§ [SECOND READING.]
§ Order for Second Reading road.
§ MR. FLYNN (Cork Co., N.)
Mr. Speaker, the Bill which I have the honour to introduce is not in the strict sense a party Bill, nor is it a purely political measure, because it is asked for and demanded by the overwhelming bulk of the Irish people. We might reasonably expect for this measure support from all sides of the House, seeing that its main 1431 object and aim is to improve the condition of a people temperate, thrifty, industrious, and moral, who have been reduced to an appalling condition of poverty, verging on starvation, by circumstances of an artificial character, and in the main the results of the inhuman methods adopted in the past. The Bill refers to what are called the Congested Districts, and is to deal with a condition of things caused by historical crises which inflicted immense grievances on the people of the nation, who were driven from the good land to the bogs and barren rock. History furnishes only too many examples of the inhuman methods by which this was done, but I will only refer to two. In the county of Galway we have an instance of a man named Pollock, who purchased 20,000 acres, and the 12,000 human beings living upon that property he looked upon as encumbrances, and drove them out without mercy. Solvency was no safeguard; those who could pay were driven off with those who could not, and their homes wore rased to the ground to make way for sheep. [The hon. Member also cited a similar case in county Donegal.] The historical crises and acts of landlords such as those to which I have referred have brought about a condition of things appalling in the extreme. In introducing this Bill I have no desire to criticise or find fault with the administration of the present Congested Districts Board; I shall confine myself entirely to explaining the scope of the Bill and the need of legislation.
In the first place, this Bill proposes to extend the area of the congested districts, to enlarge the jurisdiction of the Board, to make the Board more representative of the people, and to arm it with powers of compulsory purchase. We do not intend to interfere with the duties of the Congested Districts Board in the useful work in which they are engaged, except that we desire to see, if the Government is sufficiently generous to endow it with the necessary money, a Congested Districts Board sufficiently large to carry out wider functions. The first clause of the Bill gives power to the Lord Lieutenant, on the recommendation of the county council, to declare a county or part of a county a congested district, and it repeals Subsections 1 and 2 of Section 36 of the Purchase of Land (Ireland) Act, 1891, because they would be unnecessary on the passing of this Bill. The second clause 1432 provides for an elective element on the Board. The Board at present is large and numerous enough, but it is entirely nominated by the Lord Lieutenant, and it contains no representative of the people; and now that we have under the new Local Government Act county councils in active operation, and local self-government has had some trial in, Ireland, and has been found on the whole to work very successfully, we think we should have some representation on this Board. The men elected by the districts would be men of some business ability, and would know the needs of the particular districts which they represented far better than the nominated members of the Board. From West Cork, Kerry, and many parts of those districts which are said to be congested, complaints are coming in that their claims are neglected, and that they do not get a fair share of the operation of this Board. And there is another reason also for an elective representation. Of the £74,000 which is the annual income of the Board at present, between two-thirds and three-fourths is derived from an Irish source, it comes from an Irish fund and is Irish money, and therefore Irishmen, should have some voice in its expenditure. Enlargements of the holdings of the tenants is, of course, one of the most important functions of the Congested Districts Board. I find from the Reports of the Board examples of estates that have been purchased, which must convince the House and the country that in order to bring about any improvement at all in the condition of these people, anything resembling agricultural prosperity, there must be an enlargement of the small holdings in the congested districts. On one acreage of 460 acres there are no less than ninety-five tenants, and at the same time an adjoining grazing tenant had a holding of 350 acres. All over these districts there are large numbers of people huddled together, trying to wrest a livelihood from bog and rock, whilst in the I immediate vicinity there are large blocks of rich grazing land, on which the people, look with a hungry eye, and which if divided up among the people would give these people some degree of prosperity, and enable them to live in some degree of comfort.
Another clause—and this is perhaps the crux of the Bill—is the arming, I the Board with compulsory powers, and it is to be regretted that the 1433 hon. and learned Member for East Down, who on a former occasion gave his consent to such a proposition, should now find it consistent with his public duty to oppose this Bill. The Board have on more than one occasion in their Reports expressed themselves in favour of compulsory powers, and they embodied that in a resolution which they sent to the Lord Lieutenant. In their Report of 1894 they said—During the months now under review we have made inquiries as to various estates advertised or offered for sale, and subsequently negotiations were entered into for the purchase of the lands… It may, however, be stated that we have not so far been able to obtain any of these estates at a price sufficiently low to enable us to carry out a scheme for migration or enlargement of holdings, without incurring a risk of heavy loss to our funds.And in 1895 they said—There is a probability that the Board may become purchasers of one or more of these estates, but additional funds and enlarged powers are desirable if anything is to be done on a large scale towards giving effect to what may be generally called the migration clauses of the Congested Districts Act,and they adopted the following resolution—That the Congested Districts Board is in possession, through their inspectors, that there are large tracts of land that could be used to enlarge the holdings of small occupiers and promote schemes of migration in 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 given to them to acquire such lands at their just value.There is nothing of the Irish agitation about that; it is a Report arrived at after due consideration of all the facts of the case by the Congested Districts Board. Later on they follow that up by a Report in language not quite so emphatic, but equally strong, for they say in their Report of 1896—Further, we are conducting negotiations for the purchase of some other estates, but the extent to which we can buy is affected not only by the amount of money at our disposal for the carrying out of the re-applotment and improvement of holdings, but also by the readiness of owners of property to meet our views on reasonable terms.And in 1899 they say—Of course, in those cases where we have purchased additional land—a grazing farm, for example—and are thus enabled to considerably increase the size of all the old holdings, it is a comparatively easy matter to satisfy the tenants, but where—and this must occur in 1434 many cases—very little land can be added to the existing holdings the problem becomes a difficult one.Now I claim the Chief Secretary as a supporter of this clause, because he has said, in connection with compulsory purchase for all Ireland, that the League had plagiarised the policy of the Tory party. Well, if it was for the good of Ireland we do not care who was the author of the policy, and we will not dispute with him whether the League plagiarised the policy of the Government or whether the Government plagiarised the policy of the League. So long as we are agreed that it is desirable there need be no controversy; but we do claim the Chief Secretary as an advocate and warm friend of the clause for compulsory purchase, at all events in these congested districts. In many parts of the west of Ireland there are large grazing holdings contiguous to these small plots. Many of them are holdings on eleven months tenancy, and surely, when the eleven months conies to an end, the landlord has full and free possession, and there can be no difficulty in purchasing large numbers of them; and when the landlord is unreasonable it is surely desirable that compulsory powers should be exercised just as they are put in force in municipalities.
This question is not so very difficult as it seems, and can be settled if grappled with by statesmen in a comprehensive manner. It is an urgent question. I do not know whether there could be any sight more depressing than to drive through these congested districts and to see large tracts of rich, fertile land covered with sheep and cattle, while the peasants are compelled to eke out an existence on the rocky, barren mountains or in the bogs and swamps. I trust the Government will give a sympathetic answer. This is not a party question, and I appeal to the House to pass the Second Reading of the Bill.
§ DR. AMBROSE (Mayo, W.)
said as one who had taken a very special interest in this question he rose with great pleasure to second the motion for the Second Reading of this Bill. He should like to explain, for the benefit of hon. Members who did not understand, what a congested district was. The population of the congested districts amounted to 549,516, and the area in statute acres was 3,700,000. A congested district was one where more than 20 per cent. of the 1435 population of an electoral division of a county lived in a locality the rateable value of which was less than 30s. per head of the population. The rateable value per head of the population of the congested districts was as follows. In Mayo it was only 18s. 3d., and in one part of the county it was only 14s. 10d. In Gal way the rateable value was 17s. 10d., and in one electoral division it was as low as 7s. 10½d. In Donegal the rateable value was 18s.; in Leitrim, £1 6s. 8d.; in Sligo, £1 5s. 5d.; in Roscommon, £1 2s. 9d.; in Kerry, £1 1s. 7d., and in one district it was only 6s. 9…d.; in Cork, £1 3s. 7d. In other words, the highest valuation was £1 6s. 8d. Now, what was the lowest valuation in England? He put a question to the President of the Board of Agriculture the other day upon this subject, and he was told that the lowest valuation in England per head was £2 1s. 6d. The number of agricultural holdings in Mayo was 33,218, of which half were under £4 rateable value, and the mean valuation of which was £8. In Galway there are 32,108 holdings, of which 14,189 were under £4 valuation, and with a mean valuation of £13. In Donegal there were 28,595 holdings, 14,568 under £4 valuation, and the mean valuation of which was £9. In Leitrim there were 13,314 agricultural holdings, of which 3,638 were under £4 valuation, and the mean valuation of which was £9. How were these poor farmers, who were really only agricultural labourers, to compete with Canada, the Argentine, and Denmark, especially as produce could be brought to the London market from these countries at a cheaper rate than from Connaught? He claimed in support of this Bill the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh, who told him when he introduced this Bill as a private Member's Bill in 1897, that if he could persuade his friend the late, Colonel Waring to accept compulsory purchase he (Colonel Saunderson) would gladly support it. He also claimed the support of the hon. Member for East Down, who backed his (Dr. Ambrose's) Bill in 1897. And he claimed the support of the present Solicitor General for England, from whom he had a letter in. His possession in which lie said that, while heartily approving of the Bill of 1897, he regretted that he could not persuade the late Colonel Waring to accept compulsory purchase, and that, 1436 being the landlords' advocate, he was sorry he could not support it on that account.
It might be asked why did the promoters of this Bill ask for a compulsory purchase clause? They asked for it for the purpose of relieving the perennial distress of the congested districts. They might be told there was no perennial distress. Well, they had it on the authority of the late Chief Secretary that the people of the west of Ireland live in a state of chronic starvation. Without touching upon the famine of 1846–7, the question of distress was brought before the House from 1831 to 1898 in twenty-seven different years. And in, nearly all cases was it confined to the seaboard counties. We had a famine in 1879–80, and the amount spent on the relief of such, famine in 1880 from such sources as the Duchess of Marlborough's fund, the Dublin Mansion House fund, the American and Canadian fund, and the Land League funds was over £624,000. And the following Acts were recently passed by this House for the relief of distress: (1) The, Relief of Distress (Ireland) Act. 1880, under which £750,000 were borrowed from the Irish Church Fund for the relief of distress; (2) The Relief of Distress (Ireland) Amendment Act. 1880, under which the sum of £1,500,000 was borrowed from the Irish Church Fund for the same purpose, the, £750,000 not being sufficient; (3) the, Seed Supply (Ireland) Act, 1880, to enable boards of guardians to borrow money to supply seed potatoes and seed oats to needy tenants; (4) the Belief of Distressed Unions (Ireland) Act, 1883, which consisted in borrowing not more than £50,000 from the Land Commission for the purpose of relieving distress; (5) and, finally, there was Mr. Gerald Balfour's Relief Act of 1898. The Government had tried their hands at emigration, and although it might have been thought that a wise Minister would have considered it more profitable to pass Acts to prevent emigration, Acts were passed in this House to assist emigration from Ireland in the following years:—1838, 1847, 1849, 1882, 1883, and 1898.
Another reason why they asked for compulsory purchase was because the Congested Districts Board passed resolutions in 1895, 1897, and in 1898 asking for compulsory powers in order the more speedily to enable them to enlarge the 1437 holdings in the congested districts. He would like to give the House an idea of the receipts and expenditure of some typical families living in congested districts as taken from the Congested Districts Board Report:—
§ Receipts and expenditure of a family in comparatively good circumstances, the receipts being derived from agriculture and fishing—
§ Home produce consumed by family is valued at about £10, leaving about £1 1s. 4d. for old age—
§ Receipts and expenditure of a family in very poor circumstances, the receipts being derived from agriculture and fishing—
§ Home produce consumed by family is valued at £12 to £17, leaving nothing for old age
§ Receipts and expenditure of a family in ordinary circumstances the receipts being derived from agriculture and home industries—
§ Home produce consumed by the family is valued at £5 10s. to £10, leaving nothing for old age.
§ Receipts and expenditure of a family in ordinary circumstances, the receipts being derived from agriculture, fishing, and home industries—
§ Home produce consumed by the family valued at £12 to £20, leaving nothing for old age.
§ Receipts and expenditure of a family in ordinary circumstances, the receipts being derived from agriculture and from earnings as migratory labourers—
§ Home produce consumed by the family valued at about £15, leaving nothing for old age.
§ Receipts and expenditure of a family in poor circumstances, the receipts being derived from agriculture and from earnings as migratory labourers—
§ Home produce consumed by the family, valued at about £10, leaving no provision for old age.1438
§ Receipts and expenditure of a family in ordinary circumstances, the receipts being derived from agriculture and home industries—
§ Home produce consumed by the family valued at about £10, leaving nothing for old age.
§ Receipts and expenditure of a family in the poorest possible circumstances, the receipts being derived altogether from agriculture—
§ Home produce consumed by the family valued at about £12, leaving nothing for old age.
§ Receipts and expenditure of a family in the poorest possible circumstances, the receipts being derived from agriculture and labour in the locality—
§ Home produce consumed by the family valued at about £6, leaving no provision for old age.
§ Now, he should like to show why the whole of the province of Connaught should he scheduled as a congested district. The poor law valuation per head of the population for the whole province was £1 18s. 4d., only slightly in, excess, of the 38s. per head limit. Therefore, he maintained that the whole province of Connaught ought to be scheduled as a congested district. But, in addition, he gave the following reasons, as showing the extreme poverty of Connaught, in support of his argument that the whole province is entitled to he scheduled as a congested district.
