§ Postponed proceeding resumed on Question, "That the Bill be now read a second time." Debate resumed.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
When the general discussion was interrupted by Private Business, I was just commencing to make an appeal to the Board of Education. It is curious that two speeches made on the other side of the House in defence of the Board of Education in refusing to restore the Towyn church school to the Grant List consisted, one in an appeal to very ancient history, and the other in an appeal to no history at all. The hon. Member for Merionethshire (Mr. Haydn Jones) raked up a case against the church school in Towyn based, I think, upon maladministration and mis- 715 conduct in the year 1847. He said he would establish the connection between what went on in Towyn in 1847 and the state of affairs there at the present day; but I submit he did nothing of the kind. Apparently, he regarded it as a bad school in 1847. It seems to me he has had his eye upon the school all his life, and now that he has got the Board of Education to support him and to remove the school from the Grant List, he has reached the goal of his desire. All this question of history and all those figures retailed at great length by the hon. Member were, as has been said by the President of the Board of Education, decided last year, when this subject was discussed on the salary of the President of the Board. It is interesting to note that in the division upon that question the majority of the Government was the smallest they had during the year.
We raise this question now because the situation to-day and the situation then are different. We were told that the Towyn church school was removed from the Grant List because, although the managers had been warned that unless they carried certain improvements the school would be removed, they had not carried out those improvements. They have now spent the money and carried out the improvements. The other argument brought forward by the President was that the parents of the children in the district did not want it, and he said that was proved by the fact that the children had left the church school and had gone to the council school. What is the new situation? Ever since that day until to-day there has been a large attendance of children at this school, and the parents by their action have shown that they do not want the Towyn church school under other conditions. The hon. Member for Merionethshire talked about pressure being brought to bear upon them, but he did not bring forward a single scrap of evidence to show that the least pressure had ever been exercised by the managers on any of the parents. I think his statement of the case is calculated to foster increased sectarian bitterness. This is a serious question, and I appeal to the Board of Education, if it is not too late to melt its stony heart, to consider this question in its broadest aspect. You have heard how in a small town in Wales there is a strong church feeling among a certain section, just as in many other places there is an equally strong nonconformist feeling.
716 What has been the spirit of the policy of the Board of Education in recent years where such a thing exists? Under the Education Act of 1902 the object was to encourage the creation of multiple school areas, and to abolish single school areas. It is difficult, I admit, to strike an exact balance between parents' wishes and the interests of secular education. That is the real difficulty. There is no doubt that in Towyn there is a desire on the part of certain parents to have their children given Church of England teaching in the old Church of England school. We do not deny that. But just let us consider what would be the position if the case were reversed. Consider for one moment if the Towyn church school and the council school had been in reverse positions, and that there had been a large and prosperous church school and a small school in which nonconformist teaching was given. Suppose the Board of Education had come down and said: "In the interests of secular education we will abolish the nonconformist school and put the children in the church school." Think what the outcry would have been in Wales. The Board of Education in this case are meting out treatment to the Towyn Church of England school which they would not dare to mete out to the smallest and humblest Nonconformist school. They evidently think that no stick is too bad with which to beat the Church of England in Wales. That, at any rate, has been their policy. It has been their object to encourage local education authorities to destroy church schools in the interests of secular education. But it must not be forgotten that since last year in connection with the Towyn school both parents and managers have done everything in their power to meet the wishes and requisitions of the Board of Education.
The President of the Board of Education, in his reply, declared that he was within the four corners of the Act of Parliament; that he was considering this question as if it were a new school, and as if nothing had happened there before. Is that within the spirit of the policy or of the letter of the Act of Parliament that he should consider a thing as if nothing had happened before? I would point out that by the Liberal Government's own Board of Education he is not justified in saying that the question of thirty children, and there are more than sixty attending this particular school, does not 717 come in. Why, under Section 9 of the regulations dealing with the McKenna Grant, which was given in order to prevent grievances remaining in single school areas and to create multiple school areas, it is provided that on the question of the provision of school "the Board must, inter alia, be satisfied by evidence that the parents of not less than thirty children of school age desire accommodation in a public elementary school provided by the local authority." Thus the question of thirty children, although not within the four corners of the Act of 1902, is within the four corners of the regulations drawn up by the Board of Education under a Liberal Administration. Apparently the policy of the President of the Board of Education is different from that of his predecessor. He says that the thirty children shall not count, and, although sixty children may attend the church school to-day, he declines to consider the question. Reverse the position. Suppose it had been a single school area with the church school. There would have been the McKenna grant, and you would have had a new school put up in order to meet the views of the conscientious Nonconformists. They show every care for the conscientious grievances of Nonconformists; they care nothing for the conscientious grievances of Churchmen. They are making the grievance just as much a grievance as the grievance they are so fond of telling us they are so anxious to remove. Let us understand further what has been the action of the Board of Education with regard to this charity. There has been a charity devoted to this school. The hon. Member for Merionethshire says there have been three charities, and, apparently, because there have been three the Board of Education take one and propose to alienate one. It is done on the same principle as the disendowment of the Church of Wales. They take some endowments and they leave others. I regret that the reply of the President of the Board of Education on this point was most unsatisfactory. He said the charity would not be alienated if the Towyn church school remained a certified efficient school. But why, if that is so, does he refuse the grant. If it is an efficient school, if it has more than thirty children in attendance, I cannot understand on what grounds he refuses to restore the grant to it. We raise this question now because the right hon. Gentleman himself definitely held out to us in the Debate of last year certain hopes. He said on 13th July, in answer to the 718 Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord Hugh Cecil):—The Noble Lord asks 'What is the remedy?' … The procedure is perfectly clear; it is within the four corners of the Act of Parliament. I am not going to do anything to subvert the principles of that Act by administration. I would gladly upset it if I could by legislation, but whilst I have been at the Board o Education, I have administered it fairly, and so long as I am there. I will continue to administer it fairly."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th July, 1910, col. 453.]It seemed to me that by what he said there he definitely held out a promise that there would be some hope of our getting the Grant back, and what have the Towyn school managers and the parents done that they are now denied the privilege of being put back on the Grant List. They have carried out the improvement suggested. They have extended their buildings, and they have shown by their action every desire to have their children taught in this school. But the Board of Education say "no we consider it an unnecessary school, and the question of thirty, forty, fifty, or sixty children does not matter. The opinion of the parents does not matter, and it is a question of rates." Religious objection and consciousness scruples they do not agree with, unless they come from their own side of the House. In reference to this question of the rates and economy in regard to them, the President of the Board of Education seemed to imagine that we thought that there was no connection between the expenditure of the ratepayers' money on the enlargement of Towyn School and the deliberate intention of the local education authority and the Board of Education to close Towyn Church School. There is a connection, and a large sum of the ratepayers' money has been expended which ought not to have been spent in enlarging the council school. This money, I say, ought not to have been expended if we were going to continue Towyn Church School. That school is in the centre of the town, and is conveniently situated, whereas the council school is some little distance from the centre of the town, but that apparently is not to be taken into consideration. The one object of the Board of Education is to stifle and kill the church school because it is a church school.
I come to another curious action on the part of the Board of Education. I recently had brought to my notice a scheme dealing with Helen Humphrey's Education Endowment in another parish in the county of Merionethshire. The scheme was recently laid upon the Table of this House, and the names of the parishes are even 719 more difficult to pronounce than possibly the policy of the Board of Education is to defend. Hitherto a Church Sunday school has been carried on in a certain school building at Llanenddwyn, and the right to carry it on has been enjoyed without any interference from the Board of Education and without any action on their part in the past, but now under this new scheme under Clause 19 Sub-section (b) it is provided that the governors "may" permit the school building to be used on Sundays for the purpose of classes for religious instruction under the superintendence of the rector of one of the parishes and on a payment sufficient to defray the expense of such use, provided that such instruction should be given in the Welsh language to the children of Welsh parents and also to the children of other parents who desire the instruction to be so given. There are two points in this. In the first place, the governors "may" permit. Could not the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education have allowed the word "may" to be altered to the word "shall"? The Board does not dispute the right that is existing to conduct Sunday schools in that building, and, in fact, it seems perfectly clear that that was one of the intentions of the founders. I do not say that the governors who are to be appointed at once or who are likely to be appointed, are opposed to these classes, but everybody knows that undoubtedly there are religious differences in Wales and there is feeling between the church and the nonconformist bodies in Wales, and if you had hostile governors at a particular moment of heat, that introduction of the word "may" might prevent the school being used for this purpose of Church of England children receiving Sunday school teaching.
