HL Deb 02 August 1881 vol 264 cc452-555

Order of the Day for resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for the Second Reading, read.

Debate resumed accordingly.


My Lords, in rising to resume the debate on the second reading of the Irish Land Bill, I am very anxious not to detain the House upon any details, or upon any of those subsidiary parts of the measure, which the noble Marquess opposite (the Marquess of Salisbury) last evening designated "as ornamental." I am not quite sure that I agree with the statement that those parts of the Bill are purely ornamental. I hope, though they are more limited than I could have desired, that, however ornamental they may be, they will be of some substantial value. But, at all events, my Lords, they are not those parts of the Bill to which our attention ought to be directed on the second reading, and my desire now is to concentrate the attention of the House upon the general scope and bearing of this Bill as concerns the relations between landlord and tenant in Ireland. My Lords, this measure, like every other measure affecting the interests of large numbers of people, must always be viewed in two different aspects. The first is its own intrinsic value; and the second is its relations to those circumstances which constitute political necessity in this country. My Lords, it is a happy state of things when those two aspects are combined; and almost as happy a circumstance when those two aspects, which appear different at the time, coincide, and are proved by history to be really the same. There have been occasions in this House, and in the other House of Parliament, when measures have been carried by pressure from without, and purely under circumstances of political necessity, which have afterwards recommended themselves to the consciences and convictions of men as measures of justice as well as of necessity. Such, my Lords, was the Roman Catholic Relief Bill. When the Duke of Wellington introduced that measure into this House, he made no secret that he pressed it on the adoption of the House as a matter of pure political necessity. Its object was to repeal one of the great curses of the country—the last of those penal laws which had been in force against the Roman Catholics; and although this House at that time passed that measure merely from political necessity, I imagine there are not three men in this House now who would not admit that it was a right and a just measure to admit a large majority of the people of Ireland to a share in the government of their country. But he would be a bold man who would assert that every measure which is pressed upon Parliament as a measure of political necessity is, therefore, a just and a wise measure. My own impression is there never has been a wider gap than that which exists in regard to this measure between its own intrinsic merit and the recommendations which arise from external circumstances. My Lords, I thought I could trace in the debate last night some feeling of bitterness and almost of humiliation that we felt ourselves obliged to accept a measure to which many of us have such strong and fundamental objections. Depend upon it, my Lords, this House does not stand alone in that respect. That feeling, I suspect, is as great in "another place." It has been carried by authority alone, and let me remind the House, because it is important that not only this House but also the country should be aware, of the circumstances which constitute the political necessity for this measure. In the first place, it has been brought forward by a Government which has been lately installed in power after one of the greatest and most violent revulsions of public feeling which has ever taken place in the political history of this country. In the second place, it has been made a test question with that Government, and the whole weight has been cast into the scale of the personal authority of the Prime Minister, my right hon. Friend, whose high character, whose unquestionable genius, whose extraordinary powers, and whose splendid services have not unnaturally led thousands of his countrymen to place in his hands almost their reason and their conscience. In the third and next place, my Lords, there is that natural fear of the consequences of the defeat of this Government; the dread of the consequences of a Dissolution of Parliament at this time, in Ireland, and even in the United Kingdom, and that is a contingency which none of us can contemplate without serious anxiety. Last of all, my Lords, there has been the spectacle of the dreadful anarchy in Ireland, an anarchy during which great parts of the population have appeared—I hope it has been only in appearance—to have had sympathy with crimes which are not only dreadful, but many of them loathsome in their character, and which would have been a disgrace to the barbarians of Fiji. Then, my Lords, comes that weariness of Parliamentary Obstruction, that sense of the whole Business of England and of Scotland and of the United Kingdom being prevented from being conducted with any success or even decency by the urgency of this Irish anarchy breeding a spirit in this country of almost complete indifference to what is done, and a desire of granting anything rather than that there should be a continuance of these scan- dals. These form a combination of circumstances, my Lords, which tell not only in this House, but, I am sure, tell much more powerfully in the other House of Parliament; and, therefore, I beg this House not to suppose that if we are, to a certain extent, placed in circumstances of humiliation, that those circumstances are peculiar to the House of Lords. They are by no means so. My Lords, when I hear the language which is uttered out-of-doors by Friends of my own, and belonging to my own political Party with regard to this measure, and with regard to the necessity of passing it, I am a little reminded of that description given in that well-known work by Miss Edgeworth, to which I referred the other day, in which a retainer of Castle Rackrent narrates to a companion how his master, having stood for the county and obtained his seat, went off to Dublin and joined that company of persons who knew how to support the Government most honourably against his Party. Now, I feel the necessity of the circumstances in which we are placed; but, submitting to these necessities, I think it is most important we should form a clear estimate of that which we are sacrificing. What, then, is the general object of this measure? My Lords, this measure has these two main objects. First of all, it is to empower three very respectable gentlemen to dictate the price of the hiring of land all over a great country inhabited by 5,000,000 of men. In the second place, it is to enable every tenant in Ireland to sell that which may not be his own by law, by custom, or by equity. Now, these two sentences contain a literally true and exact description of the great aims and objects of this measure. Now, I will take these in their order, but in an order the reverse of that in which they are mentioned in the Bill; for, strange to say, this Bill deals first with the question of sale, and, second, with the question of the valuation of rents. But in the statement of the Government, and especially in the statement of my right hon. Friend at the head of the Government, the question of the valuation of rents was put first, and that of sale second. Mr. Gladstone's speech in the House of Commons has now been published in the form of a pamphlet, and as it may be considered to be the manifesto of the Government on the subject, it is remarkable to notice the description my right hon. Friend gives of the object of the measure with regard to the valuation of land. He says— I come to the great question which, I think, must constitute the salient point and cardinal principle of the Bill, the institution of a Court which is to take cognizance of rent, and which, in taking cognizance of rent, will also, according to the provisions of the Bill, not be debarred from taking cognizance of tenure and assignment. And he also speaks of the Court as "an optional Court for regulating rent." Now, in the first place, I must demur to the accuracy of the description. It is not, strictly speaking, an optional Court at all—that is to say, it is not a mere Court of Arbitration to which both parties may go and have access, but it is a Court to which everybody may be driven by somebody else. Now, that is a very different thing from an optional Court; and I must say, in passing, I am not at all sure that an optional Court, in the shape of a Court of Arbitration, would not have been almost necessary in the present circumstances of Ireland. Indeed, I believe, in the circumstances of anarchy in which the country is, the landlords would almost unanimously have been delighted to appeal to such a Court in regard to the fairness of their rents; and this I can say, that a very great number of my own Friends, who are strongly against the Bill as a whole, have not been against this part of it, considered as establishing an optional Court. Now, this is the principle of the Bill—that three private gentlemen, I believe of the highest character and attainments, are enabled, compulsorily, at the instance of any one of the two parties, to compel everybody in Ireland to submit to them the hiring and price of land, in order that it may be settled at their discretion. I must say, apart from the political circumstances called the peculiar relations of Ireland, of these two provisions, one of them is eminently ridiculous, and the other is eminently unjust. A universal power of valuing rent by three men all over Ireland is eminently ridiculous, and the giving of an absolute right of sale to everybody, whether they have acquired it or not, is, to my mind, eminently unjust. It does not require to be an inhabitant of Jupiter or Saturn to perceive the absur- dity in the one case, and the injustice in the other. And here I may remark that I was much struck by the quotation of the noble Marquess from a French journal, which shows very fairly the opinion of foreigners as to this proposal. The next thing I wish to point out is this—that this principle of valuing rents for the future was denounced by my right hon. Friend in 1870 in the strongest language. Now, I do not quote these things for the purpose of fixing a charge of inconsistency on my right hon. Friend. I quote them as expressing my own opinions at the present moment. I happened to be a Member of the Government at that time, and consented to the Bill of 1870, on the understanding that these were the views of the Government, and that these were the principles of the Bill. Now, just listen to the language in which my right hon. Friend refers to the question of the power of valuing the rents of land in Ireland— Shall I really be told that it is for the interest of the Irish tenant bidding for a farm that the law should say to him—' Cast aside all providence and forethought; go into the market and bid what you like; drive out of the field the prudent man who means to fulfil his engagement; bid right above him, and induce the landlord to give you the farm, and the moment you have got it come forward, go to the public authority, show that the rent is excessive, and that you cannot pay it, and get it reduced.' If I could conceive a plan more calculated than anything else, first of all, for throwing into confusion the whole economical arrangements of the country; secondly, for driving out of the field all solvent and honest men who might be bidders for farms, and might desire to carry on the honourable business of agriculture; thirdly, for carrying widespread demoralization throughout the whole mass of the Irish people, I must say, as at present advised—to confine myself to the present, and until otherwise convinced—it is this plan and this demand, that we should embody in our Bill, as a part of permanent legislation, a provision by which men shall be told that there shall be an authority always existing, ready to release them from the contracts they have deliberately entered into."