§ Order read, for resuming adjourned debate on Amendment to Question (30th March), "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ Which Amendment was to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the question to add the words "upon this day six months."—[Mr. Campbell.]
§ Question again proposed: "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL for IRELAND (Mr. Redmond Barry)
Mr. Speaker, I should like, by the indulgence of the House, to correct an impression 349 that might arise from the report of the speech delivered by my right hon. Friend (the Chief Secretary for Ireland) yesterday. I make this statement on behalf of my right hon. Friend. He was speaking of the changes in the financial clauses of the Bill as compared with the Bill of last Session. He referred to the fact that on the crucial date of 24th November there was a great number of pending cases in which the bargain was not actually struck, but in which negotiations had been carried on upon the basis of the 12 per cent, bonus and the old rate of annuity; and he said that under the Bill the Treasury were taking these cases over and the old rates of bonus and annuity would be payable. It would appear from the report of my right hon. Friend's speech that he referred to this state of things as applying to the case of negotiations between landlord and tenants, as well as to the case of sales to the Land Commission and the Congested Districts Board. While the Chief Secretary does not dispute the general accuracy of the report of his remarks on this head, he wishes to have it made perfectly clear that the cases to which he was referring were cases of inchoate sales to the Land Commission and Congested Districts Board only, and not to cases in which there may have been negotiations between landlords and tenants for direct sale. The clause of the Bill which deals with this matter is sub-clause (2) of clause 5. That sub-clause provides that agreements for the purchase of an estate or land, though not entered into on or before 24th November, 1908, shall be deemed to have been so entered into if on or before that date in four cases explicitly set out—
The total purchase money of £2,193,000 quoted by the Chief Secretary refers solely to these cases.
- (1) The vendor had lodged an originating request for a sale to the Land Commission or the Congested Districts Board;
- (2) Or if the vendor had accepted a preliminary estimate of price or entered into a preliminary agreement with the Land Commission or the Congested Districts Board;
- (3) Or if either of these bodies had made an offer to purchase from the Land Judge;
- (4) Or if the Estates Commissioners had made an offer for purchase under the Evicted Tenants Act.
The effect of bringing these cases under the head of agreements entered into on 350 or before 24th November is that the 12 per cent, bonus and the 3¼ per cent, annuity will apply to them. The point of these cases is that though the formal statutory agreement was not entered into before 24th November, yet preliminary steps, practically committing the vendors to a sale to these public bodies, had been taken before that date upon the basis that the old rates of bonus and annuity would apply. As regards cases of direct sale from landlord to tenant under Section 1, the Chief Secretary wishes to point out that it would be manifestly impossible to take any account of negotiations for sale which had not realised in an agreement before 24th November. My right hon. Friend thinks it desirable that this explanation should be made at the first moment in order to avoid any misapprehension which may arise from reading the report of his speech. Now, last evening, I was calling attention to what we considered as regards land purchase in Ireland at the present moment is the effect of the situation. We think, in proposing this Bill, that as things stand at present in Ireland under the Act of 1903, an absolute deadlock in land purchase is already taking place, or will come into being within a short time. The Opposition, apparently, wish to suggest that the deadlock which has arisen—or will shortly arise—is to be attributed in some shape or form to the proposals of the Government. But the point which I wish to bring before the House is this: that that deadlock which has arisen, or will shortly arise, is due wholly or solely to the provisions of the Act of 1903. As they stand now, what does it mean? We know that at the present time agreements for the sale of estates to the value of 56 millions have been entered into, and are awaiting money for their completion. How to deal with the problem of getting that money is the most urgent feature of the problem of land purchase at the present moment. The Chief Secretary stated yesterday that the charges already, statutory and otherwise, on the Ireland Development Grant, practically exhausts the whole of that Grant, and such margin as remains will be undoubtedly exhausted by the further issue of a sum not exceeding £5.000,000. and I am informed by the Estates Commissioners that according to the progress they are making in administering the Act that sum of £5,000,000 will be expended by the month of October or November this year. You will have remaining pending 351 agreements of estates for sale of the value of at least £50,000,000, and the question—the question which none of the hon. Members have answered—is how is that money to be realised? The statement was made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dublin University last night that every penny of loss, which would amount to £7,000,000 or £8,000,000, would be incurred in raising that £50,000,000 to finance the existing bargains. Every single penny of that loss, if this Bill is not passed, will, according to the Act of 1903, have to be borne by the ratepapers of Ireland. We have been told during the course of this debate that it was not the intention of the Act of 1903 to saddle the Irish ratepayers with that responsibility. Therefore it is well to call the attention of the House to the plain admission made by the right hon. Gentleman yesterday, in which he stated that not merely was it the intention but as well the letter and spirit of the Act of 1903 that this loss should fall upon the ratepayers of Ireland.
§ Mr. REDMOND BARRY
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Trinity College. His words were:—There is no doubt that I, for one, have never attempted to deny that by the letter as well as the spirit of the Act" of 1903 any loss on flotation not covered by the Development Grant was to fall on the ratepayers. But while that is patent on the face of the Act, it was never challenged by any one in this House, but was allowed to go through without objection or attack, and it became part and parcel of the bargain of 1903.And his conclusion upon the whole proposal of the Government was this:—But now that it has occurred, the obvious injustice of it is so apparent that the Prime Minister last year and the right hon. Gentleman to-day in fact, everyone who has spoken on the subject—all assume that no person would ever think of imposing this burden on the ratepayers. Therefore, in so far as this Bill removes that liability and places it on the Imperial credit, it is a good Bill.And although we have that admission from the right hon. Gentleman, and his admission that the Bill "at any rate to that extent is a good Bill," and a just Bill, and provides relief that is manifestly wanted, it is remarkable that he has moved the rejection of the Bill now before the House. Then I take it as now being beyond cavil that the £7,000,000 or £8,000,000 discount losses that would arise from the attempt to raise this £50,000,000 to finance existing sales, must, according to the Act of 1903, fall upon the ratepayers of Ireland. Does any hon. Gentleman or right hon. 352 Gentleman suggest that the money is to be raised on these terms? I should like an answer to that. Does any hon. Gentleman or right hon. Gentleman suggest that the Government of Ireland or the Treasury at the present moment ought to put in force the powers of the Act of 1903 of raising the necessary 50 millions at the expense to Ireland, the necessary and inevitable expense to Ireland, of seven or eight millions? I take, it from the silence of hon. Gentlemen opposite that no one suggests that any such course as that should be taken.
§ Mr. REDMOND BARRY
The law officer at the time tells us that not merely did the Act so provide, but that it was the very spirit of the Act of 1903. That is the position with which the Government are confronted. We are accused of bringing paralysis on land purchase in Ireland. We are accused—the right hon. Gentleman yesterday used the expression—of holding up the British Treasury as defaulters before the world. Why, I conceive that there can be no difficulty on the part of the British Treasury in procuring these 50 millions or more if the provisions of the Act were to be complied with, as they would have to be complied with—namely, that all losses in providing the money must fall on the people of Ireland. That is the crux, the difficulty of the whole situation, and I shall be very much concerned to hear any hon. Gentleman opposite get up in his place and state that his view is, his desire is that willy-nilly, without changing the Act of 1903, the Treasury would go on procuring these 50 millions with the inevitable loss from which there is no escape, every penny of which would have to be borne by the people of Ireland. Then the question arises—what has to be done in that situation? I do not believe that there is a single man in this House or a man outside the House who would venture to say that the money is to be provided on these burdensome terms as far as Ireland is concerned. Then what has to be done? We are then brought face to face with a situation in which legislation becomes absolutely imperative. And the hon. Member for North Londonderry yesterday absolutely amazed me by suggesting that in some way or another it was in the power of the Prime Minister by some act of his to suspend the operations of the Act of 1903, 353 and arrange that these discount losses should fall not upon the Guarantee Fund of Ireland but should fall on moneys to be otherwise provided. Of course, the hon. Member must know perfectly well that no such power resides in the Prime Minister or in any other individual. The Act itself is perfectly clear in its terms. It provides for the payment of these discount losses in a specific way, and no other course could be considered or thought of.
That is the situation with which we have to deal. We are concerned not merely with future transactions but, above all, with the present problems, how to deal with the existing sales. What are the proposals of the Bill which he denounced as iniquitous in that respect? The proposal is this: as regards the outstanding sales the Treasury will and does take over the entire loss on the flotation of the stock requisite to raise the sum of money which the Chief Secretary stated yesterday was required, amounting to an annual charge of about £270,000 a year for a period of 68½ years. Is there anything against that provision of the Bill? Was the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dublin University right yesterday when he said that so far as that went the Bill was a good Bill? But what is the reason given for attacking the Bill?—that it is a Treasury Relief Bill. The right hon. Gentleman must be aware that at the present moment the Treasury does not stand to lose a single penny on such transactions. One thing that was made manifest and judicially determined in Ireland in the case of the Kildare petition of right was that the Act of 1903 made certain that so far as the Treasury was concerned not one single penny was to be borne by the Treasury in connection with purchase operations except the bonus of 12 millions provided by the Act of 1903. Every single penny of loss otherwise incurred, whether as regards payment of purchase annuities, incidental losses on flotation of stock or discount losses, was, by the terms of the Act as judicially decided, to fall on Ireland and on Ireland alone. So far as regards existing agreements. As regards future agreements, the proposal of the Government which is held up to odium is this, that future transactions are to be financed on the basis of 3 per cent, as distinguished from 2⅔ per cent.
§ Sir EDWARD CARSON
Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether that stock will be issued in immediate future transactions?
§ Mr. REDMOND BARRY
That is my notion. My present impression of the Act is that that applies to all future transactions. The thing may be divided broadly into two parts—the provision relating to existing transactions and the provision relating to future transactions. All responsibility for existing transactions is taken over by the Treasury without loss to any of them. The provision as regards future transactions, speaking broadly, is that these transactions are to be carried out on a basis of stock yielding 3 per cent, as against 2¾ per cent, before. What is the object of that? Nothing more or less than this, that the finance of future transactions should be self-supporting. It will no doubt to that extent create a new situation for landlords and tenants. There can be no doubt about that. Anyone who knows anything about Ireland can have no hesitation about believing that landlords and tenants in Ireland will at once and without any difficulty be able to accommodate themselves to that new state of affairs, and will be able to make, their bargains accordingly. But what proposal has come from any hon. Gentlemen opposite as regards that? Do they suggest that the finance of the Act of 1903 is still to be continued, and that these future losses will have to be financed at the expense of Ireland? Is that the proposal?
§ Mr. REDMOND BARRY
These are broadly the provisions which the Government make for dealing with this most pressing problem—provisions which, I venture to think, are absolutely necessary if land purchase in Ireland is to be carried one single step further than it has gone up to the present moment. The Act of 1903 made it quite certain that a sum of £12,000,000 would be provided for bonus, and no more. Section 47 of the Act is absolutely distinct upon that. This Government—which was supposed, according to the speech of the hon. Member for Armagh last night, to have before its mind the sinister purpose, by the provisions of this Bill, of bringing land purchase absolutely to a standstill in Ireland—makes the proposal, with a view to facilitating and not hampering land purchase, to remove the limit existing under the Act of 1903 of 12 millions bonus, and to provide that in future, according to a graduated scale provided in the schedule, a bonus should be paid on all future transactions—the calculation of the Chief Secretary being that at least an additional sum of three millions 355 will have to be provided for the purpose. I cannot help saying again what I said last night that, in my view, which I respectfully present to the House, it is the merest travesty of the situation for the right hon. Gentleman opposite, in that state of affairs, to denounce this Bill, as he has done, as a Bill which aims at killing land purchase or bringing it to a standstill, or, indeed, of bringing some relief to the Treasury in respect of a liability under the Act of 1903, which anyone who knows anything of the terms of the Act of 1903 must admit does not exist at all. Therefore, I am prepared to take my stand upon what the right hon. Gentleman, who was the law officer for the Government at the time the Act was passed, has said when he stated that the financial provisions of this Bill were at least deserving of support.
And now I come to the grounds which, I take it, prompted him to take the course which he has taken of moving its rejection. He has asked is it fair or just, in order to give relief which is manifestly wanted and is admittedly just, to saddle it with impossible and unfair conditions and revolutionary proposals which will start a fresh land war and agrarian campaign in Ireland? He says, "I, for one, think that the landlords of Ireland will never accept a bribe of that sort"; again showing plainly that, in the right hon. Gentleman's view—and he has a keen view in these matters—so far as the financial proposals of the Bill are concerned they are worth accepting, and that the question is whether or not they ought to be accepted in view of the revolutionary proposals which, lie says, are otherwise contained in the Bill. I will touch very shortly upon what the right hon. Gentleman referred to as the revolutionary proposals of the Bill. They touch chiefly the proposals relating to the problem of congestion in the counties in Ireland throughout Ireland, facts relating to the Government to deal with the question? What do we find? The right hon. Gentleman yesterday stated that the proposals of the Act of 1903 in relation to congestion were of but a secondary and subordinate character. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover, who was the author of the Bill, took, I think, no such view as to the object of the Act of 1903. I think it is plain from the speeches which the right hon. Gentleman made at the time that he, at any rate, regarded the pro- 356 posals to deal with congestion in Ireland as a leading object of that Act. The history of the Dudley Commission and its Report make one thing absolutely plain: it is this—that the Act of 1903 had the relief of congestion in Ireland before it as one of its leading objects, and that the Act in that respect has been a lamentable failure.
The striking paragraphs in the Report of that Commission appear to show that in the opinion of the Commission who investigated this question for 12 months and more the great mass of the people in the congested areas of Ireland who were intended to be reached by this Act of 1903, speaking substantially, received not one particle of benefit under its operation. I do not blame the authors of that Act for that. The Commission pointed out what the true cause was. It was not due either to the provisions of the Act or to the want of skill and care and attention by the Congested Districts Board. It was due to one cause, and one cause only—namely, the insufficiency of funds in the control of the Congested Districts Board, and to meet that difficulty the Commission recommended that the income of the Board should be increased from £86,000 a year, at which figure it stands, to £300,000 a year. And the proposal, which I suppose the lion. Gentleman opposite will denounce as revolutionary, and against which he told us last night for some inscrutable reason he was prepared to vote, is to increase the income to the substantial figure of £250,000 a year. And T confess I was amazed at the hon. Member for North Londonderry when he intimated to the House that it was his fixed resolve to go into the Division Lobby and vote against this proposal. He confirms that view to-night. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dublin University was, I think, too astute to take that view. He makes no objection to this proposal for an increase of income. His first point of objection to our proposals is the inclusion in the Board of the elective element. As I understand him, in the phrase which was a little unfortunate, but which I do not think was meant, he suggested, as a result of that pressure that would be brought to bear upon these local representatives, that corruption—I do not think he intended to use the phrase in that very invidious sense—would follow in the administration of this Act. But he said it; and it was a grave statement to make. It was certainly a statement for which there was no 357 warrant in the experience of anyone in the administration of local affairs in Ireland during the last 10, 11, or 15 years. But I do not want to press it. I think against the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dublin University the House would prefer to fasten its support upon the view of this matter which was presented to the House in that most notable speech—if I may so describe it—of the hon. Member for Carlow, who is a member of the Congested Districts Board. He spoke upon this matter with not merely fullness of knowledge, such as you would expect from one who had taken so great a part in the investigations of the Estates Commissioners, but with an independence of view that, I think, must commend his views to this House. He told us what his view was with regard to the true treatment of congestion in the West of Ireland. He told us, as well what anyone who knows anything about Ireland will be quite prepared to accept and appreciate, that is: that the treatment of the congested problem is one of the greatest difficulty, requiring the greatest delicacy. It is a problem, moreover, that cannot be carried on by a process of migration or otherwise, except by the full consent and actual cooperation of those locally concerned. The proposals of the Congested Districts Board, and of the Dudley Commission, which were unhesitatingly accepted wholeheartedly, as wise in themselves, was that the elective element should be included in the Board, in order by that representation of the local councils you may secure to any scheme dealing with the problem of congestion that local support and co-operation without which it is inevitably doomed from the first to failure. That is my answer to the right hon. Gentleman's suggestion that the Government are making any revolutionary proposal in introducing the elective element into the Board. He suggested to this House, but it was obviously a misapprehension of the Bill itself, that the elected body will constitute the majority of the Hoard. As a matter of fact, they do not. The members will be ten to nine, and, of course, there is provision in the Bill that all administrative matters are to be vested in an administrative council or committee, two out of six of which are to be selected by the representatives of localities.
