§ (1)Where after the passing of this Act application is made under Sub-section (1) of Section one of the Act of 1903 for an advance of the whole purchase money of any holding, if the Land Commission are satisfied that circumstances exist which, in their opinion, necessitate inquiry as to the security for the advance or the equity of the price, they may by order declare that the provisions of the said Sub-section shall not apply, and may deal with the application accordingly in like manner as if those provisions had not been complied with.
§ (2)The Judicial Commissioner and the Estates Commissioners may make rules under Section twenty-three of the Act of 1903 providing for the furnishing of such particulars with respect to rent and arrears and of such information with regard to the estate as may appear necessary for the purposes of this Section and for the verification of the particulars and information in such manner as they think fit.
§ Mr. J. B. LONSDALE (for Captain Craig) moved to leave out Section (1). I am opposed to this Clause because I believe its practical effect will be to destroy the zone system which was set up under the Land Act of 1903, and which was one of the main causes of the success of that measure. I am quite aware that the Chief Secretary denies the statement that the zones are abolished by this proposal, and I am prepared to admit that, so far as the outward form is concerned, they are retained. But this Clause will reduce the zone system to a mere skeleton, so that instead of stimulating land purchase, as it has done, it will have the exactly opposite effect. I venture to think, Sir, that a very little consideration of this matter will be sufficient to convince the Committee that I am right in my contention. As every Irish representative knows, under the Act of 1903 sales of estates were to go through — without inspection and valuation—if the annual payments by the tenant-purchaser to the State, represented a reduction on the rent 1772 of from 20 to 40 per cent, in the case of first term rents, and from 10 to 30 per cent, in the case of second term rents. The object of this provision was, of course, to avoid the delay, friction, litigation, and expense of inspection and valuation of every holding which was the subject of purchase negotiation, and at the same time to ensure that the State had ample security in making the advance, and that the purchase price was fair and equitable. The essential merit of the system was that it was automatic and certain in its action. Landlords and tenants knew that if their agreements came within the limits of the zones, it was to be assumed, and I chink rightly assumed, that the interests of the State were sufficiently secured, and that the price was equitable, and therefore the Land Commission were required to make the advance. I think it will be generally admitted that the zones have so far fulfilled their purpose that they have facilitated sales direct between landlords and tenants in a most remarkable way. I do not see any ground for suggesting that the zones have failed to safeguard the interests of the State. It must always he remembered that whilst the advance is made for the purpose of buying out the landlord, the State has the entire holding as security for the loan, and the tenant's interest frequently has a considerably higher marked value than the landlord's interest. Having regard of that fact, there can be no question, to my mind, that the State is amply secured in any case which comes within the zones. It is, I know, asserted by those who are opposed to the zones that the effect of the system has been to raise the price of land, and to encourage the tenants to enter into improvident bargains with their landlords. The suggestion contained in that argument is that the Irish farmer is not capable of looking after his own interests, and is such a poor hand at a bargain that it is necessary to protect him against his own improvidence. I must say that I do not share that view. My experience of the farmers of Armagh—and of the North of Ireland generally—has filled me with a strong feeling of respect for their intelligence and shrewdness and self-reliance; and although I am of opinion that every necessary step should be taken to protect his interests, the idea that the Irish farmer could be deluded into paying more for his farm than it was worth to him must strike anyone who knows the Irish tenant farmer as somewhat ludicrous. At all events, I 1773 have never heard any of my Constituents who have agreed to purchase their farms under the Act of 1903 grumbling at the terms or complaining that they had made a bad bargain.
§ But beside this negative evidence we have the positive testimony which is afforded by the fact that the purchase annuities are being paid all over Ireland with unfailing regularity. The Chief Secretary furnished me with some facts on this subject, which have a distinct bearing upon the question we are now discussing. The right hon. Gentleman informed me, in reply to a question, that on 1st July, this year, out of 60,549 purchasers under the Irish Land Acts, 1903, only 463 had not paid the half-yearly instalment which was due in December last; and that since the passing of the Act of 1903 only 33 holdings have been sold for non-payment of annuities. When we reflect that failure to pay the annuities may be due to a variety of causes, we certainly cannot find in the figures I have given any evidence to justify the suspension of the zone system on the ground that it has led to the tenants making improvident bargains with their landlords. Those who talk about "improvident bargains" ignore altogether the fact that on a general average occupying tenants are getting the freehold of their farms vested in them on payment annually for 68J years of a sum between 4s. and 6s. in the pound less than the rent payable before purchase. I think I have, established my contention that, whether we have regard to the question of the security of the State or the equity of the price, no sufficient reason has been shown for interfering with the system of the zones. In my opinion there is no necessity for this Clause. At the present time the Land Commission hold that the Act of 1903 gives them the absolute power to declare whether or not an estate should be the subject of land purchase. If an estate comes before them and they think that the holdings are uneconomic, and therefore the purchase money cannot safely be advanced, they may decline to declare it "an estate" for the purposes of the Act, and in that case the sale would not go through. But if you give the Land Commission full discretion—as you do in this Clause—to pick out any case or any number of cases, and say all the machinery of inspection and valuation must apply to them, you get back again into the region of doubt, friction, and litigation, and the inevitable 1774 result will be that agreements will not take place. That is why we regard this Clause as on an equality with the other provisions of the Bill, which are obviously designed to bring voluntary land purchase to a complete standstill. The real objection to the zones comes from those who appear to desire to wreck land purchase for objects of their own —whether it is to keep Ireland in a state of perpetual agitation or not I am not going to say—and it is because I desire to see land purchase proceed without interruption that I object to any interference with the zone system, which has been one of the main causes of the success of the Act of 1903.
§ Mr. JOHN DILLON
Whatever difference of opinion as to the desirability and probable working of this zone system existed in 1903, there is no difference of opinion in Ireland as to its working now, amongst those for whom I am entitled to speak on the present occasion. I think the House, or, at all events, the older Members of the House, will remember the reception which this proposal got from the Nationalist benches in 1903. The zone proposal was the only part of the Bill that was bitterly contested, and it was so bitter that for some time it appeared to threaten the passage of the Bill. And that opposition which came from those benches was only disarmed by two considerations—first of all, that the Government made considerable concessions to the Nationalist party on the zone system; and another consideration which I must say influenced me almost quite as much, if not more than the concessions made by the Government, was this: that influential speakers in many parts of the House assured us most solemnly that that system, whatever our anxieties, would not be used for the purpose by the Irish landlords of artificially inflating the price of Irish land. That was undoubtedly stated by many Members in different parts of the House; but I personally expressed the gravest doubts as to how it would work. We have now had six years' trial of the system, and our anticipations have been more than verified by the facts. Since the date when the zone system was for the first time introduced into the operations of Irish land purchase, we have had two or three great national conventions in Ireland, at which the tenant farmers were represented, and at each of those conventions the zone system was condemned root and branch, we being called upon to exert ourselves to 1775 secure not its modification, but its total abolition. One most remarkable fact, the significance of which will not be lost upon the Government, is that at those national conventions, if my memory serves me, not one single individual out of the 3,000 delegates got up to defend the system, and the decisions of the Conventions was absolutely unanimous and unchallenged. The question has been considered over and over again by the Nationalist party at full meetings, and on each occasion it was unanimously decided that the zone system should be swept away. These are strong facts, which, I think, ought greatly to influence the Committee in coming to a decision on the matter. The proposal of the Government, however, is not the proposal of the Nationalist party. Our proposal, which stands in the name of the hon. Member for North Dublin (Mr. Clancy), would do away absolutely with the zone system, and revert to the system which had been in force under the Ashbourne and subsequent land purchase Acts until 1903. Therefore, since, owing to the conditions under which we are discussing this Bill, we may not reach that Amendment, I would point out that, while we prefer the plan of the Government to the present system, it does not satisfy us; we would rather sweep away the zone system altogether.
Let me point out what has been the effect of the zones. The hon. Member for Armagh (Mr. Lonsdale) said that the zones had achieved their purpose in materially promoting direct sales from landlord to tenant. Of course they have, if that be their only purpose. You can promote the sale of anything if you artificially increase the price by 40 per cent. But that is no real argument in favour of the zones. The effect of the zones, combined with the reduction of the annuity, has been to add artificially five or five and a-half years' purchase all round to the land of Ireland. I hold that that addition has been entirely artificial, and that there has been no justification whatever for it in increased agricultural value of the land. Under previous Acts, when Irish land purchase was a comparatively simple transaction and paid its own way, the Commissioners were directed to advance the money of the State after satisfying themselves as to the sufficiency of the security. They were not told—and I think this was a great defect—in estimating the security to draw any distinction between the property of the tenant and the property of the landlord. The interest 1776 of the tenant was for the purpose of this inquiry as to security added to the interest of the landlord. When the inspector went down he included the improvements of the tenant, which generally amount to at least 50 per cent, of the total value; consequently, even under the old system, I contend that a tenant frequently had to buy his own improvements. Nevertheless, that inquiry as to security proved a great protection to the tenants, because, when landlords by putting into force the various methods of pressure which a landlord can bring to bear, succeeded in getting tenants to sign for prices which no impartial man could say were fair, the Government inspector, after the inquiry as to security, frequently knocked the prices down. In innumerable cases the prices were considerably reduced, not out of consideration for the tenant, but to protect the State from the risk of losing money. The old system also had another most beneficial and useful operation. When on two or three estates in a district the inspectors had reduced the agreed prices to a certain figure, there was soon set up a standard of value, and landlords had almost abandoned the old plan of putting pressure upon their tenants to agree to excessive prices, because, if they demanded an excessive price, it simply meant that when the inspector came down it would be upset, and they would be put to the delay and expense of preparing fresh agreements. Thus, gradually and automatically, a fair and reasonable level of value was being set up when the Act of 1903 came into operation. That levelling was over this whole of Ireland, although Land Stock at the time was depreciated. It stood at about 17 years' purchase. Now, after six years' operation of the new Act, the general level of purchase throughout Ireland has been raised, so far as I remember, to 22½ years, in addition to the bonus, although we were led to believe that the bonus was something to bridge over the difference between the 17 years and the price the landlord could afford to accept. But now, through the operation of these zones, the price has been raised by 5½years all round, and the bonus given in addition. Therefore, I say—I have always maintained, and maintain hereto-day — that the statement ought not to be made that the bonus is divided between the landlord and the tenant. It is an absurd misrepresentation. We heard the hon. Member for Armagh, in supporting this Amendment, recall to our memories — those of us who remember the old battles 1777 of the Land League—the argument, worn thread-bare in those days. He said that from his knowledge of the Irish tenant nothing could be more absurd than to contend that it was necessary to protect him against himself. He said: "The Irish tenant is a shrewd bargainer —no shrewder one in the world: he understands his own interests. That is exactly what the rack renters of the seventies said. If the Irish tenant is such a shrewd bargainer, and requires no protection from outside, why was the Act of 1881 ever passed? The very same sort of machinery which was used to drive up the rents in the old days is available at the hands of the landlords to-day to force these high prices. The hon. Member talked as if the Irish tenant and the Irish landlord were two independent men, meeting at a commercial mart and making a bargain on equal terms. He knows—nobody better— that it is a most absurd travesty of the whole situation in Ireland. On a large portion of the estates that are passing under these Acts there are great arrears of rent hanging over the tenant, and the landlord goes—can go, and does go!—and says: "If you do not sign an agreement to buy at my terms, then pay up your rent. "Hundreds and thousands of the tenants are unable to pay up the rent owing, and therefore are prepared to sign any terms.
§ Mr. LONSDALE
Is the hon. Member referring to the tenants of the North of Ireland: to those of Armagh?
§ Mr. DILLON
I am speaking of those parts of Ireland which won land purchase. The tenants of the North of Ireland are excellent men, but they took very little part in winning this Land Act. The section for whom the hon. Member speaks have largely shared in the benefits of the Act. I cannot undertake to speak for Mid-Armagh or for the circumstances of the tenants there; but I know what are the circumstances of the tenants over the greater part of Ireland, and I repeat that it is a gross travesty and a misrepresentation of the facts to say that they are free agents, and require no protection in these bargains. Therefore, I say that this zone system has added, in combination with other changes in the law, 5½ years' purchase to the land of Ireland, for which there was no justification whatever —for there was no change in the agricultural conditions.
1778 I said just now that landlords have many means of forcing tenants to accept prices which they do not consider just, and which no impartial man would consider just. Let me deal for one second with one of the objections made—it was again brought out by the hon. Member for Mid-Armagh. He spoke of the intolerable delays which would result from the recurrence of the old system—the necessity for valuing and inspecting all the farms before they were sold. I recollect that point was fully debated in the Act of 1903. I challenged the then Chief Secretary, the right hon. Member for Dover (Mr. Wyndham), as to whether these delays were not really due to legal difficulties—the mapping and ascertaining of boundaries. You cannot sell land in Ireland, or any other part of the world, without going over it and ascertaining the boundaries; and it is a most dangerous thing' in Ireland to attempt to sell an estate in a hurry, because if the boundaries are not correctly checked boundary disputes will arise, and this will lead to no end of litigation and trouble. As a matter of fact, the main cause of the delay that has occurred in the Act of 1903—and previous Acts—has not at all been the valuation of holdings, but the legal delays in Dublin. Everybody acquainted with the working of the Act knows that to be the fact. Therefore I do not believe that there is any force in that objection. Let me take another point that has often been urged in favour of the zones. It is said that the zones are not to apply to the congested districts. There was never a greater delusion than that they do not. I said so previously. The words are not in the Act, but the effect has been exactly the opposite to that anticipated. The zones, it was said, are not going to apply to the congested districts—as if you could raise the price of land in one part and not in another. What will happen? Exactly as I foretold in previous debates: that-the-zones—though technically they do not apply—have had a greater effect in the Western districts than in other parts of the country. They have raised the price of land in the West more than in the East, to which they nominally apply. How? Because I suspect the poorer the district, and the poorer the estate, the more helpless the tenant, and the more he is at the mercy of the landlord. The landlords in the West, seeing wealthy landlords in the East and North getting these enormously increased prices, are not going to lie down and take the old prices 1779 from their tenants, no matter whether the zones apply nominally or not. I will tell you how it operates: it has resulted in almost paralysing land purchase in the poorer districts, whereas the wealthy districts have walked off with all the money. As a matter of fact, the landlords in the West, the South, and in the North-West are refusing to sell to the Boards. Why? Because the land would have to be valued, and there is a danger, they think, of not getting the benefit of the zone system. They have put up their prices enormously, and put every kind of pressure upon the poor defence less tenantry to accept these high prices. What has been the effect in my division of East Mayo and the surrounding divisions? I can mention estates sold under the old Acts for 12 and 14 years' purchase. Before the Act of 1903 it was 15 years' purchase in East Mayo. What has happened? That neighbouring landlords, with precisely similar lands and similar conditions, are standing out for 24 years' purchase—for double ! You say the zones do not apply. They do not; but the tenant cannot buy at all unless he signs for nearly double the price paid before the 1903 Act. The result is that in many of the poorest districts this Act has had no good effect at all. It has raised the price of land in the province of Connaught and the south-western districts more than in the east and than in Armagh. Therefore I say that that concession, as I always feared it would, turned out to be entirely illusory. That is one ground on which we object preeminently to the zones. I should like now to give a couple of illustrations, and I will take two cases. I admit frankly that I take extreme cases, but I want to illustrate in the most emphatic way what is possible under the zone. I am taking two well-known cases of the operation of the zone system from two points. One shows the possibility of fraud and the other the possibility of oppression and injustice on the tenant and the perpetuation of poverty under the operation of this system. I take first of all the very famous case of the estate of Hugh Bailey in the county of Tipperary. What are the facts? An application was made for an advance of £4,500 for the purpose of a large farm in Tipperary. The annuity of this advance would be £147 17s. 6d., representing a reduction of 26 per cent, of the existing rent of £200. Before the Estates Commissioners the tenant and the solicitor for 1780 the owner admitted that the advance of £4,500 applied for by the tenant, apparently for the purpose of enabling him to purchase his holding, consisted of the following items: (1) Seventeen years' purchase of the rent, £3,400; (2) for arrears of rent, £740; and (3) a further addition to be refunded to the tenant by the owner after the advance has been received, and to be used by the tenant to pay off an old family charge of £350 and an old bill for £60. Under the zone system the Commissioners would have been compelled to advance that money, and never would have heard of that extraordinarily fraudulent transaction, which in the minds of the tenant and the solicitor was not fraudulent at all. They said that it was perfectly legitimate, and only when the solicitor had qualms of conscience at the last moment did he voluntarily disclose the nature of the transaction, otherwise the money would have been advanced. The zones would have bound the Estates Commissioners to advance that money without inquiry. The agreement was handed in, all the conditions required by the 1903 Act were duly discharged, and it was supposed by this tenant and landlord to pay off these enormous arrears of rent, and the tenant should get a hand to pay off the old family charge. This case did not go through, because the Commissioners were informed by the solicitor of the nature of the case. But it was not prevented from going through by any investigation on the part of the Commissioners, and but for the voluntary disclosures it would have gone through. The point illustrated in this case is that you have had under the zone system not only intimidations, but bribery. I am not in a position to say how far the system of bribery is carried on, but I know it was largely attempted, and one cannot judge from the cases of that character which are exposed how many may have occurred. I know it was largely attempted by landlords who go to the tenant and say, "Now look here, if we sign for £500, which is a very high price, within the zones, I give you back £50, £60, or £100 as soon as we get the money from the Government"; and the unfortunate struggling Irish tenant, many of them without any possibility of raising from any source this sum of money, would sign the most extravagant agreement in order to get the ready money. Many landlords thought that a perfectly fair transaction. Certainly it was not the way to make land purchase safe for the State or for the tenant, because it is a most de- 1781 moralising and dishonest transaction to bribe a tenant to sign an agreement for purchase which he knows in his heart and conscience he will not be able to carry out in the future. The next case is the famous one of Mrs. Maria Weir. The Weir estate is in the country of Leitrim. It consisted of 1,135 acres, held by 61 tenants. Agreements for sale were entered into for a sum of money—£8,000—at 25½ years' purchase of the land. The usual provision and declaration were submitted, and it was admitted that a very large amount of arrears of rent had been added to the purchase price on all, or nearly all, of the holdings on the estate. The reduction in most cases was very small, but just brought it within the zones. These Commissioners having inspected the estate, and having before them the report of their inspectors that in some cases 11 years' rent was due, and that it varied from 11 to three or four years all over the estate, that, in point of fact, these judicial rents had not been paid regularly at all, and that the estate was a poor, miserable, mountain estate, and, in their judgment, nothing like the security for the amount agreed upon. The Commissioners addressed certain inquiries to the landlord's solicitor, with the view to ascertain if the estate was security for the loan, and also with a view to protecting themselves. They addressed certain inquiries as to the nature of the arrears, whether they were old arrears carried on for a number of years, which is a most vicious system. I have known them myself carried on from 30 to 40 years, so that a tenant who paid his rent regularly for 25 years still found himself owing arrears, that system prevails widely. The Commissioners wanted to know whether the rent was paid regularly in the last few years. The agent refused to give the information, and replied, saying the Commissioners had no right to make these inquiries. You are not entitled, he said, to make any inquiry as to the security even if you are convinced it is not security for half the amount. After a long hearing before the Commissioners, they decided that they were entitled to address these inquiries, and called upon the agent to give the information. The case was then carried before Mr. Justice Wylie, and he supported the Commissioners' view. It was then taken to that institution in Ireland which spends most of its time in blocking the Land Act, the Court of Appeal, and they decided that the Commissioners were 1782 bound without inquiry to make the advance agreed upon between the landlord and the tenant. I wonder very much whether the hon. Member for Mid-Armagh would maintain that the tenants on the Weir estate are perfectly competent and shrewd bargainers and need no protection from the landlord. I do not believe that any impartial man going to that estate would come to any other conclusion than that the tenants had been coerced or cajoled into agreeing to certainly double what was a fair and reasonable price for their holdings; and yet, under this zone system, the Government officials in Ireland are bound to advance the money without inquiry, although they may be absolutely convinced that they are advancing money on a bad security and they know that the tenants will be unable to pay their annuities.
