§ [THIRD READING.]
§ Order for Third Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND (Waterford)
I regret very much the enforced absence of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, who has devoted very great labour and a great deal of time to the consideration of this Irish land question and who has certainly brought to bear upon it a most sympathetic and conciliatory spirit. I do not believe it would have been possible to have brought this Bill to its present position were it not for the spirit he has shown, and I would have been glad if he could have been here to receive the congratulations which I think are his due for the ability and patience with which he has conducted this Bill through the House. The occasion on which we are met is a very important one. It is the passing of the last stage of this Bill in the House of Commons, and it is of such far reaching importance to the whole future of Ireland that I trust I may be forgiven if I say a few words on this Motion for the Third Reading of the measure. On the whole I think the occasion is one for congratulation to everybody concerned, but I feel that if we, upon these benches, remain absolutely silent at this stage it is possible that our attitude might be very much misunderstood and misinterpreted. One set of critics might be inclined to say that our silence was an indication of our complete and absolute satisfaction with the shape in which the Bill stands at this moment, and that we accepted full responsibility for everything that is in it and for the successful working of every part of it when passed into law. Another set of critics might possibly say that our silence was a most sinister silence and that it might be we were lying low till the Bill had passed, that we did not regard it as in itself a valuable Bill or one likely to conduce to the settlement of the Irish land question, and that we intended to go back to Ireland and do our best to revive agrarian agitation in that country, and thus refuse to give the Bill a fair 1323 trial. Both of these criticisms would have been absolutely untrue, and I think that under the circumstances it is perhaps wise that I should take this opportunity of saying a few words on behalf of my colleagues to explain clearly what our attitude is in regard to this Bill. In the first place I had better say at once that it is not our Bill. It is the Bill of the Government, and in the main the responsibility for it rests not upon us, but upon the Government.
Let me for a moment recall to the House the history of this Bill. At the beginning of this year, early in January, a conference of representatives of Irish landlords and Irish tenants came together in Dublin with the full approval, indeed I might almost say at the invitation of the Government, to consider whether it was possible to lay down a scheme for the settlement of the land question which would satisfy both sides to the struggle. I do not think I would be exaggerating if I were to say it would have been impossible to have introduced this Bill, or any such Bill, and to recommend it to public opinion in this country or to have passed it through this House, had it not been for the Conference. The Conference was based upon a spirit of concession and conciliation, and it adopted a Report which did not in either one direction or the other go to the full extent which the various parties desired. But after anxious consideration in Ireland, and after a discussion which lasted several weeks that Report received the approval and sanction practically of the whole of the people of Ireland. It received the sanction of what were regarded as the most irreconcilable sections of the Irish landlords, and it received the approval of every public board representing the people and of every representative of the tenants. But I must point out that the Report so put forward by that remarkable gathering was not accepted in its entirety by the Government, and while undoubtedly this Bill would never have seen the light of day, and never could have passed, were it not for the Conference, it is true that the Bill does not represent the Conference Report in some essential particulars, but overrides the recommendations of that Report. Therefore, I am justified in saying it is not our Bill, but yours, and the responsibility is 1324 not ours, but yours. Since the Bill was introduced into this House, the Irish Members have done their best to mould it into a shape in which they believed it would really go a long distance to settle the Irish land question. I believe that so far as we have been able to amend and enlarge the Bill the measure will prove successful, and in whatever particular it is found to disappoint the anticipations of its authors in its working in the future, it will be found that has been the result of the rejection of the advice given by the unanimous voice of the Irish Members in various parts of the House.
In speaking on the Second Reading of the Bill, I endeavoured to give, under certain heads, what I regarded as vital defects in the measure as it stood. There were questions affecting prices, the exclusion of large classes of tenants from the operations of the Bill, and amongst others certain classes of evicted tenants; the interference with existing rights of tenants under the Act of 1881, the perpetual rent-charge, matters of administration, the question of the congested districts and the labourers' question. On most of these questions we have succeeded in obtaining some remarkable concessions, and the value of those concessions is very largely enhanced by the fact that they were made to us with, the full assent of the Unionist Members and of the representatives of the landlords; that they were concessions given to the unanimous voice of Ireland speaking on behalf of both landlords and tenants. On the question of price we succeeded in Committee in abolishing what is known as the minimum price. We have succeeded in securing that there shall be absolute freedom of bargain between landlords and tenants. We have, too, secured the inclusion in the Bill of a large class of tenants who, as the measure was originally framed, were excluded from its benefits, and so far as the evicted tenants question is concerned, I feel bound to say we have in substance obtained all that we asked for. The limit of £7,000, which applied to other tenants, now applies to the evicted tenants as well, and the new Estates Commission has under the Bill powers and money at its disposal to enable it to rebuild and restock evicted farms, as well as to buy out tenants at present in occupation for the purpose of reinstating the old tenants on 1325 their holdings. I say that these are enormous advantages to the whole class of evicted tenants in Ireland, and it is satisfactory to be able to think that these concessions were obtained with the assent of the representatives of the Irish landlords. I have the greatest and strongest possible belief that under the operation of this Bill practically every evicted tenant may be restored to his holding. That is of enormous importance to the whole future of Ireland, and it is most satisfactory to find that on this matter there is not any difference of opinion between the different sides of the House. We all recognise that if there is to be a settlement of this Irish land question, if there is to be agrarian and social peace in Ireland, these evicted tenants, who, otherwise must be centres of disaffection, should be restored to their homes. For my part, let me say that if there were nothing else in the Bill, if there were no other provisions, I would be slow indeed to take the responsibility of throwing any obstacle in the way of its passage so long as it contained a provision of this kind, which must tend in the direction of promoting the agrarian and social peace of the country. We have succeeded also in removing those provisions which deprived, under certain circumstances, certain classes of tenants of their existing rights under the Act of 1881. We have improved the tribunal appointed to carry out the work of administration under this Act, and the proceedings of that tribunal will be subject to investigation and discussion in this House, while the tenure by which two members of it hold office has been changed so that they will not be dismissable at pleasure, and will no longer be in the position of Removables at a moment's notice. Finally, we have succeeded in removing altogether the perpetual rent-charge, which was regarded almost universally in Ireland as a serious obstacle in the way of rapid purchase throughout the country. These are great and most valuable concessions, and, in my opinion, they make this a really great measure, and one which is eminently calculated to go a long way towards the settlement of the Irish land question over a large portion of Ireland.
On the other hand, on the question of the congested districts, and on the question 1326 of the labourers, unfortunately we were not able to induce the Government to take our advice. On the question of the congested districts it is well to remember, however, that the Bill, even in the form in which it now stands, is a most valuable measure, becauses it enlarges very materially the powers and funds at the disposal of the Congested Districts Board. Still, we do not believe that the Bill, as it stands, will be able to grapplesuccessfully with the congested districts question. The constitution of the Board is such that we do not believe that it has any serious chance of being able to settle this question, and I am convinced that, in a comparatively short space of time, the Government will find that the advice we gave them as the result of our experience, and which for the moment they have rejected, must be accepted if this question is to be settled in the West of Ireland. I do not say we have not made a great gain on the question of the congested districts. I think the chief gain we have obtained is that we have discovered in the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary that we have a man who is practically of our mind on this question, and from whom we are not divided by any question; and I am convinced that in the near future, when the right hon. Gentleman or his successor comes down to this House, as he undoubtedly will, to ask for further powers for dealing with the congested districts, what has happened will make it perfectly easy for him to obtain those additional powers with practical unanimity in this House. With reference to the labourers, we, on these Benches, are deeply disappointed that it was not possible to deal with that question. The difficulty in the way, after all, was only a difficulty of time, and we have reason to complain that this, which was the chief measure of the session, was not introduced earlier and not pushed on earlier. If that had been done, as I pressed on the Government, we would have had sufficient time to deal with this question. But we have, at any rate, the consolation of knowing, from the mouth of the Chief Secretary, that he does not pretend that the labourers' clauses in this Bill are a settlement of the labourers' question, and we have received from him a pledge, and a most 1327 valuable pledge, because it is one which not only binds him but must inevitably bind his successor, that this question will be dealt with in the next session of Parliament in a comprehensive and satisfactory way. While I sympathise most sincerely with the labourers in this postponement of the settlement of their claims, I think they have received substantial benefit from the discussion of this Bill, because they have a definite promise that their case will be dealt with in a full and satisfactory manner next year. On the whole, therefore, we feel that we have succeeded in the discussions of this Bill, as no Irish Party probably ever succeeded before, in radically altering for the better the measure as it was originally introduced. But, at the same time, we recognise that the Bill as it stands is marked by defects and omissions which make it necessary for us to emphasise the fact that, after all, the responsibility is not ours but rests with the Government; that the Bill is not ours, but that it is their Bill.
Let me ask, in what spirit will this Bill be received and worked in Ireland? I have heard and read many criticisms to the effect that the Bill ought not to be passed because it was not considered likely to effect a final settlement of the question. I do not conceive it possible to introduce a Bill of which, even though it were the compulsory Bill which many of us would have preferred, it could be said absolutely, "This is a final and complete settlement." My own firm belief is that, when this Bill passes, if it works as well as I hope it will, and as it is generally anticipated it will, it will not afford a complete and final settlement of the question. But I do believe that over a greater part of Ireland it will effect a settlement, and that when it is found by its working that further power and perhaps more money are required to settle the residuum of the question, the Minister of the day will not have the slightest difficulty, pointing as he will be able to do to the successful working of the Act as far as it has gone, in obtaining from this House whatever additional powers and money may be necessary to complete the settlement of the question, to extirpate landlordism and settle the Irish people universally on the soil as owners. 1328 Speaking last April at Manchester the Chief Secretary, referring to this point, said—The question was asked, 'Is this Bill a settlement of the question?' He believed the Irish people felt that the Bill was an honest attempt at settlement, and that they would be prepared to give it an honest trial.I accept those words to the full. I believe that this Bill is an honest and sincere attempt to settle the question; it will be so regarded in Ireland, and it will be given a fair trial. The tenants and their leaders are only too anxious to find in this Bill a means of settling the land question and of promoting a permanent union between various classes in Ireland for the good of the country. They will, therefore, endeavour to work this Bill in an amicable, reasonable, and moderate spirit. Let hon. Members make no mistake about this matter. In my opinion the successful working of the Bill will depend more upon the landlords than upon the tenants. I would like to express my own individual appreciation of the attitude which the Irish landlords as a body have taken up on this question since the Land Conference. Of course there have been and are some unreasonable and irreconcileable landlords, but speaking of the Irish landlords as a whole, their attitude and spirit since the Conference has been reasonable and conciliatory. If that attitude is continued after the passage of the Bill, and the same spirit is carried into its working, in my belief the success of the measure is assured. So far as the tenants are concerned, the Bill will be worked in a reasonable, conciliators, and moderate spirit, and the success of the Bill will depend absolutely on the landlords adopting a similar attitude. If landlords as a body do not attempt to wring extortionate prices from their tenants, if they consent to take for their land fair, honest, economic prices, I am convinced that land purchase will go on rapidly all over the country, and that the Bill will prove to be the beginning of the end of the Irish question. I say "the beginning of the end," because I think it my duty to repeat here at this stage of the Bill what I have said before, both in and out of this House—viz., that the settlement of the Irish land question will, in my opinion, remove the last 1329 remaining obstacle to the concession of those wider political and national rights without which Irishmen will never be contented.
This Bill now goes up to the House of Lords. The papers have been full recently of the most sinister rumours as to what is to happen in another place. I have not been much disturbed by those rumours. The compromise which has been arrived at after the discussion in Committee is one to which the Government and the country are in honour committed. More, than that, it is a compromise to which the landlords are in honour committed. It was arrived at with the full agreement and consent of the gentlemen representing Irish landlords, and it is inconceivable to me that either the Government or the landlords in another place would consent to anything in the nature of a wrecking or mutilation of the Bill. It is well that it should be clearly understood that any such mutilation would mean the wrecking of the Bill, because if it be mutilated in the way suggested by some papers, even though it pass into law, it will be a dead letter, and its introduction, in my opinion, will prove to have been not a blessing but a curse to Ireland. But, as I have said, I am not disposed to pay any serious attention to these rumours. I prefer to regard the present as the last stage of the Bill in the House of Commons; and, as it is leaving the House in its amended shape, regarding it as I do as the first-fruits of the Land Conference, and as having been moulded into its present shape by Irish public opinion as expressed by the National Convention in Dublin, I say that it is a great measure, containing the elements of the settlement of the land question, which, if worked in a reasonable and honest spirit by landlord and tenant alike, will bring in its train blessings long denied of peace and prosperity to Ireland. It is in the earnest hope that our most sanguine expectations of this Bill may be realised that I support its Third Reading.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON (Armagh, N.)