Then another point arises on the proviso that instruction should be given in Welsh. I think it is a proper thing in that district that it should be given in the Welsh language, but here is a most extraordinary thing—that the Government Department comes down to this House on the eve of introducing a Disestablishment Bill to liberate and free the Church people and to allow them to do what they like, and for the privilege of doing it they are going to take everything but 1s. 2d. or 1s 8d. in the pound—here they are in this instance tying the Church of England and the rector down as to the particular 720 manner of delivering religious instruction in a particular place. Where do the principles of liberation and freedom come in in a Clause of this kind, and I do ask the House to protest with me against this attempt on the part of the Board of Education to bind the people of this district in this manner under a scheme of this kind. I admit that the original grant of this particular charity was for three purposes—instruction of Welsh, instruction of reading, and instruction of arithmetic. Why should the Welsh language part of this scheme be devoted to religious instruction alone? Why should it not be introduced in regard to the teaching of arithmetic and reading? I point out this matter because I understand that there is a Departmental Committee appointed by the President of the Board of Education, dealing with the question of charitable schemes in regard to endowed schools, and it seems to me that at such a moment careful consideration should be given to questions of this sort. Schemes of this kind are properly laid upon the table of this House. It is the only means that people have of having possible grievances redressed and ventilating their views before such schemes become enforceable by law, and I think it is most important that the Board of Education should realise that in regard to schemes like this criticism must be expected, and that criticism is the right of this House. I do not propose to traverse any more ground, but I will say, in conclusion, that I think, in the case of the Towyn church school and similar matters throughout Wales, the Board of Education have acted in such a way as to promote sectarian feeling, and if they continue such a policy, then I say we shall not have educational freedom in Wales, and it will be a cause of trouble and distress to the community as a whole. I shall regret it, as it is a matter of profound regret that in a Christian country this sort of thing should go on under the authority and the shadow of a public department.
§ Mr. MORRELL
I wish to draw attention to a matter which is of great importance, not merely to rural districts but to the whole of the country, the present administration of the Small Holdings Act and especially the action of the Board of Agriculture. It is not too much to say that this Act, on its passing, brought a new ray of hope to many of the rural districts. I think even those of us who had most earnestly desired the passing of the Act 721 were astonished at the response which it got from men who had been waiting for twenty years in the hope of getting upon the land from which they had so long been shut out. We saw from all sides of the country men coming forward at considerable risk to themselves, risk of loss of home, loss of employment, facing unpopularity and ridicule in order to make their application for land. Within a few weeks of the passing of the Act no fewer than 23,000 men had sent in applications. After sometimes harsh and always severe examination on the part of county councils, over 12,000 were approved as suitable men for the land which they desired. To-day these figures have been increased to 30,000 applicants and 15,000 approved as suitable. There is no doubt, I believe, in the mind of anyone who has studied the subject, as I have tried to do that, if the Act had been worked, as it might have been worked, these figures even now would be very much larger than they are. It is only a part of the demand for land in this country. It represents a few of the people who have been waiting for the opportunity which this Act professes to give them. Not only is the demand remarkable in quantity, but by the admission of everyone it is very remarkable in the quality of the men who come forward. Even the Commissioners themselves report how these men are industrious, sober, excellent men, many of whom have saved up capital, thoroughly well fitted to become successful small holders. That was the position three years ago when the Act was passed. What is the position to-day? Everyone will agree that where there was hope there is now dissatisfaction and discontent. In some parts of the country, no doubt, the Act has worked well, but in most places it has led to disappointment, disillusionment, and dismay. Everywhere men have been forced to give up their homes, they have drifted into the towns, they have gone out to Canada and given up their applications. I think one of the most unfortunate aspects is the way in which these applications, made three years ago, are already beginning to be withdrawn. All kinds of pressure, we know perfectly well, is being brought to bear by farmers and others to induce these men to give up their hope of a small holding. They are already in many cases giving up and retiring in despair.
What made these men come forward as they did three years ago? It was not the idea that they would be left to the tender mercies of the county councils. There is 722 no resentment on the part of any of the applicants whom I have met with against the action of the county councils, for the simple reason that they never for a moment expected or believed that the county councils were going out of their way to grant them small holdings. On the contrary I believe in many cases there is considerable surprise at the way in which the county councils have administered the Act which they never asked for, and have undertaken duties which were very often distasteful to them.
What induced the applicants to come forward was that for the first time under this Act, powers were given for the acquisition of land to a central authority. For the first time you had small holdings commissioners established with large powers given to the Board of Agriculture to see to the administration of the Small Holdings Act. Not only that, but Lord Carrington established, and very rightly, a reputation for the interest he had taken in small holdings. These men looked to Lord Carrington and the Board of Agriculture to see them through the endeavours they were making to get on to the land. These men now feel—many of them I know well—that their trust has been misplaced. They believe, and I will show with good reason, that the Board of Agriculture have not fulfilled the hopes to which the Act naturally gave rise. What are the powers of the Board under the Act? The achievements of the Board have been so modest that I believe people do not always realise what the wide, drastic, and extensive powers of the Board really are. Under the Small Holdings Act it is within the scope of the Board not merely to ascertain the demand for land in all the counties—that is a duty they are paid to do, and it is one which, I regret to say, they very imperfectly fulfil in many cases—but, having ascertained the demand they have it in their power to frame schemes for the satisfaction of that demand, to send down those schemes to the county council concerned, and then if within six months the county council fail to carry out the scheme forwarded to them, the Board themselves have power to step in and exercise compulsory powers for the purchase of land to carry out the scheme, to let the land to the applicants, and to see that the demand is satisfied. Not only so, but the Board, under Clause 20 of the Act, have powers acting directly without the intervention of the county council, to go down to any part of the country—though in this case they 723 may not buy compulsorily—and purchase land by agreement and let it off for small Holdings, divide it up, adapt it, build houses, and when they have let it off as small holdings to establish credit banks, and generally establish a colony of small holders. It is not too much to say that under these powers it would have been possible for the Board, if the Act had been administered by men who really meant to establish small holdings on a large scale in this country, almost to change the face of rural England. What have they done in that direction? Out of 30,000 applications which they have received there are now 6,000 applicants who are in process of getting land. It is not true to say that 6,000 have been placed on the land, but that number of applicants are included or about to be included in some scheme. Out of 15,000 who have been approved there are 9,000, after a delay of three years, without any prospect of getting the land for which they have applied. Not only so, but I would have the House to notice how these applications are grouped among the counties. It is perfectly true that in some counties the Act, not through the action of the Board of Agriculture, has been enforced in a very satisfactory way. In the two counties of Norfolk and Cambridge no fewer than 1,200 applicants have already been placed on the land. In the eight other counties which come next in order 2,900 have been placed on the land, so that ten counties out of the sixty-three are responsible for two-thirds of the success of this Act. The remaining 2,000 successful applicants are divided among the other fifty-three counties. I will give a few figures of some of the worst counties. In Dorset, out of 382 applicants, 196 have been approved of and forty-four have been placed on the land. In Derby, out of 178 applicants, 112 have been approved of and eight have been placed on the land. In South Peterborough, out of 119 applicants fourteen are being provided for. In East Sussex, out of 208 applicants, nineteen have been provided for. In West Sussex, out of 146 applicants five have been provided for. In Westmoreland, eight have been provided for. In the North Hiding of Yorkshire, out of 299 applicants 146 have been approved of and seven have been placed on the land. You may take county after county like that, and you find not merely a vast majority of applicants still unsatisfied, but practically hardly any attempt made in many cases to carry out this Act. What has the Board 724 of Agriculture done? In spite of all the appeals that have been made time after time and year after year by myself and others, there are only two solitary cases in which the Board of Agriculture has attempted to put into force what are called the default powers given in this Act. It is not a question of coercing the county councils, as has sometimes been said. It is simply a question whether the Board of Agriculture should carry out the powers which the local authority does not carry out. Only in two cases have the Board attempted to do that. In the case of South Peterborough and in the case of Bournemouth schemes have actually been begun under this clause. With regard to their other powers, the powers of acting directly and establishing what are called experimental holdings, under which the Board of Agriculture might almost, as I have said, transform rural England, no attempt whatever has been made to take action. The Board of Agriculture in reply to a question put to them to-day, said they have no intention of putting these clauses into force. All the time spent in Committee in passing these clauses, all the hopes that were then raised, are now set aside as if this House had had no intention whatever in the matter. That seems to me a serious state of things. I believe it is one which is bringing enormous discredit upon the Government in rural England. I have heard of many cases in which the Board of Agriculture have delayed schemes brought forward by the most advanced county councils. They have delayed, criticised, and discouraged them. Surrey has not a county council apt to be too advanced, and only the other day I heard that the Board had declined to allow that body to build houses required in rural districts for small holdings which were being established. I have never heard of the Board of Agriculture doing anything to advance the establishment of small holdings by encouraging a backward county council. Time after time appeals have been made to the Board by some individual who felt that he had been badly used by the county council, and all the Department did was to write perfunctory letters, and in no case have I heard of the Board doing anything to remedy an injustice alleged. There are not merely the 9,000 who have been disappointed, but there are individual cases, which I am always reluctant to bring forward—cases of men who have been driven out of their homes and 725 lost their employment in consequence of this Act.