That is the system we object to. In the first place it is unjust to the tenants, because it withdraws from them and has withdrawn from them, in practice, a great protection against oppression. I object strongly, because I think it is a system calculated to discredit the whole structure of land purchase in Ireland by State aid, on which the future position of Ireland and the future of the tenant farmers of Ireland depends. It has been the subject of congratulation in this House from time to time that the Irish tenants, much as they have been abused by landlords in the past, have carried out their obligations honestly. When the landlords -want to get money from the State, they say the Irish tenant is one of the greatest models of honesty the world has ever seen. I think the Irish tenant is a hard-working man very much like his brother agriculturist in all parts of the world, and if you treat him fairly he will be honest, but if you persecute him he will do everything in his power to evade payments which he thinks are unjust. It is, therefore, important that these transactions should be based on sound principles, and that the tenants who have to foot the Bill should believe that they have been honestly dealt with. They should feel that they have bought their farms without compulsion. For the future stability of this system and the credit on which it must rest if it is to be a success, it is, in my opinion, most essential that the zone system, which has worked so badly, should be swept away. We have heard to-day the figures given of the solvency and the honesty of the Irish tenants, 1783 and the way they have paid off their loans. My conviction is that where the sale is honestly carried out, and where the tenant has been subjected to no unfair pressure and paid a reasonable price, the Irish tenant will pay as well as any man in the world. If, on the other hand, the sale is carried on upon such terms as was the case on the Weir estate and others I know of, I do not believe the transaction is a sound or a safe one, and I think it will be a very foolish policy on our part and very unfair to everyone concerned if we did not state our convictions in this matter. It is all very well to talk about there only having been 90 failures under the Act of 1903, but it must not be forgotten that we have recently had a succession of good years—in fact, we have had three or four of the best years I can remember, when prices have been high and the crops have been good. We may, however, have bad years, and we may have Canadian cattle, and if our ports are forced open to Canadian cattle or this great development takes place in the Argentine, things may be very different. I have absolute confidence, if we give the Irish tenant fair play, that he will pay these annuities, and the thing is absolutely secure. In the interests of the State and is the interests of the tenant I most strenuously appeal to the Government and to this House, after six years' experience, to have done with the zone system.
§ Mr. GEORGE WYNDHAM
I intervene at this early stage of the discussion for two reasons. In the first place the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) is the recognised exponent of the view which he has laid before the Committee this afternoon, not for the first time. To put it shortly, it is the view that it is evil to increase the average price stated in years' purchase which prevailed under all the Acts which preceded the Act of 1903. it is the view that the increase in price which has followed up that Act is not only an evil, but is attributable to the operation of the zones. I put that very shortly as a fair summary of the view of the hon. Member for East Mayo, who holds that it is a mistake that more should be given than the average price before the Act of 1903, and that the rise in price is attributable to the zones as the cause of that rise in price.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
That was the whole burden of the hon. Member's speech on this occasion, namely, that he regrets the rise, and attributes it to the zones. That was not the position of the parties at the Conference which considered the Act of. 1903, and that was not the position of the Irish parties in the House who passed the Act of 1903, although the view of the hon. Member for East Mayo has apparently, as I read this Bill, found some favour with the Government. I rise now to elicit from the Government how much favour it has found with them. I want to know how far they go with the hon. Member for East Mayo in repudiating the view which influenced the decision of the Conference, and which was almost the unanimous opinion of the House in the year 1903? That is my first reason for intervening in this Debate.
My second reason is to ask what is meant by the words of this Section and what interpretation the Government think any Court would put upon them? The hon. Member for East Mayo thinks it is a pity that a higher price is paid for Irish land than was the case prior to the Act of 1903. Perhaps the hon. Member is entitled to hold that opinion, because he was not in this country or in Ireland during the months which preceded the introduction of that Act. At that time the hon. Member was in America, raising money to continue what was called "the land war. "The hon. Member has never yet realised, owing to his absence from this country at the time, that the Act of 1903 was not won by a land war, but it was the fruit of a general agreement to which he was not a party, because he was absent from these shores, and he has never yet realised the fact that that absence has put him out of court, and he has never been able to bring an impartial mind to bear on the question. That Act was not won by tenants refusing to pay rent, or by landlords influencing the ingenuous mind of the Chief Secretary of the day, but it was the result of an agreement arrived at by the accredited representatives of landlords and tenants. What was the heart and centre of that agreement? It was that land purchased under the old Acts—the average price of which the hon. Member for East Mayo thinks should be a universal test—would not go on at all except in isolated and sporadic cases where a landlord wanted to sell land in order to raise money. That was the view which all parties came to after threshing out the matter. They came to the conclusion that two things 1785 were necessary. The first was that where a landlord had to sell he must retain, broadly speaking, the income which he then enjoyed. I think that fact governs the whole situation. No doubt you can have a certain amount of purchase without fulfilling that condition. A landlord may get into debt, and he may have to raise money. He may wish to set his son up in some profession or give a dowry to his daughter on her marriage. In such cases a landlord may sell his land at. a price which fulfils the hon. Member's desideratum, but that must not be understood as being the policy of land purchase adopted by this House. Without going into all the details, broadly speaking, you cannot by a voluntary system ask any class of the community to give up any large proportion of their income. You cannot do it. If so it may be asked why have a voluntary system? Simply because that operation which is difficult enough under a voluntary system becomes impractical under a compulsory system. As a matter of fact, it cannot be done at all under a compulsory system. You may set up a tribunal to make the inquiries which have to be made, but a compulsory system is no solution at all, and therefore you are driven to the voluntary system. I have gone into these facts because the hon. Member for East Mayo has ignored them, although everyone was seized of them in 1903, and it was upon those facts that the policy of that year was based. Those facts cannot be ignored without destroying the whole of that policy and going back to the condition of things which existed prior to that time.
I will now take the two points raised by the hon. Member for East Mayo. I think I have disposed of his first point that it was a mistake that more should be paid. I will not labour upon that point any further, because nobody thought it was a mistake in 1903, and they all said that unless the landlord got a net 90 per cent, of his second term rental you could not expect him to sell. What has happened since? That is about the percentage they have got of their second term rents, in fact, it is almost precisely what they have got. Out of 60,000 transactions there were no less than 25,000 cases of second term rents, and I think in 24,000 out of that total the natural operation has been to confirm the recommendation of the Conference. I think that makes the case for saying it was not a mistake that the average price should rise, and I think it proves that, if the average price had not risen, land purchase would have stopped or gone sauntering on.
1786 The second point: this rise is to be attributable to the zones. That is rather unreasonable. If the representatives of the landlords and tenants meet and say in their wisdom, after lengthy discussion, that the landlord in Ireland is to get 90 per cent, of what was his second term rental on a 3 per cent, security, that means, in arithmetic, that they contemplated his getting 30 years' purchase. It means that, if he was not mortgaged and if they then suggested he was to invest in 3 per cent, securities, he had to get 30 years' purchase. I do not want to press that too far, and the common-sense of the House felt that was excessive and unnecessary, and in the course of our discussions we all said that a 3 per cent, security was rather more than was reasonable under the circumstances. Say 3¼ or 3½ per cent., and assume the property is mortgaged, and you still get about the recommendation of the Conference, and that really does mean, if the views of the Conference are to be the laws of the land, that the tenant who pays the second term rent is to give 24 years' purchase. That is arithmetic, not politics. The hon. Member for East Mayo must quarrel with the unalterable rules of abstract science or with the views of the Conference if he is to win. He cannot get at any difference between the views of the Conference and the laws of arithmetic. The Conference said that was what was necessary in order that purchase should go on. The Act of 1903 dictated no terms; it gave latitude both to the landlord and the tenant, and I think it is a noteworthy fact that with that latitude to both parties in both directions, in the direction of high and in the direction of low prices, the result of the general working of the Act has been to confirm the speculative recommendation of the' Conference. Why attribute this to the zones? The hon. Member has never yet been able to make out that part of his case before the House. I do not think any argument can be adduced to show that the zones are the cause for this rise in prices, which, on the whole, in an imperfect world, has been of the greatest benefit possible to Ireland. Which do hon. Members think of the greatest benefit or evil: that the landlord should get a price which enables him to sell, or that purchase should stop in Ireland t It is no use beating about the bush. That is the point. Is it better for Ireland that the landlord should have his income substantially reduced, and that purchase should stop or that purchase should go on, and that the landlord should only have his 1787 income reduced by 20 or 25 per cent.? It is for Ireland to decide which of those two alternatives is of most benefit to Ireland as a whole and not only to the landlords. I am never sure, as things are, that it is to the benefit of the landlord that purchase should go on. I believe if this Bill passes purchase will stop, and the landlords will continue to draw their second term rents, which, I know, will give them an income as good as if they had sold and as if purchase had gone on. I, therefore, doubt whether hon. Members are right in supposing it is to the landlords' interests obviously that purchase should go on.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
I am not here to advocate the cause of the landlords. I am here as one who, having spent a great number of years of my political life in studying the land question, came to the conclusion that no progress was possible in Ireland unless the land question was settled. Having arrived at that conclusion, I thought, when the protagonists of the landlords and the tenants met and indicated the lines on which a settlement could be arrived at, it was the duty of this House to confirm those lines; and I ask now why that treaty is to be torn up and why this Clause is to be passed which goes very far to destroy the working usefulness of the Act of 1903? The hon. Member appeared to be of opinion that the object of purchase is by a side issue to distinguish between the property of the landlord and the property of the tenant. He said that under the old Act the Land Commission inquired into the security to protect the State. He hoped they had some regard to the tenants' rights in prosecuting that inquiry.
§ Mr. DILLON
No; what I said was I often complained of the old system that they had no regard to the tenants' rights, and their instructions specifically prevented them from having any such regard.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
I thought the hon. Member expressed the view that they sometimes did take that into account. I am quite sure he explicitly expressed his regret that in the Act prior to the Act of 1903 it was not laid down as a primary duty to be discharged by the Commissioners that they should discount the respective rights of tenant and landlord. A land Act to suit the views of the hon. 1788 Member would be chiefly concerned in cases of purchase in distinguishing between the respective values of the inherent capabilities of the soil on the one hand and the amount of wealth due to the exertions of the present tenant and his predecessors on the other. It is almost incredible to me that any Irishman, still more any Irish Member, and still more an Irish Member who has been a Member for years, and has always associated himself with the interests of the Irish tenants, should still hold that view, a view which ruined the beneficent operations of Mr. Gladstone's Land Act. It led to constant litigation, and huge sums of money, and weeks, months, and years were expended and wasted in barren conflicts between landlords and tenants in respect of fixing rents upon that very point as to how much of the annual value was attributable to the inherent capabilities of the soil and belonged to the landlord, and how much was due to the exertions and skill of the tenant and his predecessors. There was the noted case of Adams and Dunseath. For years the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. T. W. Russell) used to illuminate our Debates by declaiming on the great merits of that case. What was the result? After Adams, as the right hon. Gentleman used to say, had trudged I do not know how many hundreds of miles to and from the court, he was 1s. 3d. a year better off than at the beginning, without taking account the amount spent on litigation. That was a typical example of the evil from which Irishmen suffered owing to the litigation under the rent fixing Acts.
Everyone was seized of the loss to Ireland as a whole—to the tenants and to the whole community—that they welcomed land purchase as a way out, and, in welcoming it, they said if this solution is to work, if it is not to be diverted from its object and primarily bogged in morasses of disappointment, we must keep it clear from the evil which has spoilt the fair rent solution. We must avoid litigation and make the process simple. What have we got to think about? We have only got to think about the security to the State who guaranteed the loan on the one hand, and we have only got to think about the rights of other parties on the other hand, because we think the landlord and tenant will think for themselves better than we can think for them. I hope I have made that clear. The view of the House in 1903 was that the State had only to think of the security to the taxpayers who guaranteed the loan and the rights of other parties not 1789 immediately interested, and that they might trust the landlord and tenant to think for themselves as to what was consonant with their own interests. We were all entitled to believe that the landlord and tenant in Ireland would be able to think out carefully and reasonably for themselves what was consonant with their own interests, because they had just had a Conference in which their representatives had laid down quite clearly what was necessary to their interests. The landlord, on the one hand, must have a certain amount for his second term rental income, and the tenant, on the other hand, must have a certain deduction in the judicial rent which it was his duty to pay. If, therefore, we say the bargain is such as to fulfil those conditions, then the State can dispense with this prolonged, costly inquiry into detail, and other parties interested, mortgagees and so forth, may be told they have nothing to fear and that their interests are sufficiently secured. That policy made for speed, for cheapness, and for land purchase; any other policy makes for delay, for expense, and for the complete stoppage of land purchase.