I am glad to have this opportunity of bearing my testimony to the great ability, eloquence, and good temper displayed by the Chief Secretary in carry- 1330 ing this Bill through the House. In past years I have been engaged in this House in what is called "making history." One frequently hears in the Lobby the remark, "We are making history to-night." Well, Sir, I believe we are making history to-day. But in former times when we have been making history it has been in a very different atmosphere. We have had thunder and lightning and even earthquakes. The atmosphere in connection with this Bill has been very different. In fact, during the discussions I have sometimes thought I was listening to a Scotch debate, so matter-of-fact, so business-like, and so devoid of the heat which usually characterises Irish debates have the discussions been. But the country will probably ask, "What are we to expect from the passage of this Bill?" I do not think we ought to expect too much, but I think we ought to expect a good deal. The British people may ask whether they are to expect to be repaid the great outlay they are making. We answer that question, not by expressing an opinion, but by pointing to past history, which affords a conclusive answer to those who have any fear as to the honesty of the Irish people. No one can deny that the way in which tenant farmers who have bought their farms under previous Acts have paid up to the day is really astonishing to the minds of thinking men: there have been practically no arrears. You are now about to enable a similar class to buy their farms—men of the same blood, and actuated by the same preeminently characteristic desire to own the land on which they live—and I say that past history ought to dissipate any fear which the British people may have as to the intention of the Irish people to pay up to the day.
What hope have we of the Bill succeeding? What danger lies in its path? The hon. and learned Member for Waterford has alluded to its passage through another place. I cannot speak for the Members of that other place, but I feel confident that no attempt will there be made to destroy any great principle in the Bill to which this House has given its adhesion. I cannot conceive that anybody would be so foolish. What will be the destiny of the Bill in Ireland? The hon. and learned Member for Waterford sees only one danger—the action of 1331 the landlords. He says that if the landlords are actuated by an avaricious desire to extort too much from the tenants—that is, not to deal with them on fair terms—the Bill will be a failure. But there is great difficulty sometimes in deciding what are fair terms. Are the tenants to decide that? Or is a committee appointed by the hon. and learned Member himself to decide what really are fair terms? I do not anticipate any difficulty on the landlords' side, and I am speaking as a landlord. I do not anticipate at all any danger of the Irish landlords trying to extort too much out of the tenants in bargaining for the sale of their farms. I think this is a great opportunity both for landlords and tenants, and the landlords are not so blind as not to see it in the light I see it. Nevertheless, it is essentially a tenants' Bill, brought in for the tenants and not for the landlords The Bill gives a fair opportunity to a landlord to sell his estate and at the same time to enable him to live in Ireland. That is what I have always claimed for the class to which I belong. I cannot see any danger at all from the landlords in their refusal to accept fair terms from the tenants, but I do see danger from the tenants. The danger that appears to me to be in front of the Bill lies in the fact that there is such a thing in Ireland as the Land Commission, which was created to fix fair rents, but which has since become an organisation to reduce rents, quite apart from the consideration whether they are fair or not. That is so, because agricultural produce has not fallen in Ireland since 1887. On the contrary, it has risen since then, but the reduction of rents has gone steadily on. The landlord knows perfectly well when the Land Commission send down in nineteen cases out of twenty they will view the land—I believe they taste it—and then, after conferring and thinking together, they will reduce the rent by at least 20 per cent., and very often more. I see great danger in the Irish tenants getting the idea into their heads that when they are asked whether they would like to buy their farms or not, it will be better to wait for a few years longer for the regular reductions of the Commissioners rather than buy their farms and become the tenants of the British Government, 1332 because, while the Bill will only give a reduction of 15 per cent., the Land Commission might give a reduction of from 20 to 30 per cent. I hope the hon. and learned Member for Waterford and his friends will do their best to make the Bill a success by not trying to drive the landlords to make impossible concessions in selling their land, but will persuade the tenants, over whom they undoubtedly have so much influence, to accept fair and reasonable terms. If the tenants will accept reasonable terms the Bill will run smoothly, but otherwise it will not.
Reference has been made by the hon. and learned Member for Waterford to Home Rule, but I believe that so far from promoting Home Rule the Bill will have the exactly opposite effect. I believe it will take out of the hands of the Irish political agitators a great lever which enabled them to hold out to the Irish people the not far distant prospect of getting their land for nothing. I hope that under the beneficent shadow of the Bill will arise not only peace but loyalty. I do not think you can buy the loyalty of the Irish people by any Land Bill, for that is a thing which you cannot buy. At the same time I think the passage of this Bill must prove and bring home to the quick-witted minds of the Irish people, that this country, far from being their enemy, is really their friend. To obtain the loyalty of the Irish people is after all the most valuable thing we can purchase. It is a matter of happy augury that the visit of the King to Ireland synchronises with the passage of this Bill in the House of Commons, and I believe that the King's way is the way to the hearts of the Irish people. If the Sovereign of these realms repeats his visit frequently there will be borne into the minds of the Irish people that the King, and the people, and the House of Commons, and Parliament are really desirous of being friends of Ireland. We are turning over to-day a new page in the history of Ireland. In former pages I regret to say there are many blots and stains which we all desire to wipe out and if possible to forget. In turning down this new page we hope the old pages will be obliterated from the memory of Ireland for ever, and that 1333 upon the new page will be inscribed the happiness, the peace, the prosperity and the loyalty o Ireland.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN (Stirling Burghs)
The hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just sat down has said a good many things with which I cannot find it in my heart to agree, but he has said two things with which I most cordially agree—namely, at the end of his speech the aspirations he has expressed for the future peace and contentment and prosperity of Ireland, and at the commencement his warm recognition, in which I am sure we all join, of the manner in which the Chief Secretary conducted the proceedings connected with this Bill in this House. Reference has been made to the ability and the labour which the right hon. Gentleman has bestowed upon this Bill; but I think even more conspicuous than that is the conciliatory spirit and the elasticity and adaptability he has displayed, which are probably the highest qualities of a Minister in conducting a Bill of this character. The Chief Secretary might say with a great degree of truth "Alone I did it," so far as the Government is concerned. I have not observed, so far as I have been present, that he has ever had the support and encouragement of any Cabinet Minister on the front Ministerial Bench—at any rate, very rarely indeed. He has had the presence of the two law officers for Ireland, which is a somewhat unusual advantage for the representative of the Irish Government in this House, but they also have taken but a scanty part in the conduct of the Bill. The Chief Secretary has been supported also by the Solicitor-General for England, who by his languid presence has shown us what is meant by a minimum of support, and has exhibited an unpleasant uncertainty, whether his silence was the silence of admiration or the silence of trepidation. [An HON. MEMBER: A golden silence.] To the Chief Secretary credit is due for the passage of this Bill and we congratulate him upon it. I repeat now what I have said before, that we ought to congratulate the Irish Members upon both sides upon the spirit they have displayed throughout these debates. As to the House itself, not an insignificant portion of hon. Members—I have spoken of them 1334 upon a previous occasion—have been in the state of mind of ashy horse being led up to an awkward-looking obstacle—somehow or other they have been led past the object which they regarded in that light, and they have wisely left the matter mainly in Irish hands. I was amused when I heard the hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just sat down, giving a somewhat belated philippic on Home Rule. Why, Sir, we have had St. Stephen's Green in the House of Commons. We have had an anticipation of the future, and I think the Irish Members on both sides have done much, by the way in which they have behaved, to lessen, at all events, the fears with which any considerable alteration in the mode of governing Ireland has been contemplated hitherto by some people in this country. When I said St. Stephen's Green I meant College Green.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL - BANNERMAN
The object of those who are not Irish Members has been mainly to protect Imperial interests, and Imperial interests are bound up in the contentment and prosperity of Ireland. We are all in the habit of saying when the occasion arises, that the greatest British interest is peace. The great British interest in Ireland is that the people in Ireland should be happy and prosperous, and it is because we have believed that this Bill offers a probability of some result of that sort that we have given it support, even when it appeared to be a risky and dangerous measure for the financial interests of our country. Our object has been to make conditions such as should secure a permanent settlement so far as the Bill operates, and punctual and regular fulfilment of the obligations incurred by the cultivating classes in Ireland. On the previous stages, therefore, I have been careful, for my part, to reserve my full right of action at this stage if we did not think that these conditions were fulfilled. But some changes have been made in the Bill, which I regard, at any rate, as material improvements from that point of view—above all, the removal of that limit which is the maximum or the minimum according as you regard it, and which evidently was calculated in some cases to impose 1335 hard terms upon the purchaser. Practically we have been nothing but onlookers in this matter, and although we are hopeful of the result, it would be perhaps too much to say that we are sanguine. How far will this measure sweep into the net of purchase all the estates of Ireland? It is quite clear that if you leave the two classes of estates still existing in many parts of the country you will always have unrest and discontent. How far, therefore, will those terms be accepted by the landlord and the tenant on their respective sides? I cannot but think that it would have been better, seeing that the bonus is the great inducement for landlords to enter into an arrangement, if there had been a period stated within which the idea of disposing of their property must be accepted by them. I do not mean a period within which the transaction must be completed, or even entered upon, but within which the willingness to deal should be recorded, because then this bonus would have been in fuller operation than it will be now. I am afraid there will still remain much land held under the old system, and that after all you will have to have some compulsory measure in order to complete the whole transaction, because without uniformity I do not see how there can be general or, at any rate, universal contentment. But so far as it goes we recognise that there has been a strenuous desire on the part of all those concerned to find an arrangement which would, at all events, over the greater part of Ireland bring about the desired result, and we earnestly hope that these expectations and hopes may not be deceived. Something has been said about the future of this Bill in another place. How will it fare when it reaches that other place? I do not myself anticipate much chance of material alteration in the Bill in the House of Lords. I cannot imagine that after the career this Bill has had through the House of Commons, where the Irish people and the Irish landlords are directly and constitutionally represented, an arrangement agreed to under such conditions and under such experiences can be materially set aside. There never has been a great Bill passed through Committee in this House in such a way and under such conditions. When we 1336 began the work of the Committee, through sheer force of habit I suppose, there were one or two divisions, but after that there were no divisions at all until a stormy spirit on the other side, roused to unusual feeling by some proposal likely to benefit Trinity College, Dublin, provoked a division.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
I think my right hon. friend is wrong. The stormy spirit was on that side.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
When I say a stormy spirit I naturally look towards him. But, at any rate, there have been almost no divisions in the course of the Bill, and the whole matter has been the subject, not of carelessness, not of indifference, on the part of those interested, but of the most careful scrutiny and the most earnest desire to compromise and to arrive at a satisfactory and equitable solution. In these circumstances I am not afraid of anything that may be done, but let the House bear in mind before we part with this Bill that, as my right hon. friend the Member for Montrose said of it, it is more than a great agricultural or agrarian reform, it is a social and a political revolution. There is no question that when this Bill is fully carried out it will change fundamentally the relations between the Imperial Government centred in this country and the cultivating classes in Ireland. It is a tremendous social and political change—a change I trust very much for the benefit both of Ireland and of the relations between the two countries. But we have only to live in hope—we can have no certainty—and it is with no more than a strong hope of the desired result being attained that we support the Third Reading of this Bill.
§ THE PRIME MINISTER AND FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR,) Manchester, E.