I have here a case which occurred in 1908, in what was then my own Constituency, near Oxford. It was the case of a poor man named George Jones, a carrier in a small village, about nine miles from Oxford. He applied for twenty acres of land. There is in the neighbourhood a big farm occupied by one farmer. The agent of the county council went to the farmer and asked for the twenty acres of land. The farmer went to the landlord, in one of whose houses Jones was living. The farmer said to the landlord that he wished to have the house occupied by Jones transferred to his farm, and the landlord agreed. The farmer then went to George Jones, and told him he must give up his claim to the twenty acres of land, or he would turn him out of his house. The farmer not only did so, but he boasted of it. The Conservative newspaper pointed out what had been done to this man. In 1908 I asked a question to bring out the facts, and the answer I got from the President of the Board of Agriculture was that inquiry had been made into the case, and he found that the facts were substantially as stated in the question. There was never any doubt that the man was threatened and that he was finally evicted for no other reasons than that he had applied for the land. What did the Board of Agriculture do? They ordered the land to be inspected, and, finally, they picked out the worst piece of land in the village in substitution for the other. Jones was rightly unwilling to take it, and nothing more has been done. Jones has lost his home in consequence of his application under the Act. He lost his home and very nearly lost his business except for the fact that fortunately he had saved money and he was able to get another cottage which was then vacant. I will take two more cases. One of them is a case to which attention has been drawn in this House this year. It occurred in Wiltshire in a case in which the parish council put in force the provisions of the Act. The parish council had been captured by the Progressives, and I there were something like five working men and four farmers. They applied for ten acres of land, and because they could not get it by agreement they asked for compulsory powers. The Board of Agriculture sent down an Inspector. There was great excitement in the village, where people were very unwilling that this land should be 726 taken by the parish council. Objection was got up, headed by the parson of the parish, against the proposal. The inquiry was held, and the Inspector, no doubt on perfectly good grounds, decided that the land was unsuitable, and the request was refused. Within a few months after that the four men who had been particularly concerned with the inquiry received notice to quit. The chairman of the council and the vice-chairman and a man named Joseph Chamberlain, a man of very high reputation, and a man named Henry Williams got those notices. Williams was a first-class Army Reservist who had served his country in the South African War. In the case of the first three no reason was given for the notices which they received. I believe afterwards it was alleged that their cottages were required for other purposes. In the case of Williams, I think the hon. Baronet said the reason was that Williams had taken part in the inquiry, which was thought not desirable by Mr. Snook, Henry William's landlord. I have a question which was put by the hon. Baronet on the subject, and I think the reason was that Mr. Snook objected to Henry Williams's conduct at two meetings, one of them being the inquiry. Three of those four men were turned out of the village because they could not get any other cottages. The fourth man, Williams, is still in the village. In his case the landlord admits that his conduct at the inquiry was partly the reason for which he was turned out of his cottage. I think I am also right in saying that all through the village and the district it is believed, though denied by the landlord, that these ejections took place entirely in consequence of the attempt made by the parish council to get land under the Small Holdings Act. That, at any rate, is my information. What have the Board of Agriculture done in the matter? The matter was brought before them first of all by Mr. Williams, who in July wrote them a letter, to which they sent back a perfunctory answer, saying that they had no power to intervene. The matter was brought before them again by Mr. Massie, who was then Member for that part of Wiltshire. Again they said they would send and inquire, but nothing further was done. For a whole year the matter was allowed to sleep altogether. It was then raised again by my hon. Friends and myself, and further inquiries were made; but they could not get the land required.
727 I will give one more case, that of Mr. James Gardiner, of Carnforth, in Lancashire. In that ease an inquiry was held last August. As a result of the inquiry-application was made for six acres of land. The Small Holdings Commissioner went to the man's landlord, who happened to own what the commissioner thought was suitable land, and asked for the six acres. The man had held his cottage for twenty years, and no sort of reason was ever given for the notice to quit which he then received. At an interview which the man had with the agents of the landlord, his wife says that he pleaded with them, told them all his difficulties, and asked if there was anything he could do to obtain relief. He was told that the only thing he could do was to write a letter saying that he would take no land from these people, and that then the agents would try to get back the house. In that case, as in other cases, since the question has been brought forward the landlord has denied that he turned out the man in consequence of his application, but he has never given any other reason for the notice to quit. He has never suggested that the man did not pay his rent. He has never alleged that the man was in any way a bad tenant. From the inquiries I have made—and I have endeavoured to be fair in the matter—I am convinced that the only reason why that man was turned out and left homeless, as he is now, his business threatened and probably ruined, is that he applied for land under the Small Holdings Act. I do not want to say that the Board of Agriculture are directly responsible in these matters. They are not. But I do say they might have done more than they have done to stop this sort of thing going on. If they had carried out the Act with a little more energy and in a more drastic manner than they have hitherto done I believe these cases would never have been heard of. There is no doubt of the disinterested zeal of the President of the Board of Agriculture. All we wish is that he would put more zeal into his subordinates at the Board. There is only one way of getting the Small Holdings Act made a reality. That is by altering the methods of administration of the Board of Agriculture. We have been often told that this is going to be an expensive matter; that the Board cannot afford to spend any more money in appointing Special Commissioners, The Board of Agriculture are able to find plenty of 728 money when they want to improve the breed of light horses. I wish they would do something to improve our countryside and the breed of our manhood there. I believe there are tremendous possibilities in this Act. The effect of the Act has increased public opinion enormously in favour of small holdings. We have magnificent material to work upon. We want to see an altogether fresh spirit put into the administration of this Act.
§ Sir HARRY VERNEY
I desire to ask the House for that indulgence which I know the Members always give to a new Member speaking for the first time. I am reluctant at this late hour to intervene in this Debate, yet I feel that one who represents an agricultural constituency is almost bound to intervene, because, with the possible exception of the Board of Education, there is no Department so closely concerned with our rural districts, and no Act which has ever been passed that has such possibilities for the improvement of our village life. If my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary of the Board of Agriculture had been endowed with the gift of prophecy, and could have told this House that in three years somthing like 6,000 applicants would have received something over 89,000 acres of land, I think hon. Members in all parts of the House would have felt that the Act was well worth passing. But those who have served on county councils know that these' things have only been done by a tremendous struggle. Many of the hon. Gentlemen who sit behind me, I think, feel that with an Act with such possibilities of good, it is a thousand pities that it is not a little bit better. I speak as one of those who has to some extent incurred the wrath of my hon. Friend the Member for Burnley as sitting on the Small Holdings Committee of a county council.
I am only anxious to put before the House one or two aspects, from practical experience, of the working of the Small Holdings Act. The hostility to this Act which undoubtedly exists is to some extent on the part of landlords, but it is to a far greater extent on the part of the large tenant farmers. It is these latter that oppose the Act, and the working of it; and, incidentally, I may say the large tenant farmer is a class that is not by any means unrepresented on the ordinary county councils. The reason partly for this hostility is that the large tenant farmer is liable to be turned out of his holding—through no fault of his own, but from 729 the needs of the countryside. That is bad enough if it is necessary under the working of the Act, but it is worse if in the course of his leaving one farm he should be put to a large expense; and I think the Board of Agriculture realises this difficulty. The law provides that adequate compensation should be given to the farmer who is turned out of his farm. I would venture respectfully to ask the Board whether they could not put a rather more generous interpretation upon what the law allows them to do? I could mention, from my own experience certain farmers who have been turned out of their farms, and have actually been put to expense besides the objection they have to leaving their farms. I think if we could give a more generous interpretation to the Act a large part of the hostility on the part of the large farmers would be removed.
The second difficulty that meets anyone trying to administer this Act may seem a small one to this House, but not a small one to those who know village life. It is the case where in a small village there is only one applicant for a holding. There is no machinery under the Act—there may be in theory but not in practice—by which that applicant can get land. If the land could be got by voluntary agreement it would be all right, but I think we may take it that voluntary agreement has failed, and if that is so, there is no way of putting into force the compulsory powers of the Act where there is only one applicant, because, very properly, county councils are unwilling to risk the public money of the rates upon one applicant. He may refuse to take the land, he may become bankrupt, or he may die, and the county councils refuse to risk the money of the rates upon one life. In villages very often there may be only one approved applicant; though there would be many willing to take up land once the land was forthcoming. There, possibly, I touch on what is party politics, but party politics do arise. If you take a small village you may find an instance in which the squire who is the owner of the land, the rector and the schoolmaster all belong to one political party—for example, the Independent Labour party—and supposing there should be one Conservative workman who applies for a small holding, it is undoubtedly a fact that the other Conservative workmen wait to see what will be the fate of their brave colleague before they come forward and apply for land themselves. I think that is a matter that comes before every small 730 holdings committee; the one applicant does not get the land his colleagues are discouraged, and nothing but the complete reorganisation and the way the Act is administered, taking it altogether out of the hands of the county council because of that kind of thing will meet the difficulty.
There is another case to which I would specially direct the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary which has arisen—a case in my own knowledge, in which the landowner has deliberately divided up her farm into small holdings in order to evade the Act. I shall trouble the House with the facts of the case. It is the case of a lady owning a farm of 274 acres. The correspondence originally began on 31st October, 1908, and the Secretary to the Small Holdings Committee applied, as he always does, to the landowner as to whether she would meet the council in finding land. The landowner refused, and correspondence was carried on in connection with this farm for eighteen months. I may say in passing that that is about the average time the council spend. We on the Small Holdings Committee decided to resort to compulsory powers. After the county council had settled upon this the owner of the farm drew up six separate agreements of less than fifty acres, and so in this way evaded the Act. The farm was held by one tenant previously, and comprised 274 acres, but after it had been settled to obtain compulsory powers it was divided into six separate holdings. Hon. Members may argue that small holdings have been established without an Act of Parliament, but I wish to mention two facts. The first is that the six tenants who now hold that farm are the son and five daughters of the previous tenant. I am given to understand that the management of the farm is now exactly the sane, and it is in exactly the same hands as it was before the division was made into six holdings. I say that is a deliberate evasion of the Act. We on the county council have taken legal advice, and we have been advised that as far as the landowner is concerned she is perfectly within her rights in dividing up the farm in this way. We have also taken the opinion of counsel, and he has confirmed our own legal adviser.
