§ Postponed Proceeding on Question proposed on consideration of Question, "That a sum, not exceeding £11,600, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1909, for the Salaries and Expenses of the office of His Majesty's Secretary for Scotland and Subordinate Office, Expenses under the Inebriates Acts, 1879 to 1900, and Expenses under the Private Legislation Procedure (Scotland) Act, 1899, including a Grant in Aid of the Congested Districts (Scotland) Fund."
§ Which Question was, "That a sum not exceeding ,£10,600, be granted for the said service,"—(Mr. Mitchell-Thomson,) —resumed.
§ SIR JOHN DEWAR,
continuing, said the West Highland young man had no chance to learn a trade. He agreed that the Congested Districts Board was doing excellent work in teaching trades to some of the young men, and he hoped that that part of their work would be continued and encouraged. They did not want to drive the inhabitants of those islands away, but they wanted to induce the more enterprising and ambitious of the inhabitanrts to enter 176 upon a wider sphere, and in order to fit them to battle with life they should try to make them better equipped than they were at the present time. They ought to do a good deal more to teach them trades, and the Congested Districts Board ought to be as active in this respect as they possibly could be. He was for giving as much land as possible to those men because that improved not only their social condition but improved them in every other respect. He urged the Government to enter into negotiations with the proprietors of those islands.
§ MR. WILKIE (Dundee)
said it appeared to be the practice of some hon. Members to commence their speeches by saying they were not going to take up much time, and then proceed to do just the opposite. He was not going to declare himself either way. There were two kinds of people in this world, those who were willing to work and those who were willing to let them. His experience of the House was that it contained two parties, those who were willing to legislate and those who were not willing to let them. Last session he put in many hours on the Scottish Committee upon the land question, and if that Bill had been allowed to pass this trouble would never have arisen. The people on whose behalf he rose to protest were anxious to get a little bit of land to live upon, and they had been called by the Leader of the Opposition parasites. All he wished to say was that if those parasites who prevented the land legislation passing last session had allowed the Bill to go through the present difficulty would never have occurred at all. He was not going to enter into any tirade against Lady Cathcart. He did not know her, but he had read the statement issued by her clever agent, and if that was all the case they could make out for her, then he thought it was a very bad case indeed. It appeared to him that they were now repeating the history of that particular island of 1851, when the people were driven from the land of their birth to seek a living in Canada in order to give place to deer and sheep. No wonder the Secretary of State for War under these circumstances was 177 complaining of the want of success of his Territorial Army. In this particular part of Scotland in the past men of stamina and strength were reared, who had proved to be the bulwark of this country in time of danger, and yet they had been compelled to make room for sheep and deer. They had been told that in Scotland they had some good landlords. He almost wished that they had not had those good landlords, because if they had not existed the present system would have been swept away long ago. The inhabitants of those islands were sick of waiting for a little bit of land upon which to spend their energy; they were being driven to the mainland, and would prefer to suffer imprisonment rather than starve. Why did they continue a system which inflicted such hardships upon the people? He thought in this matter the Government ought to take their courage in both hands, and take over all those islands and be done with the difficulty. That would incur far less cost to this country and it would be a mere bagatelle, because at the present time they had to go to the expense of having gunboats and ironclads around those islands in order to protect the interests of the landlords. He had been asked by his own constituents to intervene in this discussion. He desired to urge the Government to take the wider and bolder step, and if they found that their legislation was not passed by the other House he hoped they would make this a financial question, and have all those islands placed under Government, thus settling the question once for all. Let them put human life before the interests of mere property or deer.
§ MR. MORTON (Sutherland)
said that personally he regretted that instead of having a discussion upon the local affairs of Scotland they had had only a party political debate on a particular land question. That had, to some extent, deprived them of the time they had hoped to have to consider many other affairs affecting social government and other matters which came under the Scottish Office. With regard to the Vatersay question he thought the Government ought to have done something. It was the duty of the Government to govern, and 178 when they had in power a Government with such a large majority it was their duty to find out some means of getting over a difficulty of this sort instead of letting the people starve and be sent to prison. They were told that the difficulty was in regard to compensation to the tenants. But they had not been told how much it was. He was afraid that the Government had been standing too much on their dignity, and would not move in the matter because the other parties did not come to them. A Liberal Government ought to be above that sort of thing, and should endeavour to do what was right without regard to mere dignity of office. There were few places in the Highlands of Scotland where there was congestion. There was congestion in Lewis, but that could not be said of Sutherlandshire, where the population was less now than it was 100 years ago. If the people could get the land in that county, it would support 50,000 more than were there at present. It should be remembered that the land had practically all been stolen from the clans within almost living memory. None of those who got possession of it after 1745 had any real title to it, except the fact that they had collected rents since then. He was told that Edinburgh lawyers had made up various titles for them in the same way as certain titles had been got up in London. The land formerly belonged to the clans who paid small tribute to the chiefs and no doubt had to perform certain duties in connection with their clans. Unfortunately, a good deal of the land had been sold to other individuals. He did not say that Lady Cathcart or her immediate predecessors had stolen the land. Undoubtedly, unless the land question was settled in the interest of the people, the people might say presently: "We will resume possession of our own, and you may look out for payment where you like." The people all over Scotland were law-abiding, and they were willing to pay a fair rent for the land with fixity of tenure. That they now offered, but they might not always offer it. As to the poor men who were now in prison in connection with the Vatersay affair, he asked why the Government could not reduce the sentences. It should be quite satisfactory, so far as 179 he law was concerned, if, having been convicted, they were given twenty-four hours imprisonment. That would have vindicated the law. He might remind the Committee that when a rich American shot some gillies in the Highlands he was not even found guilty. He asked hon. Members to look at the difference between the treatment of the poor men at Vatersay and the treatment of the rich American. Why should not the Government intervene and say that the law had been vindicated, and that the men should be released, so that they might go back to work, so that their families should not starve? Some people were surprised that there should be any sympathy with these men. There was bound to be sympathy with them in view of the way they were treated, and of the fact that they were not allowed to work for a living. They were willing to work in the cultivation of the land if they were only allowed to do so. It was the duty of the Government, and especially a Liberal Government, to see that something was done whereby people could be allowed to get a living. A Liberal Government had been in power for nearly three sessions, and what had they done for Scotland? Three years ago they were told by the Lord-Advocate that Scotland must wait. Well, Scotland was waiting, and he hoped the Government would endeavour in some way to deal with the needs of the Highland population. He was perfectly certain that something could be clone by the Congested Districts Board. That Board had a balance last year of about £40,000. Therefore, it could not be said that there was no money to deal with the question. If there was no other means of dealing with the question, it was certainly the duty of the Congested Districts Board to employ the money which they had in hand for the purposes on which they were authorised to spend it. Why did the Board not do that? If they did not do it, why did not the Secretary for Scotland make them? He himself had continually complained that the Congested Districts Board had abstained from doing a great deal that Parliament evidently meant them to do. The late Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman said in 1905 that it would be the duty of the Liberal Government to colonise our own 180 country. So far as the congested districts of the Highlands were concerned, that work was in the hands of the Secretary for Scotland and the Congested Districts Board. There was a great deal of work which might be done in building necessary piers and harbours, making roads, and providing steamboat services. Since 1906 he had been asking the Board to carry out a great many improvements in Sutherland which admittedly they had power to do, but they had not done anything. The Secretary for Scotland ought to ask them to do something, or ask the House to get rid of these officials. He had pleasure in acknowledging the work which the Postmaster had done in improving the mail services in the Highlands. What the Postmaster-General had done showed that a great deal could be achieved by way of administration to help the people without coming to Parliament at all. He hoped the Postmaster-General would do more, and he (Mr. Morton) thanked him for what he had done. He could not associate himself with the hon. Member for Dumfries Burghs in congratulating the Secretary for Scotland on the amount of work he did. His own opinion was that the right hon. Gentleman did not do enough. They could not get him to answer letters himself as other Ministers did. His Department sent no written reply to the Questions which were addressed to him as other Departments did. The Congested Districts Board had taken away a steamboat service which was formerly provided between Lochinver and Loch Clash.