We have now heard upon this concluding stage of the great series of debates which have taken place on this Bill the leader of the Nationalist Party in Ireland, one of the most distinguished representatives of landlords in this House, and the leader of the Opposition. If I come after the trio, at all events I think I shall be able to 1337 imitate those who have preceded me in the debate in introducing no harsh note of discord, or indeed touching any note at all except that of warm congratulation to all those who have been concerned either in the framing, debating, or passing of this measure. On no point has there been any sharp difference of opinion expressed this afternoon, and on one point there has been absolute unanimity. That point is the skill, the tact, the eloquence, the judgment, and the knowledge displayed by my right hon. friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland, who ought now to be reaping the reward of his labours in hearing the congratulations passed upon him by such competent judges, and whose place owing to his enforced absence, I am unworthily filling. I noticed with interest that while there was no serious expression of difference of opinion on any point, there was a good deal of cross advice given—I mean advice from different parts of the House to different people outside the House, and it is very natural that it should be so. The leader of the Nationalist Party gave some very good advice to the House of Lords and the landlords, and my right hon. and gallant friend gave some very good advice to the tenants. [An HON. MEMBER: And to the House of Lords.] Yes, there was a great deal of advice going round to everybody concerned. I hope and believe that in spirit that advice will be taken by all the parties to whom it was addressed, and I have very little doubt it will be so. For my own part I have been reproached indirectly by the right hon. Gentleman opposite for not having given the benefit of my presence and support to my colleague during the passage of the Bill through the House.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The fact is perfectly accurate. But I think it will be admitted by those who have watched my right hon. friend's work, that I would have paid a poor compliment to him or the House if I had indicated that my presence was necessary. If I have not been present during the debates in the Committee stage of this Bill those Members of the House who remember what has passed on previous occasions will 1338 easily believe me when I say that there is no subject of legislation with which this House could possibly occupy itself in which I feel greater interest than that affecting Ireland. This Bill advances—I had almost said made the last and final advance, but at all events, greatly advances—two of the causes which I have most at heart in relation to our Irish policy. I mean that it advances the question of land purchase, and advances the question of the Congested Districts Board. I have myself in days gone by occupied many hours of the time of this House recommending to its acceptance what I may call the parent measures which have now been brought to so admirable a conclusion by the joint labours of the tenants, the landlords, the Government, the House, and the Minister responsible for Irish affairs in this House. The Congested Districts Board, I believe, by this Bill will be yet further strengthened. It will be enabled to carry on that work which is peculiar to a portion of Ireland, and which nothing but special organisation could carry on in Ireland efficiently. And as to the policy of land purchase, as long as I remember anything in this House, I remember that I have been an earnest and not an unpractical advocate of that great scheme, and I have been an advocate of it not as a politician but as a social reformer. The hon. Gentleman who opened the debate this afternoon, and my right hon. and gallant friend have both from their own particular points of view given their judgment as to what effect this Bill will or will not have upon the great political controversy connected with the constitutional government of Ireland. I decline to look at the Bill from that point of view. Even if I were convinced that this Bill was a step in the direction of Home Rule, I should still think I was doing the very worst service to the great Unionist cause if I said it was bound up with the maintenance of a condition of things in Ireland which no man could look upon without the profoundest dissatisfaction. I do not think this Bill will help Home Rule in Ireland. I do not know that it will have any effect on it one way or the other, but I abstract my mind altogether from these considerations in dealing with this matter. The business we have 1339 to do is to remove the blots in our land legislation in Ireland—blots which are due to historical causes of great antiquity, but whose effect has gone on and very often been augmented by the very remedies we have tried to apply to them, until it reached, after the legislation of 1881, the point, as I think I have before said to the House, that put the Irish land system in the unenviable situation of being probably the worst land system in the world, and of combining the defects of every conceivable system within its own limits. That is a position which ought not to be tolerated: and I rejoice beyond measure to think that the day has at last come when very considerable efforts, but compared with this, the tentative measures which have already been passed on this matter, will find their final consummation in the great Bill which I hope will soon become an Act.
Of course our controversy remains. Of course it is true that after this Bill becomes law, and even has if it all the success which we hope and believe it will have, the great Irish controversy will remain. I do not doubt, I never have doubted, that one great alteration it will effect. The political controversy between hon. Gentlemen opposite and what I believe, at all events, is the great mass of the public opinion on this side of St. George's Channel, will no longer be embittered by those social wrongs which ought to be fought on fair terms, and which have made it, in some respects, and in some of its phases, discreditable, and in the highest degree, painful. I hope all that has now been brought to an end, and I trust that, henceforth, Irishmen fighting for what they believe, and honestly believe—namely, that a great constitutional change is desirable from the Irish point of view, will no longer be tempted into any other more dubious paths; at all events, that they will never be tempted to mix up two quite different controversies—the controversy as to whether you should or should not give Home Rule to Ireland, and the controversy as to whether you should or should not maintain a land system which was costly, which was unjust, which was complicated, which was financially burdensome, which was equally injurious to the tenants and the landlords, and the sooner it was swept away the better for all classes connected with agriculture in 1340 Ireland. That this may be the result of the present Bill is my most earnest hope; and I should be stultifying every action of my public life if I did not look forward with the most confident belief in its success, and if I did not again utter my conviction that the Irish tenants are to be trusted, absolutely trusted, not in obedience to any man or to any motive, to fulfil the obligations they have undertaken to the British Treasury: and if I did not express my great thanks to all those, to whatever Party they belong, whether they represent the tenants or whether they represent the landlords, who have shown a statesmanlike moderation which has enabled them to meet together on equal terms consulting for the common benefit, and which, almost for the first time in Irish history, has prompted these classes, so often foes, to agree upon some common policy by means of a compromise which, like all compromises, requires some sacrifices on either side. It may require some sacrifices both on the one side and on the other, but it is destined, I hope, to be rich in the fruits of contentment, peace and prosperity to all who lend themselves to this great work.
§ MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)
I can assure the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh that he need not fear that we shall adopt any unreasonable attitude towards this Bill. I can assure him that in so far as the Members sitting on these Benches are concerned, this Bill would have absolutely fair play, and I trust that the landlords will approach the administration of the Bill, when it becomes an Act, in the same spirit. In my opinion, the great question whether this Bill will give substantial benefits to the Irish people, and prove so to be the beginning of agrarian peace in Ireland, depends almost entirely on the spirit and method in which it is administered. I desire to point out that the Government has, I think, wisely taken the whole question of administration, in the present instance, into their own hands, and that they, therefore, stand completely responsible for this great Department, and for the future fortunes of the Act. The Government, however, cannot be surprised if, in the breasts of many of us who have had long experience of the spirit in which Irish Acts have been administered, there exists a great deal of 1341 doubt and misgiving as to the future administration of this Act. That misgiving is all the stronger because no Land Act has ever been passed by the House of Commons which will depend more for its success on the method and spirit of its administration; for its characteristic is that it is elastic, and that so many of its provisions have been drawn somewhat vaguely, and with the desire to give the utmost scope to its administrators. I confess that my misgiving has been increased by the action of the Government in placing Mr. Wrench in the position of pre-eminence he still occupies, and by their action towards Mr. FitzGerald and Mr. Murrough O'Brien in the third portion of the Bill. But to come to the Bill as it stands. It must be admitted that it is immensely better than when it was introduced, and in that respect I share the view expressed by my hon. friend and Leader the Member for Waterford. But I still object, in the first clause, to the retention of the two limits of price, feeling as I do that it sets up a false standard, running a risk of causing friction, which would have been avoided had no such limit been mentioned in the Bill. The tenants of Ireland should have complete freedom to bargain with their landlords; and I believe that if the landlords approach this question in a spirit of reasonableness and conciliation there ought not to be any insuperable difficulty in arriving at a reasonable price. The hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh expressed the fear that the tenantry of Ireland might be induced to abstain from availing themselves of the benefits of the Act by looking forward to successive reductions for the next fifteen years. But I believe that such dangers are entirely visionary. The anxiety of the tenantry of Ireland is so great to obtain proprietary rights in their land, and to lift from their shoulders the intolerable burden of landlordism and all its concomitant evils, that the risk is rather in the other direction, and that they will grasp their immediate advantage without consideration of their ability to meet their obligations in the future. I am sure that the landlords, on that score, have nothing to fear. If they approach this great question of price in a rational and fair spirit, then I believe that this Bill will work smoothly, so far as the general sale of land is concerned, and will also work rapidly. If the landlords 1342 of Ireland are sufficiently unreasonable to take it into their heads that on the occasion of their receiving a bonus of £12,000,000 in order to facilitate the sale of their lands, this was a suitable occasion for making a general, all-round rise in the price of the land, then, of course, friction and fresh agitation will arise.
There are a few of the provisions of the Bill on which I wish to say a word or two. First of all, in regard to the reinstatement of the evicted tenants. That provision has been made immensely better in the course of the passage of the Bill through Committee; yet I confess that I view with alarm the tone adopted by some of the landlords' representatives, inside and outside the House. I go so far as to say that if we could be certain that the Bill would be administered in the spirit of the speeches of the right hon. the Chief Secretary, during the Committee and Report stages, I do believe that it would be possible to reinstate the evicted tenants. But that depends upon the action of the Commission, on the spirit of the administration, and mainly on the spirit in which the subject is approached by the Irish landlords. I say that the Irish landlords will consult their own selfish interest by seeing that the tenants are treated in the most generous manner. Then, as regards the provisions for the resettlement of the West of Ireland, I deeply regret that the Government could not have seen their way to meet us fully in the demand we made on this particular point. It was really, practically speaking, a non-contentious point. None of the proposals we put forward threatened to inflict any loss on the landlord party, and this particular portion of the Irish land question was precisely that portion which appealed most strongly to the British public, and was most efficacious in securing the support of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. And it appeared to us that Article 14 of the Land Conference Report did undoubtedly suggest or imply a provision such as we endeavoured to insert in the Bill in Committee. That Article says—That counties wholly or partly under the operations of the Congested Districts Board, or other districts of a similar character (as defined by the Congested Districts Board Acts and by Section 4, Clause 1, of Mr. Wyndham's Land Purchase Amendment Bill of last session) will require separate and exceptional treatment with a view to the better distribution of 1343 the population and of the land, as well as for the acceleration and extension of these projects for migration and enlargement of holdings which the Congested Districts Board, as at present constituted, and with its limited powers, has hitherto found it impossible to carry out upon an adequate scale.There is really little or nothing in the Bill which will affect the constitution of the Board. No doubt, I recognise that large additions have been made to the financial resources of the Board, and that in some important minor particulars, its powers have been extended; but as regards its larger powers and its constitution, none of our proposals have been accepted, and nothing substantial has been done in the Bill. That I must say is a matter for very great regret, It is a matter which, even if all our Amendments had been accepted, would not have affected to the extent of one single pound the income or means of any landlord in Ireland. There was one thing in which I was disappointed in the course of the Committee stage of the Bill. That stage was marked by a great deal of general agreement on many points; but when we arrived at this particular portion of the Bill, not one landlord supported our demand; and there was an appearance of indifference on this all-important question on the landlord side. We, first of all, asked for compulsion, and I confess that to my mind and to the minds of many men in Ireland, Article 14 of the Land Conference appeared to point to compulsion in those particular districts. That Amendment was rejected by the Government, although it was admitted that we had adopted a moderate tone throughout. When we were beaten on compulsion, we fell back on pre-emption; and I think the Government were very ill-advised in refusing pre-emption for the settlement of these particular districts. Here again much can be done, even under the Bill as it stands, if it is administered in a spirit of earnestness and vigour. If it is not; and if the old spirit which prevailed in the administration of previous Acts gets the upper hand, then I fear this portion of the Bill will be a nullity altogether. I think it is a great pity that the Government had not sufficient courage in connection with this particular part of the Bill. I fail to see where the opposition came from to 1344 prevent this part of the Bill being made complete and efficacious.