I am not a lawyer, and it is not for me to say whether this action is legal or not, but I do ask the Board of Agriculture to take this matter seriously. If this matter is allowed to slide you, Mr. Speaker, and I could arrange to take a farm and divide 731 it into lots of fifty acres, and so evade the Act at any moment. If this kind of thing is legal, then nothing remains but an Amendment of the Act to remedy it; if it is illegal, then I call upon the Board of Agriculture, without any delay to-morrow morning, irrespective of what the county council have done, to go over the head of the county council and take this matter to the courts of law and establish the law one way or the other. I beg of the Board of Agriculture to take up the matter seriously, because if it is allowed to slide we might as well stop our work on the Small Holdings Committee.
There are many more points which I might bring to the notice of the House with regard to the working of the Act, but, I look forward to the day when lengthy speeches in this House will be curtailed to, say, about thirteen minutes. Perhaps I may be allowed to say that it has been my privilege for the last three years to be in a Government office, and I know I shall not be betraying any secrets when I say that whenever a Government office is attacked the brilliant brains in the office assemble together to make up a defence. This is no attack, and so no defence is necessary. I plead with the Parliamentary Secretary to give us a little sympathy to allow a little oil to work into the machinery, so that the Act may work a little more smoothly. It must be quite clear that I am no more able to make phrases and epigrams than the labourers who sent me here, but I know there are a number of men on the countryside with the necessary capital and, what is more important still, with the necessary experience in agricultural work, who ask that this Act, which was passed for them, should be allowed to work, and work smoothly. I believe that the proper administration of this Act does tend to the betterment of the country, which, when all is said and done, is dear to every one of us on whichever side of the House we may sit.
§ 11 P.M.
§ Mr. SANDERS
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down will allow me to congratulate him on the exceedingly practical and useful speech he has made. It was the practical speech of a practical man. I hope he will forgive my saying—perhaps it was noticeable—that really the only criticism he had to bring against the Board of Agriculture was due not to any fault of the Board, but to a fault of the Act of Parliament. I think that only 732 illustrates, if a further illustration were necessary, the outrageous sloppiness with which Liberal Acts of Parliament are apt to be drawn up.
§ Sir H. VERNEY
My complaint is against the inaction of the Board of Agriculture in not carrying out the Act as it is, and not so much against the Act itself.
§ Mr. SANDERS
I was referring to the hon. Gentleman's illustration of the lady who divided her farm among her six children. I believe that is perfectly legal. The Board of Agriculture cannot override the Act, and the only way to have prevented that would have been to have altered the Act or to have originally drawn it up in a different way. The hon. Gentleman's speech was a very pleasant change after the lachrymose phrases of the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Morrell). Although I am not one who talks a great deal about small holdings, I have done what perhaps is rather more useful; I have done my best to promote them. Ever since the Act came into operation I have been chairman of the small holdings committee of my county council, a county council which has found over 4,000 acres of land for the applicants of small holdings. I want to say, from practical experience, that no people have been more helpful in carrying out this work than the Commissioners of the Board of Agriculture, whom the hon. Gentleman has been attacking. I want to acknowledge the tact with which those gentlemen have carried out what I believe was one of the most difficult duties ever assigned to public officers.
The hon. Gentleman for Burnley stated there had been a good deal of disillusionment among the applicants for small holdings. I think that is quite true. The reason is that the hon. Gentleman and so many of his friends promised what it is quite impossible for this or any other Act of Parliament to bring to pass. When this Act was passed, and after some hon. Gentlemen opposite had been lecturing on the subject about the villages, there were men in the villages who thought they had only to pick out a particular piece of land and say, "that is the bit I want; that is where I am going to keep my cow," and they were going to have it at their own price. There is nothing in the Small Holdings Act, and there could be nothing in any Act of Parliament, that would enable such a state of things to be brought about There were people who led these labourers to believe that such a state of things could be brought about when such a state 733 of things was manifestly impossible. There is nothing in the Act to say that the land which is to be supplied to any applicants shall be nearest home, but when you come to go into the question of the applicants you find that practically 80 per cent. of them—in many parishes I should say a great deal more than 80 per cent.—refuse to go more than a mile away from their own home. Of course that enormously increases the difficulty of accommodating these applicants. The attack on the Commissioners is that they have not exercised in a wholesale manner those ultimate compulsory powers which were put in their hands, and that they have not gone behind the backs of the county councils, and exercised compulsory powers, and sent in the bill to the county councils. In refraining from doing that, except in the last resort, I think the Commissioners were very well advised.
I cannot imagine anything that would have set the whole countryside by the ears more than the exercise of such powers would have done. The hon. Member who has just sat down had said that the opposition to this Act comes not only from the landowners, but from the farmers as well. My experience has been that there has been no opposition to the Act on the part of the landowners, but that there has been a good deal of misgiving and a great deal of fear on the part of the farmers that they are going to be turned out of the best part of their farms by the exercise of compulsory powers under this Act. If this fear had been allowed to be substantiated it would have made the acquisition of land for small holdings very much more difficult. I think it stands to reason if this thing is to be made a success—and I believe on both sides of the House we wish it should be so—it will be done very much more easily if we have good feeling towards the Act from all classes than if we start with ill-feeling against it, either from landowners or farmers. The Commissioners of the Board of Agriculture have taken the wiser view. They have seen that if the Act is to be carried out, if it is to be made a blessing and not a curse it must be worked with tact: it must be worked, not by riding rough shod over men, but by trying to conciliate them. It is not my business to defend the Government or Government officials. It is because I dislike to see men attacked when I know that they have been doing their best in a difficult situation that I have ventured to intervene in this Debate and to say a word on their behalf.
This is a subject which does not very often come up and I think it is the duty of Members of this House who represent agricultural Constituencies to seize every opportunity to draw the attention of the Board of Agriculture to any bad effects in connection with the working of this Act. The movement is not of modern growth. It has been realised on both sides of the House for many years that the rural population has-been dwindling, and that if something is not done we shall shortly have no agricultural population at all. The Act of 1892 was not very successful. I do not wish to draw a comparison between that and the more recent Act in any party or controversial spirit. I am here to do my utmost to make the Act more successful. But that Act, which was in operation from 1892 to 1908, was very unsuccessful, to judge by the quantity of land which was found. It was a very small amount. I think a little under a thousand acres compared with the three years of this Act with its 80,000 or 90,000 acres. There can be no doubt that the later Act is by far the better of the two. I saw it mentioned in "The Times" a few days ago, on the information of a correspondent, that this Act has reached its climax. I do not think for an instant that is true. Surely it will not be maintained that all the best men have been accommodated.
The fact that there are over 7,000 on the "waiting list" is conclusive that the statement is premature, if not exactly untrue. I consider that the real value of this Act as compared with the previous measure is contained in the one simple word "compulsion." The partners in this business are three. For success it is necessary that these three partners should be considered in their relation one towards another. The partners are the applicant, the county council, and the Board of Agriculture. The applicant, to my mind, is by far the most important, for after all the Act was only brought about to meet his needs. What sort of men are the applicants in most cases? I think you may divide them practically into three classes, two of which do not require any particular assistance from the Board of Agriculture to fight their battles; but the third does require the assistance, and sympathetic assistance, of the Board of Agriculture, or it is quite impossible for this third class to obtain land. There is the townsman, who may have broken down in the industrial competition of town life, or who for one reason or another thinks he would be 735 able perhaps to do better for his family and himself, or that it would improve his health, or it may be for the two reasons combined, if he obtained a holding and led an agricultural life. He probably has acquired a small amount of capital, £200 or £300. Although at first sight it would seem as if this man was doomed to failure, it is astonishing how the business methods which he has acquired in his urban occupation stands him in good stead in dealing with a small holding.
Nowadays, with so much intensive culture of a scientific character on small holdings, a great deal of it can be learned from books, and also from papers which are published week by week, supplying information which, if he has any adaptability at all, affords the small holder every chance, more especially if he has a little money, of building up a happy home. The produce dealer is another class you would put in the category—such men as butchers, greengrocers, fruiterers, bakers, dairymen, poulterers—people who keep a shop in the town and supplement their business by cultivating a small holding within a reasonable distance. I have personal experience of cases where this has been done, and where the home has been established on the holding, and the shop merely kept as business premises. These two classes I only mention to draw the attention of the Board of Agriculture to the fact that it is not in their favour that I wish to enlist any particular sympathy or encouragement. The third class, which is really the class for whom the Act was passed, is, I suppose, the agricultural labourer. It is necessary in dealing with him to realise that he again must be divided. There is the older-fashioned agricultural labourer who will probably be quite unable to manage a modern small holding on scientific, up-to-date methods. For him the compulsory powers which the parish council may employ under the Allotments Act of obtaining five acres of land are in most cases sufficient.
The highly-skilled agricultural labourer is quite a different man. In every village community there is a certain number of men who must be considered labourers in agriculture with highly skilled qualifications. There are the farm carpenter, the thatcher, whom farmers will hunt through the country to get when the need comes, and the village blacksmith, who, when they are not employed, as they are not by any means more than a few days 736 in the week, would have lots of time and could indulge successfully in a small holding of their own. It is for these men in particular that I wish to enlist the sympathy of the Board. Over and above the demand for land, I believe, deep down in their hearts is a demand for independence. In the village community they are usually fairly prominent. They take an active part in one thing or another, but whatever they do in the direction of making applications for small holdings they become marked men from that day forward. They have to brave the invidious publicity of correspondence, which in small villages is pretty well known and traced whence it comes. They have to allow it to be known amongst their friends and their enemies that they are in close touch with the county council to obtain an alteration in their present circumstances. I really think, in many cases, the delay of the Board and of the county councils in bringing to some successful issue the hopes which have been raised in their breasts is responsible for a great many withdrawals from the number of these applicants on the list to-day.