§ MR. MORTON
said the steamboat service was put on by the Congested Districts Board in the autumn of 1905, and taken off early in 1906. The Secretary for Scotland was responsible for the action of the Board, and, therefore, he believed he was in order in discussing the matter now.
§ THE DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member has himself given an answer on the point of order. It is because there is no money asked in the Vote for the 181 steamboat service that he cannot discuss the matter now.
§ MR. MORTON
said his complaint was that the Board had got the money and had kept it. The Congested Districts Board had £20,000 on this Vote. However, as those matters were found to be out of order, and there was no other way of discussing them, he would put Questions on the Paper. He had been endeavouring to get those reforms, which were more administrative than anything else, by writing letters to the Secretary for Scotland, but he found the letters were of no use, and, therefore, he would trouble the House by putting Questions. He had another complaint to make. The Secretary for Scotland did do thing himself but blocked all attempts on the part of private Members to promote legislation with regard to trawling and other matters. He trusted that the Secretary for Scotland would endeavour to get the Congested Districts Board to do something with the money which they were going to vote that night to carry out the wishes of Parliament, and assist those districts. That was not only necessary to prevent their depopulation, but to allow the districts to be made fit for a much larger population than now existed there. If they gave the people of Sutherland the use of land, as was recommended by the Deer Forest Commission, and as they had the power to do, they would do much better service than by driving the people to the large towns and cities. Apart from the land question he had been asking for a steamboat service from Tongue to Lochinver, so that the people might have an opportunity of sending their spare produce to market. He had met with no success from the congested Districts Board, and he would be inclined to refuse this £20,000, unless they spent some of it in that direction. He was certain that it was the duty of any Government, and especially of a Liberal Government, to do something whereby the people could get an honest and decent living. It was not a question of money in this country. They could vote money by millions for all sorts of purposes abroad, and what they wanted was the Government to spend money in order to colonise our own land and 182 make it useful, and for the benefit of the people who tried to live on it.
§ MR. MORTON
said that they could not take this £20,000 to South Africa; they wanted some of it spent in Sutherlandshire to carry out various improvements required to enable the people to get a livelihood and to protect human life. He wanted some of the money to assist in building boat-slips, piers, and other matters which were useful for the people. He had no intention of saying anything offensive of any Minister. It was the system he objected to, and because the best was not done with the money voted by Parliament. He regretted that the Secretary for Scotland was not present. He had seen him look in and go away again. He supposed the right hon. Gentleman was rather afraid of discussion, and he was sorry to say anything to cause him to run away. He never ran away himself, and he would have liked the Secretary for Scotland to remain and answer his questions, for, after, all, Ministers were not the masters, but the servants of the people, and of this House particularly. There was another matter to which he wished to call attention. That was the sentence of five years penal servitude passed on a man named Simpson for doing something in Glasgow. Several Questions had been put to the Secretary for Scotland on the subject, and he hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would see his way to reduce that sentence. They had been unable to get any explanation, in answer to questions put to the right hon. Gentleman, and it seemed a very hard case. A petition had been signed by over 40,000 people in Scotland and sent to the Government late last year or early this year, asking for a reduction of the sentence. So far as he could ascertain from reading up the case, he did not think that the Court had got hold of the right individual; he believed that this man Simpson had been made to a large extent a scapegoat. When they considered the light sentences passed in many other cases, five year 183 seemed a hard sentence; and he would ask the Secretary for Scotland, when he came back from his tour round the House, to try and be merciful in this case, and recommend some reduction of this harsh sentence. The young man was ruined in any case, but when he compared his with other sentences—he did not want to mention other people's names—imposed at trials at Edinburgh. he thought it was the harshest sentence he had ever heard of. He would like to hear some reason why the Secretary for Scotland could not be merciful in this case. He also trusted that something would be done to reduce the sentence on the ten poor men who were in prison over the Vatersay case. Bearing in mind that nobody seemed to know who was to blame in that matter—some said it was one person, and some said it was another, and some blamed the Government—and seeing that the law had been sufficiently sustained by the conviction, he hoped the Secretary for Scotland would be merciful and release the men so that they might get to work at home. These men were only too anxious to work for their families and to be allowed an opportunity of doing it, which they could do as well as anyone in the world. Again he expressed a hope that the Secretary for Scotland would be merciful.
§ MR. AINSWORTH (Argyllshire)
said that before the discussion came to an end he should like to say, in support of what had fallen from the hon. Member for Inverness-shire, that it was absolutely necessary that a case like Vatersay should be dealt with immediately. It was only typical of what might happen where there was extreme poverty on the one hand and a desire to remain in their own country on the other. Since the failure of the Government to get a proper Land Bill passed, suggestions had been made from all parts of this House and in another place in regard to the matter. No doubt much had taken place at Vatersay which was to be regretted. He did not want to speak about the estate management. They all sympathised with the lady Who was placed in the position of proprietress, and who had to go to 184 lawyers and factors for her information. It was not to be wondered at that there was great difficulty in getting anything done. What was wanted was better machinery, as that which existed had broken down. The Scottish Office could do nothing; the Congested Districts Board could only act by buying the island and reselling it to the cottars; the Crofters Commission and the county council of Inverness-shire had also completely failed to make a settlement. All this was proof that new and improved machinery was wanted. He represented the constituency adjoining that where this occurrence had taken place, and he could confirm every word that had fallen in regard to the matter from hon. Members on that side of the House. The Leader of the Opposition had said that all the difficulty had arisen from the fact that the cottars had no right to be at Vatersay. Why were they there? It was because they were the descendants of the men who had occupied the soil in former generations. And he would remind the right hon. Gentleman that it was to that population that we owed a very large share of our Indian and Colonial Empire. Many hon. Members had seen the long list of public men, distinguished soldiers, and Governors-General who came from the West Highlands and had fought our battles in all parts of the world, not only with sword and rifle, but with axe and spade. The Leader of the Opposition said that these men, had no right to be there; but where were they going to put them? What was wanted was better machinery. The Leader of the Opposition said that these men had no right to be where they were, and he asked what was going to be done with them. It should be the duty of the House next session to answer that question. It was absurd to say that there was no future for them there and that they must either drift into the towns or find their way across the seas. We wanted these people there. It would be a suicidal act if we did not keep alive the old home in the old country, where they could have an opportunity of bringing up their children mentally, morally and physically better fitted to become useful citizens of the Empire than would be the case if they were forced into the crowded streets of a large town——
§ MR. MOLTENO (Dumfriesshire)