I would like to pass from those general observations, and to take the strongest point in the speech of the hon. Member for East Mayo. His strongest point was based upon certain extreme cases, as he said, where there were a large number of arrears. Let us test even those extreme cases by the general view I have laid before the Committee. If there is an estate upon which the tenants owe a great many number of years' arrears, is it better that there should be no purchase or purchase within the zone? We are driven to that. Which would the hon. Member prefer? I will not take an extreme case, but I will take the case of an estate upon which the tenants owe three or four years' arrears. Is it better that they should purchase their holding and go on with a new hope, paying an instalment which is substantially less than a rate which the Court has declared can be paid, or that the estate should never be sold at all? That is the alternative we have, as practical men, to face. Under the old Acts—and here I am speaking of what I know—there were many estates which the landlords wished to sell and which the tenants wished to buy, but no Commissioners would pass the sale, because they said the security was not good enough. Then, are those estates never to be sold?
Mr. JOHN ROCHE (Galway, E.)
Yes, on fair terms at such a price as will give security for the purchase money.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
The view of the hon. Member is that the tenant should only give a certain number of years' purchase. He believes no land should be sold for more than seventeen years' purchase, and that then everybody will be happy, no matter how little land is sold. We believe it is better that the whole of Ireland should be sold, even if occasionally the tenants give rather more than they would prefer to-give.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
Yes, you cannot overlook the security; but here we have to decide between two courses. There is the course of examining the ground from the point of view of the security of the State, and that is a tedious and lengthy proceeding, because you will find a number of side issues raised in respect of the rights between landlord and tenant, and that adds to the tedious nature of the inquiry. It is an evil also which causes irritation. But, take the course of the Act of 1903. There you had expedition and cheapness. The right hon. Gentleman says that in some cases your security may not be so good, but your security is always that the rent has been fixed by a tribunal erected by this House, as the most competent tribunal which can be erected, to see what the tenant can fairly pay upon that land. Does the Chief Secretary deny that that is the purport of the Act?
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
I will come back to that later on. Under the Gladstone Act fair rents were fixed in Ireland—first term rents and second term rents. The zones only apply to so-called judicial rents. If there is no judicial rent you have an examination for security, and properly so, but where there is a judicial rent a tribunal constituted by this House, with appeal right up almost to the highest courts, decides that such and such land can fairly pay such and such an amount. That sum stated, in second term rents, is about a half what was paid in 1870. Where the security of the State is adequately protected, if the result of the purchase operation is to reduce that second term rent by 1791 from 10 to 30 per cent., I can understand the Chief Secretary saying that the 10 per cent, is too favourable, and it should be made 15 per cent. But what I cannot understand is any man saying it is better to go back to the system of inspection for security, with its bills of costs and all kinds of irritation. That beats me. I want to know how far the right hon. Gentleman is, under this section, in agreement with the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon). I do not admit there is any cause for anxiety on behalf of the taxpayer. The right hon. Gentleman cited the case where a landlord and tenant have agreed to a judicial rent. Does he believe that represents a real source of danger? Does it cover any large section of the problem?
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
And does the right hon. Gentleman believe in these cases the landlord has, as a rule, been able to get the tenant to pay more than the land can year in and year out pay?
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
It is not my view. I believe, on the contrary, that in a large proportion of these agreed rents it is the landlord who has made fair terms at an early date, and the tenant has had the benefit of it through many years. The tenant who got an agreed rent in the early eighties has done better than the tenant who fought for his first-term rent and paid the costs of the litigation and then fought for the second-term rent and incurred expenses for litigation upon that. If these agreed rents have gone on for 2o years, then I say a substantial reduction below the agreed rent presents as good a security to the taxpayer as in the other cases where the tribunal has fixed the amount of rent to be paid. I am not trying to convince the very few supporters of the Government who are here. I am asking the Committee, before they lightly traverse the main lines of the policy of 1903, to recollect what they are doing—to recollect that the operation was a choice between two alternatives; between the alternative of delay and costly litigation, and the alternative of speed, cheapness, and good-will. I say the 1792 alteration has been to make for speed, cheapness, and good-will. I assert that the rise in the average price of land in Ireland is not to be attributed to the zone system, but to the policy which this House adopted, which made for peace and substituted it for war. You must make your plan simple and cheap if you want it to work, and as for these later cases of arrears being added, sooner than suspend —sooner than delay the operation of land purchase in Ireland—I would risk the cost of having the security behind the judicial rent in two cases out of three, and the agreed rents which have stood in the third case presented to our view. I would like the Chief Secretary to tell us how far he goes with the hon. Member for East Mayo, and how far he challenges the view I have tried to put before the Committee. There is one other question I wish to address to the right hon. Gentleman. I wish to ask him what he means by Section (1), which lays it down that the zones are not to operate if the Land Commission are satisfied that certain things exist which, in their opinion, necessitate inquiry as to the security for the advance or the equity of the price. I want to know what is meant by the phrase "equity of the price." Does the right hon. Gentleman mean what the hon. Member for East Mayo means, that they are to consider the respective claims of landlord and tenant in view of the present value, or is he thinking of the tenant only when he uses the words "equity of price, "or is he thinking of any other party interested in the result of the sale? I do not think it at all apparent from the language of the section what he does mean, and evidently a court of law would not be able to interpret the phrase without very prolonged investigation. I presume that this Bill will be read with the Act of 1903. If only repeals a few lines of that Act, and all the rest of the Act at any rate remains, although in substance it will have been destroyed. The question of equity in the decision of the Land Commission occurs twice in Section (1) of Clause 1 of the Act of 1903. There a rare case is given. The Section reads: "Provided that in the case of a holding subject to a judicial rent fixed or agreed to before the passing of the Act of 1896, the Land Commission may, if they think it equitable and if the purchase agreement so provides, treat the holding for the purposes of this Section as a holding subject to a judicial rent fixed since I the passing of the Act of 1896." That 1793 paragraph deals with a case which can only very rarely occur. Indeed, I do not know whether it has ever occurred. I understand that, as a matter of fact, such a case has never happened, but this Section was drawn with the view to its application to cases which would be very rare. May I invite the Chief Secretary's attention to this point? I want to know whether he thinks that this Section will be read in connection with the Section addressed to cases rare and very speculative when the Bill was drafted, but which have never occurred, or does he not think it must be read with Section (2) of the parent Act of 1903, which says: "If the foregoing provisions are not complied with the Land Commission may, subject to the limitations in the Land Purchase Acts, sanction the advance, if they are satisfied with the security, and if, after giving all the persons interested in the estate an opportunity of being heard, they consider the agreed price to be equitable, having regard to the interests of all such persons as aforesaid"? I am not a lawyer, but in view of the fact that the first Section which I have read applies to cases which have never occurred, and that the second Section is a broad general rule of the Act, I say that the Government, when it speaks of the equity of the price, must be held to refer to the whole equity in regard to the interests of other parties, and not merely in regard to the tenant. I want, however, to know what the meaning of the Chief Secretary is.
§ Mr. JOHN CLANCY
The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Wyndham) said that my hon. Friend the Member for East Mayo always made the same speech on this question of Land Purchase. I would beg to remind the right hon. Gentleman that he himself has made four or five speeches of exactly the same character on this very Bill on every day on which it has been set down for discussion. The right hon. Gentleman has reduced his speech to his one favourite argument, namely, that the Conference of 1902 laid down certain things, and that we must not go behind the decision of that Conference. But has experience not taught us to modify our views in matters of this kind? Does the right hon. Gentleman mean to say that if the events of the last six years have taught us by hard facts and figures that the conclusions of the 1903 Conference were wrong, we are not at liberty to set them right? If the transactions which have occurred in Ireland were all of the character of the Weir estate transaction, does 1794 the right hon. Gentleman mean to say that we are to continue to perpetuate this sort of thing for all time, no matter what the consequences may be to the prosperity of Ireland, or to the ratepayers of that country? The right hon. Gentleman is wrong, I think, in one particular—the only particular upon which he lays stress, namely, that the Conference ever decided, or recommended, or admitted, that the landlords in Ireland were, exclusive of the bonus, to get their second term net rentals less 10 per cent. What the right hon. Gentleman has said repeatedly is this, that the landlords at the Conference provided that the landlords of Ireland should get their second term net rents less 10 per cent. Does he mean to say that the Conference of 1903 recommended that they were to get that which he says is equivalent to 24 years' purchase and also 3 years' purchase in the shape of a bonus?
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
They would get their second term rents reduced by 10 per cent., unless they got 28 years' purchase, and the State gives three years' purchase.
§ Mr. CLANCY
The right hon. Gentleman is amazing in regard to figures, and I cannot master them all at once; but the plain fact of the matter is that the Conference never recommended that, exclusive of the bonus, they were to get their second term net rents less 10 per cent. [Mr. WYNDHAM: "Hear, hear."] But they have, if they get their second term net rent plus three years of the bonus; and consequently the argument based upon the recommendation of the Conference falls to the ground. The right hon. Gentleman made a very extraordinary statement in connection with this Conference's recommendation. He thought it was almost a sacred thing, because it was brought about by agreement, but the Conference itself was brought about in consequence of previous agitation, and he might as well say that the South Africa Union Bill, which passed last week through this House and the week before through the House of Lords, was the result of agreement, and not the result of war and of the struggle made by the Boers for their independence. The agreement in Ireland was brought about in the year 1902, because the landlords had got sick of agitation, and saw before them a long period in which they might lose perhaps more than they would gain. As my hon. Friend the Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) said, the Amendment 1795 which is down in my name is for the total abolition of the zones, and I frankly confess that I am one of those who have been converted by experience. I thought in 1903 that the setting up of these zones might do some good in facilitating sales, and so on, but I really think now that to talk of the expedition which has been produced by the zones is to talk nonsense. Expedition has not been a feature of the administration of the Act of 1903, and it remains to be said that the chief result of the establishment of the zones is that the lengthening of the period of repayment has been increased by five or six years, exclusive of the bonus in the purchase price of Irish land. That is a result that was not expected, and is not justified by the course of agriculture, nor the course of prices; and I hope to hear in the next speech made from the Loyalist Benches some reason given for this extension of the zones and the lengthening of the period for which the landlords demand five or six years more purchase than they ever got before under previous Land Acts. The arguments against the zones have been summed up by the hon. Member for East Mayo at such length and seem to me so convincing that I do not intend to go over them again; but I would like, as my best argument, to give some effects by way of illustration as to the way in which the existence of the zones has worked. My hon. Friend refers to the case of the Weir estate, but I do not think the House grasps —has grasped, or could grasp, without entering into a few details—the real nature of that transaction and the consequent inference or commentary which may be brought to bear from it upon the zones. The Weir estate is situated in a county, large portions of which are in a congested district—declared to be a congested district under Act of Parliament. In this particular case the estate itself was not congested. There were 56 holdings, and let me describe' now; by a recital from the judgment of one of the Commissioners, what has been done in the case of the Weir estate, and ask whether or not that is a result of the zones which ought to be justified or defended in this House. Here are a few cases:—Take, for example, the case of Bernard Dolan, who, judging by the amount of his rent, is the most substantial tenant in Mullaghmore Townland. His judicial rent was fixed in 1900 at £9 18s. 6d. His land is held in two plots on the hillside, separated from one another by another tenant's land, and at an elevation of 575 feet. He owed, according to the vendor's state- 1796 ment referred to in their solicitor's affidavit, £64 10s 3d., being six and a half years' rent, three years of which was forgiven, and three years' rent was included in the purchase money. Bernard Dolan agreed to purchase this holding at 27.6 years' purchase of his rent, which, with the bonus, will come to 31 years' purchase to be paid to the vendors. Bernard Dolan's annuity on the purchase money to be advanced to him, will be £8 18s. 2d., that is to say, only 10.3 per cent, less than the rent which was 64 years in arrear.Take another instance, of Peter Feely, of Mullagh-more. His judicial rent was fixed is 1898 at £5 2s. He agreed to purchase at 27.6 years' purchase of that rent. When his purchase agreement was entered into, he owed in arrears £44 11s. (i.e., over 8 years' rent); of this arrear a sum of £15 18s. was included in the purchase money—the rest being cancelled. This annuity will be £4 11s. 8d., that is to say. 10.3 per cent, reduction on a rent, which, according to the vendor's statement, was 8 years in arrear when the tenant signed his purchase agreement.Catherine M'Morrow, of Mullaghmore, judicial rent £5, arrears due on November, 1904. £45 17s, 6d. (i e., over 9 years' rent), the amount included in the purchase-money being £14 18s. 6d., or nearly 3 years' rent She is a judicial tenant, and has agreed to purchase at 27.6 years' purchase, the reduction in the rent, which was 9 years in arrear, being thus 10.3 per cent.I might quote other cases, but will only give one or two, which I mention because of the diminutive size of the holding.Patrick M'Morrow, of Corratawy and Curry, the judicial rent £3 14s. 10d., arrears due in November, 1904. when he signed his agreement. £28 14s. 6d., or over 7 years' rent. He has agreed to purchase within the zone at 27.5 years' purchase. His future annuity will be £3 6s., or 10.6 per cent, less than the rent, which was 7 years in arrear when he signed his agreement.Peter Flynn, of Black Gardens, judicial rent £1 12s. Arrears due in November. 1901, when he signed his agreement,.£18 3s., or over II years' rent. He has agreed to purchase at 27.5 years' purcause of his rent. His future annuity will be £1 8s. 8d., or 10.6 per cent, less than a rent which was 11 year in arrear.The right hon. Gentleman put a question as to whether my hon. Friend the Member for East Mayo would rather have purchase or no purchase, but I Would ask him would he rather have this estate purchased under' these terms, or that the Estates Commissioners should redistribute and resell to the tenants. And yet what has happened? The point of the whole thing was this, it was a case of the zones. All that has happened there a Gentleman sitting on the Front Opposition Bench, the late Attorney-General for Ireland, is quite aware of; he knows all the facts, for he was one of the counsel in the ease.
§ Mr. CLANCY
But I have read from a Report, which, I venture to say, he will not impugn, and, at any rate, he ought to remember the cases, for he got a good fee.