§ The population of Connaught in 1898 was 724,774, and the average number of persons daily in the workhouse was 4,107; that is to say, that one in 170 of the population of the province was an inmate of the workhouse every day during the year 1898. The number of persons relieved during the year ended 29th September, 1898, indoor, was 36,545, and outdoor, 49,735, making a total of 86,280. In other words, one-eighth of the population of Connaught were in receipt of outdoor relief in 1898.
Now, it might be asked how these people in the congested districts lived. He would tell the House. They lived on the money sent them by their children from America and Australia. He would Home produce consumed by the family valued give one further reason in support of claim for compulsory purchase powers by
quoting the words of a man whoso name would carry weight, he felt sure, in this House. Here were his words:—
I must say from all accounts and from my own observation that the state of our fellow-countrymen in these parts of Ireland is worse than that of any other people in the world—let alone Europe. I believe that these people are made as we are; that they are patient beyond belief; but, at the same time, broken-spirited and desperate, living on the verge of starvation in places in which we would not keep our cattle. The Bulgarians, Anatolians, Chinese, and Indians are better off than many of them are. I am not well off; but I would offer Lord So-and-so or his agent £1,000 if either of them would live one week in one of these poor devils' places, and feed as these poor people do.
These are the words of the late General Gordon. For all these reasons, therefore, he trusted the Government would look favourably on this Bill. They had a golden opportunity now. He asked the House to send to the relatives and friends in the west of Ireland of the Irish soldiers who fell in South Africa, and whose bones are now bleaching on the veldt, a message that the dawn of the new century should not be without hope for them, but should on the contrary be the harbinger of better and brighter days.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ *MR. MACARTNEY (Antrim, S.)
said he was certain that every member of the House, no matter on which side he sat, would cordially agree with the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down that any proposals of the character which were embodied in the Bill or which dealt with the general question of relief of distress in the west or any other part of Ireland, ought to receive the sympathetic attention of the House, and though he was unable on the present occasion to give his assent to this Bill, it was not because either he himself or anybody else on the Ministerial side of the House had previously turned a deaf ear or given unwilling aid to the proposals which had been passed in Parliament for the purpose of relieving such distress as existed. His objection to the Bill was that it practically upset the whole of the machinery which was created by his right hon. friend the First Lord of the Treasury for the purpose of carrying out his projects for the relief of the congested districts.
1440 He believed himself that the benefit which was due to the creation of the Congested Districts Board had principally flowed because the administration had been in the hands of a Board which was not elective. He dared say that that was not a very popular view to put before the House of Commons, but it must be recollected that the Board was in the position of a trustee administering a large sum of money given to it by the nation for the purpose of relieving distress in certain districts in Ireland. There was hardly one of these districts which did not look upon itself as being in a more distressful condition than the others. There was hardly one district in which the Board operated in any of the counties—Kerry, Mayo, Galway—in which the inhabitants would not like to see the whole of the £74,000 spent in their own particular district. There was no doubt that all sorts of plans for spending money which the Congested Districts Board had at its disposal had been brought before the Board, and, if the Board had been elected by the popular voice, as suggested by the Bill, he very much feared that many unsound projects would have been encouraged. A large proportion of the public money administered by the Board would have been administered in a way which would not have relieved the real necessities of the case, which would not have made any substantial foundation for the future of agriculture, and which would have been thrown away in obedience to the demands made by the popular voice, which, after all, looked for the immediate expenditure of public money as the best way to meet the duties of the moment, without any regard to whether the objects upon which that public money was spent were of a beneficial character. He thought the First Lord of the Treasury was quite right in narrowing the number of persons composing the Board to the smallest possible dimensions. There naturally had been complaints from various parts of the congested districts that their wants had not been attended to. But he did not think that any criticism which had been directed against the general work of the Board had been based on any sound foundation. The last Report of the Board showed that its annual expenditure had risen from £41,000 to £66,000, and he believed that in the near future it would have an income of something like £74,000 to administer. The Bill proposed to 1441 introduce an elective element, to be composed of representatives of the county councils within the extended area of the Congested Districts Board. They did not know that the representatives of the county councils would have any special knowledge of the work to be done, or any very great administrative capacity. [An HON. MEMBER: How do you know? Name one.] He might name the county council of Mayo as one which had not shown particular ability in regard to agricultural matters.
§ MR. JOHN O'DONNELL (Mayo, S.)
I rise to order. I am bound to say that the Local Government Board have given the Mayo County Council an excellent testimonial.
§ *MR. MACARTNEY
said he did not propose to go into any particular cases, but what he wanted to do was to lay down the general principle that when they had what was practically a large public trust to be administered, involving an expenditure of £75,000 yearly, with work to be carried on in different localities, it was clear that the work would be much better done and the proposals considered in a far more impartial spirit by a Board which had little local connection and was subject to no local influence. For the House to alter the character impressed on the Congested Districts Board by the First Lord of the Treasury when he created it—a character which had enabled it to carry on its work with very considerable success—would be one of the most mischievous actions ever proposed by any legislature with regard to a body intended to permanently benefit the Irish congested districts. There was one other provision of the Bill to which he had a strong objection and that was, the proposed extension of the congested districts area. No figures had been put before the House to justify the inclusion of counties like Sligo, Roscommon, and Donegal. Was it not perfectly absurd to include the whole of such a county as Donegal?
§ *MR. MACARTNEY
said there was nothing about discretion in that part of the Bill. It certainly did say that the Lord Lieutenant might, if he desired, include certain other counties, and personally he had no objection to the Lord Lieutenant doing so, on the advice of the Congested Districts Board. But his point was that the proposal to at once schedule Donegal and Roscommon in the congested districts area materially weakened the arguments which had been advanced in support of the Bill.
Another great objection he had to the measure was that it increased the powers given under the Act of 1896 to the Land Commission to advance money for the purchase of holdings. As he understood it, this Bill would enable the Congested Districts Board to swallow up every farthing of money now provided for the purchase of holdings generally in Ireland, and to apply it solely to purchases in the scheduled counties. As a representative of Ulster he had the strongest objection to the attempt to secure the whole of the money for the purchase of land in certain districts in the west, and nothing would induce him to give his consent to a Bill containing such a provision. He trusted that the House would not permit the Land Purchase Fund thus to be dealt with by a side wind. Until they heard what the proposals of the Government were for increasing the sum now set free for land purchase, he, for one, could not consent to a Bill of that description passing the House. The sum which had been already spent on land purchase in the congested districts up to the last year was something like £300,000. The Congested Districts Board had dealt with some six or seven estates, and he trusted that the difficulties which had recently arisen in connection with the purchase of the Dillon estate would soon disappear. But it seemed to him that very great risk would be run if the Congested District Board, as reconstructed by the Bill, were placed in a position to carry out compulsory purchase all over the eight counties named in the schedule, and were endowed with the power of applying all the money now in the hands of the Land Purchase Commissioners for that purpose. They knew very well that there were authorities in the west of Ireland who had taken upon themselves the responsibility of openly declaring that at any time it suited their purpose, for political 1443 reasons, they would not only encourage, but would actually advise the purchasing tenants to repudiate their liability. [Cries of "No, no."] Well, it was on record. [Cries of "Name."] The hon. Member for East Mayo had said as much in that House.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND (Waterford)
I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman should make that statement without quoting the words. I believe they are quite different from those he now uses. The hon. Member for East Mayo is not present, and it is not fair that words should be quoted in this loose way.
§ *MR. MACARTNEY
said he did not wish to press unfairly upon any Member not in the House. Had he thought there was any doubt on the point, he would have provided himself with a volume of Hansard. Still, he was only giving the effect of the hon. Member's words on his own mind, and he certainly was under the impression that in the Second Reading debate on the Land Purchase Bill of 1891 the hon. Member for East Mayo indicated that it was quite within his power and discretion, if he chose at any time, to advise the purchasing tenants to repudiate their liability. His argument was, "How could the British Government hope to recover instalments against the will of a united body of occupiers of land?" He certainly could not see that any arguments had been advanced to justify the proposed inroad upon the money provided by Parliament for land purchase in Ireland generally. Up to the present sufficient funds had been placed at the disposal of the Congested Districts Board for the purpose of carrying out what was, after all, an experimental system of land purchase. The system adopted by the Board differed in many respects from land purchase in other parts of Ireland, because the Board had been empowed not only to buy estates from landlords and re-sell them to the tenants, but also to devote considerable sums of money to improving the condition of the property, and to assist the purchasing tenants. These tenants consequently had been placed by legislation in a far better position than was enjoyed by other tenants in Ireland, and, while he was glad to see the success which had attended that legislation, he certainly was not prepared to assent to the passing of a Bill of that character when he reflected that in many portions of Tyrone, 1444 of Fermanagh, and of Antrim there were districts in which the tenants were not nearly so well off as the great majority of those in the congested districts. [Cries of "Oh, oh!"] He made that statement deliberately. [An HON. MEMBER: What! do you know about it?] He had been! in a good many congested districts, and had watched the work of the Congested Districts Board, and he was perfectly convinced of the accuracy of his statement. The climate in the districts to which he was referring was colder than on the west coast, and, although they heard a good deal of lamentation about the wild-ness of the west coast, anybody who had had an opportunity—as he had had—of comparing the isolated tracts in Ulster with the congested districts area would agree that the tenants there were quite as badly off as those on the western sea-board.
§ *MR. MACARTNEY
said it was his opinion, at any rate, and anyone who, like himself, had driven through the particular disticts of which he was speaking would appreciate the difference between the western seaboard and the exposed parts of Tyrone and North Antrim.
§ *MR. MACARTNEY
said allusion had been made to the opposition of the landlords, but he could not see how the landlords of any part of Ireland could be interested in opposing the passing of this Bill. He opposed it because, in the first place, it altered the constitution of the Congested Districts Board to such a degree and in such a manner as to deprive that Board of its power and authority to effectually carry out the duties entrusted to it by Parliament. Secondly, he opposed it because it made an inroad on the funds provided by the State for land purchase in Ireland generally, an inroad which had not been justified by any arguments put before the House, and he for one could not consent to a fund intended for the whole of Ireland being used solely for compulsory purchase in the congested areas. In the third place he saw no reason whatever for the inclusion of the whole of the counties scheduled in the Bill in the congested districts area 1445 He did not deny that there might be some portions of Ireland which might very well be added to the area already under the supervision of the Bill, and no doubt the Chief Secretary, if he had not the power of adding them, would apply to Parliament for it in due time. While he trusted that the House would always give a sympathetic hearing to proposals emanating from any quarter for remedying distress either on the west coast or in any other part of Ireland, he did urge it not to pass this Bill on the grounds which he had stated. He therefore begged to move that the Bill be read a second time that day six months.
§ MR. MOORE (Antrim, N),
in seconding the Amendment, said that hon. Members on both sides of the House, whether they approved of the Bill or not, ought at least to be grateful to the hon. Member who had brought it forward, because he had afforded them another opportunity of discussing a really important Irish subject. The importance of the subject was shown by the fact that the new Chief Secretary, when he first took up his duties, paid a personal visit to the congested districts, in order to examine into the working of the Board. It was now ten years since the Board was first instituted, and it was well that they should have an opportunity of reviewing its work. It would be remembered that the Board was empowered to pursue three direct methods for the purpose of diminishing the distress in the districts placed under its control. In the first place it was instructed to develop the sea fisheries, and it was very gratifying to know that so successful had its work been in that direction that in a period of three months twenty-three boats, at a place on the coast of Donegal, had been enabled to earn £7,000, while the Midland and Great Western Company of Ireland in one season carried no less than 23,000 tons of fish from the western seaboard. Then, again, the Board's action in connection with cottage industries had been equally satisfactory, although perhaps public attention had not been very much centred upon it.
Now, this Bill proposed to give the Board further powers on the third and most important side—the agricultural side—of its work. He did not wish to repeat anything said by the last speaker, but he was bound to say that, in his opinion, it was desirable that 1446 the collection of districts which formed the unit in the Act of 1891 should continue to be the unit. In every county almost there was a belt of fertile land, however poor the remainder might be. While the Bill proposed to increase the area under the control of the Congested Districts Board, it did not propose to increase its income. The Act of 1891 was not sufficiently elastic, and he thought it was desirable that the Congested Districts Board should be enabled to segregate the congested districts, and that instead of insisting that 20 per cent. of the entire population of a county should live in a congested area before the Act could be put into operation, they should take as the unit electoral divisions with a minimum population of 10,000. In the northern counties there were considerable town populations which had to be brought into the computation, and that he suggested was not desirable. Hon. Members opposite would, he was sure, acquit him of any suggestion of political prejudice or bigotry in that matter, because the very people whose cause he was pleading were their co-religionists. He had never looked to them for any political support, but he did contend that, in common fairness, the Nationalists of Antrim should share benefits equally with those of Galway whenever there was a Government grant to be distributed. At present, everything seemed to go to the west coast.
§ MR. MOORE
That is in county Down. What he wanted to point out was that while of the Government grant, given in 1887, for the development of Irish fisheries, county Clare got £11,000, Galway £28,000, and Mayo £30,000, Antrim only received £1,000. He wished to lay down the proposition that it was a mistake to assume that the entire destitution and poverty of Ireland was concentrated on the seaboard of Galway, Let them look at his own Division, where, in the Glen district, they would find a population settled on small patches of 1447 land tilled with primitive and unskilled I methods, where the cattle and sheep had deteriorated in breeding and decreased in numbers, and where the people led most comfortless and cheerless lives. They were huddled up together, and no one bothered their heads about them. Their more prosperous neighbours in the county of Antrim, who farmed the lowlands, did not feel bound to contribute to their relief any more than did the people who farmed the rich lands in the west deem it their duty to assist their poorer brethren in the congested areas. They constituted, in fact, an almost forgotten race. It was objected, when the Act of 1891 was passed, that it would be very unsatisfactory to have what might be called sporadic congested districts scattered throughout the country. He could quite understand the difficulty and expense which might be entailed on the Congested Districts Board by having one patch to deal with in Antrim, another in Derry, and others in Kerry and Galway. But owing to what had happened in the last ten years, that difficulty had been diminished. They now had an Agricultural Board with its staff of inspectors in nearly every county, and surely there would be no difficulty in placing congested areas under the supervision of those inspectors. The Congested Districts Board might well be allowed to utilise the staff of the Agricultural Board for its own purposes. Next he came to the question of the elective constitution of the Board. Ho understood that the I proposal contained in the Bill was defended on the ground that the people who paid were entitled to representation, That was all very well if the people did contribute to the funds which the Board expended. In this case they did not.
