§ (1) The percentage payable under section forty-eight of the Act of 1903 shall be calculated at the rates specified in the First Schedule to this Act, and for the purposes of that section the percentage at the rates so specified shall be deemed to be the percentage under that section:1454
§ Provided that—
- (a) the percentage payable on the purchase money of an estate, which consists of or includes lands in respect of which there are purchase agreements entered into or deemed in pursuance of this section to have been entered into on or before the twenty-fourth day of November nineteen hundred and eight shall (so far as the percentage is payable in respect of the purchase of those lands) be calculated at the rate of twelve per cent. instead of being calculated under this section; and
- (b) where any percentage calculated under this section is payable at a higher rate than five per cent., any sum by which the amount of percentage exceeds the amount which would have been payable if the percentage were calculated at the rate of five per cent. shall be added to the purchase money and not paid to the vendor.
§ (2) An agreement for the purchase of any estate or land, though not entered into on or before the twenty-fourth day of November nineteen hundred and eight, shall be deemed, for the purposes of this section, to be a purchase agreement entered into on or before that date, where on or before that date—
- (a) the vendor has lodged an originating request in manner provided by rules made under the Act of 1903 with a view to the purchase of the estate or land by the Land Commission under section six of that Act or by the Congested Districts Board under section seventy-nine of that Act; or
- (b) the vendor has accepted a preliminary estimate of price made by the Land Commission with a view to the purchase of the estate or land under sections six or eight of the Act of 1903, or entered into a preliminary agreement with the Congested Districts Board with a view to the purchase of the estate or land under section seventy-nine of that Act; or
- (c) the Land Commission under section seven or the Congested Districts Board under section seventy-seven of the Act of 1903 have made an offer (which is eventually accepted) to the Land Judge for the purchase of the estate or land; or
- (d) the Estates Commissioners have made an offer for the purchase of the estate or land under subsection (4) of section two of the Evicted Tenants (Ireland) Act, 1907.
§ (3) So much of section forty-seven of the Act of 1903 as limits the total of the sums payable to the Land Purchase Aid Fund to twelve million pounds shall cease to have effect.
§ Mr. C. CRAIG
moved to leave out the first and second sections, and to inset instead thereof, "(1) Notwithstanding the revision by the Treasury of the percentage payable under section forty-eight of the Act of 1903, such percentage shall be payable at the rate of twelve per cent. as if such revision had not been made."
The effect of my Amendment would be to replace the bonus of 12 per cent., which was enacted by the Act of 1903, and which was enforced in the case of all agreements entered into before 24th November last. The bonus provisions of the Act of 1903 were, perhaps, the most important in the whole Act, and, practically speaking, without them that Act would hardly have been worth the paper on which it was written. There were two or three particular provisions in the Act which made it the great success it has been.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY (Louth, N.)
On a point of order, I wish to ask what Question you propose to put when the hon. Member moves?
§ Mr. C. CRAIG
At the time the Act of 1903 was before the House, and, indeed, some years before that date, practically speaking, all the landlords who could afford to sell their land under the provisions of previous Land Purchase Acts had done so. There was a number of Acts under which a considerable proportion of the landlords had parted with their lands, and the tenants had become the owners of their holdings; but long before the Act of 1903 was passed that class of landlord had been exhausted, and several years before that time it had been recognised that unless some additional inducement was made to landlords to sell their lands, and the tenants to buy, land purchase would come to a standstill. Many people racked their brains for a solution of this difficulty, and some brilliant individual, who must have been an optimist, but whose optimism has been justified, suggested the solution of the question by proposing a bonus. The idea was that the State should provide a sum of money which would be sufficient to bridge over the difference between the 1456 amount which the landlord could afford to take for his land and the amount which the tenant could be reasonably expected to give. The amount which the landlord could reasonably be expected to take for his land was on all sides admitted to be such a sum as, reinvested at 3 or even at 3| per cent., would give him an income approximately equal to his net second term rental. The reasonableness of that proposal will be agreed to by everybody when it is remembered that the landlords in Ireland since 1880 have suffered two very drastic reductions in their rentals, so much so that at the present moment the average landlord, who has not sold under the Act of 1893, is not in receipt of much more than from 55 per cent. to 60 per cent. of his rental before the Act of 1881 was passed. Indeed, I know some landlords whose rentals, until they finally sold under the Act of 1893, only amounted to 50 per cent. of what they were receiving before the Act of 1881 was passed. Therefore. I do not think it is unreasonable that the landlord, if he is to sell at all, should be able to reinvest the purchase money so as to bring him an amount equal to the net second term rental—or a sum equal, roughly speaking, to about 50 per cent. of what he was receiving before 1881. To get such a sum as that it would mean, unfortunately, that the tenants would practically receive little or no benefit from the change in the ownership from the landlord to the State. It is not reasonable to ask the tenant to simply shift his responsibility for rent paying from the landlord to the State unless you can at the same time give him some inducement or show some reason for so doing. The general idea at the time to which I am referring we as that the landlords should be able to sell at the prices I have indicated and that, at the same time, the annuity payable by the tenant to the State should in itself represent a substantial reduction of the rent which he had been paying before the operation. Without a bonus that operation could not be carried out. It was necessary that the State should advance this money in some form, and it was in consequence of that that my right hon. Friend the Member for Dover (Mr. Wyndham), in the Act of 1903, courageously and generously brought forward his bonus proposition. It is unnecessary for me to go through the Parliamentary history of the bonus. It has passed a certain number of vicissitudes. There were considerable differences of 1457 opinion as to the exact form it should take, but there was practically no difference of opinion in the House as to the necessity for providing a substantial bonus of some sort. The only difference was whether it should be in the form of a percentage on the actual purchase money paid to the landlord or whether it should be on a sliding scale—a number of years' purchase of the rental which was being sold. The outcome of the discussion was that the bonus emerged in the form of a 12 per cent. bonus, at which it stood until the 24th November last, when, by a Treasury Minute, it was reduced from 12 per cent. to 3 per cent. The explanation of that reduction was that the Chief Secretary, in making the investigations upon which this present Bill is founded, came to the conclusion that a very much larger sum than £100,000,000 would be necessary to carry out the transfer of land in Ireland. It is possible that a larger sum will be required for that purpose, but those who have studied the question closely believe that nothing like the £180,000,000 suggested by the Chief Secretary will be necessary. In any case the amount of money necessary for the purpose being so uncertain at present, it is a very bad policy to begin to tamper with the bonus, which everybody agrees has been the main factor in producing the very great success of the Act of 1903. If you lower the bonus from 12 per cent. to 3 per cent. it is obvious that the landlord, if he is to get his second term net rentals, must demand a higher price of the tenants, and if you are going to take the second term net rental as the basis on which the price of land is to be estimated, then I say the reduction of the bonus from 12 per cent. to 3 per cent. will instantly and inevitably stop land purchase. The 3 per cent. bonus will have no practical effect when one has to take into consideration the number of incidental expenses which the landlord has to make good. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover, in introducing the Bill of 1903, spoke of the many embarrassments touching land purhase in Ireland. He said:—We hold that the many embarrassments attaching to land purchase in Ireland, the redemption of paramount interests, the cost of such redemption, the sudden diminution of income in the case of a tenant for life, and the fact that seven-tenths of the Irish estates are held under complicated wills and settlements drawn in a form which has become obsolete in this country—we hold that these difficulties and embarrassments, Upon which I could talk at great length, present obstacles which, in our opinion, would defeat our policy, unless in addition to the credit operation we were prepared to add some cash.The right hon. Gentleman only enumerated a very few of the incidental expenses which 1458 a landlord will have to face when he sells his estate. For instance, there is usually a local church to which he has been a more or less generous subscriber, and he will have to arrange either to continue his subscription or to compound for it. Then there are the legal expenses, which are of a very heavy nature, and altogether these incidental items can in no way be covered by a bonus of 3 per cent. The proposal of the right hon. Gentleman, the Chief Secretary, that in future the bonus should be by means of a graduated scale in the schedule is, I believe, quite as mischievous as the proposal to reduce it to 3 per cent. Some of my colleagues from the North of Ireland have given special consideration to this matter, and we have come to the conclusion that instead of having the effect anticipated by the Chief Secretary, the result will be exactly the reverse. He thinks by increasing the percentage, as the number of years' purchase decreases, he will enable the landlord to accept a smaller number of years' purchase. We have gone into the matter somewhat closely, and so far as we can make out, that is not the fact. It will always be the interest of the landlord to ask for and get a large number of years' purchase, and it will always be better for the landlord to accept 21 years' purchase than 20. If that is the case, I say the schedule in its present form is useless. This question of the bonus was at the root of the Bill of 1903, and equally so of the Bill now before the House, and I trust that there will be a very full discussion of this question in all its phases, but for my part, I am quite convinced that, both from the point of view of the tenant and from that of the landlord, unless this bonus is kept up at something like its present height of 12 per cent., it will do more to arrest, if not entirely stop land purchase in Ireland than anything else. I must remind the Committee that the bonus is only one of the various acts which have been taken by the right hon. Gentleman in this Bill which will have that effect, for we know that the landlord is not to get cash but stock, which he can only realise at a loss, and the tenant is to pay a higher percentage; and now we are told that the landlord is to get a much smaller bonus, and how anybody can contend for a moment that with all these drawbacks under the Bill, and this reduction of the amount which the landlord is to receive, and this increase of what the tenant has to pay— how they can maintain that, with all these drawbacks to the Bill, land purchase is in 1459 the future to go on as it has gone on in the past, is beyond my comprehension, and unless the Chief Secretary can hold out some hope to the landlords and tenants that he will be able to do more for them than he has in this particular clause and other clauses, I am afraid, much as I regret the fact, that land purchase will be arrested indefinitely, if not stopped, altogether. I beg to move the Amendment.
§ Mr. JOHN REDMOND
On a point of Order, Sir, I wish to ask you a question with reference to the discussion. Acting as we are under the guillotine this is the only opportunity we shall have of discussing the bonus, because when the time comes to deal with the schedules, they are to be moved on the last day with the new clauses, and we shall probably never reach this question at all. Two points arise in connection with the bonus: Shall there be a fixed rate of bonus or shall there be a graduation of the bonus, and in the second place what the character of the bonus shall be if there is graduation. That being so, I submit that it is only proper that you should take a lenient view of the technical questions of order, and allow every phase of the bonus to be discussed to-day.
I do not like to make distinctions, if I can help it, between discussions with compartment closure and discussions without compartment closure, but in this particular case I really do not see that any difficulty arises. There is the old scale of the Bill of 1903, there is the revised scale of the Treasury, there is the proposal of the Bill in the schedule, and there is any other proposal which hon. Members may desire to make. I do not see why this discussion should not be proceeded with on those lines.
§ Mr. J. B. LONSDALE
I support the Amendment of my hon. Friend. I am opposed to this clause, mainly because I am convinced that it will tend to make all future purchase agreements between landlords and tenants absolutely impossible. I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to tell the Committee plainly whether it is the desire and the intention of the Government to put a stop to land purchase on voluntary lines? If that is not their intention, then I confess I am quite unable to see how they can reconcile their proposals with regard to the bonus, with a desire that 1460 land purchase shall continue unchecked. But apart altogether from any question of intention, I do not see how it can be denied that the effect of the changes which have been made in the distribution of the bonus must be to place insuperable obstacles in the way of purchase agreements being arrived at in the future. The object of the bonus was to aid the sale of estates by bridging over the difference between what the tenants could afford to pay and what the landlord could afford to accept. It follows that the more liberal the bonus the more favourable would be the terms of purchase which the tenant might expect to obtain; and in whittling down the bonus the Government are really striking a serious blow—not at the landlords—but at the farmers, who have not yet been able to purchase their holdings.
The original proposal of my right hon. Friend the Member for Dover (Mr. Wyndham) when he introduced his Land Bill of 1903, was a bonus graduated on a sliding scale based upon the purchase price. His idea was that small estates would require more assistance than large estates; and, therefore, he proposed that the bonus should range from 15 per cent. of the purchase money in the case of estates of £5,000, down to 5 per cent. in the case of estates exceeding £40,000 in value. During the Debates on the Bill, however, it was pointed out by the hon. and learned Member for Waterford (Mr. John Redmond) that this proposal might discourage the sale of large estates. My right hon. Friend recognised the force of that argument, and dropped his sliding scale, adopting instead of it a uniform bonus of 12 per cent. That proposal was generally accepted as a satisfactory compromise, and it should be noticed that the plan approved by the Nationalist Convention, and supported in this House by the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) and other hon. Members was a bonus of 15 per cent. all round, to be limited to landlords who sold within five years. I believe that the hon. Member for East Mayo expressed himself as opposed to the principle of graduation—[MR. DILLON: "No."]—and has his own plan of giving three years' purchase of the rental to every landlord who sold. The hon. Member was, in fact, even more liberal than the Government. I should like to recall what the Member for East Mayo said on the third reading of the Land Bill on 21st July, 1903, because it affords an 1461 indication of the spirit which prevailed at that time in regard to the bonus. The hon. Member said:—The essence of the bonus is this, that whereas previously the Government was spending £390,000 a year in maintaining war between landlords and tenants in Ireland—money which was absolutely wasted—they now propose to devote £390,000 a year of that money for a limited period, for the purpose of bringing about peace. For my part I sincerely regret that they have not devoted £500,000 per annum to the bonus, because that would enable the process to develop much more rapidly and the Imperial taxpayer would not lose sixpence more by the transaction.The bonus was fixed at 12 per cent., and I do not suppose anyone will deny that it has stimulated sales. Its uniformity has been one of its greatest recommendations; and it has proved one of the most powerful "inducements" which the Act of 1903 contained. The purchasing tenants have derived great advantage from the bonus, because but for this provision they would certainly have had to pay a larger sum for their farms than they have actually agreed to pay. In these circumstances it was a ruthless act on the part of the Government to cut down the bonus to a bare 3 per cent. on all transactions after 24th November last year; and it has been the important element in preventing purchase agreements since that date. The Government now propose to re-arrange the bonus on a sliding scale. They appear to have unearthed a proposal placed on the Paper by the hon. and learned Member for Waterford during the Debates on the Bill of 1903, and adopted it as their own, after altering it so as to make it less generous in its provisions. According to this proposal of the Government an owner who sells to his tenants at 25 years' purchase will receive no bonus at all. If he sells at 24, and under 25 years' purchase, he will get a bonus of 3 per cent. only; and the bonus is graduated from 3 per cent. up to 16 per cent. in cases where the price represents less than 17 years' purchase of the rent. The object of this proposal, no doubt, is to induce the landlord to sell to his tenants at a lower price; but if it is examined it will be found that it does not contain any inducement of that kind. On the contrary, it will prevent the possibility of any agreement being arrived at. Under the new scale, the owner who sold to his tenants at a low price—as measured by the number of years' purchase—would not receive in bonus anything like sufficient to secure him from loss.
It is necessary only to work out a few examples to show that what I have said is the case. The proposal of the Government is that if a landlord sells at 18 years' 1462 purchase, he is to get 12 per cent. bonus. On £100 of rent, therefore, he would receive £1,800 in 3 per cent. Stock, and £216 bonus in cash. If he invests the bonus at 3½ per cent., he will find his income reduced to £62 15s., or £27 5s. below his former net rental. If he sold at 22 years' purchase he would receive £2,200 in 3 per cent. Stock, and £110 of bonus, which together would produce £69 17s., or £20 3s. below his former net rental. If he sold at 24 years' purchase, he would receive £2,400 in 3 per cent. Stock, and only £72 of bonus, which together would produce £74 10s., or £15 10s. below his former net rental. In every one of these cases there would be a loss, but it will be noticed that the loss diminishes in proportion to the increase in the number of years' purchase. There is, therefore, no inducement—in the scale proposed by the Government—to the landlord to sell alt a low price in order to secure the higher rate of bonus. From the point of view of the tenant, therefore, this new scale offers no advantages whatever. On the contrary, it is opposed to his interests; because the effect of this new proposal is to leave the gap between him and his landlord unbridged and impassable. I do not think that on financial grounds any necessity has yet been shown for revising the scale of bonus at the present time.
It is quite true that, owing to the condition of the money market, the stock which has to be created to provide cash for the bonus can only be issued at a heavy discount, and consequently considerably more than £12,000,000 will have to be raised to pay the bonus on the first £100,000,000 of agreements. But we have not yet reached the limit of £100,000,000, and if this Bill passes we are not likely to see that figure reached, by voluntary agreements, for some years to come. We can, at all events, provide a 12 per cent. bonus on all pending agreements, and still have in hand about 1¾ millions of the £12,000,000 provided for in the Act of 1903. That is after making all allowance for the excess stock, which has to be created in order to make up the loss on flotation. As a matter of fact up to the first of this month, the bonus actually paid amounts to only £3,055,124. There were on the same date, in the offices of the Land Commission, pending agreements in direct sales, representing purchase money to the extent of £48,706,995, on which the 12 per cent. bonus will be payable. It is estimated that it will be necessary to raise £6,796,324 of 2¾ per cent. Stock to pay the bonus on these pending 1463 agreements; and, if we add that 6¾ millions to the 3½ millions of bonus stock which has already been created, we get a total of £10,263,131, or, roughly, 10¼ millions, the annual charge upon which will be £333,550 for 68½ years. There is, therefore, as I have said, a margin of about If millions of money, and that is what will remain after all the pending agreements have been cleared off and the full bonus of 12 per cent. paid in respect of them. I submit, therefore, that the Treasury in cutting down the bonus to 3 per cent. is, to say the least of it, very precipitate, and that the new scale proposed by the Government is an unnecessary and mischievous interference with one of the fundamental principles of the Act of 1903. I do not object to section (3) of this clause, which will enable the Treasury to raise more than £12,000,000 for the purpose of the bonus, although, when we look at the rest of the clause and the other provisions in the Bill, it seems to be little more than a mockery. If the Government are sincere in their professions that they wish land purchase to proceed, let them show their sincerity by accepting the Amendment proposed by my hon. Friend.