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ Mr. CLANCY
I read these facts for the purpose of bringing them in in support of our argument in reference to the zones. 1797 This was a case which was not in a congested district, although it was in a county a large portion of which was said to be congested. The landlords and the tenants agreed in this fashion, and made these bargains, and the thing was about going through when accidentally, as it seems to me, and as far as I can make out, from the reports of the statement made by the Commissioners, it appeared that a large amount of arrears was included in the purchase price. Thereupon the Commissioners, without stating the reason why, sent out inquiries as to how the arrears accrued, when they accrued, and what was their amount. That was the [...]atal thing. As soon as ever they sent out that inquiry the point was taken. The object with which the Commissioners had sent out the inquiry was, of course, to see whether there was security or not, and the point was, of course, at once taken by the vendors' solicitors. The case was brought from the Commissioners to the King's Bench Division, and from that to the Court of Appeal, and the result of the decision of the Court of Appeal and the eventual decision of the Commissioners is this, that once they say a single word about the price being properly secured in a case which comes within the zones, from that time their jurisdiction is ousted and they must sanction the agreement, no matter how preposterous and unjust it may be. And what is the result about holdings a long distance from a public road, with no main road leading to one, no turbary attached to some of the holdings, some of the holdings so diminutive that they cannot possibly give sustenance to the family which occupies them, some of them with rents down to a £1 a year—they are all to be stereotyped in the condition in which they have been up to the present, and the Land Act of 1903 has been passed in vain, as far as they are concerned, and they never can rise beyond the position in which they were before it was passed, while the reduction of rent which they have obtained may be represented by farthings. I ask the right hon. Gentleman again, Is this a result of the zones which he would justify? Would he rather have his estate sold to them direct under the zone system or, as the Commissioners desire to do, have it sold to them for the purpose of improvement and redistribution? It is to prevent such results in the future that we ask for these zones to be abolished. Again, today the chief defence of the zones is that delays will occur. I share the scepticism 1798 of the hon. Member (Mr. Dillon) when he doubts the extent of these delays. I thought it particularly audacious on the part of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Wyndham) to make that objection. I do not know whether the House knows what the late Government did in the matter of the Downes - Martin estate. They framed a set of regulations, the like of which the Commissioners declare has not been seen since the time of James I., interfering with the discretion and action of a judicial authority, and one of these regulations regarded the question of intimidation. The right hon Gentleman (Mr. J. H. Campbell) is not ashamed of having advised these regulations, which have been declared to be illegal. They actually framed a regulation compelling the Estates Commissioners, by express words, to inquire, in the case of every application that came before them, before they would sanction an advance, whether intimidation existed or not, and when the absurdity of the thing was pointed out to them they wrote a letter. I am sorry the late Chief Secretary treats it as a joke. It is no joke. They endeavoured to limit the discretion and action of a judicial authority, a nice thing for a set of men who pretend, above all things, to wish to uphold law and order and regard the independence of the Bench as one of the greatest of our possessions! They issued these regulations, interfering with the discretion of the Commissioners and taking the thing out of their hands altogether, under certain circumstances, and when they were told there were 50,000 applications, and that it would take years to examine into these with regard to the one question of intimidation—
§ Mr. CLANCY
I have the document here. It is a long judgment of Mr. Commissioner Finucane. When the absurdity was pointed out of this regulation and what it would lead to, the Castle wrote a letter to the Commissioners stating that they were not to inquire in every case, but only in those cases to which the Government directed their attention. After making this regulation, which would have involved years of delay, it requires a considerable amount of hardihood for right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Opposition Bench to set up delay as a great cause why the zones should be retained. There has been no particular delay at all beyond the investigations which must take place, the investigation of the boundaries, the 1799 investigation whether there is a tenant there at all, the investigation whether there is a real rent being paid. There are numbers of inquiries which must take place, and it would be quite easy, while they are taking place, simultaneously to make the one inquiry on which we insist, namely, whether the agreed price is proper or not. The Government have met us half-way. They propose to retain the zones, but wherever they have reason to know that injustice or fraud is being perpetrated they will give power to the Commissioners to investigate the question. My objection to this is that the circumstances are not certain to come to their knowledge. The men who intend to commit fraud of this description will take care not to say so. If a man is adding four or five years of uncollectable arrears to the purchase money is he likely, any more than the vendors in the case of the Weir estate, to unbosom himself to the Estates Commissioners and say, "I could not collect this rent for 8, 9, 10, or 11 years, but I am adding half of it to the purchase price." From time to time you will have transactions like that of the Weir estate, a most scandalous and fraudulent transaction in its very essence, taking place to the prejudice of the whole country.
The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Wynd-ham) alluded to the equity of the price. As far as I can understand, if Section 14 stood by itself the equity of the price would be the equity of the price as regards all persons interested in the estate, and would not include the tenants. The same words were used in the Act of 1903, and it has been judicially determined that persons interested in the estate do not include the tenants. Therefore, if the Section stood by itself it seems to me that it would be little improvement on the law. But I understand Section 14 is supplemented by Section 20, which provides that the agreed price shall not be equitable if it is unjust to the tenant. If it is meant that the two Sections are to be read together I consider, subject to anything I may hear, that the Government has met us in that way and that henceforward the justice of the transaction, so far as the tenants are concerned, will be taken into account. If that be so it removes one source of objection. The tenants of Ireland are a very unfortunate body, but the ratepayers are still more unfortunate, and it ought never to be forgotten by English Members of Parliament that if the existence of the zones brings about unjust 1800 transactions and transactions resulting in loss to the State the result will be injury, not to the tax-payers of the United Kingdom but to the ratepayers of Irish counties. The reason is plain. The law enacted, and moreover the Irish representatives, and every representative body which has met in Ireland have endorsed their decision, have agreed that the one loss which the rates are to bear is the failure to pay the annuities. This discussion therefore interests the whole people of Ireland—not only the people in the rural districts but people in the towns—and the question therefore assumes very large dimensions and very serious importance. I want to know, from anyone who will defend the existence of these zones, how are they to justify to the ratepayers of Irelands transactions like those on the Weir estate? These people have got only 10 per cent, reduction in the rent which they have hitherto been liable to, but which they had not paid for several years because they were not able. Is or is it not likely that when a bad season comes these people will fall into arrears again? If they do, most unquestionably the loss would fall upon the already over-burdened ratepayers in Leitrim town and county. It is a very serious thing. Those who are taking upon themselves the responsibility of maintaining the zones in the face of the transactions on the Weir estate are, to my mind, showing that their interest is really not in Ireland or the tenantry of Ireland, but in the landlords of Ireland. What are the landlords afraid of as the consequence of abolishing the zones? Anybody who has looked into the matter must see that what they are really afraid of is that transactions like those on the Weir estate will no longer be possible. I hope the Government will make it perfectly plain that they too will make the utmost possible effort to show in regard to such transactions that they will not occur again in the adminstration of the Land Purchase Acts.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover (Mr. Wynd-ham) availed himself of this opportunity, as he has availed himself of many other opportunities, to state with great force and clearness, both of argument and diction, what he conceives to have been the basis—moral, intellectual, and financial— of the Act of 1903. One thing I think is very noticeable in the transaction, and that is that, admirable as I think it was in many respects, it was a very, singular 1801 one from the point of view of the credit not merely of the British Exchequer, but of the ratepayers of Ireland, who have assumed the final responsibility in this matter of making good any loss that may arise in the non-payment of the annuity, because although the British Exchequer, and finally the Irish ratepayer, may be regarded as mortgagees in the transactions, they are the people who advance the money, or, at all events, in the long run, are responsible for it. The basis of value in this transaction was not so much the value of the land that was to be taken into consideration, but some arrangement whereby the landlords should have handed over to them as the price of their estates a sufficient sum of money which, when invested at 3 or 3½ per cent., would secure to them a permanent income—less some expenses, of course, for the collections on their estates, agents, and so on—equal to what they had enjoyed. As a matter of policy that might be a very good plan for facilitating voluntary purchase—an excellent arrangement for securing the facilitation and the acceleration of the transfer of Irish land from its former owners to tenants and other persons who might secure untenanted land.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
The reduction of the annuity payable by the tenant was a very important element no doubt. I am not for a moment disputing the extraordinary advantages conferred by the Act of 1903. There was first of all cash instead of depreciated stock. That was enough to make a landlord's mouth waiter. Then there was the zone which unodubtedly had the effect, as I will point out in a moment, of increasing the average price of the land in Ireland to a very considerable extent. That was admitted by the gentlemen who formed the Conference. Then there was the reduction of the tenant's annuity from 4 to 3¼ per cent. Then there was as a climax to the whole the bonus of 12 per cent. Nobody need wonder that land purchase was popular, but then everybody will agree that you must have regard to the safety of the security. The right hon. Gentleman said what is perfectly true, that you proceeded upon a judicial rent, and you slightly reduced that judicial rent. You reduced that rent within the operation of the zones, and, therefore, he says you may disregard the rents altogether. I would ask anybody who is acquainted with agricultural leases in this 1802 country: Did you ever hear of an agricultural tenant, a small farmer or a big farmer, being asked to covenant to pay the same rent, or a slightly reduced rent, for 65½, 67 or 68 years?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
Yes, certainly, and at the end of 68½ years, with the sinking fund which he is paying in addition, the tenant gets the land for nothing. I am not quarrelling with that. I am only asking any sensible man to say whether he would state that there is no risk under the system whereby rents are reduced every 15 years producing first, second, third, and even fifth term rents? So long as the relations of landlord and tenant exist in Ireland these reductions will take place. I am not an alarmist in the matter. I take a cheerful view of the situation, because, although I have had only a limited experience, I say that it is an experience which justifies us in believing that the Irish tenant is a man who was most diligent in his payment of rent in times past, and will also be as diligent in the payment of his annuities in the future if only he is fairly treated in the matter, and convinced that the bargain is one which he ought as an honourable man to carry out. But still, nobody looking forward for the next 40 or 50 years in Ireland, looking forward to the possibility of a fall in the price of stock—I am not going into the reasons for such a fall, some may be suggested, and others may not be within our ken—nobody can say that the question of the security held is not a matter of primary importance in the interest of the Exchequer, the Irish ratepayer, and the honour of this great country in its possible relations with Ireland, whatever may be the mode of Irish Government from time to time. Therefore we have got to consider that question most seriously. The security is a question of the first importance. I am not going into the details of the Weir estate, but anybody who knows anything about it knows perfectly well that no human being, no mortgagee for example, would advance money on the Weir estate without the privilege of inspecting it, without the opportunity of finding out for himself what were the facts of the case, because I say that no such mortgagee, having found out afterwards that he had lent his money on the security of an estate in such a condition could but decide that he had probably made a bad bargain. The Weir estate is one which I do not pretend to be familiar with amongst 1803 the number of cases that arise in Ireland, and I am not able to say how far it is typical or not of those within the zones, because, although it is within the zones, and although the Estates Commissioners were by Act of Parliament prevented from inspecting for security, they sought to do their best, but they were prevented by the final and operative decision of the law. They were ruled outside of the transaction altogether, and accordingly in the Weir case they found themselves compelled to advance 27 years' purchase for holdings on a mountain side as uneconomic as any to be found in any part of Ireland, and with arrears of rent for seven or eight years. Obviously, therefore, irrecoverable rent formed no basis of value as between men of business. I wish to call the attention of the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) to the fact that- we are considering a matter of business in which the British Exchequer and the Irish ratepayer are involved, and yet we find the State compelled to advance money on a transaction of that kind. I would say at once that no Estates Commissioners, whoever appointed them, and whatever their character, had it not been for the fact that they were ruled out of all consideration of the value of the estate, could by any possibility have purchased at 27 years' purchase as a matter in which the State should make itself responsible. I think, therefore, that when you find a case of that sort it is a justification for the reconsideration of the zones.
I come now to the question put by the right hon. Gentleman as to the position of this matter. It has been pointed out by the hon. Member (Mr. Clancy) that he has an Amendment on the paper to abolish the zones. Under our proposal we do not abolish the zones. The hon. Member for Mid-Armagh (Mr. Lonsdale) acknowledged that we extend the power of the Estates Commissioners in certain particulars. We have to consider as between these two proposals for a moment. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Wyndham) would leave the Act of 1903 as it stands. The Government think that it should be altered to the extent of Clause 14, and hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway think that the clearest way would be to abolish it altogether. I want to go first into the question of what has been called the delay in the expedition of the carrying out of the Act. The hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) spoke 1804 of this matter, I admit frankly, with a great deal of truth. Having gone into this matter with very great care and consideration, and having made myself as well as I could acquainted with the proceedings in that great wilderness of offices of the Land Commission Court in Dublin—(Laughter.) Well, you cannot carry out such a transaction as this without having a wilderness of offices, a great staff of officials, and great cost thrown on the country in the manipulation of the work. It is as big a job as has yet been undertaken, and, so far as we have gone at present, this is one of the biggest jobs this country has ever undertaken, namely, the matter of transferring the whole of the agricultural land of Ireland from the landlords to the tenants. Now conies the corollary —the division of a great portion of the untenanted land in Ireland among persons who may be qualified to take it and to make a profit out of it. Therefore, we have this question before us. I agree that there has been a great deal of exaggeration as to the effect of the zones on the question of expedition. There has been some delay. I will tell you why. It is true that you have to have inspection. You cannot get rid of it. You may abstain from inspection for value, but you cannot get rid of the necessity of inspection in respect of sales. In regard to every individual bit of property, you have to ascertain the boundaries. You have to ascertain what is held and you have to ascertain what are the rights, paternal and otherwise, and you can only do that on the spot. It can only be done with minute and particular care by inspecting the locus in quo. You cannot do it by sitting in rooms in Dublin without having sent emissaries to the spot, and therefore inspection has to be done. It very seldom happens that the whole of an estate is within a zone. There are almost always some of the holdings outside, and therefore, for this purpose, and in those particular estates, you have to have inspection, and you have to inspect for value even there. Therefore, although you do not have to inspect for value all the holdings, you have to inspect for some of them, and, consequently, it would be taking a false view to say that the rate at which land purchase has been carried out has been very materially accelerated, or perhaps it would be better to say has been very much quicker because we have had the zones. I think it would have been slower than it has been if there had been a 1805 necessity for this inspection; but I do not wish to give cognizance to the view that it makes a vast difference. The delay which was so intense, and which we are all so anxious to avoid as far as possible, is to a very considerable extent bound up irrevocably with the nature of the problem itself, and there are limits to the speed which you can at any time hope to attain. Still for all that I am bound to admit, having gone into the matter carefully, that I have satisfied myself that the abolition of the zones—whether they were a wise institution or not at the beginning, it is not necessary for me to express an opinion—but their abolition altogether now, and to have the obligation imposed of a very heavy burden of inspecting every holding for value would undoubtedly be to add to the delay which we all very much regret; and, therefore, that is the main reason why I think the Government are wise in determining to adhere to the general rule, save in the special circumstances to be indicated when I come of course to the words of the Clause in a moment. But the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover—I am glad to see him in his place, as I mention this point— rather gave us to understand that in his judgment the landlord had only got under the zones all it was contemplated to give him at the Land Conference. I should like to say that nothing is as plain as that they have got a great deal more. The average price of second term rents within the zones is now 24.7 years. Taking a rental of £100 a year that would produce £2,470, and with a bonus of 12 per cent, that would represent a total of £2,766. That £2,766 at 3½ per cent, would produce £96 15s.; 10 per cent., as I understood, was allowed as taken off the gross rental of £100 for the cost of collection, and that would reduce the rent to £90. Therefore, the landlord is at present getting £6 15s. more than Land Conference terms.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
It is just as well to have this accurately. The right hon. Gentleman has taken the interest at 3½ per cent. The figure which I gave was 3¼ per cent., which works out at £89.30, which is indistinguishable from £90.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
Three and a half per cent., I think, may now be very fairly taken as the percentage which is within the means of landlords who have received their purchase money in cash, and I think, 1806 having regard to that, we may take it that in most cases, at all events, for every £100 rental which they formerly received, with greater or less regularity, they will secure if they invest their money wisely, carefully, cautiously, and at the same time with a little courage—not more than, I am sure, most of you display who have got any money—£96 15s.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
I am not arguing whether they can or not. That is not my point. If you care to see my statement the result will conform very accurately with the forecast at the Conference. This forecast was based on the assumption of 3 per cent. Later in the course of the Debates it was admitted that 3¼ would be better, and that that should be adopted, and working that out it gives a result of 89.30 instead of 90, which is fairly close.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I do not say a word against the Land Conference, but I am bound to say that to come to the House of Commons and ask for 3 per cent, as a substitute for a large rental shows a well-deserved confidence in the perpetual security of the British Constitution. Three per cent, is an impossible figure—perfectly impossible—and all I say is I was not quarrelling with the right hon. Gentleman's statement; I was only trying to bring it down to date. At the present moment at 3½ per cent, for every £100 of rent more or less regularly paid they are now in a position to get £96 15s., which was more than was contemplated at the time of the Conference. Having justified in that way the retention of the zones on the ground that I really cannot make myself responsible even for a small decrease in the miserable rate of expedition of the land purchase business, I am satisfied that the abolition of the zones would, although not so much as some people suppose, make the progress slower, considerably slower; but I know it is not really the great cause of slowness, and that it is an illusion to suppose that the inspection for value is the great cause; still it would be a cause for decrease in our present snail-like rate of progress, and, therefore, being interested in the progress of land purchase, as I admit, the right hon. Gentleman is, I cannot make myself responsible for agreeing to their abolition. I now come to the case which arises for this Clause and the circumstances which justify it. I put, first of all, the Weir case. The mere fact that such a case should be possible shows the necessity, to my mind, conclusively for such a proposal. Then 1807 the price agreed upon often includes large arrears of rent. I really cannot stomach that people should be obliged to advance public money, for which the ratepayers of Ireland are, in the first instance, to be responsible, on a basis that arrears of rent are to be included in the advance. It is really too shocking, as a financial transaction, to admit of justification, because you are making up money that is irrecoverably gone. As everybody who ever had any knowledge of a well-managed landed estate knows perfectly well, the moment you allow, year after year, arrears to accumulate, you may regard those arrears as bad debts, only recoverable from the State if the State is asinine enough to seek to acquire all the land in the country. It is only from the State that anybody would expect to get arrears extending for, at all events, over more than one year.