§ MR. MOORE
Certainly; but if that were the argument it would follow that the County Council of Antrim would have as much right to a seat on the Congested Districts Board as the County Council of Galway. What he wanted to point out was that there was no direct local contribution to the fund which the Congested Districts Board had to administer, and if they were to have local representation on the Board, then certainly every council in Ireland should have the right to send a representative. They ought to be very care- 1448 ful before they accepted any proposal which would make the Board too unwieldy. He had never heard any suggestion from any part of Ireland that the Board did not do its work well, and he therefore hoped this proposal to alter its constitution would not be pressed. It might fairly be considered by the Chief Secretary, however, how far local committees or temporary commissions might assist the Board in its work.
There was only one other matter to which he wished to refer, and that was the proposal for the compulsory taking of land. It was perfectly true that he was a strong advocate of the principle of compulsory put chase. But he held that that principle was applicable only to the case of dual ownership, and he did not understand that the proposal of this Bill suggested there was any dual ownership in respect of the lands to be dealt with. The Congested Districts Board was in the same position as an ordinary individual seeking to acquire adjoining land. There was no question of terminating a partnership, and therefore the Board, when seeking to secure possession of land by legal force, should be compelled to pay for it on the scale which ordinarily obtained in such cases. He thought he had sufficiently shadowed to the House the reasons which led him to support his right hon. friend the Member for South Antrim in his motion for the rejection of the measure. Ho could only add his hope that, later on in the debate, they would receive from the Chief Secretary some assurance that in the near future he would afford them practical evidence of his sympathy with the difficulties which admittedly existed.
To leave out the word 'now,' and at the end of the Question to add the words 'upon this day six months.'"—(Mr. Macartney).
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ *MR. JOHN O'DONNELL
I rise to support the Bill which has been introduced by the hon. Member for North Cork, and in doing so I may be permitted to express my regret that the Government have neglected to introduce a measure of such vital importance to so many people in Ireland, and have thereby ignored the wants of a very considerable portion of those who 1449 are best entitled to their consideration—I mean the poor and oppressed in the congested districts. I have at the same time to express my dissatisfaction at the conduct of two hon. Members who represent agricultural constituencies in Ireland, who moved and seconded the rejection of this Bill. I wish also to refer to some observations made by the right hon. Member for South Antrim, who had spoken with admiration of the monument which the First Lord of the Treasury had raised for himself in Ireland in the shape of the Congested Districts Board. The right hon. Member viewed that monument from a long distance, he has not looked at it from the point of view of one who, like myself, has lived in the west of Ireland. I have had ten years experience of the working of that Board, and have come to the conclusion that if it be a monument it was built on a bad foundation. No man who has any acquaintance with the everyday affairs of the world but will say that if a machine in daily use is not found to work in accordance with the intentions of the owner or inventor, it is overhauled, or a new one substituted for it. I say that the same principle should apply to the Congested Districts Board. Speaking for my constituents in the West of Ireland who are affected by the operation of the Congested Districts Act, and who would be affected by the passage of this Bill into law, I say that they are not anxious for the rejection of the Bill. The attitude of the right hon. Member for South Antrim reminds me of the seed in the Gospel which fell among barren soil or among thorns. It was strange indeed to find hon. Members representing constituencies mainly made up of farmers in one part of Ireland opposing a Bill brought in by Members representing farmers in another part of Ireland. I would remind the right hon. Member for South Antrim, who supports compulsory purchase, that he is, in opposing this Bill, neglecting the interests of his constituents. As a native of the county of Mayo, I give the right hon. Member's statement about the Mayo County Council a flat contradiction, for within the last few weeks the secretary for the county council of that county received a, most flattering letter from the Local Government Board as to the way in 1450 which the business of county council is conducted.
This Bill, brought in by the hon. Member for North Cork, will enable the Congested Districts Board to extend the sphere of its operations. That Board was established by Act of Parliament in the year 1891, and was empowered to take such steps as they think proper to improve the congested districts in connection with agricultural development, forestry, breeding of live stock and poultry, the sale of potatoes and seed oats, the amalgamation of small holdings, migration, emigration, fishing, and matters subservient to fishing, weaving and spinning, and any other suitable industries. It is not my intention on this occasion to refer to any of these subjects, with the exception of the amalgamation of small holdings and migration. The figures made use of by the hon. Members for North Cork and West Mayo will give hon. Members a ready method of understanding the reasons why discontent prevails in many parts of Ireland, and why a great cry has been raised against a land system which compels so many thousands of our people to live on such wretched holdings, while in most instances there are within sight thousands of acres of excellent land given over to the feeding of cattle and sheep at a loss to most of the graziers who hold them. To any man in this House who professes to know anything about the means necessary to be obtained in order to live, it must be a source of curiosity to know how an average family of six can eke out an existence on £4 worth of land. Unfortunately in many instances families have to live on a great deal less. Perhaps when I try to illustrate to this House the way poor people have to do it, hon. Gentlemen opposite, instead of opposing this measure and howling us down because we endeavour to expose the grievances of our people, will be filled with feelings of surprise that we have submitted so long and so patiently to that condition of things. Some days ago I heard the Chief Secretary for Ireland remark that a certain class of tenant in Ireland, those paying an average of £3 a year as rent, were happy because they had little more than twopence a day to pay for lodging and land. Well, there might be some 1451 reason in the remark if it could be shown that, in addition to giving even a pauper's fare to the family, a farthing a day could be saved. I will prove to this House that, putting everything together, more than a shilling a, day cannot be taken out of a £4 holding, and out of this small sum the landlord, who neither toils nor spins, must indeed get close on 3d. of it, and leave an average family of six to live as best they can, so far as he is concerned, on the balance of 9d. Surely the right hon. Gentleman cannot say that they have a luxurious time of it. I have not gone to Blue-books for my information; I have not taken railway trips in a saloon carriage at the rate of sixty miles an hour; but I have arrived at my conclusion, and based my knowledge on an experience gained by having lived among these people during the greater part of my life. I am the son of a tenant farmer in county Mayo. I am proud to say. I know what it is to dig with a spade, and to follow the plough, and I sympathise with these people in their sufferings, and would, if necessary, share their joys if any came to them once in a generation.
I take the case of an average £4 holder, who is supposed to be much better off than a £2 or £3 holder, and I can defy contradiction when I say that the receipts of such a man for a year amount to as follows—Butter, £4: cattle, £5; pigs, £5: sheep, £2: eggs and poultry, £2 10s., making a total of £18 10s. What is his expenditure? Rent, £4; taxes, £12s. 6d. clothing, £6; meal and flour. £8; groceries, £3 7s. 6d.; sundries, £3; young pigs. £1. or a total of £20 10s.—without saying anything about a small saving for old age. This is equivalent to a deficit of £8 which must be found elsewhere in order to live. Where does the farmer turn to in order to get that £8 I He has no relief in his immediate surroundings; but when the 21st or 22nd June comes round he bids farewell to his wife and children, begs or borrows 13s. or 14s. to carry him across the Irish Channel to the harvest fields of England, there for six months to remain a slave to English task-masters to get the means of subsistence for his wife and family. The poor harvestman who is thus compelled to go to England is not burdened with 1452 much of the world's goods in the shape of trappings, as it only too often happens that he can tie up all that he uses for the season in a cotton handkerchief or other small piece of cloth. It is very easy for the Chief Secretary to say that that man has only twopence a day to pay for lodging and land, but it is a very hard matter to get that twopence a day. It is easy indeed for hon. Members who have incomes of from £5,000 to £10,000 a year, and have perhaps a fat salary of £5,000 in addition, to look with contempt on these poor farmers in the west of Ireland. Hon. Members do not know the needs of these poor people, or they would not turn a deaf ear to the demands of those whom they send here to expose their grievances. Perhaps a time may come when we shall get a sympathetic word from the Treasury bench and the concession of that to which we are entitled, namely, the right to live, if not in luxury, at least in independence and comfort in our native land.
The intentions of Parliament were no doubt fairly good in passing the Act which brought into existence the Congested Districts Board, but, like all other Acts of Parliament passed by this House for the benefit of the Irish people, it is surrounded by such an amount of red I tape and useless ceremony, causing such delay in its administration, as to render it almost useless to the class of people it was intended to serve. Everybody who has any knowledge whatever of the conditions of things as they exist in the province of Connaught and in Donegal, Kerry, and parts of Cork, must admit that until such time as this Board is empowered to get the land for the people who are desirous of obtaining it, and until they get to the root of the trouble by obtaining compulsorily the thousands of acres of land lying waste at the doors of these unfortunate people who are squatted on small patches of worn-out bog, moor, and marsh, there can be no peace or contentment for Ireland. My hon. friend the Member for North Cork quoted in the course of his speech a very remarkable portion of a report made by the Congested Districts Board. I forget whether he mentioned the fact that that report was signed by no less a personage than the President of the Board of Trade, who I was then Chief Secretary, but who, like 1453 many of his predecessors in that office, got sick of the job. That right hon. Gentleman saw the real state of affairs during his tenure of office, and gave expression to what I consider a manly opinion, if he had only the courage of his convictions, and exercised the influence he possesses by putting an Act on the Statute Book which would enable that Board to carry out its good intentions. There is an old saying in Ireland—I suppose it is also current in England—that "It's better late than never"; and even now I would appeal to him to use that influence which the members of his family undoubtedly possess with the Government of the day and get them to pass into law the very modest Bill now before the House. It may be of some interest to hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House who have no conception of the extraordinary delays in administering any law in Ireland that would be of use to the people for whose benefit it was intended, that during the first year of its existence this Board did not purchase a single acre of land. In its second year the Mount Bellew estate, county Galway, consisting of 1,200 acres, was purchased at £7,600. The third year they paid £5,000 for Clare Island, only after they received a guarantee from the illustrious Archbishop of Tram and Mr. William O'Brien that they would be responsible for the payment of the instalments of the purchase money during the first seven years. Another year passed by, and one more estate, Carna, county Galway, of 1,321 acres, was purchased at a cost of £5,345. The following year another small slice the Thompson estate, of 1,319 acres, in countyGalway—was purchased at £1,250, which represented something like 18s. or 19s. an acre. How could you expect I bat people planted on that land for generations could be in a position of independence, or experience many comforts? I say that these figures may not be very comforting to hon. Gentlemen, but they are no less true, and we know that facts are stubborn things. These figures in themselves prove that we are unable to give a testimonial to the efficiency of the Congested Districts Board. Then the next year was spent in completing the purchase of the Carrowcannon estate, in county Donegal. This is comprised of 93 acres. The pur- 1454 chase money being £820, or twenty years purchase. It is only fair to state that of this sum the tenants paid four years purchase, so anxious were they to get the land. At last we are coming to a point where the Board seemed to be doing a little business, as in the year ending 31st March, 1899, they awoke to their senses, and purchased the following estates:—Rockfield, near Clifden, county Galway, having an area of 414 acres, at £1,850; Port Royal estate, county Mayo, covering an area of 5,230 acres, at a cost of £10,500; the Leetch estate, county Mayo, consisting of 538 acres, at a cost of £2,160; Knockaunakill estate, county Mayo; Ballymacragh, county Mayo, 372 acres; portion of the O'Donnell estate, county Mayo; the O'Reilly-Dease estate, county Mayo, consisting of 2,581 acres which were purchased for £347; the Digby estate, county Mayo, 6,835 acres, at £2,000; the Higgins estate, county Mayo, 274 acres, at £2,633; the Dillon estate, county Mayo, the largest of all, consisting of upwards of 30,000 acres, at something like £250,000. Even at the rate of purchase during that year, it will take a very long time before the very vexed question on the western seaboard of Ireland can be satisfactorily settled.
I maintain that if the present Bill were to become law it would do a great deal in the desired direction. It would do a great deal in the way of smoothing the troubled waters in the most agitated parts of the country, and I have no doubt would tend towards the promotion of better feeling between the two nations. As will be seen by what I have stated about the purchase of lands in Ireland by the Congested Districts Board, all or nearly all, has been purchased in the county of Mayo, and in parts of the county where there is not the necessary room for improvement in the condition of the people commensurate with the expenditure involved. I do not complain because the purchases made so far have been chiefly confined to my native county. On the contrary, I should be glad if the whole county were in the hands of the Congested Districts Board to-morrow. What I do complain of is that they have made purchases in such places as the Barony of Erris, where the land is of such a terribly bad nature that it would give a hare 1455 the heartburn to scamper over it, and where there are no grazing tracks within the area purchased by which the holding could be in any way enlarged. I would wish to know why the Congested Districts Board during all these years did not turn their attention to the fertile plains of Mayo, the excellent ranches around Ballinrobe; or I might go even I further, and ask why they do not go into the county of Roscommon, where I may say there are hundreds of square miles of grazing lands, perhaps the best in the world, which remind you more of the prairies in the Western States in America than a portion of the province of Connaught. It was stated by the right hon. Member for South Antrim that Roscommon is not congested, but I say the bogs and marshes are congested where the people, in old days, were hunted to act as fence-holders for the landlord, and where they have never enjoyed human rights, where they were driven into the last ditch, by evicting landlordism, and where I trust they will hold on until in the near future they may lie enabled to come out and enjoy the land of which their fathers were robbed, but which Cod and nature intended for their use and benefit. In these places there is ample room for carrying out the great task before the Congested Districts Board, and consequently I appeal in the most earnest and solemn manner to the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to use his influence with the Government to have the whole province of Connaught scheduled, by which moans alone any effective work can be carried out within a reasonable limit of time. According to the official reports, the first five years of the Board's existence were spent in doing little or nothing, and, with the exception of Lord Dillon's estate, the remainder of the time has been spent on a few jobs in the county of Mayo.