I pass to the second objection of the right hon. Gentleman. In the speech by the right hon. Gentleman, to which I listened most carefully yesterday—I am sorry 358 he is out of his place for the moment—the impression left on my mind is this: that, so far as the congested districts area is concerned, so far, therefore, as a ninth, or the B Schedule counties, involving a sixth of the area of Ireland, that the right hon. Gentleman did not offer any opposition to the proposal to give compulsory powers to the Congested Districts Board within that area. [Cries of "Oh."] At any rate, I cannot find in the course of his speech any single objection to that proposal in the Bill. What is the proposal? Everyone in this House is acquainted with the personnel of the Dudley Commission. My own recollection of the Board is that not one or two, not a majority, but every single member of that Commission recommended inclusion in any Bill dealing with congestion in Ireland powers to secure land compulsorily within congested areas. There is not a single objection to that. There was a divergence of opinion with regard to the area outside the congested districts—
§ Mr. S. H. BUTCHER
Sir Henry McDonnell has said that he would not give compulsory powers to that Board.
§ Mr. REDMOND BARRY
There was a divergence of views as to the composition of the Board. That is one matter; but I am now upon what has been referred to as an unprecedented revolutionary proposal. Every single member of that Commission recommended distinctly and clearly the inclusion of any Bill dealing with congestion in Ireland powers of compulsory acquisition in the Board which was to have jurisdiction.
§ Mr. REDMOND BARRY
As regards that, I see that the right hon. Gentleman yesterday in his speech referred—I hope I do not misread him—to this matter, and I think he will not be found to have offered any real opposition, if indeed any opposition at all, to that proposal of the Bill. The fact is this: that anyone who knows anything about the problem knows that every rood of untenanted land within that area will be required for the purpose of dealing with the problem. The view taken by everyone acquainted with the facts is that it will be necessary for the Board dealing with the subject to be invested with compulsory powers. Then the right 359 hon. Gentleman, not content with these proposals in support of compulsion within the congested area, says:—You are giving the Estates Commissioners in the outride area equal powers.He asks, What is the justification for that? His chief criticism upon that proposal of the Bill refers, I think, to the form of the Bill itself; the sections of the Bill dealing with that power. The House may remember that he said that the section in that respect was one, and that really he could not conceive any person outside a lunatic asylum, who would make himself responsible for it before the House. He drew a picture of what it meant. He said that anyone, whoever it was, might come along and make an offer, no matter how illusory, and that the Estates Commissioners would at once put these compulsory powers into operation. The view the right hon. Gentleman has taken consistently within the last four or five years of the Estates Commissioners, and which he perhaps entertains quite boná fide, that view I do not think will find support either in this House or in the country. I do not think anyone in this House would be prepared to accept (he view that every mere illusory offer, an offer between landlord and tenant, a suggested bargain, with an illusory price, and under impossible conditions, that in such a case that the Estates Commissioners—this Government Department—which is responsible to this House, will take it upon themselves, as a mere act of oppression, to put into force these powers of compulsion.
§ Mr. C. C. CRAIG
Does the right hon. Gentleman admit that it could be done within the wording of the Bill?
§ Mr. REDMOND BARRY
I cannot absolutely conceive that anyone entrusted with judicial authority should ever so abuse that authority and that power entrusted to them to do anything of the sort.
§ Mr. REDMOND BARRY
So much for the intention the right hon. Gentleman has formed as to the way in which these proposals for compulsory powers were intended in the Bill. What about the principle itself? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dublin University was iii possession of a peculiar advantage with regard to this matter over many of his friends from Ireland. He is under no pledge and no objection, and is in the 360 position to speak out of his own mind. But what about his colleagues from Ulster who represent agricultural constituencies? What would they say? Do they say they are opposed to compulsory purchase?
§ Mr. REDMOND BARRY
Amongst them are several representing agricultural constituencies in the north of Ireland. Will they get up and say they object to these proposals per se? I understand that the hon. Member for Mid Armagh yesterday was careful to give his unqualified adherence to compulsion as a matter of principle. I quite admit that with reference to this Bill the suggested case was not made out; but I may claim him as a supporter of the principle of compulsion in the abstract; and I think most of his colleagues who represent agricultural constituencies in the North of Ireland will be found in the same category. Leave aside Munster, Leinster and Connaught—I say boldly, that throughout agricultural Ulster there is a deep earnest view that inasmuch as it is the settled policy of parties in the State that land purchase should go through, that that great policy of transferring the lands to the tenants so that they may become the occupying owners should be completed—I say, there is an all-pervading feeling throughout Ireland that that policy should not be defeated in any single matter by either want of good sense, of want of reason, or by obstinacy of any particular landlord. I think there is much in what the hon. Gentleman opposite said with regard to this matter, that is, with regard to cases of this sort that the power is introduced to give the Estates Commissioners to deal—
§ Sir EDWARD CARSON
It is a matter of great importance. Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether these powers can be exercised before the £56,000.000 of agreements have been paid off?
§ Mr. REDMOND BARRY
The provision of the Act is distinct with regard to that. Any money that is required must obviously be paid in cash which the Bill provides.
§ Mr. REDMOND BARRY
It will come out of the money provided by the Trea- 361 sury. There is nothing whatever about the four or five millions. What was the last point made by the right hon. Gentleman by way of attack upon these proposals as revolutionary? He said:—while this extraordinary campaign in favour of the distribution of untenanted land to men who have hitherto never had any claim of any sort or kind to it, no experience or knowledge of its cultivation will not only create friction between themselves and the occupying farmers, but will lead to fierce agrarian war and to troubles in respect of which what has happened in the past will bear only a feeble resemblance.I understand that the right hon. Gentleman was dealing with the proposal to divide the land, so as to sell parcels of untenanted land to those whom he called landless men. I understood him that this Bill in some way or other seeks to establish that class, and put before them expectations which may or may not be realised, or may be disappointed, and which may lead to greater agrarian trouble in Ireland. Does the Bill create that class? It is not now created for the first time; it was created by the Bill of 1903, passed at the time when the right hon. Gentleman was one of the Irish law officers. The proposals of this Bill are with reference to the congested areas. The proposals with regard to the sale of parcels of land in the congested counties follow in substance the exact proposals of section 75 of the Land Act of 1903. The provision in that Act was that the Congested Districts Board should have power to sell parcels of untenanted land to the sons of tenants and to the tenants themselves. What is the power with regard to congested districts in this Bill? Section 51 provides:—The Board may sell any parcels of land purchased by them whether before or after the passing of this Act, or purchased on their requisition under this Act, to any tenants or proprietors of holdings in a congested districts county. If any parcels of land are not required for, or having regard to the circumstances of the estate, land or district cannot be sold advantageously to such tenants or proprietors, the Board may sell those lands to any sons of tenants or proprietors of holdings situated in any congested districts county and not exceeding £10 in value.
§ Mr. J. H. CAMPBELL
The landless men I referred to are not contained in that section at all. I referred to section 17, clause 4.
§ Mr. REDMOND BARRY
I am dealing at present with the congested districts counties, which at least cover one-sixth of the whole of Ireland. The proposal is to sell parcels of untenanted land within that extensive area, and in substance that is a complete, or nearly complete, copy of the proposals of section 75 of the Act of 1903. Does the right hon. Gentleman say that there was no proposal under section 2 of the Act of 1903 to sell to landless men?
§ Mr. REDMOND BARRY
The proposal under section 2 was to sell first of all to the tenants, then to the sons of tenants, to evicted tenants, and to labouring tenants. It will be found that the section of this Bill follows in substance the proposal of the Act of 1903. Section 17 of this Bill provides for an advance being made to "Any person to whom, in the opinion of the Land Commission, after considering the requirements of persons mentioned in the preceding paragraphs of this sub-section an advance of that to be made" It comes to this: that the revolutionary proposal upon which my right hon. Friend moves the rejection of this Bill, which provides for a manifestly just and urgent relief in Ireland, is that the Estates Commissioners, after considering the requirements of all these other four classes, may dispose of the residuum of land they may have, and they may sell it to any person to whom, in their judgment, a sale ought to be made. Where are the revolutionary proposals as a result of which this Bill is to be rejected, and the deadlock in Ireland is to be allowed to continue for an indefinite time in the nondescript condition described by the right hon. Gentleman yesterday as a condition intolerable both to one class and the other—to the landlord on the one hand who is not getting his money, and to the tenants on the other who are paying their annuities without becoming owners of their holdings? That this is an intolerable condition we all agree. Is any solution to be found, and when is the solution to be found? Will any hon. Member opposite get up and say it is to be found in the Act of 1903? It is to be found only in this Bill which is now before the House. So far the Bill is one to be accepted, unless it is weighed down in the balance by these revolutionary proposals to which the right hon. Gentleman called attention. The House has some idea of what those proposals are. The right hon. Gentleman 363 takes a gloomy view of the prospects of this Bill in Ireland. I know he wishes sincerely, as I do, that no adverse consequences should befall any measure intended for the benefit of Ireland. But the right hon. Gentleman takes a view of this matter which I cannot but think is wholly unjustified by the circumstances. I take no such view as he does. On the contrary I think that the Bill is clamourously called for in Ireland, that those who have even partially considered it approve of it, and it is our expectation and our fixed belief that the passage of this Bill, instead of leading to those gloomy results which the right hon. Gentleman anticipates, will not only enable land purchase to be carried out to a successful and rapid conclusion, but will have the effect also of removing what we consider the last remaining cause of trouble and disturbance in the land situation of Ireland.
§ Mr. GEORGE WYNDHAM
I very much regret that I was not able to be here yesterday to hear the speech of the Chief Secretary, but I think he is aware that the fault was not mine. I certainly do not rise this afternoon for the purpose of trying to persuade the House that the Act of 1903 is a perfect measure, which does not stand in need of amendment. This is not my view. It is rather distasteful to me ever to find it my duty to criticise the policy of any Chief Secretary. I know the difficulties of the situation, and I wish altogether to disclaim the idea of saying that our policy of 1903 is perfect, and that there is no need for further land legislation in Ireland. I do not come here this afternoon to do that, but because for twenty-two years, during the whole period of my political life, I have taken a very deep interest in the question of Irish land purchase. I honestly believe, however, after a careful study of this Bill, that it is not conducive to a proper solution of this difficult problem. Although I did not hear the Chief Secretary's speech, I have read it, and I have had the advantage of listening to the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor-General for Ireland this afternoon. May I say, with very real respect to both the right hon. Gentleman and to the hon. and learned Gentleman, that they seem to me to have presented with undue elaboration a point which is not in dispute. Nobody disputes that it is necessary to prevent the contingent losses falling upon the Irish ratepayers. It is not in dispute now. and so far as I am 364 concerned, never has been in dispute. I do not know why they devoted so large a portion of their speeches to labouring and belabouring that point. I am not concerned to repeat what I have often stated in the House that it was not the intention of the authors of the Act of 1903 that such losses should fall upon the ratepayers. I should certainly not have reverted to that question if the right hon. Gentleman had not persisted in turning the attention of the House to it as the issue before us. It is equally certain when tin Act was passed that, with Consols standing at 92 and a fraction, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Ritchie, afterwards Lord Ritchie, did not see his way as guardian of the public purse, to devoting more than the sum of £185,000 a year to those purposes of the Act.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
The Development Grant was £185,000, but part of that sum was to be devoted to other purposes. The late Lord Ritchie did not see his way at that time, with Consols at over 92, to devoting a larger sum to the purpose, on account of risks which were possible, but which in his opinion were not probable, and when I urged upon him that these contingent losses should be put upon the Votes of this House, or should be divided between the Ireland Development Giant and the Votes of this House, he said sooner than that he would increase the Grant or give a new Grant, but that there was no occasion at the moment. There is no dispute about this. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will not dispute my accuracy on a point with which I was intimately connected. There is no dispute about the intentions of the authors of the Act of 1903, and there is no dispute that our intentions are not carried out by the Act of 1903, or, at any rate, will not be carried out after another five millions his been raised. There is no dispute about those points, and I now come to the point about which there is dispute. I wish to put my view as non-controversially as possible in view of the fact that there is a real conflict of opinion between the Chief Secretary and ourselves in these matters. While they have devoted so much time to the point to which I have referred, they seem to me to deal somewhat inadequately, if I may so, with three points which we have urged twice during the last Session and again yesterday afternoon. These points are that in this Bill of the Government they are not making adequate 365 provision for removing the existing block upon the agreements for £56,000,000.
The second point is that they are not, as we think, giving as fair terms as should be offered to those who are coming after the existing block has been removed. The third point which we have urged is, that they, whether designedly or not, are substituting a new policy in respect of dealing with congestion in place of the old policy which we defended in 1903. We believe that their new policy, to which I will come later, is not in the true interests of what I may perhaps be allowed to call, though I know it is an awkward word, the "congester," that is, the actual occupier of a thoroughly bad holding. It is not in the best interests of these men, and it is certain to encourage hopes on the part of men who have not occupying tenancies which cannot be realised, and they will encourage those hopes at the cost of still further arresting the progress of the abolition of dual ownership. That is our case, and I am going to put it as temperately as I can. Those are the points we are urging, and no one is urging that we ought not to legislate to release the Irish ratepayers of the burden of this loss on stock. The object of our policy in 1903 was, as the lion, and learned Gentleman has already said, not a single object, but a two-fold object. In the first place, we intended to take measures for the speedy and smooth abolition of dual ownership in Ireland upon terms to which, in substance, the accredited representatives of the landlords and tenants in Ireland had agreed. Our other object covered a smaller area, but I will not say it is less important. It was to proceed by special provision to do even more than my right hon. Friend had already done to improve the worst class of holdings in the West of Ireland, and in a minor degree elsewhere, prior to the sale of the estates in which those holdings were situated. That was our policy, but it is not the policy of this Bill. The policy of this Bill goes far beyond that, and by going beyond it, in our opinion, it is prejudicial to the chances of the successful accomplishment of the policy which we believed to be in the true interests of Ireland in the year 1903.
Before I come to the new policy of congestion, let me deal with what the Government propose to do in order to further our first object—namely, the speedy and smooth abolition of dual ownership in Ireland. They base their plea for departing from the existing financial facilities given for that pur- 366 pose upon financial inability, and they say that you cannot go on with the finance of the Land Act as it is. That financial inability to proceed with existing financial facilities for the abolition of dual ownership depends according to them upon two things. In the first place, there is the regrettable fact that Consols do not stand now at 92, but at 84 and 85, and that Irish Land Stock, and all other securities, has depreciated greatly in value. That creates the great difficulty, but the Government urge another reason. They say that we altogether mistook the size of the problem in 1903, and those two facts taken together have made it harder to raise the money when more money had to be raised. They argue that that justifies them in throwing over the terms offered to the Irish landlords and tenants which were accepted by their representatives and solemnly confirmed by all parties in this House.