§ Mr. GEORGE WYNDHAM
If I rise thus early it is because I think it will be for the convenience of the Committee that I should speak before some alternative proposals by hon. Members are reached, and because I wish to say something in favour of the system of uniform percentage as well as against the particular method which the Government are asking the Committee to sanction. The question of the bonus is admittedly a very complicated and technical one, and it is also one of fundamental importance to the progress of land purchase in Ireland. That has always been recognised. I use the word "fundamental" advisedly, because the Conference Report was based on the idea that there was to be a bonus. Some hon. Members representing English constituencies who have made their views known through the newspapers seem to believe that a bonus is not necessary, and that if the State lends its credit the landlord and tenant can come to terms without a bonus. They almost suggest that the bonus is some sort of sop thrown to the landlord, that it accrues to the benefit of the landlord, and that it does nothing for the tenant. That is not in the least the true slate of affairs in Ireland. That might, I admit, be urged with some plausibility in 1464 the case of isolated purchases or the transfer of lands sporadically all over the country. I agree that a landlord who found it inconvenient to raise a sum of ready money might sell without the assistance of a bonus from the State, but that is not true of the question we have to solve in Ireland, namely, the question of the general transfer of ownership throughout the country. The general transfer of the land, broadly speaking, cannot be effected unless the present owners in the process receive an equivalent of the income they now enjoy. That was recognised when the Conference sat. It may be said that in Ireland there surely must be many persons who could sell without the bonus. I should like to think that there were, but the great difference between the way this question affects Ireland and as it might affect England and Scotland is that by the operation of the earlier Acts we have got rid, or nearly got rid, of all the cases of sporadic transfer of ownership from one man to another, and we are now left with a mass of eases which cannot be dealt with unless the landlord is to have in future about the same amount of income as he has had in the past. I need not labour that point. It was recognised by the Conference. It was recognised by the Nationalist Members who sit for Ireland. It was recognised by the hon. and learned Member for Waterford (Mr. J. Redmond), who was a member of the Conference, and even the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon), who was not a member of the Conference, when he came to debate this matter, though he thought the landlords were getting more than was necessary or desirable, still affirmed that it was better that the bonus should be paid than that land purchase should not proceed. I could quote expressions in the same strain from every section of the House, and the conclusion we arrived at six years ago was supported by the unanimous opinion of all parties in this House.
Now that method of giving a substantial bonus at a uniform rate is to be set aside, and set aside in such a way as to increase in a singular degree the discrepancy between future agreements and pending agreements. In this clause we are only dealing with future agreements, and I am not going to talk of pending agreements, but already by the proposal to alter the rate of instalments in the case of future agreements and give stock instead of cash, we have created a 1465 discrepancy between the two classes of cases, and now comes, on the top of these disabilities which are being placed on future agreements, this proposal to throw altogether away the method which has been successful in Ireland, and to adopt another method which I think I shall be able to prove will be most injurious. If it is proved to be injurious, it touches the cardinal point of the whole matter. The Bill of 1903 hinged on this question of the bonus. We had a debate on the Address, and hon. Members from Ireland representing all sections said, "If you cannot tell us that there is going to be cash added by the State, there is no use bringing in the Bill." I was unable to make the announcement then. On the first reading of the Bill of 1903 I could not secure the attention of the House to the details unless I announced at the outset that the State was going to give aid of a substantial character. I think I can show that this proposal of the Government will be injurious in a high degree to the future progress of land purchase, which we all have at heart. I know that hon. Members from Ireland, some of whom have Amendments down, are in favour of a method of graduation based on the number of years' purchase, but, even admitting that, I am sure that no person who really understands the question and who wishes land purchase to proceed, will approve of the application of that method if it diminishes, and seriously diminishes, the amount to be given for land purchase in Ireland.
I wish to make good two points, and they are almost the only two with which I need deal. I wish in the first place to urge why, in my opinion, any graduated method will be likely to prove injurious to land purchase, and in the second place to show that if we do adopt it the terms of the particular proposal here are quite inadequate and illusory. The method adopted in the Bill, and favoured in some form by hon. Members who sit for Irish constituencies, is based on the number of years' purchase contained in the bargain between the landlord and the tenant, and also I think I might say, if not based, coloured by what is called the number of years' purchase given under previous Acts. I will admit that to anyone approaching this question for the first time that sounds rather plausible. You say, "Here are the years' purchase. If they are a few, we give you more, and if they are many we give you less." It may sound plausible, but it is not con- 1466 firmed by the practical experience in Ireland. Indeed, the experience which we have demonstrates that this method of calculating in proportion to the number of years' purchase is a faulty method and cannot succeed. If we go back to earlier transactions of purchase under previous Acts we must reflect that in the first years they had to deal almost wholly with non-judicial rents which had never been reduced, and even in later years they dealt with first term rents and never with second term rents; so the average of the number of years' purchase which resulted from the earlier Acts does not give any guide which is a safe one in this matter. There is one other fact, still confining myself to the Acts which were previous to the Act of 1903. It is known to those who have studied this subject that during some of these years, say from 1696 to 1900, the stock which was then issued stood at so high a premium that the landlord did, as a matter of fact, indirectly get a large sum of money which the tenant, so to speak, did not pay. So, again, the experience between 1896 and 1900 does not justify the conclusion that it is safe to base a graduated bonus upon the average number of years' purchase which resulted from the earlier transactions.
In view of these previous Acts, the Conference felt itself that it would be ridiculous to base the policy of the Bill upon the average of the number of years' purchase which had prevailed. That is the whole point of the recommendation. The whole point of the recommendation was that in future the tenant was to get a reduction of anything from 15 to 25 per cent. on second term rents, and the landlord was to receive a sum which he could invest so as to get 90 per cent. of his second term rent income. That does not mean a graduated bonus based upon an average of the number of years' purchase. If you take what the Conference recommended as a guide to the mature opinion of hon. Members who have considered this matter, it does point to the landlord getting something like 27 years' purchase. That is what it means. I can give the figures. That is what they must be held to have meant: not from the tenant, but altogether. In fact, it does not give all that the Conference recommended or anything like it. It will give within a very few pounds of the 90 per cent. of his previous second-term rent income; but, if the tenant gets a reduction of 20 per cent., 1467 then the landlord would get what they recommend that the landlord should receive. The facts which we have to review since the Bill became an Act go far to show that the Conference was right in thinking that that must be the figure at which a general transfer could be carried out. I leave out of account the sporadic transfers, as would occur if one man was very anxious to sell for other reasons, and another was very anxious to buy. The facts which we have before us show that they were about right in the view which they took. Only a certain number of the transactions which have since taken place have been analysed and reviewed by the Estates Commissioners, but a sufficient number have been analysed and reviewed to show that the Conference was right in the conclusion at which it arrived. Out of 24,791 second term rents, in the case of 23,620 there was a reduction of 19.7 per cent., almost exactly the reduction of 20 per cent. On that reduction the landlord, with the bonus, would get over 27 years' purchase, over 24 from the tenant, and practically three years' purchase from the State. That shows that the Conference was right, and supports my contention that any method must be faulty which is based upon results of previous purchase Acts stated in terms of the average of the number of years' purchase. It also shows that it would be a great pity to change a method which is working admirably at the present moment.
There is one other aspect of the matter. Although as I have shown in the great bulk of cases, the kind of solution suggested by the Conference has been confirmed by events; yet if you look at the figures, you will also find that you cannot have any general plan, for, although out of the 24,000 odd cases of second term rentals which have been sold, over 95 per cent. conformed to the general rule, still there were 1,092 cases of the total number in which the reduction in the instalment, as compared with the rent, was much greater, being as much as a reduction of 33 per cent., and in which the tenant only gave the landlord a little over 20 years' purchase; and there were 79 cases in which the reduction was very small, and the tenant gave the landlord as much as 28 years' purchase himself. That shows that you cannot have a uniform rule. The general practice when you are aiming at the general interest will be what the Conference recommended, but there will be 1468 exceptions—a considerable number of exceptions where much less will be paid by the tenant, and a very small number of exceptions where, for particular reasons, much more will be paid by the tenant. The explanation of those facts is that this problem involves many factors. The value of the land calculated in number of years' purchase is only one factor, and there are many others. For example, let us contrast the difference in position between two different kinds of land. There is first, the landlord who is absolute owner, who has no paramount interest to get rid of, and who has mortgages, so that ready money will improve his income. Contrast his position with that of a limited owner who has a large number of paramount interests to buy out, but has no mortgages upon his estate. It is obvious that the first landlord can accept a much less sum than the second landlord can accept.
Another factor which comes in are the costs, which are an important item. In respect of a large estate or a large sum of money they are relatively less than in the case of a small estate. Indeed, at one time the Government of which I was a member thought it would be well to graduate the bonus inversely to the size of the estate, and before that we had actually contemplated drawing some distinction between the absolute owner and the limited owner; but, as we reflected on the complexity of the problem and thought besides of the differences inherent in the character of the estate and the financial position of the landlord, our view was modified. There were other elements coming in for the tenant as well as the landlord—how many children he would have to provide for, and what were his resources; what were his expectations for the future. Then, again, in some cases the rent may be low and unlikely to fall, while in other cases the rent may be high, and lie almost certain to be reduced. So, in the long run, we were forced to the conclusion that landlords and tenants, the parties to the bargain, were more likely to understand what suited their interests than the State. Where the landlord is under great necessity to sell, and the tenant has great capacity to develop what he buys at a profit, there he will have a high price. Where the conditions are the reverse he will have a low price. So it was our conclusion, and it is still my deliberate opinion that it is better for the State to confirm the arrangement arrived at by the parties by giving a uniform bonus than to attempt to interfere on one point only, 1469 namely, the price as stated in the number of years' purchase. I admit that is a somewhat technical argument, and I do not know whether I have made myself clear to the Chief Secretary. Briefly speaking, where there are so many factors it is a mistake for the State to interfere on one factor and to leave all the others out of account. There is a greater probability that the parties who are seised of the factors will arrive at the right kind of bargain, a high one in one case, and a low one in another, and it would not be absurd but wise if the bonus were a uniform percentage on the bargains arrived at.
Assume, for the sake of argument, in spite of all I have urged against, that the method which the Government now recommend, the method of a bonus based upon a graduated number of years' purchase, is wise, we must weigh very carefully whether it does not diminish and almost abolish the amount of aid which will be given by the State in normal cases, or even in the very great majority of cases. I will make one admission to the Chief Secretary, I grant that in cases of 17 years' purchase the new method of bonus will result in a larger bonus being given than is now the case. That is to say, that if the bargain was one of 17 years' purchase under the scale proposed by the Government, the bonus would be £258, and under the existing scale it is £204. But does anybody who signed the Conference Report suggest for one moment that 17 years' purchase is likely to be the rate at which estates will change hands in Ireland? Those who signed the Conference Report suggested that the landlord should receive over 27 years' purchase with the bonus? Can they believe that the landlord will take 19 years' purchase and pay half the costs as well? They suggested that he was to enjoy 90 per cent. of his income. Can they believe that he will be satisfied with 63 per cent. of his income? I do not believe that those who signed the Report do believe that. I do not believe that anyone who wishes purchase to go on in Ireland believes that. So I may dismiss the idea that 17 years' purchase is Likely to become the rule in Ireland or anything like it. It is only on transactions of 17 years' purchase that the new bonus gives any benefit, and when you arrive at the figures which experience shows to us are likely to rule generally throughout Ireland, the new bonus becomes so small as to be perfectly illusory. I have argued that there has been a tendency in Ireland, 1470 based on the Report of the Conference, and confirmed by the facts which we have reviewed since 1903, that about 24 years' purchase for a good article, and 21 years' purchase for a bad article, is likely to be the rule. At any rate, there has not been any great deviation from that rule. It is worth the Committee's while to consider what the new bonus is in the case of 21 years' purchase on second term rents and what the existing bonus is on 21 years' purchase on second term rents. In the case of 21 years' purchase on second term rents the old bonus gave £252 and in the case of the new bonus £160. In the case of 24 years' purchase, which, I think, has been, and will be, very prevalent, which may continue, and which I do not think will be very largely departed from, the existing bonus gives £288, and the new bonus which the Government are asking us to adopt is £72 instead of £288. Really, that whittles the thing away, and hardly pays for the writing materials and stamps in which the agreements are embodied.
§ The CHIEF SECRETARY for IRELAND (Mr. Birrell)
It is as well to bear in mind that a great number of the law expenses and compensation to agents are no longer paid out of the bonus, as it was contemplated they should be, but they are borne by the estate.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
I do not think that traverses my argument as to the new bonus being inadequate and illusory in comparison with the bonus which at present exists. I do not believe that the right hon. Gentleman—he has had an opportunity to do so—can give us a typical case which shows that any substantial advantage is given by the new bonus in comparison with the bonus which now exists. The overwhelming probability is that you will stop purchase upon the lines into which it has gravitated, with all the complicated factors which beset this problem. You cannot make people sell their property for 17 years' purchase if they depend upon the rent being the whole of their income, and you are making the scale so small when you come to normal cases as to practically withdraw the bonus altogether. Taking what I call the normal practice for the last two years, 24 years' purchase has been got from the tenant, and as things are, the landlord, if he invests at 3¼ per cent. gets £87 a year and not £90. If you carry this Bill he will only get £74. As things are now, the tenant would pay £78 instead of £100; as things will be, he will pay £84, so that the landlord in these 1471 normal cases gets £13 per annum less, and the tenant in normal cases pays £6 per annum more. I call that stopping purchase. These results will only be true where the stock is at par. The disability on the landlord and the disability on the tenant will be aggravated when the stock is below par, and the Government are going to throw the loss on flotation on the landlord in respect of future agreements.
One last word upon the merits of the uniform bonus. The application of the same kind of bonus as we have now would help the parties to bear the losses on flotation. Your stock will not be at par. If it is at 96, you will have a uniform bonus of 12 per cent., and the landlord would get £108; if it is at 98, he would get £110; and if by good fortune it is at par, he would have £112. That automatically would assist the parties to deal with the loss on flotation, because they Mill get more when gilt-edged securities are standing high and it is difficult to invest, and they will get less when gilt-edged securities stand low and it is easy to invest and to derive a better income. That is an argument in favour of a uniform bonus which I ask even those opposed to it to bear in mind. In addition to all these different factors between this estate and that estate, and when losses of flotation fall on the parties, there should be a form of aid which would enable them to invest when stocks are high without losing so much, and which will give them less when stocks are low and they can invest on more profitable terms.
I think I have made my two points. I have urged that the method of the Government is a faulty method, because it ignores these facts and because it adds a new difficulty by placing the loss of flotation on the parties. But even if I am wrong I think I have proved that the application of this new method of the schedule diminishes the amount of aid, which was a capital point in the agreement of 1903, and it adds the third disability of increasing the rate of the tenants' instalments and of giving the landlord stock instead of cash. I see that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hobhouse) who represents the Treasury is prepared to rise and counter all these arguments. It is not for me to anticipate his case, but still I think I can guess from what we have heard what the case of the Government is. I suppose the case of the Government is that after five years they are entitled to revise the bonus of the Act of 1903, Clause 48, section (3), but it is only for 1472 one purpose by the terms of that clause that the Government are entitled to revise the bonus, and that is for the purpose of adjusting the relations between the unexpended balances of the fund and the claims which may be made upon it. Against that plea, which I really think is the only plea the Government have, I merely mention one consideration. The Chief Secretary and I differ widely as to the size of the problem which has to be dealt with. I have laboured that before. I have said my say. I have not even the melancholy satisfaction of saying that time will show, because the action the Government are taking under this clause and previous clauses is such as to stop all future purchase, so that I shall lack the demonstration which time might otherwise form. I urge two considerations against the plea of the Government. I say it is not fair and is not in accordance with the terms of the Act to use this power of reducing the bonus in order to embark upon a new policy which was no part of the policy of 1903. If you think it right to propose a new policy, as in the Bill, that new policy may be good or bad, and ought to be criticised and stand on its own merits, and not to be defended out of the policy on which all parties agreed in the year 1903. In the second place, I say it h not fair to use that power because you revert to an old theory based on the number of years' purchased, which was deliberately abandoned in the year 1903 in view of previous facts, and which has been still further discredited by everything that has happened since that date.
§ Mr. JOHN REDMOND
Before the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hobhouse) rises to make his declaration on behalf of the Treasury, I would submit it would be highly desirable that he should postpone that statement until he has heard a little more of the views entertained in different quarters of the House by Irish Members. For my part I have only a very few words to say, but surely other hon. Gentlemen sitting on these benches ought really to be heard before a definite declaration is made by the Treasury. I recognise, with very great gratitude, the ruling which you have made which enables us to discuss this question somewhat at large upon this Amendment, because otherwise we would have no opportunity really at all of discussing the great questions connected with the bonus. At the same time following this procedure has its disadvantages and grave disadvantages, because it is impos- 1473 sible for us to take a clear issue and to go into the Division Lobby on a clear issue. For example, I am in complete agreement with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover with reference to a large part of his speech, but I am in disagreement with reference to other portions of it. This very Amendment, which is now technically before the Chair, is an Amendment to leave out the first section of the clause, which I could not vote for because I am in favour of the principle of graduation. Therefore, although I gratefully acknowledge that the ruling you have given, at my request indeed, is a proper ruling, and enables us to seize the only opportunity of discussing this question of the bonus, yet it has the gravest possible disadvantages. The chief one is that we will be unable to get a clear issue in the Division Lobbies upon this point on which we are all, I think, practically in agreement, I mean all the Irish Members are in agreement.
With reference to the history of the bonus as narrated by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover, I am in complete agreement. The bonus was undoubtedly an essential portion of the scheme of land purchase put forward in the Act of 1903, and, so far as we are concerned, we did our best to increase the amount of that bonus. Both in private and in public in this House we did our best to increase the amount. I remember arguing myself strongly that the Government ought to accept the suggestion which was made by Mr. John Morley, as he was then, that the amount ought to be 20 millions instead of 12. Ever since then, from that day to this, I have always held the view that the Government are bound, if not by the strict letter of the law, which undoubtedly they are not, but by the spirit of the understanding of 1903, to provide a bonus of sufficient amount to be 12 per cent., or substantially 12 per cent., on the total amount of the purchase money. So that in that respect there is no difference between the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover and myself; or, as far as I know, between hon. Members representing landlord interests and those who represent tenants' interests. We are quite willing to do all that we can to have the spirit, as we understand it, of that understanding of the Act of 1903 carried out. Therefore we are in favour of anything which will enable a larger amount of bonus to be given in the future than is provided for in the present Bill. But the right hon. Gentleman 1474 the Member for Dover and I differ widely as to the distribution of the bonus.
