HC Deb 07 July 1910 vol 18 cc1825-908

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £207,356, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1911, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Department of Agriculture and other Industries and Technical Instruction for Ireland, and of the services administered by that Department, including sundry Grants in Aid." [NOTE.—£209,000 has been voted on account.]


I beg to move, "That Item A be reduced by £100, in respect of the salary of the Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture (Ireland)."

I do so for three reasons. The first is in order that I may call attention to the position in which Mr. T. W. Russell stands in this House. Secondly, I do so to call attention to his action in connection with agricultural credit banks in Ireland. Thirdly, and very briefly, I do so to call attention to some small matters connected with the administration of that Department. Mr. T. W. Russell is not a Member of this House. He has taken no steps in order that he might again become a Member, and so far as we know the Government intend to allow this position of affairs to continue. Bearing these facts in mind, it is interesting to recall the words of the present Chief Secretary when, under pressure of our Friends below the Gangway, in 1907, Sir Horace Plunkett was removed from this office, and very shortly thereafter Mr. T. W. Russell was installed in "his place. May I venture to ask the attention of the House to the short extract from the speech of the Chief Secretary on that occasion. He said the Government— have definitely and determinedly made up our minds that the office shall be held in accordance with the original intention with which the Act was passed, not only by a Member of the House, but by a Member of the Administration, and from that view and that intension we do not intend in any way to depart. In the Act where it refers to this matter the terms are as follows:— The office of Vice-President of the Department shall not render the person holding the same incapable of being elected as a Member of Parliament. This evidently does not make it compulsory for the holder of the office to be in Parliament. On the other hand, His Majesty's Government have declared that that is essential to the due carrying out of the various duties of this Department. It is quite true that for a short time after the Department was initiated Sir Horace Plunkett was a Member of this House. He then ceased to be a Member of this House. He lost his seat in the 1900 election, and with the general consent of all parties here continued in that office, although no longer a Member of Parliament. I think the reasons why he was continued in that office were admirably stated in the Debate to which I am referring by the present Leader of the Opposition, whom I will quote:— It is perfectly true that this office was intended to be a Parliamentary appointment. It is also true, in my belief, that as the present Chief Secretary for Ireland has said, Sir Horace Plunkett would have continued, during the tenure of office of the late Administration, his work on the Agricultural Board in this House had he succeeded in obtaining a seat in this House. He failed to obtain a seat in this House, and the question which arose and had to be decided by His Majesty's late advisers was whether it was or was not for the interests of Ireland, and for the interests of the great industry of Ireland, that Sir Horace Plunkett should continue out of Parliament the functions which, no doubt, it was originally intended should be carried by a Gentleman in this House.… The reason why we persuaded Sir Horace Plunkett to continue his work out of Parliament as he had begun it in Parliament, was that we believed that that was for the best interests of Ireland. I am convinced that no man in this House who knows anything about Ireland will deny that the decision come to by the late Government, and endorsed by the predecessor of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Bryce), was, in the interests of Ireland, the right decision. No man can differ from these remarks which I have ventured to quote. Sir Horace Plunkett was continued in office by the late Government for reasons which were given by the then Chief Secretary (Mr. Bryce) in a letter to Sir Horace Plunkett. In view of the great importance of this matter I venture to quote again. Mr. Bryce's letter to Sir Horace Plunkett was sent shortly after the present Government came into office in 1906. In that letter Mr. Bryce said:— I have under consideration the arrangements necessary for continuing the duties of the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction. I understand that, regarding your appointment' as Vice-President of the Department as being of a political character, you are desirous of retiring from it at the change of Ministry. On this point I have consulted the Prime Minister, and with his concurrence, I conceive that it may be proper to treat the matter as being one which for our immediate purpose is outside considerations of party. I therefore hope you will be disposed, seeing that the arrangement is one of a purely provisional character, to carry on the duties of the Vice-President It is the intention of the Government to examine fully into the organisation and working of the Department and its relations.…your presence will facilitate that examination. It is a matter of knowledge that Sir Horace Plunkett accepted office at the request of the Government. The matter being again raised in this House, the late Prime Minister (Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman) thus referred to precedent:— My view of the case is this, that the present state of things is purely temporary and purely exceptional. There is no intention of converting an office which is of one character into an office of another character with the same official serving in it. That has never been contemplated. But as the whole matter was under review, in order to place the Department in many respects on a better footing, it was thought that there was no harm in continuing Sir Horace Plunkett in the position rather than make a new appointment, which would have to be subject to any change found to be necessary. At that time there was general expectation held in some quarters of the House that some attack which had been made upon the work of the Department would have marred it, and that therefore large changes might become necessary. But to the relief of all friends of this movement, and possibly to the disappointment of some of our Nationalist friends below the Gangway, the Committee which investigated the work of the Department finally made a Report entirely eulogistic and entirely approving of the lines on which it had been conducted by Sir Horace Plunkett. This temporary arrangement was continued until April, 1907. The pressure to which the present Chief Secretary yielded was pressure exercised on the eve of the publication of the Report of the Committee and not after this Report became a matter of public knowledge. Then what happened? We had speeches, to some of which I have referred, and a Motion was moved from the Nationalist Benches, the terms of which I will venture to quote. It was moved by the then representative of East Kerry, who is not, I believe, now a Member of the House, and it was in these terms:— That the position of the Tice-President of the Department of Agriculture in Ireland was intended by Parliament to be and, in fact, is a Ministerial and Parliamentary office properly vacated on a change of Government, and that the retention of that office by a political opponent of the Government of the day is undesirable as a permanent arrangement. To that was moved the following Amendment by supporters of the Government:— That in view of the continued confidence expressed in the policy of Sir Horace Plunkett by the Council of Agriculture, two-thirds of whose members are directly appointed by the county councils of. Ireland, it is in- advisable before the House has had an opportunity of considering carefully the Report of the Committee of inquiry into the organisation and working of the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction to make any change in Sir Horace Plunkett's tenure of the Vice-Presidency. The Chief Secretary said on that occasion that the Government had decided to support the main Motion and not the Amendment, and the Amendment was rejected by 247 votes to 108. The Prime Minister and other Members of the Government supported it. But let us not forget that in that Division, in sharp contrast to any Division I remember in the last Parliament, thirty Radical Members, refused to obey the Government Whip, and voted with the Unionist party, and I think it should be mentioned that they did that in spite of the call of the Nationalists, and stood by a man who was badly treated and who had done so much for Ireland and so much for agriculture on this side of the-Channel as well.


Who drove him out?


I do not think it is necessary for me to refer to that. Charges are made on every occasion when-the name of Sir Horace Plunkett is mentioned. I have no knowledge of the local circumstances that, unfortunately, deprived us of Sir Horace Plunkett. We have been asked sometimes why a seat has not been found for him. I believe the true answer to that is that Sir Horace Plunkett has never put himself in a position to woo the suffrages of any constituency since. I know he did once since contest Galway, but his chances of success were very limited. I say this, and I say it to the credit of Sir Horace Plunkett, that I think he is a man so full of patriotism that he will never make a good party politician, and I think the value of his work in Ireland is emphasised by the fact that he is so detached from political party. Personally I should regret to see Sir Horace Plunkett a strong party man, because I think it would jeopardise the work he has done from the most elevated of motives, notwithstanding the attacks which were laid upon him by the Nationalist party in 1907.

Of course, I am aware that an attempt will be made to-night to say Mr. T. W. Russell's position is similar to that of Sir Horace Plunkett in 1907; but I venture to submit from the knowledge we have of both these gentlemen that the two cases-are absolutely apart, and are not upon the same plane at all. Sir Horace Plunkett, with the help of some others— and he will be the first to acknowledge that help—founded this Department, and fought and conquered public opinion in Ireland, which was almost universally hostile to it at the start. The success it has now attained is such that we may say when he is gone it will remain a monument to the splendid work which one great Irishman was able to do for his native land. So great has been the success of that Department that it was most instructive and interesting last year to hear demands from English Radicals and Scotch Liberals that a Department upon similar lines should be established by the Government in Scotland.

I pass now from the merely personal aspect of the matter to say that, however objectionable, on purely political grounds, it may be to continue Mr. T. W. Russell in his office, and to enable him to enjoy its emoluments, without making any efforts to fulfil the conditions under which he received it, and under which another Irishman was dismissed from it, that by far the most serious ground upon which we challenge the further continuance of Mr. Russell in his office is the action he has taken in regard to agricultural cooperative efforts. I venture to say that when the House hears some particulars as to what has been happening, as we believe, under Nationalist dictation—not, I am happy to say, from the majority of the Nationalist party but from some Members of it, who have always been vigorous and eloquent in their denunciation of the Department and its work, it will agree with our view. Mr. Russell has taken certain departmental action in connection with those agricultural credit banks, which, as some of us who have knowledge of the working of these banks know, have so far succeeded in backward parts of the country that we view his action with alarm, and hope it will be put an end to.


Do I understand the hon. Member to say that this action was taken as a result of Nationalist dictation? If so, I would advise him to give us some proof.


We say in connection with this matter that we have public evidence of the action of the Department while it was under the guidance of Sir Horace Plunkett, who founded and subsidised so many of these banks, so bitterly attacked by some Members of the Nationalist party, and I think the hon. Member who has just interrupted me gave us himself an excellent example of some sharp criticism directed against that Department. I have not the particular speech by me, but I remember in one speech which the hon. Member delivered at Liverpool he referred to the Department in the time of Sir Horace-Plunkett as a political machine which was being very largely used to the detriment of the Nationalist party in Ireland. I am happy to think that that feeling ii not shared by the rank and file of the Nationalist party. That is a matter of knowledge to many of us, and we are much gratified at it. We know that there are at least ten or twelve Members of the Nationalist party who are actively engaged in promoting the work of the Department.

I wish first of all to give a short summary of the working of these agricultural banks in Ireland. I think that is necessary in order that Members may understand the position to-day. The idea of introducing these banks originated with Father Finlay, who is still a vice-president of the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society, and who made a study of the question in Germany. I would like to pay a passing tribute to the fine work he has done in connection with Sir Horace Plunkett. He went to the Continent and found how excellently small agriculturists were being dealt with and arrangements were made to help one another in connection with all sorts of agricultural matters by means of these credit banks. He was also helped by Mr. Henry W. Wolff, an agricultural economist, who had special knowledge in this most essential branch of agricultural co-operation.

6.0 P.M.

Briefly, the constitution of these banks is as follows. The area of the society is limited, so that all members may be acquainted with each other. Loans are made for productive purposes or economical purposes only, the object being to enable the borrower to realise a profit or effect an economy which would enable him of itself to pay back the money borrowed The period for which the loan is granted is regulated by the object of the loan, and is always calculated to fulfil this condition. Applicants for admission are admitted to membership if known to be sober, honest, and industrious. Poverty, so long as it does not result from the absence of these qualities, is no bar to membership. Members on admission become jointly and severally liable for all the debts of the bank, that is for loans granted to themselves or other members, and for all sums of money either deposited in or lent to the bank for the purposes of being re-lent to its members. Borrowers must comply with the following conditions: They must be members, the purpose for which the loan is required must be stated, also the term for which the loan is granted, they must find two sureties who will join in a bond guaranteeing the repayment of the loan and interest thereon, and who will further bind themselves to repay the loan in the event of its misapplication. The management of the bank is vested in a chairman and committee elected by the members. No profit earned by the banks may be divided amongst the members by way of bonus or dividend, or otherwise disposed of. It must be allowed to accumulate as a reserve fund which may be used to augment the capital of the society, and which, being free of interest, will in time enable the society to reduce the rate of interest charged to borrowers. The capital is derived mainly from three sources: first, from the joint stock banks which have been advancing money at the rate of 4 per cent, irrespective of fluctuations of the Bank rate; secondly, from individuals who deposit cash there; and, thirdly, from the Department of Agriculture. These societies are all registered under the Friendly Societies Act and are described as "Specially Authorised Societies." The power to borrow capital from sources outside their own membership was conferred upon them by the Societies Borrowing Powers Act, promoted by Sir Horace Plunkett. Their accounts are open to inspection by any persons or body having an interest in the banks. That, of course, means the managers of the joint stock banks who have been making advances, the Department, or the Congested Districts Board. So far as circumstances have permitted, the Organisation Society has performed its work in a manner which, I think, leaves very little to be desired.

I think I have said sufficient to show how carefully organised and thought out the whole scheme under which these? banks are run has been considered by those responsible for it. You get the best test of that, I think, in the figures. If you refer to the figures of 1908 you will find the joint stock banks considered these agricultural banks sound and good enough to advance them £15,000. They received from depositors, who are even more conservative, £20,000, from the Department £12,000, and from the Congested Districts Board £6,000, making a total capital of £53,000. It will be seen from these figures that the loans from the Department amount to barely one-third of the total involved. I am assured that in no case has the joint stock bank ever had to resort to legal pressure to recover any loan advanced to these banks. It is worth recalling that this is the first time the character of the borrower has been challenged. We find, when we go into these charges, which I think it is as well the House should clearly understand, that they begin with the statement made by Mr. T. W. Russell at a meeting of the Congested Districts Board, in which he suggested that these agricultural banks were mostly insolvent. He described the system under which they were conducted as absolutely rotten. At the January meeting of the Congested Districts Board Mr. Russell described the banks as rotten, and stated it as his belief that if they were wound up they would not realise 2s. 6d. in the £. That is to say, that while the Department would lose some £10,000, others, who had embarked money in these banks, would lose £37,000. In correspondence with Sir Horace Plunkett, Mr. Russell has seen fit to modify that charge. At first he said £2,000 had been recovered by legal process, £2,000 more under threat of legal proceedings, and that the Department would have to proceed against twenty-five or thirty banks by the end of the year. Mr. Russell further stated that by legal process he meant the issue of writs. When asked by the secretary of the Organisation Society for particulars of the banks proceeded against, Mr. Russell refused to give them. Let me express my regret that when across the floor of the House the Chief Secretary was asked to furnish this information to the society, which had instituted the whole system, although at first he saw nothing unreasonable in the request, and promised the information, he should a little later, I suppose on more recent instructions from Mr. Russell, have refused the information.

Briefly, this is the position as it now presents itself to us: The whole of these banks, roughly 100 in number, have been condemned as rotten and insolvent, and we can get no information, either in this House or from the Department itself, which can justify the charge or enable the friends of these banks to discriminate between those which may be sound and those which may be unsound. When this charge is further gone into, we find that, instead of £2,000 being recovered by legal process, a sum of only £1,375 was recovered through the chief Crown Solicitor; and that, instead of £2,000 being paid under threat of legal proceedings, £1,285 was withdrawn by the Department. Mr. Russell also stated that of the £10,000 outstanding, £600, and not the large sum previously mentioned; must now be considered as bad. The whole of these charges under pressure have now been boiled down to this, that, after all the years the system has been working, the total sum the Department at present thinks is bad is £600. If we were acting as individuals at a bank owing us a debt, and if every member of that bank—the average number of members of these banks I think is something like ninety—was responsible for it, I think the proper businesslike course would be for us to instruct our solicitors to select three or four of the most prominent members of the bank and proceed against them first. I do not think it would become necessary to sue the larger number. That is not the policy of the Department. They apparently have preferred to damn the whole system, because, as I have said, certain members of the Nationalist party, outside as well as inside the House, have found this credit organisation has made a somewhat detrimental effect on certain trade concerns in Ireland.

I do not wish it to be taken, as suggested, that there might not be some foundation for this charge. What I do say is that it has been found in some of the most backward parts of the country that small farmers in the struggle for existence have been very largely in the hands of either one large trader who has a monopoly of the district, or what has been termed the gombeen man. It is because these large traders and gombeen men have found that farmers prefer to get easier terms from the banks that we have had this savage attack made on the banks. I think we have every right to complain that the holder of an office which should have its duties discharged in a judicial manner should, at the dictation of a few powerful gombeen men and trading monopolies—let it not be forgotten that these banks number 9,000 farmers in Ireland—condemn the whole system, root and branch. It is still more regrettable that the information which would enable the Organisation Society to test the truth of this wholesale charge, which up to now has not been substantiated to any important extent, should have been continually refused. It is a somewhat remarkable state of affairs that under force of circumstances Mr. Russell, so long one of the most eloquent advocates and defenders of the Irish, farmers, should have been the man, using his temporary position of influence and power, to claim that there are 9,000 farmers in Ireland who are not worth the obligations which they nave incurred under this system.

The whole amount which the Department has involved at the present moment is admitted by Mr. Russell to amount only to £10,000. Are we to accept the conclusion of Mr. Russell that co-operative credit banks have no service in Ireland, while all the leading Continental nations are year by year increasing State aid in this direction1? Some of us know that, instead of a paltry £10,000 or £16,000 a year, the French nation has committed itself to the expenditure of £1,250,000, and a very-great industry in agriculture has been built up under the fostering care of banks conducted under the system I have described. We have every right to draw the attention of the Committee to this grave state of affairs, and we have a right to ask the Chief Secretary to see to it that the information should be given to the House without the slightest reservation and that every facility should be given to the Organisation Society to investigate the particular banks alleged to be insolvent. I think we have a right to go further—we intend to support it by vote to-night—and to demand that the tenure of Mr. Russell's office should be brought to an end. In the North of Ireland the action of Mr. Russell in this matter is keenly resented. We have not, for obvious reasons, so largely used these banks as some other parts of the country. The condition of our farmers is better, and there is not the need for small self-help of this character which is so valuable in other parts of the country. Still in the neighbouring counties, in county Donegal, which is very near to my own county, the very greatest advantage has been taken of these banks. The manager of a joint stock bank in one of the congested counties, to whom I wrote asking: his opinion of these banks, says:— The joint stock banks are lending the credit banks, which are doing good work here, money at 4 per cent, on the joint and several guarantees of individual members. He adds:— If the gombeen man, pure and simple, can be scotched, as I think he can with this system of help, it will be good business, but he seems, however, to hare Mr. T. W. Russell in his pocket. Then I pass to the opinion of a well-known man in another part of the country (Claremorris), who says:— Greater even than the material advantages of the bank are the moral effects resulting from it in the district of Murneen: firstly, in the education the people are receiving in the true use of credit, and again in the gain for the country that can so easily be obtained from mutual co-operation. Heretofore the man who borrowed lost caste in the neighbourhood, was regarded as a ne'er-do-well, and fast hastening to join the class who are a burden on society. Now the people are learning that it is honourable, when necessary, to borrow for the honest purpose of improving one's position and ascending higher the ladder of industrial prosperity. From the success that has attended the working out of this little experiment in such a remote district, one is forced to wish that branches were multiplied in the country, that this influence for good may be more widely extended Lastly, I venture to quote the words of a well-known Nationalist in county Donegal, whose name must be familiar to hon. Members below the Gangway. Mr. P. Gallagher says:— As one who has a practical knowledge of the cooperative movement, I wish to inform my fellow-farmers that Sir Horace Plunkett was appointed Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture when that Department was first established, and above all the Government Departments in Ireland it was the only one ruled by Irishmen. Sir Horace was responsible to the Council of Agriculture, who were elected by the county councils. They soon found out that if their work was to be a lasting benefit to the farmers they (the farmers) must be organised, and as the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society had been voluntarily doing this work for years, they decided to bear part of the expenses, and all went well for some time. Co-operative banks, poultry, dairy, flax, agriculture, and threshing societies had been established all over the country. In 1903 we got an agricultural bank started in Dunglow, and this is a most useful form of co-operation. I am a member of the committee, and our parish priest is president since it was established. He is treasurer as well for the last two years. We got a loan of £50 from the Congested Districts Board, of which every penny has been repaid. We are able to give our farmers better prices for produce. That is a district which is not confined to Unionist farmers I only hope that even now the Chief Secretary will realise the danger the recent action of the Vice-President has brought about. You have these wholesale charges levelled against this organisation society, and I venture to ask the right hon. Gentleman most earnestly and most respectfully is it likely that a society of this kind, slandered in this wholesale manner, can hope to get the facilities in the future from local lenders and joint stock banks which it previously enjoyed? I call upon the right hon. Gentleman, in the name of all well-wishers of this system, to put the matter right and see to it that this organisation society is given every information necessary to enable it to make a fair examination into the solvency of every bank that has been challenged.

