HC Deb 23 November 1909 vol 13 cc56-77

(1) In the case of the sale of an estate to the Land Commission advances under the Land Purchase Acts may be made for the purchase of parcels thereof by the following persons:—

  1. (a) A person being the tenant or proprietor of a holding not exceeding ten pounds in rateable value;
  2. (b) A person being the son of a tenant or proprietor of a holding on or in the neighbourhood of the estate not exceeding thirty pounds in rateable value;
  3. (c) A person who has surrendered his holding for the purpose of relieving congestion;
  4. (d)A person who within twenty-five years before the passing of the Act of 1903, was the tenant of a holding to which the Land Law Acts apply, and who is not at the date of the purchase the tenant or proprietor of that holding, or in case such person is dead, a person nominated by the Land Commission as his personal representative; and
  5. (e) 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 ought to be made.

(2) Advances under this Section shall not, together with the amount (if any) of any advance under the Land Purchase Acts, which has been made and is then un-repaid by the purchaser, or for which an application by the purchaser is pending, exceed one thousand pounds: Provided that the limitation in this Sub-section may, subject to the other limitations in the Land Purchase Acts, be exceeded, where the Land Commission consider that a larger advance may be sanctioned, to any purchaser without prejudice to the wants and circumstances of other persons residing in the neighbourhood.

(3) The Land Purchase Acts shall, subject to the provisions of this Section, apply to the sale of a parcel of land in pursuance of this Section in like manner as if the same was a holding and the purchaser was the tenant thereof at the time of his making the purchase; and the expression "holding" in those Acts shall include a parcel of land in respect of the purchase of which an advance has been made in pursuance of this Section.

(4) Section two of the Act of 1903 shall cease to have effect save as regards the sale of any parcels of land in respect of which purchase agreements have been entered into before the passing of this Act, and save as aforesaid any reference in any enactment to that Section shall be construed as a reference to this Section.

Lords Amendments: Sub-section (1), leave out paragraph (b).


I move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

The effect of this Amendment is to alter somewhat what I would call the priority of persons to whom advances for the purchase of parcels of land may be made under Clause 17 of the Bill, and I do not know that it is very material. We set out in Clause 17 the persons to whom for the purchase of parcels of land advances might be made as follows: (a) A person being the tenant or proprietor of a holding not exceeding ten pounds in rateable value." "(b) A person being the son of a tenant or proprietor of a holding or in the neighbourhood of the estate not exceeding thirty pounds in rateable value." "(c) A person who has surrendered his holding for the purpose of relieving congestion." Then in (d) for evicted tenants, and (e) "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 ought to be made." A good deal of controversy arose as to the position of certain persons who were called landless men, that is to say, persons who have not got any land, although they have lived all their lives on it. It was thought that they had got a certain priority over and above other persons whose claims were superior. The effect of the Amendment is, by striking out (b), to secure that in the first place the tenants or proprietor of a holding not exceeding ten pounds in rateable value, or a person who has surrendered his holding for the purpose of relieving congestion, or a person who is an evicted tenant shall be provided for, and then they provide for the landless men because they put in at the end of the Subsection an Amendment: "Any person to whom in the opinion of the Land Commissioners, after considering the requirements of persons mentioned in the preceding paragraphs of this Sub-section an advance ought to be made." In that way they come in after adequate provision has been made for the tenant, for the person who surrenders land for the relief of congestion, and the evicted tenant, and I do not myself quarrel very much with that order. I do not know that it makes really very much difference in the case, as it seems to me to make it plain that the sons of tenants are not to be provided for, but may be provided far when adequate provision has been made by the actual tenants for those who have surrendered for the relief of congestion and the evicted. Therefore, I move that we agree to this Amendment.


I am in favour of disagreeing with the Amendment of the Lords, and I think this Amendment might be characterised in very mild language as a stupid Amendment, and if I would commit myself to the language of hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway descriptive of some of the Amendments of the House of Lords, I think it might be called an idiotic Amendment. If the Lords had no other meaning than to change this class of persons from one of the paragraphs to another, then the Amendment would be stupid and meaningless. But to everyone who has followed the discussion in the House of Lords relative to this Amendment, and to the whole question of landless men, and who has listened in this House to the opinions expressed in regard to landless people by those who sit on the Front Opposition Bench and by hon. Members from the North of Ireland, who are the mouthpieces of the landlords of Ireland, it is very well known that this Amendment is dictated by the insensate hatred which the landlords and their friends, both in this House and in another place, entertain to the class of people who are called landless. To hear the speeches made in this House or to read the speeches made in another place, one would think that the greatest political sin which any Government could commit is to provide land for the landless people in Ireland. Everyone would think that the landlords of Ireland had made up their minds for a lock-out against the whole of the landless people of Ireland. If it is desirable at all to provide for people who are landless, amongst those who are landless what class are so worthy or so capable of being good tenants as the class described in paragraph (b)? "A person being the son of a tenant or proprietor of a holding on or in the neighbourhood of the estate not exceeding £30 in rateable value." It is not quite the case that the difficulty produced by excising paragraph (b) is met by the inclusion of those persons in paragraph (e), because paragraph (e) is quite different. Under paragraph (b), as this Bill left this House, there was a direction that land should be provided for people of this class.