For many years past the Irish National party in this House and in Ireland have been demanding a graduated bonus. It is all very well to say that in 1903 those Nationalist Members who actually proposed a graduated bonus gave up their proposition, and did not press it in the Division Lobby. At any rate, we have the experience now of five years, and I put it to the House generally that this is one of the points connected with Irish land which can easily be grasped even by those hon. Members for England who do not usually follow the intricacies of this question. Is it not an absurd thing, on the face of it, that where the State is giving a gift with the object of inducing landlords to sell and to enable tenants to buy that that gift should be larger in proportion to the size of the purchase money? That is to say, that the more the tenants are paying the more the landlord should get by way of gift, and that the less the landlord is getting from the tenants the less he should get from the State. It is the exact opposite from what ought to be the fact. If the real intention of this bonus were carried out where the tenants cannot afford more than a very low price and where the landlords are prepared to accept that low price, there is the case where the bonus should be high. And in the case where the tenants agree to pay a high price and the landlord gets a very high price, a higher price than the land would fetch in this country, there is the case where the bonus is highest, and there is the case where the bonus ought to be low. Therefore, on that point, I differ radically from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover, and so do my colleagues of the Irish party.
With reference to the precise scheme of graduation proposed in the Bill, we do not agree with it. The reason why we do not agree with it is to be found in my earlier declaration as to the total amount of bonus to be provided. I agree with the right hon. Member for Dover (Mr. Wyndham) that the particular scheme of graduation in the Bill would reduce the amount of the bonus below what is practicable, reasonable, or just. Therefore we object to the scheme of graduation proposed by the Government, and have prepared a scheme of our own. The hon. Member for Mayo (Mr. Dillon) will deal with the new schedule which stands in his name. We do not put it forward as being an ideal scheme of graduation; it would be a very 1475 difficult thing to prepare an ideal and perfect scheme; but we regard it as being better than the scheme of the Government. The Treasury have declared that their scheme of graduation would mean the provision of at least two or three millions additional to the 12 millions of bonus already provided under the Act of 1903. It is very difficult to say exactly how much it will be, but that is their calculation. Our scheme would increase that amount, and that is the point of our proposal. I would most earnestly urge upon the Government that, if the difference between our scheme and theirs is only a couple of millions of money, which will become chargeable, not at once, but gradually, and have to be repaid over a large number of years, they should take this opportunity of making a declaration which will inevitably go to mitigate the opposition to this Bill. My colleagues and I want to see the Bill pass in one shape or another. I believe that every man interested in the future of Ireland and of land purchase in that country desires to see the Bill, amended in certain particulars, passed into law. I ask the Government therefore, at this early stage, not to intensify the opposition, but rather to make a declaration which will go in the direction of easing the situation. I am perfectly sure that Gentlemen representing the landlords in this House and in another place are not at all anxious to wreck the Bill. The wrecking of the Bill would be a very serious matter. They talk of the iniquity of reducing the bonus to 3 per cent. But if this Bill is not passed, the bonus must remain at 3 per cent., because there is not a single farthing which can be added to the 12 millions provided by the Act of 1903. The landlord party will not with a light heart face the possibilities of the future if this Bill is wrecked; and, with that state of mind in existence, the Government can without difficulty so ease the situation as to enable the Bill to go through without imposing any additional burden upon the Treasury or violating any of those principles which they hold dear in connection with this matter. I desire to speak in the interests of conciliation and of fair compromise. There are parts of the Bill, apart from finance, which the landlords do not like. Let them make a concession to us on this point; let us, on the other points which nearly concern them in this question of finance, give every assistance in our power to see that the Bill 1476 is passed in a practical and just form; and let the Government, whose interest, after all, must be as great as, if not greater than, the interest of anybody else, take this early opportunity of holding out some hope of a reasonable compromise, and thus save the Bill from the danger of being defeated and themselves and Ireland from the terrible danger which the future will undoubtedly hold if this Bill is rejected. Therefore I appeal to the Government not hastily to rush into a declaration upon this point, but to listen carefully to what is to be said on all sides, and then to give a conciliatory answer, which will go a long way to ensure the passage of the Bill into law.
§ The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the TREASURY (Mr. Hobhouse)
I rise at this stage, not because I wish in any way to make a pronouncement before I have had an opportunity of hearing what may be said by hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, but in order to reply to the specific Amendment before the Committee, with the knowledge that the Chief Secretary will speak later in the Debate on at all events some of the questions which have been raised or may hereafter arise. There has been one significant identity between all the speeches in the Debate so far. The discussion has been conducted as if there were only two parties to this bargain, namely, the Irish landlords and the Irish tenants, and it has been assumed by all four speakers that the third party to the bargain, namely, the taxpayer of the three countries, is a perfectly negligible quantity, who is perfectly ready to pay whatever the other two parties to the bargain may choose to demand from him. I venture to say that the taxpayer has been singularly generous in meeting a very difficult and complicated case. He has had to face what everybody who has taken any part or interest in the matter knows is one of the most difficult social problems which has confronted any Government or any people; and he has come to the assistance of those who have had to solve that problem with an unflinching spirit and a not unwilling purse. The Mover of the Amendment invented a phrase for describing what is known to us as the bonus. He calls it an additional inducement to landlords in Ireland to soil their property. There are four different methods by which additional inducements could be given to owners of land in Ireland, and, in view of what has been said by the hon. and 1477 learned Member for Waterford (Mr. J. Redmond), it is as well to recall them to the mind of the Committee. There was, first of all, the schedule of 1903. When the right hon. Member for Dover talks about the advantages of a uniform basis, he forgets, or perhaps he does not choose to remember, that he is the one person, so far as I know, who has any love for this uniform basis. The original Bill of 1903 preferred and suggested a sliding scale. The hon. Member for Waterford put down as an Amendment to that Bill, an additional inducement based upon a sliding scale. The Bill, as now introduced into the House, contains suggestions for the bonus upon a sliding scale. Finally, the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) has an Amendment on the Paper in the form of a sliding scale to our proposals. Therefore, I think it may be taken for granted that whether or not the present proposals of the Bill are adequate, either in the view of the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. John Redmond) or the late Chief Secretary for Ireland, that in the opinion of most persons who have studied this question a sliding scale is an infinitely preferable method to what is called a uniform basis. The division between hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway and the Government is as to whether or not a sliding scale is adequate to carry out the purpose which all of us have in view. With reference to the position of the taxpayer in this matter, it is essential that that should be considered. In the original proposals of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover (Mr. Wyndham), in answer to the late Prime Minister (Sir H. Campbell-Bannerman), he expressly declared that he did not mean to go further than a limit of £12,000,000. I suppose his defence would be that it was never anticipated that land purchase would require more than 100 millions of money. Supposing it went over by the sum of not £80,000,000 or £90,000,000, but by £10,000,000 or £12,000,000, or even £20,000,000. Then the provisions of section 48, sub-section (3), of the present Act come in, and it is provided that the Treasury is to revise the percentage for the purpose of adjusting the relation between the unexpected balance of the bonus and the money which still has to be provided for the land on purchase. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover has de-cleared that they were not prepared to go beyond the £12,000,000 for the percentage. If he had found himself in the position indicated, £12,000,000 required, and an unex- 1478 pended balance, he would either have had to reduce his percentage below 12 per cent. or go beyond his declaration.
The Amendment that is before the Committee proposes to take out practically the whole of Clause 5, and to continue the 12 per cent. bonus. I do not suppose that there is any Member who has attended this Debate who is ignorant of the fact that in addition to the burdens already assumed (£12,000,000) by the taxpayers that we are going to add the sum of something like £3,000,000 (by our calculation) to that burden. I do not suppose that anybody will deny—least of all the hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway—that that as a very serious addition to the cost of land purchase in Ireland.
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
I deny that entirely and absolutely. I have no knowledge myself, but my right hon. Friend tells me— and I have every reason to accept his statement—that land purchase in Ireland cannot stop short of the figure of £100,000,000. It is known perfectly well that the pending agreements and the agreements which have been already completed amount to £84,000,000 or £85,000,000. I do not suppose that even the hon. Gentleman the Member for Louth (Mr. Healy), who interrupted me, will say that there is only £15,000,000 required for land purchase?
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
I deny that. To take an extreme case it may stop land purchase at any extravagant price. But is that any particular harm to the tenants? I should imagine from the point of view of the purchasing tenants in Ireland, and, from what I know, from the point of view of a very great number of the land-owners of Ireland, it will by no means put a stop to land purchase, though it may have a retarding effect upon a certain number of transactions. As a matter of fact, while the Treasury bonus is actually at the present time 3 per cent.—not 5 or 6—land agreements are being sent in for valuation.
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
I do not intend to delay the Committee for more than a few moments longer. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid-Armagh (Mr. Lonsdale) talked about the compromise which was arrived at between the 12 per cent., which was the result of the Act of 1903, and the proposed schedule being exceedingly costly. There was no doubt it was exceedingly costly to the State. The scale which we have proposed, although it may not be perfect in every particular, is in principle in agreement with the system that finds favour in every part of the House, with the exception of that section represented by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover. The Government think that the cost to the taxpayer under the schedule is quite a sufficient burden to lay upon him in order to further promote land purchase in Ireland. I do not believe for one single moment that if this question were referred to a plebiscite of the people of the three countries, and a direct answer, "aye" or "no," required as to "whether the total sums provided and the total percentage given was sufficient for the purpose for which it has been devoted, that there would be anything but a response in favour of the Government.
§ Mr. MAURICE HEALY
The plebiscite suggested by the hon. Gentleman would be the most extraordinary process of referendum ever witnessed in this or any other country. The challenge is a safe one, and one which will never entail on the right hon. Gentleman any danger of humiliation in the shape of his words being reversed. I am glad, at any rate, that the hon. Gentleman in his observations has contented himself with merely negativing the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman on the other side. He has not irrevocably committed the Government against an Amendment in some form to their scheme. In my criticisms it is only fair that I should begin by acknowledging that the subject is not at all a simple one. It is as difficult a subject as Parliament can possibly have to deal with. I am fully alive to that fact. I believe it to be impossible to conceive any scheme for dealing with a bonus which is not open to some objection, and against which some argument cannot be made. The fact that we cannot invent a perfect scheme for the distribution of the bonus is, at any rate, no reason why we should not endeavour to find the best scheme possible. Of one thing I am perfectly satisfied, that the scheme of the Government does not answer that description, and that, on the 1480 contrary, it comes far nearer the other end, and perilously approaches the point of being the worst possible solution of the bonus problem. The first thing we have to recognise is that this proposal changes the law, and accordingly the first question that arises is this: Is it a change for the better? The answer to that question necessarily depends upon how you regard land purchase. We are all in this House professedly in favour of land purchase, and accordingly the answer to the question whether this is a good change in the law depends upon the question, Will it accelerate or retard land purchase? I have a very strong opinion that if anything was left to kill land purchase after the passing of the first clause of tins Bill in the form in which it stands, this would give land purchase its coup de grâce. Let us take seriatim the different methods of dealing with the bonus. We have in the first place the existing law, or that which existed up to last December, what I would call the flat rate of 12 per cent. The objections to that rate are very evident. Instead of following the principle of "filling the hungry with good things" and "sending the rich empty away," it adopts the other Gospel view and says, "Whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath." In other words, it puts a premium upon high prices. The more the landlord can persuade his tenant to give, or the more the landlord can extort from the tenant, the higher the bonus the landlord receives, and the more reasonably he deals with the tenant, the more moderate the price he asks, the less money the Treasury will pay him in the form of bonus. That is the objection to the present system, and the first, criticism that occurs to one is this: Is this a very deep objection? It is an objection that lies upon the surface, and must have been perfectly evident to the minds of the framers of the Act of 1903. That Act was passed with the good wishes of all parties, who agreed on a flat bonus or even a bonus of 12 per cent. It had its evils and its disadvantages. On the other hand, there were some compensating advantages, so that if you went further and invented another scheme you might fare worse. An alternative scheme might have greater disadvantages; but, while that is so, I think the Government are entitled to say, as the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury has said, that whatever the view of Parliament was in 1903, whatever the view of the 1481 Irish party or of the Government or the country, we have had five years' experience, and I freely concede that these five years have produced some very unexpected results in the developments of the problems of land purchase.
There has unquestionably been a boom in Irish land; the prices of Irish land have been enhanced and increased to a degree which no one could have expected, and when you find the poor, oppressed, and plundered landlord getting 28 years' purchase from his tenants, and then getting 3 per cent. bonus, why, then, if you were a land reformer, and were at it 30 years, your gorge does rise. Therefore, I quite agree the Government are entitled to say that the experience of the last five years has shown that there seems to be some abuse in the working of the present system of bonus that requires correction. If I have a pain in my head, you must not cure it by cutting it off, and it occurs to me that is very like what this clause does. I was not in Parliament when the Act of 1903 was passed, and I confess it was a matter of great astonishment to me when I read those proceedings that Parliament as a whole should have deliberately abandoned the principle of a sliding scale and adopted this method of the even rate. It was not until I saw the Government clause in this Bill that I recognised all that was to be said for a 12 per cent. bonus, and if the Government clause is to be the last word that is to be said in favour of a sliding scale, then I say a sliding scale is a mere will-o'-the-wisp, which, instead of leading us on to the path of safe land purchase, will simply land us in a morass. Let me, in the first place, say a word as to the particular sliding scale the Government have adopted, because my objection to their clause as a whole does not rest upon their particular sliding scale. I say it is impossible to stand over the Government's sliding scale. The supposed object of a sliding scale is to give the landlord who is content with a moderate price a larger bonus, and to give the landlord who insists upon a large purchase price a smaller bonus. Does the sliding scale in the Bill do that or does the alternative sliding scale—standing in the name of the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. John Dillon)—do it? Neither of them do it, because you must begin by distinguishing between first term rents and second term rents, which neither schedule does.
1482 Take the landlord who sells at 23 years' purchase of second term rents; that is a rate of purchase which is very common in Ireland. If the landlord is selling at a fair price when he gets 23 years' purchase of second term rents he is committing an act of extortion if he demands 23 years purchase of first term rents. The sliding scale of the Government and of the hon. Member for Mayo hands over exactly the same bonus to the landlord who sells at a fair price on second term rents to the landlord who exacts the exorbitant price of 23 years' purchase of first term rents. That is the first effect of these schedules. To have anything like a sliding scale that will stand any equitable test you must begin by distinguishing between first term rents and second term rents. I see no difficulty in amending the schedule in that respect. I am only surprised that the hon. Member for East Mayo should have put down a schedule without that distinction. Take the third case of non-judicial tenants. The test of the number of years' purchase is no test at all for dealing with non-judicial rents. When you are told that a rent is a first or a second term judicial rent then you have a clear idea of its fairness, and you have a rough estimate of what the tenant may buy at on that rent from the fact that you are told that it is a first or second term rent. But when you are simply told that it is a non-judicial rent you know nothing about it, and it may be very low or very high. Take the case of an old beneficial lease held almost at a nominal rent, and there are many such cases. Suppose the tenant has still a few years to run at a very low rent. The moment his lease is out the landlord will take him into the Land Court and get the rent raised to what the Court may decide is a fair rent. That is a non-judicial rent, and it is so low that the tenant never had any occasion to go into court. If a man has a low rent he may buy at 100 years' purchase, and still be buying at a fair price. Take the case of the tenants who are paying high rents, some of them most extortionate rents. In the case of a man who is paying an extortionate rent the landlord will get 23 years' purchase, and he will get the same bonus as the landlord who has been receiving the low rent. Such a proposal is not worthy of criticism. The proposal before us is one to change the law in order to distribute the bonus on fair lines, and my point is that this Bill does not do that. When you are proposing a new schedule the least you can do is 1483 to carefully consider it, and draw it up on lines which will be just and equitable. I do not, however, base my objection solely on the ground that the schedule is a bad one. It would be easy to draw up a schedule containing a good sliding scale, and I think I have already indicated the lines on which the schedule should be drawn in my Amendment. Take the test of valuation which must take place in the case of non-judicial rents. You may then give the flat rate of 20 per cent. bonus to any landlord who cares to sell on the terms agreed upon by the court. What is the weak point in the clause? It is sub-section (b). An equitable sliding scale is only possible on one condition, and that is that you are dealing only with absolute owners, and then the sliding scale is an ideal method of distributing the bonus. But the bonus is not intended principally for the absolute owner, who really requires no bonus at all. As a matter of fact, the absolute owner is a negligible quantity, because the amount of land held in Ireland by the absolute owner is quite insignificant. If you are devising a perfect sliding scale, I say that you should distinguish between the absolute owner and the limited owner, but it is not worth doing, because there are too few absolute owners to make that process worth the attention of Parliament. The bonus is not intended for the absolute owner, because he is the man who gets his 23 or 24 years' purchase, pays off his mortgages, and invests in any securities he likes. That man requires no bonus, and it was not for him that the bonus was intended. Therefore you must argue this clause as one principally relating to limited estates in settlement, the vendors of which are limited owners. Accordingly we must assume that sub-section (b) will practically operate in every case. This sub-section is worse than useless. We are told that the bonus is something in the nature of a temptation or an inducement. The first business of a temptation is to tempt, and the first business of an inducement is to induce. Does anyone contend that this proposal does either? The relations between the remainder man and the tenant for life are proverbially unfriendly. The tenant for life may be an absolute stranger in blood. He may be a son-in-law or a son-in-law married to a second wife. It is true that in some cases he occupies a much nearer and dearer relationship, but it is the experience of mankind that even in those 1484 cases when one is tenant for life and the other remainder man, the position is not conducive to pleasant intercourse, and to hand 7½ per cent. to the remainder-man is, to use a vulgar phrase, chucking it away. It is no inducement of any kind; it is a profligate waste of public money. If any one would work out how much the tenant for life will benefit by getting 7½ per cent. he will find that it will be a very insignificant amount indeed. I have taken the trouble to calculate it. I believe it amounts to something like 5s. per £100, £2 10s. per £1,000, and £25 per £10,000. That is the extent to which the tenant for life will benefit. As long as that sub-section exists the clause is worthless and use less; and, instead of improving the law, it greatly disimproves it. I am glad the hon. Member for Mayo (Mr. J. Dillon) has given notice to move the omission of that particular sub-section, but I would recommend him, before he decides to give any support to the clause, to be sure his Amendment will be accepted.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
It is perfectly true I stand before this Committee as having myself concocted sub-clause (b). I attached very considerable importance to it. Owing to the fact that I have for over 30 years been a conveyancing counsel, I felt it my duty to look after this strange conglomeration of persons called remainder-men— sons, or sons-in-law, or whatever they may be. I think I overlooked a certain important section in the Act of 1903 which would show that the fears I had as to certain fraudulent transactions where aged tenants for life with very small interests for the remainder of their days were anxious to secure large sums of money to leave to their own friends rather than to those selected for them by the original settlers were unreasonable, because that section enables any person having an interest in the price to appear and represent that justice in the case is not being met. Having regard to that, I am not at all disposed, jutting aside my own amour propre, to insist on that sub-clause.