I pass from this matter to one or two small points of administration. I am happy to think that, in so far as Mr. T. W. Russell has permitted the work of the Department to continue on the lines laid down by his predecessor, it has gone well. The Department is still giving the great help in all directions in which it formerly worked so well, but there still remain one or two grievances requiring attention. I especially refer to the technical side of the work. When demands are made for increased grants for building technical schools in Ireland we are always reminded by the Chief Secretary and by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that when the Act was passed in 1898 the proposal was to allocate only £55,000 to this work. But that amount has been entirely utilised by grants made all over the country, and there is not now the provision of a single penny for the building of schools under the present Act. I was one of a deputation which waited on the Chancellor of the Exchequer two years ago on this matter, and we put our case before him. We pointed out that in some small towns, and this I think applied generally north, south, east and west, this work of technical education, which students were anxious to take advantage of, has often to be carried on in all sorts of rooms and places. I have a case of a school under the control of a Committee with which I am connected in which the work is being done in four different buildings in one small town. I want the Government to realise the importance of giving building grants for this most important and necessary work. A question was put in this House the other day with regard to grants to technical societies, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer stated that up to now he had not had a concrete case put before him by the Department. If that is true, the Department has been somewhat at fault, as it was clearly their duty to elaborate schemes under the Act. I venture to assert that the work is being greatly handicapped by want of suitable buildings, and that the expense of conducting it is also being unnecessarily added to by the present system. I hope the Chief Secretary, when he replies, will give us some encouragement with regard to this most important matter. We, in the North of Ireland, are disappointed that we have had no sign that the official work of the Department is to be better controlled. It is the old trouble and the old complaint, and I hope to hear that this matter is receiving attention. We recognise that the Chief Secretary cannot be held responsible for the present condition of things. He cannot be expected to go into these matters personally. But I am now putting the facts before him, and I earnestly and respectfully hope that the time will soon come when we will have a direct representative of the Department in this House. I beg to move the reduction of Item (A) by £100.


I shall do my best to keep clear, as far as possible, of the personal questions that are raised by this Motion—questions affecting Mr. Russell and Sir Horace Plunkett. The official whose salary it is proposed to reduce is one who holds his office contrary to the pledge of the Government, as he has not now a seat in this House. He has, however, managed, holding a somewhat precarious tenure, to exhibit administrative discourtesy, which is, I believe, almost without parallel. I shall say no more than is necessary, because I wish to look at the matter from a very much larger point of view—that affecting Ireland as a whole. I do not propose to go over the main facts which have been placed before this Committee, but I would remind it that when Mr. Russell first came into office he lost no time in showing hostility to this Agricultural Organisation Association, and he cut off the subsidy, of which it had been in receipt from the Government. The Association accepted the position, it resolved not to come into conflict with the Department, if it could possibly help it. It realised that a good understanding between the State Department and the cooperative associations in Ireland was of the highest importance for the carrying on of the co-operative movement. But as far as I am aware there was no overt act of hostility shown to the Organisation Society for some time. It was on the occasion of a deputation to the Congested Districts Board that Mr. Russell first used language which aroused these co-operative societies. He said that the system of credit banks was a rotten system, and that the banks could not possibly pay 6d. in the £. I am aware he put forward as a defence that the occasion was confidential and not public, and that, therefore, the fault rested with those who made the statement public. But I would really ask the Committee to consider what the occa- sion was. It was a deputation of men from different parts of Ireland who were deeply interested in the co-operative movement, and when the head of a State Department calmly told them, without any previous suggestion, that the whole movement was unsound, was it likely that the occasion could be treated otherwise than of a semi-public, if not of an entirely public, character? The facts could not help being known to all concerned, and it seems to me that the defence of privacy or privilege cannot stand for one moment. Mark, then, what happened. This startling announcement was met by a courteous request on the part of the secretary of the Agricultural Organisation Association to Mr. Russell to give details and particulars regarding the banks on which he based his statement. I would like to call attention to this, that what they demanded, or, rather, requested, was not that publicity should be given in Ireland as regards banks which Mr. Russell said were in this shaky condition, although in public Mr. Russell hinted at that, and one of the answers of the Chief Secretary in this House defended Mr. Russell on that ground, that it was very inadvisable to give that publicity. But of course what the organisation demanded was not such publicity. What they said was, "We want to know for our information which are the banks referred to." Was that an unreasonable demand for the parent society to make? They had been watching the progress of these banks from their inception, and they had suddenly this bombshell thrown at them that the whole system was rotten. It had been their business not only to foster the banks in their infancy, but to watch their growth and to give them advice from time to time. They had sent down auditors and inspectors to go through their accounts, and they not only got reports from their inspectors, but they submitted them to the Department itself. They further, not long ago, in 1909, pressed the Department of Agriculture to let them, in return, see the reports which their inspectors made upon the banks, and after some pressure the Agricultural Department consented that the society should see such reports.

Was it unnatural, this being their relations with the Department, that they should look upon this as an obvious request, so that they might, if possible, give advice which would not only be of assistance to those institutions which they had founded, but which might also save public money which had been invested. It was for the benefit both of the agricultural banks themselves and also for the benefit of the public and the depositors who had put money in, that the request was made. What was the pretext given in public by Mr. Russell in April of this year? I will not allude further to the excuse in regard to publicity, which will not hold water for a minute. There was another defence made through the Chief Secretary who in answer to a question said that the Agricultural Organisation Society already knew all the facts and that they had all the particulars and the information required. He said in regard to twelve out of the fifteen of the incriminated societies that the report concerning them had been seen by the Agricultural Organisation Society and that they therefore knew the facts. That has been repeated again and again in the public prints. It is quite true that the Agricultural Organisation Society had reported not upon twelve out of fifteen but upon hundreds of banks during the last few years, but they did not in the least know which the twelve banks selected by the Department were. They could not possibly identify those twelve. I have asked the question privately and personally in order that I might give it a public answer, "Did you know as the Chief Secretary said in twelve out of fifteen cases which the banks were, and are you able to mention the names of the societies or the members of those particular banks?" They in reply say they have not the least notion as to which banks are referred to. I hope that will be sufficient as regards that particular point and I need not go through the other pretexts—for they were hollow pretexts—for this refusal because Mr. Russell in a letter to the "Irish Times" let out the real reason for his peremptory refusal. He said:— It was rather too bad to call upon me to co-operate with a body which is identified with hostility to a political party. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] In that cheer you have the true reason acknowledged by the hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway for the attack upon these banks. I put it to the Committee, is there any ground for saying that this Agricultural Organisation Society is the organ of a political party or identified with it in any sense whatever? I can only say this, that the members of that Society are I believe, nine out of ten of them Nationalists and not Unionists, and that they represent a membership of 20,000 members. No, it is a great deal more than that. That is as regards the banks, but as regards the Agricultural Organisation Society the number of members is a great deal larger. There are nearly 1,000 of these associations, there are 100,000 members, and I may add that there has been a turnover of £2,500,000 last year by that organisation. There is no suspicion of any political character or political taint of any sort attaching to that organisation society, and the only ground for identifying it with a political party is a miserably bad one. It is that Sir Horace Plunkett was the original founder—he originated the idea, and he was the founder of the movement— but these men are not politicians, they are farmers, and, in many cases, poor farmers of Ireland, in whose interest the movement was founded. There we come, as I say, to the real heart of this ungracious discourtesy and unwise action—that it is said that the association is supposed to represent politics. Politics it does not represent. It is quite true that there are some trade interests which are connected with politics, and which are supposed to be opposed to the co-operative movement generally. The small local trader, it is quite true, thinks that he is often injured by the co-operative movement.

At the beginning of the movement there was a very much more widespread fear on that point, and there was one important paper which said that this Agricultural Cooperative Organisation was the invention of the Devil, and that Sir Horace Plunkett was the person who played the leading role in the tragedy, but on the whole the traders of Ireland have begun to see that although they may be some of them hurt by co-operation in the first instance yet that the production of the country has increased, and also that the consumption has risen, and that in the long run trade interests do not suffer. To say, however, that because that section of traders should so regard it, is sufficient through their political influence to make the whole movement political, is surely a very gross slander upon its nature. But I pass from this spirit and this manifestation of arrogant bureaucracy and official discourtesy—I pass to the larger question which is at the bottom of this whole matter, and it is this. A very great social and agrarian revolution has occurred in Ireland, and so far as land legislation is concerned, you have the whole of the old arrangements swept away, or being swept away. You have the State on the one hand and the individual farmer on the other left confronting one another as creditor and debtor. The old clan system with the head of the clan has long since gone. Now the landlord and the estate office is disappearing also, and you have nothing but those two isolated parties left, the individual farmer and the State. The real question, therefore, that now presents itself is, Can you reconstruct, or rather create, a new rural community in Ireland consisting of something more than the individual, and consisting of a group of associated interests who shall be able to act together, and so put the economic basis of agriculture on a sound footing? That is the real question. Legislation has not done it. It has merely created Na change of ownership. It is left, therefore, for others who have taken up this work voluntarily to see what they can do.

What is the experience of other countries in this matter? This is really of vital importance. What has happened everywhere else is, that the unorganised isolated farmer cannot by himself face the fierce stress of agricultural competition, and every prosperous agricultural community that has sprung up in other parts of Europe has been worked through voluntary associations—through the organisation of the farmers, and through that and that alone. Just as industrial combinations have been found necessary in the great towns and cities and in centres of industry, so agricultural co-operation for the very same object is necessary in rural districts. The success of peasant proprietary is absolutely due to that, and I venture to believe that in a country like Ireland, where the farmers are poorer than in any other part of Europe, and the farms even smaller, that the existence of a peasant proprietary can only be safely realised by means of such organisations. It has been proved elsewhere by experience that as regards these organisations two things are necessary—first of all, there should be a power of organisation in voluntary associations for buying and selling, for getting the necessary equipment of the farm and all else that goes with the farming industry; and, secondly, that State aid should be aided by self-help, and that the State help shall be of a kind to support and encourage self-help. It is these two principles on which Sir Horace Plunkett, in the first instance, and then those who carried out legislation have built up the co-operative movement in Ireland. On the one hand, you have the Agricultural Organisation Society, representing the elementary principle of self-help, and, on the other hand, you have the Department of Agriculture, representing the principle, of State aid. They are essential to each other. The organisation of the farmers from the business point of view is also, necessary to the Agricultural Department for its efficient administration. It can deal not with the isolated man, but with groups of men who have got a common interest. That is really the point—the larger matter of policy which affects, not only Ireland, but England, and which I wish to drive home, that if your system of land purchase-is to work out with ultimate success in Ireland you must work it largely by the aid of agricultural co-operation when that co-operation is organised, fostered, and strengthened by State aid. I would add that it affects your capital just as much as it does Irish welfare. It is really the Agricultural Organisation-Society that is being struck at by that attack upon the banks, though that is only one part of the great co-operative enterprise in which they are engaged. I should like to mention, as regards that attack, that while—an Irishman I was going to-gay, but, thank goodness, he is not an Irishman—is running it down in this calumnious way, on the other hand you have students of political economy and rural economy coming from all parts of Europe, and even from America, to study the success of the working of that co-operative system in Ireland, and they have written and spoken about it in terms of the most lavish praise. It remains for this official of your Government to strike this blow in the dark—I do not know whether meaning to kill it, but with the obvious result that it will damage it beyond repair if he-succeeds.

This agricultural co-operation is necessary, I believe, for every agricultural community, and even for agriculture generally, but there is no country in Europe where it is so necessary as in Ireland, because in proportion as the farmers are-poor and weak and backward in education, all the more necessary is it that they should intelligently combine. In the very poorest districts in Ireland, the congested districts, these land banks have made a far greater success than in any other part of Ireland. The truth is that cheap capital is the very first essential for small farmers because you need something that is far more flexible than the employment of capital in ordinary business transactions, and the system which has been adopted In the organisation of these banks is not a, fad of Sir Horace Plunkett's. It is a system which has been adopted deliberately after examining the systems of credit banks all over Europe, and it has already worked wonders in those parts where it has been applied. You have that great principle first of all of collective security. The small farmer who can get no advance from the joint-stock banks on his little piece of land is able to get money advanced to him through the association at 5 per cent, or 6 per cent. If he were attempting to get any capital either from the bank or from the local traders, or the Gombeen man, lie would have to pay 20 per cent, or 30 per cent., but here he is getting this money at that low rate of interest not to pay bills, but for a purely productive purpose. He belongs to a group who all know one another, and among the moral results which have followed from that form of cooperation is this, that this group of men begin to trust one another instead of mistrusting one another, and they form a friendly rural community who feel that their interests are bound up together. By the help of these banks numbers of these men in Ireland are being gradually freed from the load of debt which they owed to the local traders or the Gombeen man, for a very great deal of that indebtedness tomes from shop credit and from the barter system. They have been freed from that debt in very much the same kind of way that Lord Cromer managed in Egypt by somewhat similar means to lend money to free the fellaheen there, and with results that are not at all dissimilar. The same thing has been done in India. Would you not have thought, with this great movement going on, not relating to banks only, that it was the duty of the Government Department that existed for the benefit of agriculture, to give advice, and, as far as possible, to maintain supervision? If they found that these poor, backward people were a little shaky, was it not their business to do all they could to restore their credit, to call in the parent body which brought them into existence, to take their advice, and to ask them to co-operate with them instead of to follow this malignant and ruinous policy?

Lastly, think of the contrast of the policy that has been adopted by this Government in England and in Ireland. In England an Agricultural Organisation Society has come into being. It was modelled upon the Irish Organisation Society. The Board of Agriculture, following the advice of the Departmental Committee which sat some years ago, has done two things. It is using that Agricultural Organisation Society to teach the methods of co-operation on the one hand, and already it has got, through the Act of last year, a subsidy from the Development Fund, the very thing which was withdrawn in Ireland—the equivalent paid to the Irish Agricultural Society. That is what is being done in England and Ireland. You have, as regards the action of the Department, I am sorry to say, a spirit of embittered partizanship. The effect of what is being said must be to discredit the whole movement, and yet it is far more vital for Ireland than it is for England. In England it may be useful. In Ireland it is indispensable for these small men. I hope a real inquiry will be made into the condition of these banks. Confidence has been shaken in Ireland. Mr. T. W. Russell had to modify and almost withdraw at last his ill-omened words that £600 might possibly be lost. There has been £250,000 already lent since these banks came into existence. There might be a loss of £600, but it appears there might not be a loss at all. Anyhow, it is a case where the Government, recognising the necessity of cooperation in England, and still more in Ireland, ought to be in a position either to undo the wrong or else at least to show up the facts.


The hon. Member commenced his speech by declaring that he would studiously avoid any personal observation as far as possible, and he proceeded, in a tone of really ferocious bitterness, to a personal attack on the Vice-President, who is not present and is, unfortunately, unable to defend himself. If that be the hon. Member's idea of avoiding personalities I should be very curious to hear him when he is indulging in personalities. He thanked God that the Vice-President was not an Irishman. I could not but be reminded of the time when the Vice-President was a member of the Tory party, and when they were always thanking God for the fact that he was. The hon. Member's attack was most malignant and ferocious, and there was not a single charge on which he built up his fabric of furious indignation which has a shred of foundation. This attack has brought a vast and formidable array of Members above the Gangway. It is an attack of a purely political character. It is a mixture of politics and personal spite, because the right hon. Gentleman who now presides over the Department supplanted Sir Horace Plunkett. Accustomed as I am to the sublime audacity of my countrymen above the Gangway, I did not expect to hear the complaint that Mr. T. W. Russell was retained in an irregular fashion as the Vice-President of the Department. That comes rather strangely from the men who supported their Government, and the Liberal Government afterwards, in keeping Sir Horace Plunkett in that position for six and a half years after he failed to obtain a seat. They complained most bitterly, and they renewed their complaint this afternoon, that Sir Horace Plunkett was badly treated because he was requested to retire from that position after six and a half years. Mr. Russell has held the position for six months, and they think it highly irregular and objectionable. That is really a new idea of fair play, and so far as that charge goes the Government were well advised not to gratify Mr. Russell's personal enemies, because this is a matter of personal enmity, and their enemies, by accepting his resignation the moment he lost his seat, without allowing a reasonable interval to see whether he could secure another. His resignation was instantly at the disposal of the Government, and he only held the position because the Government requested him to do so. I remain as strongly of opinion as I have always been that this position of Vice-President of the Department ought to be, and must be, kept a Parliamentary Ministerial position, and if Mr. Russell has not within a reasonable period obtained a seat he ought to resign his position, and I am quite certain he will.

