§ Mr. CLANCY (resuming)
The Bill of 1908 contained a provision that no additional sum should be given in respect of the purchase being compulsory. The House of Lords cut out that provision, and I remember very well when the Bill came back to this House the Speaker, of his own Motion, took note of the fact, and declared that it was a violation of the privileges of the Commons, and accordingly that Amendment of the House of Lords was struck out without any Division in this House. The result was that in the case of the Labourers Act of 1906 there is an actual provision at the present time forbidding any sum being given to a landlord by way of compensation in respect of the purchase being compulsory. I wish to know why it is that an Irish landlord who is compelled to sell, and who is going to get the highest possible price and a bonus, should also get 10 per cent, in respect of being compelled to sell.
§ Mr. DILLON
This is a very important Amendment, and I shall be able in a very few words to show the Government the absolute necessity for it. Nobody who is interested in this question dreams of making this Bill or any other Bill substitute a system of compulsory purchase for voluntary purchase. On the contrary, all of us who understand the working of these Acts in Ireland look to the compulsory machinery as one which will rarely be put in force, and which will only be put in force in special and exceptional circumstances. To show the way I am convinced it will work if this Amendment is accepted, and if the Clauses are properly drawn, I point to the example of the evicted tenants. The process of reinstating the evicted tenants under the Act of 1903 was an absolutely dead failure. When the Estates Commissioners approached the various landlords on whose estates the evicted farms existed they were met by an almost unanimous refusal to allow the Commissioners even to send inspectors on the land, and the result was that the Act was a dead failure. But at the very moment the compulsory Act was passed what happened? A vastly greater number have been reinstated voluntarily because the compulsory powers exist. The 2372 moment the Act was passed those landlords who had absolutely refused to give inspectors permission to go upon their lard immediately consented, and many hundreds of evicted tenants were voluntarily reinstated who never would have been reinstated but for the existence, of the compulsory powers. It is in that way that we look to these compulsory powers working in Ireland. If the Clauses are properly drawn, they will, in my opinion, make the voluntary system work smoothly. I am convinced that the compulsory powers need not be put in force in perhaps more than a couple of dozen cases when dealing with some of the wild landlords like Lord Clanricarde, and the result will be that the whole of the rest of the land of the country will be sold under the voluntary system. The real danger to be guarded against is that the Government may not draw the compulsory clauses in such a shape that they will have the desired effect without being enforced. What the Government should take care of is not to produce a condition of affairs under which the landlords would prefer compulsory sale if offered too good terms. What is it they propose to offer the. landlords? First of all they are to get cash and next they are to get priority. These are two great privileges. If you compel a man to sell his property you must pay him cash and you must pay him promptly. In addition to these two great privileges, you give the landlords the bonus, and if you allow any ambiguity as to whether they are to get an extra price in respect of compulsion, then I say you are driving the landlords to resort to compulsion and to refuse to sell voluntarily because they will do better under compulsion. Therefore, I would point out to the Chief Secretary, in the interests of keeping up the system of voluntary sales, that this Amendment is absolutely necessary.
The effect of the Amendment will be this. In the first place it guards against any risk of doubt in the mind of the Land Court or the Estates Commissioners as to whether they should give an extra price in respect of compulsion—that is to say, a higher price than they now give when they buy for voluntary purchase. I do not think there is a Member of the House who will question the justice of giving only the same price under the compulsory Clause as is paid for a voluntary purchase. Next comes the question of the bonus. In the Bill of November, 1908, there was a proposal to give the bonus under com- 2373 pulsory sales. I frankly admit that when I first began to think over the question I thought that the bonus should be given under compulsory sale, but when I studied the question and listened to the proposal as to priority I thought that if you give the bonus you run the risk of stopping ordinary sales. After all what logical argument is there in favour of giving the bonus under compulsory sale? The bonus was an alternative to compulsion. In they ear 1902 the whole of the Nationalist Party of Ireland demanded compulsion. Then the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover came forward and refused compulsion. The Government of the day absolutely gave a blank refusal. Then the proposal was made that it might be possible for the Government to give an inducement to the landlords to sell in the shape of a bonus. Nobody ever dreamt of giving an inducement and at the same time applying compulsion. If you apply compulsion there is no need for an inducement. If a landlord puts us to the trouble and expense of applying compulsion in order to get a fair price, he should not get the bonus. The terms which he gets under present circumstances are very great advantages indeed, and therefore I do say that this Amendment is very important. It is extremely necessary, if these Clauses are to work well. It has been said frequently in the course of the Debates, and mainly by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover—why apply compulsion when there is more land offered voluntarily than you are able to deal with, and particularly in the congested districts? It is a very plausible argument, but I think there is a conclusive answer. I will tell you the reason. Under the voluntary system the money has largely gone to the wrong places, and the very estates which area source of trouble, and which are Keeping the country in hot water, are not to sell. Enormous quantities of land have been offered, but these are largely estates which have given no trouble and which do not materially relieve the strain in Ireland. But those estates which have been a source of disorder, trouble and confusion are held back from sale. They are in the hands of unreasonable landlords, and may go on so for years. The main purpose of this House in passing the Land Acts and providing large sums of money and public credit is defeated, because of the obstinacy or stupidity of certain landlords, who declare openly that they will not sell at 2374 any price. Compulsion is necessary, because in many cases the money has gone in the wrong direction, and because in the plague spots where land purchase is most needed the Government has been unable to carry out voluntary purchase. Is it not reasonable that the Legislature, having put the whole credit of the State in this matter and given grants of public money to carry out what is really a social revolution, should rescue the tenants of Ireland from the position in which they are placed by landlords who will not sell? We know the position the landlords were in when this Act commenced. They could not sell an acre of land. The market in land in Ireland was totally stopped, and no landlord could get 10 years' purchase, is it unreasonable that the State should ask permission to insist that it shall not be in the power of any individual man to throw himself athwart the policy of the country and this House and keep the country in a state of hot water and disturbance? Everybody recognises that the whole of the land of Ireland has to be sold, and the only question is how it shall be sold in the best way. I do say that it would be most dangerous and imprudent and calculated to deny a fair chance of working well if the Government so drew these Clauses as to run the somewhat serious risk of substituting a compulsory process for the voluntary process which has been in operation and which has worked well in the case of the Evicted Tenants Act, the weapon of compulsion being in reserve in order to make the voluntary system work smoothly.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
I note with interest that the hon. Member for East Mayo says that in certain circumstances, at any rate, the compulsory system will not work well alongside, the voluntary system. I am disposed to agree with him. I think whatever the terms are, a compulsory system is likely to kill a voluntary system, particularly when, as now, your compulsory system is quite universal and undefined. Potentially it may act anywhere over the whole of Ireland. That throws a sort of shadow of potential compulsion over every single acre of land in Ireland in respect of which voluntary agreements have not yet been arrived at. If that is the case, I believe that that shadow of potential compulsion, added, as it is, to the disabilities also noticed by the hon. Member in respect of future agreements, and embodied further in this Clause of the Bill, will be decisive in making the parties hold back 2375 until compulsion comes, and then try to get the best terms they can. The hon. Member sees that there is something in that argument, but he says that if you are to have a bonus on compulsion, compulsion will operate, and voluntary purchase will cease. So far I would agree. His remedy to check the evil which we have foreseen all along is in the case of compulsory sale to give no bonus. I do not believe for a moment that the Government will accede to that view. He draws a comparison with the case where there is no bonus under the Act of 1903. In that case the landlord was compelled to sell, because really he had no property in the estate. He was not really a free agent, so that there is no comparison between the two cases. But I should like to point out, while the hon. Member for East Mayo dwells on the danger that the giving of a bonus in the case of compulsion will ruin the voluntary purchase, and to remedy this he denies the bonus, that he may create another danger which he may think even greater. The bonus does not all go to the landlord. The whole defence of the bonus is that it makes it easier for the tenant to buy as well as for the landlord to sell.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
I am speaking of a matter with which I was brought into practical contact. When the Congested Districts Board was buying untenanted land, admittedly the dearest kind of all land from which the landlord derives the highest interest, unless you have the bonus for such land the Board would have to pay a far higher price than in the case of tenanted land. The bonus assists the purchaser to acquire this untenanted land without paying a price which would prevent him from buying and farming it at a profit. If you deny the bonus, therefore, you will operate both on the landlord and on the tenant to enter into any kind of voluntary agreement in respect of all the land which is needed for the cure of congestion. Hon. Members from Ireland may think that that is barred by the passing of this Bill. It is not. In more than two-thirds of Ireland east of Shannon, roughly speaking, where the Estates Commissioners operate, there is no prohibition upon any sale going through as rapidly as possible, and although the prospect of future agreements is not rosy under these provisions, and although those who make them may have to wait six or eight years 2376 before they fructify, still if you deny the bonus in the case of compulsory sale, undoubtedly the tenants will sign agreements as a sort of option to prevent themselves being bought out in respect of compulsory Clauses. That is obvious in two-thirds of Ireland east of the Shannon; but it is also true, though not to the same extent, in respect of the one-third of Ireland west of the Shannon, because the ordinary direct sales from landlords to tenants are prohibited under the Bill as it stands by Clause 56, Sub-section (2), in the congested district. So where an estate is not congested—and it is mostly those estates you want to get hold of to cure congestion—there is nothing to prevent landlords and tenants in two-thirds of Ireland signing agreements to get a kind of option to prevent compulsion being applied.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
I do not think that there is anything compatible between your two Amendments. You handicap voluntary sale, and then, going too far in that direction, you bring in an Amendment to handicap compulsory sale, and so on ad infinitum. If in the result it throws a shadow of compulsion all over Ireland I believe it will stop voluntary sale. You substitute a driblet of compulsory sale for a very large amount of voluntary sale. You go at the rate of a million a year for 80 years under this Clause instead of winding up the whole thing on a broad basis of goodwill in the course of 15 or 20 years. The remedy of the hon. Member is to deny the bonus m the case of compulsory sale. He will drive landlords and tenants all over Ireland into entering into an agreement which will not fructify for six or eight years, but will protect them during that interval from what they consider the curse of compulsory sale without a bonus, which will make the landlord get less while the tenant pays more.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I quite agree, especially after the speeches which we have just heard, that this is a question which must involve careful consideration. The difficulty arises, of course, from the fact that we are dealing with purchases and sales which are accelerated, facilitated, and made more or less popular by the bonus. The bonus is an excrescence, no doubt, in the free market. It is a temptation to landlords to sell, and there is no doubt, to some extent I agree with the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Wyndham), you cannot 2377 keep the tenant altogether out of the benefit of the bonus, because indirectly and in a smaller degree the tenant undoubtedly has to some extent shared in its benefits. We have to deal with land purchase which is based on the principle of a bonus. Now it is proposed by this Bill to have compulsory sale. We are not by our legislation using compulsion punitively, punishing people because they will not sell, finding them guilty—which,I think, in a few cases in Ireland we might succeedindoing—socially guilty, of not having sold their estates, and therefore inflicting upon them some punishment by way of distinction from people who have sold voluntarily. You are enabling the Estates Commissioners in this particular Clause, generally, and anywhere when they chose, to exercise certain rights, I agree, according to exigencies and the means at their disposal. But voluntary sale I hope will continue, and you are not necessitating their exercising any compulsory powers or setting them in operation all over the place. But you are not distinguishing in any way between one estate and another or one cause why a person does not sell from another. You are authorizing these people, whenever they choose, to give a final offer. If it is accepted it is a voluntary sale. Compulsion only arises after you have exercised your initiative. You give a final offer to the landlord. He says he will not accept it. Then you go before the Judicial Commissioners and the price is fixed. That is the general right which the Bill proposes to confer upon the Estates Commissioners. Therefore you cannot, in my judgment, draw any distinction between what is to be paid the landlord in one case and in the other, and I may point this out to the hon. Member for East Mayo, who dreads the popularity of compulsion, that if the bonus is maintained you cannot rule the bonus out You may say that no bonus is to be paid; but then you go before the tribunal to fix the price, the tribunal is bound I almost think to take into consideration what the man would have got if the thing had proceeded on the voluntary system. You cannot rule these things out of the sphere of men's minds. You cannot, simply by saying: "You are not to have a bonus calculated according to any particular schedule," prevent any assessors when they are considering what is the fair value of land in the Irish market at present, taking into consideration the fact that if the landlord 2378 had accepted the final offer he would have been entitled automatically to the bonus calculated upon the years' purchase at which the final offer worked out.