The second partner is the county council. This is the partner in the business for whom I am most sorry. To start with he was a reluctant partner. I do not think county councils ever solicited that this additional labour should be put upon their shoulders. I also think they are very overworked bodies. It is impossible for us to pay too high a tribute to the work, the whole of which is voluntary, of county councils in so many other and varied departments of administration. From the composition of the councils it will be seen that they are not the most suitable body to deal with the Act. Whether they mean it or not there is bound to be an antagonism of interest. Their composition is necessarily largely of the landowner class. It is supplemented by professional men and large farmers, but whatever else there is in the composition of the small holdings sub-committee there is no one of the applicant class concerned. Some of them have worked hard and have brought about good results, but there are a great many not actively unfriendly councils, but tacitly unfriendly.
It is the unfriendly councils who just administer the letter of the Act and ignore the spirit which brings about the failure of it in so many instances. It is very easy by dilatory attention to business, by many weeks and months passing between two successive steps in the same 737 scheme to dishearten the applicant, and in many cases force him to withdraw. Not only does the unfriendly council sometimes offer land which I must call infertile—land of a third or fourth class character, while almost the very best land is necessary to make a success of this Act—but they offer it in almost inaccessible positions. There are instances which I could quote where these small holdings have no roads to them, and in some cases where there are roads so bad that they would entail double or treble the haulage power to carry produce backward and forward. Even a large farmer with a large number of horses would find difficulty in this direction, but how much more severe is this burden when thrust upon a small man who has only one horse, even if it is not the case that he has to borrow one from a friend. Distance from the railway station is also a very important matter. The county council may save their face by offering a farm——
§ Mr. SPEAKER
This is not the opportunity for criticising the action of the county councils in administering the Small Holdings Act. There is nothing for the county councils in the Bill we are now discussing. The hon. Gentleman must confine himself to the action of the Board of Agriculture whose salaries are contained in the money authorised under the Bill.
It was only with the object of drawing attention to these matters and offering suggestions as to the way in which the Board of Agriculture could improve the operation of the Act that I diverged slightly from the right direction and dwelt for a moment on the action of the county councils. I would leave that point at once by saying that if they demand fit and suitable men as tenants I think the tenants have a right to demand fit and suitable land for their holdings. I know a case on the border of my Constituency, which is, I think, an accurate and valuable example of some of the foregoing statements and charges. This farm consists of 780 acres. The prices are, I think, of the utmost importance, because a great deal of the value of my argument depends on them. About 19s. per acre was paid before the county council appeared on the scene, but the moment it appeared and made inquiries as to whether or not this farm would be available (it is seven or eight miles away from the nearest station), 24s. 3d. per acre was at once paid by the county council, an increase 738 of 5s. 3d. on the original amount. I am not in a position to say why the county council were asked to pay more than the last tenant, but the fact remains the same. Before the small holder can come into his holding the question of how much money the county council are proposing to lay out on adaptations and repairs has to be calculated.
I regret that I should again have trespassed. It was not intentional in any way. I thought that the bringing of this case to the notice of the Board of Agriculture was valuable, inasmuch as it is one which is demanding the instant attention of the Board. A Commissioner has been promised to go down there, and when I was there a month ago men were imploring me to do my utmost to obtain a visit by the Commissioner. He has not yet been there. It was only with that object I mentioned the case, for without doing so I am quite unable to bring my point home against the Board of Agriculture. Of course, if it is out of order——
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. Member is perfectly in order in that respect as long as he can connect the action or the non-action of the Board of Agriculture with any complaint he has to make. There is no money for the county council in this Bill at all. The object of his attack, the target at which he must aim, must be the hon. Baronet, who is sitting below him.
I will endeavour to direct my attention to the hon. Baronet. The case of this farm is one in which the Board of Agriculture will find themselves, I think, before the end of the story, forced to send down Commissioners to put the matter right. The sum of £3,865 was spent on adaptations and repairs, and in that sum, upon which the men had to pay interest at the rate of 6 per cent., added to their rent, was a sum of £480 for making the farmhouse suitable for a gentleman's residence. I have been to the spot and ascertained to my satisfaction that this house could be adapted at a very small cost indeed for at least two, if not three, of the small holding families. That is not the full extent of my charge. The sum of £560 was spent on the erection of a cottage to house one of these men, who, I maintain, could have been accommodated in the farm itself. This brings us up practically to what I think will be proved to 739 be a waste of money of over £1,000, all of which has to be added to the rent of the small holders.
§ Sir RANDOLF BAKER
Is the hon. Member correct in saying that the small holders have to pay interest on the sums spent on buildings and repairs?
I do not resent the interruption as it enables me to emphasise the fact that the men have got to pay 6 per cent. interest on this sum of £1,000 which has been wasted in the way I have described. In addition, £365 was spent on iron railing. I maintain that that is an extravagance. The Board should look into this matter without further delay. When you think of dividing fields—separating one holding from another with iron railings at 2s. 3d. a yard you see a matter of extravagance which should be looked into at once. But there is more still that requires investigation. The occupants took over the holdings getting on now to two years ago. After being in occupation for a year at a fixed rent upon an agreement which they had all signed the county council land agent was sent round to ask them to give up the old agreements and to sign new ones at increased rents. Naturally, a good many of them, after having lived one year on the property, rather than give up the work they had put in and be disturbed signed the new agreement to stay on under these unfair conditions. But some objected to sign and some refused. It was owing to their action that, a very few days afterwards, the land agent for the county council went round to the holdings and withdrew the notices presented only a few days before. But attached to the notice for an increased payment was a notice to quit, a three months' notice. That is an illegal notice. Under the Act twelve months' notice is necessary, and taking the date these notices were received, instead of three months, June to September, the period should have been twelve months from the following September, or fifteen months. I could not possibly lose the opportunity of bringing a case of this kind to the notice of the Board of Agriculture in 740 the hope that it will realise the very grave responsibility upon its shoulders, and that unless it supervises the working of this Act as in the hands of the county councils, we have very little chance of achieving the practical success which it is our object to bring about.
Not only is it necessary for the Board to-direct their attention to controlling county councils in these instances, but I think it is necessary that they should give up the process of delay and vacillation which so often marks their action. In a certain town in my Division an allotment movement has been on foot for nearly three years. There were sixty-four men, and the whole amount required was eight and three-quarter acres of land, but they have not got it yet. They obtained a majority on the council to apply for a compulsory order. It was applied for, the land was visited, and an inspection was made. The moment the compulsory order was in the air, the local landlord, who had refused before, came forward with an offer of two pieces of land other than that applied for. These pieces of land are quite unsuitable for the purposes of the men, and they were offered because of the compulsory order. A wrangle has ensued, and the committee, acting upon the advice of the Board of Agriculture, have communicated with the local estate—the Eldon estate—to see if terms could be arrived at to deal with those two pieces of land which the men did not want. The rent asked was £3. and the notice was three months instead of twelve. That brought about a deadlock between the allotment committee and the Eldon estate.
What has happened is that £2 10s. has been offered by the council and refused by the Eldon estate, and the whole thing is exactly where it was three years ago, except that not only are these sixty-four men who have waited during these three years of vacillation, disappointed and disillusioned, but a great many others who would have been ready to come forward have withdrawn themselves from the movement. I realise the difficulties of the Board of Agriculture, but at the same time I think they have some advantages, and they might make some use of them. To start with, they are impartial in all these transactions. They are removed from the locality, and do not feel the difficulties which surround residents in the midst of one of these scenes. I believe many county councils would welcome further pressure from the Board to help them out of the 741 difficulty, and as regards delay I think the House will agree with me that quite enough delay has probably taken place long before the Board of Agriculture are requested to interfere or to take any step. I am glad that the proposal in regard to land banks has been foreshadowed, but I think the applicants must be protected against paying rents which would make it impossible to achieve success. The county councils have shown themselves unbusinesslike and extravagant, and the Board of Agriculture, to improve the working of this Act, should have more Commissioners, be more willing to apply compulsory orders, and to more adequately insist upon the enforcement of the Act.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I only wish to answer a statement made by the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Morrell). I understood him to say that in a case at South Marston a man named Williams was turned out of his cottage because he had applied for land.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
Quite so; he said he was turned out because of his action in connection with this Act. Williams is a workman employed by the Great Western Railway at Swindon, and he lived in a cottage at South Marston, which is six miles from Swindon. There were three or four other men employed also in the Great Western Railway works at Swindon who lived in South Marston. Those men, in conjunction with Williams, asked the parish council to build cottages for them of a certain description and to give them something like a half or three-quarters of an acre of land with the cottage. The question of a small holding never arose and was never demanded by any of these men. The cost of the cottages would have been about £250, irrespective of land.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
It may have been an application under the Act, but not for a small holding. It was for a cottage to be built on land, giving almost three-quarters of an acre each.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
It was not. It was an application for four or five cottages 742 to be built upon, possibly five acres, leaving an acre or less of land for each cottage. The parish council were disposed to acquiesce in the request, but the inhabitants of the village were strongly against it, because they knew that a rent of five or six shillings a week would have to be paid. That might be paid by those three or four men, but it was evident if anything happened to those men that a rent of five or six shillings could not be paid by agricultural labourers who are inhabitants of the parish. I may say also that the Great Western Railway, there being nine hundred empty houses at Swindon, said that in future they would require their men to live in Swindon. Thus the majority of the inhabitants were against the proposal. That being so, the hon. Baronet (Sir E. Strachey) sent down a Commissioner to hold a local inquiry. Everybody on the other side has spoken about the fairness of the Board of Agriculture, and the Commissioner who was sent down held that the application was not justified. Williams occupied a cottage belonging to Mr. Snook. Mr. Snook was clerk to the parish council. He owned eighteen acres of land on which he lived. He was not a Duke or grasping landlord, but owner of eighteen acres of land, and he still is clerk to the parish council. He is also a Nonconformist. There had been a Tariff Reform meeting in the village about this time, and at that meeting Williams had likened the clergyman of the parish to the Devil. Mr. Snook who, although he is a Nonconformist, respected the vicar, and he was so angry at this that he had it in his mind to give notice to Williams to leave his cottage.