—[3 Hansard, cxcix. 1845.] I beg the House to observe that this is not an argument of mere expediency. It is not a temporary argument referring to any particular state of things. It is an argument founded on morality, and it points out that to give this terrible power of re-valuing rents to the Irish tenants will be a demoralizing influence in this country. Now, I say, what has happened since 1870 to alter the bearing of that argument? Nothing whatever, as regards the merits of the question. There is but one answer, and one only; and I wish the Government had the courage to state it frankly, and not go beating about the bush, fishing for means of reconciling things that cannot be reconciled, and proving language to be consistent with their present conduct which is utterly inconsistent with it—there is but one answer, and that is that the people of Ireland are now so thoroughly demoralized that even this cannot demoralize them more. Now, if this measure were confined to the poorest class of tenants, I must say that, even as regards its own intrinsic claims, there might be a good deal to say for it. There is no doubt whatever that the poorest class of tenants in Ireland are comparatively weak and helpless; and I believe, notwithstanding the abstract doctrines of political economy, that most Members of this House would be willing to entertain exceptional measures as regards those exceptionally poor and weak tenants. Certainly, indeed, this House, in the Act of 1870, did pass a measure which was especially directed to giving compensation on an increasing scale in proportion to poverty and the size of the holding. But this is to apply to all tenants in Ireland, and to include men quite as competent to make a bargain as any one Member of this House. My Lords, I heard with surprise my noble Friend the Lord Privy Seal (Lord Carlingford) last night arguing that there should be no exemption in regard to the large tenant, because he says they have a larger stake in the country. What has that to do with it? If they have a larger stake in the country they are perfectly competent to take care of their own stake, and do not need the protection of this Bill; and I must say that in this argument there could be no difference between tenants of different sized holdings. My noble Friend is not consistent with his own Bill, because, after all, even in this Bill it is provided that, above a certain stage, free contract is to be allowed. Now, with regard to this Court for the valuation of rent, I have come to the conclusion, I must frankly say, that such a measure is necessary in Ireland; and it shows an extraordinary ignorance and thoughtlessness of men upon this subject that it has been held that the observations which I ventured to address to your Lordships some weeks ago indicated that I was adverse to such a proposition. Most people have thought so; but the argument tells the other way. My object was to prove that the accusations brought against the landlords of Ireland before the Bessborough Commission were, almost in every case, false. That was my argument, and that the Bess-borough Commission took no pains to test these falsehoods. Very well; I want the Court to do that. I want the Court to do what the Bessborough Commission did not do. This is perfectly consistent with my argument, for I never saw or read a document which was so painfully full of error as the Report of the Evidence of that Commission. It is redolent of the atmosphere of falsehood and imposture, and that is my reason, and no other, for wishing a valuation of rent by a competent tribunal in Ireland. And now I must say that the speech of my noble Friend the Lord Privy Seal last night gave me an additional reason for wishing that the Court should investigate facts. I proved to your Lordships the other day that subordinate Members of the Administration had been repeating stories against the landlords which, on investigation, proved to be groundless, and one of which an investigation of no more than 10 minutes would have shown to be false. Well, my noble Friend last evening made no accusation of that kind; but he did make another statement, without one syllable of explanation as to the evidence on which he founds one of the most wild and violent propositions in the measure. I am not, however, now saying it may not be necessary, in the present state of Ireland, as a measure for giving to this Court an absolute power of dissolving leases. When I left the Government there was no question of touching leases, and the Bill as it was introduced into the House of Commons did not touch them, and the provision I speak of was added at a later stage. My noble Friend last night admitted that it was a violent course; but what did he say? He spoke to this effect—"You will think it a very strange proposition; but the more I investigate the subject the more convinced I am of the necessity of revising the conditions under which iniquitous leases have been given, in order to bring them to an end." Now, I never heard a Minister make such a demand upon Parliament without supporting it by evidence. A measure which leads to the breaking of all contracts my noble Friend asks you to assent to, because, as he says, without evidence, the most iniquitous leases have been given. He does not even give a hint to the House what the nature of those leases was. I do not want him to give names, because that is dangerous in Ireland. I want him simply to describe what is the nature of the leases he describes as iniquitous, and we shall be entitled to hear as to the particular terms of those leases. In regard to the point, I would remind your Lordships that the Act of 1870 deliberately adopted the principle that an agricultural lease of 30 years would exhaust the tenant's interest in all agricultural improvements except buildings. I will now direct your Lordships' attention to another important point. It is one of the fundamental points connected with this Bill. When I was a Member of the Government there was a guiding principle laid down for this Court; the absolute power was not given without an indication on the part of Parliament to a general principle on which the Court was to proceed. Not only was this so, but my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, in his speech on the Second Reading, used these words— We have thought it our duty to endeavour to grapple with the very difficult task—where none of the Commission show any particular readiness to deal with it—of giving to the Court some guidance in its efforts to arrive at a fair rent."—[3 Hansard, cclx. 909.] Observe, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister speaks of it as a "duty" on the part of the Government to give some guidance to the Court. Well, my Lords, that duty has been abandoned. The Bill gives up to the Court that attempt to fulfil that task which the Prime Minister spoke of as a duty, and which the Government, when I left it, had taken some pains to discharge. Now, where is the reason why this duty has been abandoned? I know very well it is an extremely inconvenient duty to define what a fair rent is; but if you are to have any accurate notion of what is to take place—which Irishmen do not want—you are bound to give some general indication of the principle on which the Court is to pro- ceed. Look what the Bill says. As originally introduced it said— A fair rent means such a rent as, in the opinion of the Court, after hearing the parties and considering all the circumstances of the case, holding, and district, a solvent tenant would undertake to pay one year with another. Now, that is the fundamental basis of rent. It points to the market value. This basis of market value is, I may say, the basis of State valuation of land in India. In that country it is the rule to find out what the market value is, and from it to make whatever deductions that may be fair. Then the second direction is— Provided that the Court in fixing such rent shall have regard to the tenant's interest in the holding; and then the Bill proceeded to attempt to define what the interest of a tenant was, and in that attempt it broke down. Observe how it broke down. The tenants did not want their interests defined. They wanted the Bill to be perfectly vague and indefinite. This was their object, and this duty of the Government was given up because the tenants did not like it. In the first place, the very sound of market value—and, in the second place, the sound of defining their interests—frightened the tenants. Mr. Gladstone says that the Commissioners have shown no particular willingness to enter upon this task which the Government undertook. Well, I am not a great supporter of the Commissioners, or of any of their Reports. I rather agree with Mr. Gladstone when he said these Reports constituted a litter. But the Bessborough Commission makes some reference to what a fair rent is. The Bessborough Report defines a fair rent to be the commercial value determined by professional valuators, subject to the deduction of the tenant's interest, less any sum paid by the incoming tenant as the ordinary price of the goodwill. That is a perfectly fair definition. You start from market value, and you deduct from the market value that which is due to a particular tenant in the particular circumstances of the holding. That is a very fair indication of the general principle. Now, I say it was the duty of the Government to maintain and to discharge this obligation of giving an indication to the Court, and I cannot help thinking that the total de- parture from any attempt to give an indication simply shows an evasion of the difficulty, and I wish to smooth over difficulties by placing everything in the absolute power of this triumvirate of men. Now, I pass to another, or rather the same consideration from another point of view. Parliament gives no indication to this Court how these rents are to be valued. I should like to ask if my noble Friends on the Treasury Bench have themselves considered what this Court will have to deal with in finding out the principle or basis for the valuation of rent? They give no guidance to the Court, and not only that, but they deliberately withdraw from the attempt to give that guidance. Now, I will direct the attention of the House to cases which we know are common in Ireland. I will first take the case of what are called labour rents. That is to say, rents which are really not paid out of the produce of the holding, but paid out of the labour of the tenant. Now, some of your Lordships who have not attended very closely to the matter may suppose that this is a very small item in the rent-roll of Ireland. It may be a very small item in the rent-roll, but it is a very large item in population. There are several hundreds of thousands of farmers in Ireland who pay their rents, not out of the farms, but out of their labour. Well, I ask the Government have they formed any conception of the principle on which this Court is to proceed in valuing the rent of a labour tenant? It is not the market value that a solvent tenant would pay out of the land. It is a rent paid out of the labour of the tenants; and as, in many instances, the whole produce of these wretched holdings will not support the tenants and their families, is the Court to say that they are to pay no rent at all? The Court is perfectly free to do so; but if that rule is to be adopted, there are some large proprietors in Ireland who would lose almost the whole of their property—at all events, a very large proportion of their rental. I say sincerely that I have no conception of the principle upon which the Court will value these rents. It is perfectly easy to value ordinary farms, where you have local valuators who know all the circumstances of the case; but how the Court are to value the interest of these cottier tenantry in Ireland, who are labourers, in fact, with large allotments, I cannot