You would not, by the insertion in this Bill of a deprivation of bonus, prevent the consequences which the hon. Member fears of the bonus added to the extra cost which is supposed to attach to compulsory sale, making compulsion in certain conditions, and in certain places, rather more popular than he desires it to be. But compulsion on a large scale, as the hon. Member pointed out, is practically impossible. Nor is it desired. If the circumstances are such as to make it most actively desired in particular places and in certain localities, it is for that rather than for any other purpose that we propose to introduce these compulsory powers. But if you put it in that way in the first place, I do not see how you can justly distinguish between the two cases of landlords who have agreed to a price and landlords who have not agreed to the price, or why you should punish the latter unless you were to limit your compulsory powers to those cases where you thought that the landlord really was an enemy of the social state by refusing to sell his estate. If it were limited in that way, and the necessities of the locality were of such a kind, or the conduct of the landlord of such a kind, as to justify you in expropriating him on fair terms, or your paying him the value of the estate, I can then well understand the withholding of the bonus which has been given to his more reasonable neighbour. You do not take those powers. You take general powers for the Estates Commissioners when they think fit to go to a place and make a final offer, and, if it is refused, to go to the Court to determine what the man must accept, and if you go to the court, you will find that in fixing the value the judge will take into consideration what the man would have got if there had been a voluntary sale and the bonus was paid. The bonus, rightly or wrongly, has now become a part of the reward which goes to the landlords themselves. I hope the result contemplated by the hon. Member for Mayo will not arise by compulsion.
After all, this is compulsion, and if you ride that horse you must run the risks that attach to that particular mount. But I do not think myself that the fears he anticipates are likely to be realised to any very large extent, because, for many a long day to come the cash at the disposal of the Estates Commissioners will be so small as 2379 to render it most unlikely that they will put into operation these compulsory powers. These compulsory powers under this Act, therefore, I regard as an addition to, ancillary to, and a corollary to this Bill. And as regards the suggested addition to the pries for compulsory purchase. There is nothing to compel Mr. Justice Wylie to give that additional 10 per cent, as an additional price for compulsory sale.
§ 8.0 P.M.
§ Mr. CLANCY
Probably the right hon. Gentleman did not hear my statement that this point has been expressly decided by Mr. Justice Meredith in the Court of Appeal that in the case of an estate under certain conditions something may be added in respect of compulsory purchase.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I was not quite aware how that stands, but I certainly think that it should be made perfectly clear that no such rule should be applicable in the case of compulsory sales under the provisions of this Clause. It is an unreasonble rule, it is a rule which has gone by the board in England. [An Hon. Member: "No."] Yes, I think it has; perhaps not in the minds of a jury, or people of that sort, or in the minds of a certain class of valuers; but, at all events, we have always protested against that rule as one of the utmost unreason, because the obligation is to find the value of an estate—what a man could get for it, what is a fair price for it—and to take and clap on 10 per cent, as a solatium for an imaginary wrong done to him by the acquisition of his land for some other purpose, is a thing I have never been able to understand. I am perfectly willing to make that plain, that is to say, that a man who gets a bonus for a number of years' purchase on the price of the land will not get the 10 per cent, in addition. I think Members may rely upon it that the landlord will not get his bonus twice over in any shape, form, or way. I do think, however, having regard to the compulsory powers that will be put into the Clause, it will be impossible to deprive the owner in such circumstances of the bonus, be it small or large, which he would be entitled to under the provisions of the Bill. I am sorry for some reasons that it should be so, but my hands are tied by the fact that I find the bonus system in existence, and everybody agrees that it must be maintained so far as funds allow, or so far as funds can be obtained beyond what remains of the 12 millions which the right 2380 hon. Gentleman was successful in obtaining. I cannot go beyond that system which remains part and parcel of the Bill, and I think it is impossible to exclude persons who have to sell their land compulsorily from the bonus.
§ Mr. WALTER LONG
The argument which the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary has just addressed to the Committee brings out in a clearer manner than it has ever been brought out during these discussions the very unsatisfactory position in which we shall be placed if this Bill passes in its present form. I pointed out earlier in the discussion that it will be difficult, if not impossible, to debate the application of compulsion without considering the principle of compulsion itself. That is proved to be true, especially in this particular case. Anyone who listened to the Chief Secretary will agree that it is impossible to exclude from the bonus the case of land which has to be acquired compulsorily, it may be, through no fault of the owner, and through no error of his, but because the land is wanted in the general interest, while at the same time you give the bonus to those who sell voluntarily. Does not this show that we are in a difficulty from which it is impossible to extricate ourselves, owing to the fact that the question of compulsion, the way in which it is to be exercised, the degree to which it is to be applied, and the circumstances in which it is to be applied, be all points which are shut out from discussion? I submit with some confidence that there is only one logical remedy for the difficulty in which the Committee is now confronted. The hon. Member for East Mayo, in his Amendment, made it abundantly clear to anybody who has any doubt on the point that the practical difficulties in the way of running a compulsory and a voluntary system together are insuperable. The Chief Secretary has shown in his speech that if there was anything wanting in the speech of the hon. Member for East Mayo, the Amendment to introduce a compulsory system pro tanto makes the voluntary system inoperative. The Chief Secretary has pointed out that these compulsory powers are to be exercised, not against the landowner, who has possibly a bad manager of his estate, or who possibly may have unfortunately come into collision with his tenants. In none of these conditions is compulsion to be exercised, but it is to be used where it is necessary to acquire parcels of land in order to relieve congestion. These parcels of land may belong to people 2381 who are in no way concerned or responsible for what may be the condition of things in the particular neighbourhood, and, therefore, there is no suggestion on the part of the mover of the Amendment or on the part of the hon. Member who supported it, or on the part of the Chief Secretary, that it is intended to use the powers of compulsion against owners of land as a method of punishment. It is used in the great majority of cases for the general good.
The Chief Secretary pointed out that compulsion is limited to a certain number of cases where, in certain conditions, it might be possible to exclude the bonus from the price paid. That brings us to the point with which I started earlier in the day, namely, that the real way to introduce compulsion into this Bill is that Estates Commissioners are to use it only in certain specified conditions, and where a certain state of things is found to exist. I do not know in the least what the view of the Estate Commissioners may be in regard to these new powers, but I do not envy them the task which is thrown upon them in connection with the exercise of this particular power. In any case where there is a disagreement between the landlord and the tenant in regard to the price of a property, they may go to the Estate Commissioners and ask them to interfere, but if they decline to interfere for reasons with which I need not now trouble the Committee,theymaysay—"You have got powers to take this land compulsorily in order to deal with the difficulty." I submit that having given this power, you leave created the very difficulty which it is now sought to deal with. I certainly could not possibly support an Amendment such as that moved by the hon. Member for North Dublin on behalf of the hon. Member for East Mayo, for the reason which the Chief Secretary has given. I think it would be abortive, it would not succeed in getting down the price, while it would be depriving the owner of his bonus. Obviously in making his bargain with his tenant, the owner, if he knows he is to be deprived of his bonus, will act accordingly, and the result will be to lay a portion of the burden on the tenants themselves. Therefore, in no way would the Amendment succeed. Apart from that it makes it perfectly clear that unless you are going to expose the whole of the unsold land of Ireland to the difficulties which will arise out of the creation of dual powers, compulsory and voluntary, you must at a later stage of the Bill reconsider your whole 2382 position with regard to the question of compulsion. I believe that is the practical way to deal with the question, and I think the Chief Secretary would do well to consider the aspect of this Section as disclosed by the debate upon it, a debate which makes it perfectly clear that it is one which cannot be met by an Amendment of this kind. It can only be met by giving a power of compulsion which will be used, as it is used under existing statutes, for specially defined purposes, or only under certain conditions which are specifically stated.
§ Mr. HUGH LAW
I am amazed at the answer of the Chief Secretary. I am astonished at the change of front by the Government in this matter. The right hon. Gentleman says he does not think it right to punish landlords, because he says it would be necessary to take their land compulsorily. He says it will practically make no difference, inasmuch as the tribunal which settles the price will take into consideration the value of the land, and will not have out of its mind the existence of the bonus. But that was not the kind of argument we had last year, when the Bill of 1908 was before the House. The right hon. Gentleman has not said one word, so far as I have heard him, to show what is the reason of his change of mind. I confess that I think in this case his second thoughts are decidedly the worse. The right hon. Gentleman says he does not think it would be right or fair to punish the landlord whose property it is necessary to acquire compulsorily. Why? I cannot for the life of me see why it is unreasonable to say to a man, "Here we offer you an opportunity of coming to terms with your tenant voluntarily. If you come to terms voluntarily the transaction will go through, and the bonus will be paid." But it may be that the offer of the tenant will be altogether unreasonable, and in that case the next step is to make a further offer, and if that is accepted they still receive the bonus. But, finally, if the offer is rejected, and no terms are made, then, inasmuch as the bonus was intended to be an inducement to voluntary sale and purchase, I cannot for the life of me see why it should be considered impossible to refuse to give the bonus where the land is acquired compulsorily, or why that which was supposed to be reasonable last year is not considered to be reasonable this year. I am absolutely at a loss to understand why the right hon. Gentleman and the Government should think to be desirable in 1909 that which they thought to 2383 be in the last degree undesirable in 1908. I have no personal ill-will to any landlord or to landlords as a whole; I have no particular objection to handing over to any Irishman, be he landlord or anybody else, a sum of money, great or small, which is contributed by the Treasury. It is not that which I feel strongly about. It seems to me that this change will check the speedy sale of land on certain estates where purchase is most necessary. We sometimes hear very often of estates which were referred to by the hon. Member for East Mayo where great trouble arises, and which loom very large in the public eye. Those are not the only estates where compulsory purchase seems to offer the only hope of getting the tenants out of a miserable rut. There are estates known to me where not so much ill-will, but apathy on the part of the landlords and tenants, agents, and everybody else, seems to make it impossible we should be able to get things forward.