said the Leader of the Opposition had told the Committee that these men had been led away by agitators to commit a breach of the law. That was a most unfortunate remark, because nothing could be found in the documents before the Committee in any way to justify such a statement. There was a great deal in the Report to suggest the opposite. This had been represented as a raid and an unprincipled demand by these men on the land of their neighbour, but what were the facts? The Sheriff was sent down to investigate, and he very wisely did not go down escorted by gunboats, he went down quietly with his wife and saw these people. The leader of the movement was a fisherman named Duncan Campbell, whom he saw and spent three hours in conversation with. Eventually Duncan Campbell took him to Vatersay in his boat, and showed him what had been done. That was not the action of a criminal. He asked Campbell why he had done what he had, and Campbell's reply was that he and the others could not hope to find occupation in their country; that he had worked hard all his life but had got nothing; that neither from Lady Cathcart nor from the Congested Districts Board could he get help; that their fathers and grandfathers had been possessed of these very lands in the past; and that these men had never given up their claim to them. Yet the hon. Member for Lanarkshire had said that these men had gone there without a shadow of a right. The Sheriff said he had thought it right to give Campbell's statement in detail as being the best way to bring to the mind of the Secretary for Scotland the true character of this raid. The Congested Districts Board also sent down a Commissioner, who said that he found the people moderate in their talk and spirit and other circumstances, and that the want of potatoes among those having families must be a very great hardship. From the evidence of the Report, therefore, the Committee would see that the idea that these people were led by agitators to come forward in this manner was erroneous. The facts of this case broadly were that the greater part of these islands was tenanted by three or four large farmers, and that the other 186 inhabitants lived among the rocks and streams and bogs. These men were the descendants of those who used to have the whole. They took the proper steps. They applied to the representatives of the landowner and obtained no satisfaction; they went to the parish councils, who endeavoured to assist them, and were unsuccessful; they then went to the county council, who sent down a deputation who spent nine days in investigation, and confirmed the report of the Sheriff. They reported that land was desirable, that it could be got, but that it was impossible to get it on reasonable terms. These people had gone to every authority, and they finally pointed out that if they went back to Barra it meant starvation that it meant leaving their country or starving. Under these circumstances it was very hard that suggestions should be made that political motives actuated these men. It was simply the effect of the laws. The system of landlord and tenant had broken down. It had operated unfairly. These men were the product of injustice in the past. He did not blame the landlords but the system. It was the system which had produced this difficulty; it was not the result of action such as was suggested by the Leader of the Opposition. There were no shops. If these people wanted milk they had to keep their cow; if they wanted carrots or potatoes they must grow them. A small amount of land was to them an economic necessity. The difficulty was not peculiar to this part; it had arisen all over Scotland. In the three most southern counties of Scotland, Berwick, Roxburgh, and Edinburgh, in the last thirty or forty years the agricultural labourers had been driven out, whilst in the Highlands the rural population had decreased enormously. In every county of Scotland this had been the case; therefore it was not a thing confined to this particular spot. The Leader of the Opposition said that these men should not be there! Then where should they be? They were the decendants of the people on the spot. The right hon. Gentleman also complained that the had been unduly prolific; but the increase had only been 37 per cent, in forty years, which was the proportion all over Scotland, so 187 that that charge could not be made against them. This process had been going on for many years. Adam Smith drew attention to it in his time and pointed out how disastrous it was. Sir John Stanley drew attention to it also. They were really in the face of a great social problem as to the existing land system. It was that which had created the difficulty. This was one of many cases which had occurred in the past, and ought to be very carefully considered by the House. It was suggested that the Small Landholders Bill of last year would have met the case. That suggestion was based upon a misunderstanding of the Bill. He thought the Secretary for Scotland was perfectly correct in taking up the firm attitude he had done, and he hoped he would maintain that attitude and that a settlement might be arrived at.
§ MAJOR ANSTRUTHER-GRAY (St. Andrews Burghs)
thought everybody in the House sympathised with the poor misguided men who were in prison. There was no doubt that if they had not been misled they would not be where they were now. He did not want to indulge in recriminations. The Government, he thought, had received its full share of the blame, and he would rather let bygones be bygones and direct the attention of the House to what was going to happen when the men came out of prison. They were martyrs to-day; but in a few days they would be heroes. He did not know how it was going to end, but he certainly thought it was the duty of the Government to face the possibilities of the future. They did one thing which everyone would agree was wise. They sent down the Sheriff, Mr. Wilson, to see what could be done. He had no doubt he did his best; and everybody would regret that he failed to accomplish his object. He suggested two alternatives. The first was that of allowing Lady Cathcart to workherremedyas she pleased, and the second was to let the Congested Districts Board buy either the island of Vatersay or such part of it as Lady Cathcart would part with on reasonable terms so that they might give allotments. This might involve a capital expenditure of £6,000 or pound;8,000 and should, Mr. Wilson supposed, only be contemplated 188 if the island was reported upon by a competent man as suitable for the settlement of crofters as regarded the water supply. What had the Government done to discover whether the water supply was right or not? They had not heard what the Government had done to find out whether the island was fit for crofters or not. So far, they knew nothing. Were they for the sake of £6,000 or £8,000 to set the heather on fire? He thought it would be a world of pities, and he most earnestly implored the Government to take heart of grace and put an end to this discreditable and lamentable state of affairs.
§ MR. SEDDON (Lancashire, Newton)
said he had heard many strange theories in. his time, but the most interesting theory he had ever heard was that which came from the Leader of the Opposition that night, in referring to these particular islanders. The right hon. Gentleman had said that they were parasites, and had given as his reason that they were unable to provide for their own wants and the needs of ordinary civilisation. If men who were unable to do that were to be called parasites, the right hon. Gentleman need not go to the Highlands to discover them. He would find many of them on the other side of that building. This was a great subject, and yet it was contained within a narrow compass. The hon. Member for St. Andrews Burghs had said that the men who were in prison were martyrs to-day, and that tomorrow they would be heroes. In the ordinary course of his duties, possibly as an agitator, as the right hon. Gentleman had said, he would be within the zone of this disaffected area in the coming recess. He knew very well the class from whom these men had sprung. They were not likely to be inflamed by the oratory of any agitator who might go into their midst. They were a body of men slow to move, who thought and reasoned for themselves, whose whole conduct demonstrated that they had tried every method before going to the length of breaking the law. The House was told that they were law-breakers, but, if so, who made them law-breakers? The men who compelled them to break the law were the men who had created the situation. They or their ancestors had 189 driven these men off the land. In the case they had a titled lady who, to his mind, was the Clanricarde of the High lands. She possessed 14,000 acres of land, and there was a population of 2,500. They wanted to follow the pursuits of their fathers and live on the land. She said they should not do so unless they complied with her terms. The Government had tried to make arrangements, and had made proposals. She had made counter proposals, and would not alter them; the result was that the men were exasperated; bound by all the ties of kinship and love of country, they had been driven to desperation, and that night they were languishing in gaol, because they asked a fellow-creature the right to live. It did not suit her ladyship. It possibly did not suit her inclination, and, when a person would deliberately force upon these men this sad alternative, he could come to only one conclusion, viz., that she had not much interest in their welfare. It was the future they had to deal with. He regretted that the Government had endorsed the sentences, which to his mind were vicious in the extreme. The Government could with justice and without any dereliction of duty have reduced the sentences. If they did not do so, the men would come out with a sense of outraged justice, and when these men were roused gunboats would not cow them. These were the kind of men who made civil wars. It would be highly improper and foolish in the extreme for the Government to hold out no hope to these people that there would be an improvement in their future conditions. They did not ask for affluence; they were content with a frugal living. He appealed to the Government in the interests of law and order to give some hope, so that, instead of being firebrands when they emerged from prison, they would be the messengers of hope that land would be given, that they would have the right to earn their living, and that everything would be done to bring contentment and peace to unhappy people who wore law-abiding and a credit to the country.