Then there came the Board of Agriculture inquiry, at which a Mr. Sansom was told by the Commissioner that if he repeated remarks he had made he would have to leave the room. Williams was twice stopped in his remarks by the Commissioner, and on those two facts Mr. Snook wrote a letter, a copy of which I have not here, though I have got it at home and had it here the other day, in which he said, "In consequence of your behaviour at the last two meetings held in the parish, that was the Tariff Reform meeting"—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear"]—I am stating the facts, I do not want to conceal them—"the Tariff Reform meeting and the meeting of the Board of Agriculture, I give you notice to leave your cottage." That was taken up by the Radical party in Swindon, and commented upon by the "Morning 743 Leader" and the "Daily News"; in fact, there was a general conception that here was a man who desired a small holding and had been turned out of his cottage by a wicked rich landlord in consequence of his political opinions. Mr. Snook considers himself to be of very enlightened opinions, and does not wish to raise the slightest objection to the opinions of his tenants. He was perfectly aware when he took the cottage that Williams was a Radical, but he rather prides himself on the fact that he lets his cottages to Radicals. There were other reasons besides his disorderly conduct at these meetings for which Williams received notice to quit. He was in arrear with his rent; he did not keep the garden in good order; Mr. Snook had laid out £6 on repairs to the cottage, and Williams did not keep it in good order. These are the facts without any varnish.
§ Mr. MORRELL
Can the hon. Baronet say anything about the three other evictions which took plate simultaneously?
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I do not know the facts about the other three people; therefore, I cannot say anything about them. They were never tenants of mine. I know the case of Mr. Snook, because he came to see me about it, thinking he had been unjustly treated. Anyone with an impartial mind must see that it is not the case that this man Williams was turned out of his cottage because he applied for land under the Small Holdings Act. The case only shows how these stories get about, and how they are exaggerated. If it had not been that I happen to own a certain amount of land in that village—I apologise for it—the true facts of the case would never have been brought before the House.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the BOARD of AGRICULTURE (Sir Edward Strachey)
My hon. Friend the Member for Burnley (Mr. Morrell), who initiated this Debate, began by making a general attack on the administration of the Act by the Board of Agriculture. Although he said that no one could doubt the zeal of my Noble Friend the President, yet he proceeded to make an indiscriminate attack on the Board. My hon. Friend knows as well as anyone in the House that the President of the Board and nobody else is responsible for the success or failure of this Act. I hope, therefore, he will refrain from attacking the officials of the Board, and reserve his attacks for 744 the political heads of the Department, who alone are responsible. It is very unfair to attack Civil servants, who themselves are not in any way responsible for what goes on, and I am sure that my Noble Friend, if he were able to stand at this box, would be the first to say so. My hon. Friend having made a general attack upon the administration of this Act—and, as he seems to think, of its failure—I am forced as shortly as possible to state exactly what has been the working of the Act.
I desire to point out that up to the end of last year—that is, the end of the three years in which the Act had been in force (for practical purposes only really 2½ years, because the first few months were spent in preliminary inquiries by the county councils)—up to the end of 1910 there had been offered nearly 90,000 acres of land acquired, or agreed to be acquired—for small holdings by the county councils. Out of that large number over 53,000 acres had been bought for £1,695,000, and 35,611 acres had actually been leased at a cost of over £44,000 yearly. There has been 65,923 acres let to 4,846 small holders; further—and this is a very important point—that there have been 27 co-operative societies, or small holdings associations, who have sublet 3,454 acres to 490 small holders, members of these associations. Again, there have been over 27,000 acres let by landowners direct to small holders, mainly through the instrumentality of the county councils themselves, because it has often happened that the tenant himself has said that he preferred to take the land direct from the landowner, and so save the very necessary and proper charges of the county council. There has been a further amount of land, which, although it has not been actually allotted, has been acquired by the county councils for the provision of allotments and small holdings for 1,500 applicants.
That is to say, that in three years, up to December 31st of last year, over 9,000 applicants have been provided with small holdings. Fifty-two acres in addition have been sold to seven small holders. It is rather interesting to note that out of the applications made last year by 4,000 applicants only 74 desired to purchase their holding. I think it is generally conceded that at the present time the enormous majority of applicants desire to become occupiers and not the owners of land. The reason for it is that where one man would be able to buy his holding, a 745 hundred would be able to rent the land and stock it. Again, a man may die, and land bought might have to be sold at a loss. There is a question of fresh application. During the past year there were over 4,000 applications for land by individuals, and also from seven co-operative associations for a very large acreage. So that we may say that at the end of last year there were 30,886 applications for land, and 34 small holdings associations, whose total applications were for over 500,000 acres. Of these only 17,595 have provisionally been approved of, for over 226,000 acres. That shows at once what a large number of applications made are made by people not suitable, and the county councils have to spend a large amount of time winnowing the grain from the chaff.
At the present moment there are upon the books of the county councils over 8,000 applicants and seven small holding co-operative associations for whom land has not yet been acquired. There are over 9,000 applicants already provided for, showing that more men have been provided for than there are at the present moment names upon the books of the county councils not provided for, and it may very fairly be said that at least half of those have been offered land, but have refused for one reason or another. Undoubtedly there are men who think—and, to my mind, wrongly think—that the county councils should provide them with small holdings in their own particular villages, outside their own cottages. That is simply impossible. When it is a matter of getting small holdings of twenty, or thirty, or forty acres I think applicants for small holdings of that character must be prepared to go where the land can be found, and they have no right to insist that a farm of forty or fifty acres must be provided for them outside their back doors in the parish in which they live. It is impossible in many cases to do so, because the holdings in parishes are small, and there is no land to provide for new ones.
Last year thirty per cent. who were applicants were bonâ fide agricultural labourers. It is often said that applicants are tradesmen who only want accommodation land. I think it is very desirable that real agricultural labourers should become small holders. Although it is a fact that 6,000 acres less were acquired last year than in 1909, that, no doubt, is due to the increasing difficulty of getting land by agreement, and although the county councils have not shrunk, in the great 746 majority of cases, from putting the compulsory clauses into operation, I must point out that putting the compulsory powers into force requires a much longer time than taking land by agreement, and therefore when it is necessary to take the land compulsory the amount of land acquired is less. There is a good deal of land now coming into the market, and if the county councils will, as I hope they will, take the opportunty of buying that land at reasonable prices a larger amount of land will be acquired for small holdings in the future. I heard attacks made upon the Board on the ground that the rents are too high. The question of rent is governed entirely upon the principle, and the right principle, that the rent must be such as to prevent any loss to the county councils. When my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Harcourt) introduced the Bill be stated the rent for the holding must not be a charity rent, but a rent such as would indemnify the county councils and ensure them against loss.
As regards the question of purchase, what are the charges? There is the charge for the repayment of the loan of purchase money. Many of my hon. Friends object to the payment of the loan of purchase money. There is a great deal to be said on both sides. It is optional for the county councils to decide whether the sinking fund should be repayable by the county council or the small holder. I would say to my hon. Friends who sit upon county councils like the hon. Member for South Bucks (Sir H. Verney) that their duty is to bring this matter before the county council and persuade them not to charge any sinking fund. The sinking fund is spread over eighty years, and where the land is purchased at £33 per acre the sinking fund is not more than 1s. 6d. per acre, which is not, after all, a very heavy burden. As regards other charges, in ordinary cases it amounts to 20 per cent., made up as follows: management, 5 per cent.; repairs, 10 per cent.; contingencies, 2½ per cent.; and insurance, 2½ per cent. Many hon. Members in this House who are either fortunate or unfortunate enough to own land will agree with me when I say that management at 5 per cent. and repairs at 10 per cent. cannot be considered excessive.
I wish I was lucky enough to be able to carry on my own estate repairs at 10 per cent. Where there are no buildings, 7 per cent. to 10 per cent. is charged by 747 the county councils to include contingencies as well as management. My hon. Friend the Member for Burnley has referred to the question of compulsory orders. There is a wrong impression in the House that county councils have shrunk from putting compulsory orders into force. I would draw the attention of the House to the fact that in the county of Norfolk compulsory orders have been made in 48 cases of hiring and 7 purchase; in Devon, 34 hiring and 6 purchase; Carmarthen, 30 hiring; and Monmouth, 2 hiring and 10 purchase. The only counties where no compulsory orders have been issued are Chester, Derby, Isle of Ely, Isle of Wight, Kent, Lincolnshire, Rutland, West Suffolk, Westmoreland, North Riding of Yorkshire, Anglesey, Montgomery and Radnorshire; that is 15 out of 63.
§ 12.0 M.
