§ Considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee)
§ [Mr. EMMOTT (Oldham) in the Chair.]
§ Clause 1:—
§ MR. MOORE
said that in order to enable the Chief Secretary to make a statement, and so facilitate discussion upon the various Amendments, he wished formally to move to report progress. The Bill obtained a First and Second Reading on the foundation and basis of the Estates Commissioners' Report. That Report contained limitations in three important respects. When, however, they came to look at the Bill they found that none of those limitations were contained in it. He wished to ask the Chief Secretary whether he was prepared to embody those limitations in the Bill. The Commissioners found that there were 2,000 evicted tenants for whom holdings would have to be found, but under the Bill it would be open to the Commissioners to provide holdings for 10,000. Would the right hon. Gentleman assent to put a limitation in the Bill agreeing with the finding of the Report in that respect? Then the Report found that the maximum amount of land required would be 80,000 acres? Would the right hon. Gentleman put a limitation in the Bill limiting the powers of the Commissioners to the acquisition of 80,000 acres? As the Bill stood it would be open to the Commissioners to acquire compulsorily the whole of the soil of Ireland. The third point he wished to deal with was the question of the tenancy of the land. The findings of the Estates Commissioners' Report did not suggest for a moment that there was any necessity to acquire tenanted land; they based their whole case upon the compulsory acquisition of untenanted land. It had been agreed on all sides that people who were known technically as "planters" should not be disturbed. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would give an assurance that the Bill would be limited in the directions he had indicated; that he would say whether he intended to thrust everything, fair or unfair, down their throats, or whether he was willing to arrive at a satisfactory and reasonable solution. He 713 suggested that the right hon. Gentleman should apprise them of the real situation at the earliest possible moment, so that they might know exactly where they stood in the matter. He begged to move.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress; and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. Moore.)
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. BIRRELL, Bristol, N.)
said he could assure the hon. and learned Gentleman that he had no desire to thrust anything down anyone's throat. He was particularly anxious to facilitate the discussion and progress of this measure, but he was unable to give the hon. and learned Gentleman the assurances for which he asked. He could not admit that the First and Second Readings of the Bill were obtained on the statement that it was based on the Report of the Estates Commissioners. That Report was invited in order that the Government might get some idea of the magnitude of the problem. The Commissioners conceived that 2,000 would probably be about the maximum number of people who would satisfy their requirements, and to say that the Bill was brought in simply to give effect to the finding of the Court was contradicted by the fact that it dealt with subjects to which the Commissioners made no reference at all. It was impossible for him—nor would it be right—to consent to Amendments which would limit the number of evicted tenants to 2,000 or the acreage to be acquired to 80,000. Nevertheless, they had before them the Report of the Commissioners that 2,000 tenants would be about the figure and that about forty acres would be required in a number of cases to enable the tenants to live and thrive, but that was in no way a binding estimate upon them or upon the House. The Bill proposed to vest in the Commissioners a discretion, but not to exclude the possibility of the restoration of tenants to the actual holdings from which they were evicted. If the House tied their hands in that way they would declare their inability to deal with the question in the way they desired.
§ MR. WALTER LONG (Dublin, S.)
said he was not surprised that the hon. Member for North Armagh should have 714 made the request he had. Although he did not suggest that there was a distinct understanding or that the Government based their whole Bill on the number of evicted tenants and the amount of land mentioned in the report, it was presented as a very strong argument in defence of the Bill, if it did not amount to a justification, that the number of tenants would be approximately 2,000, and that the amount of land required would be that suggested. They now had a further statement—practically that the result of the Bill would be to place in the hands of the Estates Commissioners an unlimited power to deal with evicted tenants on such terms, within the limitations of the Bill, as they thought right. That materially altered the condition of affairs, because many of them believed that it would be found impossible to confine the number to any-thing like 2,000. When these first 2,000 became recipients of the Government bounty, there would be many others crowding in to claim the same rights. It was quite evident from the right hon. Gentleman's speech that it was not intended to place any limitation upon the action of the Government. They must treat the Bill as one which had not a limited bearing on the question, but as one which opened up a completely new field of compulsory land purchase, subject to the will and discretion of the Estates Commissioners.
§ MR. JAMES CAMPBELL (Dublin University)
said he desired to call attention to the actual words used by the Chief Secretary in the course of his speech on the Second Reading of the Bill. When he reminded the right hon. Gentleman of the words he used, he would see that he had quite unintentionally misconceived his own position, and had unintentionally deceived the House when he said that he did not say that the scope of this Bill would be found in the limit of 2,000 cases. The right hon. Gentleman's language was perfectly clear and unambiguous.
The question before the House is to report Progress. It is not relevant to discuss the merits of the Chief Secretary's reply on that Motion.
§ MR. JAMES CAMPBELL
thought he would be able to show that the 715 observations he was about to make were perfectly germane to the subject-matter of the Motion. They wished to know whether the Chief Secretary could give an assurance that some of the limitations which he and his friends proposed to insert in the Bill would be in accordance with the wish of the Government. The right hon. Gentleman informed the House on the occasion of the Second Reading that the problem was how to set about the restoration to their old holdings, not of an unknown and uncertain number of evicted tenants, but of those 2,000 persons— assuming that to be the correct figure—whose cases had been or would be investigated. Whatever ambiguity there might be in that statement the right hon. Gentleman disposed of immediately afterwards when he said—We have to appreciate what the limited purposes of the Bill are. They are the re-
instatement of those 2,000 scheduled or named persons compulsorily."
§ He ventured to say that a more specific and emphatic declaration could not be conceived as coming from the lips of a member of the Government in the position of the right hon. Gentleman.
I am afraid I must stop the right hon. Gentleman. He is arguing the merits of the matters about which questions were put to the Chief Secretary. That is not in order on the Motion to report Progress.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 46; Noes, 247. (Division List No. 288.)717
|Acland-Hood, Rt Hn. Sir Alex. F.||Craig, Charles Curtis(Antrim, S.||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Randles, Sir John Scurrah|
|Ashley, W. W.||Duncan, Robert (Lanark, Govan||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Aubrey-Fletcher, Rt. Hn. Sir H.||Gretton, John||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A.J.(City Lond.||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Sheffield, Sir BerkeleyGeorge D.|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Hill, Sir Clement(Shrewsbury)||Starkey, John R.|
|Banner, John S. Harmood.||Hill, J. W.||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.||Hornby, Sir William Henry||Thomson, W. Mitchell (Lanark|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Kenyon-Slaney, Rt.Hon.Col.W.||Valentia, Viscount|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter(Dublin, S.||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Bull, Sir William James||Lowe, Sir Francis William||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. H. M.||Magnus, Sir Philip||Younger, George|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Mason, James F. (Windsor)|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Cavendish, Rt.Hon.VictorC.W.||Mildmay. Francis Bingham||Mr. Moore and Mr. Lonsdale.|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Muntz, Sir Philip A.|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Parkes, Ebenezer|
|Abraham, William (Cork, N.E.)||Brooke, Stopford||Cremer, Sir William Randal|
|Agnew, George William||Brunner,J.F.L. (Lancs.,Leigh)||Crombie, John William|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Burke, E. Haviland-||Crooks, William|
|Alden, Percy||Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Crossley, William J.|
|Allen, Charles P. (Stroud)||Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Cullinan, J.|
|Ambrose, Robert||Buxton,Rt.Hn. Sydney Charles||Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)|
|Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth)||Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Davies, Timothy (Fulham)|
|Baker.Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)|
|Baring,Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Cawley, Sir Frederick||Dewar,Sir J.A. (Inverness-sh.)|
|Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Cheetham, John Frederick||Dickinson,W.H. (St.Pancras,N.|
|Barry,Redmond J. (Tyrone,N.)||Cherry, Rt, Hon. R. R.||Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.|
|Beale, W. P.||Clancy, John Joseph||Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles|
|Beauchamp, E.||Cleland, J. W.||Donelan, Captain A.|
|Bellairs, Carlyon||Clough, William||Duffy, William J.|
|Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon)||Clynes, J. R.||Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)|
|Boland, John||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Elibank, Master of|
|Boulton, A. C. F.||Collins,SirWm.J.(S.Pancras,W.||Erskine, David C.|
|Brace, William||Condon, Thomas Joseph||Esslemont, George Birnie|
|Branch, James||Cox, Harold||Everett. R. Lacey|
|Bright, J. A.||Crean, Eugene||Faber G. H. (Boston)|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Lough, Thomas||Richardson, A.|
|Fenwick, Charles||Lundon, W.||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Ferguson, R. C. Munro||Lupton, Arnold||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Flynn, James Christopher||Lyell, Charles Henry||Robertson, Rt.Hn. E. (Dundee,|
|Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Freeman-Thomas, Freeman||Macdonald, J.M. (Falkirk B'ghs||Robinson, S.|
|Fuller, John Michael F.||Mackarness, Frederic C.||Roche, Augustine (Cork)|
|Fullerton, Hugh||Maclean, Donald||Roche, John (Galway, East;|
|Gilhooly, James||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Runciman, Walter|
|Gill, A. H.||Macpherson, J. T.||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland|
|Gladstone, Rt.Hn.HerbertJohn||MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.||Schwann, Sir C.E. (Manchester)|
|Glen-Coats, Sir T. (Renfrew, W.||MacVeigh,Charles (Donegal,E.)||Seddon, J.|
|Glendinning, R. G.||M'Callum, John M.||Shaw,Rt, Hon. T. (Hawick B.)|
|Glover, Thomas||M'Crae, George||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||M'Hugh, Partick A.||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Gooch, George Peabody||M'Kenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Silcock, Thomas Ball|
|Grant, Corrie||M'Killop, W.||Sloan, Thomas Henry|
|Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)||W'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie|
|Greenwood, Hamar (York)||M'Micking, Major G.||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Gulland, John W.||Manfield, Harry (Northants)||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Gurdon, Rt. Hn. Sir W. Brampton||Marnham, F. J.||Spicer, Sir Albert|
|Gwynn, Stephen Lucius||Masterman, C. F. G.||Stanley, Hn. A. Lyulph(Chesh.)|
|Halpin, J.||Meagher, Michael||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis||Meehan, Patrick A.||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)|
|Hart-Davies, T.||Menzies, Walter||Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)|
|Harwood, George||Molteno, Percy Alport||Stuart, James(Sunderland)|
|Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Montagu, E. S.||Summerbell, T.|
|Haworth, Arthur A.||Montgomery, H. G.||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Hayden, John Patrick||Mooney, J. J.||Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)|
|Hazel, Dr. A. E.||Myer, Horatio||Thomas,Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Hazleton, Richard||Napier, T. B.||Tomkinson, James|
|Healy, Timothy Michael||Nicholson,CharlesN.(Doncaster||Torrance, SirA. M.|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Nolan, Joseph||Toulmin, George|
|Higham, John Sharp||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Hobart, Sir Robert||Nugent, Sir Walter Richard||Verney, F. W.|
|Hogan, Michael||O'Brien,Kendal (TipperaryMid||Vivian, Henry|
|Holland, Sir William Henry||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Walsh, Stephen|
|Hope, John Deans (Fife, West)||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)||Walters, John Tudor|
|Horniman, Emslie John||O'Kelly,James (Roscommon,N||Walton, Sir John L. (Leeds, S.|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||O'Malley, William||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Hudson, Walter||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Wason,Rt.Hn.E. (Clackmannn|
|Illingworth. Percy H.||O'Shee, James John||Wason, John Cathcart(Orkney)|
|Jacoby, Sir James Alfred||Parker, James (Halifax)||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Jardine, Sir J.||Partington, Oswald||Watt, Henry A.|
|Jenkins, J.||Pearce, Robert (Staffs. Leek)||Weir, James Galloway|
|Johnson, John (Gateshead)||Pearce, William (Limehouse)||White, George (Norfolk)|
|Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Pickersgill, Edward Hare||White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonshire||Pirie, Duncan V.||White, Luke (York, E.R.)|
|Jowett, F. W.||Pollard, Dr.||White, Patrick (Meath, North|
|Joyce, Michael||Power, Patrick Joseph||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax|
|Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Price, C. E. (Edinb'gh, Central||Wiles, Thomas|
|Kilbride, Denis||Price, Robert John(Norfolk, E.||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|King, Alfred John (Knutsford||Priestley, W.E.B. (Bradford,E.||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)|
|Laidlaw, Robert||Radford, G. H.||Wison, Henry J. (York, W.R.)|
|Lamont, Norman||Rainy, A. Rolland||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Raphael, Herbert H.||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.)||Rea, Russell (Gloucester)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Layland-Barratt, Francis||Redmond, John E. (Waterford||Young, Samuel|
|Leese,Sir JosephF. (Accrington||Redmond, William (Clare)|
|Lehmann, R. C.||Rendall, Athelstan||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Levy, Sir Maurice||Renton. Major Leslie||Mr. Whiteley and Mr. Herbert Lewis.|
|Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||Richards, T.F. (Wolverh'mpt'n|
§ *MR. ASHLEY (Lancashire, Blackpool)
moved to omit Sub-section (1) of Clause 1. He said the sub-section contained a principle to which he objected very much. It embodied what was, after all, the pith, marrow, and backbone of the Bill. The Estates Commissioners were to be em- 718 powered by the sub-section to obtain land compulsorily not only from the landlord, who in this House, as at present constituted, was likely, he was afraid, to receive very little sympathy, but also to obtain it by dispossessing forcibly and against his will a law-abiding, 719 rent-paying, and respectable citizen who had worked on his farm perhaps for twenty-five years, and might even have been born upon it. Before he gave his reasons for objecting to this compulsion he would like to read to the House three short extracts from speeches of hon. Members who now supported the Bill, one of whom, at any rate, in the past took a very different view. If they turned back to the debates on the Evicted Tenants Bill in 1894, they would see that the hon. Gentleman who now held the responsible position of Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture in Ireland used some very strong and forcible language with reference to compulsion, though he was backing the present Bill. On 23rd July, 1894, he said he would have denied to the Board of Arbitration a single atom of compulsory power. That was his view in 1894, with reference to compulsion generally. What was his view of compulsion as applied to the landlord to put back upon his estate an evicted tenant? He said he thought it would be a very hard and severe thing to say to a landlord who had ejected a tenant, perhaps years before, for non-payment of rent, that he must give up the land he was farming at a profit and take back the man who had conspired to defraud him. Yet the hon. Gentleman was backing the present Bill. It was, the hon. Gentleman then said, not only a hard but a dangerous thing to say. He cordially agreed with the sentiment uttered by the hon. Member in those days. It was indeed a hard and dangerous thing that was going to be said to the landlords in the Bill. Then, to come to a nearer date, what did the hon. and learned Member for Waterford say in 1903? On 29th June of that year he said that there was no intention of putting into the Bill any provision by which pressure, direct or indirect, could be brought to bear upon existing tenants. What had happened during the three and a half years which had elapsed since then to cause the hon. Member to change his view? He could only imagine that the compulsory provision was put in the Bill in order that the Government might obtain the land at less than its market value. That was obvious if they looked at the provisions which 720 would enable them to obtain the land and if they remembered who was to obtain it. He objected mainly on two grounds to the principle of compulsion. In the first place he objected because there was an undoubted agreement in 1903 on all sides of the House that there should be no compulsion put upon the landlord to put back the evicted tenants. The House agreed that facilities should be given to put them back, and that the Commissioners should be given power to purchase land; but there was a general, agreement on the part of the landlords, of hon. Gentlemen below the gangway. and of hon. Members on that side of the House that the Bill should be put through on the understanding that no compulsion should be applied. Yet they saw in three and a half years a Bill brought in to tear up that consideration and to put. the landlord in a worse position than he was in in 1903. He also objected because in the past compulsion had never been applied to an owner of land unless it could be shown that it was to the good of the general public that the land should be compulsorily taken from him. Railway and canal companies were only empowered to take land compulsorily because Parliament considered it right that the public-should not be hindered by a landowner who wilfully refused to sell his land. Compulsion was also right for the public good under the Housing of the Working Classes Act in the case of a landlord who refused to sell his land where there was an in sanitary area. He offended against the public health, and in that case Parliament had very properly sanctioned compulsion. In this Bill they were asked to give very wide compulsory powers, not for the benefit of the general public in Ireland, but for the heads of 2,000 families at most. That was a very great step in advance. They might argue with considerable weight that compulsory powers in the case of the Labourers Act of last year were necessary for the prosperity of Ireland, because agricultural work could not be carried on if labourers cottages were not built; but in this case it was a very limited number of persons for whose benefit they were going to spend money to expropriate landowners whom it was not suggested were using their land improperly. The Government said there 721 were 2,000 evicted tenants whom it was necessary to put back on the land, and that they could not do it without compulsion. The hon. Member for East Mayo, however, not long ago said that the evicted tenants amounted to 800 in all, and that in a very short time they would be reduced to 400. It was strange that they should have suddenly sprung up to 2,000. He understood that up to May this year there had been some 8,400 applications from evicted tenants claiming to be reinstated 1,000 had already been put back, 1,600 more applications had been passed as valid, and 400 more the right hon. Gentleman said he imagined would be passed. Therefore, 5,400 would be put aside as not coming within the rules and regulations laid down by the Estates Commissioners. When the Government asked for compulsory powers, they ought to see how much progress had been made in the last three and a half years under the voluntary system. The limited number to be reinstated was 3,000, and of these 1,000, or 33⅓ per cent., had been reinstated in three and a half years. Surely it was a strong measure to come before the House and say they must have compulsory powers to put back 2,000 tenants, when already in three and a half years 1,000 had been reinstated under the voluntary system. He ventured to think the progress made in reinstating the evicted tenants was far greater than in the sale and purchase of estates, which after all was the prime reason for the Act of 1903. By the Bill they would be putting the good tenants in a worse position than the evicted tenants.
§ MR. R. L. EVERETT (Suffolk, Woodbridge)
asked if it was in order to make a Second Reading speech in Committee. It had been decided by a vast majority that there should be compulsion behind the measure, and he respectfully submitted it as not in order to re-discuss it.
said that he could not rule that the first five lines of the Bill contained the whole principle of the Second Reading, but he must point out that if the Amendment were divided upon, he could not allow another discussion on the question of compulsion.
§ MR. JAMES CAMPBELL
said he would like to point out that the first five lines contained other matters besides compulsion. It embraced the very important question of dealing with land whether tenanted or untenanted. Surely it would be quite in order for any hon. Member, if the Amendment to strike the subsection out were rejected, to move another Amendment dealing with either of the two propositions contained in it. The Committee might disagree with the insertion of the word land, as distinguished from untenanted land, or it might disagree with the insertion of the word "compulsory."
said he had to have regard not only to the actual Amendment, but also to the way in which it was advocated by the hon. Member who moved it. Up to the present the whole speech of the hon. Member had been practically limited to the question of compulsion, and under those circumstances he certainly could not allow another discussion on the word "compulsorily." The principle of their debates was that they could not discuss and decide the same question twice, and it would be an abuse of that principle if they debated the question of compulsion on the proposal to leave out the sub-section, and then again on an Amendment to leave out the word "compulsorily." The reason he mentioned the matter was to warn the Committee, so that they should know what they were discussing.