7.0 P.M.

Let me come to the points upon which this great attack has been based. First of all, there was the cutting off—an old story—of the subsidy from the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society, and the relations which prevailed since then between the society and the Department. Secondly, there was the alleged attack on the banks. I had expected to hear a further attack in respect of the butter report, but, as nothing was said about that, I shall pass away from the subject altogether. Let me deal, first of all, with the attack on the banks, because that has been made the main ground on which this attack has been made on Mr. Russell to-day. It has been alleged that Mr. Russell, out of sheer malignity—that was the word used—made an attack, without any justification whatever, on this great system of co-operative banks in Ireland, and that he made it in the interest of certain traders and under the dictation of the Nationalist party. I immediately challenged the hon. Member for North Derry (Mr. Hugh Barrie) when the attack was made. It will be in the memory of those who were present in the House at the time that I challenged him to give a shred of evidence in support of that statement, and he slid gracefully off to some other subject. He knew perfectly well the statement was unfounded. There is not a word of truth in it. It is absolutely false. I think it is desirable to put that categorically and without any mistake, because a more outrageous charge could not have been made than that Mr. Russell was acting under the dictation of the Nationalist party when he made this attack on the banks. Whatever action Mr. Russell took regarding the banks he was not acting under the dictation of the Nationalist party, and the hon. Member ought not to make such charges in this House unless he is in a position to prove them. The hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. S. H. Butcher) stated in his speech that the first act on the part of the Department against the Agricultural Organisation Society took place at a deputation which waited on the Congested Districts Board asking that Board to give £1,000 a year as a subsidy to the society in order to pay two inspectors to inspect the banks in the West of Ireland. That meeting, at which this alleged language was used, was a perfectly private and confidential meeting. The members of the Congested Districts Board are expected, though I do not think they are pledged, not to make public any of the proceedings of the Board. What happened? There was a frank and free discussion, and of course a discussion takes a somewhat different form as regards language and temper when it is absolutely confidential as compared with what would be said before the public. There was a frank discussion about the banks. Mr. Russell expressed his opinion, as head of the Department, for reasons which I will state, that this subsidy of £1,000 ought not to be given. The Congested Districts Board finally decided—I do not know whether at that meeting or at a subsequent one—that they would not give the subsidy, and the secretary of the organisation society wrote to Mr. Russell a most provocative and impertinent letter which was published in the public Press disclosing the proceedings of this confidential meeting of the Board. He wrote this letter making a demand on Mr. Russell which was in point of fact a preposterous and entirely bogus demand for information as to certain banks which Mr. Russell said were in a shaky or doubtful condition. That demand was made for the purpose of giving offence. These banks were fifteen in number, and the organisation society demanded that they should have the names of the banks. For reasons which I shall explain the relations between the organisation society, and the Department had been totally changed under the direction of the Board some years before. Mr. Russell refused to give this information on, I think, exceedingly good grounds. What were the main grounds? He knew it was a purely bogus demand put forward for the purpose of insult. [Several HON. MEMBERS dissented.] Certainly, I adhere to that statement. That was what the demand was. As a matter of fact, when the records of the Department were searched, it was found that out of these fifteen banks the Agricultural Organisation Society had reported in respect of the condition of twelve. There were only three out of the fifteen which were proceeded against by the Department. The Organisation Society had taken the initiative against the banks, and, in the case of those three, the managers or secretaries had been guilty of some irregular conduct in connection with the management of money, and the President of the Department did not think it desirable to give the information asked for, inasmuch as possibly other proceedings might have followed of an unpleasant character. Therefore, as regards these fifteen banks, the Organisation Society were in full possession of information, and had sent in reports regarding twelve. I am justified in saying that the entire demand was a bogus demand, got up for the purpose of initiating controversy in the newspapers and dragging out all that occurred at this confidential meeting of the Congested Districts Board, whose proceedings were never intended to be made public. That was done for the purpose of stirring up agitation in the country against the Department and Mr. Russell. I am credibly informed that the result is that the credit of the banks has been most seriously shaken [Cheers.] Yes, and who shook it? Nobody knew what had taken place at the private meeting of the Congested Districts Board until the angry controversy in the newspapers had been inaugurated by the secretary of the Organisation Society. That has gone on for several weeks, and the result is that the banks are seriously injured by this-controversy which has been most improperly inaugurated by the Organisation Society for the purpose of stirring up agitation in the country against the Department.

What has been the relation of the Department towards the banks? It is alleged' that certain traders in Ireland have been hostile to these banks. I venture to say that these are very cowardly statements. When such statements are made they ought to be made frankly and openly. I deny that certain traders are hostile to-these banks, and I challenge hon. Members to quote the language used and to point to any word or act of hostility on the part of certain traders in Ireland. What some of us have been hostile to, and what we are not ashamed to maintain in the face of this House, is that the Organisation Society has been used, and frequently used, as a political weapon to attack our party in the country, to the infinite injury of the whole co-operative movement and the banks, too. But I deny absolutely that we have ever shown the smallest atom of hostility to those banks. Let me state what has been the recent relation of the Department to those banks. Here is an extract from Mr. Russell's evidence, given before a Committee a fortnight ago. If any man wants to inform himself of the-real facts of the situation, I would recommend him earnestly to read the evidence, in which he will find an authentic account. Mr. Russell said:— The policy of lending money to these banks was that of my predecessor in office. I inherited it. The question as to the position of these banks was raised at a recent meeting of the Agricultural Board. The Agricultural Board is the Board which controls to a very great extent Mr. Russell's action in this matter. It is a representative Board to the extent of eight members, and four members are appointed by the Department. The object was to discuss whether it would not be possible to put this system of agricultural credit with which some of the Members were dissatisfied on a sounder basis. I undertook at that meeting, at the request of the Board, to have an inquiry made by an inspector into all the banks which owe money to the Department. This inquiry occupied three or four months, and the Report was presented a few weeks ago. I ask the Committee to listen to what is stated in the Report, and to observe whether it bears out what has been stated by hon. Members above the Gangway. On the contrary, the whole thing was initiated, not by Mr. Russell, but by a member of the Agricultural Board, and was for the purpose of aiding the banks and putting them on a sounder basis. That was the object of the movement, and I think it is a shame, and really most disgraceful, to bring charges of malignant hostility against Mr. Russell. As a matter of fact the whole of this action originated in the Board of Agriculture, and not with the President of the Department, and the object was not to destroy the banking system, but to put it on a permanent and more secure basis. Mr. Russell, in his evidence, gave an account of what the inspector found, and let it be remembered that all these inspectors were appointed by Sir Horace Plunkett. Mr. Russell said:— One hundred and eight banks were inspected; twenty-six were reported as satisfactory, thirty-six as fair, and forty-six as unsatisfactory. That was the condition of the banks a few weeks ago. Mr. Russell further said:— My views as to agricultural credit in Ireland are of a mixed character. I think, in view of the great changes that are taking place in Ireland under the work of the Department and the Congested Districts Board, a system of agricultural credit founded upon proper business principles is capable of conferring very considerable advantages upon the Irish peasantry. I realise the dangers attendant upon undue facilities of borrowing, but I am still of opinion that a system of agricultural credit founded upon a proper basis and worked on proper principles might be extremely advantageous to the people. The whole of this action, therefore, with regard to banks was not in the slightest degree action of hostility, but for the purpose of inquiring into their condition and putting them on a sound basis.

I myself have been charged over and over again with hostility to these banks. There is not a shred of foundation for that charge. I defy any man to quote any speech of mine or point to any action of mine justifying that charge in the slightest degree. The position I have always taken up is I have never inquired personally into the working of these institutions. I think they ought to be very carefully watched and guarded, because I think if you introduce a system of lending money among very poor people, unless you give them a careful training and see that their accounts are properly watched, you are bound to have defalcations and misappropriations. I think you cannot be too careful in respect of them. At the same time, I have no doubt that these banks, if properly managed, would be extremely useful to the people. I want to say to the hon. Members who have made these charges here to-day, charges frequently made in Ireland, and which I am glad they have had the courage to make now in the House of Commons, that it is a most cruel injustice and it is very mischievous to be bringing these charges against the traders of Ireland. You would imagine, to hear hon. Members above the Gangway speak, that the traders of Ireland were a set of robbers and scoundrels, and that they were a peculiar class of traders, quite different from the traders in any other country in the world. Is it a crime or a thing to be ashamed of to be a trader? There are a great many traders in this House. I do not think, at all events in England, that it ought to be a term of reproach to be a trader. But these men are doing great injury to the cause of co-operation and the cause of the banks by this perpetual attempt to raise animosities between them and the traders of Ireland. I have never believed that these banks will in any way injure the traders of Ireland. I do not believe that the traders of Ireland have the slightest atom of hostility towards them; they have never shown it. I think it is a very great shame for hon. Members to be endeavouring to rouse these evil feelings by very unfair and unfounded charges.

I have already explained how this row in the Irish newspapers commenced and the nature of the demand for information, and I have pointed out that whatever steps were taken by Mr. Russell in this matter were not taken on his own initiative at all, but were taken at the request of the Board of Agriculture, and had for their object not at all any attack upon the banks but the putting of the whole banking system upon a sounder foundation. The report of the inspectors must convince the House that steps of the kind were absolutely necessary, because out of 120 banks, which were inspected, forty-six were in a very unsatisfactory condition, and the Secretary to the Treasury stated to-day, in answer to a question put by myself, that of these banks the vast majority are more than two years in arrear in giving in their annual account. As the Member for Cambridge says, they are all registered under the Friendly Societies Act, and are bound to send in annual reports, yet according to the Secretary to the Treasury they are mostly two years in arrear. With regard to the so-called Raffeisen banks, I do not know whether the system is really the same as the Raffeisen system, but the one chance of safety for these credit institutions in Ireland is constant and most vigorous inspection, and watching of the accounts; and those who insist upon that regular inspection are not enemies but friends of the banking system. So far as I am concerned I say really honestly and from the bottom of my heart that I wish them nothing but success, but certainly they will not be successful if carried on in the spirit displayed by the hon. Member for Cambridge, and if they be used as part of a political weapon to attack and discredit the Nationalist Party. There is not the slightest use in laughing at that because it is a fact. I am going to give now one instance. I do not want to go into this highly contentious matter at too great length, but I could quote witnesses for it.

Rather more than a year ago two organisers came down from the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society to address a meeting in the county of Cork for the purpose of forming a co-operative association, and they addressed the meeting, and said that the farmers who were present would have to make up their minds to fight the National party and the Irish Parliamentary party, and put them down. That was part of the programme, and at the end of the meeting the people decided that they would not start a bank there. That kind of thing is bound to injure the movement. They cannot succeed on those lines. Really, the crime of which Mr. T. W. Russell is guilty is this, and it is the reason he has been attacked tonight, that he has lifted the Department out of politics—that is his crime; that is the reason why these benches are so full— whereas it was previously or had been for a long time a thoroughly political institution. Let me deal for a few moments with the second charge, the only other charge made. That was that Mr. T. W. Russell when he became Vice-President of the Department lost no time, said the Member for Cambridge, in exhibiting a malignant hostility to the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society and that he promptly deprived them of the subsidy. What is the history of that transaction? Here is Mr. Russell's own answer:— During the seven years that the Department was in existence before I became Vice-President, a subsidy had been granted to the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society, and in the seven years this subsidy amounted to £29,000. The society claimed and are entitled to claim that they founded and protected the co-operative movement in Ireland. I know of nobody opposed to co-operation in Ireland— That is absolutely true. In the matter of the subsidy, I submitted my policy to the Council of Agriculture in the year 1907. The Council consists of 108 members, two-thirds being selected by the County Councils, and the remainder nominated by the Department. I informed the Council I had made up my mind to withdraw the subsidy which my predecessor had paid to the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society, but that in order to avoid hardship, I proposed to continue it in reducing and gradually lessening amounts for three years. After a debate extending over several hours, this proposal was accepted unanimously by the Council, and on that Council were several members of the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society, and the Organisation Society at their next meeting a few days afterwards expressed satisfaction at the withdrawal of the subsidy, and declared that they were now at last free to do their work. They described the subsidy as an incubus on their work. A few weeks after that there appeared in the Irish Press a most remarkable correspondence which led to the final withdrawal of the subsidy. That correspondence consisted of a letter written by Mr. Rolleston who was a very prominent member of the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society and one of Mr. Plunkett's chief friends and lieutenants, to a gentleman out in St. Louis, America, in which Mr. Rolleston in a moment of naive confidence explained to this gentleman in St. Louis how they were engaged in undermining and destroying the whole national movement, and what splendid work for Ireland the Organisation Society would do in freeing it from this intolerable tyranny of the Nationalist party. This letter and corespondence was submitted to the Agricultural Board in Ireland, which controls the Vice-President and the Department, as without its consent the Vice-President and the Department cannot give a penny for anything, as it can hold up every Grant. After full discussion the Board of Agriculture in Ireland, and not the Vice-President at all—that is where your action has been so malignant a misrepresentation—I like that word "malignant"—the Board of Agriculture unanimously, without a single dissentient voice, although there were some members of the Organisation Society upon it, cut off the subsidy altogether. Why did they decide to do so? They published a minute, which I have here. It is too long to read, but in this minute they decided to cut off the subsidy altogether, and not alone that, but they directed the Vice-President and the Department not to work any further with the Organisation Society, and the reason given by the Board was that after the evidence that had been laid before them of the political character and objects of the Organisation Society they thought it was injurious to the work of the Department to be tied up with that of the Organisation Society. That is the unanimous decision of the Board of Agriculture, and not of the Vice-President, and I say that this whole mischief has arisen simply and solely from the bias of this Organisation Society, which, not content with doing its work honestly and apart from politics, turns itself into a regular political organisation for the purpose of attacking the National party, and it is no wonder that hon. Members above the Gangway are enraged and disgusted because this game has proved a total failure. That is the whole secret of it.

To show that public opinion in Ireland is not entirely behind these gentlemen, I would direct attention to a meeting which took place the other day at the Chamber of Commerce in Limerick. It was a very influential meeting, with Mr. Goodbody in the chair and Sir Alexander Shaw moving the first resolution, and with all the great manufacturing industries and trades of Limerick represented at it. The resolution referred to stated that Mr. T. W. Russell was perfectly justified in withdrawing the subsidy from the Agricultural Organisation Society. It was seconded by Mr. Power, who said that it was now three or four years since the Chamber of Commerce protested against the Department subsidising any particular bodies outside, and especially handing over large sums of the public money to an irresponsible body like the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society, and it was not generally known that the policy introduced by Sir Horace Plunkett had led to a great expenditure of money and had but very little results to show in Ireland. That was the Resolution of a very important body, and the Resolution was unanimously passed. Therefore, I say that all the trouble has arisen from political bias. Mr. Russell has been charged because he has endeavoured to run this Department upon honest and non-party lines. What is the record of Mr. Russell's administration? When he took over the administration of this Department it was in conflict with the vast majority of the Irish people. Its work was hampered by the fact that it did not enjoy the confidence of the people of Ireland. One short year before Mr. Russell took over the Department the policy of the Department was challenged from these benches, and by a unanimous vote of the Nationalist party it was condemned. Since Mr. Russell took over the working of the Department it has worked with absolute smoothness. It has enjoyed the confidence of the whole mass of the Irish people, and its policy from that hour to this has never been challenged until this moment in this House, and I say that the challenge to-night has ended in a remarkable fiasco for those who attempted to attack it. Mr. Russell's administration of that Department, in my opinion, has been a very great success. I think he has made the Department for the first time work smoothly with the people of Ireland. Let me tell hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway that the Agricultural Department cannot begin to do any good in Ireland until it enjoys the confidence of the people. Mr. Russell has succeeded, and he is attacked for that reason and none other. Should he unfortunately fail to secure a seat in this House he will be obliged to resign his position, and I know it is his intention to do so within a reasonably brief period. Should that occur I, for one, shall deeply regret his departure, and I trust that whoever else is put in his place will run the Department on the lines which Mr. Russell has followed.


I have been in the House a great many years, and though I have heard the hon. Member (Mr. Dillon) on frequent occasions, this is the first ins my recollection, at all events, on which he has appeared as the official representative and champion of the head of a Department in Ireland. I do not think anyone who has listened to his statements will deny that it would be very hard to find anything more effective than the manner in which he tried to draw attention from the real point which had been raised on these benches. It is the method employed by advocates, when well briefed, of becoming enthusiastic about the facts as if they were real facts. But in the end—I am an old advocate myself—I think he reached the climax of the advocate's art when he announced that Mr. T. W. Russell had for the first time lifted his Department out of the region of politics. I congratulate the hon. Member—I am sure he believes that. But the hon. Gentleman always thinks that everything is lifted out of the region of politics which is lifted more or less into the hands of the Nationalist League. He wound up by assuring the House that now, for the first time, this Department has the confidence of the people of Ireland. I know that when hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway use the words "people of Ireland" they mean the Irish National League under the direction of the hon. Member and his friends. I remember perfectly well that some years ago, when Sir Horace Plunkett brought forward the project of the Agricultural Organisation Society, I was asked by a London newspaper to write a review of his proposal. It was the only review I had written in my life, and I remember I was very badly paid for it. I said in that review that, however excellent might be his idea of helping the people of Ireland, especially the poorer classes, by a system of co-operation— which hon. Members below the Gangway always support as being a good thing when it is done here, but which they do not regard with great enthusiasm in Ireland— yet in Ireland the difficulty was and the doubt was as to whether the Nationalist party, if it became a success, would leave it alone. I knew perfectly well that at any moment the whole thing would be tottering to pieces if the Nationalist party thought that by its success it was bringing about a peaceful condition of affairs outside.

The real reason why this Organisation Society is abused to-night and has been abused is not because it is a political movement, for that is absolutely untrue, but because it is looked upon by some people and by the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down as undermining the party to which he belongs, because it turns the minds of the people to economic and industrial questions, and away from mere agitation and political conflict. That is what the hon. Gentleman means. He knows that it occupies the minds of the people, and takes them away from what is called the Irish Parliamentary party. I know that hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway think that is the beginning and end of everything in Ireland, and that unless their agitation is kept up in all its various phases Ireland cannot go on at all. There is a movement in Ireland by which people are turned to economic questions which they try to understand, and they co-operate among themselves with a view to bettering their condition, entirely apart from politics, and that is why the Agricultural Organisation Society has been so much attacked. The hon. Member for Mayo says it is not Mr. T. Russell's act. It is a very curious coincidence that up to the moment Mr. Russell came to the Department the Agricultural Organisation Society was helped and encouraged by, and it worked in co-operation with, the Department, and did so, I think, with the most satisfactory results. But that ceased from the moment Mr. T. W. Russell came there, and the grants to the Society were taken away—which, as the hon. Member for Cambridge stated, the Organisation Society themselves acquiesced in, so that they might as far as possible keep on friendly relations with the Department, if that was possible. Let nobody be deluded about the Organisation Society. It has been constituted, and has 100,000 members. It has been stated here to-night that nine-tenths of these members are Nationalists. Certainly, that has never been denied. What is the use of saying then that this is a political organisation opposed to the Nationalist party in Ireland? The thing is too absurd. The question has been raised as to how long Mr. T. W. Russell is to go on without a seat in this House. May I say that personally I dislike very much saying anything which would lead to the belief that I wanted to get a man out of his office. It has been pointed out that Sir Horace Plunkett stayed in the same position for six years without a seat in this House. That is perfectly true. But the hon. Member for Mayo would appear to forget that in the end Sir Horace Plunkett was turned out at the bidding of hon. Members below the Gangway because he was Dot a Member of this House.