§ Mr. JOHN REDMOND
In the event of this Debate going on until the Closure comes into operation, it will be impossible to reach the Amendment or have it put unless the Government themselves put it, and I would ask the right hon. Gentleman, in that event, to move the omission of this sub-section himself.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Mr. Caldwell)
I am afraid the Government would require to give notice of any new Amendments before they could be put after the Closure.
§ Mr. MAURICE HEALY
That is an important declaration, and I, for my part, am glad to hear it; but the right hon. Gentleman has based it on the wrong ground. He says he is satisfied that the interests of the remainder-men would be safeguarded by those remainder-men being able to appear. That is not the case so long as the estate is sold within the zone. If you are selling outside the zone, the remainder-man may object, but, if you are selling within the zone, he cannot object.
§ Mr. MAURICE HEALY
I am glad to have got this declaration, but when the right hon. Gentleman accepts the Amendment I hope another matter will receive favourable consideration as well. Let us examine the case from all points of view. What would the court of equity say about driving a trustee to betray his trust? If the tenant for life exercises the power of a vendor under the Land Act he is a trustee. That has been decided over and over again. Is Parliament to bribe the tenant for life to betray his trust? That is what it is. It says: "We will give you a high bonus if you sell at a low price, and we will give you a low bonus if you will sell at a high price." What was only an innocent temptation and inducement under the existing law becomes a corrupt bribe when you say to the tenant for life: "You sacrifice the interests of your remainder-man, and we will compensate you personally by pouring sovereigns into your pocket." I am not here, however, to look after the doctrines of equity, but to further land purchase. I concede at once that without sub-section (b) this clause from the land purchase point of view, from the point of view of facilitating land purchase and inducing the landlords to sell, is a great improvement. For that reason, and notwithstanding the doctrine of equity and the position of the trustee, I welcome the right hon. Gentleman's declaration. I hope that when the Bill gets to another place a similarly generous view will be taken of the situation, and that there it will be 1486 considered that the interests of land purchase and of a great public policy should stand before any of those doctrines of equity which may crop up. Being ignorant that the right hon. Gentleman was prepared to make this concession, I had got up a scheme of my own, but I am bound to confess that I am as well pleased with the clause of the right hon. Gentleman as with the one I had drafted. Indeed, I should be inclined to say that the former is the better. I am thankful that my intervention in the Debate has had the effect of inducing the right hon. Gentleman to make his statement, and I freely admit that the result has been to remove many of my objections.
§ Mr. J. H. M. CAMPBELL
Anyone who heard the speech of the Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Hobhouse) must have felt that some better defence of the proposals embodied in this clause was required at the hands of the Government. The speech was somewhat contemptuous in its tone; it was certainly very cursory, and it did not adequately meet the grave questions arising under this clause. The right hon. Gentleman's first allegation was that there is no general demand in favour of a uniform rate of bonus. I do not know what is his authority for that proposition. So far as I am aware, any person acquainted with the difficulties attaching to a graduated scale has come to the conclusion that there is no escape from it except through the adoption of a uniform system. When the hon. and learned Member for Water ford stated that the proposition for a uniform bonus was absurd, I confess it struck me he must have forgotten that, at the very outset of this controversy, as between a uniform bonus and a graduated bonus, in the month of May, 1903, he unhesitatingly declared himself in favour of a uniform system of bonus. I will read his words to you, because they are very important, not merely as illustrating the opinion of the representative of the tenants of Ireland that a uniform system was the only possible one, but it was the idea also of all classes in Ireland interested in the question. The hon. and learned Member spoke on 4th May, 1903, in this House on the proposal of the right hon. Member for Dover, that there should be a graduated scale of bonus, and he said:—The effect of this will be to keep large estates out of the market, because in such cases, as far as the bonus is concerned, there will cease to be absolutely any inducement to sell at all. Public opinion in Ireland has taken a very decided course on this matter 1487 The National Convention, the Landlords' Convention, and Lord Dunraven's Committee are absolutely at one in urging the desirability of having a uniform bonus, of making that bonus 15 per cent. all round on the purchase-money from the beginning, provided that no landlord shall get the advantage of a bonus who does not initiate proceedings for the sale of his estate within live years.In the face of that declaration and the statement of the hon. and learned Gentleman in 1903, that a uniform system was the only way by which justice and fair play could be worked out all round—at any rate that was the idea of all parties interested in the question—I was amazed to hear him declare to-day that the proposal for a uniform bonus was absurd.
§ Mr. JOHN REDMOND
The Irish party themselves, in 1903, put a graduated bonus Amendment on the Paper, and repeatedly during the last five years the Nationalist party and Nationalist Conventions have passed resolutions declaring in favour of a graduated bonus.
§ Mr. CAMPBELL
I do not think that that is putting the position quite correctly. What was the position in 1903? In the early part of May in that year the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover was insisting upon a sliding scale, and it was in reference to that insistence that the hon. and learned Member for Waterford made the observations which I have just quoted. Those observations were put forward by him as the views of the party he then represented, not only as the views of his colleagues in this House, but also as the views of the tenant farmers. That was the contention he put forward in opposition of the proposal that there should be a sliding scale. It is quite true that the hon. and learned Gentleman did afterwards put down an Amendment for a sliding scale, with the view of forcing the hands of the Government, but it was a sliding scale wholly different and more generous than that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover. But he never moved it, because, in face of that Amendment, my right hon. Friend gave way on the principle of the sliding scale and adopted a uniform system. No more was heard of the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Waterford, so that the suggestion that there was any other view taken of this question by hon. Members from Ireland below the Gangway in 1903, when they were loyally endeavouring to carry out the arrangements made at the Land Conference, is contradicted by the facts of the case. The hon. Member 1488 for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon), although he did not approve of the method by which the uniform bonus was to be worked out, namely, 12 per cent., declared himself in favour of a uniform bonus of three years' purchase of rental. Therefore, notwithstanding the curious suggestion of the Financial Secretary for the Treasury that there was no opinion in favour of a uniform bonus, the right hon. Gentleman must have forgotten what occurred at that particular period, because, when it became a matter of acute controversy, all the parties capable of speaking for the interests concerned declared in favour of a system of uniform bonus. I was rather interested in the observations of the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Maurice Healy), because he proceeded to demonstrate that apart from these provisions about the remainder-man, a bonus on such a sliding scale as was contemplated by this clause was hopelessly unjust and unfair, and would destroy land purchase, and yet he wound up his interesting speech by declaring that he was going to support it. [Mr. MAURICE HEALY dissented.] The last observation of the hon. Member was that now that the Chief Secretary had given way on this limitation in reference to the remainder-man, he thought this clause was a great improvement on the Act of 1903, and he would support it. [Mr. MAURICE HEALY: "The clause."] I wonder when he thinks the time will arrive when he thinks he will be able to make Amendments to the clause; but he finally supported the clause, and I should have thought that as a logical consequence he should have followed up his opposition by voting against it, because he demonstrated how utterly impossible it is, having regard to the position which has to be faced in Ireland, to deal with this question of bonus on anything but a uniform system. He has pointed out with great cogency that a sliding scale which does not make a distinction between first and second term rents and non-dutiable rent is unfair, and he also pointed out that, notwithstanding this concession of the right hon. Gentleman, which he says is the inducing factor with him to support this clause, that the effect would be to give a direct bribe to the tenant for life to sell and betray the interest of the remainder-man. He pointed out that that was practically to make a corrupt bargain with the tenant for life; and yet, having torn this clause and everything connected with it into fragments, 1489 and having shown that, apart altogether from the provision about the remainder-man, the sliding scale would destroy land purchase, the hon. Member wound up by saying that it was his intention to support the clause.
I should like to show why, in my opinion, the effect of this clause will be to inevitably, I will not say destroy land purchase in Ireland, because there no doubt will be some necessitous landlords who will be driven to sell at almost any price or on any terms, but, speaking generally, I do not think anyone who is acquainted with the facts and the history of land purchase in Ireland can entertain for one moment a doubt that the effect of the proposal will be to destroy land purchase in the sense of a general transfer of land from the landlords to the tenants in Ireland. The Financial Secretary to the Treasury congratulated himself upon the imaginary fact that they were going to add three millions to the bonus; but then he proceeded to give the whole case away by demonstrating that the effect of these provisions as to the bonus must be to interfere with and deteriorate land purchase, because that addition of three millions can only be required in the event of 17 years' purchase becoming the normal rate of purchase in Ireland. If anything above that becomes the normal rate, and it remains at 23 or 24, the Government add not one sixpence to the bonus, and they escape any considerable contribution, and there can be no more ridiculous claim than that the Treasury, out of the goodness of their hearts, add three millions to the bonus in regard to land purchase. Such a claim is utterly illusory and misleading, and nobody can doubt that future transactions in the country will be carried out at the rate of 17 years' purchase. I put it be hon. Gentlemen opposite whether they will concede for one moment that where there has been since 1903 a well-settled practice by which as the result of the bargains between landlord and tenant, under the operation of the Act of 1903, an average rate of 24 years' purchase has been established, which was the average rate required by the Land Conference, and which is required if this House is to remain true to what it pledged itself in 1903—I put it to them that if that is the average price whether it is one sixpence in excess of what the treaty of peace contemplated? I say that 24 years without bonus has been the result of those sales under the Act of 1903, and it requires in the case 1490 of second term rents that number of years' purchase to carry out the agreement with the Land Conference which was inserted in the Land Act of 1903.
This is within the knowledge of every person in Ireland, particularly of the farmers, and I am happy to say that they have never taken up the attitude which their representatives here have taken up of repudiating that Land Conference or the terms. They have never complained to my knowledge, and I probably know as many of them as hon. Members below the Gangway—I have never heard from one of them a single complaint or suggestion that under any of the purchase terms under the bargains since the Act of 1903, they had had to pay a penny too much. If that is so, and if 24 years' purchase on the second term rent is an essential condition for carrying through the great concordat of 1903, is it not plain that when the Government come in and inevitably destroy that, whatever their intention may be, the result will be that they will delay, interfere with, and retard land purchase?
But the worst feature in connection with this proposal is that it proposes to set up a second and distinct class of vendors in Ireland. Vendors, to the tune of something between £50,000,000 and £80,000,000, have already sold on the basis of getting—and will get—the 12 per cent. bonus. You now think you can set up a second class of vendors who are to get from 15 per cent. to nothing. You will not get them, and if you did the result would be to create the greatest possible dissatisfaction, just in the same way as by raising your tenants' annuity in the case of future transactions you are going under this Bill to set up a new class of purchasing owners who will have purchased on less favourable terms, and who therefore will feel a constant grievance, to which they will give very early and very serious expression. But you are also endeavouring to set up a new class of vendors, who will receive less favourable terms, and all because this great Empire cannot afford a few more millions in order to keep terms with the landlords, who are still willing to sell and in order to carry out that great treaty of peace which was finally, as it was supposed, ratified in the year 1903. In that year Lord Morley expressed his great regret that this bonus, instead of being only £12,000,000, had not been £20,000,000. If it had been £20,000,000, it would have given 12 per cent. to every landlord in Ireland, even on the extravagant basis of the right hon. 1491 Gentleman opposite, namely, that £180,000,000 worth of property would go to the market under the operation of the Act of 1903. In carrying out this great measure, surely we must not calculate merely upon the actual pounds, shillings, and pence. In regard to this question of land transfer, there has never been any opinion expressed but one—I am afraid there have been other opinions at work, though not expressed—in any part of the House, and that was as to the financial effects of the land purchase system and as to the desirability of encouraging and promoting it in every particular. You are now asked to go on a line which will certainly retard and delay, and I believe ultimately and inevitably destroy the completion of this great work, and all with the view of saving one or two millions of money. I think the Government have been very ill-advised in interfering with the bonus.
It is said their justification is that under the Act provision was made that at the end of five years it was to be revised if, in the opinion of the Government, the balances left would not be sufficient to spread out 12 per cent. on the remaining property to be purchased. That is quite true, but the idea in the mind of those who framed it, and the understanding on which it was passed, was that, the problem involved only about £100,000,000 worth of property, and that £12,000,000 would have been quite sufficient to give 12 per cent. on every £. The spirit of the arrangement was that every vendor of land was to get his 12 per cent. bonus upon the transaction. I quite agree that from financial depression and other causes, and perhaps the extension of the principle of land purchase beyond what was originally contemplated, it is likely that the problem will exceed £100,000,000, but surely all that that ought to involve is an extension of the principle and of the understanding of the Act of 1903 by the Treasury providing whatever sum will be necessary to secure to those who remain a bonus at the same rate as those who have already purchased. At least I would suggest that the Treasury and the Government might have waited until the time had actually arrived, or was on the eve of arriving, when this £12,000,000 would be exhausted. But upon any hypothesis there are still 1½ millions unexhausted. The right hon. Gentleman was not bound to interfere with the bonus at the end of five years. The provision in the Act is that if the Government of the day, having regard to the amount 1492 of bonus already expended, and the property purchaseable contrasted with the property that they think is coming into the market, came to the conclusion that there would not be enough bonus left to give the 12 per cent. on the remaining property, they might, if they wished, revise the bonus. At the moment the five years were up they did it. They jumped unnecessarily and too soon, because no one can yet possibly say what the amount of the property coming into the market will be, and until the bonus of £12,000,000 was practically exhausted it was unnecessary and unwise to interfere with the 12 per cent. But be that as it may, it is a wholly different question how you are to deal with future transactions. In my opinion a proposal which will necessarily involve that in order to carry it out you are to cut down the rate of purchase from 24 to 17 years' purchase must necessarily interfere with and seriously delay land purchase.
As to the scale itself, it seems to me to offer this manifest absurdity on the face of it. Take any single one of these years from 17 to 23, and any landlord will be better off, taking the diminished bonus with the sliding scale—for instance, by selling at 18 years' purchase, and getting the diminished bonus than, if he sells at 17 years' purchase and gets a larger bonus; and if he sells at 19 he is better off than if he sold at 18, though he gets the additional year's bonus. So far from offering any inducement to the landlord to come to an arrangement with his tenants and take another year off the purchase money, making it up by the extra bonus, it has the very opposite effect, and in order to get an adequate price it will be necessary for the landlord to push the number of years' purchase up to the very highest limit of the scale if he is going to get anything at all approaching to the figures which have been made since 1903. Whatever may be said now it is impossible for any hon. Gentleman who was any party to the Act of 1903, or to the arrangement which preceded it, to complain for a moment in reference to these prices, except in a few isolated cases, because in 90 per cent. of the cases the prices realised were exactly those which were necessary and essential if the understanding was to be loyally and honourably carried out.
§ Mr. JOHN DILLON
The hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Maurice Healy) put a question to the Government about section (3) of this clause, and about the intention announced by the right hon. Gentleman that 1493 the Government would accept my Amendment and remove the section. The hon. Member, to my great surprise, did not seem to be very much gratified at the announcement, because he said that the immediate result would be corrupt bargains if the sliding scale was retained. I hope and trust we shall not hear that admission used as an argument when the Bill goes to another place in favour of re-inserting the section. The hon. Member expressed great anxiety about the fate of this particular Amendment, to which I attach the greatest possible importance. He expressed some concern as to the possible fate of the Amendment at the hands of the landlords in the House of Lords. I do not share that anxiety. I think he will find that the representatives of the landlords here will support, my Amendment, and that they are in favour of omitting section (3). I should be surprised if the landlords in this House objected to the whole bonus going to the tenant for life.
I wish for a few moments to deal with the somewhat severe criticism which the sliding scale was subjected to by the hon. Member for Cork. He applied the same criticism to the Government proposal as to the Amendments which I have on the Paper. I may say that in one respect his criticism of my Amendment was sound, because, owing to a little inadvertence, words were omitted which I fully intended to be placed in my Amendment. But they were omitted because my schedule was only a substitute for that of the Government, which said that the number of years' purchase was to be calculated in accordance with instructions issued by the Treasury. I thought it was better to accept the words of the Government than to attempt to set down an average differentiating the scale as between judicial and non-judicial rents. There are two ways in which you can deal with the matter. One is by taking a general average on certain fair and equitable priciples and taking the number of years' purchase as a whole, and the other to provide a system of scaling down in accordance with the prices obtained and which are published in the Returns of the Land Commission.
§ Mr. DILLON
I do not agree with the hon. Member in that. I long ago came to the conclusion that it was absolutely impossible to devise any scheme for distributing the bonus which would not be 1494 open to criticism, and which would not present some anomaly. There is no scheme which can be devised by human ingenuity which will not be open to criticism. What you are to aim at is the best scheme which is possible. And I believe it will be perfectly possible to provide a scheme for scaling down the non-judicial rents. We have a Return showing the amount for five years, and, though there are certain exceptional cases they would not affect the general justice of the scheme at all. Approximately, and as far as justice can be reached in human affairs, a scheme could be devised for scaling down in accordance with the average prices obtained under the Land Purchase Act during the last five years. This Bill proposes to deal with future tenants, and offers to every tenant an opportunity of going into court and getting his rent fixed. If the Bill passes into law, these future tenants, either by going into court or by concessions on the part of the landlords to keep them from going into court, will pass into the category of judicial tenants, and therefore I say that the hon. Member's criticism that a sliding scale is absolutely impossible is in my opinion, futile and untenable. The hon. Member poured ridicule on the sliding scale, but I think it is perfectly practicable. I quite admit that you cannot get perfection. In any scheme which you may adopt you could pick holes. The hon. Member for Cork, in the course of his criticism, called attention to the fact that gross and grotesque injustice would be done. He said, "It is now proposed to alter the law, and therefore we must inquire whether that alteration will be an improvement or the reverse." I wish to call attention to the fact that the hon. Member proceeded to compare the old 12 per cent. bonus with the new sliding scale, but you cannot do that. What we have to compare is the 3 per cent. bonus which, if the law is not altered, is what the landlords have got to face. Therefore I say the Government proposal, although I am no supporter of it, is a great improvement on the law as it stands, even from the point of view of hon. Members above the Gangway. When you take the altered law you must remember the standards with which you have got to compare.
