§ MR. GINNELL (Westmeath, N.)
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland if he is aware that nearly all the untenanted land in Westmeath, outside of desmesnes, is evicted land; that many of the young men reared upon uneconomic holdings are descendants of tenants evicted from the better lands, and have hoped to be enabled to remain in Ireland as purchasers of new holdings on those lands at prices to be fixed by the Estates Commissioners; and, seeing that the Act of 1903 in more than three years working has done nothing to this end, and the emigration season is again approaching, can he hold out any hope of dealing with the problem this session.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY for IRELAND (Mr. BIRRELL, Bristol, N.)
I informed the hon. Member yesterday of the steps which the Estates Commissioners are taking for the acquisition of untenanted land in Westmeath. The Commissioners are not aware how far the statements contained in the Question may be correct, but, as the hon. Member knows, their powers as to the classes whom they may provide with land are strictly limited by the statute. The Commissioners, when distributing land, fully consider the claims of all qualified persons. I hope to be able to deal with the problem during this session.