§ 5. £1,600 (Supplementary) Irish Land Commission.
§ MR. WALTER LONG
said he had put down a Motion to reduce this Vote by £100, not with the object of reducing the Vote, he need hardly say, but with the object of endeavouring to obtain some information as to the regulations issued by the Chief Secretary. On looking into the Vote he had some doubt whether it would be in order to call attention to the regulations, and he should be glad to have the Chairman's ruling.
Any discussions of the regulations issued or to be issued by the Chief Secretary would not be in order on this Vote, which is merely for interest and sinking fund on the landlord's bonus.
§ MR. WALTER LONG
Perhaps I may be allowed to put a question to the representative of the Irish Office as to whether these regulations will be laid upon the Table.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. CHERRY,) Liverpool, Exchange
said the Chief Secretary would be in his place in a moment to answer the question.
§ MR. CLANCY
said perhaps the Chairman would consider the advisability of straining the rules in order to allow the right hon. Gentleman to make a statement upon the subject of the regulations—his own regulations; they formed such an interesting subject that he did not think it would be too much to ask the Committee to relax its rules in order to allow them to be discussed.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
thought there ought to be some explanation of this question. Last year it would be remembered that the House in Committee of Supply cut off £100 from the Irish Land Commission Vote. The Government of the day were defeated. He should like to know how the Land Commission had managed to get on without that £100. If it could do without £100 perhaps also it might be able to do without £1,000, and perhaps the expenditure of the Land Commission might be reduced. The Attorney General or the Solicitor General might explain what this money was needed for. He had been asked by several Irish Members what this Supplementary Vote meant, and he himself would like to know how the Land Commission managed to get on without the £100.
§ MR. MCKENNA
The explanation of this particular sum of £1,600 is a little bit complicated. It is purely financial, and it has nothing to do with the policy of the Irish Government. The Committee will remember that under the Act of 1903 a bonus was given amounting to 12 per cent, upon the purchase-money to the landlords, and 1067 the money needed for the payment of this bonus was obtained by the issue of Irish land stock. An Estimate is made at the beginning of the year by the National Debt Commissioners of the amount of money which will be required for the purpose of the bonus. As the market dislikes having issues of Irish land stock made frequently in the course of the year, the practice is to issue the amount once and for all at the beginning of the year. As a result of that the National Debt Commissioners hold at the beginning of the year an amount of money in their hands which they do not immediately need, but which they expect will be required in the course of the year for the payment of the bonus. The Committee will remember that the interest and payment of the sinking fund on the bonus money is borne upon the Votes, and it is in respect of certain portions of this interest and sinking fund that the Supplementary Estimate is now asked for. The National Debt Commissioners hold the money for the issue of the stock in their hands from the beginning of the year, and they endeavour lend that money until it is required, in order that they may get the interest thereon in reduction of the amount of the Vote. Last year they were perfectly successful in their operation, and no Supplementary Estimate was required; but this year when the National Debt Commissioners proposed to lend the money they found the Japanese had applied for and taken off the market all the Treasury Bills the Government offered. They found also that another medium of loan by them—loans in respect of advances on credit of Ways and Means—was closed to them as, owing to the Finance Act of last year and the issue of Exchequer bonds, the Government was under no necessity to borrow money for the purpose of Supply. Consequently the National Debt Commissioners were unable to lend the money, and as a result the amount put in the Votes in respect of the bonus fell short of the actual sum required by £3,200. £1,600 of that has been made up by savings out of the Votes, and the balance, £1,600, is the sum which is now asked for. I do not know whether I have made the matter sufficiently clear.
§ MR. MORTON
said the present Government when in Opposition knocked £100 off the Irish Land Commissioners. Now they were putting it on again. He hoped the present Government would economise in dealing with our money in the management of Irish affairs. It should be understood that it was the money of the country which was being spent. He asked the present Secretary to bear in mind with regard to this matter that if he could reduce the cost of the government of Ireland by about a half he would get a better Government.
§ MR. T. L. CORBETT (Down, N.)
rose to complain of the delay in the operations of the Land Commission in subdividing holdings under the Labourers' Act.
§ MR. McKENNA
said his hon. friend had asked about the £100. The deficiency which had to go upon the Vote9 would have been £3,200, but there had been a saving on the general expenditure of £1,600. Out of that saving he had put down £100.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. BRYCE,) Aberdeen, S.
said it might not be regular under the Ruling of the Chair to go into the general question, but he might be permitted to answer the Question of the right hon. Member for S. Dublin with regard to the land regulations. The new regulations had already appeared in the Gazette, and there could be no objection at all to laying them on the table of the House.
§ Vote agreed to.