I wish to say one or two words on the finance of the Bill. All our discussions are now over; my views have not been accepted; still I hold those views exceedingly strongly; and now, on the Third Reading, I must repeat them. I think one of the great drawbacks in this Bill—and I think it will be found out before the Bill has been long working—is the great reduction in the sinking fund and the consequent abolition of the decadal reductions. That was a point on which the Land Conference was agreed. If the decadal reductions were to be retained, it was manifest that you must retain a sufficient sinking fund which should never have been allowed to fall below 1 per cent. The stock should have been issued at 2½ per cent., and the annuity at 3½ per cent., and then it would have been possible to preserve the system of decadal reductions; or, if the tenant elected to refuse the decadal reductions, the whole of the loan would have been paid off in about forty-nine years. That would be infinitely safer for the State, and far better for the tenant. I fear that that provision in the Bill is a very great evil which will prove injurious to the tenant and to the whole stability of the finance of the Bill. I have heard recently of certain individuals, some of them hon. Members of this House, talking in Ireland about the great period of prosperity which is before the country; and that people had better hurry up and buy their land before the great scheme of the Colonial Secretary gives such an impetus to agriculture as will greatly increase the land value. I wish to utter a word of warning to the Government and to the Irish agriculturists. In my opinion, even assuming the Colonel Secretary carries his scheme, no taxation of food that the inhabitants of this country will ever tolerate will bring any advantage to the people of Ireland. A tax on corn of 3s. or 4s. a quarter would injure Ireland. No tax, except an all-round tax—a tax on meat, a tax on mutton, a tax on butter—would increase the value of Irish land. But does any rational human being for one moment suppose that such a tax is possible in the future. Therefore, 1345 any man who is building Castles in Spain as regards Irish agriculture, on the basis of the proposed scheme for preferential duties and the success of the Colonial Secretary, is to my mind building on an absolutely shadowy foundation, even if the Colonial Secretary carries all his programme. I think it is a most serious matter—and that is the reason I refer to it now—that this wise, and from the point of view of the taxpayer, most valuable provision, of a reduction at the end of the first ton years of 14 per cent. and a further reduction of another 14 per cent. at the end of another ten years, should be swept away. There is another consideration also. By the introduction of this new set of purchasers who are to pay for a period of seventy years the same annuities without any reduction whatever, you will have again the old argument of the one side of the hedge and the other side of the hedge, which must produce a great deal of discontent, particularly when the old Ashbourne purchasers will have got two reductions, and when the new purchasers see before them a period of sixty-eight years without any reduction at all.
A great deal has been said about the bonus in this country; and it has been repeated in the Press; but most of what has been said has been really based on ignorance of the whole philosophy and genesis of the bonus. I saw, I think in the Daily News the other day, that 12,000,000 English sovereigns were to be handed over to the Irish landlords to sweeten this transaction. That is not true. The essence of the bonus is this; that whereas previously the Government was spending £750,000 a year in maintaining war between landlords and tenants in Ireland—money which was absolutely wasted—they now proposed to devote £390,000 a year of that money, for a limited period, to the purpose of bringing about peace. For my part, I sincerely regret that they have not devoted £500,000 per annum to the bonus, because that would enable the process to develop much more rapidly; and the Imperial taxpayer would not lose sixpence more by the transaction. That would enable the work to proceed much more rapidly and would avoid the risk which now exists of friction over the question of price. As to the distribution 1346 of the bonus, I think the percentage has been cut down to too low a figure. After allowing for estates in the Land Judges' Courts and for estates that will not be sold—I am afraid there are certain gentlemen in Ireland who will not sell—I believe that the £12,000,000 would have been amply sufficient to give 15 per cent. all round. It would be better to give 15 per cent. all round, or, at all events, to those who sold promptly, rather than to create the impression that those who hang back may get a better bonus, as there is a provision in the Bill to revise it. The proper policy would be to give the best bonus to those who come in first. Therefore, in that respect, the bonus is wrongly distributed. But it has been wrongly distributed in another respect also, which I think is even more important. Take a landlord with an estate worth £5,000 a year in Ulster or Leinster. He gets twenty years' purchase, which may be held to be a fair average price for good estates in these provinces. He receives £100,000 from the tenants, and £12,000 as a bonus. Take another estate in Con-naught with a rental of £5,000 a year. That is sold at fifteen years' purchase, which is a fair average price as prices go at present. The landlord gets £75,000 from the tenants, but only £9,000 as a bonus. That is to say, that the man who sells an estate with a rental of £5,000 for £100,000 gets £12,000 as a bonus, whereas a man who sells an estate, also with a rental of £5,000, for £75,000, only gets £9,000. In other words, the landlord of the poor estate who has to sell it cheaper gets less than the richer landlord. That is an unreasonable position; and one which, for my part, I cannot believe will work. The Bill is now practically safe. I conclude it will not run any serious risk in another place. It leaves this House with the goodwill of the Irish Party; and with a pledge from us that we will give it fair play, with an honest desire, according to our lights, to make it work. Although I do not want to say anything harsh or unpleasant of the Chief Secretary, and in common with other speakers who have addressed the House I feel that in the conduct of this Bill through the House he has displayed an admirable knowledge on the subject, a great deal of sympathy, and splendid 1347 Parliamentary gifts, still, I cannot but express my conviction that for whatever benefits the Irish people may obtain from it, they will have primarily and chiefly to thank the men who, during the last two years have faced coercion cheerfully, have endured imprisonment, and the deprivation of civil rights, and who have by their sacrifices brought about a situation which in the first place rendered it necessary to introduce such a Bill, and in the second place, made it possible for such a large measure to be passed.
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL
We are not merely passing the Third Reading of the Irish Land Bill to-day, we are also effecting a great revolution, we are practically undoing the English conquest of Ireland, so far as the conquest rested on the maintenance and establishment of Irish landlords. That is what the House of Commons is doing by reading this Bill a third time to-day. This Parliament is not yet three years old, the General Election was in 1900. We had the election without any promise of a Land Bill; without the slightest reference to the land question; we had, in fact, a non possumus attitude on the part of the Government. Immediately after the election we had a bitter cry from the West of Ireland, where trouble always breaks out first, and where it is most soon felt. Then we had the uprising of Ulster. Following that we had the Bill of the session of 1902; a Bill which failed absolutely to meet the case, and which was withdrawn and buried. Then followed a proclamation of one quarter of the Irish counties under the Coercion Acts, resulting in the imprisonment of a score of Irish representatives. No doubt they broke the law, but they were imprisoned because, in the language of the Prime Minister, the conduct of the landlords was so infamous that it could not be tolerated any longer. Then came a great calm, and the Land Conference, and then this Bill, by the passing of which, after it has been two months before the House, we are enacting a great and bloodless revolution. During the eighteen years that I have been in this House, I have heard a good deal about the men who live by agitation, I have been called an 1348 agitator myself, but I do not think there is one person who has been engaged in agitating on this land question who will not be glad to be rid of it. It is only right in these circumstances that we should endeavour to set ourselves right with the English Members of this House with regard to the future. Prophecy is not profitable at any time, and I am not going to prophesy now as to what will happen under this Bill. I wish only to point out certain things that cannot possibly make for a final settlement of the land question under this Bill.
We commenced our agitation in of this House with a demand for compulsion two years ago. We believe compulsion will be necessary, we did not think or say that compulsion would be required all over the country, but we do maintain that no matter what this House may do, a certain number of landlords will not sell, and compulsion is necessary for them. There are landlords in Ireland who will not sell under any circumstances, and even now the landlord organs in Ireland, the Irish Times and the Daily Express, are urging and inciting the House of Lords to alter this Bill, and are saying that if it is not altered no sales will take place under it when it becomes an Act. I state this to make it clear in future that this cannot be a final settlement. The Government would not accept our policy of compulsion, and if I had left unsaid what I have just said the House would be deceived. Something like £20,000,000 of landed property is at present in the Land Court, as to which we have the Prime Minister's word that it is the worst of the landlords' systems that can exist, yet we have not adequately dealt with the Land Court in this Bill. There might have been a great deal done in the Bill to force, the Land Judge to sell, and to break down the wall of hundreds of receivers by whom he is surrounded who are only too content to see things as they are. We have also to face the administration of this Bill when it becomes an Act. There is not a man in this House who does not know and feel that the Land Act of 1881, if it had received fair play at the hands of the Courts of Ireland, would have long ago 1349 settled the land question. If this Bill when it becomes an Act is to be interpreted by the speeches the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary made upon it, then it will be all right; but it is not. It is to be interpreted by Irish Judges, and those who have to administer the Act. I agree that so far as the Estates Commission is concerned that is a great improvement on the past, but let us remember that this Act will go through the Courts of Ireland, where there is very little sympathy with it. I agree with reference to the financial part with the hon. Member for East Mayo. The abolition of the decadal system was rendered absolutely necessary by the smallness of the sinking fund. A Bill of this kind cannot be passed without amending Bills being brought in in the future, and I believe the finance portion of the Act will break down and have to be amended by future Bills. I do not believe the general taxpayer has anything to fear from this measure. The tenants who are allowed to purchase their holdings will struggle hard to meet their obligations, whatever they may be, and the poorest among them will struggle the hardest. The general taxpayer will be paid to the uttermost farthing, and so far as the bonus which they believe they are going to pay is concerned, that is coming out of an Irish fund, and the Treasury will take care that they receive repayment in full. I take leave of this Bill by saying that it is the greatest measure passed for Ireland since the Act of Union.
§ MR. WILLIAM O'BRIEN (Cork)
The Chief Secretary is making a fortunate exception to the old maxim that the absent are always in the wrong. Whatever else this Bill may do, it has already accomplished one thing beyond yea or nay—viz., it has established the Chief Secretary's Parliamentary reputation to a degree which certainly his late opponents on these benches will not grudgingly acknowledge. If only the other expectations of the Bill are as happily realised, the measure will have succeeded in accomplishing perhaps the most revolutionary change that has ever taken place in the relations between the two countries. Whether the Bill will effect that revolution I 1350 cannot undertake to prophesy, but there is certainly no ground that I can see for any prophesy of evil. The success of the Bill will depend in the main upon two things of which we are not the masters. The first is the moderation and good sense with which the landlords will, I hope, lay down a business-like basis for purchase, regardless of the obstruction of the land agents, and of some of the absurd and impossible prices that were originally contemplated in Clause 1 of the Bill. The second point upon which the success of the Bill will depend—as is the case with nearly everything in Ireland—is the administration of the measure, upon whether it is worked out in the spirit of broad and liberal conciliation in which this whole settlement has been conceived. One thing it may be said with certainty will not be missing, and that is the most thorough-going friendliness, and fair play, and goodwill on the part of the masses of the Irish people, and a determination not to indulge in any mere petulance or rancour upon small points, so long as the landlords and the Estate Commissioners honestly do their part in working out the great scheme of conciliation which within the last six months has transformed the face of Ireland.
There are two or three points in particular upon which the successful working of the Bill will depend. The first is that the new purchasers' annuities should be such as they can cheerfully look forward to with an eye on the future. That was a cardinal principle in the settlement suggested by the Land Conference. The second point is that the ample powers vested in the Estates Commissioners for the complete and generous settlement of the evicted tenants question should be exercised in the spirit of the Chief Secretary's repeated and transparently sincere declarations that it is his desire to see all the bitterness and the evil memories connected with this question completely eradicated. The third point is that, however imperfect the constitution and the powers of the Congested Districts Board still are, the Board should take the series of hints given by the Chief Secretary, turn over a new leaf, and 1351 exercise for all they are worth the enlarged powers given by this Bill, with a view, not to carrying on tinkering operations, but to transferring the people rapidly and in large numbers to the land, in which all their hopes are centred. I should perhaps add another point which is an indispensable condition of success—viz., that the Chief Secretary should not forget his promise to the labourers; and that in framing, during the autumn, his settlement of the labourers question, he should make up his mind that the real remedy lies not in any mere paltry tinkering Amendment of the existing Labourers Acts, but in giving the labouring population in the South and in the East the very same treatment as you have undertaken towards their brother migrating labourers in the West. None of these things I have named will involve any hardship upon the landlords or the Treasury, but it is the spirit that will be shown in matters of this kind in the administration of the Bill, that will, more than any statutory enactments, go to decide whether the present process of appeasement and conciliation is to go to a length that twelve months ago would have been beyond belief. I quite agree with the warning of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for North Armagh, that the House must not expect too much. The hon. and learned Member for Waterford truly reminded the House that this Bill is not our Bill. It is not the Bill of the Land Conference.
