements of these small farmers should not be seized for any debt contracted after due notice of this provision. Rightly, the Board should also have power, with the consent of the people, to divide into separate holdings all joint holdings and holdings held in rundale, which are pretty numerous throughout these western districts, and are frequently nests of poverty.Now, Sir, these are comprehensive proposals which I believed would apply an affective remedy to the miserable state of affairs then and still existing; and perhaps the Government, after the tone of the right honourable Gentleman's, speech, will kindly consent to take them into consideration. They are undoubtedly large proposals, which it will take some years—perhaps three, or four, or five—to carry fully into effect, but they are not revolutionary proposals. They do not involve loss or injury to anyone. They propose to place these districts on an economic basis, and I need hardly say that the right honourable Gentleman will have my hearty good wishes in helping to improve the social condition of the people in that part of the country. Now, Sir, I come to the proposals which he announced to the House on Friday night. He first 1485 of all spoke of placing at the disposal of the Congested Districts Board a floating capital of £60,000, which was to be expended at the rate of £20,000 a year, and to be repaid by the tenants. He did not inform us where the capital was to come from or whether it was to be borrowed on a security of the Board and whether interest was to be paid for it.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
Of course, taken from the capital of the Congested Districts Board, and interest paid upon it.
§ MR. DILLON
That is what I was afraid of—that it would be so much of a decrease of the available income of the Board. Now, Sir, the proposal may be good as far as it goes, but I must say—and I am repeating what all the intelligent people outside, as well as inside, the Board say—that you are only tinkering with the question. By proposals such as these you will do little good. You may do a little bit here and there, but not for many years—I might also say generations—will you by such means remove the cause of famine. I appeal to the right honourable Gentleman, in the language of the honourable Member for South Tyrone six years ago, now that we have a strong Government, and a rich Government, to grapple with this question on a broad and radical basis. Sir, I believe that if this question is to be settled in a way that will leave no bad blood behind it, you will be obliged to pay to the landlords and graziers something more than the true market value of their interest. I myself and others who have spoken on this question on the platform of the United Irish League in Mayo have stated that we do not want to take away the property of the landlords without giving them full value for their interests. It is perfectly notorious that the graziers of Connaught are absolutely broken at the present moment, owing to the condition of the trade, and I maintain that I am within the truth when I say that you could buy out the grazing interests of Connaught for less than half of what they would have cost 10 years ago. Therefore, the time is extremely favourable, and I have been told by men who know these graziers that there are large numbers of them 1486 in Mayo who would gladly sell and get out of the trade. I am bound to admit that I think the Government ought to be prepared to lose some money in settling the question. Last year, when it was a question of buying off the opposition of the landlords to the Local Government Bill, you did not hesitate to give them a quarter of a million a year, and a very much smaller sum would set the population of the West on their feet, enabling them to be a self-supporting and self-respecting population. The First Lord of the Treasury, who always approaches this question in a more sympathetic spirit than the present Chief Secretary, has recognised—I have heard him say it over and over again—that the House and the Government owe a duty to these unfortunate people, whose condition, he admits, is not due to any fault of theirs, but to bad administration and bad laws. Therefore, I appeal to the Government on behalf of these people to give over their tinkering and insufficient proposals for abating in some small degree the great evils that exist amongst this population; to recognise their duty to those people, since they will not allow us to deal with this question; and to make one effort worthy of so rich a Government to cut out by the roots the cause of the famine, and at last to elevate the people of the heart of Ireland from the condition of chronic poverty and famine in which they exist.
§ MAJOR RASCH (Essex, S.E.)
Mr. Speaker, having some acquaintance with this district, I should like to ask the sympathetic attention of the Government to the Amendment of the honourable Gentleman which is now before the House. Of course, notwithstanding the speech of the right honourable Gentleman the Irish Secretary, we all know that he has given a considerable amount of time, attention, and care to the question of the congested districts. I, Sir, am not at all in favour of the policy alluded to by the late Irish Secretary; but exceptional duties require, in my mind, exceptional remedies, and as I understand that money is to be spent in the West India Islands to relieve exceptional distress, I fail myself to see why some of it should not be spent here at home. I do not quite myself understand, Sir, how migration and 1487 the enlargement of holdings, suggested by the honourable Member who has just resumed his seat, is likely to relieve this particular distress, because I have always understood from my knowledge of that part of Ireland that the state of the trade of the district depended upon the capital from the English markets; but probably honourable Members opposite know their own position, and the course which the Government should pursue. Of course, I know, as an English agricultural Member, that I have no right to trouble the House with my views on this question, and I only do so because I know myself that this distress is severe and acute, and because I have always remarked that when English Members representing agricultural districts have had to lay their grievances before this House they have always received a sympathetic and a fair hearing from honourable Members opposite who represent rural districts in Ireland.
§ MR. W. REDMOND (Clare, E.)
I desire to say one or two words in support of the Amendment of the honourable Member for Mayo, and I have two reasons for saying these few words. In the first place, with some knowledge of what has been going on in Ireland during the autumn, I would not like it to be considered for a moment that I am not in this matter in the most absolute sympathy with the honourable Member for Mayo in support of the Amendment. In some matters I do not always act with him, but I can assure the House that, with regard to the terms of this Amendment, there is, as far as I know, absolutely no difference whatever in Ireland amongst any sections of the Nationalist Party. Well, my second reason for desiring to say a few words is, I confess frankly, the indignation which I felt when I listened to the right honourable Gentleman the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant. Now the honourable Member for Mayo, who has just resumed his seat, made a comparison between the right honourable Gentleman who is now Chief Secretary and the Leader of the House. I am bound to say that having been in this House for 15 years, and listened to a great many speeches by the present Leader of the Government, I am 1488 forced to the conclusion that he did, upon every occasion such as this, extend to the Irish Members a far more sympathetic hearing, and far greater consideration, than the present right honourable Gentleman the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant. What is the question which has been raised by the Amendment of the honourable Member for Mayo? Why, it is a question of the most vital importance to the Irish people. It is a question which goes to the root of all the mischief which from time to time occurs in Ireland. But instead of dealing in a broad and statesmanlike way with all the arguments brought before the House, and which the terms of the Amendment proposed, I must say the right honourable Gentleman the Chief Secretary seemed to be more desirous of raising an angry feeling amongst the Irish Members by sneering at their procedure in Ireland. Now, what could be more offensive? I have no doubt that the right honourable Gentleman had no intention of being so, but what could be more offensive than to deliberately charge Irish Members with making speeches of one type in Ireland and speeches of another type upon the floor of the House of Commons? The right honourable Gentleman made that charge, and I venture to say the quotations which he gave the House of speeches delivered in Ireland did not at all bear out the gravity of the charge which he made. As far as I know— certainly I speak for myself—I should not think that there is a single Irish Member of any section who would be guilty of the meanness of delivering one single sentence one way in Ireland and another single sentence another way on the floor of the House of Commons. As far as I am concerned, if I were not afraid of being called to order for using language which was unparliamentary, I would use quite as strong language as ever I used in Ireland upon the floor of the House of Commons. Now, Mr. Speaker, the right honourable Gentleman the Member for South Dublin (Mr. Plunkett) has taken part in this Debate, as have also two English Members, the honourable Member for Derby (Mr. Drage) and one of the Members for Essex, the honourable Gentleman who has just resumed his seat; and, in passing, I may say that Irish Members regard with great satisfaction the interest taken 1489 in this matter by English Members. Having read the speech of the honourable Member for Derby in "The Times," although I differ with a great many of the conclusions, I must say that I do feel highly gratified, as several other Irish Members must have done, to find that he took the trouble to go to Ireland to be able on the spot to study those matters of which we have so frequently cause to complain in the House. Now, I find myself in a somewhat peculiar position in this Debate, and for this reason: I, like most of the Nationalist Members, and also the honourable Baronet the Member for Kerry (Sir Thomas Es-monde), are members of the committee of the Irish agricultural organisation of which the Member for South Dublin is president and principal worker. I heard the honourable Member for Mayo say that this movement in Ireland has been used by the right honourable Gentleman the Member for South Dublin for political ends. Well, I am bound to say that as far as my observation goes the movement has not been used for political ends. If I found myself convinced that this were the case I would not remain for a single day on the committee of the organisation, and when I find myself in company upon that committee with the honourable Baronet the Member for Kerry, who is