I know a little mountain estate in county Donegal, and a poor and miserable property it is, where the agent is non-resident, and where the landlord has not been seen in anybody's lifetime, and not only not seen, but whose identity is very uncertain. He is understood to be a reverend gentleman, and his address is given as Plymouth. I myself would be most anxious to see that estate sold, and I have more than once brought it to the attention of the Congested Districts Board. Immediately after the passing of the Act of 1903 I had a consultation with the tenants there, and I advised them to make an offer, and they accordingly did. The rents are exceptionally small; the holdings are tiny, and it is one of those where one did not really feel—I do not know whether some of my hon. Friends may not blame me for saying it—that a year or two of purchase one way or the other would be of great difference. Therefore, their offer was one which most landlords would have rejected. The next time the agent came round the tenants stated their offer, and asked that he should forward it to the landlord. From that day to this not one word has ever been heard of it, and nobody can get any word about it. We cannot approach the landlord directly, as no one knows where he is. I see no prospect now or under this Bill for a great many years. It was one thing for the agent to have transmitted that offer at his own sweet will, and it was very easy to say that the owner was away. 2384 I do not know whether the offer was ever transmitted, nor have I any means of finding out. But if after the lapse of a certain time there was the power to acquire compulsorily, one may be perfectly certain that the agent for certain remuneration would take care that the offer was transmitted in such time as would enable his owner to receive the bonus seeing that otherwise he would find himself on bad terms with the owner. There would also be a strong inducement to the landlord, at any rate, to attend to the matter. As it is, I see no inducement whatever to him or to anybody else. The hon. Member for East Mayo asked what inducement under the present scheme there is to any man to sell voluntarily. I confess in this case of the estate I have mentioned, I see none at all. No doubt there will come a time under tins provision when all claims of the more favourable localities have been attended to, when all the millions of arrears have been cleared off. There may come a time when the Estates Commissioners or the Congested Districts Board may think of a wretched little hamlet lost in the mountains, and then, no doubt, the land will be acquired compulsorily, but it will be probably after the laps of a very long time, with all the inconveniences which we all agree attach to compulsion instead of going quickly and acquiring it easily under, I think, the infinitely better proposal of the Bill of last year, as I feel absolutely confident they would.
§ Sir E. CARSON
I think it is a very great pity we have not had a fuller opportunity of discussing this whole question of compulsory purchase. I myself, upon the second reading, tried to point out to the right hon. Gentleman how absolutely unnecessary it was, with fifty-two millions' worth of agreements outstanding, which cannot possibly be satisfied for a considerable period, to introduce the element of compulsion into this Bill at all. Even now I do not understand what the right hon. Gentleman means when he says that he is only taking limited powers of compulsion. He is taking absolute powers.
§ Sir E. CARSON
That I do not understand. I do not know what that means. I do not know how anybody can prevent, once this Bill passes, any tenant in Ireland going to the Land Commission and saying, "You have got the power to bring about 2385 a sale of that farm, which I own, from the landlord to me, and I call upon you to do it." There is nothing in the Bill to deal with that. It may be the Chief Secretary thinks the Estates Commissioners will not, but then I do not think the Chief Secretary in this House will have a very happy time if ho does not. We all know perfectly well the tenants would, and I do not think anybody could blame them, human nature being what it is, put all the forces possible to work to get the Estates Commissioners to do what I think they are bound to do under the Bill as it at present stands. The truth of the matter is that it is impossible to run the two systems coterminously, a system of voluntary purchase and a system of compulsory purchase. I will tell the right hon. Gentleman why. The moment you pass this Clause with regard to compulsory purchase there is no such thing as voluntary sale in Ireland. You may call it voluntary because you may not call in the Commissioners, but it will not be and cannot be voluntary for this reason, that every landlord and every tenant will approach the consideration of the matter with the knowledge that there are behind them these compulsory provisions. What will the tenant say when he is bargaining with the landlord, as at present? He will say to himself, "Well, I need not be very careful about offering a fair price. I shall go to the landlord, and, if he is not prepared to take what I am prepared to give him, then I will go to the Commissioners. "Do you call that, as far as the owner is concerned, a voluntary matter at all? It is really dominated by the compulsory Clauses—necessarily dominated by them—and it will be the compulsory Clauses and not the other clauses in the Bill which will operate, if anything operates, if this Bill passes. I do think that it is a great pity where the Act of 1903 has worked so smoothly as it did, and by reason of the successful way in which it has worked, and by reason of the fact that you are not able to go on with it simply because you have not got the money, that you should be really tearing up—for that is what you are doing—the provisions of the Act of 1903, and turning the whole of this business into what will really amount to compulsory purchase of the whole of the lands of Ireland. The hon. Member who preceded me (Mr. Law) seemed to think that under these circumstances we ought not to give a bonus. I should have thought that if you gave a 2386 bonus to a man who has voluntarily fixed a price with which he is satisfied, a fortiori, you ought to give a bonus to a man whose land is taken from him compulsorily, in fixing the price for which he has had no voice, and with which price he may be discontented.
§ Mr. HUGH LAW
We all really desire to give voluntary purchase a chance, and it seemed to me that the proposal I was supporting would give it a very much better chance than it has now.
§ Sir E. CARSON
It seems to me to be only adding another element of compulsion. I think I can convince the hon. Member that there is no answer to what the Chief Secretary has said as regards giving a bonus under these circumstances. Supposing a tenant goes to his landlord and says, "Are you ready to accept a price with the bonus?" The landlord says, "I am." The tenant offers so much; the landlord says, "No, but I will sell for, say, £500 more "— to which the tenant will not agree, and calls in the Commissioners, with the result that it becomes a compulsory matter. The price may then be fixed at the very figure at which the landlord offered to sell, or at an even higher figure. Is he not to get the bonus then? That is a compulsory purchase, and surely the hon. Member does not think that it can be laid down that, although the landlord was right in the sum he asked, because the compulsory powers were put into force, therefore he should be deprived of the bonus. Such a condition of affairs would be absolutely impossible. Really the whole of this matter is of so complicated a character that, if there are to be any safeguards against unreasoning landlords, you ought to recast the whole of the provisions dealing with compulsory purchase.
I believe the Chief Secretary is quite-right in saying that these compulsory Clauses are not meant to come into force except in a very limited number of cases. At the same time, there they are, in the most general terms, applicable to every case; and I believe they will be brought into force an almost every case. Certainly, as regards every contract entered into between landlord and tenant, they will dominate the whole transaction. But, while I agree that it is most regrettable that this matter should have been introduced at all, that when introduced it should have been put down as the last of the clauses to be discussed, and, further, that it is not hedged round with proper safeguards; at the same time I agree with 2387 the conclusion to which the Chief Secretary has arrived as regards this particular Amendment. For the reasons I have stated, I cannot see how, by any process of reasoning, you can come to the conclusion that the man whom you are compelling to give up his property, and who has had no voice in fixing the price to be paid, should get worse terms than the man who is perfectly satisfied and who himself has fixed the price. To lay down any such proposition would be preposterous. It would be well for the Chief Secretary to strike out these provisions altogether, and let the Act run on on voluntary lines, and then, when the time came for any compulsion which might be necessary, fresh powers might be sought. There is not the least doubt that everybody now desires that the whole of the land should be sold. I myself wish it could all be sold tomorrow. Many peope have written to me asking whether I advise them to do this or that; and I have always said: "Get out of it as quickly as you can; the sooner the better." I have advised, in that sense, some of my own relatives, who are very slow to do it. I never liked the system; I have never made any secret of it. I do not believe that there exists in Ireland now, under existing conditions, any desire to thwart, or in any way not to facilitate, land purchase. Under these circumstances, why this compulsory element should be introduced I fail entirely to see, and I honestly express my opinion that it is an impossible system to set up alongside a voluntary system.