§ Sir E. STRACHEY
I think the hon. Member is right. In the case of Somerset, like Chester, they have been able to acquire a large amount of land without compulsory orders. It will be seen that a large majority of the counties have not shrunk from putting compulsory orders into force. I think, therefore, we may say that it is not unsatisfactory that in three years nearly 10,000 persons have been placed on the land as small holders. When hon. Members complain of the large number who have failed to get land, it should be remembered that it is largely owing to the fact that they have been unsuitable in the sense that they have not been able to satisfy the county council that they had sufficient capital or experience or able to pay sufficient rent or else they have not been willing to take any land, except the particular piece of land picked out by themselves. It has been found impossible in some places to obtain land from the sitting tenant if no injustice was done. There has been great difficulty in finding land in some counties where small farms are the rule there. I hope the House will agree that, speaking generally, the President of the Board of Agriculture has done his very utmost to make this Act a success. I was glad to hear every hon. Member who has spoken pay a tribute to the zeal and enthusiasm for the successful working of this Act shown by the President. I can assure the House he is only too anxious to press this Act on in every possible way. Whatever blame or 748 praise there is for the working of the Act must rest on the shoulders of the President of the Board of Agriculture and nobody else.
The hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Morrell) has referred to the case of Mr. Jones, of South Oxfordshire, who was evicted by a farmer, Mr. Allnut, because he applied for a field of sixteen acres on his farm. The Board inquired into this case and they found the farmer was quite ready to give up the whole or part of an adjoining field of twenty-seven acres. Mr. Jones refused to take this or any part of it, because, he said, it was in a very dirty condition. The Commissioner who went down and inspected the fields said there was nothing to choose between them in their state of cultivation, and he thought they were in an equally dirty condition. He advised Jones that he ought to be ready to accept the whole or a portion of the field of twenty-seven acres at a rent of 23s. per acre, and pointed out that if he was willing to do that, he could at once have possession of any amount of the twenty-seven acres, whereas if it was necessary to take compulsory steps, he would not get any land for at least a year. Mr. Jones, in his discretion, refused to have anything except the sixteen acres. The Board did not see that there was any good reason for putting pressure cither upon the council or the farmer to give up the sixteen acres instead of part of the twenty-seven acres, because they were adjoining fields of exactly the same quality of land and of exactly the same state of cultivation. My hon. Friend raised another case—that of the landlord, Mr. Snook, who gave notice to Mr. Williams. I dealt very fully with that case at Question time. It is greatly to be deprecated that Mr. Snook did give notice to his tenant on account of political considerations. I further said the Board would—and they did—inquire as to the possibility of securing land for Mr. Williams in that district, but he informed the inspector that he would be unable to pay a rent required to insure the parish council against loss. The Board, therefore, was not able to do anything in the matter.
As regards the case of Mr. Gardiner, to which attention has also been drawn by the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Morrell), that also has been inquired into by the Commissioner for the district. Mr. Gardiner spoke in the highest terms of Mr. Gillow, and said he had always been a good landlord to him, and when he was 749 in arrears with his rent Mrs. Gillow actually paid it for him. I should like to say Mr. Gillow denies that he gave notice to Mr. Gardiner on account of his having made application for a small holding. Here, again, although this was a case in which the Board was anxious to provide a house with five or six acres of land, the man admitted he would be unable to pay the rent it would be necessary to charge. The fact is that this particular district where he lives is a small watering-place near Lancaster and it would be impossible to provide a small holding with a house for less than 7s. 6d. a week, and Gardiner only could pay 2s. 6d.
My hon. Friend the Member for East Dorset (Captain Guest) referred to the case of the Swanage allotments. The facts are, the urban district council obtained a compulsory order for the hiring of the land in 1909, but it was dropped, and in 1910 pressure was put on the council by the Board of Agriculture to take action. The council thereupon made two compulsory orders for hiring land. An inquiry followed last December, and the owner's solicitor offered other land which the Commissioner considered more suitable than that scheduled. It is now hoped that that land will be acquired before next Lady Day, and this will avoid the delay which would ensue if proceedings went on under the compulsory orders. I can assure my hon. Friend, if he is not satisfied with the explanations I have given, I shall be only too happy to go further into the matter with him. With regard to the case at Winterbourne there has been a good deal of difficulty and a heavy expenditure on equipment, and, of course, the county council has to make an extra charge for that. I cannot help thinking that in this case there have been faults on both sides, and some miscarriage on the part of the county council. The latter body complained that some of the small holders were in arrear with their rents. If the answers I have given to my hon. Friend in connection with these cases do not give them satisfaction, I can assure them if there is any desire for further consideration of any of these matters I shall be happy to give it to it.
§ Sir RANDOLF BAKER
I do not want to carry on this Debate late, but the hon. and gallant Member for East Dorset (Captain Guest) has made an attack by implication upon the action of the County Council of Dorset and its small holdings sub-committee, of which 750 I was for a time chairman, and of which I happen to be a member. I think the hon. Member might have let me know that he was going to raise this question in order that somebody might answer the statement which he has made. Of course, I know it is quite impossible to defend the county council upon this occasion, because you, Sir, have already ruled that the action of the county council is not what is really under discussion, but I should just like to say that the Board of Agriculture's Inspector, the benefit of whose advice we had through the whole of this matter, came and went personally once, if not twice, round the farm, and agreed that we were right in doing what we did. I should like to explain why, First of all in regard to the suitability of the land he agreed with me that it was the most suitable good land near to the best markets which we have in our county. In our county there is a certain sandy strip of land which runs along the sea coast and goes near the edge of the good soil. The land in question, in regard to these small holdings, is one of the best parts of the land which runs right up to the edge of this strip of sandy soil. It was for that reason that the inspector thought we should take the farm. Now as to the rent the hon. Member took the figure at the rate which the farmer paid for the farm as a whole and he stated that the total difference was between that and the rent asked. But he entirely forgot the charges which had to be put on in addition to the rent of the land for equipment, management charges, charges for maintenance, and various other things. I venture to point out respectfully to the House that in that respect the Board of Agriculture are not really the body who are most to blame.
I said the original rent was 18s. The council paid 24s. to the landlord, and they are charging 37s. for this edge of the sandy soil.
§ Sir RANDOLF BAKER
But this is good land on one of the best farms in Dorset, and not on sandy soil, as any farmer who knows the county well would be willing to tell the hon. Member. Not knowing that the subject would be raised, I have not here to-night the actual figures, but I could give them perfectly easily to the hon. Member. I do not think he is quite correct in stating what the rent previously paid was, and the rate of rent which he has stated as being paid for some of the land is paid for the whole. But the 751 price fixed to the small holder absolutely depends upon the period allowed for the repayment of loans. The Board of Agriculture have not had the fixing of that—that is done by the Local Government Board—and in many cases the cause of the rents being high is owing to the fact that the Local Government Board have fixed an extremely short period for the repayment of these loans. I called the attention of the President of the Local Government Board to this matter, and pointed out that the terms which have been allowed for the repayment of these loans have been ridiculously short, and forces rents up to a degree which will make it impossible for small holders to live. If you get short terms and charge a high rate of interest it is absolutely impossible for a small holder to live. The Local Government Board are responsible, and not the Board of Agriculture. There is a paper which some hon. Members are interested in called the "Land Tax," or some such name. A copy was sent to me a month or so ago, and in it I saw the statement that the Small Holdings Act had broken down altogether.
If you are going to make all these very heavy charges in addition to the rent, and in addition to that you have the fact that agriculture has been doing better and rents have been slightly rising, these men will be unable to pay them. If you give a long period for repayment of loans it will be much better if you can get the county councils to undertake the responsibility when they purchase of paying for the sinking fund themselves out of the rates and obviously the small holder is going to be much better off. But if the loans are to be repaid at very short periods and high interest, unquestionably they will not succeed. It is largely owing to the fact of heavy charges for management and interest that more has not been done. Practically all the county councils in England have been in the same difficulty about getting land, and small holders have been somewhat unreasonable. I have had man after man come to me and say, "I will have that particular piece of land and no other. I have a right to have it." I have had to point out that he had no right to have it. The Board of Agriculture has had to face these difficulties, and in my opinion they have worked one of the most difficult Acts ever put on the Statute book with a great deal of success. Their Commissioners 752 have tried their hardest to carry it out well, and I think if hon. Gentlemen opposite had had rather more experience of the practical difficulties of working the Act from the point of view of the county councils and small holdings committees, they would not be so ready to attack what has been done by the committees and the Board of Agriculture.
§ Captain CLIVE
I believe that if hon. Members opposite spoke from experience they would very much alter their tone. The hon. Member (Mr. Morrell) has never served on a small holdings committee. It is most desirable that he should for two reasons. He would undoubtedly bring to the work a great deal of enthusiasm, which could not but be beneficial to the committee; and, secondly, he would learn something of the limitations of the Act as well as of its possibilities. One of these, which is very often forgotten, is that small holdings must be made to pay. You are not allowed under the Act to take land unless there is a reasonable probability that it can be made to pay. That in itself provides an answer to a great many of the cases that are brought up. The Parliamentary Secretary is on the whole to be congratulated on the statement he has made. A large amount of good work has been done, and this point has been reached—that practically all those applicants who were ready to go anywhere for land have now been satisfied, and those who remain—who are a large class—are deserving of our sympathy. But a much more difficult class to satisfy are those who demand land in a certain district or even a particular piece of land. I think it is rather the fashion to say that the greatest enemies are the large farmers. Among what are termed large farmers there is apparently included any man who has more than fifty acres of land.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
That is not included in this Bill. I must ask the hon. and gallant Gentleman to deal solely with the Board of Agriculture.