Let me say one or two words in reference to the speech of the Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Hobhouse). He was eager to get up early in the Debate to put the case of the taxpayer, for whom he is always anxious to speak. I wondered 1495 myself a good deal why the taxpayer was not heard of in 1903? It was then, if the right hon. Gentleman wanted to defend the interests of the taxpayer, that he ought to have appeared on the Floor of the House. But in that year, with the assent of all parties, Parliament set up a system which I myself was not wildly enthusiastic about. It was set up with the universal assent of all sections in the House. It is a system to which the honour of Parliament is pledged, and I say that you are bound to see that system through. I have been engaged in struggles against grants of public money from the rates on the Public Exchequer, where I believed the taxpayers were being badly handled, and one of the reasons why I have engaged in these struggles is that when you enter upon a road of that kind you cannot turn back. You have adopted this principle of bonus in Ireland, and I say that it is impossible for Parliament to go back. If you wanted to protect the interests of the taxpayer, that was the time that the taxpayer should have been looked after. It was the first occasion in the history of the House on which the principle was departed from in land purchase in Ireland that Irish land purchase was to pay its way. Up to 1903 Irish land purchase paid its way, and was a perfectly sound financial operation. You departed from that principle in 1903, and you are bound, having assumed the obligation to carry out the operation to a conclusion on the lines according to the principle which you then accepted.
I may remind the House that in 1902 the programme of the Irish party was not to have those great alterations made in financing the Land Act. What we asked for was compulsory sale. Ireland was in an extremely disturbed condition; coercion was in force; our country was in a state of wild agitation. Our programme was compulsory sale. But the representatives of the Irish Government of the day came forward and said: "We will not grant compulsory sale." And then this proposal of a bonus was put forward as an alternative to compulsory sale in order to carry out if possible this whole scheme on a voluntary basis. Therefore, I am perfectly justified in saying that the whole principle of the bonus was really an English proposal, a proposal of the English Government as an alternative to compulsory sale. Therefore, you have no right to throw the bonus in our face and say that we are committed on this question. 1496 No doubt we supported it, and I think perfectly rightly supported it; but we supported it when we were told that we should not get compulsory sale, and that this was the only alternative. And we did think—though I was rather sceptical at the time—that the bonus might result in inducing voluntary sale to go forward without any large increase in price. One hon. Member has read an extract from one of my speeches on the Land Bill in 1903 expressing approval of the bonus, in which I said that it was better to spend this money on the bonus than to waste it on police. Yes, but Previously I had pointed out over and over again that the only hope of peace in Ireland was that the landlords would be content to accept the bonus and leave prices at the same level as they were before 1903. The hon. Member for Cork, Mr. William O'Brien—I was looking at the extract the other day—who was almost leading our party on this particular question, declared in the course of the Debates that if the landlords in Ireland were to demand a penny more than the level of Ashbourne Act prices it would be mad and criminal, and it was on that supposition that he approved so strongly of the bonus. Over and over again I myself laid down the principle that this bonus would work for good and bring peace to Ireland if the landlords were content to take the same scale of prices that they had been content to take up to 1903. What has happened? The price has risen enormously—risen from the level of an average of 17 years' purchase in depreciated stock up to an average, excluding the bonus, of 23 years' purchase in cash. The result has been that the savings promised in the police by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Wyndham) have not been effected. On the contrary, I think that the police are costing more now than they did then. The reason is because the landlords were not reasonable, and so there has been friction and trouble to a great extent in the country.
Turning to the question of the graduated scale, I cannot understand why there should be any difference of opinion in the House on the principle of the graduated scale. On the present basis, as was pointed out by the hon. and learned Member for Waterford (Mr. J. Redmond), the more the landlord gets from the tenant the more he gets from the State. How can that be defended? Look how it works out. We have heard the statement to which we were so accustomed in the past about the landlords who cannot afford to sell unless they 1497 get their own income. I have known cases in Ireland, and many cases, in which the landlords, by selling under this Act, got not only their net income, but a great deal more than their net income. They are not exceptions. They are exceedingly common. Take the famous case of the Duke of Leinster. Is it or is it not the fact that the Duke of Leinster got £80,000 bonus, having got 24½ years' purchase for his estate? [Mr. KILBRIDE: "Twenty-five."] Is it not the fact that the Duke of Leinster is to-day £3,000 or £4,000 a year more to the good that he was before he sold? That as exceedingly common. A case was brought to my notice in the early days of the Land Act in which a landlord told a friend of mine that he had a small estate in Ireland from which for 12 years he had not got a shilling. It was a heavily encumbered estate, and he was coming home at this particular period. He said, "This new Land Act is the grandest thing that ever was heard of." My friend said, "Why so?" He said, "I have just sold my estate, and whereas for 12 years I have never got a shilling, I am now en-enjoying an income of £400 a year amply secured on excellent security." These are cases where the estates are heavily mortgaged. But those are very common in Ireland. Half the Irish estates are heavily mortgaged, and, in my opinion, more than 50 per cent. of the Irish landlords are getting an addition to their net incomes by selling on the present terms. That is my conviction.
Take another case which occurred recently. I have the figures here. Here is an estate of which the gross rental was £818, less a fee farm grant head rent of £50. That leaves £768 first term rents. There was in this case what is common still in Ireland—an habitual abatement given from year to year which prevented the tenants from going into court. The result was that all the landlord was receiving was £513, or, deducting the head rent of £50, all he was receiving was £463 out of a nominal rental of £818. When he sold, the net proceeds of sale, after all interests had been settled and the head rent redeemed, were £16,600, amounting to 22½ years' purchase. The result is he gets £664, having invested the money at 4 per cent., on what is described by the landlord himself as very good security, whereas he was only getting £463 from the land. Those cases are much more common than is generally supposed, and I say deliberately that if certain Amendments which I have put down to this Act, 1498 extending the power of trustees to invest are accepted, it is perfectly possible to get from £3 15s. to £4 per cent. in securities far better than the security of Irish land. And, after all, what can a remainder man or a trustee ask for more than to have a security equal to that which he has at present? We have heard a great deal about landlords who sold under the old system. That was years before the Act of 1903, when the landlords were selling on the average at 17 years' purchase all through Ireland.
§ Mr. DILLON
About £2,000,000 a year, and it is a mistake to say that they were not continuing to sell at 17 years' purchase on depreciated stock and no bonus. Now they are getting 23 years' purchase and a bonus. And there is this great and most important difference, that they can get at least half per cent. more for their money now than they could get in the days of 17 years' purchase. Money was a drag on the market in those days, and it was only the beginning of the fall in Consols. At present you can get for the same class of security a quarter or half per cent. more, so that £100 now is worth a good deal more from the point of view of the man with a settled estate than it was in those days with 17 years' purchase. I want to say a word in favour of the scheme of bonus which I have put down. It is a good deal more generous to the landlords than the scheme of the Government, and I myself am prepared, in view of events and the policy to which this House committed itself in 1903, to argue that the Government are bound to increase their proposals at least to the level of the scheme I have drawn up. That scheme would give to the landlords 12 per cent. on every purchase not over 20 years' purchase, where the estate is really in the basis of second term rents; 11 per cent. over 21 years, and 10 per cent. over 22 years. The right hon. Gentleman has said that there was nothing in my scheme to induce the landlords to accept bonus prices. The right hon. Gentleman seems to think no sliding scale can be of any use from that point of view, or defensible from our point of view, unless the bonus applied to the price of 17 years' purchase exceeds the bonus applied to the price of 18 years' purchase. To propose such a scheme would be perfectly ludicrous and childish. What would the Treasury say? I am no lover of the Treasury myself, but we must have 1499 common-sense in this matter. If you work out my scheme, you will find that the inducement is exceedingly great. Because, on the basis of 19 years' purchase, if a man has an estate worth £1,000 he gets £19,000 and the bonus of £2,650; on the basis of 20 years' purchase he would get £20,000 for his estate and a bonus of £2,400, or a total of £22,400. That is to say, the total price would be only £350 more than the 19 years' purchase transaction. But, on the other hand, the inducement to the landlord is that the tenant for life would get £2,650 cash free of settlement, whereas, under the higher price, he would only get £2,400, free of settlement. The real way in which this bonus works is that you have a tenant for life who, perhaps, cannot lay his hand on one penny cash, and he gets a large sum free of settlement by selling under the present system. It is idle to tell me that this graduated system will not act as a powerful inducement to Irish landlords to accept the more moderate price. According as the price goes lower, the free cash gets larger and larger. Therefore I claim that this graduated bonus would act as a considerable inducement to the landlords to accept the more moderate price. The Secretary to the Treasury made an estimate that the Government scale of bonus would involve three millions, in addition to the 12 millions. I entirely differ. I believe if the Government scale of bonus is put into the Bill it will involve a very small addition indeed. It is perfectly impossible to calculate what sum of money will be involved by any particular graduation of the bonus. It depends on the price the landlords would take. My own calculation leads me to suppose that the scale I have put down would at the outset involve an addition to the bonus of four millions sterling. That is accepting the Government calculation of the amount of land to be sold. Therefore, I say that this clause, in my opinion, is a great improvement in the law. And, in so far as the principle is accepted of a graduated bonus, I heartily support the Government proposal. I have every reason to hope that the Government will be open to reason on this question. The Government are sincerely desirous of passing this Bill. I think there are signs already manifesting themselves that the representatives of the landlords, too, are desirous of passing this Bill. After all, this Bill, passed in its present shape, will involve a charge of at least 15 millions on the Treasury. The Financial Secretary estimates a 1500 larger sum, but I think he exaggerates it. I say to the landlords of Ireland, it would be much better to deal with us now than to wait until the next Government comes into office, when they may find this question brought into competition with "Dreadnoughts." By an additional expenditure of 10 or 15 millions on the Navy the landlords of Ireland may be jostled to the wall. After all, it is a mistake to look a gift horse in the mouth, and it was not a bad proposal, coming from a Radical Government, to put on the Treasury the additional charges involved under this Bill. I warn the landlords of Ireland that if they wreck this Bill, and another Government were to come into office as the result of an election very soon, then they will have to count upon Radical opposition in dealing with any fresh proposals that are made. Therefore I think it would be far wiser to meet us in a reasonable spirit. If they meet us reasonably and grant us what we consider to be absolutely essential for the peace of Ireland, we are quite prepared to co-operate with them in getting fresh concessions on the points that interest them.
§ Mr. S. H. BUTCHER
A great part of the speech of the lion. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) was taken up in showing that the landlords, under the Act of 1903, got much better terms than they had any right to expect. I can only say, if it is true, as the hon. Gentleman says, that he knows a great many landlords—in fact he would almost say the majority—who are enjoying 50 per cent. more than their net income was, that his acquaintance lies among much more favoured landlords than I know. I do admit it is the case, in certain instances, that there are landlords who, after purchase on sale, have a rather larger income than they had before, but so far as I have been able to find out they belong almost entirely to one class, namely, men who, having encumbrances, mortgages, and charges on which they were paying a high rate of interest—5 per cent., or even sometimes more—were able to pay off those mortgages at a very low rate of interest; and in that way, when they reinvested this money, have now got a small margin of income of a few hundreds, when before they had practically nothing. But to apply that to any large proportion of the landlords of Ireland, and to assure this Committee that that is the result of the Act of 1903, does seem to me to betray a great want of acquaintance with the 1501 actual facts of the case. I will not go further into that, nor will I go into the general question whether the landlords in other respects have got more than they ought to get. For our present purposes, it does not seem to me to be very pertinent; I do say if I had the choice between the two sliding scales, that of the hon. Member (Mr. John Dillon) and that of the Government, I think that his is the better one. On the other hand, personally I am not convinced by anything that I have heard to-day that a graduated system of bonus is better than a uniform system of bonus. It seems to me it would need very strong arguments to prove it. In 1903 this matter was discussed outside the House, inside the House, and by the representatives of landlords and tenants; and, as we have been reminded to-day, with the Treasury itself, so that the Act of 1903 was itself subjected to Amendment owing to the preponderance of opinion that the uniform system was the better. We have not only had those arguments, but we have now the experience of the Act of 1903. Would anyone here think it possible, if it had not been for the simple uniform system of bonus, that the embarrassing success with which the Act of 1903 has met, would ever have come about? I do not myself.
The plan proposed in the Bill is, of course, a sliding scale, which, to my great surprise, the Secretary to the Treasury declared was in the opinion of almost everybody infinitely preferable to the uniform scale. I do not know on what that statement rests. It may be the Treasury view, but it is not the view of the people outside who have carefully studied the subject, still less the view of persons who know this question by experience. In the sliding scale the Committee is aware that the lower the price the greater the bonus; the amount of the bonus varies in inverse ratio to the number of years' purchase. Here we have a new method, introduced into purchase, of estimating the value of the land in the number of years' purchase. I fully agree with what has been said with great clearness and emphasis by my right hon. Friend the Member for Dover (Mr. Wyndham) that the number of years' purchase taken per se, by itself, apart from all other factors that enter into the case, is a most misleading formula, and to make it the basis of purchase arrangements for the future would be an unfortunate and reactionary system. The number of years' purchase is not a true universal measure in any sense in Ireland of the value of land. 1502 The Government themselves apparently have some suspicion that the number of years' purchase is not so simple a thing to estimate, because at the end of their sliding scale in the schedule we have this: "The number of years' purchase represented by the advance shall be calculated in manner prescribed by the Treasury." So that the matter apparently is not so perfectly simple. Let me point out one rather absurd result which, on the very face of it, the number of years' purchase would have. According to the sliding scale the bonus ranges in value from nil in the case of 25 years' purchase to 16 per cent. in the case of 17 years' purchase. Take the case of a man who sells at 25 years' purchase with a rent of £100, which produces £2,500, and then take the case of a man who sells between 24 and 25 years' purchase, let us say, for £2,490. The man who gets the £2,490 receives 3 per cent. of bonus, or £75, so that by selling at less than 25 years' purchase he gets £2,574—that is to say, more than the man who sells at 25 years' purchase. You will find all through this scale similar anomalies, which make the scale most capricious. What is the intention of the graduated bonus that is to-day before us? According to the Secretary to the Treasury, its main object is to protect the taxpayer, and he says he is astonished to find these discussions carried on as if there were only two parties, to the transaction—the landlord and the tenant—while there is also the British taxpayer. We are all aware of the existence of the British taxpayer, and in reply to what he said I would put this to him, that the British taxpayer may protect himself in this Bill, and he may do so in such a way as to forfeit or defeat the end which the taxpayers had in view when they entered on this great experiment. They may protect themselves, but they may defeat their own purpose, and that, I am convinced, would be the result of carrying out this graduated system. The object—from the point of view of Members below the Gangway, judging from the speech of the hon. Member for Mayo (Mr. Dillon)—is to cheapen the price of land in Ireland, to induce landlords to sell at a lower rate. But, under this sliding scale, the increase of the bonus is not equivalent to the decrease of the price in the number of years' purchase. If that is so, the sliding scale must discourage vendors. What was the original object of the bonus? I think there were two 1503 objects. One was to fill in the gap between what the landlord could afford to take and what the tenant could afford to give; the other was to give to landlords who had no sufficient motive to sell, an inducement to do so. The point of view from which I regard the respective merits of these two systems is this: I ask myself, will the graduated bonus help to bridge the interval between the landlord and the tenant, or will it widen the gap? Will it, in fact, impede, or even arrest, purchase, or will it help it forward? You must take the effect of the bonus not only by itself but in conjunction with other conditions of land purchase. There is a cumulative effect of certain conditions in this Bill, all of which, taken together, will, I believe, greatly impede the progress of land purchase. There is, first of all, what I will merely mention in passing, the fact that henceforth the landlord is to be paid in 3 per cent. Stock, and not in cash, that it is impossible for him to know what the value of the stock will be five years hence, and that he may very likely incur, when he comes to realise a loss of at least 5 per cent. upon it. Further, that payment in stock is a deferred payment. The interval between the signing of the agreement and the actual settlement of the whole affair is getting longer and longer, and during that interval the landlord has to submit to a loss of income amounting to from 20 to 30 per cent., and, in the meantime, is paying his charges or mortgages in full. Further, what is to happen at the end of the period, when the sale comes to be sanctioned, will be absolutely uncertain. When the landlord signs his agreement, he does not know how many years' purchase he is actually bargaining for, because, according to this schedule, it rests absolutely with the Treasury to say how many years' purchase the agreement represents, and the bonus that he receives is to depend upon this uncertain factor. It is a sum which the ordinary man cannot calculate, or the Treasury would not be put on to make the calculation. Take that in conjunction with the proposed modification of the zone system, and the landlord is confronted with the fact that, at the moment when he makes his agreement, he no longer has any idea of what the nature of that agreement will be when it is sanctioned or modified by the Commissioners. All these facts must be a very great deterrent to purchase. Add to that that henceforth the 1504 tenant is to pay a higher annuity than ever before, and my belief is that, taking all these things together, the changed bonus system will no longer bring landlord and tenant within measurable distance of each other.
One important concession, if it be a concession, has been made by the Chief Secretary to-day, namely, the announcement that in Clause 5, section (1) (b), the bonus to be taken by the vendor himself is no longer to be limited to 5 per cent. The hon. Member for Mayo (Mr. Dillon) said, in relation to that, that he did not imagine that any representative of the landlords here or elsewhere would object to the whole of the bonus going to the tenant for life. I cannot claim to be a representative of the landlords. I am not a landlord; I am not in any sense a representative of the landlords; but I object in the very strongest way to this immoral bribe being offered to the tenant for life to rob the remainder-man. The original arrangement in the Act of 1903 appeared to me to border on a bribe. I did not like it then; but I see that in working it has turned out to be very valuable, because, with the prolonged delay and the unexpected costs which the landlord had to incur, it was important for him to recoup himself out of a fund like this. But the proposal now goes very much beyond the Act of 1903. There is a fixed bonus. It was impossible to make any corrupt bargain to get a larger amount. Now the tenant for life can get a bonus running up to 16 per cent. of the whole purchase money, which he can put into his own pocket. If landlords in Ireland have any sense of decency, any power of resisting temptation, they will entirely repudiate the statement made on their behalf by the hon. Member for East Mayo.
