§ Order for Second Heading road.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ MR. MOORE (Armagh, N.)
moved that the Bill be read a second time upon that day three months. He said that, while Unionists wore as anxious as any one not to disturb the eircuikon established by the Land Purchase Act, it did not follow that the objections entertained to the extraordinary and revolutionary proposals in the nature of machinery contained in this Bill should not be placed before the House. The hon. Member for North Louth had appealed to Unionists not to pursue their irreconcilable attitude towards the evicted tenants. But any reasonable man must find himself very seriously opposed to the extraordinary proposals in the nature of machinery— which were practically 1184 revolutionary—contained in this Bill. Several times during the last thirteen years the House had had before it legislation dealing with the position of evicted tenants. At the present time they had in force the legislative powers under the Act of 1903, which he hoped to convince the House would solve the problem if allowed to be worked out. As the opposition was coming from the Unionist Benches, perhaps he might be allowed to point out that it was by Unionist legislation that the House had the means at its hand to deal with the situation. A clear, convincing, and overwhelming case should be brought before the House and proved to its satisfaction, before it invested a body in which Ireland had little confidence with extraordinary and arbitrary powers of acquiring land compulsorily, of fixing their own price, and of leaving the matter without the possibility of appeal from their decision. The Estates Commissioners had published a Report, and be wished to ask the attention of the House to the conclusions which could legitimately be drawn from that Report. Nobody, he thought, would deny that there was not the least chance of the Commissioners understating the case with regard to evicted tenants. The Report was conceived and prepared in that spirit, he had no doubt. Let the House consider what it meant, because it was only by dealing with the results of what had been done in Ireland in this matter that they could form an opinion as to whether existing legislation was adequate. In the Report which the Estates Commissioners had submitted to the House it would be found that they had received 8,400 claims for reinstatement from tenants. Of these 8,400, the Commissioners had found that little over 3,000 were what he might callbonâ fide. When, therefore, it was found that only about 3G per cent. of the claims were bonâ fide he thought it threw a very strong light upon the question of the size and magnitude of the problem which had to be dealt with. Thirty-six per cent. of the whole of the claims were in the opinion of the Commissioners from persons who were entitled to be reinstated. That only applied to the applications received since the passing of the Land Act of 1903. Of those 3,000 cases under the voluntary system now in force they had already reinstated 1,000 tenants, so that it might be 1185 taken that 33 per. cent. of the genuine cases had been reinstated in three and a half years by the Estates Commissioners. He would put it to any fair-minded man whether the Commissioners could have done more in three and a half years had they had compulsory powers in 1903 than had already been done under the voluntary system. The Report dealt only with the work the Estates Commissioners had done since 1903. It certified that there were 2,000 cases to be dealt with. Before the Act of 1903 there was a mutual feeling between all parties concerned in Ireland. Landlord and tenant were sick of the business, and there had been during the past seven or eight years a marked tendency on both sides to come to terms. A general process of voluntary re-instatement had been going on before the Act of 1903 was passed. The Report of the Commissioners on the subject in that year, showed that there were seventeen estates in which tenants had been evicted in connection with the Plan of Campaign. But a recent Report stated that of these evictions in nine cases the tenants had been reinstated in 1903. No suggestion of unfairness was made at the time or during the passing of the Act of 1903, and he did not think the House would now consider what were the terms on which the men were reinstated. They were reinstated in a voluntary manner without any compulsion, and he submitted it ought not to be questioned now. With regard to the Plan of Campaign estates the result at present was that out of the seventeen Plan of Campaign estates there were only two in which the question had not been settled, and out of a total of 1,580 original Plan of Campaign tenants there were only 160 who were not in possession of holdings. That had been done by voluntary agreement, either before or after the passing of the Act of 1903, and when it had come down to a mere matter of 160, so far as the Plan of Campaign tenants were concerned, he did not think a case had been made out which would justify the application of the compulsory powers proposed by the Bill. He wished to say how much he protested against the policy of secrecy which the Government had adopted. No one in Ireland except the members of the United Irish League had any idea who had been selected by the Estates Commissioners to fill the 1186 2,000 vacancies. When this Bill had become an Act they would be told that it was a settlement of the whole question. He would suggest to the Chief Secretary or whoever replied for the Government that if the Bill was not a settlement of the whole question he would still more protest against the. giving of compulsory powers. If it was to be a settlement of the whole question they had a definition of the class of evicted tenants who were to be reinstated, and their names ought to be published. The House ought to know who they were. The men themselves were entitled to know, but according to an answer given by the Chief Secretary they were not entitled to know whether their claims were accepted or not. The Mathew Commission reported on the evicted tenants and in the Blue-books set out the names of the evicted tenants who had made claims before them. If this was to be a settlement, in justice to the tenants and the people who were to be dispossessed of their land, if the Bill became law the taxpayers had a right to know who were the people for whose benefit this extraordinary legislation was carried through the House. But the Government were determined that that should not be the case. Day after day the Question Paper contained Questions as to what was to be the fate of a tenant in this or that county, but no communication was made. The only people who seemed to know what was to be done in any particular case were the members of the United Irish League. He knew a reliable case where a landlord was approached and asked what he would do in regard to some tenants whom he had evicted some time ago. He gave full particulars in regard to eight of them. He gave reasons why five would be eligible for reinstatement and three would not be eligible. He had never been allowed to know what the Commissioners were going to do in the matter, and the evicted tenants had not been allowed to know. But at a meeting of the United Irish League held in his village the actual terms of his letter were quoted by a speaker of the League which showed how very intimate was the bond between them and the inspectors employed by the Estates Commissioners, or the Estates Commissioners themselves, when information of that nature was communicated to the local body and denied 1187 to everybody else. [A NATIONALIST MEMBER: Who was the landlord?] He did not want the unfortunate man to be either boycotted or shot, and he should certainly refuse to give his name. The House might accept his statement or not as it pleased. This policy of secrecy, this fear of disclosing the names, was apt to make Members anxious to scrutinise very closely the means by which these 2,000 names had been arrived at. There had been inquiries all over the country behind the backs of the people interested, and no information had been vouchsafed to them. He thought in common protection to the rights of minorities and the rights of individuals, and in all fair play, the names of the 2,000 eligible tenants should be put forward instead of the House being confronted with the interminable prospect of having Bills to deal with the residue brought forward year after year. Quite apart from these reasons he would be rather disposed to doubt the finding of the Commissioners that there were 2,000 genuine claims. He said that after careful persual of the speeches made in the House time after time for the last thirteen years by hon. Members below the Gangway, and they would never be able to clear away such doubts until they had the names and particulars of the tenants whom they now sought to reinstate. They were told that 80,000 acres of land would be required for the purpose. Putting it at the lowest figure they would not get it much cheaper, or at any rate they ought not to get it much cheaper, than £25 an acre. That would be a very low figure, and from what he knew of the tenants not one of them would be satisfied with land below that figure. That involved £2,000,000 of money. He did not suggest that that was capital expenditure, but it was an advance of money for which the British taxpayer was ultimately responsible. It was a sum of such magnitude that he thought they could not lightly pass over the creation of such an obligation without very definite information as to the persons for whom it was wanted. In addition to that they were told that there was to be a money grant for the purpose of stocking, furnishing, and fitting these 80,000 acres, or so much as might be required by the Estates Commissioners, for taking them over. He thought it would be a reasonable estimate to say that for these 2,000 the 1188 sum of £150 would be required in each case from the Estates Commissioners. That was a matter of another £300,000. So far as he could make out, of the £2,000,000 which was to be advanced, £250,000 would be a loss, or would certainly be treated as a loss. It would be in the nature of a grant towards the acquisition of land. The evicted tenants would only be asked to pay £1,750,000. When the holdings had been stocked it would be found that £250,000 was also a free grant, so that the upshot was that this would involve £2,750,000 of public money, and there would be an actual expenditure which the country could never expect to see again of at least £500,000. When they were going to give away that sum they had a right to know who were the people for whom the expenditure was intended, and how the names were arrived at. If any hon. Member stood up and said that these people were entitled to the money merely because two of the Estates Commissioners, who unfortunately they happened to know a good deal about, had chosen to recommend it, it would be necessary to give more information before any conscientious man would consent to allow such a largo sum to be diverted for their benefit. In 1894, the then Chief Secretary brought in a Bill dealing with the evicted tenants in Ireland and stated that £100,000 would settle the question. He drew attention to that figure, to show how enormously the number had been magnified for the purpose of this Bill. The unhappy contest when the tenants were evicted took place long before 1894. He did not think it would be contended that there had been many evictions in Ireland since 1894. The Chief Secretary in that year estimated that the total number of all sorts and conditions of evicted tenants be dealt with by the Bill at not exceeding 4,000. He would ask the House to remember what had happened in the nine years between the passing of the Act of 1894 and the Act of 1903, and how the figures had subsequently been dealt with, because, he thought, he would be able to satisfy the House that the 2,000 tenants, the number which the Estates Commissioners had arrived at in the secret chamber inquiry, must necessarily be grossly exaggerated if they were dealing with bona fide evicted tenants. The Nationalist Members prevailed on 1189 the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Montrose Burghs, who was then Chief Secretary, to increase the sum to £250,000. They claimed a great deal of credit for doing so, but he did not think it was difficult to get a Liberal Government dependent on their votes to give them anything. At any rate they were entitled to the credit, such as it was. He would not trouble the House by going into the Bill of 1896, except that it proposed to proceed on voluntary lines. The sum then asked was also £250,000. The Bill was supported by hon. Members below the Gangway as being adequate, but it did not go further. Then, in 1899, a Bill was introduced by the hon. Member for the Connemara Division of Galway. It threw a clear light on what the actual number of evicted tenants might be taken to be at that time. He said there were then 600 evicted tenants in Ireland, 400 of whom were Plan of Campaign tenants and 200 who were evicted generally on other grounds. Mr. Michael Davitt, who was certainly an enthusiast on the subject, speaking in the same debate, said he differed from those figures and thought 1,000 would be nearer the number. That was the only difference between them, and the Bill of 1899 dealt with every class of tenants. The then Chief Secretary, Mr. Gerald Balfour, took part in the debate, and stated that the total number of evicted tenants in 1899 could betaken at the figure of 1,000, thereby agreeing with Mr. Davitt. Could anyone suppose that the number of 1,000 had grown into 3,000 between 1899 and 1903, when the Land Act was passed? He ignored the bogus claims of 5,000, which had been too much even for the Estates Commissioners. That Bill also asked for £250,000. It seemed immaterial whether the number went up or down. Next year—1900—another Bill was brought in by the hon. Member for one of the divisions of Cork, and he only asked for£100,000. He also dealt with all classes of evicted tenants, and he explained to the House that he only asked for £100,000 because of the diminished number of such persons. He was supported by the hon. and learned Member for Waterford, who said that on the last occasion when the Bill was before the House the number of evicted tenants was estimated at 600, and that since then it had very considerably decreased. Later on, in 1190 one of the debates on the Laud Bill of 1903 the hon. Member for East Mayo —whose absence, and its cause, he deplored—said that in 1894 there were about 800 of these people, but that half of them had disappeared—some of them had emigrated, some had been resettled, and some had died—so that there were only 400 families to be dealt with, and that the whole question could be disposed of for £200,000 in a way which would strike the imagination of Ireland and smooth the passage of the Bill. Yet three and a half years from that time the obedient majority of the Estates Commissioners discovered that there were 3,000 to be compensated at an expense to the British taxpayer of nearly £750,000. More investigation was clearly required, and he submitted that the only way in which it could be done was by putting an end to secrecy and intrigue, and putting on paper in black and white the names of those whose claims the Estates Commissioners regarded as well founded. He had shown, he contended, from these facts and figures that the problem at the present moment had been magnified, that for years past it had been diminishing, and that a settlement was rapidly being arrived at by voluntary means. That wiped away altogether the necessity for the compulsory powers which the present proposals included. He thought it an extravagant idea to assume that every tenant in Ireland who had been evicted, and was to be reinstated, was to receive an average holding of forty acres. Remembering that in district after district in Ireland people had to live on fifteen, twenty, or twenty-five acres, it was a monstrous thing to start the reinstatement of evicted tenants with average holdings of forty acres apiece. He could not imagine anything which would create such dissatisfaction. The dissatisfaction in England at the palaces which the Local Government Board system provided for paupers would be nothing to the dissatisfaction of the small farmer who had fulfilled his own obligations and paid his own rent, on finding an evicted tenant in his neighbourhood getting forty acres, and a present of £150 at least to stock his land. There would be a revolution amongst these people. Again, if they gave the evicted tenant forty acres they would be not indemnifying him, but rewarding him, and the present was least of all the time when 1191 it would be desirable to put a premium on evictions. The State had provided sixty-five millions of British money and had made itself to that extent landlords in Ireland. One of the best securities of the landlord, if instalments were repudiated, was to come down on the holding when default was made. Yet they were setting these people up with the idea that to be evicted was a virtue, that eviction was done with in Ireland, that in future they either would never be evicted, or that if evicted they would be besought to come back again, and given 100 acres next time. He did not think the House should act in any grudging manner, but at the same time they ought not so to act as to imperil the security for the advance of which they were the trustees. They ought to act with economy, without throwing money away on undeserving-persons, of whom he was perfectly satisfied there were a large number, and without endowing evicted tenants unreasonably and beyond their law-respecting neighbours. The personal character of the applicants was always looked into, and was part of the security—the probability of how far by his personal efforts he would be able to carry out the arrangement on which the State made him the advance. He did not wish in a spirit of bitterness to look into the history of these evicted tenants, but the fact remained that they had been unable to meet their obligations, or had repudiated them. In such cases if they looked into personal character they would require more security than with a man who had always met his obligations. He thought also that a proposal which must imply an advance of £2,000,000 would be regarded as a very serious matter by those who were at present looking for the completion of contracts under the land purchase scheme. The Land Act of 1903 proceeded on the basis that it was to effect the conversion of the entire tenanted land of Ireland, and it was estimated that £100,000,000 would be sufficient for that purpose, leaving out the question of bonus. It might be desirable to settle the evicted tenants' question, but where land was to be acquired for that end he claimed it was not legitimate land purchase. They were, in fact, filching from the £100,000,000 provided for the Land Act £2,000,000,and placing it on one side for an object which, however deserving, was not land purchase. If the Government had wished 1192 to carry this scheme through with fair play to those who had signed agreements for land purchase they would have provided the £2,000,000 from other sources, without building a wall across the path of land purchase. He asked the House to look how they stood at the present moment. There were agreements signed for £30,000,000. One would imagine that when the State guaranteed that money should be forthcoming to complete these transactions they would be completed in an ordinary time. The Estates Commissioners, however, seemed unable to complete the work which they had in hand. They had agreements for 1904 in their office, and were unable to complete them, and notwithstanding this fact the Chancellor of the Exchequer stated that it was not contemplated to make any further issue of land stock which would enable the Government to carry out their arrangements with the tenant purchasers. The Chief Secretary also contemplated stealing £2,000,000 from the Irish Purchase Fund to complete the expenditure on evicted tenants. He wished to ask whether the evicted tenants question was to be settled at once and whether this £2,000,000 would be provided immediately. If that was to be done the Government would be giving the evicted tenants a priority over legitimate tenant purchasers which they did not deserve. Not only was the £2,000,000 to be taken from the capital value, but one of the funds necessary to the working of the Act—the Reserve Fund—was to be drawn upon for the expenses of the Estate Commissioners in respect to evicted tenants. If the Government exhausted the Reserve Fund for the sake of evicted tenants they would bring themselves into instant collision with every local authority in Ireland, and the ratepayers had a right to be considered before the Government were generous at their expense. He would like to say a few words with regard to the question of compulsory powers. He reminded the House that the law as it stood was. exactly as it would have been if the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose Burghs had become law in 1894. In 1894 the right hon. Gentleman said that he could settle the whole question by voluntary methods if he were given the money. At present the law was that the voluntary method was to 1193 be resorted to, and under the Land Purchase Acts the Estates Commissioners had unlimited control in regard to money. They wore, therefore, in exactly the same position as if the right hon. Gentleman's Bill had become law. Under these circumstances the Liberal Party, following the lead of the right hon. Gentleman, pledged themselves against compulsory interference with tenants who had come into the possession of land from which tenants had been evicted, and made it a sine qua non that tenants who had come in on evicted tenants holdings were not to be evicted. The Liberal Party assented to that proposition; they on their part had also assented to it in 1903, and it was part and parcel of the concordat that was arrived at. When the right hon. Gentleman introduced his Bill in 1894 the eviction of existing holders was not then demanded by the Nationalist Members, and in the course of the discussion on the Bill of 1903 the hon. and learned Member for Waterford referred to the Bill of 1894 as giving them in substance all they asked for evicted tenants. The hon. and learned Gentleman said repeatedly in 1903 that evictions should not be made to make room for evicted tenants, and, therefore, in his judgment, the compulsory powers of the Bill before the House were in breach of the agreement arrived at in 1903. Colonel Saunderson, speaking on the same occasion, said that he was ready, and he believed the landlords of Ireland were ready, as far as possible, to see the evicted tenants reinstated, so long as that did not involve the eviction of the present holders. After that, the hon. Member for East Mayo said that the eviction of the present holders had not been demanded by the Nationalist Members, and he asked whether they made no concession when they retired from the position which the whole people of Ireland had taken up in saying that these men should be evicted. That was the honourable understanding against compulsion on which the Act of 1903 was passed, but now this Bill containing compulsory powers was brought forward. The landlords had carried out their part of that agreement. [NATIONALIST MEMBERS: Certainly not.] That was the first time he had heard that, and he thought the House would require some evidence of it. If 1194 they were to turn out these men, who on the" faith of the Bill of 1903 became holders, it would be a gross breach of Parliamentary usage, and not consistent with the record of hon. Gentlemen below the gangway. It would be a monstrous thing if at this time of day these despotic Estates Commissioners were armed with powers to effect that. If peace was desired in Ireland—and they wished for it—it was not a hopeful position that these tenants were to be made the victims of hon. Members below the gangway and a large Parliamentary majority. If that were done it would only begin the strife again, and the action would never be forgotten. There was no provision in the Bill for compulsory powers which suggested that anyone should get a fair price. In ordinary cases, and under ordinary public Acts, when a man had property taken from him, there was a provision for obtaining for him a fair price. There was no such suggestion here. There was no principle which gave rise to more annoyance than that of pre-emption. Under the Act of 1881, which gave the landlords the right to acquire the tenants' interest, that system was objected to and repudiated by the Nationalist Members, although the values were fixed by the Land Commissioners. Pre-emption was not good enough for hon. Members or their constituents, but it was quite good enough for the new tenant who, against all Parliamentary precedent, was to be evicted. He thought that threw the strongest side-light on the scope and intention of the Bill. The value was to be fixed by the Estates Commissioners, and then there was to be an appeal to the Estates Commissioners from themselves. That was not equal justice; it appeared to be like appealing from Philip drunk to Philip sober. There was no means of checking the Commissioners or rectifying their judgments if they were wrong— even if they were deliberately wrong. In the first place they were to decide who was an evicted tenant, and they could then proceed to evict any tenant they liked in Ireland replace the evicted tenant, and fix the price to be paid. There was no provision against their entering upon demesne and residential land, and finding that it was not land of that character. In the case of an unpopular owner there was no appeal. The Estates Commissioners looked 1195 for their policy to the Freeman's Journal, and took their orders from the brotherhood of the United Irish League. It was proposed that the property of decent law-abiding people in Ireland, and of people who had rendered themselves obnoxious to the United Irish League, either by serving on juries or in other ways, should be placed at the mercy of the Estates Commissioners, which was the central branch of an organisation for intimidating and driving out these men. The majority of the Estates Commissioners were absolutely disqualified by their partisan action from being considered to have the reputation of an impartial tribunal by any section of the public who wished to submit a case to them. The Act of 1903 provided two methods of sale. One was sale through the Estates Commissioners and the other was direct sale from the landlord to the tenant. He put it to those conversant with the facts, Was there any member of the public anxious to sell who was willing to trust the Estate Commissioners with the power of selling an estate? The Act contained another course. It provided by Section 22 in case of dispute between landlord and tenant, that the Estates Commissioners were to have the power of acting as judges with the consent of both parties. How many parties in Ireland would allow the Estates Commissioners to exercise such powers? There was not a man in Ireland at the present time who would be such a fool as to place himself in the hands of the Estates Commissioners. And that was the tribunal which the right hon. Gentleman proposed to invest with these extraordinary powers. The thing was monstrous.
§ MR. MOORE
could understand the thirst for information of the hon. Gentleman, and his desire to be informed of all the changes, because he noticed on looking through the division lists on these Evicted Tenants Bills that he voted against every one of them. He was then sitting in Opposition, and adopted in 1894 the then Chief Secretary's determination that there should be no com- 1196 pulsory powers. Had he changed his views since, and was he going to support the compulsory powers in this Bill?
§ MR. MOORE
said that if this Bill were worked properly some other tribunal must be obtained than the Estates Commissioners, who were not a judicial but an administrative body and were admittedly unable to overtake their work. These additional duties if thrown upon them would be performed in a partisan manner owing to the environment in which they had placed themselves. The machinery of the Bill should be altered, the appeal should be removed from the Commissioners, and a Judge of the High Court should deal with, the matter. When they considered the tenure of office of these gentlemen, they perceived the real object of the Bill. The plan had been devised by the two Commissioners who were not on the Consolidated Fund, in order that they might be put in the position of County Court Judges. It amounted to this, that no matter what they did, they were to be absolutely permanent in their tenure, and that House would lose all control over them. That would be most unfortunate. The hon. Member for Waterford in 1903 had insisted upon their being subject to the criticisms of that House. He could see no advantage, but positive disadvantage was to be feared by that section, and he hoped the good sense of the House would not allow the clause to become law. In conclusion he would say that if the Estates Commissioners would only devote themselves to their legitimate work, abandon the mesh of intrigue in which they were daily wrapped up, deal with priority, so as not necessarily to put the 1197 evicted tenants or cases laid before them by the priests first; if they would try and gain some of the public confidence they had deservedly lost and allow the evicted tenants question to be disposed of as it had been during the last few years, one-tenth of the evicted tenants' claims having been settled in three years, then there would be no necessity for compulsion; while if compulsion were granted it should only be under such safeguards as would secure justice for all parties concerned. He moved the rejection of the Bill.