No; because he was an opponent of the Government in power, and he had no right to remain.


The reason why he was put out of office was that he had not a seat in this House. As regards his having been an opponent of the Government, I think the Chief Secretary will bear me out that when the change of Government took place in 1906 Sir Horace Plunkett only remained on at the special request of the new Government themselves, and he was only turned out after an agitation begun from below the Gangway, on the ground that he was not a Member of the House. Therefore when it is said that Sir Horace Plunkett stayed in the office for six years it does not meet the point, because the present Government have laid down the policy that a man has no right to hold office unless he has a seat in this House. How can they, simply because Mr. Russell has lost his seat, say that they are prepared to have a change of policy? No, the truth of the matter is Sir Horace Plunkett was turned out, because he had no seat, at the bidding of hon. Members below the Gangway, and Mr. T. W. Russell is kept in because he has no seat—also at the bidding of hon. Members below the Gangway. The hon. Member for Mayo seems entirely to misunderstand what is our complaint about the banks which were formed in connection with the Agricultural Organisation Society's work. Our complaint is not if the banking system is a failure that it ought to be maintained. Our complaint is that Mr. Russell stated, and we have yet seen no justification for the statement, that these banks were, in his judgment, "rotten and indefensible."


When did he say that?


He said that in January, 1910.


That was when he was considering the Congested Districts Board and the application for a Grant.


Mr. Russell's words were that they were "rotten and indefensible." Look at the position these banks are in. They have had large advances made to them by various joint stock banks in Ireland—I do not know what the figures are, but I know they have had considerable advances made to them—and they have had thousands of pounds entrusted to them by local authorities. Under these circumstances it is not unreasonable to ask Mr. T. W. Russell to kindly tell us upon what he is founding the charge that these banks are, to use his own elegant words, "rotten and indefensible." Surely the Agricultural Organisation Society have some obligation in the matter; surely there is some obligation towards the depositors; and surely there is some obligation towards the various banks making them loans. I put it to the Chief Secretary that in any Department, if a man makes a statement of that kind, he means it, and if he is not really trying to do a political injury, I ask him is there a Minister who would refuse either to withdraw the statement or to substantiate it? A question was put in this House to the Chief Secretary as to whether there was any objection to the Agricultural Organisation Society being given these various reports on which these statments were made. He said he saw no objection. Then he no doubt gets corrected by this Minister without a seat in Parliament, and he is told, "Oh, you must not go into this matter at all; this is not a matter we can discuss at all." And then he refuses to give it.

And what is the pretext? "Oh," he says, "all these cases were submitted to the Agricultural Organisation itself before any proceedings were taken." It has been stated to-night—and is it denied?— that out of thousands of cases they have never given any data to identify the cases referred to by Mr. Russell. Is that denied, and if not, why is not the information given? We press for that information, and I will tell the right hon. Gentleman why. Because we want, if we can, to get at what is the real policy of Mr. Russell and the Government in this matter. We have a grave suspicion that the whole thing is exaggerated. We have never been able to get at how much they say is lost, or will probably be lost, and how we can compare that with the money which has been used and utilised for the saving and making of many of these small people in Ireland, but, above all, we want to know, and let it be stated openly, is the policy of the Government to attempt to destroy the co-operative Organisation?


Certainly not.


Then we want to know why it is that every opportunity is being taken of trying to withhold information from the societies in matters in which they are vitally interested, and why are all these pretexts, shifts, and evasions gone into if this is not the policy of Mr. Russell, who presides over the Department? You must not misunderstand us. We do not want to maintain these banks, or to have them maintained if they are "rotten," but we certainly do ask that the conduct of a gentleman in Mr. Russell's position should be made clear, because we know he is one of these gentlemen who thinks right to-day what he thought wrong yesterday. We know he is equally emphatic in whatever course he takes, and it is quite possible that Mr. Russell may only the other day have thought that co-operation was a good thing, and the next day that it was a bad thing, and therefore it is not unreasonable to ask for information as regards statements he has made, information regarding statements which up to the present, so far as any evidence is forthcoming, are absolute exaggerations, and to a large extent without foundation. The matter is of vital importance, and unless the Chief Secretary can give us some assurance that this question will be seriously dealt with without the autocratic methods which are now being introduced into this particular office, I hope my hon. Friend who moved this reduction will divide as a protest against this action.


It is a great pleasure to me to see the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Trinity College in his place as Leader of the party in this House. I cannot help thinking he would have preferred that the subject had been my salary rather than that of the Vice-President, and then it would have given him wider scope for his great and undoubted talents. However, it is well to have a beginning somehow. I must say I listened to this Debate with feelings of wonder. I know in Irish matters what it is the quarrel is about, and why the Debate has arisen, but on this occasion I feel myself absolutely at a loss. I think I shall have no difficulty in showing that the point which has been chiefly raised is one which is of an insignificant character. The point has been raised as to why Mr. Russell remains Vice-President of this Board of Agriculture at all. While he remains there His Majesty's Government is responsible, and I hope no attack will be made upon Mr. Russell himself as if he were clinging to office against the wishes of the Administration to which he belongs. On losing his seat he at once placed his resignation or whatever corresponds to that in the hands of the Prime Minister, and certainly he would not have hesitated for a moment in resigning, or questioned for a moment the action of the Prime Minister in this matter. But here I come in, and I feel two things very strongly. The first is that the Vice-President of this Department ought to be a member of the political administration for the time being. I daresay a Commission or Committee of some kind reported to the contrary. Well, I have no doubt they came to the conclusion very satisfactorily to themselves; but I was not on that Commission, nor was anybody representing the House of Commons. I felt for my own part the strongest possible view that it would have been ludicrous to have a Vice-President who was not a member of the political Administration. I do not know why the Chief Secretary remains President. I am still President of that body. I do not know that it was ever intended that the Chief Secretary should be concerned in it. I think it was a great pity when the Act was passed that he was put there as the nominal head of this concern, because this is no mere ordinary Department, like the Local Government Board over which the Chief Secretary has control. This was a body with an Advisory Council of 100 members appointed by all the county councils in Ireland, and then there was a. board of twelve members, of whom eight were more or less of a representative character; and I think the Vice-President, who had to be in constant communication with this Committee, that meets twice a year, and this Board, which meets six or seven times a year, and also with the Board of Technical Education, ought to have been a Member of this House and made solely responsible to Parliament. For some reason which I do not understand, the Chief Secretary was retained, and so long as he is retained it is absolutely essential in my judgment that the Vice-President, who of necessity has to do all the work and to control the constitution of this body, should be a Member of this House and also a Member of the Administration. This new-fangled idea of expecting you to work in a Department, and to be responsible for that Department, with a man who really does the work, who, differing from you on political matters and having another set of political friends, is a monstrous absurdity. Therefore I took strongly the view and impressed it upon all my colleagues, who, of course, did not have the same personal and direct interest as I had in the matter, that in my judgment the Vice-President, whatever the Committee may say to the contrary, ought to be a Member of this House and ought to be a political colleague. I do not know whether hon. Gentlemen opposite differ from that view. Mr. Russell loses his seat. That is a circumstance that has happened to a good many of us. The right hon. Gentleman, of course, knows nothing of such things, but I do not think that anybody's political education is complete until he has lost his seat. I see persons before me who have already lost their seat, and I see many also who will lose their seats in the ordinary course of political warfare. I congratulate them on the experience which awaits them. The only question when a Member of the Ministry loses his seat is how long a time you should in decency allow him to find another.


Make somone a peer.


That is a good suggestion. Yes, we have discharged that obligation. When people lose their seats they ought to have a decent time given them in which to find out if they can find another. We hope to meet them not only in another world but here. Has Mr. Russell had too long a time given him? In my opinion, no. Four, five, or six months is not at all too long a time to retain a Member of the Administration in whom we have, at all events on this side, perfect confidence, and I confidently feel that he may ere long be once more seated by my side. Nothing could give him greater pleasure than to be able to reply in person to the unworthy attacks that have been made upon him.


When does the right hon. Gentleman expect to have Mr. Russell by his side?


I hope in a reasonable time, and it is not for me, and it is not for the hon. Gentleman, to define exactly what a reasonable time is. The sands of the hour glass are running out, and the time will very soon come when Mr. Russell, or rather the Government—because Mr. Russell is entirely in their hands—will have to consider whether it will not be necessary to find some other occupant for his post.


Wait and see.


Well, in the meantime he is discharging his obligations, so I do not see why hon. Gentlemen should be annoyed at that. This subject has been selected out of the whole range of the enormously varied work of this Department. This is a most important Department, with large endowments—of course, I need scarcely say inadequate—and it has work to do all over Ireland and in all parts of Ireland, and yet we have all this array and all this fuss simply because of one item in the administration.


Give us time.


Well, the sense of perspective requires to be remedied. Mr. Russell has, it is alleged, criticised too severely certain credit banks which are established in Ireland, and which are no doubt doing very good work in certain parts of the country; and it is said that Sir Horace Plunkett has taken a very friendly view of these banks and considered them excellent institutions worthy of all support, and that, while he was the dominant factor in this somewhat elaborate constitution, while he had his own way, if he had his own way in this body, these banks and the organisation of which they were a part received very considerable subsidies of public money. Then, it is alleged, that Mr. Russell succeeded him, and he takes a different view. He considers that this organisation ought not to rely so much as it was doing upon a subsidy from a Government organisation, and therefore, with the consent of his Agricultural Council of 100 members and with the consent of his Board of twelve members, it was agreed that the subsidy should be gradually reduced. Then the letter which has been referred to, appeared, and there was a certain amount of to-do and temper over the matter. I did not understand that the Organisation Society resented very much the stopping of their subsidy altogether, which was to have been in 1910 accelerated by a couple of years.

8.0 P.M.

Then we come to the question of banks. Mr. Russell, it may be, takes a strict and severe view about the nature of banks to which subsidies should be made. I entirely agree with him, although I am in favour of these banks if they can be well maintained. It is of the very essence of a bank that it should be properly audited, and that it should publish its statutory accounts. But on investigation of these banks Mr. Russell found that most of them were a few years behind, both in their audit and in their statutory accounts. That, I agree, does not show that they could not pay 20s. in the £, but it does show that they required very close looking after and very close examination. Anybody who has anything to do with banking, either on a large or small scale, knows that eternal vigilance is the only possible course if any bank is to maintain its character and its credit, and the notion of a bank getting into the habit of putting off its audit and its obligation to pubish its statutory account as a light matter, something that could stand over from year to year, is, I confess, to me perfectly repulsive, and therefore I do not at all blame Mr. Russell, although I dare say that in this respect he differs from his predecessor. Sir Horace Plunkett, very closely concerned with the foundation of this very excellent society, and very closely concerned, it may be, with the working of these banks, took the view that they might very safely and properly be allowed to go on their way somewhat loosely, and after a fashion which I certainly could not approve of for a moment. Then it is said that Mr. Russell went out of his way to make a public attack upon these banks. He did nothing of the kind; he did not open his mouth in public about the credit of any of these institutions. He did not say a single, word in public about them. But he is a member of the Congested Districts Board. This association, which wants to be subsidised not only by the Board of Agriculture, but also by the Congested Districts Board, waited upon him through the medium of a deputation of persons connected with the association, not the public. The Press were not admitted. Hon. Gentlemen seemed to speak as if it were absolutely essential that anything that passed when the deputation waited on the Congested Districts Board would of necessity have become public. The only people who could make it public were the people who now complain that the effect of making it public affected their business. This association were the people affected by anything that was said. Mr. Russell is a member of the Congested Districts Board. The association came for money, for a subsidy, for a portion of the funds of the Congested Districts Board, and Mr. Russell gave his reasons, as he was bound to do, for thinking that it was not a desirable thing to make that subsidy, and he expressed his views strongly, as everybody expresses views that he holds very strongly in private. It is all very well to say that nothing is private in Ireland, that everything gets out. One would have thought, if you made a statement affecting a person's character, that the person affected would not himself be the person to make it public and then to grumble that his character was affected by it. I think it was most unfortunate that the Congested Districts Board received this large deputation. I myself am rather shy of receiving large deputations even when the Press are not excluded. But I think Mr. Russell on this occasion was perfectly justified in assuming, having regard to all the circumstances of the case, that although he felt it his duty to criticise this bank—although only a branch of their operations—and to criticise them somewhat freely, that every word he said was confidential, and I cannot help feeling that if there had not been this strange sort of feud between the outgoing and the incoming person, if there had not been this strained public sense on this question, we should not have heard anything about it. Because the late Vice-President favoured a thing very strongly you say it ought not to be criticised. We cannot inspect any of these banks; we have no legal right to do so; they are perfectly independent institutions. But they come to us and ask us to lend them money. Very well; we ought not to lend them a farthing except they adhere most stringently to their own legal obligations and look after their own audits and their own statutory accounts. I am quite sure that Mr. Russell would never have said the thing he said at the time he said it if he supposed it possibly could have become public, and I think the only persons who can complain of any effect it may have had on their public credit are the members of the deputation, who must have blabbed in some way or other outside as to what this terrible Mr. Russell said when they got into his presence at a meeting of the Congested Districts Board. I think, therefore, Mr. Russell's conduct is absolutely free from blame in the matter. The whole question-really is a matter of departmental discretion. You get a new man at an office; he takes a somewhat different view from his predecessor. That happens in all offices whenever there is a change of office. You get a new man, and you get to some extent new methods and new conditions. One man will be very severe, and stern, and strict about something, and loose about something else. His successor will take a different view. Perhaps he will be severe where his predecessor was loose, or loose where his predecessor was severe. It is entirely a small matter. Mr. Russell thinks that the condition of these banks requires close examination, and that they ought to be reminded of their obligations, and that it would not be wise for the Board to continue to grant subsidies any longer. The hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. S. H. Butcher) spoke of what they do in England. Mr. Russell is not, and certainly I am not, unfriendly in any shape or form to co-operation. I, individually, strongly support co-operation, and hope it may be successful, although everybody knows you have to go delicately in these matters. Certainly, if you start off by waging war against what are called "gombeen" men, and if you call everybody "gombeen" men, and speak of them as if they were enemies of mankind, you will delay for many a long day the success of your co-operative movement. Once you talk about a bank, anybody who knows anything about the business knows you have to proceed with great caution and to pay strict observance to all statutory obligations. I hope these banks may succeed; I know no reason why they should not. They are historic in Germany. Anybody can talk about them; there is no mystery about them. Sir Horace Plunkett did not create them out of his brain; they are a well-known institution for the peasant proprietor and people of that sort. They are a great success both in Germany and in India, and I know no reason why they should not have a great success in Ireland. But Ireland, of all countries in the world, is a place where you have to proceed with great caution when you are lending money to very poor people if you want to see it again. You are no friend to the cause who deal in a free and easy way with these things who say, "These are all excellent banks, belonging to this admirable association, and all the Congested Districts Board and the Board of Agriculture have to do is to subsidise them, help them, back them up, and supply the necessary money to them." That is all very well, but it is not my view with regard to the function of public bodies with reference to such institutions. I am sure Mr. Russell shares my views on that subject. To make out that the Government are responsible for this association, or for any association concerned with the cooperation of these banks, is an entire mistake. I hope hon. Gentlemen will be satisfied with the assurance I have given. There is no change of policy—there may be a change of method. Sir Horace Plunkett may not have been so keen a critic of these things as Mr. Russell, but to make a regular full-dress attack upon Mr. Russell on that one point is not wise. The hon. Member For Cambridge University (Mr. S. H. Butcher) said that England was taking up these admirable notions at the very moment Mr. Russell was snubbing them in Ireland. I have tried to show that Mr. Russell was not snubbing them in Ireland. But I would call the attention of the hon. Member to the principle on which, in England, grants for assistance are rendered to the English Agricultural Organisation Society. For instance, I find that the society applied to the Board for a Grant, and the Board, with the approval of the Treasury, decided to give a grant of £1,200 a year for three years from 1st April, 1909, "provided that the income of the society from subscriptions and donations in each previous year is not less than that sum." In other words, it proceeds upon the assumption that a Grant can only be made to a society that in the main supports itself.


The Agricultural Association in Ireland would not object to those conditions.


I am not saying anything about that. I am only saying that certain conditions are attached to the Grant. These conditions are that the Board shall nominate six members of the committee of the society; that the society shall appoint at least three additional organisers to promote co-operation amongst small holders; that the Grants shall be expended only on works connected with small holdings and allotments, and not on the general work of the society. I point that out to show that the English Grant is one based upon very sound principles—namely, that so long as they give the Grant they should have a large voice in the management of the society itself, that the subscriptions and donations of the society are to be at least equal to the Grant, and that it should be expended only on the work connected with small holdings and allotments and not with the general work of the Society. There is nothing there about credit banks or anything of that kind. I hope in Ireland assistance will from time to time be given to work of this kind, but it can only be done on very stringent conditions, and subject to very exact and even rigorous terms. The principal point seems to me a minute one of departmental criticism—of the discretion of the present Vice-President differing in some particulars, but not altogether in principle, from that of his predecessor. In my judgment the Vice-President was perfectly right in making the demands he did in this matter. It is all very well pooh-poohing the Agricultural Board of twelve members, but Mr. Russell has had their support in this matter. Only a few days ago the subject of agricultural banks and kindred societies came before the Board on a proposal to allocate a sum of £3,000 for the expenses of a bank. The Board held there was no legal power to grant the £3,000 for such a purpose. One and all present agreed. The Vice-President was not in any way responsible for the publication of the criticism or for any injury which may have resulted from it. That was the view taken by a Board which contained supporters of this association. They entirely exonerated the Vice-President from any responsibility for it becoming public, although he may at the meeting of the Congested Districts Board have expressed himself somewhat strongly about the character of some, at all events, of these banks. I am content, therefore, to leave that case where it stands.