§ Mr. O'SHEE
The speech of the Chief Secretary, in refusing to accept this Amendment, will cause the most intense disappointment in Ireland. The speeches to which we have listened from the Front Opposition Bench were made chiefly for the purpose of stiffening the back of the right hon. Gentleman in this matter. He made a very feeble defence of his refusal to accept the Amendment, especially considering the fact that what is now proposed from these Benches was proposed by the Government themselves in the Bill which they introduced at the end of last year. The right hon. Gentleman made no attempt to give any explanation of the change in the drafting of this Bill as compared with the Bill of last Session. The position in a great part of Ireland at present in regard to purchase is that all landlords who do not belong to one of three classes have already agreed to sell their 2388 estates. I am now speaking of Munster and Leinster. I have had considerable experience in four counties in the South of Ireland in the matter of land purchase, and I can state the facts with knowledge. The landlords who up to the present have not entered into agreements with their tenants for the sale of their estates may be divided into three classes. First of all, there are some absentee landlords, who are in the hands of their agents—agents, those uncertain as to the amount of compensation they may get from their principals when the estate has been sold. I think it will be important if we were proceeding voluntarily that the compensation to these agents should be placed in a more secure position than at present. That is one class—the absentee landlords in the hands of their agents. Another class of landlords are the cranks and the lunatics who have not availed themselves of the particular clause of the Act of 1903 to dispose of their estates to their own advantage. The third class—I am speaking of what I know—consists of soured middle-aged spinsters, whom nobody, even their own agents, can induce to sell their estates, no matter what price may be offered. In the county of Waterford there are only at the present time about 15 landlords left who have not entered into agreements to sell to their tenants. The compulsory Clauses of this Bill will lose nine-tenths of their value unless this Amendment or some similar proposal penalising absentee and pig-headed landlords is inserted in it. The Member for South County Dublin said he had heard of no suggestion from the proposer of this Amendment or from the hon. Member for East Mayo that the landlord who failed to sell should be punished. I am not quite sure, but I think that neither the hon. Member who proposed this Amendment nor the hon. Member for East Mayo took any other view than that the landlord who is an absentee and unreasonable should be penalised. With regard to the compulsory Clauses of this Bill—I am speaking with some experience of the working of the Land Act of 1903—I am convinced that they will lose nine-tenths of the value unless some such provision as this is inserted in the Bill. The compulsory Clauses, as the Bill now stands, will operate in cases only where a certain proportion of tenants have not entered into an agreement with the landlord. There are two such estates to which I may refer. One is the estate of Sir John Kean, in which about half have signed agreements and the other half not. 2389 Probably the reason for the non-signing by the second half is a dispute as to the game rights. It is really as to the rabbits on the estate, and that can only be settled—except it is settled beforehand—by the compulsory Clauses. The second case is a similar one, where a certain number of tenants have agreed to purchase agreements, and a certain number have not. These eases are bound to come before the Estates Commissioners in due course, and the Commissioners will be bound, in the interests of the landlord as well as the tenants, to exercise their rights. I say as regards the 15 landlords in Waterford who decline to come to any arrangement with their tenants that the proposals for compulsion will be absurd, illusory, and utterly futile, because we all know the position. That is that, were the Estates Commissioners ten times as active they could not possibly deal with the work that they have in hand. They have, too, to deal with the evicted tenants' question, which is still far from being settled. There is no immediate prospect of these latter cases being settled. They will occupy the attention of the Estates Commissioners for a considerable time. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dublin University said that the attitude that the tenants would take up would be this: "Oh, we have got compulsion, and there is no reason why we should make even a reasonable offer to the landlord. We will offer him an unreasonable price, and then when he refuses that unreasonable price we will go to the Estates Commissioners and ask them to come down and put these compulsory Clauses into operation." I make the suggestion both to the right hon. Gentleman and also to the Attorney-General that they can get over that matter in this way: That you should insert a provision in the Bill to the effect that where three-fourths—I take that number because it has been mentioned in the section of the Act of 1903 where compulsion is enforced against tenants—we need it against landlords now —of the tenants make a proper formal offer to the landlord, and he refuses en grounds that are not sufficient, that when the Estates Commissioners afterwards come—it may be two, three, or four years after—and decide that the offer of the tenants was unreasonable that no penalty should apply to the landlord. If they decide that it was a reasonable offer, then the landlord should be penalised to the extent that he should be compelled to refund to the tenant the difference between 2390 the rents that he has received in the intervening periods and the 3½ per cent, interest of the purchase money which the tenant would have to pay had the reasonable offer been accepted. That will compel tenants to make a reasonable offer, because they would find when the Estates Commissioners arived at their case that they have gained no advantage, for the landlord would have got his rents in full in the meantime, and he will also get his full fair value of the estate as decided then. I say that is a suggestion which, if embodied in the compulsory provisions, would induce both landlords and tenants to be reasonable, because it is unfair that these Clauses as they stand should penalise the tenants if the landlord is unreasonable, obstinate, or a crank. You are preventing them getting an advantage that their neighbours have got over the fence under the Act of 1903, and the position of these 12 or 15 estates in the county of Waterford is this: The tenants on these estates are waiting and have been waiting in expectation of this new Act, in order that they may be put in the same position as their neighbours. I tell the right hon. Gentleman the Attorney-General if these compulsory clauses are not made effective, and I do not believe they are effective, or can be effective without this Amendment, you will be compelled to come to Parliament next Session, or the Session after, in order to ally the discontent and the disappointment that will have arisen in various parts of the country. You will have the same state of things as existed on the Dillon and the De Freyne estates. One of the landlords of the county of Waterford, Lord Ashtown, was often approached to sell—
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Mr. Caldwell)
The hon. Member is getting very wide of this particular Amendment under discussion. The words of that Amendment are: "But no percentage on the purchase money shall be payable under Section 48 of the Act of 1903, or any Amendment amending that Section, nor shall any additional allowance be made to the purchase money in respect of the purchase being compulsory. "The hon. Member is going very wide of that question, and he is going into detail in connection with these matters of compulsory purchase, whereas he should only incidentally refer to such questions, or refer to them in a general manner. He has introduced the name of a landlord in a specific district. That is not in order under the terms of the Amendment.
§ Mr. O'SHEE
I bow to your ruling, Mr. Caldwell. I should not refer to Lord Ashtown further than to say that unless you fix a penalty by declaring that the bonus shall not be paid to a landlord who has to be bought out compulsorily he will not sell to his tenants.
§ The DEPUTY - CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member is going into particular estates of particular landlords, and that has no bearing upon this Amendment.
§ Mr. O'SHEE
If you desire me not to refer to the question, I shall at once bow to your ruling; but I cannot deal with the case unless I take specific instances, because, although the Amendment raises the general question, the views of Members of Committees on the subject must be determined by the information they have with regard to cases in their own particular localities, and I cannot deal with this matter in a clear and lucid way unless I am able to refer to specific instances as showing what the present position in Ireland is to-day. This Bill is for the purpose of altering the present position of the law, and unless you penalise a landlord, such as the landlord whose name I have mentioned, in some way, there is no hope whatever that he will come to an agreement with his tenants as to the sale of an estate. Unless you apply the compulsory Clauses, there is no chance that he will ever sell. I can say in reference to that particular landlord that, as a result of six tenants waiting upon him and making him a reasonable offer to purchase on behalf of the tenants on the estate, the "hanging gale" which had been carried on for 50 years was immediately sued for in the case of every one of the men who formed the deputation. Because these men had the temerity to approach him and to ask him to sell to the tenants under the voluntary Act of 1903, they were proceeded against in this way. Instances such as that are rankling in the minds of the people all over Ireland. I could give other cases—perhaps worse than that—where landlords have penalised their tenants because they asked them to sell under the Act of 1903. Landlords such as that never will sell voluntarily. If you only hold over their heads a mere intimation that some years hence the Estates Commissioners will send down an inspector to determine what price they shall get for their estates, they will not sell, and you will not do away with the discontent and disturbance which is sure to take place under this Clause as it stands. The landlord will practically get as much 2392 as if he had sold much earlier, and you will not settle the country, and you will not put an end to friction and disturbance. I fear that the Government had really whittled away some of the proposals in their Bill of last year, and I am beginning to feel that later on at other stages of the Bill they will further whittle away these proposals. For my part, I consider that these compulsory clauses are only about one-tenth of the value they ought to be, and I say without such an Amendment as this the compulsory Clauses would hardly be worth having at all. Unless the compulsory Clauses are strengthened in this way, I am quite sure the people of Ireland would never be content with the acceptance of this Bill by their representatives.
§ Mr. FETHERSTONHAUGH
I often hear the expression used that it was rather hard to knock a man down first and then kick him for falling. The subject of the hon. Member's remarks remind me somewhat of that story. A man is not only to be compulsorily deprived of his property, but he is to be penalised because compulsion was applied to him. A more extraordinary proposition I think I never heard.
§ Mr. O'SHEE
The hon. Member himself, in the Act of 1903, supported voluntary sales, and if voluntary sale is not carried out why not penalise a man who does not carry it out?
§ Mr. FETHERSTONHAUGH
I do not see why any man should be penalised for sticking to his property until he gets the price which he thinks is reasonable to accept. I am as strongly in favour of carrying out the settlement of the land question by purchase as any man in this House. It has been carried out with wonderful success in the last few years, and it could be continued with the same success in the future. But apparently the proposal commends itself to the Committee to abolish voluntary purchase. Everyone who reads this Bill, and particularly Section (5) of Clause 39, will see that tenants can go to their landlord and make an offer of the most inadequate character, probably 15 or 16 years' purchase, for something which is worth considerably more, and then, when the negotiations break down and the Estates Commissioners are called upon to make an offer for the estate of the landlord, they have to have regard to the price that the tenants are willing to pay. If the Estates Commissioners comply with Sub-section (5) of Clause 39 they can 2393 never be any worse off, because the Commissioners are bound to take into account the sum offered by the tenants in considering the sum that they will offer. This Bill would put an end to voluntary purchase altogether in Ireland, but even taking this with Sub-section (5) of Clause 39 they can never as a compulsory Bill, why should the landlord not have the bonus? What harm is it to the tenants of Ireland, because the money does not come out of their pockets? Hon. Members below the Gangway ought to be delighted that money should come into Ireland when it does not come out of the pockets of the Irish tenants. This is the first time I have heard Irish Members object to the importation of British money into Ireland. I do not think hon. Members need object, and ask whose pockets it goes into, provided it has not to be paid by the people of Ireland. Under those circumstances, it must, be a gain to Ireland. Surely this is the first Act of Parliament, with the exception of the Evicted Tenants Act, under which anybody has been deprived compulsorily of their property without any compensation for severance and inconvenience, and they are not to be allowed to get a single penny of the costs. The landlord who is expropriated may have only a small estate. When the Estates Commissioners have satisfied themselves that this small estate suits their purpose they have nothing to do but pay the money and leave the persons legally entitled to the money to scramble for it, which is generally an expensive process under the most favourable conditions. I have investigated a number of cases of small estates, and I find that the costs in every instance average 4 per cent, of the purchase money. Therefore, in every case where the men are compulsorily expropriated they will have to pay 4 per cent, costs out of the purchase money, and if hon. Members below the Gangway have their way the landlords will get no bonus at all. The hon. Member who spoke last mentioned a number of landlords who are unwilling to sell their estates. I have not the smallest sympathy with them, but I cannot agree that people ought to be punished because they exercise the ordinary right of keeping their property until they can get an acceptable price for it. We have been told that there are only 15 landlords in the county of Waterford who have not sold their estates. Therefore the vast majority of them must have been dealing with their tenant satisfactorily, because they have 2394 sold quickly. If there are only 15 landlords out of thousands surely you cannot found an accusation against them of this kind as a class. As regards the 15 landlords, if they were all of the class which the hon. Member has particularised, I should have no sympathy with them.