I must devote a few minutes to the question of the size of the problem. Let me assure the right hon. Gentleman that that point docs not present itself to my mind as raising any controversy between two amateur actuarial calculations. I think the discrepancy arises because we are not talking about the same thing, and I think I can show that to be the case. The right hon. Gentleman now says that £183,000.000 are required. Now why am I entitled to say that we are not talking about the same thing? Speaking yesterday the right hon. Gentleman said when I mentioned, in a speculative manner, £100,000,000, that the limit had not been raised for the purchase of any one holding to £7,000, and that that was done afterwards. Those who remember the debates on this question will recollect that I gave way on that point with great reluctance, and the limit was raised to £7,000 only in certain cases of an exceptional character, and it was not to apply generally throughout Ireland. When we passed the Act of 1903 the Estates Commissioners were to be under the control of the Government of the day, and the Government were to direct their administrative action. That was a very necessary provision. We had to make the money go round through the different provinces, apportioning some of it to the relief of congestion and some to removing dual ownership, and therefore we kept control over the Estates Commissioners. Since we left office the Government have, rightly or wrongly, removed the control of the Government of the day over the Estates 367 Commissioners, and they are now more of a judicial tribunal than officers exercising administrative duties.
The right hon. Gentleman stated that the inclusion of the £7,000 farms has added £40,000,000 to the total of the estimate. But, at the same time, that the right hon. Gentleman says the amount is now £183,000,000, partly because farms of £7,000 have been included, this Bill limits all future advances to £3,000, which is a lower amount than was the normal sum under the Act of 1903. Is there to be no reduction in the total of £183,000,000 in consequence of a reduction not from £7,000 back to £5,000, but to £3,000 as the amount to be advanced in the future to any purchaser? But the right hon. Gentleman goes further, and he says any man in Ireland who has bought under a previous Act a farm of lower value is in future not to buy any other piece of land upon which money has been advanced if the total value of the property exceeds this symmetrical sum of £3,000. I understand that the total of £183,000,000 is only arrived at because of this new policy. Is it not fair to? assume that the right hon. Gentleman contemplates the sale of almost every acre of land in Ireland not to the occupier, whom we meant to relieve from what has been called the curse of dual ownership, not to the true congest with three or four acres of boggy land around his farm, but to every man in Ireland who thinks he is likely to succeed as a mixed farmer under this symmetrical plan by which it is proposed to divide all the land into farms which can be bought for £3,000 apiece? Speaking only yesterday, the right hon. Gentleman gave other figures which confirm this view. He said that under previous purchase Acts 2,500,000 acres had been transferred. He also said that in respect of proceedings which have already been concluded or initiated under the Act of 1903 a further 7,271,000 acres were covered. Therefore we get a total of 9,750,000 acres of agricultural land covered by past and pending transactions. The Chief Secretary went on to say that that leaves another 9,000,000 about to be dealt with, and he further stated that he thought he was right in saying that we were about in the middle, and only in the middle, of this process. Now, how does he square that with the acreage of Ireland? In round numbers there are 6,000,000 acres of waste land, 3,500,000 acres under crops, and 11,500,000 acres under grass. There are only 15,000,000 acres in all which can 368 be called agricultural land, and that is an outside figure and a round number. According to this statement 9,750,000 acres have already been dealt with, and we are told we are only half-way through the programme. What does it mean? It means that the Government intend under this Bill to sell all the land under crops in Ireland, and all the land under grass, which we expressly stated ought not to be sold. Besides this it is proposed to sell half the waste land in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman is going to sell the land not to the occupier or the benefit of the real congest, but in order to carry through this immense transaction under clause 17 of his Bill he is going to invite any poison at any time to offer his services under this new delectable plan for regenerating Ireland by alloting to every man a farm of exactly £3,000 value, no more and no less. I do not wish to put this point in too controversial a spirit, but surely I may be allowed to claim that our contention that there is a new policy is not one to be laughed aside by the Solicitor-General.
It is clear that the money size of this problem can only be put forward as £183,000,000 if the right hon. Gentleman intends to buy and sell the whole of the land in Ireland irrespective of the present occupiers. That being so, I think we are entitled, as otherwise we should not be entitled, to look a little bit more closely at the provisions of this Bill for dealing with the first part of our policy, namely, the speedy and smooth abolition of dual ownership. We are entitled to ask whether the Government under these circumstances are really doing all they ought to do, in the first place, to remove the present block, and, in the second place, to give fair terms to those who come in afterwards. I wish to address myself to these two points. Obviously, it would not be fair or right, or keeping good faith with Ireland to trench upon some of the facilities given to these persons in order to endow some other purpose which was not before Parliament in 1903. Let us discuss that further purpose on its merits, and if it is a good plan let the House find fresh financial facilities to carry it out. This House is not entitled to trench upon the existing facilities for purposes which were approved in 1903 in order to finance a purpose which I doubt whether many people will approve of when they come to look more closely into it.
Let us see what is being done by the Government under this Bill to remove the 369 existing block of ordinary agreements. There are £56,000,000 worth of such agreements now pending. The Government mean to raise £5,000,000 in cash by issuing 2¾ per cent. Stock. But of this £1,000,000 is to be devoted to compulsory purchase. That is not in the Bill, but it was in the speech made by the Chief Secretary last winter. The Government expected to provide £5,000,000 a year in cash, and it was further stated that in order to remove the block they intended to issue another £5,000,000 a year of the existing stock. Of course they may have some further views, but they have not announced them, and we must suppose that they are going to remove the block with these 5,000,000 sovereigns which they are going to raise, and meet the difficulty by issuing £5,000,000 further of stock. From the £5,000,000 they are going to deduct one million a year for the compulsory provisions of their Bill. That leaves four millions for removing the block, and whatever £5,000,000 stock will realise at 92—that is, about £4,600,000, perhaps not so much, so that for removing this block there will be available in each year at most only £8,600,000. I do not know whether the Government include in that calculation the bonus. If they do not it will take six years to remove the block; if they do it will take eight years. I am dividing the amount available into the £56,000,000. I do not want to elaborate this too far, but I do not think the Chief Secretary will dispute the result of what is, after all, very simple arithmetic. If you have £8,600,000 to deal with, it all depends on whether you are going to finance the bonus out of it or not. The most hopeful view is that with stock at 92, if you do not include the bonus, it will be six years; the less hopeful, and I fear more probable, view is that it will take at least eight years to remove the block, and under these circumstances I am bound to say that the Government are not by this Bill doing all that they might be expected to do to deal with what the Solicitor-General called the cardinal point of the whole situation, and the reason which should induce us to accept the Bill holus-bolus without looking at it is because the Government were doing such wonders to relieve the Irish ratepayers. But that turns out not to be the case. During these six or eight years the tenant purchaser who signed the bargain will be paying at least 3½ per cent, instead of 3¼ per cent., and may be paying more, in some cases even 4 per cent; so that he will be paying from 6s. to 15s. more than 370 was in his bargain, and he will have to pay for at least six or eight years longer than would be the case if the block was not there.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
If the right hon. Gentleman thinks that that traverses my argument he has already forgotten that I prefaced my speech by saying that I did not come down here to deny that the Act of 1903 required amendment. I came here to say that it did, and that the ratepayers should be relieved. I said also in the debate of last December that the Act required amendment in order to remove this block, and that if we were the persons who had to deal with the situation I was authorised by my colleagues to say that we would take the necessary steps to remove it. Therefore I do not see the relevancy of the interruption.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
The right hon. Member for South Dublin brought in proposals to remove the block which were not nearly so good as mine.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
I make the right hon. Gentleman a present of that. We are discussing here whether by this Bill he is doing all that should be done in order to remove the block, and I say that his proposals are profoundly disappointing to all parties in Ireland. Nobody who expects to get anything by paying £3 5s. for 68 years likes to be told that he may have to pay £3 10s. for nearly eight years before the bargain is concluded. The delay is really a more serious feature in this part of the question than the fact that the tenant may have to pay an exra sum during the period. But the right hon. Gentleman has also asked the tenant during the period of delay to pay the interest covering the period between the gale day on which he paid the first instalment and the day of the first dividend on the stock, so that the position of the tenant who has signed an agreement during the last six years is appreciably worse, and the Government are not doing, as we think, all that might or ought to be done in order to make the position better. But I will say no more about the pending agreements. According to the right hon. Gentleman and his new policy what comes after these agreements is even more important. He has another £93,000,000 to deal with according to his calculation, but not according to ours. How is he going to deal with them, and when? I will deal 371 with that point first. Are you going to proceed with future agreements under any circumstances before you have dealt with all the existing agreements?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
It is not in the Bill; it is a question of arrangement, which, I think, to a certain extent depends on the terms which may be arranged, either by the Bill or in subsequent discussions in Committee, as to the proportion of stock which the landlords may be disposed to take. If we succeed in getting terms which will make it probable that a large number of landlords will intimate their willingness to come in and relieve the financial situation by taking a considerable proportion of stock instead of cash, we may then be able to continue to some extent with the future agreements under this Bill. But it will depend largely on how far we succeed in persuading landlords to take the option of stock.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his very explicit reply to my question. I think the House will appreciate what a very important point this is, and in what a nebulous condition it is left by the Government. Here are £56,000,000 of agreements, which will take six or eight he has to deal with the pending agreements are to come after that they will be of such a speculative character that I do not believe anybody will enter into them. Let me take that alternative first. Let us assume that the conditions which the Chief Secretary desires do not obtain, and that he has to deal with the pending agreements first. Any man who has not yet signed an agreement will be in this position: he will have to sign an agreement which cannot fructify for at least six years, and which is then to be embodied in a Three per Cent. Stock, the value of which at that time he is no more likely to be able to calculate, when we legislated in 1903, than we are able to calculate the price of Consols now. Who is going to sign such an agreement? No man who is fit to be entrusted with the charge of his own affairs. And I am not speaking for the landlord only; I say it for the tenants also. It is a bad bargain to ask people to enter into such an agreement, which is not to be a contract for them until six years have elapsed, under conditions of the money market which will justify the Government of the day in coming down, as this Government comes down now, and saying that times have changed and the bargain is off. But really, the gravest objection which can 372 be urged against this Bill is that the Government have not been sufficiently careful—I will not say to keep faith, because that is an injurious expression—but to avoid disappointing the hopes which were raised—I take the responsibility—by the Act of 1903. If this Bill passes no landlord or tenant will believe, when the British House of Commons undertakes something in all sincerity, that that will really happen. If they are to enter into a bargain which does not fructify for six years, how can they believe that this Three per Cent. Stock is going to be all that the right hon. Gentleman pictures it to himself in his prophetic vision? He himself admitted yesterday that a stock for an Irish purpose, which ought to be as good as an English stock, does not stand as high as it should. He stated that the existing Two and Three-quarter per Cent. Stock is only at 85, and he cannot imagine why it is not higher. Does he think that this Three per Cent. Stock is going to stand as high as English local loans stock? It will obviously suffer from the same depreciating causes of a general character, and also from another cause which we cannot ignore. We all know that Irish estates are very heavily mortgaged, and that one of the reasons for the policy of 1903 was that men who could not otherwise sell might have something convertible or ready money in order that they might pay off their mortgages. I do not think I am exaggerating when I say that, taking the whole country, Irish land is mortgaged up to half its value; some estates are mortgaged up to the limit. That being so, if you pay in Three, per Cent. Stock, one half of that stock will be thrown on the market practically a week after it is issued. That is a peculiar factor in this problem. The result will be that this Three per Cent. Stock will not stand as high as local loans stocks on two scores—on the general score that it is not as popular, and on the particular score that it will be thrown on the market as fast as it is issued. With regard to the first alternative—namely, that the Irish landlords and tenants are to wait in respect of future agreements until the block is liquidated, I do not think the Government can claim that they are making any realisable proposition for dealing with the £93,000,000 at all. I think it is an illusory provision—merely so much print in the Bill—and has no practical bearing on the actual problem we have to solve.
Now I take the other alternative. Is the right hon. Gentleman going to flood the market with this stock, which will bring in 373 95 at the same time that he is asking the landlord who signed the deed four or five years ago to take stock which is only bringing in 92? It is ridiculous.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
Let us by all means have it out in Committee, but the fact that such points are Committee points emphasises our contention that this is pre-eminently a Bill for a Committee of the whole House.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
The Act of 1903 was passed through a Committee of the whole House. This Bill bristles with large financial points affecting many interests both in Ireland and in this country. Large corporate bodies have lent money on the security of Irish land. You cannot say, "We will see what will happen," and send the Bill to a Committee upstairs.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
I will not press the right lion. Gentleman at this moment, but he assents to the view that there should be a full and adequate discussion in this House on the Committee stage of the Bill. Obviously, the discussion will be somewhat searching with regard to these two alternative policies, namely, whether the people are to wait for a bargaining term which no one can specify, or whether they are going to compete against people who have already been delayed, and who will be further delayed for a period of 10 or 15 years because the administrative staff of the right hon. Gentleman is limited. The right hon. Gentleman says that it will only be possible to deal with £10,000,000 a year. Are you going to float this new issue against £10,000,000 a year which will only result in something more than £8,000,000 a year? I am not overstating my case. If the right hon. Gentleman adopts the alternative plan of dealing with future cases before their time, he is delaying the expectation of those who sent in applications 10 or 12 years ago. So much for that aspect of the future agreements.
There is one other point which I must touch upon. It may be called a Committee point, but I think it has sufficient substance and importance for the tenants of Ireland to be put before the House to-day. It is in regard to the annuity which the tenant is to pay under these future agreements, and also, and perhaps this is even of greater importance, the apportionment of that annuity as between interest and 374 sinking fund. The annuity is to be £3 10s. That is 5s. more than the annuity under the -Act of 1903. How is it to be apportioned between sinking fund and interest; The sinking fund is still only to be 10s. That is not increased. The whole increase is upon the interest the Irish tenant has to pay. For the first time since the Ashburn Act the tenant for the advantage of British credit is to pay more than 3 per cent. Under the Ashburn Act the interest was 3 per cent.
§ Mr. BIRRELL indicated dissent.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
I am aware that the annuity was 4 per cent., but I am not troubling the House with too great details of figures. My conclusion is accurate. I am not talking of the total amount under the Ashburn Act. The rate of interest which the Irish tenant purchaser had to give for the advantage of British credit was 3 per cent., and at that time the interest on Consols was 3 per cent. Under the Act of 1891 the interest on Consols was reduced to 2¾ per cent. When we brought in the Act of 1903 the interest on Consols was still, I think, 2¾ per cent., but it was just on the eve of becoming 2½, and I tried very hard to get 2½ per cent, as the rate for the Irish tenant purchaser, but very properly my claim was refused, and as things have turned out wisely, because although the interest on Consols nominally is 2½, we know what the money value is. Still, is that depreciation of Consols to be made a special justification For going back in this matter of interest from the practice for 18 years? I hold it is not. I think you are departing absolutely from the spirit of the Act of 1903 as well as from the terms of that Act when you ask the Irish tenant to give 3 per cent, for what is almost all we can do for Ireland—that is, the use of British credit. In the course of his speech the right hon. Gentleman pointed to how much more the working of the Act has cost. He said, "I have had to increase the staff and to increase the money to the congested districts." May I not reply—in fact, I am bound to reply—by parity of reasoning that we ought never to have increased the Imperial grant to education? When the right hon. Gentleman brought in his great. Education Bill it was assumed that £1,400,000 would fall on Imperial resources. It is now well over £3,000,000, but no one would say that that was a reason for not ventilating the schools and paying the teachers. If we have made a bargain, and if there is what may be a temporary 375 depreciation of stocks, that is not a reason for departing altogether from the bargain we have made. It may be a reason for delay; it may be a reason which will make the working of the Act of Parliament impossible; but it is not a reason for repealing a bargain and putting into another Statute conditions which have never been offered to Ireland for a space of 18 years.