§ MR. CHARLES CRAIG (Antrim, S.
asked whether, seeing that the backbone of the Bill was contained in this section, which conferred compulsory powers, in supporting the Amendment of his hon. friend they would later on be precluded from discussing the question of "tenanted" and "untenanted" land.
said that that would depend upon the character of the speeches on the Amendment. He should not desire to shut out a further discussion on "tenanted" or "untenanted" land, but it was quite impossible to have a discussion on the same proposition twice over.
said he had not given any ruling as to the question of "untenanted" land. The question must depend upon the character of the speeches on the Amendment.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR (City of London)
quite understood the object with which the Chairman had laid down the rule to prevent the unnecessary discussion of the same topic twice over. Of course, however, when they came to discuss the question that the whole clause should stand part of the Bill they would have an opportunity of reviewing it. That was a necessary part of their discussion. They were now discussing a clause which had two main topics. One was whether there should be compulsion, and the other was whether it should apply to land "tenanted" and "untenanted," or whether it was to be limited to land "untenanted." They were two very important topics, and he would like to know how they were to discuss them. Of course they would be glad to follow the rulings of the Chairman.
said that if the right hon. Gentleman asked his advice he thought the most convenient course would be for the omission of the subsection not to be moved, but that they should take the discussion on the two points separately on the later Amendments.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said it was desirable to know where they were. If his hon. friend made his speech on the omission of the sub-section, after lie had concluded his remarks were they to be precluded from discussing the omission of the word "compulsory"?
said the only difficulty was that the matter did not lie in his hands, because upon objection he must act in accordance with the rules of the House. The hon. Member had not 724 yet moved the omission of the sub section, and after considering the matter he need not proceed unless he wished.
§ MR. JAMES CAMPBELL
moved an Amendment having for its object the restriction of the power of compulsory purchase to "untenanted land." The question involved in the Amendment was, he said, one of the most important that could be raised at the Committee stage, and it had assumed a magnitude out of all proportion to what was anticipated, having regard to the introductory words of the Chief Secretary for Ireland, because so long as it was in contemplation that the Bill was limited in its scope there might be less objection to the inclusion of land whether "tenanted" or "untenanted," But the whole position had been changed and the whole scope of the Bill altered by the interpretation which the right hon. Gentleman put upon it that day. The Bill had assumed a much wider scope and would have much more far-reaching results than was originally contemplated. The right hon. Gentleman originally stated that the number of evicted tenants under the Bill would be 2,000, but now it appeared that he was not prepared to fetter the discretion of the Estates Commissioners or to insert anything in the Bill which would bind them to any such limit. In his speech upon the Second Reading the right hon. Gentleman was most concise, and said the Bill was introduced to effect the reinstatement of 2,000 named and scheduled persons. Now, however, it appeared that it might apply to 8,500 tenants, and not to 2,000 people whose cases had been earmarked. The Bill referred to all those who had applied to the Estates Commissioners for reinstatement, and the number of those being 8,500 that was the only limit of the measure.
§ MR. CLOUGH (Yorkshire, W.R., Skipton)
inquired as a point of order what the question of 2,000 or 8,500 tenants had to do with the question of "untenanted land."
said he was waiting for the right hon. Gentleman to make his point clear in regard to the matter. He thought it was relevant.
§ MR. JAMES CAMPBELL
said that what he was going to show was that they were giving the Estates Commissioners power to purchase land which was either "tenanted" or "untenanted" and they must in discussing the question have regard to the scope of the Bill. It was said to be confined to a definite number of people, viz., 2,000, and now they found it applied to 8,500 persons. With regard to the distinction between tenanted and untenanted land he did not propose to go back on the arrangement come to in 1903. It was then said that whatever might be done for the evicted tenants under the Bill of 1903 nothing was to be done with regard to the tenanted lands in that respect. The express object of the Amendment was to carry out the honourable and distinct arrangement come to in 1903. If the word "untenanted" were inserted then the Estates Commissioners could not under the Bill purchase by compulsion any land at present in the hands of a tenant. He agreed with what had been said as to the so-called ''planters"; that there were some who had no reluctance whatever to give up their land. If that were so, where was the necessity for compulsion? He had never heard of any instances where the landlords refused to allow them, except in the case of two estates out of 114. If the real object of the Bill was to bring pressure to bear on Lord Clanricarde let it be openly stated and let them not go about it in this cowardly way. He could hardly conceive that that was the object, because he could not imagine the Government would have gone through the farce of introducing a Bill of that kind for the purpose of dealing with one or two estates. It might be true there were certain men who were not planters in the ordinary sense to whose interest it might be to give up their holdings and who desired that power should be given to compel their landlords to allow them to surrender their farms. But that was not the scope and extent of the Bill. If it had been framed for such a purpose, all he could say was that it was a 726 monstrous thing that the House of Commons should be asked to listen to a proposition or suggestion that those who had held their lands for twenty-five years, who had put their capital into it, whose sons and daughters had put their labour into it, who had ploughed and tilled it for all that time, should be compelled against their will to surrender their holdings. Lord Crewe had stated recently in another place that it was not the purpose of the Government to interfere with those "planters" who used their holdings as an ordinary farmers. Was that the intention of the Government or not? If it was, would the right hon. Gentleman explain that explicit statement of Lord Crewe? But under the Bill as it stood, even men who had been farming their holdings for twenty-five years could be turned out. He, therefore, trusted that the Committee would accept that Amendment, which was designed to confine the operation of the Bill to untenanted land. If the right hon. Gentleman told the Committee that Lord Crewe had correctly stated the intention of the Government a great deal of his objection to the clause would be got rid of; but when two voices spoke on behalf of the Government giving two different interpretations of their intentions there was put upon the Opposition the necessity of seeing that the real objects of the Government were carried out. He moved the Amendment with great confidence, and appealed to the Government to assent to it, or if not, that the right hon. Gentleman would express his views and intentions upon the matter.
In page 1, line 6, after the word 'any,' to insert the word 'untenanted.'"—(Mr. Campbell.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word untenanted ' be there inserted."
§ MR. BIRRELL
said that, as was often the case when he followed the right hon. Gentleman, he had some difficulty in reconciling two parts of the right hon. Gentleman's speech. In the first place his Amendment sought to strike out tenanted land from the operation of the clause, which would for ever prevent the restoration of the evicted tenant. He wished to have it at 727 all events quite clear that the powers of the Bill should not be restricted to untenanted land; but that the Estates Commissioners should also have power where tenanted land was concerned. This Amendment would put a complete obstacle in the way of the reinstatement of evicted tenants on their former holdings, except in cases where ''planters" agreed to go out. The right hon. and learned Gentleman subsequently said that his objection would be largely removed in two ways. He did not object to the landlord being compelled to sell the land now occupied by the "planter" if the planter were willing to go; but he did object to compulsion where the tenant was concerned. He also said that part of his objections would be removed if he could obtain assurances that the Bill would not accomplish the removal of the occupier from a farm of which he had been in possession for many years and into which he had put his capital. The Government felt that it was absolutely necessary, if they were to achieve the results desired, that a measure of this kind should be as complete as possible, and should provide the machinery and the means for doing what was necessary. Whether the number of cases was large or small where it was desirable to obtain possession of the land now tenanted in order to restore it to the evicted tenants, those cases were of the utmost importance in the social aspect of the question. Those were the hardest cases and had excited perhaps the most feeling throughout Ireland. They had been the causes of discontent and disturbance, as anyone knew who had to do with the administration of Ireland. They imposed upon the county the necessity of maintaining a large force of police; and they created a general sense of dissatisfaction and lawlessness, which it was one of the objects of this Bill to remove. Having regard to the cost which this Bill would involve, a cost which he did not desire in any way to under-rate, he did not think they would be justified in calling upon the Treasury to make the sacrifice they certainly would have to make under the provisions of this Bill, unless they thought it was going to accomplish something rather more than the mere restoration of a 728 tenant to so many acres of land. It was because they believed that social and political effects and consequences would follow that they had thought it right to impose upon the Treasury a burden of that character. Therefore, the Bill, in his judgment, would be incomplete if it did not contain those powers, if it did not enable the Estates Commissioners, or whoever the tribunal might be, in certain cases to acquire land of the description he had referred to, and to restore the evicted tenants, where they thought it desirable, to their former holdings. He, therefore, insisted upon it that if they gave effect to the Amendment of the right hon. and learned Gentleman they would curtail the beneficial operation of the measure, they would destroy its effect, and they would, he thought, render it very hard to justify the cost they were entailing upon the public of this country, who, as he had said before, were always willing, he thought most generously, to play their part in the reconciliation and pacification of Ireland, or any part of it. Therefore, they felt that on that part of the case they must adhere to the clause. There were cases in which he agreed it would be a monstrous thing to turn out a tenant against his will if he were able to show that he and his family had lived for a period of years in perfect accord with their neighbours, getting on just as well as anybody did with their neighbours in Ireland. He had inserted words in Subsection (3) which enabled the Estates Commissioners to take into regard all the circumstances of the case and the cost involved, and to consider whether it was desirable that such a person should be removed. But they must trust somebody in these matters, and they could not be expected to employ language which would properly designate the circumstances in which it would be right to exercise the very great powers contained in the Bill. The circumstances of the cases varied. Some were so clear that no Estates Commissioners or any other body of men would dream of exercising the proposed powers and turning out those tenants. The words of Subsection (3) imposed on the Commissioners, or whoever the tribunal might be, the obligation to see that they did not turn out people who were carrying on the 729 work of their farm in such a way that there was no disturbance in the neighbourhood, no extra police or anything of that kind, and who were able to work the land properly and wisely. These were not the persons that it was contemplated to turn out under the provisions of the Bill. He had made careful inquiries about the planters in different parts of the country, and sometimes he had got admirable, reports about them, as to their working of the farms, and as to the peace in which they lived with their neighbours. But he had also received reports of an entirely different character in a great number of cases. He did not know how they came to be brought to those farms: he was innocent in these matters; he had no part with regard to them; but there were people in that House who knew perfectly well how they came to be brought on to the land. It was his duty to ascertain how these planters had been doing their work, and he found from the reports of inspectors and others who had examined their farms that they were not really bona fide farmers at all. Although the landlord had sometimes gone to the expense of supplying them with much better farm buildings than the former tenants, they had not taken advantage of their opportunity, and the land under their care had remained in a bad state. While there were cases in which it would be unjust to remove compulsorily these new tenants, there were cases in which it could be done without anyone's conscience being in the least strained. They could not distinguish by schedule, or by any means except examination of the circumstances on the spot, which tenants ought to be removed and which ought not, and he, therefore, contended that they would be falling short in this duty if they did not take power, in dealing with these cases, to restore, where the Estates Commissioners, or whoever the tribunal might be, thought it just and right, the former tenant to his own home. To apply the word "confiscation" to any provisions of the Bill was really to use language without meaning. [OPPOSITION cries of "Oh."] Hon. Gentlemen opposite had had very little experience of confiscation if they thought that, this was a con- 730 fiscatory measure, and they would never meet with any Act less likely to deprive anybody of his land without the full price thereof being paid.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR (City of London)
said the right hon. Gentleman's speech was much better than his Bill; it was sound and statesmanlike, but it was nowhere reflected in the Bill itself. The right hon. Gentleman had begun by putting upon his right hon. and learned friend the assumption that he accepted the principle of compulsion so far as the landlord and untenanted land were concerned. Those were questions which remained open for discussion. For the purpose of this particular discussion they were in the main concerned with the position of the tenant now in occupation. What they wanted to know was whether it was proper to keep in the Bill these unqualified words giving absolute power to the Estate Commissioners to turn out every man who was described in the Bill as a new tenant and who had been very wrongly described as a "planter." [An HON MEMBER: "Grabber".] He preferred to use the more decent language of the Bill. The measure gave absolutely unlimited power to the Commissioners compulsorily to buy out everybody who was described in the Bill as a "new tenant" and to put in everybody who was either himself the former tenant, or the representative of some tenant who had been evicted. Let them consider how this would work out if there was not a limit to, or at all events a guide for, the use of the discretion given to the Estate Commissioners. The object of the Bill, the right hon. Gentleman had said, was to produce a feeling of quiet and content, to get rid of an old sore, to diminish or remove an ancient grievance, and at last to enable the Land Purchase Act of 1903 to be operative in the manner expected by its friends. He would take the case of the representative of an evicted tenant, who had, perhaps, never seen the holding from which his predecessor was evicted, who had had nothing whatever to do with its cultivation, who had no associations with it except the vague and traditional and personal memories connected with it; who perhaps was not born there, had never worked there, had no friends there, 731 and had no associations with it except such as lay in the simple fact that he was the representative of a man who had been evicted twenty years before. In the case of such a man it was in the power of the Estates Commissioners to turn out a tenant who might have been in occupation for twenty years. He need not be, very likely was not, one of those who were merely farmers in name; he might be, probably was, as good a farmer as any in Ireland, anxious to do his duty by the land in keeping his engagements, a good cultivator of the soil, a man who was perhaps married in the district and had children who had grown up on the holding, who was connected with the holding by every tie of affection, and who, having brought it up to its present state of cultivation, looked forward to purchasing it under the Land Act. In this Bill, without restriction or limitation, and without a suggestion of guidance, they gave to the Estates Commission the power of turning out that tenant in favour of a man to whose condition he had already referred. Was this proposal going to carry out the fundamental objects of the Bill, namely, to bring peace and harmony to Ireland? The explicit language used by the Nationalist representatives in this House when the Bill of 1903 was under discussion had been quoted, to the effect that in regard to such men as he had described and new tenants of any kind no compulsion would be used at all. The right hon. Gentleman had departed from that original understanding and violated that pledge. He had torn up the original compact, and if he was going to insist upon that policy at least let him undertake to put words in the Bill which would indicate what Lord Crewe had certainly indicated as his view and what he was quite certain would be the view of the majority of this House if they heard the case put fairly and temperately as he had tried to put it. He was sure that the majority of those who supported the Government did not wish to be responsible for any such gross acts of injustice as he had described, and that they would welcome guiding words which would mitigate the injustice and make it clear that when the Commissioners had to choose between new tenants of the kind he had described and the evicted tenant they would see in 732 the Act of Parliament plain directions and would not be left to interpret vague words, and that they would have regard to "all the circumstances of the case, of the holding and of the district."
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said he wanted to keep on the holding the class of men whose case he had just described and try to find some other liberal way of dealing with the evicted tenants. He felt sure that when they came to that point the right hon. Gentleman would either find words or accept words suggested to him which would have the mitigating effect he had described. On the bare Amendment as they had it before them, which was to prevent compulsion altogether in the case of tenanted land, he wished to say that compulsion should always be avoided if possible, because it was peculiarly open to abuse in cases of this kind. Besides that general principle there was behind his case the Parliamentary understanding arrived at in 1903. In the first place they had an overwhelming case on the bare Amendment of his right hon. friend, and if that were not enough to convince the Committee as to its equity and justice there was also the declared intention of Ministers, and what he understood to be the intention of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, namely, to put into the Bill some clear and plain direction which would obviate the manifest injustice which would be done by the Bill in its present form.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND (Waterford)
said he was glad that the Government had taken up the attitude they had, because the provision under discussion was one of the most vital and one which in his view made the Bill a satisfactory measure. The arguments used by the Chief Secretary were overwhelming and unanswerable when he said that he could not recommend the Bill to the House and ask for the necessary monetary aid from the Treasury unless it were a complete measure. It would be absurd for the right hon. Gentleman to 733 attempt to pass a Bill which would still leave outside the settlement a number of the very worst cases of evicted tenants in the whole of Ireland. To say that a Bill could be justified to the House of Commons and the Treasury which would leave out of its scope cases like that of Lord Clanricarde would be absurd. The speech of the Leader of the Opposition was a very interesting one, and during a portion of it he appeared to be taking a reasonable line of argument. He seemed to be arguing not in favour of the Amendment which excludud compulsion in the case of tenanted land altogether from the Act, but that there might be cases in which the tribunal could not be trusted to do justice to individuals. The right hon. Gentleman had drawn a picture of his idea of a planter who had invested his capital in the land, who was a genuine agriculturist living in peace and amity with the whole neighbourhood, and then he asked would it not be a monstrously unjust thing compulsorily to put that man out of his holding. The Bill suggested nothing of the kind. [Opposition cries of "Yes, it does."] The Bill gave a power and discretion to the Estates Commissioners to deal with those cases, but it did not provide that they were to be forced compulsorily to put out every man who was a new tenant of any land in Ireland. He would give the Committee an opposite case. Let them take as an instance a man who, perhaps, was a corner boy in some great city in Ireland, who was brought clown during the stress of the land war and put on to a farm under a nominal rent which was never collected from him, who had never worked the land, and who had been from that day to this a centre of trouble and disorder to the district. Did the Leader of the Opposition contend that in such a case this tribunal should not have the power, if it chose to exercise it, under strict regulations to remove that man from his holding and reinstate the evicted tenant? Manifestly if the Commissioners had not that power this Bill would not be a settlement of the question at all. The right hon. Gentle-man had said that the Government ought to put limiting words into the Bill. He wished to point out that limiting words 734 were already to be found in the third subsection which provided—No tenanted land shall be acquired compulsorily unless it is in the occupation of a new tenant to whom this Act applies and unless the Estates Commissioners, having regard to all the circumstances of the case, of the holding and the district, and of the cost involved, consider it expedient that the evicted tenant should be reinstated as a purchaser of the land.That was a distinct direction to the tribunal that before they compulsorily took over any tenanted land from a new tenant they must inquire into the circumstances of the case. That was to say, they must find out the character of the man, whether he was a genuine tenant and a good agriculturist; they must inquire into the circumstances under which he came there and take into account all the circumstances of the district, and unless they were satisfied, having regard to all these matters, that it was expedient for the purpose of carrying out the policy of the Act that he should be put out and the old tenant put back, they would have no power to exercise compulsion. He defied them to put into an Act of Parliament, a schedule of all the cases in which the tribunal was to reinstate a tenant or in which they were not to reinstate him. They must trust to the discretion of the tribunal, for it would be an improper thing to put powers of this kind into the hands of a tribunal which they could not trust. When they came to that point in the Bill hon. Members above the gangway would have an opportunity of stating their reasons for distrusting the Estates Commissioners. The Leader of the Opposition and hon. Members behind him had said that many of the Nationalist Members including himself were debarred from raising and arguing this question on account of declarations they made in 1903 to the effect that they did not want compulsion to be applied to the new tenant. He would like to remind the House of the circumstances under which those declarations were made. It would be remembered that the Land Act of 1903 was an entirely voluntary Act in every detail, and many of them took the strongest views and expressed them during the debate that in the end compulsion would probably have to be resorted to although they accepted the Act of 1903 as a great 735 experiment. Undoubtedly at that time they expressed the view that without compulsion the matter would not be finally and completely settled. Upon the question of the evicted tenants they were influenced by the fact that the Estates Commissioners were given great powers, and they were greatly moved at the time by the arguments of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover, who believed and stated that it would be a wise thing for the Nationalist Members to let that voluntary experiment be fairly tried. It was argued against that course that, whilst they did not apply legal compulsion, illegal compulsion was being applied by the Nationalist organisation, and the pressure of public opinion might be brought to bear upon those tenants to force them to go out. It was in reply to that remark that he made the statement which had been quoted. He stated that, so far as he was concerned, and so far as any influence which he possessed was concerned, compulsion outside of the law would not be applied to the planters. That pledge had been amply fulfilled since the Land Act of 1903 was passed. He knew of no outside compulsion having been brought to bear on these planters to compel them to give up their holdings. Certainly he had not used, and he had not advised the use of, such compulsion, and he had fulfilled to the letter the pledge which had been quoted from the speech he made in 1903. But now an entirely new situation had arisen. It was not a question now of outside intimidation at all. It was a question of applying legal compulsion to the whole system of land tenure established under the Act of 1903. In this instance the Government were proposing to apply legal compulsion only in a limited number of cases, and if they were to depart from the voluntary arrangement which was come to in 1903, and which he believed had proved in most essential respects a failure, and take up the principle of compulsion, why should it be applied to the landlords only and not to the new tenants? If they applied compulsion for the purpose of settling the evicted tenants question, it should be applied all round. There was no reason why it should be applied to one section 736 more than another. For these reasons he was glad the Government had taken up the attitude they had done, and he hoped they would give no undertaking whatever to introduce other words than were in Subsection (3) which, in his opinion, sufficiently limited the power and discretion of the Estates Commissioners.