I do not care to go back upon these matters over much, but perhaps some of us may be excused for remembering that the three weakest points in this Bill are the points in which it departs farthest from the recommendations of the Land Conference. The first of these points is that the Bill fails to provide the two years' additional bonus which represents exactly, as I believe, the difference as to price between the landlords and tenants, and which would have obviated, practically speaking whatever difficulty or friction there may now be experienced in settling the exact basis of purchase. We on these benches remember gratefully that that addition to the bonus or Purchase-aid-fund was suggested as a wise policy by the right hon. Gentle- 1352 man the Member for Montrose, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Berwick, and indeed by all the Members who have a special right to call themselves the party of retrenchment and of economy. The second weak point in this Bill, as I regard it, is one of which the hon. Member for Mayo reminded the House, namely, that the Bill fails to provide the new purchasers with those three ten-year reductions which the Land Conference recommended and which would relieve the new purchasers of any substantial anxiety as to the future. The third weak point is the failure of the Bill to fix a time limit, as suggested in the Conference Report. But all this is to a great extent a question of spilt milk, and I do not wish to go back upon it. I make every allowance for the difficulties with which the Chief Secretary has had to contend; I mention these matters simply to show that it is through no fault of ours that the Bill is to some extent marred by these defects, and that the inexplicable troubles of the Chief Secretary have driven him to reject various other Amendments upon which the opinion of landlords and tenants was absolutely united. I wholly agree that, whatever may be its shortcomings, the Bill as it stands is a great Bill, and is capable of producing better and wider results than any Act ever passed by the English Parliament for Ireland. That much may be said with certainty, but the House will not expect us to forget that the secret of its success, so far as it is a success, is that the Bill was really created and discussed in, not an English, but an Irish Parliament. The time has not come for pressing this Parliament to go the one further easy step of transferring the Irish Parliament from Westminster to College Green. I am aware that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite and his friends have a different view as to the future, and I find no fault whatever with the references of the Prime Minister to that point this afternoon.
This much, I think, is perfectly certain—that it will be the fault of English statesmen, and not of the Irish people, if the future of the Irish cause does not develop itself upon those lines of conciliation and peace of which I hope this Bill is only the starting point. From the outset the Irish people, through 1353 their National Convention, have regarded the Bill in a friendly spirit. They trusted my hon. and learned friend and his Party with unlimited authority to work for its Amendment, not with any sinister or hostile design, but with the honest intention of making its peace-bearing operations as widespread and permanent as possible. I am sometimes amused to see how Englishmen and English newspapers marvel at the moderate and reasonable spirit now prevailing upon the Irish Benches. They are sometimes apparently a little alarmed to know what it is all about, and it never seems once to strike them that it is in themselves and not in us that the change has come about. I know of nothing that ought to give Englishmen more pause as to their capacity of governing us. There is this indisputable fact, that there never was a moment in all this long and bitter struggle when you might not have had peace, and exactly the same peace, upon the same terms as far as the representatives of Ireland were concerned, and you night have spared yourselves and us twenty years of misery and agitation. It is now eighteen years since, under the inspiration of our own great leader of those days, I gave frank and loyal assistance to the Liberal Party in Mr. Gladstone's great and never-to-be-forgotten effort to bring about reconciliation in Ireland. I did so in exactly the same spirit eighteen years ago as I experience now. Nothing can deter me now from giving an equally loyal assistance to the present Government in their project for the abolition of landlordism. I think that is the spirit of ninety-nine out of every hundred men in Ireland, and this is more especially so among the men who have fought you hardest, and they did so because they had nothing to do but to fight. If this Bill is only administered in a proper spirit, and if the landlords display that wisdom which is necessary in their own interests, and which they have displayed at more than one trying moment when this Bill hung, as it were, by a thread, I am sure no one will grudge the Government the triumphs which I hope will await their policy, and the measure with which their names will be associated.
§ MR. SAMUEL YOUNG (Cavan, E.)
As the oldest Member in the representation of Ireland, may I be permitted to express the pleasure I feel in seeing a Land Bill so vital to the well-being of the country pass its Third Reading. I remember agricultural Ireland for long years in a deplorable condition, without a ray of hope until 1870 and 1881, when Mr. Gladstone took pity on the country, and gave to the farmers a local habitation and a name; for, until that time, they were no more than chattels in the possession of the owners of the soil, many of whom, I acknowledge, were very good considering the power of decimation which was in their hands. Now, after years of resistance to the claims of the people of the country, and after expedients and abortive Land Acts, which were only the patching up of torn garments, there has been a mysteriously favourable change of attitude towards Ireland—a manifest confidence in the people which time will prove to be well-placed. In the maturing of this measure, negotiations have fallen into good hands, not only at the Dublin Conference, but particularly so when they fell into the hands of the Chief Secretary for Ireland representing the Government, whose tact temper, eloquence, and ability in the conduct of this Bill will not be forgotten by a grateful people. I could not have imagined in my youth that a peasant proprietary would have come in my day. It has come. The Bill will produce a marvellous change in the condition of the people when it comes into operation. It will form an era in the history of the country. May I further venture to say that after this final Land Bill, which is real legislation, it will only require one or two similar bold steps to be taken by the Government to make Ireland a strength to the Empire, and her people loyal and contented.
§ *MR. CLAUDE LOWTHER (Cumberland, Eskdale)
I do not rise with the object of introducing any discoid into this splendid message of peace, but rather that in the future, when the seeds planted to-day have developed, when they have covered Ireland with a perennial growth of national contentment, I should like to remember that it 1355 was my privilege as an English Member to congratulate the Chief Secretary on what I consider to be the greatest achievement of any Statesman in the history of Ireland. We have heard this afternoon a general interchange of compliments and congratulations. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition congratulated his colleagues upon the very conciliatory way in which this Bill has been received. The hon. and learned Member for Waterford congratulated himself upon his dexterous pruning, cutting, and general readjustment of the measure. Some hon. Members on this side of the House congratulated the Chief Secretary on his dexterous piloting of the Bill through this House. But what of the Bill itself? Personally I agree with the Member for South Tyrone that this Bill is a revolution effected without revolutionary methods. I welcome it for two reasons; first of all, because I feel sure that it will bring permanent rest to Ireland from the acute political controversy in which she has been plunged for centuries; and also because at this moment, when the attention of the country is drawn into other channels, and when another great policy is before us, it conclusively proves that in spite of the ominous predictions of sceptics and the tremblings of mediocrity—it is possible to sweep away difficulties, which at the beginning appeared insuperable, by the exercise of genius and courage. Beyond the shadow of the Land Act there looms a period of great agricultural prosperity, drawing in its train that national stability so vital to national credit. National credit to Ireland means a steady flow of capital into the country—the revival of latent and the creation of now industries; it means the development of her great fisheries and the improvement of her navigable rivers; it means the employment of a greater number of the population on its own soil, and consequently the diminution of that unhappy exodus which all who have the interests of Ireland at heart have for years and years deplored. These are only some of the blessings that will accrue from this measure which the Chief Secretary has presented to the Irish people. This Bill means also a great deal to England. I hope that the intellectual atmosphere of this country, now that 1356 better fellowship exists, will be permeated, by that wit and brilliance which is inherent to the Irish people. And I am confident that England will find a lasting joy in the nearer union to the Island that she loves.
§ *MR. TOMKINSON (Cheshire, Crewe)
For more than twenty years I have taken a deep interest in Irish affairs and in all measures brought forward for the better government of Ireland. In a former debate my hon. friend the Member for the Scotland Division said the speech of the Prime Minister marked an epoch in Irish history, inasmuch as it rung the deathknell of the old Irish land system, condemning it as being hopelessly and incurably bad. I quite agree with the hon. Member, but think that the speech of the Prime Minister marked an even greater epoch than that to which he alluded, because it seemed to me that there was almost for the first time on the part of the great Party sitting on these benches and its leader, a spirit of sympathy and conciliation shown towards Ireland, a disposition to approach Irish subjects from the Irish point of view, and to avail themselves of the experience of the representatives of Ireland in the solution of Irish problems. If it was a novel, it was also a pleasing experience to see hon. Members on that side of the House, one after another, rising to pay a handsome and willing tribute to the honesty and integrity of the Irish tenant, and to the punctuality with which he has fulfilled his engagements, and to the entire safety and security with which British and Irish money might be lent to them for the purchase of their farms. All I can say with regard to that is, Esto perpetua! We who sit on these benches rejoice in the fact that in this change we see the practical endorsement of many of the principles we have advocated for many years. Speaking as the representative of an English constituency, I should like to allude for a moment to the speech delivered some time ago by the hon. and learned Member for the Launceston Division. He said if this Bill were to be submitted to the English taxpayers they would not consent to the proposals it contains. I should reply that it woud 1357 depend on the manner in which it was placed before them. I have had an opportunity of fairly explaining to my constituents the peculiar circumstances that surround the question and the absolute need of some great measure. It is quite true that it might be represented to them quite truthfully in such a way that they would not readily accept it. The case of a second term rental tenant paying £10 a year rent, and by this Bill be enabled to purchase his holding by an annual payment of some £7 only in sixty-eight years, while his landlord will still receive as much as his former income from him, sounds like something in "Alice in Wonderland"—with a fairy godmother intervening.
Yet there are many reasons why I am quite satisfied that the arrangement proposed by the Bill is a fair one, and that it is very well worth while to carry it out. In the first place I consider that the previous Acts in this direction make the situation altogether impossible. You could not have the Dillon estate and the De Freyne estate side by side with any hope of tranquillity in Ireland. I rejoice to hear so many tributes in this House to the memory of the great statesman who brought forward the Act of 1881. The failure of that Act was due only to its want of finality. The readjustment and revision of rents coming round periodically naturally made it the interest of the tenants not to improve but to depreciate their holdings. That was one of the flaws which made dual ownership come to an absolute breakdown. Over and above that we look forward to the probability that there will be immense savings of expenditure in Ireland. We must also remember that Ireland has been subjected to considerable over-taxation. We have last, but not least, of the many reasons that could be given in favour of tenant proprietorship the extremely happy experience of the results of land purchase, as regards industry, thrift, and cleanliness which have supervened on the Dillon estate. These are the chief reasons which justify a great effort for a final settlement, which, if successful, will be well worth the cost. In my opinion the risk to the taxpayer is absolutely nil. In the first place there is the well-known honesty of the Irish 1358 tenants. No man would endanger such a splendid arrangement as is now proposed by any attempt, even if he were capable of it, to repudiate his obligations. But over and above that I maintain that, as a business transaction it is absolutely sound, for the margin of security is ample to protect the advance which is to be made by the British Treasury. It is nothing like the whole of the purchase money, which is based on a reduced rental, but only to buy out the landlord's interest. Practically the advance will be little more than one-third of the total value of the holding, and therefore there will be a far more ample margin left than is asked on mortgages on such transactions in England. There is one point on which the British taxpayer is entitled to gratitude, and on which some sacrifice is being made, and that is the fact that it is obviously impossible to exploit the credit of the nation in such large sums as will be required for this scheme, coming on the top of the heavy obligations incurred for the carrying on of the late war, and lately the Transvaal loan, without permanently, or for a long time, depreciating British credit and keeping down the price of Consols. The national credit is a great element in the national strength and stability of a nation, and the nation that can raise most money at the lowest rate is the strongest nation in the end. We have to face the fact that there has been in the last six or seven years a fall in Consols of 20 per cent. If hon. Members will look back to the time when Consols reached the highest point, namely, 114, they will find that 2½ per cent. Consols were 110. They have been down to 90, and they are only about 92 at the present moment. I consider this a very serious depreciation, and I hope hon. Members from Ireland will recognise that the taxpayer is making some sacrifice. I hope also they will bear a kindly and benevolent feeling towards Liberal Members for the absence of opposition to this Bill, from which they expect Ireland to derive such good results. I hope that the evil order has passed away, that all things will become new, and that the great source of strife and division will be removed. That poverty will disappear never to return such as Carlyle wrote of when he compared the condition of the Irish sans potato as he called him, with that of the sans-culotte before 1359 the French Revolution, stating that in his opinion the latter was not the most miserable but only the second miserablest of men. I hope that state of things will pass away with the wise application of the powers for the enlargement of holdings, and the migration, where necessary, of the people within their own country. There is one aspect of this question that has never been noticed in this House, but which it is obvious is not for the true interest of this country, and that is that in allowing the expatriation of the Irish people we have been destroying one of the finest recruiting grounds for our Army. There is no need to extol the services of the Irish regiments, for since the time of Marlborough down to Pieters Hill and Ladysmith Hill they have been distinguished for their deeds of valour. I hope this Bill will be passed without a dissentient voice.