There is another question I wish to put to the right hon. Gentleman, though I admit it is a less important point. It has been asked at what rate is this sinking fund going to accumulate? Under all previous Acts it has been assumed that the sinking fund increase would be at the rate of interest, and when that was 2¾ per cent, it was assumed that the sinking fund would go rolling up at the rate of 2¾ per cent. I want to ask is this 10s. sinking fund going to accumulate at the rate of 3 per cent., because if it does you will shorten the period of repayment by a good many years. If you are going to maintain the period of repayment then you are putting the difference into the pocket of the British Exchequer. I think that is an important point which ought not to be left out of sight.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
You will find that it will shorten the period. I will give a proper answer to that later on.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
All I wish to observe now is that as a matter of policy, when you have, in so difficult a question as Irish land purchase, got the landlords and the tenants, through their accredited representatives, to accept it at 68 years, it seems to me mere folly to alter the terms of that bargain in order to put more money into the British Exchequer in the immediate future. I think that as a matter of policy it is a mistake to change that detail of the bargain of 1903. The bonus on the new scale does not commend itself very much to my mind, but that is a Committee point. It was a Committee point in the Act of 1903. We started with a sliding scale and found that it would not do. The right hon. Gentleman has started with a sliding scale, and he will find that it will not do. I postpone my remarks on that point until we do get into the Committee stage.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
I hope that the right hon Gentleman does not suppose that I am charging him with not having done his level best to get all he can. I am sure he 376 has. I am arguing at the present moment the financial difficulty. It is unwise to legislate for the far future on terms which depart from the spirit and the letter of the bargain which was agreed to in this House in 1903. I think it is a rash conclusion. I think it would be better to have an intermediate emergency measure dealing with the block. I think it would be bettor to be done with a small Bill to relieve the Irish ratepayer than by tearing up a bargain which was solemnly arrived at in the past. The financial facilities have been reduced. There is also in the judgment of those who were responsible for the Act of 1903 another element in this question. We urged then—and the view was then generally received by hon. Members sitting for all parts of Ireland, although I believe it is no longer entertained by some of them—that besides the financial facilities it was important to get rid of all the delay and cost of litigation. One of the pleas on which we based the Land Act of 1903 was that a great deal of the energy and funds of Irishmen were being diverted into somewhat barren controversies, with respect to such questions as the inherent capabilities of the soil, and we argued that it would be a great boon to Ireland to cut those rather abstruse and unreal questions out of the progress of land purchase. Everyone agreed in that at the time, and if there are some who have changed their opinion, I have not changed mine. I hold that clauses 14 and 20 of this Bill will import the whole of that arid discussion which causes so much cost and delay in the transactions with respect to land purchase. In regard to clauses 14 and 20 the Chief Secretary may tell me that these questions will very rarely arise, and that the Estates Commissioners will only take cognisance of such facts when they are quite sure that there is ground for their intervention. The Chief Secretary thinks so.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
But that is exactly what Mr. Gladstone thought when he introduced the previous enactments fixing rents in Ireland. It was supposed then that a certain number of test cases would be brought into court, and that everyone would follow suit when a case had been decided. That is not the way things are done in Ireland. If there is a possible legal point in a case every man feels that he is called upon to take it into court. Applications will be made, and the pressure will be enormous. The Estates Commissioners will intervene in one case, and 377 they will say that a bargain is made for an estate pretty well. But it will be said that you have not taken sufficient account of the value of unexhausted improvements. Will hon. Members from Ireland get up and say that, once that has been done, a large number, if not all the tenants in Ireland, will not feel it incumbent upon them, in order not to fall behind in the duties which they owe to their class, to pay lawyers to see whether they have not unexhausted improvements which ought to be paid for. The landlords will say: "Are we to abandon the sacred doctrine of the inherent capabilities of the land?" All the old friction and delay which formerly prevailed are going to be let in by a back door, as I believe, to the detriment of all classes in Ireland.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
It may be wrong to prophesy, but I do say that we, acting in unity with hon. Members from all parts of Ireland, believed in 1903 that you must, as much as possible, get the opportunities for litigation out of the question of land purchase. In this Bill, as it stands, you open the possibilities of litigation. You have reduced the financial facilities, and you have introduced those possibilities of litigation. On these two grounds we hold that you are not doing in this Bill all that you ought to do in order to continue the policy of the smooth and speedy abolition of dual ownership in Ireland.
§ Mr. KILBRIDE
May I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman suggests that the whole of the money should be raised by Consols?
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
I am afraid it is not proper for anyone who is not a Member of the Government, and even not proper for a Member of the Government who has not ascertained the opinion of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to put forward any suggestion on a matter of that kind. I am speaking at much greater length than I intended, but I wish to speak of the effect of this Bill upon the other great branch of land purchase. May I express our experience in dealing with the problem of congestion, that is to say of trying to improve the worst of holdings prior to the sale of an estate? When I was in Ireland I did all that was in my power in that direction, but although we differed from many hon. Members from Ireland I am Sure they would be the last to doubt our earnestness in the desire to cure the evil of 378 congestion. We found that a difficult matter. We found you had to proceed slowly, and with great patience. In dealing with this problem you cannot move what I may call a congest far. You cannot move him on to the grass lands. He is used to getting oats on poor land, and he cannot farm strong land. You must move the man with a larger farm on to as good or a better farm, and then improve the fringe of very bad holdings round the farm so vacated. That is a slow progress. I am afraid that the Government are making it impossible. By clause 55 they deprive you of giving that man a farm outside the scheduled congested districts. That is a strong order. Instead of using all Ireland for helping the solution of that difficulty you say you must not move a man from those non-congested counties. Why limit your policy in that way? Your difficulty is already sufficiently large, but the real difficulty lies in the fact that you have excited the hopes of new men to come in, and thereby increase the burdens of your financial resources and your administrative staff. The hon. and learned Gentleman this afternoon says we have not created this crop of men who have to be dealt with. He says: "You created them under the Act of 1903." Under Section 2 we did say that if land was not wanted when an estate was sold, it could be used for the sons of tenants and evicted tenants. The language used by the Chief Secretary and the hon. and learned Member is enough to make one regret that these sensible provisions were put in the Act of 1903. They were closely guarded, and it was made clear that it was not our intention of finding land for new men, and speeches were made to make it clear that the breaking up of grass lands would be a form of economic insanity. Yet the right hon. Gentleman says hopes were excited and hungry eyes cast upon untenanted land by persons living in the district. If such hopes were held—that you can help Ireland by breaking up her permanent pastures and not by the provisions of the Act of 1903—what hopes will be excited by the Ministers who are responsible for this Bill? What hopes will be excited by the finances of the Bill and the proposals to sell all the best land as well as half the waste land as well as the land under crops? Who will get the advantage of all this? It will not be the congest. He is a listless and unlettered man without any initiative. Do you think that he is going to win in a 379 general scramble for land in Ireland? It will be the active and enterprising person who will win, because he will think that it is an excellent thing to get a. good farm at less than the market value on the credit of the State. He is the person with the necessary knowledge and enterprise to pull the ropes. This Bill hangs out a certain number of ropes to be pulled, and then you under clause 58 will get compulsion. Under clause 39, when anybody has made an offer for any land the Estates Commissioners may intervene and make an offer to the present owners. I am not making any criticism of the Estates Commissioners, but I ask who are to pull the ropes'? One man will have enough enterprise to make an offer and say that it is a fair offer. If it is denied he will say: "Are you not going to put your Act into force? Kindly say what is a, fair offer." If the landlord does not accept this, then compulsion will come into play. I have endeavoured to indicate that in respect of the congested districts this Bill will help the active and enterprising man, and that it is not drawn in the true interests of the man whom we had in mind when we drew up the Act of 1903. There are some people who advocate this new policy, and believe that Ireland will gain by breaking up permanent pasture and going in for a new system of mixed farming. That is a very speculative belief, and it is challenged by all those who have made a profound study of this economic question. But if that were desirable, what provision does this Bill make for carrying it out? It provides one million pounds a year to solve a problem which was stated by the Chief Secretary to be a problem of 93 millions. That is the measure of this policy for Ireland, and it will proceed over a period of 93 years. I think that it is a ruinous policy for Ireland. It is ludicrous to put it on the basis of one million pounds a year for 93 years.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I thought it right to say what was the present position of the Treasury. I did not say what the position would be 93 years hence.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
How is the Treasury to find more than a million sovereigns without reliquishing any attempt to move the block? If you are going to deal with more than a million a year you will have still less for the policy of abolishing dual ownership. This new policy, which we think is thoroughly bad, is also absurd. It 380 can only compete with the policy on which we are all agreed. I cannot doubt that such a plan as this must fail. I may be told that we can retrace our steps. It will not be easy to retrace our steps if this Bill becomes law. It will be difficult, if not impossible, in face of two things which we shall have done. We shall have torn up a treaty arrived at by the accredited representatives of landlords and tenants, and, consequently, we shall have broken the promises made to this House by both parties.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
I did not intend to vote for the Bill, but after the very conciliatory speech made last night by the leader of our party I do intend to vote for it. I think that he has made a suggestion of great value. He has suggested that some additional money should be given by way of bonus to the landlords for the purpose of enabling bargains to be more quickly made. In the last 10 years three Parliamentary miracles in legislation for Ireland have taken place. They have all been passed by the consent of all parties in this House. I refer first to that revolutionary measure, the Local Government Act for Ireland. How was that passed? The landlords gave up their powers of local government because they got a certain measure of compensation. Ireland has been blessed by a beneficent system of local government, and we owe that to the Conservative party. Then there was the thorny and entangled question of University education. That was settled by a Parliamentary miracle, and no one could have passed it except the right hon. Gentleman. He passed it for two reasons. Because, having regard to his Nonconformist struggles, he had the confidence of the Liberal party, and because everybody knew he was endeavouring to meet the fair claims of Ireland and because he had to a large extent the support of the Conservative party.
Now I come to the Land Bill. Five or six years ago that was settled to a great extent by the measure of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover. How was that settled? Was that settled by controversy? It was settled practically by the united assent of this House in the same way as the Local Government question was settled, and in the same way as the Irish University question was settled by the Chief Secretary for Ireland. And what happened with regard to this question which is now before the House? I interfere as little as possible in politics at the present time, because there are so 381 many people who disagree with me. But I was induced to do what I had not done now for many a long year—I was induced to appear upon a platform some time ago in Cork with a number of Cork landlords to ask that the block relating to land purchase should be got rid of. The meeting took place; it was a very remarkable meeting, in which a great many Irish landlords, many of whose names have long been a symbol of dislike and controversy, took part, and demanded of the Government, which in this matter needs the assent of the House of Lords and needs the assent of Conservative Members from Ireland, that they should be allowed to present a joint and special case to the Prime Minister by means of respectful deputation, and although the Prime Minister was ready to receive all kinds of persons on the matter of the shorter and longer Catechism and of the Port of London and several other questions, he refused to receive a deputation representative of Ireland both by landlords and tenants, and representing at least one-third of the feeling of the country. He thought, probably, it was political. For my part, I have never, not even now, taken the opportunity of commenting on his action. But where are we to-day? What would have been the advantage of his reception of that deputation? I think it would have been this. I have always been of opinion that since the block arose, and since the great depreciation of the money market, I have always been of opinion that some change should be made in the Act of 1903, and that the landlords should be induced on proper terms to take paper and stock instead of sovereigns. I will tell you why. This House, in the last half-dozen years, has passed two immense measures for London, and, as far as I know—I do not pretend to be a student of the state of the money market in London—but, as far as I know, the London Water Bill, involving £40,000,000 or £50,000,000 of money, and the Port of London Bill, involving £25,000,000, both of them involving something between 60 and 70 millions of money—did not disturb the London money market. This sum of 60 or 70 millions is exactly that amount constituting the demand now of the Irish landlords and the Irish tenants under the Wyndham Act. What was the reply of the London money market as to these two Bills? What happened about the London Water Bill? The Liberals were in opposition at the time, and they insisted on the right that sovereigns should be given in payment; but I 382 am right in saying that six out of every seven of the water companies took paper instead of sovereigns. In most cases it was only a change of investment. They were able to get their price in paper; they did not want sovereigns, because if they got sovereigns they would only have to seek fresh investments and the result was that without any fluctuation of the money market at all you were able to settle this great water question, and to-morrow or next day you will settle the docks question with paper money, just as you did the water question, because investments in the water companies and in the docks are just the same as those in permanent industries. The shareholders do not want sovereigns, because if they got sovereigns they would have to go to Argentina or Jamaica or the South Pole looking for somewhere to put their money. You gave them in connection with this Water Bill and Port of London Bill a Three per Cent. Stock in one case and a 3 or 4 per cent, option in another. And, as I say, the whole transaction did not cause one hour's anxiety on the Stock Exchange of London or in the London money market. Now, if the Prime Minister had received the representative deputation, even from Cork, what would have happened? He would have had his Treasury experts and advisers by Ins side, and he could have put to the representative landlord this question: "You are entitled to sovereigns. Are you willing to give up that option and take paper instead?" And remember this: The Wyndham Act provides for giving £5,000 a year as the free grant to Trinity College, Dublin, though Trinity College land cannot be sold under that Act or under this Bill. But there was an inquiry, and Lord Justice Fitzgibbon, a careful, learned, and prudent man, who has an understanding of money transactions, placed it on record: that as regards his own college, his Alma Mater, it would be desirable that the payment to be made in this way to Trinity College should be paid in paper and not in sovereigns. So that you have with regard to this college as to which the right hon. Gentleman the. Member for Dover has given a free grant of £5,000 a year, and whose land cannot be sold, you have it upon record that the price should be paid in paper and not in cash. Now, where are we to-day. I do not desire to make any attack whatever upon this Bill, and for this reason. My hon. Friends may be right, and I may be entirely wrong. I only represent one man, they represent 80 votes, and they have no apprehension of 383 the result, or how it is to be worked, and accordingly I give them just as much claim to represent public opinion as I have; but where are we? Does any sane man in this House suppose that when this Bill is referred to a Committee of the whole House—I will assume that this Bill is perfection and that there is no difficulty about it—does any man suppose for a moment that when the Budget Bill and the robbery of the henroost—and by the way the first henroost apparently the Chancellor of the Exchequer is to rob is the henroost of the Irish farmer—with the Budget Bill and the Welsh Disestablishment Bill and other measures which were promised, and with the debates that must take place upon the Navy and the Army, and with the country in its present state of tension, much more time will have to be provided for the discussion of these matters, does anybody suppose that without some sort of concordat or agreement between all sections of the House, representing the landlords and the tenants, that this measure will proceed upon its majestic career to the House of Lords, or do you speculate what its fate will be when it reaches that lethal Chamber. It is absurd, and I should regret very much if the spirit in which my hon. Friend's suggestion thrown out, last night was rejected by hon. Members above the Gangway, and if they should proceed to take a hostile division upon this Bill. I watched the speech of the Chief Secretary very closely, and I do not think he said anything of a controversial character, or anything calculated to debar the hope that he was willing to meet in Committee the various feelings that arose on both sides. Now I pass from the defects of this Land Bill, and I assume it has no defects, and I will assume simply that there will be delay. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover put a pertinent inquiry to the Chief Secretary. It is this. He said it will take something like eight or ten years before you have paid off your block of £60,000,000 to £80,000,000—these figures are so big I never can remember them.