I speak for a constituency in one parish of which alone, that is Magherow, in the Constituency of North Sligo, there are 32 landless families, and the heads of all those landless families, I know of my own knowledge and from personal experience, are people who are capable of managing economically and wisely any holdings that might be offered to them. On the other hand, I know that there are in that parish, and adjacent to the place where those people live, large tracts of land used for grazing purposes which might be advantageously split up in order to settle the question of congestion, which, in regard to those people, has arisen in an even more acute form than with a class of people called congests. I should like to ask why it is that landless people are so much looked down upon in Ireland, and so much condemned by the representatives of the Irish landlords in this House. In another part of the United Kingdom they made ample provisions for landless people. I am able to point out to the House that in the year 1897, when the strongest Conservative Government of a century was in power, and when Gentlemen who are now sitting or reclining on the Front Opposition Bench held high place in that Government, and when the Leader of the Opposition was the leading Member of that Government, provision was made to give allotments of land to landless people in the only other part of the United Kingdom which, on account of its condition, is comparable to Ireland. I refer to the Congested Districts (Scotland) Act of 1897. In that Act it was provided that land should be acquired by the Congested Districts Board of Scotland for sub-division amongst people who had no land. Of course, some people may say that that Act of Parliament is a dead letter, but it is nothing of the kind.

I think it will be in the recollection of everyone in this House that a very short time ago, a few months ago, a number of the hardy landless people from the Isle of Barra sailed across in their little "Mayflowers" to the lonely Island of Vatersay, armed to the teeth with their bagpipes. When they got to Vatersay, they did not content themselves with the driving of cattle. They settled down, actually took possession, of the land, and insisted on remaining there. What happened? The Scotch people are all for discipline and the formal observance of law. Summonses to the Court of Session were issued against some of the raiders in this land raid of the landless people in Scotland, and punishment more or loss mild, and certainly much milder than has been inflicted on cattle drivers in Ireland, was meted out to these people. What did the Government do? The Government, of which the principal Minister, so far as Ireland is concerned, moves to agree with the Lords Amendments here, said to these people: "You have done exceedingly well. We have punished you, but in principle you are quite right, and we have provision under an Act of Parliament to give land to landless people," and the present Government bought the Isle of Vatersay and divided it up among the landless people.

It has been said in another place, and by hon. Members sitting in this House, that they are opposed to landless people because they commit the crime of cattle driving. No one in Ireland justifies cattle driving theoretically any more than the representatives of labour justify industrial strikes. Cattle driving in Ireland is the strike of the landless people, or of the sons of farmers who have no land, against the conditions under which they are forced to live, and it is a demand for better conditions for themselves. I think that the advocates of the landlords who have taken part in making a provision in another part of the United Kingdom similar to that we want show a great deal of inconsistency in their action in this matter. I ask the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill not to agree to the Lords Amendment, or to weaken in any way the provisions for meeting the claims of this very deserving class of people.


The hon. Member who has just spoken has put his points with considerable force and great clearness, and I think he is perfectly accurate when he says that the adoption of this Amendment puts an end to the provision for landless men. What has the Chief Secretary told us? He has stated that paragraph (b) was originally intended to make provision for the landless men in the distribution of this land, and that practically all that this Amendment does is to take the landless men out of paragraph (b) and to put them into paragraph (e). It will be in the recollection of the House that when we were discussing Clause 17 we were assured by the Chief Secretary that it had no application whatever to the landless men. He stated that there were always left certain portions of an estate which were non-agricultural—residential or otherwise unfit for ordinary farmers, and that nil that was intended by that paragraph was to enable the Commissioners to dispose of the non-agricultural portions amongst persons other than farmers. Therefore, according to the construction of the right hon. Gentleman, in the Bill as originally framed, the only paragraph in this Clause under which provision could be made for landless men was the paragraph it is now proposed to leave out. I think it is very properly proposed to leave out that paragraph, not because in any part of the House there is any hostility to these landless men, but simply because there is not enough land to go round. The idea has always been that the first and foremost claim upon the untenanted land is for the relief of congestion. It is conceded that if you are to provide for the landless men it can only be done at the expense of the congests. First of all, deal with the congests and get rid of the evil of congestion, and then later on, if you find you have land left, you can deal with the landless men. But I think it was a wise policy to exclude them from the operation of this Bill, one of the main principles of which is the relief of congestion. It would have been far better if the Chief Secretary had told us plainly that the purport of this Amendment is to exclude landless men from the benefit of the distribution under this Bill. That will undoubtedly be its effect, and I think it is an effect to be desired. It certainly will not be removed by the suggestion that these men can be brought in under the final paragraph if the assurance given by the Chief Secretary is correct, namely, that this Clause is intended to deal only with the fractions of an estate which are non-agricultural in their character. I think the Amendment is an improvement of the Bill, and I presume the Chief Secretary will adhere to it.