§ Mr. BUTCHER
I am opposed to it. My own opinion is that sub-section (b) is the legitimate and inevitable logical eon-sequence of the graduated system of bonus. I do not like the graduated system, but if you have it you can guard the interests of the remainder-man only by some such provision as sub-section (b). I would only like to add, convinced as I am, that the uniform system is right in whatever form it comes, I prefer the proposal that every landlord should get the addition of three years' purchase to the rental. That would get over the objection which, 1505 I own, is a plausible one, that the higher the price paid to the landlord by the tenant the more he gets from the State. I would let every landlord get something; I think that is a far better proposal than this present one. I cannot agree with the hon. Member for East Mayo in his remarks about this. He said that the Committee must recognise that the only chance, if you refuse the accredited system, that the only alternative is between 3 and 12 per cent. I cannot understand that. If the law makes it, it is so; but I mean we are dealing now not with the law as it is, but with the new Bill. I would say that any proposals which add further complications to an already difficult Act will be a mistake, and that the only way in which a great transaction on this scale can be carried out is by as much simplicity as possible in the machinery. Although it may happen from that simplicity that you do get minor anomalies—that a man here and there will get more than he ought, and a man here and there will get less—yet, looking on the scheme as a whole, and to its importance, not for this or that landlord, but for all Ireland—from that point of view, I say, make the machine simple, make the proposals such that both landlord and tenant, when they make their bargain, can forecast as nearly as possible what the ultimate form of that bargain may be. From that point of view, I say, do not introduce these extremely difficult and incalculable conditions of a sliding scale bonus.
§ Mr. G. FETHERSTONHAUGH
I agree strongly with the words that have fallen from the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. With regard to the proposed omission of sub-section (b), I can hardly imagine how anyone with a correct view of the elementary rights of property can take any other view of the suggestions of the hon. Member for East Mayo. The Act of 1903, that provided 12 per cent. bonus, was rather a shock to people who looked at these matters from a legal point of view. But it had its compensations—that there was at any rate an inducement to the tenant for life or limited owner to get as high a price as he could for the remainder-man because the better would be his bonus. In the proposed sliding scale that slight element of safety is taken away, and there is a direct bribe to the tenant for life to get a large sum in cash free of the settlement. Merely speaking from the point of view of one with some small acquaintance with the law, it seems 1506 to me that the House in sanctioning any such extraordinary scheme would be aiding and abetting, and not only aiding and abetting, but bribing directly the owners of settled estates to sell them at a price tremendously prejudicial to those who come after them, and solely for the purpose of getting a large sum of money into their own pockets free of settlement. It is a more elaborate way to describe robbery of other person's interests. That a man should sell property for which he could get 23 years' purchase for 17, in order to change his 6 per cent. bonus to 10, seems to strike me as being absolutely inconsistent with any idea of common honesty. So far as the sub-section is concerned, if the hon. Member for East Mayo thinks that there will be no opposition, I think he will find himself very much mistaken. The opposition here may possibly not be very numerous, but the further the clause is considered—the more those interested in such questions consider it—the stronger the opposition that will be felt that such a means should be put forward of benefiting others at the expense of those whose interests the Government ought to protect. In regard to the section generally, I view the proposal to alter the bonus with very deep regret. I agree with the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Butcher) that the two great causes which contributed to the success, as he calls it, of the Act of 1903 were, above all others, the bonus and the zone system. Clause 5 proposes to take away the bonus or to reduce it to an almost negligible matter. Does anyone suppose that £77,000,000 would have been obtained without the bonus or the zone system? Now it is proposed to alter both of these. My experience, and I have had a good deal, professional and otherwise, is that these are the two very factors which always tended most to enable people to readily agree about the sale of estates. When I first read this Chief Secretary's Bill I came to the conclusion that it was a Treasury Protection Bill, and upon further reading I came to the conclusion that it was an Act tending to put an end to voluntary purchase in Ireland, and substitute for it a system of compulsory purchase. I am not sure that the two views are not reconcilable, and are not really the same thing. I am neither landlord nor tenant. I am a British taxpayer. I do not think that the great body of British taxpayers would agree with the stern view of those upon the Treasury Bench. 1507 The country made up its mind in 1903 that the Irish Land Question should be settled, and settled as soon as possible. It is the only hope for restoring peace and prosperity to Ireland; it is the one thing that may enable those different camps of Irishmen too long divided to unite for the common good of their country, and the nation came to the conclusion that that work was to be carried out by the Land Act of 1903. It is now proposed, for the protection of the Treasury, to set up an entirely different system. If any of us who know Ireland know anything at all, it is that if this Bill is passed it will put an end to voluntary land purchase, and it will substitute for it a system of compulsion. I am so fully persuaded of the absolute necessity of settling the Land Question that I have never been an opponent of compulsory purchase. I am not now, and never was. On the other hand, I infinitely prefer voluntary purchase where possible. You could carry out more sales in one year under a system of voluntary purchase than in a quarter of a century under a system of compulsion. We have had an instance recently of an attempt to carry out compulsory purchase wider the provisions of the Evicted Tenants Act. That Act has been in operation for two or three years. Yet I believe the total amount of land acquired under its provisions, although the Treasury put practically unlimited sums at the disposal of the Estates Commissioners to aid its working, and enormous costs have been incurred, is not more than a couple of thousand acres.
§ Mr. FETHERSTONHAUGH
I do not care whose fault it is, I am looking at the results achieved in the interests both of the landlords and the tenants. Land worth £77,000,000 has changed hands under the existing voluntary system, and if you substitute for that a compulsory system you will not have settled the land question for the next 25 years. As much land will be bought as the Treasury are prepared to find money for, and under a compulsory system a vast amount of expenses and cost will have to be incurred, and will prove a further check upon the progress of the necessary and desirable work of land purchase. I had always hoped compulsion would be applied in the case of estates where reasonable voluntary purchase could not be effected, where there was a landlord who did not see his 1508 true interests in a sensible light. In the winding up of the settlement of land purchase such cases as these would be suitable occasions for the exercise of compulsory purchase powers, just as people in the interest of the State have to give up their land for railways and other necessary and useful public purposes. To enter on a settlement of the sale of the remaining £50,000,000 or £70,000,000 worth of land by compulsory purchase will take years and years to accomplish. If you have got £77,000,000 through under the Act of 1903, I think there can hardly be more than another £77,000,000 or £80,000,000 remaining over for settlement. I think the remaining sales could be brought about a great deal faster by concluding sales already entered upon. If there is anything that has blocked the progress of land purchase in Ireland it is the delay in the payment of the money to the landlords who are willing to sell. It is a fact that the most expert advisers cannot nowadays tell a landlord when he is likely to be paid his purchase money. All you can say is that, judging by previous experience, he will not be paid in less than four years; it may be a great deal longer. I know it is no easy matter for the Land Commission, with their limited staffs, to get through these enormous number of sales and the very large sums of money involved. Some delay is inevitable, but it is the long delay in completing sale and purchase which has prevented an enormous number of landlords who are quite willing to sell their estates from doing so. In the West of Ireland there are plenty of estates in which there is no dispute between the landlords and the tenants as to price, and the delay in the initiation of the negotiations is due to the fact that the landlords could not afford to wait for an indefinite time out of their money. Landlords who are solvent, and who have a large margin, or have incomes derived from other sources, have sold, but men with a small margin of income shrink from agreeing to sell when they would only receive interest at 3½ per cent. on the purchase-money for the next four or five years, while they would have to pay on mortgages 6 per cent., or perhaps even a higher rate of interest I believe the whole settlement of this land question, which we all desire to see, could be accomplished on a voluntary basis if the Treasury had not adopted the attitude of such very great care for the interests of the British taxpayer, such as the right hon. 1509 Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury has shown to-day. It could be settled for far less money than was taken from Ireland by over-taxation in past years. If the Treasury had come forward and relieved the financial deadlock which occurred under the Act of 1903, no such Bill as that now before the House would have been necessary.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I was not at all surprised to hear the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover (Mr. Wyndham), at the very beginning of this speech, referring to this bonus as, I think his expression was, of fundamental importance. I would describe it in unpoetic language as the very pulse of the machine. There were three circumstances, I think, which enabled the right hon. Gentleman for good or ill to establish his Bill upon the quaking bog of his finance. And these three circumstances were, first, he offered the landlords cash instead of stock; second, he offered bonus or, at all events, a bonus which eventuated in 12 per cent.; and, third, there was between him and financial catastrophe—most unfortunately, I think, for his sake and the sake of Ireland—that unfortunate Irish Development Grant. But for that £160,000 a year Development Grant standing between him and probable losses on flotation of the 2¾ per cent. Stock I feel sure no Chancellor of the Exchequer, however easy-going or careless he might have been, would have consented to run the risk imposed upon him by the Act of 1903. Although I quite agree that this Act of Parliament places this loss on the ratepayers of Ireland, everybody must have felt such an imposition was one which it would be impossible to maintain, and I feel quite certain, although I have no knowledge on the subject, that the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Ritchie, did place an enormous reliance on this £160,000, and he felt, at all events, that so long as it was there there was something between him and the deluge. I do not wonder that the right hon. Gentleman spoke of this bonus as a matter of fundamental importance. I am not here to enter into any metaphysical—that is not the right word—discussion as to what this bonus precisely is. Evidently what was pressing upon the tender conscience of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University was this 12 per cent. bonus; that was what appears to have been troubling him in the recesses of his mind. If he had pursued the subject a little further he might have discovered that it was" something like a fraud.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
Neither was I, and therefore we are both more pleasantly situated. But however that may be, the hon. Member indicated—perhaps with a little nervousness—that he was not quite sure whether this 12 per cent. was a bribe or not.
§ Mr. BUTCHER
I must correct the right hon. Gentleman. I was speaking of the tenant for life being able to put this bonus into his own pocket.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
The bonus goes straight into the pocket of the tenant for life, otherwise it would not have been the pulse of the machine. It worked exactly in the same way as the proposals for the conversion of the National Debt by Mr. Goschen. Mr. Childers failed because he did not offer to solicitors, stockbrokers, and life tenants the enormous temptation of getting something over and above their slender exiguous annual income. That greased the whole of the machine so far as Mr. Goschen's scheme was concerned. The same plan was applied here. I agree that we are not now dealing with land purchase in the ordinary commercial sense of the word. We are dealing with a land settlement. Of course, the bonuses and all the considerations which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover referred to should not enter into the calculation if it was a commercial transaction. No one wants to know how many children the vendor has got or how many mortgages, or whether he contributes to the local churches, or how many pensioners he will leave behind him when he leaves the hall of his ancestors. The commercial man ignores all that, and says, "What is the thing worth to me?" That is what the Irish tenant says—and I think the Irish tenant is about the shrewdest person the world has ever manufactured. The Irish tenant was perfectly justified in being anxious, almost nervously anxious, to acquire the holding on which he worked. Nevertheless, he was not going to give too extravagant a price, although he has on occasions done so. Then there is that famous Conference of which we hear so much. But, after all, that Conference is not binding in any sense of the word upon Parliament. I am not free, nor is: any other Minister free, to administer the law in accordance with the principle of Conferences. I am bound by the Act of Parliament, which as soon as it was passed 1511 ought to have destroyed all reference to the Conference in any shape or form. The basis of the transaction undoubtedly was not to find out so far as this bonus was concerned what was the value of the land, but to find out how much the tenant was likely to give and the difference between what he was likely to give and a sufficient sum as would, if properly invested in trust securities, give the landlord the same income as he had before in the shape of second term rents, after making deductions for the cost of collection. You were to find how much the tenant would give. You would then have to fill up the difference between that capital sum so as to put the landlord in a position to retire into the country upon an income equal to his second term rental. That was to be made up to the landlord, and there is nothing commercial about that; it was a political move, and, therefore, whether it was a wise or a foolish thing to do, whether it was a just thing to the tax-payers or not is a matter we need not enter into now. The bonus had that object, and all sorts of schemes were discussed by the House for allocating this sum of money. Draftsmen and Ministers considered what was the best way of distributing this arbitrary and singular sum of money which was to make up the difference between the value of the land to the tenant and the income which the former owner used to enjoy. But it should not be forgotten that he enjoyed it under very different circumstances. Some hon. Members seem to think there was only one possible way of distributing this bonus, and that was the way finally adopted by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover, namely, a uniform rate of 12 per cent., and they think that any notion of a graduated system was one which would not bear investigation. That is not in any sense a history of the transaction. The right hon. Gentleman's Bill contained a proposal which I prefer to the proposal which was ultimately adopted. He proposed a graduated scale in accordance with the amount of the purchase money. If it did not exceed £15,000 the bonus was to be 15 per cent., but where it exceeded £40,000 it was to drop down to 5 per cent. That was the proposal originally suggested. I will take the case which the hon. Member for East Mayo referred to, namely, the Duke of Leinster. Had the right hon. Gentleman's original proposal been 1512 adopted by the House the Duke of Leinster, instead of getting a bonus of £80,000, would only have got £33,000. The difference between the two is a very considerable sum, and it shows how money is chucked about in this House from one side to the other when we are considering proposals of this difficult and delicate nature. I do not know that there is any objection to that scheme of graduation, although I do not think it is as good a scheme as the principle which the Government propose to adopt. However that may be, the right hon. Gentleman finally struck his bargain, and he was to get £12,000,000 by way of bonus. This was the one free gift in the transaction. It was anticipated that this would be spread over a long series of years, but this sum of £12,000,000 was the limit, and it was not to be departed from. I know that Lord Morley of Blackburn, made a suggestion out of the lightness of his heart, and not speaking, I apprehend, with any reference to the Treasury, that it would be much better if, instead of £12,000,000, the sum had been £20,000,000. Had it been £20,000,000, I should have been saved a good deal of trouble, but it was not. I know that the Act of Parliament also imposed upon us an obligation after a period of five years had elapsed to reconsider how much of the £12,000,000 was left, how much bad been absorbed; and the balance was to be dealt with and distributed fairly all round, so that at the last moment there should not be somebody left who would not get any bonus at all. The Member for the University of Dublin said there was no obligation on us to take the step which we did. That may be true, but the people in Ireland, and especially the landlords in Ireland, had a very lively sense of what would happen when the five years would be up, and they proceeded to rush their agreements into the Estates Commissioners' Office at such a rate as made it quite necessary, if we were to perform the duty imposed upon us as trustees of this sum of £12,000,000, to take the step we did. We did not tell people we were going to do it; it was the acute apprehension of the Irish landlord that led him to anticipate it. Knowing his Bill as he knows his Bible, he was determined this step should not take him unawares. Therefore, as everybody knows, towards the 1st of November last year, which was the time when this 1513 power became operative, the Estates Commissioners' Office assumed the most extraordinary appearance. It was blocked up with an enormous number of agreements. The Government, therefore, had no choice but, acting according to both the spirit and the letter of the Act of 1903, to adopt the course they did. Having secured that by law, without coming to this House or to any other House, that what is left of this free gift of the Empire of Great Britain and Ireland to Ireland should be fairly distributed in accordance with the intentions of the Act of Parliament, we now look round and ask ourselves what are we to do in the future? As regards this balance and any additional bonus we had to decide whether it was better to adhere to the flat rate or to adopt a graduated system. We came to the conclusion it was the better thing to adopt a graduated system. You cannot defend a 12 per cent. bonus all round. Nobody can get up and say it is a fair and reasonable thing that the larger the estate the wealthier the landlord, and the greater the security for any mortgages he may have upon his estate, the more he should receive to bridge over this gap; nor can it be defended where there is no gap and where the price is ample. I agree there are objections to any opposite plan. It was generally argued, in the first instance, that this bonus, or at all events a considerable portion of it, was to go in expenses necessitated and occasioned by the sale, namely, in paying the legal expenses and in paying the agent, giving him a solatium for losing his job. These expenses were often placed at a very high figure, sometimes 5, 6, or even 7 per cent. It was then said that perhaps more than 50 per cent. of this bonus would be appropriated in that way. Things, however, have a knack of working out somewhat differently than intended, and I am told that these expenses are, as a matter of course, thrown upon the purchase money, and the landlord goes off practically with the whole, or, at all events, with very much more of this 12 per cent. than was ever intended. We have reasons, which, I think, on the whole, commend themselves to the Committee, and, also what is more important, to the people in Ireland, who give more consideration to these subjects than people in this Committee are very well able to do, for adopting a graduated system. There is a strong feeling that, if you can get a rational system of graduation, it is the better course, because we have now come 1514 to a position of things in Ireland that we have to deal with many estates difficult to get rid of—poor estates in the poorest parts of Ireland, which cannot fetch the high prices obtaining in other parts of the country, and the landlords of which are just as heavily mortgaged, and have to pay higher rates of interest because of the more risky character of their security. They are, indeed, far more hard up than the landlords in those parts where land purchase has worked more rapidly. We have had these five years' working, and we have gained much experience. We are now able to survey the map of Ireland, and I think the time has come to accelerate purchase in the poorer parts of Ireland more than is possible under the present system. I think a graduated bonus will do that if it is wisely dealt with—if it is a right scheme it is a far better and sounder scheme than the old one. I deprecate altogether the idea that I am doing this of my own free will, to preserve something which exists. As a fact, nothing exists except a situation which imperatively demands action by the Government. It is all very well to say that this Bill is a Treasury Protection Bill. How can anybody, having regard to Clause 6, say it is a Treasury Protection Bill? It is a Bill which assumes a liability for millions for a certain thing for which at present the Treasury is not responsible. This liability was not imposed by any treaty of peace; we are not bound to assume it; we are only bound to do the best we can in a situation of great difficulty. I am quite prepared to admit that in some respects our proposals may be found to be inadequate. The hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Maurice Healy) made some pointed reference to what is called sub-section (b), and I felt it desirable, in order to curtail unnecessary Debate, to say that after very careful consideration I have come to the conclusion that sub-section (b) had better not be relied on by the Government. There is no secret about that at all. I maintained a particular view on this subject, for which there would be a great deal to be said. But I think my objections can be overcome by reference to the Act of 1903 itself. No sooner did I insert this sub-section than I was bombarded with objections to it, not only from the representatives of the tenants, but also from the landlords, with many of whom I am happy to say I am still on familiar terms. They do not like it any better than anybody else, and I rather gather 1515 the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover is by no means convinced that it is a solution which it would be wise to introduce into a measure of this kind. I was pressed by all these things, and I gave assurances to hon. Gentlemen opposite that, upon the whole, I had come to the conclusion that I had overlooked the full force of sub-section (2) of section 1 in the Act of 1903, also of section 5 in the same Act, and I also had not fully considered the effect of Clause 14 in my own measure, now before the House. I am satisfied that those two sections of the law as it at present stands, which would certainly not be weakened by Clause 14 of this Bill, would prevent a fraud of a gross kind being perpetrated upon remainder-men under any graduated system. I do not think any such fraud would be committed. I cannot say precisely under no circumstances will the purchaser be induced by the fact that he is going to have a few sovereigns put into his pocket, absolutely his own—that that would not induce him to regard with a friendly eye negotiations with his tenant; but that is absolutely involved in the whole notion of a bonus at all, it is involved in the flat rate of 12 per cent., though a little more so in the graduated scale which we propose, and, therefore, I should not myself be inclined to eliminate this section of mine but for the fact that I am now satisfied that sufficient protection exists, under the law as it at present stands, and under the law as it will be if altered in the manner I suggest, to prevent any gross scandals of that kind, and to protect the remainder-man from being sacrificed to the needs of some indigent and impoverished tenant for life.
