§ Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment to Question [29th April], "That the Bill be now read a second time."716
Which Amendment was—
To leave out from the word 'That,' to the end of the Question, in order to add the words 'this House welcomes State action to promote small holdings; but, supporting the principle of responsible ownership in land, it believes that the Government policy should be based on purchase, and deprecates the extension of an extreme form of divided ownership to districts beyond those crofter areas where the occupier provides equipment' instead thereof." —(Mr. Munro Ferguson.)
§ Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ * MR. COCHRANE (Ayrshire, N.),
continuing his speech, said that when the debate was adjourned he was alluding to the speech delivered by the Lord Advocate on the Motion for the First Reading of the Bill, when the right hon. Gentleman advanced as one of his reasons for supporting the Bill that it would, once and for all, put an end to arbitrary evictions. He would ask the right hon. Gentleman in the course of his reply on the present occasion to point out on what official statistics that sweeping charge rested. Further, he would ask that those statistics should be of a recent character and not antiquated Returns, and that the right hon. Gentleman should not be guided by the precedent set up by his chief (the Prime Minister) in the matter, who seemed to think that statistics wore like wine—all the better for having been kept for some time. That right hon. Gentleman seemed to prefer the vintage of 1895 to that of 1906, which he thought contained a sounder wine. He also hoped that if the right hon. Gentleman gave them this information he would not be satisfied with single and isolated cases of eviction, but would consider that in Scotland, according to his own Return, there were 62,900 holdings under £50 a year, and would realise that to establish a case against the landlords of Scotland it would be necessary to show that in the last five years a considerable percentage of the tenants of these holdings had been evicted for arbitrary and capricious reasons. There must be some kind of arbitrary eviction frequently taking place in Scotland to make a Bill of such a drastic character necessary, and not merely such evictions as were treated as reasonable under the Bill now under consideration.
THE LORD-ADVOCATE (Mr. THOMAS SHAW,) Hawick Burghs
denied having made any statement to the effect that there had been arbitrary evictions in Scotland on a wholesale scale; on the contrary, he had expressly stated that the power of arbitrary eviction was one which, in the ease of the landlords of Scotland, had not been exercised. The right hon. Gentleman cited The Parliamentary Debates in support of his statement.
§ * MR. COCHRANE
said he was glad the right hon. Gentleman had somewhat qualified what he and others around him understood him to have said. Bud if the right hon. Gentleman would carry his mind further back he would see that the statements he had made were mixed up with a general charge against dukes and earls. He hoped that for the credit of the right hon. Gentleman it would not be necessary for him to include the name of the Earl of Portsmouth amongst these.
§ THE PRIME MINISTER AND FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Sir H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN,) Stirling Burghs
My right hon. friend has read the words he used, in which he said this power of arbitrary eviction—
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I rise to order, Sir. Is the right hon. Gentleman in order? So long as the. Lord-Advocate made his rather long interruption as a personal explanation it was all right, but if the Prime Minister is going to come to this defence—
§ * MR. SPEAKER
I understood the Prime Minister to rise in consequence of something which fell from the hon. Member for North Ayrshire.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
My right hon. friend having quoted the words he used, which were a flat contradiction of what the hon. Member attributed to him, all the hon. Member says is that he is glad he has given my right hon. friend an opportunity of modifying the allegation he had made. That is not enough.
§ * MR. COCHRANE
said the reproof which the Prime Minister had administered would have fallen with greater severity if he had happened to hear the original speech of the Lord Advocate.
§ * MR. COCHRANE
assured the right hon. Gentleman he was mistaken in saying he was present on that occasion, and unfortunately, therefore, had not the opportunity which he had of listening to that particular speech. He was quite satisfied to take the attitude of the Government not from his interpretation of that speech or from the impression left upon his mind and the minds of his hon. friends by it, but from the words of Lord Carrington to the Scottish Chambers of Agriculture. That noble Lord, in giving his version of the situation, said—He would never deny that with the case of the great majority of large estates in Scotland arbitrary evictions did not take place.If, therefore, he had unjustly attributed certain views to the right hon. Gentleman the Lord Advocate, it was now perfectly clear that the arbitrary evictions did not occur, and therefore they could not be advanced as a reason in favour of passing this Bill. He was sorry to have dealt at such length with what, after all, were minor points. He would now draw attention to another speech delivered the same day by the right hon. Gentleman the Under-Secretary for the Colonies, who proposed what seemed to be a somewhat wiser and saner policy for dealing with the land question than that proposed by the Secretary for Scotland. The right hon. Gentleman said that the Government proposed to introduce a Land Bill dealing with the question of small holdings in England—They were all agreed that they did not want to steal anybody's land and that they wished to pay a fair market price for any that was taken for public purposes.The right hon. Gentleman outlined a scheme of purchase and adumbrated an ownership somewhat on the lines covered by the present Amendment. That surely was a safe and wise policy which might have been pursued by the Secretary for Scotland. Why, if they were going to have a scheme applied to England, were they going to apply a different scheme 719 to Scotland? He could not conceive why, when half the Cabinet and most of the Members of the London County Council were now the representatives in that House of Scottish Radical opinion, they considered a scheme suitable to England and yet refused to apply it to Scotland. Was it the mere fact of crossing the Tweed that brought about this change in their opinions? Had the crossing of the Tweed a similar effect upon them as the drinking of the waters of Lethe? Did it induce a feeling of forgetfulness of what was just and honourable in dealing with the landlords of the country? Were they prepared to purchase land fairly in England and at the same time take it away by stealth from the landlords of Scotland? The right hon. Gentleman also advocated his scheme on the ground of cheapness, but he ventured to say that if they had regard to the welfare of the land generally in Scotland, and if they bore in mind that the interests of landlord and tenant were bound together, they would realise that the scheme was by no means cheap, because it was never cheap to deal unfairly with any class of the community. It would not be cheap to discourage the investments which Scottish landlords now made to the extent of £2,500,000 sterling a year in improving their farms, and it would take many years, with the contribution of £65,000 which it was proposed to give Scotland under the Bill, to make up even one year's loss if the money now expended by the landlords on small farms were diverted into other channels. If the right hon. Gentleman would study the Report of the Departmental Committee which had gone carefully into the question he would see that under a system of tenancy somewhat similar to that suggested by the Government the' annual rent per acre amounted to £1 14s. 7d., while under a system of, purchase, with the interest and capital repayable in fifty years, the tenant would only have to pay £1 10s. 5d. per acre for his land, and ultimately he would arrive at that position of landlordism which some hon. Gentlemen seemed to think was so great an attraction to certain classes of the people. He would like to draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the machinery embodied in the Bill. It was proposed to set up a Land Court consisting of five members, 720 one of whom was to be a legal gentleman of ten years standing at the Bar. This Court was to hear and determine all matters of law or fact in case of disagreement, and he feared it would prove but another example of the law's delays almost inconceivable to contemplate. Prom a cursory glance at the Bill, he had estimated that in no fewer than seventeen clauses and sections of the Bill the Land Court would be called upon to exercise its powers. If under Clause 7, Section 8 the Commissioner for Small Holdings reported that no agreement would be reached, they it was provided that the Agricultural Commissioners, after due notice, should intimate to the landlord and other parties concerned that a new holding would be constituted, and that they should then apply to the Land Court to do certain things. What would occur was this. In the event of an application for a small holding, first, there would be an inquiry by a Commissioner, who would make his report. Then the Agricultural Commissioners must give notice for the hearing of the dispute, they must make intimation first to the landlord and then to the other parties concerned, and then they must apply to the Land Court, which in its turn would have practically to go through the same stages. All that might occur in connection with a holding of annual value of £5 or £10, the landlord of which might, for some cogent reason, object to the man whom it was desired to foist upon him as a tenant. Under these circumstances the time of the Land Court and Land Commission would, at great cost to the country, be occupied in settling small, petty, quibbling incidents of bargaining which wore now quickly and easily disposed of by the landlord and his factor. He regretted, too, that it was proposed to take away from the Board of Agriculture certain powers it now possessed, and to hand them over to the Agricultural Commissioners in Scotland. The President of the Board of Agriculture had made it his habit to come annually and discuss matters with agriculturists at Edinburgh. They had acquired confidence in the Board of Agriculture which it would be extremely difficult for them to place in the small body adumbrated by the right hon. Gentleman, who would not have at their disposal the machinery which the Board of 721 Agriculture possessed. He had a profound distrust of the right hon. Gentleman as to his knowledge of agriculture. The right hon. Gentleman had truly said that they could not grow wheat on the Grampians, but he added, "Modern science says, 'Give me manure and water, and I will grow anything.' "If that was the right hon. Gentleman's view of agriculture, he would undertake to make him a present of three acres, and he dared say a right hon. friend would give him the cow, so that he might see whether by providing manure he could manage to make a living on a selected spot. It was perfectly childish to think that on hundreds of thousands of acres under deer forests it would be possible for a man to make a living, or to make a commercial speculation in land in small holdings of any kind.
§ * MR. COCHRANE
said he wished an explanation with regard to one of the many difficult points in the Bill. In Clause 7, he observed that assistance might be given by way of gift to the tenants set up under the Bill. What did that mean? If there were two tenants, one with a holding under £50 and another tenant close by who had been there, had made his holding pay by his own industry and skill, and was earning a living and paying a rent—did he intend to set up the new and untried man in the new holding and make him a present of his buildings? That would be a very unfair competition to the man alongside who was paying for his buildings. Was the assistance to be an absolute gift? In the case of a farmer who became bankrupt, what was to happen to the holding and the buildings? Were the buildings to be, the property of the creditors or of the landlord? That was a matter of very considerable importance. Could the tenant mortgage the buildings given as a gift? Who was to pay the insurance on the buildings? At present a landlord took care that the buildings should be insured. In the case of buildings provided by the State, who was to see that they were 722 insured? All he could think was that this scheme could be used to provide some means of giving doles to deserving Radical agents—those ardent politicians who had waded through Chinese slavery, and various other "terminological inexactitudes" and who had "supported the right hon. Gentleman in his policy, but failed, owing to the courageous honesty of the Lord Chancellor, to attain the dignity of Justice of the Peace. They might now be presented at the cost of the country with a small holding and buildings upon it. Who was to select the new occupants? Were they to be selected by the Land Court, or by the Agricultural Commissioners who were themselves to be selected by a politician, namely, the Secretary for Scotland? That was placing a power in his hands to use public funds for rewarding various merits, which would be extremely undesirable. As to the cost of the Bill, there would be £65,000 per annum available for all purposes connected with the scheme, in addition to the payment of the salaries of the Commissioners. From statements which had been placed before Members of Parliament it appeared that a small holding of £50 rental would cost five or six hundreds pounds for equipment exclusive of water supply, for which a further capital expenditure of £100 must in in many cases be reckoned. He submitted therefore that not more than 100 small holdings in a year could be set up by the proposed scheme. Under existing circumstances 70 per cent. of the holdings in Scotland—62,300 out of the 89,000—were small holdings under £50. How did the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman tend to decrease the process of depopulation in the country districts? The instance of the 400-acre farm in Forfarshire mentioned by the Report of 1906 showed that they would replace eleven persons employed on the farm, comprising the farmer, the grieve, and nine ploughmen, most of whom were householders, by seven small landholders. How they were going to cure depopulation by a scheme of that kind passed his comprehension. What was to happen to the man with the block of big farm buildings after the farm had been broken up into small holdings? Was he to pay the rates on them and to 723 be responsible for their repair and upkeep? These were questions deserving of consideration and reply. He supported the view expressed by the hon. Baronet the Member for East Northamptonshire, in the Report of the Departmental mental Committee. He said—Small holdings can only be made successful by putting the whole thing on a strictly economic basis.Were they going to put these small holdings on an economic basis? Was the intention of the Government to charge the fair market rent or not? That was a question which should be answered. Was the interest on the cost of the buildings to be economic interest? Was it to be such interest as would repay both capital and interest in a reasonable number of years? How were the rates on improvements to be dealt with? Under the Crofters' Act a man was not rated on his own improvements. If a small holder under £50 set up under this Bill was not to be rated on his own improvements, was the farmer in the same locality who was paying £51 a year to be rated on the whole value of his buildings? If that was so, they would be subsidising and protecting the new holder, not against the foreigner, but against his neighbour next door. If the small holder was to pay the fair value of the land, and to provide a sinking fund for the farm buildings, if he was to pay the full rates on his improvements and was not to have any special reduction of any kind, his position would be ten times worse than that of a small tenant farmer under existing circumstances. By setting up such a system as that they would be doing an incalculable amount of damage to the whole agricultural interest in Scotland. He asked the Lord Advocate whether it was not the fact that mortgages on landed estate in Scotland were already being called in on account of this class of legislation. If the Government would amend the Bill so as to include an honourable, fair, and just system of purchase, they would receive support, not only in this House, but of every person in Scotland.
§ * THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. THOMAS SHAW,) Hawick Burghs
said that he had listened with not a 724 little disappointment to the speech that had just been delivered. There was one portion which contained a series of inquiries of a practical kind, but the speech as a whole was so disfigured with violent expressions and so manifestly full of misconstruction and misapprehension, that it was almost impossible to follow it, except by saying that he took everything from his friend in the best part. He thought he did him an immediate service by checking a mistake which he entered into. Everyone on the opposite side of the House would own that if there was anything of violence in language used he was the first to deprecate it, and the first to see that it was put right so far as he was concerned. As to his reference to dukes, the simple explanation was that the whole of Scotland knew, and the whole House knew, that the Duke of Sutherland was one of the best proprietors that ever lived. The Duke of Sutherland's situation with regard to the Crofters' Act was this: He went before the Crofters' Commission, and so fair were the Crofters' Commission that after considering the circumstances of the case, they in many cases raised the rents the tenants were thenceforth to pay to the Duke, as compared with what the Duke himself had been charging. Of the Duke it could never be said that he was anything but a proprietor par excellence. He used his splendid powers with magnificent results. He had the noble Duke in his mind when he heard the wild statements made—that proprietors would be reduced to the position of rent-chargers, and become persons who were the objects of Parliamentary pity. If his hon. friends opposite had thoroughly understood the position he believed that they would have used different language. Hitherto, the debate had been conducted normally, without the use of violent expressions, except perhaps by the hon. Baronet who seconded the Amendment, who made an excited reference to the Ten Commandments in order to express his dislike to the Bill, and by the hon. Member for North Ayrshire who had talked about the Bill being intended to reward Radical agents for their services to ardent politicians. He protested that language of that sort was not favourable 725 to good feeling in the House. He thought that the Bill ought to have been received with different language from that to which the House had listened. The admirable speech of the Solicitor-General for Scotland had never received an answer. Even after this Bill became law, his hon. and learned friend characterised the position of the landords, and asked whether they would not be still landlords in the full sense of the term. They could sell their property; they could burden their property; they could bequeath it; they could shoot, hunt and fish over it; they could feu it; they could plant it; they could lay it out for building purposes; and develop the estate in every possible way. No answer had been given to these arguments of his hon. and learned friend; but it was only said in the picturesque language of the hon. Member for Glasgow and Aberdeen Universities that the property of landlords by this Bill would be reduced to a frail remnant of ownership. He did not think that the full gravity of the problem in Scotland had yet been fully realised by the House. Both as to the distribution of the population and as to the distribution of land the problem in its contrasts exceeded anything that was known either in any other country in Europe or in America. The hon. Member for Huddersfiel, dwhose special knowledge all would acknowledge and value, had written a series of articles carefully analysing the Census Returns for Scotland. In one of these he said —The poverty of Scotland may not be exceptional; the ill-housing of Scotland assuredly is. The spectacle of one-half of an entire nation living under overcrowded conditions, while almost whole counties are preserved as deer forests and private parks, is as astounding as it is happily rare. We are accustomed to regard the distribution of population in England as deplorable and dangerous, but it is immeasurably less serious than the distribution of the population in Scotland. Eight per cent. of over-crowded persons—the figure for England and Wales—pales into comparative insignificance beside the 46 per cent. which is the measure of overcrowding in Scotland.… In London, one in every seven of the population lives under overcrowded conditions, i.e., more than two persons to a room; in Leeds and Sheffield, one in ten; in Liverpool, one in twelve; and in Manchester, one in sixteen. In Edinburgh the proportion is one in three; in Dundee and Glasgow, one in two. Taking the whole of Scotland, 493,000 persons live in one-room houses, and more than 726 2,000,000 persons live crowded together at the rate of more than two persons to a room.That was the gravity of the situation in regard to the population of Scotland; but what was the gravity of the position in regard to the distribution of land? Sometimes it was said in regard to this Bill that there should have been an inquiry made before it was introduced. Why, Scotland had been full of inquiries. There was a Report of the Commission of 1892, in which the most remarkable testimony was given in regard to the distribution of land in Scotland. The problem laid before that Commission was how much land in Scotland was devoted to sport alone which could be employed for the threefold purpose of allotments, small farms, and the extension of holdings. That Commission was composed of men from both Parties in the State, and they reported to Parliament that at that date 1,800,000 acres of land could usefully be employed for these purposes. The Unionist Government that succeeded did nothing to arrest the growth of deer forests, and the 1,800,000 acres mentioned by the Commission of 1892 had increased until the cultivable land used exclusively for sport amounted, it was estimated, to the stupendous figure of 3,000,000 acres. It was evident, therefore, that there was a congestion of the population in Scotland on a scale unknown to Europe, and this alongside of great tracts of land untilled, but capable, according to the Commission, of being usefully cultivated as small holdings. Was Parliament to take no notice of such a state of things? He had been twitted with having said that when a strong Liberal Government was in power it ought to address itself to the solution of this problem. He admitted the charge. When he thought of rural Scotland so largely allowed to remain desolate he declared to the House that he was reminded of what Tennyson wrote of pagan England—And so there grew great tracts of wilderness, Whereon the beast was ever more and more, And man was less and less.It had been said that 70 per cent. of the farms in Scotland were small holdings. That was true. But how much of the land in farm did that 70 per cent. occupy? Only 12 per cent. 62,000 persons farmed 727 land which was worth £690,000 per annum; but, 26,000 persons farmed land which was worth £4,674,000 per annum. To speak of 70 per cent. of the farms being small holdings was, therefore, only to mislead. It was not the proportion to the total number of farms, but the amount of land contained in those farms that was the important factor. Those small holders were the very backbone of the community. He held that it was no credit to the present Government that it should address itself to the solution of this problem. It was not only a political duty, but a high privilege to demand a solution. His hon. friend the Member for Leith did not dispute the gravity of the problem. His Amendment was a very curious one. It admitted that there was a problem of a very serious kind to be solved, and that it must be solved by State intervention. But his hon. friend's Amendment, if adopted, would leave nothing of the Bill. It would tear the Bill to tatters: and the whole of the Unionist Party were going to support it. But upon what terms? On the terms that it was the duty of the State to intervene by way of purchase. In' regard to Scotland, if the Unionist Party supported the Amendment, they would be committed to a gigantic scheme of land purchase, a scheme which would altogether out-do the Irish scheme in magnitude before the end could be reached. The Government would have no part or lot in anything of the kind. In the first place they asked as Scotsmen, and they expected a plain reply, what were the terms upon which they were going to purchase? That was a question which had never been answered in this debate. In Ireland purchase was only made after a fair rent had been fixed and they had got a datum to go upon. Was the proposal for Scotland to purchase the land before a fair rent had been fixed? Let that question be answered. Then lei; them take another point. In Ireland, after the market I multiple of the fair rent was fixed, there was a bonus granted of no less than 12 per cent. Was a similar bonus going to be asked for the Scottish landlords? He really wanted to know, because until he knew the terms upon which this property was to be parted with he could not deal with the matter. 728 [An HON. MEMBER: Market value.] In Ireland 12 per cent. was to be added to the price of the landlord's interest. Were the Scottish landlords to have a similar bonus? They wanted to know the exact value of the transaction. There were great distinctions between the case of the Scottish and the Irish tenant. Under the Irish Act tenant right had never had a fair chance or a free course, and therefore, and on that account alone it had rot been justified. The Irish tenant had free sale, but, alas! he was, in spite of the intentions of Parliament, rented on his own improvements. In Scotland there was no free sale, and the result was that there being no free sale of the tenant right, although it looked at first to be a hindrance to the tenant, it had been a source of most miraculous protection to him, because having no realisable asset he did not get into the hands of the money-lender and mortgage his interest. And in Scotland, moreover, not a penny of rent had ever been laid on upon a tenant's own improvements, and the stimulus to improvement was accordingly well-nigh miraculous. But let the n take the case of Ireland and examine it. It was said that land purchase was necessary because tenant right in Ireland was a disastrous failure. He wanted to know whether that was actually the case. He was anxious to get a report on that subject from the Land Commission in Dublin itself, and he went the nearest way about it by writing to the most skilled Irish land official that he knew of, Mr. Bailey, a land commissioner. He put to Mr. Bailey the question (there was recently a blunt statement of this kind by Lord Rosebery):—" Was land purchase necessary because tenant right was a disastrous failure in Ireland—that was to say, tenant right under the name of dual ownership?" He thought this matter was important, because it went to the contrast between the Amendment and the Bill, and he hoped the House might pardon him if lie read a few sentences. Mr. Bailey wrote—I have had a large experience of fair rents as well as of purchase in Ireland. It is untrue to say that dual ownership has been a disastrous failure in Ireland. It saved the country from ruin and would in my view have been a permanent settlement of the agrarian situation had the fair rents been properly and 729 adequately administered. You remember the Morley Committee of the House of Commons of 1894 and how the evidence showed and the Report of the Committee demonstrated how the intentions of Parliament were narrowed and rendered ineffectual by legal decisions and the halting administration of the Act of 1881.Then Mr. Bailey went into what happened under those legal decisions which—he said this without hesitation —were opposed to the deliberate and declared intentions of Parliament in regard to the Irish tenants not being rented on their own improvements, and he showed that under the series of decisions it became the law of Ireland that these poor tenants were driven into litigation on an enormous scale and then at the end of the proceedings they were declared by the Court of Law to be liable to be so rented. The House would observe that under these circumstances Irish tenant right had never had a fair chance. The contrast between the two countries on the point of legal costs was most notable. To get a fair rent fixed cost the tenant in Ireland from £3 to £4. Then an appeal could be laid from that fixing of the fair rent, and that would cost another £3 or £4. The number of appeals was enormous and sometimes amounted to 90,000, and so far as the effect of appeals in altering the rent was concerned it cost on the average £105 to get £1 off the rent. On the other hand in Scotland the crofter approached the Commission, and with great promptitude and without any circumlocution presented his claim, and the whole question was settled with a legal expense to the crofter of Is. 6d! He said, and he thought he was justified in saying, that in Scotland compared with Ireland tenant right had had a fair chance. In Ireland it was notorious that tenants were driven into purchase by the decision in the case of Dunseath and Adams, and it was, he thought, shown by Mr. Bailey that getting a fair rent fixed was a necessary preliminary before purchase became possible. In the crofting counties of Scotland the Act had been so administered that 26 per cent. reduction had been made in regard to rent. That was a reduction which would have been made by economic processes. A great reduction had also been made of 67 percent. in outstanding arrears. The result was that while in Ireland tenant 730 right had been distorted and ruined, in Scotland tenant right had been vindicated and justified. Therefore there was contentment among crofters under the position guaranteed to them by the law. If they were consulted he did not think that there were 3 per cent. of them who would exchange their position and become purchasers. Instead of tenant right being a disastrous failure in Scotland, it had been a complete success. The Crofters Acts had saved enormous sums of money, and without any chaffering the rent was fixed for seven years at the cost of a few pence, and all the confusion which formerly existed had now given way to an era in which landlords and tenants had been brought back to the most friendly relations. Many straths and glens had been transformed into prosperous homes and communities. He knew very well that the strong view which was taken against the Bill was that if the rent was fixed in this way and permanent tenure was given, it would prevent improvements being made in any remunerative fashion by the landlord and the land would be starved. The prophecies of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, made by him with regard to the Crofter Act of 1886, that that legislation would injure the landlord and that the poverty which had been chronic would not be mitigated, had been proved to be entirely wrong. The right hon. Gentleman had said that the State would have to give pecuniary assistance in the case of the crofters but they did not.