§ Mr.. T. M. HEALY
Very well, £56,000,000. Will the new agreement begin to take effect until you have cleared off that obstruction. I have read the Bill, and I find it a very intricate Bill to understand. I wished I had the nimble intellect of my hon. Friends to understand it while you wait, but I cannot. Many of these tenants are due to fix their rents for the 384 third time. Are they to be stopped, by signing these agreements, from going into court, and if not, I should like to ask what is to be the legal position of either landlords or tenants who have signed these agreements to take effect in futuro, the futuro being another decade. Am I, having agreed to make my bargain on the supposition that my rent is to be £10, or £20, or £50 a year, and after calculating so many years' purchase, and the landlord assuming that he is going to get so much stock—are both landlords and tenants to be left in this position, that the tenant may pop out of the Land Purchase Court into the Fair Rent Court, and whereas he has agreed to give 20 years' purchase of a 20 years' rent, making £400, is he now to get his rent reduced to £15. What certainty will you have in a country so situated? I say both landlords and tenants will have headache and heartache. Now my last words. I pass over hundreds of things that might be said, because I wish to avoid anything in the nature of controversy. Finally, you are dealing with future tenants. You have in this Bill, I think, a slight, not much, improvement of the Bill of last November, and I know that many landlords would consider it to be an unjust thing to them that the future tenants should have the right to go into court. It is not so in hundreds and thousands of cases. Some tenancies were created 40 or 50 years ago, and have gone on from father to son, and these men are as much at the mercy of the bailiff and the sheriff, as if the Land Act and Mr. Gladstone had never been heard of. They are not isolated cases, they are numerous cases. There are several cases I could name, and the Attorney-General would recognise them at once—cases in which, under the admirable Act of Mr. Gerald Balfour of 1906, I thought we had closed every hole, but there is no getting over human ingenuity, and on the Bennett estate, for instance, men signed agreements and supposed that they were quite rid of their future tenancies, but they were met by the landlords, who said to them: "I never made a bargain with you; my father was only tenant-for-life," and thereby destroyed the hope of agreement. I make this suggestion, and I make it to the landlords as well as to the tenants. You, in the year—I think it was—1888, passed what was called the Redemption of Rent Act, to enable long leaseholders who were excluded from the benefit of the Fair Rent Clause, to purchase, and if the 385 landlord refused the purchase, giving them the alternative of having a fair rent fixed. I suggest that, as to the whole body of future tenants, the number of which—I do not want to put it too high—the number of which is probably anything from 20,000 to 30,000—I suggest that they should be put in the position of the long leaseholders, and if they have not the right to fix a fair rent, they should have the right to purchase from the landlords and be given State money for that purpose. That is all I have to say. I thank the House for having listened to me, and I hope I have said nothing controversial.
§ Mr. J. GORDON
I desire to say very little, having regard to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover, but I do wish to say this on my own behalf and I think on behalf of all my friends from Ulster, that what we desire first of all in any Bill which is brought in, or any Act which is passed to amend the Act of 1903, is that land purchase should not be in any way interfered with. It is quite likely that this Bill, if it were passed, would give relief with regard to the ratepayers, who might be responsible for any loss upon the sums which would have to be advanced, but in what way does this measure affect those landlords and tenants who have entered into agreements? These agreements must be carried out, and it is a question whether this Government will carry out the honourable understanding which the predecessor in office of the Chief Secretary tells the House to-night was intended in reference to the loss of working out the Land Purchase Act—whether the present Government will repudiate that or give full effect to it. If they give full effect to it, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover says he and his colleagues would do if they were in the position of the Government at the present time, then no question of liability of the ratepayers in Ireland for any loss arises. So far as that is concerned, it is only doing what the Government ought to do, if they give effect to the honourable understanding which was arrived at between the parties when the Act of 1903 was passed. But if they do not do that, then in. violation of the agreement and understanding which has been come to, the ratepayers would have to bear the loss, but the landlords and tenants who have entered into agreements would have the right to have their agreements carried out. Therefore, in reference to the Land Act, strictly speaking, this proposed mea- 386 sure does not make any change. What does, it do in reference to the others—the parties who have not entered into agreements? So far from doing anything to facilitate agreements being entered into—so far from doing anything to bring landlords and tenants more together, so as to have the Land Act carried to its legitimate conclusion, and make the tenants who are occupiers the owners of the farms which they occupy, it will put an end to it, and everybody in Ireland knows that it will put an end to it, until some future legislation restores the position which they would have been in if the Act of 1903 had been carried out in its integrity. You will stop the process of the abolition of dual ownership. Why do I say that? You have, had five years of negotiation going on between landlords and tenants, and they have arrived at a general understanding as to the basis on which they could make their preparations, and although one side think they have to pay too much, and the other side think they ought to have got a little more, yet they are content to go upon that basis which has been arrived at.
What do you do now? If this Bill becomes law in reference to all those cases in which no agreements have been entered into, and which are the most important if you wish to solve this question, you create a gap of 15 per cent. You add practically eight by adding a quarter more to the annuity, which the tenant will have to pay, and you put another 7 per cent, by reducing the bonus which the landlord will receive, because if you take the sliding scale of the years' purchase prevailing under the Act of 1903 you will find the average bonus will be 5 per cent, instead of 12. Therefore you will have created a gap of 15 per cent. How is that to be bridged over? How are the parties to come together? The difficulties of bringing them together have been surely enough without that, but if that is established, it will bring about further difficulties in Ireland. But you say that you have introduced compulsory purchase. I am one of those who believe, and have expressed my belief in this House prior to the Act of 1903, that compulsory purchase would be necessary if the land question was to be settled in Ireland. But the Act of 1903 came in with the assent and goodwill of all parties, and a basis of voluntary agreement was established with which everyone was satisfied. That has been carried on since for five years, and it has resulted in the most enormous success. It is not my own wish, and least of all the 387 wish of those who represent the North of Ireland, to force compulsion when they can secure what is wanted by voluntary agreement. I have never heard it put forward by farmers in the North of Ireland that they wish compulsion if they can get what they want by agreement. It is perfectly obvious, from the way in which this Act of 1903 is drawn, that they may have to wait a year or two longer, but sensible and honest men are willing to have a little patience when they know that by exercising that patience they can avoid something which would be very unpleasant, and lead to a great deal of friction and disturbance.
Take, again, this question of compulsion. "We all know where that clause 39 came from. We can understand it perfectly well, especially those of us who know that an imaginary Bill at the last General Election, containing some clause like that, was hawked about by those whom the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Tyrone brought into the constituencies. That Bill was to become an Act of Parliament in eighteen months if they were returned to this House, and something had to be done to show even an attempted redemption of that pledge. But what does it mean? Does any sane man believe that compulsion is going to be enforced, when you have not the money to pay. That would be a principle which has never been applied anywhere or in reference to any case of acquiring land under compulsory Acts. You must have the money to pay, and is it not absolutely illusory in the present position of financial affairs? Where is the money to pay. It will take J4 years to get rid of the present block, and in the more sanguine view of the Chief Secretary, six or eight years to get rid of it. Therefore there is nothing to benefit the tenant and the landlord who have not entered into their agreement up to the present time. There is another thing. This compulsion which is introduced is of an extraordinary kind. Everybody understood that the compulsory purchase was to enable the tenant of a definite holding to compel his holding to be sold to him, but this is a very different thing indeed. Somebody who has no interest may make the offer. The Land Commission may come in and make a further offer if the landlord will not agree, and it is to be bought and to go, not to the tenants, although it may go to him in the first instance, but to any 388 tenant the Land Commission think proper. I think that the whole of these provisions as to present tenants are absolutely illusory, and that, as was stated by the hon. Member for Cork, they will put an end to land purchase in Ireland. Meetings were held in the South of Ireland and also in the North, at which tenant farmers discussed this question, and a general opinion was expressed that it was a breach of faith on the part of any Government to alter the financial arrangements on which the Act of 1903 was based, and that any change in regard to the position of landlord and tenant, by which the one should be compelled to pay more or the other to receive less, would be fatal to the working out of this Act. A challenge was thrown out by my hon. Friend the Member for North Derry to the Solicitor-General for Ireland to hold a public meeting in his own Constituency of farmers, and put for ward the provisions of this Bill in reference to future purchases in Ireland and see what response he would get. We all know perfectly well, those of us who can get the views of farmers of the North of Ireland, that they are entirely opposed to any such Bill as this.
I do not see why the Chief Secretary should be at such pains to magnify the financial difficulty. It is a very strange thing that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover should, relying on his experts—probably the same as to many of the people around him, as those of the present Chief Secretary, receive information that the problem amounted to about a hundred millions, and that in a few years from the same source apparently the Chief Secretary receives information which makes him say that the problem amounts to 180 millions. The right hon. Gentleman has never told us one or two things which we have asked him about, both by questions and otherwise. Does he include in that sum the value of a very large portion of land which is held either under fee farm grants, perpetuity grants, and leases for lives, renewable very often by leases for lives at low rents, which would never come under this Act at all. I know I speak with no official knowledge, but I have the knowledge of a man concerned as a lawyer with those who are interested in land in Ireland, and my own knowledge leads me to think that the Chief Secretary must have included all the lands in Ireland, whether they come under this Act or not, and if he did I would venture to say that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover was 389 very much nearer the mark in his estimate of 100 millions than the present Chief Secretary is in the estimate which makes it up to 180 millions. In fact the probabilities are that £120,000,000 will be the real limit of the amount. But when the right hon. Gentleman had given us this very exaggerated figure as to the amount of property which has to be dealt with, why does he follow that up by exaggerations as to the amount of the annual loss? Let me take his own figures. Under the Development Grant, which was £185,000, he had a charge of £25,000, so that it became £160,000. He told us in November last that there was then only £100,000 of it available. Yesterday he told us there was £160,000 available. He told us in November last that £114,000 of that had been absorbed by grants which amounted in reality, £33,000,000 of stock having been issued, to £29,000,000, £800,000 of cash having been received, and that that absorbed £114,000 a year. He tells us now that £138,000 a year is absorbed by floating £33,000,000 of stock. How do these differences arise? One cannot understand it, but they all tend to make the problem greater.
I take one set of figures, and I think I can show the House that the right hon. Gentleman has placed a figure before the House for which there is no justification in any view of it. He says that the loss on the flotation of stock would mean a loss to the ratepayers in Ireland, over and above what the Development Grant has provided for, of £877,000 a year. I take it on his own figures and on the figures of the returns that on the flotation of £30,000,000 there is a loss of 3½ millions. That £30,000,000 of money has only absorbed £114,000 per annum of the grant. The result is that the balance of £46,000 will produce another £12,000,000, so that you will have £42,000,000 of money produced at the expense of the Development Grant, and without a shilling upon the ratepayers. That would be done, £42,000,000 for £160,000, and if you take it at the same rate you will find that the annual loss that could by any means fall upon the ratepayers would not exceed £500,000, a very large sum, but at the same time it is a very different sum from the £870,000. Why are we told that the Irish ratepayer would have to bear a loss of £875,000 if in reality it would only be £500,000? The whole financial problem is, I think, magnified very unduly, and what is obviously aimed at is to try and carry through the first part of this Bill in order that you may relieve 390 the ratepayers of Ireland from this exaggerated prospective loss, and that in some way that may help you to get through the other part of the Bill, which is really the part that the Chief Secretary and his Nationalist friends wish for.
What would the whole problem be if it were faced, as it ought to be faced, and as it must some day be faced by the British Exchequer, if everything was paid out on the basis of the Act of 1903? It would only come to 21½ millions of money altogether, spread over 68½ years. The right hon. Gentleman works it out upon the basis of issuing at 85. Why should he do that? He has had five years' experience of 88⅝. Why should he go 3⅝ below that? Surely we do not think so poorly of the credit of our country as to imagine that it is going down and going to continue down for a period of 63 years, as it would be at something like 3⅝ below what it has been for the last five years. That is a very unduly low amount to take for the issue of the future stock. I will take it at 88⅝, which it has been for the last five years. I think also that it is incredible almost that those at the head of affairs in connection with the finances of this country cannot devise some means by which the present loss of the issue of Trish Land Stock would be greatly diminished. Consols at 2½ per cent, are selling at 84 11–16ths, and Irish Land Stock at 2¾ per cent, is selling at 87. The security for both is the same, and if Irish Land Stock was selling at the same rate as Consols, having regard to the rate of interest, it ought to produce 93.
§ The CHIEF SECRETARY for IRELAND (Mr. Birrell)
As the hon. Member knows, it is the fear of repeated issues of the same stock.
§ Mr. GORDON
I do not pretend to understand these financial affairs, but lam a plain man living in Ireland, and I am interested in getting all this money as cheaply as we can, and I am interested that there should be as little loss as possible. Why could not some means be devised either of issuing it as Consols at 2½ and then transferring it to the Irish Land Fund, or by Treasury Bills, or in some other way by which we might avoid an extra loss of 6½ per cent. I think the Chief Secretary might do something to reduce that, and that we might at least divide that loss by two. We cannot do it if the Chancellor of the Exchequer goes to the country and tells them that any man with money would put it into a stocking rather than into Irish Land Stock. I do not think that is 391 fair to Ireland. If you pursue that course you will certainly keep down Irish Land Stock. If you have every single thing carried out as it has been up to the present under the Act of 1903, you will incur a loss of 21 millions. What does 21 millions loss mean if you extend it over a period of 68½ years? It would mean less than £300,000 a year. That in itself for the British Government to expend in Ireland in getting rid of this difficult problem would be a comparatively small sum. but what is there more to be considered? Once you get rid of the whole machinery of the Irish Land Commission and the Estates Commissioners you get rid of what has been stated as a cost of £315,000 per annum.
§ Mr. GORDON
I do not pretend for one moment to accuracy as to the exact cost, but it is a very heavy cost. It would, I think, make up the deficiency under the Act of 1903. Why should something not be done to endeavour to have the Land Act of 1903, so far as the financial parts of it are concerned, carried out on the basis which was agreed to by all the parties who had anything to do with the arrangements for that Act? That is the position that I and those who represent Ulster constituencies take up. We want to have this Bill passed in such a form that it will enable future agreements to be carried out upon the same basis upon which the agreements have been carried out in the past, and we fear that if a Bill is passed which does not provide for that we should have great difficulties, and that it will occupy a longer period of time before any change is made which would put these tenants who have not yet purchased in the same position as their fellow tenants who have purchased.
I cannot understand this particular question You have not merely to deal with the financial question, so far as landlord and tenant are concerned, but you disturb the financial position in connection with the labour question. Why should that change have taken place? Why should it be necessary, because you are passing a Bill of this kind to amend the Act of 1903, to say that in all future cases the money advanced for labourers' cottages shall be repaid with the additional sum of ¼ per cent, to the annuity? I think that is one matter which at all events ought to be omitted from this Bill. It is in no way mixed up with the Land Act of 1903, and 392 great indignation was expressed by the Solicitor-General because the hon. Member for North Derry spoke of this as a Treasury Relief Bill. Surely to that extent, and in reference to this labourers' question, it can be described as nothing else, because there is nothing being given is exchange for what is being taken away.
Now I come to the question of the congested districts. The provisions in reference to land are open to very great objections. One is the way in which this would affect economic questions in the West of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover called attention to this strongly, and in the reports of several Members of the Dudley Commission strong attention is called to it. But you have over and above that the constitution of this Board. Under this Act they are the exclusive purchasers of land through the Land Commission in one-sixth of Ireland, and how do you constitute that Board? This Bill has been called freely in Ireland a Cattle-Drivers Bill, and you make that Board subject to members of the United Irish League, and those who sympathise with cattle driving, and with everything which has been done in defiance of the law for the last two years. It is idle to say you are one of the majority. When the Chief Secretary is here in London, where will the majority be then? You will have these nine gentlemen, who are exceedingly interested in carrying out schemes, which they believe that have been the means of forcing upon the Chief Secretary and the House, actively at work, and you will find you will have no check or restraint upon the measures which they will attempt to enforce upon the owners of land in these districts. Even if you have a Board of this kind the constitution of it must be remodelled very greatly.
Now there is also one thing which I think we ought to know. Are we to be brought down in Ireland to the dead level of uniformity? Is there to be no farmer who is to have land worth more than £3,000? The Bill all points in one direction, and a very dangerous direction indeed. You are introducing a principle into this Bill in regard to the Congested Districts Board which means not that the owner of the land is to be compelled to sell to the tenant who is in occupation of the land, but that he shall be compelled to sell to a body which will distribute it among people who have never had any interest in it—perhaps among people who have never had any land at all. It is very 393 easy to apply that to large tenant farmers who have purchased their holdings and have neighbours who have only a few acres or none at all. The latter can get up an agitation like the cattle-drivers got up last year, and they can force some Chief Secretary to say some board must be appointed to take off three or four acres from this man's land and give it to the man who has insufficient or divide it up among the people. I think that is a very dangerous and a very bad principle to introduce. I can see no more justification for what the Government are doing in their Bill than there would be for bringing in a Bill to make that sort of thing possible. What I ask the House and the Government to do is this: I ask that some real effort should be made to put the issue of Land Stock upon a basis which would not cause as great a loss as there is at present. I ask that the Government should provide for whatever the ultimate loss may be, and to provide it out of the Exchequer. I ask that nothing shall be done to disturb the settled basis of negotiations between landlord and tenant in regard to sales, and I ask that there shall be no such extensive powers given to the Congested Districts Board as are contained in the Bill; but that if such a Board is constituted it should be constituted upon a basis which would not place the real power in the hands of the United Irish League and the cattle-drivers and their friends and allies.
