§ Considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ [Mr. J. W. LOWTHER (Cumberland, Penrith) in the Chair.]
§ Clause 1:—
In page 1, line 15, to leave out from the word 'advance,' to the end of Sub-section (2), and insert the words 'provided that the purchase annuity payable under this Act will be, in the case of the purchase of a holding, subject to a judicial rent fixed or agreed to since the passing of the Act of 1896, not less than 15 per cent. below the existing rent, and, in the case of the purchase of a holding subject to a judicial rent fixed before that date or of a holding which is not subject to a judicial rent but the tenancy in which is one to which in the opinion of the Land Commission the Land Purchase Acts apply, not less than 25 per cent. below the existing rent.'"—(Mr. John Redmond.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out, to the word 'or,' in line 18, stand part of the clause."
§ MR. HARRINGTON
, continuing his speech, said he desired to point out the value they attached to this Amendment was really in the question whether this Amendment was to be accepted by the Government in the spirit of the Land Conference Report or not. There could be no doubt that under the Bill the landlords had got the most generous terms they could have hoped for. It had been suggested that the Nationalist Party had retired from the position it had taken up, in respect to this arrangement. The hon. and learned Member for North Louth had stated that the first suggestion he saw as to the question of zones was in the Land Conference Report. It might be true that the Land Conference Report might be so interpreted, but there was no suggestion in the Land Conference Report as to the treatment of this subject by zones. It might be said that the expression "equivalent to second-term rents" meant that they were to be treated in some form or other, but this form of zones was not in the mind of the Conference when they adopted the Report. 1126 The Conference recommended an immediate reduction within the limits of 15 per cent. and 25 per cent. That was not the position taken up by the Government in the Bill; the ultimate and final reduction adopted in the Bill was not the reduction advocated in the Conference Report. An attempt was now being made to tie them down to the words of the Conference Report. They were accused of departing from the recommendations of the Conference, but the Government had not adopted the Conference Report. If they had, the Nationalist Party would have stood by it. The hon. Member for North Louth had stated that the Land Conference had been trapped by certain promises made by the Government. That was not their difficulty at all. Their difficulty was that they had no suggestion of any kind from the Government. These recommendations were made by the Land Conference because they desired to go as far as they could and offer as generous terms as they could to the landlords, and they were made without the slightest knowledge of what financial assistance the Government would give them. In the Land Conference Report it was stated that the landlords should get a sum equal to 90 per cent. of their income. Only 10 per cent. was to be deducted from the landlord's income where the cost of collection had been incurred. Mr. Gladstone in 1886 deducted 20 per cent., and that was before the Conference when this 10 per cent. was fixed. But to fix that deduction, as it had been fixed in this clause, as the minimum price was quite a ifferent matter.
When the landlord collected his income, in no single case could he get all his rent, even though second-term rents had been fixed. In nearly every case there were arrears which the landlord could not recover, and there had been many cases where the landlord not only could not recover, but where he had had to come forward to assist his poor tenants, and when they were deducting this 10 per cent. from the nominal income in order to arrive at the real income, they were taking off a percentage which still left the income at a higher figure than that which the landlord obtained. That also was a matter that should be taken into consideration in fixing the minimum price. The result of 1127 all the agreement they had had in Ireland as the result of the Conference, and the better feeling produced in Ireland, amounted to this, that the landlord who sold now could get a payment in ready cash, where before he was paid in land stock, which was variable, and therefore involved risk; the landlord now got his money immediately, in addition to which he was relieved of all the expense of proving a title for the purposes of sale; and he got a bonus of two, or three, or four years purchase from the State. Having got all that, it was now suggested that they were to enhance the price the tenant had to pay by clapping on a further four years to the purchase price. What the Conference had to do was to devise a plan to induce the landlords to sell, but if that plan was taken up by the Government, and worked in such a way as to afford no inducement to the tenant to buy, the whole of the labour of the Conference would be thrown away. The matter had hitherto been discussed from the point of view of the State as a whole, but the landlord in selling would have to take the position of his tenants into consideration. There were some tenants of land on which was no house, who would have to build their house to hold possession of the land, and the positions of the tenants generally were very varied. The position the Government took up was that even if a landlord, having the consent of all the encumbrancers, agreed to sell on terms which he and his tenant considered fair, he was not able to do so. What was the object of all this? It had been suggested it was to prevent pressure being brought to bear on the landlord to sell at a low price. Why should such pressure be brought to bear on a landlord? There never had been pressure in a single instance. The danger was that the tenants would be so eager to buy when they could get even the slightest relief from the rent, that they would not consider their position, and would be too likely to take an obligation upon themselves which they could not fulfil to the advantage of the country or the State. The Nationalist Party were anxious that that should not take place. The tenants who had purchased hitherto had carried out their obligations with strict punctuality, and they were anxious to maintain that character for the people of Ireland and to show them that the 1128 obligations they took over should not be such as would make it impossible for them to be able to fulfil them.
The effect of fixing this minimum price would be to prevent the landlord dealing at all, though everybody concerned was agreed, with a tenant who did not undertake to pay the so-called minimum price. What was the reason of this? It could not be to assist the landlords to sell. It could only be the result of the persistent obstinacy of a certain class of the landlords who had never accepted the Conference Report in a good spirit, and who were never ready to sell. If they were thrown back on the Report, then the bonus (and this they had never demanded although there was nothing in the Report giving the whole of the bonus to the landlords) should be fairly proportioned between the landlords and the tenants to make it easier for both. They had not demanded that because they were extremely anxious that the tenants should buy, and they were desirous to make it easy for them to buy, but they were not anxious that the tenants should undertake obligations they could not fulfil. Under the Chief Secretary's proposals for the expediting of sales under the Land Purchase Acts, there was no necessity to adopt this minimum price. If it was the desire to keep up artificial prices of land, then the danger before the right hon. Gentleman was that it immediately invited opposition from the tenants. They had looked to this Bill with a desire to settle the land question, and put an end to long continued agitation, and had regarded it as a stepping-stone to a further gift for the people, but if they should again welcome or wish for a renewal of the agitation there could be nothing better for the purpose than for the right hon. Gentleman to hold by the minimum price.
§ MR. T. L. CORBETT (Down, N.)
joined earnestly in the appeal to the Government to make some concession upon this Amendment at this very critical point in the history of the Bill. Every well-wisher to Ireland regarded this Bill as a message of peace, and hoped it would pass through the House as quickly as possible, in order that the miserable land war in Ireland might be speedily terminated. There would be no use in the measure passing, however, unless it had 1129 the assent of all classes, because otherwise it would not work. The landlords and tenants of Ireland, and, he believed, the English and Scottish Unionist Members, would hardly be asked to assent to its passage through the House, unless it was believed to be a means towards a final settlement of the land question in Ireland. He believed the opinions of the landlords as to the effect of the Amendment had been greatly exaggerated. As representing a large number of tenant farmers in Ireland, he appealed to the Government to make some concession that would satisfy the great mass of tenants in Ireland, and lead to a peaceful solution and the fulfilment of the hopes that had been kindled during the past three weeks. If the Government could not go the whole way desired by the Irish Members they might go back to the figures accepted at the Dublin Conference, where the representative landlords met the representative tenants and agreed to figures representing the maximum and minimum prices, and might accept those figures as a basis of settlement.
§ MR. CLANCY (Dublin Co., North)
said the first point raised by the Amendment was whether the minimum reduction should be 10 per cent. or 15 per cent. That was a very important question, but not so important or so vital as that raised by the Amendment, as to whether or not the minimum price should be retained in the Bill. He thought the Chief Secretary had failed to grasp the gravity of the question that he had raised by this refusal to accept the Amendment, because the reasons given by the right hon. Gentleman were, in his opinion, not at all adequate to the occasion. The Chief Secretary had not alluded to the fact that the less the tenant paid for his land the greater was the certainty that he would repay the money lent to him. This was a voluntary Bill, and primâ facie all the arrangements made in regard to it ought to be of a voluntary character. The only reason for putting in a maximum price was to secure the State, and that object having been achieved, there was no reason for preventing any arrangement which the landlords and tenants might arrive at. Surely the onus of proof that they were not just arrangements laid upon those who 1130 opposed them. Then the Chief Secretary had said that if the minimum price was not maintained the remainder man, the chargeant, and the mortgagee might be cheated in a wholesale manner. But the Government themselves did not display a very tender regard under the Bill for the interests of the remainder man, the chargeant, or the mortgagee. These might be cheated by the arrangements to be made within the limits of the Bill. It might happen that if the landlord did not get the maximum price for his land he might cheat the remainder man, and he might cheat his mortagees and the chargeant also. Then if he went on and agreed with the tenants to sell at the maximum reduction, he might at once deprive the remainder man, the mortgagee, and the chargeant of what they would otherwise have received. It was obvious that as much harm might be done by dealing within the limit as if the minimum price were swept away altogether. As a matter of fact, a man might be so heavily encumbered that if he did not get the maximum price there would be nothing left for the remainder man and the others. What nonsense it was to think that in the case of improvident or roguish bargains by the landlord in order to get his bonus, the mortgagees would avail themselves of the power to put the property in the Land Judges Court, and come out of Court with nothing at all.
Then the Chief Secretary had said that different prices might be paid for estates in the same localities. Had not that been done ever since the first Land Purchase Act was passed in 1835, and long before that? But if it had never before taken place might not different prices be paid under this Bill? One landlord might sell at the maximum and another at the minimum price, although they were in the same town-land, and if the dreadful consequences followed that had been imagined by the Chief Secretary, they would arise in that case equally as in the cases imagined by the right hon. Gentleman. He could understand a proposal which was not of vital importance being met by the right hon. Gentleman in this way, but after the repeated warnings given to the Chief Secretary he really 1131 could not understand his position. In speaking strongly on this matter the Irish Members were not actuated by any desire for obstruction. Their object was to ensure that the Bill should be a satisfactory settlement of the question, and for that purpose they considered it essential that this point should be satisfactorily settled. In conclusion, he would counsel the right hon. Gentleman to beware of certain advisers. It was unfortunate that some counter attraction had prevented more English Members and more Members of the Government from being present at the debate. He was afraid that the Chief Secretary was not very cordially backed up by those who were sitting next him at that moment, and it was only too true that the Solicitor-General for England had promised nothing more than a minimum support to the Bill. He could not forget that the Solicitor-General for Ireland had irrevocably pledged himself against the abolition of the minimum price, and for the reason which the Chief Secretary had not only never advanced but had thrown overboard—viz., the ridiculous pretence that pressure would induce the landlords to sell at improvident prices. He believed that the landlords would not sell unless they got what they considered to be a sufficient price. He was disposed to think that the Solicitor-General for Ireland committed himself to that declaration before he knew what was likely to be the opinion of the House of Commons, and he greatly doubted if the hon. and learned Gentleman would speak in the same sense now as he spoke in Dublin when he committed himself to an indefinite struggle against the abolition of the minimum price. There was no pretence in the world for thinking that the landlords of Ireland could be induced by pressure to sell at improvident prices. They would sell at the highest prices they could get, and in his opinion they would be well paid if they sold even at the minimum price fixed by the Bill, as they would be getting five years purchase more than they would get under the present system. He could not believe that the reasons advanced for opposing the Amendment were the real reasons, and he submitted that the question at issue ought not to be allowed to be 1132 determined by such subordinate Members of the Government as the two law officers.
§ MR. SAMUEL YOUNG (Cavan, E.)
said that, speaking as a Home Ruler connected with the land and as a landlord—a somewhat unique position for one sitting on those benches—he was bound to confess that he thought this minimum limit was a very disadvantageous provision. For some years past, owing to the death of his brother, he had been possessed of considerable landed property in Armagh, and it was his experience in connection with it that led him to condemn this proposal, because he feared that the effect would be that all farms, large and small, bad and good, would be treated on exactly the same principle. Poor and indifferent land would be sold at the same price as good land, and those who knew anything about the matter were well aware that bad land required a good deal more labour and expense to deal with it, while it produced much smaller crops, than rich land. As a rule, poor land was very much over-rented, while good land, in his opinion, was in many cases under-rented. The limitations proposed by this Bill would, in his opinion, greatly interfere with the free intercourse which there should be between landowners and tenants, and he would therefore like to see them wiped away and a free market provided for; otherwise the material success and smooth working of the Bill would be seriously prejudiced. He trusted that, even at the eleventh hour, the Chief Secretary would see his way to making some concession on the point.
§ MR. FLYNN (Cork, N.)
hoped that the Chief Secretary would consider the new argument which had just been addressed to him by the last speaker, who had pointed out that it would be impossible for a landlord, under the Bill, to deal with the poorer classes of tenants. The hon. Member for Tyrone, on the preceding night, asked a significant question—he inquired from what quarter of the House the demand came for the retention of that absurd minimum price? No reply had yet been given by the Government to that question, but it had been suggested that it came from only one representative from Ireland, the right hon. and gallant 1133 Gentleman the Member for North Armagh. It certainly did not come from Ulster, Munster, Connaught, or Leinster. It came from Yarmouth, Hackney, Bradford, and York. Hon. Gentlemen, who did not represent Irish land or Irish tenants, had made the demand on behalf of Irish landlords, whose views they professed to represent on that occasion. After two days' consecutive debate, in which all sections of Irish politics had been represented, and in which representatives of Irish opinion, both Unionist and Nationalist, had spoken the unanimous voice of Ireland, they found themselves in the humiliating position of seeing an important point decided, not as they wished, but as proposed by the Members for York and Hackney and other centres of enlightenment. There were unseen influences at work from various quarters. They knew very well what had been the declarations of the Solicitor-General for England and of the Solicitor-General for Ireland with regard to that particular question. The Solicitor-General for England had declared that he would only give the Bill the minimum of support. He supposed that that would also involve the minimum price.
§ MR. FLYNN
said hon. Members were apt to fall into error in the use of those convertible terms, "minimum" and "maximum," and he took it himself that what the Solicitor-General for England proposed was to give the Bill the minimum of support, and, at the same time, to give the maximum of support to the absurd minimum price. It was clear the sections of Irish opinion, representing not only the tenants but also a large body of the landlords, had declared against the retention of the minimum price, and, so far, no adequate reason had been given for adhering to the proposal. The right hon. Gentleman simply sat tight in his place, and when, just before the dinner-hour, they thought he would address himself to the question of zones and limits, they were, instead, treated to a dissertation on excluded tenants, town tenants, demesne lands, and other questions dealt with 1134 in other parts of the Bill, but having nothing whatever to do with the Amendment before the Committee. This was said to be a voluntary Bill, and the use of the word "compulsion" was tabooed. Suppose for the word "compulsion" they substituted the word "finality." Did they expect finality, or anything approaching finality, under the Bill? If it became law, and if the tenants realised that the views of their representatives in Parliament had been absolutely set at naught in favour of representations coming from York, Hackney, and Yarmouth, were they likely to accept it as a final settlement of the question? Unquestionably there was a certain amount of indirect compulsion in the Bill—indirect compulsion on the poorer tenants to buy. When they talked about the poorer tenants they did not confine themselves exclusively to those who held holdings of under £4 or £5. There were a large number of small, struggling, industrious tenants, whose valuations ran up even to £30, who would be compelled to pay the same rate of purchase for poor and impoverished land as was demanded of the tenants of the larger and better farms on the same estate.
The right hon. Gentleman, who, apparently, at present had no settled convictions, had spoken of the tenant as the spoilt child of the Legislature. He ventured to say that, under this particular Bill, the landlord was the spoilt child, for not only was he to get every penny of the bonus, but he was also to be allowed to get as much as he could extract from the tenants over and above the market value of the land. He would like to know on what ground it could be alleged that estates which were sold as lately as 1901 at fifteen, sixteen, or seventeen years purchase, without compulsion, were in this year of grace to be sold for from twenty-two to twenty-eight years purchase, plus a four years bonus. He saw from the Returns which had been presented to Parliament that a considerable number of estates were sold in the county of Cork during the year ending the 31st March, 1901. They had been often told that the operation of the Land Purchase Acts had been brought almost to a dead stop, because, in the first place, the richer class of landlords, who could afford to part with their land, had already 1135 done so, and, secondly, because the value of the land stock had fallen considerably. The Returns for 1901 certainly did not bear out the former argument, as many rich landlords sold in that year. With regard to the latter argument, he had worked out the figures, and he found that a landlord who received a net rental of £1,000 a year, would receive under this Bill 70 per cent. more than he would have received had he sold in 1901 under the Ashbourne Acts. Why, then, should the Government stick to this limit? One would think there was some sacrosanct character attached to judicial and semi-judicial rents, and that the tenant was getting some enormous boon in connection with them. After all, what was a judicial rent? It was a reduced rent fixed by a judicial tribunal; and it was practically a reduction of the rack rent which had been hitherto levied on tenants' improvements. When they heard of the hardship of landlords having to submit to a reduction of 20 per cent. they should bear in mind that this was only a partial restitution to the tenant of property which had been created by him or by his predecessors in title, and the reduction did not represent any great degree of generosity. Too often it was only bare justice. A remarkable fact in connection with the second-term rents had not been mentioned, viz., that the earlier batch of second-term rents, were rents which had been fixed at the expiration of the fifteen years term from the earlier first judicial rents, which it had been acknowledged were fixed, not upon a fair basis at all, but in the hope that times would improve. Some of the reductions approximated to 18 or 20 per cent., but on the rents which had come in lately, forming the bulk of the first-term rents, the percentage of reduction had diminished, and in some cases the rents had even been increased. Consequently the zone of prices required to be recast altogether, and to fix any rigid and unalterable limits was to close one's eyes to facts as they at present existed in Ireland. He appealed to the right hon. Gentleman not to shut his eyes and ears to the 1136 demand which had come from all quarters of the Committee for the abolition of this minimum price.
§ MR. HERBERT ROBERTSON (Hackney, S.)
said nothing had surprised him more than the astonishment which had been expressed on the other side of the House at the establishment of these zones. So far from their having been the invention of the Government, as the hon. Member for the Harbour Division of Dublin appeared to suggest, they were distinctly the result of the Land Conference, and the Government had simply carried out the principle of that Report, that there should be two zones, one for rents fixed before, and another for rents fixed after 1896. The reason 30 per cent. had been selected was as plain as possible. The Conference Report had suggested a minimum reduction of 15 per cent. and a maximum reduction of 25 per cent., but the Chief Secretary, desiring to enlarge the limits, added 5 per cent. at each end, so that the 15 per cent. minimum became 10 per cent. and the 25 per cent. maximum became 30 per cent. It was alleged to be absurd to fix any maximum reduction. He failed to see how any of the Gentlemen who signed the Conference Report could say that, because they themselves declared there ought to be a maximum reduction. The arguments of the Chief Secretary had been in the interest, not of the landlords, but of the smooth working of the Bill. The remainder-man was undoubtedly protected by the maximum reduction being fixed, and it would also minimise the capacity of the tenant for life to cheat, if he had any such desire. As to the suggestion that the abolition of the limitation would increase the security of the British taxpayer, in one sense that was so, but he would point out that if a man lent money for which the security was sufficient, there was no reason whatever for asking for more. Under the limits proposed the taxpayer had ample security, and the security 1137 would no be much increased by simply reducing the amount of the advance made upon it. All desired to settle the matter amicably if possible, and the Chief Secretary had expressed his willingness to enter into some compromise, but no special grievance had been pointed out. Surely it was possible to point out the particular classes of tenants that would be adversely affected by the Bill. The Chief Secretary having expressed his willingness to consider any cases of hardship that could be brought before him, he suggested that hon. Members opposite ought to accept the clause as it stood, and rely upon the promise of the Chief Secretary to endeavour to meet such cases.
§ MR. KILBRIDE
said that since the Amendment was moved the Committee had had the benefit of two or three speeches from the Chief Secretary, but he was bound to say that the right hon. Gentleman had done neither himself nor the Committee justice. None was more capable of making a good case for himself than the right hon. Gentleman, but a lamer excuse than that which he had put forward for the retention of this proposal had never been made in the House of Commons. Sitting on that bench the right hon. Gentleman looked very much like a man suffering from gross intimidation. On his right hand sat the Attorney-General for Ireland, acting as a kind of buffer between him and the Solicitor-General for England. That right hon. Gentleman said at Oxford the other day that he was going to give the Bill the minimum of his support. He had been acquainted with the right hon. Gentleman for a good many years, and 1138 knew what he was capable of, and he interpreted his speech to mean that he was going to give the maximum price his minimum support, and to give the minimum price no support at all. But he assured the Chief Secretary that he need not be in the slightest degree afraid of the Solicitor-General for England. The right hon. Gentleman was Member for the University of Dublin, and Members for that University in the past, although faithful to the University, had been still more faithful to the salaries they got as law officers of the Crown. Why was the maximum reduction retained at all? He had come to the conclusion that the right hon. Gentleman was doubtful of the success of the Bill, that he believed a compulsory measure would eventually have to be introduced, and that he desired to be able to say that, as in a voluntary Bill, the landlords were given eighteen or twenty-two years purchase, they ought in a compulsory Bill to have three or four years purchase added. Otherwise he could not imagine why the right hon. Gentleman adhered to this provision. Presumably he desired that the responsibility for the success of the Bill should be shared by the Government of the day with the hon. and learned Member for Waterford and the Irish Parliamentary Party; he was surely anxious to be in a position to say that the Irish Members had supported the Bill and pledged their honour that the tenant farmers would meet their engagements; but by refusing to accept this Amendment the right hon. Gentleman transferred all responsibility from the Irish Members to his own shoulders. The right hon. Gentleman assented to that. Were they then to understand that the right hon. Gentleman was not in the slightest degree anxious to have 1139 the support of the hon. Member for Waterford in the endeavour to make this Bill a success?
§ MR. KILBRIDE
suggested to the Chief Secretary the advisability of meeting the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Waterford in a more generous spirit. The right hon. Gentleman thought the poorer lands of Ireland were worth twenty-two years purchase, whilst the richest and best land in County Meath or Dublin County was only worth twenty-eight years purchase. Therefore, there was only a margin of six years between the richest and the poorest land in Ireland. If the poorer lands of Ireland were worth twenty-two years purchase—he did not admit it—the richest lands were worth nearer forty-four than twenty-eight years purchase. The right hon. Gentleman had not explained the reason for this provision, which could not be a safeguard to the English taxpayer. The hon. Member for South Tyrone talked about agricultural slums, and he thought that was a very good phrase, because it brought home to the average English mind the vast difference between the poorest and richest parts of Ireland. He would ask hon. Members if the slums of London were worth twenty two years purchase how much was the West End worth? The Chief Secretary was convinced that twenty eight and a half years purchase was the full price for the best land in Ireland. As a practical farmer he had no hesitation in saying that if the best land in Ireland was worth only twenty-eight years purchase the poorest land was not worth more than fourteen years pur- 1140 chase. Again, this was an arrangement to hold good for sixty-eight years, and, in the opinion of the Government, a reduction of 10 per cent. in some cases was adequate to meet any present agricultural depression or any depression that they were likely to have to face during the next sixty-eight years. He did not think it was adequate. They had been told that the Irish purchasers had been paying their instalments most punctually, but the Committee had not been told why the tenants had so regularly met their engagements. The price of store cattle had been largely increased because for some years they had kept out of this country Argentine cattle. Many of the farms that came under this Bill were occupied by men who lived by breeding and rearing cattle. This Bill would not affect the man who bought store cattle and turned them out as fat cattle. What guarantee had any occupier of land in Ireland that the existing law with regard to the importation of cattle would continue for the next sixty-eight years? Four years ago an Act was passed compelling all foreign cattle to be slaughtered within six days of their being landed in this country. Within the next few years the House of Commons might pass an Act giving free access to store cattle all over England and Scotland. Whenever the Norfolk or Forfarshire farmers were allowed to import and feed these store cattle the rearers and breeders of young stock in Ireland would be unable to meet their instalments. For that reason the minimum price ought to go. If the Government insisted upon maintaining the minimum price they would relieve the leaders of the Nationalist Party of all responsibility under the Bill, and they would have no guarantee that the Bill would work in Ireland.
1141 The Government had had warnings in abundance from hon. Members who were anxious to see an end put to the agrarian struggle in Ireland. He had taken part in that struggle now for a good many years, and he had never yet had the satisfaction of meeting the Solicitor-General for Ireland under adverse circumstances. The Solicitor-General for Ireland sat in the House of Commons by virtue of landlords' votes, while the Attorney-General sat in the House by virtue of the votes of tenant farmers. Therefore he was most anxious to see whether they both agreed upon this question of a minimum price, and he hoped they would both express their views. He did not think that all the blame should be placed upon the shoulders of the Chief Secretary, and he never knew an Irishman who was not always ready to go to the relief of his comrade in distress. He did not think that the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh was more gallant than the hon. Member for Dublin University. He hoped the Attorney-General would give them the views of the farmers of Derry, and that the Solicitor-General would express the opinions of the Irish landlords and the Irish ecclesiastics, and in expressing that opinion he hoped charity would cover a multitude of sins. He was sure the Chief Secretary was desirous of seeing this trouble finished, and that his name should be honourably associated with the final settlement of this question. The right hon. Gentleman was not alone actuated by British interests, for he believed he was actuated by the belief that great good would be done to Imperial interests by a satisfactory settlement of this question. He believed that the Chief Secretary was actuated by 1142 an honest and patriotic desire to raise and elevate the poorer class of Irish tenant farmers, and that he was anxious to do all he could to benefit the Irish people as a whole. Unless the Chief Secretary met the suggestions of the Members for Waterford and Cork, his Bill would not work; it would not settle the Irish agrarian difficulty, and in a few years, whatever Party was in power would see the time and patience of the House again put to the test in order to endeavour to arrive at a final settlement of the Irish difficulty.
§ MR. POWER (Waterford, E.)
doubted whether it was any use arguing further with the Government in a reasonable way upon this question. He thought, however, that the House ought to pause long and well before it took the action which it was about to take. He believed that the result of the vote which the Committee was about to give would be ar-reaching beyond the expectations off many hon. Members who would vote for the Government proposal with a light heart. As the hon. and learned Member for Waterford had said, past legislation for Ireland had been spoiled because they had always ignored the voice of Ireland as constitutionally expressed through its representatives. They had had about forty Land Acts, all of which had failed, and they had failed because they had ignored the voice of Ireland. On previous occasions their case had not been as strong as it was to-day, and the Government were about to lose one of the greatest opportunities ever offered to any Government to settle this question. If they did not seize this opportunity the responsibility would be upon themselves. The Nationalist Party had gone a long way in endeavouring to bring peace to Ireland, 1143 and he could say with all sincerity to the landlords that they did not dream a year ago that the terms which they were now scouting would be offered to them. Because the bonus had fallen short of what they expected, the Irish landlords were now endavouring to squeeze out of the unfortunate tenant that bonus which had been withheld from them. Upon this question the voice of Ireland was expressed in no uncertain tone. Ulster, Munster, Leinster, and Connaught joined with one voice in proclaiming that the Amendment demanded by his hon. friend was necessary for the settlement of the agrarian question, but against the voice of Ireland they had the voice of England and of English and of Scotch hon. Members who knew very little about the Irish question, and they were going to vote the Irish representatives down in the Division Lobby. By taking this course the supporters of the Government were rejecting the hand of friendship which was cordially extended to them by the Irish people, and they were giving the King a queer send-off upon his approaching visit to Ireland by ignoring the voice of Ireland upon this question as expressed by her representatives. Now they found Irish landlords scouting terms which a year ago not a single one of them ever expected. He did not know what the result would be, but judging from past experience, by the course the Government were pursuing, he thought they were adding by this Bill another to the many dismal failures which had been passed for Ireland.
§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL (Donegal, S.)
said he felt very much humiliated by the position in which they were placed at present. If the Committee rejected 1144 this Amendment, Parliamentary Government, so far as Ireland was concerned, would be a farce and a scandal. They were about to go into the Division Lobby, and in all probability the Irish representatives would be ninety strong. There would certainly be one absentee. An hon. Member was now in a dungeon cell, kept there by the Executive Government.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
said the prisoner was retained under an order of a Court, and it was not a matter on which the Executive Government was entitled even to express an opinion.
§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL
said he was glad the right hon. Gentleman was ashamed of the action, and that he dissociated himself from it.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
I do not wish the hon. Member to impute any motive to the Executive Government in the matter. It is not for the Executive Government to express a view one way or another.
§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL
said the hon. Member was imprisoned at the instance of a gentleman who had been appointed a Member of the Privy Council. He hoped the Irish public would take proper cognisance of certain matters connected with this debate. The First Lord of the Treasury was only here for about five minutes, and the Irish law officers had not spoken in the debate at all. The Chief Secretary had been generalled by Castle lawyers all through the debate. The one Irish representative who had spoken against the Amendment was a gentleman who had always acted in that way. One Irishman who did not represent an Irish constituency had also taken a 1145 similar course. Ireland would always recollect the action of the hon. Member for York, and feel sorrow and regret that this great Land Bill had been "butchered" to make a landlords' holiday.
§ MR. MACVEAGH (Down, S.)
said he rose for the purpose of impressing on the Committee that on this question the tenant farmers of Ulster were at one with the tenant farmers of the other three provinces. He could imagine no more signal proof of the absolute incapacity of this House to govern Ireland than the manner in which the united demand of the Irish people had been met with reference to this clause. Two great objections had been urged. The first was to the proposal to set up a limit of price under this clause, and the second was to the placing of non-judicial rents on the same plane as the judicial rents. The second point had been to some extent met by the compromise suggested, but the first objection remained. The arguments on the first point were so overwhelming that personally he could imagine no reason whatever for the action of the Chief Secretary, except perhaps want of courage in the face of the Clonbrocks, Londonderrys, and Ardilauns who had been haunting the precincts of the House for some days past. The immediate effect of the clause as it stood would be to raise the price of the poorer class of holdings, and it was exactly this class of holdings that stood most in need of efficient watching on the part of the Irish representatives and on the part of the State. The clause absolutely violated the voluntary principle which was supposed to have been the basis of 1146 the measure. A demand had been made for some years past by the Nationalist Party for powers of compulsory purchase as a means of settling the land question, and that demand had been resolutely resisted by the Government. But in this Bill compulsion had been proposed in another direction, and he would suggest that, seeing what was sauce for the goose was sauce for the gander, they should have compulsion all round, and not compulsion on the tenant only. In the present form of Clause I. the Bill absolutely justified the description which had been given of it by many critics as a landlords' relief Bill.
Under the present Land Purchase Acts the first-term rents had been at as low a figure as fourteen years purchase, and the average purchase price last year was eighteen years. Now the Irish landlords wanted an average price of something like twenty-five years and a bonus as well in the direction of meeting the law costs. Altogether they were looking for thirty years instead of eighteen years purchase which they were glad to get last year. An agreement of that kind would obviously be a most improvident one for the tenant farmers to rush into. It would be a serious one in the event of any future slump in agricultural produce in Ireland. It had been pointed out by various speakers that the result to this class was calculated to be injurious to the interest of the British taxpayer. He was not concerned about John Bull's pocket. John Bull was receiving from Ireland £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 in excess taxation, and he could afford to lose a little on land purchase. What the Irish representatives were concerned with was that no risk should be run of the people 1147 being put in the position of repudiating any contract into which they entered. He was afraid if the clause was passed in its present form, the result might be that the more thoughtless class of tenant farmers would rush in to buy, and that they would be unable to fulfil the obligations into which the Government were inducing them to enter. The responsibility would rest on the Government if they deliberately forced upon the tenants terms which they knew full well the tenants would be unable to meet. If there was to be a minimum price one would have thought that the Government would have selected the minimum price which had prevailed under the previous Purchase Acts, but that had
§ not been done. He appealed to the representatives of the Government to consider even yet, before the division was taken on this question, whether they could not suggest some reasonable compromise. It would avert the danger of a sharp conflict in this House, and it would avoid the deep disappointment that would be created in Ireland by the attitude of the Government. It would also enable them to enter upon the consideration of the other clauses of the Bill in a spirit of mutual goodwill.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 217; Noes, 176. (Division List No. 118.)1151
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Crossley, Sir Savile||Hain, Edward|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Hamilton, Rt. Hn. Ld. G. (Mid'x|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Cust, Henry John C.||Hamilton, Marq. of (Londondy|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Dalkeith, Earl of||Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashford|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Hare, Thomas Leigh|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Denny, Colonel||Harris, Frederick Leverton|
|Aubrey-Fletcher, Rt. Hn. Sir H.||Dewar, Sir T. R. (Tr. Haml'ts||Haslam, Sir Alfred S.|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Dickson, Charles Scott||Hatch, Ernest Frederick G.|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Man'r||Digby, John K. D. Wingfield-||Hay, Hon. Claude George|
|Balfour, Capt. C. B. (Hornsey)||Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph||Heath, James (Staffs., N. W.)|
|Balfour, Kenneth R. (Christch||Dorington, Rt. Hon. Sir J. E.||Heaton, John Henniker|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Doughty, George||Helder, Augustus|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers||Henderson, Sir Alexander|
|Bignold, Arthur||Doxford, Sir William Theodore||Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert T.|
|Bigwood, James||Duke, Henry Edward||Hogg, Lindsay|
|Bill, Charles||Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin||Hope, J. F. (Sheff., B'tside)|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir Wm. Hart||Houldsworth, Sir Wm. Henry|
|Bond, Edward||Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas||Hoult, Joseph|
|Brassey, Albert||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward||Hudson, George Bickersteth|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Manc'r||Jessel, Captain Herbert Merton|
|Brotherton, Edward Allen||Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H.|
|Brymer, William Ernest||Finch, Rt. Hon. George H.||Kenyon, Hon. G. T. (Denbigh|
|Butcher, John George||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W. (Salop|
|Campbell, J. H. M. (Dublin Univ||FitzGerald, Sir Robert Penrose||Kerr, John|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Flannery, Sir Fortescue||Knowles, Lees|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbyshire||Forster, Henry William||Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow)|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles William||Foster, P. S. (Warwick, S. W.||Lawrence, Sir Joseph (Monm'th|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Fyler, John Arthur||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks, N. R.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. (Birm||Galloway, William Johnson||Lee, A. H. (Hants, Fareham)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Worc||Godson, Sir Augustus Frederick||Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead)|
|Chapman, Edward||Gordon, Hn. J. E. (Elgin and N'rn||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage|
|Churchill, Winston Spencer||Gore, Hn. G. R. C. Ormsby- (Salop||Llewellyn, Evan Henry|
|Clare, Octavius Leigh||Gore, Hn. S. F. Ormsby- (Linc||Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R.|
|Clive, Captain Percy A.||Goschen, Hon. Geo. Joachim||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Bristol, S.|
|Colomb, Sir John Chas. Ready||Greene, Sir E. W. (Bury St. Ed.||Lonsdale, John Brownlee|
|Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole||Greene, Hy. D. (Shrewsbury)||Lowe, Francis William|
|Cook, Sir Frederick Lucas||Gretton, John||Lowther, C. (Cumb. Eskdale)|
|Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.||Greville, Hon. Ronald||Loyd, Archie Kirkman|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill||Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft|
|Cross, H. Shepherd (Bolton)||Guthrie, Walter Murray||Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred|
|Macdona, John Cumming||Pretyman, Ernest George||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Maconochie, A. W.||Purvis, Robert||Stroyan, John|
|M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Randles, John S.||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|M'Calmont, Colonel James||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne||Talbot, Rt. Hn. J G. (Oxf'd Univ.|
|Martin, Richard Biddulph||Reid, James (Greenock)||Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)|
|Massey-Mainwaring, Hn. W. F.||Renwick, George||Thorburn, Sir Walter|
|Maxwell, Rt. Hn. Sir H. E. (Wigt'n||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Melville, Beresford Valentine||Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)||Tollemache, Henry James|
|Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M.||Robertson, H. (Hackney)||Tomlinson, Sir Wm. E. M.|
|Milvain, Thomas||Rolleston, Sir John F. L.||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Molesworth, Sir Lewis||Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Montagu, G. (Huntingdon)||Rothschild, Hon. Lionel Walter||Valentia, Viscount|
|Montagu, Hon. J. Scott (Hants.)||Round, Rt. Hon. James||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|More, Robt. Jasper (Shropshire||Royds, Clement Molyneux||Webb, Col. William George|
|Morgan, D. J. (Walthamstow)||Rutherford, John (Lancashire||Welby, Lt-Col A. C. E. (Taunton|
|Morgan, Hn. F. (Monm'thsh.)||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)||Welby, Sir Chas. G. E. (Notts|
|Morrell, George Herbert||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford||Wharton, Rt. Hon. J. Lloyd|
|Morrison, James Archibald||Sadler, Col. Saml. Alexander||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)|
|Morton, Arthur H. Aylmer||Sandys, Lt.-Col. Thos. Myles||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Mount, William Arthur||Saunderson, Rt. Hn. Col. E. J.||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|Murray, Rt. Hn. A. Graham (Bute||Seely, Chas. Hilton (Lincoln)||Wilson, J. W. (Worcester., N.)|
|Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)||Seely, Mj. J. E. B. (Isle of Wight||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath|
|Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath||Sharpe, William Edward T.||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Myers, William Henry||Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew)||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart|
|Newdegate, Francis A. N.||Skewes-Cox, Thomas||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East||Wyndham-Quin, Major W. H.|
|Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay||Smith, Jas. Parker (Lanarks.)||Yerburgh, Robt. Armstrong|
|Peel, Hn. Wm. R. Wellesley||Smith, Hn. W. F. D. (Strand)||Younger, William|
|Percy, Earl||Stanley, Edward Jas. (Somerset|
|Pierpoint, Robert||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Pilkington, Lt.-Col. Richard||Stewart, Sir Mark J. M'Taggart||Sir Alexander Acland-|
|Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.||Hood and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Stock, James Henry|
|Abraham, W. (Cork, N. E.)||Cullinan, J.||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire|
|Allan, Sir William (Gateshead)||Delany, William||Joyce, Michael|
|Allen, Charles P. (Glouc., Stroud||Devlin, Chas. Ramsay (Galway||Kennedy, Patrick James|
|Ambrose, Robert||Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh.)||Kilbride, Denis|
|Asher, Alexander||Dillon, John||Labouchere, Henry|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Donelan, Captain A.||Lambert, George|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbt. Hy.||Doogan, P. C.||Langley, Batty|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst||Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||Law, H. Alex. (Donegal, W.)|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Duffy, William J.||Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cornwall)|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Emmott, Alfred||Layland-Barratt, Francis|
|Beaumont, Wentworth C. B.||Evans, Saml. T. (Glamorgan)||Leamy, Edmund|
|Bell, Richard||Farrell, James Patrick||Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington|
|Black, Alexander William||Fenwick, Charles||Leigh, Sir Joseph|
|Blake, Edward||Ferguson, R. C. Munro (Leith||Leng, Sir John|
|Boland, John||Ffrench, Peter||Lewis, John Herbert|
|Brand, Hon. Arthur G.||Field, William||Lloyd-George, David|
|Brigg, John||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Lough, Thomas|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Flynn, James Christopher||Lundon, W.|
|Bryce, Right Hon. James||Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A.|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Fuller, J. M. F.||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift|
|Burke, E. Haviland||Gilhooly, James||MacVeagh, Jeremiah|
|Burt, Thomas||Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert J.||M'Govern, T.|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Gordon, J. (Londonderry, S.)||M'Kean, John|
|Caldwell, James||Grey, Rt. Hn. Sir E. (Berwick||M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North)|
|Cameron, Robert||Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||M'Laren, Sir Charles Benj.|
|Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||Markham, Arthur Basil|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Hammond, John||Mitchell, Edw. (Fermanagh, N.|
|Carvill, Patrick Geo. Hamilton||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tyd||Mooney, John J.|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Harmsworth, R. Leicester||Morley, Rt. Hn. John (Montrose|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Harrington, Timothy||Moulton, John Fletcher|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Hayden, John Patrick||Murnaghan, George|
|Cogan, Denis J.||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Chas. Seale-||Murphy, John|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Healy, Timothy Michael||Nannetti, Joseph P.|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Chas. H.||Nolan, Col. John P. (Galway, N.|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Hobhouse, C. E. H. (Bristol, E.||Nolan, Joseph (Louth, S.)|
|Craig, Robert Hunter (Lanark.||Hutchinson, Dr. Charles Fredk,||Norman, Henry|
|Crean, Eugene||Jameson, Major J. Eustace||Nussey, Thomas Willans|
|Brooks, William||Jones, David B. (Swansea)||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)|
|O'Brien, K. (Tipperary, Mid)||Redmond, William (Clare)||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.|
|O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Reid, Sir R. Threshie (Dumfries||Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr|
|O'Brien, P. J. Tipperary, N.)||Rickett, J. Compton||Thomas, F. Freeman (Hastings)|
|O'Brien, William (Cork)||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)||Thomas, J. A. (Glam., Gower)|
|O'Connor, Jas. (Wicklow, W.)||Robson, William Snowdon||Thompson, Dr. E. C. (Monagh'n N.|
|O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Roche, John||Tomkinson, James|
|O'Doherty, William||Rose, Charles Day||Tully, Jasper|
|O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)||Runciman, Walter||Walton, J. Lawson (Leeds, S.)|
|O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)||Russell, T. W.||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|O'Dowd, John||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney|
|O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)||White, George (Norfolk)|
|O'Kelly, J. (Roscommon, N.)||Shackleton, David James||White, Patrick (Meath, N.)|
|O'Malley, William||Shaw, Charles E. (Stafford)||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|O'Mara, James||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Shipman, Dr. John G.||Wilson, H. J. (York, W. R.)|
|O'Shee, James John||Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Paulton, James Mellor||Sloan, Thomas Henry||Young, Samuel|
|Pirie, Duncan V.||Scares, Ernest J.|
|Power, Patrick Joseph||Stevenson, Francis S.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Priestley, Arthur||Strachey, Sir Edward||Sir Thomas Esmonde and|
|Reddy, M.||Sullivan, Donal||Mr. Wood.|
|Redmond, Jn. E. (Waterford)||Taylor, Theo. C. (Radcliffe)|
Resolution agreed to.
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said he wished to move the omission of the following words from line 18 to line 21, "or of a holding which is not subject to a judicial rent, but the tenancy in which is, in the opinion of the Land Commission, a tenancy to which the Land Law Acts apply." The largest class of these holdings were future tenancies, but there were thousands of present tenants who had never been in the Land Court at all. They had received abatements from the landlord, if not regularly, at all events periodically. There was another class of present tenants who would be included in these zones just as if they had had judicial rents fixed. There were tens of thousands of judicial tenants who had had their rents fixed for the first time under a condition of the law as to improvements which had been changed by the Act of 1896. These tenants never had an opportunity of coming before the Land Court to get the advantage of the statute which the House intended they should get. These tenants had a right to have that fact taken into account. There was also a large number of tenants who had never gone into the 1152 Land Court at all, but who were entitled to go in. They were present tenants undoubtedly. Many reasons might be given why they had not availed themselves of the privilege of going into the Land Court. They might have been in arrears of rent, and if they were, the landlord could evict them, and create them future tenants on the spot. There was another class which had received periodical abatements of their rents from the landlords as the seasons pressed. There were landlords and landlords in Ireland. There were landlords who were good to their tenants, who took account of bad seasons, and regularly made abatements to them if they did not go into the Land Court. These tenants under the Bill were treated precisely as ordinary judicial tenants who would come under the zones. If the House wanted to pass a just measure—he did not say whether it did or not—[An HON. MEMBER on the Irish Benches: It doesn't.]—that class of tenants who had not gone into Court but who had received abatements, should be dealt with separately. Their rent, minus these abatements, ought to be the existing 1153 rent as defined by the Bill. There were also a large number of future tenants which consisted of several classes. A future tenant might have bought immediately after the Act of 1882 in the open market. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary might probably say that they took their chance, knowing the law. That was quite true; but there were a very considerable number of future tenants to whom that would not apply. These future tenants had been created by machinery which was perfectly well known to every Irish Member. They got into arrears, and eviction notices under the Act of 1887 were served upon them which determined the tenancies. They became then simple caretakers, but they did not remain in occupation of the land as caretakers; they became instead future tenants. Thousands of tenants had been turned into future tenants by the eviction-made-easy clause of the Act of 1887, and many of them had never got an abatement at all. It was not possible that the Committee could place these tenants in the same position as tenants who had got abatements of from 20 to 38 per cent. His contention was that all these classes of tenants should be removed from this part of the zone, and treated as a separate class. With the view of inserting a new Subsection later on, he begged to move,
In page 1, line 18, to leave out from the figures '1896,' to the word 'if,' in line 21."—(Mr. T. W. Russell.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the clause."1154
§ MR. WYNDHAM
said that at an earlier hour of the day he had given his view that the future tenants in Ireland stood on a very different basis from the judicial tenants, and he had stated that, in order to arrive at an agreement, he was prepared to treat non-judicial tenants in a different spirit from judicial tenants. He had urged again and again that in his opinion it was very important to preserve judicial rents as the basis of this Bill, but he was not entitled to say that equal importance attached to it in cases where there was no judicial rent. The hon. Member instanced the case of future tenants. Of course, he could not be expected to agree with the hon. Member in his account of all the circumstances in which these tenancies had been terminated. He knew that tenancies might have been surrendered, and new tenants might have come in. Tenants might have been evicted because of the unhappy struggle, and had been put back nominally at the old rent. If he included non-judicial tenants within the zone, he would have to consider an Amendment on the Paper in the name of the hon. Member for Louth, stating that if such tenancies were retained, customary abatements must be taken in lieu of nominal rent. On a point of that kind, desirous as he was to make progress with the Bill, he would far rather make a clean cut and leave tenancies without judicial rent outside the zone, but inside the estate, for the purposes of the bonus. But if he did that, he was making such a considerable addition to the categories which, even as the Bill stood, were outside the zone, but inside the estate, that it would be expedient to put down a new clause of an explanatory character stating in so many words how the tenancies were to be dealt with.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
thanked the Government for making this concession, and for the spirit in which the right hon. Gentleman had spoken. However, he could not quite grasp what the right hon. Gentleman's proposal was, and he would like the Government to put their Amendments on the Paper at as early a date as possible. There was a class of future tenants in whom he had an interest. For instance, one whose rent was £60 a year was evicted because he went into the Land Court, and a complete stranger was put in who grabbed all the improvements and got the farm at £40 a year. He had no sympathy with such future tenants. Might he make the suggestion that the landlords did not know their own minds; they were not an organised party. He denied the right of two or three Gentlemen on the Government side of the House to speak with authority on behalf of the tenants. He suggested that the Government should not close their minds with regard to this Amendment.
§ MR. DILLON
said that this clause was very complicated and difficult as it stood, and they should be quite sure of their ground. He therefore thought that the Government should put their proposed new clause or Amendment on the Paper.
§ Question, put and negatived.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Motion made—
§ That the Committee do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.