understand. In this case, it is quite different with the three gentlemen who constitute this Court, and I doubt whether the Government has any conception of the principle on which they will proceed. Well, then, I take another case, as I want to show that in Ireland the first principles upon which rent is regulated are disputed. It is not a question of ordinary valuation, but a question as to what are the fundamental principles in respect to property. I take the case of long leases, and it happens that I am supplied with a very remarkable example. Perhaps the Members of this House may recollect that, in the observations I addressed to your Lordships on the 1st of July, I had occasion to refer to the evidence of a certain Mr. M'Elroy, who is a well-known leading man in one of the largest tenant right associations in the North of Ireland. I found fault with his evidence, and I pointed out that he himself had been obliged to confess that, instead of the landlord eating up the tenant right, the tenant right had not declined at all in value during the last 10 years. A few days afterwards I had a letter from Mr. M'Elroy finding fault with my speech, and pointing out that I had omitted to notice certain cases in his evidence, particularly mentioning the case of a farm at Ballywilliam, near Portrush. I immediately investigated the case, and I found some very curious facts indicative of what are Irish ideas in Ulster at present with regard to the rights of entering into long leases. In this case the lease was entered into in 1791, and did not expire until 1874. In all, the tenants under the lease had held the farm 83 years. What happened? The tenant wished to prove, when the lease was beginning to come to an end, that he had tenant right, and he appealed to the County Court on this point. The County Court Judge, after hearing all the circumstances of the case, decided that tenant right had never existed in regard to this farm. The tenant had paid nothing for it in 1791, and there was no right, therefore, to it in 1874, when the lease expired. Upon that finding, the tenant applied to the landlord for a renewal of the lease, and the landlord naturally said—"Yes; I will give you a renewal, if you will give a better rent," and the two parties agreed as to what a fair rent was. Now, that is the case that Mr. M'Elroy quotes to me as proving to me that the tenant right is being eaten up—a case in which there was no tenant right, and in which the two parties agreed upon a fair rent. Well, but the circumstances of this case are still more curious. The farm is situated on some of the finest land in the county. It is close to a very important seaport, which is becoming a very important watering place. Dairy produce is very valuable in that quarter, and the landlord says in his rebutting evidence before the Commission that he was offered between £4 and £5 per acre for it, and that he gave it to this tenant for something like £30. Now, I want to know on what principle the Court will deal with cases of that kind? It is good evidence that the whole of the Ulster tenantry would think the landlord was very wrong in wishing to increase any rent. Mr. M'Elroy complains bitterly of the decision of the Judge. He complains of the Court, and says that the Judge does not hold the same opinion about land as that which some of the tenants hold. Well, that is very likely. He complains, also, that the rent was so high that the tenants could not pay, if it had not been for the exceptional value of milk and butter at Portrush. That is to say, the rent would have been too high, if the produce of the farm had been left out of consideration. Now, there is a truly Irish idea. I want to know how my noble Friend and his Court are to deal with these Irish ideas? In the first place, is he quite sure that Mr. M'Elroy will be more content with these three private gentlemen set over the whole of Ireland than with the Court now established? In the next place, when these three gentlemen are put on the Bench, on what principle are they to decide? In Ireland there are two principles diametrically opposed one to the other. The first is the principle of the tenant, who says—"The longer I have held your land, the longer I am entitled to continue to hold it; "and the second is that of the landlord, who says—" The longer you have held my land at an enormous profit to yourself, the more am I entitled to resume it when the period of your tenancy comes to an end." Now, those are fundamentally opposite propositions, and there is no going between them; or, if there is, it is purely arbitrary in the mind of the Court; and I want, therefore, to know what is the principle the Government will lay down in such cases? I have put two cases; I will put another. My noble Friend says there is no freedom of contract in Ireland for the larger tenants; but I will give him a case. It is not the case of the individual only; it is the case of a great Body, such as the College of Maynooth, which received a large annual revenue from Parliament, and which Government determined to buy up, because it was provided with a very large fund. It was a rich Body, and I suppose my noble Friend will admit that they are as free to contract as other people. A valuator came to the conclusion that the land round the College belonging to the Duke of Leinster was let at a sum considerably below its real value, and accordingly the proprietor asked the College to pay a higher rent. This, after giving a great deal of trouble, the Institution refused to do; and in the evidence given before the Commission the representative of the College says that there is no freedom of contract in such cases as that; that they had no resource but to pay the rent or give up the farm; and that they considered a terrible grievance. What is this Court to do with Maynooth College, representing the whole interest of the Irish priesthood? On what principles is the Court to regulate rents in that case? What is the end with which they are to exercise their powers? I go back to the labour-rent holdings, with regard to which I want to ask another question. Is it the object of the Government that these people should be kept on the land whether they can pay rent or not? If that is the object of the Government, and if this is to be the effect of their measure, instead of being a remedial measure for Ireland, it will be a perpetuation of the very worst difficulties which beset that country. Take the evidence of Professor Baldwin. He tells you that there will be no remedy to the evils of Ireland until these people are removed. You talk of political economy as if it were fit only for Jupiter or Saturn. How are you to get rid of this population? Is it not better to say to these people, as frankly as that gentleman does—"You live a miserable life, in miserable cabins, exposed to perpetually recurring famines, unable to pay your rent; is not it better that you should go elsewhere, where you can have ample labour and better wages? "In those words are indicated the remedy which the landlord has in his power to give at present, and there are very few landlords who are not willing and do not assist such emigration. But what is this Court to do? Is it to take upon itself to say—"This holding is so small, and you are so poor, as not to be able to pay rent, and, therefore, you must give it up"? As far as I can see, this Bill leaves everything in confusion, unless you leave it to the absolute jurisdiction of these three private gentlemen. It seems to me that there is one explanation of all this obscurity, and this reluctance to deal with principles, and that is the explanation given by Baron Dowse. He says— Our object is to deal with the existing tenants of Ireland, and to satisfy them, and never to mind the future. It is an answer that should be printed in letters of gold as embodying the directing principle of a great deal of this legislation. It is a mere postponing and bottling up of the difficulty, and is not facing it in a manly manner. I come now to the question of free sale. I know that my noble Friend the Lord Privy Seal is a most straightforward and a most candid man; but I was surprised to hear him last night quote one of his speeches in 1870 in regard to the extension of the tenant right custom in Ireland, as if this Bill was in fulfilment of the principle of the Act of 1870. In my view—and I was responsible for that Act along with my noble Friend—the principle of this Bill and the principle of the Act of 1870 in respect of tenant right is absolutely divergent and contradictory. The great principle of the Bill of 1870 was to ascertain the facts in each particular holding, and to regulate the tenant's rights by his equitable acquirements. My noble Friend said, perfectly truly, last night that when you legalize a custom, you would most necessarily alter its character. That is perfectly true; but, as far as we could, we endeavoured in that Act to legalize what existed. It was not the legalization of one custom over the whole of Ireland, it was the legalization of the custom of each holding—each tenant was required to prove what his equitable rights were with regard to his holding. If that could be properly done it was an equitable principle. It is perfectly just to legalize and enforce custom properly ascertained—that is to say, custom so universal that you may presume it presented itself to the minds of the contracting parties. Such was the principle of the Act of 1870; but the principle of this Bill is wholly different, for it does not require each tenant to prove what are his individual rights, and gives to every tenant in Ireland something which he may never have acquired and never paid for. The distinction is, therefore, broad and fundamental. There is no getting over it by explanations of particular words and speeches. Not only was the doctrine of legalizing in each particular holding that which each man equitably acquired embodied in that Act, but it was prominent in the speech of the Prime Minister, and over and over again Mr. Gladstone said, during the debates in 1870—"We are giving these tenants that which they have paid for; "and he entered into an estimate of what they had paid for the Ulster tenant right, amounting to something like £20,000,000; but the principle now is to give him something he may not have equitably acquired, and whether he has paid for it or not. I am not going to dispute for a moment that tenant right has done a great deal of good in Ulster. I may have my own opinion as to its advantages, and whether they are an accidental or necessary incident of that kind of tenure, or whether it is connected with the manufacturing history of Ulster. I accept the evidence of my noble Friend that the custom has worked admirably. All that I say is, that in Ulster it was equitably acquired by the payment of money, and by a long course of proceeding to which the landlords had been parties. Now, with regard to the effect of this tenant right, I am bound to say that I should be adverse to the introduction of it where it has not grown up, not only on grounds of equity, but on grounds of policy also. I must say that I find great discrepancy between the language of different Members of the Government on this point. Last night my noble Friend (Lord Carlingford) used these words— We are often told confidently that if a tenant holding at a reasonable rent makes this tenant right payment when entering on his holding, he converts himself into a rack-rented farmer. My Lords, that may be the theory of the matter, but it is not the fact. But the opinion of Mr. Gladstone is quite the reverse. He says— It may be very fairly said that in vain do you cut down the landlord's judicial rent … and take care that the landlord's receipts shall be limited if, with the land-hunger and scarcity which prevail in Ireland, you still leave it open to anyone to pay an extravagant sum for tenant right, and thereby to take holdings on the same virtually rack-rented condition."—[3 Hansard, cclx. 904.]