Personally I cannot speak for the county of Waterford, but I know that in my own county the larger proportion of the landlords who have not sold their estates were perfectly willing to sell, but they were not willing to wait seven or eight years for the purchase money. For the last two or three years it has been obvious that the selling of their estates was not a cash transaction. I know hundreds of estates in the West of Ireland about the selling of which there would have been no difficulty in coming to terms on the basis of the Wyndham Act, but the landlords, for reasons which everyone can understand, cannot afford to wait years to be paid the purchase money, and meanwhile go on paying interest on the mortgages and charges on their estates at a high rate of interest. I know that has occurred in many cases. IE compulsion is to be applied to these landlords under this Bill, why should they be penalised or driven to accept by the threat of compulsion worse terms than tenants were able to give during the last two or three years, and which they were perfectly willing to accept if they had been able to get the purchase money. This Bill, for the first time, deals with the question of the sale of untenanted land to the extent of £70,000,000 or £80,000,000. What claim has any tenant upon the untenanted land in the hands of a landlord? It is proposed to acquire the untenanted land for landless men who have had no land hitherto. I shall be glad to see them all supplied with suitable holdings, but why punish people who are not willing to sell the land which they are themselves using and out of the use of which they are deriving a profit very much larger than they can expect to get from any price which is likely to be paid to them by the Estates Commissioners. Before the Royal Commission the Estates Commissioners themselves said it would be impossible to buy untenanted land at its market price, and they have not been doing it. A friend of mine who was deriving £7,000 a year from his estate had to accept, under Section 6 of the Purchase Acts, a sum of £48,000. I do not know how he is going to invest that sum in order to produce anything like his pre- 2395 vious income, but if he had continued to farm his land himself and let it for 11 months grass, or for cattle grazing, he would be penalised because he had not sold it. I think the real difficulty has been hit on the head by the hon. Member who has just sat down, who said to speak of this Bill as a voluntary purchase Act was absurd. He is also perfectly well aware, any one who studies the finance of the Bill must be aware, that, as a Land Purchase Act, it would be lamentably and tediously slow. The landlords of the county of Waterford may rest perfectly easy in their minds, no compulsory purchase will come to them for years. We all know that only about £1,000,000 will be available each year. Where is the money to come from to finish up counties like Wexford and the county in which my Constituency is situated? Not one can come for years under a compulsory purchase. A million a year would be swallowed in Donegal, and the tenant farmers of Ulster and Leinster will have to wait until at least the £52,000,000 of land that is at present unpaid for has been disposed of before there will be any money available for financing this compulsory purchase. The Bill puts an end to voluntary land purchase, and substitutes a system of compulsory purchase, under which the rest of the land will not be sold for seventy-five years to come. There is nothing in the Bill to get the Treasury out of the difficulty which has been caused by the embarrassing success of the Act of 1903. You may tinker with the question and get compulsion, but you will tie up this question for half a century; and, if you expect any land to be sold by means of voluntary purchase, you will, I think, find your expectations gravely and seriously disappointed.
§ Mr. J. C. LARDNER
I am one of those who hold that purchase should go on at any price, so long as the tenants can face the matter from an economic standpoint. I am not in favour of selling compulsorily for the landlords and putting a premium on compulsion, and that is what this Clause does. You not only give them a priority to over two million, but you pay them in cash instead of stock, and, in addition, you give them a bonus; and if the decision in the "Leader" case stands, there is a possibility of their getting 10 per cent, for compulsion, with the further possibility of their getting an inflated price at the hands of some valuer who 2396 takes an extraordinary view of the value of land. I do not think that can be described as penalising them in any shape or form. If there is to be a bonus, let there be no compensation for compulsion, and if there is to be compensation for compulsion let there be no bonus. The bonus is to bridge the difference between the price the tenant is willing to give and the price the landlord is willing to take. The hon. Member for Dover (Mr. Wyndham) said the bonus helped the tenants to buy as well as the landlords to sell. Does he forget that the landlord of an estate in which there are arrears of rent gets the bonus on the arrears of rent as well as on the purchase money, so that the bonus only makes it harder for the tenant to buy? This Bill, if passed, he said, would change a river of voluntary sales into a driblet of compulsory sales. I wholly disagree with him. The fault I find with the Bill is that there is too little compulsion in it. We have in my county a wealthy landlord who has made a clear profit of over £400,000 out of his estate, and every time he is approached by tenants with a view to selling, he will not talk to them in terms of tenancy. Then the hon. Members above the Gangway talk about a fair price, and say tenants will make ridiculous offers. The Clause says the Judicial Commissioner may, if he thinks fit, order the costs and expenses of any application to him to be paid by the Land Commission or the Congested Districts Board. With all respect, I think the landlords have much more right of confidence in the Estates Commissioners than we have. If the Estates Commissioners see that tenants are making an utterly ridiculous offer, they are not going to intervene and make a final offer, but only if they find tenants are making a fair offer; and I assume the standard of fairness which the Commissioners will adopt will be somewhere in the region of the prices between 1903 and 1908—prices which, in my opinion, were far over what ought to have been paid. The landlord all the time has seen what his neighbours are doing, and in the case I have mentioned the landlord stands alone, because he can afford to stand the racket. He does not want to sell. He knows he will make money by the sale, but he has got his agent there, and he is imbued with the old landlord spirit and is determined to hold on to the last moment. We want compulsion for a man like that, and, if he sees his neighbouring landlords getting a touch of compulsion without any bonus, it 2397 will very soon bring him to his senses. Compulsion applied properly in one or two cases will have an effect all over the country and will bring about the results I want. I could not see my way to support this Bill as a whole on the strength of the compulsory clauses, were it not for that fact. The fault I find is that the compulsion in the Bill is too small. Where landlords are unreasonable the bonus should be left in the discretion of the Court. The position is this. Not only are the cases of landlords who hold out to be taken out of order, but they are to get the bonus, to be paid in cash, and then, under the decision of the "Leader" case, they are to get 10 per cent, for compulsion. I think that is utterly ridiculous, and that consideration should be given by the Courts and by Parliament to the fact that these landlords have been holding out all these years and have been getting their rents. They have kept the tenants in a state of unrest and have not adopted the spirit of the Land Conference of 1903, which hon. Members above the Gangway are so anxious to see maintained. If this question of penalising stands in the way, I have no objection to some compensating arrangement being come to between the decision in the "Leader" case and the bonus; but, if some such arrangement is not come to, then, I say, give them no compensation for compulsion, and do away with the decision in the "Leader" case.
§ Mr. MOORE
In listening to the speeches delivered during the last hour, I am bound to say, and I hope Hon. Members will forgive me for saying it, that in my opinion the Committee have forgotten what the object of this Clause is. We are discussing proposals for the purchase of land. The only way, I take it, under the ordinary elementary principles with which everyone must be familiar, is that if you buy land under compulsion you must pay a fair price for it. The fair value of the land depends on what it will fetch in a free market. The value of the land should be the purchase price and anything added to it under the recognised rule of law for compulsion. Suppose it were a voluntary sale the vendor of the land would get fair value, because he could protect himself, and there is no reason why he should sell for less than that fair value. But it is different under compulsion. According to the English law it is an admitted rule that where a man is not a free vendor, and where the land has been taken from him for public purposes, or under a Bill 2398 of this House, the judges are at liberty to direct the jury to add 10 per cent, to the purchase money in order to compensate him for the fact that he is unwilling to sell. That is recognised everywhere, and there is not a tribunal in England where land is taken compulsorily where the vendor is not given this added percentage. Why should not that apply in this case? Hon. Members below the Gangway object to its application here. Why? Because they think the vendor should be penalised for the sale which, after all, he does not desire to effect. He is penalised, in fact, because he happens to be a landlord. I say that this is an absolutely vindictive Clause, and I repeat, in my opinion, where a man has his land taken from him by compulsion, it is only just that he should have 10 per cent, added to the price in respect of such compulsion. Then there is the question of the bonus. I remember a case in which a claim was made that 10 per cent. should be added for compulsory purchase and objection was taken that the vendor was not entitled to the bonus in addition to the 10 per cent. A Member of the Government, in another place, suggested that the alternative might b? a 12 per cent, bonus or an added 10 per cent, for compulsion, but that the transaction could not carry both. It may be right there should be no bonus if 10 per cent. is given, but I respectfully suggest to the Committee it is absolutely absurd that a man whose land is taken from him compulsorily should be deemed to be entitled to receive for the land no more than those who voluntarily sell. I say it is unfair to take anything less into account. The vendor should receive, at any rate, the 10 per cent, for compulsory sale. Hon. Members below the Gangway, however, appear to think that because he is an Irish landlord he ought to be penalised. I do not share that view. If you want a man's land you should pay a fair value for it, and, in my opinion, there is no reason in the world, except this wretched desire to penalise a particular class, for denying them the benefits that they would otherwise reap in the case of compulsory sale. I oppose the Amendment, and, when the time comes shall divide against it.
§ Mr. J. CULLINAN
The discussion on this Amendment as to whether the bonus should be given has proved very interesting. The hon. Member who has just sat down has tried to show that the Irish 2399 landlord, who is selling his land under compulsion, should get the additional 10 per cent, as well as the bonus. But he forgets that this 10 per cent, for compulsory sale is only given where the land is acquired for public purposes. The hon. Member for Antrim referred to remarks made by the hon. Member for West Waterford, and asked why should the minority be forced into selling, when they have to wait five, six, or even seven years in order to get paid. The majority of landlords in county Waterford have already sold, and it is the tenants who have suffered for many years, and will continue to suffer, by reason of the unwillingness of the minority to sell. Surely it is reasonable to ask, Do hon. Members above the Gangway imagine for one moment that, if the majority of the tenants in Ireland purchase their holdings and the landlords have got enormous prices for their land—do they imagine that the minority of tenants in Ireland are going to remain quiet and tamely to submit to any impediment that is going to be put in the way of their acquiring their holdings? What is the alternative? You have, in the county of Waterford, landlords who have resolved not to sell. You have also big landlords in the county of Tipperary, and especially round the town of Tipperary, including a gentleman of whom we have heard in the land fight, Lord Barry, and they are not going to sell. Are their tenants going to submit tamely to that state of things for very long? What is the alternative to compulsory power? The alternative of cattle-driving and of a determined agitation which will force any Government, whether Liberal or Conservative, into granting compulsory powers. There is no one in this House, whether be is a Liberal or a Tory, who believes that you are going to leave the Irish land question as it is, with three-fourths of the Irish tenant farmers, having bought the land they till, while one-fourth remain entirely unable to enjoy that privilege. What are you going to do? What is the argument behind the speeches of hon. Members above the Gangway1? It is not the question of the sale of the land, but of the price they are able to get for the land and which they are going to extract from the farmers and the Treasury. So far as I am concerned, I am satisfied that the Government are weakening the compulsory clauses in the Bill as they were originally framed. One thing is certain, and that 2400 is that in National Convention, after National Convention in Ireland, the representatives of the farmers of Ireland have demanded for the sale of the land compulsory powers to be applied, and all I can say in conclusion is this, and I say it to both the Cabinet and the Front Opposition Bench that whichever Government is in power, if the Irish land question is not settled, the Irish people will force them to settle it.