§ MR. MOORE
said the Chief Secretary was singularly silent and diffident when he was asked to reconcile his own statements with the statements of the representative of the Government in another place. He preserved a very discreet silence, although in the concluding portion of his remarks he proceeded to qualify his statements by saying it would be a monstrous thing to turn out an honest, hardworking tenant. With regard to what the hon. and learned Member had just said, he had no hesitation in saying in his presence that for his own part, having read the entire debate on the passing of the Land Act of 1903, he construed the language which the hon. Member then used as a distinct pledge that there should be a settlement of the evicted tenants question for all time. There was to be neither indirect compulsion nor terrorism—as to which the hon. Member was able to give a pledge that there should be none—nor was there to be by legislation anything which would interfere with the status of the new tenants. The hon. Member might not have intended it, but he thought the House must be bound by his record. The hon. Member had said that, the only pledge he gave during the debate of 1903 was that indirect moral compulsion was not to be used against these men. The pledge the hon. Member gave went considerably further than that. The pledge he gave was that the voluntary settlement of the Act of 1903 was to be accepted as the concluding step in legislation as affecting the status of the new tenants; and that there was no intention to put into the Bill any provision by which pressure direct or indirect could be brought to bear on the existing tenants; and that he would not give his assent to any attempt compulsorily to get them out. Was not the Bill an attempt compulsorily to 737 get them out? From start to finish of the debate of 1903 a pledge was given by hon. Members below the gangway to accept the settlement of the evicted tenants question by voluntary proceedings, and in his judgment it was a distinct violation of that pledge now actively to support the present proposals. He thought some good might be done for Ireland if parties could agree, but there could only be agreement when mutual pledges were given and the minority taught that the pledges given by the majority would be loyally observed. [Laughter.] It seemed to be a matter of merriment to some Gentlemen that Parliamentary pledges of this nature should be entered into and then three and a half years after, although no case was made for it, be deliberately abandoned because a subservient Government was in power. The Bill proposed to settle the evicted tenants question by carrying out other evictions. Whom was it proposed to evict? It proposed to evict the people who had had the courage, enterprise, and industry at great risk to themselves to take up farms in different parts of the country twenty-five years ago. These were the people whom it was now determined to settle the whole evicted tenants question by expropriating. The right hon. Gentleman had said that where a new tenant was not a cause of disturbance he was to be allowed to stay. But there was the converse case. He appeared to be having ex parte reports from his friends the majority of the Estates Commissioners—[A nationalist member: Who appointed them?]—and he had laid down the proposition that when a man was a centre of disturbance—a euphemistic way of describing matters— he was to be evicted from his farm. In other words where he had been boycotted, his cattle driven off, and himself made unpopular, where he was exposed to the fulminations of the United Irish League, he there became, in the words of the right hon. Gentleman, a centre of disturbance. The Government were going to do what the United Irish League could not do. The two Estates Commissioners were going to complete the work which the United Irish League had failed to complete. The right hon. Gentleman had said that the British tax- 738 payer did not object to putting his hands into his pockets when justice required it, but he was not inclined to put his hands into his pockets when injustice was to be done. Unless this Amendment was accepted it would be the poor farmer who would suffer. The landlord would be allowed to remain untouched. And these were the provisions of a democratic Government! They were told that the solution of the difficulty lay in the fact that the Estates Commissioners were to have regard to the whole circumstances of the district. The right hon. Gentleman had let in a little light. He had told them that one of the circumstances might be that a man was unpopular or had acted so as to bring himself into disfavour with his neighbours. He could not understand anything easier than to get a man evicted under the provisions of this Bill. What could be easier than to get up a cry that such and such a man was unpopular? They had only to write to Dublin Castle and get a cohort of police sent down and the man became a centre of disturbance and had to go out. Up to now the Estates Commissioners had never acted judicially, but now when they would have two administrative officials sent down purporting to act judicially ad hoc, but holding office under the Lord-Lieutenant and obeying the directions of the Chief Secretary, the directions would be as the right hon. Gentleman had said, that the first thing to be done was to restore the evicted tenant to his holding and turn the new tenant out. That was one of the circumstances of the case, and he did not think the safeguard was one for which anyone would advance a farthing. In order to gratify resentment of loyalty in a particular neighbourhood, a man was to be driven out even although he might only have a 20-acre holding. Many of the new tenants had very small holdings, but, under the provisions of the Bill, instead of taking and putting an evicted tenant on un-tenanted land and giving him a 40-acre farm, they were going to gratify his old malice and spite and create fresh heart-burnings by turning out the new tenant in order to reinstate the evicted tenant. Sooner than give him 40 acres of untenanted land, they preferred to turn a planter out of his wretched 739 20 acres. Wherever they went there would be pitfalls, and they could not safeguard against injustice unless they inserted the word "untenanted." He and his friends had a deep interest in the question, because many of the new tenants came from the part of the country they represented. They were blood of their blood and bone of their bone. They had held their own successfully for a large number of years, and, if Parliament did not interfere unfairly, they would continue to do so in spite of all the United Irish Leagues. So far as they were concerned, even though Parliamentary pledges might be broken, and even if they were opposed by the Government majority, they would fight the cause of these men who were being unfairly treated, and endeavour to prevent the gross injustice which would result if tenanted land was unnecessarily acquired under the Bill.
§ COLONEL KENYON-SLANEY (Shropshire, Newport)
said he understood the taxpayers were to be asked to provide some of the necessary money, and he therefore wanted to know, before he consented to that money being used for the purposes of the Bill, how the measure was going to work. He understood that its object was to secure peace and harmony in Ireland by putting an end to all the trouble which had arisen from the evicted tenants question. Although the Chief Secretary considered the number of evicted tenants to be dealt with was something like 2,000, hon. Members who knew the circumstances put the number at not less than 8,000. It therefore seemed to him that the money the taxpayers were going to be asked to find would in reality be five times as much as that which the promoters of the Bill put forward. He wanted to know clearly from some representative of the Government whether they contemplated the reinstatement of 8,000 or 2,000 evicted tenants, and what were the grounds they had for putting the number of 2,000 forward. If they did not give their reasons they were not dealing fairly with the Committee. He thought that if the Amendment were carried and only untenanted land used, there would be considerably 740 less danger to the pockets of the taxpayer. The Chief Secretary had argued that their fears of injustice resulting to sitting tenants ought to be allayed by subsection (3). He could not see that. The Chief Secretary, on his own showing, had introduced a Bill with a provision which might produce monstrous results. It might lead to a gross and monstrous injustice, but he asked them to compose themselves because they were safeguarded by subsection (3). Anything more flimsy and valueless was never put in a Bill as a safeguard. The proposition was absurd. The circumstances of the case were to be considered by the Estates Commissioners, and therefore, the right hon. Gentleman said, there would be no injustice done. Would it be one of the circumstances compulsorily to turn out the planter, the honest tenant, in favour of the dishonest tenant? The main object of the Bill was to evict the tenant who was honestly in his holding and replace him by the man who was rightly evicted. Having turned the honest man out, they had to take into consideration the circumstances of the case. They were going to put an evicted tenant on a certain corner of an estate on terms absolutely different from those on which the other tenants on the estate held their holdings. There would arise an agitation among the other tenants for equal terms with the man who had replaced the honest man who had been evicted. If that resulted in a general lowering of rents and in upsetting the peace and harmony on the property, would the Commissioners give consideration to those circumstances of the case and award the landlord compensation for the injury inflicted upon him? Would they give any compensation to the other tenants who were in peaceable possession and who wished to remain so for the injury inflicted upon them by a man being put on the estate on perfectly different terms? He could not see that subsection (3) gave any real and reasonable protection against the monstrous possibility of injustice which the right hon. Gentleman had himself allowed was in the Bill. He had told them that he had made inquiries as to how the planters had been doing their work. It seemed to him that that was hardly the business of the right hon. 741 Gentleman. What business had he to concern himself with the way in which the tenants of other people were doing their duty? It. was for the landlords to be satisfied that their tenants were properly farming their land, and he regarded it as an unjustifiable interference on the part of the right hon. Gentleman that he should go poking his official nose into the relations between landlord and tenant. The right hon. Gentleman said he had come to the conclusion that they were doing their work well. That, however, would not save them under the Bill. However well they had done their work, and however satisfactory they were as tenants and neighbours, it would not save them. They might, under the Bill, be made to go out in order to be replaced by men who were not at all likely to be centres of peace, harmony, and concord. The Government were setting an absolute premium on disloyalty and doing their utmost to discourage loyalty and fair play. He could not see how the right hon. Gentleman had allayed their fears; he could not see how the condition of Ireland was going to be improved, and he was perfectly sure the English taxpayers were going to get no return for their money. If, therefore, there was not going to be fair play and honest treatment he thought they had a right to protest against the Bill and resent it by every means in their power.
MR, BARBIE (Londonderry, N.)
said that on the Second Reading of the Land Act it was brought out very clearly that even the most sanguine of the hon. Members below the gangway did not estimate that there were more than 1,000 evicted tenants likely to require any special treatment. Now, within the space of four years, they were dealing with a small army of over 8,000. Some of them had been already satisfactorily dealt with, and they were now asked to displace peaceful tenants who had been paying their rent and pursuing their industry as law-abiding citizens by a class which was allowed to be the pampered children of legislation. He regretted that the present Chief Secretary had soiled his fingers with the measure. He looked upon it 742 as doubly unfair to what might be termed the Land Act tenants and that increasing army Ireland had every right to be proud of, the farming proprietors. He was satisfied that the Chief Secretary had not grasped the tendency of this legislation. The right hon. Gentleman was bound to ask himself, Was it right that tenants who for one reason or another refused to pay their rent should be treated in a very exceptional manner? In the present state of Ireland, if this policy were adhered to, the Government would incur the gravest responsibility. He hoped that before the consideration of the Bill was far advanced they might find the Chief Secretary approaching the views held by Members on that side of the House and treating the Bill in a very different manner from that in which he had met the overtures of the hon. Member for North Armagh that afternoon. He wished to contest the idea that they, the Members from Ulster, represented the landlord class only.
The hon. Member is irrelevant. I cannot make out from his speech that he knows what the Amendment is about. The Amendment is that untenanted lands only should be subject to compulsory powers.
§ MR. BARRIE
said that he would not pursue that subject. He submitted, however, that the Amendment touched a very important part of the whole subject, that those tenant farmers who had become purchasers of the land and were therefore vitally concerned would be seriously prejudiced, and that the value of their land would be depreciated. He felt very strongly on the subject, representing as he did a constituency where tenant farmers were numerous.
§ * MR. BUTCHER (Cambridge University)
said he was not in the House when the Act of 1903 was carried, and therefore had not the advantage of listening to the Parliamentary compact which was then made. He had, however, studied the debates in the House on that subject. He thought he had read every word in Hansard which was then said on the evicted tenants question, and he was very much surprised to hear the version of those debates given that afternoon and also on the Second Reading of the Bill by 743 the hon. and learned Member for Water-ford. Not only the Leader of the Irish Party, but every man of importance in that Party agreed, at the time, as to the nature and meaning of the compact. In reading those debates he found that the hon. and learned Member for Waterford, the hon. Member for Cork, the Member for Louth, and other hon. Members, every one of them said the same thing, namely, that no pressure, direct or indirect, was to be brought to bear on these new tenants, that they were in no way to be molested, that if they quitted their holdings with their own consent, well and good, but if not, it was an end of the question. Not a word then about an "experiment," with a final resort to compulsion. In spite, however, of this clear Parliamentary compact, but for which the Act of 1903 would not have been passed, they had now before them a proposal for fresh evictions: and the men who were to be evicted were the men whose rights had then been solemnly guaranteed by the State. Surely any Englishman who valued honour and good faith would think it a base desertion of men who, on the plighted word of Parliament, took land at the risk of their lives, or at the risk of all that made life worth living. They were now told that they must go out, without any cause being assigned, except that they had made themselves unpopular. Why should not the evicted tenants, instead of the new tenants, be settled on the untenanted land? In the Report of the Estates Commissioners it was said that the evicted tenants were unwilling to go to a distance, and, secondly, that if they did so, they would meet with local opposition. If it was true, as he believed it was, that the evicted tenants would meet with what was euphemistically called local opposition, was it likely, with the history of the evicted tenants and the planters before their eyes, that the new tenants would have a happy time in the districts to which they were migrated? Yet the evicted tenants were to have their feelings spared at the expense of those others to whom both the State and the landlords were deeply committed by honourable obligation. It was said in the debates of 1903, and he had heard it repeated in the debate on this Bill, "Let us wipe out the past; the chapter of war has closed and the chapter of peace has begun."
744 That was the tone and temper of the House and of the Irish Party also at that time. And even now all Unionist Members were willing to wipe out the past and close that page. But the Government by this proposal for compulsory dispossession re-opened the page, they renewed the war, and if they were forced to enter into the respective merits of the two sets of tenants, could any impartial man maintain that those who had lived honestly and paid their rent had not prior claims to those who had refused to pay rent and had gone out at the bidding of an illegal conspiracy? What were the relative merits of the men whom the Government proposed to dispose of, and the men whom they proposed to put back on these holdings? He did not believe that any impartial man could have any doubt that the merits of men who had lived honestly and paid their way were greater than those who had not.
§ * THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. Cherry, Liverpool, Exchange)
said the hon. and learned Member for North Armagh had made one of his usual good fighting speeches, and had brought back to his memory the events which they went through twenty or twenty-five years ago in Ireland, giving a graphic history of the Ulster planters or of the new-tenants, and how they were maintained there, and would be maintained, by the gallant people of Ulster. They knew the fight went on for years and the hon. Member was most anxious that it should still go on. That was exactly what the Government did not want. They wanted to have an end to this land war. It was understood in 1903 that there would be an end to it and that this nightmare would cease.
§ * MR. CHERRY
agreed that that was so. But he said it became absolutely necessary now if they were to put an end to this land war. It was necessary in a small number of cases that compulsion should be applied.
§ MR. JAMES CAMPBELL
asked whether it was to be put an end to in 745 way the hon. and learned Gentleman suggested. Did the hon. and learned Gentleman intend to remove all the planters?
§ *MR. CHERRY
said it would be left to the Land Commissioners to say who should be removed and who not. He was anxious to point out to the Committee that the Government was not dealing unjustly with these tenants. Some Members were evidently not aware of the very generous terms offered by the Bill. When it was intended to dispossess a man, before a single step could be taken it was necessary that the Estates Commissioners should offer him a farm as valuable as that of which he was to be dispossessed. If he said ho wished to give up farming altogether and did not want another farm he could get lull compensation in the same way as he would get it if the holding was resulted by the landlord. They were seeking for fairness and justice to everybody. Was there anything harsh about the Bill? These men were to be taken away from a part of Ireland in which they said they were fighting for their lives and were to be placed in a peaceful part of the country. Were the Government to be debarred from taking these steps? Was one man to be allowed to keep a whole county in a turmoil? Supposing they had ten of these stalwart Ulster champions who came down in 1886 and nine were removed with their own consent, but-one obstinate man refused to go. [Cries, of "Well done ! "] Well done ! Yes, if he fought alone well and good; but he necessitated the Government fighting with a whole army of police They had been accused by hon. Members opposite in harsh terms of confiscation and so on. But they had cases in Ireland where one obstinate man had kept a whole county in a turmoil. It was for these people they were endeavouring to provide, and they could not provide for them in more specific terms than they were doing. They thought it was sufficient to leave it in the hands of the three gentlemen appointed by the late Government. They thought they could rely on their discretion, judgment, and sense of fair play as to what men should be 746 removed. If the Estates Commissioners decided it was necessary to remove a particular man, then before a step was taken he must be assured of having a better farm than that which he then occupied. There must be a limit to this thing and to the expense to which the Government were put. The Government were bound to protect these men, but they could not go on for ever employing armies of police; they must do something to put an end to the present state of things. He believed if the Bill were administered justly and fairly they would get rid of the land war without injustice to anyone. They wished to meet the fair demands of the landlords and the tenants and to put back all those who deserved to be reinstated.
§ MR. WALTER LONG (Dublin, S.)
said that the Committee had heard an astounding speech from a Minister who was wholly responsible, at all events as adviser to the Irish Government, for the peace of Ireland. The language in which that speech was couched was remarkable. The right hon. and learned Gentleman had said they only wanted to turn out certain people. He reminded the Government that they were deliberately by that Bill depriving themselves of the right to exercise control over the administration of the Bill by leaving it to the discretion of the Estates Commissioners. It had been the invariable practice of Parliament, when they were placing in another body duties of a responsible and difficult character, and if they did not give definite instructions, at least clearly to indicate in the Bill what the policy of that body ought to be. The Committee had had many assurances both from the Chief Secretary and from the right hon. and learned Gentleman, but anyone who looked into the Bill for an indication of the way it was to be administered would find indications of a most remarkable kind. If the right hon. and learned Gentleman's speech meant anything at all it meant that the eviction of new tenants was to be on a much larger scale than was indicated by the Chief Secretary. It meant a denial of the statement made by Lord Crewe in another place. It meant even more. It meant that these men whom he had termed the "storm centres"—and he had spoken in very 747 indignant terms of the obligation cast on the Government of the day to protect these men—it was because they were storm centres and not because they were bad farmers or unworthy men, that they were to be removed.
§ MR. LONG
The right hon. Gentleman referred to them as "centres of disturbance." The reason the Government were going to turn these men out was that they had become unpopular in their districts and it had become necessary to remove them. They had become unpopular because they had farmed their land well and endeavoured to lead peaceful and quiet lives, and the right hon. and learned Gentleman knew perfectly well the methods employed to make them unpopular. The further they got into the discussion of the Bill the more they found that its operation was likely to become more injurious to Ireland than they anticipated in the beginning. The right hon. and learned Gentleman began by saying that the Government introduced the Bill because they thought it would put an end to these unfortunate differences. Was the speech to which they had just listened likely to lead to a peaceful solution; when it was stated that a man was to be removed because he was centre of disturbance? How could it be said the terms of the Bill were generous? Was there any generosity in turning a man out of a holding he did not want to leave and transferring him to another farm in another part of the country to which he did not want to go? Generosity did not come into it at all. It was a question whether there was even fairness or justice in the proposals the Government in regard to the men turned out. At all events they knew now, from the Attorney-General's speech, what was the main object the; Government had in view. It was not the restoration of the evicted tenants, who wanted to get back to the homes of their fathers. They knew now that it was the man who had done his, duty, and was, therefore, unpopular, who was to be turned out and a stranger put in his place. The Attorney-General had told them that these new tenants who were 748 to be removed from their holdings to make way for evicted tenants were not only to be treated with generosity, but were to be moved to other farms; but it seemed to him that their first duty should be to do their utmost to put the evicted tenant on the acquired land before entering upon the process of evicting an honest and industrious man and moving him across the country to a farm which they must provide for him. Not only was the gravest injustice likely to be done to these new tenants on whose behalf his hon. friends had been arguing, but they introduced a complication into their procedure which was not likely by any means to bring about the result they desired, namely, the pacification of certain parts of Ireland. Nobody could desire the pacification of Ireland more than he, for he had been responsible for a short time for the government of Ireland, and they knew what the Government intended and wanted; but the hon. and learned Gentleman who was more powerful than they, had said in his speech, when challenged as to the language he had used with regard to the Act of 1903, that in the three years Which had elapsed since the passing of that Act, the scheme had broken down and the circumstances were entirely altered. What guarantee had the Government that before this Bill, if it became an Act, was two months old, it would not be again said that the conditions had altered, that this wretched Bill had produced no settlement of the question, and that a much larger and wider measure was necessary before these matters could be brought to a peaceful settlement? He believed that not only were the Government proposals, as explained by the Attorney-General, unjust, but that it was astounding that such principles should be enunciated from the Government Bench; and he believed that if that was the spirit in which this Bill was to be administered, instead of bringing peace to the disturbed districts, it was much more likely to inflame them and to increase their difficulties.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Louth, N.)
said he wished to point out to the Tory Party the strange and historic position in which 749 they were. For the first time in their history they were championing tenant right. Dining all the years he had been in that House they had stood up for the rights of landlords; but now their whole powers were completely concentrated on the tenant right of those who were called "planters." Was that their position in regard to the Land Act of 1881 and the Land Act of 1870; was that the position they took up with regard to the Agricultural Holdings (England) Act, or the Scottish Small Holdings or the English Small Holdings measures? Their whole career had been one of denunciation of the idea that the tenant had any right or interest in the soil whatsoever; whereas now the most extraordinary invocations went up at the idea of confiscating the rights of the new tenant, who was a mere excrescence, a wart as the result of the land war. If the present tenant was such an admirable person, one to be cherished, what would the English farmers be saying at the next general election? Let them go to Wiltshire, Cumberland, and the inland counties of England, and tell the stout, yeoman how they had fought for the land grabber, and then what would these yeoman say ought to be done for them? Who were these new tenants? Was it worth while to take this action with regard to them? They had given up to the Boers, without very much struggle, the rights of the planters whom they had sent out at enormous expense and at their risk, and there was not so much as a grunt in that House on the subject. It was said that there was no precedent for what was being done here. But let them take the case of the Hotel Cecil in the Strand. In that case respectable shopkeepers were turned out of their premises in order that the Hotel Cecil might be built, and that something might be obtained for the widows and orphans who had suffered by the operations of Jabez Balfour, Hobbs, and operators of that kind. If they were willing to do that for the first time in their history, and do it in the City of London for private gain, because it amounted to that, what case had they against the executive Government of the day who said that no doubt these people had acquired rights under the Land Act? What was the amount of hardship in- 750 flicted upon them? Some of them were admittedly persons who had been brought he did not care whether from the North of Ireland or elsewhere, and who were about as good farmers as he was. They knew nothing about farming; they were brought down surrounded by police, and were a standing source of trouble. The Conservative Government, to its honour—and he had always said that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover and the late Prime Minister deserved enormous credit for the manner in which they handled this question—went out of their historic course in order to appease matters in Ireland. What did the present Government propose to do? It said to these men: "Some of you may have to go; you are most admirable people, but you cost us too much in the way of police and too much local trouble." Not one of these men would be disturbed unless the three gentlemen appointed by the Tory Party—Mr. Wrench, Mr. Bailey, and Mr. Finucane—first said that it was equitable that any one of these planters should be dispossessed; and if an evicted tenant was restored to his former home, the excluded tenant would be provided with another farm and be paid suitable compensation. He remembered a Judge saying many years ago that there was hardly any question that ever came before the Court that could not be. solved by the application of the principle of costs. These men were to get compensation, and they should remember that this tribunal would conduct its operations under the vigilant and watchful eyes of hon. Gentlemen above the gangway. If there was a particle of injustice in this proposal the Tory Party, both in the Lords and in the Commons, could call attention to it. This was a small Bill, and he asked hon. Gentlemen above the gangway whether, for the sake of a small measure of this kind, it was worth their while to set the minds and thoughts of the Irish people once more into keen antagonism with the landlord class. It was useless for them to appeal to the Unionist Party in Ireland, because they were playing the old game. With them it was the Battle of the Boyne and they were defending the walls of Derry. He appealed to Englishmen who wanted a contented 751 Ireland to look at this matter with good sense, and believe that a tribunal composed of men appointed by the late Government was a proper and suitable one which would do no injustice.
§ MR. WYNDHAM (Dover)
said the hon. and learned Member had evidently altogether overlooked the most important factor in the case they were considering. This was not a question determined by the size of the operation contemplated by the Bill, and it was not a question of the competency of the tribunal set up. The real question was whether those who were sitting on the Opposition Benches were in 1907 to carry out the explicit pledges they gave in the year 1903. Speaking in that year on the, 29th June, during a debate in which the hon. and learned Member for Waterford contributed statements which had been quoted to-day, he, as the Minister responsible for commending that measure to the House of Commons, used these words—They practically came to an agreement on the previous Wednesday when he ventured to lay down three principles: (1) that it was desirable to settle the evicted tenants question; (2) that no pressure in favour of the evicted tenants should be put on those holdings now in the occupation of others; and (3) that in using the powers of this Bill to settle the land question, they ought not to single out one class for preferential treatment to the detriment of another class.That declaration was not challenged at the time, and it was on the strength of that statement that he was able to persuade a number of hon. Members to support that measure. It was notorious that in another place his statement was largely instrumental in reversing an adverse vote upon this very question of the evicted tenants. In the first instance the Government proposals were thrown out and upon being re-introduced they were carried on the strength of that declaration which he made as Minister in charge of the Bill. Under those circumstances he should vote for this Amendment, and it seemed to him impossible that any person in his condition could do otherwise than offer an uncompromising opposition to this clause in the Bill. The Chief Secretary for Ireland had said that he had to consider the social side of the Irish land question, and he quite agreed with him in that contention. He agreed 752 that much might be done by considering the social aspect of the question, but it was more important that those who had said a thing should stand by what they had said, and that was the course he proposed to take that afternoon.
§ MR. ASHLEY
said the hon. and learned Member for Louth had twitted the Tory Party with being champions in the cause of the new tenants in Ireland whilst they were opposed to conferring the same benefits on the tenants in England. Surely the hon. and learned Member forgot that the laws in regard to land in England were very different from those in Ireland. He appeared to have forgotten the passing of the Land Act of 1881 and the Act of 1903, and surely the least they ought to do was to see that the rights of any particular class of tenants under that Act were not whittled away.
§ MR. ASHLEY
said he would not press that view, although some hon. Members sitting near him differed from the hon. and learned Member on the point. The Attorney-General for Ireland seemed to take some exception to the speech made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Dublin, and his interpretation of the words he was supposed to have uttered. What the right hon. Gentleman asked was whether one obstinate man was to keep the whole country in a turmoil. That meant to say that the Government had concluded that a man who had broken no law, who was a good farmer, who was living perfectly within his rights, was no longer to have police protection afforded to him.
§ MR. ASHLEY
said that under the circumstances he had mentioned the Government claimed the right to turn the tenant out.
§ MR. CHERRY
said that if the Commissioners took that course they would 753 have to offer him a farm in another part of the country. No tenant would be removed to a holding in another part of the country against his will, and if he refused the offer he would be entitled to compensation.
§ MR. ASHLEY
said the fact remained that a man might be put out of his holding, where he was living peaceably, simply because the Commissioners thought the evicted tenant should be re-instated there. He wished to draw the attention of the Committee to a statement made by the Vice-President of the Board of Agriculture in 1894. He said—Ho could never be brought to vote for any proposal which said to a man who had lived peaceably for twelve or fourteen years upon his holding, 'You must give up your holding to the man who formerly had it.'The hon. and learned Member for Water ford in the course of his speech had very fairly drawn the opposite picture to that of the Leader of the Opposition. He had drawn a picture of a corner boy from one, of the cities who was not a genuine farmer and who ought not, he contended, to receive any consideration at the hands of the House. The hon. and learned Member stated that such a tenant might be assessed at a nominal rent which was never collected. According to his reading of the Act a man who did not pay any rent would not be included in this Amendment, because he would be living upon untenanted land. They would have just as much difficulty in placing these new tenants on other farms as in reinstating the evicted tenants. It was a matter of common knowledge that certain evicted tenants on the Clanricarde estate were assigned holdings on another estate at no great distance away. They were taken there under the ægis of one of the officials of the Estates Commissioners, and that caused such an outcry in regard to the land being wanted for the enlargement of uneconomic holdings that the whole scheme fell through. [A Nationalist Member: That is not, so.] The same difficulty would arise when they removed these new tenants, and he could not see how the provision of these new holdings was going to be carried out.
§ VISCOUNT TURNOUR (Sussex, Horsham)
said an hon. Member had stated that he could now go down to Essex and Wiltshire and tell the farmers there that the Opposition in this House were sup porting the land-grabbers in Ireland. Instead of that, let the hon. Member tell the farmers that they were opposing a Government which was bringing in a Bill to eject from their holdings perfectly honourable and honest men who were carrying on their business in a perfectly honourable way, on the ground that some visionary amateur revolutionists wished to see them ejected from their holdings; that the Government was too weak to protect them, having too much sympathy with those people to see that the tenants were retained in their holdings and proper protection was given to them for the carrying on of their business. Would the right hon. Gentleman also tell them that £2,000,000 of English money was being wrung from taxpayers who were not rich enough to give old-age pensions, in order that these men might be ejected, and that the amateur revolutionists might be put on the holdings? He had listened to some extraordinary speeches from the Attorney-General for Ireland, but he had never heard a more extraordinary speech from him than that which he had delivered that afternoon. There was something tragic besides comic in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. It was only one of a series of speeches made by members of the Government which were having, and would have, an unfortunate effect in Ireland, and would encourage rather than diminish lawlessness. It was an extraordinary thing to him that now, in the twentieth century, a member of a Government with an enormous majority behind it should declare that he was unable or unwilling to protect the people who were carrying on their business in a perfectly proper way—
§ MR. CHERRY
I did not say that: I said just the very reverse. What I said was that we are willing and anxious to protect them and will continue to do so.
§ VISCOUNT TURNOUR
said he distinctly understood the Attorney-General to say that this could not go on for ever. However, he did not wish to 755 dispute the right hon. and learned Gentleman's explanation, but he thought he would not dissent from him when he said that the whole object of the speech, and the meaning to be deduced from it, was to the effect that the Government could not afford protection to these men in the future.
§ MR. CHERRY
I said the very reverse. I said that as they were there we would continue to give them protection, but I said it was not a reasonable thing that they should insist upon staying there.
§ VISCOUNT TURNOUR
said that he had no wish to continue this rather Irish cross-examination. [nationalist cries of "Oh! oh!" and "Order! order!"] He meant nothing disrespectful to the right hon. and learned Gentleman. All he could say was that they on that side of the House were unfortunate in having put the construction they had put upon his speech. The inference drawn by himself and many of his friends was that the Government were unwilling to give protection in the future to these men. If that was not the construction which the right hon. and learned Member intended to be put on his words then he apologised for misconstruing what he had said. But, at any rate, the fact remained that what he himself said before still held good, and the right hon. and learned Gentleman did not deny it. He admitted that one of the great objects of bringing in the Bill was to remove those people who were carrying on their business in a perfectly honest way. He (Viscount Turnour) was entirely opposed to that view. These men were honest and honourable men, and they should be allowed to stay. What had struck him most about the speech was that the right hon. Gentleman was much more violent than the hon. Member for Waterford had been during the course of the debate in 1903. The. hon. Member for Waterford said it was not his intention to put in the Bill any pressure, direct or indirect, with regard to the planters, and that he would not sanction compulsory measures to get them out. He did not propose to deal with the reasons which led the hon. Member to alter his opinion in such an extraordinary fashion. What was more extraordinary 756 was the way in which the Government had out-Heroded Herod. The Attorney-General was much more violent in 1907 than the hon. Member for Waterford in 1903. To an English Member the whole thing was a continual puzzle.
§ VISCOUNT TURNOUR
said it appeared that in regard to agricultural problems in Ireland one had to be either a moonlighter or imprisoned. Every English Member and every Member representing an agricultural constituency should be opposed to this clause in the Bill if only on the ground that it proposed to prevent people from carrying on their business in a legitimate way. The Bill proposed to endow—perhaps it would be too strong to use the word lawlessness—but it proposed to endow certain people in Ireland whom he should think it was highly undesirable to endow, with two millions of English money. He hoped that the explanation which the Attorney-General had given would be noted in Ireland and thus prevent lawlessness which would otherwise have happened.
§ MR. BIRRELL
appealed to the Committee to come to a decision on the Amendment now before them. Many of the questions which had been referred to in the discussion would come up hereafter. The Bill having been reserved for Committee of the whole House, he hoped they would show a businesslike example by not unnecessarily prolonging the debate on this one point.
§ MR. JAMES CAMPBELL
said he would like to get an answer from the right hon. Gentleman on one matter There seemed to be a great controversy between the hon. Member for Waterford and the right hon. Gentleman as to whether the Bill was to apply to all the planters of Ireland. Speaking in another place Lord Crewe said he thought that the hon. Member for Waterford and the hon. Member for Cork City dealt with the point in 1903, and that they held the view which the Government also held, that when a man was shown to be a bona fit tenant farmer working his 757 land, and desiring to retain it, he certainly ought not to be dispossessed. That was the view of Lord Crewe a few days ago, but the hon. Member for Waterford had repudiated it, saying that that was all right four years ago, but the pledge given then had lapsed. The Bill of l903 was not a compulsory Bill and this was, and therefore the hon. Member appealed to the Chief Secretary not to give any assurance or make any qualification of any kind. It was impossible, listening to the extraordinary speech of the Attorney-General, to come to any other conclusion than that he agreed with the hon. Member for Waterford that it was essential in order to end the matter that all these planters should be turned out. If the right hon. Gentleman would say that he would give effect to what was the desire of the Government, and what the right hon. Gentleman had said was his desire also, that he would accept an Amendment which he would move later on that the compulsory powers were not to apply to any new tenant who used and occupied land as a tenant farm, some progress might be made, but unless he gave that assurance the Committee would be left in the position that, while they had the right hon. Gentleman saying he accepted the view of the Government expressed by Lord Crewe in another place, on the other hand they had the hon. Member for Waterford asking the Government not to give way on this point and to permit no qualification whatever.
§ MR. BIRRELL
said that the hon. Member for Waterford had read the language of sub-section 3 and expressed his opinion that that was sufficient to meet the necessities of the case; but that did. not arise on this Amendment as to untenanted land. They would have a fair opportunity of considering the Amendment of the right hon. and learned Member for Dublin University when they came to subsection (3). Certainly the language of Lord Crewe was not intended to be inconsistent with the language of the Bill. He was sure that nothing was further from Lord Crewe's intention than to use language which might be seized upon by hon. Members as showing that he differed from the Government. [An Hon. Member: What was his object?] His object 758 was to express his belief that under this particular clause the Estates Commissioners would be bound to take into consideration all the circumstances of the case. It was all very well to deal with imaginary cases, but there were plenty of planters in Ireland—he could not say that he was familiar with their names and places—whom it would be most unjust to remove. There were others who he thought could be removed under the liberal provisions of the Bill without any injustice whatever, and they had sufficiently indicated to the tribunal how they were to deal with the question, They were not entitled to acquire land compulsorily unless they were satisfied it was expedient in all the circumstances of the case that an evicted tenant should be restored. If hon. Gentlemen opposite were going to proceed as he thought they had shown some indication of proceeding—on the assumption that the Bill was going to be intentionally worked with injustice and so as to cause the greatest amount of social disturbance, he quite agreed that it was almost hopeless to use to them any argument; but the Government believed that that was not so. He thought the language was quite sufficient, but he was prepared to listen to any arguments of the right hon. Gentleman or anybody else when the Committee came to that particular subsection. He hoped that before long the Committee would come to a decision on this Amendment.
§ SIR F. BANBURY (City of London)
said the right hon. Gentleman had refused to accept the suggestion of his right hon. friend, but said they must trust the Commissioners, and that was his strongest argument. Let them consider what that came to. He did not for a moment think that any hon. Members on that side of the House viewed the Bill in the manner which the right hon. Gentleman had just suggested; they did not believe for a moment that the Bill was going to be worked in an unjust manner, or that that was the intention. What they did believe was that they were going to put into the hands of the Commissioners powers which they ought not to put into the hands of any tribunal, unless they hedged those powers about with clear directions as to the manner in 759 which they were to be used. He himself did not believe in putting the lives and property of any people in the power of three men, whoever they might be, without proper directions as to the way in which they were going to carry out those powers. An hon. Member had said that these Commissioners were appointed by the Conservative Party. He did not care whom they were appointed by; that did not alter the argument in the least; if they had been appointed by the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant he should have said the same thing, and lie believed the Chief Secretary would have put in as good a man as he could. Those three men might be changed: they might die, they might resign, and they might have all sorts of people put in their place—he did not mean put in wilfully, but by accident. Hon. Members might laugh, but he had heard them say over and over again that they did not agree with the findings of magistrates or judges. They had not brought any accusation of partiality against those judges, but they merely said they did not agree with their findings. The. Member for North Louth had asked why the Tory Party was on this occasion supporting the tenants instead of the landlords, and he regretted that that Gentleman was not now in the House, because he really rose to give him the reason. They were supporting these new tenants, as they were called, because they considered their cause was just. They had supported the landlords because they considered their cause was just, and the Tory Party, he believed, would always support a cause if they considered that it was just. He would also point out that the hon. and learned Member's illustration of the Hotel Cecil had nothing to do with the case in point. That was under a Private Bill of the London County Council to improve the communication between Holborn and the Strand.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
said the Bill was brought in for an improvement in the streets of London, and it had nothing whatever to do with the present case. The hon. and learned Member for Waterford and the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant said they could not accept this Amendment, because it would not make it a complete Bill. That meant that the tenants must be turned out of their homes; otherwise they would not get the land for the old tenants; and the result would be that the Treasury would have to pay an enormous sum of money, because whenever an evicted tenant was reinstated in his old home another evicted tenant would be created, and what was going to happen to him? Were they, as English taxpayers, to find land for the evicted tenant a second time? The Attorney-General said there was no question of confiscation because a new farm was provided. But why did he go through all this round-about procedure? Why not put the original evicted tenant into the new farm? He did not say where he was going to get the land from, but could he answer that question? He had got to get land for the planter. If he bad got a farm, why could not he put the old evicted tenant in it instead of turning out the planter? It seemed to him a very simple problem, and it was apparently so simple that he could not answer it.
§ MR. CHERRY
said his answer was that if a man had been in Ulster it would be foolish to put him in a farm in Con-naught.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
said they therefore came to the fact that it was a social and political result that was desired, and not merely justice to any particular class of people. It was because political pressure had been put on the Government by hon. Gentlemen below the gangway that they were to have this Bill. He was very glad for the admission of the right hon. Gentleman, who had made some very startling admissions during the course of that debate, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would contribute to the debates again, because his contributions were extremely interesting. He 761 had only one or two more words to say, and he did not think hon. Gentlemen below the gangway would like them. He was going to give another reason why the Tory Party was taking up this attitude. They believed in protecting a man who was only doing his duty, and they did not believe in protecting or giving a premium to a man who had failed to do his duty. The Tory Party believed that these evicted tenants were turned out because they broke their agreements and would not pay their rents. And if they were unable to pay their rents they were not competent people and ought not to be reinstated; if they could not make farming a success, and so could not pay their rents, they were incompetent people and were not likely to make farming a success. But if they could pay their rents, and did not do so, they were dishonest and ought not to be put back into farms occupied by honest men who had paid their rent, and for that reason, which he believed would appeal to all Englishmen, from whatever part of the country they happened to come, he should be only too willing to address an audience in his own town in furtherance of what he had said in his opposition to the Bill. No greater blow would be given to the present Government than would be given by their insistence on the passing of this unjust Bill.
§ MR. CHARLES CRAIG (Antrim, S.)
said the Attorney-General for Ireland had spoken in very eloquent terms about the generous treatment that was to be offered to the so-called new tenants, but he would like the House to consider what those terms were. This question was closely connected with the question of on whom the powers given by this Bill of deciding the price of the land to be taken were conferred. The Estates Commissioners, who they on that side of the House had no hesitation in saying had not in any way the confidence of the landlords in Ireland, had Tested in them most extraordinary powers. It was left to them, in the first instance, to say which of these new tenants ought to be dispossessed of their farms, and, in the second place, to decide practically what compensation was to be given to those new tenants 762 when dispossessed, and further the unfortunate new tenants were deprived of anything in the way of an appeal against the decision of the Estates Commissioners. He did not think any hon. Member opposite if he applied the circumstances they were discussing to an analogous state of affairs in this country, would for one moment admit that that was a fair or reasonable way of compensating a man if they proposed to take away his property.
The hon. Member is going into details as to what the Estates Commissioners will do, but that question arises much more upon subsection (3).
§ MR. CHARLES CRAIG
said the hon. and learned Member had called this tenant who was to be dispossessed of his holding an obstinate man, and he thought that that was a most unfortunate phrase for a Minister of the Crown to use in reference to any tenant or any person connected with land in Ireland. The effect of such an expression must be the same as that of numerous statements made during this session by the Chief Secretary, the Attorney General, and other members of the Government with reference to tenants in Ireland. What view did they think, in the event of this Bill not passing into law, the evicted tenants would take of such an expression as that? They would say that the Government was clearly at their backs in the matter; that the Government recognised their position and the hardships of it, and they would be determined to agitate as they had done in the past, and in the particularly horrible and lawless way which they were now doing, to be reinstated in their old farms. The right hon. Gentleman had stated that it could not be said that the tenants were being turned out of their farms, because they were to be put into other farms. But would he not consider he was being turned out of his house in Dublin if some authority said to him, "Out you go; you must go and live on the other side of the Liffey"? He would like to refer to the Report of the Estates Commissioners upon this matter. They said that they had already 80,000 acres of land in Ireland 763 which could be used for the purpose of reinstating or providing farms for evicted tenants, but they did not propose to use it for the purpose because the bulk of the land was needed for the enlargement of small holdings in the localities in which it was situated; also that the people in those localities would strongly object to the whole or even a considerable portion of the land being set aside for the evicted tenants. If the inhabitants of those localities would strongly object to the land being so used how much more would they object to any portion of it being used for providing farms for the new tenants evicted? Were they asked seriously by the Chief Secretary to believe that he would have no difficulty in finding other farms for these new tenants? The right hon. Gentleman would have more difficulty in finding farms for them than in finding farms for the evicted tenants. The hon. Member for North Mayo, speaking in Mayo—where there were thirteen or fourteen of these new tenants, who had been so rigorously boycotted that one by one they had had to throw up their farms, and only one, Mr. John Hare, who had the spunk in him to refuse to be dictated to, held out—used language which should not be condoned by the right hon. Gentleman who was responsible for the good government of Ireland. The hon. Member said that Jack Hare was a traitor and should be subjected to absolute, rigorous, and complete boycott.
said he did not quite see the relevance of these remarks to the particular Amendment under discussion.
§ MR. CHARLES CRAIG
submitted that that was a case of a man who was occupying land with which it was proposed to deal, and it was for the protection of such men that they proposed to confine the Bill to un-tenanted land. That man was on tenanted land and should not be interfered with.
* THE CHAIRMAN
said the matter with which the hon. Gentleman was dealing did not appear to be relevant to this particular Amendment.
§ MR. CHARLES CRAIG
said he was speaking against the proposal of the Government to take tenanted lands in cases of the kind to which he had referred. The Attorney-General for Ireland had referred to a man in this position as a nuisance to the neighbourhood, and said he was a centre of disturbance. It therefore seemed to him to be in order to refer to a very glaring case of this kind which had just happened.
§ MR. CHARLES CRAIG
said he would leave the matter where it was. They had heard an extraordinary speech from the hon. and learned Member for Waterford. They well recollected what took place in 1903. An Act of Parliament was passed which gave very considerable powers in regard to the reinstatement of evicted tenants. It was then most distinctly stated by the hon. and learned Gentleman, speaking on behalf of the Nationalist Party, that they looked upon that measure as a final settlement. This was particularly important, because the hon. and learned Gentleman had declared that this Bill would not satisfy him as the Irish Council Bill also had not satisfied him, and therefore this Bill he supposed would be dropped. The fate of the Bill was in the hands of the hon. and learned Member for Waterford. Assuming, however, that the hon. and learned Gentleman did say that he regarded the former Bill as being in the nature of an experiment to which he was willing to give a fair trial, he(Mr. Craig) said that it had not had a fair trial. He went further and said that the particular clause dealing with this question in the Act of 1903 had affected 50 percent. more than the hon. and learned Gentleman ever expected that it would do. At that time, talking of the evicted tenants, the hon. and learned Gentleman said that their number was very small, and that the whole question could be settled for £100,000; and from the speeches of himself and hon. Members below the gangway it was clear that he expected that the very outside number of evicted tenants of all sorts who would have to be provided with new farms would not exceed 500 or 600. That being so, the hon. and 765 learned Member had no right to get up and say that the situation had been changed, because the Nationalist Party most clearly showed by their action upon the Bill of 1903 that they meant the clauses therein contained should put an end to the evicted tenants question. Therefore he said that it was dishonest for them now to state the contrary. [Cries of "Oh."] Their action had throughout this matter been dishonest. [Cries of "Order, order," and "Withdraw."] They most distinctly stated their intentions, and on the strength of their statements the Bill of 1903 went through, it being fully intended that that measure should put an end to the question. No new situation had arisen to call for the interference of Parliament, and the hon. and learned Gentleman knew that more people had been reinstated than he ever thought of at all. On these grounds he thought the Nationalist Party was bound to oppose, as the Members for Ulster were opposing, this Bill. The Bill asked for powers in regard to tenanted land which, in his opinion, would create great hard- ship. The Attorney-General for Ireland said they could trust the Estates Com-
§ missioners, but they did not do so. At all events he did not do so. He objected to there being placed in their hands such extraordinary powers which were not given even to Judges in this country. He regretted very much that the right hon. Gentleman did not see his way to meet them in this respect. The question of permitting the Estates Commissioners to take tenanted land was probably the most important part of the Bill. No justification had been shown for it. The only argument the Chief Secretary had used was that the reinstatement of evicted tenants was not proceeding as fast as it ought. But more evicted tenants had actually been reinstated than were supposed to exist. He still hoped the Chief Secretary would either now or at a later stage remove the very strong feeling entertained by Irish Members against this particular clause and modify it in the direction they asked for.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 66; Noes, 257. (Division List, No. 289.)767
|Anson. Sir William Reynell||Fell, Arthur||Muntz, Sir Philip A.|
|Ashley. W. W.||Fletcher, J. S.||O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens|
|Baldwin. Alfred||Forster, Henry William||Percy, Earl|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J.(CityLond.)||Hardy,Laurencc(Kent,Ashford)||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Harrison- Broadley, H. B.||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Banner, John S. Harmood.||Hay, Hon. Claude George||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry,N.)||Hill, Sir Clement (Shrewsbury)||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Beckett. Hon. Gervase||Hills, J. W.||Sheffield, SirBerkeleyGeorge D.|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Houston, Robert Paterson||Smith, AbelH. (Hertford, East)|
|Butcher, Samuel Henry||Hunt, Rowland||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Campbell. Rt. Hon. J. H. H.||Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir John H.||Starkey, John R.|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Kenyon-Slaney, Rt. Hon. Col. W.||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Keswick, William||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Cave, George||King, Sir Henry Seymour (Hull)||Thomson, W. Mitchell-(Lanark)|
|Cavendish, Rt. Hon. Victor C.W.||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Liddell, Henry||Turnour, Viscount|
|Chamberlain. Rt. Hn. J.A.(Wore.||Lockwood. Rt. Hn. Lt.-Col. A.R.||Walker, Col. W.H.(Lancashire)|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Dublin, S.||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Courthope, G. Loyd||Lonsdale, John Brownlee|
|Craig, Charles Curtis(Antrim,S.)||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Doughty, Sir George||Magnus, Sir Philip||Sir Alexander Acland-Hood and|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers.||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Viscount Valentia.|
|Duncan,Robert (Lanark,Govan||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.|
|Faber, George Denison (York)||Moore, William|
|Abraham, William (Cork, N.E.)||Ambrose, Robert||Baker, JosephA. (Finsbury, E.)|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Armitage, R.||Balfour, Robert (Lanark)|
|Agnew, George William||Astbury, John Meir||Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth)||Barker, John|
|Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Goddard, Daniel Ford||Meehan, Patrick A.|
|Barnes, G. N.||Gooch, George Peabody||Menzies, Walter|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst||Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)||Micklem, Nathaniel|
|Barry, RedmondJ. (Tyrone, N.)||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Money, L. G. Chiozza|
|Beck, A. Cecil||Gulland, John W.||Montagu, E. S.|
|Bell, Richard||Gurdon, Rt Hn. Sir W. Brampton||Mooney, J. J.|
|Benn, SirJ. Williams (Devonp'rt||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius||Morrell, Philip|
|Berridge, T. H. D.||Hall, Frederick||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas|
|Bertram, Julius||Halpin, J.||Murnaghan, George|
|Bethell, SirJ. H.(Essex, Romf'rd||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis||Murray, James|
|Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon||Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)||Napier, T. B.|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Harvey, W.E.(Derbyshire, N.E||Nicholson, CharlesN. (Doncast'r|
|Boland, John||Haworth, Arthur A.||Nolan, Joseph|
|Brace, William||Hayden, John Patrick||Norton, Capt. Cecil William|
|Branch, James||Hazleton, Richard||O'Brien, Kendal (TipperaryMid)|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Healy, Timothy Michael||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Brooke, Stopford||Helme, Norval Watson||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)|
|Brunner. J.F.L. (Lancs., Leigh)||Henderson, J.M.(Aberdeen, W.)||O'Grady, J.|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Henry, Charles S.||O'Kelly, James(Roscommon, N.|
|Burke, E. Haviland.||Hobhouse, Charles E. H.||O'Malley, William|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Hodge, John||O'Shaughnessy. P. J.|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Hogan, Michael||O'Shee, James John|
|Byles, William Pollard||Holden, E. Hopkinson||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Cameron, Robert||Holland, Sir William Henry||Partington, Oswald|
|Causton, Rt. Hn. RichardKnight||Hope, John Deans (Fife, West||Philipps, J. Wynford (Pembroke|
|Cheetham, John Frederick||Horniman, Emslie John||Philipps, Owen C. (Pembroke)|
|Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Hudson, Walter||Picker gill, Edward Hare|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Hyde, Clarendon||Pirie, Duncan V.|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Jackson, R. S.||Pollard, Dr.|
|Cleland, J. W.||Jardine, Sir J.||Power, Patrick Joesph|
|Clough, William||Johnson, John (Gateshead)||Price, C. E. (Edinb'gh, Central)|
|Clynes, J. R.||Johnson, W. (Nuneaton)||Price, Robert John(Norfolk, E.)|
|Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Radford, G. H.|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Jones, William(Carnarvonshire)||Rainy, A, Holland|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Joyce, Michael||Raphael, Herbert H.|
|Craig, HerbertJ.(Tynemouth)||Kelley, George D.||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Crean, Eugene||Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Redmond, William (Clare)|
|Cremer, Sir William Randal||Kilbride, Denis||Rees, J. D.|
|Crooks, William||King, Alfred John (Knutsford)||Richards, T. F. (Wolyerh'mpn|
|Crossley, William J.||Laidlaw, Robert||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Cullinan, J.||Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Curran, Peter Francis||Lambert, George||Robinson, S.|
|Davies, David(MontgomeryCo.||Lamont, Norman||Roche, Augustine (Cork)|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Roche, John (Galway, East)|
|Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.)||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)|
|Davies, W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Leese, Sir JosephF. (Accrington)||Schwann, C. Duncan (Hyde)|
|Dobson, Thomas W.||Levy, Sir Maurice||Schwann, Sir C. E. (Manchester)|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Lewis, John Herbert||Scott, A.H.(Ashton under Lyne|
|Duffy, William J.||Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||Seaverns, J. H.|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness||Lough, Thomas||Seddon,J.|
|Dunn A. Edward (Camborne)||Lundon, W.||Seely. Major J. B.|
|Dunne MajorE. Martin (Walsall||Lupton, Arnold||Shackleton, David James|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Luttrell, Hugh Fownes||Shaw, Rt. Hon. T. (Hawick B.)|
|Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Lynch, H. B.||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Elibank, Master of||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Ellis, Rt. Hon. John Edward||Macdonald, J.M. (FalkirkB'ghs||Silcock. Thomas Ball|
|Erskine, David C.||Mackarness, Frederic C.||Simon. John Allsebrook|
|Essex, R. W.||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John|
|Esslemont, George Birnie||Macpherson, J. T.||Smeaton. Donald Mackenzie|
|Everett, R. Lacey||MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down. S,)||Smyth. Thomas F.(Leitrim, S.|
|Faber, G. H. (Boston)||MacVeigh, Charles (Donegal, E.)||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Farrell, James Patrick||M'Callum. John M.||Spicer, Sir Albert|
|Fenwick, Charles||M'Hugh, Patrick A.||Steadman. W. C.|
|Flynn, James Christopher||M'Kean, John||Stewart-Smith. D. (Kendal)|
|Fuller, John Michael F.||M'Killop, W.||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Fullerton, Hugh||M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)|
|Gardner, Col. Alan (Hereford, S.)||Mallet, Charles E.||Stuart, James (Sunderland)|
|Gilhooly, James||Markham, Arthur Basil||Summerbell, T.|
|Gill, A. H.||Marnham, F. J.||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hn. HerbertJohn||Mason, A. E. W. (Coventry)||Tennant, Sir Edward (Salisbury|
|Glen-Coats, SirT. (Renfrew, W.)||Massie, J.||Thomas, SirA.(Glamorgan, E.)|
|Glendinning, R. G.||Masterman, C. F. G.||Thorne, William|
|Glover, Thomas||Meagher, Michael||Toulmin, George|
|Ure, Alexander||Weir, James Galloway||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Verney, F. W.||White, George (Norfolk)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)||White, Luke (York. E. R.)||Winfrey, R.|
|Walsh, Stephen||White, Patrick (Meath, North)||Wood, T. M'Kinnon|
|Walton, SirJohnL. (Leed,S.)||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax||Young, Samuel|
|Ward,W. Dudley (Southampton||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Wardle, George J.||Williamson, A.|
|Wason,JohnCatheart(Orkney)||Wilson,Henry J. (York, W.R.)||TELLERS FOB THE NOES—|
|Waterlow, D. S.||Wilson. John (Durham, Mid.)||Mr. Whiteley and Mr. J. A. Pease.|
|Watt, Henry A.||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)|
§ MR. J. F. MASON (Windsor)
said the Amendment of which he had given notice was to insure that before compulsion was resorted to an honest attempt should be made to secure by agreement the objects the Government had in view. There was plenty of land in Ireland which could be bought—and bought in the locality in which it was required. But sellers, to be willing sellers, undoubtedly expected to get a fair price for their land and its equipments.
§ MR. JAMES CAMPBELL
suggested that as he himself had an Amendment down at a later stage which raised the whole question perhaps his hon. friend would not move this Amendment and thus save time.
§ *MR. ASHLEY, (Lancashire, Blackpool)
in moving to leave out the word "compulsorily," said that he would not repeat the arguments which he had used on his Amendment to leave out the Subsection (1). But he might say first of all that he objected to compulsion because it was a breach of faith with the landlords in reference to the compact arrived at in 1903. In the second place, the insertion of the word "compulsorily," in his opinion, was creating a dangerous precedent for the benefit of individuals and not for the benefit of the community as a whole. If the Committee thought they would settle the question by inserting the word "compulsorily," and allowing the Commissioners to take land where they liked and at what price they liked, for the sake of some two thousand tenants for whom 80,000 acres of land were to be provided at a cost of something like £2,000,000, all he could say was that they would by no means close the open sore of which the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary 770 had spoken, and they would not bring any finality into the question. What did the Committee imagine that the other 5,400 tenants would do? These tenants had been excluded from any participation in the Act of 1903, and they were to be excluded from the benefits of the present Bill. Was it supposed that they would calmly sit down and not start a new agitation to be included within the scope of the Bill if it were passed into law? They knew perfectly well that there had been no finality in land legislation in Ireland. Yet they were deliberately passing an Act to include 3,000 heads of families and to exclude 5,400. The argument that compulsion would bring about finality would not hold water for a moment. The Committee ought to ask two questions: first, could this land be provided voluntarily, and, secondly, how many of these evicted tenants were they to provide for? On October 29th last year, when he was being questioned about the working of the Act of 1903 with regard to the evicted tenants, Mr. Bryce said—He entirely denied that it could be fairly said that the Act had failed in dealing with the evicted tenants; not even substantially.In the face of that statement it was surely a very serious request to make of the Committee that they should depart from the voluntary principle which Mr. Bryce said had worked so successfully, and pass a measure to confer on the Estates Commissioners compulsory powers to purchase land. He would ask the Committee to turn to Section 40 of the Report on the Irish Land Act, 1903, which had been presented lately to the House by the Chief Secretary who, in the course of his speech in introducing this Bill, had urged hon. Members to look at the Report, which he said contained most interesting and important information that would enable them to form an unbiassed and proper judgment on the merits of this question. He had noticed 771 that Section 40 was carefully avoided by the hon. and learned Member for Waterford, but he had quoted No. 41, which he found in his favour. He must read this section to the House, for it was really of very considerable importance—Proceedings have been instituted by owners, and are at present pending for the sale to the Commissioners of about 80,000 acres of untenanted land offered under Sections 6, 7, and 8 of the Act, but the bulk of the land thus offered, if ultimately acquired, is needed for the enlargement of small holdings in the localities in which the land is situate, and the people of these localities would strongly object to the whole, or even a considerable portion, of the lands being set aside to meet the requirements of evicted tenants alone; nor is it probable that evicted tenants would be willing to take land at a distance from their former holdings, and in localities where their introduction would meet with local opposition. Moreover, the purchase of untenanted land under the powers given by the Act of 1903 is necessarily slow, inasmuch as it depends on the consent of the owner and proof of title to the purchase money.They gathered from that paragraph that the Commissioners were within a reasonable distance of being in possession of 80,000 acres of untenanted land, the bulk of which was wanted for the tenants in the localities where the land was situated, in order to bring uneconomic holdings up to the level of economic holdings. Therefore, in the opinion of some people it was undesirable to allocate the land to evicted tenants, and, therefore again, the Government said that they must have compulsory powers to acquire land somewhere else. Mr. Bryce on 29th October of last year said—The quantity of untenanted land is limited, especially in Ulster and Minister. Even in Connaught lie believed there was not more than one-third of what would be wanted to raise all small uneconomic holding to the level of reasonable economic holdings.That was to say that only one-third of the land necessary to raise uneconomic holdings to economic holdings and make them of the proper size was available. Whether they put compulsion in the Bill or whether they did not, they could not make more land than there was; and the only course, he supposed, was that the Government would take the land for the evicted tenants which ought to go to increase, the uneconomic holdings into economic holdings, and thus deprive the tenants of the locality who ought to have it.
*THE DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Mr. CALDWELL)
said there had recently been a division which showed the number of Members present, and it was not usual to count the House when a division had been recently taken, and the number of Members in the House had been thus ascertained.
§ MR. ASHLEY
said he would like the right hon. Gentleman to explain how if there was only one-third of the land of a locality available to make uneconomic holdings into economic holdings, they were going to increase the amount of "land available by this Bill? If what Mr. Bryce said was true, they would have to give a preference to the evicted tenants over the law-abiding tenants, and the land would be taken away from the law-abiding tenants and the new tenants—land, which if it was taken at all, ought to go to them. He thought he had successfully proved that as far as the land was available in Ireland, such land could be got without compulsion, and, therefore, as far as that was concerned, the word "compulsorily" was unnecessary. The second point was whether the House was bound to provide land for all the evicted tenants. He would go as far as to say that he would support a measure which would compulsorily take land on the Plan of Campaign estates in order to reinstate the evicted tenants there, and for this reason, that he considered that the people, who had been evicted from those estates had been led astray by the persons who had given them bad advice. They had suffered seriously for their sins, while those who had given them bad advice had not been punished. He thought that those tenants had been punished sufficiently, and therefore ought to be reinstated, if necessary, compulsorily. But nobody would get up and say that it was necessary to bring in this complicated Bill in order to obtain compulsory powers to reinstate tenants on the Plan of Campaign estates. There were seventeen of these estates, of which fifteen had been disposed of, leaving only two to be dealt with, the 773 Clanricarde estate and the Lewis estate. On the Clanricarde estate he understood that there were 126 applications, and on the Lewis estate thirty-five, making a total of 161. He imagined that it would not be contended that the whole of the 161 were genuine claims, if they looked to the fact that out of 8,400 claims 5,400 had already been refused by the Commissioners. In 1893 there were only 900 evicted tenants on the whole of the Plan of Campaign estates, and 800 of them had since been reinstated. Under those circumstances he should have thought that compulsory powers would not have been necessary. The suggestion to confer compulsory powers ran counter to the opinion of three classes in Ireland—the landlords, the tenants who would be turned out, and, he could not but believe, the ordinary tenants also, by whom, in most districts, untenanted land was looked on as their heritage. He did not think any hon. Member would deny that in most parts of Ireland the present tenants considered that if the untenanted land was taken out of the hands of the landlords it ought; to be applied to increasing the size of the uneconomic holdings. This measure was intended to do away with a long-standing sorrow, and in order to carry out this object they were creating a new hardship in respect of the ordinary tenants. The general trend of all policy up to the year 1903 with regard to Irish land legislation was that the landlords should be allowed to continue in occupation of their dwelling-houses, demesnes, and untenanted land, and that the tenants should be made owners as soon as possible-It was very necessary that sufficient land should be kept to allow tenants to enlarge their holdings. The Chief Secretary had tried to win their assent to these compulsory powers by dwelling on the deplorable condition of the crops in the west of Ireland. But the evicted tenants, poor people, had got no holdings or crops, and to urge them to pass compulsory powers for the reinstatement of the evicted tenants because the present tenants had bad crops was a false issue.
Order, order! Obviously the hon. Member is making a second reading speech and he must confine himself to the Amendment.
§ MR. JAMES CAMPBELL
pointed out that at the special request of the Chairman his hon. friend had refrained from moving his Amendment, on the assurance that when this particular Amendment was reached the whole question could be gone into. [Cries of "No, no."] He made that-statement without any fear of contradiction.
It is not a question of discussing compulsion, but whether the discussion should be allowed to extend over the whole range of the Bill as if it were a Second Reading debate. If that were allowed, the discussion in Committee would be interminable. There is no objection whatever to discussing compulsion, and any arguments against granting compulsory powers will have the most unlimited scope, but not speeches of a Second Reading character.
§ MR. ASHLEY
said the right hon. Gentleman had tried to induce the Committee to assent to this principle of compulsion by pointing out that the crops in the West of Ireland were in a very deplorable condition. Surely that had nothing to do with the case. It should not be forgotten that they were dealing in this case with tenants who had no crops, and consequently the right hon. Gentleman had raised a false issue. Why was this Bill brought in? The real reason was that it was a sop to hon. Members below the gangway. The Government found themselves in a difficulty. They forget the Jarrow election and were prepared to do anything in order to obtain the support of hon. Members below the gangway. He strongly objected to this compulsory clause. It would do no good, and what was more it would do a great deal of harm by preventing that finality in this matter which they all wished to see. He begged to move.
In page 1, line 7, to leave out the word ' compulsorily.' "—(Mr. Ashley.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word ' compulsorily' stand part of the clause."
§ MR. CHERRY
said he did not think the hon. Member would be at all surprised when he informed him that the 775 Government could not accept this Amendment. The hon. Member must be aware that these compulsory powers were the essence of the Bill. Indeed, the Bill would be almost unnecessary except for compulsion, as the Estates Commissioners under the Act of 1903 had considerable powers in regard to the acquisition of land. It had been found that the whole problem could not be dealt with satisfactorily without these compulsory powers. He might say, on behalf of the Government, that, of course, they did not intend that these powers should be put in force unless it was necessary, and they believed that by taking them they would facilitate and increase the opportunities of voluntary settlement. He thought the speech of the hon. Gentleman showed that he also was of opinion that these evicted tenants ought to be reinstated.
§ MR. CHERRY
said that, of course, compulsion was required to reinstate tenants on the Clanricarde estate. Owing to the attitude of Lord Clanricarde compulsion was necessary.
§ MR. CHERRY
replied that he did not say that that was the only estate where compulsion was necessary. He believed there were other estates in that position. It would be a strange thing to pass a special Act of Parliament to deal with a particular estate. There was at present a very limited amount of land available. That amount of land would undoubtedly be increased if compulsory powers were provided. He was quite sure that if the Bill did anything it would increase the amount of land available for purchase, both voluntarily and compulsorily. The Government were quite satisfied that the Estates Commissioners, as sensible men, would not exercise these compulsory powers unnecessarily
§ MR. T. L. CORBETT
said that after the speech which the Attorney-General for Ireland had just delivered, it was 776 not surprising that not a single supporter of the Government sat behind him. The Chief Secretary and the Attorney-General were left alone to defend their forlorn cause so far as Ireland was concerned. Their followers trusted rather to the big battalions that flocked in when the division bells rang than to arguments addressed them in the course of debate. So far as the word "compulsion" was concerned, he was not afraid of it. He had himself voted, in the last Parliament, for compulsory purchase, and in doing so he voted against his own Party. But what were the conditions of compulsory purchase in the Bill? The Government proposed to apply compulsion for the benefit of men who had not kept their contracts, nor paid rent, at the expense of those who had. He regretted the remarks of the Attorney-General about his absolute want of sympathy with those who fulfilled their contracts, and acted like honest men. The Bill, in his opinion and that of his friends, was a deliberate attempt to subsidise the dishonest at the expense of the honest. It ought to be called not an Evicted Tenants Bill, but a Convicted Tenants Bill. They all, he was sure, pitied these unfortunate tenants, mostly belonging to a very ignorant class who were the dupes and victims of the United Irish League, and of those who ought to know better; and still more they pitied their wives and children. He often wondered why these wounded soldiers of the land war did not benefit more from the Nationalist war chest. He could not help thinking that it was very unjust that the principle of compulsion should be applied at the" expense of honest—he was speaking of men he represented in the North of Ireland—at the expense of honest, rent-paying—[A NATIONALIST Member: "God-fearing."]—yes, God- fearing men. He was not ashamed of the phrase "God-fearing." The evicted tenants had been led into breaking the law through ignorance, and they were the dupes and victims of the unfortunate campaign which was carried on in Ireland. Although a strong advocate of compulsory purchase and one who had always voted for it, he was not prepared to apply that principle on behalf of dishonest men who had not done their 777 duty, at the expense of honest men who had.
§ MR. JAMES CAMPBELL
said it was evident that this was perhaps the most important Amendment which would be submitted. That fact was appreciated by the Chairman, who had staged that he did not propose to limit the discussion seeing that the essence of the Bill was to be found in the compulsory proposals.
*THE. DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Mr. CALDWELL)
Of course, the discussion must necessarily be limited to the Amendment. If the essence of the Bill is to be found in the compulsory powers, the principle of compulsion will have been affirmed by the House on the Second Reading.
§ MR. JAMES CAMPBELL
said there was, of course, a limit to everything. He was speaking of reasonable discussion, and he proposed to deal with the subject on those lines. He was interested and amused at the statement of the Attorney-General that he was quite prepared to entrust this matter to the discretion of the Estates Commissioners. He was not enamoured of that body. He was in a position to know the opinion of one class of the community in Ireland as to the way in which they had been treated by the Estates Commissioners. He did not profess to know who was to blame, but he could tell the Chief Secretary that throughout the length and breadth of Ireland every landlord believed that he had not been justly treated by the Estates Commissioners.
§ MR. JAMES CAMPBELL
said he had not met one in the last three years who thought he had been fairly treated. In almost every part of Ireland the landlords complained that the powers of the Estates Commissioners, under the Act of 1903, had been grossly abused to their injustice. He did not know whether the landlords were right in that or not, but that was the universal opinion of the landlord class. The Committee were asked to leave this to the discretion of the Estates Commissioners. The Attorney-General had mentioned by way of illustration the case of a railway company em- 778 powered to acquire land compulsorily, and stated that if they could act by agreement they did not enforce their compulsory powers. But the right hon. Gentleman forgot to state that the railway company did not fix the price under their compulsory powers. In this case he had to deal with the Bill as he found it. He could not anticipate that the monstrous provisions which enabled the Estates Commissioners to be the judges in their own cause were going to be amended. Up to the present he had seen no indication of a temper to amend the Bill in any shape or form, to make it work justly and harmoniously. It was ludicrous to talk of putting confidence in the Estates Commissioners when they were to be the purchasers and to fix their own price. There was to be no appeal from them. They were to be placed in a position under Act of Parliament which no other body occupied in this or any other civilised country. He challenged right hon. Gentlemen opposite to quote a single case, in which Parliament had ever sanctioned the exercise of compulsory powers by a public body who were themselves to fix the price, and from whose decision as to the amount there was to be no appeal. No such a case could be found.
§ MR. JAMES CAMPBELL
said the hon. Member was talking of a different thing altogether; he was talking of a case in which Parliament under certain conditions provided that where three-fourths of the tenants of a property wanted to purchase, those three-fourths were to override the one-fourth. Did anyone pretend that that was an analogy or had any resemblance to the gross and extraordinary injustice that this Bill would perpetrate by appointing those gentlemen who it was asserted, rightly or wrongly, had forfeited the confidence of the entire community for whom they had to administer this code? Whoever was to blame, the fact was— and he challenged contradiction—that throughout the length and breadth of Ireland the landlords had ceased to have any confidence in the majority of the Estates Commissioners. That being so, could anything be more grossly 779 unjust? It was a ludicrous suggestion to say that the difficulties and the in-justice of the Bill were no worse and to greater than Parliament perpetrated, when it conferred on railway or other companies the power to acquire land compulsorily. In every such Act of Parliament of which he knew, the railway company had to go before an arbitrator, and if the owner of the land was not satisfied with what the arbitrator gave him he could appeal and have that decision tested elsewhere; but in this extraordinary Bill—the out come of terror, of fright, of a desire to survive the effects of the recent convention in Ireland—for the first time in the history of legislation in this country, it was proposed to hand over the right to deal with other people's property to a public body who were themselves to fix the price they would give, and as to whose decisions, either as to compensation or any question of fact, there was to be absolutely no appeal. That was the first respect in which the compulsory powers of this Bill would operate with the greatest injustice, but there was another very important respect in which they would have the same result, and that was as regarded the purchasing tenants under the Land Purchase Act of 1903. All over Ireland, on the part of landlords and tenants alike, there was bitter complaint against the delays in the office of the Estates Commissioners. It might be that that was in part due to the fact that they had never been able to get the staff from the State that they asked for, and it was also due to a large extent to the amount of red tape with which the Department was bound up; but whatever the cause, there had been for the last two years bitter complaints on the part of tenants as well as of landlords, as to the delay. Hon. Members below the gangway knew perfectly well that after a tenant had signed an agreement to purchase his holding he was subject to interest. That interest was less than; his rent, but more than his annuity would be thereafter. And every day of delay in the payment of the purchase money he was paying in the shape of interest a heavier rent than he would have to pay if the transaction was concluded in good time. What would be, the effect of taking away the Estates Commissioners 780 from their ordinary duties under the Land Purchase Act and devoting them to the compulsory acquisition of land for the purpose of restoring a number of evicted tenants? What was the justification for it? Would anyone who was in that House in 1903 or had read the debates in that year say that Parliament ever contemplated that the evicted tenants question was to be put in the forefront to the prejudice of the ordinary purchasing tenant? The thing was ludicrous. The question of evicted tenants was only incidental. If it was contended that the main purpose of the Land Purchase Act of 1903 was the restoration of the evicted tenants, all he could say was that there was not a word of it in 1903. He quite agreed that it was the common opinion on all sides of the House that in carrying out that great measure for the transfer of land from the landlord to the tenant, it was eminently desirable that at the same time this burning question of the evicted tenants should be dealt with, but no one suggested in the course of that debate that the evicted tenants question was the first thing to be settled. On the contrary, everyone had then the cry, "Settle the purchasing tenants, get rid of landlordism, hurry up the matter and transfer the landlord's property to the tenants, and convert them into owners." Those purchasing tenants were to remain under these annuities for a year or two years more while this process was going on for the restoration of the evicted tenants. The right hon. Member for Dover had read a statement of his views on the objects and principles of his measure, and it was there distinctly stated that no preference was to be given in the administration of that Act to the evicted tenants or any other class, and that was agreed to; but it was not to be wondered at that that argument had little effect on hon. Gentlemen opposite, because already in an earlier period of this session they distinctly gave their blessing to a legislative attempt to repudiate and destroy everything that for ed the common ground of the legislative contract of 1903. They gave their blessing to a Land Bill which proposed to do away with the owners and to apply compulsion to every 781 landlord in Ireland. Therefore this was a small morsel for them to swallow when their digestion was equal to the other measure. Let them not labour to find excuses for introducing compulsion for 2,000 evicted tenants, when already in the course of this session they had given their approval to a proposition to apply compulsion all round. One could understand the more extreme of the Party represented by the right hon. Gentleman opposite going in for compulsion; but what he could not understand, and of which he had heard no suggested explanation, was why, when they went out of their way to adopt the principle of compulsion here, they had gone out of their way to hand over this work to public officials, who were to fix their own price and from whose decision there was to be no appeal. It might be what was called good business but he called it dishonesty and injustice. Another objection to the compulsory powers contained in the Bill was to be found in the fact that no real case had been made out for them. He would like to know where this Bill came from. They heard nothing of it in the King's Speech; they did have a reference to some Bills for Ireland, but they had heard nothing of it since. That had gone into the lmbo of unredeemed pledges, which were so numerous with hon. Gentlemen opposite that they would have to enlarge their premises, but this Bill, of which they had heard nothing up to a few months ago, suddenly appeared after the hon. and learned Member for Waterford had announced at the Irish National Convention that he was practically going to take the Chief Secretary by the throat.
§ MR. BIRRELL
This Bill is a direct outcome of a pledge given by me in my place in this House long long before the Irish Council Bill was brought in.
§ MR. JAMES CAMPBELL
said that so far as the right hon. Gentleman was concerned, he completely accepted that, but still there was a difficulty. If that were so, it was difficult to explain why it was brought at such a late stage of the session.
called the right hon. Gentleman to order, saying 782 that he must confine himself to the question of compulsory powers, the subject-matter of the Amendment.
again called the right hon. Gentleman to order. He was discussing the history of the Bill, and not the special subject of the Amendment.
§ MR. JAMES CAMPBELL
said that with regard to the necessity for this Bill and its compulsory powers, he would like to remind the Committee once more of a matter which they might have lost sight of, and that was how the figures stood as to the evicted tenants. Under the Plan of Campaign started in 1886 there were 114 cases. In the year 1894, when the Mathew Commission reported, they found that out of those 114 cases only seventeen remained unsettled. In 1904 the Commissioners reported that the evicted tenants had been restored in every case except two, one of these being the Lewis estate, in regard to which the Commissioners reported that the owners would not come to terms. These facts showed the injustice of bringing in a Bill of this kind, because the only question between the Lewis people and the Estates Commissioners was a question of price, and he asked hon. Members, to whatever Party they belonged, whether, when there was a controversy between the Estates Commissioners and the proprietors of the Lewis estate as to price, that question should be left to be decided by one party, namely, the Estates Commissioners, and that that decision should be without appeal. He did not think that anybody would defend such a policy as that. Supposing the Commissioners thought that the price should be £500, while the owners wanted £1,000, was the whole matter to be entrusted to three Commissioners who wanted to get the estate for £500? It could not be argued that that was a proper course to secure justice or fair play. In regard to the evicted tenants under the Plan of Campaign, as he had said, all the cases had been dealt with except two. [Cries of "No."] He said "Yes," and at all events the Estates 783 Commissioners themselves said that there were only two Plan of Campaign estates in regard to which evicted tenants had not been restored. [Renewed cries of "No.") It was true that they said so. He did not himself know whether the statement was true or not, but the Commissioners stated in the most explicit terms that there were only two estates on which the evicted tenants had not been restored, and in the Lewis case it was only a question of pounds, shillings and pence, and his contention was that the question should not be left to the decision of one of the parties to the dispute. That did not seem to him to be a proper thing in the way of justice and fair play. He would like to refer to the suggestion that previous legislation compelled Irish landlords to sell their land at a price to which they did not assent. In the case of the Land Act of 1881, although the tenant could come into Court and get a fair rent fixed, still there was always an appeal. There was an appeal from the Pub-Commissioner to the Chief Commissioner, and then to the Land Commissioners as a whole, and finally to the Law Courts. The extraordinary injustice of this Bill was that there was no appeal anywhere from the decision of the Commissioners. He was not going to anticipate the discussion as to the necessity of an appeal, but when that debate did come on he should point out to the right hon. Gentleman that he was a little premature in saying that there was an appeal in regard to these compulsory terms. The right hon. Gentle- man had twitted him and said that his argument on this question was rather inconsistent, because he had previously stated that he was not opposed to the principle of compulsion if properly protected and where everything else had failed. What he said was that he was not opposed to the principle of compulsion if everything else had been tried and failed and the landlords upon whom they proposed to try compulsion had refused a reasonable and proper offer. But he said that any such compulsion to recommend itself to him should be safeguarded by a proper appeal to a proper tribunal. Subject to those conditions, he admitted that he would not have opposed a Bill drawn 784 upon proper lines and giving protection to the landlords. In regard to the finance of the Bill, he believed that for one-third of the money which the Treasury were willing to give ten times the amount of untenanted land required could be purchased in Ireland. He wondered if the House knew what was the amount of money to be expended under this Bill It would far exceed anything which a voluntary measure would have required. They had had some light thrown on the question as to what was the real object of the Bill with its compulsory powers because the Attorney-General for Ireland had told them that what he hoped would be accomplished by it was that the new tenants who were the centres of disturbance in their localities would be compulsorily expropriated. He had had a long and probably a more varied experience of Ireland than the right hon. Gentleman, and he could tell him that the man who was the centre of disturbance was sure to be the man who had the greatest stake in his farm, and had done more for it than his neighbours had for theirs. The evicted tenants looked upon a man of that character as a centre of disturbance, and because he was most difficult to get rid of the chief law. officer stood up in his place and said that the great virtue of the Bill was that it would enable them to turn these men out of their holdings compulsorily, because they had resisted intimidation and illegality and had become the centres of disturbance in their localities. What was to become of these centres of disturbance? Where was the right hon. Gentleman going to send them? Would they be any happier in the new holdings to which they were sent? Would they cease to be centres of disturbance? He had heard the hon. and learned Gentleman's utterances with the greatest regret. He could not conceive anything more fatal to the administration of the law or more likely to leave it in a state of paralysis than for the first law officer of the Crown to get up in his place in the House of Commons and say he approved of the compulsory powers under the Bill, because they would enable the Government to get rid of individuals who had become centres of disturbance in their own districts.
§ MR. JAMES CAMPBELL
said he was only repeating what he and most hon. Members on that side understood the Attorney-General to say He certainly said that the compulsory powers under the Bill would be most useful, because in many parts of Ireland they had to protect with police some of the new tenants, who by their presence were centres of disorder, and that by transferring these people to other holdings they would get rid of the disturbance of such districts, and save the expense of providing protection. A more extraordinary statement by a law officer of the Crown he could not conceive. If the Chief Secretary had satisfied himself that compulsory powers were required, and had come forward with proposals which would give to landlord and tenant the fullest and fairest compensation for their property, and prevent injustice to the new tenant who desired to stay on, and if it had been shown that such a measure was desirable in the interests of peace and order, he would have supported it, though he might not have liked it; but he had seen no indication of con- cession on the part of the Chief Secretary or his colleagues, and he was convinced that the Bill as it stood would settle nothing, but unsettle everything, and create in every part of Ireland new centres of disaffection and new sources of intimidation.
§ MR. BIRRELL
said the right hon. and learned Gentleman had an extraordinary way of conducting arguments on the Committee Stage of a Bill. Every time he spoke he ranged over the entire field, and introduced all his objections to the Bill as a whole. The Amendment was to leave out the word "compulsorily." The right hon. and learned Gentleman had said that if some appeal were given and the Estates Commissioners subjected to more control his violent opposition to the Bill would be appeased.
§ MR. JAMES CAMPBELL
And also proper provisions for securing compensation and full protection to the new tenants.
§ MR. BIRRELL
said they had not come to that yet. He was under no obligation to state what they were going to do with subsequent Amendments. He would deal with these questions as they arose, after hearing the arguments brought forward, All they were dealing with at present was whether land should be taken compulsorily. The right hon. Gentleman had distinguished himself from those sitting near him by assailing the character and independence of the Estates Commissioners, and in doing so had claimed to speak for every landlord in Ireland. He could not do anything of the kind. He spoke of professional experience, but he had not been the advocate of every landlord in the country. The right hon. and learned Gentleman had said that the three Estates Commissioners were to be judges in their own cause. Was; Mr. Bailey an evicted tenant? Did Mr. Finucane desire fifteen acres of bog near Athenry instead of his house in Dublin? If he were to borrow from the vocabulary of the right hon. Gentleman he would say that his statement was dishonest. [Cries of "Order."] These three gentlemen had no personal interest. A railway company had to acquire land as cheaply as possible for the benefit of their undertaking, but the Estates Commissioners put no money in their pocket.
§ *MR. BIRRELL
said the right hon. Gentleman had used very strong language about the Bill. He had only said that if he had the right hon. Gentleman's vocabulary he should have used certain words. Such language as the right hon. Gentleman had used was improper as applied to the Estates Commissioners, who had no personal interest in the matter, though as public men they might be found to have assisted in the settlement of a great question. To say that the Estates Commissioners were judges in their own cause was not in accordance with the facts of the case. The Commissioners had no more interest in the matter than 787 Judge Ross would have. Suppose an appeal was given, would the Judge to whom the appeal was given be a judge in his own cause? Yet he would be just as much an officer under the Bill as the Estates Commissioners. As to compulsion the Commissioners certainly had land in their possession, but it was needed to turn uneconomic holdings into economic holdings, and that object could not be postponed to reinstate evicted tenants. It was common ground, he understood, that the evicted tenants should be reinstated, and in order that this should be done in reasonable time, and having regard to the number of landlords who had refused inspection surely all would admit that some measure of compulsion was required. That at all events was the only question at the moment, and he must say that, considering the purposes to which compulsion had been applied by Acts of Parliament without demur, though he agreed under somewhat different circumstances and different provisions, like those of the Lands Clauses Acts, and the like, there was ground for the proposal of the Bill. It was not a question of applying compulsion to a twopenny ha' penny railway. [Cries of "Oh!"] Some of these railways had never paid the shareholders a penny. People had been turned out of their houses and obliged to give up places where their families had lived for centuries, in order that there might be made a railway which proved a failure, until, perhaps some large company came to the neighbourhood and assumed charge of it. He was assuming that this was a worthy and proper motive, which all of them had at heart. But if these tenants were to be regarded as a set of rogues, why were they put into the Act of 1903 even voluntarily? The evicted tenants fell within the scope and purview of that Act, and certainly the compact would never have been carried through if it had not been put in the forefront of the argument of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover, who at all events was prepared to let bygones be bygones, and to include these persons in the scope of the Bill. That was common ground and he had thought that it was still common ground. The Government were satisfied 788 that it was impossible to bring this matter to a conclusion without taking compulsorily powers, very rarely, he dared say, to be exercised, but still to enable the Estate Commissioners to proceed with those landlords on the footing that if they would not come to terms they could be made to do so. That would clear the ground and enable them to come | to a conclusion on the question in a reasonable time. The Government were therefore right in resisting this Amendment, and in. conferring on the Estates Commissioners the power to take land compulsorily for a purpose which all parties in that House considered a good object, namely, the restoration of the evicted tenants.
§ MR. MOORE
said the right hon. Gentleman had unintentionally confused the issue. They were not considering whether the evicted tenants should be reinstated, because all parties in the House had entered into a bargain that they should be, and there had never been any suggestion from those benches against the terms of that bargain. It was in pursuance of that that land of an estate was to be offered for purchase.
pointed out that the Amendment had reference to the compulsory acquisition of land for evicted tenants.
said he had allowed the reference by the right hon. Gentleman, but he thought it was not. in order, and ought not to be pursued.
§ MR. MOORE
said he desired to register a denial of the statement made by the-right hon. Gentleman that they were abandoning the bargain. Another attempt had been made to confuse the issue, on the false analogy drawn between compulsory powers conferred for various purposes and the compulsory powers 789 to be conferred on the Estates Commissioners. In the case of a railway company or other undertaking where they sought to acquire land compulsorily, their operations were confined to a limited area, and the first question which a Committee upstairs asked was, "What is the line of your deviation?" But in the case of the Estates Commissioners the compulsory powers to be conferred would enable them to go all over Ireland to see what land they could get for the evicted tenants. The whole gist of the matter was that they were giving the Commissioners a power of discrimination between the loyal tenant and the disloyal tenant, between the man who was unpopular because he had done or had tried to do his duty, and the United Irish League, whose business it was to make him unpopular. Compulsory powers were to be exercised according to the discrimination of the Commissioners, who were not a judicial but an administrative body, and were the faithful and devoted servants of the Government. Under the Bill, when it came to the question of compulsory powers, the Government were making of these Commissioners devoted and loyal partisans to carry out administrative duties under the control of the Government and of the Chief Secretary.
§ MR. MOORE
said the right hon. Gentleman might have delegated his duties to the Under-Secretary. [Cries of "Oh."] He did not know what the right hon. Gentleman might have done. He assumed that the regulations as to intimidation were altered after consultations with the right hon. Gentleman or his predecessor, or perhaps after consultation with the Under-Secretary. But what he wished to say was that the Commissioners were to be judges in their own cause. They fixed the price of the land, because they were not allowed, as the Vice-President of the Board of Agriculture had said, to re-sell it at a loss. The Chief Secretary had referred to them as "public trustees," without any personal interest; but they would be quickly reprimanded by the Treasury every time they sold land at a loss. He submitted that they would undervalue land because they were not 790 allowed to re-sell at a loss, and because they were under the statutory liability not to re-sell at a loss. Yet the right hon. Gentleman said that the Commissioners were public trustees though they had this statutory liability hanging round their neck, binding all their actions. The powers put into the hands of these Commissioners would destroy public confidence in the tribunal. This Bill was drafted with the approval of the Estates Commissioners.
§ MR. BIRRELL
When the Bill was finally drafted it was submitted to them for any suggestions they might like to make upon it.
§ MR. BIRRELL
They were not asked to approve of it; they were simply asked if they had any suggestions to offer.
§ MR. MOORE,
continuing, said the Bill, as drawn, gave no appeal from the Commissioners, nor any suggestion that there should be an appeal. He would tell the right hon. Gentleman frankly that to invest these people with compulsory powers to purchase was a proposal which did not lend itself either to a sense of fair play or to the peace of Ireland, and certainly would not add to public confidence in the new tribunal.
§ MR. BARRIE
said he knew the agricultural parts of Ireland very well, and he had no hesitation in saying that the voluntary provisions of the Act of 1903 with regard to evicted tenants had been a success. Under the voluntary powers of that Act a large number of tenants had been reinstated. He thought that disposed of that side of the matter. 791 If compulsion were necessary, he would like to know on what grounds the evicted tenants should have priority of treatment. Like the hon. Member for North Down, he was in favour of a final solution of the land difficulty on the lines of compulsory purchase, if it was found that after an adequate trial of the Act of 1903 a substantial number of landlords refused to come to terms. He had not yet heard any reasons given why rent-paying, peaceful tenant farmers of Ireland should be treated differently from the so-called evicted tenants. Had the Chief Secretary realised what the effect of the Bill would be if the Estates Commissioners proceeded to evict the present occupants of farms, and replace them by evicted tenants? Had he realised the effect on a large estate in the South of Ireland, where the bulk of the tenants had fulfilled their moral obligations, and refused to obey the orders of the United Irish League? Why should the evicted tenants be pampered by this Government in spite of past records, while honest men were to be removed from their farms? The evicted tenants were not only to be reinstated, but also to have large contributions from the Radical Treasury to start their farms, and bring them up to modern requirements. What was the effect of that policy to be on the surrounding tenants who, under adverse circumstances and after great struggles, had managed to fulfil all their obligations? The comparisons with English tenants which had been made could hardly be used as a fair argument in favour of the compulsion which this Bill proposed to set up. Personally he had no knowledge of the Estates Commissioners, and was not prepared to criticise any action they had taken, but in a matter affecting 2,000 tenants, he thought the landlords ought to have the right of appeal. He thought that after what had transpired in the debate, to retain those Commissioners absolutely independent as regarded any appeal from their decision was a course which the right hon. Gentleman would not find tenable. He felt that as the Bill proceeded through Committee the Chief Secretary would discover that, after all, there was a good deal to be said for the rent-paying, peaceful citizens, who had been no trouble 792 at all to the Chief Secretary, and did not belong to that party in Ireland which had given the Irish Government so much concern.
§ MR. J. P. MASON
said the necessity for compulsion arose from the price that was offered for the land. The Estates Commissioners had frequently failed to come to a satisfactory arrangement with a landlord for the voluntary purchase of a farm because they had not been in a position to pay a fair price. If they insisted upon buying below a fair price compulsion became necessary. He could quote many cases in Ireland where land had been acquired Compulsorily at a price far below the market value. If the object of the Bill was to acquire land by compulsion at less than its proper value then it was simply partial confiscation, and he did not think it was the intention of the Chief Secretary to apply the principle of confiscation. There was no necessity for compulsion at all in the matter, because there was plenty of land to be bought for the purposes of the Bill in the localities in which it was required. The Bill provided that the new tenants who were to be evicted were either to be supplied with farms of equal value or to receive money compensation. The right hon. Gentleman, however, said that many of them wore bad farmers and had deteriorated the soil; if so, why plant them on new farms, where they could go on deteriorating the soil?
That is a subject which would be better dealt with on Subsection (3) and not on this Amendment.
§ MR. J. F. MASON
said that the adoption of any method that would avoid compulsion, which was really in the nature of partial confiscation, would remove their objection to this proposal.
§ *SIR F. BANBURY
denied that there was any analogy between the compulsory powers of railway companies and the compulsory powers under this Bill, as the right hon. Gentleman seemed to suggest. Parliament did not give a roving commission to railway directors to take land compulsorily anywhere, in 793 any part of the country. It was most objectionable to grant compulsory powers for the benefit of one particular class, and one which had repudiated its engagements. The compulsory powers in this Bill were being given not in the interests of the whole community, but in the interests of one particular class. That argument alone, in his opinion, was conclusive against the proposal. The Chief Secretary said that railway companies who had exercised compulsory powers were often unable to pay interest on their debentures and preferences. The result was that the shareholders lost because they had compensated so generously those whose lands they took. But he would point out that the people for whose benefit the compulsory powers were given, namely, the people of England at large, never lost at all. They benefited. There was no termination for a railway enterprise; it always went on, and it could not be wound up. When compulsory powers were given to railway companies the public, always reaped the main advantage, but the right hon. Gentleman now asked Parliament to give compulsory powers for the benefit of one class, and that a class which was less deserving than others. It was a class which had repudiated its engagements, and that, to his mind, was one of the worst things which could be done. For these reasons alone they ought not to grant the compulsory powers. The chief reason, to his mind, against granting these powers was that they were to be granted to an irresponsible body. It was not proposed that the compulsory powers; were to be exercised only on certain estates; the Estates Commissioners were to be given a roving commission to go all over Ireland and exercise the compulsory powers where they liked. He ventured to say that such powers had never before been given in the history of England or of any other country. It was proposed to set up three dictators who were to be enabled to take away from other people property which they had acquired honestly and justly. He was surprised that the Chief Secretary should have sup- ported his argument by referring to the compulsory powers granted to railway companies. It seemed to him that the 794 right hon. Gentleman had used that illustration because he was hard up for arguments to justify this particular portion of the Bill, but he would admit in his quieter moments that it was not apposite to the point at issue. He hoped that those on that side of the House who had some regard for freedom and individual liberty would support the Amendment.
§ COLONEL KENYON-SLANEY (Shropshire, Newport)
said he frankly approached this question with an absolute hatred of compulsion, because it was nearly always iniquitous and pernicious in its consequences, and, in the present relation, was destructive of security and confidence. He wanted to know whether it was not in Ireland, as in England, Scotland, and Wales, of very great importance, not only to agriculturists, but to the whole community, that there should be as great a feeling of confidence and security as could possibly be given by the State, and by all the action the State might take. Under this Bill, without the Amendment, they would do their level best to destroy confidence and security. It was on the feeling of confidence and security that men spent their money, and he presumed the same conditions held good in Ireland as elsewhere. Was it not desirable that the owner of land should have a sense of security in his home, and an interest in the countryside? He asked the Chief Secretary to suppose himself in the position of an earnest and well-intentioned farmer in Ireland who occupied a farm which had not been properly cultivated by a disreputable predecessor, and who had applied his intellectual ability and talents to the development of the resources of the farm. Having developed the farm so far, he saw how he could develop it further, but he knew that suddenly he might, under this Bill, find himself in the position of having, without any warning and by the arbitrary action of a tribunal for which he would have no respect if he were in any other place than that of Chief Secretary, to vacate his holding, with the result that his work would become nugatory and his prospects would be destroyed. He asked the right hon. Gentleman whether, if he were in that position, he would spend a single farthing on the 795 holding. The right hon. Gentleman would reply that nothing would induce him to do so foolish a thing. That was what he would say in his private capacity, but that was the position in which he was going to put hundreds, probably thousands, of tenants in Ireland. That was not business. It was not fair play. Had the right hon. Gentleman no feeling, he would not say of compassion, but of fair play for the landlords in regard to the position in which he was placing them by this Bill? He had been the fortunate guest in many a happy home in Ireland, and he wondered whether it was not necessary there, as here, for the benefit and welfare of the countryside, that the owners of property should be encouraged to feel some sort of security in their residences or homes, or in the possibility of developing their homes or of making their homes attractive to themselves and to those who came after them. What did the right hon. Gentleman do in that case? He asked the owner of land to get out; he reduced the value of his land by the action of the Bill; he took away from the owner the inducement to spend; he made him a temporary instead of a permanent possessor; and if he knew anything at all about rural life, he would recognise that in thus diminishing the hold of the owner on his home and his interest in his tenantry, he was doing the worst possible turn to agriculture and to the national and local life of the country. He asked the right hon. Gentleman to look at the effect of this measure, without the Amendment, first of all upon the position of the occupier of land, who was liable to be evicted; and secondly, upon the position of the owner of land, who was liable to have his property mutilated, and to have foisted upon him the very type of tenant he did not wish to have, and possibly the Very type of man from whom he had had good reason to dread outrage and intimidation in the days gone by. Did he think that that would tend either to maintain the value of the property or residence or the likelihood that the owner would spend increased money there? The right hon. Gentleman had in warm language proclaimed that he would have nothing to do with confiscation, that if there was confiscation in this 796 Bill it would have no support from him. But if by the action of the Bill they sent down the value of the residences of country gentlemen in Ireland, were they or were they not confiscating their property? The right hon. Gentleman knew very well he was confiscating property; he was doing so just as effectually as if he took so much of a man's bank balance or from his credit. There was no way out of that argument but for the right hon. Gentleman to say honestly, "I do confiscate his property, I do diminish his price for selling it, I do diminish his pleasures; and why? Because I am obeying the behest of a certain political party."
§ MR. CHARLES CRAIG
said that the Chief Secretary in introducing this Bill had done more to put off that happy day to which everybody in Ireland was looking forward, when the whole Irish land question would be finally settled, than by any other means he could possibly adopt. The settlement of the evicted tenants question, together with the settlement of the larger question of the conversion of the tenants of Ireland into owners, had been going on since the passage of the Act of 1903 in a perfectly satisfactory manner, the only thing which had militated against a more rapid working of that Act having been the scarcity of money. The Chief Secretary came to Ireland knowing, as he had admitted on more than one occasion, practically nothing about the country, and the very first thing he did was to introduce a Bill which, as he hoped he would be able to show, was absolutely unnecessary, and would have the very opposite effect to that which the right hon. Gentleman desired—that of settling the evicted tenants question. The compulsion in this matter was a distinct application of breach of faith by every Party in the House of Commons who supported it. He supposed that one Liberal Party was more or less bound by the pledges or actions of the Liberal Party which preceded it, and the previous Liberal Party acquiesced in and gave their consent to the Act of 1903 in the most unqualified way. On the Third Reading of the Bill of 1903 there were only twenty-three dissentients, and that Bill stated in the most 797 explicit terms that the reinstatement of evicted tenants was to be carried out by voluntary means, and by voluntary means alone, and it was most distinctly laid down that under no circumstances was compulsion to be applied. What, then, were they to think of the action of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, who was a lineal descendant of the late Liberal Party in the last House of Commons, and of the Party below the gangway, who to all intents and purposes represented the same interests as in the last House of Commons? He submitted that the reinstatement of the evicted tenants had been going on in the most satisfactory manner and as rapidly as could be expected. They had had no argument from the Chief Secretary in favour of the application of compulsion except that in his opinion the question was not being disposed of with sufficient rapidity. He submitted that that was not a sufficient argument for the House to pass such an extraordinary and drastic measure as the Bill now before them. The right hon. Gentleman had over and over again told them that he was new to Ireland, and certainly when he first declared his intention of introducing an evicted tenants Bill he admitted that he knew practically nothing about Ireland or of this question, yet they had this God-sent legislator going over to Ireland, knowing nothing about their requirements, and introducing a Bill which could have but one effect if this compulsory principle was applied. The report of the Estates Commissioners said that of the 1,609 cases in which applicants were considered suitable to be provided with their former holdings, 1,259 holdings were in the possession of other tenants. Let them think what a vista of discoid and a re-opening of this whole question that held out before them. The whole 2,000 tenants that they were dealing with were going to be turned out of their holdings. If the right hon. Gentleman was doing away with the grievances of one set of tenants he was creating hardship in the case of another set of tenants. Did the right hon. Gentleman think that the new tenants or hon. Members of that House, who defended these new tenants were going to take it "lying down "? 798 More than one half of the cases of evicted tenants in the whole of Ireland had been settled, and if the question had been left alone the whole of them would have been settled in five years. The right hon. Gentleman said that that was too long a period to wait, but he (Mr. Craig) did not think so in regard to some of the tenants. He quite agreed that the evicted tenants under the Plan of Campaign should be restored to their holdings, but as matters now stood 90 per cent. of them had been reinstated. That was to say, 90 per cent. of those who had lost their farms for political reasons had been reinstated, and they were now dealing with only 10 per cent. of those tenants. Of the 8,500 evicted tenants there, the remainder were men who had lost their farms through other than political causes, such causes being drunkenness, laziness, in-competency, incapacity, and other reasons which led people to lose their businesses in every position in life, in every country in the world. The right hon. Gentleman said that in order to cure this great sore in Ireland compulsion must be applied, but the true and only reason why the Bill was being forced through was that the Irish Council Bill was rejected by hon. Gentlemen below the gangway.
pointed out that the remarks of the hon. Gentleman were out of order. He could hardly on this Amendment go into the question of the Irish Council Bill.
§ MR. CHARLES CRAIG
agreed that perhaps that was a Second Reading point, but he thought he was right in showing the motives which had actuated the right hon. Gentleman to introduce such an incomplete measure. It was said that the Estates Commissioners could not get any more land. The only information they had on that point was contained in the Report of the Commissioners, which showed that they had made no determined attempt to obtain more land from the landlords. They said that they had applied to 1,752 landlords, and only 262 had expressed a willingness to sell. But they had had no statement from the Attorney-General for Ireland as to the steps the Estates Commissioners had taken to induce 799 those people to sell. They had had a statement as to the steps which had been taken in regard to the reinstatement of evicted tenants, and if they read this Report they would not be surprised that the landlords had not given a favourable reply to the letter of the Estates Commissioners, because it was written in such a dictatorial and arbitrary tone that the landlords, as any other class of people to whom such a communication had been addressed would have done, disregarded it. The Commissioners commented upon the unwillingness of the landlords to sell, but they assumed that unwillingness from the want of replies to their letter. He thought the letter attempted to apply a form of compulsion to the landlord, and taking that into account, and the amount of dependence of the officials responsible for the Government of Ireland on hon. Members below the gangway, he had very little hope as to the Amendment of the Bill in that respect; but he prophesied with a considerable amount of certainty that instead of bringing the question of the evicted tenants and the land question generally to an end it would do more to retard that consummation than anything that had happened for a considerable number of years.
§ MR. WALTER LONG
said he was rather surprised that nobody had risen from the bench opposite to justify the adoption of this Bill with its rather extraordinary compulsory powers. The Chief Secretary in the speech in which he defended his action upon the Report of the Estates Commissioners had expressed his regret that attacks should be made upon those gentlemen, and the Vice-President of the Irish Department of Agriculture also made a very indignant speech upon the subject. No one was more res onsible for the attacks on the Estates Commissioners of which he complained than the Chief Secretary himself, because he had stated that in their Report was to be found the justification for compulsion. It was proposed by the Bill to give these three distinguished public servants power not merely to go about the country and select and take for themselves, without appeal to any human being, the land that they thought right, but also to throw upon them the almost impossible task of dis- 800 criminating between the claims of the man. who was now on the farm and the man who was formerly in possession of it and wanted to go back. The Estates Commissioners no doubt would bring their great ability and an impartial judgment to bear on the matters before them. But how was it possible for them to go into the details of every case of an evicted tenant or a sitting tenant? It was absolutely impossible, and a great deal of the work must be done through the inquiries held by the Assistant Commissioners. Many hon. Members profoundly regretted also that in almost every question n Ireland there entered, sooner or later the religious question. The Government were throwing upon the Estates Commissioners through the Assistant Commissioners the obligation of investigating the circumstances and surrounding conditions of each evicted tenant. It was only after they were satisfied by their investigation that they were entitled to dispossess the sitting tenant for the purpose of reinstating the evicted tenant The Government was imposing upon the Estates Commissioners a task which they could not perform. The Chief Secretary had said that the necessity for compulsion was to be found in Clause 23 of the Report of the Commission. He had looked through the "Report and he did not find the smallest foundation for the arguments used by the right hon. Gentleman. It was argued that compulsion was necessary because there were some 290 cases of landlords who had refused permission to the Estates Commissioners to inspect their estates. But when the details were examined it was found that in sixty cases the owners upon being again approached gave their consent; in sixty the farms sought to be inspected were included in the landlords' demesnes or were cultivated as home farms; in ten casts the owners would not consent to the reinstatement of the evicted tenants until the arrears of rent due at the time of the eviction were paid, and surely that was not an unreasonable stipulation; in seventy-five cases the owners were not prepared to sell; and in thirty-two cases they would not sell a farm unless the rest of the estate was also purchased. Wee those cases which justified compulsion? That was the particular kind of case to 801 which he desired to draw attention Already in existence there was a great Act of Parliament for the transfer of land from the owner to the occupier on a voluntary basis. Was there any reason in the facts stated for taking by compulsion a portion of a man's estate to install upon it tenants evicted from some other part of Ireland, putting them alongside the existing tenants who paid their rent under the ordinary yearly tenure, taking nothing from the new-comers in respect of past debts, equipping their holdings with State money and charging rents of half the amount paid by sitting tenants, and with the prospect of ultimate possession? Was that likely to bring peace to Ireland and a settlement of the land question? Anybody connected with the agrarian question in any country knew that it would not. Let the right hon. Gentleman ask any English landlord what was likely to be the result of such an Act. They had no right to throw these duties on officials who, however able and distinguished they right be, however anxious to do justice to all parties, would find themselves in circumstances which must end in great difficulty and be a source of immense dissatisfaction and discontent. They had heard about the Lewis estate, but the late Attorney-General for Ireland had disposed of that. They had also heard something about the Clanricarde estate, and he was not quite sure that the Government were ready to found their case on that estate. Beyond these two, no case had been given where there had been on the part of the owner any obstruction which had had the result of making the reinstatement of evicted tenants impossible. There had been a suggestion from this benches opposite that the Opposition had changed their minds on this subject, and were no longer desirous of seeing the evicted tenants restored. That charge came from hon. Members opposite and not from hon. Gentlemen below the gangway who had mainly evidenced their presence by cheers and not by speeches. He denied that there was any foundation at all for that charge. They said now, as they had always said, that the reinstatement of those men who were turned out of their farms for reasons other than incompetence, drunkenness, idleness, etc., 802 was a necessary condition of a peaceful settlement of the land question where sales took place. But this proposition was a different one. It was to give the Commissioners compulsory powers to enable them to put back men who had been evicted from their farms all over the country, selecting the land at their own discretion and to the best of their ability. That was a very different question. Their challenging the Government to justify these extraordinary compulsory powers gave no right for its being said that they had changed their minds on the subject of the rein- statement of evicted tenants. They were just as ready to do justice as were the Government and their supporters. But they contended that the Government in their effort to do justice to evicted tenants were going to do great injustice to men who were just as much entitled to their consideration as were the evicted tenants. The Government were going out of their way to displace men who had been twenty and twenty-five years, and some even longer, in possession of their holdings. As to what really was the intention of the Government they were in some doubt. The Chief Secretary had said that he did not think the language used by Lord Crewe in the House of Lords would bear the interpretation which they had put upon it. They had put no interpretation upon it at all. They took the language to express what it meant. In plain English, Lord Crewe had distinctly stated, that there was no intention of using the compulsory powers of the Bill to get rid of bona fide farmers who were cultivating their holdings. They were giving those compulsory powers now. The Chief Secretary had suggested perfectly properly that the Opposition had admitted that compulsion, properly safeguarded, might be necessary. He himself did not believe that any case for compulsion had been made out, and he thought that very little was wanted to strengthen the hands of the Commissioners in making provision for the remaining evicted tenants without compulsion at all. But if the Government introduced compulsion they certainly ought to make it perfectly clear that tenants who were cultivating their holdings to their own advantage and to 803 the satisfaction of their landlords should not be evicted. All they knew as the result of this debate was that powers of compulsion were to be placed wholesale in the hands of the commissioners to be used in order to get rid of men who, in the opinion of the Government were a source of difficulty in their neighbourhood and whom they would be glad to see removed for their own convenience and peace of mind. This was to be done in the name of peace and as a final settlement of the Irish difficulty. He submitted that no case had been made out in justification of this extraordinary action on the part of His Majesty's Government, and he sincerely hoped that they would not find that they had added to their difficulties by the language which the Attorney-General had used tonight—not that he wished the Government to escape from any difficulty, but because he was anxious that others should not suffer as a result of that for which the Government should be themselves responsible. He thought that when what had happened that evening became known in Ireland, as it must become known, the Government would find that the Bill would only open up a chapter of fresh difficulty, and would not settle in any degree the perplexed agrarian question which they would all be glad to see settled on fair and reasonable lines.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
said it was disappointing and unfortunate that the right hon. Gentleman had become a leader of the Orange Party, for he could not now appeal to him as a very moderate man making a very moderate statement; as soon as they had these "orange bitters" injected into the debate, they were afforded another proof of the unwisdom of putting new wine into old bottles. The right hon. Gentleman had imported for the first time the religious difficulty into this question, and, indeed, in his new capacity, he reminded him of the actor who, in his desire thoroughly to identify himself with the part of Othello, not only blacked his face but blacked himself all over. Every other member of the Conservative Party, including the Orangemen, had conducted the debate more or less on political 804 lines, and it had been left to the right hon. Gentleman to import the religious difficulty. Let them take the Commissioners—two out of the three were Protestants. How many more Protestants did they want?
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
asked what they had been listening to during the last half hour. Had not the right hon. Gentleman said that in every Irish question entered the religious difficulty, and into this question more than any other? Two out of the three Commissioners were Protestants, and one was an Englishman. What sort of a tribunal did the right hon. Gentleman require? What did the Estates Commissioners report? They reported that out of seventeen estates there were fifteen the landlords of which, including Lord Lansdowne, had been glad to get rid of these most desirable tenants. They had jumped at the offer, leaving only Lord Clanricarde, who had never seen his own estate, and had been described by the late Attorney-General as doing the devil's work in Ireland. He alluded to the present Lord Atkinson, who conducted the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Dublin all round Ireland in a motor car. He wondered whether on that tour the right hon. Gentleman was shown the Clanricarde estate. The powers which the Government were asking for to use against these tenants were just the same as applied to every tenant who wished to sell his holding. Up to 1881 the maximum which any tenant could get as compensation when he was put out of his holding was £250, although the farm might be worth thousands. These tenants had grabbed the improvements from their predecessors. They were mostly tenants of about 40 acres, and the valuation would not be more than £30; therefore the maximum compensation would be at seven years purchase £210. A man might have a farm worth £2,000 or £3,000, representing his life's industry and also that of his ancestors, and yet these three gentlemen could step in and assess the true value at £30 if they so pleased. Considering the 805 jurisdiction with which the Commissioners were entrusted as against the whole of the tenantry of Ireland, it was strange that that jurisdiction should be grudged to them in the case of these new tenants who had come in to steal the farms of their predecessors. It was really appalling that the sympathy of the Conservative Party should be spent on this class. Had hon. Members read the list of those who had accepted the terms offered to the landlords by the late Government? The Ponsonby estate had been settled, and so had the Lansdowne, the Massereene, and the Cloncurry estates, and the list had been almost reduced to the Clanricarde and the Lewis estates. These tenants would leave with flags flying and be put into a peaceful part of the country. And that was the crime which was being committed by this confiscatory Government.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said he understood from the hon. and learned Member's arguments that the Clanricarde estate was the only estate for which
§ these compulsory powers were required. That was exactly his own argument. It was bad procedure to make far-reaching proposals extending over the whole of the country when the only place they were required was one small insignificant spot. Why, then, should not the Government consider the propriety of confining the application of compulsory powers to that one estate and relieve the rest of Ireland from a kind of legislation which was unnecessary for at least ninety-nine-hundredths?
§ MR. BIRRELL
reminded the right hon. Gentleman that when he indicated his willingness to deal with the Clanricarde estate he did not get that support which the right hon. Gentleman now proposed to give him. There were, however, other parts of Ireland and other landlords than Lord Clanricarde to whom it might be found necessary to apply compulsory powers.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 225; Noes, 69. (Division List, No. "290.)807
|Abraham, William (Cork, N.E)||Condon, Thomas Joseph||Hall, Frederick|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Cooper, G. J.||Halpin, J.|
|Agnew, George William||Corbett, C.H. (Sussex, E. Grinst'd||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Harvey, W.E. (Derbyshire, N.E|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch||Crean, Eugene||Haworth, Arthur A.|
|Allen, Charles P. (Stroud)||Cremer, Sir William Randal||Hayden, John Patrick-|
|Ambrose, Robert||Crooks, William||Hazel, Dr. A. E.|
|Armotage, R.||Cullinan, J.||Hazleton, Richard|
|Astbury, John Meir||Curran, Peter Francis||Healy, Timothy Michael|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Davies, David (MontgomeryCo.||Helme, Norval Watson|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight||Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)|
|Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||Hobhouse, Charles E. H.|
|Barnes, G. N.||Davies, W. Howell (Bristol, S)||Hodge, John|
|Barry, Redmond J.(Tyrone,N.)||Dobson, Thomas W.||Hogan, Michael|
|Beale, W. P.||Donelan, Captain A.||Holden, E. Hopkinson|
|Beck, A. Cecil||Duffy, William J.||Horniman, Emslie John|
|Bell, Richard||Duncan, C.(Barrow-in-Furness||Hudson, Walter|
|Bellairs, Carlyon||Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne||Hyde, Clarendon|
|Berridge, T. H. D.||Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Illingworth, Percy H.|
|Bertram, Julius||Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Johnson, John (Gateshead)|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Elibank, Master of||Johnson, W. (Nuneaton)|
|Boland, John||Erskine. David C.||Jones, Leif (Appleby)|
|Brace, William||Essex. R. W.||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Esslemont, George Birnie||Joyce, Michael|
|Brooke, Stopford||Everett, R. Lacey||Kekewich, Sir George|
|Brunner. J.F.L. (Lanes., Leigh)||Farrell, James Patrick||Kelley, George D.|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Fenwick, Charles||Kennedy, Vincent Paul|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Ferens, T. R.||Kilbride, Denis|
|Byles, William Pollard||Flynn, James Christopher||Kincaid-Smith, Captain|
|Causton, Rt. Hn. RichardKnight||Fuller, John Michael F.||King, Alfred John (Knutsford)|
|Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Gilhooly, James||Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Gill, A.H.||Lamont, Norman|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe|
|Clough, William||Glen-Coats, Sir T. (Renfrew, W.||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.)|
|Clynes, J. R.||Glendinning, R. G.||Leese, Sir Joseph F.(Accrington|
|Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Goddard, Daniel Ford||Lehmann, R. C.|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius||Levy, Sir Maurice|
|Lewis, John Herbert||O'Malley, William||Stewart-Smith. D. (Kendal)|
|Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Strachey. Sir Edward|
|Lough, Thomas||O'Shee, James John||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)|
|Lundon, W.||Parker, James (Halifax)||Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)|
|Luttrell, Hugh Fownes||Partington, Oswald||Stuart, James (Sunderland)|
|Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Philipps, J. Wynford (Pembroke||Summerbell, T.|
|Macdonald, J.M. (Falkirk B'ghs||Pirie, Duncan V.||Taylor, John \(Durham)|
|Maclean, Donald||Power, Patrick Joseph||Thompson, J. W. H.(Somerset,E.|
|MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Price, C. E. (Edinb'gh, Central)||Thorne, William|
|Macpherson, J. T.||Raphael, Herbert H.||Toulmin, George|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down,S.)||Redmond, John E. (Waterford||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|MacVeigh, Charles (Donegal,E.)||Redmond, William (Clare)||Vivian. Henry|
|M'Callum, John M.||Rees, J. D.||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)|
|M'Hugh, Patrick A.||Rendall, Athelstan||Walsh, Stephen|
|M'Kean, John||Richards, T.F. (Wolverh'mpt'n||Walters, John Tudor|
|M'Kenna. Rt. Hon. Reginald||Rickett, J. Compton||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|M'Killop, W.||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton|
|Mallet, Charles E.||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)||Wardle, George J.|
|Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Marnham, F. J.||Robinson, S.||Watt. Henry A.|
|Massie, J.||Robson, Sir William Snowdon||White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire|
|Meagher, Michael||Roche, Augustine (Cork)||White, Luke (York, E.R.)|
|Meehan, Patrick A.||Roche, John (Galway, East)||White, Patrick (Meath. North)|
|Micklem, Nathaniel||Rose, Charles Day||Whitehead, Rowland|
|Montagu, E. S.||Rowlands, J.||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Mooney, J. J.||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)||Wiles, Thomas|
|Morse, L. L.||Schwann, C. Duncan (Hyde)||Williams. J. (Glamorgan)|
|Murnaghan, George||Schwann, Sir C.E. (Manchester)||Williamson. A.|
|Murray, James||Scott, A.H.(Ashton under Lyne||Wilson, Hon. C.H.W. (Hull, W.|
|Napier, T. B.||Seaverns, J. H.||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W.R.)|
|Nicholson, CharlesN. (Doncast'r||Seddon, J.||Wilson, John (Durham. Mid)|
|Nolan, Joseph||Seely, Major J. B.||Wilson. J. H. (Middlesbrough)|
|Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Shackleton, David James||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton.|
|Nugent, Sir Walter Richard||Shaw, Rt. Hon. T. (Hawick B.)||Young, Samuel|
|O'Brien, Kendal (TipperaryMid||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|O'Connor. John (Kildare, N.)||Shipman, Dr. John G.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth)||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John||Mr. Whiteley and Mr. J. A. Pease.|
|O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)||Sloan, Thomas Henry|
|O'Grady, J.||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim,S.|
|O'Kelly, James (Roscommon,N.||Steadman, W. C|
|Acland-Hood, Rt Hn. SirAlex;.F.||Fell, Arthur||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Fletcher, J. S.||Rawlinson,John Frederick Peel|
|Balfour, Rt Hn. AJ.(CityofLond.||Forester, Henry William||Renton. Major Leslie|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Gretton, John||Roberts. S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Harrsion-Broadley, H. B.||Ronaldshay. Earl of|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.||Hay, Hon. Claude George||Rutherford. W. W. (Liverpool)|
|Beach, Hn. MichaelHugh Hicks||Hervey, F.W.F.(BuryS. Edm'ds||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Hills. J. W.||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Bignold, Sir Arthur||Houston, Robert Paterson||Sheffield. SirBerkeleyGeorge D.|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Hunt, Rowland||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East)|
|Butcher, Samuel Henry||Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir John H.||Smith, F.E. (Liverpool, Walton|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Kenyon-Slaney. Rt. Hon. Col. W.||Smith. Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Castlereagh. Viscount||Keswick, William||Starkey. John R.|
|Cave, George||Lane-Fox. G. R.||Talbot". Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Cavendish, Rt. Hon. Victor C.W.||Lockwood. Rt. Hn. Lt.-Col. A.||Thomson, W. Mitchell-(Lanark|
|Chamberlain. Rt Hn. J. A. (Won'.||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Dublin, S.||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Coates, E. Feetham (Lewisham||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred||Valentia. Viscount|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Magnus, Sir Philip||Walker, Col.W.H. (Lancashire)|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Younger. George|
|Courthope. G. Loyd||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.|
|Craig,Charles Curtis (Antrim,S.||Mildmay, Fran-is Bingham||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Muntz, Sir Philip A.||Mr. Ashley and Mr. Lonsdale.|
|Duncan, Robert (Lanark, Govan||Nicholson, W m. G. (Petersfield)|
|Faber, George Denison (York)||Nield, Herbert|
|Faber, Capt. W.V. (Hants, W.)||Percy, Earl|
§ And, it being after Eleven of the Clock, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.808
§ Committee report progress; to sit again upon Monday next.
§ Adjourned at twelve minutes after Eleven o'clock