Now, I want to know which of these opinions is the true one.




My noble Friend cannot get off so easily. What does Mr. Gladstone say? "I am not going to propose unrestricted tenant right. I am afraid of these rack-renting prices. What, then, is the remedy? That the power of the Courts to increase rent is the proper limitation of extravagant tenant right." That runs counter to another doctrine of my noble Friend that tenant right and rent grow up side by side, but have nothing to do with each other. But how can one fail to be a subtraction from the other? That is the difficulty. There is no doubt whatever that rent and tenant right are two antagonistic powers. You may balance them as you like, artificially or naturally; but one must give way to the other. ["No, no!"] My noble Friend says "No;" but what I say is this—that the doctrine of the Bill that the power to raise rents will limit the tenant right is not a true statement of the case. The converse must be equally true, and no ingenuity can disprove it—that the tenant right must prevent the payment of a reasonable rent. If one is true, the other is no less true. My noble Friends are ingenious arguers. Will they explain how the one will always limit the other? I proceed to ask another question. My right hon. Friend at the head of the Government says that he admits the danger of extravagant tenant right. He admits that it is an evil; unlike my noble Friend, he admits that it may reduce the tenant to a rack-renting condition; but then he says that the power of increasing the rent will prevent those extravagant prices for tenant right. That is not my belief. I believe that after this Bill becomes law, the power of increasing rent will not long remain a practical power at all. Look at the terms of the Bill. Ostentatiously, and, as it would appear, for the very purpose of ostentation, you put it on the very front of your Bill that the tenant may sell for the best price that can be got. It has been said, and I think truly said, that that points to a sale by auction, and a good number of tenants in Ulster have been alarmed at that prospect. They do not like sales by auction. There is a process which is called "sweetening," where people are employed to run up prices to an extravagant figure. All these practices are well known to the tenants, and they are beginning to be afraid that the best prices which can be got will be very extravagant prices. The Bill, however, puts it ostentatiously in the front that tenants may get the best price obtainable; and if prosperity returns, we shall find tenants buying the tenant right at 30, 40, or even 50 or 60 years' purchase. What is the Court to do when the landlord comes to ask for an increase of rent? The tenant will be able to prove that, under the express indication of an Act of Parliament, he has bought his holding for 40 or 50 years' purchase. But how will it be possible for the Court to say that these extravagant prices are not to be given? Then you have the power of combination among the tenants. On many estates with 3,000 or 4,000 tenants, applications may have been made to the Court to have rents raised. At the end of 15 years the landlord says—"Since I let this farm a railway has been made through this country; there has been a great improvement in prices, and I ought to have a rise of rent." The tenants, on the other hand, will be able to show that three or four times over they have paid these extravagant prices, and to combine against such an increase of rent. I hold, therefore, that the doctrine of the Prime Minister, that, in the circumstances of this Bill, the possible and periodical increment of rent will be a practical abatement of tenant right, is a pure delusion. Now, my Lords, with regard to the principle on which this new universal right of sale is to be given to all the tenants of Ireland, I wish to enter my protest against some of the principal arguments which are advanced by the Government. The Prime Minister has said that the law of assignment is a law which is rooted in the law of Europe, and that, therefore, we ought to give universal right of sale. It may be perfectly true that the right of assignment is so rooted in the law; but there is another right equally rooted in all systems of European law, and that is the right of the landlord not to accept the assignee. Is it not obvious that one right is as well established as the other? My Lords, neither my conscience nor my reason will allow me to accept that statement of the Prime Minister as conclusive of the matter. With regard to the general effect of this power in Ireland, I am bound to say that I entertain very serious apprehension. I think, now that it has been proposed by a powerful Government to put this morsel into the mouths of the tenantry, it will be almost impossible to get it out again. I am firmly of the conviction that it will lead to the entire ceasing of landlords' improvements in Ireland. My Lords, I am bound to say it is frankly admitted by the Bessborough Commission. They say that the universal right of sale interferes with the sentiment of ownership; and upon the sentiment of ownership depends the inclination of the landlords to improve their land. I have no doubt, therefore, that after the passing of this Bill, unless great modifications be made in it, there will be a complete and absolute cessation of all landlords' improvements, and a more mischievous effect it would be difficult to conceive. You are depriving all the landlords of Ireland of their privileges, and you are releasing them from their duties. Now, my Lords, such is my opinion of the general character of this Bill on its own merits, apart from its political significance; let me say a few words as to the omissions of this Bill. This Bill does not deal, or attempt to deal, with one of the greatest evils of Ireland. I have shown that it will very materially interfere with the only remedies going on with regard to the cottier population of the West of Ireland; but it does not attempt to deal with the small tenantry and the greatest evil under which they suffer, and that is the enormous interest which they pay for money. That is the evidence of Professor Baldwin, who says that a large part of the small tenantry—I think he says 100,000 out of the total of 500,000—are so deeply in debt that they owe to the usurious money-lenders sums amounting in the several cases from three to 10 years' rent. The interest paid on these loans is a burden infinitely heavier than the rent paid to the landlords. It would be a task worthy of the genius of my right hon. Friend at the head of the Government if he had attempted to deal with this great evil. In the Land Reforms effected in Prussia and Germany and other Continental States questions of this kind were dealt with. But nothing of the kind is attempted in this Bill. We have nothing but the rude and coarse expedient of reducing rents, however moderate those rents may be—moderate, I mean, except in the opinion of the tenant class. Now, my Lords, with reference to emigration, I am not going to say much. I hope, and I think the noble Marquess opposite (the Marquess of Salisbury) was mistaken in saying that the Emigration Clause had been intentionally reduced to narrow proportions. No doubt the sum of money is small, but we may hope that it is only a beginning. But what I fear is that you are putting into the minds of these poor tenants that by some means or other you will enable them to continue on the land, and to live happily and prosperously when they cannot possibly do so, and that not until they have discovered that they have been unintentionally deceived will they avail themselves of the opportunity of emigration. The fear is that by emigration you may lose the best part of the population, and may not get rid of the class which most needs emigration. I have detained the House for a long time on this question. I only wish to add this—that when I look back to the general character of the Bill, although it is most ingeniously and elaborately framed, and I think with a sincere and honest desire to check the different evils which prevail in Ireland, by means of compensatory provisions, I cannot help smiling at the adulation which has been lavished upon it by a large portion of the supporters of the Government as a great act of constructive policy by a Liberal Government; and this of a Bill which places absolutely in the hands of a triumvirate the destinies of the whole of Ireland. My Lords, is this the acme of the wisdom of the Liberal Government? I cannot doubt, for a moment, that the Government has been driven to this Bill, as we are driven to it, by circumstances of external pressure. It is the Government that has been driven to have recourse to this somewhat rude and coarse expedient—worthy of a despotic Government, wondered at by every civilized nation in Europe. My Lords, when I look at my noble Friends below me on the Treasury Bench, I cannot help regarding them as something very like what I have seen on the shore of the Western Islands of Scotland—a row of jelly-fishes, [Great laughter.] My noble Friends need not be affronted by the comparison. Jelly-fishes are the most beautiful creatures in the world. They have been studied by eminent biologists now for many years. It has been discovered that they are endowed with a most elaborate and delicate nervous system; but I am sorry to say they have been hitherto found destitute of a skeleton and a backbone. But there is one peculiarity about these jelly-fishes, they make the most beautiful convulsive movements in the water, and you see that the poor creatures think they are swimming; but when you take the bearings of the land you find that they are simply floating with the currents and the tides. That is the position of my noble Friends with regard to this Irish Land Bill. I really hope that success may be possible with the Bill; but it can only be on one condition, that I hope you will observe—namely, that you develop your jelly-fish qualities into something like a skeleton. Let the Irish people understand, at least, that you mean to support the decisions of this Court. I understand that the men who have been selected by right hon. Friend are men of the highest eminence, and that they have the respect, at least, of many noble Lords on the opposite side of the House. Some of them have, indeed, expressed to me their perfect willingness to accept their arbitration in such matters. I have shown your Lordships some of the difficulties they will have to deal with, that it is a question not merely of the valuation of rent under ordinary conditions, such as it would be in England and Scotland, but that the Court will have to deal with fundamental differences of opinion on abstract questions of property. I say that it will require all the powers of the law to support their decisions; but let it be understood by the Government that there is an end to these apparently endless con- cessions, and that they intend to support the decisions of the tribunal that will be appointed, and that it will be useless for the advocates of tenant right to come and say that they do not submit to their decision, because they find that the opinion of the Court does not coincide with the opinion of the Irish tenant. If it were otherwise, and unless some strong ground of this nature is taken, neither this message of peace nor any future message of peace you send to Ireland will be a message of peace. Now, I wish, in conclusion, before I sit down, to say a word as to the Irish population. I hope that nothing I have said will induce any feeling on the part of any portion of the population of that country that I feel, or anyone in this House feels, harshly towards them. I have myself Irish blood in my veins, not merely that we came from Ireland some 1,000 years ago; but recently I have made a personal and near connection with Ireland; and I admire their many great qualities, and it is impossible not to admire and respect their domestic virtue. Many of the evils of their lot and faults of their character have been the developments of an unfortunate political history; but I say this—it is high time to tell the people of Ireland that no people can prosper who, like many of the tenants in that country—I am afraid thousands of them—have been lately pleading poverty as an excuse for crime and fraud.