I do not take the view that tenants for life are on such extremely bad terms with their remainder-men as a rule, because the remainder-men are usually the persons who benefit under their testamentary dispositions, as things are, but there are a certain number of instances, no doubt, where frauds would be perpetrated but for the protection of the law as it already stands. The Government therefore do not mean to adhere to this sub-section, and I think therefore this will get over some of the difficulties with regard to graduation itself. Nobody can exactly say what during the next few years the ruling price may be in Ireland, and it is difficult to say how much the schedule of the Bill adds to the right hon. Gentleman's limit of £12,000,000. The 1516 Treasury view and mine is that it adds at least £3,000,000, but that it adds something is perfectly obvious, because I do not think anybody will doubt this: that an average of 5 per cent. under the schedule is the very least that it can possibly work out at, and that is more—very considerably more—than the limit of 3 per cent., which, as the law now stands, applies to the bonus. I cannot say precisely how much land will come under the operations of future land purchase. I am asking the House to reduce the amount of each individual advance to £3,000, and if the House agrees to that view that may reduce the total estimate somewhat. I am not here definitely to assert, nor can anyone assert, what the extra number of millions may be. Then, again, there will be a considerable fall, no doubt, in price—one or two years' purchase—which the landlords will now obtain. That, again, will reduce the amount, because my calculations have been on the average of preceding sales. I am not here to dogmatise on that theme, although I am quite certain that 70 or 80 millions of money is under the most favourable circumstances, by which I mean the cheapest circumstances, the very least that will have to be provided if land purchase is to be carried out to completion. I do not wish in any way to say more than this, that the Government by eliminating, as they do, the limit of £12,000,000, are perfectly willing to consider how much more they can give as bonus. They have put forward their proposals, and the hon. Member (Mr. Dillon) has put forward his proposal. He, of course, says the Treasury cannot guess how much their proposal will actually cost. If that is so, he cannot exactly guess how much more his will cost. He says frankly his will cost more than the Treasury proposal, but he does not think it would cost more than an extra million, or two millions.
It is not a question with us of a million more or less. It is a question of the righteous and proper system of working out these proposals, and it would be ludicrous for any Government to say they are so determined not, to spend one brass farthing more than the sum they have named that they will not agree to any alterations whatsoever in the schedule which can by any possibility have the effect of increasing that amount over and above what they declare is their maximum. That is not a rational way of dealing with a question of such vital importance. On the other hand the Govern- 1517 ment are not prepared for a moment to adopt the view of Gentlemen above the Gangway, who ask so glibly, "What are millions of money in a case of this sort? Has there not been a great treaty of peace? Has there not been a mighty conference of Lord Dunraven, Lord MacDonnell, Mr. William O'Brien, and others sitting round a table; did they not determine something or other, and are you not bound to carry it out, whatever the cost?" That is not the view the Government take. This is a business transaction, which at last has to be treated upon a business footing, and we have learnt from bitter experience the consequence of this somewhat glib and easy way of looking at obligations of this kind, and we are determined now, as far as it is possible for human beings to do, to take no more leaps in the dark than we can help. It is a very formidable leap in the dark to say what the bonus will be upon land purchase in the future, but at the same time it is a leap in the dark which can be easily limited in amount. It is not one which need excite any very profound alarm, and therefore all I can say is that a graduation of the bonus involves a most careful consideration as between each number of years' purchase and another, and a mistaken calculation as between 22 and 23, 21 and 22, or 17 and 18, may bring about consequences which you do not regard. Therefore, you have to consider this schedule at each point very carefully, as far as you can, with regard to past figures, and you must speculate somewhat as to what the probable course of events will be and how large a percentage of future land transactions will be carried out at each particular number of years' purchase. The Government are perfectly willing to consider, between now and the time the schedules come on, most carefully and as accurately as they can the best mode of graduating this bonus. But there is not very much difference between us, and when you come to examine it the question will be found to be rather in what way you are going to graduate the bonus so as to make the inducement as wide as possible, not to rule anybody out, but to enable parties to come together on equitable principles and feel that they have some temptation to do so. Therefore, the Government are not wedded to their own scheme by any means, although it is a scheme which has been the subject of a good deal of thought, and to describe it as 1518 imbecile, as has been done by some hon. Members, is rather hasty, for probably they have not given so much attention to it as we have ourselves. At the same time, we are quite prepared to reconsider the proposals with the view of bringing about the widest and best schedule we can devise. How far that schedule will be in any way modified from the schedule now in the Bill will follow, of course, from the nature and the result of our investigations. I am glad to be told that there is not much money in it. Of that I am not at present quite convinced, but the less money there is in it the less hesitation the Government will have in facing the reconsideration of the schedule. You will see that it is to be graduated on the general principles indicated in the schedule now in the Bill, and any alterations that are to be made are alterations in the actual amount to be allotted to any particular number of years' purchase. We have been assured with great confidence that if the proposals contained in this measure become law a stop will be put to land purchase altogether. Well, of course, people are always at liberty to prophesy evil of anything which proceeds from a Government to which they owe no particular kind of allegiance. Nobody is entitled to say with the degree of confidence which hon. Gentlemen opposite assume that land purchase will cease now. The Bill as it stands indicates a particular date—1st March, I think—when as regards further transactions, if this Bill becomes law, the money will be provided on new terms. Since that date agreements still continue to come in to a very considerable extent. Agreements amounting to considerably over a million have come in since that date, when notice was given to the world that if the Bill becomes law they will undergo the change in terms.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I have the figures here. From 6th March, 1909, to 3rd July, 1909, there were £1,031,266. All I say is that notice has been given to the landlords and tenants that this Bill, if it becomes law, will, after that particular date, provide for a new rate for the raising of money. There is not in any sign or token we have before us any ground for believing that the proposals of this Bill will destroy land purchase in Ireland. It is easy to say that inasmuch as they are not good terms they 1519 must have that effect. I cannot agree with that. They cannot be as good as the old terms, because the money market does not allow them to be as good terms. Nor is the Treasury in a position to take over any larger amount of money for the flotation of excess stock than it has done to the extent of all pending agreements—an operation that has imposed on it obligations of millions and millions of money which it was never in the contemplation of anybody that it should be called on to bear. Therefore, though the bargain may not be quite so good a bargain, the temptation may not be quite so great a temptation, the bribe, if it be a bribe, may not be quite so large, and the inducement, if it be an inducement, may not be quite so strong, all I can say is that that is not the fault of the Government. It is the fault of the basis on which this great policy was originally laid. We have come to the assistance of land purchase. We have increased our obligations by an enormous sum. We are not haggling over odd shillings or pence. I recognise to the full—I would not stand here to-day were I not satisfied—that the Government are willing to do all that they reasonably can be expected to do to facilitate the policy of land purchase, with which the prosperity and happiness arid future success of Ireland are absolutely involved and bound up. But you cannot ask us to throw all considerations of pounds, shillings, and pence to the winds. You cannot ask us to repeat in the future the mistakes that have been made in the past. All I can say is that we are quite prepared when the time comes to consider any rational proposal that may be made on this subject, and not in any heated or angry spirit whatsoever, but with the desire to carry out this great system of land purchase in the best possible way.
§ Mr. WALTER LONG
The Chief Secretary, in dealing with the Debate, which is a very important one, this afternoon, has, I think, directed all his attention to justifying the Government on the ground that they can do no more than they are doing. But no attempt has been made to answer the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Dover (Mr. G. Wyndham), who, by the general admission of the House, speaks with regard to the land question in Ireland with very great knowledge and authority. He was responsible for the passing of the Act of 1520 1903, and all the original agreements which led up to its introduction, and probably he can form as good an estimate of what is likely to be the result of any change in the system of land purchase as anybody else in this House. I venture to say that he gave the very fullest justification in his speech for the view which we hold that by the change which the Government are adopting they are striking a deadly blow at the very policy of land purchase, of which the Chief Secretary assured us as he has often done before, he was one of the warmest advocates. Let me remind the Committee for a moment of the extraordinary position in which we find ourselves. Here we are discussing what I think will be generally allowed is probably the most important clause in the Bill. And now, after 4½ hours' Debate, we are approaching the disposal of the last Amendment on the Paper, and although, fortunately for us, we have been able to conduct the Debate on general lines, yet how do we find ourselves in face of the statement made by the Chief Secretary? He told us he was prepared to look upon the schedule with no unreasonable or ungenerous eyes, and to consider whether it was possible later on to alter it. But here, on the Paper, following the Amendment which we are now discussing, is a series of Amendments not standing only in the names of hon. Members behind me, but standing in the names of hon. Gentlemen from all parts of the House. What chance are we going to have to consider any one of those alternatives? It is all very well for the Government to say that they have got benevolent intentions. No doubt their intentions are admirable. But intentions by themselves are not always guarantees of good treatment. In this particular case we are forced, whether we like it or not, by the action of the Government, to leave ourselves unreservedly in their hands because not one of the alterations we would like to recommend, not one of the suggestions to be found in the form of Amendments on the Paper will have the smallest chance of being discussed in connection with this clause. And that not only applies to this clause, but it applies to subsequent clauses.
Only one argument has been advanced by those who have advocated the substitution of a graduated scale for a uniform scale. The hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Maurice Healy) pointed out that the objection to the uniform scale was that it gave 1521 most to the landlord. Nobody who has studied the subject from time to time in connection with similar questions would come to that conclusion. Take, for in stance, the question of the inequality of the burden of rates in this country and the necessity for some relief. There the same difficulty occurs, and the same criticism is offered when you attempt to deal with it. In the main, it has been found that undoubtedly the most equitable and best form of relief is that which is uniform and which is not graduated. The argument in support of graduation has been practically based on one particular case—that of the Leinster estate. I venture to say that everyone who has heard of the large share in the bonus which the Duke of Leinster's trustees received Las ignored the fact that the sale of the Leinster estate was not carried out for the benefit of the Duke of Leinster. Nobody who has listened to these Debates can have realised that the Leinster estate at the time it was sold was in the hands of the trustees, the Duke of Leinster being himself a minor, and it would not have been possible for that estate to be sold unless there had been the considerable inducement of the bonus. Another point is that the estate was not merely sold for the benefit of successors or the individual, but by common agreement, following upon the Conference which led to the adoption of the principle on which the Act was founded, it was decided that land purchase generally was desirable throughout Ireland, and the landlords were exhorted to adopt that generally on national grounds. To say, therefore, that the fact that some landlords came in and got larger bonuses than hon. Gentleman now think they ought to have got, affords justification for interfering with the fundamental principles of 1903, is, to my mind, a most astounding contention. Surely those landlords, in what they did, were only following first of all the result of the Conference. Secondly, they were following what had been adopted in all quarters of this House; in other words, they were endeavouring to give effect to a policy which had been made the policy not of Ireland alone, but of the United Kingdom. In many of these cases there was no inducement to the landlords to sell. No difficulty existed between them and their tenants; everything was going smoothly in Ireland, as in this country.
The only reason why the trustees of the Lenister estates sold was in order to carry out the adopted policy, as the right hon. 1522 Gentleman himself said, of the United Kingdom. What a remarkable sequel to that conduct on their part is to be found in the proposal now before us! The Chief Secretary said, "We cannot do more; we have got no more money." I understand the Chief Secretary to say that you must treat this as a matter of business, and that the Treasury has not got the money. I might remind the Chief Secretary that in the first place there is still open between us the contention that his figures, and my right hon. Friend's figures are by no means consistent, and we believe the right hon. Gentleman has very largely overestimated the amount of money that seems, necessary in order to complete sales. Even that it is impossible to do, and indeed it would not be in order. I have to remind the Committee what I said just now is also true, namely, that various alternatives, various other ways of dealing with Irish land, which we have advanced also in other Debates, and which we would be precluded from referring to now owing to the form in which we are working, have been ignominiously rejected. To say that this is the only way of dealing with the question, and that it is merely a question of poverty, is not to make an adequate reply. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary referred to what my hon. Friends and right hon. Friend had said on this side of the House, and stated we were following the invariable rule of predicting evil of any action on the part of the Government. That is not fair. It is not because the proposals come from the Government we predict evil, but it is because of the evidence we can present which points in that direction. I believe myself there is hardly an Irish Member who may not go so far as to say that this change is one which will destroy Irish land purchase. I think there is not a single Irish Member who has followed this great question who does not view the introduction of this Bill, with its present proposals, with a great deal of anxiety as to what its effect will be. Some of us who feel it will destroy land purchase are bound to say so, and we ought not to be exposed to the criticism that we are only doing it because we are on one side and the Government on the other. I do not want to say more on a subject which is of such engrossing interest in the limited time at our disposal, and, knowing, as I do, that others would like to address the Committee. Therefore, I will say no more except to express my profound regret that the Government have found it necessary 1523 to deal in so drastic a way with so grave a question, and that, having come to that decision, that they ask us to consider their legislation under conditions which make it impossible for us to give that attention to the considerations to which they are entitled, or for us to avail ourselves of the offer made to us by the Chief Secretary of making proposals of Amendment in regard to the suggestions which the Government make.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
The way an Irish Parliament would deal with business has often been made a spectacle in observations, but I do not think any Parliament you could set up in Ireland would discuss a question affecting the whole country; its length and breadth, and every individual in it, under the extraordinary conditions under which we are obliged to debate this Bill. The proposals involve, we are told, 180 millions of money and the fate and fortunes of two great classes, and questions of finance in the closest way involving the bargains to be made by a number of people many of whom are illiterate, many of whom are not English-speaking, and we are obliged and we are, practically speaking, under conditions in which there is no possible chance of the matter being discussed. We know that many Members opposite even grudge us time for the discussion of this subject. We seem to them intruders upon their attention when we come here only compulsorily, and when we should prefer to be allowed to discuss this question and to provide our own money in our own way for the settlement of our own affairs. No man can bring greater ability to bear on the handling of these questions than the Chief Secretary, but he will forgive me for saying that this clause cannot be considered except in the light of other proposals. I am in sympathy with his present proposal, and I should cordially vote against the Amendment before the Committee; but I cannot forget that we are debating practically an academic question, because, in fact, the bonus, whether on the lines suggested above the Gangway or on the sliding scale proposed on the other side, will never come into play in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman says that those who take up that attitude do so because they are in antagonism to himself and the Government. For my part, I entirely disclaim any such antagonism. I have feelings of nothing but sincerest friendship for the right hon. Gentleman, and I claim to bring to the consideration of this question, 1524 as far as party politics are concerned, not merely a neutral mind, but a mind favourable, if possible, to the right hon. Gentleman and his proposals. I quite agree that if we were discussing this question anew the present is an excellent measure, and the present proposals are, in my opinion, more advantageous to the tenant if they could be carried out. But can we obliterate from our minds the fact that the landlords have been getting these prices? Can we blot from our minds the fact that in 1903 they got a price not for their land, but for peace? And now, for the first time, you propose to put these proposals on a commercial basis. It is like Brooke's Monkey Brand: it will not wash clothes. This Bill will not sell estates. It will not work. Why will it not work? I will put the Treasury to the test in the matter. They say that land purchase in Ireland will require £180,000,000. That is the Treasury case. The Member for Dover's (Mr. Wyndham) case was that it would require £100,000,000, and he provided £12,000,000 bonus, limited to five years. On the same basis, £ 180,000,000 would require £21,600,000, or, roughly, £22,000,000. But, whilst the Member for Dover put a five years' limit within which landlords were to make their applications for bonus, this great and generous Treasury put in no limit at all. Why? The Member for Dover put in a five years' limit because he knew that the money would be applied for forthwith. But the gracious and generous Treasury, which are imposing so many abominable taxes upon our country, say, "We will give you not five years, but 50 years in which to apply for the bonus." Why? Because they knew that there are not going to be any applications. I do not say that there will be no sales, but that there will be under this Bill anything like the number of sales; that took place under the Act of 1903 I absolutely and emphatically contradict. Let me put this to the Committee. Why have so many landlords held back? Why have only practically £80,000,000 worth been applied for? That is half of Ireland. Why have the landlords of the other half held back? Why have they not rushed in to take advantage of this magnificent opportunity? Because they are better off as they are! And if they are better off, what is the inducement to take this 3, 4, 5, or 6 per cent. that they may hope to get under this Bill? Has Lord Barrymore sold his land under the Wyndham Act? We hear a great deal of the Duke of Leinster. Has anybody ever 1525 heard the tenants of the Duke of Leinster complain? I know the Leinster estate pretty well. It is one case in which you could never succeed in reducing rents, because all the buildings on the estate, to a very great extent many of the fences, and many of the drains were largely the landlord's making. It was more or less— I do not say quite—in the nature of an English-managed estate. But when there is all this pother about the Leinster estate—why do you not get some Leinster tenants to come forward and say: "I have been robbed; I want to be back again as a yearly tenant." Produce me one of them! The Leinster estate is in the city of Kildare. It is represented here by two or three Members. Let any of those Members get up and say to this House, on behalf of the Leinster tenants, that they would prefer to be tenants from year to year instead of tenants under land purchase. How about the jobs in your own country? What about the Rosyth purchase? Why is that not continually thrown in our teeth, when you are debating questions of the Navy and questions of defence? The truth is, you do not care what price you give when your own interests are concerned! The moment, however, there is the tiniest job in connection with Ireland, that, of course, taints the entire transaction, and shows that there is a revision required. Lord Clanricarde is a gentleman with a keen eye to the main chance. How is it if this Bill of the right hon. Member for Dover contains such very tempting and inducing propositions, that he did not sell, and that the old rackrenters of the country still remain intact in their fortresses? The men who used to be so long ago are still enthroned upon the powers of landlordism. Therefore it is in no spirit of antagonism to the right hon. Gentleman—far from it— that I respectfully tell him—to a considerable extent he is powerless in this matter— that his Bill will not to any efficient or sufficient extent do what it is proposed.