Perhaps the Chief Secretary thought he was doing very good and useful work by going to the west of Ireland and visiting a few half-starved localities on the seaboard, where the people live among rocks and earn something by fishing, and where there is no earthly room for improvement in the way of enlarging the wretched holdings upon which they are squatted, and no chance 1456 of ever emerging from the poverty in which they are steeped. I noticed that the right hon. Gentleman was in Connemara, and that lie met some persons there who did not mention a word about the only remedy for the existing evil, the buying up of the ranches and planting the cottier tenants on medium-sized holdings on which they might find the means of subsistence. I did not hear that anyone had told him a single word about the case of James Vallely, who got two months imprisonment for doing nothing but trying to carry out the recommendations of the immediate predecessor of the present Chief Secretary, or that the right hon. Gentleman made any stay in or near Letterfrack, where I understand there are a number of grazing farmers, and a very large number of persons living in congested villages around there, huddled together in worse conditions than beasts. Neither did I hear that he drove over the prairies of Kilmeena and Killmaclassas, between Westport and Newport, although he took the train on to Achill. I may be permitted to tell the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland that if he wants to know anything about the condition of the people in Connaught he must make up his mind that he will never learn much while he remains in a saloon railway carriage going, at sixty miles an hour, or while he drives along the main roads, where, according to the natural order of things, the bulk of the people are extremely comfortable compared with the unfortunate creatures who have to eke out an existence away from the paths trodden by officials whenever they trouble themselves to visit the country which they profess to govern.
I want to call the attention of the Government to another matter—namely, the method by which the money is at present advanced by the Land Commission. At present the Congested Districts Board must make the purchase, arrange all the preliminaries, carry on the previous work of transferring leases, which often takes years to get over, and, if there are any holdings on the rundale system, the lands must be striped before any money can be got from the Board. In the meantime, the Congested Districts Board must advance all the money out of the limited amount at its disposal 1457 What I think should be done is to place the Board in such a position that it could call on the Land Commission at once for an advance that would cover any arrangement into which they might have entered with the owners or occupiers of land in Ireland. The existing system is cumbrous, tedious, and I might say almost useless, and in my judgment the red tape of the Government prevents the Board from doing a great deal of useful work. Of course, it will be always open to them to spend portions of their own money in the way of fencing, building, and draining, and instead of being hampered, as they are at present, they should be encouraged to proceed with the work which I believe that body was formed to carry out. From time to time I have heard the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland giving answers to questions in this House which would lead one to think that the purchase of other large estates in Mayo and other parts within the scheduled area would have been completed before now but for the methods, the tedious methods, adopted by the Government in advancing the money for the Dillon estate. I say, if that is the case, the Government are entirely to blame. They should know where the clog is in the machinery, and make every reasonable effort to remove the clog, so that the machinery may run as smoothly as if was intended to do. It was a very laudable thing to purchase the Dillon estate and put an end, no doubt, to a good deal of the discontent and the terrible condition of affairs which existed on that estate; but that is no reason why steps should not be taken to purchase the estates of Lord Sligo, where the conditions of slavery exist as much as on the Dillon estate, and where there are thousands of unfortunate people who would welcome any means of emancipation from the lash of tyrannical landlordism.
I will not, on this the first occasion I have had the honour of addressing the House, trouble it with many more observations; but the right hon. Gentleman who thought he was doing the right thing in moving the rejection of the Bill objected to popular representation on the Congested Districts Hoard. That right hon. Gentleman supported Local Govern- 1458 ment in Ireland, which was carried on by popularly elected boards, and I think he is thoroughly inconsistent in opposing the proposal to make the Congested Districts Board a partially elected body. The right hon. Gentleman argued that because there was no direct taxation for the money dispensed by the Congested Districts Board, there was no justification for making it an elective body. But the people paid indirect as well as direct taxes, and there was more reason to have popular representatives on a Board which dispensed money obtained by indirect taxation than on a Board supported by direct taxation. As an Irishman holding, no doubt, very advanced views on this subject, but voicing also the feelings of my constitutents, I would say to the Chief Secretary that in his hands lies the reined for the evils that exist in the congested area in the west of Ireland. When the right hon. Gentleman was appointed Chief Secretary there were many people in Ireland who believed that that appointment was directed by the hand of fate, and that the right hon. Gentleman would be able to carry out, by constitutional methods, the ambitions that were centred in his noble and never-to-be-forgotten and illustrious ancestor who laid down his life for Ireland. I would appeal to the light hon. Gentleman to forget for the moment that he is an Englishman, and to look back 100 years to the connection between that enlightened ancestor of his and the poor people of Ireland. Whether it be to my credit or otherwise. I confess I was one of those who believed his appointment would lead to good results, and therefore I listened with pain and disappointment to him when in answer to the hon. Member for Tyrone he used the word "Never" in relation to the redress of our grievances.
If the Government may not find it convenient to adopt this Bill, let them, bring in one of their own. I am not desirous of giving hon. Members around me all the honour and glory of carrying the Bill. I beseech hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House, the old men, not to look upon this as a revolutionary or political measure, but one only intended to do justice to the people of Ireland. There are men on those benches.
1459 opposite who will never sit in another Parliament, it requires no prophetic instinct to ascertain that fact. I would appeal to those who no doubt have served their country faithfully and well to think for a moment that this is the last Parliament they will ever adorn, and that there can be no prouder boast which they can make to their children's children than that, towards the close of their long life, they had assisted in making of Ireland, not an enemy hut a real friend, by extending to her just laws, which removed the grievances of the Irish people and made Ireland governed as is England. I appeal to another class, the new men, the young men who have got into Parliament for the first time in the scramble of the last General Election. They too may be full of ambitions, they may desire to improve the condition of England, as we desire to improve the condition of Ireland. I appreciate a, man who, from patriotic motives, fights strenuously for his country, whether he lie an Englishman or Irishman. I appeal to those young men, filled with noble ambitions and a, desire to perform good work, to do justice to Ireland, and I trust that these appeals will have effect on all quarters of the House. I thank hon. Members for their kind indulgence, and would conclude by saying that it is my firm belief that hon. Members who are desirous of serving England as well as Ireland should support this Bill.
MR. RENTOUL (Down, E.)
said that four years ago he put his name to the back of a similar Bill. Before doing so he had gone as thoroughly into the subject as it was possible for him to do and after looking at all points of view he had no hesitation in backing the Bill. Since then he had seen no reason to change his opinion, and so proposed to support the measure before the House. There had been no fault to find with the work done by the Congested Districts Board, which had done its work well and conscientiously; and the Bill was brought in to extend the usefulness and increase the power of a Board which was admitted to be a good one. He could see no objections to the principle of a. Bill which had that object in view. The Bill contemplated widening the 1460 powers of the Board in four particulars: first, it desired to extend the area over which the Board exerted its power; secondly, to remove the [restrictions in the exercise of powers at present vested in the Board; thirdly it proposed to give a partially representative character to the Board; and, fourthly, to give it compulsory powers which seemed to be necessary in various parts of the country, in order that the Board might work with satisfaction. No one seemed to have taken objection to the two first clauses of the Bill except in the case of extension, where certain counties had been scheduled, that the Congested Districts Act could not be applied to the whole of the county. That was true in the case of county Donegal, because what is known as the Parliamentary district of East Donegal was one of the best districts of Ulster; but other districts of Donegal were admittedly among the poorest and worst of the congested districts of Ireland. Was it a reason, because a small section of county Donegal was prosperous from all points of view, why all the rest of the county should be excluded from the operation of the Act? In his opinion some change should be made in the schedule, so that certain parts of a county might be excluded. If it were not excluded could it be conceived that the representative on the Board from Donegal would apply for the operation of the Act to East Donegal Would he not as the representative of the whole county, see that the money applied to Donegal was applied to those portions of the county where it was needed. If that argument were applied in its entirety, there was no county which could not be excluded from the operation of the Act for there was no county in Ireland in which there were not parts outside the definition of the words "congested districts." The Board having been beneficial in its work, he could see no reason for not extending its operations.
The third clause, which dealt with the partially elective power of the Board, he liked best of all. It was not intended by the Bill to constitute an elective body entirely, but only a partially elective body, the other half being nominated by the Lord Lieutenant.
1461 It bad been argued that if there was an, elective representation each representative would endeavour to secure all the money for his own county; but even if he did he would be only one and the other representatives would not allow it. Objection had been taken that the people elected to this Board might have no knowledge of the districts for which they were elected. That was a position he could not follow, because such gentlemen, as for instance, the chairman of the County Council of Donegal, knew every inch of the county from end to end. It would be from the county councils and other bodies that the representatives would be drawn, and he believed that, generally speaking, there was not a man on a county council of Ireland who was not familiar with the county which he represented. He thought the elective proposal in the Hill would work extremely well.
With regard to the fourth clause, which proposed to confer compulsory powers on the Board, he could see no possible objection to it. He thought, if this Bill were carried, it would be a very useful step, because compulsory powers could not be used all at once. £125,000,000 could not lie spent at a greater rate than £25,000,000 a year; and it would only mean that the work would be carried out on, a wider and broader scale than it was at present. The Bill was brought forward by the Irish representatives and not by the Government. The evils which it sought to deal with had not occurred in a moment. The Bill was not a sudden idea, hut something that had been brought forward several times in the last five years.
He thought the Bill was reasonable in every point of view, and though hon. Members had endeavoured to point out what they considered the fatal defects of the Bill, he might say it was always easy to show other people how much more clever we were than they in drafting a Bill. He saw no serious defect in the Bill at all, and any defect that might be pointed out at this stage of the Second Reading could be put right in the Committee stage. It had been stated the money would be betterapplied if there was no local influence brought to bear on the Board. The Bill now under considera- 1462 tion guarded against the Board being subject to local influence. It was said that it would abolish the limits placed on the Land Commission in connection with the making of advances to the poor, and that the whole of the money under the control of the Commission might be handed over to the Congested Districts Board and applied to those eight counties to the exclusion of all the other counties, There was no body in the world that might not do insane and idiotic things, and so it might be that all the money at the disposal of the Land Commission might be given to a single county, but they knew that men were likely to act as sensible men in regard to a matter of this kind. It did not seem to him that there was the slightest danger in that particular direction.
He should be very glad if the Chief Secretary could see his way to accept this Bill, subject to such changes and improvements as might be made in Committee. He could see no reason whatever why the Chief Secretary should not agree to give the Bill a Second Beading. A great number of Gentlemen who would vote had not been in the House to hear the arguments. That, of course, applied to every Bill that came before the House, and he did not wish to make a point of it. The bulk of the Members would be naturally and readily guided by the advice that came from the Government benches.
§ MR. HEMPHILL (Tyrone, N.)
I think I need not intervene for more than three or four minutes in the debate, because I know that a great number of friends below the gangway are anxious to express the views of their constituents on this important Bill. The reason I rise at all is that I stand somewhat in the position of an independent Irish Member in this House. I am on the one hand beyond the reach of the whip and the leader of the party below the gangway, and I am beyond the crack of the whip of the Treasury Bench. In that independent position I wish to state why I mean to vote for the Second Reading of this Bill, and join most heartily with the hon. and learned Member who has just sat down in his appeal to the Chief Secretary and to the Attorney General to see their way, if possible, to give a Second Reading to the measure.
1463 I have listened with the greatest attention to the able speech of the hon. Members for West and South Mayo. The Member for South Mayo, I think, gave most accurate information to the House, based on careful statistical research, and the result of that must impress every fair-minded man who heard his speech that something must be done to relieve the miserable condition of a great proportion of the inhabitants of Ireland—the miserable condition of the tenants who occupy farms valued at £4 or under. It is in the interest of the whole of the United Kingdom, it is in the interest of the Empire, that every measure should be adopted which will prevent the disgrace the condition of Ireland, in respect of a great proportion of its inhabitants, reflects upon this great country. This Bill I regard as a small instalment in that direction, and for that reason I support it. The principles involved in the Bill when put briefly are three. The first principle is that we should extend if possible the powers of the existing Congested Districts Board. We are, not pledged to the particular details of the Bill as printed in that respect. It has been criticised not unfairly by, I think, the right hon. Member for South Antrim in that regard, but the principle is to extend the powers of the present Congested Districts Board, and to extend the area of its operations, and it is not at all necessary to adhere servility to the particular schedule attached to the Bill, and to hold that the whole of the different counties mentioned in the schedule should be under the operation of the Board. I have experience of the counties of Kerry and Leitrim, and I know the poverty and destitution existing there. The greater portion of those counties would, no doubt, properly come within the sphere of the Congested Districts Board. That I regard as a matter of detail, and it will be no excuse to hon. Members opposite, who hold another view, for refusing to support this reasonable demand on the part of what I may say is certainly three-fourths of the Irish people, to give them this concession. The objection to that principle does not rest on any solid ground, because it is a matter that can be set right at once in Committee.