§ MR. BARRIE (Londonderry, N.)
in seconding the Amendment said he desired to point out to the House the significance of the introduction of such a highly controversial measure in the last month of the session. The programme of the Government at the commencement of the session contained no fewer than thirteen Bills—an unlucky number. Of these, seven had never been introduced. Another had been introduced and dropped. And in connection with that Bill there was one point he desired to emphasise. Perhaps the most important measure of the session was dropped at the request of the Dublin Convention of the United Irish League, and this Bill had been introduced at the request of the same Party. Why, when other measures were not brought forward, was this Bill introduced at this period of the session? The Government promised it should be placed on the Statute-book this session and they had already seen how quick the Government was to obey the mandate of the United Irish League as represented by hon. Members below the gangway. It was just possible that if the Jarrow election had taken place a few weeks earlier this would not have occurred. The Nationalist Party always over-rated their strength. And that had not yet been sufficiently realised by the Government to resist the pressure brought upon them. This was a Bill brought in to reinstate what were termed the evicted tenants. There were of these different classes. He would have great sympathy with evicted tenants who had met with honest misfortune and fallen upon evil days. This was a new form of legislation. They had it on record that the evicted tenants were men who were able to pay rent. He 1198 would quote from the words of the hon. Member for East Mayo—whose absence and the reasons for it he regretted—These evicted tenant campaigners are men who can pay and will not pay because I tell them not to pay.Such was the class for whom the House was asked to pass special legislation. A certain class of persons in Ireland were ready to take advantage of every opportunity of mulcting the British taxpayer. They knew how rapidly the number of evicted tenants had been swelled since there was a prospect of their being reinstated. Let it not be forgotten that although that number had been steadily increasing, a new army last year came forward of not less than 1,457. There had been presented altogether 8,401 claims for reinstatement. It was clear that many of these were of a purely bogus character. Fully 5,000 had already been rejected, and it was very plain that if a really impartial tribunal investigated the claims of the 3,200 which remained a very large further number would be struck off. Another provision of the Bill which he and his friends thought most objectionable was the provision for evicting new tenants who had taken possession of farms from which other tenants had been previously evicted. Under the Bill it was possible for a tenant who had been twenty-eight years on a farm, and who during that long period had paid his rent and taxes, to be evicted on six months notice in order to give place to a farmer who at one time or another had forfeited the holding, but who was at the expense of the State to be provided with a new farm or have his old farm re-provided for him, even though it involved the throwing out of an honest man into the roadway. That was far-reaching legislation, and even the present Government would find it difficult to persuade their followers to place it on the Statute-book. As regarded the terms in which these clauses were put into the Land Act of 1903, the hon. and learned Gentleman for Waterford had stated that the matter only affected a handful of men, but there had evidently been a very considerable advance since then. The right hon. Member for Dover had replied and made his position quite clear by refusing to put evicted tenants in a better 1199 position than other tenants. And, again, the hon. Member for East Mayo had said that he did not suppose there were more than 1,000 or 2,000 acres in dispute. That was only four years ago, and now they had a report presented by the Estates Commissioners stating that it would require 40,000 acres to conclude a settlement, even though a great deal had been done in the meantime. These were demands they were asked to meet in that Bill, and they were asked to leave the whole matter in the hands of three gentlemen. He did not care what might be the standing or qualification of the Estates Commissioners, it was an absolutely new principle that three men should be empowered to fix the price at which they should buy and also the price at which they should sell. That was anew proposal and one. which it would be the duty of Unionists to resist to the utmost of their power. As to the. cost of reinstatement, £218 per farm was the calculation which had been made. He ventured to say that fully £500,000 would be required before the whole work was done. The hon. Member for South Tyrone had said, when challenged for having voted against all measures in this direction, that he was in favour of a larger compulsory purchase than this. The hon. Member was not alone in desiring that policy. There were Members on that side of the House who already saw too clearly that that must be the final solution. He would also remind the hon. Member for South Tyrone that he had secured his return to that House at the last general election by a pledge to introduce a Bill for that specific purpose. That Bill was now four months overdue. He ventured to ask the hon. Member, now that he was in the secrets of the Government and held an honourable position among them, why he had not informed his colleagues before he took office how he was embarrassed by that promise, and why the Government at that time did not bring in the larger measure which the hon. Gentleman had led the farmers of the North of Ireland to expect? The effect of pernicious legislation of this kind was to lead honourable men who regularly paid their rents to put to themselves this question: "Does honesty pay; because we find that men who did not pay 1200 when so requested by their masters are now to be better done by; they are to be put on a footing which they could never have hoped for if they had wanted to be honest men." The Chief Secretary, he submitted, was bound to consider that aspect of the question. The greatest responsibility attached to his office, and he thought that when the right hon. Gentleman considered that the Bill could not truthfully be described as a moral bill, because it was putting a premium on dishonesty, he should remember that in the present state of Ireland he was hardly justified in bringing forward legislation which was bound to have such a detrimental effect so far as honest rate-paying farmers were concerned. He believed thru a further injury would be done by the Bill in the additional delay it would cause to a peaceful settlement, because of the less rapid operation which would be experienced in connection with the settlement of estates under the great Land Act of the right hon. Member for Dover. Many Members of the House would agree that then; was great dissatisfaction at the slow progress being made with the settlement of estates during the last three or four years. He would like to hear that the Government was alive to that growing evil, which prevailed not only in the north of Ireland, but in the south and west, and that something would be done to restore confidence under the Act. It had been developing peacefully and quickly—["No"];—it was a fact that, it was effecting a great revolution in Ireland, in spite of the cold water thrown upon it by hon. Gentlemen below the gangway. Let him warn the Government that if they diverted from the purpose of the Act a sum amounting to £2,000,000 at least, which should have been employed to settle these estates years ago, they would incur serious responsibility, and pile up against themselves the charge which must sooner or later be made against them, that they were not openly but secretly doing their best to prevent the tenant farmers from peacefully getting possession of their land and becoming absolute owners of it rapidly and for all time. Those on his side of the House believed this Bill to be pernicious, and that it was assisting people who had no right to look for 1201 further British help. He could assure the right hon. Gentleman that when the Bill wan in Committee they would feel it their duty on behalf of those who paid their way to see to it that such a measure did not result in further delay under the Act of 1903. He seconded the Motion.
To leave out the word 'now and at the end of the (Question to add the words 'upon this day three months.' "—(Mr. Moore.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said that before he dealt with the case for the Bill he would like to glance at one or two of the objections advanced by the hon. and learned Member for North Armagh. Much of his speech would have been as relevant to the Bill of 1903 as it was to the present Bill. Let them take the general question of the estimates of the number of these evicted tenants. The hon. and learned Gentleman had expressed his surprise at the growth of the number that would have to be dealt with. The late Chief Secretary for Ireland, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover, on this point said—This Bill dealt with all persons who had lost or surrendered their holdings during the last twenty-five years, and it would be invidious if the Government were to endeavour to select from amongst those who had lost their holdings, for reasons good, bad, or indifferent, during that period a limited number. His offer had been to draw no distinction; to let bygones be bygones, and to give the same facilities to those who had lost their holdings as were given to other persons in Ireland who had farms not adequate to the support of their existence.He submitted that if they were in favour of limitation, no such limitation was to be found in the speeches of the right hon. Member for Dover.
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said that what the right hon. Member for Dover 1202 stated was that he would reinstate them from whatever cause, but in this Bill the Government did not even go that length. They had asked the Estates Commissioners to go into all these cases, and it was upon the report of their inspectors who had made individual inquiries that the estimate embodied in the Bill had been arrived at. In regard to the question of the acreage of the proposed farms, the Commissioners gave an estimate of what they considered to be an economic holding, but the Government were not bound by that estimate. It was quite true that many farmers in Ulster managed to live on 15 acres of land. What had now been decided to be an economic holding, and what was being proposed for the congested districts, was a farm varying from 30 to 40 acres. That was a recommendation made by the Estates Commissioners to which the Government were in no way bound. The hon. and learned Member for North Armagh had said that the Land Act of 1903 contemplated the purchase of tenanted land. He did not gather that he stated that the object of the Land Act was confined to that, because he must know that that Act provided for the purchase of untenanted land for the express purpose of restoring these evicted tenants and for enlarging economic holdings. There were other larger matters which he would deal with immediately. What was the case for this Bill? He did not plead for it as an ordinary Bill, because it was nothing of the kind. It was a Bill arising out of great calamities, and he thought he. was entitled to say that so far as the Government were concerned they were merely giving effect to the Land Act of 1903. [OPPOSITION cries of "Oh, oh!"] During what was practically a civil war in Ireland which raged for many years thousands of men and women lost their homes, and were evicted from their holdings for non-payment of rent. He was ready to admit that many of them were evicted because they were soldiers in a fierce fight, and it was to that phase of the question he desired first of all to call attention. His own position in the matter had been referred to, and he wished to make that quite clear. He went through the whole of the crisis from beginning to end. He believed the land system at the time both in law 1203 and as it was being worked to be intolerable. He never did and never could support the methods followed to fight the system at that time, and he did not dare to advise people to set themselves against the law. He did, however, his best to alter and amend that law, and to bring succour to those who had suffered under it. The Bill as he understood it professed to eliminate that dangerous issue from the public life of Ireland and to close this struggle for all time. It could be demonstrated that all Parties in that House had declared themselves in favour of the restoration of the evicted tenants, and he did not understand that even the hon. and learned Member for North Armagh opposed that principle. When the Land Purchase Bill of 1891 was being passed he moved a temporary clause, which was now Clause 13 of the Act, and he did that with the entire approval and the full concurrence of the Leader of the Opposition. Under that section the evicted tenants on the Ponsonby and other estates were restored to their holdings, and he was happy to say that he had official knowledge of the fact that many men in those districts who had purchased their holdings were now living under happier influences, and were now engaged not in fighting the law but in growing early potatoes for the Scottish market at £40 an acre. As a member of the Land Conference he ventured to say that the report of that conference never would have seen the light if it had not provided for the restoration of the evicted tenants. The Land Bill of 1903 provided for it, and the late Colonel Saunderson had expressed his desire that this unfortunate chapter in Irish history should be closed. Two such staunch champions of the Irish landlords in that House as Sir John Colomb and Mr. Herbert Robertson used language which was paraphrased by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover in these terms—We admit your difficulties, and so far as we are concerned we do not wish to stand in the way of a full settlement.What had stood in the way? The truth was that while all the Parties concerned agreed as to the principle of restoration some of them differed as to the method of carrying it out. The Land Bill of 1903 was admittedly founded upon the 1204 principle of voluntary sale. Some of them there were in favour of compulsion. They relinquished their view because the right hon. Member for Dover affirmed in the House and in. Ireland that he knew compulsion would not be required, and that the problem could be settled without it. They therefore stood aside for the moment so far as compulsion was concerned. They were resolved that the right hon. Gentleman should try his hand and have every fair play. The truth they had now to face was that in the case of the evicted tenants and in the case, generally speaking, of the whole western area, where the poor were mainly concentrated, voluntary sale had failed, and if these festering wounds were ever to be healed the application of compulsion in several cases—probably not in many—was demonstrated to be a necessity. He asked hon. Gentleman opposite—who agreed that a settlement of the problem was desirable, if it was not essential, as the Government contended, to the peace of Ireland, but who differed from them as to the methods to be employed—was it not proved that the problem was insoluble by means of voluntary sales? [OPPOSITION cries of "No."] Why, he asked, should this or any Government insert compulsory powers in a Bill if it were possible to do without them? Surely, everybody must know that compulsion was only to be arrived at as a last resort, and he would like to ask the House how without this weapon it would be possible to deal with such typical estates as those of the Marquess of Clanricarde and Mr. Lewis in the county of Galway.
§ MR. MOORE
, interrupting, stated that the Lewis estate was offered to the Commissioners for sale, and it appeared afterwards in their Report—and this was a practical instance of the manner in which the Estates Commissioners conducted their administration—that they took on themselves to find that there were no tenancies upon it, and proposed to offer prices for it as being untenanted land. They could have had the whole estate at the ordinary price if they had treated with the occupying tenants.
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said the facts were that Lord Clanricarde would not sell on any terms, and that, as the hon. and learned Member said, terms were submitted to the Lewis's, but it was found to be impossible to bring about a sale. It should be remembered that when they were buying these lands they were bought to be re-sold. Lord Clanricarde would not listen to anything, and that involved 150 tenants, and in the case of the Lewis estate terms could not be arranged, and therefore the tenants could not be re-instated. These were two cases for which he submitted there was no remedy short of compulsion. But they did not stand alone. A few months ago he took part in an adjourned meeting of the Land Conference to consider this very question. According to his recollection there were then some hundreds of evicted farms in the hands of individual landlords. Some were derelict and some were being cultivated by the landlords. Others were in grass, In scores of cases leave for the Estates Commissioners to inspect the land was refused. He was not arguing that the landlords had not a perfect right to refuse leave. His point was how could a settlement of the problem be reached in the presence of such a spirit? It was a question that concerned farms all over the country. In face of facts like these it was impossible to contend that voluntary sale would meet the case. Compulsion was absolutely necessary, although he believed that when that was secured its exercise would be on a very limited scale indeed. He now came to a matter of very great importance to which the hon. and learned Member had referred, and about which there had always been a good deal of feeling. He meant the case of the planters—the men who took the evicted farms. It was proposed in the Bill to give powers to the Estates Commissioners, where they thought fit, to acquire compulsorily these holdings after paying compensation either by way of new holdings or by way of money. It was said that this was right in the teeth of the declaration made by the Irish Leader and by everybody else in 1903. He agreed. It was no part of his case that these declarations were not made. The understanding arrived at in 1903 was that persuasion and 1206 inducement might be applied to those men, but not coercion. It was asked: "Why do you turn round now and break your pledges to those men." His answer was that the whole Bill of 1903 was founded upon the principle of voluntaryism. Compulsion was ruled out all along the line. The principle of voluntaryism as regarded the evicted tenants and as regarded the western estates had broken down, and applying this new principle of compulsion from necessity and not from choice to the landlords, how could the Government refrain from applying it to the planters as well? They were soldiers of fortune—he knew a good deal about them—who went into the fight mainly for what could be got out of it. He failed to see where and at whom the line could be drawn. The Government, believing compulsion to be necessary in certain cases, had applied it alike to landlord and tenant, but as would be seen by the Bill, it would only be applied when inducement failed. Knowing more about the planter race than any man in the House of Common" and more than many men outside it although he was not a prophet nor the son of a prophet, he ventured to think there would be very little difficulty when inducement in the shape of solid cash came in contact with them. As to the case of the planters, he would refer the House to what took place on the Masserene estate the other day. That was the last estate settled of the Plan of Campaign estates. Those of them who were in the old Parliament would remember the fierce conflicts which took place in regard to that estate. Men were evicted and planters were brought from different parts of Ireland and placed on the holdings. They remained there and they had never had one happy or comfortable day since. They had been there in spite of the public opinion of the neighbourhood. No violence had been resorted to, but they had never had one happy or comfortable day because they had never had the esteem of their neighbours and the esteem of one's neighbours counted for something. If they wanted to borrow a horse or a plough they would find if they were well thought of in the neighbourhood how easy it was to do it; but if they were not well thought of they would quickly 1207 discover how difficult it was to obtain the loan of such things. These planters were there for twelve or fifteen years. What had happened? Lord Masserene died recently, and he was succeeded by his son. Efforts were made at once for the reinstatement of those men, and they succeeded. The planters were compensated and they had gone. The old tenants were back and peace had been restored to the neighbourhood. It was merely a question of terms and nothing else. The planting of these men, let the House remember, was not a case of the planting of ordinary farmers. In many cases these men were not farmers at all, and the planting of them was an act of war. The war was now over, and he submitted that although the cases of these planters might strike one as being hard they would go willingly when an adequate inducement was offered to them. He came now to the next and what the hon. and learned Member made his principal attack on the Bill. He meant the tribunal which was to fix the price of the land acquired. He had been in the House of Commons twenty-one years, and he had heard furious attacks made upon public servants. They were always repudiated by the Gentlemen who now sat on the Front Opposition Bench and by the Conservative Party generally. He had never, however, heard a worse attack made upon a public servant than had been made on his friend Mr. Bailey, one of the Estates Commissioners, that night. Mr. Bailey was charged with taking his instructions from the Freeman's Journal, and the late Solicitor-General for Ireland said "Hear hear" to that. What was the Conservative Party coming to? How often had the decisions of the Estates Commissioners been taken to a higher tribunal? Cases had gone to the superior Courts from these gentlemen over and over again. What had happened? The judgments had almost always been in favour of the two Commissioners and against the one. The tribunal to fix the price of the land under the Bill was the Estates Commission, and that was strongly objected to. Let them consider what was the state of matters in Ireland in regard to fixing the price of land. A tenant under the Act of 1881 went into a fair rent Court to get his rent fixed. In 1208 the process the landlord stepped in and called upon the Land Commission to fix what was called in the Act the true value of the holding—that was the true value of the tenant's interest in the holding. There was one lawyer and one farmer to decide that.
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said he was taking things at their best. After the declaration had been made by the Court and placed upon the record, if the tenant desired to sell his interest in the farm on the open market what happened was this: he was offered £1.000 for his interest. The true value had been put at £700. The landlord came in and exercised his right of pre-emption and the tenant's property went at £700 instead of at £1,000. That was one way of deriding the price of land in Ireland. Then there was Judge Ross's Court where land was sold every day by auction. But Judge Ross had the power of fixing the price of land. He had nothing to say against Judge Ross. He was an old colleague of theirs in the House. He was an old friend of his own long before either of them thought of Parliament. But Judge Ross was not an expert on land and he had little or no expert assistance in his Court. Yet to him and to him alone was confided the duty of fixing the price of the land which he sold. What were the Estates Commissioners doing every day under the Act of 1903? These men were appointed by the late Government. What were the powers conferred on them? He left out the zones. Their powers in that respect were certainly limited; some hon. Members wished they were not. But for all sales outside the zones nobody would deny that they were really the arbiters of the price the landlord was to get. They were buying untenanted land every day under the Act. These men were challenged that night, but why were they not challenged in 1903? Why was not Mr. Bailey challenged then? He had been thirteen years in the service of the Land Commission and not a word had been breathed against him. It was impossible to shut out from their consideration that attacks were being made on Mr. Bailey and Mr. 1209 Finucane which were grossly unfair. They were public servants who could not defend themselves. It was said they were prejudiced against landlords. The real truth was that up to the present day the Irish landlords had done uncommonly well and they knew it. Taking the last Report of the Estates Commissioners the facts were that under the decisions of these Commissioners the Irish landlord was securing for his land twenty-five years purchase, with a bonus of 12 per cent. equal to three more years purchase. The Estates Commissioners fixed the price, and the result of their action was that the landlords were receiving twenty-eight years purchase for their land including the bonus. Would not any landlord in England like to get twenty-eight years purchase for his land? It was an outrageous thing to attack the Commissioners on the ground that they were prejudiced against the landlords. They had been called upon to perform most difficult duties, and had been left by the Act itself the largest possible discretion. They were appointed by a Tory and not by a Liberal Government, and believing that they had the experience, the sense of fair play, and the courage to do what was right the Government had placed them in the Bill as the tribunal. They were not purchasers in the ordinary sense of the term. They were purchasers for the State, and as the land must be resold it was evident it must be purchased at a price it could be sold at, or the State must bear the loss. The Commissioners had a sense of fair play. There was not the feeling against them which the hon. and learned Member asserted, and it was absolutely essential they should have something to say as to the price which was to be paid. Another objection to the Bill, urged with considerable force by the hon. and learned Member, was that it would involve a large expenditure of money; though the hon. and learned Member was wrong—not of course intentionally—in suggesting that the improvement expenses would come out of the money for land purchase. The hon. and learned Member thought the money should be spent not upon evicted tenants, but upon respectable men who had paid their way. That language carried a far-off echo. He had heard that argument before. In dark and evil 1210 days, more terrible than these, he was himself wont to make great play with it. However, when he used it there was a good deal to be said for it. It was one thing to plead that the money should be husbanded for tenants who had not violated the law when the money for land purchase was limited to a certain amount. When the Ashbourne Acts placed £10,000,000 at the disposal of the farmer it was not out of place to argue that the man who had kept the law should have a prior chance. Even when the £33,000,000 in the Act of 1901 were given the argument might be applied. Now when it was admitted that land purchase must be seen through to the end, and when there was no limit to the money—there really was no limit either in the Act or in any other way—when there was practically no limit to the money, and when both Parties in the State were bound to see the question through to the end, what was there to be said for the plea that certain men should be selected out of the population of Ireland for this favour? If there was anything in it had not the respectable farmer had a pretty good time of it? £23,000,000 under the old purchase Acts, £53,000,000 applied for under the present Act—was it not time when something might be done for these men who fought when other people did not? Every man on a farm in Ireland believed that the charters he had at his back would never have been won but for the fight they made—he spoke for farmers of the North who believed that as profoundly as he did—and he thought it not unreasonable that the cases of these men should now be frankly and fairly considered. The Bill took money from nobody. These lands would have to be purchased and would have to be sold. The case for the Government was that they proposed to do it now under this Bill. There was another objection that had been stated in Ireland. It had not been mentioned in that debate, but it deserved serious consideration. Three or four years ago when this matter was before the House it was unquestioned that most of those who were concerned in the debate thought the number would be extremely small. He himself thought at the time that it would be practically confined to the Plan of Campaign and similar estates. These estates, with two exceptions, had 1211 now been settled and still something like 2,000 cases remained to be dealt with. The problem, therefore, was somewhat larger than many of them anticipated in 1903. He would point out that the right hon. Member for Dover certainly imposed no limitation. He wanted to take all the evicted tenants who were affected from whatever cause. That was more than the Bill did. He would point out that all had been guesswork up to now. The Government had, however, now found out the exact number. The land war was not confined to the Campaign estates. There were what were called beleaguered outposts all over the country where the fighting for what was believed to be hearth and homestead was maintained. If this question was to be settled at all the only thing to do was to find out who had suffered. The Government claimed to have done that. The hon. and learned Member for North Armagh wanted the names published. He thought the hon. Member knew that there would be a great commotion in Ireland between the five or six thousand who were rejected and the two thousand who were accepted. That would entirely meet the object of the hon. and learned Member. Nobody ever dreamed of restoring men who had lost their farms from inability to conduct their business, from want of thrift, from drunken habits, or from anything of that kind. These men had been remorselessly ruled out of the selected cases, each one of which had been inquired into by the Commissioners.