§ * MR. THOMAS SHAW
said they did not give them pecuniary assistance, and the moment the crofter had fixity of tenure and a fair rent, the change began. He instanced Skye. Was there a more wind-swept, rain-swept island anywhere? And yet upon that island the calculation was that those poor crofters, "the description of whose misery had so moved them tonight," and who could not supply capital, had supplied capital to the value of £150,000 in houses and little steadings. And he understood from the hon. Member for Ross-shire that in the Island of Lewes the same system was going on and the 731 capital invested had reached the figure of £50,000.
§ * MR. THOMAS SHAW
And more. So it was altogether out of the question to say that while the landlord was satisfied and the tenant was satisfied the land had suffered. It had not suffered. It had, on the contrary, benefited by that magic which came of tenant right and fair and equitable conditions of holding. That was their experience in Scotland of tenant right. They had also experience of purchase in Scotland under the Congested Districts Board. They did not like it. There were rumours that the people who were now their own lairds under the scheme longed to go back to the position of crofters, in which they knew where they were, and could work out their own destiny less hampered by official supervision. In two cases—one of settling holdings of land by purchase and the other of settling them by hiring—their experience was of a remarkable kind. Again, he took the case of Syre. Under the system of purchase the small holder obtained from the Government £153 as a free grant and £650 as loan money, so that the cost of settling a small holder under a system of purchase was £380. They then went to another neighbourhood—the nearest case to Syre, the case of Dunbeath, where instead of settling these small holders by a system of purchase, they proceeded by a system of hiring, and found that the average expense there was £10 free grant and loan money £13, or £23 in all.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
asked if in both cases steadings were set up, or that it was only in the case of purchase that they would be provided for.
§ * MR. THOMAS SHAW
said it should be observed that the buildings were provided by the assistance of the Government plus the capital which the lessee 732 had. The assumption of the Party opposite was that these people could not be set up on their own holdings without assistance from the State to the fullest extent. But these people had not only bone and muscle and sinew, but a certain little banking account. The contrast he had drawn between the case of purchase and leasing was vivid. He admitted he had given an extreme case. In another the contrast was between £203 and £71. And the best calculation he could make was that for every £1 which was spent in settling by leaseholding on fair terms with fixity of tenure, £20 was required for settlement by purchase. So that, if the Amendment meant that they were to prefer purchase to hiring, his reply was that hiring had the advantage in the economic ratio of 20 to 1. The House would be entirely mistaken if it thought they were taking a leap in the dark, because there was experience in Scotland extending over twenty years in the case of hiring and ten years in the case of purchase. Under tenant right the land had been improved and the tenants had been content. Nor could he have any share in either directly or indirectly condemning the legislation of 1881 as it passed this House in regard to Ireland. The failure there took place with respect to administration and the enormous cost of carrying out the scheme. But with all its faults that legislation had not been a disastrous failure; though purchase could only be entered into after a fair rent had been fixed. The labourers in Scotland, who, it was said, would not be helped by this Bill, were enthusiastic in its favour. It was the only chance they saw of getting easy access to the land. There was nothing in the Bill, he assured the mover of the Amendment, which was adverse to what he called silviculture or to intensive cultivation. It was suggested that the Bill would reduce the landlord's status and power so that his property became a pale, ineffectual shadow of ownership. Here again they remembered the old discredited prophecies. The same language was used prior to the Irish land legislation of 1881. Let them apply a test to this shadowy ownership. Very different language was used when these shadowy tights had to be assessed on their capital 733 value. The Irish tenant knew that well. When purchase came about, that shadowy ownership was so substantial, so strong, so little bloodless and anæmic that it was able to extort from the British Treasury a bonus over and above the purchase price. So that as the Bill now was, they viewed all these arguments as to depreciating and whittling away all the landlords' rights with a considerable measure of composure. He was quite certain that if a scheme of purchase were proposed in Scotland—that was, after this scheme of adjustment with the tenants—history would again repeat itself. And the shadowy would become the very substantial—only to be liquidated in coin of the realm. If Scotland was going her own way in this, she did so, he hoped, without any disapproval from her Irish friends. They generally knew what they were about in Scotland. If she was going her own way, she did so starting from a careful and much scrutinised experience. He would like to interpolate, if he might, one word of gratitude; it might be late but it was none the less true. He knew from his old and lamented friend, Lord Kinross, who was so highly esteemed a Member of that House, and who had so much to do with passing the Crofters' Act, that no more valuable assistance was obtained in framing that Act than came from the Irish Members, who had gone through the fire, and knew how the law could upset the meaning of Parliamentary language. Therefore, the Crofters' Act in Scotland had stood proof against all attack—he withdrew the word "attack," for there had been no attack—and no tenant had ever been rented upon his improvements. He admitted quite frankly that the awful contrast and problem which he had stated would not be settled completely by this Bill or by any one Bill. His Majesty's Government were not neglecting the land problem on its other side, as disclosures might soon show. It was not within the power even of a powerful House to settle a social question of this kind apart from other elements which were altogether out of its sphere. Even were all their political adjustments complete, there would still remain the questions of thrift, sobriety, self-reliance, the habits and character of the people, whether their ambitions were low or lofty; and all that 734 kind of problem, the personal and even the social one, would remain. But as a Government, and as a House, they could never forget that the virtues along with strength of body and mind were nurtured in the homestead; and the whole idea underlying this Bill, the idea which was dearest to him, was the idea of the homestead. Though the conditions of that homestead might be rigorous, they were at all events healthy, breeding hardihood and power. And under this scheme they would have independence, which, to him, was greater as an incentive than any other prompting of national policy. It was not a class they wished to favour; it was a race of men they wished to preserve.
§ * MR. MITCHELL-THOMSON (Lanarkshire, N.W.)
said the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister had interrupted his hon. friend the Member for North Ayrshire when quoting a Return published last year in reference to the agricultural population. His hon. friend had pointed out that the figures which the Prime Minister had selected as affirming his statement that land for small holdings was difficult to obtain in certain counties, were not borne out by the facts. He would also point out that before the Departmental Committee, Lord Carrington's estate agent had asserted that there was no difficulty in obtaining land for experimental purposes with regard to small holdings. In the speech they had just heard the right hon. Gentleman had had a good deal to say about the question of land in Scotland available for deer forests; but the Return from which the right hon. Gentleman made his quotations was for the year 1892, and it was getting a little bit out of date. There was a Return for last year in which were included those counties in which deer forests most largely abounded, in other words, Argyll, Inverness, Sutherland, and Ross and Cromarty. He would like the House to see what the state of these counties was in regard to the supply of land for small holdings. There was no information in the Return with regard to Sutherland. With reference to Ross and Cromarty it stated that there were a number of crofters emigrating to Canada and there was no demand for 735 vacant crofts. In Argyll there was said to be little demand for allotments and small holdings, and there was no difficulty in getting the land where it was required. The House would see from the Return that there was no difficulty in these deer-ridden counties in acquiring land for small holdings. It was asked why? If they took the Report with regard to Inverness it would at once become apparent to the House. Mr. Cranwrote—There is no difficulty in obtaining small holdings in high altitudes, but few allotments are available and the small holdings have not been a great success. What is wanted by small farmers and crofters especially is ownership of the land they occupy.What was the Lord Advocate's authority for saying that not more than 3 per cent. of the people of Scotland wanted to purchase? He would like to see the data on which the right hop. Gentleman based his figures. He did not base any argument on any absence of demand, because he for one believed that small holdings could be prosperous only if they were established on a sound economic basis, and on such a basis he believed there would be a demand for small holdings, but he denied that there would be any demand for them on the basis which the Government proposed. He proposed to examine the Bill from the point of view of the different parties affected. To begin with the smallest holders—what he wanted to know from the Government was whether or not the cottars were to be included in this Bill. Was there to be fixity of tenure for the tenant of the small holder? If there was to be fixity of tenure, if the tenant of the small holder was to have rights and privileges, and if the rights and privileges of the small holder were to be broken in upon, then the small holders in Scotland would have something not very pleasant to say to the members of the Government. Let them take the next class. What was the position of the existing small holder? His hope, very naturally, would be for a reduction of rent. A reduction of rent was at best problematical; and did the House think that the small holder would view with satisfaction the absolute certainty of incurring increased charges which at the present moment were borne by the landlord—charges for upkeep 736 and charges for matters like fencing and draining? Did the Government think that the small holder would be delighted to learn that he was going to be rated on the value of buildings, while the new small holder was not going to be rated? Did they think that he would be pleased to know that the Government intended to give money by way of gift or loan to the new small holder, while he was to get nothing, while he would thus have to compete with a subsidised competitor, and, more than that, while he would be asked to contribute towards the subsidy? Did they think that the existing small holder would be pleased with that? Did they think that he would be pleased to know that his customary system of tenure was no longer to be possible for him? Did they think that the existing smallholder would be pleased when, under this Bill, everything was to be reduced to a stereotyped and cast-iron formula, and elasticity of private contract removed? When the small holder realised what his position under the Bill was going to be, he would certainly think that any reduction of rent which might accrue to him would be bought at a very dear price. As to the new small holder, the right hon. Gentleman had said that of all people in the world surely the new holder, under this Bill, was entitled to be called blessed. He got his land provided for him with the assistance of the State, and he got State assistance for raising buildings, and yet he could never rise to the full magic of property, while he had to face under this Bill the almost inevitable miseries of mortgage. He wondered if hon. Members opposite had realised what was in the Bill. Did they realise that under Clause 15 a man who was indebted to the State was to be no longer a freeman but a serf, and tied to the soil? They were setting up the Council of three and the Court of five to whom the small holder was to be bound. They were to be the arbiters of his destiny, the Lords of his head, the gombeen-men of the State. Let them take the class of farmers. Up and down Scotland farmers' associations had been passing resolutions condemning the principles of the Bill. He invited the Lord Advocate and any hon. Member opposite whether now or 737 later on in the debate, to rise and tell him of one fanners' association in Scotland which had passed a resolution in favour of the principle of the Bill.
§ MR. A. DEWAR (Edinburgh, S.)
said the Lothian Farmers' Association passed a resolution unanimously in favour of the Bill.
§ * MR. MITCHELL-THOMSON
said that at any rate the central association which represented all the farming associations, the Chamber of Agriculture, had passed such a resolution condemning the principles of Bill, and that association represented generally agricultural opinion in Scottand. [An HON. MEMBER: No.] In (he debates on the Land Tenure Bill they were told by the hon. Baronet the Member for South Somerset that it did represent the agricultural opinion of Scotland.
§ * MR. MITCHELL-THOMSON
said the resolution against the principles of the Bill was passed by the Central Chamber of Agriculture by a majority of eight to one. That resolution was passed against an amendment, which was voted down, to the effect that the Bill was to be approved as an honest attempt to deal with the difficulty. Indeed, a petition from the Chamber against the Bill had been presented to the House. He did not wonder that the farmers of Scotland had taken that view. Had hon. Members opposite considered the penalties which were to be inflicted upon the farmer? Apart from the question of damages or compensation for destruction or loss of revenue in the working of the farm—and it was questionable whether any damages could be enforced at all because there was no provision for enforcing them—the farmer was subject to three penalties. In the first place, as a taxpayer 738 he had to provide his contribution to the extra sum of £85,000 which was going to be raised under the Bill. In the second place, he had to contribute his mite to the sustenance of the great official hierarchy which was going to batten on the public purse in carrying out the provisions of the Bill. In the third place, as a ratepayer he had to make up the difference caused by the loss in rateable value in his own area arising from the loss on that proportion of the rental which was represented by the interest en advances made through the Agricultural Commissioners, and by the difference between the value of the farm buildings as they existed now and those same buildings as they would be valued if they were buildings occupied by the small holders. Those were differences which would fall upon all ratepayers within the rating area. Therefore they could not wonder that the farmers who were taxpayers and ratepayers were inclined to look askance at the proposals made by the Government, When they came to the last class of persons; affected—the present landowner—of course they were face to face with the question of principle already alluded to. Before dealing with that he would like to put one or two specific points to the Government upon which he desired a clear statement. In the first place, there was the question of the march fences. In case outlying portions of an estate were taken, who was going to pay for the erection of the match fences, which would cost at least 6d. a yard, and if they were going to put up a good fence it would cost anything between 1s. and Is. 3d. per yard? Was the landlord, or the small owner, or the Land Court going to find that money? Then there was another point with regard to insurance. Who was going to be responsible for insuring the buildings? Had that got to be done by the small holders, the State, or the landowner? They were told that the landlord had no interest in the buildings. Was the State going into the insurance business, or was it to be done by the small holder, and, if so, what guarantee was there that the money the small holder recovered was going to be applied to the replacement of the building? What would happen in the case of the bankruptcy of a small holder? He 739 would also like to know if a small holder could borrow money on his improvements? He noticed, too, that compensation was payable for the injury to the letting value of the land, but what about injury to the letting value of the building? What about injury or loss resulting from the fact that the buildings left on the farm were too big after small holdings had been struck off? Was there to be any compensation for that? Let them take a more extreme case—that of ploughmen's cottages. On some estates rows of these cottages had been built. If a large number of small owners came on that estate the ploughmen's cottages would be valueless and would represent a dead loss. Who was going to pay for them? Why was this question of compensation to be settled by the Land Court who would be judges in their own cause, and not by arbitration? Then again, in regard to fair-rents. Fair rents was very much of a misnomer, because it apparently meant a rent which in one way was fair and which in another way was unfair. For if the tenant thought his rent was too high, he could either renounce his holding or not enter into it; but if the landlord thought the rent was too low he could not say that he would not let the land, because he was bound to let it under the Bill. That might or might not be a good thing, but what he asked the House to remember was that the words "fair rent" were hardly appropriate, to an operation of that kind. Then as to buildings erected by the tenant. This was really a very important point. Supposing they had got an estate suitable for feuing, and nearly, but not quite, ripe for that purpose, the small holder who held a bit of land might take it into his head to erect buildings upon it. Was the landlord to have no control over those buildings? Was he to watch them being erected in the sure and certain knowledge that when he came to take over the land he would have to pay the full value for those buildings simply in order that he might pull them down? Then what about the land during the interval provided under Clause 14? There was no power to let the land pending the decision of the Land Court, and who was to be responsible to the landlord for the rent during that period? Supposing they had a bit of land hanging in this 740 condition between heaven and earth, which the landlord could not let, supposing the buildings had been run down by the last tenant and the local public health authority came down upon the landowner and condemned the buildings as being in a bad sanitary state and ordered them to be put right; did the Government propose to sanction a system by which a local authority could call upon the landlord to put buildings into a sanitary condition when it had been laid down in the Bill that the landlord would not be permitted to touch those buildings? That was one of the difficulties. Clause 14 was responsible for a large part of the objection which had been raised to dual ownership. There seemed to be a certain amount of misunderstanding on the Treasury Bench upon this point, because the Solicitor-General for Scotland had devoted a long and elaborate argument to the nature of the ownership, and had proved to his own satisfaction that the Bill did not establish dual ownership. Then the Lord-Advocate had declared that the Bill did create dual ownership and defended the measure upon that score. By the time the debate ended he hoped the Government would make up their minds which horse they were going to ride. If he understood the Solicitor-General for Scotland aright he said that dual or divided ownership was a vile phrase which was unknown to the law of Scotland, and he went on to say that what was known to the law was joint ownership. He proceeded to argue that this Bill did not create joint ownership. No one ever suggested that it did. It was perfectly clear that the Bill certainly did not create joint ownership; for in joint ownership any loss fell on both parties, whereas it was clear from the provisions of the Bill that all the loss would be borne by one party, the landlord. In regard to the question of divided ownership, he asked the hon. and learned Gentleman to recollect that in going through his catalogue of powers and functions he was not entirely accurate, for there were cases in which the landlord was forbidden to let his property, and there were cases in which the tenant was allowed to bequeath his property. On the general question he would put the matter in the form of an apologue. 741 Supposing he gave the Solicitor-General a motor-car, he would have full and undivided property in it, subject, of course, to the law of the land. But supposing he gave it to him on the condition that the car was only to be used for the purpose, unless he gave leave to use it otherwise, of drivingh the Chancellor of the Duchy about London, would the hon. Gentleman say that his ownership was still undivided? Would he not say that it was in commission between himself, the giver, and the Chancellor of the Duchy? And if, instead of having the car given to him, the hon. Gentleman found these restrictions were being imposed on the use of a car which he had bought and paid for with his own money, would he still say that he possessed undivided property in the car? He left the hon. and learned Gentleman to his own conscience. He would only ask him whether under this system the voluntary agreements for the constitution of small holdings which had been entered into in considerable numbers in recent years were likely to continue? In Scotland there had been a steady increase in the number of farms of what might be called small holdings size. Since 1895 farms over 300 acres had decreased from 18,787 to 17,828; these of five to fifty acres had increased from 33,921 to 34,645; and those of fifty to 300 acres had increased from 22,802 to 23,123. The increase was thus most marked in the class which this Bill was intended to benefit. Did the hon. and learned Gentleman think that these voluntary agreements would continue if this Bill became law? He could hardly believe that the hon. Gentleman would give an answer in the affirmative. They were told that the Bill was an experiment. Why was Scotland to be made the corpus vile of this experiment? Was a different experiment to be made in England, and, if so, what was the reason for the difference? Why was Scotland to have set up this miserable substitute for the Board of Agriculture? Why was Scotland not to have a branch of the Board of Agriculture? Why did the Government persist in ignoring the recommendations of the Departmental Committee that sat on this subject, who 742 said on page 31 of their Report (Cd. 3277) —The Committee recommend, therefore, that special brandies of the Board of Agriculture for England and Scotland be formed for the purpose of making definite experiments on an adequate scale and on an economic basis in the creation of small holdings… The Committee lay special stress on the desirability of regarding such action as experimental, inasmuch as the evidence placed before them goes to show that encouragement and example, together with demonstration of the economic soundness of land sub-division is necessary lo encourage both private owners and local authorities to embark in the operation.Why did the Government not act on that recommendation? Why did they not "ca' canny?" There might be other than economic reasons for the course that was being taken, and he observed that there were seventy Members of the House who were vice-presidents of the Land Nationalisation Society, including the names of three Members of the Government. Before the mass of the Government supporters hastened into the lobby in support of this measure, he would remind them of the aphorism of Montaigne—He who transfers property from its owner to another does not deserve the name of Liberal.