Here we find constantly happening that these arrears of rent are included in the purchase money, added on to the money which the landlord receives, and for which the tenant has for 65, 66, or 67 years to go on paying his interest and his annuities. Then, again, the tenant in arrears, everybody knows, is not in a fair position to fix the agreed rent, the judicial rent. You have got to recognise that one-third of the judicial rents in Ireland are reached by agreement. I do not for a moment deny, and I am not going to deny, that many landlords and many tenants in Ireland are just as competent to come together and bargain upon matters of this sort as if they were two stock jobbers on the Stock Exchange. Still, everybody knows that that is not always the case, and that in a very considerable number of cases there are circumstances which entirely interfere with the commercial or pure price aspect of the case and make it essential for the tenant to do all he can and strain every point in order to acquire possession of his land. I think there is a great deal of truth in what the right hon. Gentleman says is the fact that when landlord and tenant come together the agreed rents are higher than those fixed by the Court; but in the circumstances to which the right hon. Gentleman refers I have not the slightest doubt that in a great number of cases we might treat in pretty much the same way the agreed rent as the judicial rent. But that is not always the case. I have been supplied, at all events, with a sufficient number of cases to justify me in stating that as one of the reasons which render such a Clause as this necessary. 1808 There is then the other point. Fifty years is not such a very great slice of either human life or the history of the State. Circumstances alter very easily. They may alter in the course of 50 years, and they have altered in a great many cases in Ireland. Land has been flooded; lands have been destroyed by silting; lands have disappeared by erosion; so it is by no means either wise or safe for anybody to take the fact that the rent which was fixed some years ago at a particular sum, as if that was a guarantee for all time, or at all events, that for the next 50 or 60 years, that was a fair basis upon which land purchase was to be carried out.
Of course in this matter I am not acting upon any views of my own. In the first instance I have sought for advice from those connected with the Estates Commissioners' Office, and I am convinced, for reasons which they have given me, and statements which they have laid before me, some of which are public property, like the Weir case and other cases, which I am sorry to say are cases of fraud, as to which I hope prosecutions will be more and more possible, that there is a proportion of those, people who avail themselves basely of an extraordinary system of credit for securing excess prices in Ireland, for the purpose of enriching themselves in a most scandalous and contemptible manner. Still, fraud of its essence conceals itself, and it does not follow that the Estates Commissioners will always have information which will enable them to exercise their powers; but I am glad to say that Ireland is a country where intelligence is repeated fast from one person to another, and, after all, we have had now five years' experience of the working of the Act of 1903, and everybody in Ireland has learned a great deal from it, and they are by no means so inexperienced in any way. Although they have had experience of Land Acts before, they have learned a great deal, and they are pretty much on the qui vive in matters of this sort. Therefore I hope that the Estates Commissioners will get information enabling them to put into force the powers conferred upon them by this section. But that is the character of the occasion when that would be done, when there would be arrears of rent, in such a case as Weir's case, where there have been great alterations in the circumstances of the holding. Those are the cases where they will be able to disregard the mandatory obligation imposed upon them by the Act of 1903. even when cases 1809 are within the zones, and in which they should be able to make inquiries for the purposes of the advance. I do not think that it can in any way be seriously criticised, and when the Land Commission is satisfied that special circumstances exist which in their opinion necessitate inquiry as to the security for the advance, I can hardly imagine anybody quarrelling with this power. It is almost an innate power. I should have thought that when they talk of the British Exchequer being cheated and the Irish ratepayer having obligations imposed upon him which would upset the whole working of the Act, that, in cases of that kind, they should have the power of disregarding this mandatory obligation and having an inquiry of their own for security. I should really have thought that that would be suggested by anybody. The right hon. Gentleman proceeded to ask me what I meant by the words "equity of the price," and that question was repeated by the right hon. Member for South Dublin (Mr. Long) just now. I mean by the words "equity of the price" first of all the rights of remainder men, because now we are proposing to alter by another Clause of the Bill the graduation of the bonus it becomes all the more necessary that it should be seen to that the limited owner does not take too small a number of years' purchase in order to get a larger bonus into his pocket, and it does seem desirable that some such power as this should be given. As between the mortgagor and the mortgagee, and persons interested generally in the property, these words "equity of the price" have reason. But I certainly take the view that Clause 20 bears materially and directly upon the meaning of the words "equity of the price." As the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover pointed out, we are not repealing the Act of 1903, we are treating it as the parent Act, and we are governed by those considerations. Clause 14, Section (1) says: "Where after the passing of this Act application is made under Subsection (1) of the Act of 1903 for an advance of the whole purchase money of any holding," and so on. Clause 20 says: "The Land Commission in determining under Sub-section (2), of Section (1), or under Section (5) of the Act of 1903 whether the agreed price of a holding is equitable, shall have regard to the respective interests of the landlord and tenant in the holding and in the improvement thereon, and the price shall not be deemed to be equitable if it appears to the Land Commission," and so on. I think there- 1810 fore that these two Clauses will be read together, and the words "equity of price" therefore relate not merely as between the tenant for life and remainder men, the mortgagor and mortagee, but also as regards the respective interests of landlord and tenant. That question will arise when we consider Clause 20 and the safeguarding words, which I have never been able to persuade the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin are in that Clause, namely, that any question which may arise under this Section "may (subject and without prejudice to any previous determination under the Land Law Acts) be determined by the Land Commission." This will enable them to inspect, notwithstanding the Section of the Act of 1903, when they are satisfied that circumstances exist requiring them to do so, both as to security and also as to "equity of the price," putting on those words the meaning which I have given.
§ Mr. CLANCY
I hope I may be permitted to supply an omission in my speech, but, before doing so, I must apologise to the right hon. Member for Dublin University (Mr. Campbell). I find he was not one of the counsel in the case to which I referred, and the right hon. Gentleman was, therefore, the poorer by the amount of the fee that I thought he had got.
§ Mr. CLANCY
The passage with which I was dealing was this:—There were then pending also some 55.000 applications for advances, estimated to amount to £20,000,000. for the purchase and sale of holdings, and numerous other applications for the purchase and sale of 'parcels' of untenanted land, and for advances and grants under Section (12) of the Act, for the benefit and improvement of estates and untenanted land sold or proposed to be sold.… Feeling that the application of the Regulation to each and every one of these applications would bring our work to a standstill, as it would necessitate inquiries as to each and everyone of the thousands of applications then lying in our office, we unanimouly proceeded to deal with pending application in practice up to the 20th October, 1905, as if no such Regulation had existed. We inquired on the 20th October. 1905, of the Lord-Lieutenant, whether it was intended, as laid down in the Regulation, that we should make inquiries as to the exercise of intimidation in connection with every application before us, and we were informed by His Excellency, in reply, that our inquiries should be confined to cases specially brought to our notice by the Government, but of which cases have from time to time been transmitted to us, among other estates mentioned in these lists being the Downes Martin Estate. The impracticability of enforcing the Regulation is thus shown by the fact that, though by it we were directed to make the inquiries mentioned in it in every case, in practice we were, three months after the issue of the Regulation, directed to confine our inquiries as to intimidation to a limited number of estates as to which the police had reported that intimidation had been exercised.
§ Mr. J. H. M. CAMPBELL
I confess I regard the insertion of this Clause now under discussion, and the action of the Government in regard to it, as certainly a triumph for the efforts of the hon. Member for East Mayo.
§ Mr. CAMPBELL
He has struggled with very great courage, resolution, and persistency to obtain this Clause.
§ Mr. CAMPBELL
It is the best possible indication of the attitude he has taken up and maintained in relation to the Conference, with which he was never, as I understand, in accord, and therefore it is not at all surprising that he should from that day up to this have struggled in the way he has done to wreck the work of that great Conference. I have listened with great anxiety for the vindication that would be suggested for this Clause by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland, and I hope he will not think me at all impertinent if I say that, after listening to him, I have come to the conclusion that his heart is not in this Clause, and that he cares, indeed, very little about it. He has not advanced a single argument in support of this Clause that would not have been pertinent while the Clause itself was under discussion during the Debate in 1903, when every Member of the party to which the right hon. Gentleman belongs, without exception, supported in this House this Clause. They supported the principle of zones. There was not an argument addressed from the benches opposite by any Member representing a Liberal constituency by way of attack upon this provision dealing with zones. The right hon. Gentleman, I am sure, is himself perfectly aware of the truth of what I have stated. Not only was the introduction of the principle of the zones into the Act of 1903 received with approval on the benches opposite, but its origin has been found in express terms in the Land Conference Report. Therefore, it comes really to this, that we are witnessing to-day the triumph of the efforts of the hon. Member for East Mayo pursued persistently since 1903, and practically taking the control of the Irish Parliamentary party, so far as this portion of the Bill is concerned at any rate, out of the hands of the hon. and learned Member for Waterford (Mr. John Redmond). Everybody knows that the Act of 1903, during the time it was under discussion, 1812 and for a considerable period after it became law, received the warmest possible support from the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Waterford, not merely in this House, but in the country. While I do not go so far as to say that he ever advocated the principle of the zones, he accepted it as a necessary alternative, or as a necessary consequence of the Conference, if the proposals of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover were to be carried out. But now what suggestion or argument has the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary put forward by way of attack on this system of zones that could not have been advanced in 1903? I have heard none. He talks about the risks to the Exchequer. All these risks were as great then as they are to-day. As a matter of fact, we are tired of hearing on all sides of the House, and particularly from benches below the Gangway, that there is any risk whatever to the Treasury in these proposals. There has never been any risk, and you could not imagine a more honourable, solvent or conscientious body than the Irish tenantry. It is a remarkable justification of the Act of 1903 the regularity and 'steadiness with which the tenants have paid their annuities, and to talk of risk is absurd. Experience has shown that there is no risk whatever. The right hon. Gentleman forgers that not merely the tenant's interest but the landlord's interest is being acquired by the Treasury. It is not merely that the estate remains as security for the advance in respect of buying out the landlord's interest, but the State, once the transaction is completed, becomes the owner of both interests, and has both as security for the advance.
I do not think the right hon. Gentleman intended to be unfair to my right hon. Friend (Mr. Wyndham) in his criticism as to the actual results of sales, and of the operation of the Act of 1903. The point of my right hon. Friend was simply this. In order to carry out the terms of the Land Conference, based upon an assumption of investment by the landlord at 3 per cent., the actual price that had been realised, plus the bonus, were necessary if the landlord was to get his second term judicial rent. My right hon. Friend pointed out that 3 per cent, was too low; and in framing his estimate for the Bill of 1903 it was based on 3¼ per cent. Taking that estimate—which was the estimate which all parties in this House discussed, and the 1813 estimate on which the measure ultimately became law—my right hon. Friend's contention is absolutely uncontrovertible, namely, that experience has shown that the actual working of these sales do require 24 years' purchase, plus the bonus, in order to carry out the agreed bargain on the basis of investment at 3¼ per cent. Is it an answer to say that, owing to the fluctuations of the money market, or perhaps some landlords investing in more risky securities than others cared to do, some of them have realised 96 per cent, instead of 90 per cent, of the second term judicial rents? Surely it is perfectly obvious that is no answer to the position put forward by my right hon. Friend, namely, that the result has actually worked out in experience, almost at precisely the exact figure that was in contemplation by all parties in the Land Conference, and of different sections of this House, when we endeavoured in the Act of 1903 to give effect and permanency to the recommendations of that Conference. A great deal of reference has been made to the Weir estate. Hon. Members in this House, below the Gangway and elsewhere, know perfectly well I have made it an inflexible rule from which I never depart that I do not interfere in the discussion of cases, or make any reference to cases in which I happen to have been professionally engaged. I do not think it is quite fair of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, and particularly my own legal colleague, knowing that that they should be constantly appealing to me in these cases for corroboration of their version. I am not in a position either to corroborate or to disagree. I can only say, and I repeat were I at liberty and free to do so, I might say a great deal, and give a good deal of information to this House that would lend a very different complexion to that case of the Weir estate than that which is at present before the Committee, but I abstain for the reason I have mentioned. I would like to say a word in reference to what the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for North Dublin (Mr. Clancy) said as to the regulations that were introduced in 1905, and in doing this let me say at once that I do not at all yield to the suggestion that in criticising the action of the Estates Commissioners we are criticising the action of judicial persons. I would remind the hon. and learned Gentleman that his colleague and leader, the hon. and learned Member for Waterford (Mr. John Red- 1814 mond) in 1903 when the Bill was introduced pointed out that the great merit it had was that these Estates Commissioners were not made judicial persons, but were to be for the first time administrative officials, and, therefore their conduct and their actions would be subject to the fullest criticism in this House.
§ Mr. CAMPBELL
The hon. and learned Gentleman is attempting to get out of the difficulty that he is in by the veriest quibble.
§ Mr. CLANCY
I am not guilty of any quibble. I assert most positively, and the right hon. Gentleman knows it, that they do exercise judicial functions.
§ Mr. CAMPBELL
It would not be the first time, I will not say that the hon. and learned Member was guilty of a quibble, but it would not be the first time that he has succeeded in producing a quibble of that sort. The point I was making was this, that the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the North County of Dublin, suggested that it was not right to criticise the action of the Estates Commissioners because they were judicial personages. I was reminding him that the hon. and learned Member for Waterford claimed throughout the Debates on the Act of 1903 that the great merit, one of the special merits of the proposals of that Bill, was that those Gentlemen were not to be in a position of judges, but were to be administrative merely, and under the control of the executive of the day, and that their actions and conduct would be open to the fullest criticism in this House. Yet when criticism is attempted on these Benches in reference to those Gentlemen, at once the cry is raised below the Gangway by hon. Gentlemen who have always shown the most scrupulous regard for the feelings of judicial persons, whether they be land commissioners, sub-commissioners, judges of the High Court, or county court judges, the cry is at once raised, "You are attacking judicial persons." I have never attacked those Estates Commissioners either in this House or out of it, except in 1815 regard to one Act, and in reference to that matter I will deal with their conduct later on.
As regards the particular matter dealt with by the hon. and learned Member for North Dublin, I would like to remind the House what the actual facts are. In the month of October, or some time before it in 1905, there had been considerable intimidation and boycotting going on in connection with land agitation in Ireland, and a regulation was drawn up under the express power conferred by this House upon the Lord-Lieutenant in Ireland, by one of the very Sections, one of the very powers which met with the highest possible encomiums from the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Waterford— that is, Section (23)—of the Act of 1903, which places these Estates Commissioners in the position of administrative officers liable to the executive, and subject to the criticism of the House of Commons. The regulation was made that in any case which came to their knowledge in which intimidation had been exercised against the tenants or against the landlords, they were to postpone that case and deprive it of its priority. I am bound to say that that was a regulation which was loyally obeyed, as far as I know, by the Estates Commissioners. The first time I became aware of their having any disinclination to obey it was in the month of January, 1906, some weeks after the late Government had gone out of office, and then, for the first time, the Estates Commissioners proclaimed to the public that they were of opinion that it was an illegal regulation. But, up to that date, they had been, so far as I knew, speaking only from my own knowledge, most loyally and most properly obeyed. But our views alter as time goes on, and in the month of January, 1906, the political horizon and atmosphere was entirely different to what it had been in the previous December. I do not know whether there was any connection between the two, but the fact was that in the month of January, 1906, I, at any rate, became aware for the first time that the Estates Commissioners had some objection to this particular rule.
I pass now from that transaction. I only thought it right to make that reference, having regard to what fell from the hon. and learned Member for North Dublin. I would like to say as between the Clause that is in this Bill now under discussion and the Amendment standing in the name 1816 of the hon. and learned Member for North Dublin, I would prefer his Amendment, because I would infinitely rather see the zones.swept away out of the Act of 1903 and this land purchase system than to have it placed in the position in which it will be if this Clause of this Bill becomes law, as to which I have my doubts. Assuming that it does become law, it places the Estates Commissioners in a most invidious and most impossible position. I am amazed that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Birrell) has told this House that he has introduced this Clause as a result of information laid before him by the officials of the Estates Commissioners. I have had conversations with Estates Commissioners, and those Estates Commissioners have given me their personal assurance that they do not like this Clause, and do not want it, as it will expose them to constant worry, constant pressure, and constant interference. I would like to remind the House of an observation which was made a few weeks ago in the course of the Debate by the hon. Gentleman the Member for South Kildare (Mr. D. Kilbride), who, I am happy to see, is in his place. He said that the Estates Commissioners, in administering their duties under the Evicted Tenants Act, and in the distribution of untenanted land, were too much inclined to give way to the man who had the biggest crowd to shout for him, or to the man who could bring the most influential clerical influence in his support. I should like to know what is going to happen under this Clause if it should become law. Who are to select the estates on which the inquiry is to be made? The Estates Commissioners. But where is the information to come from? Why, from the biggest crowd; and, how can the biggest crowd be got? By the tenants who can get the local clergy at their back.