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said that what had taken place was this: An inspector had been appointed for a certain district; he had gone over his district; he had discovered those who were evicted; and he had investigated each claim by itself on the spot. There had been no judicial hearing. The Government of the day never proposed to have a judicial hearing in the cases in 1903. The Commissioners had reported on each case separately. In the opinion of the Estates Commissioners, who had not been very reckless, 1212 because they had selected only 2,000 out of 9,000 or 10,000, these men had just claims to reinstatement. They believed the men had these just claims after reading the report on each individual case. What was more, the Estates Commissioners believed that with assistance under the Act of 1903, to which they were entitled, they had a fair chance of redeeming the past, and doing well. It had been said in Ireland, if not in the House of Commons, that some of the tenants who had been evicted and put back on the land, had sold their holdings, and gone to America. It might be so in a few instances. What then? The Estates Commissioners had a solvent purchaser at all events. He would like, before he sat down, having dealt with the main objections to the Bill, to make an appeal to the House, an appeal, not only on the merits of the Bill itself, but of a somewhat different character. The main object of the Act of 1903 was to set up a system of occupying ownership of the land. The very success of the Act brought with it its own embarrassments, as was illustrated last Friday. £51,000,000 had been applied for in the last four years, and one who, like himself, was an enthusiast for land purchase in 1903, must think the result surprising. The right hon. Member for Dover, speaking in that House in 1903, did not guarantee that the progress for the three years would exceed £5,000,000 a year. It had gone far beyond that. No one could deny that the vendors of this land had been treated generously, but there was one fact deplorable in itself, and productive of the greatest friction and trouble. What he called the ameliorative side of the Act, namely. the enlargement of economic holdings, and the restoration of evicted tenants, and all kinds of ameliorative work contemplated by the Act, had almost entirely failed. The enlargement and improvement of uneconomic holdings had not made anything like adequate progress. It had been barred at every step, and the restoration of evicted tenants had not made progress. Yet these two things were aimed at by the Bill of 1903 itself. He believed that the right hon. Member for Dover never contemplated that these people, wearing out their lives on 1213 miserable patches of land on the roadside, should be left ill misery, while wealthy landowners and well-to-do tenants marched off with the whole of the land-purchase money. In by-gone days they heard a great deal about the state of Ireland. They had not heard so much in recent years, but they must not forget that these two things vital to the peace and comfort of the people had been left practically untouched by that great measure, and they could not shut their eyes to the fact that agrarianism was once more raising its head in Ireland. He had recently visited the West of Ireland, and found the people whom he had met long ago sullen and dejected, now cheerful, and many of them content. He saw men transferred from five acres of bog to thirty acres of good land, happy and doing well. He saw an improvement going on in the breeding of horses, cattle, am I poultry, and he visited convents and saw the nuns teaching the theory of domestic economy. He came away profoundedly thankful for what Parliament had been able to do. Lawlessness was confined to a very limited area of the country he visited, and of course the law must be upheld. But the; people were dissatisfied with the administration of the Act, and were waiting for the Government to remedy its defects. On his return, when he was asked about the alleged lawlessness, he simply told his friends to keep their heads. He should be astonished if it extended and he was glad to say not a man or beast had been injured. They had by their legislation acquired land and made numbers of people relatively comfortable. But the work had come to a stand, and the people who saw their neighbours in possession of benefits which they could not get were naturally impatient. These intimations to the Government, however, were not necessary; the Government were aware of the problem, and had promised to deal with it. Let the House now pass this measure with its blessed oblivion of the past and its message of hope for the future. When Parliament had done by legislation all it could do, there would still be left enough for the Irish people to do to build up the walls that had been thrown down. The Irish peasants were not 1214 naturally lawless, but were the most God fearing, purest-minded peasantry on the face of the earth.
§ MR. WALTER LONG (Dublin, S.)
thought that anybody who had listened to the concluding part of the hon. Gentleman's speech must have been astounded how little even in apparently his own mind, he was able to justify his remarks in support of the Bill they were now considering. The hon. Gentleman had tried to do a little too much. He had sought to justify the Bill which was now before the House, but throughout the whole of his speech from beginning to end he had shown, with one or two exceptions, how the very objects which the Government had in view had been achieved or could be achieved under the law as it stood. The hon. Gentleman did not go on to show the grounds upon which this most remarkable Bill was founded. In his peroration he appealed to the House, in terms with which they were now very familiar, to pass this Bill in order to remove the causes of discontent, and he referred incidentally to that which was after all the most important part of this agrarian question, viz., the making of uneconomic holdings into economic holdings. The greater part of his speech dealt with that question, but the Bill would have no effect in regard to it, but left by far the greater part of it untouched. If the speech were to be taken as justifying this legislation it showed that the Government were lacking in that quality which they were supposed greatly to possess, courage, and that they had not the courage of their convictions. If they had they would cover the whole ground. The hon. Gentleman was very severe on the hon. Member for North Armagh for what he said about the Estates Commissioners. The hon. Member seemed to have forgotten that by the Act of 1903 the Estates Commissioners were deliberately put into a position that would leave them open to the criticism of Parliament during the whole of their administration. He presumed the hon. Gentleman meant that although that power of criticism was put in it was not done with the object of Parliament giving effect to it.
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said that of course he was aware that the Estates Commissioners were subject to Parliamentary criticism, but it was the criticism of the case made against them which was simply abuse.
§ MR. WALTER LONG
said that the hon. Member, who had had an enormous experience of the House of Commons, might have found something stronger in the shape of a reply to the hon. and learned Member for North Armagh than to call it abuse; but the hon. and learned Member spoke for a class who felt rightly or wrongly there was a prejudice on one side on the part of those who had to administer the Act. He was bound to say that when he heard the hon. Gentleman find fault with that, and recalled the part the hon. Member had taken in the debates of that House, he felt that one ought not to be too severe upon him in the matter. The hon. Gentleman's real task was not to justify that Bill so much as to justify his own position in assuming an attitude to-day so different from that assumed in days gone by. The hon. Gentleman dealt with the arguments of the hon. Member for North Armagh and poured contempt on his interpretation of the powers of that Bill. The hon. and learned Member had complained that there were still left and must be still left in Ireland a vast number of uneconomic holdings, which if the agrarian question was to be satisfactorily solved ought to be dealt with before they attempted to deal in a different way with the evicted tenants' question. His hon. friend had pointed out that in this Bill they were going to give plots of 40 acres of land to these evicted tenants. How did they justify that when they left untouched other uneconomic holdings all over Ireland? The Vice-President of the Board of Agriculture said the Government was not bound by these 40 acres, that this was an open question, a question for settlement. But he did not find in the Bill anything about Government administration. That administration passed into the hands of the Commissioners, and what the hon. and learned Member for North Armagh criticised was the power given to the Commissioners to grant these portions of land to these people. However 1216 hard their circumstances and condition might be, they were no harder and no worse than those of men who occupied uneconomic holdings in which they could not by any possibility make a living. His hon. friend was absolutely sound on his criticisms on that part of the Bill, and the Minister's argument in reply fell far short of the mark. The hon. Gentleman described the Bill as, "Not an ordinary Bill, but one to deal with a great calamity and to give effect to the Act of 1893 to restore the wounded soldiers."
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL
In a different part of the speech I used the phrase "soldiers in a great fight."
§ MR. WALTER LONG
said he took the words down at the time, but if the hon. Member withdrew them he would not press it further. He quite accepted the hon. Member's statement, and must have misapprehended him. But they could not justify a Bill of that character solely on the ground that they were going to restore those who had lost their holdings through some action of their own— either through a desire to fight their own cause, or through following bad advice. Yet what did the hon. Gentleman say? What did the whole of the speech point to? It pointed to the fact that marvellous results had followed land legislation, that a great transference of land from the landowner to the occupier had taken place. He had listened with amazement to the hon. Gentleman's condemnation of the sales that had taken place on the property of the Duke of Leinster. It was perfectly true that the Act of 1903 was passed to secure the transfer of land from owner to occupier, and to make the occupier the resident owner of the land. It was quite true that the improvement of the uneconomic holdings and the restoration of the evicted tenants were also objects in view; but the hon. Gentleman criticised that Art of Parliament, and said that, whereas they had men suffering in the West whose condition was not and would not be improved by the, Act, in. 1217 the meantime these great estates would be settled, and he asked was that the intention of the Act? It certainly was. Was it to be a criticism against that Act that the farmers who had become owners of their holdings on those estates were prosperous and had made a good living for themselves, and that the evicted tenants' question had not arisen on these estates? If it was not, why did the hon. Gentleman raise that as a criticism of the Act of 1903? From the beginning to the end of his speech the hon. Gentleman had not attempted to prove that circumstances existed which would alone justify the passing of such a Bill as they were then considering. When they looked forward to the introduction of that Bill by the Chief Secretary they thought he would be able to show the breakdown of the Act of 1903 in respect of the. evicted tenants. The speech of the Vice-President of the Board of Agriculture amounted to this, that because when he was in Ireland last time he found fifteen of the seventeen estates had been dealt with, they were now to pass this Bill to deal with the Clanricarde and Lewis estates. The Bill could only be justified by establishing the fact that the opposition of the landlords was so strong that the tenants could not get their land without compulsion. His hon. friend had said that there were some holdings to which tenants had been restored which had been sold by their owners. What was the hon. Gentleman's reply? He said: What did that matter; they had solvent tenants. What an argument to advance to Parliament for a Bill of that sort, which was not to get solvent tenants but to restore evicted tenants ! Everyone knew] that probably the greatest difficulty in this matter was, not to get solvent tenants, but to get sufficient land for those who now occupied uneconomic holdings. That was and ought to be the first consideration, and not to restore evicted tenants, however hard and painful their case might be. In restoring these evicted tenants also, they should create the smallest possible disturbance to evicted tenants. Was that the policy of that Bill? Proceeding as it did to take the land from tenants, who would take the existing farms? The hon. Gentleman dealt rather contemptuously with the new tenants and spoke of them as if they were not entitled 1218 to consideration. This was not the first time that the question of evicting the new tenants, "planters," as they had been called, had been raised. It was raised when the Secretary for India was Chief Secretary, and the right hon. Gentleman had said he would never be a party to an Act that was to turn out those men who had come in under the protection of the law and done their best to make their i farms a success. Did that plan involve, as it ought to involve, the minimum of disturbance? He thought the condition the hon. Gentleman should establish ! was that in the work that the Bill was going to do the fullest possible justice would be done to the people whose property he was going to take away. If it was to be done in the interests of the general community, the Government should be able to show that they were going to do the fullest possible justice —something more than justice—to those whose property they were going to take, not for any fault of their own, not because they had evicted their tenants, or had ever been guilty of wrong-doing in regard to their estates, but because it was necessary to provide holdings for men who had done nothing for the property they were to get. Surely the House should have heard something from the Government in justification for the introduction of compulsion. The hon. Member for South Tyrone had told them that compulsion was absolutely necessary because voluntary sale had failed, but at the end of his speech he had admitted that over £50,000,000 worth of land had been bought under the Land Act. He had also given them a picture of what he had seen in his county in Ireland; how that men, contented and prosperous, were now growing potatoes and making a good profit out of them. That result was admitted, not by those who were responsible for the Act of 1903, but by those who now criticised that Act in order to found a case for saying that voluntary purchase had broken down, and that therefore compulsion must be introduced. Even supposing that compulsion must be introduced, they should have heard something more from the hon. Gentleman in justification of the particular form of compulsion proposed. 1219 So far as he knew, there was no precedent to be found for the particular form of compulsion proposed in this Bill. Surely the Minister speaking for the Government should have not only said that compulsion was necessary and that the Act had broken down, but that compulsion was necessary because of the individual action of those who resisted the reinstatement of evicted tenants. The Estates Commissioners were now purchasing under the Act of 1903. At present it rested with the owner of property to accept or refuse the offer of purchase. But under this Bill there was no such power on the part of the owner; he would be compelled to give up his land because the Estates Commissioners said that that particular piece of land was the piece they wanted. Was it not absurd to ask them to accept the powers under the Act of 1903 which the Commissioners now possessed, as a justification for the extraordinary powers which the Government were seeking to place in their hands? And how much more ridiculous it was to quote Mr. Justice Ross. What Mr. Justice Ross did was to fix the minimum price. That was a totally different thing from selecting a particular piece of land from an estate; and the hon. Gentleman himself had said that, in arriving at the price, the Commissioners had to bear in mind that they had to buy at a price which would enable them to sell upon proper terms. Surely that was responsibility enough for a body to be charged with in the administration of this Bill. Surely it would have been better to have found some system of compulsion by which they would have one body to name the price and purchase and another to sanction the compulsory powers and decide whether the price was fair to the seller or not. The hon. Gentleman had talked about evicted tenants and the view taken by Unionists with regard to them. So far as he had been able to ascertain from the earliest debates which had taken place on this subject, there had always been a frank admission by all parties concerned that it was desirable to put these men back. Nobody denied that the existence on the land of men who had suffered as they believed unjustly, must be a danger to the peace, and a serious 1220 drawback to the prosperity of the locality. The hon. Gentleman had said himself that the existence of these men might lead to the recrudescence of serious agrarian trouble. He hoped that might not be; but he hoped also that the hon. Gentleman's words about the duty of the Government to put down this kind of thing would not end in the phrases the House had heard from him and his colleagues, but that they would be given effect to in their administration. They could, if they would, somewhat alter the form in which they put the case, and say that it was the bounden duty of the Government of the day to put down that sort of thing before proposing legislation which, if it was not successful, would add to instead of lessen existing difficulties. The Government did not realise, he thought, that in dealing with the evicted tenants, it was not merely difficulties connected with the quantity or quality of the land; there was another cause which had been ignored and would be found to be a very serious obstacle in the way of the administration of this Bill if it passed into law, and that difficulty was the keeping of the number of selected tenants down to 2,000. They knew perfectly well that that was not what was meant in Ireland. The demand in Ireland was not for a selected 2,000, or that the number should be rigorously cut down; and it was not that there should be this rigorous investigation by the Estates Commissioners. The demand in Ireland was that all the evicted tenants should be restored before the sales took place; and the hon. Gentleman knew perfectly well, as did all those who had followed this part of the agrarian movement in Ireland, that on many occasions the advice was given that the sales should not take place unless they included the restoration of the evicted tenants. The hon. Gentleman would remember perfectly well that originally the question of the evicted tenants was supposed to be limited to those who had been connected with the Plan of Campaign, or whose eviction had been brought about by some analogous circumstances; but the hon. Gentleman also knew that they had got beyond that limitation altogether, and that the present number which the 1221 Government proposed to take would upset the line of demarcation which had enabled that stand to be taken. The hon. Gentleman had been somewhat indignant, and rather unworthily indignant, with his hon. and learned friend for demanding the names of the men, saying that he had pressed for those names because it served his purpose; but if this Bill passed the Government would find out before very long that, although they declined to give the names now, they would have to be disclosed when the Act was in operation; they might postpone the evil day by declining to give information as to how the 2,000 names had been arrived at, but when the Bill was passed, and put in operation, they would then find out how unstable were the grounds on which the Government rested their contention that they would be able to limit the number to 2,000. Really, when they passed away from the particular form of compulsion, the whole thing turned very largely on this question of the number. The hon. Gentleman believed that his hon. and learned friend was exaggerating when he referred to the probable cost of the Bill. It was a remarkable point to remember that on the previous Friday they were engaged in discussing the finance of the Irish Land Bill, and yet at the very time they knew that there was £30,000,000 worth more property to be sold than there was money or machinery to deal with it. The Government made the present extraordinary proposal which they sought to justify on the ground that the case was pressing and the number limited. He did not believe that the Government would be able to limit the numbers. He very much doubted whether the tenants themselves, or those who had been evicted, would accept the kind of elimination process which the Government had adopted. The hon. Member for South Tyrone had never dealt with that part of his hon. and learned friend's closely and powerfully argued speech, in which he showed that there had been more rapid progress made already in regard to the restoration of evicted tenants than there had been with regard to the transfer of land from owner to occupier; that had been going steadily on, and a number of cases had already been satisfactorily 1222 dealt with. The hon. Gentleman had quoted two cases, the Clanricarde and Lewis estates. In regard to the Lewis estate, he had read the whole of the correspondence that had passed between the Estates Commissioners and the representatives of the estate, and he failed to see that it was a case which justified a Bill of this kind. The Bill proposed to deal with evicted tenants, but what was the main difficulty in the case of the Lewis estate? The owner of the property, a widow, had let a portion of it to two of her sons. They had been in occupation for fifteen years and were content to go on, being able to make a good living for themselves. In the name of fortune why was that estate to be quoted as justifying the introduction of a measure of this kind? Surely what the Government, and what everybody who had studied the agrarian question in Ireland, wanted was that they should have men occupying farms who were able to pay the rent value of them and make a decent living. The only case that remained under the Flan of Campaign was that of the Clanricarde estate. Were they to be told that because the present owner of that estate declined to sell it or to deal further with the evicted tenants, they were justified in taking these special powers? He was told that it would be extremely difficult to deal with the evicted tenants connected with that particular estate by acquiring portions of it. It came to this, that the Government were going to take compulsory powers which could be applied to other estates in order to apply them to this particular property. Could injustice go further? What assurance had they from the Government that those who were going to deal with this matter would seek first of all to get the land they wanted on the estates from which tenants had been evicted? In many cases they could only get it by disturbing the planters, and in other cases they would be unable to get it because suitable land did not exist. It seemed to him extraordinary to try and justify this particular form of compulsion by two cases, one of which did not apply at all, while the other would not be dealt with by the Bill. The question of the number of the evicted tenants presented the 1223 greatest difficulty in the matter. He did not believe the Government would be able to keep it at 2,000 or anything like it. The Vice-President and the Chief Secretary based their case on the proposition that this difficulty was to be dealt with by a final scheme; but what proof was there of finality in the scheme before them? The whole speech of the hon. Member for South Tyrone went to show that most of his own hopes had been disappointed by the actual operation of the Act of 1903. If he told them that, how could he expect them to attach importance to an argument today which was based far more upon hope in regard to the future than upon any evidence which he or his Government had given? As he understood it, under this remarkable clause two of the Estates Commissioners were to have full power to go where they would, take what land they liked, and immediately after publication of their notice enter upon the land and do all such things as might be necessary for the purpose of enabling them to determine whether it would be suitable. There was no protection for the unfortunate owner of the estate, who might have had nothing to do with the evicted tenants for whom the land was wanted, and whose only fault might be that he happened to possess land which the Estates Commissioners thought would be desirable. Having gone through these preliminaries, the Commissioners were charged with compulsory powers. The most extraordinary thing of all was Sub-section (7), which dealt with the petition. This was to be presented to the very men who had selected the land and had put the compulsion in order. It was to be heard and determined by the Estates Commissioners, or any two of them, and their decision was to be final. A more extraordinary form of compulsorily taking another man's property he had never heard of. There was no appeal, no opportunity for the owners or sitting tenants to present their case. Whatever might be the necessity for this measure, he could not believe that Parliament would pass these compulsory powers without giving to the people concerned some protection as against the decisions of the Commissioners. He was not making any charge against the Commissioners. He was urging the case 1224 on behalf of them. He thought the Government were putting them not only in a very difficult but in a very unfair position by the powers they were imposing on them under this section. There was no protection against their decision, and if they were unfair there was no appeal to any independent body before whom all parties could be heard and whose decision should be final. He could not believe that this House would approve of a policy of that kind. They had been told that the Estates Commissioners fixed the price now; but that was a totally different case, because their offer might be refused. In this case their offer had to be taken by the landlords: they had no power of refusal. Surely there ought to be some other tribunal to whom an appeal could be made before a final decision was arrived at. In carrying out the reinstatement of these tenants the Government apparently realised that the arrangements might involve some loss, and it had been decided that such loss should be paid out of the bonus fund. That seemed to him to be an extraordinary, a most unfair, and a very uncalled-for proposal, and he hoped the House would hear something more about it when the Chief Secretary replied. Upon what grounds was it sought to justify the laying of this extra burden upon the bonus fund? A great deal had been said about the bargain made under the Act of 1903. Nobody would deny that the creation of that bonus was a very important part of that bargain, but surely that ought not to be impinged upon except for some solid reason. So far they had had absolutely no justification for this most remarkable proposal. With regard to the alteration of the tenure of the Estates Commissioners, he had been much puzzled by it, because the Irish Government were quite aware of the controversy which had arisen over Section 23 of the Act, which put some administrative control over the Estates Commissioners and placed it in the hands of the Lord-Lieutenant. What would be the effect upon Clause 23 of this particular change, and what was its object? Was it intended to put the Estates Commissioners in a position in their relations with the Irish Government and with Parliament which they did not occupy now? If that was not 1225 the intention, what was the justification for this particular change? This Bill was going to give extremely difficult powers and very responsible duties to the Estates Commissioners, who already had very laborious and heavy duties to discharge. It was now proposed to add considerably to those duties powers of a very delicate and extremely responsible character. Were they going to remove the work of these Commissioners from the criticism of Parliament to which it was generally agreed when the Act of 1903 was passed they ought to be subjected? If that provision was necessary in 1903 it was all the more necessary now when they were proposing to add to the duties of the Commissioners and placing upon their shoulders a task of great magnitude. However well they might perform their duties, and however single-minded they might be in considering this question, he was satisfied that both sides desired that there should be this criticism and he could not believe that it was seriously intended that the Estates Commissioners should be removed in the smallest degree from that criticism in Parliament to which they ought to be subjected. It was claimed for the Estates Commissioners that they were civil servants who could not defend themselves, and that was perfectly true. There was, however, a great distinction between civil servants and the Estates Commissioners, because in the former case they were subject to the control of the Minister who presided over their Department, but in regard to a large part of their work the Commissioners acted independently. There was nothing in the Bill to show that the Government of the day was going to control them and nothing which gave the Lord-Lieutenant or his advisers any control, although the duties of the Commissioners were being greatly added to. Therefore they were adding to the duties which these men performed independently of Government control, and the reasons for exposing them to the criticism of Parliament in 1903 were greater still at the present time. He would have been glad if the Government had shown that they could not deal with the evicted tenants under the existing law, but they had not been able to prove that. They had not been able to show that there 1226 was any obstructive action on the part of landowners which had rendered compulsion necessary. There was nothing of that sort in the Bill. They were asked to support it not upon arguments which went to prove that their contentions were wrong, or that the principle of the Bill was a good one, but on the ground that there were agrarian difficulties in Ireland and that those difficulties might be added to if a Bill of this kind was not passed. He was quite certain that no one who had ever been responsible for the Irish Government would deal lightly with the agrarian question, nor lightly pass by any attempt to lessen the suffering and trouble which arose from agrarian difficulties. If he believed that this Bill would settle those difficulties, heal this sore, and produce the result they all so heartily desired, he would be willing to strain his conscience to the utmost in accepting proposals which he believed to be based oh injustice and wrong. But there was no such conviction pressed on his mind, either by a study of the Bill, or by a study of past history and of the present agrarian difficulty in Ireland. He believed they were more likely by the Bill to add to their agrarian difficulties, and create new ones. The Government were resting themselves on the fact that they could limit these evicted tenants within the prescribed number, and comforting themselves with the conviction that that would be accepted as a solution of the difficulty. He believed they would awaken to find that they were not justified in the view they held, but that they were more likely to create among those who were not in the 2,000 a feeling of bitter disappointment and dissatisfaction, which would outweigh anything they might do for the 2,000. For these reasons he should certainly support the Amendment of his hon. friend.