a strong Nationalist, I feel that I am justified in believing that the movement has not been used for the purpose of promoting the Unionist policy in Ireland. However, I may not have the information in the possession of the honourable Member for Mayo. I must however, say I did regard it as a startling assertion, and an assertion which I, up to the present time, have no means of seeing any truth in. I understood that the object of the organisation of the right honourable Gentleman the Member for South Dublin was by means of education to raise the standard of agriculture in Ireland by putting before the agriculturists of the country the examples which are to be found on the Continent, and by teaching the Irish people the most scientific way of working the land. Well, that is the object, as I understand it, of the organisation, an object with which nobody can possibly find fault. But I am bound to say that I see absolutely nothing in that inconsistent with a strong support of the Amendment which is before the House. No doubt 1490 technical training in agriculture may be most important. No doubt it is desirable that the people should have examples shown to them from Continental countries which adopt the best possible methods of working the land. But what is the good of educating people in the methods of agriculture—what is the use of giving them scientific training, if you do not take steps to give them what is the most necessary and essential thing of all—that is, sufficient land upon which to work, and upon which to exercise the education you propose to give them? The honourable Gentleman's Amendment calls for—the speedy application of an efficient remedy for this social misery and privation, by the introduction of legislation during the present Session for the enlargement of holdings, and the carrying out of feasible schemes of migration.The honourable Gentleman the Member for Mayo has charged the right honourable Gentleman the Member for South Dublin with being opposed to the principle of the enlargement of holdings, and with being opposed to the principle of migration carried out in a peaceable and reasonable manner. If he is opposed to these two propositions, I certainly am not with him, because I believe that at the root of the whole question of the privation and misery in Ireland is to be found the fact that you have huddled up in certain portions of the country large masses of the population upon soil which cannot maintain them, while you have at the same time throughout Ireland thousands and thousands of acres of the most fertile land in Europe, and in the whole world, which are as desolate and maintain as poor a population as any tracts in Australia or in America, or in the new countries of the world. And I may say that while, of course, we are glad that the right honourable Gentleman the Chief Secretary has seen his way to increase the resources of the Congested Districts Board, I agree with the honourable Member for Mayo when he said that any such suggestion, though good in its way, is but tinkering with this question, and that what a Government so powerful, and with such resources at its hand as the present Government, ought to do is not to dole out a few more thousands a year to the Congested Districts Board, 1491 but to go to the whole root of the question, and to formulate some great plan—and it is quite within their power to do so—some great plan whereby, once and for all, this source of misery and wretchedness in Ireland should be put an end to, by taking the people from the congested districts and planting them upon fair terms upon the lands which are now unoccupied, Reference has been made to the terms upon which these large grazing farms might be broken up. I do not think any great difficulty will be found in that direction. I have not, I do not think any one has, proposed that anything in the shape of confiscation should be indulged in when dealing with the proprietors of these large farms. What we propose is that the Government should take compulsory powers to acquire these farms, upon fair and reasonable terms, and re-let them upon proper terms to the populations that are now suffering semi-starvation along the West Coast of Ireland, and in the congested districts. That is a great problem, a problem that I believe would repay any Government or any Minister who attempted to take it up and to solve it; and if the right honourable Gentleman the Chief Secretary desires to leave his mark favourably and permanently upon Irish affairs, he will, now that he has the opportunity, deal with this great question, and see whether it is not possible to remove the congestion, and thereby put an end to the record of misery and famine by migrating the people to lands which are suitable for them, and unoccupied at the present time. This is not a new scheme at all. The late Mr. Parnell took the greatest possible interest in this question of migration. True, it must be said that the scheme which he formulated for migration in Ireland was not a success. It is perfectly true that it did not succeed, but its failure under the circumstances which attended its failure, if inquired into, would not be found to be any conclusive reason why the question of migration should not be entered upon by the Government under more favourable circumstances, and carried out successfully. The right honourable Gentleman the Chief Secretary referred to some meetings which have been held in Ireland in order to promote this idea of the migration of the people and the enlargement of agricultural 1492 holdings, and he made reference to agitation which had "disgraced Ireland" in the past. Well, of course, from a statement of that kind we can only draw one conclusion, and that is that the Irish people must continue in the future, by means of agitation, turmoil, and disturbance, to thrust their requirements upon the attention of the Government. The right honourable Gentleman speaks of a disgraceful agitation in the past. Does he refer to the agitation of the Land League? Does he refer to the agitation of the National League? Yes, they were disgraceful agitations. But how much more disgraceful is it, I submit, that the Government of this country will take no action, will pass no Act of Parliament,. until the people have raised the agitations which the right honourable Gentleman called disgraceful. Why, it is a simple fact that not a single Act of Parliament dealing with the land question has been passed in this House except it has come after agitations which the right honourable Gentleman has called disgraceful. But for the Land League there would not have been the present Land Court which prevails in Ireland. But for the National League there would not have been the improvement which has taken place in the position of the occupiers of the soil. And I must say that it is rather galling to Irish Members, when they have had long experience in past years, that they can get nothing in the way of justice except after agitation, and when they know that but for these agitations this House would never take any action, that the Chief Secretary should come down and call these agitations in the past disgraceful. If they were disgraceful, why did you act upon their recommendations? If the Land League organisation devastated and disgraced Ireland, why did you come here, year after year, and pass into Acts of Parliament the very demands which were put for ward? Well, Mr. Speaker, the right honourable Gentleman has been fir some time a Member of this House; he has not been so very long Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, but I venture to say that if his right honourable brother, who was for many years Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, was in that office 1493 under present circumstances, he would not meet a demand of a reasonable character, such as is embodied in this Amendment, he would not meet the claims of the Irish Members upon a question which is one of admitted grievance, by scornfully referring to their disgraceful agitations in the past. It would seem that the right honourable Gentleman desired the Irish people to further disgrace themselves by further agitation. He may imagine that there is no strong feeling in Ireland upon this question. Well, strong feeling has been exhibited; large meetings have been held all through the West of Ireland upon the subject; but these meetings have not, perhaps, attracted so much the interest of the right honourable Gentleman because they have been very peaceable demonstrations, because they have been unaccompanied by any great turbulence or disturbance. And I venture to say that if in the future these meetings in Ireland, and this movement in Ireland, are characterised by disturbance, by violence, by recourse to the methods which were adopted in the days of the Land League—if that should occur, the right honourable Gentleman the Chief Secretary will have but himself to thank, because he has shown once more conclusively in this House, that as long as the people are peaceable, as long as they put forward their demand constitutionally by public meetings, and by doing nothing else, their demand will not receive the attention of the Government, and it is only when something untoward occurs in Ireland that the attention of the Government is riveted, and that an attempt is made to remedy the grievances of which the people complain. I do not say for a moment—I am sure the honourable Member for Mayo does not attempt to say—that this is not a question which is surrounded by the greatest possible difficulty. It is a question of very large extent. It is a question the settlement of which would involve much attention, much anxiety, and much care upon the part of any Government that attempted to solve it; but it is a question which goes to the very root of the whole difficulty in Ireland; it is a question which, if you once settle it satisfactorily, will relieve you of the necessity, year aft or year, of having appeals made for remedies 1494 against pastoral famines in Ireland. Take the people from the congested districts, put them upon the broad acres which are suitable for agricultural holdings; and if you do that you will not only prevent famine and distress recurring, but you will make the people that you govern contented to be upon the soil of their own country. I have no doubt in my own mind that in course of time this question will be settled. I have no doubt that in time, just as the question of fixing fair rents was taken up after many years of violent and fierce agitation, so, sooner or later, this question of removing the people to the best land in the country will be taken up. But I frankly say here to my honourable Friend the Member for Mayo, and to those who think with him, that I do not for one moment anticipate—and the Chief Secretary's speech leads me to this conclusion—that this great question, affecting the lives and the happiness of the masses of the Irish people, will either be taken up by this Government or any Government until an agitation is started in Ireland which shall be, in the words of the Chief Secretary, quite as disgraceful as the Land League agitation; and when it is quite as disgraceful, it will be at the same time, and then only, quite as efficient.