§ Mr. HUGH BARRIE
I think we are indebted to our Friend below the Gangway for the brutal frankness with which he has stated his views on this question, which was a very much more acute one a few years ago than it it to-day. I have always spoken frankly on this subject in my own Constituency, and intend to continue to do so. I will deal with one of the last remarks of the hon. Member, when he asked the question, "What is to be the end of this matter when three-fourths of the Irish tenant farmers have bought the land they till and one-fourth remains wholly unable to enjoy that privilege?" Very briefly I address myself to that question. In most of the northern counties we have found landlord and tenant both willing to avail themselves of the great boon conferred upon them under the 1903 Act. Indeed, so great has been the desire to take advantage of that Act, that I believe in my own county to-day there are not more than 12 landlords who have not shown their appreciation of the terms of the Statute and sold their estates, and, in my own Constituency, I can only recollect two estates which have not so far been sold. That being the position, the real question for the moment in the North is: How are the landlords, who have taken advantage of the Act, in reliance upon the promise of the State, to approach the question as it is presented to us in the form of this Bill? I beg very earnestly to assure the Committee that at the present moment the really acute question is the great injustice that is being done to landlord and tenant alike by the slow process of settling the tenants upon the farms. A great hardship is being inflicted upon the tenants, because so long as they go on paying interest to the Land Commission, the period to which some of them are looking forward when they will be the owners of their farms is indefinitely postponed. To-day we have this position: That there are something like 1,000,000 acres of land in the county of Londonderry which, under the scheme of the Government, will not be settled for a 2401 period of 13 years, and, on the other hand, we have one or two estates, to which I have referred, in which the tenants would naturally desire to become the owners of the land upon reasonable terms, and the landlords — so far as I have come into contact with them — are willing to take advantage of the Act. How do they at this moment look upon this question of compulsion? Both landlord and tenant agree. They say they do not require any compulsion until the State has fulfilled its bargain to the tenant farmers who have purchased under the 1903 Act. They say those are the larger class, and the larger class are entitled to have first consideration, and I beg to assure the Committee that until the State has decided to fulfil in a much more rapid manner than I have any hope of its being fulfilled by the Government, the first duty which devolves upon it of providing money for the estates already sold, the tenant farmers of the North are not to be misled by a discussion and a clause in this Bill, promising them a compulsory purchase at a date which cannot be as far as result is concerned within the next 10 years in arriving. That being the question it is evident to our Friends below the Gangway, and clearly evident to the speaker who spoke from the lower bench, that at the moment the real living question is not compulsory purchase, but paying for the land already bought, and I want to make it clear that immediately we have these estates paid for then the demand for a reasonable price being settled at which the remainder of the land is to pass to the tenant farmers cannot be successfully retarded. I believe that time will come, but it will not come till the time that voluntary purchase has failed. The real problem which is embarrassing the Government, and I think they will admit it is the wonderful success which has followed the 1903 Act. The duty of the Government is to oil the machinery of that Act, and provide the money. We know that the Land Department in Dublin is quite capable of being speeded up to double the speed which it has yet obtained—and when that is done—and we are bound, knowing the liberal view which this House has always taken as regards the tenant farmers, to believe that that appeal will not be made in vain—when that is done the classes which have not been able to avail themselves of this Act will have their position realised, and will be put upon terms, not any better, but not any worse, than the vast majority of the 2402 farmers who have by voluntary arrangements become tenant proprietors of farms in Ieland.
§ Mr. ROBERT AMBROSE
The idea of compulsory purchase is not a new one, but hon. Members seem to think that the landlord who is about to be compelled to sell must be placed in a better position than if a railway or improvement company came along and said he must give up his land for the purpose of making a railway or other undertaking. They say, not only must he get the 10 per cent, extra he is entitled to from the railway or canal or tram company, but he must also have a bonus. They want a geat deal of money. This idea of compulsory purchase was first brought forward in 1897, and the hon. Member above the Gangway got his title for blocking it. We had it on again in 1898 as a party Bill of ours, and under what Lord Salisbury called the strongest Government of modern times we had a very respectable result, because the Ayes were 137 and the Noes 223. Then again in 1901, under the very same Government, we had another Division on a Friday, with the result that the Ayes were 183 and the Noes 250. A great many people say if you let the Act of 1903 go on everything will set itself right. I have been a Member of the House since 1893, and I have been asking questions with regard to the sale of property in my Constituency several times every Session during that period. The Sligo property and the Palmer property almost comprise the whole county of Mayo, and no power on earth, unless you get compulsion, can make either of the landlords sell his estates. Take again the O'Donnell estate at Newport. I have been told over and over again that the cause of the delay in the sale of that property, which is the Land Judges' Court, is the proving of title; but no one in his senses can believe that it can take from 1895 till now to prove title. Without the word "compulsion" this Act would not be worth the paper it is written upon, and if I had my own free will I would tear this Bill to pieces if you get rid of the word "compulsion." I am for the Bill simply and solely because of the word "compulsion."
§ Mr. DENIS KILBRIDE
I have heard a good deal from hon. Members above the Gangway during the Debate about a free market for land. I should like to know when was there a free market for land in Ireland and who put an end to it? Since 2403 the days when Michael Davitt and Charles Stewart Parnell unrolled the banner of the Land League in 1879 there has never been a free market for land. Mi. Gladstone, in 1881, when Parliament passed the Land Act, put an end to what they called the free market for land. What was the condition of affairs in Ireland when there was a free market for land? We saw advertisements in the newspapers about estates to be sold, and there was always a paragraph at the end of the advertisement, and there was never any change in the style of it: "We may remark that the rents are most reasonable and that the buyer will be able to increase them considerably.' The land speculators, the John George Adairs and other men of that character, walked into the courts and bought the land, evicted the smaller tenants, consolidated the holdings, raised the Tents, and there were again advertisements for sale of what were called improved estates. The way they improved the estate in the days when there was a free market for land was to send half the population which had been living on the estate to New York and the other half to the poorhouse. The Land Act of 1881 prevented speculators from evicting the tenants without compensation and from raising the rents on their own improvements. Why did Lord Ashbourne, in the House of Lords, introduce the Ashbourne Act? It was, no doubt, with the intention of somewhat benefiting the Irish tenants, but mainly for the purpose of making a market of some kind or another for the necessitous Irish landlord, who at that time had no free market for what he wanted to sell. The noble dukes were so embarrassed, and the mortgages on their estates amounted to such an enormous sum, that their financial condition did not permit them to make any temporary abatements during the agricultural depression in the early eighties to meet the changed conditions of agriculture. There was no free market until the Ashbourne Act. There was no market at all after the passing of the Land Act of 1881 until Parliament passed the Ashbourne Act in 1885 providing £5,000,000 of money. So quickly did the necessitous landlords grab up the five millions that in 1886 Parliament increased the original five millions by another five millions, and the landlords got ten millions of public money, and they got it because before that there was no market for land. It is simply endeavouring to throw dust in the eyes of the House of Commons to 2404 talk about a free market for land in Ireland. There is no such thing. There has not been such a thing since the Land Act of 1881.
What was the condition of affairs previous to the introduction of the Act of 1903? The whole of the money that Parliament had provided under the Ashbourne Acts had been exhausted, and further sums which had been provided by Parliament had been also exhausted. There was no public money available, or very little, for land purchase. I am one of those who always believed that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover (Mr. Wyndham), because of the Irish blood in him, desired to benefit the Irish tenant as well as the Irish landlord. [An Hon. Member: "Hear, hear."] My hon. Friend says "Hear, hear." I have never forgotten that all that is good in the right hon. Gentleman is due to the fact that he is partly a FitzGerald. He was anxious to benefit the Irish tenant, but he was no less anxious to benefit the Irish landlord. We had arrived at an impasse in regard to the sale of land in Ireland in 1902, and it was necessary that something should be done. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover induced Parliament at that time to give £12,000,000 to the Irish landlords. We are accustomed to hear above the Gangway the same old wail that used to run through the speeches delivered here by the late Colonel Saunderson when compulsory land purchase was talked about. A stranger in the Gallery who did not know anything about these things might have thought that to compel an Irish landlord to part with his property and to put into his pocket a large sum of money which would provide a steady income, instead of the doubtful income he was receiving, would be like tearing his heart-strings asunder.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member is making a second reading speech, and not addressing himself to the Amendment.
§ Mr. KILBRIDE
I shall endeavour to observe your ruling and to come back to the Amendment. May I point out to the House that if the landlord who sells under compulsion is not alone to have the bonus, but 10 per cent, for compulsion in addition—in other words, if the landlord who is compelled to sell is to receive better treatment to the extent of 10 per cent, than the man who has voluntarily sold and taken a reasonable price, I should like to know from the average man in this House, who 2405 wishes to make the most of what he has to sell, and who is not actuated by prejudice or hatred with respect to the future prospective buyer, whether the man who sells under compulsion should receive better treatment than the man who only got the bonus in addition to the price, and who for four or five years was only in receipt of the interest? I say it is unreasonble that a skinflint who has a little of the blood of the Jew in him should get priority over his brother landlord who has none of the Jewish blood in him, and that by refusing to sell he should get 10 per cent, in addition to the bonus. Is not that the consideration which must present itself to the mind of any man who looks at this matter without sentiment, and who wants to get all the money he can for the property he has to sell. Unless the Amendment is accepted by the Government, or some similar Amendment, this Bill, instead of facilitating the free sale of land, will be a premium on the refusal of landlords to come to voluntary arrangements. I agree with what has been said by my hon. Friends that if you put compulsion out of this Bill, either over the whole of Ireland or over three provinces, the remainder of the Bill for a final settlement of the Irish land question will be of very little worth. This Bill will not settle the Irish land question unless it contains the principle of compulsion all round, and is not confined to the nine congested counties. It should be possible to apply it to Ulster, Munster, or Leinster, and if this House does not insist on getting compulsion in the Bill, notwithstanding what may be said in another place, my deliberate judgment is that five years will not pass until the House will be again occupied for weeks and weeks in discussing the interminable Irish land question. Although you may have done something to help to settle the Irish land question, do not deceive yourselves or flatter yourselves that without compulsion all round you have done much for the final settlement of the Question.
§ Mr. THOMAS SCANLAN
I rise to support the Amendment of the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon). I do so because I believe with the gentlemen who occupy those benches that by a long way the most important provision in this Bill is the provision which gives the power of compulsion. The power of compulsion was asked for for years by the Irish Party and by the Nationalists of Ireland in their Conventions and through their political organ- 2406 isation. In this Bill the Government are introducing the power of compulsion, and adopting a principle for which the people of Ireland live been clamouring for years. But what we object to, and most strenuously object to, is the condition attaching to this principle which the Government propose to incorporate in their Bill. With my colleagues on these benches, I think that the attitude of the Government in giving a greater bribe to the landlords than has been given to them in any other measure is not in accordance with the policy which might be expected to characterise a Government which is supported by such a large majority in the House of Commons and which has the support of my colleagues. Let me, as the Member for East Mayo did, draw the attention of the Government and of the right hon. Gentleman who is responsible for this measure in this House to the fact that the Amendment which is proposed by the hon. Member for East Mayo is just a repetition of a Clause which was incorporated in the Government Bill of last year. The Government had then agreed to compulsion, and had then made up their minds that if it were necessary to compel certain landlords to sell their land, they should not be offered a special bribe for submitting to this kind of litigation; and what I would ask the Chief Secretary is this—in the interval of a year which has elapsed, what has happened to alter the attitude of the Government? Have the landlords proved themselves more meritorious in the eyes of the Government? Or have the tenantry of Ireland or the people of Ireland committed some crime for which the Government wish to penalise them? Because whatever has to be paid to the landlords of Ireland in their expropriation from the land as a whole, in order to compel the settlement of this question, the ratepayers of Ireland are ultimately responsible; and if there is no greater dessert on the part of the landlords now than there was a year ago, what on earth justifies the right hon. Gentleman in proposing to give to the landlords under this Bill an additional bribe for doing what they might well have done at any time between 1903 and the present moment—that is, agreeing with their tenants to sell to them their holdings on terms which would be reasonable and proper?