§ MR. ANNAN BRYCE (Inverness Burghs)
thought the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had really 190 struck the right note. So far the debate had not been satisfactory because no practical proposal had been advocated on either side as to the way in which the situation should be dealt with. They had had a certain amount of eulogy of Lady Cathcart and a certain amount of denunciation of the Government. It was remarkable that though the Leader of the Opposition had in January last at Glasgow attacked the Lord Advocate in violent language, he had not embraced the opportunity afforded by that day's debate to engage that learned Gentleman at close quarters. What had the Government done? What could it do? It could not enforce the provisions of the Bill which was lost in another place. It did not want to put in force the provisions of the Act of 1865, which had been passed for a totally different purpose. But there was going to be a great deal more of this kind of thing if some remedy was not applied.
§ MAJOR ANSTRUTHER-GRAY
If you ask me what I want the Government to do, I want them to accept the recommendations of Mr. Wilson and buy Vatersay for from £6,000 to £8,000. That would put an end to the whole trouble.
§ MR. ANNAN BRYCE
said people did not want purchase in Scotland. They had seen from the examples of the island of Skye and Sutherlandshire that purchase by the Congested Districts Board was not a method of settlement which commended itself to the crofter population. What they wanted was to be able to hire their land on reasonable terms.
§ MR. ANNAN BRYCE
said the proposals of the Government to Lady Cathcart were not accepted. The Government made proposals to that effect which failed owing to the impossible conditions which were attached by Mr. Macdonald, the agent.
§ MAJOR ANSTRUTHER-GRAY
said it only failed on the question of compensation to the tenants, which the Secretary 191 for Scotland said was a bagatelle. Why they could not face the bagatelle he did not know.
§ MR. ANNAN BRYCE
said the Secretary for Scotland had pointed out that that was really quite a subsidiary matter, but the really important matters were the other conditions which were attached. The Congested Districts Board had not the right to hold land in the way in which alone these people would have it, and they would require legislation toen able the recommendation of the hon. Member to be carried out. What they wanted now was some hope to be expressed by the Lord Advocate as to the way in which the Government was going to treat the question. He did not know why the hon. and gallant Member should call these people misguided. Who misguided them?
§ MR. ANNAN BRYCE
said he was not aware of any agitators ever having gone to Barra to mislead the people.
§ SIR J. DEWAR
I am the only politician who visits the island and my advice to them is not to break the law.
§ MAJOR ANSTRUTHER-GRAY
I meant nothing personal, and I should like to apologise if I gave that idea.
§ MR. ANNAN BRYCE
said that all through the debate it had been assumed by speakers on the other side that the Government were somehow to blame for the present position. The Government had no blame whatever. They had done nothing to mislead except by trying to pass legislation which hon. Gentlemen opposite had helped to destroy. That was the only misleading that had been done by the Government, and he did not think any reasonable person would say that that was a kind of thing which ought to be thrown in their teeth. The hon. Member for the Universities who had accused the Government of having encouraged these people to break the law seemed to forget that this was not the first time that breaches of the law of this kind had been perpetrated. The little pamphlet issued 192 by the friends of Lady Cathcart showed that the same kind of thing had been going on of a large number of occasions before. The Government had no responsibility and he thought the Secretary for Scotland was fully justified in his disclaimer of any intention to accept the responsibility. The words of Sheriff Wilson in his Report showed that these unfortunate people were fully justified morally in the action they took. They had no other course to adopt. It made one's blood boil to read the kind of conditions under which these unhappy people lived in this island. There was a clause in the letter which Sheriff Wilson saw, written by Mr. Macdonald, Lady Cathcart's local factor, to a cottar, which really showed what the grievance at the bottom of the matter was. The last sentence of the letter was this—If you persist in building, the erection will be pulled down forcibly, or Lady Cathcart's agents will take immediate action against you, as house building by cottars in the immediate vicinity is no longer to be tolerated.They were living in insanitary conditions, and when they attempted to obtain a spot of ground on which they could live in a healthy way they were imprisoned for contempt of Court. Every word of the Report fully justified morally the action of those unhappy people, and he hoped they would have an indication from the Lord Advocate of some possible kind of remedy.
§ THE SOLICITOR-GENERAL FOR SCOTLAND (Mr. URE,) Linlithgowshire
said the Papers which had been placed before the Committee disclosed, it was said, a case of harsh and unjust treatment, and the accusation would be found to rest on two quite separate and distinct grounds which it was eminently desirable to keep separate and distinct. The first was that the Government had refused to put in operation the Tinkers Act against certain men who had planted thirteen plots of potatoes on two acres of ground. These men were perfectly well known to the proprietress. They had been born and bred on the estate. They were not tinkers, but sensible, reasonable, courteous men holding the view that if land was not to be had they were entitled against the wishes of the proprietress to take possession of it, and they were the men against whom they were 193 asked to take criminal proceedings, and to brand as criminals. That they absolutely declined to do, because the offence they committed was quite obviously a civil offence for which the law provided ample remedy. If the prorietrix took steps they must be in the Civil Court. It was said they would be costly and troublesome, but that was no justification whatever for the Government taking criminal proceedings. This proprietrix was in exactly the same position as hundreds of other proprietors, that there was no Sheriff's Court or Sheriff's Officer at hand. Secondly, they were told that this proprietrix deserved more than usual consideration at the hands of the Government because she had carried generosity to its utmost limit in her treatment of her tenants. But that would never be listened to for a moment as a ground for taking criminal proceedings. Upon looking back on the situation the Lord Advocate and he were satisfied that they had come to a right conclusion in advising the Secretary for Scotland that this was not a case in which the criminal law should be set in motion. He did not deny that they took a much wider view than the mere narrow legal aspect of the question. They had naturally to consider what the effect of taking criminal proceedings would be upon the sentiment and the feelings of the people, and whether or no taking criminal proceedings held out any reasonable hope of immediate restoration of law and order, and they came to the conclusion that it would act in exactly the opposite way, and that if they desired to foment exasperation and intensify the feeling of injustice and wrong which these men undoubtedly cherished they could not take a surer or straighter course than to call in the police. On that resolution they looked back with supreme satisfaction, because all the events which had subsequently taken place justified it. The very paltriness of the remedy of fourteen days imprisonment or 20s. fine was enough to bring the whole thing into contempt and exasperate these people. If, as he believed, it was the object of Lady Gordon Cathcart and her advisers to impress these men with the serious view she took of the situation, proceedings in the Civil Court were much better calculated to secure 194 that end than calling in the aid of the police. The Tinkers Act was never intended to apply to such a case, and if it had been, for twenty-one years it would have been applied by any landed proprietor in the outer Hebrides and every crofter would be liable to be removed. The second accusation against the Government was that they absolutely refused to give compensation to the tenant on the condition of his surrendering his lease. A clamorous demand had been made by the cottars for crofts in Vatersay and, rightly or wrongly, these men had asked for land on which to cultivate their potatoes and feed their cows, and they planted themselves on the ground. The Government agreed at once to pay the diminished value of the remainder of the land after crofts had been carved out of it, but they refused to pay a wholly undefined and indefinable sum for compensation, which should be a mere bagatelle, but would have grown to an enormous amount if it were known that the Government were going to be responsible. They still desired that the scheme of carving out crofts should be adopted ultimately, so that homes might be provided for the cottars. With regard to the case alluded to by the hon. Member for Sutherland where a sentence of five years penal servitude had been imposed, the man had been found guilty of one of the gravest offences ever brought before a Criminal Court. He did not think the punishment was unduly severe under the circumstances. The evidence was exceedingly clear. The prisoner took advantage of the recent Act, and gave evidence on his own behalf, but he was nevertheless found guilty by the jury. He did not think under those circumstances his right hon. friend was wrong in refusing to mitigate the sentence.