The next principle is to empower the Congested Districts Board to exercise com- 1464 pulsory purchase. I am not going into the great principle involved in compulsory purchase. It would not be in order to do so now, but it is one of the questions that must be dealt with, and dealt with speedily, either in this session or an early session. I am now confining myself to the application of that principle to the Congested Districts Board. It has been argued by my hon. and learned friend the Member for North Antrim that it would be absurd to apply this system of compulsory purchase to the Congested Districts Board, because, although he is in favour, as I understood his argument, of compulsory purchase for the purpose of getting rid of dual ownership, he objects to compulsory purchase if exorcised by a board which admittedly has the confidence of the country like the Congested Districts Board. Surely the principle of compulsory purchase, which applies to the acquisition of property by public bodies like municipalities, or companies like railway combines, may very well be applied and exercised by a board like the Congested Districts Board, and if the right hon. Gentleman opposite wishes to apply some machinery whereby the amount of the purchase money would be ascertained by the verdict of a jury, I am very sure that Gentlemen on this side of the House would not ultimately object to that arrangement. But I am not assuming that now, because it is sufficient for me to say that the principle of compulsory purchase is a sound one, and that it ought to be applied. Passages have been read from the Reports of the Congested Districts Board by some of my friends below the gangway, and these passages show that the Board itself is in favour of having this power, and that it has admitted that the absence of this power has prevented the full benefit of the Act being taken advantage of. Why then will English and Scotch Members who are impartial and fair-minded hesitate to give a Second Beading to the Bill, in order to have it fully discussed and debated in Committee and hedged round by any sensible conditions they may consider necessary?
The third principle is that there ought to be added to the present Congested Districts Board the representative clement. I am all in favour of that principle. There is no doubt that it is an 1465 excellent Board. There are members on it in whom the Irish people as a race have the utmost confidence. I might mention the Right Rev. Dr. O'Donnell, who commands, perhaps, more than any other individual the confidence of the entire Irish race. I might mention another gentleman whose acquaintance I have the honour of possessing, a well-known philanthropist in Dublin, and a man of great commercial position—I mean Charles Kennedy. There is also Mr. Wrench. But I would like to add the representative element for another reason. My idea is that one of the evils we have to struggle with in Ireland, and one of the causes of the grievances of Ireland being perpetually brought up and paraded, and necessarily paraded, before this House of Commons, is the existence of so many purely nominated boards—gentlemen nominated by the Ministry of the time, irresponsible to the taxpayers, and out of sympathy with the wishes and aspirations of the people.
I will illustrate what I say. At present friction exists between the Local Government Board and the County Councils, but if there was a representative Local Government Board the Act by which the county councils were created would work more favourably for the country. It might lie that instead of every county council having the nomination of one member of the Board, what may be called an association of county councils should have the power of selecting some six or ten to represent the county councils generally on the Board. I merely throw unit that as a possible means of getting rid of the objection. If you had thirty-two or thirty-three additional members the Board would become too cumbrous and difficult to work. I came to the I louse prepared to support the Bill, and I have been relieved from the necessity of troubling the Douse with statistics by the statistical ability of the Member for South Mayo, if I had had any doubt about supporting the Bill, that would have been removed by the touching and eloquent appeal of another Member from Mayo, on whose appearance I congratulate the present Parliament. I say, after in experience in and out of Parliament for a great number of years, and having heard many speakers, I have rarely heard a speech of truer eloquence and with a, higher rime than that of the hon. 1466 Member. It was free from all affectation, and spoken from the heart, and showed on behalf of the Irish people the wrongs of that much-wronged race.
*MR. DUCKY (Dublin University)
said he earnestly hoped that the Government would not allow the Congested Districts Board to he dragged into the vortex of politics. It was absolutely certain that that would be the result if the representative principle were largely introduced into it. He ventured to say that the Congested Districts Board, as at present constituted, was one of the most efficient bodies ever set up to alleviate the condition of that class of the Irish people who were most seriously suffering. Nothing that was done for Ireland in the course of the last Parliament was so beneficial as the measure which considerably increased the revenue of that Board, and, in several respects, its functions. He knew it was the custom for hon. Members there and elsewhere to depreciate and decry Castle Boards, but those Boards consisted of men of great ability, who dealt with Irish affairs in a highly impartial spirit, whose single aim was to improve the condition of the people of the country, and he was sure that they were far more truly representative of the best elements of Irish life than any elective body they were likely to have. It would be a great misfortune if they were to introduce the methods and principles of the United Irish League into the administration of the Congested Districts Board. He believed that the House of Commons, whatever else it was, was a very good judge of character, and would he able to decide whether the kind of Members who came over to represent the United Irish League were the class of men from whom an impartial administration of public money and public powers was reasonably to be expected.
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
I have listened to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who represents Dublin University, and the answer I should be inclined to give to it is that the best way to cure that which he, and everyone else, deplores is to give a limited representation on the Congested Districts Board to the county councils. It is not by keeping them outside that this mischief is to be undone but by making them responsible 1467 and leaving the responsibility upon them. I was in Parliament in 1891 when the Land Purchase Act was passed. It included the provision for the Congested Districts Board. I have never wavered in my opinion that it was one of the best measures this House ever passed. It has done incalculable good to Ireland, and if anybody who knows Ireland doubts it, I ask him to compare the county of Donegal in 1880 with the county of Donegal to-day. The change is in every sense remarkable, especially in the matter of cottage industry. I am not so sure about the other districts, but I am quite certain that Donegal has been materially changed by the policy of the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury. There is no reason why we should stop there. Is not that a reason for going forward? I say that the fact that the policy has succeeded is an additional reason why this House should go forward and should not stand still.
Let me put the three main provisions of the Bill again. The Bill proposes in the first place to extend the area under the Congested Districts Board. Of course hon. Members are aware that these areas are on the western coast. They are scheduled, and the Act only applies to those areas. This Bill proposes to lump a certain number of counties and to include those counties in the schedule. I do not say that is right altogether. We have never proceeded in this matter by counties before. I do not see why we should proceed by counties now but nobody will deny that there are districts outside the schedule that properly ought to be included, and, whilst I am not prepared to say that we ought to add the counties enumerated in this schedule, I am prepared to say that there are parts of some counties which ought to be scheduled. That is a matter for consideration by the Committee of this House, and not for the debate on the Second Reading of the Bill. Who that knows Donegal would say that the barony of Raphoe ought to be scheduled as a cougested district, and should receive the advantages designed specially for the very poor? But that is not a reason for voting against the Bill. It is a reason for examining the Bill in Committee, and critically looking at the facts of each district, excluding those which ought to be excluded and including those which ought to be included.
1468 Let me next take the question of representation. This Bill proposes that a certain number of county councillors should be added to the board. I think the representation sought is too large. Let the House bear in mind that when the provisions were passed establishing the Congested Districts Board the county councils were not in existence. Does anybody doubt that in this democratic House of Commons, when the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury was looking about for a body to carry the Act into operation, if the county councils had been in existence that they would not have had their share of representation? I say nobody can doubt it. This House is not going to set up county councils and declare afterwards that they are not entitled to take part in work appertaining to their own counties. [Colonel SAUNDERSON laughed.] My right hon. and gallant friend seems to be amused.
§ *MR. T. W RUSSELL
My right hon. friend furnishes a good deal of amusement for the House, but I have never found that we have profited very much by his constructive ability. The hilarity and gaiety of Parliament has gained a great deal from my right hon. friend's presence, but never, so far as I remember, has he left the slightest impression on an Act of Parliament I am not prepared to go the length of saying that there ought to be ten county councillors added to this nominated board, but I say that, if you are going to set up a nominated board, the proposal to add some elected members is not an outrageous proposal. Let us take another point. Why should they be added? The Congested Districts Board has often to call in assistance to get over delicate and difficult matters. It may be the enlargement of holdings. Everybody knows how difficult an operation that is in Ireland, and we all know that that prelate whose name has been mentioned here to-day has been brought to use his-influence over and over again, and properly, to carry on this beneficent work. Those county councils at all events have the confidence of the people. They are elected by them, they know the districts, and they would be precisely the men to 1469 whom the tenants in difficult operations, where they think themselves aggrieved, would go for help in the bridging over of those difficulties and making things pleasant where they often are not.
Now let me take the third part with reference to compulsory sale. I heard the speech of an Ulster Member to-day. It is all very well to announce your adhesion to compulsory sale in the abstract, but when a Bill is introduced proposing to do it, you see the difference between the advocates of compulsory sale. I ask the House to take cognisance of what kind of district this western district is. I heard the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Antrim state to-day that there were districts in Antrim and Tyrone quite as poverty-stricken as any of those districts. I think the right hon. Gentleman is wrong. But what is the difference? All around these poor districts in Antrim and Tyrone labour abounds. There are rich and well-to-do people near at hand, and the people can get employment. Belfast is within a journey of an hour or two. Can that be said of these western districts? There is no commerce save the public-house. I say it is not fair to hold up these poor districts of Antrim and Tyrone in comparison with the western districts. They are not in the same position. These people in the west are shut up in their desolation, and there is no relief from year's end to year's end. What do you see when you go there? I have been through the congested districts twenty years ago when the English Government took no heed of them, because it was only when my right hon. friend the First Lord of the Treasury was Chief Secretary that the practice was initiated of going to see these districts. Before that these poor people were allowed to perish in their misery, and this House governed them without an idea of what their condition was. I have been there over and over again. I have not travelled along the main roads. I have gone nto the hovels of the poor. I have been on Lord Dillon's estate, and I have been on the De Freyne estate. They are a disgrace to any country. The people are often living there in habitations you would not kennel your dogs in. It is one of the most disgraceful things to be seen in civilised Europe. It is indescribable—the poverty, desolation, filth, hun- 1470 ger, and misery. This is within twenty-four hours journey of this House and the richest country in the world. All this has been going on for years and years, and this House never dreamt of it, and the Government of the country never took the slightest notice of it, and until my right hon. friend the First Lord of the Treasury initiated his policy nothing was done to ameliorate the condition of these poor people. What do you see when you drive through these lands? You see rich fertile plains with thousands of sheep upon them. Then what do you come upon? You come upon rocky barren land. There you find hideous hovels which the people have built between the boulders. You find these poor people trying to cultivate the land around these boulders, and to scratch out a miserable existence.
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL
What I wish to point out is that the people were once on these fertile plains. Before the famine they were there. I admit that they were there in numbers the land could not support, and I have never doubted what ought to be done. They have been driven off these fertile plains, and sheep have been placed upon them. What is the remedy for that? It is years since I spoke to my own constituents on the subject. I said that I preferred men to sheep. I said that the Irish people have the right to live on their own land. They have the right to get back possession of the land from which their ancestors were driven. They are willing to pay for it. They are willing to pay more even than the value of the land. I know that there are difficulties connected with it. I know that the grass land is not always contiguous to those wretched holdings now, but I say you can never make the West of Ireland a tolerable place for the people to live in until you make up your mind that the people of the country have a prior right to the sheep of the capitalists, until you make up your mind that these lands must be cleared and cut up and peopled again. You can never do that without compulsion. Where these people are in a position that is appalling there never was a better case for the application of compulsion. Where are we to-day? We 1471 have a Bill before us and I have already said that I do not concur in all its details, but I am willing to examine them in Committee. What is the Government going to do? I have, not the slightest idea. It strikes me from a speech made by my right hon. friend on his return from the west at a banquet in Dublin, that he felt the desolation and misery and poverty of these people. What struck me on reading the speech was that this region has affected the right hon. Gentleman. If the Government have a proposal of their own, which is possible—although from the look of things I do not expect much legislation of any kind—the House on both sides will welcome it. My hon. friends around me can have no satisfaction in the existence of such areas as I have described. They feel it as much as hon. Members opposite deep down in their hearts, and would be quite willing to support the Government in any reasonable method of dealing with it. If they are going to deal with it themselves the least they could do would be to accept formally the Second Heading of this Bill, understanding of course that, pending the introduction of their own measure, this Bill would not go on. It would be an assurance that this question was not going to be hung up. I feel for these people as I feel for no other people in the country. It is a scandal to England that this state of things should be allowed to exist. I have spoken strongly and I feel strongly, and however long I may be in this House I shall never cease to plead for the poor and those who have no helper.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)
I strongly hope that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary will pay attention to the very earnest and most sensible appeal made to him by the hon. Member for South Tyrone. I believe I am speaking in accord with the views of my hon. friends when I say that the proposal which the hon. Gentleman has just made is one which we on these benches accept—namely, that if the Government would allow this Bill to pass the Second Reading and thereby pledge themselves to its principle and its principle only, and if they would accompany that by the statement that they are determined and ready to deal with this 1472 question, we should make no attempt to proceed with this Bill until we hear what they propose to do. I hope that this day may be regarded as a great day for Ireland. The debate up to a certain part has gone upon lines which afford to the world a spectacle not often presented—that of a practically united Ireland. Indeed, as to the evil with which this Bill proposes to deal we are a united Ireland. The interruption of dissent of the right hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh is to be interpreted, I believe, not as denying the evil, but as against one of the many remedies the Bill proposes to apply; and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dublin University, while vigorously and eloquently assailing one of the proposals of the Bill, joined in the statement that a deplorable and lamentable state of affairs did exist in certain parts of Ireland.