I desire to express my great disappointment at the action of the Chief Secretary. In a speech made at Belfast about 12 months ago, at a time in our political history when the crusade of cattle-driving was attracting a good deal of attention, the right hon. Gentleman made an appeal to the people of Ireland, to Nationalist Members of Parliament, and others who were taking any side in the matter, for a chance to pass a Land Bill, which would presumably give relief to the class of people affected by the omission of this paragraph. The right hon. Gentleman got that chance. The cattle-driving crusade was stopped; and it was stopped to a very large extent, if not entirely, on the basis of his appeal for a chance. We have been waiting 12 months for the fulfilment of his promise, and now the right hon. Gentleman asks us to adopt an Amendment of the House of Lords striking out these men from the operation of the Bill. That action profoundly disappoints me. I have taken part in cattle-driving. I do not boast of it; I do not want to continue it; I do not want to see it continued. I want to see the men affected by this paragraph, not driven out of the country, but given a chance to live on their own land. The right hon. Gentleman, however, after getting his own chance, is, byaccepting this Amendment, depriving these men of their chance. That is not playing the game. I protest against it. We are threatened by a General Election, in which anything may happen. The right hon. Gentleman may or may not be Chief Secretary. Whether he is or not, I say distinctly that, if the landless men are deprived of their chance of getting back to the land, there will be more cattle-driving in Ireland, and the next appeal for a chance may not be so effective as the last. In Clause 41 there is another Amendment in connection with this subject which further limits any benefit under the Bill by practically depriving every man outside the congested area, who is a landless man within the meaning of the Bill, of any chance of relief. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not accept that Amendment, but, judging by his action in the present case, I fear he will. But if he does, it is clear that outside the congested area there will be no relief under this Bill. That will be a terrible calamity. One half of my Constituency, for instance, on the edge of the mountains and bog, is tenanted by the great bulk of the people, while the other half is tenanted by the bullock and the rancher. The people living on the edge of the mountain and the bog are looking down on the fertile plains, which under the Bill in its original shape could be acquired for their benefit; but they are now to be kept from going down. I hope they will raid them. If they take my advice, they will. These people are to be deprived of any relief except the emigrant ship. That is an appalling prospect; and I have risen to tell the right hon. Gentleman—for whose general desire for the welfare of Ireland I have nothing but feelings of gratitude, but whose mistaken policy in watering down this Bill at the instance of the Lords I deeply deplore—that whoever is Chief Secretary next year will have to appeal for another chance, and he may not get it so readily as the right hon. Gentleman did after his speech at Belfast.


It is very difficult to understand what is the policy of the right hon. Member for Trinity College (Mr. James Campbell). First of all, he delivered a philippic against any recognition of the rights of the landless men and then said, "First deal with the congests, and then, if you have any land left, deal with the landless men."


I did not say under this Bill.

6.0 p.m.


Under what other Bill can it be done? What other means are there of dealing with the landless men? The right hon. Gentleman absolutely contradicted himself. I am not surprised, because anybody who faced Ireland on the platform and cut off from all assistance those who are known as landless men, would have to face a campaign such as that indicated by the hon. Member for Longford (Mr. Farrell). Let me point out the origin of the landless man. He was called into existence as an element in the Irish situation by the Act of 1903. The audacity and the inconsistency of hon. Members above the Gangway in denouncing the provisions of this Bill as it left the House of Commons, in which the landless men were put in the second category of those for whom land should be provided, are amazing. Hon. Members seem to have forgotten that in the Act of 1903 these men were put by their own Government in exactly the same position. The provision in that Act, under which the whole of this machinery is set going, is that in the case of the sale of an estate advances may be made for the purchase of parcels of land for "the following persons … (b) being the son of a tenant" — otherwise, a landless man. The only change the Government have made in the present Bill is not one in priority, because the landless man comes in under the second heading just as he does in the Act of 1903, but one introducing the £30 annual value, which is a most beneficial and proper change, because it confines the benefit to the sons of the smaller men. Therefore this paragraph which the Chief Secretary is going to leave out at the dictation of the House of Lords is a paragraph strictly founded on the Act of 1903, and where it does differ is slightly more restrictive. Is it therefore not a monstrous thing that these Gentlemen above the Gangway should raise this howl about the landless men on a policy which has been the creation of their own Government when they were in power? If hon. Members are somewhat taken aback in astonishment at the heat of the language used by the hon. Member for Longford, they must remember that what they are deliberately proposing to do now is to withdraw the privileges granted to these men under the Act of 1903. Ireland is not a very easy country to govern or to manage. I remember on one occasion remonstrating with a certain distinguished Indian gentleman of my acquaintance who was proceeding in Ireland on lines which induced me to say to him that he seemed to think that he was dealing with mild Hindus, whereas he was dealing with Irishmen. Supposing you put England or Scotland, or any other law-abiding country in the place of Ireland, and you proposed, in a Bill, to withdraw from an active and vigorous class the benefits which they have been in the enjoyment of for five years, do you imagine that they would take it lying down? Of course not. Really the stupidity of the House of Lords in these matters is beyond belief and comprehension. Paragraph (e) was put into this Bill and power given to the Estates Commissioners to give land to anybody under the conditions specified, and the right hon. and learned Gentleman said that when we were discussing this before there was no question of applying paragraph (e) to those who are now mentioned in paragraph (b).


The hon. Gentleman ought to quote me correctly. What I said was that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary assured us that all that was proposed was that the paragraph should apply to the non-agricultural residue on the estate.


Certainly, because he had already provided for the others.


That is what I said.


I know that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary did not know that the Lords were going to stultify themselves, and to make asses and donkeys of themselves——


There ought to be some limit to the terms of abuse that hon. Members may use towards the other House. They would resent it very much if the same terms were applied to themselves.