§ MR. COCHRANE (Ayrshire, N.)
contended that the Trespass Act of 1865 absolutely fitted the case under discussion. In 1891 a similar case arose, and the raiders were brought before the 195 sheriff, who said that to take possession of land for which a man was paying rent was pure robbery. Those men were sent to prison for fourteen days, and the raid came to an end. That was a far more satisfactory way of dealing with a case of the kind than by procedure in a Civil Court, and he did not doubt that the men who were now languishing in prison wished that the Lord Advocate had taken the view of his predecessor, and had dealt with their case under the Trespass Act, with its maximum penalty of £1 or fourteen days imprisonment. He was surprised at the argument of the Solicitor-General for Scotland on the compensation claim of the tenant. Why did the Government refuse to pay compensation to the tenant who was dispossessed of his farm? The Solicitor -General said it would be an undefined claim. Not long ago the learned Attorney-General took part in the debate upon the Land Tenure Bill of 1906, in which the fullest provisions were inserted as to arbitration for a tenant in regard to compensation for being deprived of his farm. Was that what the Solicitor-General now called an undefined claim, when it had been made the subject of arbitration? When the hon. and learned Member reflected he would see that he had produced a very false analogy. Here was a case where a tenant had had more than one lease of his farm. He had paid his rent regularly and was anxious to remain on his farm, but to meet the situation he was willing to give it up. In every case where they got rid of a tenant, even at the end of a lease, compensation had to be paid. That was what the Solicitor-General for Scotland railed an undefined claim, and that was the sole reason why the Secretary for Scotland had felt himself unable to deal with the case by way of compensation. It was a misfortune that there were no trades for the crofters, who were a fine, well-mannered people, but occasionally their intelligence was clouded by strange notions upon land tenure. In regard to the fishing industry they did not show that persistent, continuous adherence to it which was exhibited on the East coast of Scotland.
§ MR. COCHRANE
said he did not want to criticise them too severely. He was glad to see that the Congested Districts Board were endeavouring to do something for those young fellows. They had sent over 100 of them to cities like Glasgow and Greenock and endeavoured to apprentice them to trades. Those young fellows had not, however, been brought up to the work, and they were inclined to throw it up. The main thing that was wanted to encourage this experiment was more money. The air of romance which invested the crofters had characterised many of the statements made by hon. Members opposite during the debate, in which charges had been made that could not be substantiated or justified. Even the Secretary for Scotland had made the extraordinary statement that his principal reason for not settling with the tenant as to compensation was that the proprietor and tenant had entered into a new lease and that they should not have entered into a new lease because they knew perfectly well that there were trespassers on the land.
§ MR. COCHRANE
Exactly so; and he thought that they should not have entered into it because they knew they were threatened with trespassers and cattle on the land. Did they not also know that there was a law in the land? At the end of a lease of a Highland sheep farm the landlord had to take over the sheep stock at a valuation, and by a custom which had grown up an artificial valuation was put upon the, sheep stock. It was called the acclimatisation value, and it sometimes exceeded the actual value of the flock. Many a Highland landlord had been ruined in the process. He hoped the Secretary for Scotland would take a fair and just view of the matter. They were asked by the Solicitor-General whether their view was that the Government should have taken criminal proceedings. His answer was no, but there were many steps which might have been taken before entering on criminal proceedings, and which would have been effective. 197 What happened in Vatersay? Lady Gordon Cathcart arranged with the tenant of Vatersey to let twenty acres of land for potatoes. In a letter to the Congested Districts Board dated 15th March, 1906, it was pointed out that "The tenant relied on the Government preventing any invasion of his farm such as had been publicly threatened." The agitation for more land continued, and Lady Cathcart relied on the Government preventing the invasion of the farm and protecting the farmer. When the land was seized the Secretary for Scotland had an opportunity for saying to these people in plain language that their action was illegal in invading the land, and that the Government would not support them in such action. When asked to put the matter before the people in that way, the Secretary for Scotland absolutely refused to take that course. The Congested Districts Board also farmed land in Scotland, and they were threatened with trespass. A meeting was held at which a resolution was passed that a raid should be made on the farm of Kilmuir. The Secretary for Scotland was asked by the intending raiders in the most naif manner whether he approved of this raid, and the reply of the right hon. Gentleman was a curious commentary on the enforcement of the law. He said that the illegal seizure of land could receive no assent at the hands of the Government and would entail most serious consequences. In that case the land was the property of the Congested Districts Board. He had not the right hon. Gentleman's exact words, but that was a paraphrase of what he said. That was wise action to take, and he believed it had a most salutary effect. These people were, so far as he knew, deterred from taking the action which they intended to take. Why did not the right hon. Gentleman in the case of Lady Cathcart's land give the Vatersay people the same strenuous warning as was given in the case of those who proposed to take the land of the Congested Districts Board? Lady Cathcart asked the Secretary for Scotland or the Lord Advocate to put down lawlessness and protect the tenant, or to purchase the farm and compensate him. 198 Exactly the same words were used by the sheriff who was sent down by the Secretary for Scotland. Then Lady Cathcart said while the civil action was pending that she desired to make a final effort to bring about a settlement so that these misguided people might be saved the penalties which would be imposed by the Court. Some vague and unsatisfactory proposals were made in regard to the sheep stock. The Secretary for Scotland said he had no doubt that the Congested Districts Board would be prepared to purchase at a valuation. Lady Cathcart had been in the same predicament before. She sold some land which was to be devoted to the use of the crofters, but the crofters would not take it up. She had to compensate the tenant, and take over the sheep stock at a valuation and the Board did not pay her back. Then there was an unfortunate experience in regard to a school, and the result was that Lady Cathcart had to provide the school herself. In regard to all these matters the right hon. Gentleman had, perhaps, hardly dealt in a generous manner with Lady Cathcart. He thought the tenant came extraordinarily well out of the whole circumstances. The tenant said he was willing to renounce the lease if he got compensation, and a price for the sheep on his tenancy after valuation by arbitration. He thought those were very reasonable terms. Moreover, the tenant said he was willing to come to Edinburgh to see the Secretary for Scotland or any member of the Board and explain his terms. That was a fair and reasonable proposal. The Secretary for Scotland gave a blank negative; and the right hon. Gentleman was largely and seriously to blame for all that had subsequently taken place. Lady Gordon Cathcart was perfectly right in what she said. She was not prepared to compensate the tenant because she did not wish to remove him; and he did not see why she should be called upon to make an experiment which she had every reason to apprehend would be a failure. That was her past experience, and he hoped, from something that had fallen from the Secretary for Scotland, that he might alter his mind on this point about paying compensation. He regretted some things 199 that had happened and that there had been something in the nature of a campaign against Lady Gordon Cathcart. He was certain that hon. Members who knew the district must be aware that she had earnestly done her best to meet an extremely difficult situation. Questions had been asked in the House that contained insinuations and covert attacks upon a lady was had no means of replying, and no opportunity of putting her case rightly before the House. [An HON. MEMBER: What Questions?] There was one Question by the hon. Baronet the Member for Inverness-shire. Generally, it stated that the proprietor of Vatersay owned the whole of the Island of Barra, and that all attempts by the cottars to obtain land by peaceable means had failed. Anybody who knew the facts knew that that was not true. When Lady Cathcart got possession of the island 8,000 acres were held by crofters. At present there were 15,500 acres held by crofters, leaving only about 3,350 acres in her own possession. Could she do more, or could it be said with truth that the proprietress owned the land in the neighbourhood and that she had refused all attempts to obtain land for the cottars? Was that a fair way to describe the position? The right hon. Gentleman, in answer to that question said: "Stated generally, the facts are as stated." He thought some clearer statement might have been given by the right hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. WATT (Glasgow, College)
said that he had asked a Question in regard to reduction of rents because he wanted to get the accurate facts in view of this debate.