§ *SIR W. NUGENT (Westmeath, S.)
said he thought when the right hon. Gentleman introduced this Bill that at least it was an Irish Bill on which Members in every part of the House would agree, and least of all did he think that the opposition would spring from that part of the House from which it had come. Day after day during the time he had been a Member of the House, he had heard hon. Members, ask the Chief Secretary if he was aware of 1227 the blood-curdling outrages which had occurred in certain parts of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman was not aware of them. If those hon. Gentlemen who asked Questions knew that those outrages were occurring, and if they were really desirous of peace in Ireland, why did they not support this measure, the primary object of which was to make those outrages impossible? The majority of these who had spoken on the question had practically all admitted that the evicted tenants should be reinstated, but the objection made to the Bill to-day was in regard to the compulsion clause. That was a very natural objection on their part, and he must say that under ordinary circumstances they would all share that objection; but they had not to deal with ordinary circumstances. The condition of Ireland was certainly extraordinary. He did not wish to refer to the past, but there was not a single Member of the House who did not know that the position of affairs in Ireland was due to the action of this country in the past. He did not think that anybody would deny that if England had adopted the same policy in other portions of the globe there would not now be any Colonies, and there never would have been a British Empire. If this compulsory clause was omitted from the Bill the result would be that here and there in some portions of Ireland some rich men, with large properties perhaps—he thought the cases would be few—would refuse absolutely to consider this question of reinstatement. But he did not think compulsion would have to be applied in many cases, and where it was necessary nothing else would be of any avail. Those men of great wealth would perhaps try to pursue what the hon. Member for East Mayo described as a campaign of vengeance. Would the majority of this House support them in such a scheme? For his own part he did not think they would. From what they had heard from hon. Members above the gangway that day they might take it that no Act would ever please them, as no Chief Secretary had ever been able to please them. The present Leader of the Opposition it might have been supposed would please them when he was Chief Secretary, but not a bit of it. They said that he did more harm than any Chief Secretary that ever came to Ireland. The right hon. Member for Dover was 1228 credited by the Nationalists with the best intentions, but Unionist Members from Ireland shuddered at the mention of his name. What their opinion was of the present Chief Secretary he would be afraid to suggest to the House, but he thought it was probable that they would not regret if his bones were added to the "dried bones of belated bigotry" which he had advised them not to trouble. It was admitted by the Chief Secretary that crime in the ordinary sense did not exist in Ireland. The misfortune was that the Irish people were not understood by the people of England. Their views of the Irish people were often taken from highly-coloured pictures drawn by men who never missed an opportunity of vilifying their fellow-countrymen. The tenants whom it was proposed to reinstate were men who were evicted at a time when they thought they were carrying on a great agrarian campaign. The right hon. Member for South Dublin, speaking in the House on the 14th February last, said:There could be no doubt whatever that in the interest, not merely of those unfortunate-people themselves, whatever their past history might have been, but in the interest of the successful working of the great Purchase Act, their reinstatement was looked upon as an essential element, and as a thing that had been promised by Parliament.The right hon. Gentleman further said:He could not agree to compulsion because in certain cases there had been unwillingness on the part of the landlords to come under the operation of the Purchase Act. But if the Government were in a position to say that the Act could not operate, that there were difficulties in its way even where fair and reasonable terms had been offered, it was a question that would require grave consideration on the part of everyone who was desirous to see the Act operating and restoring peace and order to a country which had been too long distracted by troubles of all sorts.He and his friends maintained that those circumstances did now exist, and that there was no solution except that proposed in the present Bill. He appreciated the spirit in which it was introduced, and he sincerely hoped that in its simplicity and thoroughness it might serve as a model for another Bill, which would end once and for all all points of dispute between the two countries, by giving to Ireland that place which was hers by rights, among the self-governing Colonies, and by giving the Irish people a chance of being, what he believed they 1229 would all then be, the staunchest supporters and most loyal friends of this country.
§ MR. CHARLES CRAIG (Antrim, S.)
congratulated the hon. Baronet the Member for South Westmeath on his excellent and spirited speech. Before proceeding to criticise the provisions of the Bill, he would like to refer to a few of the statements made by the Vice-President of the Board of Agriculture in Ireland. They all knew that the hon. Member had been from time immemorial a sworn ally of the tenant farmer in Ireland. The landlord had always been to him a person deserving of no consideration. It was true that by some means or other, of which he himself had never been able to get at the bottom, the hon. Member was persuaded to attend the famous Land Conference, which resulted in the Act of 1903, but the House would have observed that every time the hon. Member made reference to that Conference and to that Act he said he regretted every day of his life that the Conference took place or that the Bill ever became law. The hon. Member, speaking of the results of the Land Conference to his friends below the gangway, said they would understand that it went to his heart to see the prices which were received every day by landlords in Ireland. That was not an altogether honourable or straightforward action for the hon. Member to take, because he was a member of the Land Conference which drew up the terms.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
The hon. Member is entirely wrong. The terms of the Land Conference Report are not the terms of the Land Act.
§ MR. CHARLES CRAIG
said the hon. Member did so on the terms that it was framed to all intents and purposes on the lines laid down by the Conference, and for him now to throw aspersions on the Act of 1903 was not a worthy action for any Member of the House, and much less a Member on the front Ministerial Bench. 1230 The hon. Member asked for the passage; of the Bill on three grounds: first, that two Plans of Campaign estates—the Clanricarde estate and the Lewis estate—had not yet been settled; secondly, because the voluntary system under which the evicted tenants' clause of the Act of 1903 had worked had broken down; and, thirdly, because it would end the disastrous civil war which had been raging in Ireland for years. On the first of these grounds he seriously asked the House of Commons to pass a compulsory Act, carrying the principle of compulsion to an extent which had never been dreamt of before in this or any other House of Commons, because of 135 tenants on the Clanricarde estate and thirty-five on the Lewis estate.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
If I mentioned those estates, I also said that there were hundreds of evicted farms of which the landlords would not allow even inspection.
§ MR. CHARLES CRAIG
said they had to take it there were 135 on the Clanricarde estate, 35 on the Lewis estate, and hundreds of cases—say 200—elsewhere. He wished to point out that the Bill, so far as he understood, did not necessarily aim at being able to obtain the actual farm from which the tenant had been existed, but at getting power compulsorily to acquire land in any part of Ireland to reinstate these tenants. If it was insisted that the real object of the Bill was to enable the Commissioners to evict the present holders of farms from which the eviction took place, his opposition to the Bill would be stronger than before. The hon. Member also informed them that the voluntary system had broken down; that he (Mr. Craig) would deal with in a moment, when he considered the Bill as a whole. At the end of his speech the hon. Member, after saying he would not make a peroration, perorated on the West of Ireland, where he said he spent a certain part of his holidays when he was last in Ireland, and he drew a picture of the conditions there which, if anything could, would go to prove the complete and entire success of the Land Act of 1903. He said he had not seen even a dirty school child during that time. He did not know whether the dirtiness or cleanliness of a school child could be directly or indirectly 1231 connected with the Land Act, but if it could, that, and the pleasing picture the hon. Member drew of the prosperity in that part of Ireland, seemed to be in favour of leaving the Act as it stood, and giving it a fair chance of carrying out what it was intended to do. To leave the hon. Member and return to the debate, what the ordinary man in the street, whether English, Scottish, or even Irish, understood by the evicted tenants question was the problem of restoring either to their original holdings, or to some suitable holdings in another part of the country, those tenants who had lost their tenancies during what was known as the Land War in Ireland, either on one of the Plan of Campaign estates, or on what had been described as outposts. It was these tenants, and these tenants alone, that the majority of the Members of the House of Commons had their minds fixed upon when the Evicted Tenants Clause of 1903 came to be discussed. If any evidence were needed he could read numerous extracts from the speeches made in 1903. He would give two only. The hon. and learned Member for Waterford said on the Second Heading of the Bill—I ask the House can they expect that we should accept as a final settlement of the Irish land question any scheme which excludes from its operation the men who have risked and lost everything in the land struggle.That showed that oven in the mind of the Leader of the Nationalist Party the evicted tenants he thought it his duty to champion were those wounded soldiers of the land war, as they had so frequently been called. The hon. and learned Member for Waterford in the same speech said—Their number is very small, and the amount required would be very little. When the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose introduced an Evicted Tenants Bill he proposed £100,000, and as time had gone on the area affected by this question has undoubtedly diminished,' and if £100,000 was all that was necessary then, a considerably less sum would be all that would be necessary now.Again, the hon. Member for East Mayo said the question was a small one from the point of view of the numbers affected. When the Evicted Tenants Act was passed in 1894 there were, he said, about 800 of these people, but only 400 families remained to be dealt with. The whole question, said the hon. 1232 Member for Mayo, could be dealt with in a generous way with £200,000 at the outside, in a manner which would strike the imagination of Ireland, and smooth the passage of the Land Bill. He made these quotations to show that at any rate when the Land Purchase Act was introduced and discussed on its Second Reading in 1903 the prevailing idea on all sides of the House was that it was intended primarily to deal with those tenants who had lost their holdings either on Plan of Campaign estates or for some political cause. He was quite free to admit that the Act as finally passed into law went much further than had been anticipated by hon. Members below the gangway or had even been asked for by them. So I far as he could recollect, it was practically never asked by any hon. Member below the gangway that the Bill should apply to anyone except the so-called wounded soldiers of the land war. But, either rightly or wrongly—and he thought this was a very debateable question—the Act was made to apply to a much larger class. It was made to apply to practically all tenants who had been evicted within twenty-five years before the passing of the Act. A considerable amount of time might be spent in discussing the desirability of that extension, but as it became the law it would be a waste of time to enter into it now. There was at any rate complete agreement that the wounded soldier of the land war should be forthwith admitted to the benefit of the Act, and as soon as it could reasonably be done he should be reinstated in his holding or provided with a new holding. That being the case, he thought the question which the House of Commons had to deal with! Now was simply this: Had the reinstatement of the evicted tenants been prosecuted up to the present with reasonable diligence? Were there any circumstances, in fact, which rendered necessary the passage of the present i Bill? That was really the question they had to study. He thought that after a dispassionate study of that question the House of Commons, if left to itself, would say that great progress had been made. As a matter of fact, the tenant's clauses had worked well. They had worked with much greater rapidity and smoothness than the more important part of the Act—the 1233 purchase clauses. One-third of the total claims which had been admitted by the Government had already been settled. Seeing that the Act had only been in force for three years, he did not think any reasonable person could call that a bad result. They heard that out of seventeen Plan of Campaign estates, fifteen had been completely settled and only two were left. In the speeches in support of the Bill those two estates were held up as a justification for the extraordinary powers which the Government were seeking to obtain from the House of Commons. He did not think that was right. One of the reasons which Members of the Opposition put forward for their objection to the Bill was that the House of Commons was not given any opportunity of judging of the class of cases which the Government were going to admit to its benefits. Any Plan of Campaign tenant, he admitted, ought to be reinstated, and if these other cases were bona fide cases they should be admitted too. But what were they to think of the fact that there had been 8,000 applications, only 3,000 of which the Commissioners thought fit to be reinstated? The House of Commons ought to be allowed an opportunity of judging of the way in which this power of picking and choosing had been exercised by the Commissioners. He believed the Chief Secretary had admitted that the reason why he would not grant there turn asked for was that it would bring down endless trouble both on his own head and on the heads of the Estates Commissioners. Surely the House was entitled to ask for further information on this subject, as that before them they could not make head nor tail of. The House should not be asked to pass a Bill of this magnitude on such meagre details. He thought he could show from the Report of the Commissioners that the Bill was not necessary. Paragraph 41 showed that they had communicated with 1,752 owners of untenanted land; and although they were not informed how they had communicated, he supposed it would be by means of printed letters. He would have thought, however, that it would have been better to have sent down an emissary or inspector, who by conversation might endeavour to arrive at some arrangement or understanding. Although the figures at first sight seemed against 1234 them, they could not be said to be unsatisfactory, because if all the 1,752 had come into negotiation the Estates Commissioners would only have been able to take a little land from each. Out of that number 579 failed to reply and 265 refused to deal, 156 wrote saying they were going to sell the lands on their own account, 372 said their land was demesne land, which they could not be expected to sell, 120 were still corresponding with the Estates Commissioners, and 260 had expressed their willingness to sell. Out of the 260 only 147 had yet sent particulars and were in negotiation, while ten had sold 4,846 acres. Supposing the average holding of the ten was the same as that of the 260 who had expressed their willingness to sell, the Commissioners would have 125,000 acres of land to supply to evicted tenants, which would be 30,000 or 40,000 acres more than they required. Did those figures show any necessity for compulsion? They pointed in exactly the opposite direction, and there was nothing to show that the Act had failed in the short time it had been in operation. Hon. Members below the gangway had shown much concern over the Plan of Campaign tenants, but Clause 40 of the Report showed that they had not much sympathy among the tenants in Ireland. In that clause it was stated that proceedings were pending for the sale to the Commissioners of about 80,000 acres of land, but they had been told that it would be difficult to obtain it because it was needed for the enlargement of small holdings, and the people of the localities would strongly object to part with it to meet the requirements of the evicted tenants, nor would the evicted tenants be willing to take land at a distance from their former homes in places where they would meet with opposition. Although he thought it was desirable that the evicted tenants should be restored, he held that the Government had every right to insist that the evicted tenants should not be too particular as to where the land they got was situated. No necessity had been shown for increasing the power at present vested in the Estates Commissioners, and if they admitted that the evidence went to show that progress had not been sufficiently rapid he entirely dissented from the view that compulsory powers of any such far-reaching character as were proposed in the Bill should be given to any set of men. There was 1235 not a single instance in the English law where such powers as were proposed in this Bill had been conferred on any person. It would be against the instincts of any Englishman to put a person in a position to be able to say, "I require so much of your land," and, whether a man liked it or not, to take it, and also to fix the price. No valid reason had been adduced to show why the procedure incorporated in the Labourers Act should not be adopted, and the matter settled by an independent tribunal. The Estates Commissioners and the Vice-President had always been great champions of the tenants, and the link between them was very apparent. But the landlords had no confidence in them. The Vice-President had waxed warm in defending them, but the fact remained that the landlords of Ireland did not regard them as excellent Commissioners, and that was an end of it. No amount of heat on the part of the Vice-President would alter that fact. Therefore he would ask the Chief Secretary whether it was right to confer upon such persons, who did not enjoy the truest confidence of both parties, such extraordinary powers as this Bill proposed to give them. The first consideration in the appointment of an arbitrator must surely be whether that person was trusted by the two parties who were at variance, and to put this power into the hands of a person who was admittedly lacking the confidence of the parties was extraordinary, not to say outrageous. He also agreed with those who had spoken from that side of the House that from the point of view of the two Commissioners the most important effect of the Bill was that it improved their status and rendered them immune from all discussion in that House. Surely in a matter of such extraordinary difficulty, and on questions which generated great heat from time to time, and in the past had strained all sections of the community, it was admittedly not desirable that the decision of these matters should be left in the hands of two men who were removed absolutely from the criticisms of Parliament. He did not know any similar case where such a proceeding was even suggested, and he was quite sure that such a proposal, had it come from the Party to which he belonged, would have been received with shouts of 1236 derision from other Parties in the House. But because it came from the Chief Secretary, whose knowledge of Ireland extended back for some six months, apparently the House of Commons was going to carry out what, in his opinion, was a most uncalled-for and unnecessary proceeding—namely, the removal of these two questions from the criticism of the House. He would oppose the Second Reading of the Bill. He was quite certain that any hastening of the restoration of the evicted tenants would excite friction, that, passion would be raised, not only among the landlords, but among the tenants, which would more than counterbalance any advantage given by the speed by which the question would be settled. He did not believe it would be settled the more quickly if compulsory powers were given. He believed the whole question would be settled in another six years, that the two-thirds to be restored would be restored in a shorter time than the one-third which had already been restored, and that therefore he was well within the mark in saying the whole thing would be settled in six years. He asked the House to say that it was not at all an unreasonable time to clear up that great blot on the land system which they all agreed in 1903 should be got rid of as soon as possible.