§ * Mr. ERSKINE (Perthshire, W.)
said he would endeavour to meet two objections in principle which had been urged by hon. Gentlemen who had spoken in opposition to the Bill. It had been stated again and again in the course of the debate that there was no demand for this Bill. They had been asked, Why, then, disturb the present condition of affairs in Scotland, which were going on in an agreeable way? That was urged by the hon. Member for North Ayrshire. The other objection was that the Bill proposed to introduce a system of dual or divided ownership, and that it would be accompanied by the same undesirable results that had accompanied dual ownership in Ireland. If those two objections were not mutually destructive, they were, at any rate, contradictory, because if there was no demand for the Bill, if public opinion in Scotland did not support the measure, and if it did not embody the wishes of a large section of the agricultural community, then it would remain 743 a dead letter, and the spectre of dual ownership would not be raised. The Report on the decline of the agricultural population, which had been referred to more than once in the course of the debate, stated that the majority of the correspondents reported that there was a demand for small holdings which was not satisfied. Reports were received to this effect from correspondents in Aberdeenshire, Banffshire, Forfarshire, Kincardineshire, Peebles-shire, Perthshire, Roxburghshire, Inverness-shire, Ayrshire, and Caithness. All stated that there was a demand for small holdings, and that the demand had not been met. He thought that those who had come into contact with agricultural feeling in rural districts would say that there was a strong demand that the principles embodied in the Bill should be carried out. The strongest demand of all was to be found in the Census Returns for the last decennial period—1891 to 1901. The Returns showed that the population in the rural districts had declined by 4.6 per cent. That did not represent the full gravity of the case. The natural increase of 11 per cent. had disappeared, so that in 1901 the rural population was nearly 16 per cent. lower as compared with 1901, than it ought to have been if normal conditions had prevailed. He was sure that no hon. Member would deny that the demand for legislation was not only articulate but clamant. The second objection which had been again and again urged was that the Bill established a system of dual or divided ownership. He used that phrase to express the condition of partnership where the land was hired. Hon. Members who had urged that objection had held up the case of Ireland as a warning. The dual or divided ownership contemplated by this measure was not the dual ownership which had existed in Ireland. The House well knew that Irish dual ownership was described as the "three F's"—fair rent, fixity of tenure, and free sale. Where was the free sale under this Bill? It was not included, and he thought rightly not included, because it would be accompanied by most undesirable results in Scotland. He could not agree with the mover of the Amendment that if they had divided ownership they must 744 also have free sale. The evils of free sale had been simply put by the Lord Advocate in an article which he contributed recently to the Nation. Under free sale one of the main advantages given by the Bill would be defeated, and that was fair rents. The hon. Member for East Aberdeenshire had pointed out that in his constituency the excessive demand for small holdings had forced up the rents above their economic value. If a landlord got an offer for a farm he naturally asked himself whether there was not a risk that the offerer of a very high rent would not be tempted to skin the land so as to recoup himself during the lease, and therefore he often accepted a lower offer. But under free sale that would not be the case. The seller of tenant right would have no further interest in the soil; he got cash down for his right, and left the incoming tenant with an overwhelming weight of purchase money upon him. Therefore, free sale had, in his opinion, been wisely left out of the provisions of the Bill. There would under this Bill be a condition of partnership between the landlord and the tenant, but that in no way differed in principle from the divided ownership established under the Agricultural Holdings Act of 1883 as regarded manuring and similar improvements. That limited ownership was recognised and extended by the Act of 1900, under which the tenant was able to carry out drainage operations, and the principle was still further extended by the Act of 1906 in connection with the maintenance of buildings. By these Acts the tenant had to be compensated before he left his holding for the improvements which he had effected and which were not exhausted. He could see no difference in principle between the proposals under this Bill and the Acts which he had mentioned. The hon. Member for North Ayrshire had told them and the Scottish Chamber of Agriculture had said that the Bill provided for not only dual but triple ownership. But if so, then there had already been triple ownership under the Drainage Act of 1896, under which £4,000,000 had been advanced by the State to the landowners of the country to carry out drainage operations, or else what constituted triple, ownership when £65,000 a year was 745 advanced to tenants, that did not constitute triple ownership when £4,000,000 was advanced to landlords? No doubt the system under the present Bill might become a little more complex, the interests might be in different proportions, but any objection on that ground could well be met by the Agricultural Commissioners having a record made of the state of the holdings coming under the operation of the Act and on each subsequent application to the Land Court. That would be a security against bad cultivation; it would ensure the taxpayer that the subject on which he had advanced money would not be deteriorated. The Bill was conceived, not in a hostile spirit against landlords, but to deal with the great national malady of rural depopulation. Some hon. Members had prophesied the disastrous effect which would ensue if the Bill became law; they said that large farms would be abolished; but the Government had declared that they wanted every kind of culture and every variety in size of farm, The hon. Member for Durham had spoken about small holdings picking out the eyes of the land, but the hon. Gentleman must be well aware that it was to be suitable land that was to be taken for small holdings, and that the Agricultural Commissioners would see to it that only suitable land for such holdings was taken. In these days isolated small holdings would not pay; they must be grouped and so give full facilities for co-operation. Another objection which had been urged was that the Bill would dry up the money that had been laid out on farms in Scotland. The hon. Member for Leith had said that £2,000,000 a year was at present spent on farms in Scotland, and the hon. Member for North Ayrshire had stated the sum at £2,500,000. He did not know where they got their figures, but taking the rental of the farms in Scotland at £5,300,000 and £2,000,000 as spent on the farms per annum that amounted to 36 per cent. on the rental, [OPPOSITION cheers.] Hon. Members opposite cheered, but those estates on which 36 per cent. of the rental was spent in improvements must be in a very high state of upkeep. He held, however, that over a long period of years 36 per cent. was an excessive rate of outlay which was of economic necessity, 746 and that on most estates 20 per cent. would be found to be sufficient. Of that rental there was over £690,000 representing holdings of £50 a year and under. No doubt on such holdings the landlord would not spend as much as he had hitherto done, but then the land-holder would spend the money. He did not believe in all the gloomy prophesies which had been made as to the effect of this Bill if it became law. It was a measure to keep people on the land, which would give people freer access to the land, encourage cultivation of the land, and open a fuller and more complete career to those who now lived on the land.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR (City of London)
I congratulate the hon. Member who has just sat down upon the moderation of his speech and the sincere attempt which he made to grapple with some few of the problems presented by the Bill, which I cannot help regarding as one of the most extraordinary projects of legislation ever submitted to the House. I wish that the last spokesman for the Government had followed the course which the hon. Gentleman subsequently pursued and that the Lord Advocate had really tried to deal with the questions which this Bill raises. But the right hon. and learned Gentleman made no such attempt. No doubt the right hon. and learned Gentleman was very persuasive, especially when he was addressing an audience not intimately acquainted with the subject. I could not help being struck by one omission from the right hon. and learned Gentleman's speech. He criticised my hon. friend the Member for North Ayrshire for the tone and temper of some of his remarks, and he was good enough to say that my hon. friend had concluded his speech by asking a series of very practical questions which deserved an answer, but the hon. Member for North Ayrshire did not get that answer. I cannot help thinking that if the right hon. and learned Gentleman had confined himself less to rhetoric—which, in its proper place, I greatly admire—no one would have had cause to complain, and if he had made rather more of an attempt to grapple with the problems stated with great clearness and moderation by my hon. friend, the discussion would 747 have been more greatly advanced than it is. There is one point to which the hon. Member who has just sat down, the Lord Advocate, and almost everybody who has spoken on that side of the House, appeared to be in agreement, viz.: that in Scotland we are suffering from rural depopulation, and that this Bill is a measure by which rural depopulation, if it cannot be wholly cured, may at all events be greatly diminished. The right hon. Gentleman began his speech by giving the House a lurid account, partly in his own words and partly in the words of the hon. Member for Huddersfield, of the condition of Scotland, which was described as unique in Europe—unique because you had at the same time and in close proximity the extreme of; congestion in one place and the extreme of depopulation in another. Of course it is perfectly easy for anybody who does not know the geographical configuration of Scotland to point out on the map that there are great areas in the northern half where the population is extremely sparse, and then to go on to say that close to that great area you have cities like Glasgow where the congestion is great and where undoubtedly the condition of a large number of inhabitants, although greatly improved, is still far removed from what any Member of this House would desire to see permanent. But what relation have those two facts to one another? Does the right hon. Gentleman really ask the House or the country to believe that Glasgow is overcrowded because there arc deer forests in Rosshire or Inverness-shire? That is really playing with one of the greatest and most difficult problems with which we have to deal. Everybody admits how pressing is the urban question, but we are only deferring the solution of that question if we treat it in the rhetorical manner dear to the heart of the right hon. Gentleman, but so little instructive and so little calculated to help us to find a way out of the difficulties, not only in Glasgow, but in every great centre of population in Scotland, England, France, Germany and America. We all know, or everybody ought to know, that this so called migration from the country is not the result of a particular system of land tenure in this country or that country; that it prevails in countries where the habitual 748 mode of tenure is in small holdings; that it prevails in countries where the habitual mode of tenure is in large holdings; that it prevails where estates are big, where estates are small, and where the amount of unoccupied land is practically limitless. Is it not rather unwise to hold out to us on all sides of the House, who are most anxious to come to close quarters with this condition of urban population, random guesses and quack remedies, which have nothing to do with the real malady which greatly preoccupies us? The hon. Member for Blackfriars dwelt at some length, and somewhat in the same style as the Lord Advocate, with this question, but I think that everybody ought to remember that however you are going to deal with the urban problem you do not diminish its gravity or its difficulty by increasing the number of the rural in habitants of the country. The effect is exactly the reverse. You increase the difficulty by bringing people in the ordinary phrase "back to the land," and you must remember to distinguish between the permanent phases and the passing phases of this problem. It is quite true of course tint if an industry like agriculture goes through a period of deep depression, as it is indeed doing now, and as it did moreacutely a few years ago, it is inevitable, as it is in engineering, in cotton spinning, and in other trades, that the employment in that trade will be smaller, and people will have to go to other places where new occupations can be found. That has nothing to do with land tenure, it is the result of plain, simple economic processes. It may be the fact that you can contrive to have some alteration in your land tenure which would for a time keep more people on the land, increase the number of persons gaininga livelihood by working the land, but if you think that that is going to diminish rural migration to the towns you have omitted to consider the plainest, and most obvious facts of the case. The larger the number of families whose heads are engaged in agriculture, the larger will be the number of people who in normal circumstances will necessarily migrate from the rural to the urban districts, and it is so for the plain reason that the number who can properly be employed in agriculture 749 under any system is limited. You cannot lay down precise limits. If you have more land under grass it will be more difficult to introduce successfully what is now called intensive cultivation. The number is limited, and the more you increase the number of families engaged in agriculture, the larger is the source— the birth-rate remaining the same—from which people will have to leave agriculture and to enter the towns and find those varied employments which can only be found in towns or at least cannot be found in rural districts. That is a mathematical proposition which cannot be disputed, a proposition left out of account in these discussions, and yet one of the greatest possible importance. If we are to turn our mind from the temporary phase due to agricultural depression and to concentrate our gaze upon the present relations between urban and rural communities, it is capable of mathematical demonstration that the larger the number engaged in agriculture the larger the number who migrate to the town. I put that argument to the House because it is apt to be forgotten; but I ought to add that I do not believe the present Bill of the Government will greatly add to the number of families engaged in rural work in Scotland. I do not think myself that it is very relevant to the discussion, although strictly relevant to the arguments of the Lord Advocate, of the hon. Member who has just sat down, and of the hon. Member for Blackfriars. The Government themselves do not contemplate that the number of people engaged in agriculture will be greatly augmented by this Bill. They have indeed made special provision in the Bill which will check the only conceivable means by which the number of persons could be greatly augmented. That only conceivable means is by intensive cultivation, by devoting labour and money to very highly manured and very highly prepared ground. That can only be carried out on holdings and probably on very much smaller holdings than £50. Directly you have created a £50 holding you have for all time prevented that holding being used for intensive cultivation. It is immune.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill says "No." If he will tell me where in the Bill the holder of a £50 holding who is using his farm for ordinary agricultural purpose can be dispossessed in favour of three or more people who arc prepared to use it for intensive cultivation I will admit that his argument is correct. How are they to be dispossessed?
§ MR. SINCLAIR
The Bill includes holdings of all sorts, from one acre to fifty acres. The holder of any holding has complete security for the outlay and capital which he puts into the holding. He has therefore every encouragement for intensive cultivation.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The right hon. Gentleman is mistaken. If a man holds a farm of £50 rental it will not pay him to go in for intensive cultivation.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
He can give it up, but you cannot get it, and that is the point I want to make. The right hon. Gentleman proposes to create a large number of holdings, some of which are to be far above the limits of intensive cultivation. These are to be immune from any species of sub-division for all time. It may be desirable that these holdings should be cut up. But however much the good landlord, if he had it in his power, would cut such a holding up, he cannot touch it; the Land Commission cannot touch it; the bureaucratic tribunal which the right hon. Gentleman proposes to set up cannot touch it; it remains there an obstacle to the very policy which he tells us he means to carry out. The Lord Advocate threw down a challenge. He said nobody had replied to the speech of his learned friend the Solicitor-General for Scotland who spoke yesterday afternoon. One of the people who replied to his learned friend the Solicitor-General was himself, because the Solicitor-General for Scotland insisted that there was nothing in the nature of tenant right created by this Bill, and the whole speech of the right hon. Gentleman depended, in his own terminology at any rate, on the fact that the system of tenant 751 tight was contemplated; but I do not propose to leave the reply only to the Lord Advocate, and I will ask the Solicitor-General for Scotland whether the main intention of his speech was not that fixity of tenure was the one thing which the Bill desired to give. I do not propose to argue whether fixity of tenure is good or bad at this moment, but I want to ask on what possible principle the Government have arranged that fixity of tenure shall be given and given alone to holdings of land up to £50 in value. Above £50the ordinary circumstances are to prevail, and labourers, cotters, every class engaged in agriculture except these favoured few, are to be left without this fixity of tenure which, according to the Solicitor-General for Scotland, is the one blessing the Bill is intended to bestow on the people of Scotland. I do not understand what is the object of the Government. They do not pretend, broadly speaking, that there have been foolish or cruel evictions; they do not pretend that there are grievances to be remedied; and, if there are no grievances to be remedied, how is fixity of tenure going to affect rural depopulation or good husbandry? Is it to be said that every man has a right to remain in the occupation of the home where lie happens to be? If so, extend that right. Well, there are some 38,000,000 in Great Britain all having equal right to a home and, I suppose, equal right to fixity of tenure or I do not know why they have not. I, for example, a tenant of the Crown, may be described as a national tenant; but the nation does not propose to give me fixity of tenure. I wish it would. There are vast numbers of the urban and rural population to whom this might apply. I do not understand why the Government have brought forward this particular proposal, unless they can show that the class to whom they offer it are suffering under an exceptional state of things. But there is no attempt to show that; there is no suggestion that a grievance exists; and to bring in a Bill which is to be universal in its application, upsetting the whole historical basis of land tenure for Scotland, to remedy a grievance which, those who bring it in do not pretend exists, appears to me to be foolish and extravagant legislation. My experience of letting farms in Scotland when I was young was 752 that the universal practice was to give nineteen years leases, and that was all the landlord wished to give or the tenant to take; but now tenants will not take nineteen years leases. They say—or, at least, that is so in the part of the country with which I am acquainted—the conditions of agriculture are so uncertain that they do no care to commit themselves to such, a term; they refuse to have that approximation to stability of tenure which the Government desire to impose nolens volens on every holder under £50. I have another grievance against the Lord Advocate more serious than any I have yet advanced. I listened to his speech from beginning to end, as did many Members I am now addressing, and their applause showed they listened in an admiring, favouring spirit. To those admirers I now appeal; did the Lord Advocate from beginning to end rest his case on anything except upon what was going on beyond the Highland line and in the crofting countries? If this were a Bill to amend the Crofters Act, I should be glad to discuss it on its merits. For good or for evil, the House has adopted a different principle in crofting tenures—a system which might be suitable to those areas, but to extend the principle to areas historically, climatically, and economically different, at all events requires justification. Did the right hon. Gentleman give any? He gave none whatsoever; not only did he give no justification, but he did not touch the subject. In the Lowlands of Scotland you have a system of farming more highly developed, I believe, within its limits, than is found in any other country in the world—a system upon which there has been larger expenditure by landlord and tenant than is found anywhere else. The expenditure by the tenant is now protected, and rightly protected, from any invasion by the landlord. Dealing with this system, which produces admirable and surprising results, down comes the Government, and upon the ground that a certain class of legislation has succeeded in another part of the country where the people and the soil are poor and agriculture backward, where the history of the tenure is altogether different, and, on the strength of that alone, proposes to introduce into this highly-developed system of the Lowlands that which may or may not be suited to the 753 Highlands, and could only be suitable there because, from the nature of the case, agriculture was in a backward state. From even the Highland point of view the right hon. Gentleman is wrong. In his statement of the Highland case the right hon. Gentleman attacked me for a speech I made some twenty years ago, in which I said that if the poverty of the Highlands was such as had been described in the debate then the people would not be able to raise themselves under the Act from the position in which they were, and that public contributions would be required. They were required and given. When the right hon. Gentleman brings forward a case—of course, I have not had an opportunity of examining it—in which, with only a small contribution from public funds, people wore established on adequate holdings under satisfactory conditions, and it turns out that they had under the previous unreformed law been able to accumulate sufficient capital to carry out permanent improvements and buildings upon which their property depended, I can only say these were not the people I described as requiring public money; they were people who were far better off under the old system than the people of Glasgow, described as living three; or four in one room—people you do not propose to assist. What I stated in that debate—I have not referred to the speech, but, judging from the quotations given—was absolutely true so far as it referred to the people in the state of poverty described. Now I am going to do what the Lord Advocate did not do, and show how the Bill will affect that part of Scotland hitherto, like other parts of the civilised world, left to the working of ordinary tenure under private ownership. I can quite understand Socialist support being given to something in the nature of State ownership, but this Bill has the unique peculiarity of offending every canon of legislation any human being may hold from the extreme of doctrinaire individualism to the extreme of revolutionary socialism. There is no responsible statesman, politician, or theorist in the country who will not be offended by the provisions of the Bill. Let us examine it, not as the Lord Advocate did, in relation to that part of the country where exceptional legislation exists. You cannot introduce this for the Lowlands of 754 Scotland only; if you introduce it there you must introduce it into England; it is not a Scottish. Bill at all. It is Scottish because a clause at the end declares it shall apply to Scotland. In that narrow and technical sense I do not deny it; but it does not deal with any problem peculiarly Scottish, or any system of land tenure peculiarly Scottish, and if you adopt it for Scotland you must adopt it at once for the sister kingdom. I am quite aware there are hon. Members who would like that done. Let us realise then that if you do this for Scotland, you do it for England, and it is clear that, carried out on a large scale, it means an enormous pecuniary loss to somebody. You have farms in Scotland carefully mapped out to suit buildings of a certain size carefully designed to suit the farms. If you are going to divide the farms as proposed under the Bill, it is quite manifest that you will render wholly valueless a great part of the capital expenditure on these buildings. New buildings will have to be erected and there will have to be new fencing to divide your new holdings from the remaining parts. I am not sure whether English Members thoroughly realise this. The practice in the Lowlands of Scotland is for the labour required on; the farm to find accommodation on the farm. There is a house for the ploughman in each farmsteading, as we call it in my part of the country, and accommodation for the labourers on the farm. Now it is quite clear that when you take away a fragment of the outlying portion of a farm, creating a new holding, you cannot compel the owner to give up part of his cottage for the new holding, and if you could compel him, the cottages would not be conveniently situated; new cottages would have to be erected for the new holding. It is perfectly manifest that this must involve a very great loss. But it is only a small part of the loss. Consider the position of the tenant you bring in, and of the landlord on whom you saddle him, under this experiment, as you justly call it, and see whether it is going to prove a success. We must assume that even if your bureaucracy that is going to take the management of the land out of the hands of the landlords, and manage all broad Scotland in a back room in Edinburgh—even if these gentlemen arc far abler and far more 755 competent to carry through this impossible task than we have any right to suppose, we must still take into account the possibility that they will make mistakes. Even Lord Carrington, the model landlord, made a mistake. He told the House of Lords, I think, that he had on one of his properties seven persons who took small holdings. These holdings were not suitable, or the men were not suitable, and, as Lord Carrington expressed it, these "seven sportsmen" had to go. Very well, then, there may be sportsmen in Scotland as well as in England, and when your Scottish sportsman has to go, or wants to go, or fails to observe the conditions which you impose upon him by this Bill, what is to happen? Lord Carrington's seven sportsmen failed to make a living out of the small holdings which he had provided, and, I presume, he either turned them out, or politely told them that the sooner they went the better. I assume that he resumed the holdings and turned them to some better use, or, more probably, added them to a farm or turned them to some other suitable purpose.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
In Lincolnshire? I hope Lord Carrington did not lose much by his seven sportsmen. But when this Bill passes, and you make small holdings in the Lowlands of Scotland, and in one of these small holdings a man feels that he cannot make them pay, you still keep him there whether he likes it or not. He wants to go; the landlord, seeing the land deteriorating before his eyes, wants him to go, but your bureaucrat of Edinburgh, said, "No, not at all. This gentleman his borrowed £500 of us to equip a holding which we now think we ought never to have given him; but he did borrow the money, and there he must stay until he has paid it." That in another country would be described as a "servile condition." Supposing he does go, and the land is left, as it would be certain to be left under these circumstances, in a very bad condition, what is the landlord to do He cannot add it to another farm, because that is against the Bill. I presume it would not be easy to find 756 another tenant; at all events, it is not very probable that he would find one. He is not allowed, as I understand, to cultivate it himself, and if he is allowed— it is rather obscure in the Bill and I cannot make out where he is—in any case it is very hard to make him cultivate it himself, and this land is lying there getting worse and worse, and without a tenant, until the gentlemen in Edinburgh can make up their minds what ought to be done with it. They who have got all Scotland in their hands, small holdings in every direction of every kind, obliged to settle every species of difficulty, are brought in, and they have got to deal with the situation. I do not think this describes adequately the position in which the unfortunate landlord will be left; because who is going to be liable I for the £500 which the ex-tenant against f his will borrowed from the gentleman in Edinburgh, which he cannot pay because he is bankrupt, and which ought never to have been put into the holding if the holding was not suitable? I suppose the Government mean to come down on the landlord for it. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will tell me now across the floor of the House who will be liable in that case for the debt due to the country?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The evils which follow from this state of things are very far from being exhausted by the account which I have given. Now, the hon. and learned Gentleman—I do not know whether he will be more successful than the Secretary for Scotland in following my view—has dwelt at length upon the fact that no landlord is going to be injured by this Bill. I am not going here to express any opinion as to that, but I think even the landlord ought to have justice done to him; or, at all events, if you will not do him justice, give him a clear percentage of justice, a plain fraction of what is due to him, so that he can count upon it. What I am going to say is not purely from the landlords' point of view or the tenants' point of view, but from the point of view of, the agricultural system which you are going to 757 set up. You are forcibly introducing into Scotland, against the will of landlords, this new system, and how will the landlord regard the new tenant? How can he do otherwise than say "Here is a man foisted upon me by three gentlemen in Edinburgh who know nothing about my estate; they cut a bit off one of my farms, and if they do that they may greatly injure it."