said, he would not refer at any length to what had been called by the noble Marquess opposite (the Marquess of Salisbury) the "ornamental" part of the Bill; but he regretted that the emigration portion of the Government scheme had been dwarfed to its present limits, for he believed that portion of the scheme was the only one which would meet the case of a large portion of the population in the West and South-West of Ireland. But he would suggest that another portion of the Bill might serve as a great means of promoting emigration indirectly—namely, the right of sale, which had been found in all parts of Ireland as the one means for the consolidation of farms. It had been found to combine the least amount of inconvenience to the tenant with the greatest advantage to the estate. The noble Marquess opposite (the Marquess of Waterford) treated the Bill as if it were a Bill of Pains and Penalties against the whole body of the Irish landlords; and he evoked a loud cheer from the Benches opposite when he asked was that the way to treat men who had been tried and acquitted. But the question their Lordships had to consider was not whether a large majority of the Irish landlords had misconducted themselves—which he (Viscount Monck) did not believe—but whether the law was in such a state as to enable a minority of the landlords of Ireland so to exercise their legal rights as to create alarm amongst the tenants, and so to imperil the public peace. He was of opinion that the law was in such a state, and the object of the present Bill was to remedy that evil. What was the evil in the present case? He thought it was that, although the conditions of tenure in England and Ireland were entirely different and distinct the one from the other, the rule of law which regulated the relative rights and obligations of both landlords and tenants was the same in both countries—namely, the English system. That, he thought, was a fair statement of the state of things which subsisted up to 1870. What were the differences? It was notorious that in England when the landowner lets a farm he lets it in the form of a highly-equipped machine. The machinery was provided by the landlord, and kept up by him. The tenant merely provided the capital necessary for the annual outlay. What was the state of things in Ireland? He (Viscount Monck) spoke generally, not universally. Everything that was necessary to be done on the land, the building, the draining, was done by the tenant. To anyone who knew Ireland, the extent to which improvements had been made by the tenants did not require proof; but a singular piece of evidence was furnished in a statement which was published the other day by what was called the Landlords' Committee in Dublin, a statement which they had obtained by issuing questions to landlords all over Ireland, as to the amount of money spent by landlords. The number of acres included was 4,216,619 spread pretty evenly over the four Provinces of Ireland; and the returns showed that within 40 years on those 4,200,000 acres there had been spent £3,544,547, or an annual expenditure of some 5d. per acre per annum. He assumed, therefore, that, generally speaking, it was the tenant who had to expend the capital and the labour necessary to bring the soil up to a productive state. In England, if a landowner desired to resume possession of his land, he had no pecuniary liability or obligation to the tenant, except such as were of a temporary character, for tillage and unexhausted manure; and these being allowed for, if he could not come to terms with the tenant, the landlord resumed possession of the land, and neither had any just ground of complaint. But how stood, the case in Ireland? In that country, the tenant having expended his capital or labour, the landlord had the power to move him out of his holding, that tenant, perhaps, having expended on that holding, in increasing its value, the whole of his life-long savings. Was that right or fair, or was it a system upon which the prosperity of a country ought or could depend? Where land was in a productive state, rent consisted of two elements—one remuneration for the use of the natural qualities of the soil, and the other the interest payable on the capital expended in making those qualities productive. In England, on every principle of justice and equity, both belonged to the landlord; but in Ireland the landlord was only entitled to payment for the natural qualities of the soil, the assumption being that the capital and labour required to bring it into a productive state had been expended and applied by the tenant. Down to 1870 the landlord had the power of raising the rent, with the alternative of evicting the tenant and appropriating the full amount of these two elements, to only one of which, in equity, he had any right whatever. By the Act of 1870 the grievance was considerably modified as regarded the tenure, and the landlord was deprived of the unlimited power of evicting the tenant; but the blot on the measure was that it did not affect the question of rent at all. These were matters which affected the view the noble Duke (the Duke of Argyll) had taken of the intrinsic merits of the Bill; and he (Viscount Monck) hoped their Lordships would give them consideration, for they might modify what the noble Duke had said. It might not be a popular doctrine in that House, but it was not one of yesterday with him (Viscount Monck), that the course of events in Ireland had amounted to the gradual creation by the tenantry of a property in the land, which had become so thoroughly incorporated with the property of the landlord that the only way of meeting the equity of the case was to give a joint interest to the landlord and the tenant. He might also say that he was not ashamed of the "three F's." Whether in capitals or small letters, they were large enough to confer a considerable benefit on the tenants of Ireland, and it was one to which they were entitled by every principle of justice and equity. It was argued that the Bill could not confer great advantages on the tenants without taking something from the landlords; but the possibility of the argument was principally due to a non-definition of terms. Unquestionably, great advantages were given by the Bill to the tenants, and the landlords did lose something. His noble and learned Friend the Lord Chancellor of Ireland (Lord O'Hagan) said they lost their amenities; but the only definition he seemed to give of amenities was the right of evicting tenants. Undoubtedly, the landlords would lose that, and the tenants would gain security of tenure; but the landlord would not lose in a pecuniary sense, except where the tenants were too highly rented. But when they talked of losing and gaining, the advantage which the tenants would gain by the Bill was this—that it would give them security both for their tenure and for their rent, and the landlord would not lose in a pecuniary sense, were his land only fairly let. He would get the same monetary return as he had hitherto obtained. A good deal had been said about the Court which was to be established, and which was to consist of three Commissioners; but he (Viscount Monck) had the highest confidence in that tribunal. He could tell the noble Marquess opposite (the Marquess of Salisbury) that he happened to know Mr. Serjeant O'Hagan, and believed the only fear was that the constitution of his mind was such that, from conscientious fear of giving effect to his inclination rather than his judgment, his decisions would be likely to incline in the direction opposite to his opinions. He could not help thinking that the duties of the Commissioners would be very analogous to those discharged by Courts in several cases. They would, in fact, constitute a Court of Arbitration, which the noble Duke admitted to be an excellent institution. And now one word about tenure. The system of tenure proposed in the Bill had been denounced as unsatisfactory and barbarous, and a step of a retrograde character. He should like, however, to see how its provisions worked before he assented to such a sweeping opinion as that. His thorough belief was that the Bill was the only way they could fairly deal with the question, although it might be a clumsy sort of mode of doing it. As to the arguments based on the expediency of an exactly similar system of Land Laws for the United Kingdom, he would say that they must not sacrifice the peace of the country and the probability of reconciling interests which clashed in Ireland to the symmetry of a system of Land Laws or land tenure. In the present circumstances of Ireland, freedom of contract, he maintained, could not subsist. If his contention was correct, the tenant had created a property in the land, and the real confiscation and invasion of the rights of property was that which deprived him of what he had created by his industry and capital. As to the question of political economy, he was puzzled to know how it had arisen. He always thought that political economy dealt with the production of wealth, and that anything which tended to the production of wealth could not be opposed to political economy. So far was this Bill from being an invasion of the principles of political economy, that he maintained it was in harmony with them, and carried at least one of its leading principles. As to free sale, he did not apprehend it would eat up the landlord's interest. Hitherto, in the North of Ireland, the free sale of tenant right had been notoriously restricted by office rules. There were very few large estates in that part of Ireland on which free sale prevailed, and the natural tendency of such a state of things was to enhance the value of the tenant right on those estates where it existed. His opinion was that the extension of tenant right to the whole of Ireland would lead to a reduction of its price. But after all was said, the great question was—What would be the effect of this Bill? He was old enough to have been able to follow the course of Irish politics for nearly half-a-century; and al- though it might seem strange in the present condition of things to say so, he held that an enormous improvement, both in feeling and in material prosperity, had taken place under his eyes in that part of the Kingdom. He thought he could trace that improvement almost directly to the conciliatory change of policy adopted towards Ireland, as regarded remedial measures, by all Parties during the period he had mentioned. Of course, it would be rash to prophecy; but he had great confidence in the continuance of that conciliatory policy as evinced in the form of the present Bill, founded as it was upon the principles of equity, guided by sagacity and courage. He had endeavoured to lay before their Lordships the reasons why he thought this Bill founded on principles of justice. He believed its construction exhibited also the qualities of sagacity and courage. He could not help hoping and expecting that that great and statesmanlike measure would be passed by their Lordships, and that would have the effect of restoring quiet and contentment in Ireland, and of weaning the minds of the mass of the people from those recurrent political agitations which had unquestionably retarded the material and moral progress of the country, and which never could have attained the height they had reached if they had not been founded on a well-grounded sense of injustice.