§ Mr. CAMPBELL
I have not got them beside me. I repeat them from memory. I will await with interest any contradiction from the hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. CAMPBELL
I am anxious to quote the hon. Member accurately. I have not got the actual words here. I shall send for them, and if they come before I sit down I will quote them. I understood the hon Member—
§ Mr. KILBRIDE
What I did say was that in many cases where pressure was brought to bear, as the right hon. Gentleman has suggested, people who ought not to get the land did get it, while deserving cases were still left on the road.
§ Mr. CAMPBELL
And I think the man who got it was the man who had the biggest crowd to shout for him. In another portion of the same speech the hon. Member said the man was selected who was able to bring to bear upon the Estates Commissioners the greatest amount of clerical pressure or influence. That is the very position you are going to put them in under this Clause, they cannot act ex in-formata conscientia, it must be got from outside, and tenants who want to depress land prices and want to put pressure on the landowner, and want to compel him to sell at less than they are able to give, or he is willing to accept, all they have got to do is to get the biggest crowd to bring pressure on the Estates Commissioners, or to marshal their clerical forces and bring pressure in that way. The suggestion is not mine; it was made, as I have said, by the hon. Gentleman below the Gangway, who knows a great deal more about this pressure than I do, and is a much better authority upon the question. It is perfectly plain to anyone who looks at this Clause that the moment you give this discretionary power to the Estates Commissioners they will have to determine for themselves the cases in which it is going to be exercised, and they can only do that as a result of outside information, if you wish to call it so, or, as I should prefer to put it, outside influence or pressure. Let me also point out to the right hon. Gentleman that of all the many surprises he has inflicted upon us on this side of the House in connection with legislation in Ireland probably the proposal under this Clause is the most surprising, because the right hon. Gentleman has never hesitated—over and over again he has taken the opportunity— to mention in this House that the great evil of the present official system was constant inspection.
In the month of November last, on the first reading of the Bill he introduced that year; and this year, on the first reading of the present Bill, he took occasion to point out he was in great hopes that he would be able to make such changes in the regulations and rules of the Estates Commissioners as would do away with an immense amount of unnecessary inspection. I assure him that, so far from doing 1818 away with it, what he proposes to do under this Clause will multiply to an infinite extent inspection in Ireland. Let me remind him of what occurred under the Act of 1903. Of course, both in theory and in law under that Act the Estates Commissioners had no right whatever to make any investigation into security in cases within the zones. But they were determined they would do so. I am now speaking of what is notorious to every member of my profession in Ireland. They made no secret of their determination, and accordingly they framed a number of instructions for their inspectors in cases within the zones containing a most elaborate series of questions that were to be addressed to the tenant-purchaser and to the landlord-vendor, all dealing with security. The Executive of the day got rid of those directions to the inspectors. Then what was the next thing the Estates Commissioners did? In order to obtain for themselves this power of which they were deprived under the Act of 1903 they invented that ingenious weapon, the idea of a provisional declaration of an estate, and while the Act of Parliament declares that this declaration of an estate was to be out and out—I do not declare that in so many words, yet that was the obvious intention of the Act of Parliament—that there was only one declaration, they proceeded to invent this provisional declaration of an estate. When the Chief Secretary says that, notwithstanding the zones, there has not been as much expedition as one would have expected in connection with these proceedings before the Estates Commissioners, the real reason is that, owing to this invention of a provisional declaration of an estate, they really take to themselves the power of investigating the security in every case. That provisional declaration has been declared to be illegal, but only very lately. It was in operation for a considerable time.
Let me give an illustration of the way it worked in practice. I will not refer to a case which is the subject-matter of litigation. It is a case the facts of which are within my own knowledge, and I assure the right hon. Gentleman that it is only one of many with which I am familiar. It is a case in which the landlord had a number of tenants, all of them judicial. The tenants, with the exception of three, agreed to buy on voluntary terms arranged between themselves and the landlord; but the three would not agree to any terms. Accordingly, the landlord sent in an appli- 1819 cation to have the rest of the property declared to be an estate, leaving out the three tenants who would not come to terms. What did the Estates Commissioners do? After some months of delay they wrote saying that, as they did not like the idea of declaring the portion offered to be an estate, leaving out these three tenants, they had taken upon themselves the task of having the three holdings inspected; they had fixed what they considered to be a fair purchase price, and if the landlord would agree to sell at that price they would declare the whole property to be an estate. In one case of the three they had fixed the purchase price at £2,500. The landlord replied: "It is not as much as I thought I should get, but as you have fixed the price I will agree to it." He heard no more for some months. Meanwhile the clergyman of an adjoining parish interviewed a member of the Estates Commission, with the result that a new inspector was sent down without the knowledge of or any intimation to the landlord. As the outcome of the new inspection, the Estates Commissioners wrote to the landlord, saying that they had reduced the price to £2,000. The landlord at once wrote back, saying that they were treating him most unfairly: that, having accepted their own valuation, he could not understand what they were at; and that he would require them to dispose of the estate at once one way or the other, or he would apply to the Court of King's Bench. Instead of admitting that they were wrong or adhering to either their first or their second position, the Commissioners sent down a third inspector, who reported in favour of £2,500. Ultimately, after a delay extending over two or three years and three inspections, the Commissioners declared the original property offered them to be an estate, leaving out the three holdings the tenants of which would not buy. I do not know what was the cost to the taxpayer of the three inspections; but that was a case in which the Commissioners had no more power to make any one of those inspections as the law then stood than I have. If they did that in the green tree, what is going to happen in the dry? If they adopted that system when, as the law stood, they had no right to make an inspection, what is going to happen when the inspection is left to their own discretion? I entirely sympathise with the Estates Commissioners. I can quite understand that they do not want this Clause, because, being administrative and not 1820 judicial officials, it is impossible for them to escape constant interference by persons outside—from both sides; I do not suggest that it is confined to the tenant class. It is a very invidious position to place them in, and I can quite understand that the Estates Commissioners shrink from the task sought to be imposed upon them.
But whether that be so or not, I think the Committee is entitled to some better reason than has yet been given for the violation of the essential principle of the settlement of 1903. Beyond all doubt, the zone system was the essence and basis of the entire superstructure erected by my right hon. Friend (Mr. Wyndham) in the Act of 1903. Without it the Bill would never have become law. Unless it is that the right hon. Gentleman opposite has come to the conclusion that the time has arrived when there should be an end of land purchase in Ireland, I cannot understand why he has allowed himself to be overpersuaded in this matter to throw over the zones. He has justified it by reminding the Committee that there will be further judicial term reductions; and he has assumed—why, I do not know—that on the third, fourth, and fifth fixing of fair rents there must necessarily be reductions. I should have thought that things must have about touched bottom in the second term rents, more particularly having regard to the statistical returns as to the present condition of industrial societies, savings banks, and other similar institutions in Ireland. Be that as it may, it is never safe to prophesy. I can hardly think the right hon. Gentleman is serious in founding any real argument in support of this Clause upon references to land silting, coast erosion, and suggestions of that kind. The real object of the zone system was to give effect to the Land Conference settlement, ratified and agreed to by all parties interested in the land question in Ireland, subsequently solemnly ratified and adopted by every section in this House, and passed into law. If a settlement of that kind, so unanimously, solemnly, and sacredly ratified, is now to be set aside, all I can say is that hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway are only wasting their breath when they go about Ireland endeavouring to persuade Irish Unionists that they can safely trust their fortunes and their fate in their hands in the event of an arrangement being arrived at for the future government of Ireland. Here is an arrangement dealing with the greatest industry of Ireland—a question which had harassed and 1821 vexed politicians, philosophers, and statesmen for a century. A solution was supposed to have been come to. No Minister would touch it unless and until he was satisfied that the solution suggested was acceptable to all parties. All parties concerned appointed their representatives and delegates, who, in the most solemn way, after anxious deliberation and full inquiry, came to the unanimous report known as the Land Conference. My right hon. Friend (Mr. Wyndham) was inspired by that circumstance to take up this matter and attempt to deal with it on those lines; and when he did so every voice in the House was either silent or rang with approval of the attempt, with the result that Parliament passed the Bill in the belief that they had arrived at a solution of the question. Now we find ourselves in this position: that the present Government, who, when in Opposition, most warmly and cordially supported every proposition in the Bill of 1903, today, as a result of or as the price that they are compelled to pay for the support of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway in connection with other legislation, are deliberately prepared to tear up and destroy the settlement which has, on the admission of all parties, worked incalculable good and produced the greatest possible blessing to Ireland during the years it has been in force.
§ Mr. MAURICE HEALY
This Amendment has been largely discussed as if the Clause proposed the abolition of the zones; and in that light the Clause has been largely represented in Ireland. There is no possible foundation for the suggestion. The pretence that this is a Clause for the abolition of the zones cannot be maintained for a moment. The Clause will have, and I think it is intended to have, a very narrow and limited operation. It is in effect a proposal to put back the law as it existed before the decision of the Court of Appeal in the case of Weir's estate, and under which by far the greater proportion of the land of Ireland has been sold. I think that that decision of the Court of Appeal was a most unfortunate one, and it is to that decision alone that we owe this Clause. The Estates Commissioners.had invented what I cannot but think was a most convenient device for the working of that portion of the Act which compelled them to declare the land submitted to them to be an estate. They invented the device, which the Court of Appeal declared to be illegal, of making 1822 a provisional declaration, and, having made that provisional declaration, they took it upon themselves to make a number of inquiries, which, in most cases, led to nothing, but in a small minority of cases disclosed such a state of facts as existed in the case of Weir's estate. I cannot believe that any man speaking with responsibility can say that facts as they existed in that case did not command and demand inquiry. All that this Clause does is to put back the law as it previously existed; it enables the Estates Commissioners to-make inquiries, which they had always previously made in those cases, which, in the majority of cases, enabled them to secure the efficient working of the Act, and to give effect to the bargain as it existed between landlord and tenant. But if this Clause is very narrow and limited in its effect, so far as it affects tenants in want of protection, I think it has a very wide and sweeping operation, and is somewhat prejudiced to land purchase in another direction. My view is that that result arises from the introduction into this Clause of these words, relating to equity of price. One of the temptations which the landlord in Ireland has had up to the present was that when he had made his bargain he had a reasonable confidence that it would be carried out. When he was starting his sale he knew he would not be starting litigation. I greatly fear that if this Clause is passed with these words in that relate to price that the lodging of an originating application will be the beginning of what may be enormous litigation. The Chief Secretary has cold us that these words are intended to have a double application. They have been spoken of from these benches as if their principal effect was to be, under Clause 20, to make inquiry as regards landlord and tenant. I think the effect which this section will have under Clause 20 will be absolutely useless to the tenant. I think, on the other hand, that, taking into view the relations between the landlord and the remainder man, the landlord and the mortgagee, and the landlord and his head landlord, that these words will have a very wide and sweeping effect.
The Chief Secretary has said that these words are largely unnecessary in relation to the remainder man by the adoption of the sliding scale. I take the opportunity of telling the right hon. Gentleman that he is grievously mistaken if he imagines that any remainder man who intends to challenge the equity of price is going to make that challenge before the Estates Commis- 1823 sioners. He will go into the Court of Chancery for the purpose, and he will go with the advantage of having the tenant for life primâ facie in the wrong, because the tenant for life will go there, having in his pocket this bonus fixed on a sliding scale, the fixed bonus being as high as the price is low. Consequently, so far as the protection of the remainder man is concerned, I tell the right hon. Gentleman that he is living in a fool's paradise if he thinks that in the future the remainder man is going to commit an investigation of any matter of that kind to the Estates Commissioners. All the history of the Land Commissions in the past shows that the landlord, when he wishes to dispute the action of the Estates Commissioners, avoids doing so in the form which is stated by the Estates Commissioners themselves. When Lord Clanri-carde wanted to dispute the jurisdiction of the Estates Commissioners under the Evicted Tenants Act, he was not content to walk in before the Estates Commissioners and to argue the matter before them. No, he got his writ of prohibition from the Queen's Bench Division, and took it to the Court of Appeal. Hitherto we have managed in our land purchase transactions to escape the operation of the Court of Chancery, but I think that in the future we will have to look forward to that tribunal playing a very important part in these land purchase transactions if this Clause is allowed to stand in its present form. But there is the case of the head landlord. I should suppose that three-fourths of the area of Ireland is held by middle men under head landlords. Up to the present the middle man—the immediate landlord, as he is called—the man who is immediately over the purchasing tenant—has been able to make his bargain with the purchasing tenant with the full confidence that when he had made it it would be carried out, if within the zone, quite irrespective of the result that it would have upon the head landlord. If this Clause is passed as it stands the head landlord who takes exception to the action of the immediate landlord has nothing to do but to walk in before the Estates Commissioners and challenge the transaction upon the ground that his interests are prejudiced by the bargain that the immediate landlord has made. Let me call attention to this fact, that while the right hon. Gentleman would have the Clause of narrow and limited operation towards the protection of the tenant—because, as I 1824 have said, it would only apply to a small minority of cases—it will apply in every case for the purpose of enabling the mortgagee, the head landlord—and if he likes the remainder man—to go in and challenge the transaction before the Estates Commissioners. While, therefore, I take the view that it is desirable that some power should be conferred upon the Estates Commissioners giving them back the jurisdiction which they exercised up to, at any rate, the Weir estate case, and which exercise, I think, was not for the prejudice of anybody, but to the great advantage of some of the estates over which it was applied, I do think that any disadvantage which the tenants on the whole will gain by that fact is largely nullified by the disadvantage which I have pointed out, namely, that the landlord of the tenant will in future be unable to bargain with his tenant with the same confidence and certainty that he did before; that once he had made a bargain it would be carried out. That confidence and certainty has been one of the greatest sources of the success of land purchase. I hope, while adhering to the Clause as a whole, the right hon. Gentleman will consider the advisability of striking out these words. Coming to Clause 20, if I have the opportunity of discussing it I shall hope to be able to prove to the right hon. Gentleman that that Clause will exercise no advantage whatever for the tenant. It is the existence of that Clause which I think probably recommends the words which I have mentioned in the present Clause to the Nationalist Members behind me. But I am satisfied that while Clause 20 will prove in operation of no sort of advantage to the tenant, these words in this Clause will prove a serious disadvantage to him, by enabling the various parties other than the immediate landlord who is interested in the estate to go in and challenge before the Estates Commissioners the bargain the immediate landlord has made.