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
They have to pay the value of the injury. Suppose they do. That adds to the cost of the holding, a fine illustration of what I have been saying. That shows how expensive the system will be, but I am trying to deal with the frame of mind, first of the landlord in his new relation to his tenant, and then with the frame of mind of his new tenant. The landlord says: "This man has been forced upon me. He is not a tenant I desire to have, nor is he paying any rent agreed upon between u. He is not a welcome addition to my property; I am sorry he is there, but I must see that he pays the rent and does not deteriorate the farm more than I can prevent. I am in no fiduciary relation to him at all; I am not a partner with him as I am with my other tenants; it is not my duty to provide him with a permanent capital as I should do for my other tenants. It is not my business to take him into co-partnership in the general interests of the work on my estate." How does the tenant look upon his landlord? He is not a man to whom he can go for assistance in a difficulty. He has been foisted upon the landlord at a rent fixed by the State. He cannot go to the landlord and say "I have had a bad season. Won't you reduce my rent; won't you give me back a percentage; won't you defer the time of payment?" The landlord would say, "I have done that to all my tenants with whom I have had any free business relations; but you, my friend, have 758 come here on a valued rent, at your own will, and against my will; go to the gentlemen who put you here. They have put themselves in the position of being your landlord. Let them give you the relief, which, if I were your landlord in the true sense of the word, I would gladly give you." Are the gentlemen in Edinburgh at liberty to give him the relief? If the tenant cannot pay the rent the landlord can hold him to every farthing of the bargain, and out he goes then and there. The landlord is merely an inspector who is always bullying him if there is any sign of his farming his land in an inexpedient manner, who is collecting his rent to the day and on the day, and who has the right to walk and shoot over the land when he likes. I do not think the relations between these two people are what, I am thankful to think, are the relations between landlord and tenant all over the Lowlands of Scotland at the present time—relations in which there is mutual service, mutual satisfaction, both standing by each other in good times or bad. Of course, occasionally there is sometimes inevitable difficulty and friction which, in business relations, cannot be wholly avoided; but, on the whole, nobody will deny that the relations are eminently satisfactory to both parties. You destroy absolutely all that, and I utterly fail to see what it is you are going to put that is more satisfactory in its place. The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down attempted to minimise the enormous benefit which agriculture in Scotland now derives from the fact that on the landlord you depend for the provision of great capital expenditure on agriculture. Whether 20 per cent. or 30 per cent. is expended by the landlord, the expenditure is enormous, and it is Necessary, and I venture to say that this will not be denied by any man who knows anything about agriculture. How are you going to provide for that expenditure in the future? The Solicitor-General tells us that the landlord's rights are in no sense damnified, and that among others of his great privileges he will have the right of mortgaging the property. The right of mortgaging your property is no doubt an interesting and a valuable right, but it loses most of its value when nobody will lend you money upon it, and 759 it loses a great deal of its value if the rate at which money can be borrowed is materially augmented. The landlord, who says that he has nothing but his land, and that land is already mortgaged, but who is keenly alive, as most landlords are, to the duties and necessities of his position, will borrow money to carry out improvements and carry out farm buildings. If you are going to render every acre in Scotland less valuable than it is now, at least in the eyes of the lender, you are going to hamper this great industry in the most unnecessary and the most cruel way. We talk in this House sometimes as if the business of land was wholly different from other business. All business requires credit. Are you taking nothing away from a merchant when you take away his credit? You may leave him everything else in the world in the way of hard cash; but take away his credit, although it may be only a bit of paper or an unsubstantial belief about him in the mind of the lender, and you take away that which is almost more valuable than anything else he possesses. And to tell me that you do not injure the landlords when you make this stroke at their credit is to ask me to believe a thing which nobody would believe in any other business, and which I think is quite incredible in regard to the business of land. Perhaps it will be said, "Well, that is very unreasonable. The landlord can exact his rent; he can borrow upon that rent." Well, of course he can borrow upon that rent. But what you can borrow depends upon the view taken by the lender of your position, and the banks of Scotland and those who are prepared to lend money in Scotland are, unlike the Government and the majority of the House whom I am addressing, foolish enough to believe that land in Scotland will be better managed by the man who owns it than by the four bureaucrats sitting in Edinburgh, who cannot in the ultimate resort have that control which a lender upon security ought to have with regard to the thing which is the security. The inevitable result will be that difficulties will arise which do not affect the wretched dozen or two of small holders that you are going to create annually by this Bill, but which will affect the whole of Scotland 760 and everything connected with agriculture. The Member for one of the divisions of Aberdeen who yesterday said he had himself been born on a small holding has obtained a great and creditable experience in other spheres as a merchant and a man of business. He supported the Bill. What would he think if the Government, or any other predatory body, were to take his capital, or part of his capital, and say, "I am not going to rob you of this, but I am going to treat it in the way I think best. You may differ from me, but on the whole I know what is best for the society in which you live; and I am going to take your capital and go into speculations of my own with it "?I think he would think that a very great outrage. It is what the Government propose to do with the capital of the landlord.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The right hon. Gentleman denies that under this Bill the four gentlemen representing the Government can go to a landlord and say, "Give me 50 acres of this farm. You do not want to give it up for a separate holding, but I am going to take it; you do not want to let it, but I am going to let it for you." He does not deny that what has been put into that 50 acres by the landlord himself and his predecessors in title is as much capital as the capital which the Member for one of the divisions of Aberdeen puts into his business. The Government, then, take not merely a man's land, they take his capital, and they proceed to speculate with it in their own fashion. Well, I do not think that would be tolerated in any other department of industry. But that is not all. The Government, like other speculators, may lose. In some cases they are quite certain to lose. Then who is going to bear the loss? Are the people who forcibly take the capital from its true owner going to bear it? Why not? The whole loss is going to be put upon the unwilling partner to this iniquitious bargain. Nothing 761 in the world, I think, can make this a justifiable proceeding. By all means expropriate the landlord if you think the land can be better used; by all means, if you dislike peasant proprietors or small holders, keep the land in your own hands. There is he difficulty in getting land; but supposing there was not any of it in the market. The Government, at the death of each successive owner, exact something like one-tenth the value of the land by way of death duties. Give the landlord the permission to pay his death duties, or part of his death duties, in land, and you will have more land than you know what to do with. When you have got it—and nobody can describe that as spoliation and robbery— then, if you approve, as I approve, of small holders, and if you desire to multiply them as I do, then you can use the land for that purpose. If you think that land should be State property, you can let the State manage it and bear the loss upon it. That is a plain, statesmanlike procedure. But what the Government are doing is the most foolish of all things. They are, for a very small practical result, going to make an enormous and devastating change. They are going to apply £60,000 a year to these holdings, and to create about 100 holdings a year in all Scotland. In order to obtain that relatively petty result they are going to shake to its foundations the whole credit of Scottish agriculture. They are like people who should raise a dam across a river for the purpose of irrigating some small field, and congratulate themselves upon the increased productiveness, when by that very operation they have flooded and rendered useless thousands of acres behind. That is the true parallel of what the Government are doing. [Cries of "Oh."] If they were sincerely engaged in the task of increasing the number of small holdings, they could do it without destroying credit, without committing the gross injustices involved in the very framework and texture of this Bill. They do not choose to do it in that way, and I am bound to say, after the speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman who spoke this afternoon, that they show a determination to appeal to prejudice in this matter. All the right hon. Gentleman's allusions to deer forests 762 and overcrowding show it. What have deer forests and overcrowding got to do with the holdings in Fife, in Berwick, and in Ayrshire? They have nothing to do with it, and you are going to interfere with the whole industrial system of that country, and prospectively with the whole industrial system of England, in order to produce a scheme which will destroy the friendly relations between landlord and tenant, will turn the tenant into an often unfortunate holder bound to his holding, and the landlord into a mere collector of rents. By this Bill you are destroying the great capital expenditure upon land which now exists. In doing so, the Government do not merely do an injury to the landlord, they do not merely violate every principle with regard to the equitable treatment of property; they do not merely throw over every canon of legislation which has been accepted by their predecessors, but in my judgment they inflict an irreparable injury on the very class they desire to serve, the agriculture labourer and the small holder, who arc the only excuse for this wild and infantile experiment which the Government intend to make.
§ MR. SINCLAIR
In the speech which he has just delivered the right hon. Gentleman has made certain charges against those responsible for the introduction of this Bill, and he has described the Government and their supporters in this respect as rushing to their ruin and the ruin of their country. The right hon. Gentleman has also referred to the brilliant speech of my right hon. and learned friend as being applicable only to the Highlands. It is not difficult to produce evidence to show that the evil which we seek to check as just as rife in the lowlands of Scotland as it is in other parts. The right hon. Gentleman really before he discusses this Bill, if I may say so with all respect, should make himself acquainted with what the undisputed facts are in regard to depopulation in other parts of Scotland. There is no part of Scotland in which depopulation is so bad, and so extreme, next to the very north of Scotland, as in the southern counties—in the Galloway district and the Roxburgh district—composing the Border parts. 763 I will give you a little more evidence on this point. Talking of the urban problem, which is the largest problem in the south of Scotland, and the one which is more important and more immediate in the south of Scotland, though I did not follow his argument the right hon. Gentleman appeared to argue that the more large arms there were and the barer the country districts were of population, the better it would be for the country. He denied that small holdings could be any remedy for the depopulation which went on round about towns. I gather that he means the south of Scotland. There are two ways in which small holdings, if there is anything in experience, will help that problem. In the first place there are men in the towns of Scotland who have worked all their best days upon farms, and when they hive come to their ripe experience could find no opportunity of investing their savings in the occupation to which they have given their lives. It is these men who without hope and without career too often, drift into the towns, increase the competition for labour in the towns, and swell the difficulty with which municipal reformers have to deal. May I read to the House a short quotation which will perhaps give the right hon. Gentleman a little more information as to the condition of farm labourers in all parts of Scotland f This is the opinion of an unprejudiced observer—the opinion of a man sent over by another Power, and ordered to report on the opportunities for the purchase of agricultural implements in Scotland—the United States Consul, Mr. Rufus Fleming. Remember this is all the more important and valuable in that it is incidental to his inquiry as to the market for farm implements. He says—It is a curious fact that in an overpopulated country—I speak of the United Kingdom as a whole—the demand for farm labourers is always greater than the supply. The conditions of country life in Scotland for the labourer are not as severe as they were some years ago—at least this is the testimony of students of social problems—and the pay of the farm worker (I refer to male and not female labour, the latter commanding from$2 to $2.50 a week, without board or allowances) is probably better than that of any other class of unskilled labour. Not that he receives more money than any worker in another unskilled occupation, but his wages in money and its equivalent are higher. The average wage of 764 a farm hand is $5 a week, including his allowance of potatoes and rent of house; in addition, he has the use of a garden, which means much to him, as it materially reduces his living expenses. Yet there is much more discontent among the farm hands than in the various trades in the cities or among the urban day labourers. As soon as they accumulate a little money they emigrate, many of them to become prosperous farmers in the United States or Canada. I have talked with farm hands on this subject and have found that it is the hopelessness of the struggle in which they are engaged that makes them discontented. By no possible thrift or effort of their own can they ever acquire title to or possession of a foot of ground, and they are always looking forward to the day when they can go to the United States or a British Colony and get an opportunity to work for themselves. The unstable character of farm labour is much more noticeable in some parts of Scotland than in others, this class being relatively the smallest and the least dependable near the great manufacturing and mining centres, where they are tempted to give up farm work for other occupations in the vain hope of bettering their condition and prospects.I wish to impress upon the House that these men whose whole experience has been gained in farm work have no opportunity of investing their savings in the bank they know best. They have no opportunity of applying their knowledge, and by the universal testimony of farmers in Scotland there is not only a scarcity of labour on farms, but there is also no opening for those labourers. That is one way in which we can benefit the urban districts by checking the flow of these men to the towns. Let me put to the House another consideration, which bears on this matter. It is a very good test of a social reform to inquire what the influence will be on the character of those whom it seeks to better and to help. Could there be anything worse for those men than to know that there is no hope and no possibility of their making a home for themselves and their children in the country districts? Could there be anything less likely to retain them here than that they should be without hope as to their future? You may spend money on education, you may preach co-operation and agricultural organisation to your heart's content, but you will never have any harvest from your efforts until you give men in Scotland security of tenure, which shall give them hope, which shall bring the possibility of bettering their condition to their knowledge, which shall stimulate their efforts to thrift, industry, frugality, 765 and economy, and which shall educate them to endeavour to better themselves in the hope of raising themselves and their families to improved conditions. But there is another way in which the urban problem may be helped by this reform, and it is this. The country districts in Scotland and elsewhere would hold twice the people they do at present. I know that a great deal is said about Scottish fanning, and I have more than once in discussing this Bill paid a tribute to Scottish farming; but is it entirely satisfactory? Is it not a fact that in the last thirty years rents have fallen something like 30 or 40 per cent.? Are you willing to acquiesce in that? Look what foreign countries are doing in this respect. Falling prices affected them as they did us, but they are making a determined and organised effort to make up their leeway. [An HON. MEMBER: Protection.] If you will allow me to give my explanation I will do so. The hon. Member says it is "Protection." It may and it may not be protection. There is one thing you must take into consideration. There are two things which they have done in those countries which we have not done. In the first place, they are working on the basis of security of tenure. You cannot find a single country which is prospering agriculturally which has not a system of security of tenure. It may be ownership, or it may not. The characteristic of the system is that there is security of tenure. I am aware of the right hon. Gentleman's fondness for ownership. I admit that in some cases it is ownership, but it is security of tenure. That is the characteristic I wish to see introduced into our legislation. There is another thing which they have in foreign countries. We are all lamenting here the difficulty of the position in which agriculture finds itself. This Bill is not solely for creating small holdings. It is a Bill which is intended to benefit the whole of the agriculture of Scotland. It is intended to give the people of Scotland the opportunity of making a resolute and determined effort to grapple with this problem. In such countries as Denmark and France, and others which could be named, there is another characteristic to which I should like to draw the attention of the House, and that is this. They have an organised 766 administrative body looking after agriculture. They have brought to the greatest perfection the administrative side of the State's responsibility towards agriculture. What have we done in this country? The crofter experiment which has been alluded to has been in operation for twenty-one years, and it has prospered in spite of every obstacle where there is security of tenure. Why has not the Government which has been in power endeavoured to build upon that basis a prosperity which might be quite possible in the future of the crofting districts? If we were to spend in Scotland according to the proportion in which they spend in Denmark, France or Switzerland, a shilling her head of the population per annum in assisting agriculture, great results might be achieved. If we did that in this country we should spend £200,000 a year in regard to Scotland alone. This Bill seeks to give Parliamentary powers which shall be exercised for the general encouragement, supervision, and superintendence of agriculture in Scotland from beginning to end. My hon. friend the Member for the Leith Burghs spoke of various problems of Scottish agriculture which should be dealt with. He spoke of intensive cultivation, co-operation, agricultural education, and afforestation. These are essentially local matters which should be dealt with locally, and Scotland should have a chance of developing her resources in those directions. It is sometimes forgotten that the development of those foreign countries to which I have been alluding is a perfectly recent development. It has taken place within the last forty years. It was very much stimulated by a fall in prices similar to that from which this country has been suffering. In those countries they have availed themselves of measures for making up the leeway, while we have omitted to do so in this country. I say that if we really develop those special forms of farming we shall do a great deal more for the prosperity of the rural districts and in consequence for the prosperity of the urban population. We are told about poultry and eggs coming from France. Is it recognised that there arc poultry schools in France for educating and organising the people? Let me say a word as to Whether the holder 767 is bound to his holding. I have a paper which shows that in Argyllshire there are in each parish four or five men who, since the passing of the Crofters Act, have risen to occupy farms at a rent of £70, £80, and £100 per annum. I will not dwell on that point any further; but I have said enough to show to the House that there is another side to the question than that presented by the right hon. Gentleman—that agriculture is suffering from no special malady. Agriculture in Scotland is suffering from want of care and effort and organisation, and, if the depopulation of the rural districts is a real evil, I hope the House will look with sympathy on the efforts which the Government are making now to focus public attention upon it. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman would wish me to go through the scheme of the Bill again. It is in print; it has been explained several times to the House. If I have failed to understand the hypothetical cases put by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, it is because he led the House through such a maze of suppositions that I did not know at the end of it whether I was on my head or my heels. The right hon. Gentleman's first supposition was that the Agricultural Commissioners appointed under the Bill would be a set of lunatics. It is quite impossible to argue this or any other Bill except on the footing of common sense. I say that if it is assumed that every member of the Land Court or every Agricultural Commissioner has no knowledge of the subject with which he has to deal, and is animated by prejudices against landlords as a class, no scheme will work under such a measure.
§ MR. SINCLAIR
I will not labour the point further, but will say a word about the compulsory clause, to which the right hon. Gentleman confined almost all his criticism. I say that there must be a compulsory clause, and if the right hon. Gentleman will examine it he will see that it is hedged about with an infinity of safeguards, and that the compulsory clause is not the whole Bill, but is only intended to be used 768 in extreme cases. There is nothing in this Bill, bar this compulsory clause, which is not drawn directly from the experience of the working of two Acts of Parliament—the Crofters Act of 1886, and the Congested Districts Board Act of 1897. The arguments of the right hon. Gentleman against the proposals in this Bill might just as well be turned against the machinery of those Acts which were carried under his administration. This Bill is not only in accordance with Scottish experience, but in accordance with Scottish opinion, notwithstanding the opinion of the Chamber of Agriculture, and the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland. It is in accordance with Scottish opinion as expressed in the evidence taken before the Committee on Small Holdings of last session. Let me read the evidence which came from, not the Highlands, but from another part of the country. Mr. G. W. Constable of Traquair in Peebleshire, was asked what class of men would come forward asking for small holdings, and he replied agricultural labourers and shepherds; these men could not get a sufficient number of small holdings. Again he was asked if there would be a difficulty in regard to putting up buildings on the small holdings, and his answer was that there might be a difficulty, but it could be overcome if the landowner got the money a little cheaper than now. Mr. Constable went on to say that the applications were not for the purchase of small holdings, but for hiring the land, and that he was rather against any general scheme for purchasing the holdings. I noticed that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition was very careful not to propose any alternative scheme to that proposed in the Bill. If the right hon. Gentleman admitted the evil I would like to know what his remedy is.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
was understood to say that he was in favour of establishing a system of purchase.
§ MR. SINCLAIR
Then I say that to establish purchase is a much more serious departure than the scheme of the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman is in favour of purchase in defiance of Scottish opinion and Scottish experience; but I 769 put it to hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House who know Scotland well, whether there is any evidence of a general demand for purchase on the part of the tenants of Scotland. [MINISTERIAL cries of "No, no."] Nobody who knows Scotland can controvert that statement. The suggestion of purchase has always come, in Irish as well as in Scottish experience, from the owners of the land. Let me put the case perfectly fairly. In a holding there are two capitals, the tenant's and the owner's, and the demand is that both should earn their due interest. The demand for a fair rent really means that the landlord's interest shall not be increased at the expense of the tenant's, and when a tenant quits his holding, there must be a Land Court to assess the value of the interest he wishes to withdraw from his holding. It is a very short step from that to the Land Court in the Bill. It has been shown by my hon. and learned friend the Solicitor-General for Scotland and my right hon. friend the Lord-Advocate in their masterly speeches, that the Bill only takes away from the landlord the right of arbitrary eviction, Accepting the desirability of agricultural holdings legislation, the Bill only goes one step further, and says that the tenant must have more security than in the past. A great deal has been said about Irish experience before 1881. The demand of the Irish tenants was not to own their holding, was not for purchase, but for security of tenure. It was not until 1883 that Lord George Hamilton brought forward a Motion to develop the purchase clauses of 1881, and it was seconded by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, not from the Irish tenant's point of view, but from the landlord's. That was strengthened by the subsequent introduction of the Ashborne Act. The true lesson from Irish experience is that the two systems cannot live together. If you introduce the purchase system, you are bound to wreck and throw into utter confusion the landlord and tenancy system. An attempt was made under the Congested Districts Board to create 200 or 300 small holdings on the purchase system, but the reports of the Board show that the tenants preferred to be tenants, and not to be purchasers. It is to avoid that confusion that the Government have 770 adhered in this measure to the system which has hitherto prevailed in Scotland, the system of landlord and tenant. If you give security of tenure you bring about a revolution in our land system. It is essential, moreover, to recognise the change in the character of farming. There is a passage which was quoted the other day from Burke, in which he says that it is futile and mischievous to treat agriculture as you would not treat any other industry. The farmer is becoming more and more scientific and it is not now merely a question of reaping a cereal crop. The Agricultural Holdings Act and its amending Acts have done more and more to develop branches of agriculture in regard to which security of tenure is demanded. Plants and trees have a longer life than a season, and therefore the tenants' capitalis becoming year by year more and more difficult to extract from the holding. It becomes therefore more and more essential to give protection to the man who is engaged in agriculture. Do you think that you could get a man to build factories and workshops in towns who has not security of tenure in regard to the land upon which he builds them? If that is not so, you will not get a man with brains and capital to put those brains and capital into land unless you give him the complete security which is enjoyed in town by those who erect manufacturing premises. I am not going to labour the point, because it cannot be denied that security of tenure is essential if you wish to develop the land.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I put a question which has not been answered. Will the right hon. Gentleman say on whom, in case the tenant closed the tenancy, would fall the liability for the rent-charge on the estate on an improvement made against the will of the landlord on a holding he had no wish to create?