§ Mr. KETTLE
The distrust of Irish public opinion and of Irish elected bodies displayed by the hon. Members above the Gangway is not a new fact. But it is a new fact, and one which I heartily welcome, to find hon. Gentlemen representing Unionist constituencies in Ulster and other parts of Ireland saying that landlordism in Ireland is an English institution. We have always said that landlordism in Ireland is an English institution, but when it comes to paying the ransom for it part of it should be borne as an Imperial charge. I heartily welcome the attack that has been made by hon. Gentlemen on the English Treasury, and I hope they will live up to it when they come into office, if they ever do. I notice that these right hon. Gentlemen have been rather guarded in their references to the principles of compulsion as embodied in the Bill. They have got a steady and critical eye for the constituencies in Ulster and the next General Election. Compulsory purchase is as eagerly demanded by the Presbyterian and Unionist farmers in the 394 North of Ireland as by Nationalist farmers in any other part. I think hon. I Members who have listened to this debate will agree that the speeches made against this Bill are not really speeches inspired by a sincere desire to have the Bill killed. I think a good deal of it is rather stagey opposition. We had a good deal of it in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover, which almost brought us back to the optimistic days of 1903, when everybody was believing in the millennium, and a great deal of rhetoric was being employed by men of all parties. I think the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover disclosed the real nature of the opposition to this Bill when he suggested that what was really wanted was a small money Bill. The right hon. Gentleman wanted to relieve this deadlock of £56,000,000. We all want to do that. It is a deplorable thing that such a deadlock should exist. But land purchase in Ireland is not a matter for the rather high- flown rhetoric of six years ago. It is a business proposition. It has got to be faced. You cannot have two systems of land tenure for any lengthened period without inflicting loss upon everybody. Does that lead us to the conclusion that an amending Bill is to deal merely with the finance of the 1903 Act? There is an old maxim, "Grievances before Supply." We are all eager and anxious to remove the deadlock. We are anxious to have this £56,000,000 provided, to have the vested orders made in tenants, and the landlords paid off. The working of the 1903 Act has revealed defects in the system of land purchase which ought to be cured. The watchword of hon. Members above the Gangway is, "Money for the landlords"; our watchword is, "Yes; money for the landlords, but with it, in the same Bill, amendments for the welfare of the people." We are supporting this Bill. It has been said that this Bill is really a Nationalist Bill; of course that is perfectly true. The Bill of 1903 was a Nationalist Bill. Our programme has been compulsory purchase in Ireland since 1852. This Bill is in its good points a Nationalist Bill. We find in it the principle of compulsion. The failure of the Act of 1903 to relieve congestion of the West was due to another cause besides that mentioned by the Solicitor-General, who said it was due solely to the inadequacy of the funds at the disposal of the Congested Districts Board. That was a large part of the cause; but its failure was also due to the lack of effective compulsory powers. If you settle the land 395 question you must develop industries. It i is a problem of the very greatest complexity and difficulty. I wish to draw the attention of the House to one defect regarding the working of the 1903 Act, which has not been mentioned. All parties think that land purchase is a beneficent process and ought to be completed as quickly as possible; but we cannot consent to the view that the transfer price paid is a negligible element. I think the tenant farmers of Ireland have taken upon themselves an extremely serious burden. As soon as the Bill was introduced last November we procured detailed figures as to the effect of inflated prices. Let me give the House just one figure, to justify our opposition to the automatic zones of 1903. Under previous Acts from 1885 to 1888 the landlords obtained 17 years purchase; under the Acts of 1891–6 the figure was 17.6; under the Act of 1903, without a bonus, it was 22½ years purchase. I must say very frankly that while land purchase ought to go on as speedily and smoothly as possible, I do not think it ought to go on on 1903 prices If the representatives of the landlords in this House want to hasten the process let them agree to equitable terms. When it comes to the question as to how you are to clear off this 56 millions, I find myself in opposition to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover, who has the somewhat disappointing fashion of stating a problem without offering a solution. The right hon. Gentleman said that if his Government were in power they would take all necessary steps to clear that deadlock away. But why did he not mention what these steps were to be? If Ireland were to have the full use of Imperial credit in this matter of land purchase, we should employ Consols to raise the money. Is that going to be done I Will the Government make an emergency issue of Consols, if necessary, with the object of bringing about peace in Ireland?
The hon. Gentleman who spoke last discussed what has been so often discussed in this House, the mysterious problem how 2¾ per Cent. Land Stock, which ought to stand six or seven points higher than Consols, is only two or three points higher. I suppose the explanation really is that the continual depreciation of everything Irish in this House has had its effect on that very superstitious body, the Stock Exchange. I really think the hon. Gentleman himself will agree with me that he and his party have not done very much 396 to improve the position of Irish Land Stock in the market when they engaged in a campaign of representing Ireland as being at this moment plunged in anarchy. I think that he and his party will have to share part of the burden of that very unhappy state of things. The chief point to which we take exception in this Bill is the increase in the annuity from 3¼ to 3½ per cent. The moment this Bill was introduced in its first form we took exception to that. We shall oppose it in Committee, and shall endeavour to amend it. I sincerely trust we shall have the hearty support of hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway. Then you are ultimately thrown about on the problem what you are going to do about the flotation losses if you maintain the old system. They are admittedly considerable.
We have said frankly the moment that this situation arose that these losses ought all to be met by way of an Imperial charge. Let me point out as was pointed out a while ago that there is an element on Ireland's side with regard to this matter to which attention is not always directed. The Ireland Development Grant, which was originally £185,000, should really have grown side by side correspondingly with similar grants in England. For my part I believe, without entering into the exact figures, that if you were merely to take the arrears of the Ireland development figure you would have very nearly enough money to pay off any flotation loss without increasing the charge on the taxpayers. We recognise the serious character of the situation. We have protested against it since it was proposed, and I sincerely hope that with the union of parties referred to by the hon. Member for North Louth, who, I may say in passing, has not contributed much to the union of parties, we may succeed in our protest. If by such a union of parties or by any other method we can succeed in bringing the annuity back to the old figure it will be a great improvement. I am sorry to stand between the House and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dublin University; but with regard to the bonus we find that under the schedule to this Bill the promise made in 1903 will not be kept. There has been considerable speculation as to what is called the money side of the problem of land purchase, which remains to be dealt with in Ireland. I think all the figures are very much in the nature of very vague speculation. It is impossible to arrive at anything like certainty, but there was a definite guarantee 397 given by this House of Commons in 1903 that the bonus would amount in all to 12 per cent., whatever the total of the purchase money should be.
The graduated bonus originally proposed by this party in 1903 is now to be adopted. It is obviously reasonable. The bonus in the Act of 1903 was perfectly absurd. It was a sort of endowment fund to exaction. The more a landlord succeeded in inducing or compelling his tenants to pay, the more the State, proportionately, paid him. I see that an hon. Member for an Ulster constituency yesterday wanted to find a purchaser under the Act of 1903 who was dissatisfied with his bargain. I am a purchaser under the Act of 1903, I am sorry to say. I am a victim of compulsory purchase under the Act of 1903, because three-fourths of the tenants compelled a small minority to carry a bargain through, and I am bound to say that if the hon. Gentleman were to take a plebiscite of purchases under the Act of 1903, he would not find them to-day in such a state of beatific satisfaction with themselves, and with the scheme of the universe, as they are commonly represented to be. There is one suggestion with regard to the bonus in addition to that. We think the figures in the schedule will have to be raised. You begin too low, and you do not go high enough. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary contemplated an addition of, I think, three millions to the original twelve millions.
If we take 12 per cent, on his own figures, he must add not three millions, but something more than eight millions. In thus seeking at any rate to modify the bonus with so little, are we opposed to the interests of the landlords in land purchase that we should seek—and I heartily congratulate ourselves in finding them in alliance with us in an attack on the British Treasury—to improve the bonus in that respect.
There is one other suggestion which I would make, speaking for myself. I think this new bonus on the graduated scale should be made subject to a time limit. I think it would be far the most effective form of compulsion. I think there should be a provision in this Bill, subject, of course, to the capacity of the Estates Commissioner's office to clear bargains as they are entered, and unless there be delay on the part of the State Department charged with the transaction, that no bonus at all should be payable on transac- 398 tions with regard to which agreements have not been entered into and lodged before, say, four years. We saw the effect of the anticipated reduction of the bonus in November in the enormous crush of purchase agreements that came into the Estates Commissioner's office in the last month or six weeks before the date mentioned. The other point, which I have already mentioned, and which is intimately connected with the enhanced price, is the provision in the Act of 1903 with regard to the zones, which make sales within certain limits automatic. We expressed our opposition to that particular provision at that time, and we shall endeavour to amend the Bill so as to secure more effective expression of our views in that respect. As regards the Parliamentary fortune of this Bill to which reference has been made, I think the debate has indefinitely revealed a very large area of common interest between the representatives of the landlords and the representatives of the tenants in this House.
There are many misrepresentations in politics that seem to me to be cruel, but a particularly cruel misrepresentation is one that has been launched at this party from various quarters. We have been represented as the assassins of land purchase and as engaged in an attempt to strangle land purchase. By some singular logical process I have not been able to understand, we are supposed to be doing that in the interests of Home Rule. Why you should keep an economic problem of such gravity and urgency open in Ireland in the interests of Home Rule is a question to which I have not been able to find an answer. We are sincerely anxious to have this Bill, with the amendments on these cardinal points that I have mentioned, passed into law. We are sincerely anxious to see the landlords paid off the money which has been promised to them, and to see the tenants receive their vesting orders and placed in occupation and possession of their farms. We sincerely hope for that. But the attitude to be assumed by hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway is really a matter for them, and not for us. I suppose that the fate of this Bill, if not in this House, at any rate in another place, does lie in their hands. We are anxious for peace, peace on the basis of equitable prices, and on the basis of the fulfilment by this Empire of its faith to Ireland. Let me assure hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway, the representatives of the landlords, that if they reject, I do not say this Bill as it stands, but this Bill as it may be 399 modified, if they decline to work together with us, if they prefer war to peace in Ireland, they will find that Nationalist Ireland is not in the least afraid to fight in that war if they impose it on us, and that she will continue to fight for the welfare of her people at home.
§ Sir EDWARD CARSON
Nothing but the very grave importance of this subject and the far-reaching effects of the Bill before the House would induce me, after the able and masterly speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover, to obtrude myself upon this House. But this is a Bill of very vital importance. I am bound to admit that this somewhat moribund Parliament has not taken much interest in it. During the greater portion of this discussion the benches opposite were absolutely empty, and although the Bill dealt with the most vital interests of Ireland hon. Members do not seem to have taken the slightest interest in either the provisions of the Bill or how far it is necessary that they should be altered. I confess I am one of those who thought and hoped that the question of land policy in Ireland had passed out of the region of political controversy if the Bill of 1903 proved a success. That Bill was founded on general consent, and the outcome of general goodwill of all parties, and if it required any amendment to make it more effective we certainly would have been bound, and we would have been willing to join in any effort in that direction. That general consent, and I think most unfortunately, is being abandoned. The agreement, the basis of the Bill, is being torn up. Compulsion is being introduced, and the new and revolutionary policy is proclaimed, a policy in my opinion—and I speak with a great deal of experience of Ireland and land legislation in Ireland—disastrous to the peace of the country, economically unsound, and unfavourable towards accelerating the purchase which we all so much desire to advance. I admired very much the ingenuity of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary in the two speeches he had made on this Bill. He spent the whole of his time in substantiating propositions or proposals which nobody quarrels with. He lauded the Treasury for their generosity in taking over the loss on flotation. Did anybody ever suppose that the loss on flotation was ever contemplated when the Act of 1903 was being passed? I am bound to say for my own part—it may seem 400 ungrateful—that I express no gratitude whatsoever to the English Treasury for their conduct in this matter. I will tell the House why. By general consent the policy of Parliament—and I suppose that policy is, or at all events is supposed—to represent the people; the general policy of the people of the United Kingdom has been that an agrarian revolution should take place in Ireland, and that the land should be transferred from one class of person to another at the expense of the State. They have declared that it was right to throw the whole of the land of Ireland into the melting pot, and to throw the whole of the social condition of Ireland into the same place. If that is the policy of the Government, if that is the policy of the nation, I certainly do not see in the least why I should be grateful to the nation if, in pursuance of this policy, it is incidental in the carrying out of it that expenses occur, and they have to pay the expense. That is all that has happened in this case. The right hon. Gentleman laboured that point, and I am certainly not going to dwell upon it any more than to say that I think it was not only right, but I think it was only just of the Treasury to make this concession.
The right hon. Gentleman never really dealt with the vital part of this Bill. The position he took up was this. He said there is a clause—after long argument and the number of figures—which you are bound to admit is a good clause, therefore you must pass my Bill, no matter what are the proposals, how unfair to landlord and tenant, how suicidal to the policy of transferring the land from the landlord to the tenant, or how unfair as regards the question of compulsion, which, in my own opinion, ought never to have been resorted to, except in the last resort. We are to accept this bribe of the Treasury in doing what is merely a bare act of justice in the carrying out of a great revolution of this kind. Hon. Members below the Gangway seem to me really to forget in considering this question what was the condition of affairs in 1903. The Bill of my right hon. Friend was passed. It is very easy to forget now, after the Bill of my right hon. Friend has been so vast and gigantic a success. It is admitted by everybody, to put it in an Irish way, that the success of it is the failure of it. It is so easy to forget what has happened since 1903. As regards the purchase of stock, the announced policy in regard to that had come to an end. What has happened since? Through the Act of 401 1903, while in the 22 years preceding only 72,000 odd tenants, at a cost of £23,000,000, had been turned into proprietors, in the five years in which this Bill has been in operation 228,958 tenants have signed agreements with the consent of their landlords for turning them into proprietors of their holdings. Now is it not a pity—is it not more than that—is it not almost a clime, not to make some real effort to promote the carrying on of the work which has been done?
What is the real problem? Agreements are waiting completion to the extent of £56,000,000. As regards these agreements, the landlord is merely receiving 3½ per cent, upon his purchase money on giving up his land—not 3½ per cent, secured by the State, as I understand it, but 3½ per cent. At the same time he has to pay 4, 5 and 6 per cent, upon the charges upon his estate, the tenant at the same time paying this 3½ per cent.—I believe in some cases more—in lieu of the instalments which he ought to be yearly paying under the Act of 1903. All the time he is paying this higher rate, he is not, as he ought to be doing, paying that rate for the purpose of the acquisition of the freehold which he has eventually to have. The whole question before us is, I think—it was well put by the Solicitor-General when he said that the cardinal fact is: What are you going to do to relieve this situation—to get rid of this debt? I have looked through this Bill of the right hon. Gentleman—I have read it over and over again—and I venture to assert that there is not one line in it with the exception of the fact of the Treasury taking over the loss on the flotation, which he has already told us of, but there is not one line which will accelerate land purchase. The right hon. Gentleman has told us that he proposes to apply four millions per year in cash towards the £56,000,000, so that it will take 14 years before the agreement at present completed can possibly be carried out. That is an appalling state of affairs if it is to be the only result of the Act. What more does he say? He says the landlord can be paid in stock if he will only take it at 92, though it is really of the value only of 85. Was there ever a more monstrous proposition than to say a man who has made his capitulations and entered into his agreement upon the faith of the State of getting cash under a Parliamentary bargain to say, "We propose, as you cannot wait for cash, to give you stock"?