§ *MR. SHEEHAN (Cork County, Mid.),
said the argument had been advanced by hon. Members from Ulster that the Government were creating a precedent by introducing the element of compulsion into this measure: but must not a precedent be created some time, and was it not the duty of this House to legislate for necessities '? There had been undoubtedly a breakdown in the voluntary clauses of the Land Act of 1903, in so far at least as they affected the position of the evicted tenants, and in the measure before the House the Government were only endeavouring to carry out the honourable compact to which the late Government were pledged to restore the evicted tenants without any needless delay. The right hon. Member for South Dublin had asked for some concrete evidence of this breakdown, for something beyond mere generalities, for some individual action which would justify the action of the Government in bringing in this measure. Before he was 1237 done he hoped by chapter and book to famish the right hon. Gentleman with the information he required. The underlying principle of this Bill was that land should be acquired compulsorily for the reinstatement of evicted tenants, and, speaking from a wide personal experience of the working of the Land Act of 1903, he had no hesitation whatever in stating that unless the compulsory principle was preserved in the measure they would never see the evicted tenants reinstated in their lifetime. No matter what might be said to the contrary by these who were concerned in maintaining the sanctity of property, the only cure for the present evil state of the evicted tenants' question was compulsion. A noble Lord stated in another place the other day that he would not object to compulsion if the necessity for it could be proved, but that he thought the question could be settled if the Estates Commissioners gave enough for the land. He challenged that assumption. He was well aware that no matter what price was given for land they could not induce certain land lords to part with it for the purpose of providing the evicted tenants with houses and holdings once again. A large pro portion of grabbers, to his own knowledge, could not be got to give up their unlawful possessions unless the strong arm of compulsion was applied to them. That was no mere bald assertion. He could sustain it by facts. For the past three years ho had been hon. secretary of a body in the county of Cork known as the Cork Advisory Committee. That body was established and initiated by the senior Member for Cork City, and its main object was to facilitate land purchase negotiations between landlords and tenants, and to endeavour so far as possible to aid in the speedy reinstatement of evicted tenants. The committee was composed of the leading public men in the county. The chairman of the county council and most of its members took an active interest in its work, and he was happy to say that through the mediation of the committee a very large number of sales indeed were successfully negotiated, and owing to its influence and the standard of prices which it set up the tenants in Cork County had obtained better terms under the Land Act than had been got in any other part of the country. By directly approaching the landlords and their agents, and 1238 reasoning with them in a fair and friendly manner, they had also been successful in getting a large number of evicted tenants reinstated in their old home steads. But their difficulty did not lie primarily with the landlords or their agents. His experience was that the difficulty of reinstatement, in Cork County at least, lay more with the grabbers, who refused to budge unless they were allowed to dictate their own terms and who really acted as if they thought they had the Government behind them in this matter. He hoped that these un-scrupulous and inhuman adventurers would soon learn that there was at least one Irish Secretary who would give them short shrift in their robbery of the people's rights. Let him quote from his own personal experience on this aspect of the question. A few months ago, with an inspector of the Estates Commissioners, he waited upon a landlord named Mr. Robert Pratt, who had property in his constituency from which two persons had been evicted. Negotiations for purchase by the tenants had been practically concluded on the Estate— the only stumbling block in the way being that tenants would not sign the agreements until the grabbers were out of the holdings and the evicted tenants rooted into them. The landlord was quite willing that the evicted tenants should be reinstated. In the presence of the Estates inspector and himself he expressed himself to that effect, but they were all in this dilemma— how was it: going to be brought about? The Estates inspector asked Mr. Pratt if he had any objection to his interviewing the grabbers, and he said he had not, so both the inspector and he (Mr. Sheehan) proceeded to the residences of these people. At the first house at which they called they did not find the grabber him-self at home, a man named But timer, but they met his brother, who gave them a cold and surly reception, and who would not have anything to say to them beyond that ho was aware that his brother would not give him the grabbed farm on any account. He was subsequently informed on most reliable authority that the grabber himself said he was sorry he was not before them, as he would have sot his dogs on them and kicked them out of the place. He put it to the House whether anything short of the use, and the sharp use, of the rod of 1239 compulsion should be applied to such a black-hearted buccaneer as that. They proceeded from that man's house to that of a lady named Mrs. McGivern, whom they found squatted down in her coach- [house engaged in the useful occupation of cutting seed potatoes. She was a stolid lady who knew how to keep a closed mouth— in this quality at least she was a pleasing departure from the rest of her sex. The Estates inspector i explained the object of his visit. It did not ruffle in the slightest the calm of her sphinx-like stolidity. She would discuss nothing with them until her son was present, and he was away from home. The landlord had informed them that he had allowed this lady into the evicted holding at a largely reduced rent as a yearly tenant, on the payment of a sum of £ 50. The inspector asked her if she would give up the holding if she got her £ 50 back, and the only time during the interview that she showed any life or spirit was when she answered with temper that she would not, or if she got ten times £ 50. There were two cases in which the landlord was most anxious that the grabbers should be got out somehow or anyhow— as a matter of fact, he had agreed to the sale to the other tenants, excluding these on conditions that the Estates Commissioners should declare the remainder of the property an estate under the Land Act, carrying the bonus with it. Did not these examples alone prove that they could not now solve this question with out compulsion? Mr. Buttimer and Mrs. McGivern were branches of the same family, and later on the inspector and himself visited another member of this interesting group of relatives, all of whom seemed to have made a trade or profession of grabbing. The grabber's name was Chambers and the holding was on the Hassett estate. The story of that eviction formed one of the tragedies of the agrarian struggle. The former tenant, a man named Kelleher, lost hundreds of pounds on the farm, but notwithstanding all his industry and efforts— and he had it on the most trustworthy authority that he was an industrious man— still he was unable to meet the exorbitant demands of the landlord, and being himself a ruined and broken man, and bowed down with the worries and anxieties of life, what wonder that his mind gave way and that he 1240 committed suicide, leaving a widow and helpless young family behind him. His friends assisted her for some time, but they could not support her for ever, and the inevitable fate befell her. She be came a victim to landlordism, and she and her little ones were cast on the road side. The miserable plight of the widow and her family did not weigh on the conscience of the land grabber. The wretched fellow, Chambers, took it at a rent reduced by one half or more, and he had actually filed an agreement with the Estates Commissioners to purchase the holding, although Mrs. Kelleher had a number of sons, now grown to manhood's years, working as agricultural labourers, who would be well able to manage the farm if they were put back on it. He had placed the whole circumstances of the case repeatedly before the Estates Commissioners, as he thought it one of the harshest cases of eviction which ever came under his notice, and he begged of them not to sanction a sale to Chambers. The only reply he got to his communications was the usual printed form of acknowledgment; and if he put a Question down to the Chief Secretary he dared say he would get the usual stereotyped reply that the matter would be inquired into in due course. The inspector did not meet Chambers himself, but he met one of his sons who laughed at the idea of their being asked to leave their comfort able residence and splendid farm. He said they would not go on any account. He wanted to know whether a man of that type, who filched the widow's and the orphans' portion, deserved any sympathy from humane and Christian people, and whether if strict justice wore done to him he should not be lashed out of the home he had desecrated. by his presence, without a penny of compensation. He could multiply these cases over and over again, but he thought ho had cited enough to prove right up to the hilt the necessity for compulsion. Now he passed from that aspect of the case to another which was agitating the minds of thousands of evicted tenants in all parts of the country at the present time— the largo number of applications, roughly speaking 3,000, which had been rejected by the Commissioners. Whilst he had no doubt that there were a good number of applications which could not stand the test of any honest investigation, still 1241 it appeared to him, at least, an impossible proposition that, for instance, in the county of Cork out of the 957 applications received, only 186 tenants or their representatives should be considered as suitable for reinstatement. That meant that 771 claims in one county alone were to be thrown overboard on the mere reports of a body of inspectors, the vast majority of whom were not and could not be drawn in sympathy with the evicted tenants, as they were from the landowning class. Nothing on earth could convince him that these 771 applications from his own county were rightly or reasonably rejected. He had received a wire from Mr. Daniel O'Connor, chairman of the Cork Evicted Tenants' Association, which read—Evicted tenants repudiate official report of the Estates Commissioners on the evicted tenants question as unjust and bitterly disappointing. They protest against un-sympathetic and partisan landlords' inspectors rejecting claims which have been publicly recognised as just. An impartial public investigation demanded.Hon. Members could see from that that the report of the Estates Commissioners had driven the evicted tenants into a condition of mind bordering upon panic and despair. He had glanced through the reasons why such a large number of applications were rejected by the Commissioners, and he would claim the indulgence of the House whilst he examined a few of them. One of the reasons for rejection was that " applicants voluntarily surrendered their holdings or sold their interest in them." What did this voluntary surrender mean 1 An unfortunate tenant found himself unable to pay the gross rack-rent put upon him— he saw nothing but the workhouse or starvation and ruin staring him in the face if he were evicted,. and he thought it better perhaps to leave quietly with something in his pocket from the landlord for his voluntary surrender rather than be thrown out without a penny between himself and his family and utter poverty. And his experience amounted to this: voluntary surrenders and the soiling of their interests by tenants took place at a time when the national movement in Ireland was ruined by internal dissensions, when the agrarian agitation was more or less at a standstill, and when these unfortunate and helpless men were thrown back on their own resources, with nothing to live on in the present and nothing to hope 1242 for from the future. Could one wonder, when such conditions prevailed, that these unfortunate waifs of fortune and of circumstance should succumb to the immediate temptations of necessity and of hunger, and sell their birthright for a mess of pottage? He hoped that the right hon. Gentleman who had charge of this Bill, and whose humane disposition was recognised on all sides of the House, would see to it that the door of hope should not be rigidly shut upon these wretched men and their families, who surrendered their holdings or signed away their birthright when the gates of promise seemed to be have been for ever barred against them and theirs. He could mention several cases in which evicted tenants, cast down to the depths by the gloom and the despair of the time, sold their interests for any paltry consideration which would bring even the most temporary relief to themselves and their families, and in his view it would be a grave moral wrong doing — it would be the blackest in humanity, if in the great. scheme of pacification which the Land Act of 1903 must eventually consummate, the present i Government were to shelter themselves behind the miserable legalities of the question, and doom a large body of families to irredeemable despair and misery simply because, when ruin was around them and hope itself was dead, when perhaps the cry of their little ones for bread was day and night ringing in their ears, they gave way to the temptations of the moment. Let him just briefly mention one case, that of the man who sent the telegram he had read a little while before. That man, Daniel O'Connor, the Chairman of the Cork Evicted Tenants Association, was evicted from a farm near the city of Cork by the landlord, a Mr. Bass. He had expended over a thousand pounds in hard cash in improvements and so forth. At the time of his eviction he only owed one year's rent, and shortly after his eviction and before the period of redemption had expired, he was offered something like £ 600 for his interest in the farm, but considering it value for several hundreds more he declined the offer, believing in his positive right to the holding. In connection with certain proceedings which took place sub sequent to the eviction O'Connor served a term of imprisonment, and a gentleman who came down from the north of 1243 Ireland and took possession, on being in formed of the circumstances of the eviction by the evicted tenant himself, immediately quitted the place. O'Connor was evicted because he refused to pay on principle what he believed to be a gross rack-rent, and he had the sympathy of the country with him at the time. The unfortunate man had a large and helpless young family dependent on him, and in the circumstances which he had already adumbrated he assigned to his landlord his interest on the holding on which he had expended £ 1,000 of his own money, for which he had refused £ 600, subsequent to his eviction, and from which a grabber who appeared to possess what was some what rare amongst grabbers— a conscience —cleared out when he learnt the true facts of the case. He put it to that House and to the Chief Secretary whether this was a case in which the Government should stand upon strictly legal rights, or whether, on the other hand, they should not deal with this and other cases of a similar nature on the broad grounds of humanity and moral rights— take these men and their families after years of suffering on the highway of the world, mend their broken and wasted lives, and set them on their feet once more, with something of hope in their hearts, by placing them back in their old homes, and providing them with a fresh and fruitful start in life. Another class barred out by the Report of the Estates Commissioners were the representatives of evicted tenants who might be unsuitable to work land from want of farming experience, or were otherwise sufficiently provided for. He questioned the statutory right and power of the Estates Com missioners to reject applications on that ground alone. If parties were the representatives of bona fide evicted tenants coming under Section 2 of the Land Act of 1903, it should not be within the power or the discretion of any Government Department or administrative body to reject the claims of these who were specifically mentioned in an Act of Parliament which purported to deal finally with this great festering evil in the social system. Let him give a personal illustration of how unfairly and unjustly this exclusion might work out. Ho had the terrible experience, when he was a lad of six or seven years, of going through all the dreadful horrors of an Irish eviction. His father was ruthlessly evicted 1244 in 1880 by one of the worst types of landlord he had ever read or heard of, and the memory of that frightful eviction scene was ineffaceably stamped upon his mind—the landlord gloating in person over the misery and anguish of his unfortunate victims, the roof-tree under which he was born set on fire, and the homo in which his tender years were passed burnt to the very ground; the heartlessness and cruelty of the whole proceedings, every incident, stood clearly out in his recollection at that moment, and would remain for ever with him, even when other events and other crises in a rather chequered career had faded into the background of time. And it would show how far they had advanced on the road to a settlement of this question, with all its tears, and all its blood and misery, when he stated that his father did not owe one penny of rent at the time of his eviction; his lease had merely expired, the landlord wanted the farm for himself, and out he had to go. Anyone who knew anything of Ireland knew that the love of the land could never be uprooted from the heart of an Irish peasant, that the early ties and the old associations had ever a potent spelt over him, and though years and distance might separate him from the home of his fathers, there was ever the clinging fondness for the old old where he was born, the spot which was over home to him. And he knew how when the Act of 1903 was passed his father longingly looked forward to the day which would see him back in his own holding once more. It was the dream and the hope of his few remaining years on earth— a dream and a hope which were doomed to be disappointed, because the evicted tenants clauses of the Act were insufficient in themselves without compulsion. His father died last year a disappointed man. What he wanted to know was, were his representives going to be barred out from their inherent: and prescriptive right to the portion of the land which was owned by their forefathers for centuries merely because they might be otherwise sufficiently provided for? To exclude them would be an outrage on the principles of the Act of 1903, and he was certain that there were several others, representatives of real bona fide evicted tenants, who were in a similar position to that in which his family was placed. Much had been made of the question of 1245 pre-emption by the Ulster .Members who had spoken. They did not want that principle to be applied by the State to landlords who did not wish to dispose of their untenanted land for the reinstatement of evicted tenants. But what about the cases of evicted tenants in the south of Ireland, against whom the landlords exercised the right of pre emption given to them by the Act of 1881, and got the Land Commission to fix the purchase price of the tenant's interest, which in every case was less than one half of what it would fetch in the open market? He observed that the Ulster Unionist Members had nothing to say to that, probably because it did not affect their constituencies. He understood that the right of pre-emption did not exist whore the Ulster custom prevailed. But let them take the famous Water grass Hill eviction case, where the tenant, Edmond Murphy, wanted to sell by public auction his interest in his farm. The landlord stopped in and exercised the right of pre-emption, under which the Land Commission would only give Murphy something like £ 400 for what was worth over £ 800. Murphy rightly refused to accept this, the rattling-manhood of the district gathered round him, and when it was sought to evict him twenty-three brave young men made a fight for the homes of the people as heroic as any that was ever made in the whole history of the agrarian struggle, a fight which found its echo even in that House, and for which these who participated in it went through their period of suffering and imprisonment; and what he now wanted to know from the Chief Secretary was whether this man Murphy was to be regarded as an evicted tenant under the Bill or otherwise? He also referred to the case of Cornelius O'Sullivan, of Kilnaclasha, near Skibbereen, who was evicted from his holding under exactly similar circumstances— the right of pre-emption having been exercised by a very reverend gentleman of the Protestant Episcopalian Church. Were these men going to be shut out from the benefits of this Bill? There was one matter in which he was in agreement with these who had spoken from the Unionist Benches, and that was in the demand for the publication of these evicted tenants whose claims were admitted and these whose applications were rejected. The evicted tenants 1246 were loudly clamouring for this information themselves. It would have to be known sooner or later— it would tend to discontent and dissatisfaction quite as much by being kept back as by being made known; and he thought it would be prudent for the right hon. Gentleman to make the information public at the earliest possible moment. In conclusion, he wished the Chief Secretary luck with his Bill. He had been rather unfortunate in dealing with other Irish questions, but he sincerely trusted he would be able to get this measure safely through Parliament. He would, however, earnestly appeal to the right hon. Gentleman, if he wished for success, not to go in for any half-settlements or to whittle down the evicted tenants claims, and to have done once and for all with these pettifogging quibbles about legal rights and voluntary surrenders and so forth. Let him leave these things to the Schoolmen of the Law; this was a Bill which if it were to serve its purpose should be dealt with from the heart— there should be a little of the soul of humanity in it. Let him in God's name make it a generous settlement, let no man be excluded who had a shadow of a reasonable claim, let there be fair assurance given that these whose claims were rejected should have some independent and impartial investigation of them, and if he did that he would bring blessings on his own head and joy and happiness to hearts that were long cankered with care, and comfort to bodies that were starved for need of nourishment.
§ Mr. SLOAN (Belfast, S.)
said he could not claim that he represented an agricultural constituency, but he had the honour of sitting in the House when the Land Act of 1903 was passed, and he listened carefully to all the particulars of the Bill and to the pledges of the Government of the day in regard to the evicted tenants. If ho remembered rightly, the National Party made it a condition of the passage of that Bill that this matter should receive careful and favourable attention. He thought he was right in saying that the Bill would never have passed had that pledge not been given. He could not forget that during the agrarian war in Ireland, when Members of Parliament were being put in prison by the dozen 1247 and people were being shot on the road side, the Unionist Party opposed the scheme of land purchase, and for about eighteen years that trouble and turmoil was kept up in Ireland until public opinion got so hard that this very policy, the Land League policy, was swallowed in one gulp. If that was the experience of eighteen years of administration from one political Party in the State, why should this opposition to the restoration of the evicted tenants to their holdings be proposed for the purpose of carrying on another agrarian war of perhaps less magnitude, but still of not less importance? He could not for the life of him see why, when they were all agreed on the fact that the pledge given for the restoration of evicted tenants was a matter for consideration, they could not give a Second Reading to this Bill, and then go into the different clauses and try and amend it so as to meet the views of these who conscientiously objected to it. He thought the principal objection was taken to its compulsory clauses. The hon. Member for South Antrim had complained of the partiality of the Estates Commissioners and pointed out that it was due to the fact that they were strong advocates of the tenant farmers. When Mr. Bailey and Mr. Finucane were appointed the Government believed they would carry out impartially the duties Parliament put upon them. Did the hon. Member for South Antrim contend that these two Commissioners should be displaced for two landlord representatives? If that were done the war in Ireland would be much greater than it was now. No one could regard Ireland with any degree of sympathy or without prejudice or free from any Party considerations or bigotry without admitting that it was possible to deal not only generously but sincerely and honestly with questions such as this for the purpose of trying to bring peace and contentment into the homes of these poor people who, it was admitted, had sacrificed for a principle the homes which they had hitherto had. He could not see what object was to be gained by rejecting this Bill on Second Reading. He thought the Member for South Dublin might have used his influence with the Unionist Members for Ulster to allow the Bill to have a Second Reading, seeing that it was admitted that they could not go on ignoring the claims of the evicted tenants. They could then have 1248 put their heads together with a view to amending the measure during its further stages. He regretted that the right hon. Member for Dover was not present, because he was quite sure he would have supported the principle of the Bill if not its details. He would be the first to acknowledge his pledge to the House in passing his great land scheme. If they were to have cattle-raiding stopped and a cessation of Questions on the Order Paper of the House, which wore not honourable or creditable to the country, let them take the remedy and as far as possible put an end to the disturbances and grievances by legislation which could i do nobody any harm and which certainly would bring contentment and happiness to these people. It was a regrettable thing that Party spirit was sometimes brought into matters in regard to Ireland on which they could agree to differ. There were important questions of general interest and concern to Ireland in regard to which they should endeavour to mete out justice to all parts of the country impartially and without prejudice. Unless he threw his conscience to the wind and bowed down to every criticism that was made he could not see how any reasonable or sensible man who heard the Land Act of 1903 being discussed and knew the conditions under which it was passed could vote against the Second Reading of this Bill, which was a continuity of the policy of the Unionist Government of that day in respect to which a distinct pledge was made. He did not say that Amendments could be introduced to meet the landlords of Ire land, because that was an-impossibility. He did not complain of the hon. Members for North Armagh and South Antrim speaking up for the landlords, but he did complain of the manner in which others who did not represent the landlords were being attacked for carrying out their conscientious objections. The Bill was needed in Ireland. It would have a tendency to allay the feeling that at present existed in the country, and would restore these poor people to homes which they had sacrificed for the sake of a principle. For all these reasons he supported the Second Reading.
§ *MR. FFRENCH (Wexford, S.)
said that two or three days ago he asked a Question in reference to a case which came under his notice, and the reply he 1249 got was that the landlord was in communication with the Estates Commissioners and that he was willing to sell the whole of his estate to the evicted tenants. The landlords had asked too high a price for the land. He believed that the last time the tenants asked to be restored to their homes the landlords asked twenty-seven and a half years purchase on the old rack rents. That was one of the cases which would require compulsion. He hoped the light hon. Gentleman would take note of it, and also that it would nor, escape the notice of the Estates Commissioners.
§ *MR. ASHLEY (Lancashire, Blackpool)
said he fully admitted that during the debates in 1903 on the Land Purchase Act it was agreed on all hands that everything should be done in reason to reinstate the evicted tenants. He did not know than all evicted tenants should be reinstated; but it was understood that all the evicted tenants on the Plan of Campaign estates should be reinstated. [NATIONALIST cheers.] He was glad that hon. Members below the gangway agreed with him, but surely they would not contend that they had not been mostly reinstated. There were only two outstanding estates at present, namely, the Clanricarde estate and the Lewis estate. He could support compulsion if it was only to be applied to the Plan of Campaign estates, but this Bill went further than that and said that compulsion might be applied to any land lord or new tenant in order that land might be supplied to an evicted tenant. That was going very far indeed. The Vice-President of the Board of Agriculture for Ireland, speaking in the debates in 1894, said he would not only not con sent to any measure containing a compulsory clause, but that he would not vote for any measure to turn out a new tenant and put in another man. Now the hon. Member had put his name on the back of a Bill which proposed to do what in 1894 he said ho would never consent to do. From the outsider's point of view the most objectionable part of the Bill was that in regard to the method of ascertaining what compensation was to be given to a landlord or a new tenant if he was deprived of his land. He could not understand why hon. Members below the gangway should say that a man who bought an article should at the same 1250 time fix the price. A NATIONALIST MEMBER: Not for himself.] Yes, for himself. The Estates Commissioners went round and saw a piece of land which would suit evicted tenants, and they made an offer of so much per acre. If the landlord in that case said he was not getting enough, to whom did the landlord apply for arbitration? He could not appeal to any impartial tribunal; he had to appeal to the Commissioners themselves. It was not fair to put such a duty on the Commissioners. [A NATIONALIST MEMBER: They were appointed by a Tory Government.] It did not matter whether they were appointed by a Tory or a Liberal Government, or by hon. Gentlemen below the gangway them selves. He could not imagine why that provision had been put in the Bill, and he hoped that in Committee the Government would accept some reasonable Amendment in order that there might be an impartial arbiter to judge when these compulsory powers were to be put-in force. He could not understand the position taken up now by the government and hon. Members below the Gang way with respect to the landlords in Ireland. Up to and including 1903 the policy pursued on both sides of the House was that the tenants should become free holders and that the landlords should be allowed to retain their houses and demesnes. That was, under the circum stances, a wise policy, but it had been changed. In the Act of 1906 powers were given to the rural district councils, subject to appeal, to the Local Government Board, to compulsorily acquire untenanted land for the erection of labourers cottages. He was not discussing whether that was good or bad, but there they had the first step towards depriving the landlord who had sold his estate to the tenants of part of the untenanted land. Now this Bill was brought in to take away compulsorily more untenanted land from the landlord in order to put the evicted tenants upon it. It seemed to him very unwise on the part of hon. Members below the gangway to support that policy. Surely it was in the interest of Ireland that they should do all they could to keep the late landlords in the country and not drive them away. After all, they had got the money for their estates and it was desirable that they should be kept in the country to spend 1251 the money there, instead of spending it in England or France or some other country. There was an agitation in favour of taking away the sporting rights from the landlords. If such a policy had been pursued in the past in Scotland they would not have seen the amount of money pouring into that country every year from Englishmen and others who did not belong to the country. Hon. Members below the gangway should do all they could to encourage rich people to come to Ireland to enjoy the beauties of the country and the sport to be found there, instead of whittling away what was left to the old landlords and preventing them from letting their places to rich people from abroad who would bring money which would benefit the country generally.
§ *Mr. JOHN ROCHE (Galway, E.)
said one might naturally ask why they were now discussing the question of the restoration of the evicted tenants in view of the pledges which were given from the Treasury Bench four years ago. It was stated then that the question would be settled in a satisfactory and generous manner, and were it not for these pledges the Act of 1903 would not have passed through the House of Commons at all. How had the pledge been kept in regard to the Clanricarde and the Lewis'" estates, both of which were in his neighbourhood? After a lapse of four years not one tenant had been reinstated on either of these estates. It was impossible to deal with Lord Clanricarde except by compulsion. He had refused either to sell his estate as a whole, or to entertain the question of the restoration of the evicted tenants to their former holdings, or to sell for their use the un-tenanted land on the estate. What was the spirit in which the statement made by the Chief Secretary on the First Reading of the Bill was received by Lord Clanricarde? Immediately after that statement — which was to the effect that after careful inquiry he was convinced that he would require compulsory powers— appeared in print the present agent of Lord Clanricarde summoned a meeting-of the planters with the object of trying to get them to pledge themselves that they would resist any legislation which might be introduced. Strange to say, several of the planters told the agent there and then that they would be only too delighted to see these powers conferred on the 1252 Government on the morrow, and they would be very glad to take compensation to clear out. Immediately after that the agent attempted to get them to sign a document pledging them to resist this legislation, but he failed. His next move was to attempt to split up the un-tenanted land on the estate, and plant tenants of his own choice upon it, so that when the Bill was passed there would not be a perch of untenanted land on the estate to provide holdings for the evicted tenants. His last move was that he had offered to change the tenancy of the planters who were only future tenants into judicial. The agent had, in fact, endeavoured to stop every possible gap, and to prevent by every means in his power the application of the powers given under this Bill to that estate. Therefore, by what possible means could this question of the Clanricarde estate be settled unless compulsory powers were given to the Estates Commissioners to deal with it? They had in the parish in which he resided about fifty-six families evicted on the Clanricarde estate, and never more than about seven planters. He could tell the House that during the past twenty years more than half the number of planters upon the estate, after enjoying holdings made up of nine or ten ordinary holdings grouped together, had walked away without paying a penny of rent. One of these planters, a gentleman named Flower, got nine of these holdings, and a house was built for him on the farm, costing about £ 400. He stopped there for about three or four years, and during that time not one four-footed beast of any sort or description did he put upon i the land. Mr. Flower paid no rent, and when he was pressed for it, being unable to pay, he thought the best thing for him to do was to clear out. He knew himself, from persona! experience and from information he had received through many channels, that the vast majority of the planters on the Clanricarde estate would be almost as much pleased as the evicted tenants to see the , Hill passed in its present form. They were afraid to be seen talking to an inspector. They knew very well that the Estates Commissioners had no power whatsoever to compensate them unless they were assured that they could put the evicted tenants on the land, which the planters would be only too glad to give up if they 1253 had compensation. As regarded the Lewis estate, there were about twenty-five Plan of Campaign tenants on that estate. During the time of the late Government, Mr. Stewart, one of the estates inspectors, who, if partial at all, would lean towards the landlords, called upon the representatives of that estate. Immediately afterwards a letter appeared in a Tory newspaper signed by one of the Lewises, complaining that Mr. Stewart had had the audacity to call upon him to ask if he was willing to reinstate the evicted tenants or to sell the estate. Mr. Stewart, he believed, had to write more than one letter in defence of his action. Some time afterwards the Lewises began to think that it might be better for themselves if they adopted the Act. They saw that a good many landlords in the neighbourhood were doing this and they agreed to an inspection. The estate was valued, and after the report had been sent to the Estates Commissioners they wrote to Mr. Lewis offering him the price put upon the estate by the valuer. The result was that Mr. Lewis did not condescend even to acknowledge the letter, and so things had gone on up to the present time. He lived in the district and in the Plan of Campaign days he took his part in that fight. For that straggle he did not repudiate nor would he ever repudiate his responsibility. It was a struggle on behalf of the evicted tenants, and he should be prepared to go through the whole of it over again under similar circumstances. The real cause of that straggle would probably never be known to the public. There wore in the districtnine landlords, and in that bad year an appeal was made to them to try and meet their tenants. There had in that year been a bad drop in the quantity of produce and a bad fall in prices. Every one of the landlords with the exception of Lord Clanricarde and a Mrs. Lewis offered reductions of five and six shillings in the pound. Ultimately after an enormous amount of pressure Lord Clanricarde consented to give twenty per cent. reduction on the last gale of rent, if it were paid, which meant that not one single tenant could enjoy that twenty per cent. reduction, because the were not able to pay up that last gale. That was the real cause of the Plan of Campaign in that district. He hoped that these cases would be dealt with now in a drastic way and in such a manner as to get rid of the trouble, so that 1254 they might spend the few remaining years of their lives in peace and quietness.