§ Mr. WILLIAM MOORE
It is quite obvious that if the moderate and reasonable appeal from the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. M. Healy) has no weight with the Government that any words of an Ulster Unionist representative would have less effect on the Irish Government as at present constituted. Nevertheless, we are all interested, very vitally interested, in the settlement of the land problem in Ireland, whatever part of the country we represent, and I think it my duty to put some considerations before the right hon. Gentleman before the Committee comes to 1825 a final decision as to whether or not this Amendment is to become the law of the land. I must congratulate hon. Members below the Gangway in finding an asset in what has been termed the Weir estate. I have heard arguments, declamations or oratory of every shape and form, and of every degree of calmness and passion, that the police force should be abolished because of the Sergeant Sheridan case; they have now got the Weir estate. We shall no doubt have the Weir estate trotted out on every clause. It will be represented as typical of every transaction in the £70,000,000 worth that has already passed under the working of the Act of 1903. I would put it before the hon. Member for Cork who has just spoken—he seems for the moment to be captivated by the salmon fly of the Weir estate, and has risen gaily to it—that his objection is that under the present system it is possible to make—I do not accept it at all—what has been termed a gross fraud by calculating arrears in the purchase money. But it will be quite easy from his point of view to get rid of that by making some provision that arrears for only a limited number of years, or to a limited extent, or possibly not at all, should or should not be included in the agreement, because that is a different thing from giving the Commissioners discretion. The hon. Member for Cork said in the first place that this was to meet a limited number of cases. He said it was to meet cases like the Weir estate. It was only to confer limited jurisdiction upon the Commissioners. I am perfectly satisfied that my hon. Friends here will be perfectly content if there were any limitations in black and white in the terms of the Clause. As, however, the Clause stands it is absolutely unlimited; it is left entirely to the discretion of the Commissioners. Another point, I think the hon. Member sometimes forgets a difficulty that may arise. A landlord may have 100 tenants. He may have agreed with 99, and the 99 would be perfectly satisfied. But number 100 comes along and says: "I want an inquiry into my case." As soon as you give the Estates Commissioners power under this Clause to inquire into number 100 you are absolutely delaying the case of the landlord who has agreed with the other persons. I think that is very undesirable. I beg leave to say clearly and at once that the opinion expressed by the hon. Member for Mayo that there will be no delay occasioned by these inquiries is not right. At present the delay occurs not in the Legal Department at all. The 1826 hon. Member for Mayo said that the delay occurred in the investigations about title. That is absolutely not the case. I say that with great respect to him, but I am giving my opinion. The common practice we know for the Estates Commissioners is to have a report as to what the holding is, where it is, and the circumstances of the case. They have their survey and all that. They then make their vesting order and the Land Commission having an excellent staff—I think they are 16 in number—the investigation into the title is proceeded with, and a comparatively short period elapses, perhaps a couple of months only, before the title is ready, and the money is paid up. The real Amendment is to get the Treasury to place enough money to the credit of the Bank of Ireland to enable the vesting order to be made. Every one knows that if one excuse is of no avail, another is made, and another inspection is declared necessary in which to give a little breathing time to the Treasury. The hon. Member for Mayo very frankly took credit of the policy of his party to get rid of zones altogether. He pointed to that, policy as stated in the terms of the Amendment of the hon. Member for North Dublin (Mr. Clancy). It appears on the Notice Paper to-day, and I defy anyone in practice to point out what difference there is between the two—between the Clause of the Government and between the Amendment of the hon. Member. The Government have met the hon. Member for Mayo absolutely, and to the fullest extent that he could desire. The Committee will see that if they only compare the official Nationalist Amendment with the Clause as it stands in the Bill. In the Clause in the Bill the Estates Commissioners are given discretion whether or not they will have an inquiry. They tried this procedure in a great many cases, illegally and improperly, as the Court of Appeal has held. The object of the Act of 1903 was that where the parties came to an understanding within the zones no inquiry was needed. The Estates Commissioners have again and again tried to go behind the Act of Parliament in this matter. What is the difference between the official Nationalist Amendment and the Clause of the Bill as it stands? As the Clause in the Bill stands it is within the discretion of the Estates Commissioners to hold an inquiry whenever they choose, and the Amendment of the hon. Member for North Dublin is practically the same.
§ Mr. CLANCY
No. If the hon. Member would read the two subsequent Amendments which are to be read in connection with my Amendment he will see that there is no discretion left to them—they must hold an inquiry.
§ Mr. CLANCY
I am dealing with what is on the Paper too. I think the hon. Member's knowledge of the subject will be increased if he reads the Amendments.
§ Mr. MOORE
It is a matter of indifference to me what the hon. Member for North Dublin thinks. I am taking the official Nationalist Amendment, and I say there is no difference in practice between the Government's proposal, leaving the Estates Commissioner discretion, and the proposal of the hon. Member for North Dublin, in which, as several speakers have said, they are to be under one common system, and they are to make inquiry when they please. I cordially concur with what the hon. Member for Cork said with regard to the effect of these zones on land purchase. No one can deny that land purchase, judging by results, has been successful. We have sold in Ireland £70,000,000 worth of land. If there has been £70,000,000 worth of land sold, it is the tenants who have bought it, and are we to be told that the tenants who have bought this land are fools? These are voluntary agreements. [An Hon. Member: "No, no."] That is the result, and it cannot be denied. Of this £70,000,000 worth of land bought, I suppose—I have not the figures by me— £65,000,000 of that must have been bought under the zones. I do not suppose £5,000,000 worth of it was bought outside the zones, and I put it to the House that when a machinery has worked like this in the first place, it is absurd to assume that all these tenants are mad, and not able to look after their own affairs. It is too ridiculous. There is no complaint from the tenants, except the complaint of delay, and there are no people complain louder about the delay than the tenants do.
§ Mr. JOHN CULLINAN
They are not voluntary, and I challenge the hon. and learned Gentleman to contradict me.
§ Mr. MOORE
Not only is there no complaint from the people who purchased the £70,000,000, but their whole interest is to get more transactions through. Last September there was a meeting of hon. Members below the Gangway—one of those conventions referred to this afternoon by the hon. Member for East Mayo —and the wire-pullers at that meeting got a resolution passed condemning the zone system. That was in September last. What was the result upon the tenants? The result was this: that in the September and October following there were 46,468 applications for direct sales, amounting in all to £13,000,000. That was the answer of the tenants who were anxious to buy under the zones. I think a great deal of the success of the working of this Act depends, as the hon. Member for Cork pointed out, on the fact that the parties know where they are. The price is agreed upon; it is not in the power of anyone to touch it, and the transaction must go through. If this Clause is inserted, you will have inquiry into the equity of the whole transaction. What does that mean for the vendor? It means that instead of, as at present, knowing exactly what he is going to get in price, there is to be an inquiry as to whether the State is getting sufficient security —there is to be arbitration conducted by the Estates Commissioners. We have had the advantage of having the evidence of two of the Estates Commissioners given before the Dudley Commission. One of these gentleman said it was a good thing to take into consideration in fixing the price of an estate the possibility that in a few years Canadian stores might come in. He might have been perfectly right in saying that, but I am only showing what his convictions were, and another stated that the fact that a man was in arrear was of itself conclusive evidence that the man who owned the land was letting it too high. That may be all a perfectly conscientious view, but if these gentlemen become arbitrators I put it to the Committee what vendor will submit his case to the arbitration of gentle-men who hold such views upon the value of land. The Act would become an absolutely 1829 dead letter, and I can only say it seems to me that in bringing in this Clause in the Bill, which would have the effect of killing the zones, the Government are carrying out the policy advocated year in and year out by "The Freeman's Journal," which wants land purchase stopped, and makes no secret of that view by telling the tenants who have purchased that they purchased at too high a price, and persuading the other tenants not to enter into any such transactions. It seems to me that the Nationalist party are dragging the Chief Secretary at the chariot wheels which is being driven by advocates who wish for the destruction of the whole policy of land purchase. I regret this Clause, and I desire to associate myself with my colleague who moved its rejection, if I may say so, in a most excellent speech, and if the Government cannot see their way to break off with their subservient following, with those who advocate the policy of the destruction of land purchase, I shall have much pleasure in accompanying my colleague into the Lobby against this Clause.
§ 7.0 P.M.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
The hon. Member who has just sat down and my right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Dublin take an entirely exaggerated view, I think, of the intention and meaning of this Clause. Personally I adhere to the settlement, to which I was no party and to which the country is pledged. I shall vote cheerfully for this Clause. I think it has not the defects attributed to it by hon. Members above the Gangway, and the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary defended it in language every word of which I adopt. It is not merely the case of the Weir estate. As I understand this Clause, it only restores the law to what we believe was its condition when the Act of 1903 was passed, and it must be remembered—and it is just what is entirely forgotten—in whose hand the administration of this Clause will be put. It will be in the hands of the three gentlemen who were appointed by the Tory party. We are charged with blowing hot and cold upon this Land Purchase question, but let me ask if a little time is not to be allowed to vary our views on the fluctuating facts of the law. What are you to think of Gentlemen who, having appointed these men, now proceed to attack this Clause because it will come to be worked by them. In the words of George Eliot, "I know character is not cut in marble," and, although you approved of them five years ago, circumstances may have occurred to 1830 induce you to change your mind about them. What has occurred to these men? So far as I know no more unenviable position was ever occupied by men. They are badgered by the landlords, they are badgered by the tenants, and they are badgered by the ratepayers, and by every sort and class of the community. I do not always agree with them, and I have frequently criticised their views, but I do not believe, taking the thing as a whole, that the Tory party could have made a better selection. The Government is restoring to these gentlemen the power which they held before the decision on the Weir estate, under which they sold £50,000,000 worth of land. Not only is that the case, but I do not believe that the decision on the Weir estate has the far reaching interpretation which my right hon. Friend the Member for Trinity College has given to it. It is absurd to say that the state of the law when we passed the Act of 1903 was this, that if there was a corrupt and fraudulent transaction and an unconscionable bargain that the Estates Commissioners were tied hand and foot to a fraud of that kind. I understand the Government are going to prosecute. I hope they will prosecute the right person. At present there are 30 or 40 decent honourable men in gaol, one of whom has been deprived of the commission of the peace for exposing these very frauds of which they now complain. What are the facts? Where an estate was sold upon which there was only a single tenant, this one tenant, in order to get the whole of the money, split it up amongst "his sisters, his cousins, and his aunts," and actually invented judicial rents and bogus rents which never existed. What is more —and this will probably interest Mr. Lumley—he invented bogus valuations. This may also interest the Chancellor of the Exchequer, because bogus valuations were invented to draw thousands of pounds of public money from the Treasury. As I understand it, the Estates Commissioners, upon these facts being exposed, instantly quashed the entire transaction, whereas if the law is as has been alleged, and all these were brought under the zone, they had no power whatever to do that. In every one of these bogus tenancies there was a judicial rent fixed under Clause 16, which to all intents and purposes was stated to be on the face of the record an absolutely plain and legal transaction. It was plain and legal, but there was no tenant, no judicial rents, 1831 and no valuation, but there were British sovereigns. What did the Government do? They ran the 20 men who were engaged in exposing this fraud into gaol, and they are in gaol at the present moment, and but for them the landlords would have walked oil with the spoil to the extent of £5,000 or £6,000. For exposing this fraud an honest decent man has been deprived of the commission of the peace as being unworthy to sit on the bench, and this has been done because he exposed this abominable fraud. And yet we are told that the Estates Commissioners had no such power as that which is alleged. With regard to the observations of the hon. Member for Dublin University, I may say that I am for keeping treaties, and I wish the party to which the hon. Gentleman belongs had shown their fondness for keeping treaties some centuries earlier. The Committee is aware of the breach of the Treaty of Limerick, which prevented any Catholic holding land in Ireland. We are now carrying out some of the clauses of the Treaty of Limerick. The hon. Member also said that as we had been engaged in a great national transaction and arrived at a settlement, we should be bound by it. I am all for keeping faith, and I believe in the main that by this Clause faith is being kept. If I thought there was any real and vital departure from the Bill of 1903 in this proposal—I did not approve of many parts of the Bill of 1903, which I thought was a mistake—I would not be a party to tearing up or destroying that settlement to which both sides are honourably bound. But, if that be the position, why did the right hon. Gentleman not use that language to the representative of the British Treasury in regard to the earlier clauses, in which the British Government have bargained both with landlord and with tenant that they would pay down sovereigns on the nail. Why does the right hon. Gentleman not charge them with breach of faith now when they are £40,000,000 or £50,000,000 in arrear? Those are the Gentlemen you ought to have attacked and not us, because in this matter we are only restoring the law to what we believe was its original condition in 1903. The words chosen by the right hon. Gentleman may in some respects require amending, and this will, no doubt, receive attention. In this matter we are treading on very delicate ground, and no doubt the Chief Secretary will consider this matter on Report in the light of the arguments which have been 1832 used to-day. But is it wise from the point of view of the Conservative Opposition to spend so much time on this very small and limited Clause if it be true that the earlier Clauses of the Bill have killed land purchase altogether? If land purchase be dead, what is the use of disputing about the length of the crape on the hat bands of the mourners? It is said that the earlier clauses have destroyed the efficiency of land purchase as we have known it for the last four or five years. May I point out that these smaller and minor matters are only intended to correct the state of the law which we did not really think existed When the right hon. Gentleman and the landlord party talk about a breach of faith and insist on treaty faith being kept, they have a grievance against the British Government and not against us. We have not kept the money out of the pockets of the landlords. The hon. Member for North Armagh said very truly.that in certain cases of land purchase when there was a stone out of a ditch an inspector would be sent down in order to delay land purchase. Hon. Members will remember Sir Joseph McKenna, who was once a distinguished Member of this House. Sir Joseph once told the story of an occasion when there was a run on the Munster Bank, and ho had to pay out very quickly in sovereigns, and he made them all red-hot over a saucepan. That is the position of the landlord party above the Gangway, who in this matter ought to attack the Treasury, who are their real enemies, and not hon. Members below the Gangway, who are merely striving to put the law back into its former condition, and who do not deserve the epithets addressed to us by those who have spoken to us in this Debate.
§ Mr. WALTER LONG
I will not follow the hon. and learned Member for North Louth (Mr. T. M. Healy) in regard to the legal aspect of this Amendment. I desire, however, to say, in the first place, that he has thoroughly misrepresented the attitude taken up by my hon. Friends on this side in the opposition we are offering to this section of Clause 14. The hon. and learned Gentleman suggests that our opposition to the Clause is based, first of all upon the Estates Commissioners themselves and their previous attitude; and, secondly, that we object to the view that they may possibly take. But that is not our objection. Our objection is two-fold. In the first place, it rests upon the basis which was described by my hon. Friend 1833 who spoke earlier in the Debate, who asked what was the justification for the action of the Government in including Clause 14 in the Bill? The hon. and learned Gentleman who has just sat down told us that the one single case advanced by the Government does not constitute the whole case for this Clause. Although we have had a speech from the Chief Secretary for Ireland, and several speeches from hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, it is rather remarkable that there has been only one single case—the Weir estate— brought forward to justify the insertion of a clause which proposes to strike such a blow at the zone system that I am inclined to agree that it would be better to sweep the Clause away altogether. We object to these duties being thrown upon the Estates Commissioners. My right hon. Friend said he had never attacked the Estates Commissioners except in regard to one particular matter. I have always, when the opportunity offered itself, defended the Estates Commissioners when I found them attacked in an unfair way? If it be true that the Estates Commissioners are prepared to accept these new powers, I have no hesitation in saying that they are undertaking duties which must bring them into violent collision with public opinion in Ireland. My right hon. Friend has asked how they propose to discharge those duties? How are they going to get the information required under this Clause? The hon. Member for North County Dublin (Mr. Clancy) gave an amusing account of the action taken by the Government, of which I was a Member, and he, reminded the Committee that when the Estates Commissioners were called upon under our Administration to decline to act in cases where intimidation was being used to force the estates into the market, amongst other things they indicated that it would take a great deal of their time, and that it would be impossible to make the necessary inquiries. If they could not find time to inquire when the Government was prepared to provide them with primâ facie evidence as to the existence of intimidation and disorder, how are they going to find time to make the inquiries necessary to enable them to arrive at the conclusions they must arrive at if they are to put this Clause into force. Is there any precedent to Clause 14? What precedent is to be found in existing Irish land legislation for the remarkable powers you are putting into the hands of these three permanent officials? I should be reluctant to partake 1834 in any public attack or public criticism of those who are not able to defend themselves, and who are placed in this matter in a position of extraordinary difficulty. I agree that their position in this matter is no enviable one at the present time, but the Government, by the line they are taking up, are making their position ten times more difficult, exposing them to greater risk, and a certainty of criticism very different to anything which has confronted them hitherto. The language of the hon Member for South Kildare (Mr. Kilbride) has been quoted, and that hon. Member has questioned the accuracy of the language used. My right hon. Friend was accurate to a remarkable degree, considering that he was quoting from memory, because the hon. Member for South Kildare, speaking on 23rd June, said:—Are we to understand that the evicted tenants will he dealt with generously by the Estates Commissioners? Are the evicted tenants in proportion to the number of people they can get to shout for them?And further on, in the same speech, the hon. Member said:—Why do other people get the land? Some of them because they are good supporters of the Church, and because they have the parish priest, the curate, and sometimes the bishop to shout for them.That is textually the language quoted by my right hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Campbell). It is not our language or the charge we bring. We do not say the land is obtained by these methods. It is the language of an hon. Gentleman who speaks regularly in this House on behalf of the tenant farmer, an hon. Gentleman to whom the Government are always ready to give a hearing. We bring these facts before you with the knowledge that there is an attempt made on both sides to bring pressure to bear upon those who perform these difficult duties. You are laying on the Commissioners the extreme difficulty of deciding whether the case is one which ought to be dealt with on special lines or not. Under the time limit the Government have imposed upon the discussion, you are not even able to take note of the ominous warning which came from the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Maurice Healy). Whether we agree with him or not, everyone who knows anything about the Irish land question will admit that there is no one who speaks with greater knowledge or authority of the Irish Land Acts than the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cork. He deliberately warned the Government that, if they are going to adopt this Clause in anything 1835 like its present form, they will bring serious delays in the shape of appeals and legal proceedings. Is that what you want?