I notice a great inconsistency in the arguments advanced by the right hon. Gentleman the senior Member for Trinity College (Sir E. Carson). He suggested 2407 to the Government that they might very well drop entirely the principle of compulsion; but he said that he himself has been anxious all along to secure the complete transference of the land from the landlord class to the tenantry; and that he has frequently given to those of his own friends who are landlords in Ireland the advice to clear out and give the land to the tenants. I think that that is a strong argument in favour of compulsion rather than an argument in favour of the advice which he gives the Chief Secretary for Ireland to abandon the compulsory clauses, because the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dublin University must recognise this, that every landlord in Ireland, and especially the stupid landlords who have refused to sell, and because of whose refusal compulsion is now necessary, have not the advice of a Sir Edward Carson, and have not been amenable to the advice of those who would give them good advice in the disposal of their land.
At all events, compulsion is necessary, because a large number of landlords will not sell voluntarily. There is no such thing as freedom of contract, and there never has been, between Irish landlords and Irish tenant farmers. The tenant farmers have always been at the mercy of the Irish landlords, and to talk of anything like freedom of contract, in the proper meaning of the term, between landlords and tenants is like instituting a comparison with negotiations between a lion and a lamb. The landlords in Ireland have always had the lion's share, and the lion's power, and in general they have been supported, as I regret to say they are at the present time being supported, by the British Government responsible for the condition of affairs in Ireland. In order that this principle of compulsion may prove of advantage, and may effectuate the speedy transference of the land to the tenantry of Ireland, it is absolutely necessary, in my humble opinion, that there should not be added to the principle of compulsion such a bribe to the landlords as to make them wait until they are compelled, and to induce every landlord who might at the present time be anxious to deal in a reasonable way with his tenants to hold out until he is compelled under the provisions of this Act to sell his land in obedience to the State, and in that way be able to 2408 command a greater price—a price which his holding in the land does not command, and which is not obtainable in the open market. I would humbly suggest to the Chief Secretary that if he is not able to accept in terms the Amendment proposed by the hon. Gentleman the Member for East Mayo, he should so modify this Clause that such direction will be given to whatever statutory authority is to decide on the question of sale and purchase as will prevent the possibility of those landlords of Ireland, who have so far disobeyed the will of this House and of the Government of this country in holding out so long, from getting an exorbitant price for their land, and being bribed simply because they have not been reasonable and have refused to bow to the will of the Legislature.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I am glad to have the opportunity of congratulating the hon. Member who has just sat down on his being able to make his opinions felt in so clear and admirable a manner. He will be a valuable addition to the debating powers of this House during those periods when the debating powers of the House will, I hope, be fully restored. I do not rise to accept the Amendment—I have already stated why I cannot do so—but I wish it to be distinctly understood that I have no objection whatever to the insertion of words in the Bill which will make it quite plain that the landlords whose lands are acquired compulsorily shall not get both the bonus under any schedule that may be administered by the statutory authority and an additional percentage in respect of any imaginary rule whereby landlords whose lands are acquired compulsorily are to obtain an additional allowance. I wish that to be distinctly understood. I am quite willing to insert words which will make perfectly plain the basis upon which we are proceeding, that no additional allowance in respect of sale compulsorily is to be given. The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has the advantage in some respects of being new to these land discussions, and he is, therefore, able to speak of this bonus as a "bribe." That is not the language which has hitherto been employed by hon. Members sitting below the Gangway, and, in fact, they themselves are urging me to do the very best I can to secure as liberal terms for the bonus in future in order that the facilitation and easing of the machine may still continue. The question, ab initio, whether it is desirable to add to the value 2409 of the land, either voluntarily or by accord, something over and above that given by way of bonus, is one which I frankly admit we are not now free to discuss. Having sold half the land of Ireland under the provisions as to a bonus, it is really ridiculous now, even assuming you have doubts on the question, to consider the deletion of the bonus. We are bound to that. In this very Bill, when we come to the schedules to-morrow, it will be found that we are making ample provision for the continuance of the bonus system; therefore, it is not quite accurate to speak of the bonus as something which we wish to get rid of. So far from that being the case we are perpetuating it, and we are endeavouring to make it as liberal as the circumstances will allow. Therefore, the bonus has got the field, and the whole question is not that we are dealing with the landlord, as I have already said, by way of punishment—that is not the theory of the Bill—but that we are dealing compulsorily in the event of the landlord not accepting the price which the Land Commission feel justified in offering.
If he does not accept that price he has an opportunity of going to a Court to get it fixed, and as soon as the Court has fixed it, then the price is fixed on exactly the same footing as if they had voluntarily come to terms. Therefore compulsion is used simply where a difference exists between the landlord and the Estates Commissioners, who make an offer to the landlord as to what the price is to be. If there is a difference, and they cannot come to an agreement by negotiation it goes before the court to determine. Therefore in these cases there may be few or there may be many—I believe there will be few—the same bonus is provided under the schedule as in cases where thy came to a voluntary agreement. But I have already said myself that I cannot see any justification for the distinction, although I recognise that there is some reason in the argument that has been put forward, that it may be a rather dangerous thing to let a man whose land is being taken compulsorily to get the same advantage as a man whose land is sold voluntarily. On the other hand, the man whose land is taken compulsorily runs a risk. He has to pay extra cost, which may be occasioned by litigation before the Court. He has certain disadvantages which pertain to all cases; he takes no pleasure in employing counsel. It is no satisfaction to him to employ a lawyer to support his case, to call in valuers and the like. He really 2410 has not got a very great temptation to go into the Court, provided he can come to a rational arrangement or friendly arrangement outside the Court. To deprive him of his bonus is a thing that I do not see how we could possibly justify. But I want the Committee to understand that the owner will not get the bonus and the 10 per cent, in addition, because his land has been compulsorily acquired. So far as that part of the Amendment of the hon. Member for East Mayo is concerned—though I do not think its language is perhaps the happiest possible in the world—I quite agree that words should be inserted making that restriction perfectly plain. Apart from that, I adhere to what I have already said.
§ Mr. CAMPBELL
I have had a good deal of experience in connection with the compulsory acquisition of land in Ireland, and may I tell the Committee what happens, not in the case of a landlord's property, but in the case of the property of a tenant, whether he be merely an ordinary agricultural tenant or a tenant purchaser, when his land is being acquired for a public purpose. The tenant employs his valuers, who are the same gentlemen as are employed in the Land Court, but of course, in this instance their role is a different one. They have to get the tenant compensation for the value of his property, and in addition to that value they put upon it 10 per cent., 20 per cent., 25 per cent., and up to 30 per cent., as the case may be. The figure is universally recognised as between 10 per cent, and 30 per cent, by the judges, and in giving directions to the jury the judges tell them that the figure is to be entirely fixed by them, but that they ought not to give less than 10 per cent, and they may give anything up to 30 per cent. I need hardly say that the result is that in the majority of cases they incline more to 30 per cent, than to 10 per cent.
§ Mr. CAMPBELL
It may be a bad plan, but the tenant farmers do not think so. I am contrasting the different ideas of justice which seem to be entertained when it is a question of dealing with the property of the tenant on the one hand and the property of the landlord on the other. What more did the tenant get in that case where the company acquired this land? The company had to pay every shilling of the cost the man had incurred from the very start to the finish. This Bill does not propose to do anything of that kind for the landlord. In the case of the Land 2411 Court, the company who were acquiring the property of the tenant had to pay a certain amount, to be fixed at the judge's discretion, as the cost of the proceedings for ascertaining that sum. That is what would come out of the pocket of the company or a local body for acquiring the property of the tenant occupier. I want to know on what principle of fair play they are to say that the landlord is to get a less measure of justice than that. Why should not he get the full market value of his property? Why should he not get anything from 10 per cent, to 30 per cent, of the compulsory price? There is no "Hear, hear," to that.
§ Mr. DILLON
The right hon. Gentleman will permit me to say that I shall be quite willing to give them 10 per cent, additional to the market value, which at present in Ireland is absolutely nothing.
§ Mr. CAMPBELL
The hon. Gentleman is not in charge of the Bill, though I know it is really his Bill. I have not to endeavour to bring persuasion to bear on him, though I daresay I could persuade him if I bad him outside. I am afraid I cannot persuade the right hon. Gentleman, whether inside or outside this House. In addition to the position which I have pointed out, why should not the landlord be indemnified in all the costs he has been put to in connection with the transfer? He is an unwilling vendor, he wants to keep his property, he does not want to part with it, and why, then, if he has to part with it, is he to put into his pocket less than the value, which is what he will do unless he gets his costs as well as the value? Therefore, I say that the bonus is a reasonable equivalent to the costs he would be put to. In order to put this man you are dispossessing in the same position as the tenant occupier or purchaser or shopkeeper, or any other person dispossessed of his house or property against his will, he should have the advantage that I have referred to and enumerated. I want to know what exactly is the position of the hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway with reference to this matter. Clearly the essence of the transaction in 1903 was voluntary. That will not be contested. But, the idea that the hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway appear to entertain of voluntary purchase is this, that "it is a transaction that if you do not enter into a few years hence we will take your property from you." That is what they call "volun- 2412 tary." I do not call it voluntary, but I call it inviting a man to enter into a contract with you while you hold a pistol to his head. The idea of suggesting when the essence of the Act of 1903 was voluntary that because one of the parties has declined to enter into a voluntary agreement that it is to be made a case of punishment and of penalisation, I say that that it to override and disregard the main essential feature of the whole transaction, which was one of agreement and consent on both sides. What has happened under this Act of 1903? Why, just as the reason for destroying the Congested Districts Board has been its great success, so the argument in favour of destroying voluntary land purchase as you propose to do in this Bill has been the marvellous success that has flown from the Act of 1903. The office of the Estates Commissioners is flooded, the Treasury cannot keep up to the bargains that are taking place, and the breakdown is due entirely not to the difficulty in coming to agreements, but owing to the fact that they have gone on at such a rate that the Treasury is unable to fulfil its financial obligations. That being so the suggestion is that the time has now arrived in that, state of facts, with your office blocked and congested with voluntary agreements, and that this is the time you are not only to apply compulsion, but to apply it under circumstances that would put the unfortunate owner of land in a worse condition than if he had come in under these voluntary agreements. Do hon. Gentlemen forget that one of the chief reasons which has kept out the small percentage of land-owners who still remain outside these voluntary agreements, has been the knowledge that has been forced home upon them during the last twelve months that if they come to agreements with their tenants now, they are not likely to see the cash for ten, twenty, or thirty years to come, and on no scale that the most sanguine of hon. Gentlemen opposite has ever suggested, or that I know of, will the existing block be got rid of at the end of six years. Therefore, any man who enters into a voluntary agreement to-day has only before him the fact that he will have to lie out of his money for at least six years. Is not that likely to retard land purchase in Ireland? As the hon. Member for Louth (Mr. T. Healy) said the other day, the real cause of all this trouble and bother has been neither the unwillingness of the landlords to sell nor the unwillingness of the tenants to 2413 buy, but the failure of the Treasury to make good its obligations. That has undoubtedly been the real cause.