§ * MR. LECKY (Dublin University)
Mr. Speaker, it seems to me that in the whole course of the present century no Government has done so much for the West of Ireland as the last Unionist Government in which the present First Lord of the Treasury was the Chief Secretary, the Government which established the Congested Districts Board, and which opened out the country by light railways. As for the present Government, in this very Debate we have heard an announcement of a large and most valuable augmentation of the resources of the Congested Districts Board, and one of the principal Measures—in fact the principal Irish Measure—brought before us this Session is to be the establishment of an agricultural board for raising the level of agriculture in Ireland, and the establishment of a system of technical education for the purpose of extending, as far as possible, those industries which are at present so lamentably wanting. I think the problem before us is not one which ought to be made the 1495 subject of invective. The true culprit is not the British Government nor the Irish landlords. It is the Atlantic ocean. The combination of mountains of ocean with the excessive rainfall that follows is the true reason for the distress existing in the western fringe of Ireland. You are dealing with a country of morass and rocks, where every slight increase of the enormous average rainfall inevitably brings failure of the potato, and consequent famine. I believe this problem cannot be dealt with better than on the lines which the Government has adopted, that is to say, by enlarging and strengthening that Congested Districts Board, which during the last years has done such an infinite amount of good in Ireland. I think by increasing its revenue and its powers the Government is most practically and effectively acting for the good of the people. I hope the Congested Districts Board will continue on its present basis. It is a body which has no ulterior object. It is not in any degree political; and I hope it will continue to consist of men who have long experience in this particular kind of work, who are appointed by the Government, and who, looking simply to the good of the country, are removed altogether from the electorate, and are not the tools of agitators or politicians. I must say, Sir, I should look with much hesitation upon any Measure for stereotyping on the soil the present holders of land in the poorer districts of Connaught. Something, but I think not much, may be done towards enlarging their holdings; but you must remember that they are among the worst farmers of Ireland and the most ignorant of agriculture, and they are the class who most invariably and largely sub-divide their holdings. They are also living in a country which cannot, in the long run, support them. Every few years famine comes, and it has to be met by special measures. You have a good deal of similar soil in Scotland, a great part of which is made prosperous by being given up to sporting purposes, which brings a great deal of money into the country and a great deal of employment also. The prosperity of these parts of Scotland depends upon the sporting industry and the development of tourist traffic, which has brought great numbers of English people to visit scenery which is exceedingly beautiful, 1496 but certainly not more beautiful than that of Mayo or the cliff scenery in Donegal.
§ * MR. LECKY
And Clare. But I think the attempt to go down and make an attack upon the richer grazing land would be one of the worst things that could happen. Our first and most vital industry is the cattle trade. Nothing can be clearer than that, owing to the natural conditions of Ireland, and under a system of free trade, to which England is irrevocably committed, Ireland must be a pastoral country. It can only be by keeping up that pasture in a flourishing condition that any real prosperity can come. An attack upon the graziers and the cattle trade, coupled with a revival of the land agitation, which inevitably drives immense masses of capital out of the country, must be most disastrous. It is useless to give compulsory powers of purchase to the Congested Districts Board, as they clearly say they do not require it—[Several honourable Members: No, no!]—for there is abundance of land at their disposal. I no not intend to follow through all his speech, and I certainly do not mean to defend my right honourable Friend beside me (Mr. Plunkett) from the charge of excessive arrogance and excessive immodesty. Such charges may be safely left to the judgment of the House. But I do say that by turning the minds of the people of a great part of Ireland in a practical direction, and by showing how by patient work they can improve the economical condition of Ireland, and so raise it to a higher level of civilisation, my right honourable Friend has done more than any other non-official Member for the benefit of his country.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)
I wish to thank the honourable and gallant Gentleman the Member for a Division of Middlesex and the honourable Gentleman the Member for Derby for their contributions to this Debate. With regard to the first honourable Gentleman, it is not the first time that he has endeavoured to soften the evil effects of the practice of provocative language by the Chief Secretary for Ireland. I remember last year, when the right honourable Gentleman made 1497 his historic and remarkable allusion to champagne and the South of France, as a remedy for the grievances of the congested districts, the honourable and gallant Gentleman was one of the first to get up and very properly reprove him for the language he employed. Just let me make a passing allusion to the speech we have just heard from the right honourable Gentleman the Member for Dublin University. He said, and said quite properly, I thought, that this was not a question to be settled by invective. I quite agree with him. I would say that I concur, and I readily concur, with the remark that this Debate proceeded on the lines of perfectly calm discussion of a very difficult question until the right honourable Gentleman unhappily interfered, and in the true spirit of the speech which he made last year he introduced into the discussion of this question a spirit of rage and tumult which had been entirely absent until he spoke. I take the speech of the honourable Gentleman the Member for Derby. I think the speech of the honourable Gentleman the Member for Derby is really a strong defence of the Amendment of my honourable Friend the Member for South Mayo. The honourable Gentleman described how he had frequently visited Ireland during the last nine years. He described in eloquent language the misery of the people in these congested districts. He described how badly they were fed, how badly they were housed, the hard and sometimes horrible conditions under which they exercised their employment, and he used one phrase which struck me at the time, because, really, I must say, the honourable Gentleman brought to the knowledge of the House the fact that a system of rent which I considered had been abolished in Ireland seems still to exist in some of these districts, namely, rent in the shape of labour. Well, Sir, I wonder if the House knows what this exactly means. I turn to the appendix of the first Report of the Congested Districts Board, and I find that amongst the budgets which they have drawn up of these households in Ireland is one of "60s. for sixty days' duty work." I wonder if the House knows what that means. It means that as part of the rent which these tenants pay they have to give sixty days of their labour at the munificent rate of one shilling per day. Sir, when we hear the talk about an 1498 attack upon the rights of the landlords, when my honourable Friend is accused of wild and violent agitation, and when honourable Gentlemen opposite say that this land could not pay even if there were no rent, I wonder they do not go on to infer, as we do, that rent ought long ago to have ceased upon these holdings; and that is the opinion of some of the highest economic authorities of this country. But, Sir, what did the honourable Member for Derby say? He said he had visited these districts for nine years, and then he went on, to declare—and I honour him for the declaration, and it is, at all events, an argument in favour of my honourable Friend's Amendment— that the condition of these people had practically remained unchanged from what it was nine years ago. We go further. Our acquaintance with these districts is longer than nine years. My honourable friend the Member for South Mayo was born quite close to the district. So was the honourable Member for East Mayo. The fact that they were born within a few miles of the district is one of the many reasons why the Chief Secretary is entitled to compare their ignorance with their knowledge.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
I made no such statement. I admit—I quite admit—that the honourable Member for East Mayo is acquainted with these conditions. What I said is this, that he misunderstood, or misinterpreted the work that the Congested Districts Board had done in connection with the purchase and re-sale of land.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
I know perfectly well what the right honourable Gentleman said; but the right honourable Gentleman did say that he had never had anything like a practical suggestion from either of my honourable Friends, and that they were ignorant of the proceedings of the Congested Districts Board. Well, Sir, they have read every line of the Reports of the Congested Districts Board, and they have made more than one practical suggestion, as I shall presently show. Here is a problem with which we are face to face. Everybody admits that these holdings are too small. Everybody admits the miserable condition in which these people live. Year follows year, Session follows Session, generation follows generation, and we get no remedy for these evils; and now, Sir, the Chief Secretary gets 1499 up and practically gives a complete non possumus to any proposal to deal in anything like a broad and large spirit with this question. Now, Sir, I come to the speech of the right honourable Gentleman the Member for South Dublin. I am not here to say that I cast the least doubt upon the good intentions of the right honourable Gentleman. I am sure he has shown a spirit of zeal and energy in the pursuit of his ideas for which he deserves great credit, and which mark him in very striking contrast with others of his class in Ireland. At the same time, I do think that the honourable Member for East Mayo was entitled to say that the right honourable Gentleman was a politician as well as a philanthropist, and that he does use this work as a sort of propaganda for his own principles, in the way which I shall show. I have read, and I have read with astonishment, his speech. The right honourable Gentleman got up a few minutes ago when the honourable Member for East Mayo was speaking, and he denied the statement that he objected to, or has his doubts on the subject of peasant proprietorship. I take up the speech as reported in "The Times." After passing in review the experiences of Continental countries, he went on to give many reasons why, in his opinion, peasant proprietary was rather a doubtful advantage to any country.