It was with very considerable gratification, my Lords, that I heard the noble Duke (the Duke of Argyll) attempt to trace the political causes to which this Bill is due. In the few observations I shall venture to offer I shall endeavour to draw your Lordships' attention to one source of political pressure in connection with the measure which has not hitherto been referred to by any of the noble Lords who have addressed the House. My noble Friend (the Marquess of Salisbury), who followed the noble Lord who moved the second reading of the Bill, drew attention in a marked manner to some speeches made by the noble Lord, then Mr. Chichester Fortescue, and by the noble and learned Lord now sitting on the Woolsack, which are entirely inconsistent with their action in regard to this measure. It would not be difficult to produce a whole array of speeches of the same character. It is not, however, my intention to occupy your Lordships' time by lengthy quotations in proof of inconsistency. But if I wanted an ample refutation of the principles of this Bill it would be found in this fatal volume of Hansard, which records the opinions of public men, and which is full of retractations and recantations and disavowals of previous opinions. Their name is legion, and if I were to attempt to draw forth a refutation of the principles of the Bill I could quote as witnesses Sir Robert Collier, Baron Dowse, Mr. Chichester Fortescue, Mr. Gladstone, Lords Granville and Hartington, Mr. Hugh Law, and Sir Roundell Palmer. The opinions of those Gentlemen have furnished the most complete answer to the principles of the measure now before your Lordships, which those who put them forth now advocate with an ardour only equalled by the success with which they previously condemned them. With this host of witnesses who some time ago condemned the principles which they now approve and advocate, it is natural to ask, What has been the cause of this very remarkable change of opinion; but that would lead me to trespass too much on your Lordships' time. But the point to which I would draw your Lordships' attention is one not hitherto noticed—that the present Bill is the result of a successful and most dangerous agitation, and one to which I venture to allude because the events connected with it passed under my own observation during the time I had the honour to occupy a high post in Ireland. Your Lordships are aware of the failure of the Fenian movement in 1866 and 1867. The result was that the Fenian organization in Ireland was utterly broken up, discouraged, and powerless for action. The Fenians were broken into parties in which every section of opinion was represented. In 1878, there appeared a very remarkable letter from a very remarkable man named John Devoy, who took refuge in America after the Fenian troubles, and who, finding the state of affairs as regarded any insurrectionary movement was hopeless, penned these remarkable words— I am also convinced that one section of the people alone can never win independence, and no political Party, however devoted or determined, can ever win the support of the whole people if they never come before the public and take no part in the every-day life of the country. I have often said it before, and I repeat it now again, that a mere conspiracy will never free Ireland. In addition to that, the writer goes on to say that the particular point on which attention should be concentrated was the reform of the Irish land system. Now, that letter was written in 1878, and in 1879 the first of its results appeared in the formation of what was called the Tenant Defence Association in Dublin. The first meeting of any importance in connection with that Association was in the Spring of 1879, in the Autumn of which year was formed the Land League, of which we have heard so much. Your Lordships are aware of the course of events in 1879, and of the opportunities afforded by the distress for the agitation against rent. In 1880 the Land League was in full swing, and we had these remarkable words of Mr. Parnell, which indicated the coming policy that was to predominate in Ireland— What can we do to induce the landlords to see the position? You must show them that you intend to hold a firm grip of your land; you must not allow yourselves to be dispossessed. And on another occasion he used words which have a still more remarkable bearing; he said last Autumn— Depend upon it, the measure of the Land Bill next Session will be the measure of your activity next winter. …. It will be the measure of your determination not to take farms from which others have been evicted, and to use the strong force of public opinion to deter unjust men from bidding for such farms. These words sufficiently indicated the intention of the Leaders of the movement, who advised the formation of a common platform and the taking of a new departure, from which their agitation might be successful, and they were followed by the formation of the Land League, when Mr. Parnell, in his speeches, laid most stress on this, that the Land Question would unite them all, and that the determination to pay no rent would bring about a satisfactory measure of reform. I may be asked what connection there is between all this and the measure before us, and I believe I have shown that that connection is not far distant. We were told by the noble Duke opposite (the Duke of Argyll), in a previous speech in this House, that when the present Government came into power, there was no intention of altering the Land Act of 1870 by the introduction of another Land Bill; and it is simply and solely to the success which that agitation was allowed to achieve that we are indebted for the introduction of the Bill. Disorder, confusion, and outrages took place during the Winter and Autumn of 1880, and I believe those outrages so acted upon the sympathetic mind of the Prime Minister that they induced him to consider it necessary to overthrow those principles which he and many of his supporters enunciated in 1870 as sound principles of Constitutional Law, and to bring in a measure which has no parallel even among the revolutionary measures the Premier has ever introduced to Parliament. The noble and learned Lord who spoke last night (Lord O'Hagan) laid great stress on the fact that the measure was necessary to produce peace in Ireland. If it were so, I should not object to it; but, judging from the past, and from the advice which has been, and is still being, given to the people, I think we have only to consider what are the particular objects of contention in Ireland at the present time to form a very accurate conjecture as to whether the measure will be productive of peace. We know the advice tendered to the Irish tenants, and the suggestion that they should pay nothing but a fair rent for their holdings. What is the explanation of the term ''fair rent?" The fair rent, as explained by those who exercise the greatest influence among the Irish tenantry, is that after they have suited their own requirements, paid their just debts, and laid by a provision for their families, they may then pay what remains to the landlord. That is the rent that the tenants have been advised to pay. The other precept of the Land League is that no tenant shall take any land from which another has been evicted. Now, will the Bill remove any of these grievances and difficulties? The rent under the Bill will be a judicial rent. It may give satisfaction; but it may not. If it does give satisfaction all will be well; but if rents are not fixed on just, fair, and equitable principles it will not be satisfactory. But if it be not, the agitation will not come to an end. Do you think this Bill will necessarily stop evictions? No; evictions will continue, but this great ad- vantage, I presume, will remain to the landlord, that when nearly all control of his estate is taken from him he will have to carry out evictions in his own name. But if the Bill does not stop evictions, can we hold that the injunctions laid down by the Land League will be deviated from, or that there will be greater peace and order in Ireland? I heard, with particular interest, the noble Duke speak of this measure as involving transactions of an improvident and almost immoral character. It appears to me to be like a great gambling transaction, in which payment of a bill is postponed to a distant date, while a certain sum is given to the immediate drawer. This Bill, by one stroke, deals simply with the tenants of the present in Ireland, and puts an enormous sum of money into their pockets. The rateable value of Ireland, exclusive of Ulster, amounts to £11,393,000; and if we add to that 25 per cent, the probable excess of the rental over the the rateable value, we find that the rental of Ireland, exclusive of Ulster, comes to £14,242,000. Now, as we have the remarkable provision standing in the forefront of the Bill that every tenant shall be allowed to sell his tenancy for the best price he can get, assuming three years' purchase a moderate sum for the tenancy, the Bill will put the sum of £42,000,000 into the pockets of the ten-ante existing at present; and at seven years' purchase it will be £100,000,000 into their pockets. I think that justifies the statement of Mr. Baron Dowse, that the Bill simply deals with existing tenants, and that it is not necessary for it to provide for the future. Now, where does that sum of money come from? It comes from the pockets either of the tenants for the future or of the landlords. In the latter case, it is so far a loss of interest on the money they pay for the redemption of their estates, or it is a loss of rent that can never be replaced; in the former, it