§ Sir E. CARSON
No, he has not an option. The option is to wait for all these years, or to give up 6 per cent, of the purchase money. One half of the bonus—the bonus which has been put forward so much as an advance by this country—one half of the bonus—if he takes 6 per cent.—they will be satisfied to keep his stock. I think the right hon. Gentleman may strike that provision out of his Bill, because to suppose that any landlord in Ireland will say he is willing to transfer his land, on the promise of the State, for £100, and then to offer him terms that mean the loss of £6 to £8, is really to suppose that the right hon. Gentleman has nearly succeeded in driving the landlords into a condition of lunacy.
§ Sir E. CARSON
They were never passed. They were never formulated. I ask, therefore, whether there is in this Bill a single provision for the purpose of relieving the deadlock. I say there is none. Then what is to become of it. The right hon. Gentleman says there is general assent with regard to the taking over of the flotation. But he must not coerce us by that in putting in that provision which will not stand the light of argument. Now what is the next provision of the Bill? I ask the Attorney-General to give his attention to this, because it has been already put forward by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover. It is an extremely important point. What is to happen as regards the rest of the land bargains, and future purchase? We are told that in the future no landlord can ask for anything except a Three per Cent stock. I think that is a bad provision, but there it is. What we want to know is, is that to be an immediate transaction, or is it to be deferred until this £56,000,000 have been provided? If deferred, what it really means—seems to mean—practically, according to the view I take of the Bill, is that you say to the landlord: "If you now immediately give up your right to your land and your rents we will promise that at the end of 16 years we will give you a Three per Cent. Stock." That is too absurd and ridiculous. On the other hand, if it is not to be deferred until these £56,000,000 are paid off, just look how unfair you are acting towards those who have already entered into their agreements! Just see what the proposition comes to. The man who has already entered into an agreement in which he is 403 to be paid in cash is told: "You must take a Two and Three-quarter per Cent Stock." The man who now enters into an agreement—that is assuming that this will have immediate operation—is told: "You may take Three per Cent. Stock, although you were never promised cash at all." I do not believe it is possible to work your Act, if there run side by side all these different classes of payment. We want definite information upon this. It is a matter of extreme importance, because so far as I can find from the Bill, from this day onward the purchase is to stop, unless people are willing to take this Three per Cent. Stock in payment. Therefore, I say as regards the acceleration of purchase in the future, so far from there being anything in the Bill which accelerates purchase, it will bring about a deadlock worse than the deadlock already existing. Now I have not time to go into the question, which also will militate against purchase in the future: the abolition of the zone; also the fact that the relative interests are to involve further and long investigation. None of this would accelerate purchase. I think they will destroy it. To my mind the most extraordinary thing in the Bill is that after coming here and saying you are not able to carry out in any reasonable time the contracts which have been entered into voluntarily, you proceed to ask for powers of compulsory purchase! Just consider the situation: £56,000,000 worth to be carried out! Tenants and landlords rushing over each other into the office to try and get their agreements in, and the right hon. Gentleman is so enamoured that he means to bring in these compulsory powers! He has not said a word in justification of those powers. All he said upon the introduction of the Bill was that those compulsory powers were only something for him to cover certain points.
§ Sir E. CARSON
When you come to this House for the compulsory expropriation of anybody in relation to their property it requires that a case should be made out. The right hon. Gentleman so far from making his case out, comes and tells us that voluntary purchase has been such a success that he cannot manage it, and that is the reason why he is asking for compulsory. If he had come here to say that voluntary purchase had failed, we could have understood him. I ask him is it be- 404 cause the untenanted land is not available? It cannot be that, because he knows there are thousands upon thousands of acres. I met a landlord the other day who told me that he had actually entered into an arrangement for the sale of untenanted land in connection with which there was some difficulty, because of temporary arrangements with relation to it, and when he came to carry out the bargain the Land Commission told him that they could not take it now, for they had not got the money. Therefore it is not a question as regards untenanted land. What then is the cause for this compulsory purchase? We have not heard yet, but I hope we shall hear from the right hon. Gentleman. Is the cause the election pledges of the right hon. Gentleman I see opposite?
§ Sir E. CARSON
That does not answer my question. Is it because of the promises and pledges of the right hon. Gentleman opposite? The truth of it is the whole of the provisions in regard to compulsory purchase contained in this Bill are absolutely unnecessary; they are absolutely objectionable, and so long as they remain in this Bill we shall never support it. Then to conclude this question of compulsory purchase, I would ask the right hon. Gentleman the Attorney-General to answer this question: Is compulsory purchase to commence at once? The Bill certainly puts no limitation. If it is to commence at once, let us see where we are. Are you going to raise loans from time to time for the purpose of carrying out this compulsory purchase? If so, are these loans to be in addition to the stock that is to be floated each year to pay off in cash the 56 millions? We want to know that for this reason: The right hon. Gentleman told us in introducing this Bill, he could only make arrangements for floating five millions cash each year, and one million must go for various matters which he told us of. Therefore, only four millions are left. Is the money to be devoted to compulsory purchase to come out of that four millions, and if it comes out of that four millions, how much will be left to pay off the 56 millions? On the other hand, if the compulsory purchase is not to come into force until some extreme cases arise, or when voluntary purchase is not succeeding, why on earth is it brought into the Bill at all? Could not you wait? Is 405 your love and affection for compulsion so great that you cannot even wait until you have paid the people who have entered into voluntary bargains? The objection to compulsory purchase is, in my opinion, unanswerable. I think the right hon. Gentleman has made a vast mistake with regard to this Bill, which ought to have been, as far as possible, a conciliatory Bill, and which I entirely agree with the hon. and learned Member below the Gangway ought to have been, as far as possible, an agreed Bill, because all of us now admit the policy that the question of the transfer from landlords to tenants must be carried out, and the only point remaining is how best to finance the matter. Therefore, the bringing in of this question of compulsion unnecessarily—I think heedlessly, and without proper consideration of what the effect of it upon other portions of the Bill would be—goes very far to destroy any hopes of this Bill for relieving the state of affairs in Ireland.
I pass from the question of compulsory purchase, making only this one observation: when the right hon. Gentleman lays down how the price is to be fixed in ease of compulsory purchase, the only direction to the tribunal who is to fix it is that the tribunal is to have regard to the price which the tenants and "other persons" are willing to give. No regard at all to what, the landlords or the owners might be willing to take, or what they might be able to get outside these provisions. The only provision in this Bill—which, I think, might have been non-contentious—is that regard is to be paid to the price which the tenants and "other persons," that is the cattle-drivers, are willing to give. The other part of compulsion in the Bill—to which I certainly myself equally object—is the compulsory powers given to the Congested Districts Board. I certainly object to giving that Board, under this Bill, which is to be at least half of it an elective Board—power of compulsory purchase, and also entire control over not merely the congested estates in the nine counties, but the whole of the estates in those nine counties. We know that the county councils in each of those counties are to a very large extent the handmaids of the Land League, and such a proposal is really almost an insult to this House. As regards giving them this power at all, I think it is extremely doubtful whether it will work well, even assuming that the question of the composition of the council should not come up at all. I 406 notice in his minute to the Dudley Commission Lord MacDonnell said:—I am unable to accept the proposal because its effect would be to overwhelm the Board with work which it could not discharge; to bring under the Board's control, and make lawful objects of public expenditure thousands of estates which are not congested; to exclude the Estates Commissioners from co-operation ill the work of relieving congestion in the West which they are highly competent to execute; and to give to an independent semi-elective body what really amounts to a controlling voice over the administration of the Land Purchase Acts over one-third of Ireland, involving functions which it is entirely unfitted to discharge.Now there is the opinion of one who was brought into contact from day to day with those county councils which are to elect these members upon the Board, and his opinion is that it will involve functions which they are entirely unfitted to discharge. What reason is there for bringing members of a county council to distribute an Imperial Fund, as this will be? There is none whatever. As to the effect of the elective part of the Board, Lord MacDonnell said:—In the constitution of the Congested Districts Board, created as it has been to remedy a most pressing hardship, the elective principle would be entirely out of place, because it would increase the Board to an unwieldy size, and thereby make it inefficient; would convert it from being an executive into a political and' debating body, and would expose it to local pressure of all kinds, not only as regards its policy but as regards its practice and the distribution of funds and patronage. Moreover, in a Board so constituted the elected members would naturally favour the tenant's point of view, and this would lead to pressure being put on the Government to use its power of nomination to establish an equilibrium of opinion. In the result the Board would become a partisan Board, cease to command confidence, and sink into an arena of acrimonious discussions.And that is the body you propose to set up in Ireland for the whole of the estates of the nine counties, and to whom you give the fullest jurisdiction and power in relation to all dealings between landlord and tenant. That is another provision which I believe we will fight to the bitter end. I have only one word to say on another topic, and that is what I call the agrarian revolution which you are going to create by giving land to those who have been called landless men in Ireland. To my mind no madder policy could be entered upon. I certainly would not lay down that every man in Ireland who sufficiently agitates for it is to get land, and that is what the Bill lays down. It has been described by the hon. Member below the Gangway as the triumph of the cattle-drivers. So it is. Do you contemplate where you are going? Do you contemplate what you are doing when you lay down that principle? Do you contemplate what the extension of it will be? It will' mean that there will not be half enough untenanted land to go round amongst these- 407 people. You will be driven back to this—and you are making a commencement under this Bill—that you will have to take the farms of men who have bought under your purchase Acts. And you are also making a commencement by imposing the limitation of £3,000 in purchase. I say once you enter on that path, once you lay down that you are going to give to men not connected with agriculture, and probably knowing nothing about agriculture, you leave it open to men by agitation to say that, having nothing else they must at least have a portion of land, and you are opening up a vista of lawlessness and agitation in Ireland which you little contemplate. As I said at the commencement of my remarks, I most devoutly wish that the right hon. Gentleman had taken quite a different view of what his duty was in bringing in this Bill, and I wish he had confined his efforts to rendering more easy the work of the Act of 1903, which, by the admission of everybody who has had to deal with the land problem in Ireland, has been the most successful Act this Parliament has ever passed.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL for IRELAND (Mr. Cherry)
Before I deal with the speeches which have been delivered this afternoon and yesterday upon the general merits of this Bill, I wish to reply to a question put by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover regarding a matter which does not directly arise on this Bill, but which is nevertheless of great importance to the tenants of Ireland. The question the right hon. Gentleman asked was at what rate is the sinking fund to accumulate under the new system that the tenant is to be charged 3 per cent, instead of 2¾ per cent, on the money advanced to him' I have communicated with the Treasury since this question was put, and the answer is very complicated. The substance of it, however, is that the tenants who have purchased will get under a rule the Treasury will make the full advantage of the increased rate of interest as regards the sinking fund. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why did you not put it into the Bill?"] The reason why it is not put into the Bill is that it is not done by Act of Parliament but by rule. Under the Treasury rule of 1905, made in pursuance of the Act of 1903, it was provided that the sinking fund was to be deemed to be accumulated at the rate of interest of 2¾ per cent., and that was calculated upon 408 the basis that the whole sum would be paid in 68½ years. It has been found, owing to the higher rate of interest as compared with the time when the Act was passed, that the Sinking Fund, as a matter of fact, is accumulating at a somewhat higher rate. Therefore, the actual terms of the repayment of the annuity, if nothing else is done, will be shortened, and the whole thing will be paid off in a less term than 68½ years—possibly in about 65 years. As a matter of fact, I am told the Treasury intend shortly to issue a rule to adopt a similar course to that which was adopted under the Act of 1896, and make the rate on which the money should be deemed to be accumulated 3 per cent, instead of 2¾ per cent. It does not make much difference to the tenant which is done, because whether the rule is made or left as it is the practical effect is the same, because the tenant will get the advantage of the increased rate of interest by the shortening of the term of his annuity.
As regards the speeches I heard yesterday and to-day, I notice that nearly all hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who spoke in opposition to this measure commenced by complaining very strongly that the Chief Secretary and the Solicitor-General dwelt too much upon the financial clauses, upon which they agreed there was no difference of opinion. But although they objected to my right hon. Friend devoting so much time to the financial clauses, they have nevertheless devoted a great deal of time themselves to the same question, and they have dwelt at considerable length upon financial matters; in fact, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover devoted his speech entirely to financial questions. I do not quite understand the attitude taken up by hon. Gentlemen opposite in regard to these financial clauses. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin admitted and stated that, in his opinion, the measure contained provisions which ought to recommend the Bill to the House.
§ Mr. JAMES CAMPBELL
Yes, I said that in regard to the proposal about relieving the ratepayers of Ireland of the burden of the loss.
§ Mr. CHERRY
Yes, and that is a very important proposal—in fact, to my mind, it is the most important proposal in the whole Bill. I do not think there is any clause in the Bill so important as the clause which relieves the ratepayers of Ireland of a liability amounting to something like 409 £279,000 a year. The ratepayers will be relieved of that burden, even if not another single agreement is made in Ireland for the purchase of a holding. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover said that this was deliberately provided by Parliament in language so clear that a child could understand it.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
I am sorry to interrupt, but the right hon. Gentleman must not go on repeating that statement. I have said again and again that the loss was never contemplated and never intended, and the right hon. Gentleman must take my word for it.
§ Mr. CHERRY
Of course I accept the right hon. Gentleman's statement that the loss was never contemplated and never intended, but the reason for that was that it was believed at the time no losses would occur. Whatever the right hon. Gentleman contemplated, the Act of 1903 did place that liability upon the ratepayers, and we were compelled to take proceedings for the recovery of the money. As a matter of fact we have the judgment of the courts, arrived at unanimously, that the Act of Parliament is clear in that respect. There are two things which the right hon. Gentleman repeated; one is that this liability should be transferred from the ratepayers to the State, and the other is that something should be done to remove the block. That does not go so far as the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken, who said that nothing is done in the Bill to remove the block. Now if hon. Members and right hon. Members opposite are in favour of these two matters, which are of very great importance, why are they going to vote against the second reading of this Bill? It is nonsense to say that they support only one clause, because that very clause is the most important part of the Bill. By the attitude they are taking up they are going to plunge Ireland into a liability which they admit themselves is reasonable. Because they object to some of our proposals they are going to support the rejection of this Bill, although by that course the ratepayers are to be mulcted to the extent of £279,000 a year. [OPPOSITION cries of "No, no."] Do hon. Members opposite think the Government will bring forward another Bill if this is rejected?
I should like to refer to some of the remarks made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin yesterday. I think the matters he raised 410 would be more properly dealt with in Committee, and not on the second reading; but the interpretation he put upon some of the clauses is such as to be not only absolutely contrary to the intentions of the Government, but contrary to the actual wording of the Bill. He referred to the provision contained in the fourteenth clause dealing with the question of the zones. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of this clause as though it were an entire abolition of the zone system, but I assure him that it is not intended to be an abolition of the zone system at all. The clause as it is drawn is only intended to apply to exceptional cases. I do not suppose that in all Ireland there are 1 per cent, of cases where this clause would be put into effect. It is for the Estates Commissioners to decide whether or not these exceptional circumstances exist. I am aware that the Estates Commissioners have not the confidence of the right hon. Gentleman, and he never loses an opportunity of disparaging them. But the Estates Commissioners are gentlemen appointed by the late Government, and they have discharged their duties with zeal and efficiency during the last six years. That being so, why should we not leave to them the duty of ascertaining whether or not there are exceptional circumstances which render the zones system inappropriate? What are those circumstances?If the Land Commission are satisfied that circumstances exist which, in their opinion, necessitate, inquiry as to the security fur the advance or the equity of the price"—They may make an order. Those are the only two points. I will give an instance which has actually occurred in practice. Suppose there are a great quantity of arrears of rent due by all the tenants on an estate; the very fact that there are those arrears is a proof that the rents are excessive. ["Oh."] If the arrears were due from one tenant alone out of a number, it might be a personal matter; but when there are large arrears on the whole estate—and this has occurred—arrears running to seven or eight years—it is a clear indication that the rents are too high. Under the present system the Land Commission is bound to advance not only the purchase money of the land, but the arrears of rent as well. All we ask by this is power to investigate the case, and if there are found to be exceptional circumstances which render the security insufficient, the Land Commission may ignore the law which takes the case out of the zones.