§ MR. PLUNKETT
I then went on to show how I thought a peasant proprietary could be established in Ireland.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
I will come to that point presently. I must say that it does not encourage me in the belief that the right honourable Gentleman is very strong upon the remedy of peasant proprietary when he begins by throwing as much cold water as he can upon its principle. It is too late in the day to disparage the principle of peasant proprietary. The richest and most comfortable and strongest country in the world to-day is France, and the strength of that country comes from the system of peasant proprietary. Well, Sir, then I come to the remedy of the right honourable Gentleman. He says you are beginning at the wrong end; spread the co-operative principle encouraged by the society with which the name of the right honourable Gentleman is so hon- 1500 ourably associated; teach the people to use the land better than they have done, to get a larger production out of the land; give them better agricultural education, and teach them to lead thrifty lives, to have self-respect, and so on! Mr. Speaker, really I am amazed and amused that the right honourable Gentleman in his speech should have used the language that he did. Teach them to use the land better!—teach them to use the half-acre, or the two acres, or the three-and-a-half-acres of morass and bog which they have at present; let them go to all the latest discoveries of chemistry; let them read Baron Liebig's latest treatise upon the finest methods of agricultural production, and when they have saturated their minds with the latest discoveries of philosophy and the highest teachings of chemistry, let them apply all this knowledge to their two acres of morass and bog in the congested districts of Ireland, and that is the way to improve the conditions under which they are living! And that is the way the question is to be solved! If ever there were a more grotesque or absurd proposal of putting the cart before the horse, I would like to hear it made by the right honourable Gentleman. Does not everyone know that the best way of promoting thrift and self-help, of developing self-respect, of encouraging higher education, of increasing production from the land, in regard to these people, is to remove them from the hopelessly small and infertile holdings they have at present, and transfer them to larger holdings and to better land? Then the right honourable Gentleman wound up with his favourite maxim of "Codling's your friend, not Short." Really, one of the things that makes one convinced that the right honourable Gentleman is so sincere and enthusiastic is, that he has become almost a monomaniac on this point—only monomaniacs are always sincere, and enthusiastic and honest! What does the right honourable Gentleman say? He says that the people should be taught to get more out of the land. More out of two-and-a-half acres! That they must produce more cheaply. More cheaply from that amount of land! That they should have improved appliances. Improved appliances for two-and-a-half acres of bog! Why should 1501 they not have steam ploughs? Then he went on to say that the proper and the wise thing to do was to give support to those who were promoting the self-help movement. In other words, the wise thing for the Irish people, including the people in the congested districts, to do, is to become members of the co-operative society, and then they will have creameries, and improved education, and the best modern agricultural machinery, and steam ploughs, and Liebig's latest book on agricultural chemistry for the purpose of teaching them to deal with this bog soil. There, have I not made mince-meat of the proposals of the right honourable Gentleman? There is only one way of dealing with this question, and that is by enlarging the holdings and planting the tenants on more fertile land. Now I come to the right honourable Gentleman the Member for Dublin University. He says we must not have any absurd proposals about the compulsory purchase of land. And the right honourable Gentleman the Chief Secretary spoke of the suggestions in the Amendment as rough and ready methods. Would anybody suppose, to hear the comments of these right honourable Gentlemen, that the Amendment of my right honourable Friend is taken almost word for word from a report of that very Congested Districts Board, the praises of which have been sounded so highly in this House? I will read a statement made not 10 years ago—in 1895—by the Congested Districts Board. The following resolution was adopted by the members of the Board and transmitted to the right honourable the Chief Secretary for Ireland—That the Congested Districts Board is in possession of information through their inspectors that there are large tracts of land that might be used to enlarge the holdings of small occupiers, and to promote a scheme of migration in the congested districts. The Board are, however, of opinion that it will be impossible for them to give due effect to this important part of their work unless more funds are placed at their disposal and compulsory powers are given to them to acquire such lands.And my honourable Friend becomes a dreamer, an unpractical philanthropist, a lawless agitator, because he puts into his Amendment almost the ipsissima verba of the report of the Congested Districts Board, of which the right honour- 1502 able the Chief Secretary for Ireland is the president! Why, I never really knew such a world of topsy-turvydom, in which we have a Scotch Chief Secretary lecturing men who were born there on the conditions of life in Mayo. I know nothing more topsy-turvy than this absurd raid, this absurd attack on the terms of the official report of the Congested Districts Board embodied in the Amendment of my honourable friend. I understand that the right honourable Gentleman the Member for South Dublin was one of the first members of the Board to agree to the resolution which was unanimously passed by them. The right honourable the Chief Secretary says that the conditions have changed since 1895. How have they changed?
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
Well, really, some of the interjections the right honourable Gentleman makes seem to me—if he will allow me to say so without disrespect—to be absurd. Only a few years since the proposal asking for compulsory powers was made, and without any real change in the situation, the right honourable Gentleman, as well as his friends, intend to go into the Lobby against the Amendment which embodies it. My honourable and learned Friend says that only two estates have been purchased, but that the purchase of estates is going on with considerably accelerated speed. I do not know whether I should be uncharitable in saying that this is the result of the agitation going on in the west of Ireland. I do not say, I do not believe, and I do riot hope that the improvement of the condition of Ireland can be got from this Government, or any Government, only by serious agitation, but I am bound to say that all the past history of Ireland shows it is only by agitation in this House that we can ever get the Government to listen to the grievances of Ireland, and that so long as the country remains without agitation this House is both blind and deaf to the lightest demands of Ireland. I must add that if the agitation in the West of Ireland acquires any accession of strength—which already has become a powerful 1503 movement—it would get it from the speech of the right honourable Gentleman. What does that speech say? I do not want to do injustice to the right honourable Gentleman, but I do not find in that speech—with the exception of the reference to the increased grant to the Congested Districts Board—one word of hope, one word of encouragement to the people in the congested districts. Not a word. That is a nice message of peace to send them. And now let me ask if ever there was a Government which was in a position to deal with this question if it is not the present Government? The right honourable Gentleman the Member for Dublin University speaks as if this was a hopeless problem. And why? Because of the Atlantic Ocean! Why, the Atlantic Ocean seems to have a very melancholy and depressing effect on the character of some honourable and right honourable Gentlemen from Ireland. The Atlantic does not stretch into the grazing land of Roscommon, nor into the middle of the county of Mayo, nor into the middle of the rich grazing lands of Galway. Whoever proposed that the people should be stereotyped in the congested districts of the West of Ireland Our purpose is the very opposite. We want to drive them out of their holdings in the congested districts. We want to take them away from the melancholy ocean and plant them on these rich grazing lands, where certainly they could make a living better than under their present conditions. The Government is in a position to deal with this question if they have the will. The will is lacking, not the power. They have a tremendous majority, and they would meet with opposition from no part of the House if they brought in a well considered scheme. But they prefer to palter, like the right honourable Member for South Dublin, with creameries and steam ploughs instead of proving their broad statesmanship by a comprehensive scheme of settlement. The right honourable Gentleman is content to leave this festering sore in the side of Ireland just as bad as it ever was when he came into office.
§ MR. DENIS KILBRIDE (Galway, N.)