I forgot, Sir, for a moment; but the right hon. Gentleman had no conception that the Lords would deliberately cut out paragraph (b), which was exactly framed after the similar paragraph in the Act of 1903. That Act was passed by a Tory Government. What the Lords profess to do is to alter the precedence in which these people are to be dealt with. They are not shutting out the landless men from the benefits of this Act! If the attempt were made it would be civil war in Ireland—to withdraw from these young men privileges that they enjoyed under a Tory Act of Parliament for the last five years. And to do that in a Bill which is supposed to be a Bill to extend these privileges in Ireland! The thing is unthinkable. What the right hon. Gentleman very fairly and rationally said was that the the Lords, under a pretended zeal for the "congests," and a newborn zeal for the evicted tenant, said that the landless men must not come under paragraph (b), but must be shifted down to the bottom of the list, and that they must be taken up in a different order. That is the way to interpret it. I object most strongly to the thing as it now stands. I do not go quite so far as the hon. Gentleman the Member for Longford, but I say that a more foolish campaign was never entered upon by the Government than to withdraw from these men the privileges they have enjoyed.

Let me say this before I sit down about these landless men. I have heard most extraordinary things said about them. They are spoken of above the Gangway as if they were a set of robbers, or thieves, or ne'er-do-wells. I say that if there was an abundance of land in Ireland no Government could undertake a more beneficial or more beneficent task than supplying these landless men with land. Talk about "back to the land," and trying to recolonise England with the peasantry it has lost! We in Ireland have got the peasantry, who live on the land, and cannote be divorced from it except by military force. These landless young men are the cream of our country. They are the sons of our farmers and understand farming, and have received in many cases some assistance from their farmers in the shape of stock. These are pouring now across the Atlantic in continual streams, and depleting the very best blood of our country. These landless men who desire to get upon these farms are talked about as if it were some infamous, lawless passion to wish to possess the land. It is a most laudable passion, and one which every intelligent Government should encourage. Therefore I hope it will be. clearly understood, if this Amendment is passed, that we are most irreconcileably opposed to it, even if it is passed with no question raised as to these landless men in Ireland having their privileges reduced, but simply shifted down to a lower scale in the list of priority.


I hope hon. Members in this House interested in this question will carefully study and carefully consider the perfervid criticism upon this Bill from below the Gangway. It is perfectly well known when the General Election approaches that the hon. Member for East Mayo and his following will go to their constituents and say, "Look at what we gained for you; look at this splendid Land Bill; look how much we have earned for you from the House of Commons; you have your Land Bill, and you ought to be happy for the rest of your lives." It is only here that you hear any suggestion of the infirmities of this Bill. The hon. Member for East Mayo gets up and talks about "this most monstrous and outrageous proceeding" of the House of Lords, forgetful of the fact that the Chief Secretary has moved it in this House. Hon. Members below the Gangway always ignore the fact that it is a monstrous and outrageous proceeding on the part of the Government to omit these landless men or put them at the bottom of the Clause. In Ireland, however, they will say: "Here is a Land Bill which is giving facilities for existing proprietors of £10 rateable value to have their holdings enlarged. That is the object of the Bill. It is better to add to the holdings of the men already in possession than to bring men in from the village corner. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."] That is my opinion. I say it is much more desirable to give a man with a small holding an additional 5 or 10 acres, and let him bring up his family on an economic holding than bring a gentleman in from the village corner and plant him on a holding alongside of perhaps five acres, with the consequence that both of them are confined to their small plots for the rest of their days, and you have two pauper families instead of one. That is commonsense. I am not going to suggest that all the landless men in Ireland are undesirable persons. I do not think any Member on these Benches has ever said so. But I do say this, that the bulk of the cattle-drivers over whom the hon. Member for East Mayo was so very discreetly silent are landless men. This Government has taught them if they agitate, and cattle-drive, and make a neighbourhood disturbed, that that is the way to get a grant of land from this Government. I say that those who are interested in the establishment of peasant proprietorship could not have taken any other course than what the House of Lords has done by this Amendment to secure first of all peasant proprietorship; secondly, that the man who has given up his farm to allow a congested farm to get more room should be considered; and, thirdly, that the evicted tenant should come first and be provided with an adequate holding before you bring in the young gentleman who has done cattle-driving or anything else, and whose desire, a very natural one, is to get a farm on State credit. I can quite understand that anything would be welcomed by hon. Members below the Gangway and by the hon. Member for East Mayo that would impede and block the work of purchase. The hon. Member for East Mayo has told the public that the Land Purchase Act was working too fast.


No, I did not say that; that is a gross misstatement.


The hon. Gentleman is doing himself an injustice and me an injustice. I will quote from "The Freeman's Journal," and then perhaps the hon. Gentleman will see if he can repudiate what I quote. In "The Freeman's Journal" for 12th September, 1906, the hon. Gentleman, speaking at Swinford, said:— Attempts have been made from time to time to throw the blame on Michael Davitt, 'The Freeman's Journal; and myself, and it has been said that we have delayed the reinstatement of the evicted tenants, and obstructed the smooth working of the Act. I wish to Heaven we had the power to obstruct the smooth working of the Act more than we have. It has worked too smoothly, far too smoothly to my mind. Then he went on to say in the same speech:— Some men have complained within the past year, that the Land Act was not working fast enough. For my part, I look upon it as working a great deal too fast. Its pace has been ruinous to the people. Is that report accurate? I think the hon. Member for East Mayo did me an injustice when he complained of my quotation of his remarks. The other day I was interrupted by the hon. Member, and he then stated that he never said it. He got up and gave his reasons, but he cannot now dispute that he said what I have quoted from his own paper. Is this an accurate report or not?