I really do think that in the absence of Mr. Russell I ought to speak as representing the Department, which I am bound to say does its work very well, and certainly without much consultation with the President. Sir Horace Plunkett was Vice-President for a good many months, while I was Chief Secretary, and I never saw him and he never communicated with me on any point. I am not prepared to say that Mr. Russell shows any great anxiety to do so either. He has acted with the Agricultural Council and the Board, and I think he is perfectly entitled to say, "If I get on very well with them and manage my business I will not trouble myself very much about the President." Representing him on this occasion, I am bound to say I do not think there ever was a more useful Member of this House in that position than he was. In the year 1908 he was most successful in the legislation that he passed. He passed measures dealing with bees and whales. The Bee Pest Act has proved to be a most useful one. I remember it excited the interest of the illustrious occupant of the Chair, who is himself a beekeeper, and of a great many persons in all parts of England and Wales. It is a most successful measure, as is also that dealing with whales, although my mind is not large enough to grasp that. There was the Grand Jury Act next Session, and the Fisheries (Ireland) Act and the Merchandise Marks Act for Ireland, and the Weeds and Agricultural Act. The latter was a measure which excited uproarious applause in the other place when it went there. I never saw an Irish Bill received with such a chorus of approbation. All the English Lords wished that those weeds might be destroyed, I suppose, at somebody else's expense.

At all events Mr. Russell was one of the most successful passers of Bills through this House that I have ever had the good fortune to be connected with. That was one reason among others why I was anxious to see him back, or, if he cannot come back, to see if I cannot find somebody else who would have equal success in accomplishing the passing of Departmental measures which from time to time come forward from a Board which touches Irish life and Irish industries at many points. The Merchandise Marks Act engaged his attention, and the prosecutions under it are fifty times more important than whether he is right or wrong in the views he takes about the particular credit banks. Although I do not want to raise controversial points, I can assure hon. Gentlemen opposite that neither Mr. Russell nor the Government, of which he is still a Member, have any hostility whatsoever to co-operation in Ireland, or to the work of any association to carry out any work connected with it. Everybody is agreed that the work has got to be done. Small peasant proprietors and cottiers have to live their lives, and do their work, and carry on that work at a profit. You do not need to be a great man to see a necessity of that sort. Everybody is in favour of it. It is the same with the credit banks, only that they must be thoroughly business-like institutions, watched and guarded and protected in every step from themselves, and they must obey all the rules which great institutions in Lombard Street are not afraid to obey. Any looseness in their management would only work great disaster to some of the poorest people in England. I think that Mr. Russell, so far from being to blame for having called attention to the position of those institutions, deserves well of Ireland, and ought to receive thanks for his action.


I submit that we have now discussed Mr. Russell quite long enough—for some four hours—and that, as this is the only chance we may have this Session, that we might devote the rest of the evening to the consideration of various matters which arise in connection with the administration of the Department. With reference to the inspection of banks, everybody knows that a proper inspection, and capable inspection, of those institutions is absolutely essential to their success. I do not know what arose between Mr. Russell and the gentlemen who represent agricultural banks, but everybody will admit that it is most necessary that those banks should be inspected within fairly reasonable periods of time. I would like to discuss another matter, and that is the question of technical instruction. Since the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction has been established in Ireland, technical education has made enormous strides, or comparatively enormous strides. A very much larger number of the people are experiencing the benefits of technical education than heretofore. One result of that most satisfactory state of things is that there is not proper accommodation either for the students or the carrying out of their technical studies. The difficulty appears to be that there is no specific fund set apart for building technical schools. We had a very interesting illustration of that the other day, when the representatives of the Technical Committee laid their views before the Chief Secretary. Kilkenny has achieved very great success in the direction of technical education. There are other places in Ireland endeavouring to follow the same course, and in all these places, although, perhaps, not to the same extent as in Kilkenny, the very same difficulty has arisen, namely, that there is no proper institution for the housing of local technical schools. I would impress upon the Chief Secretary the great desirability of doing something towards providing a building Grant for technical schools by making a beginning in the matter as soon as possible.

With regard to the county schemes, the funds of the Department are limited to something like £55,000 per year. If anybody on the committee proposes anything new in the county schemes they are always met with the objection that there is no money, and that what money there is is already earmarked. I would like to impress that point also on the Chief Secretary, to provide more money for carrying out technical schemes in the counties and towns. I would also direct his attention to a matter to which I have already referred, and a matter of very great importance to Irish farmers, and that is as to the cattle disease of contagious vaginitis. That disease is spreading, and I believe it is quite capable of treatment. I do not know what investigations the Department have made into it, but it is of very serious importance to the' farmers, and may cost them thousands of pounds, so that the sooner it is dealt with the better. The disease can be treated. It has been in other countries, and there is no reason why it should not be treated successfully in Ireland. There is also the condition of our fresh water fisheries. We have done little for them, and we have not done anything like enough. I went this morning to the Japanese Exhibition and saw the person in charge of the fishery department and official Government publications. I was surprised and delighted to find that the Japanese Government had set down hatcheries last year of 85,000,000 ova of salmon and trout.

I was lately in Switzerland, and I studied the official reports of the Swiss Depart- ment of Fisheries. Last year that department laid down 65,000,000 of trout and salmon ova. Both these countries are small countries so far as area goes. I have taken them as they correspond in respect of area, and possibly in respect of facilities for developing fresh water fisheries, to a certain extent to Ireland. But I do not think we laid down in Ireland either one or other of the two figures I have named. I have no fault to find with what the Department has done, but I think it ought to do more. I think it ought to be encouraged to devote more of its energies to this question of stocking our fresh water lakes and the rivers with trout and salmon. Few countries in the world have the opportunity that we have in Ireland to develop fresh water fisheries, and I think a great deal more ought to be made out of it. I want to say a word on that perennial question, the salt water fisheries. We have been pleading the cause of our fishermen for years and years. So far little has been done for them. The Chief Secretary admitted last year, I think, and certainly Mr. T. W. Russell when last in the House admitted frankly, that there was not anything like sufficient money for developing further the salt water fisheries. I wish again to press that point. I would also like to urge upon the Chief Secretary the necessity we find for the provision of better pier accommodation for our fishermen. For the last dozen years we have been pressing this point on various Chief Secretaries, and so far very little has been done. Outside the congested districts nothing has been done for the fishing around the Irish coast. In particular I would like to direct the attention of the Chief Secretary to the fact that the small harbour at Portadown is in a very bad way and has been in a bad way. Various attempts have been made to improve its state, but the results have not been satisfactory. I would ask the Chief Secretary whether it would not be as well for the Department to investigate the case of Courtown and see if something permanent could not be done for the relief of the fisheries there.


I think we must all feel that it is most unfortunate that we have to discuss this Vote in the absence of the Vice-President. The presence on the Treasury Bench of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, who is the titular head of the Department, does not in the least compensate us for the absence of Mr. Russell. The Chief Secretary, I venture to say, has quite enough to answer for in respect of other branches of Irish administration, especially and particularly in reference to the guardianship of law and order. We shall, I hope, have an opportunity before the Session closes, of discussing, upon the Vote for the salary of the Chief Secretary, the general administration of Ireland. In the meantime, Mr. Whitley, I desire to allude to some points of a most important character connected with the Agricultural Department which require to be investigated. It is, to say the least, unfortunate that we have not on the Treasury Bench the one man who may be supposed to be in a position to give the House first hand information upon the working of the Department. Of course, it is not necessary to say that no one on these Benches pretends to feel the smallest regret that the Vice-President lost his seat at the last election. But we think it is due to the House, to say nothing of their consistency, that the Government should have found a seat somewhere out of Ulster for their Vice-President. It cannot be said that opportunities have not occurred. There have been several vacancies in Nationalist constituencies in Ireland since the General Election. Surely the Government might have arranged that the Vice-President should be nominated for one of these seats! Right hon. Gentlemen opposite cannot plead that they have had no opportunity to consult the Nationalist leaders. We have all heard of the continual comings and goings in Downing Street of the hon. Gentleman the Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool, of his underground burrowings, of his entrances at one door and his exits through another door. Surely opportunity may have been taken in one of these visits to have discussed the sad case of the unfortunate Vice-President, who, while holding Parliamentary office, has been left without a seat in this House. It seems to me that the Government have shamefully neglected their opportunities, and the fact that they have done so is not only a reflection upon their own Vice-President, but is a violation of every canon of political consistency. The only plausible reason which the Government could advance for removing Sir Horace Plunkett from the Vice-Presidency was that it was a Parliamentary office. They contended that it should be held by a Member of this House. It was on that ground, and on that ground alone that the Government attempt to justify their action in interrupting the splendid work which Sir Horace Plunkett was doing at the Department of Agriculture. I may remind the House that in the Debate which took place in this House on 24th April, 1907, the Chief Secretary was perfectly explicit upon this point. He said in the course of his observations:— It is the fixed opinion of the Prime Minister that this office should be a Ministerial office, held by a gentleman in sympathy with the party in power, sitting on these benches, and responsible to the House for the work of his Department. The right hon. Gentleman also in the same speech said:— We (the Government) have definitely and determinedly made up our minds that the office shall be held in accordance with the original intention with which the Act was passed, not only by a Member of the House but by a Member of the Administration; and from that view and that intention we do not intend in any way to depart. But I do not intend to pursue that matter further.

The DEPUTY - CHAIRMAN (Mr. Whitley)

I am glad to hear it, because it is not in order.


We should like to hear Mr. Russell in this House this evening for a variety of reasons. The first reason is that he, and he alone, is able to give us the information we require in regard to a number of subjects of great public importance. There is, for example, the question of the Normandy sires. We heard a great deal about these sires during the General Election—and a great deal too much, I fear, for the peace of mind of the Vice-President—but, notwithstanding all that has been said, notwithstanding all the talk which took place then and since, we are still very much in the dark as to the real history of the purchase of these animals. The Vice-President has betrayed a good deal of sensitiveness on this point. That is not, indeed, to be wondered at. But I should think that sufficient time has now elapsed for any feeling of irritation to have subsided. I should like to hear the reasons, a full explanation of the reasons, which have prompted the Department to purchase these animals, and what it is now proposed to do with them. The history of the transaction, so far as we have been able to follow, is certainly somewhat peculiar. When the Normandy sires were first obtained they were promptly condemned by the South of Ireland. The Vice-President went out of his way to explain that they were not intended for the South of Ireland, and were intended only for the North of Ireland. He gave this explanation to the breeders in the South of Ireland, and that statement naturally gave rise to the impression that, although they were rejected by the South of Ireland, the Vice-President considered them good enough for the North of Ireland. Consequently, and not unnaturally, a considerable amount of feeling against the introduction of these horses was created throughout the whole of Ulster, and so strong was the opposition that the Vice-President was actually driven to make a promise that they should not be sent into the country districts at all, but should be kept for experimental purposes at the stud farm, of the Department. Let the Committee observe what followed.

The agricultural committee of the county of Armagh, after some difficulty, obtained the permission of the Vice-President to see these horses, and arrived at the conclusion that there was one that would be suitable for their requirements, and requested that one should be stationed at Armagh. What was the result? They were told their desire could not be met, although it was in accordance with the original intention of the Department, because a pledge of the Vice-President had been given that they should not be sent into the country districts. It is curious how inconsistent the Government has shown itself to be in the matter of pledges. The words of the Prime Minister, as declared by the Chief Secretary in this House, that the Vice-President should be a Member of the House, may be virtually disregarded altogether. Six months have elapsed since Mr. Russell appeared in this House, and we think it is about time that either the Government found a seat for him in the way I have suggested or that some other person was appointed to his place.

The manner in which this business of the Normandy sires has been handled by the Vice-President has certainly not in creased confidence among the northern breeders of horses in the Agricultural Department. The people of Ulster are interested in horse breeding just as much as the people in the South have been. For years they have been dissatisfied with the class of sires sent into the horse-breeding counties of the north, and this feeling has at last found expression in a definite proposal that there should be separate horse-breeding schemes for Ulster. I really feel it is almost a joke to discuss this matter with the right hon. Gentleman the Attorney-General, who is representing the Government just now, and who cannot be expected to have any personal knowledge on this matter, so that I have not an opportunity of ventilating what is undoubtedly regarded as a very serious grievance. I am well aware from information I have received that there is a considerable difference o£ opinion as to the advisability of having separate schemes for the two parts of Ireland; but, at any rate, I think the time has come when the Department might make every effort to satisfy the legitimate desires of Ulster breeders. Some attempt has been made, I understand, to remedy the grievance of which the northern breeders complain by putting two additional representatives from Ulster upon the Advisory Committee of the Department. I understand that has been done by way of concession to the views of the northern breeders, and in order that they might receive full consideration. That step I hope may lead to useful results, if the Advisory Committee is allowed to advise. There is no use having two gentlemen from Ulster going up to Dublin and taking part in the deliberations unless some consideration is given to their views. It would be no advantage to Ulster to have them on the Advisory Committee unless they are allowed to exercise some influence upon the work of the Department. We know that the Advisory Committee was not consulted at all on the purchase of these Normandy sires. I think those interested in horse breeding in Ulster will appreciate any definite information that the Chief Secretary is willing to give us that will show that the Ulster representatives may be able to influence the decisions of the Advisory Committee.

At the meeting of the Council of Agriculture which took place on 13th of last month, where this subject of the Normandy sires was discussed, it was suggested by Mr. Gill, the secretary to the Department, that the question of sending those animals into the counties requiring them should be referred to the Advisory Committee, and it was for that reason that I attach considerable importance to the representations that may be made by those two gentleman on the Advisory Committee from Ulster. I should like to know if anything was done and what view the Advisory Committee has taken.

There is one other matter to which I would refer, and that is the question of establishing a department in connection with research work in Ireland. At present we all know very little has been done in this direction. What is wanted, as I understand, is a station where scientific questions bearing upon agriculture, particularly those affecting diseases in animals, may be investigated by competent men, who can give their whole time and attention to the work. That is a matter of burning importance, not only to the people in the North of Ireland, but in all parts of Ireland. Nationalists and Unionists are united in their determination to have such a station established if they can. Of course, it is a question of money, and must be dealt with by the Treasury; but I hope the Chief Secretary will, at all events, give us a promise that an effort will be made to induce the Treasury to advance sufficient money for the establishment of such a station as I have described. The Department have certainly a very large field to cover and a most important work to do for Ireland, and I trust it will endeavour to keep its operation, as far as possible, entirely free from party politics. Everybody who has the true interests of Ireland at heart must desire to see the Department brought to as high a state of perfection as possible, and I am sure such research work would tend to greatly advance the agricultural prosperity of Ireland.


I intend to deal with that other side of the Vote before the House which affects the administration of the Department in Ireland. There can be no doubt that great dissatisfaction exists, at least in some parts of Ireland, and particularly in the West of Ireland, in connection with the administration of the Agricultural Board. From time to time my Friends and I have asked questions in this House in connection with the establishment in Athenry of an agricultural board or college. As far as the people living in that district are concerned, no one seems to be pleased or satisfied with the operations of the Department, and a feeling of general and widespread dissatisfaction exists in that locality in respect to the way in which the farm belonging to the Agricultural Board is being administered.

When the Act of 1903 came into existence a great demand was put forward by a number of the congested villages in the neighbourhood of Athenry for a large farm which was in the immediate neighbourhood. The land was then in the possession of and was worked by Messrs. Goodbody, of Clare. When the people of the locality approached Messrs. Good-body and requested them to sell the land to the Estates Commissioners with a view of serving the people who had small or congested holdings in the neighbourhood, and at the same time of providing reasonable accommodation for the people living in the town, they, be it said to their credit, immediately acceded to the request and parted with their estate. At that particular time, very fortunately, or unfortunately, two Government purchasing Departments were buying and competing with each other for the possession of such an estate as the Goodbody estate, which comprised a good deal of grazing or un-tenanted land. After some negotiations it was announced in the district one day that the Congested Districts Board had purchased the estate, and the congests, who were eagerly looking out for some relief as well as the people in the town, felt pleased and gratified because they looked forward hopefully to a division of the land and to blighter and better days as the result of the operations of the Board. I am sorry to say they were greatly disappointed, because the one and only act of the Congested Districts Board, so far as that estate is concerned, was to immediately hand it over holus bolus into the hands of the Estate Commissioners, who gravely and seriously disappointed the hopes and expectations of the people living in the neighbourhood. Instead of striking out this farm in the interests of the congests and using it for the purpose of providing reasonable accommodation for the people in the town, they actually carved out a not inconsiderable area of this grazing farm and distributed it among local proprietors living in the neighbourhood. They gave a large slice of it to a landlord whose property was sandwiched into the Good-body land, and a considerable acreage of it, comprising a very valuable lot of timber, to another landowner in the neighbourhood, and they handed over the remainder to the Agricultural Department. The Agricultural Department were approached by the people of the town. It was pointed out to them that the people were gravely disappointed in not benefiting to some extent by this vast stretch of land in the immediate neighbourhood of the town itself. A public meeting was held at Athenry at which some of my colleagues were present, and it was there demonstrated, beyond all manner of doubt, that the people considered they were entitled, if not to the whole, to at least a considerable share of this grazing farm. It was also made manifest that the people would be prepared to allow a considerable and substantial share of the farm to pass into the possession of the Agricultural Department provided that a fair portion was set apart in the interests of people living in the locality who, in consequence of then very small holdings, required additions in older to make those holdings economic. When this representation was made to the Agricultural Department the reply was that the Department intended this farm to be used as an agricultural farm upon which substantial buildings would be erected to provide a training college for the practical and scientific education of the young men of Connaught. When the people heard this, and when they were told, too, that Parliament had ear-marked a certain sum of money as a nucleus for the building fund, the agitation ceased to a very considerable extent, and, although the people stood very badly in need of this land, they were prepared to allow the Department to remain in possession of it provided that they carried out their promises.