Now let us see how far we differ. The last speaker has differed largely as to two principles of the Bill, and he has dealt less copiously with another, but still a most important, principle of the measure. Upon that point, the extension of the meaning of "congested district," I earnestly look to the Chief Secretary for his full support. There are certain existing definitions which practically make the congested districts a very small portion not merely of all Ireland, but of the poverty stricken parts. I have only to refer in confirmation of my statement to a recent utterance of the Chief Secretary, that in his opinion, beyond, outside, and entirely unconnected with the congested districts, there is a large mass of small, squalid, poverty-stricken patches in Ireland. That being so you must apply the definition and the remedy of congested districts to a larger area than is covered by the existing definition. How does this work out in practice? In a congested district the population must have a valuation of under 30s., and the unit of the congested district is the electoral district. The result of the definition is that you have an electoral district where the population as a whole is not under the 30s. valuation, but where there is a considerable portion quite as poor as or even poorer than the people in the so-called congested district, and yet in consequence of this narrow de- 1473 finition the Chief Secretary is practically precluded under the existing law from giving relief even to the poorer portion, because the whole district does not come under the definition. Furthermore, you have side by side with an electoral district which is a congested district another district in which a portion of the people are as poor as those in the congested district, but in which a considerable portion of the district is not poor, in the sense that it has rich grazing lands. But under the existing law the Chief Secretary is prevented from applying to this other electoral district the remedy which ought to lie to his hand. There is this extraordinary and almost incredible state of affairs—on one side of the road the squalor of an over-populated patch, and on the other the unpopulated rich grazing district, but you must not transfer the people from the one side of the road to the other. This evil is brought out very clearly in a district in Donegal. The total valuation is £5,154; of that valuation £1,275 are in the hands of landlords and in tin; non-resident land; £500 are in grass farms, and £48 are in bogs and woods; while the tenants proportion is £3,330, including the buildings. Here you have side by side not merely in the same county or parish, but on the same estate, the untenanted and unoccupied land of the landlord and the over-populated land of the small tenant. Yet, will it be believed, that under the existing law the Chief Secretary has no means or power of dealing with such a case as that? It is outside the congested district, and therefore they cannot do what any rational man would do, namely, take possession by purchase and compensation of the grass lands and transfer the people not to a long distance, but merely from one portion to another of the same estate. To show how overcrowded this small estate is I may say there are 2,583 people thereon. Another case is the Bagot estate in county Roscommon. There again there is overpopulation on one portion of the estate and grass lands on the other. The Chief Secretary can adopt only one method, and that is a wrong one. He can purchase the estate, and distribute it to people brought from another district, but not to the people of the same estate. That conclusively proves that so far as 1474 the definition is concerned, the law is certainly defective.
With regard to the question of compulsory purchase the House is in a very remarkable position. Practically every Irish Member, with the exception of the right hon. Member for North Armagh and the representatives from Belfast, are pledged to the principle of compulsory purchase. The hon. Member for South Tyrone has had some animated controversy with hon. Gentlemen opposite as to the manner in which they have carried out their pledge.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
No, I have not. I have had no controversy whatever with the hon. Gentlemen. I took their election pledges for what they were worth, and it was in the whole of them.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
I should have called that perhaps consensus of opinion rather than criticism of views. But, whatever the definition is, the fact remains that for the most part hon. Gentlemen opposite from Ireland are pledged to the principle of compulsory purchase. In all seriousness, I ask, how can it possibly be consistent to be in favour of compulsory purchase as to the whole of Ireland, and against it as to the particular cases to which I am referring? I can understand an Ulster Member saying, "I will not vote for compulsory purchase if by so doing I am voting on a motion of want of confidence in the Government which I support." But that is not the question here. This is a private Bill, and every Member of the House can vote in favour of the measure and at the same time have all or no confidence in the Government. Therefore, I am utterly unable to understand how a Member can be in favour of compulsory purchase as a general principle in Ireland, and yet against it as applied to congested districts. If there was ever a case in which the principle was unassailable it is in the case of congested districts. The need is greater there than anywhere. Nobody will deny that.
With regard to most of the Bill, we have the universal assent of the Members from Ireland. The hon. and learned Member for East Down is going to vote for the Second Reading, and so also is the hon. Member for South Tyrone, reserving full liberty 1475 of action as to the details of the measure in Committee. Whatever may be said the one way or the other, every Member who votes for the Second Reading retains full liberty with regard to criticism of details in Committee.
Now I come to the point of representation, and I am sorry the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dublin University adopted the tone he thought proper to do. In consequence of one of the clauses of the Bill he adopted an attitude of almost ferocious hostility to the measure as a whole, and he justified his action on the ground that in regard to a particular school in County Kerry an alleged injustice was done by the county council under the influence of the United Irish League. I do not profess to be acquainted with all the particulars of the case, but I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that there is another side to the question, and my hon. friends here are strongly of opinion that if that side were presented to the House it would be seen that there was no cause for complaint. But even admitting the grievance, would that seriously affect the question we are discussing? A mere bit of village gossip of that kind is unworthy of being regarded in connection with such a subject. The county councils are in existence; they were brought into being by a Conservative and Unionist Government; that Government must have thought the country was ready and fit for such institutions. Surely then we must take them with their general features and their errors, if there be errors. But not only are these bodies in existence, representation on public bodies by the county councils is also in existence. The predecessor of the present Chief Secretary established public boards dealing with matters in some respects as important as those which come under the survey of the Congested Districts Board, and on those boards he allowed, without any dissent from hon. Gentlemen opposite, a certain element of popular and county council representation in addition to the official element. I would make the same appeal to the Chief Secretary as was made by the hon. Member for South Tyrone. There is nothing the right hon. Gentleman could do for Ireland or which he regarded for the good of Ireland that 1476 he would not do with a light, joyous, and glad heart. I do not believe we ever had a man in his position in Ireland with better intentions and a more generous sympathy. I do not deny that he has the limitations of his position. He is no more the master of his political circumstances or party than other Ministers have been or will be. But we are now on non-party ground. We are dealing with a question which to a large extent is outside the region of the fierce conflicting passions of race, creed, and class. On such a question the right hon. Gentleman ought to be perfectly at home and perfectly free. I hope by his attitude to-day he will give an earnest to the people of Ireland of his intentions when he gets on the free ground of social reform in Ireland, where party considerations no longer bind his lips or chain his limbs, and that he will accept the principle of the Bill here put forward.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. WYNDHAM,) Dover
The hon. Member concluded his speech with a personal appeal to myself, and he referred to similar appeals which have been made in the course of this debate. He was good enough to credit me with sympathy towards Ireland. Yes; and I hold that such sympathy should go without saying; and for my part, I do not care to adopt perforce an attitude of sympathetic inactivity. When I cannot act I must ask the House to take my sympathy for granted, even when inactivity is enforced. And may I without offence, remind hon. Members from Ireland that, although to-day we have had a most interesting and instructive debate upon Ireland, opportunities for such debates are limited and postponed if the time of the House is largely taken up with perhaps undue discussion of other affairs. [Oh, oh.] Wherever the fault may lie, so long as there is no opportunity for administrative or legislative activity upon my part, I prefer to wait until such opportunity falls to my lot. What Ireland needs, in my opinion, is not so much sympathy as the application of a businesslike spirit to real material needs on the part of those who by a turn of fortune are charged with the administration of affairs.
1477 The hon. Member argued most forcibly for a change in the definition of a congested districts county. He reminded the House that I had stated that elsewhere and outside the congested districts there are many poor squalid holdings which are not good starting places for any honourable or useful career. That is quite true. But I must make this observation. That definition of a congested districts county was framed, rightly or wrongly, ten years ago, upon the proportion of such holdings in any one county to the whole county. Where in one county 20 per cent. of the population are so congested, that portion of Ireland is to be separately treated, and although I am not concerned to say that the last word was said in 1891, still I do think the House will appreciate the principle underlying that definition, namely, that where the bad parts of Ireland—the residuum estates as they are sometimes called—were only a comparatively small part of a great area, that area should carry that incumbrance and not come for public money or to this House for exceptional legislation. Does not the hon. Member see that the very argument to which he alludes illustrates the great complexity of the problem? The authors of this Bill are mainly bent on helping these congested districts by extending purchase. They are thinking of that more than of helping the congested districts by using the funds of the Board for encouraging industry, for relief works, or other philanthropic efforts. Does not the hon. Member see that the Bill and his argument lead us up to this difficulty, that the authors of the Bill are asking us to schedule wide areas in order to conduct land purchase for the advantage of using rich land for the benefit of poor land? If you pursue that attitude, what then becomes of the credit and the funds of the Board which are also allocated by Parliament in order to relieve the congested districts which are unable to help themselves? I venture to say that, although we are invited in all good faith to take up this Bill, it needs a great deal of careful consideration.
What is our present position in Ireland? Our position in Ireland at this present moment is illustrated by this volume which I hold in my hand, containing 1478 in a handy and compendious form the Acts passed in recent years by Parliament for the purpose of solving or approaching the solution of the Irish land question. Those Acts number forty-one, thirty-seven of which have been passed in the last twenty years.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
The question before the House is not whether a forty second Act is needed, but whether this forty-second Act is precisely the measure which is called for by the circumstances of the case; frankly, I do not think it is. I believe that if we passed this Bill on a Wednesday afternoon we should be only erecting another tombstone over another good intention. I admit that the intention of the authors of this Bill is a good one, although I take grievous exception to some of the methods they have adopted for giving effect to that intention. I think that their intention, viz., to accelerate and to extend purchase in the poorer parts of Ireland and to sell to the tenant-purchasers holdings upon which they can live a decent life is a good one, and I do not propose at the outset to deal in purely destructive criticism of detail, nor indeed, to concentrate the whole of my observations upon the attempt to introduce compulsory principles into our ordinary land purchase system in Ireland. Either of those courses would be open to me, but for the moment I set them on one side. I hold as strongly as any one who has spoken that this subject is an important one. It is important to Ireland, and it is important to the Empire. It is bad for Ireland and bad for the Empire that so many of His Majesty's subjects should live in these districts so close to the head and the heart of the Empire under material conditions which preclude them from developing into citizens comparable in vitality and self-reliance to the citizens of other countries and other empires who are our competitors in the strenuous rivalry of industry and commerce. It is because of the importance of the subject that I venture to ask the House to bear with me if I attempt to illustrate a very dry matter, viz., some of those technicalities and complexities with which we are face to face.
1479 You cannot judge of this or any other Bill for land purchase in Ireland unless you take into account the very elaborate system which it is intended to modify and amend. The Act of 1891—the principal Act as it is sometimes called—introduced by my right hon. friend the First Lord of the Treasury, set up a comprehensive and continuous system of voluntary purchase in Ireland, based and secured—and I think this is sometimes forgotten in this country—exclusively upon Irish assets, but (and no doubt this was indispensable) confirmed by the use of the credit of the United Kingdom, and allocated as far as it would go to the different counties in Ireland, so that they should have equal opportunities for purchase. It has been said in the course of this debate that if we pass this Bill it would be possible to spend the whole of the 33 millions available in the congested districts. I do not think it would he so, but if it were so that in itself would condemn the Bill. How could we ask Ulster to stand by while we were exhausting what, so far as the law now stands, is the extreme limit to which it is possible to conduct purchase in Ireland? This system is based on Irish assets—upon a very intricate and elaborate guarantee fund built up with great ingenuity by the First Lord of the Treasury. I will not trouble the House by reciting all the different assets in that fund, but they are ranked one behind another to the number of ten or twelve. The upshot is that a certain amount of money is due to Ireland every year, and since for the purpose of purchase we lend money through the Land Commission at 4 per cent., the total amount available is just one-twenty-fifth, no more and no less, of the whole of those sums which are due to Ireland. Also under the Act of 1891 it was laid down that certain parts of Ireland, namely, the congested districts, should be cut off and dealt with for all purposes as if they were separate counties, each with its own share and no more of this total available security upon which this complicated financial transaction rests and must rest. But there was this difficulty. In respect of the congested districts one and a half millions sterling of the Church Temporalities Fund was set aside and ear-marked for their benefit, and the interest upon that is at the dis- 1480 posal of the Congested Districts Board. But that amount of money also exists as a separate part of the guarantee fund for the congested districts. I hope I am not wearying the House, but I really do not think we can legislate upon these matters unless we appreciate what has been done in the past. That was done by the Government in 1891 because they felt, as the authors of this Bill feel, that the need for land purchase in congested districts and similar parts of Ireland and the difficulties of purchase were greater than in other parts.
Let me illustrate this. I do not profess to have the same knowledge of these districts as hon. Gentlemen from Ireland, but I try to get all the knowledge I can Take Galway. There is a great estate there upon which the Land Commission will not advance a single shilling. There is great difficulty there; indeed, purchase under the ordinary Act cannot proceed. Take another sample from county Kerry. I have examined six unions in Kerry; I found that 462 occupiers were holding 10,696 detached plots, and that, whilst they held and cultivated that, they had access to 103,876 acres in common. Under the existing Act you cannot take that into account in making your sale. You have to sell to the occupying tenants and chance whether the owners you set up will derive any real benefit from the vast areas of common lands. If you go from Kerry to Mayo and Roscommon you find the problem is even harder, because there very often there is no common land. There you find that those who might be purchasers have not access to the great untenanted lands. Those are the two great difficulties—bad holdings which you ought not to sell to anybody, because they are not worth buying, and the untenanted lands which are not accessible under the Land Purchase Acts. That is why the First Lord of the Treasury and the Unionist Government of 1891 introduced the Congested Districts Board as an outside administrative body with funds to its credit and with authority based upon the confidence which it commands from both landlord and tenant. Act after Act was passed to give it greater authority and power. The hon. Member who in the debate made a most eloquent maiden speech criticised the Congested 1481 Districts Board because in the earlier years of its existence it did not proceed very rapidly with the policy of land purchase. That is quite true; but that again warns us how necessary it is to proceed with great care in legislation. This original Act did not give the Board sufficient power to proceed, and it was not until this Act had been amended by the Acts of 1894 and 1896 and even by the Act of 1899 that the Congested Districts Board was in a position to proceed with land purchase upon the only lines which are likely to be successful in congested districts, namely, by buying an estate from the landlord for a fair price voluntarily—I believe that essential—and then re-settling it and re-selling it to the tenants, also voluntarily, for what they think it is worth their while to give. I invite the attention of the House to that power of the Congested Districts Board conferred only recently by those three Acts, because it is that power and that power alone which enables the Congested Districts Board to deal with the two difficulties of the bad holdings on the one hand, and the untenanted lauds on the other.