I am not denying its accuracy, but what I said was that the hon. Member has grossly misrepresented me when he said that I obstructed land purchase. The context of my speech shows what I objected to was land purchase working smoothly at 24 years' purchase in districts where before the Act of 1903 it had worked at 13 years' purchase.


The hon. Member's memory is again at fault. When I spoke in reference to his desires for land purchase not being interrupted, I said he denounced the Act of 1903 as working too smoothly and too fast. He disputed that, and I thereupon fortified myself by quoting the actual words of his speech. I leave it to the judgment of the House to say whether the hon. Member for East Mayo was in error or was accurate when he denied that he had stated the Act was working too fast. This is all part of the same policy which is intended to stop and to obstruct land purchase whatever way it can. One moment it takes the form of an effort to abolish the zones; at present it is the effort to bring in the landless men. That will mean some delay and obstruction, and will bring some aid to the British Treasury. It is surprising how anxious hon. Members below the Gangway are to help the British Treasury. Bring in the landless men; that will stop purchase. It will keep the agitation on foot, and that is the breath of life of hon. Members below the Gangway, because it will make sure for them their seats in this House.


The hon. Member who has just sat down taunts my hon. Friend the member for East Mayo with a desire to obstruct land purchase, and to obstruct it by bringing in the landless men. The hon. and learned Member must have a very short memory if he has forgotten how the landless men were first heard of. The landless men were first heard of in acute controversy in connection with the Act of 1903, and therefore it is perfectly absurd at this time of day to suggest that it is we who have brought into being the landless men. It is also ridiculous for the hon. Member to suggest that there is now, as the Bill stands without the Lords Amendments, any conflict of interests between the congests and the landless men. He said, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Trinity College also said, let us first be satisfied that there is sufficient land for the men who have farms of £ or £10 valuation, and then, when that is done, and only then, seek the sons of tenants. Without any change in the Bill, that is precisely what is provided for. The priority which these hon. Gentlemen desire to give to the congests is provided for in the Bill as it stands, and therefore if that is really their object, and if that is all they desire, well, then, it is amply provided for, and there is nothing to need the change suggested by the Lords Amendments at all. But, of course, one cannot listen to Debates in this House or read the speeches and the writings of Unionist members in Unionist papers without seeing that their attitude goes far beyond any anxiety merely for the congests. It really is very difficult to understand their extraordinary hostility to what are called the landless men. If we were free to consider what would be the best for the economic salvation of Ireland, I suppose there is no class in the community for whom we ought to desire to cater more fully than just this very class who are called landless men, because it is through them, and them alone, that we can hope to stop emigration and to build up again a really strong agricultural system in Ireland.

I have risen not so much to make these criticisms of hon. Members above the Gangway, but to say as a Member for a congested county that it is perfectly preposterous to suggest, as was suggested when the elective element of the Congested Districts Board was under consideration, that there would be a sort of conspiracy of Members representing Mayo, Galway, and Cork to defraud the congests out of their rights in order to bring in the landless men. Although, on the face of it, it is ridiculous to suggest that, we are all unanimous in our desire that when the prior rights, as they are prior rights, and ought to remain prior rights, of the congests are satisfied, the Estates Commissioners should then be free to provide as far as may be for men who are likely in their opinion to make good use of the soil of the country. I cannot really understand why there is this extraordinary distrust so constantly shown by hon. Members above the Gangway of officials appointed by their own Government. This extraordinary desire constantly to tie the hands of their officials is very remarkable. I should think that the experience of the Land Tax in Ireland has shown over and over again the enormous amount of harm, delay, and trouble of all sorts which arises by the habit which Parliament has got into of constantly putting in ridiculous little limitations, attempting to foresee every possible eventuality, in such a manner that when those charged with doing the work come to do it they find themselves constantly hampered and unable to turn the land when it comes into their hands to the best use. Surely the best policy is to appoint the best men you can find to carry out these difficult operations, and having found them, then to trust them and to leave them as free as you reasonably can to carry out the operations to the best advantage of the country as a whole.


As the representative of a congested county, I wish to say a few words on behalf of the landless men. I hope that under Clause (e) the landless men will come in. One of the most vital principles of this Bill is that it provides for these so-called landless men. The whole object of this Bill, and the whole object of the great land movement in Ireland of which this Bill is a product, is what might be called the regeneration of Ireland, and in great part the regeneration of Ireland from within. In Ireland nowadays we see the population greatly reduced—almost reduced to half what it was 50 years ago—yet at the same time we know there is land enough in Ireland, and opportunity enough in Ireland, and resources enough in Ireland, to maintain not only the population which Ireland had 50 years ago, but a still greater population. The congests are sufficiently safeguarded in other ways, and it is absoluetly necessary also that the landless men should be provided for, and they will be provided for inevitably, legally or illegally. It is almost a matter of necessity, and in the course of time these landless men will be provided for. They have been pointed to as cattle-drivers, and cattle driving has been declared to be illegal. One would hardly condemn it on that ground alone. Previous Land Acts during a number of years past have very often consecrated what were denounced as illegal measures before these Land Acts were passed. These measures, after all, are not illegal in the true sense. Illegality consists in preventing these men from having access to the land of their fathers, and which is really theirs. These people are suffering from a deep sense of iniquity and injustice in Ireland. I do not propose to speak further now on this subject, and I shall conclude with a quotation from a poet which the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary will greatly appreciate. I remember on a previous occasion, when this very poet, Oliver Goldsmith, was quoted by Mr. Gladstone, who found fault with him for his political economy, but the words of Oliver Goldsmith, which I now quote, are the words of a true political economist:— Princes or lords may flourish or may fade. A breath can wake them as a breath has made But a bold peasantry their country's pride. When once destroyed can never be supplied. These words represent the feeling of the constituency which I have the honour to represent, and these people, no matter what may be the fate of this Bill, or this particular Clause in the Bill, will never be satisfied until these men are provided for.