I sympathise, Mr. Speaker, with what has been said on this side of the House 1504 on this question. The grazing lands of Connaught are mainly composed of second-class country, and are very little fit for fattening cattle or sheep. They are mainly used for the purpose of raising store cattle, and if it were not for the Bill introduced and passed last year by the right honourable Gentleman the President of the Board of Agriculture, which effectually debarred foreign com petition in store cattle in this country, our grazing lands in Connaught would be worth 50 per cent, less than they are to-day. Well, Sir, if it is hard under present conditions for graziers on the best lands of Ireland—even for those in County Meath, where they are able to finish off their cattle—it is much more difficult for the graziers who have no land in their possession, except land only fit to rear stores. At the present time several of the graziers in Connaught are almost in a bankrupt condition, and they have expressed their willingness to surrender the land in their possession if they got any compensation at all for it. And although the right honourable Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ire land may be under the impression that the statements as to the position of these graziers, and the amount of compensation required, have been exaggerated, he will find that they are true, and that many of the graziers would be only too glad to surrender their land if they got anything for doing so. I want to know what have the speeches of the honourable Member for East Mayo or South Mayo, or the speech of Mr. William O'Brien in the west of Ireland got to do with the grievances of the people in the West of Ireland, who are suffering so severely. Is it a fact that there are 50,000 people in Connaught on the verge of starvation and famine? What have the speeches of my honourable Friends or of Mr. William O'Brien to do with the condition of the people in these districts? Is it a legitimate excuse for the Minister responsible for the good government of Ireland to stand up and say that because of the speeches of agitators in Ireland he will do nothing to relieve an admitted grievance? I say it shows an absence of statesmanship, and it is putting a premium on agitation. Here we have been from 1891 to the present moment asking the Government to increase the grant of £42,000 or £43,000 to the Congested Districts 1505 Board. The Congested Districts Board themselves have passed resolutions every year asking for an increase, and it is curious that they never got a penny of advance from the British Treasury until after the establishment of the United Irish League. I say that this increased grant to the Congested Districts Board of £20,000 a year is the first instalment of that which may be extracted from the British Treasury by agitation in the interests of the people of the West of Ireland. And if the people in the West of Ireland are sensible enough to continue the agitation, and spread the organisation over all the other provinces of Ireland, we shall have next year a different speech from the right honourable the Chief Secretary than we had the other day. The necessity for migrating the people to good lands, and of giving compulsory powers of purchase to the Congested Districts Board will then be as apparent to the right honourable the Chief Secretary and to the right honourable Member for South Dublin as they were in 1895 when the Board passed the resolution quoted to the House. The honourable Member for Derby made in his speech allusion to the condition the people in the Congested Districts were in, and said that it was shocking, and the honourable Member gave some figures to the House showing the high rate of interest paid by the poor peasants to the gombeen men for money which they borrowed. I am sorry to say that in many cases the money advanced by the gombeen man is charged at an even higher rate of interest than, that mentioned. The right honourable Member for South Dublin had said that cooperative dairying is one of the great necessities for the west of Ireland, but I maintain that the land in the West of Ireland is not naturally adapted for dairying—even the best of it. And so co-operative dairying can have little effect in improving the condition of the people in the congested districts. Nor is the land in the immediate vicinity of the congested districts suited for dairying. Now, Mr. Speaker, I would like this House to consider whether the people in these congested districts are there from any fault of their own, or whether they are there because of the action of this House in the past. I hold that these people are in the congested districts of the West of Ireland because of 1506 the mania for the consolidation of holdings that took possession of the land lords, and more especially of the land agents 40 or 50 years ago. That is why they are not there through their own fault. They are there because of the existence of bad landlords, and they are themselves unable to remedy their terrible condition, and hence I think they have very strong claims on the House to provide a remedy for the existing state of things. One would think that this House would be only too anxious to remove from England—from this great country—the disgrace of having 50,000 people appealing periodically to the charity of England to save them from starvation within 60 miles of your own shores. We hear a good deal about American friendship for England, but I believe that the Irish-Americans generally will not be induced to promote this friendship so long as they are aware that this House refuses to do anything to relieve the sad condition of these 50,000 people in the West of Ireland. I would draw the attention of the right honourable Member for South Dublin to a case that occurred in my own constituency. Colonel O'Hara, a large landlord in the district, had two or three large grazing farms on his hands. These grazing farms had been let on the principles which obtained in the past, but this year the Colonel instead of letting them to large graziers determined to divide them amongst small tenants of his own in the immediate vicinity. He increased the holdings of these small tenants by ten acres in some instances and by 15 acres in other cases. Colonel O'Hara is satisfied that he has not alone improved the condition of the small farmer tenants, but that he has also secured a fair rent for his land. I ask the right honourable Member for South Dublin, and the right honourable the Chief Secretary to pay special attention to this case and the result which will follow. Everybody believes that the result will be most satisfactory, and for the mutual benefit of the landlord and tenants. Colonel O'Hara has actually carried out the scheme and yielded to the demands of the United Irish League, although every body knows that Colonel O'Hara is not to be influenced in a bad sense by agitation. I know that there are several landlords in the West of Ireland who would be anxious to follow the example 1507 if the right honourable the Chief Secretary and the Congested Districts Board gave assistance and monetary aid to do it.
§ * MR. JAMES GALLOWAY WEIR (Ross and Cromarty)
I should not have inter vened in this Debate, seeing that it is in the able hands of honourable Gentlemen who have been born and brought up in Ireland, and know all the conditions of life in that country. But I rise to protest against the statement of the right honourable Gentleman the Member for Dublin University—who I regret to see is not in his place—that the West of Ireland is in a similar position to the Highlands of Scotland, and that there is no land fit for cultivation. When the right honourable Gentleman made that statement he showed that he knows absolutely nothing of what he is talking about. I am astonished that he does not take the trouble to go to the library and there read the report of the Deer Forests Commission, in which he will find that there are nearly 22,000,000 acres of land suitable for the purpose of settling the people now entirely given up to deer. We are told by honourable Members behind me that there is plenty of rich grazing land in Ireland which ought to be available for the people. I am not acquainted with these lands, but I prefer to accept the statements of men on this side of the House who know the facts to the statements of the honourable Gentlemen on the other side of the House who do not know the facts.
§ * MR. W. O'MALLEY (Galway, Connemara)
Mr. Speaker, I think it will be generally admitted that the speech of my honourable Friend the Member for South Mayo, in proposing his Amendment, was a most moderate one, and it was moderate and reasonable because he felt that his case was a good one, and did not require strong or violent language to recommend it to the House. My honourable Friend was taunted by the right honourable Gentleman for Chief Secretary for Ireland for the moderation of his language here as compared with his language in the West of Ireland, and the right honourable Gentleman also launched out into a violent attack on the Member for East Mayo and on his Friend William 1508 O Brien, because of the character of their speeches in connection with the United Irish League; and he endeavoured to make this House believe that Irish Members have not the courage to say here what they would say in Ireland. Mr. Speaker, the charge is grotesquely untrue, and especially is it untrue of the honourable Member who proposed this Amendment. To represent the Irish Members as speaking with one voice in this House and another voice in Ireland is too absurd, and I am sure the Chief Secretary in his calmer moments would not charge my honourable Friend with want of courage. The right honourable Gentleman has accused the honourable Member for East Mayo of opposing, or, at all events, of not assisting the First Lord of the Treasury when he was engaged in establishing the Congested Districts Board, and he says that my honourable Friend is now trying to "reap where he has not sown." This is another ridiculous charge, Sir. Is it not well known to this House, as it is well known throughout Ireland, that the establishment of the Congested Districts Board was the result of years of struggle and agitation on the part of my honourable Friend and those who have been associated with him. Every effort made by an English Ministry or by this House for the benefit of Ireland was the result of violent agitation. That is an absolute truism. Would we have had Disestablishment were it not for the intensity of Fenianism? Would we have had the Land Act of 1891 were it not for the intensity—and, if you like, violence—of the Land League movement? Would we have had the several halting and somewhat impotent Amendments to that Act were it not for the Plan of Campaign? And would we have this extra £20,000 a year to the funds of the Congested Districts Board were it not for the so-called violent speeches of William O'Brien and of the honourable Members for South and East Mayo? No, Sir, all those remedies, halting and insufficient as they are for the ills of Ireland, are due to the persistent and patriotic efforts of my honourable Friends, and of those who have assisted them in the movements of which they were, and are, leaders. I am quite sure that neither William O'Brien nor my friends near me 1509 care two rows of pins about any attack made upon them by the Chief Secretary, especially if those attacks are accompanied by a promise of an extra £20,000 a year to help on the object so dear to their hearts. The right honourable Gentleman would lead the House