§ *MR. LAMBERT (Devonshire, South Molton)
I regret to have to introduce a jarring note in the chorus of approval that up to now has beslavered this Bill. But after all, as the hon. Member for South Tyrone has said, I was waiting to hear what the British taxpayer was going to get out of it. He is going to incur a serious responsibility of Irish land ownership, in a most one sided manner for sixty-nine-and-a-half years. If the Irish land goes up in value the Imperial taxpayer will get nothing of it, no addition can be made to the tenants, rent instalments; and if it goes down in value he will have to bear the burden the loss. I think that when we are to pay £12,000,000 in order to have the privilege of allowing the tenants of Ireland to pay their landlords an exorbitant price for their farms, some voice should be lifted up on behalf of the long suffering British taxpayer. This Bill brings into immediate individual contact 400,000 tenants of Ireland with what they regard as a foreign Government. Mr. Gladstone denounced this individual contact in 1886. Personally, I would have wished to bring in some Irish authority between the tenants of Ireland and the Imperial Government. What responsibility rests on the Imperial Government? They will have to collect rents from 130,000 tenants whose farms are under £4 value. I ask, suppose you have a time of agricultural 1360 depression what rent you can possibly screw out of these poor people? Then you have 275,000 tenants whose farms are under £10 value. Again, I say, if you have a period of agricultural distress—a period of unusual foreign competition—everybody knows it is impossible to collect their rents, that you cannot evict a whole country side, and that the Imperial Government will have to bear the loss. It seems to me inexplicable that the Irish tenants are such models of probity when they come to pay what they regard as a foreign Government, but are so impregnated with a double dose of original sin when they come to deal with fellow Irishmen in Ireland that they can be entrusted to pay £5,000,000 in instalments every year to the British Government, but that they cannot be trusted to do justice to Irishmen amongst whom they live! The First Lord of the Treasury said that the Irish tenants could be trusted to pay the British Government, but that they could not be trusted to govern themselves! We have heard very different versions as to the effect on Home Rule which this Bill would produce. The hon. and learned Member for Waterford said that it promoted Home Rule; the hon. Member for North Armagh said that it would have the opposite effect; and the Prime Minister thought it would have no effect at all. How are we to reconcile these different authorities?
I want to draw a comparison between the Irish farmer and the British farmer. Comparisons are odious, I know. [An HON. MEMBER on the Irish Benches: Hear, hear!] The British farmer has gone on for years, and years, and years voting for his landlord's Party; he has got to pay a competition rent, and he will have to pay it to all eternity or will be liable to be turned out of his farm on twelve months notice. The Irish farmer has got security of tenure; he can sell his interest in the soil; he has 38 per cent. reduction on second-term rents. Is he satisfied? Not he. He wants to get 10 per cent. reduction more on that 38 per cent. which will make 48 per cent. reduction on his original rent. In other words, he will have to pay £52 where he used to pay £100. He may get another 20 per cent. 1361 reduction and that will make him pay £32 where he paid £100. But what is more, in sixty-nine-and-a-half years he will become the owner of the soil! The British farmer excites himself about a shilling duty on corn. The Irish farmer does not excite himself at all. I remember that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sleaford poured thunders of indignation on the Prime Minister for repealing the shilling duty on corn. The Irish farmer did not care a rush for the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sleaford, but did care for the hon. Member for Cork. He has no delusions on the subject, and by trusting to his own powers of organised voting for his own interests his position is far superior to that of the British farmer. I would ask the hon Member for Cork to come over to England and start a branch of his Land League. Then, what about the Irish landlord? The only description I can give of him is that presented of the Trust King given in his portrait by the American comic papers. You see there a gentleman with a huge cigar in his mouth, a huge corporation, with pockets bulging out with dollars, and riding on the back of somebody else. That, it seems to me will be the position of the Irish landlords. John Bull will not be the ruddy, corpulent person he has been in past years. He will be the individual sat upon. The English landlord—again the comparison comes in—does all the improvements on the farm. He puts up all the houses, farm buildings and cottages, erects the fences, digs the drains and does everything, in fact, to the amount of 15 to 20 per cent. yearly of the rental. The Irish landlord, as the First Lord of the Treasury says, does not spend a shilling on his estate. The Irish landlord takes a piece of land—it may be mountain land or a bog—lets it to a tenant, appoints a land agent, collects the rents and does nothing more. Supposing you want to take land compulsorily for public purposes in England, you pay the landlord 10 per cent. for compulsory purchase, but you pay 12 per cent. under this Bill to the Irish landlord for voluntary purchase, and at a far greater price than you can get for land in England.
An hon. Gentleman said that the Bill may be rejected in the House of Lords. 1362 He need not be in the least afraid of that. There is money in it, and the money will not be rejected by the landlords in the "gilded chamber." Mr. Gladstone was driven from office on his Land Bill. Mr. Gladstone proposed to give for first-term rents of £100, £1,600. The actual price of land in Ireland has been proved to be £1,700, or seventeen years purchase of first-term rents. What does this Bill propose to give for a first-term rent? To give £2,462, and in addition to that the Irish landlord gets £295 as a bonus, making in all £2,757. And yet Mr. Gladstone was denounced by the Colonial Secretary for giving a gigantic bribe to the Irish landlords. What kind of a bribe is it that is offered to them by this Bill? The minimum price under this Bill on first-term rents is £1,846, with a bonus of £221, or a total of £2,067, or £467 more than Mr. Gladstone proposed to give. Where Mr. Gladstone proposed to give £1 to the Irish landlords, this Bill proposes to give them £1 14s. as a maximum and £1 5s. 10d. as a minimum. I ask the House whether it was fair and right to hound Mr. Gladstone and condemn his proposals as public bribery, when you propose to give the Irish landlords these terms? But I have other figures. I take the second-term rents. The actual price of land under second-term rents, according to Lord Dunraven, as reported in The Freeman's Journal of 11th April, was nineteen and a half years rental, or £1,950 for every £100. What is the maximum under this Bill? £2,769 plus the bonus—I might call it bribe—of £332, making altogether £3,101, while under the Land Purchase Acts it has been proved to be £1,950. Take the minimum. The minimum price under this Bill is £2,154 plus £258 of a bonus, or a total of £2,412. If you take the average price the Irish landlord will get for second-term rents, £2,750 for £100 rental; or, as compared with the actual price paid during the period second-term rents have been in operation since 1896, for £1 the price will in the future be £1 8s., or without the bonus £1 4s. 8d. This amounts to a very considerable sum indeed when you come to deal with a rental of £4,000,000. The price on nineteen and a half years 1363 purchase would be £78,000,000, which is the actual past proved value, while the Chief Secretary estimated the price to be given now at £100,000,000; and in addition he is going to give a bonus of £12,000,000 to induce or bribe the landlords to accept this wholly extravagant price. The Imperial Government is going to give £22,000,000 on a £4,000,000 rental more than the actual value of the land as proved under the Land Purchase Acts, and in addition £12,000,000 to close the transaction. That seems to me a most admirable bargain for the Irish landlords.
I have two concrete instances to give. Two Members of the Government will receive considerable sums under the Bill. I am perfectly certain that these two noblemen would not have voted for this Bill because of the pecuniary benefit they are going to receive. But according to Thorn's "Directory" their valuation for 1873 was £31,536 and £31,326 as the yearly values of their estates, or a total of £65,862 a year. Brought down to the basis of second-term rental by reducing it by 38 per cent. that would give something over £40,000 a year. The maximum price which these noblemen will receive for their £40,000 a year will be £1,107,600, and with the bonus of 12 per cent., amounting to £132,912, it makes a grand total of £1,240,512, The actual price up to now at £1,950 for £100 would be £780,000, leaving for the benefit of these two noblemen £460,512 more than the actual proved value of the land. Under the minimum price in the Bill, these noblemen will receive £694,992, or £184,992 more than the actual price paid during the last seven years. I should like to ask the Colonial Secretary, if he were here, whether this is a preferential tariff, or an old-age pension. In 1895, we know that the right hon. Gentleman had a very simple method of old-age pensions. Not only is this a very simple method, but a very generous method of old-age pensions, but it is not given to the veterans of labour. I can mention other instances where the landlords will benefit. They can borrow at 2¾ per cent., whereas the British Government cannot borrow at that. An Imperial Transvaal Loan was launched the other day at 3 per cent. Further, the legal costs of the landlords 1364 are to be paid for them; and their demesnes are to be first bought from them for golden sovereigns and then sold back to them and cleared at 3¼ per cent. for sixty-nine years, which will mean a considerable addition to many of their incomes. The Chief Secretary has proved himself to be a very charming highwayman. He has robbed us; but he has robbed us very nicely; and I think we might compare him to Claude Duval, the famous highwayman of old, who danced a minuet before his victims so well that they were almost pleased to be robbed; and I am not sure that the epitaph now on the tomb of Claude Duval might not also be applied to the Chief Secretary.Here lies Duval. Reader, if male thou art, Look to thy purse. If a female to thy heart.
§ MR. HERBERT ROBERTSON (Hackney, S.)
The hon. Gentleman who has just spoken has indulged in a comparison between Irish landlords and their tenants and English landlords and their tenants, Everyone knows, of course, that there is no comparison or no similarity possible; and I will not, therefore, waste the time of the House in discussing it. Then the hon. Gentleman said that the landlords were receiving too much, because the average number of years' purchase lately was only nineteen and a half years. But everyone knows that the object of introducing this Bill is—because the old system of purchase has failed, that sales have not taken place; and that it is desirable that sales should take place. It was admitted that the number of years purchase which the landlords was getting was not sufficient to induce them to sell; and accordingly this Bill has been introduced in order that they may be induced to sell. The hon. Gentleman sets himself up as the representative of the English constituencies. But the majority of the English people do not take the view the hon. Gentleman takes. I represent an English constituency; I have spoken both in my constituency and out of it on this Bill; and I hear from all parts of the country that no Bill has ever been introduced by the present Government which has been received with so much approval as this Bill. That is because it is believed that this measure is going to 1365 put an end to the land difficulty in Ireland; and the English people say that it is well worth while to do that. The hon. Gentleman overlooked the fact that England will save money by this transaction. He said the English Government were going to collect rents from the Irish tenants directly; but up to the present had they not been obliged by the necessity of being a Government to collect Irish rents. When an Irish landlord was unable to collect his rent, then the burden fell on the English people; and it will be much easier to collect this rent-charge from the Irish people than it has been to collect rent in the past. The reason is clear. The rent will be reduced; and the present tenants will be the fee-simple owners of the land. Surprise was expressed to-day at the action of the landlords with regard to the clauses relating to congested districts which were brought before the House. In the landlords' interests the reason we did not support these clauses was, not in the least because we did not desire to relieve the distress of these congested districts—that is our most earnest desire—but because we thought the particular clauses brought forward would not be a solution to our mind; and secondly, because we felt that this Bill is a tenants' Bill, and cannot be transformed into a Bill dealing with the congested districts. That applies also to the labourers. My hon. and learned friend the Member for Waterford regretted that more was not done with regard to the labourers. I feel that very strongly myself. I am brought into contact with labourers very much indeed; and I am very anxious to see a Bill passed which would improve their condition. But we feel that this is a tenants, Bill, and that it would be dangerous to mix up the labourers' interests with it. I have heard prophecies on both sides of the House as to the effect of this Bill as regards Home Rule. I do not think that that matter is in the least degree relevant. By this Bill we are getting rid of an existing evil; and what effect it will have on other propositions is not, to my mind, germane. I have been delighted to hear to-day from hon. Members opposite a repetition of what they have already said—that the leaders of opinion among the tenantry in Ireland will induce them to accept this Bill and to work it in a conciliatory spirit. On both sides doubt has 1366 been expressed as to whether the Bill will work. One side says it will not work because of the action of the landlord; and the other side says it will not work because of the action of the tenant. I think we may have no fear as to the action of either the landlords or the tenants. If I may appeal to the landlord party I would express my hope that they will do their very utmost to make this Bill a success; and I believe it is the earnest hope of every hon. Gentleman representing the Irish landlords that they should do all in their power to make the Bill a success and make it a source of prosperity to Ireland in the future.