§ MR. SINCLAIR
Yes, and I will ell you why. He has got to pay. The hypothesis upon which hon. and right 771 hon. Gentlemen opposite argue about this Bi 1 is that it is what they call a devastating procedure. Now what is the procedure and what is the system which it seeks to set up? I invite the right hon. Gentleman to read the evidence of Sir Arthur Ord, a landowner in the North of Scotland, who is satisfied with the effect that this system has had on his estate. It is quite impossible for us to meet the right hon. Gentleman on common ground unless he will credit us with the intention of aiming at preserving the landlord's property. We spend money upon it, we make roads and fences and gates upon it, and all that expenditure must improve the landlord's property. [Cries of "No, no."] Surely that must be so, but I will not trespass any longer on the time of the House. I will only say that Parliament and this House is committed by its legislation of fifteen years ago to the principle that there is an evil which we ought to mitigate. Fifteen years have been lost, because nothing has been done in this connection. In Prussia during the last fifteen years 10,000 small holdings have been created to try to meet this evil of depopulation, and I hope that Parliament will no longer delay in trying to apply it to Scotland.
§ * MR. JESSE COLLINGS (Birmingham, Bordesley)
said that the Bill was of interest to English Members because it was probably upon the lines of it that the English measure would proceed. He had listened to the replies which had been made to the speeches from the. Opposition side of the House, and the more he had listened to them the more he was puzzled; although he was pleased with their style and their ability, there was no real explanation of the Bill. The Secretary for Scotland, in the same way as the Lord-Advocate had done, had drawn touching pictures of rural depopulation and of overcrowding in towns. But he had failed to tell them wherein under this Bill there existed: any remedy for those evils. He was astonished at one thing. The right hon. Gentleman had alluded to Continental countries and had gone to them for examples of the benefit of security of tenure, leading the House to believe that the security of tenure in the Bill was something of the same kind 772 and would have the same advantages as the security of tenure in the countries which he had named. The right hon. Gentleman knew very well, however, that there was nothing in the system of land tenure on the Continent which gave security of tenure in the manner sought by this Bill. The security of tenure provided abroad was based upon ownership, the most powerful incentive of all for a man to put his brains and capital into a holding. A witness before a Committee on which he had sat had been quoted against purchase, but why did not his right hon. friend go through the evidence and give the opinion of nearly all the principal witnesses both from Scotland and from England examined before the Committee? If he had done so, the House would have found that, while admitting the difficulties of purchase, the witnesses recognised and expressed strongly the opinion that the ideal way of settling the question was by purchase. He would only quote one witness from Scotland, and he did so because he was a representative man and was amongst the very ablest who were before the Committee in connection with agriculture. It was the evidence of Mr. Isaac Connell, Secretary of the Scottish Society of Agriculture. He believed that Mr. Connell was one of our best authorities and he would put him against Mr. Constable. He and others spoke of the great and ideal advantage, while always admitting the difficulties, financial and others, of ownership as against tenancy. He was gratified to see the position which this question had attained. It ought not to be a Party question, but unfortunately it had been made so. He had held for nearly half a century that it was a national requirement that a solution of these evils should be found, and in his opinion it would only be found in the restoration of the condition of things in England when it had its own yeomen and peasant proprietors tilling the soil which they owned. If this Bill had gone in any degree as a practical step in that direction it would have had his hearty support. Land-hunger, however, would not be satisfied in any way by the Bill. It was, to put it shortly, a retrograde measure. It proclaimed to every agricultural labourer in England and Scotland that there was no chance, whatever his desire 773 might be, for him to possess the bit of land he tilled. At the Holborn Restaurant the Prime Minister had made touching references to deserted villages, the depopulation of the countryside and the terrible state of the agricultural labourer, but he had not pointed out in what manner this Bill provided a remedy for that state of things. The right hon. Gentleman had characterised it as a "crusade of land reform." It was in fact a crusade against peasant proprietary and occupying ownership of all kinds. If it became law the great ideal of a man tilling his own land must be put aside for ever. The right hon. Gentleman had directed a little chaff against the Liberal Unionists, but with regard to the land question he forgot that barring the small results which were the effect of the Local Government Act of 1904, there was not a labourer or smallholder in England but had go this holding so far as legislation went as the result of Unionist legislation. The right hon. Gentleman had said that every demand for land had met with a blank denial and that therefore the Government went for compulsory powers, ''swift, simple, and extensive," and he had quoted a long list of cases which Lord Lansdowne had described as samples. Cornwall was one of the cases cited, but when the matter was brought before the Cornish County Council they knew nothing about it. There had never been any inquiry, any committee formed, or any steps taken in the matter. Yet Cornwall was quoted to prove the assertions of the Prime Minister. There was plenty of land to be had in almost every part of England. The Small Holdings Act of 1892 provided that the county councils should set up advisory committees for the purpose of establishing small holdings. Some of them had done so, but had done nothing else. The Act of 1892 had been deliberately ignored by the great bulk of the county councils of the country, and the statement made by Lord Ripon in another place that the Act was a complete failure had been made on most imperfect information. Where it had been put into operation it had been a complete and unqualified success. Why had the Act failed to so large an extent? The first reason was that the bulk of the county councils did not want small 774 holdings, and the second was that the Act. contained a provision that 20 per cent. of the purchase money was to be paid down by the people who wished to become small holders. That provision had been found to be a fatal barrier to the acquisition of a small holding. There was a small Bill before the House on the previous Wednesday to do away with that barrier, which Bill would have received its Second Reading in five minutes, but for the fact that the Government blocked it. The Second Reading of that Bill would again be moved to-morrow night, and had the Prime Minister been present he would have appealed to the right hon. Gentleman's kindness of heart and his interest in the agricultural labourer to let it go through. He was amused at the conditions demanded by those who expressed themselves favourable to small holdings. The land must be rich; it must be situated near a town; the labourer must be almost perfection and possess qualities found in no other class. Anyone would think from these grandmotherly regulations that there were no rights on the part of the labourers at all. There was a colony of small holders in Worcestershire which, if it were 1,000 miles away, would be visited with interest because it had solved this great problem. But that colony has violated every one of these requirements which were thought to be imperative to assure the success of small holdings. The land in that case was originally poor; it was expensive, it cost £40 per acre; it was fifteen miles from a town, and it had a number of other disqualifications. The experiment was tried under the most unfavourable circumstances, and the result had been that for twelve years there had been a colony there of thirty-two families, happy and contented, in a state of continued prosperity, paying their instalments regularly, without a penny of arrears. Although those instalments were based on the too high basis of 4 per cent., which meant an annual instalment of about £2 per acre for forty years, these small holdings had proved a complete success. That colony was formed under the Act of 1892, to the everlasting credit of the Worcestershire County Council. One of the colonists was a fendermaker from 775 Birmingham, and another a nailmaker from the neighbourhood. But all had been successful. One man had paid up his debt to the county council in ten years, though he had forty years in which to do it, and had saved enough besides to buy land outside the estate. And let the House remember that this estate was formerly a farm which could not be made to pay. He found, from some rough accounts that he had looked over, That one man on the produce of 29 acres of land had received in hard cash £600 the year before last, and that during that year he had expended on the land in labour £240, in addition to the labour of his own family. What was the general result of that experiment? Twelve years ago that parish was a poverty-stricken, God-forsaken place. Now it was full of able-bodied men living in comfort, with houses and homesteads such as no one in this House would think it a hardship to live in. There was not an able-bodied pauper in the parish. All were ratepayers instead of being on the rates; all had their horses and carts and were bringing produce into the manufacturing districts to the value of thousands a year. There were solved the questions of old-age pensions, pauperism, housing, and all these subjects which they had to consider, but in the case of these men on the land they provided for their families, and if they died, their holdings could be sold or devised, or could be disposed of to other cultivators, of whom there, were plenty in the field. There was no risk to the State; indeed, in the county of Worcester the county council was making a small profit out of them, a thing they ought not to do. The council had often got over the bar of poverty by questionable means, though he hoped that they were legal, by postponing the requirements for payment of the initial sum for some years, and they delayed the transfer of the land accordingly. What he wanted to urge on the Government and the House was that there was room in this country for 100 or 200 colonies. Such colonies would do more and more to supply some portion of the £60,000,000 sterling spent on articles of food now imported from abroad. What we now got from across the Channel could be supplied by these 100 or 200 Catshills estates. All this was done without the 776 intervention of the law courts, without litigation, and without complicated machinery,. It was done by the same process as obtained in every country in Europe, and it had never failed. Let them suppose that the Board of Agriculture purchased 400 acres of land, and divided it into small holding of five to fifty acres, with homesteads, if they were required, all being self-contained holdings. There would be no difficulty; within a week every one of the holdings would have been applied for the applicants being suitable men, who had been in the country, and who would like to go back to the country if they could. He had received, not scores but hundreds of letters from gardeners, caretakers, hauliers, coachmen, etc., employed in the towns, most of whom had saved a little money. These men had originally come from the land, and they would be delighted if they had such an opportunity afforded them of returning to it. There was a practical solution of the difficulty. That was the real "back to the land"—honest purchase, on easy terms, and repayments by yearly instalments. He could multiply instances, but he preferred to give one typical example which had stood the test of twelve years experience. What was the secret of the success of a colony like that? It was ownership. Unless Members admitted the magic of ownership his arguments fell to the ground. Ownership was the secret, it did not matter whether it was ownership of a house, a horse, or land, or farm, or wife, or child, or anything else; ownership was deeply implanted in human nature, it brought out the very best of a man's powers, and disclosed the highest possibilities that were in him. The Prime Minister had said that there was no idle land on Lord Carrington's estate. He commended the action of Lord Carrington in his treatment of Crown lands; he was worthy of every commendation for what he had done in that direction. But with regard to estates which had been referred to honour was due to the hon. Members for South West Norfolk, North-West Norfolk, and South Suffolk, who had formed themselves into a syndicate in Lincoln. Some of them were opposed to him in politics, but he gave them the most ample credit for what they had done for 777 the benefit of the public by their private action. These Members and the Member for Spalding had taken 800 acres of land from Lord Carrington; they had become security for the payment of the rent and the observance of the covenants, and had been at the expense of adapting the land for small holdings. These they had let, and had taken every responsibility with regard to them. They were entitled to the highest credit. It was said that the men would prefer tenancies. But he had talked with them individually and collectively, and he found that there was not a man of them but would, if he could, have terms which made him owner of the soil and the holding. In one instance, he said to the tenant—"If money were supplied to you by the State to enable you to acquire the land, would you prefer it?" The man replied—"No such luck as that." He said to him—" Are you aware that in Ireland that has been done?" And the man replied in a pathetic way, "Ah, but we are only Englishmen." He commended that to the attention of the Government when they were talking about tenancies. It stood to reason that ownership was preferred. At the end of twenty-one years where were the tenants? The land after it had been intensively cultivated and its value increased perhaps 20 per cent. went back to the owner. And what became of the man's family? They were nowhere. To such a man what would be the value of ownership, compared with a tenancy? The question of dual ownership had come up. It was the worst form of tenure that the mind of man had ever conceived. It was an invention by Mr. Gladstone in 1881; there was nothing like it in the civilised world. Mr. Gladstone thought he had discovered something, and he had discovered something in regard to which every prophecy made at the time, as to the evils which would flow from the system, had been more than fulfilled. The Lord Advocate in a very specious way had told them that it would have worked well but for the enormous amount of litigation, the enormous law costs, the enormous expenses, and he knew not what. Aye, but he had forgotten to mention that all this paraphernalia was part and parcel of the system, and was 778 the result and necessary accompaniment, of the system. The right hon. Gentleman had read a letter penned by Mr. Bailey, but as far as the argument was concerned it fell to the ground. The system damaged landlord and tenant alike, and created intolerable hardship, litigation and expense, which had to be remedied by the Act of 1903 at an enormous cost. As had been pointed out, if this Bill became law, future Chancellors of the Exchequer would have to find a hundred millions to remedy its effects. Denmark had been mentioned, it was only of the legislation of the eighties, carried on through the nineties and up to the present time—legislation on the lines that he was advocating—that Denmark, from the terrible state in which she had been, was now experiencing the benefit, and it was that legislation which had made her what she now was. The difficulty could only be solved by a system of purchase. It had been said that there were difficulties in the way of the present Government adopting purchase, because there were about sixty Socialist Members of the House of Commons and three members of the Government in favour of the nationalistion of the land. He would remind the House that Socialism was not to be put down by ridicule or chaff. It was a policy attractive in its character, having for its end a complete change of society as it existed at the present moment. It was a great pity to attempt to treat it in any other way than as the serious matter it was. The Socialist Members of the House would support this Bill, not only because it went a great way in the direction of Socialism, but because they objected to the multiplication of the owners of land or indeed of any other class of property, and because they naturally wanted the number of landowners to be as few as possible. The House was aware that the system advocated by hon. Members below the gangway had been tried in Germany. From Karl Marx and his successors there had been an onslaught on the rural districts of Germany intending to capture them and the House knew that they had been defeated. In fact their leader had acknowledged his defeat. Did the hon. Members below the gangway doubt that? If they did he would remind 779 them of the last General Election in Germany, for before that content the Socialists were something like eighty strong in the German Parliament, and they came out a mere remnant. And why? Because they were met by 5,000.000 or 6,000,000 peasant proprietors and occupying owners. Those were the people who defeated them. The circumstances in this country were totally different. In England Socialism had every chance, because they had destroyed the only natural barrier against Socialism. In this country there was a proletariat, a wage-earning class with no stake in the country. Socialism not only in this House, but throughout the country, was increasing by leaps and bounds. [Cries of "Oh, oh." and laughter.] Hon. Members opposite might laugh, but if they inquired they would find that what he had stated was correct. There was only one barrier to Socialism, and that was the creation of a peasantry by purchase and re-sale, and that was what lie was advocating. They would not accomplish it by such rubbishy Bills as the measure under discussion, which were like pills to cure an earthquake. It was a serious matter with which they had to deal, and there was only one way of dealing with it. Whatever might be thought of it this country stood in a dangerous position, and it had now to make its choice between the increase, of Socialism and the restoration of a peasant proprietary and occupying ownership generally. There was no other choice. The question of depopulation had been referred to. Did the House realise what that meant? Did they think this country could do what no other country had ever done? Could this country remain in the front rank on a ruined agriculture and a depleted population? If so, it would be a new era in the history of nations. What was this depopulation? He had worked out the figures himself, and he found there were forty-two counties the rural districts of which had less than 200 men, women and children to the square mile. In the rural districts of twelve of those counties there were less than 100 persons to the square mile, and in three there were only fifty human beings to the square mile. This country was a desert, or at any rate 780 was rapidly becoming one. The last census showed that 77 per cent. of the whole population were urban, leaving only 23 per cent. to the rural districts. If they deducted from that total the residential population, those engaged in sport, those who worked in the few factories in the country districts, and others, they would realise what a small proportion was left for agriculture. There was nothing like it in the world. One hon. Member had stated that this depopulation had been going on in every other country just the same as in England. Yes, but there was all the difference in the world between migration to the towns in a country where the rural population was 50 or 60 per cent. of the whole and the migration in England where the rural population was depleted to almost vanishing point. In some districts they could hardly find a young agricultural labourer. The economic question was a secondary matter. They did not think of economic questions when they built an ironclad, because it was wanted for defence. They should not forget that the rural population must be the first and second line of defence of any country in time of stress. With regard to the wealth of the country, the thousand millions per annum of which an hon. Member opposite had spoken might in time of stress as well be a thousand million paving stones. If they were exporting wealth it was bad enough, but when they were exporting the manhood, the very best of our working men, and particularly agricultural labourers, it was a far more serious thing. With all due respect to the President of the Local Government Board, he contended that no Government should ever sanction such a state of things for a moment. They should look at the real wealth of the country in the form of its manhood, which was going from it. And lastly, the community had a natural right to demand that the land should fulfil its primary obligation, which was to produce food and other necessaries for the general community up to its utmost capacity. But this Bill operated in the opposite direction, because it set a premium on bad farming. They fixed the rent for seven years, and two or three gentlemen came down from Edinburgh to decide on the present condition of the 781 farms and as to what the rent should be. Certainly if they saw a holding flourishing and in a good condition the chances were that the rent would go up.
§ * MR. JESSE COLLINGS
said he did not want to prove too much, but under those conditions the tenant would be likely to have the rent raised. But let the House suppose the land was badly farmed, or that in seven years the holder thought it wise to let his land deteriorate. The chances were that he might have the rent lowered. At any rate, it was an absolutely stupid position. If they adopted a system of ownership all these questions were settled, or to be more accurate, they would no t not arise at all. He only wished that he could persuade the Prime Minister to withdraw this Bill and consider the suggestions he had made. [MINISTERIAL laughter.] There was nothing derogatory about that suggestion. All he wished was that the Government should reconsider the question in the light of experience, and in the light of the points raised in the discussion. If the Prime Minister would only do that he could assure him that he would be ready to give him all the credit, and he was sure that every man interested would give the Government their most hearty support.
§ MR. A. DEWAR (Edinburgh, S.)
said they had listened to a most interesting speech from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bordesley, and it was exactly what they would naturally expect from one who had devoted such a large share of his life to the study of the subject. He regretted that the right hon. Gentleman had never gone to Scotland to consider the conditions there, and to help in the solution of their rather peculiar problems. He was more than disappointed that the right hon. Gentleman did not answer some of the powerful observations of the Lord Advocate. He did not know that he was right in saying that he was disappointed, for probably there was no answer to what the Lord Advocate had said from the Scottish 782 point of view. He was glad that they had the right hon. Gentleman with them at least half way. The right hon. Gentleman agreed that depopulation was an immense evil; he knew well of the congestion in every considerable town both in England and in Scotland; and he knew that it was directly traceable to the want of facilities for settling on the land. He was glad of these admissions, because it would be remembered that the Leader of the Opposition had denied that proposition and had devoted the most important part of his speech to contending that no amount of people they got back to the land would in the slightest degree relieve the congestion in towns.
§ * MR. JESSE COLLINGS
said he was not responsible for the opinions of the Leader of the Opposition on this question. He himself held fifty years ago the opinions on this question which he hold now, and he had never ceased to advocate them.
§ MR. A. DEWAR
said that was exactly what he expected to hear from the right hon. Gentleman. That was the reason why they welcomed him as an expert on the subject. He would like the right hon. Gentleman to put his leader right. The right hon. Gentleman had defended ownership, remarking that there was magic in the word. He and his friends from Scotland advocated State regulation of land tenure. The magic in the word ownership was simply that the holder retained and secured for himself the fruits of his own labour. That was exactly what State regulation gave them. To understand the problem they must look at it from the labourer's point of view. Was it not a fact that the agricultural labourer was getting more wages, in Scotland at least, than ever before? He was also getting cheaper food than ever before. [An HON. MEMBER: "No."] He was talking of Scotland, and with great deference to the hon. Member he maintained that wages were higher and food cheaper, but nevertheless the agricultural labourer would not remain on the land. Why? It was in vain to tell him that he ought to be satisfied with no more than his parents had. He had had education for thirty years, and that was 783 an unsettling element. He rejoiced in that, because until a man was dissatisfied with his present position, he lacked the incentive to improve it. People said that education had educated the agricultural labourer out of his sphere. It was true, and he rejoiced in it. The labourer would not stay in the country working for £1 a week. He had asked why labourers left the country districts, and he had got the same answer from everyone. It was to better himself. He wanted in fact to be his own master. He did not want to own land if he could be his own master without owning it. If they could secure to him the fruit of his labour, and make it quite certain that when he died his children would get the benefit, he would stay in the country and no attractions of the town would have any allurements for him. They heard from those who took a superficial view of the case that it was the public-house, the theatre, and the well-lit streets that attracted him. Did anyone ever hear of a man in the rural districts who had a stake in the country—say a joiner or a blacksmith—state that the city had any attraction for him? It was the agricultural labourer who had no more hope of owning land than of becoming lord of the manor who packed his knapsack, sought the glare of the town, and swelled the ranks of the unemployed when he got there. The Government had a plan for dealing with the agricultural labourer. The Government plan was that if a man had a small holding already, he could be secured in it under this Bill by going into the Land Court and stating that he wanted to be so secured. When registered both landlord and tenant would acquire certain rights provided for by the Bill. The main argument against the Bill was that its proposals were unfair to the landlord, because they took from him, without compensating him, the rights over his property which he had at present. What right had the landlord now which he would not have after the passing of the Bill? Under the Bill not only would the landlord have a voice in choosing the man he desired to be tenant, but he would have the assistance of the Commission in finding a good tenant. If they assumed, as the Leader of the Opposition seemed to do, that the Land Court was hopelessly ignorant and determined to ruin a holding, of course the holding 784 would be ruined and no intervention of any Government would ever save it. But if they took the analogy of the Crofters Commission, they would find that there was a supply of reasonable, skilled, and honest men in Scotland, who would do fairly and justly by both landlord and tenant. He thought it might be assumed that the difficulties which the right hon. Gentleman had imagined would not really arise. Parliamentary interference with private rights in the public interest was no new doctrine. That was shown by what had been done under the Coal Mines Regulation Act, the Factory Acts, and other statutes. The Crofters Act, which was the working model of this Bill, had transformed the Highlands. It had been suggested that there was something peculiar in the crofter population. If there was, it was their exceptional industry, pertinacity, and ability to live under a peculiarly inclement sky and on an unkindly soil; but to suggest, as he had heard it suggested, that there should be one law for the hills and another for the plains in Scotland, was to suggest what was not true. There was no difference in the conditions so far as the Highlands and Lowlands were concerned. It was true that some of the crofters had erected their own buildings, and a great deal had been made of that. Had hon. Members ever examined the buildings in which crofters lived? What was usually found was one small building, a few feet wide, with one small door in the centre. At one end the crofter and his family slept; and at the other end, without any division, the cow was stalled. That building was erected by the crofter himself from the plentiful crop of stones that he found on his croft, and was held together by turf and mud, while the roof was thatched with heather from the moor. It was under these conditions that the Crofters' Act was passed. The crofters were in a state of rebellion. They refused to pay rents; Government messengers were sent to collect the rents and they were deforced. The crofters were sent in batches to Edinburgh to be tried and were condemned to imprisonment, and then went back to their homes as hero-martyrs. The Government introduced the Crofters Bill and it passed through tin House and became law. It acted like magic. Hon. 785 Members should never forget that the Crofters Act was exactly this Bill; and the Crofters Act having run for twenty-one years was now approved of by both landlords and tenants and by the whole community of Scotland. He asked the House in all earnestness, why should they not apply the same principle to the whole of Scotland? If a fair rent was good for the Highlander, was a not fair rent good for the Lowlander? If fixity of tenure was good for the Highlander why not for the Lowlander? He admitted that it would have been a hard case to argue for fair rent and fixity of tenure had they not had the model of the Crofters Act; and he hoped that they in Scotland would really be allowed to manage Scottish affairs in their own way. From his own experience he could say that Scotland was eagerly anxious on this matter. It was true, as the hon. Member for North Ayrshire had said, that the Chamber of Agriculture had by a majority voted against the Bill; but it was notorious that the Chamber of Agriculture was composed of the landlord and large tenant class. His point was that the small holders and the agricultural labourers were in favour of the Bill. The landlords and large tenants were as much afraid of this Bill as they were, without cause, of the Crofters Act. The towns of Scotland were more overcrowded than any other towns in Great Britain. Of course he knew that the evil could not be cured in a day. The right hon. Member for South Dublin had admitted that in Lowland Scotland there was better agricultural skill than in any other country in the world. Why had they failed in scientific agriculture in England and not in Scotland? Why should Scotland supply England with Archbishops and Bishops and men for every department of public life; and why should Scotland have made a comparative failure in one department of agriculture as compared with Denmark? Denmark was half the size of Scotland, with half its population. Denmark had not as good a climate as Scotland, because of the sand-storms to which it was exposed. One hundred years ago Denmark was in the same position as Scotland was now so far as the conditions under which the rural population lived. All that was altered 786 now. A hundred years ago Denmark had exactly the same system of land tenure as existed at present in Scotland; but the marvellous change which had taken place in that country was due to the security of tenure which the small farmers had, and to co-operation. He thought that the right hon. Gentleman opposite would admit that if security of tenure was not given, at the end of a lease up went the rent. This Bill was not an attack on the landlords. Far from it. Scotsmen did not want to get rid of landlords as the hon. Member for Ross and Cromarty seemed to imagine.