becomes an increase of rent paid by the tenants, but not received by the landlords. The great difference between this Bill and the Act of 1870 is that that Act offered an inducement—a strong one—to tenants to remain in the quiet possession of their holdings. Under that Act they were to have compensation for disturbance of tenure; and therefore, under the shelter of that provision, they might profitably and safely farm their lands. But this Bill will invite tenants to quit their holdings, and, treating as it does all tenants alike, will offer a premium on idleness and unproductiveness on the part of the tenant. A system like the Irish land system is one of extraordinary complexity and diversity, yet the Government have proceeded in a rough-and-ready way to deal with the multitude of different circumstances which must necessarily arise in practice. I can conceive nothing more calculated to encourage the spirit of gambling and speculation that exists among the Irish tenants than the facilities given by this Bill to enable them, both provident and improvident—those who have effected some improvements and those who have not—to obtain from the Court a statutory term of 15 years, and then to go into the market and sell their interests for the highest price they can get. What can be more unreasonable, for example, than that a tenant who has only been in his holding for six months should stand in as favourable a position as another who, together with his family, have held the farm for six generations? To both, however, it offers the same facilities. We have heard a good deal about the village tyrant; but there is another person who is well known to Irish landlords, and who is a still more objectionable character—namely, the village "gombeen." During the great distress in 1880 many loans were made, and the calling in of these loans was one of the principal sources of the poverty and distress which now pervaded Ireland. Among the many disadvantages which encumber the system of free sale is this—that, as the noble Duke has said, it precludes every man from obtaining a holding except by the payment of a considerable sum of money. That system may work very well in Ulster, for in that Province there is an industrious and a frugal population, and a system which works well there may be detrimental in other parts of the country. This Bill reminds me of the story of Samson in the arms of Delilah. All the power of the landlords is gone, all their strength expended, and the cry is raised—"Up, for the Philistines are upon you." The Winter of 1879–80 was a most instructive one. I know nothing more commendable than the self-denying character of the Irish landlords during that trying time. But will that feeling remain after the passing of this Bill, when we have abstracted from the landlords every interest in their property, all their proprietary rights, and have fixed their rent by a judicial decree of the Land Court?—when we have, in fact, reduced them to the position of mere rent-chargers upon their estates. I do not think that they will submit to the same deprivations and show the same kindly spirit and feelings towards their tenants. On the contrary, they will stand upon the letter of the law. The effect of the Bill will be to impose a fine of enormous magnitude upon the landlords of Ireland. It is said that the landlords will be able to enforce the payment of their rents by civil process; but I fear that after the passing of the Bill the dangers attending the collection of rent will be the same as now. We are also told that they may redeem their farms; but some landlords possess thousands of them, and they will not be able to exercise that right. I contend that during the first period of 15 years for which the Court can fix a tenancy, we shall see a change in the relations between landlord and tenant which will make the latter the virtual possessor of his farm. In 1870, Mr. Gladstone said— As I understand it, the scheme itself amounts to this—that each and every occupier, as long as he pays the rent that he is now paying, or else some rent to be fixed by a public tribunal charged with the duty of valuation, is to be secured for himself, and his heirs, in the occupation of the land that he holds, without limit of time. He will be subject only to this condition—somewhat in the nature of the Commutation of Tithe Act—that with a variation in the value of produce the rent may vary, but it will be slightly, and at somewhat distant periods. The effect of that provision will be that the landlord will become a pensioner and rent-charger upon what is now his own estate. The Legislature has, no doubt, the perfect right to reduce him to that condition, giving him proper compensation for any loss he may sustain in money; the State has a perfect right to deal with his social status, and to reduce him to that condition if it thinks fit. But then it is bound not so to think fit unless it is shown that this is for the public good. Now is it for the public good that the landlords of Ireland, in a body, should be reduced by an Act of Parliament to the condition practically of fund-holders, entitled to apply on a certain day from year to year for a certain sum of money, but entitled to nothing more? Are you prepared to denude them of their interest in the land; and, what is more, are you prepared to absolve them from their duties with regard to the land? I, for one, confess that I am not; nor is that the sentiment of my Colleagues. We think, on the contrary, that we ought to look forward with hope and expectation to bringing about a state of things in which the landlords of Ireland may assume, or may more generally assume, the position which is happily held, as a class, by landlords in this country—a position marked by residence, by personal familiarity and by sympathy with the people among whom they live, by long traditional connection handed on from generation to generation and marked by a constant discharge of duty in every form that can be suggested—be it as to the administration of justice, be it as to the defence of the country, be it as to the supply of social, or spiritual, or moral, or educational wants—be it for any purpose whatever that is recognized as good and beneficial in a civilized society. Although, as I have said, nothing would induce me voluntarily to acquiesce in a continuance of such a state of things as has prevailed, and still, to a great extent, prevails in Ireland—it would, I own, be a most melancholy conclusion were we to find that we could not rectify that which is now wrong in the land tenures of that country without undertaking a social revolution, a social revolution in which the main characteristics would be the absolution of wealth and property from the performance of duty, and an addition to that lounging class—unfortunately too abundant in this country—who are possessed of money and of nothing else, and who seem to have no object in life but to teach us how to multiply our wants and to raise the standard of our luxuries, even when we have not yet solved the problem, or got to the heart of the secret, how we are to relieve the destitution which is pining at our doors."—[3 Hansard, cxcix. 351–2.] Now, the provisions of this Bill will have the effect which the Prime Minister contemplates in these words. I very much doubt whether the land hunger of which we hear so much will be assuaged by the means provided by this measure. Crescit indulgens sibi dirus hydrops, Nec sitim pellit, nisi causa morbi Fugerit venis, et aquosus albo Corpore languor. I hold that in time the tenant's interest must completely absorb the interest of the landlord, and we shall some day see an agitation in Ireland productive of still more revolutionary demands, and directed, not against unjust rents, but against rent of any kind. I believe that the Irish people will soon perceive that by a judicious exercise of the powers conferred upon them by this Bill, that by enlarging their own interests and contracting those of the landlords, the whole interest in estates will pass into their hands, and that it will require but a slight shock to overthrow the remaining structure of the landlord's property in Ireland. I wish to say one or two words about the constitution of the Land Court. I have nothing to say against the gentlemen who will compose it, no doubt they are men of the highest honour and probity; but the Court, nevertheless, does not commend itself to me as a Court of the highest impartial judicial characteristics. It seems to me to partake of the nature of a Court whose members have been selected from the partizans of one political Party in order to give effect to preconceived ideas. In Serjeant O'Hagan we have the learned gentleman who assisted the Catholic Bishops of Ireland in the preparation of their criticisms upon the Bill, many of which were listened to. There is one of the recommendations which I rather think was made to find out which way the wind blows. It is a kind of explanation why the Prime Minister refused to sanction any re-arrangement for the re-appointment of the two lay Commissioners after seven years have expired. This last recommendation is that two Assessors should be associated with the County Court Judges, and have co-ordinate jurisdiction. These Assessors would be chosen by popular election. One of the features of the case which strikes me with the greatest alarm is the reception which the Bill will meet with in Ireland. It will be a very dangerous thing if, by a revolutionary measure, we hand over the whole of the property of Ireland to a system of hotch-potch, placing the working of the measure in the hands of those who will only work it in a manner which is conducive to their own ends. Yet there is another Court in Ireland to which I have already referred—a Court not nominated by the Queen—whose decisions are secret, which now claims to regulate, and does regulate, the affairs of the whole country. That is the Court which the Government has obeyed, which will administer this law and promulgate it throughout Ireland. The existence of this Court is one of the most dangerous elements in the question. I admit that it is not possible to reject this Bill in face of the powerful Land League which has been raised in England and Ireland; but I cannot for one moment join in the hopefulness as to the future of Ireland which, in consequence of this Bill, is entertained by the supporters of the Government. The picture which I draw is certainly not a very cheering one, because I believe that when the Bill is sent to Ireland it will be the signal for further disorders in that country. It will be seen that agitation has produced successful results; that concessions have been made to disloyal people; and the advent of this measure in Ireland will be the signal of the departure, before any great number of years have elapsed, of what has been termed the "English garrison." The destruction of the National Church in Ireland was one, and this will be another, among the many monuments to the transcendent ability, but, at the same time, ill-regulated optimism, of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister.