§ *MR. CREMER (Shoreditch, Haggerston)
I do not take the same roseate view of this Bill as has been taken by many hon. Members who have spoken to-day, and, thank the hon. Member for the South Molton Division for having exposed many of the economic fallacies contained in the Bill. The pæans of praise sung this afternoon in connection with the Bill carry me back many years to Mr. Gladstone's Bill, with reference to which the same eulogistic language was used. We were then told that it was a final measure; that it would lead to conciliation in Ireland; and that the Irish tenant would be perfectly satisfied with the new order of things to be created, but ever since then the House of Commons has been discussing the Irish land question; and it is now admitted that Mr. Gladstone's Bill failed to accomplish its object, I venture to express the opinion that this Bill will land us in still further difficulties; and that the question of Irish land tenure will still be present with the House and the country for a long series of years. The grounds on which the hon. Member for the South Molton division opposed this Bill are not the grounds on which I oppose it. I oppose it because I am a believer in the principle of land nationalisation. I believe in the opinion which I heard John Stuart Mill express in the lobby of this House hirty years ago that the only equitable basis of land tenure rests in the land being the property of the State. That not only applies to the land, but to the minerals beneath the land as well. That has been my creed all my life so far as land tenure is concerned; and it is because this Bill extends the evils of the 1367 existing system of individual proprietorship that I feel bound to oppose it to the best of my small ability. What has happened? When the Bill was introduced I felt that, as a land nationaliser, though with some qualms of conscience, I was justified in voting for it on the ground that it proposed what every land nationaliser had for many years been contending for—viz., that the State had a right to use the funds of the nation for the purpose of buying out individual proprietors of land. The Bill also contained a still more important principle—viz., that the State should retain some hold on the land of the country by a perpetual rent charge, a very small one, I admit, but I felt that it recognised the right of the State to exercise some control over the ownership of land. That most vital principle was omitted at the instigation of the Irish Members, and from that moment the interest I took in this Bill vanished entirely, and I came to the conclusion that it was my duty as a land nationaliser to protest against it. Within the last twenty years the principle of land nationalisation has been growing enormously, and now we have incorporated in a Bill, brought in by a Tory Government, the principle for which land nationalisers have so long contended; but land nationalises are unable to understand why, when a right has once been conceded, it should be withdrawn as has been done in this Bill. If the Government had purchased and retained possession of the land the tenants of Ireland would have had the best guarantee that has ever been offered to them that they would never again be subjected to the system of landlordism under which they have so long groaned. The land being the property of the State, the State would have let it on equitable terms, and if it did not, then this House or an Irish Parliament would call the Government to book. This rent-charge, however, has disappeared at the instigation of the Irish Members. I therefore have no further interest whatever in this Bill, and if a division takes place—and I am only one of a handful of Members—I shall vote against it. You are going by this Bill to get rid of the big landlords, who have been called the great tyrants of Ireland, and in the place of every great tyrant you knock down you are going to raise a hundred 1368 small ones who will sweat, not only the land, but sweat the labourers, who will tell you if they are asked that they would sooner work for big landowners, because they are treated more like men, receive bettor wages, and not sweated as they are by small proprietors. For these reasons, and because I feel assured that the Bill is not a fiscal measure but merely palliative, and that the cupidity of some and the misfortunes of others of the small proprietors which it will create will in a few generations lead to a reproduction of the evils which it professes to remedy, and that the battle of Landlordism will have to be fought over again. I shall if it goes to a division vote against it.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Louth, N.)
If the hon. Member who has just sat down goes into the division lobby against this Bill he will vote against a Bill that, for the first time in the history of this House, does do something for the nationalisation of the land, because under it the mines and minerals are nationalised, and, instead of going to the proprietor of the soil, are vested in a Department of State, and so must go to benefiting the whole community. I would not, however, have risen but for a remark made by the hon. Member for South Molton, who has by comparison shown us the amount of gratitude he feels to a small body in this House. He made one remark, though perhaps he was not conscious of the amount of mischief it might do, with regard to two members of the Cabinet, Lord Londonderry and the Duke of Devonshire. They are two large proprietors in Ireland, and the example they set to their colleagues in the House of Lords and the landlords of Ireland may have a vital influence on the pacification of the country, and if, by taunts delivered against two particular members of the Cabinet as to the amount of gain they may derive from a measure of this kind, these two noble Lords are prevented from selling their estates at a fair price to their tenants, the result may have the effect of hanging up the purchase of land in Ireland for a great many years and keeping it in the hands of a few. Take the composition of the House of Lords—take men like the Duke of Leinster, 1369 the Duke of Abercorn, and Lord Londonderry; men owning large tracts of country who would naturally take their tone from those proprietors with whom we have never had a quarrel. Would it not be deplorable if, by means of taunts thrown in this House they were prevented from setting a good example and making it fashionable in Ireland for landlords to part with their estates. I only rise to protest against such remarks lest they should have any effect on those landlords who, I hope, will set a good example to their colleagues.
There is one other remark I would like to make. This is the first Bill in which the House of Lords will have a real opportunity of doing something to benefit the Irish people without hurting themselves. Some reference has been made to-day to the effect that this Bill may be in some jeopardy as to some of its provisions. I do not think so at all. I think this Bill, speaking generally, will pass the House of Lords, and that if there is any attempt made by the minor Irish landlords to affect its provisions I hope the great landlords will remember that the general body of tenants will look to them for an example. But there are a number of small matters in which the House of Lords, if they are wise, will move—small Amendments which the Government in this House have declined to accept mainly on the ground of want of time to discuss them; Amendments moved from these Benches on the subject of labourers' cottages and the making of roads and the like. For the first time, let them remember, this land is going to pass out of their hands into the hands of small peasant proprietors, and they will do a great service if they take up some of the Amendments we moved in this House, seeing that the Bill, so far as they are concerned, is to determine their connection with their Irish estates. The only other remark I have to make is this. The hon. Member for South Tyrone has said this Bill is defective with regard to its dealing with the Land Judge's Court. I would beg the Attorney-General to bear in mind what has been said by the Chief Secretary and the promise he gave us on the Report stage in regard to the Land Judge's Court. Many millions worth of land is at present impounded in the 1370 Land Court. The only complaint we have to make with regard to the Government is that, while we were allowed plenty of time to discuss this matter in Committee, there were a number of Amendments put down on Report which were considerably hurried over. I hope the Chief Secretary, amid the chorus of congratulations which has come upon him from unexpected quarters, will not forget the promises he made on the Report stage. We shall look very keenly after them when the Bill comes back from the House of Lords. The fact that no bonus is given in the Land Judge's Court will undoubtedly clog, to a great extent, the operation of the Bill, because the encumbrancers and owners now in the Land Judge's Court will take out their estates, and to that extent will congest the other Departments of State which have to deal with the question of Irish land purchase. That is the only other remark I rose for the purpose of making. It is hardly necessary for me, having regard to the general action I have taken on Bills of this kind, to add any further word. I associate myself to a great extent with the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Waterford. I think it was a wise and statesmanlike speech. The only risk is that, in the minds of the Irish tenants, there may be the idea that this Bill, as regards the land of Ireland as a whole, will come into something like immediate operation. I trust that no disappointment will be engendered by that idea. This question must take time. A system which it has taken 700 years to create will not be destroyed in a moment. However, I congratulate the House and ourselves that we have seen the reign of oppression passing before our eyes.
§ MR. LEAMY (Kildare, N.)
There are two points on which I wish to say a word—viz., the Congested Districts Board and the labourers. The hon. Member for South Tyrone said that this Bill was accomplishing a revolution. Yes, it is undoing to a large extent the evils of past confiscation in Ireland, and, that being so, I think it is to be regretted that the province which offered refuge to men of the old race and creed of all the other provinces, is the one least likely to benefit by this Bill. The Congested Districts Board has done good work, and it will certainly do 1371 better work in the future, but the Connaught problem cannot be dealt with by the Board with its present powers. That problem is a part of the great land question, but it requires special treatment. It was described in a sentence a few years ago by the present Archbishop of Tuam, when he said that in certain districts there were tracts of territory, which, if broken up into tillage, would produce enough to feed the entire peasant population of Connaught. As long as that is the case, as long as that vast territory is given over to cattle and sheep, so long you will have agrarian trouble in Ireland, and it will be impossible to say that peace reigns. I hope, therefore, the Chief Secretary will be able to give us a further measure dealing with this question. Connaught may be sure that the other provinces will stand by her. It would be a cruel and ungenerous thing if they did not. It was in Connaught the land agitation sprang up. The land war began and has continued in Connaught, and the other provinces will never forget what they owe to her. With regard to the labourers' question, I think, on the whole, it is better to have the promise of the Chief Secretary than to attempt merely to tinker with the question by some trifling Amendments in the present Bill. We have seen what the Chief Secretary is capable of doing; we recognise his sincerity and ability; and we admit that this Bill is a great attempt to settle a very difficult question. That being so, I think we can have full confidence that the Bill he has promised will not be a peddling measure, but an honest attempt to deal with what also is a very great question. It is in the interests of the entire community that the question should be thoroughly dealt with. The labourers are being driven from the country, and they can only be kept at home by inducements which they have not hitherto received. Everybody who has been associated with the land war for the last twenty years knows how loyally the labourers have stood by the farmers They were the backbone of the agitation, and I hope the result of this promise will be a measure which will satisfy the cravings of the Irish labourer to have a decent home and a plot of 1372 land on which he can live with credit and honour in his own country.
§ MR. NORMAN (Wolverhampton, S.)
I think it peculiarly appropriate, even in the eleventh hour, that a small expression of regret should come from these Benches. The Prime Minister said that, although he hoped this Bill would go along way towards settling the agrarian question in Ireland, he fully realised that what he called the political question would still remain. I was much struck with that remark, because for many years past we have been told by the Party opposite that once the agrarian question was settled the political question would be settled. Everybody on this side of the House, I think, agrees with the Prime Minister that the political question will not be settled by this Bill, and it is on that point that my little protest arises. The Bill as originally presented to the Cabinet, if we are well informed, would have gone a long way towards settling this agrarian question in Ireland. It was drafted by a distinguished administrator, I suppose one might safely say with that purpose largely in his mind, but unfortunately his advice was not taken. Perhaps, to avoid misconception, I ought to say that in referring to Sir A. Macdonnell, I do so entirely without his knowledge; I do not know him in any way; I have never seen him; I have never had any communication, directly or indirectly, with him, except that he once wrote me a letter protesting against my having mentioned his name in print as the technical author of this Bill. I believe it is a fact that the Bill as orginally presented to the Cabinet went a considerable distance towards giving Irish local authorities the powers which many of us on these Benches had for a long time desired to give them. The Bill—I am open to correction, of course—placed at the disposal of the Irish local authorities a very large sum of money—more than this grant of £12,000,000—
§ MR. NORMAN
I may be mis-stating the form of words, but my point is—though, of course, I have not seen the Bill as originally drafted—that there were considerable powers given to the Irish local authorities in connection with 1373 finance, and it was in consequence of that that there were determined cries of alarm about Home Rule raised which were immediately repudiated on behalf of the Government, My regret is that from the Bill as it reached this House those powers had disappeared.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I think the hon. Gentleman is labouring under a great error. He seems to suppose that in one draft of the Bill as presented to the Cabinet there was some element of provincial government approaching to Home Rule. There was nothing of the kind contemplated at any stage of the Bill.
§ MR. NORMAN
I cannot have made myself at all clear. I had nothing like provincial Home Rule in my mind. What I tried to say, and what is in my mind, is that certain powers were given to Irish local authorities which do not appear in the Bill as it is about to pass this House. I have been a believer in the principle of land purchase for a much longer period than His Majesty's Government; I supported this Bill on its First and Second Readings, and if there were a division now I should support it again, because I believe it will remove many great and grievous evils in Ireland. But I do not believe it will settle anything except the affairs of those landlords and tenants who come immediately under its operation. The other and greater question remains, and the germ of the solution of that greater question, which I believe was to be found in the original Bill—
§ MR. NORMAN
Well then, the germ of the settlement of that greater question could perfectly well have been put in this Bill. If that had been done, the scope of the measure would have been infinitely greater, and it would have been much more heartily welcomed and enthusiastically supported by the friends of Ireland on this side of the House, among whom I hope I may be counted. That not having been done now, it will 1374 have to be done at some future time, and my expression of regret is that so splendid an opportunity has been lost.