Let me also say that those of us who take that view have to live our lives in Ireland. We are not birds of passage appointed by one Government, and then ceasing to be Irishmen when a Tory or a Liberal Government comes in. We are Irishmen all the time. We have to live in the country, feel with the country; and what I feel with regard to the country is this: We have half a country sold and the other half unsold. What about the condition of the half of the tenants who can get no chance of purchase? Their condition will be one of the 1526 most intense discontent; and not merely discontent, but hopeless discontent, because across the fences or across the other side they will see and envy their happy, contented fellow-tenants who have purchased—even on the Leinster estate. I think the Leinster tenants will have a good joke at the expense of the tenants on the neighbouring estates who have not sold; they will smile with contempt at the men still living with the chains of landlordism round their necks. I may be told I am quite wrong, and that this Bill will at once begin to work. I simply apply to it this test. If the Wyndham Bill could not melt the heart of the Clanricardes or the Smith-Barrys, how is this Bill going to do it? That is the rough-and-ready test I apply to the Bill. I am not criticising the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland. I do not think we ever had a more sincere friend as Chief Secretary than the present Chief Secretary, and, so far from desiring in any way to put thorns in his path, my desire would be to remove them. Furthermore, I neither criticise nor blame him. My entire blame is upon the Treasury, and not upon any party in the State.
Therefore, while I am opposed to the proposal of the hon. Member above the Gangway, and believe in the proposal of the Government, I think, at the same time, our Debate is academic, because it will not matter a groat which you adopt. The right hon. Gentleman has been criticised because he abandoned sub-section (b), giving some amount of the bonus to the remainder-man. I think he has done perfectly right, and I do not think he need have the least fear the House of Lords will in any way alter his proposal. And for this reason. When the Bill of 1903 was before the House of Commons, of all the Irish landlords who sat in this House at that time there was only one, Mr. Wyndham Quinn, who said he was a remainder man. I fancy, when this Bill goes to the House of Lords, of all the Irish landlords in that Assembly there are probably not more than one or two who are remainder men. The landlord party cannot afford to take up an attitude that the remainder man is going to be swindled by the tenant for life. The House of Lords cannot throw dirt upon their own class. They tell us that the landlords possess all the intelligence, all the morality, all the economy, and all the other virtues, therefore they cannot afford to turn round and say that the remainder man, if this provision is omitted, will be swindled. That is a posi- 1527 tion they cannot take up. My final words are, I believe, not only that this Bill will not work, but that a future Bill will be introduced by another and a different Government, and I say we are setting a bad example to the future Tory Government to guillotine land proposals. The Radical party would not then be able to criticise them for their guillotine process. You will then be on the Opposition side of
§ the House, and when you are then talking about the way the money of the taxpayers is being spent, some gentleman who will succeed you, Mr. Emmott, will settle the whole question by moving that the Question be now put.
§ Question put, "That the word 'The' [the first word of Clause 5] stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 266; Noes, 53.1529
|Division No. 376.]||AYES.||[4.58 p.m.|
|Abraham, W. (Cork, N.E.)||Devlin, Joseph||Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester)|
|Alden, Percy||Dewar, Arthur, (Edinburgh, S.)||Lamont, Norman|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Donelan, Captain A.||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.)|
|Astbury, John Meir||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington)|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Dunne, Major E. Martin (Walsall)||Lewis, John Herbert|
|Barker, Sir John||Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Barnes, G. N.||Elibank, Master of||Lundon, T.|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst||Esmonde, Sir Thomas||Lyell, Charles Henry|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Essex, R. W.||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)|
|Beale, W. P.||Esslemont, George Birnie||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)|
|Beck, A. Cecil||Evans, Sir S. T.||Mackarness, Frederic C.|
|Bellairs, Carlyon||Everett, R. Lacey||Maclean, Donald|
|Belloc, Hilaire Joseph Peter R.||Faber, G. H. (Boston)||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift|
|Benn, W. (Tower Hamlets, St. Geo.)||Falconer, J.||MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.)|
|Berridge, T. H. D.||Fenwick, Charles||MacVeigh, Charles (Donegal, E.)|
|Bertram, Julius||Ffrench, Peter||M'Callum, John M.|
|Bethell, Sir J. H. (Essex, Romford)||Field, William||M'Kean, John|
|Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon)||Findlay, Alexander||M'Micking, Major G.|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Mallet, Charles E.|
|Black, Arthur W.||Flynn, James Christopher||Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)|
|Boland, John||Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Marnham, F. J.|
|Boulton, A. C. F.||Gibb, James (Harrow)||Massie, J.|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Gilhooly, James||Masterman, C. F. G.|
|Brace, William||Ginnell, L.||Meagher, Michael|
|Bramsdon, Sir T. A.||Gladstone, Rt. Hon. Herbert John||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)|
|Branch, James||Gooch, George Peabody (Bath)||Meehan, Patrick A. (Queen's Co.)|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)||Menzies, Sir Walter|
|Brooke, Stopford||Gulland, John W.||Micklem, Nathaniel|
|Brunner, Rt. Hon. Sir J. T. (Cheshire)||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius||Molteno, Percy Alport|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Mond, A.|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)||Money, L. G. Chiozza|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worcester)||Montgomery, H. G.|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-sh.)||Mooney, J. J.|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney Charles||Hart-Davies, T.||Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)|
|Byles, William Pollard||Harwood, George||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)|
|Cameron, Robert||Haworth, Arthur A.||Morrell, Philip|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Hayden, John Patrick||Morse, L. L.|
|Causton, Rt. Hon. Richard Knight||Hazel, Dr. A. E. W.||Murnaghan, George|
|Channing, Sir Francis Allston||Hazleton, Richard||Murphy, John (Kerry, East)|
|Cheetham, John Frederick||Healy, Maurice (Cork)||Murray, Capt. Hon. A. C. (Kincard.)|
|Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Healy, Timothy Michael||Myer, Horatio|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Hemmerde, Edward George||Nannetti, Joseph P.|
|Cleland, J. W.||Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Mon. S.)||Napier, T. B.|
|Clough, William||Herbert, T. Arnold (Wycombe)||Nolan, Joseph|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||Norman, Sir Henry|
|Compton-Rickett, Sir J.||Hodge, John||Nuttall, Harry|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Hogan, Michael||O'Brien, K. (Tipperary, Mid)|
|Cooper, G. J.||Holland, Sir William Henry||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinstead)||Holt, Richard Durning||O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.)|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Horniman, Emslie John||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Idris, T. H. W.||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Cowan, W. H.||Illingworth, Percy H.||O'Doherty, Philip|
|Cox, Harold||Isaacs, Rufus Daniel||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Johnson, John (Gateshead)||O'Dowd, John|
|Crean, Eugene||Johnson, W. (Nuneaton)||O'Grady, J.|
|Crooks, William||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)|
|Crosfield, A. H.||Joyce, Michael||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)|
|Cross, Alexander||Kavanagh, Walter M.||O'Malley, William|
|Crossley, William J.||Kekewich, Sir George||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Cullinan, J.||Kelley, George D.||O'Shee, James John|
|Curran, Peter Francis||Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Kilbride, Denis||Partington, Oswald|
|Delany, William||Laidlaw, Robert||Paulton, James Mellor|
|Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leeks)||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Russell, Rt. Hon. T. W.||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Pease, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Saff. Wald.)||Rutherford, v. H. (Brentford)||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Perks, Sir Robert William||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)||Verney, F. W.|
|Philips, John (Longford, S.)||Schwann, C. Duncan (Hyde)||Vivian, Henry|
|Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Schwann, Sir C. E. (Manchester)||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Pirie, Duncan V.||Scott, A. H. (Ashton-under-Lyne)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Pointer, J.||Seely, Colonel||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel||Watt, Henry A.|
|Power, Patrick Joseph||Sheehy, David||White, J. Dundas (Dumbartonshire)|
|Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)||Shipman, Dr. John G.||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Radford, G. H.||Silcock, Thomas Ball||Whitehead, Rowland|
|Rainy, A. Rolland||Sloan, Thomas Henry||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Reddy, M.||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Soames, Arthur Wellesley||Wiles, Thomas|
|Rees, J. D.||Soares, Ernest J.||Williamson, Sir A.|
|Richards, T. F. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Stanley, Albert (Staffs., N.W.)||Wills, Arthur Walters|
|Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Steadman, W. C.||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)||Stewart, Halley (Greenock)||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)||Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)||Sutherland, J. E.||Wood, T. M'Kinnon|
|Robson, Sir William Snowdon||Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Roche, Augustine (Cork)||Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)|
|Roche, John (Galway, East)||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Captain Norton and Mr. Fuller.|
|Rogers, F. E. Newman||Thompson, J. W. H. (Somerset, E.)|
|Rowlands, J.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Acland-Hood, Rt. Hon. Sir Alex. F.||Doughty, Sir George||Peel, Hon. W. R. W.|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Du Cros, Arthur||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Ashley, W. W.||Faber, George Denison (York)||Renton, Leslie|
|Balcarres, Lord||Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City, Lond.)||Forster, Henry William||Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staffordshire)|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Gooch, Henry Cubitt (Peckham)||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Guinness, Hon. R. (Haggerston)||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Hay, Hon. Claude George||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Lanark)|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Butcher, Samuel Henry||Hill, Sir Clement||Valentia, Viscount|
|Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. H. M.||Kerry, Earl of||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent Mid)|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Kimber, Sir Henry||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E.R.)|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Lambton, Hon. Frederick William||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Clive, Percy Archer||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R.||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Courthope, G. Loyd||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter (Dublin, S.)|
|Craig, Captain James (Down E.)||Lowe, Sir Francis William||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Charles Craig and Mr. Lonsdale.|
|Craik, Sir Henry||MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh|
|Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott-||M'Arthur, Charles|
§ And, it being Five of the clock, the Chairman proceeded, in pursuance of the Order of the House of 15th June, successively to put forthwith the Questions necessary to dispose of the business to be concluded to-day.1530
§ Question put, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 261; Noes, 55.1533
|Division No. 377.]||AYES.||[5.10 p.m.|
|Abraham, W. (Cork, N.E.)||Boulton, A. C. F.||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)|
|Alden, Percy||Bowerman, C. W.||Compton-Rickett, Sir J.|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Brace, William||Condon, Thomas Joseph|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Bramsdon, Sir T. A.||Cooper, G. J.|
|Astbury, John Meir||Branch, James||Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinstead)|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Brocklehurst, W. B.||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.|
|Barker, Sir John||Brooke, Stopford||Cotton, Sir H. J. S.|
|Barnes, G. N.||Brunner, Rt. Hon. Sir J. T. (Cheshire)||Cowan, W. H.|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst||Bryce, J. Annan||Cox, Harold|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Burke, E. Havlland-||Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)|
|Beale, W. P.||Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Crean, Eugene|
|Beck, A. Cecil||Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Crooks, William|
|Bellairs, Carlyon||Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney Charles||Crosfield, A. H.|
|Belloc, Hilaire Joseph Peter R.||Byles, William Pollard||Cross, Alexander|
|Benn, W. (Tower Hamlets, St. Geo.)||Cameron, Robert||Cullinan, J.|
|Berridge, T. H. D.||Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Curran, Peter Francis|
|Bertram, Julius||Causton, Rt. Hon. Richard Knight||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)|
|Bethell, Sir J. H. (Essex, Romford)||Cheetham, John Frederick||Delany, William|
|Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon)||Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Devlin, Joseph|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Clancy, John Joseph||Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)|
|Black, Arthur W.||Cleland, J. W.||Dillon, John|
|Boland, John||Clough, William||Donelan, Captain A.|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)|
|Dunne, Major E. Martin (Walsall)||Lundon, T.||Radford, G. H.|
|Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Lyell, Charles Henry||Rainy, A. Holland|
|Elibank, Master of||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Reddy, M.|
|Esmonde, Sir Thomas||Macdonald, J M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Essex, R. W.||Mackarness, Frederic C.||Rees, J. D.|
|Esslemont, George Birnie||Maclean, Donald||Richards, T. F (Wolverhampton, W.)|
|Evans, Sir S. T.||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Everett, R. Lacey||MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.)||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Faber, G. H. (Boston)||MacVeigh, Charles (Donegal, E.)||Robertson. Sir G. Scott (Bradford)|
|Falconer, James||M'Callum, John M.||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Fenwick, Charles||M'Kcan, John||Robson, Sir William Snowdon|
|Ffrench, Peter||M'Micking, Major G.||Roche, Augustine (Cork)|
|Field, William||Mallet, Charles E.||Roche, John (Galway, East)|
|Findlay, Alexander||Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)||Rogers, F. E. Newman|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Marnham, F. J.||Rowlands, J.|
|Flynn, James Christopher||Massie, J.||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Masterman, C. F. G.||Russell, Rt. Hon. T. W.|
|Glbb, James (Harrow)||Meagher, Michael||Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)|
|Gilhooly, James||Meehan, Francis E. (Leltrim, N.)||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)|
|Ginnell, L.||Meehan, Patrick A. (Queen's Co.)||Schwann, C. Duncan (Hyde)|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hon. Herbert John||Menzles, Sir Walter||Schwann, Sir C. E. (Manchester)|
|Gooch, George Peabody (Bath)||Micklem, Nathaniel||Scott, A. H. (Ashton-under-Lyne)|
|Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)||Molteno, Percy Alport||Seely, Colonel|
|Gulland, John W.||Mond, A.||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Gwynn, Stephen Lucius||Money, L. G. Chiozza||Sheehy, David|
|Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Montgomery, H. G.||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)||Mooney, J. J.||Silcock, Thomas Bali|
|Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worcester)||Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)||Sloan, Thomas Henry|
|Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-sh.)||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leltrim, S.)|
|Hart-Davies, T.||Morrell, Philip||Soames, Arthur Wellesloy|
|Harwood, George||Morse, L. L.||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Haworth, Arthur A.||Murnaghan, George||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N.W.)|
|Hayden, John Patrick||Murphy, John (Kerry, East)||Steadman, W. C.|
|Hazel, Dr. A. E. W.||Murray, Capt. Hon. A. C. (Kincard)||Stewart, Halley (Greenock)|
|Hazleton, Richard||Myer, Horatio||Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)|
|Healy, Maurice (Cork)||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Sutherland, J. E.|
|Healy, Timothy Michael||Napier, T. B.||Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)|
|Hemmerde, Edward George||Nolan, Joseph||Tonnant, H. J. (Berwickshire)|
|Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)||Norman, Sir Henry||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Herbert, T. Arnold (Wycombe)||Nuttall, Harry||Thompson, J. W. H. (Somerset, E.)|
|Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||O'Brien, K. (Tipperary, Mid.)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Hodge, John||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Hogan, Michael||O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Holland, Sir William Henry||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Ure, Rt. Hon Alexander|
|Holt, Richard Durnlng||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Verney. F. W.|
|Horniman, Emslie John||O'Doherty Philip||Vivian, Henry|
|Idris, T. H. W.||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry W.)||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Illingworth, Percy H.||O'Dowd, John||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Isaacs, Rufus Daniel||O'Grady, J.||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Johnson, John (Gateshead)||O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)||Watt, Henry A.|
|Johnson, W. (Nuneaton)||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)||White, J. Dundas (Dumbartonshire)|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||O'Malley, William||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Joyce, Michael||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Whitehead, Rowland|
|Kavanagh, Walter M.||O'Shee, James John||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Kekewich, Sir George||Partington, Oswald||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Kelley, George D.||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Wiles, Thomas|
|Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Williamson, Sir A.|
|Kilbride, Denis||Pease, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Saff. Wald.)||Wills, Arthur Walters|
|Laidlaw, Robert||Perks, Sir Robert William||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester)||Philips, John (Longford, S.)||Wilson, w. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Lamont, Norman||Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Wood, T. M'Kinnon|
|Lardner, Jamer Carrige Rushe||Plrie, Duncan V.||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.)||Pointer, J.|
|Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington)||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Captain Norton and Mr. Fuller.|
|Lewis, John Herbert||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major||Channing, Sir Francis Allston||Guinness, Hon. R. (Haggerston)|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Clive, Percy Archer||Hay, Hon. Claude George|
|Ashley, W. W.||Courthope, G. Loyd||Hermen-Hodge, Sir Robert|
|Balcarres, Lord||Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.)||Hill, Sir Clement|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City, Lond.)||Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Kerry, Earl of|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Craik, Sir Henry||Kimber, Sir Henry|
|Banner, John S. Harmood||Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott||Lambton, Hon. Frederick William|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Doughty, Sir George||Lockwood. Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R.|
|Bull, Sir William James||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers||Long. Rt. Hon. Walter (Dublin,' S.)|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Du Cros, Arthur||Lonsdale, John Brownlee|
|Butcher, Samuel Henry||Faber, George Denison (York)||Lowe, Sir Francis William|
|Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. H. M.||Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Forster, Henry William||M'Arthur, Charles|
|Cecil, Lord P.. (Marylebone, E.)||Gooch, Henry Cubitt (Peckham)||Peel, Hon. W. R. W.|
|Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Lanark)|
|Renton, Leslie||Tuke, Sir John Batty||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Sir|
|Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)||A. Acland-Hood and Viscount Valentia.|
|Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staffordshire)||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E.R.)|
|Stone, Sir Benjamin||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart|