§ MR. GINNELL (Westmeath, N.)
I beg to ask the Prime Minister whether he is aware of the prevalence of disappointment in Ireland among young people, who in the absence of other industries must get land or emigrate, at the failure of the Land Act of 1903 to make the evicted, untenanted, and non-residential lands available for them; and, seeing that these are self-reliant people desiring to practice agriculture and to pay the full value of the land, while regarding their claim as one for restitution, has he considered the danger of leaving them longer to their own resources without hope from Parliament, or will he, by undertaking legislation on this subject for the whole of Ireland next session, allay the disappointment and furnish a reason to those who counsel continued forbearance.
I beg also to ask the Prime Minister whether his attention has been called to the losses reported by the Treasury as resulting from the working of the Land Act of 1903, and now to be made good by Irish ratepayers, to the individual losses ignored by the Treasury, though aggregating a larger total, and to the fact that, owing to the abolition of inspection, vendors as a rule fix the prices and bonus they are to be paid, with the result that the cost of land, while stationary in Great Britain, has increased by 68½ per cent. in Ireland, and the average price of a £100 holding has risen from £3,017 to £4,897, being £1,880 more than the Land Commission would, after inspection under previous Purchase Acts, have certified the holding to be security for; and whether legislation will be introduced next session to arrest this growing danger.
§ MR. BIRRELL
My right hon. friend has asked me to answer these two Questions. As regards the first Question, I would remind the hon. Member that the 108 problem of obtaining land for the purpose of bettering the condition of the people is engaging the attention of the Royal Commission on Congestion in Ireland, and I have already announced that it is the intention of the Government to introduce amending legislation after they have had the advantage of studying the Report of that Commission. In the second Question the hon. Member renews a question which ho has repeatedly raised before. The enactment that advances shall be made without inspection for security in cases which come within the zones is one of the main provisions of the Act of 1903. The Government are carefully watching the operation of the Act in this and other respects in order to decide whether amending legislation may be necessary. I cannot at present make any more definite statement on the subject.