to think that we Irish Members are opposed to the policy and the object of the Congested Districts Hoard. We are nothing of the sort. We have over and over again spoken of it as the only decent and popular Board ever appointed by the British Government in Ireland. Our complaint is that it works too slowly, and that it has not had sufficient money at its disposal to carry out its aims in anything like an effective manner. We think that it is not sufficiently equipped to deal with recurring distress and famine in the West. Honourable Members on all sides of this House, I am sure, believe me when I say that it is a most painful, repugnant, and a humiliating task for us Irish Members to be bringing forward, year after year, in this House Motions draw-its attention to impending or existing famines in our country. We want to be relieved of this odious duty, and we submit this Amendment to the House because we believe that if Her Majesty's Government adopted the recommendation in that Amendment, this chronic distress in the West would be effectually and finally dealt with. Mr. Speaker, we are all agreed that a considerable portion of the West of Ireland suffers from chronic distress, and I think the Chief Secretary himself will admit that actual famine has occurred from time to time—well, at all events, he won't deny that if his celebrated labour test was not availed of two years ago, and if the Manchester Fund and the Dublin Mansion House Fund were not started, there would have been a famine—at all events, I believe there would. We are also agreed, Mr. Speaker, that something should be done to remedy this state of affairs, and if we on these Benches differ from you on those Benches, it is only as to degree and to method. The Chief Secretary and the right honourable Member for South Dublin, think that the process of putting an end to famine should be slow and cautious. The Chief Secretary appears to be quite satisfied with very small results so far. He told us the other 1510 night, when dealing with the question of migration, thatThree persons were migrated from one district in Curragh to another district in Curragh, and that the three persons appear to be satisfied.It has taken four or five years to satisfy three persons, and I wonder how long it will take to satisfy the remaining thousands at this rate of progress? The right honourable Gentleman does not appear to have much faith in migration—he says that the people do not want to be migrated. There may be some, of course, who would object to migrate, but surely the Chief Secretary is trifling with the intelligence of this House when he states that those poor people, whom he admits to be in a chronic state of distress, would object to leave their wretched holdings for larger and better ones under more favourable conditions. It is true the poor cottier loves his cabin, and hates to be driven from it by an exacting landlord, but we know only too well that he has to fly to America or elsewhere, and to tell us, therefore, that if his condition is improved by migration he would still prefer to stick to his misery, is rather taxing our credulity too severely. Then the Chief Secretary informs us that the late Mr. Parnell tried migration and failed. If I remember rightly, there were circumstances attending his experiment that made failure inevitable, and one of those conditions was the excessive price paid for the purchase of property. You can buy a thing at too great a price, and if you give 25s. for a sovereign you are not likely to prosper. And, Mr. Speaker, that brings me to the crux of this whole matter. The Chief Secretary states that the Congested Districts Board has been purchasing estates at the average price of 11¼ years' purchase of their present rentals, and the House might suppose that this was a low price, whereas, as a matter of fact, the price is extravagantly high, and personally I do not think that a scheme of migration, or the enlargement of holdings on such terms, can ever be a success. We are all agreed that the holdings in the congested areas are too small—that is undoubtedly true. But what I want to impress on the House is the fact that the rents paid for these holdings are 1511 ruinously excessive. When I addressed a meeting of my constituents a few months ago I told them, as I tell this House to-night, that in paying, as they do, £4 or £5 a year for their miserable plots, they should not be paying more than 4s. or 5s. Let any honourable Member go to Connemara and look at the holdings I speak of—and they art characteristic of 90 per cent, of the holdings in the smaller congested districts—and if he is acquainted with agriculture at all, I am absolutely certain he would agree with me, and he would go further and say, as I have heard many an Englishman say, that a hundred acres of the so-called land upon which these poor people are doomed to live would not be worth possessing even rent free. Yes, but if these holdings are not worth rent, why are they compelled to pay it? If instead of paying £4 or £5, which, of course, is never made out of the holdings at all, but comes from friends in America, or from the harvest-fields or mines of England, they had only 4s. or 5s. to pay—the nominal value of most of those holdings—they might be able to eke out a bare existence. For, be it remembered that £4 or £5 a year to those people is a considerable sum, and it is all nonsense for some people to say, as I have heard it said, that the people would not be any better off if they had not to pay this excessive tax. If the Land Commissioners, Mr. Speaker, fixed the rents in Connemara on the value of the land, and bore in mind the late Judge O'Hagan's dictum, that a man should "live and thrive" on his holding, then I say that the people of Connemara and those other people we are dealing with should not pay more than a shilling where they are now paying a pound. The cause of this chronic distress that this Amendment proposes to deal with is due, in the first place, to excessive rents, and in the second place to inadequate holdings. But if the Congested Districts Board are purchasing estates at 11¼ years' purchase of their present rentals, and if the enlarged holdings are to be paid for by the tenants on that basis, then I fear that the last state of these poor people will be worse than their first. While the Land Commissioners continue to fix those excessive rents, of course, the landlords do not want to sell except at a big price; but, 1512 Sir, if the condition of those people is to be improved, it is absolutely necessary that they are to have larger holdings at nominal rents, and so the landlords must be compelled to sell at a price to enable the tenants to live in some decency and comfort out of their holdings. I would say one word on the question of the grass farms. What are those grass farms? What is their history? Generally speaking, Mr. Speaker, I am correct in saying that these are farms that have been reclaimed from the wild or mountain state into comparatively good land. And how? Not by the landlord, but by unfortunate tenants who, when they had, by their industry and labour, turned a barren waste into a smiling land, and when they were unable to pay the perpetually increasing rent, were forced to clear out or take possession of other wastes. These grass lands are now let at a competitive price to the grazier—who is very often a grabber—on an 11 months' tenancy system, to avoid the operation of the Land Act, and our contention is that these grass lands should be in the hands of the people rather than in the hands of the grazier or grabber. They should go to enlarge the small holdings, or be used for the purpose of migration. If the Government will not tackle this question of periodic famine in a thorough fashion and on the lines laid down in the Amendment of my honourable Friend; if, instead, the matter is to be dealt with by the Congested Districts Board in the future, as it has been in the past; if the purchase of estates, the enlargement of holdings, and the work of migration are to be effected by the slow and gradual process so much beloved by the Chief Secretary and the honourable Member for South Dublin, then I say Mr. Speaker, the proverbial snail, moving with patience and perseverance, will reach Jerusalem just as soon as the extirpation of poverty and distress in Connemara, and those other districts in Ireland will be removed by such methods. And the work of agitation and strife will go on, for it will be the duty of the Irish Members to make every effort, in this House and out of it, to save our poor people from starvation, and to preserve the remnant of our race that is left.
§ MR. MURNAGHAN (Tyrone, Mid)
Mr. Speaker, in the beginning of this Debate I did not think I should have been called upon to intervene, as I imagined the matter would be discussed by honourable Members representing the congested districts. But statements have been made during the Debate to which I desire to take exception. The right honourable Gentleman the Member for South Dublin holds a position on the Congested Districts Board, and accordingly any statement lie makes as to the working of that Board is of importance. But he made a statement so strangely at variance with the objects of the Board that I think it is right that the attention of the House and the country should be especially directed to it. The right honourable Gentleman made a very peculiar remark, considering that the Congested Districts Board is supposed to live by State aid. It has been built up by State aid, I suppose it intends to continue by State aid, and it could not exist without State aid. What did he say? He said that very much good work could not be done in Ireland by State aid in this connection. Now I claim that no work at all of any good can be done in Ireland without State aid, and I think such a statement by a Member of the Congested Districts Board is very peculiar. I wish also to say that he has made another statement also inconsistent with the objects of the Board. I take my quotation from the London "Times," and I am sure every loyal Englishman will not question the veracity of what appears in the columns of that eminent journal. "The Times" reports the right honourable Gentleman as having said in the Debate on Friday night:—To make labour effective and the acquisition of capital upon reasonable terms easy was as essential as the acquisition of land.Now, Sir, I consider that an economic heresy, for I say that the acquisition of land in connection with the relief of distress in the West of Ireland is the first the cardinal, and the main thing, for without land the people cannot live, and it is to see that the people live that we are moving in this matter. Therefore, these two statements of the right honourable Gentleman, in my opinion, call for 1514 special attention. He also made another statement which struck me as very strange coming from the Gentleman who holds the position of President of the Irish Industrial Organisation. He told us that there were dangers in peasant proprietary. These words sound very strange to my ears. It has been the hope of Irish farmers for 50 years to become the owners of their holdings, and to be told to-day by a Gentleman who goes among these farmers posing as a friend that there were dangers in making the occupier the owner of his holding is to me an economic heresy, because, if there is any hope of salvation for the Irish people, any hope of progress and advancement and contentment, it is by rooting the occupier in the soil and making him the owner thereof. Again, the right honourable Gentleman