§ Mr. CAMPBELL
As I have said, I am not in the slightest degree anxious to persuade the right hon. Gentleman that I am correct or that he is wrong.
§ Mr. CAMPBELL
At the same time, I am just as much entitled to my opinion as the right hon. Gentleman is to his.
§ Mr. CAMPBELL
I do not think there is the slightest necessity for him to get so restive. I think he ought to set an example to all of us. Why he should get so restless just as the guillotine is about to fall I do not know. He cannot expect to transact any more business to-night. Let me point out that every day the influences which are at work to increase sales by voluntary agreement are increasing. I am speaking of what I know, because there is hardly a week passes that I am not consulted either by tenants or by landlords who have failed to come to terms, and the invariable opinion expressed by the landlords is: "Hitherto I have been unwilling to sell to my tenants. I have got on very well with them. I have had no trouble on my estate; my rents were punctually paid; my tenants were fond of me, and I was fond of them?" [An HON. Member: "A rare bird."] He would be very rare in the part of the country where the hon. Member who interrupts me is personally active, because the hon. Member would be a bird of very ill omen for any community. Day by day the few landlords who up to the present have failed to come to terms with their tenants are becoming convinced that there is nothing left for them but to come to terms, and that the sooner they can do so the better. Therefore, I consider that it is a cardinal mistake in this Bill to put up the principle of compulsory purchase in direct 2414 competition with the system of purchase by voluntary agreement which has done so well, and has proved such a phenomenal success. The compulsory principle cannot be inserted in this Bill except with the deliberate purpose of retarding these sales, and thereby coming to the relief of the Treasury. That is the real secret of all this bother, all this guillotine, and all this eloquence, denunciation, and declamation. The Treasury are marking time, or having time marked for them, and they think that the best way in which they can continue that is to set up in competition with the voluntary system which has worked these wonderful changes in the social and economic condition of Ireland, a system which will not commend itself either to landlord or to tenant, but will be a useful drag upon the machine, and inevitably delay the ordinary operations of the Land Purchase Act of 1903. I confess I could have wished that the right hon Gentleman bad stood to his guns in this matter. I know he has been always very amenable to pressure—not from this part of the House, I regret to say—from below the Gangway. He has treated us with jokes, with pleasantries, sometimes with the reverse. But we have never got anything out of him—not so long as he has in hand hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, who almost invariably succeed in their demands, no matter how unreasonable or extravagant they may be. I am sure it required a good deal of application to perform that process that some hon. Members below the Gangway thought they would like to see come into vogue, namely, for the right hon Gentleman to get his back stiffened over this matter. His back does not seem to me to be as stiff as I should like to see it. It has been suggested that after all this Amendment is not such a bad Amendment, and certain portions of it the right hon. Gentleman said he would be inclined to accept. All I can say is this, that the position in which he has placed the landlord under his Bill, and against whom this principle of compulsory purchase is to be applied, is neither better nor worse than the position under which, as the law of the land stands to-day, every individual in the community, from the humblest to the greatest, is placed. Why this House should be asked to go out of its way to place the landlords of Ireland under different provisions, under a drastic code of this kind, is a, matter which up to the present I have failed to understand. All I can say is that 2415 we must on this side of the House be thankful for small mercies in the case of the right hon. Gentleman. Speaking for myself, I can even derive an element of satisfaction from the fact that, while he has not been enabled to stiffen his back, he has not allowed it to become altogether unstiffened.
§ Mr. DILLON
I do not desire on the present occasion to divide the House. I wish, after a word or two, to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment. But I do feel bound to say that nothing the right hon. Gentleman has said has altered my conviction that the bonus ought not to be given to the landlords against whom this process of compulsion is to be invoked. The right hon. Gentleman in his last speech described the process of the landlord refusing to accede till the pressure of compulsion was brought into force. Then, he said, the landlord proceeded precisely on equal terms with the landlords who sold voluntarily. I want to bring home to the consideration of the right hon. Gentleman the fact that if his description is a true description, that landlord should not be granted bonus. The landlord who voluntarily sells has to wait for five or six years, and then he may be paid in stock
§ or cash. The landlord against whom compulsion is brought must be paid, not only immediately, but in cash, and the fact that he gets priority is a very serious matter indeed for consideration. It is on that ground that I say that the right hon. Gentleman is, by giving him the bonus, putting him in a more favourable position than the man who makes a voluntary agreement. That is wrong. I think it is fairly reasonable that he ought to be put in a slightly less favourable position. As the right hon. Gentleman has accepted half the Amendment, and that the important half, I shall ask leave to withdraw it. In doing so I ask the right hon. Gentleman to reconsider the very serious matter I have mentioned between now and the Report stage. I ask leave to withdraw.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ And, it being half-past Ten of the clock, the Chairman proceeded, in pursuance of the Order of the House of the 15th June, successively to put forthwith the Questions necessary to dispose of the Clauses to be concluded at this day's sitting.
§ Question put, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 201; Noes, 29.2417
|Division No. 540.]||AYES.||[10.30 p.m.|
|Abraham, W. (Cork, N.E.)||Cox, Harold||Gulland, John W.|
|Ambrose, Robert||Crean, Eugene||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Crooks, William||Hancock, J. G.|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Crosfield, A. H.||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)|
|Baling, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Crossley, William J.||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)|
|Barlow, Sir John E. (Somerset)||Cullinan, J.||Harrington, Timothy|
|Barnes, G. N.||Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||Hart-Davies, T.|
|Barran, Sir John Nicholson||Delany, William||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Devlin, Joseph||Hayden, John Patrick|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Dillon, John||Hezleton, Richard|
|Beauchamp, E.||Donelan, Captain A.||Hesly, Maurice (Cork)|
|Berridge, T. H. D.||Duffy, William J.||Healy, Timothy Michael|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)|
|Black, Arthur W.||Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley)||Henry, Charles S.|
|Boland, John||Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Mon. S.)|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Esmonde, Sir Thomas||Hobart, Sir Robert|
|Branch, James||Esslemont, George Birnie||Hodge, John|
|Brigg, John||Everett, R. Lacey||Hogan, Michael|
|Bright, J. A.||Falconer, J.||Holden, Sir E. Hopkinson|
|Brodle, H. C.||Farrell, James Patrick||Horniman, Emslie John|
|Brooke, Stopford||Fenwick, Charles||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey|
|Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Ferens, T. R.||Hyde, Clarendon G.|
|Burke, E. Havlland.||Ffrench, Peter||Idris, T. H. W.|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Field, William||Jardine, Sir J.|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Fiennes, Hon. Eustace||Johnson, John (Gateshead)|
|Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Flynn, James Christopher||Jordan, Jeremiah|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Fuller, John Michael F.||Joyce, Michael|
|Cleland, J. W.||Gilhooly, James||Kavanagh, Walter M.|
|Clough, William||Gill. A. H.||Keating, M.|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Ginnell, L.||Kekewich, Sir George|
|Collins, Sir Wm. J. (St. Pancras, W.)||Gladstone, Rt. Hon. Herbert John||Kelley, George D.|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Glendinning, R. G.||Kettle, Thomas Michael|
|Cooper, G. J.||Glover, Thomas||Kilbride, Denis|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Lambert, George|
|Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinstead)||Gooch, George Peabody (Bath)||Lamont, Nerman|
|Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Nugent, Sir Walter Richard||Roche, John (Galway, East)|
|Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.)||O'Brien, K. (Tipperary, Mid)||Rose, Sir Charles Day|
|Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Russell, Rt. Hon. T. W.|
|Lundon, T.||O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Lupton, Arnold||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Luttrell, Hugh Fownes||O'Doherty, Philip||Scarisbrick, Sir T. T. L.|
|Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||O'Dennell, John (Mayo, S.)||Scott, A. H. (Ashton-under-Lyne)|
|Mackarness, Frederic C.||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)||Sears, J. E.|
|Maclean, Donald||O'Dowd, John||Seddon, J.|
|Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||O'Grady, J.||Shackleton, David James|
|MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Macpherson, J. T.||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)||Sheehy, David|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.)||O'Malley, William||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|MacVeigh, Charles (Donegal, E.)||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Steadman, W. C.|
|McCallum, John M.||Parker, James (Halifax)||Stewart, Halley (Greenock)|
|M'Kean, John||Partington, Oswald||Summerbell, T.|
|M'Micking, Major G.||Paul, Herbert||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Mallet, Charles E.||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Waring, Walter|
|Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)||Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Watt, Henry A.|
|Marnham, F. J.||Pearson, W. H. M. (Suffolk, Eye)||White, Sir Luke (York, E.R.)|
|Mason, A. E. W. (Coventry)||Philips, John (Longford, S.)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Massie, J.||Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Wiles, Thomas|
|Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Pollard, Dr. G. H.||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Meehan, Patrick A. (Queen's Co.)||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W.R.)|
|Molteno, Percy Alport||Power, Patrick Joseph||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Mooney, J. J.||Padford, G. H.||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Reddy, M.||Winfrey, R.|
|Muldoon, John||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Young, Samuel|
|Murnaghan, George||Richards, T F. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Murphy, John (Kerry, East)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Nannetti, Joseph P.||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Joseph Pease and Captain Norton.|
|Nolan, Joseph||Roche, Augustine (Cork)|
|Ashley, W. W.||Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.)||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R.|
|Balcarres, Lord||Craik, Sir Henry||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter (Dublin, S.)|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Lonsdale, John Brownlee|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Fletcher, J. S.||Moore, William|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Forster, Henry William||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Butcher, Samuel Henry||Gretton, John||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Lanark)|
|Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. H. M.||Guinness, Hon. R. (Haggerston)||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Hamilton, Marquess of||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||Hill, Sir Clement||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Sir A. Acland-Hood and Viscount Valentia.|
|Clive, Percy Archer||Jowett, F. W.|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Kerry, Earl of|