In my humble opinion the Lords, by their Amendments, have made this Bill less unbearable than it was before it left this House. Where they have dealt with the proposals of the Bill with regard to the landless men, they have done a great service. The hon. Member for one of the divisions of Donegal (Mr. Hugh Law) informed us that it was too late in the day now to raise the question as to who first tried to get landless men included under these Land Acts. I agree with him that it was under the Act of 1903 that the landless man was first turned into a living person, and I think a very great mistake was made by giving the landless man the status he was given under the Act of 1903. One of the, hon. Members who has spoken stated that the landless man and his treatment formed one of the vital principles of this particular Bill. Let the House consider that statement for a moment and remember what it was we were told was the vital object of the Bill, which we were promised so many months before this Bill was introduced. We were told that this Bill was simply a measure to facilitate the working of the Act of 1903, and to provide money to carry out that Act. We were also told that the question of relieving the ratepayers owing to the loss on flotation was one of the things to be remedied. That was the feeling with regard to this Bill. It is quite true that hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway took good care, by pressure upon the Chief Secretary, that the Bill should do a great deal more, and it is the fact of insisting upon having so much put into this measure that has made it doubtful whether it will ever pass into law. As far as I am concerned, I cannot conceive how this Bill will do any man any good at all.


Order, order. We are not now discussing the Bill.


I will confine myself to landless men. I would like to ask the Attorney-General how he proposes to deal with the next generation of landless men. How will his successors provide for them? According to this Bill and the views of hon. Members below the Gangway, every landless man in Galway, Con-naught, and every part of Ireland ought to have a right to go to the Estates Commissioners and say, "I am unable to make a livelihood, and therefore you must give me a farm." When these landless men have been provided with land, and when they have families of their own, how will the Estates Commissioners be able to fulfil their obligation of providing land for the sons of farmers. How will they be able to get sufficient land to supply such a demand? The right hon. Gentleman is getting land legislation in Ireland into a greater quagmire than ever it was in in the past by putting forward such provisions as are proposed in this Section. I am only sorry that another place did not go a little further in this direction. For these reasons I think it is unfair to provide that because a man does not already hold a farm, he should be able to go to the Estates Commissioners and get one. That will lead to the utmost confusion in the offices of the Estates Commissioners, and I most heartily support the proposition to leave that proposal out of the Bill.


I do not rise to advocate the claims of the landless men because I consider there are two prior claims, namely, those of the evicted tenants and the congests. I hope, upon the Motion before the House, I shall be permitted to give my views in a general way. I think the right hon. Gentleman is entitled to the thanks of the Irish people for the Land Bill which he has intro- duced. As it was brought forward originally it would have satisfied the people of Ireland, and not only would it have satisfied the farmers, but also the landless men, the evicted tenants, and the congests. If the other House had ratified what was proposed and passed by this House everything would have been squared. The point I wish to make, however, is that we should put forward the claims of the congests and the evicted tenants. I know that, after all, these are mere matters of detail, but if the Bill as it went from this House had been ratified by the other House it would have put an end to the agrarian war, and we should not have had the land war entering upon a new phase.


I think we must all come to the conclusion that by accepting the Amendments which have been made elsewhere the landless people will be in a much worse position than they were put in by the Tory Government in 1903. In the Debate which has taken place we have had the old charge reiterated against the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) that he is opposed root and branch to the system of land purchase in Ireland. Those of us who happen to know my hon. Friend's views are aware that that is not the case at all, because my hon. Friend has always urged on the people that they should be very careful as regards the urns they offer; he believes that people who contract to pay certain instalments should be in a position to do so. Knowing that be believes in the system, I think it is too bad that these changes should be again reiterated. My hon. Friend wishes the people to be more careful in regard to what they do, and he desires them to enter into bargains which they can honestly carry out without having recourse to the ratepayers at all. I very much regret that the views of the House of Lords have been allowed to prevail so much with the Government. I do not know what the effect of their action will be in Ireland, but I know that we should never have had a Land League in Ireland of the strength to which it attained had it not been for the action of the House of Lords in regard to the Compensation for Disturbance Bill. I am fully aware of the claims of the congests and the evicted tenants, and I agree that they have a prior claim. Nevertheless, the landless men have some claim for consideration, because they are men of intelligence, with some capital, who understand the working of the land. I think it would be greatly in the interests of the community if they were kept on the land and not forced to go abroad.