§ MR. COCHRANE
said that the Question might have been put at a more convenient time instead of immediately 200 before the debate, when a very full and emphatic answer might have been given. He was, however, not aware of the Question put by the hon. Member. He was referring to the Question put by the hon. Baronet the Member for Invernessshire as to 120 years purchase having been paid for land at Vatersay when the Secretary for Scotland said he could not commit himself to rapid calculations. The right hon. Gentleman must have been aware that the calculation would not have taken four minutes.
§ MR. A. DEWAR
said that he asked the Question as to 120 years purchase having been paid by the Government.
§ MR. COCHRANE
said that they were a portion of the farm and the tenant had a right to put a considerable value upon those 60 acres. The hon. Member said that the 120 years purchase was at the average rent of the whole farm of some thousands of acres. The sixty acres had been used for growing potatoes; and the value of these acres was taken as the average value of the whole farm. When the Question was asked, the Secretary for Scotland said he was not a rapid calculator and could not give an Answer. At any rate he might have said that he had sent down an impartial valuator of his own from the Congested Districts Board and that his valuation of the sixty acres coincided with the purchase price. The right hon. Gentleman in the advocacy 201 of his case should have been more moderate in his statements and not have said that the question could not be answered. The purchase price was £10 an acre or £600, and out of that the tenant had to receive compensation by way of re-adjustment of terms. When the lease expired the tenant said that that was the most valuable portion of his farm, and that was confirmed when the proprietor and factor agreed with the tenant to reduce the rent on account of these 60 acres, from £400 to £350. Was that 120 years purchase?
§ MR. A. DEWAR
said that this was a peninsula isolated from the farm, swept by wind in every direction. They said it was worthless. They planted potatoes and the sand came up and covered them up, and they were never lifted. The land was worth so little that they abandoned it. It was worth nothing at all.
§ MR. COCHRANE
said in that case the hon. Member would certainly vote for the reduction of the salary of the right hon. Gentleman because the Congested Districts Board reporter reported that this land was a fine loam and suitable for growing potatoes. A still more subtle form of insinuation was indulged in by the Lord-Advocate. He attacked this lady directly and spoke of harsh landlordism, oppressed tenants, and of a landlord unfortunate in his relations with his tenants. The statement of the Secretary for Scotland of this lady attacked by his colleague was that he was well aware that she was genuinely and deeply concerned for the welfare of the people of the district. His conclusion upon the whole matter was that there had been a series of bungles and failures. There was the failure to purchase, the failure to 202 compensate, the failure to enforce the law, and above all the failure of the Scottish Secretary to recognise the great responsibility of the duties which fall upon him. The result had been that ten or twelve of these misguided persons were in prison. Was this to go on indefinitely? When they came out were they to go back to Vatersay and finally to prison for a longer time? He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would not be deterred by the bungling that had taken place from doing what the Committee thought would be a just thing for him to do. Let him carry out his own recommendations, purchase under arbitration, enter into possession of the land in dispute, and having got it settle these people upon it.
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. THOMAS SHAW)
regretted that from the Leader of the Opposition they had had in the course of his speech the maximum of heat and the minimum of light on the situation. The right hon. Gentleman had attacked the Administration and had supported this reduction on grounds that he did not advocate in this House, but which he did advocate with some violence of language at Glasgow. This was his first and only opportunity of answering that speech; and he asked the right hon. Gentleman whether he now had reason to agree with or vary from those violent denunciations. The mover of the Amendment had charged him with not having adopted the Trespass Act of 1865. That was a matter in which he was personally concerned as the adviser of the Secretary for Scotland. That Act had not, except in one instance, during its whole exist-once, been attempted to be applied in circumstances like the present. He would state broadly that no lawyer of repute in Scotland who had ever written on the subject or spoken from the judicial bench 203 had treated that Act as applicable to the present circumstances. The Act did not apply to a case of disputed possession which involved a question of heritable right. The Act was dealt with by Professor Rankine. It was passed for the purpose of preventing strolling tinkers, gypsies and others, squatting without permission. Accordingly, the law stepped in to give a short and effective remedy for cases of temporary nuisance; but this little Act of Parliament in 1865 did not upset the entire law of Scotland, and he was bound, in advising His Majesty's Government and his right hon. friend, to deal with the law of Scotland as it was found by legal authority. The Lord Justice Clerk (Moncreiff) who long hold the high office he now filled, knew the whole question of social disorder well; and, in the case of Her Majesty's Advocate v. Macrae and others, on the Bench laid it down that—Trespass constitutes in the general case a civil wrong and not a criminal act; and the proprietor's remedy is by civil writ or action for damages.Accordingly, if he had ventured to upset the law of the land as laid down by high authorities in order to suit the convenience of any individual landowner in the whole of broad Scotland, he could imagine no one who would have been more eloquent than the Leader of the Opposition in charging him with having violated the law and order and sound precedent and with having exorcised the law in an oppressive and tyrannical manner. They knew that he would have laid it on in language of that kind. Having dealt with the greatest lawyer on landownership in Scotland and the greatest Lord-Advocate so far as term of office and knowledge of social conditions were concerned, he had next to find what the greatest master of the Criminal Law in Scotland now living, the present Lord 204 Justice Clerk, had said in a case similar to this on the floor of the House—What," he said, "is the necessary consequence? The necessary consequence is that every man must defend his own property, or we must turn every person who can be sworn to be a trespasser into a criminal. The law in this free country says 'no' to that.He was treated as an abettor of disorder because he declined to say "yes" to that to which his distinguished predecessor declared the answer to be "no." He asked what the position of the Lord-Advocate was in reference to the holder of the office of the Secretary for Scotland. The Leader of the Opposition was Secretary for Scotland when the last pronouncement was made in the House of Commons, and he was confronted, as his right hon. friend was now confronted with a disturbance of this kind. Did he talk of the Trespass Act and enter into all this pettifogging argument about it? Not at all. He rose and said that all the whole law and gospel—he was paraphrasing in a