§ MR. WEIR (Ross and Cromarty)
Nothing of the sort; what I appeal for is justice to both the landlords and the crofters.
§ MR. A. DEWAR
said he apologised to the hon. Member if he had misrepresented him. His hon. friend would agree with him that the tenant farmer did approve of the landlord, who had many admirable qualities, who supplied capital for application to the soil, and had an educative influence on his tenants. But there was one thing which the tenant dreaded and that was the power of eviction, as anyone could imagine who had seen a poor man flitting, on a bleak November day, with his cart of furniture. He appealed to hon. Members who were not familiar with Scotland to consider seriously before they opposed this measure which would give the Scottish people a chance of helping those who could not help themselves, and of managing Scottish affairs in their own way.
§ * MAJOR ANSTRUTHER-GRAY (St. Andrews Burghs)
said he opposed the Bill because he thought if the Government were going to make experiments on agriculture they should pay for them. He would not oppose anything that would do away with the depopulation of the rural districts or the congestion in the towns; but he did not think that the scheme of the Bill would go far towards securing either of those objects. He quite recognised that people in overcrowded towns suffered in physique and to some extent in morals; but whether any new scheme of land-ownership in the 787 country would counteract the effect of theatres, churches, public-houses, in fact the whole life of the town was very problematical. What he objected to most was dual or triple ownership. Practical people would hesitate to buy land; prices would go down and the interest on bonds would go up. He suffered already from that himself to the extent, of hundreds of pounds. What was more important, in his opinion, was that the Bill was likely to destroy the good feeling that existed between landlord and tenant, and the old incentive to a man to improve his property, which was the greatest joy a landlord possessed. He believed that the real desire of the Government was to give the landlords good tenants; but how could they guarantee that the next generation would be as good farmers as their forefathers. He was told that there was a crofter who had benefited by the Crofters' Act who was now the owner of two public-houses in Glasgow. That was not the sort of crofter he would like to see on his property. Another point was as to fixing of rents at the end of every seven years. That had had a most disastrous effect in Ireland; and every Irish landlord would say so. It was patent to him that if there was any chance of the rent being lowered at the end of the period of seven years, the tenant would be tempted to allow his land to run down. His own tenants' rents were low enough, but he did not want any opportunity being given to the Government to make them lower; and the seven years re-valuation would have that effect. Again, why should this Bill apply only to Scotland and not to England? Why should one system apply to Berwickshire and another to Northumberland? If the Government were really bona fide in regard to this matter why did they not carry out the proposals of the Bill for Great Britain as a whole instead of limiting them to Scotland? Another question he wished to ask was why should this benefit stop at the £50 limit. It might be £100 next year and later on it might be £1,000, and then, when they had fixity of tenure for every farmer, it would destroy the check upon bad farming which the present system had, roughly speaking, maintained. The truth was that the Government were desirous of trying experiments 788 with somebody else's money. He did not accuse the Secretary for Scotland of deliberately trying to impair the prosperity of the country, or of endeavouring to make bad blood between landlord and tenant, but if the right hon. Gentleman had deliberately intended to do so he could not have gone a better way about it
§ * MR. CLELAND (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
said that most of those who had spoken on this subject had done so from the point of view of those who represented the agricultural interest or county constituencies, but he wished to say a few words as one who represented an urban and largely artisan constituency. He would venture to say as a town Member, that anyone familiar with the terrible overcrowding which existed in their Scottish towns and in Glasgow more than anywhere else, would hold up both hands in favour of any scheme that would stop the terrible exodus which was draining the countryside and congesting the large centres of population. He did not. say that this scheme, or any scheme, could remove all the bad economic conditions which existed, but he knew many of his own constituents who would never have left the country districts in which they were born and gone to Glasgow if this Rill had been the law and if under it the men had had a direct interest in their district and a small holding out of which they could have supported themselves. The provisions had been criticised with great severity, but the Bill merely proposed to apply, with certain alterations and improvements, to the whole of Scotland a system which, under the Crofters Act, had worked very well for over twenty years in certain districts. The system had been applied to what were known as the crafting areas of Scotland. But after all, those areas had been selected somewhat arbitrarily, and it was difficult to find any great difference between a crofter in Ross-shire and a crofter in Galloway. The Crofters Bill had worked well in the Highlands, and it was proposed to extend its provisions to the Lowlands. It had been said that it was doubtful whether it would work well in the Lowlands, but it was always problematical whether a Bill would work well or 789 not. Those who supported this measure were, however, entitled to pray in aid two things. In the first place, the provisions of the Bill had already been a success for a substantial period of years in other parts of the country, and, in the second place, there were conditions which existed in the Lowlands and not in the Highlands which would probably conduce to its successful working. In the Lowlands they had bigger and better markets than in the Highlands; moreover the wages of agricultural labourers were better; and what was of enormous advantage for the working of small holdings they had better means in the Lowlands than in the Highlands of communication and transport from county to county, from town to town, and from village to village. The objections urged against the measure were twofold. In the first place, it was said that they ought to adopt a system of purchase; but whilst purchase might be a very good thing for England or Ireland he contended that it would not be a good thing for Scotland. They did not believe in purchase in Scotland. But if this Bill passed into law unamended, the House would not have put into operation any provision which would prevent a man from purchasing if lie wished to do so, and they would have taken a great step forward by securing that a fair rent should be fixed by an impartial tribunal. The Bill did not negative future purchase, the objections to which were that it would involve a heavy drain upon the Exchequer. They had not found in the past that the Treasury was always ready to come to their aid in regard to questions of finance, and, human nature being what it was, if small proprietors were brought into existence suddenly and in large numbers it was to be feared that they would act very much as large proprietors had done, and if by means of purchase they acquired holdings they would be tempted to use the property as security for debt. They had tried purchase in Scotland and found it expensive as compared with the system proposed by the Bill, and the proceedings in regard to purchase had been more complicated and in addition not satisfactory. Surely these were practical objections against introducing purchase into Scotland to-day. It was simpler to proceed 790 along well established lines which were economical and had succeeded already, than to introduce a new principle. When they had a system which had been working successfully for a long period of years they should not change it for another, the working of which in other countries had showed it to be unsatisfactory in the highest degree. Then they were told that the Bill introduced the principle of dual ownership. But he was unable to agree with that contention. What was the essence of all ownership? It was the power of legal disposition. If the Bill passed into law the landlord would still have the full power of the legal disposition of his property; but the tenant was secured fixity of tenure and a fair rent, which did not detract anything from the ownership of the landlord in his land. The Bill did not introduce dual ownership in Scotland inasmuch as the tenant could not give, sell, or bequeath any interest which he might be said to have in the land. He remembered that there were many other Members who were interested in the subject, and, therefore, he would not be justified in intervening longer between them and the House, but, as a Member who represented an artisan constituency, he wished to put their point of view before the House of Commons. It was no doubt an evil thing for people to leave the country districts, but the evil was aggravated when they gravitated to the urban centres. He believed that the Bill would do something to keep in the country and on the land people who would otherwise go into Glasgow and Edinburgh and increase the congestion in those cities. Surely it ought to be the aim of legislation to keep the strong and virile minded denizens of the country out of the bad and insanitary conditions which prevailed in the slum districts of large cities and to preserve the full manhood of the race. He, therefore, appealed to hon. Members from the point of view of the toilers in great cities to try to do something to stop the migration into those cities from the country districts—a migration which by setting up competition caused to be discharged crowds of workmen whose only crime was that they had grey hairs. Young men crowded n from rural districts and displaced men who were at work in the towns, and he 791 pleaded as an urban Member that this Small Landowners Bill should be passed into law.
§ * MR. J. F. MASON (Windsor)
thought they were all agreed that steps should be taken to retain our rural population upon the land, and if he criticised the Bill at all it was because he thought that before proposing a remedy they ought to diagnose the disease. He had seen in Perthshire, on an estate over which he had acquired shooting rights, ruined houses, farms and cottages, which sixty years ago were tenanted, but from which the inhabitants had entirely disappeared. When however they came to consider the causes of depopulation they could not leave out of account the fact that the prices of agricultural products were very different to-day from what they were sixty years ago. That, combined with the burdens that the land had to bear, the large amount of land which had gone out of arable cultivation, and the increasing use of machinery, had a good deal to say, in regard to the depopulation which had undoubtedly taken place, and it was hardly fair to assume that that depopulation was entirely due to the lack of small holdings or was to be overcome by providing a larger number of them. He ventured to think that the depopulation was rather because of pressure from within than attractions from without. What he meant was that the depopulation was caused rather by the depressed condition of agriculture than by the attractions of the town. But he wanted to deal with the question of small holdings, and he was of opinion that there were two or three classes of holdings of that character, which it was distinctly desirable to have in our midst. The first was the class of small holdings which were in the neighbourhood of a town or large centre of population and which were devoted to intensive agricultural cultivation. He thought that the number of these holdings should be increased as far as possible and that the only limit should be that the number should not be so great as to affect the market upon which their prosperity depended. Another class was the small holding which was in the occupation of a person who also had some other business or employment. They were limited. They must be 792 scattered in the neighbourhood of larger farms or they must be in the neighbourhood of small towns where their owners could pursue some other trade than that of agriculture. But when they came to the third class, the holding on which the owner was to devote his whole time to cultivating, he had grave doubts of the economic soundness of carrying this movement too far. Whether he was right or wrong in that, lie was convinced that the way in which it was proposed to deal with the matter by this Bill was the way to make failure practically certain. There was a chance that small holdings might be made successful, but if dealt with in the way proposed by this Bill there could be only one result. Land could be held in two ways. There could be an owner occupier, a system which had great advantages. In the first place, a man who owned his holding felt that all he did upon it and what he put into it was in his own interest, and so used his best endeavours to turn the holding to the best account. Rut there was also the disadvantage that he had to lock up a certain amount of capital in the land which, were he only an occupier, he could devote to the cultivation of the holding. The other form was that of landlord and tenant, but he believed that that form could only be successful so long as there was perfect freedom between those two men to fix the conditions of the tenancy and to fix the rent at such a figure that both the landlord and the tenant could anticipate that the rent would remain constant and be neither increased nor reduced in the future; that the tenant should know if he cultivated the farm well his rent would not be raised, and also that if he culitvated badly he would not be able to obtain a reduction. It was a great thing for a farmer to feel secure in his farm, but it was equally important that he should feel certain that his rent would remain a consistent factor in his out-goings. He believed that what in the Bill was called fair rent was bound to lead to careless and bad farming if the tenant could look forward to a reduction of the rent at the end of seven years. Another great disadvantage he saw in the fair rent scheme was very important. It was quite evident that so long as a landlord had a tenant of whom he approved and who had agreed in all 793 the terms of tenure, he would do what he could to keep that tenant. The custom in the country was that the landlord did the repairs and maintained the buildings and so forth. One of the results of his not doing so was that he would lose his tenant. But when under the terms of this Bill a landlord had a tenant foisted on him at a rent which he did not consider adequate, what was there to induce him to keep the buildings in repair. Was it not possible therefore that they might drift into a condition of things where the landlord having no interest in the land, would not do more than he could help, and the condition of the farmer be worse than it was when he started? If they once started this system of fair rents and it led to what he believed it would lead, namely, to the landlord no longer doing what he was willing to do to-day, he believed it must inevitably fail and they must fall back on a system of purchase. If they endeavoured to deal with this matter by means of State credit it must be by a system of purchase. He did not believe they would get the best result or in fact any result from these small holdings unless the men became owners of their holdings. He was far from believing that it was desirable in the interests of the country at large that the land should be held in so few hands. He believed it would be to the advantage of the country if the land were divided among a greater number of individuals; but if they were going to deal with it in the manner proposed the right hon. Gentleman could not say the Scottish did not desire to purchase. The desire was to carry out this scheme on the cheap. The Bill provided £65,000 a year for the starting of small holdings. Possibly with great economy in the administration of the Act it might lead to 100 small holdings a year being created. Would not that lead to a block such as had arisen in Ireland where the operation of the Land Act was also blocked by the finance? The money provided was ludicrously small, and showed that the Government did not contemplate great things but only experiments on a small scale. If the Government had any confidence in their Bill they would spend a much larger sum than was contemplated. The object everybody had in view was to increase the rural population, 794 and the number of owners on the land, but he ventured to say, whichever the object was, they must always bear in mind that it was for the benefit of the State. This legislation was not brought in with the view of benefiting any individual, but solely of benefiting the State. If the State desired a change of this kind in the interest of the State it was the State that must take the risk of failing—must find the money and take the responsibility of these small holders being reduced in circumstances in the course of some years if the scheme was a failure. Surely if the scheme failed these people who went in with a small amount of capital would be found at the end of a generation in a worse condition than when they started. Another reason why the State should purchase property and hand over the ownership entirely to the new occupier was that unless that were done they would throw upon the landlord the burden at the end of the period, if the experiment turned out a failure, of receiving back these holdings deteriorated and with buildings upon them utterly unsuited to any other form of cultivation. He ventured to impress seriously upon the Government the desirability of considering whether some further form of purchase could not be introduced into the Bill and whether ownership of land could not be invested in the occupiers.
§ * MR. J. D. WHITE
said that many Members must have observed in the House the enthusiasm with which the Bill had been received by Scottish Members. The reason for that was not far to seek, when they considered what the conditions had been in Scotland in recent years. Some mention had been made of deer forests, and he would like to call attention to the fact that the area added to the deer forests had been considerably over 50,000 acres a year for the last few year. In addition, the land on the borders of them, and in other places, had been going out of cultivation; the land sustained fewer people, and the people were steadily drafting into the towns. His hon. friend the Member for Huddersfield showed, in a very striking article which he wrote about eighteen months ago, 795 that the overcrowding in Scottish cities was very much greater than in any of the cities of England. For instance, in Manchester the proportion living under overcrowded conditions was one in sixteen; in Leeds one in ten; and in London, one in seven; while in Edinburgh, it was one in three; and in Glasgow one in two—or half of the population. That had been accompanied naturally by physical degeneration and by conditions of life which were a disgrace to the country. It had told on the death-rate among infants. Last year he put a Question as to this, and was given certain statistics. There would be an outcry through the land if the death-rate among the calves and the lambs was anything like the death-rate among the children of the poor in our large cities. It was also noteworthy that emigration from Scotland had been steadily increasing. In 1899, the emigration of Scotsmen, of men of Scottish nationality, was under 5,000 a year. By 1902, it had risen to 9,000 a year; in 1904, to 19,000 a year: and the number of emigrants from Scotland last year was over 32,000. Only a few days ago an article in a leading Scottish newspaper on this subject showed that during the first few months of this year the proportion of increase of emigration had not only been kept up but had been increased. The emigrants were from many parts of Scotland. It must be remembered also that they were the young and not the old; the vigorous and not the feeble; the enterprising and not the backward. This emigration was a very serious thing for the homeland. It skimmed the cream from the top of the population, instead of draining the dregs from the bottom. Far be it from him to close any opportunity for his countrymen and countrywomen to do as well as they could for themselves in Canada or elsewhere, but he urged that they ought to develop the resources of their own native land and in that way improve the prospects of future generations. Some hon. Members had spoken as if the Government had taken some new departure in this Bill. They had done nothing of the kind. They were proceeding along the lines of the Crofters Acts, which had worked so excellently for twenty years. Something had been said on the other side about the Highland line. This was 796 not quite the same thing as the line of the crofting counties. Let them take the crofting county of Argyllshire, close by which was Buteshire, a non-crofting county where there were many crofters. A crofting county did not mean a county where there were crofters, but one of the counties specified in the Act. How was it that a system which was applicable to Argyllshire, was inapplicable to Buteshire, which was close by? If this system was applicable to Argyllshire, why was it not applicable to Dumbartonshire? Why was it applicable on one side of Loch Long, and inapplicable on the other side? The Government had started out with security of tenure, and it was security of tenure which was the foundation of everything. If they were to have a population settled on the land, it was not enough to say, "The landlords will treat you and well, the factors will treat you well, and if you will lay out money on your holdings you really can rely on their kindness and generosity." They wanted a business basis, and the business basis was security of tenure; that a man settled on the land should continue to have a fair rent, and should not have his rent raised against him because of his improvements. These were the fundamentals of the system. An hon. Member on the other side had spoken as if the fair rent was fixed for ever. But that could not be so; the conditions must vary from time to time, and the rent not only must be started fair but must be kept fair; and the only way to do that was to have an impartial tribunal which could regulate rents at stated periods, say every seven years, so as to secure fair play to the tenant. That seemed the better idea, and better than compulsory purchase. If hon. Members opposite acknowledged the existing evils and were so wedded to compulsory purchase, why had they not during their long term of office taken a single step to remedy the evils by introducing that system? Purchase involved heavy expenditure, whereas the system proposed by this Bill called for no elaborate financial transaction at all. The tenants would pay for the land out of the profits which they made from it. From the point of view of the State, it was a most economical system, and it was a system of simplicity; from the 797 point of view of the tenant it was a good system. The right hon. Member for the Bordesley Division of Birmingham attributed to ownership the sense of security which was felt by the holder of the land. But that sense of security was not due to ownership but to the fact of security of tenure, and where they gave that security of tenure, he believed that it was a far better way of dealing with the matter. He would also point out that it was the best way to keep the tenants out of the hands of the money-lenders, because instead of a man spending his money on the purchase of the land, it enabled him to spend it on improvements of his holding and so enabled him to use the land better than before. The curse of peasant proprietors in almost every country in the world was that if there were two or three bad seasons, they got into the hands of the gombeen man, and they then had dual ownership in its worst possible form. There was no dual ownership in the proposal of the Government. Ownership remained in the landlord, and the tenant had security of tenure. What did the landlord want more than that? He received a fair rent for the land and for what he had put into it. He might want to do what he liked with his own; he might want to turn the tenant out without any reason given, but they maintained that he should not be allowed to do so. That was the only way they interfered with the rights of ownership, namely, that the tenant should have security, and that he should not be turned out without good reason from the house which he had built and the holding which he had brought into a state of cultivation. Hon. Members opposite had spoken of the purchase of the land at its market value. He knew of various lands which produced practically nothing and were returned for assessment at practically nil. But the moment they wanted to purchase those lands for building cottages or for small holdings, then prices became prohibitive. He believed that the Bill would never work properly until they had a system by which the value for rating and taxation was also made the basis of the purchase price. Once they had that, he believed they would be able to get land at a fair price. The present conditions in this respect were another objection to purchase just now. Even in 798 renting the land they would in many cases have to pay too much for it, and he absolutely declined to be a party to any system of purchase until they had a simple and automatic means by which, if they purchased at all, it should be at a fair and not at an exorbitant price. He hoped that before long they would have a Valuation Bill for Scotland under which land would be assessed at its market value. Last year he remembered speaking of Scotland in regard to legislation as the Cinderella of the session. He was glad that the Government, by promoting Scottish legislation on the most important of Scottish questions, were doing something for Scotland which that country had long needed.
§ COLONEL KENYON-SLANEY (Shropshire, Newport)
said the hon. Member who had just sat down had spoken very feelingly upon the subject of emigration, and he had pointed out that a large number of people were leaving Scotland. It had also been stated that a great many of those who had emigrated from Scotland were a class who could afford to travel as second-class passengers. Under those circumstances he did not think the argument that those people had been driven away because they could not obtain a living in Scotland held good. Probably they had left Scotland because they saw a better chance of getting on in another country.
§ MR. J. D. WHITE
said his argument was that they wanted to give them that better chance in Scotland.
§ COLONEL KENYON-SLANEY
said the hon. Member could not have it both ways. They could not support this Bill by the argument that the well-to-do class preferred to emigrate.
§ MR. J.D. WHITE
said he did not say that they were a well-to-do class. What he said was that some of them were well-to-do.