I wish to address a few words to the House as the representative of a constituency in the West of Ireland where there are a large number of young men who have been looking forward confidently to the distribution of the grazing land. The decision which has just been announced will give rise to a considerable amount of dissatisfaction, and I am afraid that dissatisfaction will lead to something still worse. For a considerable length of time there has been an agitation in the West of Ireland in the direction of securing land for the sons of tenant farmers who have the means and who are competent to manage parcels of land, and when they come to know that steps have been taken by the House of Commons to deny them the prospect which was held out to them in the speech delivered by the Chief Secretary they will be very much disappointed. A large number of those in my own Constituency have been agitating on this question, and they have been very active in endeavouring to obtain the untenanted lands of the country for the sons of tenant farmers. From the time the speech of the Chief Secretary was made that agitation ceased in the West of Ireland, because these people were led to believe that steps would be taken to arm the Estates Commissioners with powers to take over that land for distribution amongst those men. To-morrow the minds of all those men will be filled with great alarm, and I am apprehensive of what is going to take place as a result of the action which I presume the House of Commons will take to-night. I wish to draw the attention of the Chief Secretary to the fact that the greater portion of the untenanted lands in the West of Ireland have been brought into the market through the activity of the young men of the country. Who are the young men who brought the land in the neighbourhood of Loughrea into the hands of the Estates Commissioners? Was it not the young men of the district? If this particular Section was deleted, what position will it place these young men in? It will make it mandatory upon the Estates Commissioners, first of all, to enlarge the holdings of uneconomic tenants by giving them an additional slice of land where the valuation does not exceed £10. Secondly, it will compel the Estates Commissioners to give over a share of the land to people imported from a distance for the purpose of relieving congestion. They may be people who have surrendered other holdings in different parts of the county a considerable distance away. The Subsection makes it mandatory upon the Estates Commissioners to import such people into a district where perhaps you may have plenty of young men competent to take possession of the land and thus you deny them the right to obtain possession of the land which they consider themselves entitled to on the strength of the statement which has been made during the past year. I cannot allow this opportunity to pass without telling the Chief Secretary that the action of the House of Lords and of the Ministry in acceding to the conditions laid down by that House will not only give rise to great dissatisfaction in the West of Ireland but will render the work of the Estates Commissioners very difficult indeed in the future. They have, goodness knows, been hampered up to the present time by conditions which we have all been anxious to remove. The Estates Commissioners have under trying and difficult circumstances done their best to distribute the untenanted land of the country. They have found themselves in

a rather tight corner in the neighbourhood of Loughrea, and some of us have done our best, having co-operated with the Estate Commissioners, to allay fear and apprehension on the part of the people in the hope that the day would come when the Estate Commissioners would be given powers to enable them to distribute among the needy people of the locality a considerable share of the grazing lands. When they find, as the result of the compact entered into between the House of Lords and the House of Commons, that they will be denied all prospect of having any share in these lands, all I can say is that it will lead to great uneasiness and dissatisfaction. The Government are taking upon themselves a responsibility which I for one, if I were in their position, should regard as being very serious. Owing to the steps you are taking now, you must inevitably within a short time bring in another Land Bill for the purpose of making good the weaknesses of this Bill, because the young men of the country who have willingly gone into gaol and have faced all the terrors of imprisonment in order to secure such land will not rest satisfied.

Question put, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

The House divided: Ayes, 209; Noes, 85.