§ Mr. J. DEVLIN (Belfast, W.)
thought that, in view of some of the speeches that had been made by some of the hostile Unionists from Ulster to this Bill, he as an Ulster Member himself ought to express his heartiest sympathy with its provisions. Ho was glad to find that so far as democratic Ulster was concerned the voice of both Protestant and Catholic had been heard in its favour. He was glad that a Unionist from Belfast and also a Nationalist from the same city bad joined in supporting the measure. This subject was of the utmost importance in dealing with social and economic questions, because the evicted tenants difficulty bore largely upon these matters. It was, therefore, in his opinion, highly important that not only should they hear the opinions of landlords and tenants of Dublin Castle and potential judges, but also the opinion of these democrats in the House who claimed to know what democratic Ireland wanted, and to represent the democratic spirit of the country. One would imagine from the speeches on the Unionist Benches and also from the speech of the Vice-President of the Board of Agriculture that this was a question which affected alone the people of the West of Ireland; but it affected not alone that part of Ireland but also the North of Ireland, where it concerned a large and important portion of the population. It not only affected Connaught, Leinster and Munster, but also Ulster. He had looked over the claims which had been lodged by these who sought restoration to their homes, and he found that in Sligo there were nineteen legitimate applications recognised by the Estates Commissioners; Roscommon there were twenty-five; in Clare forty-seven; in Leitrim, seventy-six; in King's County, five; in Westmeath, nine; in Fermanagh, fifty-six; and in Tyrone, forty-four. These figures showed that the question affected the whole of Ireland. There wore twice as many evicted tenants in the counties of Fermanagh and Tyrone as in Sligo and Roscommmon. They had heard a great deal of the motives which inspired the promoters of the Land Act of 1903, and of all who were connected with the passing of that great measure through Parliament. His colleagues had stated, 1255 and it had not been denied, that that Act would never have passed the House but for the definite pledge given that one of the primary purposes of this national agrarian reform should be to restore to their homes these brave men whose great sacrifices and sorrows had been instrumental in forcing the Government to introduce that Bill into the House of Commons. No doubt the abolition of the dual ownership in Irish land was the first purpose of the Act, but they on these benches, who had been, to some extent, responsible for the land agitation, through which these wounded soldiers fought and suffered— they, the representatives of these evicted tenants who had fought by their sides in hours of weary strife for the establishment of the principle of land ownership, would have been unworthy and contemptible, and subject to the scorn of every lover of liberty, if they had accepted any measure of land reform which did not place within its charter a provision that evicted tenants should be restored to their homes Having watched the progress of the measure of the right hon. Member for Dover, he had come to the conclusion that the representatives of officialdom and of the landlords were engaged not only in obstructing social work which was in the interests of Ireland, but in making the passing of useful legislation impossible. When they were not engaged in placing obstacles in the way of Irish progress and pacification, they had been engaged in the equally unholy task of preventing beneficial measures being passed through Parliament. It was not a high example. Unfortunately for legislation in that House, the more stupid a man was the more efficient he became for the purposes of obstruction. He was ashamed that any section of the people of Ireland should send men to Parliament who had no higher conception of their duty than to slander the reputation of their own countrymen. The Bill of 1903 was passed to give the Member for North Armagh thirty years purchase for his land. There would never have been a Land Act of that character if it were not for the sacrifices of the evicted tenants, upon whom the hon. Member now turned round. To his knowledge the hon. Member had offered his land to his tenants at twenty-one years purchase. He was sorry the hon. Member was not in the House— sorry for his 1256 (Mr. Devlin's) sake, but glad for the hon. Member's own sake— though he had no doubt that some intellectual giants among the hon. Member's friends, like the noble Lord, with triumphant mentality, would defend the most indefensible trans action known in the history of the Irish agrarian warfare. There was an agreement at the Land Conference, there was a Parliamentary arrangement in this House, there was, to use the classical expression of the hon. and learned Member for North Armagh, a con cordat in regard to the last Act. It was the Land Conference, no doubt, that was instrumental in inducing the right hon. Member for Dover to introduce his measure. The concordat had now been in operation for a period of three years, and fewer than 1,000 evicted tenants had been restored to their homes. Two thousand still remained by the road side, living under the most squalid conditions, in humble cabins erected for them by the generosity of their country men, while the Irish landlords had walked off with the swag. When he heard hon. Members talk of the British taxpayer he was amused to find it was not the Labour Members who wanted money for various reforms, it was not even the Unionist Members of that House; the gentleman who talked of the British taxpayer was the Irish Unionist landlord who had pocketed thirty years purchase for his land. When the rosy promises of the right hon. Member for Dover were made, after securing the Act for his landlord friends and letting them make the best bargain that ever was made in this world, he continued his task of reinstating the evicted tenants by issuing secret instructions to the Land Commissioners which prevented them from moving for eighteen months. The right hon. Gentleman disappeared from the stormy area of Irish politics. He left Parliament after being success fully impeached by his former secretary. He (Mr. Devlin) never expected to be a Minister or to be able to keep a private secretary, but he hoped if ever he occupied a position of honour and distinction he would not disappear after such an impeachment. The right hon. Member for South Dublin succeeded the right hon. Member for Dover as Chief Secretary. Challenged on the 14th February this year as to the promises made by his predecessor with regard to the evicted tenants he said that 1257 when he succeeded to the Irish Office he accepted the view of his predecessor as to the bargain in regard to the evicted tenants. As the right hon. Gentleman was not present, perhaps the representative of all the intellects, the noble Lord who sat on the second bench, would explain.
§ VISCOUNT TURNOUR (Sussex, Horsham)
There is no explanation to give to the hon. Member while such flapdoodle is being talked.
§ MR. J. DEVLIN
said flapdoodle was a matter of taste, and he had no doubt that when the noble Lord spoke everybody imagined a Darnel had come to judgment. He himself was endeavouring in his own humble way to express his views while suffering from the lack of that intellectual power so largely possessed by the noble Lord. The right hon. Member for South Dublin had said he agreed with the right hon. Member for Dover, and had come to the same conclusion which under the pressing circumstances of the moment was justified by the facts. The facts were that there was a conspiracy in Ire land on the part of the landlords, having secured that large payment, to keep the evicted tenants out of their holdings. A promise so given by every test of public honour must be kept, and they could not allow a little gang of Irish irreconcilables and stupid English lords who depended for their present power on the maintenance of landlordism to stop the way. Let the House remember that if any attempt was made in that or the other House to deny to the evicted tenants the right to enjoy the homes to which they were so passionately attached, dangers and difficulties might arise in Ireland. It would be easy to strike a match and light a torch in Ireland at the present time, but no one desired that. They all hoped that the intentions of Parliament would be carried out; that the right hon. Gentleman would sec that the matter was settled on right lines to the satisfaction of Ireland. If it was it would bring eternal honour to the right hon. Gentleman and be a high and noble monument to the generosity of spirit with which he had approached this question. It was perfectly clear that some thing must be done in regard to the Clanricarde and the Lewis estates. Were they to be told that Lord Clanricarde, 1258 who was the greatest pest that ever cursed the country— a man who had driven the best peasants in the country beyond the sea; who had hunted men to the roadside and the workhouse— were they to be told that such men as he were to be allowed to remain as they were while wise and generous landlords had reinstated their evicted tenants, and that nothing was to be done? To permit that would be a gross national scandal. The sooner this remnant of the Irish landlords was made to feel that Parliament was not going to stand that condition of affairs under which the Irish tax payers were compelled to keep an army of police, not to maintain social order, but to prevent the outrages that these men inspired, the sooner Lord Clanricarde and the owners of the Lewis estate would come to their senses. He did not know why compulsion should be so feared in that House. It existed in Australia and New Zealand— but not to restore evicted tenants, because they did not. there exist. It was used there to take large tracts of land from their owners in order to use them for settlement as a matter of simple justice and for the general prosperity of the country. Surely compulsion ought to be recognised as a just principle when dealing with a great festering sore on the national body of Ireland. He, as one of the representatives from Ireland, had no hesitation in stating frankly that the Chief Secretary had approached the consideration of this question, not only in a statesmanlike, but in a bold and courageous manner. It might be because the right hon. Gentle man had approached it in this spirit that it would be met with opposition all the more intense. He trusted that the right hon. Gentleman would not be intimidated either by the violence of partisans, or by what might occur elsewhere. He was the Governor of Ireland, responsible for social order and for the general government of the country. He had done his duty so far as any sympathetic British Minister could do his duty. He trusted that whatever the right hon. Gentleman's disappointments might have been in the past, he might in this regard, at all events, not be disappointed. The right hon. Gentleman had approached the question with sympathy, courage, and hope, and he trusted that he would succeed in carrying the measure through. By so doing he would bring peace to 1259 many Irish homes, and gratitude to many Irish hearts, and wipe out much of the bitterness which had existed towards England amongst Irish peasants who had suffered from the Irish land system. In carrying this measure, the Chief Secretary would do much to palliate the existing state of affairs, and to make the path clear for the solution of the other great problems with which he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would be associated before he resigned the office he now occupied.
§ *MR. BYLES (Salford, N.)
said he believed that he was right in saying that every Member who had addressed the House in that debate was the representative of an Irish constituency. There were a great many representatives of English constituencies, and he thought that perhaps it would be well that some articulate support should be given from the benches on which the English Members sat. He had listened to a good deal of the debate, but his chief amusement was to witness the ingenious and skilful way in which the right hon. Member for South Dublin expressed his vehement opposition to this Bill, because he remembered a much shorter speech of the right hon. Gentleman in which he held out a prospect that he would not resist it.
§ *Mr. BYLES
said the words which the right hon. Gentleman uttered had been quoted by a previous speaker; and he was bound to say that there was a remarkable contrast between the kindly and hospitable way in which the right hon. Gentleman had entertained the idea of restoring the evicted tenants in Ire land and the speech which he had delivered that night. The right hon. Gentleman had said that all people were more or less agreed, chiefly more, that this question ought now to be settled even if it were necessary to resort to compulsion, to which, for his part, he would offer no objection.
§ *MR. BYLES
said he had not the words by him, but at any rate the method of compulsion was mentioned by him, and was not deprecated. However, he must 1260 acknowledge himself mistaken, and wait until the words were produced against him. He was astonished that the Tory Party should be in opposition to this Bill, for he had hoped that the question had really got to a point when all Parties were more or less agreed that the time had come for a settlement. The evicted tenants question was an old story. But this Parliament was a new Parliament, and there were a great many of his colleagues on these benches who perhaps were not familiar with the earlier debates on this very difficult question, which had upset the relations of England and Ireland for many years. Hon. Members were never tired of reminding them they had not promised Home Rule during this Parliament, and that they had subordinated that question on the election platform. He was anxious, therefore, to put to the test whether his colleagues cherished the old fear which had been so assiduously nourished by their opponents, the fear that Home Rule meant separation, rebellion, priest rule, and so forth; and he could not help thinking that the Bill now before the House would do something to test that issue, and to discover what were their true feelings. He dared say that a good many Members of that House thought that when the Irish Council Bill was with drawn they were done with the Irish question. It had not been long in re appearing; this was the third Parliamentary consecutive day on which the House had been engaged solely on Irish questions. The Irish question was the spectre which haunted every British feast, and which, until it was laid, would go on reappearing. The evicted tenants question was the sorest spot on the wounded body of that distressful country. It was the question which had engendered the sense of injustice amongst the Irish people; it was that which had strengthened anti-British feeling and thwarted every effort at legislation. Twenty years since, he remembered, the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for India stood at the Table full of hope after he had appointed the Fry Commission to solve the evicted tenants question. It was a long time since, and he was getting weary of waiting. He had visited all the Campaign estates, and he had investigated the merits of the disputes which had existed. 1261 He had seen the poor tenants evicted from their homes, and he had wondered how they would get through the winter, dwelling in huts through which the rain fell, and where they were in sight of the farms from which they had been evicted, the homes of their fathers, the places which had been rendered fruitful by generations of labour. And these men, with their families, had passed through not one winter but twenty winters. What had become of all these poor people? How had their character stood the en forced idleness which had been their lot? The Plan of Campaign he might remind his Labour friends was in reality a strike just as much as any strike against employers, and their claim was just like the claims of other strikers. The hon. and learned Member for North Armagh had stated that nearly all the Plan of Campaign estates had been settled, and that only two now remained to be dealt with. What need, then, he asked, for compulsion? It was just because the thing was nearly settled that there was need for compulsion; and the hon. and learned Gentleman would find that when the Act of 1903 approached its termination the same method would have to be resorted to. He hoped that his Liberal and Labour colleagues, now that they had this Bill before them, would say that they would settle this question, which had been such a long pending trouble, and that they would make a complete job of it, putting it out of the way for ever. He believed that nothing they could do in that House would tend more to produce peace in Ireland than this measure. The hon. Member said it had boon said so often that it had passed into a proverb that Ireland was the most crimeless country in the world; yet they had hon. Members opposite— "Little Irelanders" he called them— who represented constituencies in that country, and who were always ready to belittle their own countrymen. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Armagh laughed derisively at that.
§ *MR. BYLES
said he would gladly withdraw what he had said, but he appealed to him and his colleagues, and to the whole House and every newspaper whether it was not true that the hon. 1262 and learned Gentleman and his colleagues day after day tried hard at Question time to bring discredit on their fellow countrymen? Where did they get their material from? From the agrarian troubles in the West of Ireland, where cattle was driven from the grazing farms in a manner which he could not help regarding as little more than practical joking. [Cries of " Oh, oh ! "] Yes, the intention of the people who carried out these cattle-drives was to show they were able to defeat the police. He knew of a small estate in Roscommon of about 100 acres, and upon one occasion a sergeant and thirteen police were sent down there, and in spite | of their watching, or pretending to watch, all day long the farm was cleared of its cattle, and the population around were delighted because they had defeated the police. It was quite true that Ireland was crimeless at the present moment. It was nonsense to say these events showed that Ireland was in a state of terror. The cattle were well treated; there was no cruelty; it was largely a practical joke at the expense of the police. Behind the cattle-driving there was also a grinding sense of injustice. " Eviction " had been a word of terror in Ireland for sixty years. Many men had died in the ditches, many had eaten their hearts out in the workhouse in consequence. Thousands of men from their evicted homes had fled the country with bitter resentment in their hearts. These evictions had produced what hon. Members opposite had called disloyalty. But the restoration of these tenants would produce loyalty. How was the Irish Nationalist Party maintained? It was notorious that their funds were being constantly replenished from America and Australia, and that money came from Irishmen who had been driven from their own country. What was the motive which led those men to support the Irish Nationalist Party? Nothing but the bitter memories of past evictions. If the leaders of the Irish Party were heartless and sordid, which they were not, they would not desire this Bill to pass. If the hon. Members on the Opposition side were wise, which they were not, they would realise that they would be delaying Home Rule by passing this Bill. He was one of those who was very much disappointed when the Irish Council Bill disappeared, disappointed 1263 but not surprised, because it was born of timid counsel and it failed in consequence. A much bolder policy and a deeper trust of the Irish people were necessary for success. This Bill was a much more courageous one, and the first five lines of it ought to win the support of* all who believed, as he did, that the land belonged to the people, that the cultivator ought to be considered before the lord of the soil, and that private interests must be subordinated to the interests of the public. The compulsory acquisition of land which hon. Members opposite found so much fault with would become in the near future an important precedent for England and Scotland. He hoped that this Bill would bring to those who had fought so hard and suffered so long and patiently, blessing and prosperity. Ho was glad that this, after all, was not going to be for Ireland a barren session. If he might repeat a phrase that he had used before he would say that Ireland was the Cinderella of the Empire. They had given self-government to the Transvaal and the Orange River Colony, states with which they were not long ago at war, and yet self-government was denied to Ireland. They founded new Universities in the provincial towns of England, Scotland, and Wales, and even in Khartoum, but they left Irish students hungering and thirsting for the higher learning. To-morrow the House was Was going to consider the sugar tax—
§ *Mr. BYLES
said he was not surprised to hear that cheer, because the noble Lord was hoping that the Government would have to resign, and expecting that he would form part of the new administration.
§ VISCOUNT TURNOUR
said he had not the faintest hope that the Government would be defeated in regard to the sugar tax. They had broken their pledges too often for that.
§ *Mr. BYLES
said that a great many people were complaining that the taxes on sugar and tea were pressing very hardly upon the poor. It should not be forgotten that if these taxes were scourges to the English poor they were scorpions 1264 to the Irish poor, who were fleeing by thousands across the Atlantic. Why should they not extend to England as well as to Ireland that blessed word " compulsion." He wished to express his approval of a Government which had the courage to consider the public interest before private interests, and to take land compulsorily from the individual and give it to the community. He heartily supported the Bill before the House be cause he believed it fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, who said—They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit thereof; they shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat.''In the strongest language he could use he expressed approval of the action of the Government and heartily supported the Bill.
§ Mr. JAMES CAMPBELL (Dublin University)
congratulated the Government upon the assistance they had received from the hon. Member who had just spoken, and in whose opinion the outrages in Ireland could be viewed in the light of practical jokes. The hon. Member took the view expressed by a member of the Government in another place that cattle-driving was not a serious crime; he seemed almost to consider it an amusement of the Irish people. He congratulated the hon. Member on the assumption of the role of fairy god mother to the Irish Cinderella.
§ Mr. JAMES CAMPBELL
said if there were rats about he could see some of them. At least, hon. Members would give him credit when he said, whatever his failings, he had never either in his professional or public career " ratted."