§ COLONEL KENYON-SLANEY
said the hon. Member had asserted that a considerable number of the emigrants from Scotland were able to go out as second-class passengers. That was proof positive 799 that they were not amongst the very poor class. He would like the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill to tell him how it was, if the Crofters Act was supposed to afford an argument in support of this legislation, that the population in the crofter parishes fell from 158,000 in 1871 to 142,000 in 1901. Did a diminution of 16,000 persons show that the Act had tended to retain the population on the soil?
§ MR THOMAS SHAW
suggested that the right hon. Gentleman should give the figures for 1885–6 instead of for 1871.
§ MR. THOMAS SHAW
said the proper point to start from in drawing a contrast was the legislation which began in 1886.
§ COLONEL KENYON-SLANEY
asked whether it was a fact that since the Act came into operation the population had diminished. The silence on the opposite bench was ominous.
said he had not the full figures before him; but it must be borne in mind that if the decrease outside the crofter parishes was greater than the decrease inside it would show that the Crofters Act had been of service in staying the rate of decrease.
§ COLONEL KENYON-SLANEY
said it had been declared over and over again that the Crofters Act had kept the population on the land. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite could not say that the population had not decreased since that Act was passed, and therefore he was entitled to say that they had broken down in that part of their argument. Did the right hon. Gentleman deny that proposition?
§ MR. SINCLAIR
said that a Return for; 1907 showed that in non-crofting counties there was a decrease in the number of small holdings in every county but three, while in the crofting counties there was an increase in every county but one. [An HON. MEMBER: But what about the population?]
§ COLONEL KENYON-SLANEY
said his point was whether there had been an increase in the population. Had the population been strengthened or diminished by the operation of these Acts? Hon. Gentlemen opposite could not quote the Crofters Act as having done anything to stem the depopulation of the rural districts. That fact being acknowledged—[MINISTERIAL cries of "No"]—he would proceed to discuss the Bill With reference to what had been said about security of tenure he wished to remind the House that a long lease was a near approach to security of tenure. The longer a tenant had undisturbed possession the nearer he approached to security of tenure. It had been denied that there was anything like dual ownership under this Bill or anything that was unfair to either the landlord or the tenant. The effect upon his mind of the speech of the Secretary for Scotland was that he had a less clear understanding of what was proposed at the end of it than at the beginning. The right hon. Gentleman had said that the Bill was the outcome of Scottish experience and Scottish opinion. Personlly he had doubts upon that point. He thought the right hon. Gentleman had made a mistake in that matter. Then the right hon. Gentleman stated that one of the objects he had in view was to secure more scientific agriculture throughout Scotland. Again he was startled. He had always understood that there were perhaps no more scientific cultivators than those in the best parts of the lowlands of Scotland. He thought some of them would be startled when they were told that they were not scientific, and that the small holders proposed to be established were to conduct agriculture on scientific lines of which they were ignorant. He wished to call the attention of the House to the position in which they stood. There seemed to be a general idea that there was on that side of the House opposition to small holdings. How could that be when they were going to support an Amendment which in its essence approved the setting up of small holdings? Turning to the provisions of the Bill, he pointed out that there was a large number of small holdings even in the most highly farmed portions of Scotland, while in Scotland 801 as a whole small holdings constituted a large proportion of the occupied land. Towards stemming the exodus from the crofter districts the Crofter Acts had done nothing. He wondered whether the earnest advocates of the Bill realised the responsibility they were undertaking towards the new type of tenant it was proposed to create. These new tenants were to be invited to invest the whole of their savings in the holdings, savings which had been effected under the present system, and if the new system did not prove successful the new tenants would in many cases be in an almost hopeless position. If the result was unfavourable the Government would have ruined these men, and their responsibility would be very great. All experience showed that the pursuit of agriculture was a very hard life at the best, and under the conditions proposed it would probably result in failure. What would be the effect of the measure in those cases, and they would be of frequent occurrence, in which a landlord, acknowledging that small holdings were useful, had set them up on his own estate? He had equipped them and attached to them a certain portion of land in order to make the experiment, if possible, a success. He had rented the laud at a low rent. There were many cases in which the land attached to a small holding was rented at 4s. or 5s., while if the same land were attached to a large holding it would be rented at 12s. or 13s. If when the Act came into being that land was taken over at a rent of 4s., would it be fair to the landlord that for all future time he should only receive that amount for it, when, if he had not created the small holdings, he could have got 12s. for it? If hon. Members would think over that, they would see that there was an element of great unfairness in it, and he believed it was one with which they would hardly like to associate themselves. The Solicitor-General for Scotland had said that no landlord would be any worse under the Bill. It reminded one of the Jackdaw of Rheims:—But what gave rise to no little surprise, Nobody seemed one penny the worse.He was afraid that was not quite true. Let them take the case of a landlord who had let a 200-acre holding. He had arranged his rent on the ground that the 802 200-acre holding was to continue in the tenant's occupation on a long lease. Down came the Commissioners and took away 50 acres. Would any man who had practical acquaintance with the buying and selling of land say that the whole value of the estate was not distinctly lowered by the fact that that land had been taken off that particular farm? The Solicitor-General for Scotland had tried to persuade them that there would be no loss under the scheme of the Bill. But what was to happen when the whole system of culture on the holding was changed by the new tenant? That system of culture might not agree with the buildings already on the farm and might only be an experiment on the part of the new holder. Who was to be damnified by the expense caused by the change of culture? Was it to be the owner of the soil? The whole scheme of the Bill was bad, as always happened when a system of dual ownership was set up. He thought that the Lord Advocate had allowed his sentiment to overshadow his common sense. He only wished that the right hon. and learned Gentleman had been in the position of a landlord; then they might have had the advantage of a grumble from him against the provisions of the Bill. And he would remind hon. Gentlemen opposite that there was among some of those who were inherited owners of old estates a strong feeling of responsibility as to the duty they owed to the people who lived on the property, and they tried to do their level best to act up to that duty. But this Bill would make it impossible for them to carry out that which was to them a sacred trust and charge. [Ironical MINISTERIAL cheers.] It was a trust which had been carried out on the whole fairly and well; and he could afford to ignore the cheap jeer of hon. Gentlemen opposite. Then the Bill must diminish the general prosperity of the agricultural districts by withdrawing the large expenditure now willingly spent upon them and in the equipment of the farms by the owners of the land. A calculation had been made by a high Scottish authority that the money so withrawn would amount to £10,000,000 a year. That amount of money was spent not only on actual agricultural development, but on 803 all subsidiary industries in the district. Again, the taxpayer had not been sufficiently considered. In order to I spend £65,000 a year on an uncertain problem there would be in salaries an expenditure of £18,000 a year. A wiser plan of experiment would have been to adopt some measure for cheapening the transfer of land so that experiments could be tried on the land so acquired. The opposition was not to the setting up of small holdings, but to the system I proposed by the Bill.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
I fully recognise the temperate and reasonable spirit in which my right hon. friend has discussed this matter. If I were to find any fault with one portion of his speech it would be to say that he should not assume, as he does, that lie, and perhaps his friends about him, know a great deal about this subject, while those on this side know nothing. It does not do to set up a monopoly even of information and experience in this House; and perhaps I may enforce that little injunction upon my right hon. friend by justifying the smile with which I received the statement that the effect of the Bill would be to prevent the expenditure of £10,000,000 per annum. Why, the whole rental of agricultural farms in Scotland is only £5,500,000. The whole rental of agricultural land in Scotland is £5,500,000. I am not accustomed to hear with a calm countenance the greater subtracted from the lesser. I must refer for a minute or two to a matter personal to myself. Some doubt has been thrown on a statement of mine in a speech outside this House, much alluded to by some of the speakers, as to the demand which I alleged existed for land for small holdings: and houses, which demand I said in many cases had been met with a flat denial. It was said that there were many districts in which land had not been demanded for this purpose, or had been granted if it had been made. I asserted that there were many cases in which these circumstances did not exist. To tell me that there are others in which they do exist is hardly an answer. But the hon. Member for Ayrshire reviving in this House some memories that I entertain of a letter in The Times yesterday morning, 804 says that I ought not to have gone back to a report of 1895, when there was a more recent Paper submitted to Parliament. He objects to antiquated evidence; and I do not wonder at it, because for the last ten years, since that evidence came out, he and his friends have been responsible, and have done nothing to deal with the state of things which that evidence disclosed. But the Return of the Board of Agriculture which is more recent, was of a different nature altogether. The previous Returns, to which I referred and on which I founded myself, were a record of definite attempts made by the local authorities to obtain land, especially under the Small Holdings Act of 1892, whereas the Return to which the hon. Gentleman refers comprised a number of opinions expressed by gentlemen in different parts of the country who were called upon by the Board of Agriculture for evidence. I think it is better to go on the actually recorded proceedings of public authorities than on the mere opinions of certain gentlemen. The two things can hardly be put on the same plane; and I am not sure who these gentlemen are who gave these opinions. They are the correspondents of the Board of Agriculture in London. But how are they chosen? Who controls the selection? I do not wish to speak disrespectfully, but still the Board of Agriculture is more or less affected by the Minister at the head of it. [Mr. WALTER LONG: No.] Then who does select these correspondents; because, judging from the opinions given in Scotland, I should doubt very much whether they are impartial, and, indeed, it would be very difficult to get any one who could stand the test of being perfectly free from prejudice and party feeling in the matter. But, however that may be, when I used the words the other day which have been quoted, I had in my mind not only the question of small holdings, but of land for allotments and other such purposes. This 1895 Return shows that 483 acres had been provided in eight counties, and that650 petitions for small holdings had been presented in forty-one other counties which had acquired no land for the purpose. But I think the Return to which the hon. Member refers is a valuable report; and he was not at all exhaustive in his reference 805 to it. In the introduction to this Paper there is a passage which, I fancy, must have escaped his notice. It runs—It is possible, of course, that the apparent absence of demand may be put down, to some extent at least, to a recognition of the futility of asking for what is practically unattainable.And again—The majority of the correspondents, however, report that there is a demand for small holdings which is not satisfied for reasons which many of them specify. The belief that their provision would tend to keep the population on the land is explained.What I said the other day was, not that there were no parts where any land had been granted, but that there were parts of the country where it had been blankly refused. I must say a word or two as to the evidence in this Report with regard to Scotland. Counties are specified where there is great difficulty in getting small holdings and allotments. In Berwick a great demand for holdings is reported. In Peebles small holdings practically cannot be got, it is said, because wealthy proprietors will not, and poor ones cannot, supply the necessary buildings. [Cries of "Why?"] In Wigton we are told that small holdings were at one time numerous, but they have been gradually absorbed in large farms. I need go no further to show that I was amply justified in what I said by the Report which the hon. Gentleman opposite preferred over the heads of the previous Reports, which were even stronger. Now, to-night we have had a version of this Bill given to us by the Leader of the Opposition. It sounded to our ears like a romance. At the head you have a body of corrupt, incompetent, possibly venal, and certainly bureaucratic gentlemen—
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
If they were to do the things which the right hon. Gentleman imputed to them they must be both incompetent and venal.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
As the right hon. Gentleman makes the accusation 806 against me I may say I suggested neither incompetence nor venality. I suggested nothing but that they might fail, as Lord Carrington admitted that he failed.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
I stand upon "bureaucratic," at all events. There are a number of bureaucratic gentlemen in a back room in Edinburgh, from which vantage ground they proceed to disorganise the whole landlord class, and to menace the existence of every species of property in the United Kingdom. Incidentally they are to manage, as I gather, the greater part, in fact, the entire land of Scotland. Then you have on the other side the small holding, actual or potential, a perverted class of men, apparently, who are either bankrupt or going bankrupt, and wholly unfitted to cultivate the land, and yet foisted upon land quite unsuited for the purposes of small holdings, by this incompetent—by this bureaucratic body.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
That is not what I said. I have a right to say, all I mean to say, that the speech attributed to me by the right hon. Gentleman bears no resemblance whatever to what I said.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
I am a humble person, and I can only give the impression which the right hon. Gentleman's speech made upon me and my hon. friends around me. Now these unhappy men are tied down by virtue of an iron system of bondage called fixity of tenure, and they are tied to a barren and irresponsive soil. And, if I understood the right hon. Gentleman, they will, by the very nature of the case, or because they have suffered more acutely than the rest of mankind from the effects of the fall of Adam, be practically unequal to developing the land for the purposes of intensive cultivation. And to complete the picture, you have the figure of the patient and heroic landlord, with his estates torn from him and divided up among this riff-raff, compelled to accept the wretched rents and inadequate compensation awarded by the bureaucratic body, and forced to make good to the estate the liabilities incurred by the small holders. Even that does not complete the picture; but I will not pursue it further, it is so distressing. 807 What I think we ought to do in the face of that picture is to consider what under this Bill will actually happen. Let me say, first of all, that this Bill is not introduced, as my lion, and right hon. friends have made plain, in the air, without any experience. We have the experience of twenty years upon exactly similar relationships in the north-west of Scotland, where there has not been a hitch from beginning to end, where the landlords and the tenants are satisfied, and everybody is satisfied. We wish to extend those advantages further in that part of the country and to apply them to the rest of Scotland. But it is said the rest of Scotland is quite different. Is it different in any of these respects? To begin with, are there not men of the crofter class in other counties? There is exactly the same sort of thing in Aberdeenshire, where there are men indistinguishable from the so-called crofters. In the south, too, in the Stewartry of Kirkcudbrightshire, and even in Dumfries, there are men in exactly the same position. But if there were not, is this an unwholesome position that we create, is this an unwholesome way of dealing with the relations between landlord and tenant, and their relations to the soil? A good deal has been said about the feeling of Scotland. I believe that the feeling in Scotland is strongly in favour of this Bill, and we have every reason to know that it is. It is quite true that there have been some meetings of very big farmers and others in Edinburgh which have pronounced against it; but I have heard of a meeting of the Farmers' Association in a county not very far from Edinburgh, East Lothian, where approval of the Bill was moved by a Unionist farmer and seconded by a Liberal farmer, and where another Unionist gentleman who was present made a motion condemnatory of the Bill, but was not able to find a seconder. Among the class of farmers themselves there is no insuperable hostility to the Bill. I think it will be advantageous to consider what will happen under this Bill. From a certain village or 808 parish there may be representations forwarded to the Commissioners that there is a very strong desire for small holdings, or a group of men may apply for small holdings. The Commissioners send one of their number down to inspect the locality. He interviews the men to see whether they are of a class likely to make good use of their opportunity. He then goes and interviews the landowner. I will assume the worst—that he finds the landowner is reluctant or recalcitrant. The Commissioner tries to persuade him, but failing in that, he proceeds to investigate personally the available ground, and he is able to select one or two spots the conversion of which into small holdings would do no harm to anybody, which would be conveniently situated and the land suitable for the purpose. He reports to his brother Commissioners, and they have a further inquiry. They also approach the landowner to see whether he will relent. I assume the worst case, that he does not relent. Then they proceed, as I understand it, to report that a certain piece of land is suitable and available for small holdings. Then they act upon that. Then comes in the Court—an altogether independent body—to fix the amount of rent that ought to be paid, and the conditions on which the land should be let. The Court fixes it. The landlord still remains displeased, but he cannot help himself; the Court gives its decision and the thing is done. I take the case of the first man. He has, perhaps, saved a little bit of money; he advances it, gets a further loan from the State, and proceeds to do such draining or building and so forth, and improving the land as may be necessary. But, then, we are led to believe by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, in his picture, that nearly all those concerned must be either rogues or fools or bears. The man takes to drink or evil ways, or through other faults wastes his money, and in a year or two becomes bankrupt. Supposing he does. What happens? His estate or 809 little farm would have the benefit of the lease he had obtained on a reasonable rent under the order of the Court; there is the house and the other things he has built and all the improvements he has made. Am I to be told that the property is to lie derelict because no one would take it? The right hon. Gentleman said the land might be unsuitable. If it was unsuitable ground it assumes that the Commissioners did not know their duty. I assume that they did know their duty and that it will be a good bargain for anyone to get this so-called derelict land, and there is no likelihood of any loss. The whole picture which the right hon. Gentleman drew was painted from his own imagination. But if it should so happen that in any one case there is a loss by this proceeding, then I am bound to say—I do not know whether it is provided for, in the Bill—that in that extreme case the loss ought properly to be borne by the State. It would not be a great loss, and I think that would not be unfair. In all the cases we have had in the North-West Highlands there has been no such case as that. As I say, it is to imagine that the whole lot of them are incompetent. I venture to say they are not incompetent, and they must all have been incompetent if any such case as that could have arisen. There is the bugbear of the right hon. Gentleman I think pretty well destroyed. The one case that he dwelt upon culminated in this— the bankrupt tenant of a small holding, and who has to bear the loss. I have said that with all the safeguards that are provided, first of all by the Commissioners, and then by the Court, if any such case did happen, then I think the State ought to bear the loss. No one on the other side of the House is opposed to the idea of small holdings granted in a casual and benevolent way
§ by the goodwill of the landlords. Nor are small holdings under the sanction of the State objected to. But they wish it to be done by purchase. In Scotland our Scottish experience has shown that the mode of purchase is extremely expensive, infinitely more expensive than our proposal. We have discovered that the Scottish tenants and the Scottish labourers, and others interested in the matter in Scotland, do not desire to have purchase; they prefer this other way of dealing with it. That is the foundation of this Bill; that is the common sense of the matter. We wish to increase the number of small holdings. The right hon. Gentleman implies, in fact he does not imply, he said it, that any increase in the rural population would only intensify and aggravate the exodus to the towns; that the more you keep the people in the country the more they will want to go to the towns, and, therefore you are, I suppose, to leave them alone. I do not agree with him. Even if it were so, is it not something to open up a career and the prospect of a useful and happy life to hard-working men who arc debarred from it by this unfortunate lack of land? I think that is an object which, if attained, would be of enormous benefit to the race, to the physical condition of our people, and to the community at large. Those are the reasons why we have introduced this Bill, and nothing that has been said in the course of this debate has proved to me that any other way that we could have adopted would be half so likely to be so efficacious as this.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 365; Noes, 126. (Division List No. 149.)815
|Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.)||Ainsworth, John Stirling||Ambrose, Robert|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Armstrong, W. C. Heaton|
|Agnew, George William||Allen, Charles P. (Stroud)||Ashton, Thomas Gair|
|Astbury, John Meir||Devlin, Joseph||Idris, T. H. W.|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)||Illingworth, Percy H.|
|Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth)||Dickinson, W. H.(St. Pancras, N||Isaacs, Ruins Daniel|
|Baker, Joseph A.(Finsbury, E.)||Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Jackson, R. S.|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Dillon, John||Jacoby, Sir James Alfred|
|Barker, John||Dobson, Thomas W.||Jardine, Sir J.|
|Barlow, John Emmott (Somerset||Donelan, Captain A.||Jenkins, J.|
|Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Duckworth, James||Johnson, John (Gateshead)|
|Barnard, E. B.||Duffy, William J.||Johnson, W. (Nuneaton)|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst||Duncan, C.(Barrow-in-Furness||Jones. Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Jones, Leif (Appleby)|
|Beale, W. P.||Edwards, Frank (Radnor)||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire|
|Beauehamp, E.||Elibank, Master of||Jowett, F. W.|
|Bell, Richard||Erskine, David C.||Joyce, Michael|
|Bellairs, Carlyon||Evans, Samuel T.||Kearley, Hudson E.|
|Benn. Sir J. Williams (Devonp'rt||Eve, Harry Trelawney||Kekewich, Sir George|
|Benn, W.(T'w'r Hamlets, S. Geo.||Everett, R. Lacey||Kelley, George D.|
|Bennett, E. N.||Fenwick, Charles||Kennedy, Vincent Paul|
|Berridge, T. H. D.||Ferens, T. R.||Kettle, Thomas Michael|
|Bethell, Sir J. H.(Essex, R'mf'rd||Fiennes, Hon. Eustace||King, Alfred John (Knutsford)|
|Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon)||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Kitson, Rt. Hon. Sir James|
|Billson, Altred||Flynn, James Christopher||Laidlaw. Robert|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Lamb, Edmund G.(Leominster|
|Black, Arthur W.||Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester)|
|Boland, John||Fuller, John Michael F.||Lambert, George|