Division No. 899.] AYES [6.50 p.m.
Abraham, William (Rhondda) Carlile, E. Hildred Everett, R. Lacey
Acland, Francis Dyke Causton, Rt. Hen. Richard Knight Falconer, J.
Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R. Cave, George Fenwick, Charles
Ainsworth, John Stirling Cawlcy, Sir Frederick Ferguson, R. C. Munro
Allen, Charles P. (Stroud) Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.) Fiennes, Hon. Eustace
Astbury, John Meir Channing, Sir Francis Allston Fletcher, J. S.
Baker, Joseph A. Cheetham, John Frederick Forster, Henry Wiliam
Balfour, Robert (Lanark) Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R. Gladstone, Rt. Hon. Herbert John
Banbury, Sir Frederick George Cleland, J. W. Gooch, George Peabody (Bath)
Banner, John S. Harmood- Clough, William Gooch, Henry Cubitt (Peckham)
Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight) Cochrane, Hon. Thomas H. A. E. Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)
Barker, Sir John Collins, Stephen (Lambeth) Gretton, John
Barlow, Sir John E. (Somerset) Collins, Sir Wm. J. (St. Pancras, W.) Gulland, John W.
Barlow, Percy (Bedford) Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinstead) Hancock, J. G.
Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.) Corbett, T. L. (Down, North) Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)
Beauchamp, E. Cornwall, Sir Edwin A. Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)
Bellairs, Carlyon Cotton, Sir H. J. S. Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)
Bennett, E. N. Cowan, W. H. Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worcester)
Berridge, T. H. D. Cox, Harold Hart-Davies, T.
Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon) Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.) Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)
Bignold, Sir Arthur Craik, Sir Henry Haworth, Arthur A.
Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine Crosfield, A. H. Hay, Hon. Claude George
Boulton, A. C. F. Dalziel, Sir James Henry Hazel, Dr. A. E. W.
Branch, James Davies, Timothy (Fulham) Hedges, A. Paget
Bright, J. A. Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.) Helme, Nerval Watson
Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs., Leigh) Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.) Henderson, J. McD. (Aberdeen, W.)
Buckmaster, Stanley O. Dobson, Thomas W. Henry, Charles S.
Burns, Rt. Hon. John Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Mon. S.)
Butcher, Samuel Henry Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley) Higham, John Sharp
Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney Charles Duncan, Robert (Lanark, Govan) Hill, Sir Clement
Byles, William Pollard Elibank, Master of Hobart, Sir Robert
Cameron, Robert Erskine, David C. Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.
Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. H. M. Evans, Sir S. T. Holland, Sir William Henry
Holt, Richard Durning Mason, A. E. W. (Coventry) Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter
Hooper, A. G. Massie, J. Rutherford, Watson (Liverpool)
Horniman, Emslle John Masterman, C. F. G. Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)
Hyde, Clarendon G. Menzies, Sir Walter Seaverns, J. H.
Idris, T. H. W. Middlebrook, William Seely, Colonel
Illingworth, Percy H, Molteno, Percy Alport Sherwell, Arthur James
Isaacs, Rufus Daniel Montgomery, H. G. Shipman, Dr. John G.
Jackson, R. S. Moore, William Soames, Arthur Wellesley
Johnson, W. (Nuneaton) Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall) Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)
Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea) Morpeth, Viscount Straus, B. S. (Mile End)
Jones, Leif (Appleby) Morrell, Philip Sutherland, J. E.
Jones, William (Carnarvonshire) Morse, L. L, Tennant, Sir Edward (Salisbury)
Kearley, Rt. Hon. Sir Hudson Murray, Capt. Hon. A. C. (Kincard.) Tennant, H. J (Berwickshire)
Kekewich, Sir George Paul, Herbert Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)
Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir John H. Pearce, William (Limehouse) Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr)
Kerry, Earl of Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington) Thornton, Percy M.
Kimber, Sir Henry Philipps, Owen C. (Pembroke) Toulmin, George
King, Alfred John (Knutsford) Pickersgill, Edward Hare Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander
Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster) Pirie, Duncan V. Vivian, Henry
Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester) Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H. Walters, John Tudor
Lambert, George Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.) Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)
Lamont, Norman Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.) Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)
Layland-Barratt, Sir Francis Radford, G. H. Waterlow, D. S.
Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich) Rainy, A. Rolland Watt, Henry A.
Levy, Sir Maurice Ratcliff, Major R. F. White, Sir George (Norfolk)
Lewis, John Herbert Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (Gloucester) White, Sir Luke (York, E. R.)
Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David Rees, J. D. Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.
Long, Rt. Hon. Walter (Dublin, S.) Rendall, Atheistan Wiles, Thomas
Lonsdale, John Brownlee Fenwick, George Williamson, Sir A.
Lupton, Arnold Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln) Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Lynch, H. B. Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs.) Winfrey, R.
MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall) Wood, T. M'Kinnon
Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs) Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside) Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart
Mackarness, Frederic C. Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke) Younger, George
Maddison, Frederick Rogers, F. E. Newman
Markham, Arthur Basil Ronaldshay, Earl of TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Joseph Pease and Mr. Fuller.
Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston) Rose, Sir Charles Day
Marnham, F. J. Rowlands, J.
Abraham, W. (Cork, N.E.) Hudson, Walter O'Malley, William
Alden, Percy Jenkins, J. O'Neill, Charles
Ambrose, Robert Jordan, Jeremiah Parker, James (Halifax)
Barnes, G. N. Jowett, F. W. Philips, John (Longford, S.)
Boland, John Joyce, Michael Pointer, J.
Bowerman, C. W. Kavanagh, Walter M. Power, Patrick Joseph
Burke, E. Haviland Keating, M. Reddy, M.
Clancy, John Joseph Kennedy, Vincent Paul Redmond, John E. (Waterford)
Condon, Thomas Joseph Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.) Redmond, William (Clare)
Crean, Eugene Lundon, T. Richards, T. F. (Wolverhampton, W.)
Cullinan, J. Lynch, A. (Clare, W.) Richardson, A.
Delany, William MacNeill, John Gordon Swift Roche, Augustine (Cork)
Dillon, John MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.) Roche, John (Galway, East)
Duffy, William J. MacVeigh, Charles (Donegal, E.) Scanlan, Thomas
Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness) M'Kean, John Scott, A. H. (Ashton-under-Lyne)
Esmonde, Sir Thomas Meagher, Michael Sheehan, Daniel Daniel
Farrell, James Patrick Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.) Sheehy, David
Ffrench, Peter Mooney, J. J. Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)
Flavin, Michael Joseph Muldoon, John Stead man, W. C.
Flynn, James Christopher Murnaghan, George Stewart, Halley (Greenock)
Fullerton, Hugh Nannetti, Joseph P. Summerbell, T.
Gilhooly, James Nolan, Joseph Taylor, John W. (Durham)
Ginnell, L. O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.) Thorne, William (West Ham)
Gwynn, Stephen Lucius O'Doherty, Philip Wardle, George J.
Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil) O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.) White, Patrick (Meath, North)
Harrington, Timothy O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.) Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Healy, Maurice (Cork) O'Dowd, John
Hodge, John O'Grady, J. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Captain Donelan and Mr. Patrick O'Brien.
Hogan, Michael O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)

Lords Amendment agreed to.

Lords Amendments agreed to:

In paragraph (e) leave out the word "considering" and insert instead thereof the words "adequate provision has been made to satisfy."

In paragraph (c), after the word "of" ["requirements of persons"], insert the word "the."