§ Whereupon Mr. SPEAKER, pursuant to the Order of the House of the 13th February, proposed the Question, "That this House do now adjourn."
§ Mr. FIELD
I wish to bring to the notice of the House the unsatisfactory replies given by the Chief Secretary for Ireland regarding the Allotments Act for Ireland. I do this in the public interest, because everybody admits that we want more food production. Thousands of plot-holders in Ireland belong to the various cities-Dublin, in which I am particularly interested, Belfast, and Cork—and towns in Ireland. All of them furnish a large number of men and sometimes of women with plots, and they all increase the food. I put it to the Chief Secretary that, in order to carry out the policy of the Government and to assist the Department of Agriculture in Ireland, at whose call these thousands of plot-holders have cultivated land and produced food, it is desirable that they should have the same security of tenure as is at present granted to plot-holders in England and Scotland, There is no reason particularly why, under what is called a Coalition and Unionist Government, we should have different laws for Ireland and for Great Britain. I I have no wish to detain the House, but unless we have a permanent statutory security in the same way as they have in England and Scotland, great trouble will undoubtedly arise. Because I am not prepared to say outside of the House what I would say inside, I would advise, those men and women particularly in my own Constituency, not to give up possession of the land unless other land is provided for them and they obtain some security of tenure, such as is granted in England and Scotland. That is a fair proposition, and I am simply asking for Ireland what is granted already in England and Scotland, 2072 to carry out the policy of increasing food. I hope he will give a favourable answer and prevent a good deal of confusion in Ireland, and thus help to carry out the policy of more food production.
May I ask whether the Report of the Committee on which the Government Land Bill for Soldiers was founded which was ordered to be laid on the Table has yet been painted. I inquired at the Vote Office to-day for it, and it has not yet been received there or made available for Members. I should like to know if under those circumstances he is going on with that Land Bill to-morrow?
§ Mr. SHORTT
In reply to the hon. Member who has just spoken, I may say I gave instructions that it was to be done, but whether it was done or not I do not know, but I will make inquiries about it. Anyhow it deals with what was done before, and I do not think any inconvenience will be caused. I quite appreciate the importance of the subject the hon. Member (Mr. Field) has raised and it has been occupying attention for some time. It is a much more complicated and difficult matter in Ireland than it is in this country. There is every desire to ensure that everything should be done to further food production. I appreciate very keenly the great cogency of his arguments from that point of view, and, equally, we are all anxious to do the best we can for the holders of those plots and allotments. I am meeting a deputation on the subject to-morrow, and perhaps the hon. Member will allow me to deal more fully with this question then than I could possibly do to-night. It is a long and complicated question, and I hope to deal as thoroughly as possible with it on that occasion.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the Committee, which is understood to be drafting the Home Rule Bill, is still in existence? On the 8th August last the right hon. Gentleman made a speech in this House saying that he proposed to take up a large part of his recess to deal with the subject.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
Here is what the right hon. Gentleman said:—That question faces us to-day, and hon. Members talk as though the Government had abandoned Home Rule, as though Home Rule was a thing dead and gone. It is absolutely nothing of the sort. There is a Committee which 2073 has been labouring at various schemes dealing with this Ulster question, and I have arranged myself to come back in the Recess, instead of giving my whole time in Ireland, in order to meet a sub-committee to go into certain other points. We are doing our best to get a measure into a form which will ensure it passing through this House, and that is the one thing which is absolutely essential before you can take the necessary steps to remove discontent in Ireland."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th August, 1918, cols. 1652. Vol. 109.]Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the Committee had any meetings in the Recess, and how much of his time did he give to this Committee? He has denied that he made that statement.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. Member is not entitled to cross-examine. This is not a Court of law. The Chief Secretary is not in the witness box.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
In view of the fact that I was not able to make any remarks during the Debate, as I was unable to catch your eye, I am taking the opportunity on the Adjournment of ascertaining what the position of the Government is. Apparently the Government has no policy. The right hon. Gentleman, who was returned by Irish votes as a Home Ruler, has deserted that policy, and by a deliberate policy of betrayal is going to surrender the best interests not only of Ireland but of Great Britain.
§ Adjourned accordingly at Twenty minutes past Eleven o'clock.