said that, supposing we now enlarged these farms to a reasonable extent, he presumed that in the course of 20 years we would be back again where we were through the process of cutting up these farms, and the last state of Ireland would be worse than the first. Now, I think that is a horrible statement for a Member of the Congested Districts Board to make. What is the Board for? Is it not its business to take the people off these miserable and narrow areas of land, where life is insupportable, and give them land on which they can live? I know something of land business, and I say no labouring man can support on 2½ acres a family of four or five children. I am acquainted with farming operations—it is my business—and therefore I speak as a man who knows something of farming when I say that no man could support a family on such a farm as that. The right honourable Gentleman tells me, an Irish farmer, that it would be wrong for me or my children to own the soil, and that there was danger in it, but I tell him that that is abhorrent to the nature of the Irish people. The whole object of the right honourable Gentleman throughout this Debate was to minimise the value of the enlargement of farms and of migration, and to magnify the benefits to be gained by co-operation. He wants to teach the poor people that they should all churn their cream in one barrel, and he seems to think that men can employ their labour where they have no land. Sir, that is a deplorable state 1515 of things, and I quote an authority in support of my statement which I think the right honourable Gentleman will not question. The right honourable Gentleman the Member for Leeds noted with care the object of the right honourable Gentleman, and he paid special attention to his references to peasant proprietary. He is reported in "The Times" of Saturday as having said "the right honourable Gentleman had pointed out the danger of a peasant proprietary." The right honourable Gentleman the Member for South Dublin denied that he made any such statement, but will he deny it now, when the words come from the lips of such an authority as the Chief Secretary? I think not. I pin him to that statement, and if he comes to the north of Ireland the Unionist farmers will know the kind of man they have to deal with. I do not intend to trouble the House much longer, but I must refer to one other statement made by the right honourable Gentleman. He was all the time arguing against peasant proprietary, and he said—The instincts of the Irish people were more pastoral than agricultural. Prom his experience in America, agriculture was least pursued by his countrymen, especially those from the poorer parts of Ireland.It is not the first time the right honourable Gentleman has trotted out his American experiences, but it is the first time I will trot out mine. I think I know as much about American life as any right honourable or honourable Gentleman in this House. I have lived and laboured in the country for 20 years, and I will tell you why the Irish people do not buy farms in New York or Massachusetts. The reason is, that when they arrive in New York they have hardly money enough to keep them for a week, and they certainly have no money to speculate in landed or house property, and I say it is mockery for the right honourable Gentleman to use the poverty of the Irish people who were driven across the Atlantic by harsh laws to find a shelter in America to make such statements. I have met Irish farmers in America who were very successful, and they formed as large a proportion as the farmers of any other nationality, and it is not true to say that Irishmen in America avoid the industry of agriculture. It is, of course, 1516 impossible for them to get land until they have the means, and having made money in another occupation, it is not likely they will drop it. It is not true to say that the Irish people do not love agriculture. Who has not heard of the love deep down in the heart of every Irishman to purchase his holding and be the owner of the land on which he was born? I do not believe there is any people in the world so attached to the land as the Irish, and, therefore, when the right honourable Gentleman propagates his theories in the House of Commons and tries to throw cold water on the real salvation of the poor people of the West, I say he is only trying to build up his own little fads. I do not wish to be taken as attacking the right honourable Gentleman, because I believe he is in earnest, but he is so engrossed in his, own undertakings that he does not allow anyone else to have a chance. I thought it was only right that I should give the House some information regarding Irish life in America, as I am one of those who were driven across the Atlantic, and when I got to New York the last thing I thought of was of buying land, because I had no money to buy it. It will not do for the right honourable Gentleman, who merely crosses to America and back again, to bring his experiences before the House; but I think he will not speak much more about them in my presence again. I should now like to hear from the Treasury Bench a supplemental statement to that given on Friday night. I am no agitator and no politician in this matter, but I speak in the interests of the poor people of Ireland, and I think it would be better for the Chief Secretary, when he now has the opportunity and power which, perhaps, may not be again available, to make an attempt to cure a disease which has been festering and creating trouble in the nation for many years.
§ MR. DALY (Monaghan, S.)
Mr. Speaker, 12 months ago I had the honour of moving the Second Reading of the Congested Districts Bill, and on that occasion the right honourable Gentleman the Member for South Dublin gave that Bill a very large and rather generous measure of support. What surprised me on Friday night was that 1517 he completely turned round from the views he expressed 12 months ago. The honourable Member who moved this Amendment introduced it in such a moderate and reasonable manner that no one could have felt any resentment. Any person acquainted with this House will have observed that the Government always want someone to draw a red herring across the track of any Amendment they do not favour, and on the present instance they got the right honourable Gentleman to do it. The right honourable Gentleman seems quite shocked that my honourable Friend the Member for South Mayo should want compulsory powers with regard to the Congested Districts Board. But 12 months ago, when he spoke on the Bill I had then the honour of introducing, he made the following remarks:—The difficulty of acquiring land and providing a house and outbuildings and giving the tenant a little capital in the way of stock is almost insuperable, and consequently the remedy which in most cases remains is adding to the holding in which the people already live. The fact to be admitted—and I am convinced that a close examination of the facts will prove it to be so—is that the acquisition of additional land is an absolute necessity in order to remedy a state of things which is a disgrace to civilisation. In certain areas there is, of course, a great deal of prima facie evidence in favour of the compulsory acquisition of land to effect this purpose, and land cannot be otherwise acquired. I should stipulate that if compulsory powers were given they should be given in such a way that they would not form a precedent for lands not similarly situated.Twelve months ago the right honourable Gentleman was anxious that land should be acquired compulsorily by the Congested Districts Board, but on Friday night he was quite opposed to any such suggestion. The idea of the right honourable Gentleman is that the only salvation for the poor people of Ireland is creameries. But I cannot see what use creameries are to people who have not any cows. The first thing I think is necessary for making cream is to have cows and the land to grass the cows upon. If the Amendment is adopted by the Government, it would result in an enlargement of holdings, and the people would be given an opportunity of keeping cows. Then they could be taught to make butter. But it seems to me that the right honour- 1518 able Gentleman is rather afraid that any grants of money which the Government are going to give under the new Industries Bill would be devoted to' the acquisition of land by the Congested Districts Board. Mr. Wrench, another Member of the Congested Districts Board, is already causing a great deal of worry and useless expenditure by the introduction of hackney stallions into Connemara, by which a useful class of pony has been spoiled. The right honourable Gentleman is a, Member of the Congested Districts Board, and Mr. Wrench is another, and between them a lot of money, which would otherwise have been at the disposal of the Board for the acquisition of land, has been spent for useless and unnecessary purposes. One thing struck me very much in the speech of the Chief Secretary on the Amendment. When it was mentioned by the honourable Member on this side of the House that he agreed with the report that was issued which favoured compulsory powers for the Congested Districts Board, he denied it, and put the statement on the shoulders of the right honourable Gentleman the Member for Montrose. That was rather an unfortunate admission for the Chief Secretary, because it showed that while the Chief Secretary in the last Government was anxious to settle this question by giving compulsory powers to the Board, the Unionist Chief Secretary was not prepared to carry out what his predecessor approved of. What strikes me as very strange is that every member of the Board signed that report which the Chief Secretary stated on Friday night was drawn up by the right honourable Gentleman the Member for Montrose.
§ MR. DALY
The Chief Secretary now says he did not make any such statement, and, of course, I should be very sorry to accuse him of it if he did not make it. But I was under the impression that he stated on Friday night that that report was drawn up previous to the time he entered Office. If that is not what he said, I should be sorry to attack him for it. Mr. Speaker, emigration is now larger than it has been for some time, and as a matter of Statesmanship, and as he is professing to do 1519 a great deal for Ireland, I think if he would accept this Amendment it would remove a great deal of heart-burning in Ireland, and his name would be respected by the unfortunate peasants in the West of Ireland. What is wanted is to put the people back again on the lands their forefathers had. There is nothing more reasonable, considering that a number of very large landowners are willing to get rid of their land, and if that land were purchased from them it would be the means of putting the people back again on the land of their forefathers. I think if this Amendment, so moderately and reasonably proposed by my honourable Friend the Member for South Mayo, were accepted it would cause good will in the West of Ireland. I would ask the Chief Secretary to consider that the mover of this Amendment has only at heart the good of
§ the unfortunate people he represents. The right honourable Gentleman himself is only in the country very seldom, and possibly he has not visited the districts to which this Amendment would apply, and he can scarcely be as good a judge as the honourable Members from the West of Ireland, who understand the wants of the people. The Amendment is a reasonable one, and I should be very glad to see it accepted.
That those words be there added.