§ Mr. LONG
Then how is it to be avoided? Is the Chief Secretary going to tell us again, as he told us in the course of the last Debate, that when the Report stage comes on he will be quite ready to consider suggestions that may be made during the discussion? Suggestions made by whom, and from what quarter? So far, even the hon. and learned Gentleman —surely a more adroit advocate has never been known in this House—and others who have come to the aid of the Chief Secretary, have been unable to do more than to say that there are other cases. Where are these other cases? The Chief Secretary, in addition to the Weir estate, quoted the results to the landlords, and he showed there was a difference, and a very small difference, being, on his own showing, between £90 and £96 a year. He has, in the calculation he has made, first of all taken the rate of interest at 3½ per cent., and, in the second place, he is making no allowance whatever for two facts, which, I think, ought to be considered. One is that the sales are compulsory to a large extent. The owners sell, not because in all cases they want to sell, but because it has become the accepted policy of the country, and there is practically no choice. It cannot, in the ordinary sense, be called a free sale. There is, as we all know, in addition to that very many costs which are entailed upon those who have first of all to dispose of their sales, and in the second place to meet and dispose of all charges, which I am afraid in many cases amount to 75 per cent, of the estates sold in Ireland, and to disperse the purchase money afterwards between the different people concerned, is not only a serious but a very expensive transaction. No allowance for this is made in the Chief Secretary's calculation. That slender foundation is all he and those coming to his assistance from below the Gangway can advance for this Clause 14, discussing it as we do under these momentous difficulties, and with the Closure falling at 7.30. We take now, in a few moments, from Clause 14 to Clause 17, and then we have three or four hours left in which to discuss, I think, Clauses from 17 to 33. I do not wonder the Government take refuge 1836 in this limited time, when apparently they are so bankrupt in arguments to justify their policy. We regard this Clause as an Amendment and an alteration which strikes at the very foundations of the Act of 1903, destroying one of the principles on which that Act rested. It destroys the power of the landlord and tenant to come to an amicable arrangement, and it enables the Estates Commissioners to come in and interrupt that beneficent operation. I must say that to ask us to discuss that and subsequent Clauses, as we are asked to discuss them to-night, is to do more to assist and help the existence of a Second Chamber than anything else could do. I think we on this side of the House, who were responsible for the Act of 1903, are entitled to-day to congratulate ourselves on the way in which it has worked and on the immense advantage it has conferred upon Ireland, an advantage which I believe is only partially realised at the present moment in Ireland and realised by a very few outside Ireland. We, who were responsible for the passing of that Act, can claim some credit for the advantage it has brought to Ireland, and we have grave reason for objecting not only to the policy of the Government in introducing this Clause, but to the plan under which they ask us to debate it in a limited time, which makes adequate discussion of this or the subsequent Clauses absolutely impossible.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL for IRELAND (Mr. R. R. Cherry)
I only rise for a few moments in order to deal with the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. He has complained of the time given for the discussion of the Bill. We have discussed the first Section of this Clause for the last four hours, and, if the same time were spent on every Amendment on the Paper, the Session, apart from any question of the Finance Bill, would not be concluded till 1912 or 1914. The right hon. Gentleman asked two questions. One was put previously by the hon. Member for the Dublin University (Mr. Campbell). He asked what precedent there is in our previous legislation for this particular Clause. Surely, that is a very strange question to put. Until the Act of 1903 it was not only within the power of the Land Commissioners, but it was their absolute duty to investigate the security in every case. All we provide by this Clause is that in cases where they are of opinion or where it comes to their knowledge that exceptional circumstances exist to justify it they should make investigations. They 1837 were previously bound to make it in every case. It was, as regards the equity of the price under the Act of 1903, in every case outside the zone, and where there was not a judicial rent fixed, or where the price was above or below that limited by the zone, the duty of the Land or the Estates Commissioners to make this investigation. We have ample precedent for the insertion of the Clause. Then he inquired what means the Commissioners have of getting information. All the means are open to them. They have nothing to do but to open their eyes and look round. If they send their inspectors they will see from the character of the estate and the appearance of the tenants whether it is a poor estate, and by simple inquiry their inspectors can find out whether there are arrears of rent or not. These cicumstances, as a matter of fact, are notorious. It appears in the newspapers day after day that so much money is to be paid for the land, and so much as regards the arrears due. There is no difficulty in the Commissioners ascertaining facts to lead them to believe that an inquiry should be made. The right hon. Gentleman also mentioned the Weir estate. He said it was a most exceptional case. I daresay it was a very extreme case, but I can tell the House on the authority of the Estates Commissioners that the Weir case by no means stands alone. There are, to our own knowledge at the present moment, thousands of cases in which owing to the decision in the Weir estate the Commissioners are precluded from making the inquiries they were about to make in that case, and inquiries which they were prevented from making by the Court of Appeal. If this Clause is passed they will be able in those particular cases to make the inquiries, and, if they are satisfied either that there is no adequate security, or that the price is inequitable, they can exercise the discretion conferred upon them by the Clause.
Just one word with regard to the decision of the Estates Commissioners. I was glad to hear the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman. I think it is only fair to gentlemen who occupy a very difficult position and have difficult duties to discharge that they should not be attacked in this House in the way in which they are sometimes attacked, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman's colleagues and followers will follow his example in refraining from making attacks on these gentlemen. These three gentlemen were appointed by the 1838 late Conservative Government, and they have been discharging their duties in such a way that the Land Purchase Act has undoubtedly proved a great success. You must not deny to the Commissioners some credit for the fact that a very large portion of the land of the country has changed hands. If they were of the character described by the hon. Member for North Armagh (Mr. W. Moore), and other Gentlemen, I do not think it is unfair to say that the Act would not have been such a great success. They have been charged with illegally and improperly making inquiries they ought not to have made. All they sought to do was before they declared certain lands to be estates to ascertain whether the land was worth a security upon which to advance money. Until the decision of the Court of Appeal that inquiry was legal, and it is unfair to describe it as improper and illegal. There is another matter in which, I think, the hon. Member for the University of Dublin was extremely unfair. He referred to the Regulation issued by the late Government, and insinuated that there had been intimidation since the change of Government. He said that, in his opinion, the Commissioners loyally carried out that Regulation until the early weeks or days of January, 1906.
§ Mr. CAMPBELL
No, I said that, so far as I was concerned, I had never heard any objection to that Regulation until the late Government ceased to be in office.
§ Mr. CHERRY
I think the insinuation must be perfectly plain. It is that these gentlemen changed their views with the change of Governments.
§ Mr. CHERRY
I have the authority of these gentlemen for saying that from the very first moment the Regulation was issued by the late Government they objected to it, and they protested against it long before the matter came before them judicially.
§ Mr. CHERRY
Of course, they were obliged to obey it, and I should be very sorry to charge them with disobeying instructions they were obliged to obey. I say there was no change in their attitude towards this instruction owing to the change of Governments.
§ And, it being half-past Seven of the clock, the Chairman proceeded, in pursuance of the Order of the House of 15th June, to put forthwith the Question on the Amendment, "That the word 'Where' stand part of Section (1)."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 177; Noes, 29.1841
|Division No. 491.]||AYES.||[7.30 p.m.|
|Abraham, W. (Cork, N.E.)||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius||O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.)|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Ambrose, Robert||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-sh.)||O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth)|
|Armitage, R.||Harrington, Timothy||O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Hayden, John Patrick||O'Dowd, John|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Hazel, Dr. A. E. W.||O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)|
|Barlow, Sir John E. (Somerset)||Hazleton, Richard||O'Keliy, James (Roscommon, N.)|
|Barnes, G. N.||Healy, Maurice (Cork)||O'Malley, William|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Healy, Timothy Michael||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Berridge, T. H. D.||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||O'Shee, James John|
|Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon)||Henderson, J. McD. (Aberdeen, W.)||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Henry, Charles S.||Partington, Oswald|
|Black, Arthur W.||Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Mon. S.)||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Boland, John||Hobart, Sir Robert||Philips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Hodge, John||Pollard, Dr. G. H.|
|Brodie, H. C.||Hogan, Michael||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.|
|Brunner, J. F. L. (Lanes., Leigh)||Holt, Richard Durning||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Bryce, J. Annan||hope, W. H. B. (Somerset, N.)||Radford, G. H.|
|Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Horniman, Emslie John||Reddy, M.|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Hudson, Walter||Redmond John E. (Wateriord)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Hyde, Clarendon G.||Richards, T. F. (Wolverhampton, W.)|
|Byles, William Pollard||Jackson, R. S.||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Robson, Sir William Snowdon|
|Causton, Rt. Hon. Richard Knight||Jordan, Jeremiah||Roche, Augustine (Cork)|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick||Joyce, Michael||Roche, John (Galway, East)|
|Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Kavanagh, Walter M.||Rowlands, J.|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Keating, M.||Russell, Rt. Hon. T. W.|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Kekewich, Sir George||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Cleland, J. W.||Kilbride, Denis||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Lament, Norman||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinstead)||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Scarisbrick, Sir T. T. L.|
|Cox, Harold||Lehmann, R. C.||Sears, J. E.|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Lewis, John Herbert||Seddon, J.|
|Crooks, William||Lundon, T.||Shackleton, David James|
|Crosfield, A. H.||Lyell, Charles Henry||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Crossley, William J.||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Cullinan, J.||Mackarness, Frederic C.||Steadman, W. C.|
|Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Stewart, Halley (Greenock)|
|Delany, William||MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.)||Stewart-Smith. D. (Kendal)|
|Devlin, Joseph||MacVeigh, Charles (Donegal, E.)||Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)|
|Dillon, John||M'Callum, John M.||Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)|
|Donelan, Captain A.||M'Kean, John||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||M'Laren, Sir C. B. (Leicester)||Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)|
|Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley)||Mallet, Charles E.||Thomasson, Franklin|
|Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Manfield, Harry (Northants)||Thorne, Wm. (West Ham)|
|Esmonde, Sir Thomas||Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Evans, Sir S. T.||Marnham, F. J.||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Everett, R. Lacey||Meehan, Patrick A. (Queen's Co.)||Wardle, George J.|
|Field, William||Molteno, Percy Alport||White, J. Dundas (Dumbartonshire)|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Mooney, J. J.||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Ginnell, L.||Morrell, Philip||Whitehead, Rowland|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hon. Herbert John||Muldoon, Join||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Glendinning, R. G.||Murnaghan, George||Wiles, Thomas|
|Glover, Thomas||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Nichoils, George||Young, Samuel|
|Gooch, George Peabody (Bath)||Nolan, Joseph||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Grayson, Albert Victor||Nugent, Sir Walter Richard|
|Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||O'Brien, K. (Tipperary, Mid)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Captain Norton and Mr. Fuller.|
|Gulland, John W.||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Ashley, W. W.||Butcher, Samuel Henry||Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott-|
|Balcarres, Lord||Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. H. M.||Fetherstonhaugh. Godfrey|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Clyde, Percy Archer||Fletcher, J. S.|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Gardner, Ernest|
|Guinness, Hon. R. (Haggerston)||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R,||Valentia, Viscount|
|Haddock, George B.||Long, Col. Charles w. (Evesham)||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Hamilton, Marquess of||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter (Dublin, S.)|
|Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh|
|Hill, Sir Clement||Moore, William||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Lonsdale and Mr. Gordon.|
|Kerry, Earl of||Percy, Earl|
|Keswick, William||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
§ The Chairman then proceeded successively to put forthwith the Questions necessary to dispose of Clauses 14, 15, and 16, and on the Amendments thereto moved by the Government, of which notice had been given.1842
§ Question put, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 177; Noes, 29.1843
|Division No. 492.]||AYES.||[7.40 p.m.|
|Abraham, W. (Cork, N.E.)||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-sh.)||O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth)|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Harrington, Timothy||O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)|
|Ambrose, Robert||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)|
|Armltage, R.||Hayden, John Patrick||O'Dowd, John|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Hazel, Or. A. E. W||O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Hazleton, Richard||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Healy, Maurice (Cork)||O'Malley, William|
|Barlow, Sir John E. (Somerset)||Healy, Timothy Michael||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Barnes, G. N.||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||O'Shee, James John|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Henderson, J. McD. (Aberdeen, W.)||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon)||Henry, Charles S.||Partington, Oswald|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Mon. S.)||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Black, Arthur W.||Hobart, Sir Robert||Philips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Boland, John||Hodge, John||Pollard, Dr.|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Hogan, Michael||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.|
|Brodie, H. C.||Holt, Robert Durning||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Brunner, J. F. L. (Lanes., Leigh)||Hope, W. H. B. (Somerset, N.)||Radford, G. H.|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Horniman, Emslie John||Reddy, M.|
|Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Hudson, Walter||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Hyde, Clarendon||Richards, T. F. (Wolverhampton, W.)|
|Byles, William Pollard||Jackson, R. S.||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Robson, Sir William Snowdon|
|Causton, Rt. Hon. Richard Knight||Jordan, Jeremiah||Roche, Augustine (Cork)|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick||Joyce, Michael||Roche, John (Galway, East)|
|Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Kavanagh, Walter M.||Rowlands, J.|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Keating, M.||Russell, Rt. Hon. T. W.|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Kekewich, Sir George||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Cleland, J. W.||Kilbride, Denis||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Lamont, Norman||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinttead)||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Scarisbrick, Sir T. T. L.|
|Cox, Harold||Lehmann, R. C.||Sears, J. C.|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Lewis, John Herbert||Seddon, J.|
|Crooks, William||Lundon, T.||Shackleton, David James|
|Crosfield, A. H.||Lyell, Charles Henry||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Crossley, William J.||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Cullinan, J.||Mackarness, Frederic C.||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Delany, William||MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.)||Steadman, W. C.|
|Devlin, Joseph||MacVeigh, Charles (Donegal, E.)||Stewart, Halley (Greenock)|
|Dillon, John||M'Callum, John M.||Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)|
|Donelan, Captain A.||M'Kean, John||Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||M'Laren, Sir C. B. (Leicester)||Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)|
|Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley)||Mallet, Charles E.||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Manfield, Harry (Northants)||Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)|
|Esmonde, Sir Thomas||Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)||Thomasson, Franklin|
|Evans, Sir S. T.||Marnham, F. J.||Thome, William (West Ham)|
|Everett, R. Lacey||Meehan, Patrick A. (Queen's Co.)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Field, William||Molteno, Percy Alport||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Mooney, J. J.||Wardle, George J.|
|Ginnell, L.||Morrell, Philip||White, J. Dundas (Dumbartonshire)|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hon. Herbert John||Muldoon, John||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Glendinning, R. G.||Murnaghan, George||Whitehead, Rowland|
|Glover, Thomas||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Nicholls, George||Wiles, Thomas|
|Gooch, George Peabody (Bath)||Nolan, Joseph||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Grayson, Albert Victor||Nugent, Sir Walter Richard||Young, Samuel|
|Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||O'Brien, K (Tipperary, Mid.)||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Gulland, John W.||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Gwynn, Stephen Lucius||O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Captain Norton and Mr. Fuller.|
|Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Ashley, W. W.||Forster, Henry William||Long, Col. Charles W. (Evesham)|
|Balcarres, Lord||Gardner, Ernest||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter (Dublin, S.)|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Gordon, J.||Lonsdale, John Brownlee|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Guinness, Hon. R. (Haggerston)||MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh|
|Butcher, Samuel Henry||Haddock, George B.||Moore, William|
|Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. H. M.||Hamilton, Marquess of||Percy, Earl|
|Clive, Percy Archer||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Hill, Sir Clement||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott-||Kerry, Earl of|
|Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Keswick, William||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Lord Valentia and Mr. H. W. Forster.|
|Fletcher, J. S.||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R.|