Shall we help the Board if we pass this Bill? Not at all. The whole of that power which the Board have now is limited by the interest of 2¾ per cent. upon the one and a half million of Church money which is at their disposal. That is the only fund at their disposal for the purpose, and no provision in this Bill will increase that fund. Therefore the Bill is really quite inoperative, as I believe. It will not give the Board another shilling for this purpose, and the Board is using every shilling at its disposal. It is true that under the Act of 1899 this interior credit, if I may so call it, of one and a half million which the Board can use for land purchase, is also divided in fair shares between the different congested district counties. There is a provision in the Bill for altering that. Yes, but under the Act of 1899 the Treasury has reserved to itself a discretion, by which they can allow the Board to continue such purchases in any congested district county if any reasonable cause can be shown for doing so. Take, for an example, Mayo on the map. Mayo on the map, congested and uncongested together, is entitled roughly 1482 to £1,270,000 for purchase. Of that about £800,000 is due to congested Mayo. Of that, £264,000 represents this credit which the Board can use for purchasing from the landlords and resettling and selling again. It is of the highest importance that that operation should be rapidly done. Yes, but this Bill will not help them. Take the Dillon estate. The Board bought the Dillon estate; no compulsion is needed; it is done. [An HON. MEMBER: How will you get the Clanricarde estate?] We are not getting on with the Dillon estate, because difficulties have arisen, and compulsion will not solve those difficulties. They are difficulties in respect of title, and in connection with the second inspection by the Land Commission. I must not dwell upon this matter, as it is sub judice, and will be decided in a few days, but I feel bound to say here, as I should certainly say if I could go across and give evidence, that I have great confidence in the experience and impartiality of the Chief Land Inspector of the Congested Ditricts Board, Mr. Doran, and that his schemes of land settlement are a very good guarantee for any money which is advanced.
I feel I owe an apology to the House for explaining the position as it is now, but before I come to the Bill I should like the House to consider how well the system has worked so far as it has gone. We are indebted to the hon. Member who introduced the Bill for the opportunity of thinking over a subject upon which the Government intend to legislate. [An HON. MEMBER: This session?] That depends upon a great many people other than the Government. Consider the success which has attended voluntary purchase, in so far as the security of its operations is affected by these Acts. Under the Ashbourne Act 25,280 persons have purchased land. In May of last year only 181 persons were in arrear at all; it is not a case of making default. That is seven men in every thousand. The sums advanced amount to £194,000, and the total amount in arrear at all, after years of experiment, is £1,152. Under the Acts of 1891 and 1894 22,229 persons purchased land, and the total number of persons in arrear with their instalments last May was 44—not one in 1483 500 was late. The sum involved under those Acts is £136,000, and only £238 was in arrear, not one halfpenny in the pound. I take this opportunity of giving those figures, although I do not disguise the fact that I am opposed to this Bill. This measure will, however, give us the opportunity of turning our attention back to the question of land purchase, and I think those are figures we may very well revolve in our minds.
Turning to the clauses of the Bill, Clause 1 would schedule ten whole counties as congested district counties and would repeal the old definition. I do not dismiss that suggestion in its entirety. I think that after ton years experience there is a case for revising an artificial and conventional definition such as was embodied in the Act of 1891, and I also consider that after passing the Local Government Act and the Act establishing the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction something is to be said for arriving at more convenient areas. I am not, however, prepared to accept anything in the nature of so sweeping a change as that suggested in the schedule of the Bill. I go further, and say that although it is reasonable to consider some modification, or to see whether there is a case for some modification of the congested areas, I think it would be most inopportune to attempt it until further progress has been made in co-ordinating the operations of the Congested Districts Board with the new Department; many inconveniences might arise through having three bodies all trying to solve the same problems with separate staffs. Before I attempt to consider seriously a Bill of this nature I think the Government should be allowed time to see whether some more effective co-ordination cannot be arrived at. Respecting Sub-section 2 of Clause 1, to a certain extent it is possible for the Congested Districts Board to operate outside the scheduled areas. But I am prepared to consider whether some Amendment of the law in that direction is needed.
It is to Clause 2 that I take the greatest exception. It is rather odd that every speaker in the debate should say the Congested Districts Board is the one body which commands general approval, and then propose to 1484 completely revolutionise its constitution. The Board at present represents all the parties involved, they work with complete unanimity, and I fail to see how it will improve the Board in respect to purchase if you bring in the representatives of ten counties. To have ten councillors returned for three years, deciding whether to negotiate with this or that landlord, and all trying to push purchase in their own particular county, is not advisable. They might decide to spend the whole of their income upon piers or minor industries. As the Member for North Antrim has pointed out, the Board is a trustee of public money allocated to a certain purpose. Therefore they are not elected, although they are representative. They represent all the parties involved. The Government is represented, and that is rather important; the landlords and the tenants are represented, and the Land Commission is represented, and this also is rather important, because the Land Commission is the body we have to go to in order to get the loan. Will any hon. Member seriously say that you can improve upon a Board which, in respect of land purchase, consists of five or six members representing all the parties involved, by bringing in ten more councillors in order to help them in their negotiations? I dismiss that as not being a practical proposal.
As to the third clause, hon. Members know that I object to compulsory purchase on principle. But apart from that, in this case it would add to expense and to delay. My right hon. friend the Secretary for War complained the other day of the high prices he had to pay in Ireland under compulsory powers. If you have compulsory powers you must pay a compulsory price for the article, and that would lead to great delay. As matters are now, you have to arrive at a bargain with the landlord, and, so far as purchase by the Board is concerned, the thing was done. There has been no difficulty in respect to purchase from the landlord. There is this amount of legitimate compulsion, which exists in this and all other transactions of life, that people who let their opportunities slip by have to surrender those opportunities to those who are prepared to take them. In the congested districts there are so many landlords who are 1485 ready to sell and so many tenants who are ready to buy that all the Board's money is exhausted. Compulsion, therefore, will not add to our work. Where landlords are ready to sell and tenants are ready to give a fair price—and that is far more widely the ease than hon. Members may suppose—where the tenants are ready to accept the scheme of instalments suggested for the benefit of them all; and, above all, where tenants refrain from those illegitimate methods which shake the faith on which all those transactions must rest—there is no difficulty in carrying on voluntary purchase in congested districts in Ireland.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
I was not am ember of the Board in 1895, but my answer would be that the Acts have given the Board power which enables them to make a fair offer to the landlord. I pass now to Clause 4 of the Bill. The disadvantage of having an elected Board would be in regard to purchasing estates, for if you want to buy an estate it is not a good plan to make that fact known to the owner, or to discuss it in this House. Clause 4 would break down the limit of the advance, but, as a Government, we have no great objection to that, for under the powers of the Act of 1899 the Treasury can dispense with that, and I may tell hon. Members from Ireland that we are in frequent communication with the Treasury, and the Treasury is most anxious to co-operate and to facilitate the operations of the Board in that direction. Clause 5, which relates to the advance of purchase money to he made immediately, I find it rather difficult to understand. It says—Where the Board have agreed to purchase land, or have acquired land under this Act, the Land Commission shall advance the purchase money to the Board.That has been taken to mean that the Land Commission is bound to advance 1486 money to one county at the expense of the other county. If it does mean that, I am quite sure that it ought to be rejected, but under any circumstances the clause is quite inoperative.
I must apologise to the House for having taken up so much of its time with very dry matter, but I thought the occasion was one which might be turned to good account. I am as anxious as any Irish hon. Member to accelerate the pace and increase the volume of land purchase in Ireland. We wish to create a settled peasant proprietary there on a sound footing. There are, I know, many difficulties in the way, and undoubtedly any such efforts will demand the time and attention of this House. Any such efforts would be rendered abortive by the application of any illegitimate pressure to make people surrender their land. When such pressure goes beyond the law it becomes a crime, but it is always a blunder, and the Congested Districts Board cannot make itself an accessory to that. That will not help land purchase in any way, even if any Department could assist in that direction. I have said all I have got to say upon this Bill. I know the intentions of the authors are good intentions, and I trust that means may be found to give effect to some of these proposals. But inasmuch as Clauses 1, 4 and 5 are unnecessary, inoperative or inopportune at a time when the Government has undertaken to amend the Land Purchase Acts; and as Clauses 2 and 3 make purchase compulsory, it is, in my opinion, inadmissible, and I must ask the House to vote against the Bill.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
The right hon. Gentleman has accused the Irish Members of wasting the time of the House, and thus giving the Government no opportunity of carrying into effect those good intentions with which we are told their breasts are filled. When the Chief Secretary was asked whether those good intentions would fructify this session the right hon. Gentleman could only shake his head and say he could give no answer upon that point.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
Yes, everything in Ireland depends on others. We get rulers in Ireland who have no power. That reminds me of Grattan's Parliament before Grattan, when all Irish Bills had to be passed over to England. What have we to-day? We have an Irish Bill brought in connected with the congested districts of Ireland, and a preconceived notion is come to by the British Privy Council. Without having heard a word of the arguments, and without a single Cabinet Minister taking his place upon the bench, they instruct the right hon, Gentleman beforehand to kill the Bill irrespective of any argument that may be adduced in ts favour. That is the method by which we are governed, and "it depends on others. In other words, the condition of Ireland depends not upon the Irish Secretary, but upon the state of mind of the Colonial Secretary free from the Transvaal.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
The hon. Member must not misrepresent me. I did not allude to members of the Cabinet, but to Members of the House. When I said that it depended on others I referred to the progress of business in this House. If there is no time for legislation, of course it is useless to bring in legislation.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I cannot see how taking up the time of the House after twelve o'clock can affect the legislation of the Government, and chucking out hon. Members by policemen is not stopping legislation. You have been feeding the dog with a bit of his own tail. We are told if we are good boys we shall have some sugar candy in the case of the Congested Districts Board. The right hon. Gentleman held up a volume of the Land Acts, and said practically, "Behold the concentrated benevolence of England." I wonder what size of a volume the Coercion Acts passed for Ireland would make. Why, the right hon. Gentleman could not lift them up with his two hands. The whole of those forty-one measures had been passed within the last twenty years, but who was to be 1488 thanked for their passing? There was one of those measures connected with the land which was known as Deasy's Act. It was a measure consisting of some eighty clauses which were run through this House without Amendment or debate, also through the House of Lords, and there was not a single representative to raise his voice on behalf of the tenant. If you turn to the schedule of the Act you will find that it repeals something like seventy Acts passed in the English Parliament mostly for the protection of the tenants. Before the passing of Deasy's Act there was some trouble in evicting tenants in Ireland, but that Act swept away all protection for the tenants. Between 1860 and 1870 we had one Act passed by Mr. Gladstone, and another in 1881. People are in the habit of sneering at Mr. Gladstone's Act of 1881, but I say, "Peace be to his ashes," because, but for him, not one single one of those forty measures would ever have been placed upon the Statute-book. Defective and deplorable as some of Mr. Gladstone's Acts may have been in their working, they are the root and foundation of whatever good land legislation has been passed from that day to this for Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman suggests that our scheme is a failure because we could not have any more money to distribute under the Act, but where are we to get money from? The fundamental rule of this House is that no private Member who is not a Privy Councillor or a Minister of the Crown can propose additions to the taxation of the country. If we had that power do you not think that we should exercise it, and do you not think that we should have provided for £10,000,000 or £15,000,000 in this Bill? I should be astonished at my own moderation if I did not include the whole cost of the Transvaal War. We do not give a single fraction to the Congested Districts Board by this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman forgets that the Land Commission has recently issued notices by advertisement in the Irish papers, and there is at least one county to which no more money can be advanced for land purchase, and the county is one of the richest in Ireland, namely Wexford. Is that not a terrible condemnation of the administration of this benevolent Con- 1489 gested Districts Board? I have before denounced that word "Congested" as blasphemy. It should not be called the Congested Districts Board but the "Cromwell" Districts Board. In 1885 we tried to do something for these glens of Antrim, but what did the Irish administration of the day do? If the glens of Antrim had been left politically alone they would have been able to return a Nationalist Member, but you cut them into two—one into North Antrim, and the other Mid Antrim—and so they really have no representation here at all. The right hon. Gentleman said that there was nobody to speak for the glens of Antrim in this House. I, for my part was glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman quote the figures which he did, and he must not suppose for a moment that we do not recognise, so far as he is personally concerned, that it is his powerlessness and not his will that is in question. I was glad to hear him say that of the £10,000,000 advanced under the Ashbourne Acts there was only a couple of thousand pounds in arrear, and a similar slate of things under the Act of 1881. But what is the advantage of that to us when the right hon. Gentleman, instead of availing himself of this extraordinary proof of the probity of the Irish tenant, says that he can do nothing further on this question, because our attention is taken up by foreign matters? I am glad that the Irish tenants have at last got a vindicator in the British Treasury, which was the last quarter we should have expected it. We have been, told that the Irish tenants were a dishonest and a profligate lot, but now when you are able to apply the test of official Returns you find that out of some £15,000,000 or £20,000,000 advanced to Irish tencnts for land purchase there is only some £3,000 in arrear from one end of the country to the other.