9.0 P.M.

Many years have since passed. The farm was bought when Sir Horace Plunkett was administering the affairs of the Department, and when I heard yesterday, as I have frequently heard in this House, strictures passed upon the conduct of the people of Athenry, when I heard them subjected to unreasonable condemnation on the part of the authorities, when I heard them charged with disloyalty, I could not help thinking that some of our public Departments were really responsible for the ebullitions of feeling which have been manifested from time to time in that district. Two days ago I received a copy of a series of resolutions passed at a very large and representative meeting held in the town of Athenry, and these resolutions show the state of feeling that exists and the nature of the grievances under which the people suffer, as well as the provocation which they are receiving. They tend, in fact, to justify the attitude which they have taken up in respect of the general administration of the Government. These resolutions set forth that those assembled, being delegates from the various divisions of the county of Galway, desired to draw the public attention to the conduct of the officials of the Department of Agriculture in retaining at the agricultural station at Athenry a large and unnecessary force of extra police since February, 1908, as well as a canteen for the sale of drink and provisions throughout the entire county. In February, 1908, there was a force of seventeen policemen, with three huts and a canteen which was established on the land of the Agricultural Department at Athenry, and, besides this, two men had been constantly employed in the canteen selling drinks and provisions, while, most extraordinary of all, the police transport had been used for the delivery of goods to the towns throughout the entire county. The cost to the ratepayers of the county for the support of this garrison on the land of the Department, between February, 1908, and May, 1910, worked out as follows:—Twenty-one extra policemen at £39 3s. 9d. per year, £1,840 12s. 6d.; cost of transport delivery for the same period, £225; making a total cost to the rates of £2,065 12s. 6d. The resolutions concluded:— As it appears to be the intention of the Department of Agriculture to continue this penal force against the people in the town and district, we consider the time has arrived when all classes of the community should join together for the removal of this intolerable burden. I can only suggest that the position of this agricultural training college reminds one of a scene taken from the late Boer War, when a huge military force was entrenched in blockhouses stretched all over the entire country. After so many years of suspense and anxiety, the people are weary of waiting, and on their behalf I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to say to-night what is really going to happen in connection with this agricultural college at Athenry. What are the Government going to do? Are they determined to prosecute their original intention of building a college upon this farm and throwing it open to the people of Connaught? Because, in the absence of any indication, I may tell the right hon. Gentleman that the people of the district are growing weary and impatient, and are losing hope as to the good intentions of the Board of Agriculture. Therefore I think some assurance should be given to allay apprehension, as well as to satisfy people of the locality that they are not being fooled and trifled with. I invite the representative of the Board of Agriculture to make a clean breast of the entire matter, and tell us once for all what the Department are really going to do with this farm. I may tell the Attorney-General that the people of the district are perfectly friendly in this matter, and have shown every desire to help the Government, if the latter carry out the proposition which they made to them in so far as the college is concerned. But I think I have brought forward matters which will induce hon. Members to agree with me that the Government have to a great extent irritated and annoyed the feeling of the district, and that the people were justified in the attitude which they took up.


I should like to take the opportunity afforded by this Vote to bring before the Committee the grievances of the fishermen in the North of Ireland. There is no part of the United Kingdom where fishermen have a more strenuous struggle with the forces of Nature than on the northern shores of Antrim. They have for some years past been putting forward reasonable claims for assistance. Their case is urgent, and unless something is done for them, a hard-working, respectable, and independent class will soon cease to exist. There are many reasons which I could urge in support of the claims of these fishermen. Take, for example, those who live in the district of Portrush, who ask for a small grant to help them to improve their harbour accommodation, and who have been badly crippled by reason of the unfair advantages which the Government had given to the steam trawlers. The wish of the local fishermen is that these trawlers should be kept at a proper distance, but it has not been, I am sorry to say, respected. The fishing grounds which ought to be for the use of the local fishermen are being regularly invaded by these steam trawlers. I think that if the Chief Secretary was as familiar with the conditions as I am, and if he knew how badly the fishermen of North Antrim suffer, he would not continue to put them off with promises, which are apparently never intended to be carried out. The importation of foreign fish has reduced very considerably the amount which the local fishermen can earn, and Parliament should be anxious to protect them from the depredations of the steam trawlers, in regard to which assistance is most needed. If the Government would agree to put Port-an-Doo Harbour into proper condition, the cost would not be more than £1,000. If there was a decent harbour, there are weeks when these people could run out and fish and take shelter in the Skerry Islands, whereas it is sometimes almost impossible for them to get round Rathmore Head. Representation after representation has been made to the Government, but owing to red tape or their unwillingness to do anything for the North of Ireland, it seems impossible to get anything done.

I have no objection to other parts of Ireland being assisted, but I do protest against the North being continually overlooked, as we have a just claim to a fair share of the public money which is being distributed year by year. The grievances of the Portrush fishermen are urgent, and really I must appeal most earnestly to the Government to remedy them. Then again, the communication between Rathlin Island and the mainland can only be maintained in fair weather, and although the Commissioners very kindly made certain recommendations for the consideration of the Government, unfortunately they have done nothing except make promises for the last four years. Four years ago Mr. James Bryce, then Chief Secretary, visited this neighbourhood, and after his visit there was a feeling that we might get something done and the grievances might be removed. Mr. Bryce, however, unfortunately left, but the grievances remained unremedied. Three years ago the Chief Secretary visited North Antrim, and I understand that promises were made, but I regret to say that they have not borne fruit. Then we had the Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture—he made a trip to the island, but on the way back he succumbed to an attack of sea-sickness, and as he could not land and the agonies of sea-sickness increased he promised proper accommodation, but, like Pharaoh, as soon as the plague was stayed and as soon as he had reached dry land these promises were forgotten. I can assure the House that the hardships of these islanders are very great and I earnestly appeal to the Government to come to their rescue without further delay.


Earlier in the evening the Chief Secretary seemed to be complaining rather that the whole attack on the Department had been concerned with the question of securing a seat for Mr. T. W. Russell, but I think if he had remained he would not have to complain that there was only one grievance to discuss to-night. I propose to raise a separate point, but before doing so I must express great surprise that the hon. Member for North Antrim actually proposed that a Nationalist seat should be provided for Mr. T. W. Russell. I did think that the hon. Member had sufficient experience of buying seats in Ireland to know that Irish Nationalist seats are only for Irish Nationalists. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about North Tyrone?"] North Tyrone is a Home Rule seat, but I would point out there, too, that a Home Rule seat is not for a Tory candidate, and we are not going to try it again. Furthermore, the hon. Member (Mr. Moore) should remember that when the ex-Vice-President of the Department, Sir Horace Plunkett, lost his seat there was not one of the noble army of Ulster Unionists who came forward and offered his seat. There was not one who said, "Come along and work for my seat, and I will do all I can for you." And they would not again if another General Election came, and the Tories got in and Sir Horace Plunkett were reappointed and lost his seat.

I rose, however, to lay before the House the constant policy of the Department since the year when it was established, in 1889, in one of its branches. That policy has been the undue favouring of temporary clerks at the expense of permanent Civil servants—those who have passed their examinations and are recognised by the Civil Service Commissioners as a portion of the public service of the country. The Order in Council of 29th November, 1898, may be regarded in a certain manner as the Magna Charta of the permanent Civil Service. That Order lays down that— Below the second division, persons may be employed for copying routine work under strict supervision, or work inferior to that of the clerks of the second division, in accordance with regulations to be from time to time framed by the Civil Service Commissioners and approved by the Treasury, and at rates of pay from time to time prescribed by the Treasury. The clear intention of that Order in Council is that the second division clerks should be placed in direct charge of all work of a permanent character, and that such second division clerks should have priority over temporary clerks, and should have a prior claim to promotion to staff and higher posts in the permanent Civil Service. That has been the policy in every Department for a great many years, but that policy has been deliberately set aside in all the promotions that have taken place in the agricultural branch of the Department of Agriculture since the institution of the Department in 1899. It is not a very far stretch from 1899 to 1905, and yet we find that in 1905, of the twenty best-paid officials in the Department of Agriculture, there are ten temporary officials with higher salaries than the ten permanent officials. That is one source of grievance, namely, the fact that the temporary clerks receive higher remuneration than the permanent staff. The second grievance is that a distinct preference is on every occasion given to a temporary clerk when the occasion occurs for the promotion of a man from the ranks to a staff post. For instance, early in 1907 there was a vacant stall post in this branch of the Department and a temporary clerk got it. That meant three staff posts, two of them held by temporary men and one by a permanent Civil servant. Naturally the permanent Civil servants felt a grievance and they sent a protest to the authorities, and the following letter was received from the Secretary of the Department in March, 1907:— With regard to the question of temporary officers, it should be borne in mind that this is a new Department, that it was established to do work of a kind not previously attempted in the country, and that it had to begin the organisation of its work under circumstances of unusual pressure. For such reasons, amongst others, it was necessary in the beginning to engage men other than established Civil servants to take charge of work of a responsible character. This necessity, however, does not now exist, and the Department as a matter of fact are opposed to encouraging the employment of temporary clerks. Owing to this early history of the work there were certain exceptional cases in the branch in regard to which he explained the position of the Department; but those cases stood apart, and the circumstances under which they had arisen had passed. With this exception, he was in full accordance with the claims of the second division clerks that in the allotment of responsible work the members of the permanent staff should have priority of consideration over the non-established members; and the staff might rest assured that their just interests would always be carefully protected. Surely it is a strange plea for a Civil servant in a high position to advance that this was a new Department, and that in the ranks of permanent Civil servants none could be found to do the routine work of a public Department. It is surely a strange thing to say that the Civil Service Commission and the other public Departments in Ireland could not supply men capable of dealing with the ordinary correspondence and and carrying out the ordinary routine work as they would in every Department. It strikes me, as I am sure it must strike the House, that that plea was only advanced as a mere pretext to excuse the advancement of temporary men which was determined upon for other reasons. The permanent staff did not rest content with the assurance received in that letter. They went to the Vice-President, Mr. T. W. Russell, and this assurance was received from him with regard to the question of staff promotion. Speaking of the grievances of the permanent Civil servant, he says:— This state of things arose before I came into the Department. It must be remembered that the Department was established to do work not previously attempted in Ireland, and had to begin organising its work under unusual pressure. It was therefore necessary in the beginning to engage men other than established Civil servants, and to give some of them charge of certain responsible duties. This necessity will not, however, exist in the future, and, indeed, the Department discourages, as far as possible, the employment of temporary men … No such promotion will be be made unless we are absolutely forced to it by the fact that no second division man can be found in the branch capable of performing the particular duties equally well. That was in October, 1907. Naturally a reply like that contented the permanent staff to a certain extent. They said to themselves: "Here, at any rate, is an assurance from the Vice-President of the Department that he will have nothing whatever to do with the undue favouring of temporary men at our expense. He says that this thing arose before he came to the Department, and that it is one of those ancient vices of which he hopes to purge it." Let us see what happens subsequently to that. Last month a vacancy occurred for a staff officer. Who got it? In spite of the explicit statement of the Vice-President that this old state of things was to be swept away, and that he was to have nothing whatever to do with it, we find that he promotes a temporary man to the vacant staff post. I should like to ask the Chief Secretary if he admits that he was unable to find in the permanent staff of the office a man capable of discharging the duties to which this man was promoted last month. The present state of the staff in that branch is this. There are four staff posts, and they are the best-paid clerical posts in the branch. Three are held by temporary Civil servants and one by a man brought into the office by influence and promoted by influence. It was stated by the Chief Secretary that none of these promotions were to the prejudice of officials who had passed competitive examinations. How can it be that it is not to the prejudice of the permanent officials if you give the best posts in the Department to men outside, while the men who are working there and have a right to expect promotion are not promoted? There is something at the back of this policy. There is some influence at work which this House has a right to see laid bare. There has been some covert influence at work ever since the inception of this Department, and we should like to have light let in upon it.

There is another special point in which we suffer with respect to the promotions of these temporary men. By the Act constituting the Department certain moneys were voted to the Department for the discharge of its functions, and that Act further laid down that all the staff posts were to be paid in the ordinary way by the Treasury. Therefore, a very distinct division is drawn between the two sources of revenue of the Department. The permanent staff are to be paid by the Treasury, but a certain amount of money was voted to be spent by the Department for the purposes for which it was constituted. When a temporary man is brought into the Department and he receives an increase of salary, his salary and the increase of salary come, not from the Treasury, but from money which ought to be spent upon general, agricultural, and technical schemes of the country. Therefore, in respect to every temporary position and every promotion of a temporary man the country suffers, because money that ought to be spent on these schemes is wrongfully spent in improving his position. This is not a state of things that has ceased. Temporary clerks are still coming in, and the old rule still holds in connection with every vacancy that occurs in the staff office, and a temporary man is secured. I submit that all these appointments and all these promotions are most prejudicial to the interests of the permanent Civil servants, and to the interests of the purposes for which the Department of Agriculture was called into being.


The hon. Member for North Antrim (Mr. Kerr-Smiley) alluded to the way the fisheries on the Irish Coast suffer. I can assure him that is not a new subject. We drew attention to it so far back as the time when the present Leader of the Opposition was Chief Secretary for Ireland. We also drew the attention of Mr Gerald Balfour and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover (Mr. Wyndham) to the matter during their terms of office. These Gentlemen promised that they would see that the fishermen along the coast were properly protected, particularly as a Conservative Government was responsible for the Act which prohibited trawling along the Scotch Coast, and which had the effect of sending a great number of steam trawlers to the Irish Coast. We have pointed out that the Scottish fisheries have four boats placed at their disposal by the Admiralty to protect the fisheries from this illegal action, while we in Ireland receive no assistance from the Admiralty. We pay for the Army and Navy and get no return at all. We have no trade to protect, and when we ask a little assistance to protect our fisheries from the depredations of trawlers we may get soft answers, but we do not get what we ask. At present there are two boats at the disposal of the Department for the protection of the Irish fisheries, and they do their duty as well as they can. Latterly few complaints have been sent to me, but at the same time, if the sum we have to pay out of these funds for providing boats were available for other purposes, and if the Admiralty would give the assistance we ask, we could do something useful with the money. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will bear that in mind. We have a Scotchman at the head of affairs in this Department, and he knows well the way in which the fisheries in his own country are protected. I hope he will assert the rights of Ireland to proper protection in this matter.

I rose mainly to enforce the remarks made by the hon. Baronet the Member for North Wexford (Sir T. Esmonde). My hon. Friend spoke of the necessity of providing buildings for giving technical instruction in Ireland. A large and influential deputation waited upon the Chief Secretary this week, and I think they impressed him with the necessity of doing something of the* kind. An Act was passed enabling local authorities to establish centres for giving instruction, but no assistance was given to provide the buildings which are absolutely necessary for imparting information. I wish the Chief Secretary to know that the state of things represented to him as existing in county Kilkenny prevails in several other districts. I believe that on the whole the giving of technical instruction is done extremely well in Ireland. Most of our disappointments in life come from expecting too much. Many people when the Act was passed thought that industries would blossom out and factories spring up at once, but I think every nation recognises that if these things are to be successful, it is absolutely necessary that the youth of the country should be instructed in matters technical. It is a most short-sighted policy for the State not to provide the buildings in which the neces- sary instruction can be given. I have little doubt that if they were provided, the youth of the country would go to them in increasing numbers. Considering that our country is not a great mercantile or industrial country, it is absolutely necessary that the people should be gradually induced to attend institutions where information is given for the proper conduct of industries in general. I hope the Chief Secretary will bear in mind that the amount leceived for technical schools from the Department is largely gobbled up for their upkeep.

Captain COOPER

In a survey of the Department's operations it is not surprising that the Debate should cover a wide area; but I am not going to talk about the matters which have been referred to by the hon. Members for East Donegal and North Antrim, which reveal a well-founded grievance. I want to bring the Debate back to the reason for which the reduction was moved. The Chief Secretary told us that he was the chief sufferer by the fact that the Vice-President was not in the House. If he had been here at Question Time and heard the struggle of the Attorney-General in answering questions which would come within the scope of the Department, he would have associated the Attorney-General with himself as a fellow-sufferer. The Chief Secretary, in reply to a supplementary question a short time ago, made a statement which I do-not think the Vice-President would have made had he been here. When I asked him if there was any objection to giving information with regard to these credit societies to the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society, he said he did not think there was, but he would inquire. I do not think the Vice-President would have said that if he had been here. Therefore his absence is a certain inconvenience. After all, I must say it is somewhat anomalous if a Member of the Government is to be free from the necessity of attending this House and to be free from the ordeal of answering questions and at the same time to enjoy his rank and the emoluments and patronage attached to the rank, and if to do so he has only to forfeit the confidence of his constituents. Personally I am very sorry that the Vice-President is not here, because I want to criticise his action, and it is a great deal more pleasant to criticise a man before his face. I hope I shall do it without indulging in unnecessary personalities There are a great many matters I would like to deal with. One is the provision of adequate buildings for technical instruction. The fact that in Arklow the manual instruction classes are held in a loft approached by a ladder is something of a disgrace. With regard to the question of the Butter Committee's Report, which the hon. Member for East Mayo thought was going to be raised, I will only say in passing that I think it a pity that the Committee consisted entirely of officials of the Department and of the English Board of Agriculture. More confidence would have been felt in the Report if the Committee had included an outsider. With regard to the question of the credit societies, I think a great deal more importance attaches to it than the Chief Secretary or the Department are disposed to allow. I have got here a report on the moral and material progress and improvement in the condition of India. I wish that the Chief Secretary would give us a report on the moral and material progress and improvement in the condition of Ireland. In this report on India there are over two large pages given to the question of credit societies, though the report deals with the whole aspect of life in India, the Army, the Navy, the books published in the course of the year, and almost everything else; while in the report of the Department in Ireland for the year there are only twenty-three lines dealing with credit societies, though the report is only concerned with the operation of the Department to which these societies are a problem of absolutely vital importance. The policy of this House has been to make Ireland a community of small peasant proprietors—small owners—without generally speaking any capital whatever at their backs. How are they going to face the problem of ownership, and bad seasons— and, I am sorry to say, there appears to be every prospect of a very bad season this year—unless there is some means of securing capital?

I do not say that the present system of credit societies is perfect, but it is the only one that at present exists, except loans from joint stock banks which, of course, can be secured by fairly large farmers, but cannot be secured by the very small and the poorest farmers. The main indictment against the Vice-President is that he declared that the present system is "rotten" and indefensible, and that he has not suggested anything to put in place of it. I know that the Chief Secretary has made an eloquent plea that the Vice-President did not say it was rotten and indefensible in public. Where did he make that statement? It was at a meeting of the Congested Districts Board? The Congested Districts Board is composed, I suppose, of the most influential men from the poorest districts in Ireland. There are bishops and priests—I do not think there are any deacons—but there is a certain number of other influential local men. These were all there and heard the Vice-President's statement. I do not suppose they went away and said, "Mr. Russell says our credit banks are rotten," but a natural prejudice was created in their minds against these banks, and when they went back to their own towns and were asked for their advice they might say to a man, "I should not advise you to have anything to do with them." I daresay they did not quote Mr. Russell, but the effect on their minds was that these were unsound institutions, and that is why it was desirable to have the whole thing thrashed out and to have the whole thing published, so that the grounds on which Mr. Russell said these things might be made known. I am not going to go into the whole question of the indictment preferred against the Irish farmer by the hon. Member for East Mayo, because these societies are run by ordinary farmers and they are all that there is at present. Improvements have to be made. Is not it the duty of the Vice-President to put forward any suggestions for improvement? All through this correspondence there is plenty of destructive criticism. There is not a single constructive suggestion or thought in the whole thing, and not a single idea by which the working of the system of credit banks may be improved. He may have very good ideas in his head. They may spring forth like Minerva from the brain of Jupiter, but I wish that he would bring forth at once a system of adequate and impregnable credit.