411 Then, clause 20 has been referred to several times. The right hon. Gentleman said that the object of the clause was to give a roving commission to the Estates Commissioners to wander throughout Ireland for the purpose of revising the orders of the Land Commission. May I read the actual words of the clause?The Land Commission in determining under SubSection (2) of Section 1 or under Section 5 of the Act of 1903, whether the agreed price of a holding is equitable shall have regard to the respective interests of the landlord and tenant in the holding and in the improvements thereon, and the price shall not be deemed to be equitable if it appears to the Land Commission that any substantial part thereof represents the value of the improvements made by the tenant or his predecessors in title for which he or they have not been paid or compensated by the landlord or his predecessors in title.Is that an unreasonable clause? Any question which may arise on these pointsmay (subject and without prejudice to any previous determination under the Land Law Acts) he determined by the Land Commission.That is quite clear. If the improvement has been found by the Land Commission to be the tenant's or the landlord's, that is conclusive. If it has not been so found, the Estates Commissioners may make inquiry. The right hon. Gentleman laughs at that, but that is the intention of the clause. If hon. Members opposite are not satisfied that that is the intention of the clause, we are quite willing to introduce words to make it clear. That is our intention. All we want is to give the power of ascertaining where it has not been previously ascertained who owns an improvement, and, if it is found that a portion of the purchase price consists of an improvement made by the tenant, that it should be considered an inequitable price. These are the two clauses upon which the main attacks have been made, and I suppose, therefore, may be considered the most extreme in the Bill.
Part. III. deals with congestion, and is intended as far as possible to relieve congestion in the West of Ireland. The hon. Member for Mid-Armagh says that nothing has been done in that direction. What have we done? We have adopted the whole of the recommendations of the Royal Commission. That Commission, which was presided over by the late Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and included in its members gentlemen holding very different views, unanimously recommended for the removal of congestion certain steps, every one of which is embodied in this Bill.
§ Mr. CHERRY
Nearly all. The income has been increased, the area extended, compulsory powers of purchase conferred, and provision made for the appointment of two paid members of the Congested Districts Board, so that the business may be carried on not in an amateurish way, but by gentlemen whose whole business it will be to attend to it. But our proposals are objected to by hon. Gentlemen opposite because of the introduction of the elective principle. I notice that the right hon. Member for Dublin University always protests against representative institutions; he seems to have an horror of anything in the nature of representation. We are asked why on earth we have introduced this principle into the Bill. I can give the answer in the words of the late Prime Minister. It is because the Government are anxious to associate the people of Ireland with the administration of their own affairs. We believe that things can be done by representative bodies in Ireland very much better than by non-representative bodies. But we do not go entirely upon theory in this matter. This is not the first time the representative system has been adopted. The right hon. Gentleman opposite is under a complete misapprehension. He said that the Congested Districts Board under the new system could never work properly, because it would come in conflict with the Agricultural Board. As a matter of fact, the Agricultural Board is representative now. The council of the Agricultural Board consists of 103 members, two-thirds of whom are directly nominated by the county councils, and one-third by the Department; and the Board consists of 12 members, of whom two-thirds are elected and only one-third nominated. For nine years that has been the case, and I am told by the Vice-President of the Department that it has worked admirably. There has been none of the corruption which it is said must inevitably follow once you have the county councils brought in to do anything in Ireland.
§ Mr. CHERRY
What the right hon. Gentleman said was that the introduction of a system of representation of county councils would inevitably lead to corruption. I ask any fair-minded man if that is not an attack on the county councils? If the right hon. Gentleman does not regard it as an attack he has a strange idea of what an attack is. The county councils have 413 been in operation for ten years, and I have never heard of a single instance in which one of them has been charged with corruption.
§ Mr. W. MOORE
The Local Government Board sent down people to take charge of the County Council of Mayo.
§ Mr. CHERRY
That was not a case of corruption. I am told that the matter arose about accounts. [Laughter.] Do hon. Members opposite really mean by that laughter that all the county councils of Ireland are corrupt. [Cries of "No."] That shows the way in which charges of this kind are brought up by some hon. Members. I will deal with the remarks of the last speaker on the question of compulsion. He asked why compulsion was wanted, although voluntary agreements cannot be carried out. The answer is very simple. Compulsion may be needed in one place, although voluntary agreements are working well in another. The Act of 1903 operated very rapidly in parts of Ireland where it was least required, and very slowly in parts where it was most required. Roughly speaking, on the east side of Ireland—the east of Ulster, the whole of Leinster, and the east of Munster—land purchase worked splendidly. Large estates were sold, there was no trouble, and there were good tenants. All went through rapidly, but when you come to the west of Ireland there was an entirely different state of affairs. You found there properties which could not be dealt with by the voluntary system. These are the places where congestion is greatest—places where you have large tracts of grazing lands in the hands of owners, and where there are slum properties and uneconomic holdings immediately adjoining. The landlords said that they were willing to sell to the Estates Commissioners certain parts of their properties, but not the whole. The Commissioners said that if the landlords wished them to acquire the bad parts, they must join the good parts as well, and then the landlords said that they would not sell at all. That has occurred again and again. If that problem of congestion is to be met, compulsion is absolutely necessary. That was the unanimous view of the Royal Commission, presided over by the late Lord-Lieutenant. If this congestion is to be dealt with it can only be done by compulsory 414 powers being conferred, at least as regards the congested districts. This Bill has been opposed by hon. Gentlemen opposite, but I would ask—on behalf of what persons in Ireland has it been opposed? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dublin University disclaimed yesterday that he spoke for the landlords in this House. He said that, not only for himself, but for his colleagues. Therefore the landlords are not opposed to it apparently. Are the tenants of Ireland opposing it? I think I may appeal to the eighty Members representing the tenants of Ireland. I think I may also appeal to the Ulster Members. I am not aware that any body of the tenants of Ulster have said a word against the Bill. When the hon. Member for North Derry was challenged yesterday, what was his reply. He produced a resolution of the county council of Tyrone protesting, not against the Bill but against the enforcement of the Land Act of 1903.
§ Mr. CHERRY
Of course, if the hen. Member says it is incorrect, I will accept his statement at once. I say this much: that there has been no statement of any kind in the course of the debate on behalf of any body of tenants in Ireland opposed to the Bill. Lastly, are the ratepayers of Ireland who are not agricultural tenants or landlords, opposed to the Bill? So far as one can judge from the course of the Bill in this House, nobody would suppose that there is anybody in Ireland who is opposed to it. If this is so I would appeal to hon. Members opposite not to press their opposition to the Bill. If the Bill is rejected, it may have, as was pointed out by speakers yesterday, representing a great part of Ireland, very serious results. [An HON. MEMBER: "NO threats."] If it passes the second reading, Amendments may be made in Committee, and the Government are anxious that the Bill should be a measure not to destroy landlords or to destroy land purchase, but a Bill to carry out land purchase and enable landlords to get what they are only entitled to get—fair value for their property.
§ Mr. C. C. CRAIG
I simply get up to protest in the strongest manner possible against the short time we have been given to debate the Bill. Four Members of the party from Ulster have not had an opportunity of 'saying a word on the Bill, and I submit to the House 415 that to give two short sittings to debate a Bill dealing with questions of such gigantic importance as the congested districts and land purchase is not treating the Opposition fairly, and is certainly not cal-
§ culated to further the interests of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Question put: "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question." Ayes, 275; Noes, 102.417
|Division No. 44.]||AYES.||[8.15 p.m.|
|Abraham, W. (Cork, N.E.)||Ffrench, Peter||M'Kean, John|
|Agnew, George William||Findlay, Alexander||M'Kenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Flavin, Michael Joseph||M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Flynn, James Christopher||Mallet, Charles E.|
|Ambrose, Robert||Fuller, John Michael F.||Manfield, Harry (Northants)|
|Armitage, R.||Gilhooly, James||Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Gill, A. H.||Massie, J.|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Ginnell, L.||Masterman, C. F. G.|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Gladstone, Rt. Hon. Herbert John||Meagher, Michael|
|Barker, Sir John||Glen-Coats, Sir T. (Renfrew, W.)||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)|
|Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Glendinning, R. G.||Meehan, Patrick A. (Queen's Co.)|
|Barnard, E. B.||Glover, Thomas||Menzies, Walter|
|Barnes, G. N.||Gooch, George Peabody (Bath)||Micklem, Nathaniel|
|Barran, Sir John Nicholson||Grayson, Albert Victor||Middlebrook, William|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Molteno, Percy Alport|
|Beale, W. P.||Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill||Mond, A.|
|Beck, A. Cecil||Gulland, John W.||Money, L. G. Chiozza|
|Belloc, Hilalre Joseph Peter R.||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius||Montgomery, H. G.|
|Benn, W. (Tower Hamlets, St. Geo.)||Hall, Frederick||Mooney, J. J.|
|Bennett, E. N.||Halpin, J.||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas|
|Bethell, Sir J. H. (Essex, Romford)||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)||Muldoon, John|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Murnaghan, George|
|Boland, John||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||Murphy, N. J. (Kilkenny, S.)|
|Brigg, John||Harrington, Timothy||Murray, Capt. Hon. A. C. (Kincard.)|
|Bright, J. A.||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Myer, Horatio|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Harwood, George||Nannetti, Joseph P.|
|Brodie, H. C.||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Nicholson, Charles N.(Doncaster)|
|Brooke, Stopford||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Nolan, Joseph|
|Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs., Leigh)||Hayden, John Patrick||Norton, Capt. Cecil William|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Hazel, Dr. A. E. W.||Nugent, Sir Walter Richard|
|Buchanan, Rt. Hon. Thomas R.||Hazleton, Richard||Nussey, Thomas Willans|
|Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Healy, Timothy Michael||O'Brien, K. (Tipperary, Mid)|
|Burke, E. Havlland-||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||O'Brien. Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Henderson, J. McD. (Aberdeen, W.)||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Higham, John Sharp||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney Charles||Hobart, Sir Robert||O'Doherty, Philip|
|Byles, William Pollard||Hobhouse, Charles E. H.||O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth)|
|Cameron, Robert||Hodge, John||O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Hogan, Michael||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)|
|Causton, Rt. Hon. Richard Knight||Hooper, A. G.||O'Dowd, John|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick||Hope, W. H. B. (Somerset, N.)||O'Grady, J.|
|Cheetham, John Frederick||Horridge, Thomas Gardner||O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)|
|Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Hudson, Walter||O'Malley, William|
|Clough, William||Hutton, Alfred Eddison||O'Shee, James John|
|Clynes, J. R.||Hyde, Clarendon G.||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Illingworth, Percy H.||Partington, Oswald|
|Collins, Sir Wm. J. (S. Pancras, W.)||Jardine, Sir J.||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Pearce, William (Limehouse)|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Kavanagh, Walter M.||Philips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Kearley, Sir Hudson E.||Pickersgill, Edward Hare|
|Crean, Eugene||Kekewich, Sir George||Pirie, Duncan V.|
|Crooks, William||Kettle, Thomas Michael||Pollard, Dr. G. H.|
|Crossley, William J.||Kilbride, Denis||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Dalziel, Sir James Henry||Kincaid-Smith, Captain M.||Radford, G. H.|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||King, Alfred John (Knutsford)||Rainy, A. Rolland|
|Delany, William||Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster)||Raphael Herbert H.|
|Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)||Lambert, George||Reddy, M.|
|Dewar, Sir J. A. (Inverness-sh.)||Lamont, Norman||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.)||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Richards, T. F. (Wolverhampton, W.)|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.)||Richardson, A.|
|Duncan, c. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Layland-Barrett, Sir Francis||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Dunne, Major E. Martin (Walsall)||Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington)||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Lewis, John Herbert||Robinson, S.|
|Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||Robson, Sir William Snowdon|
|Erskine, David C.||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Esmonde, Sir Thomas||Luttrell, Hugh Fownes||Roche, John (Galway, East)|
|Essex, R. W.||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Esslemont, George Birnie||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Rose, Charles Day|
|Evans, Sir Samuel T.||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Russell, Rt. Hon. T. W.|
|Everett, R. Lacey||Macpherson, J. T.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Falconer, James||MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.)||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)|
|Fenwick, Charles||MacVeigh, Charles (Donegal, E.)||Schwann, C. Duncan (Hyde)|
|Ferens, T. R.||M'Callam, John M.||Schwann, Sir C. E. (Manchester)|
|Scott, A. H. (Ashton-under-Lyne)||Strachey, Sir Edward||Whitbread, S. Howard|
|Sears, J. E.||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)||White, Sir George (Norfolk)|
|Seddon, J.||Summerbell, T.||White, Sir Luke (York, E.R.)|
|Seely, Colonel||Taylor, John W. (Durham)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Shackleton, David James||Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)||Whitehead, Rowland|
|Shaw, Sir Charles Edward (Stafford)||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Sheehan, Daniel Daniel||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)||Wiles, Thomas|
|Shipman, Dr. John G.||Thompson, J. W. H. (Somerset, E.)||Wilkle, Alexander|
|Silcock, Thomas Ball||Trevelyan, Charles Philips||Williamson, A.|
|Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie||Ure, Alexander||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)||Wadsworth, J.||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestershire, N.|
|Snowden, P.||Walsh, Stephen||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Soares, Ernest J.||Walters, John Tudor||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Spicer, Sir Albert||Walton, Joseph||Winfrey, R.|
|Stanger, H. Y.||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)||Wood, T. M'Kinnon|
|Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N.W.)||Wardle, George J.|
|Steadman, W. C.||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Joseph Pease and the Master of Ellbank.|
|Stewart, Halley (Greenock)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)||Weir, James Galloway|
|Acland-Hood, Rt. Hon. Sir Alex. F.||Fletcher, J. S.||Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield)|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West)||Parkes, Ebenezer|
|Ashley, W. W.||Gooch, Henry Cubitt (Peckham)||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Gordon, J.||Peel, Hon. W. R. W.|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City Lond.)||Guinness, Hon. R. (Haggerston)||Percy, Earl|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Guinness, W. E. (Bury St. Edmunds)||Ratcliff, Major R. F.|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Hamilton, Marquess of||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Baring, Capt. Hon. G. (Winchester)||Hay, Hon. Claude George||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Helmsley, Viscount||Renwick, George|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Hill, Sir Clement||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Hills, J. W.||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Bignold, Sir Arthur||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert|
|Bull, Sir William James||Houston, Robert Paterson||Rutherford, John (Lancashire)|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Hunt, Rowland||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)|
|Butcher, Samuel Henry||Joynson-Hicks, William||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. H. M.||Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir John H.||Sandys, Col. Thos. Myles|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Kerry, Earl of||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley George D.|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||Keswick, William||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Kimber, Sir Henry||Stanier, Beville|
|Cave, George||King, Sir Henry Seymour (Hull)||Starkey, John R.|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Lambton, Hon. Frederick William||Talbot, Rt. Hon. J. G. (Oxford Univ.)|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Law, Andrew Bonar (Dulwich)||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Lanark)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Wor'c.)||Lee, Arthur H. (Hants, Fareham)||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Clark, George Smith||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Valentia, Viscount|
|Clive, Percy Archer||Lowe, Sir Francis William||Walker, Col. W. H. (Lancashire)|
|Coates, Major E. F. (Lewisham)||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||MacCaw, Wm. J. Maceagh||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.)||M'Arthur, Charles||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E.R.)|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Markham, Arthur Basil||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Dalrymple, Viscount||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers||Moore, William||Younger, George|
|Duncan, Robert (Lanark, Govan)||Morpeth, Viscount|
|Faber, George Denison (York)||Morrison-Bell, Captain||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Lord Balcarres and Lord Edmund Talbot.|
|Fell, Arthur||Newdegate, F. N.|
§ Main Question put, and agreed to. Bill read a second time.
§ Motion agreed to; Committee of the whole House for Monday next (5th April).