HC Deb 30 April 1906 vol 156 cc259-61

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the † See (4) Debates, clv., 713. Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether his attention has been called to the statement made by Mr. John Dryden, formerly Minister of Agriculture for the province of Ontario, Canada, and recently appointed to the Commission to inquire into the agricultural conditions of Ireland, to the effect that Canadian farmers enjoy no advantages over Irish farmers; that the latter are better off by reason of their proximity to the English markets; that if they have fallen behind it is simply due to discouragement; and that, by reason of the Irish Land Act, the Irish farmer is on as good a footing as the Canadian farmer in regard to the procuring and tenure of land; will he state if the Government were aware of Mr. Dryden's views when making the appointment; and whether it is the intention of the Government to continue the appointment in view of the publication of Mr. Dryden's views.


I have not seen, and am not aware that Mr. Dryden made such statement. He informs me that he has said nothing whatever as to Irish farmers, or their advantages or their discouragement. The Committee was not appointed to inquire into the agricultural conditions of Ireland, but into the working of the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction. The Government had no knowledge of Mr. Dryden's views when making the appointment. He tells me that he has no preconceived opinions whatever on the matters he is to join in investigating. I believe that Mr. Dryden's knowledge and wide practical experience make him well fitted for the work which he has consented to perform.


Has the right hon. Gentleman seen the report of the interview given by Mr. Dryden to the Morning Post and other English papers, in which he expresses his views in regard to Irish agriculture?


Mr. Dryden informs me that the reports he has seen are both inaccurate and misleading.

MR. JOHN O'CONNOR (Kildare, N.)

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the opinions of this gentleman are said to have been formed after reading a book written by the very man whose conduct he is appointed to inquire into?


Mr. Dryden informs me that the opposite is the case. He has formed no opinion, and is waiting to hear the evidence.

MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)

Will Mr. Dryden abstain from making speeches and giving interviews to the Press?


He is following a habit common in America, and I am afraid becoming common here, of receiving interviewers to whom he says something which is entirely misreported.