§ Mr. JAMES CAMPBELL
said he imagined that the hon. Member was referring to those who had ratted. But passing from personal matters, he for one was very glad indeed that part of the scheme of the Land 1265 Conference involved the restoration of the evicted tenants. He was also exceedingly glad that the wishes of the Land Conference were carried out in this House by the Act for 1903. He believed it was in the interest of all classes in Ireland that the question of the evicted tenants, which was a constant source of trouble and annoyance in the districts where they were evicted, should be settled on fair and generous terms. He was pleased to find that in the Act of 1903 ample provisions were made for that purpose. Those provisions were accepted by hon. Members below the gangway and by hon. Members opposite, including the hon. Member for Salford, as a sufficient solution of the question. In the debate on 29th June, 1903, the hon. and learned Member for Waterford, speaking on the question of compulsion more particularly in regard to the evicted tenants, used the following remarkable words—'' There was no intention to put into the Bill any provision by which pressure, direct or in direct, could be. brought to bear on existing tenants. The number of these now tenants who were really bona fide agriculturists working their own farms as ordinary farmers were comparatively few; and if they desired to continue in their holdings he would not give his sanction to any attempt compulsorily to put them out.He did not observe that that sentiment elicited any cheers from hon. Gentlemen below the gangway; at least if it did they were very faint. Of course, it was quite obvious to those who took part in the debates of 1903, and indeed it was almost certain, that in a few isolated cases there would be considerable difficulty in not compulsorily restoring to their holdings some of the evicted tenants, but notwithstanding that fact and notwithstanding everything that was said with regard to the Clanricarde and Lewis estates, notwithstanding that every factor was in the knowledge of hon. Members in 1903, yet the House by common consent and agreement ratified and passed the Bill of 1903 the essential element of which with regard to new tenants was that there should be no pres sure or compulsion of any kind. What had happened to alter that state of facts It was suggested that the necessity had arisen for going behind and beyond everything that was agreed by common consent in 1903, owing to the inability of the Estates Commissioners to come to terms with certain landlords on whose 1266 estates there were evicted tenants' farms. He asked the attention of hon. Members opposite to the facts because he believed that if they understood what the Bill proposed to do not one of them would give his support to it for a moment, He believed that outside the House if a proposal was made in a matter of business to English Members sitting opposite, on the lines contained in the Bill they would flout and denounce it as dishonest and immoral. Since 1903, out of seventeen Plan of Campaign estates the tenants had been restored to fifteen by voluntary agreement between them selves and the landlords. Let that fact be borne in mind when it was alleged that the landlords had sought to go behind the bargain of 1903. The Mathew Commission Report, presented in 1894, said the Plan of Campaign was started on 116 different estates and that there were only some seventeen left on which any; trouble remained. With the exception of two estates, the seventeen had since been disposed of. A settlement had now been arrived at in 114 out of 116 estates by mutual consent, so that the pretence for the compulsory powers in this Bill, so far as the Plan of Campaign estates were concerned, was narrowed down to two. The entire machinery of compulsion was to be put in force against all the land lords in Ireland, because out of 116 estates there remained two as to which up to the present the Commissioners had failed to come to any agreement. He held no brief for Lord Clanricarde. He had never seen that gentleman. He had even had very grave doubts whether any such person existed; but be that as it might, he did know something about his estates, because of information contained in the Report of the Matthew Commission, of which he thought mention might have been made by hon. Gentlemen below the gangway when they were referring to the difficulties between Lord Clanricarde and his tenants. The beginning of the trouble on Lord Clanricarde's estates was a general strike of all tenants on his property under the Plan of Campaign— an illegal conspiracy, decided by the Judges to be criminal, and denounced by the heads of the Roman Catholic Church as irreligious and immoral. The tenants joined in the Plan of Campaign and formulated a demand against Lord Clanricarde for an all round reduction of 40 per cent. in their rents. Lord Clanricarde considered 1267 that a direct attack on his property, and he resisted it. He (Mr. Campbell) thought Lord Clanricarde was right, but, as he had said, he was not concerned to defend him. What about the other case— the Lewis estate? He ventured to suggest that nothing could be more misleading than the reference to that estate which was contained in the paragraph in the Estates Commissioners' Report, because any fair-minded man reading that paragraph would come to the conclusion that the owners of the Lewis estate had declined to have any dealings whatsoever with the Estates Commissioners. Absolutely the contrary was the truth. The only difference between the owners of the Lewis estate and the Commissioners was a question of amount. There would be absolutely no difficulty at all, assuming that the Estates Commissioners were prepared to give what the owners considered a reasonable price, and he thought the House would agree that that was a question on which there might be a difference of opinion. What he himself did not agree with was that that question — the question of price — was to be solved by one of the parties to the bargain writing a paragraph to say that it was impossible to come to terms. He did not think that was treating the bargain with fairness and candour, seeing that the difference which divided the parties was merely a matter of terms. Of course, there were other evicted tenants. Let there be no mistake on that point. When hon. Gentlemen representing Irish constituencies, and speaking for the Nationalists, intervened in the debate in 1903, they were speaking not merely for the evicted tenants on the Plan of Campaign estates, but for evicted tenants all over Ireland. In season and out of season in the course of that debate they announced their assent to the principle, as regarded each and all of these tenants, that the matter was to be settled by negotiation, and that there was to be no attempt at compulsion. With regard to the evicted tenants on estates other than Plan of Campaign estates there was not a vestige of a case made out in the Report for applying compulsion. There was nothing apparent in that Report which did not lead one to assume that it would be quite easy to arrange and to come to terms with the owners of those lands which' were not on the two Plan of Campaign estates. 1268 What had been done? Already since 1903, out of 3,000 cases the Estates Commissioners had settled over 1,000. That was not bad work in four years, and it had been done without any compulsion whatsoever. They had not only settled all the Plan of Campaign estates except two, but they had also got rid of at least one third of the suitable evicted tenants. Let the House have regard for a moment to the extent of that running sore, as it had been called, and see how-far the Government proposals were competent to deal with the trouble. It was very difficult to follow the arithmetic of the Estates Commissioners' Report, but he was bound to quote a few figures. In round numbers the total number of applications for reinstatement which the Estates Commissioners had received was 8,500. Of those they had examined only 6,400 and left 2,000 wholly unexamined. Of the 6,000 they had examined they had passed 3,000. Summed up in a sentence the result of their operations was: They had accepted 3,000; they had rejected 3,000; and they had not examined at all into 2,000. Did anyone who knew anything of the history of Ireland imagine for one moment that, if the Government were sincere in the suggestion that they intended to limit the application of this Bill to the 3,000, there would not be, the moment the ink was dry on the signature of His Majesty to this Bill as an Act of Parliament, a fresh agitation started on behalf of the 5,000 who were left out in the cold? The Vice-President of the Board of Agriculture had been more than usually unfair when he suggested that the hon. and learned Member for North Armagh had made the suggestion that these 2,000 tenants should be scheduled for some ulterior and improper purpose. Why was it the Opposition insisted, as they did, and as they would continue to do throughout the passage of the Bill, even up to the last hour, upon having these names scheduled? He would tell the House. What was it the Bill proposed? Was it to confer the right of reinstatement upon 2,000 or 3,000 tenants? Nothing of the kind. It gave power to the Estates Commissioners to confer the benefits of the Bill on any one or all of the 8,500 tenants whom they considered fit to be restored. Let there be no mistake about that, and let not the House 1269 pass the Bill thinking that it only dealt -with 3,000 tenants and might only involve £ 2,000,000. As the Bill stood it might involve 8,550 tenants, and there was no limit. Under its terms it was to apply to any person who had already applied for reinstatement to the Estates Commissioners, and that body might consider any of the applicants fit and proper persons to be restored. That was a vital part of the Bill. Speaking for himself, if a reasonable scheme had been brought in which would have settled this question once and for all, even although it involved compulsion, if it reasonably protected the landlord in his property he would have supported it, but so far from providing for finality under this Bill, the Estates Commissioners had power to deal with the number of tenants he had mentioned. But that was not the worst of it. It was said that the Government intended to restore 3,000 tenants, but on what principle they had resolved to exclude the other 5,000 odd was not stated. Surely these 5,550 tenants had a right to know why their claims were rejected. If Parliament passed a Bill for the relief of the evicted tenants, surely it was a common law right that those who were evicted tenants should know why they were not selected to receive the benefit and had a right to challenge the expurte decision of the Commissioners. This Bill, moreover, would make an inroad upon the funds which Parliament had devoted to ordinary land purchase, and there the taxpayer was affected, and the Estates Commissioners had unlimited power to restore all these tenants while nobody knew who the tenants selected were. Anyone who voted for this Bill in the belief or delusion that it would close this sad chapter in Irish agrarian agitation would be making a great mistake. The hon. Member who last spoke from the Treasury Bench did so in conflict with the views he had tittered before, and the explanation of his attitude was not difficult for anyone to understand. Speaking from the front bench opposite he said the application of the Bill would be very limited, and that it would only be necessary in a very few cases to put these compulsory powers into force. That was a plea which hon. Members who were experienced in Irish legislation were accustomed to hear. Mr. Gladstone, in 1881, declared that his Act would only be put in force here and there as the 1270 estates were usually so well managed and the relations between landlord and tenant were generally so harmonious. They now knew what truth there was in that prophesy. They knew what happened once force was given to this policy of confiscation and dishonesty in Ireland. It was rather too late in the day, there fore, to advance such an argument in the House of Commons. Had this measure proposed to deal with the estate of Lord Clanricarde or any other landlord who had been offered reasonable terms by the Estates Commissioners and had refused them, the case would have been different; but it proposed that a man's land should be taken compulsorily without the necessity of any preliminary offer or negotiations. The Commissioners could take any plot of land they liked at their own price. In the whole course of British legislation there could not be found a parallel for what was proposed by this Bill. In all previous statutes where power was given to the War Office or other public departments, local authorities or railway companies, to acquire land compulsorily, not only was there an arbitration as to compensation before a sheriff or an arbitrator and a jury, but there was power to appeal on a case stated to the High Court. He challenged the right hon. Gentleman to find any provision in a statute similar to this where there was no power to challenge the value the Estates Commissioners put upon their own bargain. It was really like a provision out of a Gilbert and Sullivan opera. The hon. Gentleman said he was not far wrong. He thought it was quite possible that right hon. Gentlemen opposite who had brought in these Bills had only received them from somebody else and had not taken the trouble to read them. Supposing under Section 6 the Estates Commissioners secured a holding which the landlord thought was part of his demesne, where was the appeal? If the hon. and learned Gentle man could point that out he would give way.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. CHERRY, Liverpool, Exchange)
If the right hon. Gentleman will refer to Clause 2, Sub-section (7), he will see it.
§ Mr. JAMES CAMPBELL
said it was almost an insult to the House to make such 1271 an interruption as that. All that that section did was to bring into operation Section 23 of the Act of 1903, But these were all questions of fact. The provisions for appeal read as if they came out of one of Gilbert and Sullivan's operas. There was not in the whole legislation of England or of the Empire any provision enabling the State to acquire lands of an individual against his will which did not give him some power of appeal or some redress against the public body who put compulsory powers in motion. It was the first time a Government had come forward to propose that not merely should a man's property be taken against his will, but that the price of it should be fixed by the very body who had power to take, and that if he was dissatisfied with their action the only appeal should be to the very body of whose injustice he complained. That was the merest travesty of justice. It was almost incredible, but it was the fact that the Bill did not contain a single clause for the remedy of a mistake or blunder on the part of the administrators of it. The Bill also proposed in the case of properties on which there were planters to give the Estates Commissioners compulsory powers to drive those men out of the holdings, and the extraordinary part was that while the Estates Commissioners complained that they could not get holdings for the evicted tenants, the Bill proposed that they should get holdings for the planters. The whole thing was a farce and a sham, and the Bill was really introduced to confer the tenure of judges upon the Estates Commissioners and so withdraw them from Parliamentary criticism. All this humbug in the Report was simply to make up a case for compulsion, but everyone in Ireland knew that there wore hundreds and thousands of acres of land available for the evicted tenants if only a fair and decent price was given for them by the State. If the expenses connected with the administration of the Bill were added to the poorest purchase price, it would buy up throe times the quantity of land required to restore all the evicted tenants. It was suggested in the Report that there was not land enough in Ireland to be had by free negotiation and sale on which to put the evicted tenants, but the Bill contained a scheme for turning out the planters and getting holdings for them. Why that roundabout process? 1272 Why not give the evicted tenants the holdings they were going to get for the planters? What was the necessity for compulsion it was difficult to understand. They were told that the Bill was to be limited in its application. The Vice-President had said it was only a question of terms; that the landlords were willing to reinstate the evicted tenants; that the planters were willing to go, and the evicted tenants were willing to be rein stated. It was difficult to understand why in a Bill of this kind a postscript should contain this extraordinary pro vision as to the statusof the Estates Commissioners. By the Act of 1903 the Commissioners were given purely administrative duties to perform, and in the discharge of those duties they were under the control of the Government of the day. In that way it was secured that there should be direct control by Parliament over them, with direct criticism over their administration; and, speaking of those proposals, when they were first introduced to the House by the right hon. Member for Dover, the hon. and learned Member for Waterford congratulated the then Chief Secretary on the fact that the tribunal was to be non-judicial, that they would be servants of the Government and their conduct subject to criticism in Parliament. But now, in starting the Commissioners on a new career of confiscation and plunder— [laughter]— he was not surprised that it should cause amusement, but he should have thought that the most insatiable would feel their gorge rise at a proposal of this kind— now, by an inconsequential postscript, the Commissioners were to have the tenure of judges, and that he believed was the sole purpose and origin of the Bill. Would the Chief Secretary deny that the Bill was almost a draft from the hands of the Estates Commissioners?
§ MR. JAMES CAMPBELL
accepted that statement, for there was no better judge of an inaccurate statement than the right hon. Gentleman. But perhaps he would tell the House how much of the Bill was inspired by a majority of the Estate Commissioners. But whether the right 1273 hon. Gentleman cared or not to vouch safe information to the House, the absence of any provision in the Bill for an appeal against their decision was the direct wish and view of the majority of those gentlemen. His chief objection to the Bill, let him say in conclusion, was that it would not settle the question. He would willingly and gladly have co-operated with the right hon. Gentleman, even to the extent of compulsion in the case of those land lords who had had an opportunity of selling on reasonable terms and had refused. But the extraordinary thing about this Bill was that it did not pro fess merely to give compulsory powers over landlords who were invoking the assistance of the State to get rid of their property but that the Estates Commissioners would be enabled, with the grossest injustice, to swoop down on landlords who did not wish to sell their property and to put back on their estates among respectable tenants men who were the ringleaders of disorder and disturbance there. That was a gross injustice. If the Bill had been limited to landlords who had invoked the assistance of the Act of 1903, and were asking the State for sums of money, or a State bonus, he could have understood its being said— " You must accept our terms as to the evicted tenants "; but the gross injustice of the Bill was that it enabled the Estates Commissioners to go to any corner of Ireland and pick out any estate from which they found that tenants had been evicted— although the remainder of the tenants had stuck to their farms and refused to join illegal combinations— and put back the very men who had been the cause of all the trouble, worry, and annoyance. It was all very well to talk about the " wounded soldiers of the war " — and the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary would have to look to his laurels, for the Vice-President of the Board of Agriculture was going to run him close in the matter of poetry and pathos—but this talk of the wounded soldiers and the desolate roof tree and the tireless hearth was but one side of the picture. Did the right hon. Gentle man know, or would he ever learn, that to the Irish question there were two sides They had heard one side of the picture described; let him tell the right non. Gentleman of the other. There ware hundreds of delicate women and 1274 children who had been reduced to poverty and starvation because they were annuitants dependent on property left on the assumption that rents would continue to be paid. For them the right hon. Gentleman seemed to have no sympathy. His pathos and his poetry was expended on men who with their eyes open joined in an illegal and immoral conspiracy. For them the whole machinery of land purchase was to be delayed. Did the House realise what this meant to those paying interest on their agreements to purchase? Honest farmers throughout the length and breadth of Ireland were to be penalised in order that a question might be settled in a few months which would be settled without difficulty in a few years in the ordinary course. He could not think why the Government at this stage of the session should go out of its way to bring forward a measure of this kind, every line of which was saturated with confiscation and would teach the Irish tenants that honesty, after all, was not the best policy. The only conceivable explanation was that the Government had yielded to threats and granted to fear what they would not have granted as a matter of conscience and right The House had listened to the speech of the hon. Member for West Belfast, in which he informed the Chief Secretary in language with which he was pretty familiar, that if the Government faltered in regard to this Bill or accepted Amendments to alter its spirit or allowed it to be altered elsewhere, Ireland would want to know the reason why, and a match would be set to a flame in Ireland which would teach right hon. Gentlemen opposite that—
§ Mr. JAMES CAMPBELL
said he was not quoting the hon. Member's exact words, but the substance and spirit of them, and if he denied them of course he would withdraw his statement. It was quite plain that hon. Members below the gangway were putting in force the lesson that to get anything out of the present Government it was only necessary to bully them. A strong dose of predatory legislation was necessary to bring back the wandering sheep to the fold, and this Bill supplied it. If English 1275 members could swallow this, there was no possible measure of confiscation or dishonesty which they might not swallow.
§ Mr. JOHN REDMOND (Waterford)
said he had listened to the speech of the right hon. and learned Member for Dublin University with the deepest regret. It seemed to him an echo of the speeches that used to be heard fifteen or twenty years ago, the speech of a man quite oblivious of the fact that the Land Act of 1903 had been brought into that House as the result of an agreement between landlords and tenants, designed to bring the land war to an end. It would be easy to reply in the same spirit, but he took too serious a view of the matter to make a controversial speech. His mind went back to the year 1880, when, with a view to bringing conciliation into the land question, Mr. Forster introduced the Compensation for Disturbance Bill. He remembered the fate of that Bill and the consequence. He trusted that an un wise dealing with the present Bill, either in that House or the other, would not have consequences at all comparable with those which followed on that occasion. The restoration of the evicted tenants was a condition precedent of the Land Conference and the passage of the Land Act of 1903. He had been challenged with reference to declarations made during the discussion of the Land Act of 1903 in regard to compulsion. For the purpose of making that experiment, persons who believed compulsory powers would in the end be necessary consented to put that question on one side. The voluntary scheme had been tried and had broken down, so far as the western problem and the evicted tenants' question were concerned, and it was now necessary to have recourse to compulsion. It seemed to him ridiculous to say that compulsory powers were necessary to be applied in the case of landlords, and that no stricter rule should be applied to the new tenants who occupied these farms. So far as he was concerned he agreed in 1903 that the experiment of the voluntary system should be tried. It had been tried, and it had failed, and he said now that the Government were bound to introduce this element of compulsion. The right hon. and learned Member who had just sat down seemed to wish to make the House believe that there was no need for compulsion 1276 because there were only two estates — the Clanricarde and the Lewis estates— where evicted tenants could not be settled. That was an entire misrepresentation of the facts. But it it were true, surely no Government responsible for the peace of Ireland could allow even the owners of those two estates to defy Parliament, and to destroy the great policy which had been adopted by Parliament in 1903. He utterly denied that those were the only cases. He would read the Report of the Commissioners on this point. When the majority of the Commissioners were denounced from the Conservative benches, he would remind the House that the Report was signed by the three Commissioners. The Report was signed by the Commissioner who had the confidence of hon. Gentlemen above the gangway just as it was signed by the other two who had not their confidence. This was what they said with reference to the providing of holdings for these tenants—Now, in 1,259 of the 1,609 cases in which the applicants are considered suitable to be provided with holdings, their former holdings are in the possession of other tenants, and in 350 eases they are in the possession of owners all of whom at first refused to allow inspection. In sixty of these 350 cases, the owners, on being again approached by the Commissioners, have consented to an inspection, being made, while as regards the remaining 290 the owners state that in sixty of them the holdings are now comprised in their demesnes, or are being worked by them as home farms. In ten the owners will not consent to reinstatement of the evicted tenants until the arrears of rent due at the date of eviction have been paid. In seventy-live the owners are not prepared to sell their estates. In thirty-two the owners will not sell the lands in their own hands apart from the rest of their estates. In forty-six the owners refuse to reinstate the evicted tenants, as they consider them undesirable tenants, and in sixty-seven cases they have assigned no reason for their refusal to permit an inspection being made of the evicted holdings. Where owners refused at first to consent to allow evicted holdings in their occupation to be inspected, on the ground that they were not prepared to sell the holdings apart from the rest of their estates owing to expense of proving title as regards these individual holdings, which expense would be as great as that of proving title to the entire estate, the Commissioners informed the owners that if the evicted tenants were at once rein stated and purchase agreements entered into at prices estimated by the Commissioners, they would collect from the reinstated tenants interest in lieu of rent, and pay it over as collected to the owners free of charge until such time as the entire estate was being sold. It will be seen from the foregoing statement that there is a very large number of cases 1277 which the Commissioners have inquired into, and in which, although they have not been able to effect the restoration of the applicants to their former holdings, or to provide them with new holdings, they are of opinion that the applicants should be supplied with holdings.Therefore, they had the declaration, not of two Commissioners, but of all three Commissioners, that there were a large number of cases which, owing to the action of the landlords, it was impossible to deal with by the restoration of these men, although all the Commissioners were of opinion that they ought to be restored. In the face of that, was it not an absurdity for anyone to imagine that compulsion was not required, and that it was only necessary in the case of Lord Clanricarde? The fact was that in 1,259 cases the operations of the Com missioners had come to a standstill and could never proceed unless compulsory powers were given. He had only dealt so far with the action of the landlords in refusing to facilitate the restoration of these tenants, but apart from these land lords altogether the Commissioners were endeavouring elsewhere to get untenated land in order to provide new holdings for those tenants who could not be restored to their old holdings, and their operations were absolutely blocked. Here was what they said in their Report—Of these 1,752 persons so approached by the Commissioners, 579 have failed to reply, 265 have refused to sell, 156 have stated that ' they are themselves about to institute proceedings for sale, 372 have replied that the lands are demesne lands or are worked by themselves as homo farms, and in the ease of 120 correspondence is still pending. Two hundred and sixty have intimated their willing- ness to sell, but of these only 147 have up to the present furnished particulars of the lands they are willing to sell. In forty-one of these 147 cases the estimated prices have been notified to the owners, who have in ten cases, comprising an area of 4,846 acres, replied that they will sell at the estimated prices, and formal proceedings for sale have been, or are about to be, instituted. In nine cases they have refused the estimated prices, and in the remaining twenty-two the Commissioners are awaiting replies from the owners.The right hon. and learned Member for Dublin University in the concluding portion of his speech quoted some words which he himself delivered in 1903, and in which he emphasised the necessity of preserving the right of Parliament to 1278 criticise the action of the Commissioners. He was still of that opinion, and if the clause in the Bill dealing with the tenure of the Commissioners meant that their conduct was to be withdrawn from discussion and criticism in that House, he would not approve of it. But what was the fact? There were three Commissioners. One of them was friendly to hon. Members above the gangway and he had got a permanent tenure; his salary was on the Consolidated Fund. It was true that there was a charge on the Estimates for a portion of his salary, which enabled them to discuss his conduct in the House. The Chief Secretary would correct him if he was wrong, but he presumed that it was intended— in fact, he said so the other day when introducing this Bill— that if Clause 12 was passed, a charge of some sort would be put on the Estimates in the case of Mr. Bailey and Mr. Finucane, as in the case of Mr. Wrench, so that the House might | be able to discuss their conduct on the Estimates. What was the injustice of putting the two gentlemen the right hon. and learned Member for Dublin University did not approve of in the same position as to tenure as the; one he did approve of I Was it justice on his part to claim for Mr. Wrench, the one Commissioner who had his | confidence, his own man as it were, a more secure tenure than he was willing to give to the two Commissioners who were supposed to be more friendly to the tenants? It seemed to him after that debate, and after hearing the threats held out to the two Commissioners, that it was only right they should have that security of tenure, because he supposed that if the hon. and learned Gentleman had the courage of his convictions, he would if he came into office to-morrow dismiss these two Commissioners.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND
said that these Commissioners were exercising the most grave and responsible functions. Was it to be supposed, human nature being what it was, that, no matter how honourable or how courageous these 1279 men might be, they were to be impervious to threats of this kind? The interruption of the hon. and learned Member and the threats he and his friends had made that night were conclusive arguments in favour of putting these men on the same terms of tenure as the one who had the honour and glory of possessing the confidence of the hon. and learned Gentleman. He would say one word to the Chief Secretary. He desired to say that the right hon. Gentleman had in the spirit and in the letter fulfilled in this Bill the promise he made earlier in the session to Ireland and the evicted tenants. The Bill was a the rough fulfilment of his promise and was a courageous Bill. Ho only wished that the right hon. Gentleman in his other legislative efforts had had as free a hand as ho had evidently had in this case. They on these benches believed that the right hon. Gentleman was a sincere friend of Ireland. They thanked him for this Bill. He was convinced that when the right hon. Gentleman had piloted the Bill through the House, as he was sure he would do, and when, unless most extraordinary counsels of folly prevailed in another place, he had carried it into law, he would have shown to the Irish people that he was sincere in his friendship to them, he would have done a great thing for the peace of Ireland and for the future of that country, and many thousands of Irish people would live to thank him for his courage and his honesty.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
said he was not surprised that the hon. and learned Gentle man who had just sat down should have criticised with some severity the tone and temper of the right hon. Gentleman who preceded him in the debate, but ho confessed he should not be a bit surprised, so oddly was human nature compounded, 1280 if the right hon. Gentleman were congratulating himself upon having delivered an eirenicon, a message of peace to Ire land, an olive branch despatched through a catapult. There were parts of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman that seemed to him to breathe almost a spirit of love and affection towards the Bill and even towards the evicted tenants. The right hon. Gentleman in one part of his speech held up the evicted tenants to scorn and infamy, and described them as worthless characters, and he (Mr. Birrell) knew not what else; but in other parts of his speech the right hon. Gentleman said it was right even to apply the principle of compulsion to certain landlords simply for the purpose of restoring these persons to the land from which they had once been evicted. Therefore, he, being in a peaceful frame of mind after listening to the debate for eight hours, was disposed to dwell on that portion of the speech to which he had last referred rather than on the more fiery and pugnacious portion. Until the right hon. Gentleman spoke there was in all the speeches he had heard, except one, a full recognition of the fact that having regard to the language of the Act of 1903, to the definitions therein contained of what an evicted tenant was, to the promises made even before that time, and to the assurances given on so many platforms by people of all Parties in Ireland that in this matter they were quite willing to let bygones be bygones— and he thought the debate had only emphasised what had previously been declared by all Parties—the time had come to accomplish this work as speedily as possible. Therefore he was not going back on the Act of 1903. He was not going back on the sub-section in Clause 2 which allowed the vast benefits of the Land Purchase 1281 scheme established by that Act to avail for the benefit of people who within twenty-five years before the passing of the Act were dispossesssed of their holdings. There was nothing in that sub-section about the Plan of Campaign, There was a general indication of a desire which only gave fulfilment to the agreement already arrived at at the Land Conference, that the evicted tenants were to come within the benefit of the voluntary proposals of that Act. Here they were in the year of grace, 1907, and he, at all events, after these evicted tenants had been out in the cold for over twenty-eight years, living in insanitary huts by the side of their old holdings, could not see, without attempting to vindicate their character or to say whether they were right or wrong, but simply recognising their miseries and the social danger to Ireland, how anyone could say that it was not time to consider how the job could be done. It had been a long time to wait in a ditch, and he could not accept the philosophic view that in a few more years the restoration would be accomplished at the present rate of progress. They must accomplish this job quickly. Four, five, six, seven, eight, or nine years was too long a wait for them to contemplate. He was glad that the hon, and learned Member for Waterford had called attention to the fact that the Report of the Estates Commissioners was unanimous. It was Mr. Wrench's Report as much as it was the Report of the other Commissioners. They must apply this principle of compulsion to get the land they required; nobody could read the Report of the Commissioners and doubt it. It was all very well to say that they had got enough untenanted land for their purpose and it was not necessary to acquire any more. The Commissioners were quite 1282 right in saying that they were not pre pared to give up all the untenanted land they had for the benefit of these tenants. They had other interests to consider, other trusts to regard, other duties to discharge with regard to the tenants in possession of uneconomic holdings and wanting land to improve them. The Commissioners had to attend to all these businesses pari passu as well as they could, but they must not overlook the interests of one set of tenants in the interests of another. The task the Bill sought to discharge was to acquire quickly an amount of land estimated at 80,000 acres, to reinstate evicted tenants, either in their own holdings or in other holdings, upon which they might hope to live and thrive, not as tenants, but as purchasers under the beneficent operation of the Act of 1903. That being the task, the first thing they had to do was to find out how many evicted tenants there were. The right hon. Gentleman said he did not hold a brief for Lord Clanricarde, but he held a good brief for the bogus evicted tenants, for he suggested that the probabilities were that of the 8,000 odd people who said they were evicted tenants, a great many more really were than had been found so to be by the Commissioners. All he could say was that the Government did not tell the Commissioners they were to cut the number down to 2,000, but gave them a staff to whom they might say, "Find out as best you can the circumstances of these claimants. We know that many of them will prove to be no more evicted tenants than distressed astronomers. We three will adjudicate." Every case had been properly investigated by an inspector, and reported on to the three Commissioners' one spoken of as a tenants' man, one as the landlords' man, and one, Mr. Finucane, an Anglo-Indian, who, there- 1283 fore, represented nobody and nothing. These three persons, whom the late Government selected and appointed, had been doing nothing since 1903 but garner information as to the circumstances of and tenure in Ireland. If the Government could have found three other persons more competent and less likely to excite the wrath of hon. Gentlemen opposite they would have done so. But they could not. These Commissioners had sifted the facts and given their reasons for rejecting these whom they had rejected, the reason being in most cases that they were not evicted tenants within the meaning of the Act of 1903. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite wanted to* rip up all these cases, and it was said that no one would be satisfied with the decision, and that the rejected would demand another trial. It was impossible to do business in such a spirit. The job of dealing with these 8,000 claims had been a difficult one, but it was almost complete. The result was that there were roughly found to be 2,000 of these evicted tenants. That was more than was at one time anticipated, but everything was more than it was at one time anticipated. People entered into a war saying that it would cost £ 10,000,000 and it cost actually £ 250,000,000. Formerly attention was directed to the Plan of Campaign tenants only, but by the Act of 1903 the definition had been enlarged. It was not surprising that the 1,000 who had been talked of should have proved to be 2,000 in fact. All the claims had been investigated, and these had been excluded which it would have been ridiculous to admit. For the first time it was known who the evicted tenants really were. The hon. Gentleman had tried to make out that there would be great dissatisfaction. He dared say there would. Every unsuccessful litigant left the Court dis- 1284 satisfied, sometimes with the Judge, and sometimes with his own counsel. They had found out who the evicted tenants were, and what kind of character they had, and whether they were likely to be benefited by purchase of their holdings. They had been told that the tribunal was shockingly insufficient. Heaven knew, everybody knew who had to do with Ireland, that it was difficult indeed to find three men, or thirty men, or one man who enjoyed the confidence of every body in connection with the value of land. He therefore, could repeat only what he had said— they found these three gentlemen, appointed by the right hon. Gentleman opposite. It was perfectly well to say in that House, in a manner which he did not care to characterise, that two of them were such disgraceful persons as to take their orders from the United Irish League. If such statements could be framed in that House, then Motions might at once be made for the removal of such persons from office. There had been no case made or set up in that House against any of these three gentlemen. His acquaintance with them was limited to the time when he came into office. He saw all three of them several times. They were three men of singularly different orders and habits, and he thought the three of them together made a very excellent Court, and he could not say from his experience of Irishmen, either in that House or outside it, that he could name three men in whom he should have more confidence in discharging such a very difficult duty as determining the value of land. No one could have a greater respect for a Judge than he had, but they did not get out of their difficulty by importing a Judge. He knew Irish .judges some of whom had not the confidence of the tenants. They would not get rid of 1285 differences of opinion and momentary irritation simply by calling in a man learned in the law. They were quite safe in a matter of this sort by leaving it to the judgment of these three men, and he could not see where he would have been able to get better. He did not believe, honestly, there was a man in that House who really believed that any single Irish landlord would be cheated by the operation of this Bill.
§ Mr. JAMES CAMPBELL
While I object to the use of the word cheated, I believe, under this Bill, as it stands, injustice will be done to a great many Irish landlords.
§ MR. BIRRELL
said that was what he meant. He did not believe that under the operations of this Bill any Irish landlord would receive a less sum than he ought to receive as the value of his land, and he was bound to confess that if he was defrauded of his rights, as a landlord, he would be the first of his class to have so suffered. In the matter of the value of his land bought by way of purchase, if any landlord was defrauded under this Bill, it would be for the first time. He could not believe and did not believe the country would believe, that these three poisons were at all likely to enter upon a campaign that would result in the reducing of the price of the land which they took under the operations of the Bill. He did not speak with any antipathy to landlords. He did not want their land. He had no desire for it. When everybody else had gone back to the land, he and his children would remain in town. He therefore, spoke quite impartially in the matter. Did hon. Gentlemen opposite really believe that these three Land Commissioners appointed by a Conservative Government 1286 who were going about for the purpose of acquiring land for evicted tenants, were likely to cheat or defraud the landlords, or reduce the fair price of their land? | The unanimous Report of the Commissioners showed that compulsion had become necessary in order to complete within a reasonable time the reinstatement too long delayed of these men. Compulsion was necessary, and this tribunal was a satisfactory one. Upon the legal point raised by the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite, all he could say was that he was advised, and he could say as a lawyer that he also agreed, that there was nothing in the point whatsoever. He thought the right hon. and learned Gentleman was as wrong as an ex-Solicitor-General ever was, and he could not put it much higher than that. If it should prove, however, on reflection and consideration that there was anything in the point he had made about demesne lands, he did not think there would be any difficulty in setting it light. Therefore, if the right hon. Gentleman really wanted to settle this matter in the friendly vein that might be occasionally disclosed in a speech otherwise difficult to understand, he asked him not to allow himself to be affected by that point. If there was any thing in it it could be got rid of, and if there was nothing in it it need not disturb him. With regard to the tenure of these three Commissioners, Mr. Wrench occupied the tenure which the late Government gave him, and he had £ 3,000 a year. Mr. Wrench was an exceedingly clever, successful, and wise man. He got £ 500 a year extra in order to be criticised by the House of Commons. He had £ 500 a year added to his salary in order that they might have the pleasure of criticising him. All he could . say was he would have been very 1287 foolish if he had not jumped at the offer. Criticism had not hurt him. The £ 500 he had no doubt had done him good. The other two Commissioners were on the same tenure as he, and the salaries which they received were on the Estimates, and, therefore, all three of them could be criticised; Mr. Wrench could be criticised because of his extra £ 500, and the other two Commissioners could be criticised because of their salaries of £ 2,000 a year. That being so, the House would have complete jurisdiction, as he thought it ought to have, of an administrative and chastening character, over these three gentlemen. He thought that when they were imposing on them new duties of a responsible kind, and which he had no doubt they would discharge in a judicial spirit, it was a most desirable thing that the two of them should be placed in a better position as regarded tenure of office than they were in at present. In conclusion, he would observe that he knew well, and he had it always driven home to him, that the Chief Secretary for Ireland occupied a difficult position. He was not a representative man; he did not represent hon. Gentlemen below the gangway opposite. [NATIONALIST cries of " Yes, you do."] No, he did not represent hon. Gentlemen below the
§ gangway; he certainly did not represent hon. Gentlemen opposite; but he did represent something which he valued far more than the good-will of hon. Gentle men opposite, and that was the permanent good-will of the British people towards Ireland, that permanent good-will which had not always had justice done to it, and he admitted that language was sometimes used with regard to it which it was rather difficult for Englishmen to bear. but he repeated that he was glad to know that he did represent the permanent good-will of the British people— the Scottish, the English, and the Welsh taxpayers— to the Irish people,— -their willingness, shown again and again, to run pecuniary risks, to take upon them selves pecuniary burdens for the sake of; doing some good to Ireland; and he believed they recognised that in this case of the evicted tenants there was need for doing good. It was in that spirit and that belief that this Bill was introduced, and it was because that spirit and that belief, he was certain, animated the House, that he looked forward with confidence to the division.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:— Ayes, 315; Noes, 98. (Division List No. 271.)1289
|Abraham,William (Cork,N.E.)||Barran, Rowland Hirst||Brodie, H. C|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Brooke. Stopford|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Barry,Redmond J.(Tyrone,N.)||Brunner,J.F.L. (Lancs.,Leigh)|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Beale, W. P.||Brunner,RtHnSirJ.T.(Cheshire|
|Alden, Percy||Beauchamp, E.||Bryce, J. Annan|
|Allen,A.Acland (Christchurch)||Belloc, Hilaire Joseph Peter R.||Buckmaster, Stanley O.|
|Allen, Charles P. (Stroud)||Benn,SirJ. Williams (Devonp'rt||Burke, E Haviland-|
|Ambrose, Robert||Benn,W.(T'w'r Hamlets,S.Geo.||Burns, Rt. Hon. John|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Bennett, E. N.||Burnyeat, W. J. D.|
|Asquith,Rt.Hon.HerbertHenry||Berridge, T. H. D.||Buxton,Rt.Hn. Sydney Charles|
|Astbury, John Meir||Billson, Sir Alfred||Byles, William Pollard|
|Baker, Joseph A.(Finsbury,E.)||Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Cairns, Thomas|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Boland, John||Cameron, Robert|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Brace, William||Carr-Gomm, H. W.|
|Barker, John||Bramsdon, T. A.||Causton,Rt.Hn. RichardKnigh|
|Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Branch, James||Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.|
|Barnes, G. N.||Brigg, John||Churchill. Rt, Hon. Winston S|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Healy, Timothy Michael||Morley, Rt. Hon. John|
|Cleland, J. W.||Hedges, A. Paget||Morrell, Philip|
|Clough, William||Hemmerde, Edward George||Morse, L. L.|
|Coats,Sir T. Glen (Renfrew,W.)||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas|
|Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Henderson, J.M.(Aberdeen, W.)||Murnaghan, George|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Henry, Charles S.||Murray, James|
|Collins, SirWm.J (S.Pancras.W.||Higham, John Sharp||Nannetti, Joseph P.|
|Condon. Thomas Joseph||Hodge, John||Napier, T. B.|
|Cooper, G J.||Hogan, Michael||Newnes, F. (Notts., Bassetlaw)|
|Corbett.CH(Sussex,E.Grinst'd)||Holden, E. Hopkinson||Nicholson,CharlesN. (Doncaster|
|Cornwall. Sir Edwin A.||Holland, Sir William Henry||Nolan, Joseph|
|Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Holt, Richard Durning||Norton, Capt. Cecil William|
|Cowan, W. H.||Horniman, Emslie John||Nugent, Sir Walter Richard|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||O'Brien,Kendal(Tipperary,Mid|
|Crean, Eugene||Hudson, Walter||O' Brien, Patrick (Kilkennny|
|Cremer, Sir William Randal||Hyde, Clarendon||O'Connor, John (Kildare,N.)|
|Crooks, William||Illingworth, Percy H.||O'Conno., T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Crosfield, A. H.||Jackson, R. S.||O'Doherty, Philip|
|Crossley, William J.||Jenkins, J.||O'Donnell. C. J. (Walworth)|
|Cullinan, J.||Johnson, W. (Nuneaton)||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)|
|Dalziel, James Henry||Jones, Leif (Appleby)||O'Grady, J.|
|Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||Jowett, F. W.||O'Kelly,James(Roscommon,N.|
|Davies, W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Joyce, Michael||O'Malley, William|
|Devlin, Joseph||Kearley, Hudson E.||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh,S.)||Kekewich, Sir George||O'Shee, James John|
|Dewar,SirJ.A.(Inverness-sh.)||Kilbride, Denis||Pearce, Robert (Staffs. Leek)|
|Dickinson. W. H.(St.Pancras,N.||Laidlaw, Robert||Pearson, Sir W. D. (Colchester)|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Lamb,Edmund G.(Leominster)||Pearson.W.H.M. (Suffolk,Eye)|
|Duffy, William J.||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Perks, Robert William|
|Duncan. C.(Barrow-in-Furness||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal)||Philipps,Col.Ivor (S'thampton|
|Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Layland-Barratt, Francis||Philipps,J.Wynford (Pembroke|
|DunneMajorE.Martin(Walsall)||Lea,Hugh Cecil(St. Pancras,E.)||Philipps, Owen C. (Pembroke)|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Leese,SirJosehn F.(Accrington)||Pickersgill, Edward Hare|
|Elibank, .Master of||Lehmann, R. C.||Pollard, Dr.|
|Esmonde, Sir Thomas||Lever,A.Levy (Essex,Harwich)||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Essex, R. W.||Levy, Sir Maurice||Price, C.E.(Edinb'gh, Central)|
|Esslemont, George Birnie||Lough, Thomas||Price,Robert John (Norfolk.E.)|
|Evans, Samuel T.||Lundon, W.||Priestley,W. E. B. (Bradford,E.)|
|Eve, Harry Trelawney||Lupton, Arnold||Radford, G. H.|
|Everett, R. Lacey||Luttrell, Hugh Fownes||Rainy, A. Rolland|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Lyell, Charles Henry||Raphael, Herbert H.|
|Ferens, T. R.||Lynch, H. B.||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro'|
|Ffrench, Peter||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Redmond, John E. (Waterford|
|Field, William||Maclean, Donald||Redmond, William (Clare)|
|Fiennes, Hon. Eustace||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Richards,T.F.(Wolverhampton|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Flynn, James Christopher||Macpherson, J. T.||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Foster, Rt Hon. Sir Walter||MacVeigh.Charles (Donegal,E.)||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Fuller, John Michael F.||M'Crae, George||Robertson,SirG.Scott(Bradford|
|Fullerton, Hugh||M'Hugh, Patrick A.||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Gibb, James (Harrow)||M'Kean, John||Robinson, S.|
|Gilhooly, James||M'Kenna, Rt.Hon. Reginald||Robson, Sir William Snowdon|
|Ginnell, L.||M'Killop, W.||Roche, Angustine (Cork)|
|Gladstone, Rt.Hn Herbert John||M'Laren, Sir C. B. (Leicester)||Roche, John (Galway, East)|
|Glendinning, R. G.||M'Micking, Major G.||Rogers, F. E. Newman|
|Glover, Thomas||Maddison, Frederick||Rose, Charles Day|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||Mallet, Charles E.||Rowlands, J.|
|Gooch, George Peabody||Manfield, Harry (Northants)||Runciman, Walter|
|Grant, Corrie||Mansfield,.H. Rendall(Lincoln)||Russell, T.W.|
|Greenwood, G. (Peterborough) !||Marks,G.Croydon (Launceston)||Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)|
|Grey. Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Marnham, F. J.||Samuel,Herbert L. (Cleveland)|
|Gulland, John W.||Mason, A. E. W. (Coventry)||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)|
|Gurdon, Rt.Hn.SirW.Brampton||Massie, J.||Scarisbrick, T. T. I,.|
|Gwynn, Stephen Lucius||Meagher, Michael||Scott, A.H.(Ashton under Lyne|
|Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||Menzies, Walter||Sears, J. E.|
|Halpin, J.||Micklem, Nathaniel||Seaverns, J. H.|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis |||Molteno, Percy Alport||Seddon, J.|
|Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Mond, A.||Seely, Major J. B.|
|Harwood, George||Money, L. G. Chiozza||Shackleton, David James|
|Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Montagu, E. S.||Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)|
|Haworth, Arthur A.||Mooney, J. J.||Shaw, Rt. Hn. T. (Hawick B.)|
|Hayden, John Patrick||Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Hazleton, Richard||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Sheehy, David|
|Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John||Thompson,J.W.H.(Somerset,E.||Whittaker, Sir Thomas Palmer|
|Sloan, Thomas Henry||Ure, Alexander||Wiles, Thomas|
|Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie||Vivian, Henry||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Smyth,Thomas E. (Leitrim, S.)||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Snowden,P.||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)||Williams,Llewelyn(Carmarthen|
|Soames. Arthur Wellesley||Ward,W.Dudley (Southampton||Williamson, A.|
|Spicer, Sir Albert||Wardle, George J.||Wills, Arthur Walters|
|Stanley, Hn. A.Lyulph (Chesh.)||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)|
|Steadman, W. C.||Wason.RtHn.E (Clackmannan)||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)||Wason, JohnCathcart (Orkney)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Strachey, Sir Edward||Waterlow, D. S.||Young, Samuel|
|Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)||Whitbread, Howard|
|Stuart, James (Sunderland)||White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Sutherland, J. E.||White, Luke (York., E.R.)||Mr. whiteley and Mr. J. A. Pease.|
|Tennant,SirEdward (Salisbury||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)||Whitehead, Rowland|
|Thomasson, Franklin||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Du Cros. Harvey||Morpeth, Viscount|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Faber. George Denison (York)||Muntz, Sir Philip A.|
|Ashley, W. W.||Faber,Capt, W. V. (Hants, W.)||Nicholson. Wm.G.(Petersfield):|
|Aubrey-Fletcher,Rt.Hon.SirH.||Fardell, Sir T. George||Nield. Hebert|
|Balcarres, Lord||Fell, Arthur||O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens|
|Balfour,RtHn.A.J.(CityLond.)||Fletcher, J. S.||Pease,HerbertPike(Darlington)|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Gordon, J.||Percy, Earl|
|Barrie,H T. (Londonderry, N.)||Hardy,Laurence(Kent,Ashford||Roberts,S.(Sheffield,Ecclesall)|
|Beach, Hn. Michael HughHicks||Harris, Frederick Leverton||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Rutherford, John (Lancashire)|
|Bignold, Sir Arthur||Hay, Hon. Claude George||Rutherford. W. W. (Liverpool).|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Helmsley, Viscount||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Hill, Sir Clement (Shrewsbury)||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive:||Hills, J. W.||Sheffield,SirBerkeleyGeorgeD.|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Houston, Robert Paterson||Smith,AbelH.(Hertford,East)|
|Butcher, Samuel Henry||Hunt, Rowland||Smith.F. E. Liverpool, Walton)|
|Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. H. M.||Kennaway,Rt.Hon.SirJohnH.||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Kenyon-Slaney,Rt.Hon.Col.W.||Starkey. John R.|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw, H.||Keswick, William||Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staff'sh.)|
|Cavendish,Rt.Hon.VictorC.W.||Kimber, Sir Henry||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Thomson,W.Mitchell-(Lanark)|
|Cecil, Lord John P. Joicey-||Liddell, Henry||Thornton, Percy M..|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone E.)||Lockwood,Rt.Hn.Lt.-Col.A.R.||Turnour, Viscount|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Long,Rt.Hn. Walter (DublinS.,||Walrond. Hon. Lionel|
|Coates,E.Feetham(Lewisham)||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Magnus, Sir Philip||Wortley. Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Courthope, G. Loyd||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Wyndham. Rt. Hon. George|
|Craig,CharlesCurtis(Antrim,S.)||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Middlemore,JohnThrogmorton||TELLERS FOR THE NOES —Sir Alexander Acland-Hood and Mr. Fosrter|
|Dixon-Hartland,SirFredDixon||Mildmay, Francis Bingham|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Moore, William|
Bill read a second time.
§ Bill committed to a Committee of the Whole House for Monday next.— (Mr. Birrell.)1292
§ And, it being after half-past Eleven of the Clock on Monday evening, Mr. SPEAKER adjourned the House without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order.
§ Adjourned at one minute after Twelve o'clock