Not only is there no suggestion of his own, but he will not give the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society any information which will enable them to improve them. They do not put forward any suggestion that their banks are beyond criticism. What they say is, "Give us all the information available so that we may improve them." That is their desire. That is the only thing which they want to do and the one thing that the Vice-President is reluctant to do. He says there are only about twelve or fifteen banks concerned, but we do not know which they are. He says that in the case of three others it would involve the names of individuals and reflect on their credit. If it would reflect on the credit of individuals it must be presumed that they are either incompetent or dishonest. Is not the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society to be warned against them? Are they to go on putting trust in men whom Mr. Russell knows to be either incompetent or dishonest? That is a case that looks rather like compounding a felony. Then before the Select Committee of the House of Lords I believe he stated that his duty began and ended with seeing that the Department was repaid the money that was lent, and he had no other duty in connection with these credit banks. Accepting his own admission of his duty, he is not a very efficient official, because the Department advanced £17,000 to these banks, of which he thinks £600 irrecoverable. The Government of India has advanced £45,000, of which it does not think a penny irrecoverable. The Under-Secretary informed me so the other day. Therefore if his only duty was to see that the money lent was repaid he has succeeded in allowing the State to lose £600. The essential feature of these banks is their unlimited liability, every member being responsible for money advanced to another member. This is a protection to the bank against dishonest members, for they take very good care that dishonest members shall not be allowed to join. This system of banks is at work all over the Continent and in India. The whole essence of the system is in its unlimited liability, and where one member is responsible for money advanced to another the utmost care is taken that the wrong men shall not get in. I cannot see why these banks should not work satisfactorily in Ireland. They have worked well in India, and why should not they work well in Ireland? I hope hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway will not suggest that Irishmen are less able to work these banks or that they are less honest or less industrious than Hindus. If hon. Members made such a suggestion they would be very considerably denounced.


We are not Hindus. Leave India out.

Captain COOPER

The hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) made an elaborate indictment of the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society as a political organisation working against the party to which he belongs, though nine out of ten members of that society are Nationalists. Is it suggested that the society is hostile to a political party when it se6ks to put down gombeenism? I do not think that hon. Members fully realise the effect of the gombeen system. No one denies that there are honest traders in the West of Ireland, and I think there is no more honest and representative tradesman than my hon. Friend who moved the reduction of the Vote: but there is a certain number of tradesmen in the West of Ireland who think that they should give very long credit, so that when a man is in their debt they may manage to induce him to deal with them alone. They supply him with what quality of goods they like, and charge what price they like. Hon. Members on that side of the House who are very loud in their denunciation of tied houses might remember that there is some inconvenience in a system of tied customers. That is the only form of industrial enterprise to which these credit banks are opposed. They are not opposed to any kind of legitimate industrial or commercial enterprise whatever; then operations are distinctly calculated for good, and they should be assisted by the Department, which should endeavour to make them a success in every way, and not pursue this rather bad and pin-pricking policy which is being indulged in.


My reply to the delicate innuendoes with which the hon. and gallant Gentleman has favoured us shall be in plain English. To begin with, he said that the Agricultural Organisation Society was largely composed of Nationalists. I have to deal, not with the subscribers, but with the leading spirits of the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society. The leading officials of that society, who give forth that they are Nationalists, to my personal knowledge and that of my colleagues on these benches, are, and have been for many years, the bitter personal and political antagonists of any supporter of the Irish Parliamentary party. By way of giving him a practical example, I may tell him that one of his Nationalist heroes of the Agricultural Organisation Society, and fundamentally the chief cause of the whole trouble that is keeping us here to-night is Mr. George Russell, a gentleman whose chief qualification, so far as I have been able to discover, for the post that he occupies is that he was a crystal-gazer and an oculist—a man who exhibited in public galleries in Dublin pictures of his own painting of visions of ancient Irish kings that he had seen when he was roosting on top of Sugarloaf Hill, near Bray. This fiery, and indomitable Nationalist revolted against the bare idea of an Irishman setting up in Bray as the representative m Parliament of Irish Nationalists, but he could see nothing whatever wrong in taking a position in the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society in common with twelve, thirteen, or fifteen other gentlemen, with their salaries guaranteed by British credit. That is one example of the noble independent Nationalist spirits of whom the hon. and gallant Member has been speaking. I say deliberately that the beginning and middle and end of this whole trouble has been, not the merits or demerits of Mr. Russell, or anybody else, but the cutting off from these gentlemen the Treasury guarantee which fixed their salaries at a certainty, whereas now the Organisation Society have to collect their salaries as best they can. That is the plain English of the whole situation, and when I hear hon. Members talking about the discourtesy of Mr. T. W. Russell I think his namesake, namely, Mr. George Russell, has so conducted himself that if he fell upon evil times and started a class in manners and deportment, I would certainly not recommend any youth or maiden to attend it.

From the first moment hon. Members above the Gangway have complained of politics being raised. Why Mr. George Russell was not five minutes in the Committee upstairs before he raised the whole political question. He complained, he sneered, he jeered, he said the policy of the whole Department was changed because a Conservative Government went out and a Liberal Government came in. What I would impress upon hon. Members above the Gangway is that they may not always be in opposition. They may be in office. They may have a Department to control, and they in their turn may have to deal with an insolent gang of outsiders who come to interfere with the head of their Department, and dictate to them as to what he is or is not to do. What, after all, is the whole question at issue against the Department. I do not speak of Mr. T. W. Russell for the simple reason that you have a much bigger question, and I can assure hon. Members above the Gangway that they will certainly have to deal with it if they come to office, and that is whether outside organisations, outside gangs, no matter how influential or financially powerful they may be, shall have the right to come in and tell the head of one of their Departments what he is or is not to do. What was the demand made upon the Vice-President of the Board of Agriculture and his Department? I must not allude to Sir Horace Plunkett—a stained glass window saint against whom no man may cough or sneeze inside the House or outside of it, the perfect man, the man who held office for six years without a seat in this House under a Conservative Government, who held it for nearly a year more under a Liberal Government equally without a seat in this House. I am not to allude to him. He is the great saint. But what was the demand made upon Mr. Russell by Mr. George Anderson and his clique? It was that he should supply certain information to that particular clique as to the particular banks that were in default. Let me call the serious attention of the House to this point. The Irish Agricultural Organisation Society is on the horns of a dilemma. I will leave Mr. George Anderson and Sir Horace Plunkett and all the others to sit on whichever horn they find most comfortable. Either the Agricultural Organisation Society kept its books in such a slovenly fashion or in such loose touch with the banks for which it was responsible that it did not know what and where these banks were, or, as in my heart and soul I believe, Mr. George Russell, Mr. Anderson, and the rest of the gang had information pigeon-holed at their elbow, and pretended not to have it, and asked for it in order to pick a quarrel with the Department and the Government. And it was very properly refused.

10.0 P.M.

Otherwise, on the most generous estimate of the case, they wanted, if they had lost their references, to get references in order to-get up money to supply the defaulting banks with such funds as would enable them to come forth and confound Mr. Russell and the Department by saying. "Oh, you said we were short of our funds; we are overflowing with funds." And that would have been done, and that was the game that was being played. It was a game of having the information actually in their possession, concealing it from the public, and asking for it, only to be re-fused, and then to make a grievance of the refusal. I think this question goes far beyond the personality of the Vice-President of the Agricultural Department and of the active clique who have been intriguing privately, and publicly to my personal knowledge, in Dublin for months and months past to pick a quarrel with him at any price. I will give you a notorious fact —a fact that every man in Dublin knows. I was certainly amazed the other day by being told by a good Nationalist that Mr. Russell had made a speech in which he had boasted that his Department was everything, and that Dublin Castle was nothing. This story was told me again and again by honest men and honest women, who were good Nationalists, and who believed it. [Hear, hear.] I am glad to get that response from these benches, because I am going to make hon. Gentlemen feel a trifle small.

What actually happened was this. One of the best known of English journalists, Mr. W. T. Stead, was over a few months ago in Dublin on a visit, and when he got back from Dublin he wrote an article in some magazine or paper in his well-known vigorous and picturesque style, in which he said that the Agricultural Department was the great Department in Ireland and that Dublin Castle had sunk into insignificance comparatively, and that the Vice-President of the Department was virtually Chief Secretary, and that Mr. Gill came next in rank. Of course, it was Mr. Stead's little joke, and the Vice-President of the Department, repeated it only to repudiate it and to say he was afraid that the day was far distant when such a description of Dublin Castle taking the background in the rule of Irish affairs could apply. Yet, with absolute unscrupulous-ness, deliberately—and I charge Mr. George Russell and his friend with having deliberately circulated the story—that little bit of joke made by Mr. Stead and quoted by the Vice-President of the Department has actually been quoted as a specimen of the Vice-President's arrogance. A more shameful and disgraceful thing I have never come across in the twenty-five years I have been in public life. That it should be cheered and laughed at and approved by hon. Members above the Gangway is really a matter that passes my comprehension. It is the greatest bit of injustice I ever heard of— the quotation in a man's speech of a joke being brought up as the original speech of the man himself. I have one last thing to say, and it is this: Government Departments should be made strictly subordinate to this House. I do not care whether a Liberal Government or a Tory Government is in office.

The heads of the Departments of Government are responsible to this House. They are not dependent upon any outside organisation whatever, no matter what power and wealth and fashion may be at the back. We have no ill-will against the principle of co-operation. We know that co-operation has prospered and flourished in many parts of England. No one ever dreams of questioning the right of fifty, five hundred, or a thousand men combining together to trade, but I do say this— and I hope it will follow the hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway when they go into the Lobby on this question—that no man with an elementary sense of justice in him should stand up and encourage the idea of co-operative trading organisations subsidised by public money being started in any town or village, whether in Ireland or in England, against the local traders who pay their rates, who have got their businesses established, who give employment, and who stand to be ruined by these subsidised organisations. That has been one of the chief ends and aims of the Agricultural Organisation Society, and it will be interesting to note how hon. Members above the Gangway, whether they come from the North of Ireland or the South of England, will face their constituents with a vote recorded against them as having gone into the Lobby as men who have supported the principle of co-operation for the wiping out of the small stock-keeper by means of stores and local cottages organised and financed with public money. I do not care whether it is Tory, Liberal, or Nationalist money, it is a shame. I have no personal interest for or against anybody in this quarrel. I think this dead-set on this Department is really founded on an agitation started by a clique of disappointed men, who have not, got their salaries guaranteed any more by the British Treasury, who are not as important as they thought they were, who are not as absolutely essential to the existence of Ireland as they thought they were, and who now, at this eleventh hour, pick a quarrel on what is a deliberate fabrication.


As an Irishman sitting for an English constituency I desire to enter my protest against the undeserved attack made by Mr. Russell upon the credit banks in Ireland, which are intimately associated with the whole system of co-operation carried on by the farmers of Ireland. I feel that this is not merely an Irish question, it is also an English and a Scotch question. Parliament has recently, with the assent of all parties, sanctioned a large scheme by which the whole of the agricultural land of Ireland will in time be transferred from the owners to the occupiers. The English Treasury has spent something like £50,000,000, and is under an obligation to advance something like £200,000,000 in all. The security of those loans rests upon the success of the industry of agriculture in Ireland, and one thing absolutely certain is that unless Irish agriculture, carried on as it is by large numbers of small holders, is organised upon sound commercial and business principles, not only is the future prosperity of the Irish farmer an absolute impossibility, but the security of the English taxpayer is most grievously imperilled. May I call the attention of the Committee to the agencies which are at work for the purpose of stimulating and organising the agricultural industry in Ireland? I do not refer for a moment to the Congested Districts Board, which is founded upon a system rather of State help on the parental or bureaucratic system. No doubt it has done good work, and it is, no doubt, suited for the less wealthy communities, but what I do ask is this.

If you want agriculture to flourish on the system in Ireland of small holders, you must have both State and voluntary effort —State effort supplemented, and rendered effective, by voluntary effort. That larger policy for Ireland, that magnificent policy, was inaugurated some years ago by Sir Horace Plunkett, aided as he was by men of all political parties. Sir Horace Plunkett, I agree, was the prime mover in the policy, but he had loyal support from Nationalists as well as Unionists, Roman Catholics as well as Protestants, throughout the length and breadth of Ireland. That policy deserves the tribute of the gratitude of everyone who has the interests of Ireland at heart because of the beneficial results it has already produced. Let me point out the way in which this new policy was carried out. In the first place, there was established in Ireland a Department now represented by the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction, of which Sir Horace Plunkett was himself Vice-President. It was recognised, and I think justly recognised, that the Government Department, in order to be effective and in order to carry out its work properly, ought to be assisted by voluntary effort. In order to enable that voluntary effort to be efficient there was organised in Ireland the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society, the object of which was to enable the farmers of Ireland to organise themselves on a system of self-help and mutual help, a system of co-operation such as has been found necessary in other industries, and which is notoriously necessary in order to render prosperous the agricultural industry carried on by small holders. I am sure hon. Members opposite on the Labour Benches will give their cordial sympathy to the farmers of Ireland, who are endeavouring by co-operation, by steady combination, peaceful, lawful combination, to promote their own industries and their own interests. This system prospered extraordinarily well during the time Sir Horace Plunkett was Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture. There was no friction, there was cordial co-operation on the one hand between the State, and, on the other hand, between those voluntary organisations. That went on with great advantage both to the State and to the societies during the time Sir Horace Plunkett was in office as Vice-President. It must be obvious that if this system is to be successful you must have cordial cooperation between the State on the one hand and the voluntary organisation on the other. Three years ago Sir Horace Plunkett left office and his place was taken by Mr. T. W. Russell. Since that time, I think, no one who knows the condition of affairs in Ireland can deny that there has been trouble between the State effort on the one hand and the voluntary effort, as represented by the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society, on the other. The Irish Agricultural Organisation Society consists of over one hundred thousand farmers, nine-tenths of whom are Nationalists, but they have the good sense to see that business and industry is better occupation than politics, and, so far as they are connected, it is perfectly true, with this Irish Agricultural Organisation Society have desired to make it a success, and have made it a success apart from politics, which I venture to think ought not to be introduced into this topic to-night because in the matter we are discussing, the prosperity of Ireland, the less politics there is in it the better it succeeds. I said that there was trouble, and what I want specially to call attention to to-night is a topic which has already engaged the attention of the Committee, and that is the action of Mr. T. W. Russell with regard to these credit banks. The Chief Secretary spoke about that as if it were a small matter of Departmental organisation. In his airy delightful way, delightful except when you consider the interests involved, he minimised the whole thing and said that Mr. Russell was only anxious to see that the banks were closely examined.


Hear, hear.


The Chief Secretary says, "Hear, hear," but has he read the correspondence that has passed between Mr. T. W. Russell and Sir Horace Plunkett?




Why, Sir, it was stated in that correspondence—and it isadmitted—that the charge made by Mr. Russell against those credit banks was not one requiring examination. That is exactly what is insisted on by the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society. That is not the charge in the statement which was made by Mr. T. W. Russell. The statement that was made by him on a public or semi-public occasion—


It was not a public occasion.


A semi-public occasion.


No, nor a semi-public occasion. It was strictly confidential.


A public occasion; an occasion when a deputation from different parts of Ireland visited the Congested Districts Board in Ireland; an occasion which could not by any conceivable possibility of language be called private—the statement made by him then was this:— That these banks were rotten concerns, and that if they were wound up they would not pay more than 2s. 6d. in the £. When he was challenged for that statement, said by the hon. Gentleman the Member for East Mayo to be "an alleged statement," did he deny it? Not for a moment. He not only did not deny it, but he actually repeated it in writing. In his letter he said:— The present system is, in my judgment, rotten and indefensible.


Quite different from what he said.


Quite different from what he said! Why, it is a far worse statement. He did not confine himself to saying that the banks were rotten. He went on to say that the system was rotten. I do not think the hon. Gentleman the Member for East Mayo betters the position by his interruption. The matter is not a personal one. I am regarding it from the point of view of Ireland, England, Scotland. I say that for a man in his responsible position, as head of the Department of Agriculture in Ireland, to state on this, what I call semi-public occasion, that these credit banks, got up by the farmers of Ireland for their own assistance, and for the organisation of their own industry, were rotten concerns, and if they were wound up would not pay more than 2s. 6d. in the £, is out of place. We have not had a word from the Chief Secretary or from anyone else in this House who has defended the action of Mr. Russell to say that that statement of Mr. Russell has a shadow of foundation in fact. We who are concerned both with the interests of England, Ireland, and Scotland, in the prosperity of Irish agriculture, and the success of this great measure of the extension of small holdings, and of peasant proprietorship in Ireland, have reason to complain of the head of the Department, whose statement the Chief Secretary, in his light, airy way, to-night has endeavoured to prove as being of no importance.

Let me quote from a journal which is not a political organ, but which is devoted to discussing business matters in a business spirit, "The Statist." In one of the June numbers there was an article in that paper in which reference was made to the correspondence which has passed between Mr. Russell and Sir Horace Plunkett. After considering the facts— not from us party point of view, for we have nothing to do with either party movements or personal activities, the journal concluded:— It appears to us that Mr. Russell has been wrong from the beginning, and that he has acted contrary to the interests of the Department committed to his charge, contrary to the interests of good government in Ireland, contrary to the interests of agriculture in the country, and contrary to the interests of public peace and civil order. And they go on to say, commenting upon the fact that the society had offered to give Mr. Russell their help in an exami- nation into the condition of these banks and to do what they could to help the banks to continue solvent, as in the past:— Not only did Mr. Russell decline the assistance of the society, but when the assistance of the society was profferred to him he refused to make use of it. Perhaps the Chief Secretary will be interested to hear this:— In the true spirit of an arrogant bureaucrat he tells the society that he recognises no right on its part to interfere with his Department. And their last word is:— We hare no hesitation in saying that the action of Mr. T. W. Russell, as set before the country in the correspondence to which we have referred, proves that he is entirely unfit for the position he holds at present, and the sooner he is removed from it the better it will he for the peace of the country. Is this a trivial matter? Does the Chief Secretary still protest that this is a matter of no importance? A small administrative act, which apparently is worthy of a joke, and of no more serious consideration. I say, with this state of things before us, we are entitled to demand what is the policy of the Government? Have they one policy in England and another totally different one in Ireland? Does their Agricultural Department in England conduct in a different spirit the system of co-operation between farmers, which we are glad to think is making such progress, and is their Agricultural Department in Ireland, with Mr. T. W. Russell at its head, justified in inflicting a severe blow on the whole co-operation movement in Ireland, of which one of the most important and essential portions is this system of credit banks? Is the action of Mr. T. W. Russell approved by the Chief Secretary or not? If it is approved by him then we know that he at any rate, whatever his private wishes or desires may be, intends to act in a manner which to my mind would be fatally injurious to the farmers of Ireland who are engaged in an organised system of co-operation and would inflict grave injury upon the security of this country for the loans which it has most properly made to Ireland. If the right hon. Gentleman tells us his policy is not that of Mr. Russell then I think we are entitled to ask that Mr. T. W. Russell should be requested to change his course of action and policy and if Mr. Russell refuses to act in accordance with the desire of the Chief Secretary and if the Chief Secretary is really anxious to support this system of co-operation, I think we may fairly ask the Chief Secretary and the Government to remove this obstacle which stands in the way of industrial progress in Ireland and to find someone with larger intelligence and wider experience, apart from politics, who will carry out the scheme which the Government profess. We are entitled to ask that they should appoint a man to carry on this beneficent work in Ireland who is determined with a free and unprejudiced mind and free from all outside influence to do all he can to support the true interests of Ireland and to maintain those great interests which are involved for the whole of the United Kingdom.