|Boulton, A. C. F.||Fullerton, Hugh||Layland-Barratt, Francis|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Gibb, James (Harrow)||Lea, HughCecil (St. Pancras, E.|
|Brace, William||Gilhooly, James||Leese, Sir Joseph F.(Accrington|
|Bramsdon, T. A.||Gill, A. H.||Lehmann, R. C.|
|Brigg, John||Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John||Lever, A. Levy(Essex, Harwich|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Glendinning, R. G.||Lever, W. H. (Cheshire, Wirral)|
|Brodie, H. C.||Glover, Thomas||Levy, Maurice|
|Brooke, Stopford||Gooch, George Peabody||Lewis, John Herbert|
|Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs., Leigh)||Grant, Corrie||Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David|
|Brunner. Rt. Hn. Sir J. T. (Chesh.||Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)||Lough, Thomas|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Grey, Rt. Hon Sir Edward||Lundon, W.|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Griffith, Ellis J.||Lupton, Arnold|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Gulland, John W.||Lynch, H. B.|
|Burnyeat, W. J. D.||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk B'ghs|
|Buxton, Rt. Hn. Sydney Charles||Hall, Frederick||Mackarness, Frederic C.|
|Byles, William Pollard||Halpin, J.||Maclean, Donald|
|Cairns, Thomas||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.|
|Cameron, Robert||Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)||MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down. S.|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worc'r)||MacVcigh, Charles (Donegal, E.)|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithn'ss-sh||M'Callum, John M.|
|Channing, Sir Francis Allston||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||M'Crae, George|
|Cheetham, John Frederick||Harwood, George||M'Hugh, Patrick A.|
|Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||M'Kean, John|
|Clarke, C. Goddard (Peckham)||Haworth, Arthur A.||M'Kenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald|
|Cleland, J. W.||Hayden, John Patrick||M'Killop, W.|
|Clough, William||Hazel, Dr. A. E.||M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)|
|Clynes, J. R.||Hazleton, Richard||M'Micking, Major G.|
|Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Helme, Norval Watson||Maddison, Frederick|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Hemmerde, Edward George||Mallet, Charles E.|
|Collins, Sir Wm. J.(S. Paneras, W||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Manfield, Harry (Northants)|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)||Mansfield, H. Rendall (Lincoln)|
|Cooper, G. J.||Henry, Charles S.||Markham, Arthur Basil|
|Corbett, C. H (Sussex, E. Grinst'd||Herbert, T. Arnold (Wycombe)||Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Higham, John Sharp||Marnham. F. J.|
|Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Hobart, Sir Robert||Mason. A. E. W. (Coventry)|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Hobhouse, Charles E. H.||Massie, J.|
|Crean, Eugene||Hodge, John||Masterman, C. F. G.|
|Cremer, William Randal||Hogan, Michael||Meagher, Michael|
|Crombie. John William||Holden, E. Hopkinson||Menzies, Walter|
|Crooks, William||Holt, Richard Durning||Micklem, Nathaniel|
|Crosfield, A. H.||Hooper, A. G.||Molteno, Percy Alpor|
|Cross, Alexander||Hope, John Deans (Fife, West)||Mond, A,|
|Crossley, William J.||Hope, W. Bateman (Somerset, N.||Money, L. G. Chiozza|
|Dalziel, James Henry||Horridge, Thomas Gardner||Montagu, E. S.|
|Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Montgomery, H. G.|
|Davies, W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Hudson, Walter||Mooney, J. J.|
|Delany, William||Hyde, Clarendon||Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)|
|Morley, Rt. Hon. John||Rendall, Athelstan||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Morrell, Philip||Richards, T. F. (Wolverh'mpt'n||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)|
|Morse, L. L.||Richardson, A.||Thomas.Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Riokett, J. Compton||Thomasson, Franklin|
|Murray, James||Ridadale, E. A.||Thompson, J. W. H (Somerset, E|
|Myer, Horatio||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Tomkinson, James|
|Newnes, F. (Notts, Bassetlaw)||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)||Torrance, Sir A. M.|
|Newnes, Sir George (Swansea)||Robertson, Rt. Hn. E. (Dundee||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Nicholls, George||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradf'rd||Ure, Alexander|
|Nolan, Joseph||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)||Verney, F. W.|
|Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Robinson, S.||Vivian, Henry|
|Nuttall, Harry||Robson, Sir William Snowdon||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)|
|O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Roche, John (Galway, East)||Walsh, Stephen|
|O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Rogers, F. E. Newman||Walters, John Tudor|
|O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Rose, Charles Day||Walton, Sir John L. (Leeds, S.)|
|O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth)||Rowlands, J.||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)||Runciman, Walter||Ward, John (Stoke upon Trent)|
|O'Dowd, John||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)||Wardle, George J.|
|O'Grady, J.||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)||Wason, Eugene(Clackmannan)|
|O'Hare, Patrick||Schwann, C. Duncan (Hyde)||Wason, John Cathcart(Orkney)|
|O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N||Schwann, Sir C. E.(Manchester)||Waterlow, D. S.|
|O'Malley, William||Scott, A. H.(Ashton under Lyne||Watt, Henry A.|
|O'Mara, James||Sears, J. E.||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Seddon, J.||Weir, James Galloway|
|Parker, James (Halifax)||Shackleton, David James||White, George (Norfolk)|
|Pearce, Robert (Staffs. Leek)||Shaw, Rt. Hon. T. (Hawick B.)||White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)|
|Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Sheehy, David||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Pearson, W. H. M. (Suffolk, Eye)||Sherwell, Arthur James||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Perks, Robert William||Shipman, Dr. John G.||Whitehead, Rowland|
|Philipps, J. Wynford (Pembroke||Silcock, Thomas Ball||Whiteley, John Henry (Halifax|
|Philipps, Owen C. (Pembroke)||Simon, John Allsebrook||Whittaker, Sir Thomas Palmer|
|Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John||Wiles, Thomas|
|Pollard, Dr.||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Power, Patrick Joseph||Snowden, P.||Williams, Llewelyn (Carm'rth'n|
|Price, C. E.(Edinb'gh,Central)||Soames, Arthur Wellesley||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)|
|Price, Robert John (Norfolk, E.)||Spicer, Sir Albert||Wills, Arthur Walters|
|Priestley, Arthur (Grantham)||Stanger, H. Y.||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh, N.|
|Priestley, W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)||Stanley, Hn. A. Lynlph (Chesh.)||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Pullar, Sir Robert||Steadman, W. C.||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughon)|
|Radford, G. H.||Stewart, Halley (Greenock)||Winfrey, R.|
|Rainy, A. Rolland||Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)||Wodehouse, Lord|
|Rea, Russell (Gloucester)||Strachey, Sir Edward||Wood, T. M'Kinnon|
|Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro'||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)||Young, Samuel|
|Reddy, M.||Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)|
|Redmond, John E. (Waterford||Stuart, James (Sunderland)||TELLERS FOE THE AYES—|
|Redmond, William (Clare)||Summerbell, T.||Mr. Whiteley and Mr. J. A.|
|Rees, J. D.||Taylor, John W. (Durham)||Pease.|
|Acland-Hood, Rt Hn. Sir Alex. F||Castlereagh, Viscount||Doughty, Sir George|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Cave, George||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major||Cavendish, Rt. Hon. Victor C. W.||Du Cros, Harvey|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Duncan, Robert(Lanark, Govan|
|Ashley, W. W.||Cecil, Lord John P. Joicey-||Faber, George Denison (York)|
|Aubrey-Fletcher, Rt. Hon. Sir H.||Cecil Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Faber, Capt. W. V. (Hants, W.)|
|Balearres, Lord||Chamberlain, Rt Hn. J. A. (Worc||Fell, Arthur|
|Baldwin, Alfred||Chance, Frederick William||Finch, Rt. Hon. George H.|
|Balfour. Rt Hn. A. J. (City Lond)||Clark, George Smith(Belfast, N.)||Fletcher, J. S.|
|Balfour, Capt. C. B. (Hornsey)||Coats, Sir T. Glen (Renfrew, W)||Forster, Henry William|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Coohrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Gardner, Col. Alan (Hereford, S.|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Collings, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm'gh'm||Gardner, Ernest (Berks, East)|
|Baring. Capt. Hn. G (Winchester||Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Haddock, George R.|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.||Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Hamilton Marquess of|
|Beach, Hn. Michael Hugh Hicks||Courthope, G. Loyd||Hardy Laurence(Kent, Ashf'rd|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Craig, Charles Curtis(Antrim, S)||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.|
|Bignold, Sir Arthur||Craig, Captain James(Down, E.)||Hay, Hon. Claude George|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Craik, Sir Henry||Helmsley, Viscount|
|Brotherton, Edward Allen||Davies. David (Montgomery Co||Hervey. F. W. F. (Bury S. Edmd's|
|Butcher, Samuel Henry||Dixon-Hartland, Sir Fred Dixon||Hill, Sir Clement (Shrewsbury)|
|Hornby, Sir William Henry||Muntz, Sir Philip A.||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Houston, Robert Paterson||Napier, T. B.||Thomson, W. Mitchell-(Lanark;|
|Hunt, Rowland||Nicholson, Wm. C. (Petersfield)||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Kennaway. Rt. Hon. Sir John H.||Nield, Herbert||Turnour, Viscount|
|Kenyon-Slaney, Rt. Hon. Col. W.||O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens||Valentia, Viscount|
|Keswick, William||Paulton, James Mellor||Vincent, Col. Sir C. E. Howard|
|Kimber, Sir Henry||Pease, Herbert Pike(Darlington||Walker, Col. W. H. (Lancashire)|
|Kincaid-Smith, Captain||Percy, Earl||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.||Ratcliff, Major R. F.||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid.|
|Lane-Fox, G. R.||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||Waring, Walter|
|Lee, Arthur H. (Hants., Fareh'm||Remnant, James Farquharson||Whitbread, Howard|
|Lockwood. Rt. Hn. Lt.-Col. A. R.||Renton, Major Leslie||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.|
|Long, Col. Charles W. (Evesham||Roberts, S. (Shemeld, Ecelesall)||Willoughby do Eresby, Lord|
|Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Dublin, S.||Rothschild, Hon. Lionel Walter||Wilson. A. Stanley (York, E. R.)|
|Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Lowe, Sir Francis William||Salter, Arthur Clavell||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred||Sandys, Lieut. -Col. Thos. Myles||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|M'Calmont, Colonel James||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley George D.||Younger, George|
|M'Iver, Sir Lewis (Edinburgh, W||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East)|
|Magnus, Sir Philip||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Stanley, Hon. Arthur (Ormskirk||Mr. Munro Ferguson and|
|Meysey-Thompson, E. C.||Starkey, John R.||Sir Edward Tennant.|
|Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staff'sh|
|Moore, William||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
Bill read a second time.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 118; Noes, 374. (Division List No. 150.)
|Acland-Hood. Rt Hn. Sir Alex. F.||Doughty, Sir George||Mason, James F. (Windsor)|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Meysey-Thomson, E. C.|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major||Du Cros, Harvey||Mildmay, Francis Bingham|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Duncan, Robert'(Lanark, Govan||Moore, William|
|Ashley, W. W.||Faber, George Denison (York)||Muntz, Sir Philip A.|
|Aubrey-Fletcher, Rt. Hon. Sir H.||Faber, Capt W. V. (Hants, W.)||Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield)|
|Balcarres, Lord||Fell, Arthur||Nield, Herbert|
|Baldwin. Alfred||Ferguson, R. C. Munro||O'Neill. Hon. Robert Torrens|
|Balfour, Rt Hn. A. J. (City Lond.)||Finch, Rt. Hon. George H.||Paulton, James Mellor|
|Balfour, Capt. C. B. (Hornsey)||Fletcher, J. S.||Pease, Herbert Pike(Darlington|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Gardner, Ernest (Berks, East)||Percy, Earl|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Haddock, George R.||Ratcliff, Major R. F.|
|Baring, Capt. Hn. G. (Winchester||Hamilton, Marquess of||Rawlinson, John Frederick Pee|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Hardy, Laurence(Kent, Ashford||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Beach, Hn. Miehael Hugh Hicks||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Renton, Major Leslie|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Hay, Hon. Claude George||Roberts, S. (Sheffield. Ecelesall)|
|Bignold, Sir Arthur||Helmsley, Viscount||Rothschild, Hon. Lionel Walter|
|Briclgeman, W. Clive||Hervey, F. W. F. (Bury S. Edm'ds||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)|
|Brotherton, Edward Allen||Hill, Sir Clement (Shrewsbury)||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Butcher, Samuel Henry||Hornby, Sir William Henry||Sandys, Lieut. -Col. Thos. Myles|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Houston, Robert Paterson||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley George D.|
|Cave, George||Hunt, Rowland||Smith, Abel H. (Hcrtiord, East)|
|Cavendisb, Rt. Hon. Victor C. W.||Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir John H.||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Kenyon-Slaney, Rt. Hon. Col. W.||Stanley. Hon. Arthur (Ormskirk|
|Cecil, Lord John P. Joicey-||Kimber, Sir Henry||Starkey, John R.|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.||Staveley-Hill. Henry (Staff'sh.|
|Chamberlain, Rt Hn. J. A. (Worc.||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Clark, George Smith(Belfast, N.)||Lee, Arthur H. (Hants., Fareham||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Cochrane. Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Lockwood, Rt. Hn. Lt. -Col. A. R.||Tennant, Sir Edward(Salisbury|
|Collings, Rt. Hn. J. (Birmingham||Long, Col. Charles W. (Eveshani)||Thorn son, W. Mitchell-(Lanark)|
|Corbett, A. Cameron(Glasgow)||Long. Rt, Hn, Walter (Dublin, S.)||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Turnour, Viscount|
|Courthope, G. Loyd||Lowe, Sir Francis William||Vincent, Col. Sir C. E. Howard|
|Craig, Charles Curtis(Antrim, S.)||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred||Walker. Col. W. H. (Lancashire)|
|Craig, Captain James(Down, E.)||M'Calmont, Colonel James||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Craik, Sir Henry||M'Iver, SirLewis(Edinburgh W.)||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Dixon-Hartland, Sir Fred Dixon||Magnus, Sir Philip|
|Whitbread, Howard||Wolff. Gustav Wilhelm||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Williams. Col. R. (Dorset, W.)||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-||Viscount Valentia and Mr.|
|Willoughby de Eresby, Lord||Wyndham. Rt. Hon. George||Forster.|
|Wilson. A. Stanley(York, E. R.)||Younger, George|
|Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.)||Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worc'r)|
|Agnew, George William||Collins, Sir Wm.J.(S. Pancra, W.||Harmsworth, R. L.(Caithn'ss-sh|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Condon, Thomas Joseph||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Cooper, G.J.||Hawood, George|
|Allen, Charles P. (Stroud)||Corbett, C.H (Sussex, E. Grinst'd||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)|
|Ambrose. Robert||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Haworth, Arthur A.|
|Armstrong. W. C. Heaton||Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Hayden, John Patrick|
|Ashton Thomas Gair||Craig, HerbertJ. (Tynemouth)||Hazel, Dr. A. E.|
|Asquith Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Crean, Eugene||Hazleton, Richard|
|Astbury, John Meir||Cremer, William Randal||Helme, Norval Watson|
|Atherley-Jones L.||Crombic, John William||Hemmerde, Edward George|
|Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth)||Crooks, William||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)|
|Baker, JosephA. (Finsbury, E.)||Crosfield, A. H.||Henderson J. M.(Aberdeen W.)|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Cross, Alexander||Henry, Charles S.|
|Barker, John||Crossley, William J.||Herbert, T. Arnold (Wycombe)|
|Barlow, John Emmott (Somerset||Dalziel. James Henry||Higham, John Sharp|
|Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Davies, David (MontgomeryCo.||Hobart, Sir Robert|
|Barnard, E. B.||Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||Hobhouse Charles E. H.|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst||Davies, W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Hodge, John|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Delany, William||Hogan, Michael|
|Beale, W. P.||Devlin, Joseph||Holden, E. Hopkinson|
|Beauchamp, E.||Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)||Holt, Richard Durning|
|Bell, Richard||Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.||Hooper, A. G.|
|Bellairs, Carlyon||Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Hope, John Deans (Fife, West)|
|Benn, Sir J. Williams(Devonport||Dillon, John||Hope, W. Bateman (Somerset, N.|
|Benn, W.(T' w'rHamlets, S. Geo.||Dob on, Thomas W.||Horridge, Thomas Gardner|
|Bennett, E. N.||Donelan, Captain A.||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey|
|Berridge, T. H. D.||Duckworth. James||Hudson, Walter|
|Bertram, Julius||Duffy, William J.||Hyde, Clarendon|
|Bethell, Sir J. H.(Essex, Romf'rd||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness||Idris, T. H. W.|
|Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon)||Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Illingworth, Percy H.|
|Billson, Alfred||Edwards, Frank (Radnor)||Isaacs, Rufus Daniel|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Elibank, Master of||Jackson, R. S.|
|Black, Arthur W.||Erskine, David C.||Jacoby, Sir James Alfred|
|Boland, John||Evans, Samuel T.||Jardine, Sir J.|
|Boulton, A. C. F.||Eve, Harry Trelawney||Jenkins, J.|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Everett, R. Lacey||Johnson, John (Gateshead)|
|Brace, William||Fenwick, Charles||Johnson, W. (Nuneaton)|
|Bramsden, T. A.||Ferens, T. R.||Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)|
|Brigg, John||Fiennes, Hon. Eustace||Jones, Leif (Appleby)|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire|
|Brodie, H. C.||Flynn, James Christopher||Jowett, F. W.|
|Brooke, Stopford||Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Joyce, Michael|
|Brunner, J. F. L.(Lanes., Leigh)||Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Kearley, Hudson E.|
|Brunner, Rt HnSir J.T (Cheshire||Fuller, John Michael F.||Kekewich, Sir George|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Fullerton, Hugh||Kelley, George D.|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Gardner, Col. Alan (Hereford, S.)||Kennedy, Vincent Paul|
|Burns. Rt. Hon. John||Gibb, James (Harrow)||Kettle, Thomas Michael|
|Burnyeat, W. J. D.||Gilhooly, James||Kincaid-Smith, Captain|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Gill, A. H.||King, Alfred John (Knutsford)|
|Buxton, Rt. Hn. Sydney Charles||Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John||Kitson, Rt. Hon. Sir James|
|Byles, William Pollard||Glendinning, R. G.||Laidlaw, Robert|
|Cairns, Thomas||Glover, Thomas||Lamb, Edmund G.(Leominster)|
|Cameron, Robert||Gooch, George Peabody||Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester)|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Grant, Corrie||Lambert, George|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)||Lamont, Norman|
|Channing, Sir Francis Allston||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Layland - Barratt, Francis|
|Cheetham, John Frederick||Griffith, Ellis J.||Lea, Hugh Cecil (St. Pancras, E.)|
|Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Gulland, John W.||Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington)|
|Clarke, C. Goddard (Peckham)||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius||Lehmann, R. C.|
|Cleland. J. W.||Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich|
|Clough, William||Hall, Frederick||Lever, W. H.(Cheshire, Wirral)|
|Clynes, J. R.||Halpin, J.||Levy, Maurice|
|Coats, Sir T. Glen (Renfrew, W.)||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis||Lewis, John Herbert|
|Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||O'Kelly,James (Roscommon, N.||Snowden, P.|
|Lough, Thomas||O'Malley, William||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|London, W.||O'Mara, James||Spicer, Sir Albert|
|Lupton, Arnold||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Stanger, H. Y.|
|Lynch, H. B.||Parker, James (Halifax)||Stanley, Hn. A. Lyulph (Chesh)|
|Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Pearce, Robert (Staffs. Leek)||Steadman, W. C.|
|Macdonald, J. M. (FalkirkBurghs||Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Stewart, Halley (Greenock)|
|Mackarness, Frederic C.||Pearson, W. H. M. (Suffolk, Eye)||Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)|
|Maclean, Donald||Perks, Robert William||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Macnamara, D. Thomas J.||Philipps, J. Wynford(Pembroke||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)|
|Mac Veagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.)||Philipps, Owen C. (Pembroke)||Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)|
|MacVeigh, Charles (Donegal,E.)||Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Stuart, James (Sunderland)|
|M'Callum, John M.||Pirie, Duncan V.||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|M'Crae, George||Pollard, Dr.||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|M'Hugh, Patrick A.||Power, Patrick Joseph||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)|
|M'Kean, John||Price, C. E. (Edinb'gh, Central)||Thomas, Sir A.(Glamorgan, E.)|
|M'Kenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Price, Robert John (Norfolk, E.)||Thomasson, Franklin|
|M'Killop, W.||Priestley, Arthur (Grantham)||Thompson, J. W. H. (Somerset, E|
|M' Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Priestley, W. E. B.(Bradford, E.)||Tomkinson, James|
|M'Micking, Major G.||Pullar, Sir Robert||Torrance, Sir A. M.|
|Maddison, Frederick||Radford, G. H.||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Mallet, Charles E.||Rainy, A. Rolland||Ure, Alexander|
|Manfield, Harry (Northants)||Rea, Russell (Gloucester)||Verney, F. W.|
|Manfield, H. Rendall (Lincoln)||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro'||Vivian, Henry|
|Markham, Arthur Basil||Reddy, M.||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)|
|Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Walsh, Stephen|
|Marnham, F. J.||Redmond, William (Clare)||Walters, John Tudor|
|Mason, A. E. W. (Coventry)||Rees, J. D.||Walton, Sir John L. (Leeds, S.)|
|Massie, J.||Rendall, Athelstan||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Masterman, C. F. G.||Richards, T. F.(Wolverhampton||Ward, John (Stoke upon Trent)|
|Meagher, Michael||Richardson, A.||Wardle, George J.|
|Menzies, Walter||Rickett, J. Compton||Waring, Walter|
|Micklem, Nathariel||Ridsdale, E. A.||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)|
|Molteno, Percy Alport||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Mond, A.||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Money, L. G. Chiozza||Robertson, Rt. Hn. E. (Dundee)||Watt, Henry A.|
|Montagu, E. S.||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradf'rd||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Montgomery, H. G.||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)||Weir, James Galloway|
|Mooney, J. J.||Robinson, S.||White, George (Norfolk)|
|Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)||Robson, Sir William Snowdon||White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)|
|Morley, Rt. Hon. John||Roche, John (Galway, East)||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Morrell, Philip||Rogers, F. E. Newman||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Morse, L. L.||Rose, Charles Day||Whitehead, Rowland|
|Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Rowlands, J.||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Murray, James||Runciman, Walter||Whittaker, Sir Thomas Palmer|
|Myer, Horatio||Samuel, Herbert L.(Cleveland)||Wiles, Thomas|
|Napier, T. B.||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Newnes, F. (Notts, Bassetlaw)||Schwann, C. Duncan (Hyde)||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarth'n|
|Newnes, Sir George (Swansea)||Schwann, Sir C. E. (Manchester)||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)|
|Nicholls, George||Scott, A. H. (Ashton under Lyne)||Wills, Arthur Walters|
|Nolan, Joseph||Sears, J. E.||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh. N.)|
|Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Seddon, J.||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Nuttall, Harry||Shackleton, David James||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Shaw, Rt. Hon. T. (Hawick B.)||Winfrey, R.|
|O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Sheehy, David||Wodehouse, Lord|
|O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Sherwell, Arthur James||Wood, T. M'Kinnon|
|O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth)||Shipman, Dr. John G.||Young, Samuel|
|O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)||Silcock, Thomas Ball|
|O'Dowd, John||Simon, John Allsebrook||TELLERS FOR THE NOES-Mr.|
|O'Grady, J.||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John||Whiteley and Mr. J. A. Pease.|
|O'Hare, Patrick||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie|
Bill committed to a Standing Committee.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That the Bill be committed to a Committee of the Whole House."—(Mr. A. J. Balfour.)