Scottish way—on the subject had been declared by Lord Advocate Macdonald in the passage he had just read to the Committee. He thought the right hon. Gentleman, when he charged the Government through his right hon. friend and himself, with aiding and abetting disorder might, notwithstanding his wonderful fund of oblivion, have recited his own approval of the law as laid down on a similar occasion. It was not a new situation. As Secretary for Scotland he had repeated troubles of this kind. There were a good many troubles in regard to Lady Gordon Cathcart's estate long ago, and the troubles had continued ever since. During the time the right hon. Gentleman was Leader of the Government various seizures of land took place in the Outer Hebrides, at Vatersay, Northbay and Goligarry (Barra), at Ormielate, Millin and Bornish (south-West), 205 in North Uist and in Harris, arid in none of these cases was the criminal law brought into play by him. The civil law was alone employed, and in every instance employed effectually. Looking back, therefore, he could say that had he violated the authorities as laid down, he would have been met with a further precedent and would have been advising the Secretary for Scotland to adopt the course which one of the most distinguished predecessors he could have had declined to adopt in similar circumstances. So far, therefore, from aiding and abetting the violation of the law, he had uphold the law and practice of the kingdom of Scotland. Of that action he had no repentance. There was a great body of authority for the advice he gave; there was authority approved in practice and in deed by the Leader of the Opposition himself. They now had to consider the situation of Lady Gordon Cathcart. He was sorry to say she had taken umbrage because he had said that her relations with her tenants were unfortunate. Could any human language have been more moderate in describing the situation? If they had not been unfortunate, why were they debating this question? This was not a single instance, it was the culmination of a long series of unfortunate relations between her and her tenants. She might be all right and they might be all wrong, but whoever was responsible, these relations were unfortunate, and that was what he had said. He had been asked what he meant by saying that he was sorry the right hon. Gentleman had removed the veil of secrecy from the, transaction. He would tell the Committee. Lady Gordon Cathcart—and when he used that lady's name he meant her lawyers—through her agent demanded that the Government should put the criminal law into operation 206 against her own people, contrary to the advice tendered to the Secretary for Scotland. The Papers showed that the lady was determined to have the Government proceed, not according to the advice of the law officers of the Crown, but according to her own lawyer's advice. And if the House would look on page 5 of that document they would see how that was borne out. He knew quite well that when this veil was removed there would be a good deal of disturbance, and that was the reason he did not wish it removed. This was the request made by those lawyers—In our letter to you of the 14th March, 1906, in which we requested the Government to take action under the Trespass Act to put down the lawless movement then in its beginning, we pointed out that civil process was ineffective, difficult and expensive, while proceedings at the instance of the criminal authority could be easily taken.He was surprised that any Member of the House holding any sense of responsibility should sanction for a moment the suggestion by one subject of the Crown that others should be treated as criminals, contrary to advice tendered to the Crown and in accordance with the advice given by his own lawyers in order to save expense and trouble. That was what actually happened. He need not point to the futility of the Trespass Act in such a situation. If they fined them over and over again the question would have been exactly where it was and it would afford no settlement on general lines. The gravamen of the complaint was not altogether the Trespass Act, but they wanted prompt and effective and strong action. Did the Committee realise what that meant? Did it mean a gunboat? Hon. Gentlemen opposite were silent about that. Did it mean the importation of troops? All these things were possible, but what they had done 207 had been far more effective. They had referred the proprietress to the civil remedy. She had taken it, and now, at this moment, ten men were in prison for two months in consequence.
§ MR. THOMAS SHAW
said that his hon. friend did not seem to understand that the other course would not have been effective because it would have settled nothing, whereas now they had the judgment of the Supreme Court. Let the Committee picture the situation. Year after year these people had made an appeal to their landlord for more land. There were nearly 2,500 people in Barra, while on Vatersay, across the sound, with nearly 3,000 acres of land, there were only thirteen people. For a matter of a quarter of a century their demand had continued. The parish council on its election took a large share in endeavouring to put into effect the Allotments Act of 1892. They appealed to the county council of Inverness. The county council sent down a commission which was nine days on the spot, and unanimously reported in favour of land being granted, there being, according to the verdict of that commission, land available. From that moment till now eleven years had elapsed, and the county council had done nothing, and these people had been left, driven almost to desperation by the action or inaction of the county council.
§ MR. MITCHELL-THOMSON
Does the right hon. Gentleman say that no land has been given out for small holdings in the last thirteen years?
§ MR. THOMAS SHAW
said he had said nothing of the sort. He said that these people wanted land in the Island of Vatersay, that the county council and parish council and the sheriff all thought they ought to have it; the landlord thought they should not, they had not received it to this day, and they would not receive it until there was legislative power to impose compulsion. He protested against the assertion that they had done anything in any way to impair law and order. He asked the House, was he right to decline the request that he should have the criminal law put into operation? Was he right to decline to give advice that a gunboat or the military should be sent? Was he right to refer the proprietress to her civil remedies? Lady Gordon Cathcart had after all taken his advice. She had brought her interdict and her petition for breach of interdict, and she could not have moved a step in that direction without his consent as Lord Advocate. She had appealed for his consent, and in five minutes she had got it, and he stood thus absolved. And, therefore, he had assisted in the operation which alone was the legal operation. When that was done and the petition was lodged in Court on January 15th, on January 17th the right hon. Gentleman used this language in regard to a case pending before the Court. The right hon. Gentleman, he would take it, did not know it, but it was a fact. The petition was raised on the 15th January, service was made on the 16th January, and the right hon. Gentleman's speech was delivered on the 17th January. ["No."] It would not do to deny a fact.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
It really was not a case pending in the ordinary sense. There was no question of fact before a 209 Court in regard to which anything which either I or anybody else could say could pervert justice. ["Oh!"]