§ MR. LOUGH (Islington, W.)
As one who is deeply interested in Ireland, I desire to express my sense of the great value of the Bill as it now stands. It is not sufficiently remembered on this side of the House that, to the Prime Minister's credit, this is the last of a series of great measures—the Land Bill of 1896, the Local Government Act of 1898, the Technical Instruction and Agricultural Board Act of 1899, and the present Bill. This Bill goes a great deal farther than any previous measure of its kind. I think a word of praise is also due to the Opposition. The present situation has been described as a peaceful, bloodless revolution, but the absence of blood is accounted for by the fact that the Opposition supported the Government very loyally, and strained a good deal in supporting this Bill. I do not think the attitude of the Opposition ought to be forgotten. The Leader of the Opposition has adopted a very good example with regard to these deflates, and I am sure we must all be obliged to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Berwick for the excellent speeches they made upon this Bill. A new feature has been illustrated by the passage of this Bill, and it is that the two great political Parties have ceased to make Ireland the battleground for their political differences. We have had no obstruction on the part of the Opposition; on the contrary, every Member of it has tried to help the Government, although some of us think this Bill is far from perfect. That memory makes me recall the fact that Liberal Governments were not helped in the same way when they tried to pass remedial measures for Ireland, and in particular a measure like this. Seventeen years ago a Bill containing the same principle was introduced by Mr. Gladstone, and if the Opposition had then given the same support as that which has been extended to this Bill seventeen years of suffering in Ireland would have been saved, and the landlords would have got just the same price for their land. Those seventeen years have seen 700,000 people driven out of Ireland, and all this 1375 Bill can do will not be able to recall those people. After one hundred years of misgovernment and maltreatment another spirit has intervened, and the Opposition have learned something of their responsibility as well as the Government. Whenever the Irish Party take charge of a matter like this they do it in a picturesque way, and it is remarkable that during the Committee stage of this Bill very few divisions have taken place. I think we might take a lesson from the Irish Members in this respect, and if we divide less and debate more it would be much better. What is the good of the physical labour of walking through the division lobby? By devoting themselves to an intelligent discussion of this question the Irish representatives have set British Members an example which I hope will not be entirely thrown away.
With regard to all that has been said about the British taxpayer, I regard that as something that we might have expected, but as something which we could have done just as well without. For many years the British taxpayer has dominated the whole situation with regard to Ireland, but after learning lessons from history a change has come over the House of Commons, and hon. Members have now been persuaded that the British Government financially have been
§ very unjust to Ireland in the past. At the same time this country has not ceased to make exactions from Ireland. A great deal has been said about this £12,000,000 dealt with in this Bill, but the taxes of Ireland have been increased so much of late years that this sum might very well be forgotten. There is now a disposition to do something for Ireland besides exacting taxation from that country. I am aware that the Bill itself will not cure all the evils of Ireland. It will be very slow in its operation. I claim that it is the Irish Members who have managed this Bill and carried it to a successful conclusion, and if all the great affairs of the country are dealt with in the same way, and if both Parties will observe the same reticence, then we shall be able to restore prosperity to Ireland.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I have a Command from the King to acquaint the House that His Majesty having been informed of the purport of this Bill, places his interest at the disposal of Parliament.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 317; Noes, 20. Division List No. 175.)1379
|Abraham, W. (Cork, N. E.)||Burt, Thomas||Crean, Eugene|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Butcher, John George||Cripps, Charles Alfred|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Caldwell, James||Crombie, John William|
|Allhusen, Aug. Henry Eden||Cameron, Robert||Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Campbell, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Glasgow||Cross, H. Shepherd (Bolton)|
|Arrol, Sir William||Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Crossley, Rt. Hon. Sir Savile|
|Asher, Alexander||Carson, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward H.||Cullinan, J.|
|Atkinson, Right Hon. John||Carvill, Patrick Geo. Hamilton||Cust, Henry John C.|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy||Causton, Richard Knight||Dalrymple, Sir Charles|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbysh.)||Davenport, William Bromley-|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Cayzer, Sir Charles William||Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)|
|Baird, John George Alexander||Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Delany, William|
|Balcarres, Lord||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. (Birm||Denny, Colonel|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Man'r||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Worc||Devlin, Chas. Ramsay (Galway)|
|Balfour, Capt. C. B. (Hornsey||Chapman, Edward||Devlin, Joseph (Kilkenny, N.)|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. Gerald W. (Leeds||Charrington, Spencer||Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh.)|
|Balfour, Kenneth R. (Christch.||Churchill, Winston Spencer||Dewar, Sir T. R. (Tr. Haml'ts|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Clancy, John Joseph||Dickson, Charles Scott|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Dillon, John|
|Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.||Coddington, Sir William||Dimsdale, Rt. Hn. Sir Joseph C.|
|Bignold, Arthur||Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Donelan, Captain A.|
|Bill, Charles||Collings, Right Hon. Jesse||Doogan, P. C.|
|Blake, Edward||Colomb, Sir John Chas. Ready||Doughty, George|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Colston, Chas. Edw H. Athole||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Condon, Thomas Joseph||Duffy, William J.|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge||Duncan, J. Hastings|
|Brotherton, Edward Allen||Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.||Dunn, Sir William|
|Bull, William James||Craig, Robert Hunter (Lanark||Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin|
|Burke, E. Haviland||Cranborne, Viscount||Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas|
|Esmonde, Sir Thomas||King, Sir Henry Seymour||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Evans, Saml. T. (Glamorgan)||Langley, Batty||Purvis, Robert|
|Fardell, Sir T. George||Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow)||Ratcliff, R. F.|
|Farquharson, Dr. Robert||Law, H. Alex. (Donegal, W.)||Reddy, M.|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Lawrence, Sir Jos. (Monm'th)||Redmond, Jn. E. (Waterford)|
|Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward||Lawrence, John Grant (Yorks, N. R.||Redmond, William (Clare)|
|Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Manc'r||Leamy, Edmund||Reid, James (Greenock)|
|Ffrench, Peter||Lee, A. H. (Hants, Fareham)||Reid, Sir R. Threshie (Dumfries|
|Field, William||Leese, Sir Jos. F. (Accrington)||Renshaw, Sir Charles Bine|
|Finch, Rt. Hon. George H.||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage||Renwick, George|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Levy, Maurice||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Lewis, John Herbert||Rigg, Richard|
|Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmund||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. C. Thomson|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Long, Rt, Hn. W. (Bristol, S.)||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Flynn, James Christopher||Lough, Thomas||Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)|
|Forster, Henry William||Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsmouth||Robertson, H. (Hackney)|
|Foster, P. S. (Warwick, S. W.||Lundon, W.||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Fuller, J. M. F.||Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred||Rolleston, Sir John F. L.|
|Galloway, William Johnson||Macdona, John Cumming||Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert|
|Gardner, Ernest||MacIver, David (Liverpool)||Round, Rt. Hon. James|
|Garfit, William||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.|
|Gibbs, Hn. Vicary (St. Albans||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert J.||Maconochie, A. W.||Russell, T. W.|
|Godson, Sir Augustus Frederick||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Rutherford, John (Lancashire)|
|Gordon, Hn. J. E. (Elgin and N'rn||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-|
|Gore, Hn. G. R. C. Ormsby-Salop.||M'Iver, Sir Lewis (Edinb'rgh W.)||Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander|
|Gore, Hon. S. F. Ormsby- (Linc.||M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire)||Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)|
|Goschen, Hon. Geo. Joachim||M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North)||Samuel, Herbt. L. (Cleveland)|
|Goulding, Edward Alfred||Martin, Richand Biddulph||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert|
|Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Maxwell, Rt. Hn. Sir H. E. (Wigt'n||Saunderson, Rt. Hn. Col. E. J.|
|Greene, Henry D. (Shrewsbury)||Melville, Beresford Valentine||Schwann, Charles E.|
|Greene, W. Raymond (Cambs||Milvain, Thomas||Seely, Chas. Hilton (Lincoln)|
|Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir E. (Berwick)||Montagu, Hn. J. Scott (Hants.)||Seely, Maj. J. E. B. (Isle of Wight|
|Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill||Moon, Edward Robert Pacy||Seton-Karr. Sir Henry|
|Gunter, Sir Robert||Mooney, John J.||Shackleton, David James|
|Hain, Edward||Morrell, George Herbert||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||Morton, Arthur H. Aylmer||Shaw, Charles E. (Stafford)|
|Hall, Edward Marshall||Mowbray, Sir Robert. Gray C.||Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew)|
|Halsey, Rt. Hon. Thomas F.||Murphy, John||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Hamilton, Rt. Hn. Lord G. (Midd'x.||Murray, Rt. Hn. A. Graham (Bute||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Hamilton, Marq. of (L'ndn'de'ry||Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)|
|Hammond, John||Myers, William Henry||Skewes-Cox, Thomas|
|Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashf'd||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Sloan, Thomas Henry|
|Harwood, George||Nolan, Col. John P. (Galway, N.||Smith, Jas. Parker (Lanarks.)|
|Haslam, Sir Alfred S.||Nolan, Joseph (Louth, S.)||Smith, Hn. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Hatch, Ernest Frederick Geo.||Norman, Henry||Spear John Ward|
|Hay, Hon. Claude George||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)||Stanley, Edw. Jas. (Somerset)|
|Hayden, John Patrick||O'Brien, K. (Tipperary, Mid)||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Healy, Timothy Michael||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir Jn. M.|
|Heath, Arthur H. (Hanley)||O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Heath, James (Staffords, N. W.)||O'Brien. William (Cork)||Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier|
|Helder, Augustus||O'Connor, Jas. (Wicklow, W.)||Sullivan, Donal|
|Hobhouse, Rt. Hn. H. (Somerset, E.||O'Connor. T. P. (Liverpool)||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Hope, John Deans (Fife, West)||O'Donnell, John (Mayo. S.)||Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Oxf'd Univ|
|Horner, Frederick William||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)||Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)|
|Horniman, Frederick John||O'Dowd, John||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Hoult, Joseph||O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)||Thomas, A. (Carmarthen, E.)|
|Howard, Jno (Kent, Faver'hm||O'Kelly, J. (Roscommon, N.)||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Hudson, George Bickersteth||O'Malley, William||Tomkinson, James|
|Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C.||O'Mara, James||Tomlinson, Sir Wm. E. M.|
|Hutchinson, Dr. Charles Fredk.||Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay||Toulmin, George|
|Jacoby, James Alfred||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Jeffreys, Rt. Hn. Arthur Fred||O'Shee, James John||Ure, Alexander|
|Jessel, Capt. Herbert Merton||Palmer, Sir C. M. (Durham)||Valentia, Viscount|
|Jones, David B. (Swansea)||Palmer, Walter (Salisbury)||Walrond, Rt. Hon. Sir William H.|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonsh.)||Parkes, Ebenezer||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Joyce, Michael||Partington, Oswald||Wason, E. (Clackmannan)|
|Kearley, Hudson E.||Paulton, James Mellor||Wagon, J. Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Kemp, Lieut.-Colonel George||Peel, Hn. Wm. Robert Wellesley||Webb, Colonel William George|
|Kennedy, Patrick James||Pemberton, John S. G.||Welby, Lt.-Col. A. C. E. (Taunton|
|Kenyon, Hon. G. T. (Denbigh||Percy, Earl||Whiteley, H. (Ashton-u.-Lyne)|
|Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W. (Salop||Pilkington, Colonel Richard||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Kerr, John||Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Wilson, A. S. (York, E. R.)|
|Kilbride, Denis||Power, Patrick Joseph||Wilson, H. J. (York, W. R.)|
|Wilson, John (Falkirk)||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Wilson-Todd, W. H. (Yorks.)||Wylie, Alexander||Sir Alexander Acland-|
|Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath||Yerburgh, Robt. Armstrong||Hood and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Worsley-Taylor, Henry Wilson||Young, Samuel|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Lambert, George||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cornwall)||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Markham, Arthur Basil||Thorburn, Sir Walter|
|Dixon-Hartland, Sir F. Dixon||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Wilson, Chas. H. (Hull, W.)|
|Elibank, Master of||Moulton, John Fletcher|
|Gretton, John||Philipps, John Wynford||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||Priestley, Arthur||Mr. Cremer and Mr.|
|Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale-||Robson, William Snowdon||Pirie.|