§ The House divided; Ayes 122; Noes, 203.—(Division List No. 12.)1521
|Abraham, Wm. (Cork, N.E.)||Hayden, John Patrick||Paulton, James Mellor|
|Allen, W. (Newc. under Lyme)||Hedderwick, Thomas C. H.||Pickersgill, Edward Hare|
|Asher, Alexander||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H.||Pirie, Duncan V.|
|Asquith, Rt. Hn. Herbert H.||Hogan, James Francis||Price, Robert John|
|Baker, Sir John||Holden, Sir Angus||Priestley, Briggs (Yorks.)|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C.||Provand, Andrew Dryburgh|
|Birrell, Augustine||Jacoby, James Alfred||Redmond, J. E. (Waterford)|
|Blake, Edward||Joicey, Sir James||Redmond, William (Clare)|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Jordan, Jeremiah||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Brunner, Sir Thos Tomlinson||Kay-Shuttleworth,RtHnSirU.||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Kearley, Hudson E.||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Burns, John||Kilbride, Denis||Roche, John (East Galway)|
|Burt, Thomas||Kinloch, Sir John George S.||Schwann, Charles E.|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Labouchere, Henry||Scott, Chas. Prestwich (Leigh)|
|Caldwell, James||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumberland)||Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarshire)|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Leese, Sir J. F. (Accrington)||Souttar, Robinson|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Leng, Sir John||Spicer, Albert|
|Cawley, Frederick||Lewis, John Herbert||Steadman, William Charles|
|Clough, Walter Owen||Lloyd-George, David||Stevenson, Francis S.|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Logan, John William||Strachey, Edward|
|Crilly, Daniel||Macaleese, Daniel||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Curran, Thomas B. (Donegal)||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Sullivan, T. D. (Donegal, W.)|
|Curran, Thomas (Sligo, S.)||M'Arthur, William (Cornwall)||Tanner, Charles Kearns|
|Daly, James||M'Cartan, Michael||Tennant, Harold John|
|Dalziel, James Henry||M'Dermott, Patrick||Thomas, A. (Carmarthen, E.)|
|Dillon, John||M'Ghee, Richard||Wallace, Robert (Edinburgh)|
|Donelan, Captain A.||M'Kenna, Reginald||Wallace, Robert (Perth)|
|Doogan, P. C.||M'Laren, Charles Benjamin||Walton, John L. (Leeds, S.)|
|Duckworth, James||Maddison, Fred.||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Ellis, T. Edw. (Merionthsh.)||Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand||Warner, Thos. Courtenay T.|
|Evans, Sir F. H. (South'ton)||Molloy, Bernard Charles||Wedderburn, Sir William|
|Farquharson, Dr. Robert||Morgan, W. P. (Merthyr)||Weir, James Galloway|
|Fenwick, Charles||Moulton, John Fletcher||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Ferguson, R. C. Munro (Leith)||Murnaghan, George||Williams, John Carvell (Notts)|
|Flynn, James Christopher||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Wilson, John (Govan)|
|Gilhooly, James||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbro')|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert J.||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Young, Samuel (Cavan, E.)|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||O'Connor, A. (Donegal)||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Gold, Charles||O'Connor, J. (Wicklow, W.)|
|Grey, Sir Edward (Berwick)||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Haldane, Richard Burdon||O'Kelly, James||Mr. Davitt and Dr. Robert Ambrose.|
|Hammond, John (Carlow)||O'Malley, William|
|Allhusen, Augustus Henry E.||Fisher, William Hayes||Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Flannery, Sir Fortescue||Mount, William George|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Folkestone, Viscount||Murray, Rt.Hn. A. G. (Bute)|
|Ashmead-Bartlett, Sir Ellis||Forster, Henry William||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Foster, Harry S. (Suffolk)||Myers, William Henry|
|Bagot, Captain J. FitzRoy||Galloway, William Johnson||Newdigate, Francis Alexander|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Gedge, Sydney||Nicol, Donald Ninian|
|Baldwin, Alfred||Giles, Charles Tyrrell||O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens|
|Balfour, Rt.Hn. A. J. (Mnc'r)||Gilliat, John Saunders||Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay|
|Balfour, Rt.Hn. G. W. (Leeds)||Goldsworthy, Major-General||Pease, Herbert P. (Darlington)|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Penn, John|
|Barnes, Frederic Gorell||Gorst, Rt. Hn. Sir John Eldon||Pilkington, Richard|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Platt-Higgins, Frederick|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Plunkett, Rt. Hn. Horace C.|
|Bathurst, Hon. A. Benjamin||Green, W. D. (Wednesbury)||Pollock, Harry Frederick|
|Beach, Rt.Hn.SirM.H.(Bris.)||Gretton, John||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Beach, W. W. B. (Hants.)||Gull, Sir Cameron||Priestley, Sir W. O. (Edin.)|
|Beckett, Ernest William||Hall, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Purvis, Robert|
|Begg, Ferdinand Faithful||Hamilton, Rt.Hn.Lord George||Pym, C. Guy|
|Bemrose, Sir Henry Howe||Hanbury, Rt.Hon. Robert W.||Rentoul, James Alexander|
|Bethell, Commander||Hare, Thomas Leigh||Ridley, Rt. Hn. Sir M. W.|
|Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.||Heath, James||Ritchie, Rt. Hon. Charles T.|
|Bigwood, James||Heaton, John Henniker||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)|
|Bill, Charles||Hermon-Hodge, Robert T.||Rothschild, Hon. Lionel W.|
|Blakiston-Houston, John||Hill, Sir Edward S. (Bristol)||Round, James|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Hoare, Samuel (Norwich)||Russell, Gen. F. S. (Chelt'ham)|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Holland, Hon. Lionel Raleigh||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)|
|Bowles, T. G. (King's Lynn)||Houldsworth, Sir W. Henry||Saunderson, Rt.Hn. Col. E. J.|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Houston, R. P.||Savory, Sir Joseph|
|Butcher, John George||Howard, Joseph||Seely, Charles Hilton|
|Carlile, William Walter||Howell, William Tudor||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Cavendish, R. F. (N.Lancs.)||Hubbard, Hon. Evelyn||Shaw-Stewart, M.H. (Renfrew)|
|Cavendish,V. C. W. (Derbyshire||Hudson, George Bickersteth||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Hertf. E.)||Hutchinson, Capt. G.W.Grice-||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Jessel, Capt. Herbert Merton||Smith, Abel H. (Christchurch)|
|Chaloner, Captain R. G. W.||Johnston, William (Belfast)||Smith, James P. (Lanarks.)|
|Chamberlain, J. Austen(Worc'r||Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)||Smith, Hn. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir J. H.||Spencer, Ernest|
|Chelsea, Viscount||Kenyon, James||Stanley, Hon. A. (Ormskirk)|
|Clare, Octavius Leigh||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William||Stanley, Edward J. (Somerset)|
|Clarke, Sir Edward(Plymouth)||Keswick, William||Stanley, Henry M. (Lambeth)|
|Cochrane, Hon. T. H. A. E.||King, Sir Henry Seymour||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Lafone, Alfred||Stewart, Sir M. J. M'Taggart|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Laurie, Lieut.-General||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.|
|Colomb, Sir John Charles R.||Lawrence,Sir,E.Durning-(Corn||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Cook, Fred. Lucas (Lambeth)||Lecky, Rt.Hon. William E. H||Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier|
|Cornwallis, Fiennes S. W.||Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead)||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Courtney, Rt. Hon. L. H.||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Talbot, Rt.Hn.J.G.(Ox.Univ)|
|Cross, H. Shepherd (Bolton)||Llewellyn, Evan H. (Somerset)||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Cruddas, William Donaldson||Llewelyn,Sir Dillwyn(Swansea||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.||Valentia, Viscount|
|Curzon, Viscount||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Ward, Hon. Robert A. (Crewe),|
|Dalbiac, Colonel Philip Hugh||Long, Rt.Hn. Walter(Liv'pool)||Warr, Augustus Frederick|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Lopes, Henry Yarde Buller||Webster, SirR.E. (I. of Wight)|
|Davenport, W. Bromley-||Lorne, Marquess of||Welby, Lieut.-Col. A. C. E.|
|Dixon-Hartland, Sir F. Dixon||Lowe, Francis William||Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon-|
|Dorington, Sir John Edward||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Whiteley, George (Stockport)|
|Doughty, George||Lucas-Shadwell, William||Whiteley, H.(Asht'n-u.-Lyne)|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Macdona, John Cumming||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Doxford, William Theodore||Maclure, Sir John William||Williams, J. Powell-(Bir'ham)|
|Drage, Geoffrey||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Wilson, J.W.(Worcestersh. N.)|
|Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V.||M'Calmont, Col.J.(Antrim,E.)||Wilson-Todd, W. H. (Yorks.)|
|Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir W. H.||M'Iver, Sir L. (Edinburgh,W.)||Wodehouse,Rt.Hn.E.R.(Bath)|
|Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas||Marks, Henry Hananel||Wortley, Rt.Hn. C. B. Stuart-|
|Fergusson,RtHnSir J. (Manc'r)||Middlemore, John T.||Wyndham, George|
|Field, Admiral (Eastbourne)||Monckton, Edward Philip|
|Finch, George H.||Monk, Charles James||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Montagu, Hon. J. S. (Hants.)||Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Firbank, Joseph Thomas||More, Robert Jasper|
§ Main Question again proposed.