§ MR. THOMAS SHAW
said according to that it came to be an argument as to what was the kind of question before the Court. That was not the point. The point was that there was a question; the case in short was sub judice. It was with regard to people accused that the language was used that they had committed a gross outrage, that they had not the least "legal or moral justification," and he said that that was language which Courts of the realm might have had to take very serious notice of. He had been reproached by the Member for the Newton division that he did not advise a remission of the sentence. But this case was a curious case, in that the sentence had been pronounced by the Court in a matter of contempt, and one could not, according to precedent, interpose in that matter. It would be most irregular for the Executive to interfere with the traditional functions of Judges in that way. And if even the right hon. Gentleman's conduct in prejudicially commenting on a case sub judice had been called in question, and something had happened to him in consequence—with the best will in the world he could not have interposed. Administratively the Government had held law and order absolutely sacred. With regard to the legal position, he signed a petition and did everything that was necessary, and he had advised in that sense. As his conduct had been challenged, it was only right to say that, so far back as March, 1906, very shortly after he assumed office, a resolution was sent to him from a meeting of the crofters of Iachdar district accompanied by reports of the language used at the meeting suggestive of possible violation of the 210 law, and he thought it right to say that he wrote a letter in which he tendered his advice with all who had influence with the people in the district "that they should confine themselves to the assertion and agitation of their demands, but in no respect whatever attempt to take the law into their own hands or do anything which might either cause or provoke a breach of public order." It was in those circumstances and with that record that the right hon. Gentleman said that the Government had encouraged these people to break the law. It was too bad; and he asked the House to support him in that. The accusation was wholly unfounded and there was not the slightest ground for the assertion—and he hoped in his term of office there never would be—that he had in any respect countenanced a breach of the law or of order in this country. They had in a difficult time been called upon to hold evenly the scales of justice, and he contended they had done it with absolute impartiality. He did not much care to refer to the time-worn argument of law and order in such circumstances. Those who attempted to defend an autocracy of this nature, had they not a great responsibility for their words? Then with regard to the present proprietress, he was quite certain that if she went to this estate, even for one hour, and saw these people her policy would change, and change at once. But if these people were in their present position from not obeying the law, it was his duty to see that the law was maintained, and maintained impartially. He did not wish to say one single hard word, but in the three minutes, which was all the time that remained to him, he would remind this landed proprietress that the further imprisonment of these men lay not with him, not even with the Court, but with her 211 alone. If she wished for modification of their imprisonment, and expressed her wish that the imprisonment of these men should no longer be continued, the men would at once be liberated according to practice. He hoped she would take that step. He hoped that another thing would be done, that on both sides of this dispute there would be a desire to come to some arrangement under which these properties could be developed under conditions which both sides would recognise as equitable. The recent negotiations had yielded nothing except the demand that the entire island—in fact, three islands of the Hebrides—should be bought from her and broken up before she would allow any of these people the chance of being planted upon their plots of land. He hoped that Lady Cathcart would incline towards peace. The Government had sustained the law. That peace and order might prevail—that was his desire, but it would
§ never have prevailed if he had violated those great precedents to which he had referred or if he had sanctioned a course absolutely unjustified by the history of our Courts.
§ MR. EUGENE WASON rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
§ Question put accordingly, "That a sum not exceeding £10,600 be granted for the said service."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 52; Noes, 175. (Division List No. 138.)213
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Collings, Rt. Hn. J. (Birmingh'm||MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major||Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Magnus, Sir Phillip|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Craik, Sir Henry||Moore, William|
|Balcarres, Lord||Dalrymple, Viscount||Morrison-Bell, Captain|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (City Lond)||Fell, Arthur||Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield)|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Nield, Herbert|
|Banner, John S. Harmood||Forster, Henry William||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West)||Starkey, John R.|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Gooch, Henry Cubitt(Peckham)||Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staff' sh.)|
|Bignold, Sir Arthur||Guinness, Walter Edward||Talbot Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Hardy, Laurence(Kent, Ashford||Thomson, W. Mitchell-(Lanark)|
|Bull sir William James||Helmsley, Viscount||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Houston, Robert Paterson||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir John H.||Younger, George|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Kerry, Earl of|
|Cecil, Lord John P. Joicey-||Keswick, William||TELLERS FOR THE AYES —Sir|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Alexander Acland-Hood and Viscount Valentia.|
|Coates, Major E. F. (Lewisham)||Lockwood, Rt. Hn. Lt.-Col. A. R.|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred|
|Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.)||Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Carr-Gomm, H. W.|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N)||Causton, Rt. Hn. Richard Knight|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Beale, W. P.||Cheetham, John Frederick|
|Allen, Charles P.(Stroud)||Benn, W.(T'w'rHamlets, S.Geo.||Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.|
|Astbury, John Meir||Bowerman, C. W.||Clough, William|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Brace, William||Cobbold, Felix Thornley|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Branch, James||Collins, Sir Wm. J. (S. Pancras, W|
|Barlow, Sir John E (Smmerset||Bright, J. A.||Cooper, G. J.|
|Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Bryce, J. Annan||Corbett, C H (Sussex, E. Grinst'd|
|Barnes, G. N.||Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Cory, Sir Clifford John|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst||Byles, William Pollard||Cremer, Sir William Randal|
|Crooks, William||Lambert, George||Priestley, W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)|
|Crossley, William J.||Lamont, Norman||Rainy, A. Rolland|
|Dalziel, James Henry||Lehmann, R. C.||Redmond, William (Clare)|
|Davies, David (Montgomery Co)||Lewis, John Herbert,||Richards, T. F. (Wolverh'mpt'n|
|Devlin, Joseph||Lyell, Charles Henry||Ridsdale, E. A.|
|Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Dewar, Sir J. A. (Inverness-sh.)||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk B'ghs||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Roche, John (Galway, East)|
|Dillon, John||Macpherson, J. T.||Rowlands, J.|
|Duckworth, James||MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S)||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness||MacVeigh, Charles (Donegal, E.)||Scott, A. H. (Ashton under Lyne|
|Edwards, Clement (Denbigh)||M'Callum, John M.||Seely, Colonel|
|Erskine, David C.||M'Crae, George||Shackleton, David, James|
|Essex, R. W.||M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Shaw, Rt. Hon. T. (Hawick, B.)|
|Esslemont, George Birnie||M'Micking, Major G.||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Everett, R. Lacey||Maddison, Frederick||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Ferens, T. R.||Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John|
|Fiennes, Hon. Eustace||Massie, J.||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Findlay, Alexander||Menzies, Walter||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)|
|Fuller, John Michael F.||Molteno, Percy Alport||Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)|
|Gill, A. H.||Montagu, Hon. E. S.||Sutherland, J. E.|
|Glover, Thomas||Mooney, J. J.||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)||Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)|
|Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Thompson, J W. H. (Somerset, E|
|Griffith, Ellis J.||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton|
|Gulland, John W.||Murphy, John (Kerry, East)||Toulmin, George|
|Gurdon, Rt Hn Sir W. Brampton||Murray, Capt. Hn A C. (Kincard)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Murray, James (Aberdeen, E.)||Ure, Alexander|
|Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Wore'r.)||Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncast'r||Verney, F. W.|
|Harmsworth, R L. (Caithn'ss-sh||Nolan, Joseph||Walsh, Stephen|
|Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent|
|Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.||Nugent, Sir Walter Richard||Wason, Rt Hn. E. (Clackmannan|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Nuttall, Harry||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Higham, John Sharp||O'Brien, Kendal (Tipperary Mid||Watt, Henry A.|
|Hobart, Sir Robert||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Weir, James Galloway|
|Hobhouse, Charles E. H.||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||White, Sir George (Norfolk)|
|Hodge, John||O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth)||White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)|
|Hope, John Deans (Fife, West)||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Horniman, Emslie John||O'Dowd, John||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Partington, Oswald||Williamson, A.|
|Hudson, Walter||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|Idris, T. H. W.||Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh. N)|
|Jardine, Sir J.||Philipps, Owen C. (Pembroke)||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Jenkins, J.||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Wood, T. M' Kinnon|
|Joyce, Michael||Pirie, Duncan V.|
|Kekewich, Sir George||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES —Mr.|
|Kettle, Thomas Michael||Power, Patrick Joseph||Joseph Pease and Master of Elibank.|
|King, Alfred John (Knutsford)||Price, C. E. (Edinb'gh, Central)|
|Laidlaw, Robert||Price, Robert John (Norfolk, E)|
Question, "That the Question be now put," put, and agreed to.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ And, it being after Eleven of the Clock, the CHAIRMAN left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
§ Committee report progress; to sit again upon Monday next.