The right hon. Gentleman has outlined one scheme which he says gives an indication of an improvement in the machinery of the Congested Districts Board. He says that they have arranged facilities for improving the breed of horses in Ireland. My opinion is that by teaching the Irish farmer and assisting him to breed hackney horses you are producing something which will not be a very marketable asset. It is the ex- 1490 perience of all men who have had anything to do with horses that you do not get so much spirit and stamina in the hackney horses as you do in the old Irish breed. Therefore the only thing that can really be put to the credit of the Congested Districts Board is that they have destroyed the old stamina of Irish horses by introducing the hackney stallion. If the right hon. Gentleman intends to firing in a Bill he should state that fact to the House to night. I do not think there is on the part of Irish Members any intention whatever to obstruct any real beneficent measure, or any other public business which would have the effect of benefitting Ireland. But we are now in the month of March, and the Government have not yet tabled their measures for the session. We know nothing about their Bills. Let them say to us that if they get a fair amount of time to consider the business they will push on this Bill. Then they might give us a chance of improving it, and in that ease we should be in a position to do business with them. We have been promised some beneficent measures, but why do the Government not table their measures? It is a mere farce simply to say that we shall prevent the Government bringing in such Bills, and it is very much like the suggestion that Irishmen are standing in their own light by this system of intimidation and illegality. I remain a firm believer in that illegality, because without it the Irish would never have got anything. It may be that the twentieth century is bringing the dawn of commonsense on the brains of English statesmen, and they are beginning to see that you can only deal with human beings as you can with any other breed of animals, by seeing what their pedigree is. If the history of Ireland has been all one way for 700 years, it is hard to ask me now to believe that the tiger has changed his stripes and the leopard his spots, and it is an extremely doubtful suggestion. The right hon. gentleman knows that some of these districts are a source of turmoil and agrarian crime, and let him give them some scintilla of a ray of hope. It is useless to say that Ulster does not benefit, for there are many other counties which will not benefit by this Bill, including my own constituency 1491 of Waterford. Our sympathies and consciences are not limited to the areas of the Congested Districts Board. If there is misery existing on the Western seaboard, it affects us just as much as misery on the other side. I am very sorry that this argument has been introduced, because hon. Gentlemen opposite will remember that when the improvement of a certain harbour came forward, we winked the other eye. We knew it was in the county of Down, but we gave it a railway and a pier for the benefit of the congested districts. We took up a similar attitude with, regard to other districts. And we are just as sympathetic, irrespective of our religion and pedigree, with the misery of other counties as we are with the people in the west country. We are anxious to see
§ Ireland prosperous as a whole, and I am sorry indeed to see the right, hon. Gentleman—when this Bill is put forward by us as a measure which we only ask him to take as a symbol of our good intentions—take his first opportunity as Irish Secretary, to ask the House to vote against what he practically admits is an abstract resolution, and he has done this without giving any promise on behalf of the Government that this refusal will be accompanied by any definite reform of this great and growing evil.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 163; Noes. 250. (Division List No. 64.)1495
|Abraham, William (Cork, N.E.||Crean, Eugene||Jones, David Brynm'r (Swansea|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Cullinan, J.||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire|
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)||Jordon, Jeremiah|
|Allen, Charles P (Glouc., Stroud||Delany, William||Joyce, Michael|
|Ambrose, Robert||Dewar, John A.(Inverness-sh.)||Kearley, Hudson E.|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Doogan, P. C.||Kennedy, Patrick James|
|Asquith, Rt. Hn Herbert Henry||Duffy, William J.||Kinloch, Sir John George Smyth|
|Barlow, John Kmmott||Duncan, James H.||Kitson, Sir James|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Dunn, Sir William||Labouchere, Henry|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Elibank, Master of||Lambert, George|
|Beaumont, Wentworth C. B.||Emmott, Alfred||Langley, Ratty|
|Bell, Richard||Farquharson, Dr. Robert||Layland-Barratt, Francis|
|Blake, Edward||Farrell, James Patrick||Leamy, Edmund|
|Boland, John||Fenwick, Charles||Leng, Sir John|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Ffrench, Peter||Levy, Maurice|
|Brand, Hon. Arthur G.||Field, William||Lewis, John Herbert|
|Brigg, John||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Lloyd-George, David|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Flynn, James Christopher||Lough, Thomas|
|Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||Lundon, W.|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Furness, Sir Christopher||MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A.|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Gilhooly, James||M'Dermott, Patrick|
|Burns, John||Grant, Corrie||M'Govern, T.|
|Burt, Thomas||Haldane, Richard Burdon||M'Hugh, Patrick A.|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Hammond, John||M'Kenna, Reginald|
|Caine, William Sproston||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||M'Laren, Charles Benjamin|
|Caldwell, James||Harmsworth, R. Leicester||Mellor, Rt. Hon. John William|
|Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Harwood, George||Mooney, John J.|
|Carew, James Laurence||Hayden, John Patrick||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)|
|Carvill, Patrick Geo. Hamilton||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Chas. Seale-||Morley, Charlés (Breconshire)|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Healy, Timothy Michael||Morley, Rt. Hn. John (Montrose|
|Cawley, Frederick||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Chas. H.||Moulton, John Fletcher|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Holland, William Henry||Murnaghan, George|
|Cogan, Denis J.||Hope, John Deans (Fife, W.)||Murphy, J.|
|Colville, John||Jacoby, James Alfred||Nannetti, Joseph P.|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Jameson, Major J. Eustace||Nolan, Col. John P. (Galway, N.|
|Craig, Robert Hunter||Joicey, Sir James||Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)|
|Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Priestley, Arthur||Tennant, Harold John|
|O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)||Reckitt Harold James||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.|
|O'Brien, Kendal (Tipper'ry Mid)||Reddy, M.||Thomas, David A. (Merthyr)|
|O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.)||Redmond, John (E. Waterford)||Tully, Jasper|
|O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Redmond, William (Clare)||Wallace, Robert|
|O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)||Reid, Sir R. Threshie (Dumfries||Walton, John L. (Leeds, S.)|
|O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)||Rentoul, James Alexander||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|O'Dowd, John||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan|
|O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)||Roche, John||Weir, James Calloway|
|O'Kelly, James (Roscommon N.||Russell, T. W.||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|O'Malley, William||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|O'Mara, James||Scott Chas, Prestwich (Leigh)||Wilson, Fred W.(Norfolk Mid.)|
|O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Sinclair, Capt. Jn. (Forfarshire||Woodhouse, Sir J T (Huddersf'd|
|O'Shee, James John||Smith, H.C (North' mb Tynesde||Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)|
|Palmer, George Wm. (Reading)||Soames, Arthur Wellesley||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Partington, Oswald||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Pickard, Benjamin||Spear, John Ward||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Captain Donelan and Mr. Patrick O'Brien.|
|Pirie, Duncan V.||Stevenson, Francis S.|
|Power, Patrick Joseph||Sullivan, Donal|
|Price, Robert John||Taylor, Theodore Cooke|
|Acland Hood, Capt. Sir Alex, F.||Compton, Lord Alwyne||Hall, Edward Marshall|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Cook, Frederick Lucas||Halsey, Thomas Frederick|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Hambro, Charles Eric|
|Aird, Sir John||Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Hamilton, Rt Hn Lord G.(Mid'x|
|Allhusen, Augustus Hy. Eden||Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge||Hamilton, Marq of (L'nd'nd'rry|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Cranborne, Viscount||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Rbt. Wm.|
|Anstruther, H. T.||Cripps, Charles Alfred||Hare, Thomas Leigh|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton)||Harris, F. Leverton (Tynem'th)|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Cust, Henry John C.||Haslam, Sir Alfred S.|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Dalkeith, Earl of||Haslett, Sir James Horner|
|Arrol, Sir William||Davies, Sir Horatio D (Chatham||Hay, Hon. Claude George|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Dickinson, Robert Edmond||Heath, James (Staffords N. W.|
|Dickson, Charles Scott||Helder, Augustus|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline Fitz Roy||Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Higginbottom, S. W.|
|Bailey James (Walworth)||Digby, John K. D. Wingfield-||Hoare, Edw Brodie (Hampstead|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Dixon-Hartland, Sir F. Dixon||Hobhouse, Henry (Somerset, E.|
|Baird, John George Alexander||Dorington, Sir John Edward||Hope, J. F. (Shef'ld, Brightside|
|Balcarres, Lord||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Hornby, Sir William Henry|
|Baldwin, Alfred||Doxford, Sir William Theodore||Horner, Frederick William|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manch'r||Duke, Henry Edward||Hoult, Joseph|
|Balfour, Rt Hn Gerald W. (Leeds||Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin||Howard, Cap. J (Kent, Faversh.|
|Balfour, Maj K.R (Christchurch)||Dyke, Rt. Hn. Sir William Hart||Howard, J. (Midd., Tattenham|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton||Hozier, Hon. James Henry C.|
|Barry, Sir Francis T.(Windsor)||Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas||Jackson, Rt Hn. Wm. Lawies|
|Bartley, Geroge C.T.||Faber, Geroge Dension||Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Bristol)||Fardell, Sir. T. George||Jessel, Capt. Herbert Merton|
|Bignold, Arthur||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward||Johnston, William (Belfast)|
|Bigwood, James||Fergasson, Rt. Hn. Sir J (Mane'r)||Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)|
|Bill, Charles||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir John H.|
|Blandell, Colonel Henry||Fisher, William Hayes||Kenyon, Hn. Geo. T. (Denbigh|
|Boseawen, Arthur Griffith||Fitz Gerald, Sir Robert Penrose||Kenyon, James (Lanes., Bury)|
|Bonlnois, Edmund||Fitzroy, Hon. Edward Algernon||Kenyon Slaney, Col. W. (Salop.|
|Bonsfield, William Robert||Flannery, Sir Fortescue||Keswick, William|
|Bowles, Capt. H.F.(Middlesex||Flower, Ernest||Kimber, Henry|
|Forster, Henry William||Knowles, Lees|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Garlit, William||Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.|
|Brown, Alexander H. (Shropsh.|
|Bull, William James||Godson, Sir Augustus Frederick||Law, Andrew Bonar|
|Bullard, sir Harry||Gordon, Hn. J. E (Elgin & Nairn)||Lawrence, William F.|
|Burdett Courts, W.||Gordon, Maj Evans (Trll'ml'ts||Lawson, John Grant|
|Gore, Hon. F. S. Ormsby-||Lecky, Rt. Hn. Wm. Edw. H.|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J (Birm.||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Leighton, Stanley|
|Chamberlain, J Auston (Worc'r||Green, Walford D. (Wednesb'ry||Leveson-Gower, Frederick N.S.|
|Charrington, Spencer||Greene, Sir E. W. (Bury St. Ed.||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.|
|Coddington, Sir William||Greene, Henry D. (Shrewsbury)||Long, Col. Charles W. Evesham|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Greeton John||Long, Rt Hn. Walter(Bristol, S.|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Greville, Hon. Ronald||Lonsdale, John Browlee|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Groves, James Crimble||Lowther, C. (Cumb., Eskdale)|
|Colomb, Sir John Charles Ready||Gunter, Colonel||Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft)|
|Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Whole||Guthrie, Walter Murray||Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsmouth|
|Macdona, John Cumming||Parkes, Ebenezer||Stanley, Edw. Jas. (Somerset)|
|Maconochie, A. W.||Peel, Hn. Wm Robert Wellesley||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Penn, John||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|M'Iver, Sir Lewis (Edinburgh W||Percy, Earl||Stroyan, John|
|M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire||Pilkington, Richard||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley|
|Majendie, James A. H.||Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier|
|Malcolm, Ian||Plummer, Walter R.||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Manners, Lord Cecil||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Thorburn, Sir Walter|
|Maple, Sir John Blundell||Pretyman, Ernest George||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Martin, Richard Biddulph||Pryce-Jones, Lt. Col. Edward||Tollemache, Henry James|
|Maxwell, Rt Hn Sir H E(Wigt'n||Purvis, Robert||Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray|
|Maxwell, W. J. H.(Dumfriessh.||Pym, C. Guy||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Melville, Beresford Valentine||Quilter, Sir Cuthbert||Tufnell, Lieut.-Col. Edward|
|Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M.||Randles, John S.||Valentia, Viscount|
|Middlemore, John Throgmor'n||Rankin, Sir James||Walrond, Rt. Hn. Sir Wm. H.|
|Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Ratcliffe, R. F.||Wanklyn, James Leslie|
|Milner, Rt. Hon. Sir F. C.||Remnant, James Farquharson||Warr, Augustus Frederick|
|Milton, Viscount||Renshaw, Charles Bine||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney|
|Milward, Colonel Victor||Renwick, George||Welby, Lt-Col. A.C.E (Taunton|
|Molesworth, Sir Lewis||Ritchie, Rt. Hon. Charles T.||Wharton, Rt. Hn. John Lloyd|
|Montagu, G. (Huntingdon)||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)||Whiteley, H. (Ashton u. Lyne|
|Moon, Edward Robert Pacy||Rolleston, Sir John F. L.||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|More, R. J. (Shropshire)||Ropner, Colonel Robert||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Morgan, D. J. (Walthamstow)||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.)|
|Morrison, James Archibald||Sadler, Col. Samuel Alex.||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|Morton, Arthur H.A.(Deptford||Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)||Wilson, J.W.(Worcestersh, N.)|
|Mount, William Arthur||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert||Wrightson, Sir Thomas|
|Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.||Saunderson, Rt. Hn. Col. E.J.||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Murray, Rt Hn A Graham (Bute||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)||Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong|
|Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)||Seely, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Young, Commander (Berks, E.)|
|Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Myers, William Henry||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Macartney and Mr. William Moore.|
|Nicol, Donald Ninian||Smith, Hon. W.F.D. (Strand)|
|O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens||Stanley, Hon. A. (Ormskirk)|