I rise for the purpose of protesting against the uncalled-for and unjustifiable attacks made upon Mr. Russell. If Mr. Russell was an Ulster Tory we would hear nothing about this attack. It is made chiefly and principally from a political motive. We all knew that the Ulster Tories are not the friends of Mr. Russell, and, consequently, I think they are taking advantage of their position in this House to attack him when he is not here to defend himself. The opinion that my Constituents and I hold of Mr. Russell is that he is a great administrator, and that he is doing his very best in the Department to advance the country's interests. I have been speaking to those in my Constituency who are connected with agriculture, and they have confidence in Mr. Russell as evidenced by the harmonious way in which they are working with him. I do not think it is necessary for me to say anything more than that he enjoys the confidence of the people in my part of the country. With regard to the subsidy withdrawn from the Irish Organisation Society, of which we have heard so much, I say Mr. Russell was quite right in withdrawing it. Why should Mr. Russell or Sir Horace Plunkett in his time, or any Member of the Government subsidise an association that is competing with the shopkeepers in the towns in Ireland in the sale of seeds and manures and other agricultural produce? It was not fair to do so. The shopkeepers have as good a right to live and prosper as any other class in the community. They have as good a right to live as the farmers, and it was unfair of Sir Horace Plunkett to subsidise an institution that was trying to kill an important class in the community. I wish to see the towns in Ireland thrive and prosper, and if ever it is endeavoured to give a subsidy to an association of this kind that is trying to injure the towns in Ireland, I shall certainly enter my protest against it. I should not have risen if it had not been for the attacks made upon Mr. Russell They were, in my opinion, uncalled for, and, as one living in the country and hearing so much praise of the work he has been doing, I thought it only fair for me to stand up in my place in this House and say a word in his behalf when he is not here to defend himself. Personally, I regret that he is not in his place in this House. He always enlightened me on any subject on which he spoke by his able arguments and by his clear reasoning and convincing manner, and I trust he will soon be back again to give us information as to the working of the Department of which he is, in my opinion, such a brilliant and distinguished chief.


I desire on behalf of my hon. Friends around me to say briefly why we shall pursue our intention of dividing the Committee on the Motion of my hon. Friend the Member for North Derry. The hon. Gentleman who has just spoken has suggested that the object of this Motion is not to clear up what is undoubtedly a very unpleasant and disagreeable question as affecting the government of Ireland, but that it is political. I do not expect hon. Members who never see any good in a political opponent to accept my statement, but, still, I do most clearly and definitely say that there is nothing political in the action we are taking. One hon. Member below the Gangway reinforced that argument by calling attention to the fact that Ulster Members disliked Mr. Russell. Surely he has omitted to notice that Ulster Members have taken a very limited part in this Debate. The majority of the speeches have been made by Gentlemen representing other constituencies—not always Irish —such as York and Cambridge University and South Dublin. Anybody who has taken any part in political contests in the North of Ireland knows full well there is sufficient justification for the suggestion of the existence of strong feeling between Mr. Russell and his opponents in the north. No man has ever spoken more freely of his opponents than Mr. Russell, and I can answer for it—I have done my little share—they have spoken of him equally frankly. But although I do not deny there is considerable feeling, I assert it has nothing to do with the action taken to-night. The charge is a very simple one, although it may have far-reaching effects. It is that a Minister of the Crown, called on, in his position as Minister, upon an occasion which I venture with great respect to say it is ridiculous to suggest it was anything less than a public occasion — an occasion on which whatever occurred was certain to transpire—this Minister of the Crown called upon as Minister and speaking with the full weight of his experience as Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture in Ireland, made a declaration about a great industrial society in Ireland which, I say, no Minister ought to have made unless he was prepared to substantiate every word, and unless, after full inquiry, he had come to the conclusion and was determined not to recede from it, I say it is contrary to all precedent, and to all the best traditions that govern Ministerial office for any man holding an office such as this to make such an answer to a deputation waiting on him. In so doing he was guilty of an offence which I am happy to think Ministers on both sides can rarely be charged with. There has been no answer attempted this afternoon, except in two replies—one by the hon. Member for East Mayo, and the other by the Chief Secretary.

The Chief Secretary told us that Mr. Russell was an exemplary Minister and had succeeded in passing a large number of Bills, and he lamented the fact that he was no longer sitting by his side and he assured us that there was nothing in the world he longed for so much as the immediate society of Mr. Russell. But what was the defence of the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon), who appeared to speak with an even more intimate knowledge of Mr. Russell's views and the reasons which governed his actions past and present and which were likely to govern his actions in the future? He seemed to have an even more intimate knowledge of Mr. Russell's mind than that possessed by the Chief Secretary. What is the hon. Member for Mayo's defence? I think it is the most remarkable ever made in regard to any Minister, having regard to the conduct of the people concerned. He said it was a controversy as between the late and the present head of a Department. I think that is a most inadequate description in the case of Sir Horace Plunkett. Whether you agree with him or not, he is something more than the late head of a Department. He founded the Department, he gave it its prestige and all the authority which it has in Ireland. Sir Horace Plunkett since his connection with the Department terminated has continued, with great credit to himself and great advantage to Ireland, the private work which he has carried on in connection with voluntary associations and this one in particular. Therefore to say this is a controversy between the late head of the Department, and the present one is to give a very inadequate description of the matter. But the hon. Member for East Mayo also told us not that Mr. Russell deserved well, because he had passed Acts of Parliament—not because his society was so delightful that anybody deprived of it suffered in consequence—but he told us something more remarkable still, namely, that the reason why this question was raised here to-day is because Mr. Russell has for the first time lifted the Department out of the mire of politics. I suppose this Parliament is composed of a larger number of what are called groups than any Parliament before, and I am not exaggerating when I say that Mr. Russell from his past experience and associations in politics would find it difficult in this Parliament not to find a group with whom he would be able to act in complete accord. I do not know that there ever has been a politician of such varied views and such remarkable performances, and yet this is the gentleman of whom this is said. The hon. Member knows very well, and I know it that Mr. Russell in the course of his political career has boxed the compass, and there is not a part of the House in which he has not sat as fidus Achates to some party. What of Sir Horace Plunkett? You may think he goes too far, but anyone who knows him will know that he has given his best energies and abilities not to politics— [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Let me remind hon. Gentlemen who interrupt me of the question which they put to us. When the hon. Member for North Antrim was speaking, what was the interruption? It was: "You turned him out of Parliament." Who turned him out?


The same people who turned you out of Belfast.


They may have been the same people, but the interruption, of which I admit the full charm, and which does not in the smallest degree ruffle my personal feelings, only shows that the hon. Gentleman is extremely anxious to divert the attention of the Committee from the question I was trying to put, namely, that whatever the objections of individuals or of parties may be to Sir Horace Plunkett, no one can deny who has watched his career and his work that he has devoted himself with immense labour, energy, and ability to the advancement of the material prosperity of his native land, and that in pursuing this object he has left ordinary political ideas entirely on one side. Therefore, he finds he is disowned by those who are Liberals or Nationalists, and I believe there is no man at this moment who is less entitled to be called a party politician than Sir Horace Plunkett, and yet we are told that this charge is to fall to the ground because Mr. Russell is worthy of all honour, he having lifted the administration of the Department out of the mire of politics, and I presume Sir Horace Plunkett pushed it into the mire of politics. A more extraordinary defence I never listened to. This being the only defence put forward in answer to the charge, we shall certainly press our Motion to a Division. We shall do this, not because we are animated by any personal feeling in regard to one person or other in the controversy, but because we hold that if this kind of conduct is to be allowed on the part of Ministers— whether they are here or not to defend themselves is no part of our business; it is idle to suggest that we should be dumb because the Minister is not present—it is injurious to the best interests of good government.

We contend, further, that you cannot make a wholesale charge of this kind against a great association like the one-concerned without running the very grave risk of injuring the association and all similar associations. If he does that, he then puts back the hands of the clock which regulates Irish material prosperity, and he will be doing incalculable harm, from which it will take probably some years to recover. For these reasons, and for no personal reasons, for nothing to do with Mr. Russell's conduct as a politician, or for the ordinary discharge of his duties in his Department, but solely because we hold his action has been injurious in the respects which I have indicated, we shall certainly express our Motion to a Division, thinking, as we do, that the conduct of the Minister concerned with this case has been unworthy the best traditions which govern the discharge of Ministerial duties.


I had intended to refer to various points, apart from this particular point about Mr. Russell, which has been raised in the Debate. I have not time to do justice to my Votes, and I do not wish to single out any particular Member rather than another as though he alone were worthy of my consideration, and I will communicate to the hon. Members, some of whom dealt with points of interest affecting their particular localities and others with points of general public interest connected with the Department, if they will permit me—and indeed they cannot prevent me—the answers to their various points, or at all events some of them; and in that way I daresay I shall meet their views just as well. Really from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman this becomes a very serious matter. This is an impeachment of a Minister of the Crown because when certain persons came to him for a subsidy of public money he expressed an opinion in which I entirely concur, that, not the whole association, but that many of the credit banks were in a situation which required most careful watching. That is what it comes to. Many of these banks are not, in his opinion, worthy of continuing to receive subsidies of public money. The language Mr. Russell used he was bound to use, and in my opinion he would have been guilty of a dereliction of public duty if he had, in the easy manner of Sir Horace Plunkett, failed to submit these banks to the test which every bank should submit to. Mr. Russell, in my opinion, did what was perfectly right m calling attention to these banks and using the language which he used. He did no more than call attention to certain public institutions which came to him asking for public subsidies, and he declared his opinion on an occasion which he thought was privileged. These banks are not in such a position as credit banks ought to be in. The hon. Member said the great principle of these banks was un-

limited liability. Yes, the unlimited liability of a lot of poor farmers. No Government could subsidise banks of that description simply on the ground that these poor people were liable to be sold up to their last pig or cow. That is not the sort of way in which these banks are worked. They are worked by the strictest supervision and the utmost care. What Mr. Russell did was to express the opinion that many of these banks were in such a position that they no longer justified public money being granted to them.

Hon. Members said it was the business of Mr. Russell to put those banks in order if he thought they were not all that they ought to be. They are not banks belonging to the Department. The Department is wholly independent of them, and they must make their own way and secure their own footing in the country. I have no doubt Mr. Russell would have used language of a different description if he had supposed it was going to be reported. On this occasion Mr. Russell was justified, and if I had been there I should have felt equally protected by being in the office of the Congested Districts Board. To say this was an onslaught on the principle of credit banks or the general principle of co-operation was ridiculous. There are many rotten banks in this country. There are credit banks in Germany and India which are perfectly sound, and there is no reason why these credit banks in Ireland should not become perfectly sound, if they will behave as banks ought to do, and therefore to-attempt to impeach a Minister on these grounds is simply ridiculous.

Question put, "That Item A be reduced by £100, in respect of the salary of the Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction,. Ireland."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 67; Noes, 171.

Division No. 85.] AYES. [10.58 p.m.
Acland-Hood, Rt. Hon. Sir Alex. F Cator, John Grant, J. A.
Anson, Sir William Reynell Clay, Captain H. Spender Gretton, John
Arbuthnot, G. A. Colefax, H. A. Guinness, Hon. W. E.
Balcarres, Lord Cooper, Capt. Bryan (Dublin, S.) Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)
Banbury, Sir Frederick George Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.) Hamilton, Marquess of (Londonderry)
Branston, H. Craig, Norman (Kent) Helmsley, Viscount
Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish Dixon, C. H. Hope, Harry (Bute)
Burgoyne, A. H. Duke, H. E. Kerr-Smiley, Peter Kerr
Butcher, J. G. (York) Gastrell, Major W. H. Kerry, Earl of
Butcher, S. Henry (Cambridge Univ.) Gibbs, G. A. King. Sir Henry Seymour (Hull)
Calley, Colonel T. C.P. Goldman, C. S. Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsay)
Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. H. M. Goldsmith, Frank Long, Rt. Hon. Walter
Carllie, E. Hildred Gordon, J. MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh
Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H. Goulding, Edward Alfred Macmaster, Donald
Morpeth, Viscount Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood) Valentia, Viscount
Newman, John R. P. Sanderson, Lancelot Ward, Arnold (Herts, Watford)
Newton, Harry Kottingham Stanier, Beville White, Major G. D. (Lanes., Southport)
Nield, Herbert Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston) Willougnby, Major Hon. Clauds
O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid.) Stewart, Gersham (Cheshire, Wirral) Wood, John (Stalybridge)
Perkins, Walter F. Talbot, Lord E.
Peto, Basil Edward Terrell, G. (Wilts, N.W.)
Pollock, Ernest Murray Thompson, Robert (Belfast, North) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Rawson, Colonel R. H. Thomson, W. Mitchell (Down, North) Hugh Barrie and Mr. Lonsdale
Royds, Edmund Tullibardine, Marquess of
Abraham, William Hackett, J. Nugent, Sir Walter Richard
Addison, Dr. C. Hancock, J. G. Nuttad, Harry
Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R. Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose) O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)
Agnew, George William Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale) O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)
Alden, Percy Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, W.) O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)
Allen, Charles P. Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry O'Doherty, Philip
Armitage, R. Haworth, Arthur A. O'Dowel, John
Baker, H. T. (Accrington) Hayden, John Patrick O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)
Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.) Hayward, Evan O'Malley, William
Barlow, Sir John E. Hazleton, Richard O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)
Barran, Rowland Hirst (Leeds, N.) Healy, Timothy Michael (Louth, N.) O'Shaughnessy, P. J.
Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.) Hemmerde, Edward George Parker, James (Halifax)
Barton, W. Higham, John Sharp Pearce, William
Benn, W. (Tower Hamlets, St. Geo.) Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H. Pearson, Weetman H M.
Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine Hogan, Michael Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A.
Boland, John Pius Holt, Richard Durning Phllipps, Col. Ivor (Southampton)
Boyle, D. (Mayo, N.) Home, C. Silvester (Ipswich) Philip is. Sir O. C (Pembroke)
Brady, P. J. Hughes, S. L. Phillips, John (Longford, S.)
Brocklehurst, W. B. Hunter, W. (Govan) Pointer, Joseph
Burke, E. Haviland Illingworth, Percy H. Power, Patrick Joseph
Burns, Rt. Hon. John Jones, Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil) Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)
Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth) Raffan, Peter Wilson
Byles, William Pollard Jones, Willam (Carnarvonshire) Reddy, M.
Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich) Joyce, Michael Redmond, John E. (Waterford)
Cawley, Harold T. (Heywood) Keating, M. Redmond, William (Clare)
Chancellor, H. G. Kelly, Edward Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)
Chapple, Dr. W. A. Kilbride, Denis Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)
Clancy, John Joseph Lambert, George Roche, John (Galway, East)
Clough, William Lardner, James Carrige Rushe Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)
Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock) Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.) Samuel, J. (Stockton)
Collins, Sir Wm. J. (St. Pancras, W.) Levy, Sir Maurice Scanian, Thomas
Compton-Rickett. Sir J. Lewis, John Herbert Seddon, J.
Cory, Sir Clifford John Lincoln, Ignatius T T. Seely, Col., Right Hon. J. E. B.
Crossfield, A. H. Lundon, T. Sheehy, David
Crossley, Sir William J. Luttrell, Hugh Fownes Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)
Cullinan, J. Lyell, Charles Henry Soares, Ernest J.
Davlet, David (Montgomery Co.) Lynch, A. A. Thomas, J. H. (Derby)
Davles, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.) Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester) Toulmin, George
Dawes, J. A. Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J. Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Denman, R. D. MacNeill, John Gordon Swift Twist, Henry
Devlin, Joseph MacVeagh, Jeremiah Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander
Dickinson. W. H. (St. Pancras, N.) McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald Verney, F. W.
Dillon, John M'Laren, Walter S. B. (Ches., Crewe) Walsh, Stephen
Donelan, Captain A, Markham, Arthur Basil Wardie, George J.
Doris. W. Marks. G. Crovdon Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmanan)
Duffy, William J. Meagher, Michael Waterlow, D. S.
Duncan, C. (Barrow-In-Furness) Meehan, Francis E. (Leltrim, N.) Watt, Henry A.
Elverston, H. Meehan, Patrick A. (Queen's Co.) White, Sir Luke (York, E.R.)
Esmonde, Sir Thomas Millar, J. D. White, Patrick (Meath. North)
Falconer, J. Molloy, M. Whitehouse, John Howard
Fenwick, Charles Mond. Sir Alfred Whyte, Alexander F. (Perth)
Flavin, Michael Joseph Montagu, Hon. E. S. Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)
Furness, Stephen Mooney, J. J. Williamson, Sir A.
George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd Morgan. G. Hay (Cornwall) Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)
Gibson, Sir James P. Muspratt, Max Wing, Thomas
Gill, A. H. Nannetti, Joseph P.
Glanvllie, H. J. Neilson, Francis TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—waster
Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway) Nolan, Joseph of Elibank and Mr. Guliand.

Original Question again proposed.

And, it being after Eleven of the clock, and objection being taken to further Proceeding, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.

Resolution to be reported To-morrow.

Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.

ADJOURNMENT.—Resolved, "That this House do now adjourn,."—[Mr. Joseph Pease.]

Adjourned accordingly at Ten minuted after Eleven o'clock.