§ Captain CLIVE
I apologise for having gone too far, but the point I was trying to make was this: hon. Members are always ready to urge the Board of Agriculture to apply their compulsory powers, or to send down a commissioner in all sorts of cases where applicants ask for particular plots of land. They apply for particular plots of land which are occupied by large farmers who are unwilling to give them up. The 753 large farmers are deserving of a certain amount of sympathy, and I do not think that the compulsory powers of the Board should always be applied in those cases. The large farmers do not occupy their farms merely to earn rent to hand over to the landlord. They hope to earn something for themselves, and if you take ten acres from a farm of 200 acres it is probable that the large farmers' income will be diminished by a twentieth. I ask hon. Members whether they would think it fair to hand over a tenth or a twentieth of their business to some one in the neighbourhood who wishes to engage on a small scale in the same business as themselves. I have ventured to make these remarks in justification of the action, or, as hon. Members opposite would say, the inaction of the Board of Agriculture in not applying their compulsory powers in all those cases. The hon. Member opposite made it a matter of complaint that the Board had only taken the matter into their own hands in two cases. I think they are to be very much congratulated on having restrained themselves to that extent, and not exercised more frequently the powers which it is well known they possess.
The hon. Baronet (Sir E. Strachey) said that county councils were not compelled to charge the tenant rent to cover sinking fund as well as interest on the loan. I suppose he said that after taking the advice of the legal adviser of the Government in the matter, but certainly up to quite recently the county councils have never been under the impression that they have that power. They thought they had to cover the cost to themselves which included sinking fund. Admitting what the hon. Baronet has said is the law, and that they need not charge the tenant sinking fund, I think it still leaves the matter in a very unsatisfactory position, for the reason that the ratepayers at the present day have got to pay their sinking fund out of the rates. If they do not get it back from the tenants, they have to go without it. They have to console themselves with the thought that it will be refunded to their grandchildren in the shape of land which will be freehold property. Would it not be better to charge sinking fund to the tenants and allow them to become, as in Ireland, the owners of the land they cultivate? If you do that you get rid of all these difficulties, and there is no doubt that, as in Ireland so in England, an occupier of land will be far more active and energetic 754 in working his land if he owns it and feels that he will get into his own pocket the full benefit of every ounce of energy he puts into the work. That is the Amendment of the Act which hon. Members on this side of the House propose, and when that is brought about we shall have made a great advance in the direction of having a satisfactory body of small holders in the country who own the land they cultivate.
I wish now to refer to another subject of great importance not only in my own Constituency, but m several counties round about. It has been announced that the Government propose on the Government land in the Forest of Dean to establish works for making chemical products from wood. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury, in answer to a question which I put to him yesterday, stated rather bluntly that it was the intention of the Government to make a profit out of those Government works, and that the products would be sold to the best advantage at current market prices. That is a startling statement, and an astonishing innovation on any practice that at present prevails. On the one hand it is desirable that a Government Department in charge of Crown property should be allowed to make the best of the property they have to manage. There is also the fact that one of the by-products of this wood distillation is acetate of lime, out of which acetone is made, which is one of the most important articles in the manufacture of cordite. If the right hon. Gentleman can tell me that this factory in the Forest of Dean is going to go a long way towards supplying this country with the acetone which is required for the manufacture of cordite then I am wholly with him to that extent, and I think that it is a most valuable action on the part of the Government. But what I wish to join issues on is this competition with private firms who are engaged in this industry of distilling chemical products from wood. I have a letter from one of these firms which points out that this industry used to be a much more important one than it is now in this country, and in the Forest of Dean there used to be private works which have all except one come to grief owing to foreign competition. But they give a list of some nine different companies in various parts of the country who carry on these chemical works, manufacturing by-products from wood. The importance of it is this—that they one and all of them have their places right out in 755 the country, a long way from any town, and in their several districts they offer the only opportunity for work at good wages.
These are some of the few survivors of what was once an important industry, and most of which has been killed by foreign competition. It would be a very serious matter if the remainder of these firms were put an end to by foreign competition, though we know that hon. Members opposite have no sympathy at all with those who suffer by State-aided opposition, such as that which exists at the present moment. Another point is that the works, which are required to carry on this industry, are liable to very rapid depreciation. The iron ovens and the copper pipes, and so on, practically have to be renewed about every ten years. It therefore becomes obvious that depreciation is a very important point in connection with this industry, and the fear is expressed that this industry may be carried on at a loss, which may be concealed, as we know it is possible to conceal a loss,
§ for a long time by arranging the accounts, and the taxpayer may suffer. I do not think that small private firms should be driven to extinction owing to Government action. I hope hon. Members on both sides of the House will be found ready to support private traders against the danger of State-aided competition. I hope the hon. Member for the Forest of Dean, with whom I have fought two keenly contested elections, may on this occasion be found ready to co-operate with me by his voice, and, if possible, by his vote, in defending the interests of an important industry in country districts against what, I think, under the circumstances, is not fair competition from a Government Department.
§ MASTER of ELIBANK rose in his place, and claimed to move "That the Question be now put."
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 133; Noes, 23.757
|Division No. 76.]||AYES.||[12.35 a.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin)||Hancock, John George||Pickersgill, Edward Hare|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Harmsworth, R. Leicester||Pointer, Joseph|
|Allen, A. Acland (Dumbartonshire)||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Allen, Charles Peter (Stroud)||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.)||Priestley, Sir w. E. B. (Bradford, E.)|
|Anderson, Andrew Macbeth||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Radford, George Heynes|
|Armitage, Robert||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Baker, Harold T. (Accrington)||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Higham, John Sharpe||Reddy, Michael|
|Beale, William Phipson||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Horne, Charles Silvester (Ipswich)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Benn, W. (T. Hamlets, S. Geo.)||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey W. A.||Roberts, George H. (Norwich)|
|Bentham, George Jackson||Hudson, Walter||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Robinson, Sidney|
|Brace, William||Hunter, William (Lanark, Govan)||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Isaacs, Sir Rufus Daniel||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. S. C. (Poplar)||Jones, Leif (Notts, Rushcliffe)||Seely, Rt. Hon Colonel|
|Byles, William Pollard||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Shortt, Edward|
|Cawley, H. T. (Lancs, Heywood)||Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney)||Simon, Sir John Allsebrook|
|Clough, William||King, Joseph (Somerset, North)||Smith, Albert (Lancs, Clitheroe)|
|Corbett, A. Cameron||Lambert, George (Devon, S. Molton)||Spicer, Sir Albert|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Crickiade)||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Cowan, William Henry||Levy, Sir Maurice||Sutton, John E.|
|Dalziel, Sir James H. (Kirkcaldy)||Lewis, John Herbert||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Lyell, Charles Henry||Tennant, Harold John|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Toulmin, George|
|Dawes, James Arthur||Maclean, Donald||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley)||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Wadsworth John|
|Edwards, A. C. (Glamorgan, E.)||M'Laren, F. W. S. (Linc., Spalding)||Walsh, S. (Lancashire, Ince)|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||M'Laren, W. S. B. (Cheshire, Crewe)||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Elverston, Harold||Mathias, Richard||Waring, Walter|
|Esmonde, Dr. J. (Tipperary, N.)||Millar, James Duncan||Warner, Sir T. Courtenay T.|
|Esslemont, George Birnie||Money, L. G. Chiozza||Webb, Henry|
|Ferens, Thomas Robinson||Montagu, Hon. E. S.||White, Sir George (Norfolk)|
|Ffrench, Peter||Mooney, John J.||Whitley, John Henry|
|Furness, Stephen Wilson||Morgan, George Hay||Whyte, Alexander F. (Perth)|
|Gill, Alfred Henry||Morrell, Philip||Williamson, Sir Archibald|
|Goldstone, Frank||Muldoon, John||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|Greenwood, G. G. (Peterborough)||Murray, Capt. Hon. Arthur C.||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Wood, T. M'Kinnon (Glasgow)|
|Guest, Major Hon. C. H. (Pembroke)||O'Malley, William|
|Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||Parker, James (Halifax)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Master of Elibank and Mr. Illingworth.|
|Gulland, John William||Pearce, Robert (Staffordsire, Leek)|
|Hall, Frederick (Yorks, Normanton)||Pease, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Rotherham)|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Dixon, Charles Harvey (Boston)||Stanley, Major Hon. George (Preston)|
|Balcarres, Lord||Doughty, Sir George||Staveley-Hill, Henry|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, S.)||Forster, Henry William||Stewart, Gershom|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Hillier, Dr. Alfred Peter||Valentia, Viscount|
|Bennett-Goldney, Francis||Knight, Capt. Eric Ayshford||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Boyle, W. Lewis (Norfolk, Mid)||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Cassel, Felix||Pryce-Jones, Col. Edward||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Sir Randolf Baker and Captain Clive.|
|Chaloner, Col. R. G. W.||Sanders, Robert Arthur|
|Cooper, Richard Ashmole||Spear, John Ward|
Bill read a second time, and Committed to a Committee of the Whole House for to-morrow (Friday).
§ ADJOURNMENT.—Resolved, "That the House do now adjourn."—[Mr. Gulland.]
§ Adjourned accordingly at Nineteen minutes before One o'clock.