said, as a Member of the Irish Land Tenure Committee, he felt he could not give a silent vote on that most important question. That Committee was appointed last winter, as their Lordships knew, for the purpose of sketching out the general lines on which it was desirable to legislate with reference to land in Ireland; and, feeling as he did very earnestly upon the question, he should like to lay his views before their Lordships with regard to some of the broad principles of the Bill. He maintained that, whether tenant right had been given by the Bill or not, it existed, as was proved both by the Richmond and Bossborough Commissions, in consequence of the labour of the tenants' hands, the reclamation of land, the erection of buildings, and the long occupation of holdings. Therefore, the difference between the practice of England and Ireland as regarded improvements was essential to the proper conditions of the Bill. It was the custom in England for landlords to erect, and also to maintain, all the buildings necessary for the occupation of the farms, and to drain the lands at their own expense. This, however, had never been the custom in Ireland, and could not be, with its system of small farms. When an Irish tenant applied to his landlord for improvements on his holding, the landlord said he could not do the whole of them. The tenant thereupon would ask whether if he did a part he would be given a security. The landlord consented, and the principle of tenant right was thereby established; for, of course, the improvements made by the tenant were his property, and no landlord would charge rent upon such improvements. But sometimes the tenants wanted improvements of a more important character, and the landlord agreed to borrow money from the Board of Works, or became security for the money, to effect them, and an agreement was made that the tenant should pay interest on the loan in the shape of an increased rent. This increase became a permanent increase; and though the money was repaid in 35 years the charge continued. That, he thought, was perfectly fair, as the land was permanently benefited. Of course, if the Bill was passed, and tenant right became universal, landlords would probably only erect buildings strictly on these terms. Many landlords, in fact, had erected buildings before this, and never charged anything to the tenants at all. He had adopted that plan himself. He strongly supported the recognition of the tenant's interest, which was established in the Bill, and by no means agreed with the noble Duke (the Duke of Argyll) on the question of tenants' improvements, which were a real item in the question. He hoped their Lordships would not agree to any limiting Amendments of the Bill of the nature proposed by Mr. Heneage and Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice in the other House of Parliament. He did not believe there existed one estate in Ireland which was really managed on the English principle, and on which all the improvements had been the work of the landlord. He thought, too, it was most undesirable to create two different classes of tenants in the country. He considered that the object of this measure was to put all the tenants of Ireland upon an equal footing, and he thought that such an object could not prejudice the landlords in any way. He deprecated the creating of jealousies and distinctions, and let them not enable a tenant to complain that he did not possess tenant right while his next-door neighbour did. It was also noticeable that the Amendments proceeded from English and not Irish Members of Parliament. He regretted very much to say that he was afraid there would be great efforts to emasculate the Bill. He thought that would be a narrow, selfish, and short-sighted policy; and what they ought to do in the present state of Ireland was to give full tenant right, with free sale. He did not think that when the Irish tenant got tenant right such as the Bill would give him he would be so very anxious to acquire the fee simple. Nevertheless, every facility ought to be put in the way of the tenants becoming the owners of their farms where the landlord was willing to sell. The great point with the Irish tenant was security in his holding and a fair rent. He would also object to any limitation of the principle of free sale as laid down in the Bill. They ought not to attempt to limit the price for which tenant right was to be sold. He was of opinion that the purchase and sale of the tenant right ought to be guided by the market price; and he did not think it would ever be worth the landlord's while to purchase the tenant right; he might just as well throw his money into the sea, except in cases of fraudulent tenants, when he could protect himself by the power of pre-emption provided in the Bill. He did not look upon the Bill as one for the confiscation of the landlords' property, but rather as a recognition of tenant right, believing, as he did, that if they granted security to the tenant they would also secure the landlord, for they must stand or fall together. He asked the House to remember the state of Ulster, where tenant right existed, and to compare it with the rest of Ireland, and say whether the landlords' property was not more secure in Ulster than in other parts of Ireland. He hoped their Lordships would recognize that principle, and that both landlords and tenants would enter into their new relations with mutual respect and cordial co-operation.


My Lords, I entreat your kind indulgence for a few remarks which I desire to make upon this Bill as an Irish landowner directly interested in its immediate operation, and as an English landowner prospectively interested, with most of your Lordships, in the formidable precedent which it establishes. It is painful to me to be compelled to speak as I shall have to do of this Bill, brought in by a Government comprising many with whom I have long, as a Liberal, been in the habit of acting in politics. But it is more painful to think that a Liberal Government could thus repudiate wholesale their recent professions and promises. It is they, not I, that have changed opinions since I supported their Land Act of 1870. The view I take of this Bill and its antecedents is only consistent with that deep conviction of the paramount" importance of law and order, and that attachment to the principles of Free Trade, including freedom of contract for adults, which I have always felt and maintained from my youth upwards. But freedom of contract for adults only, for I well remember repeatedly voting in favour of protection to really helpless factory children from overwork against Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Bright. Before, however, considering this Bill and its probable effects, I would ask leave to glance for a moment at its causes and antecedents. We hear, on the unimpeachable authority of the noble Duke who addressed us so powerfully to-day, that an Irish Land Bill formed no part of the original programme of the present Government; nor, indeed, we learn from competent authority, of the Liberal Party either; for 300 addresses of Liberal candidates at the last General Election contained, we are told, no allusion to it. So we have to seek aliunde the reason for the introduction of a measure so conflicting with the positive assurances given, and principles emphatically laid down, by the authors of the Act of 1870. The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor of Ireland spoke, indeed, of resolutions passed at small meetings in the North of Ireland on the subject, and, like one or two other noble Lords, built up an enormous superstructure on some expression in the Report of the Duke of Richmond's Commission. So we have heard, also, of the necessary, though unsuspected, development of the Act of 1870. But we find the real reason, as virtually admitted by my noble Friend the Lord Privy Seal, in the lawless condition into which Ireland has been brought since this Government's accession to Office. They cannot deny that Ireland was handed over to them tranquil and orderly—not, indeed, in a state of comfort and satisfaction—owing to the operation of the Land Act—previously almost unknown, as was erroneously stated by Mr. Gladstone just before the General Election; but tranquil and orderly, though disaffected, as was clearly discerned by the calmer judgment and deeper insight of his illustrious Predecessor, and was publicly proclaimed by him in his memorable letter to the Duke of Marlborough. In the Queen's Speech, in speeches in Parliament, and in speeches elsewhere, the present Government re- peatedly announced their determination to govern Ireland on different principles and by different methods from those of their Predecessors; and this they certainly have done, as far as they can be said to have governed Ireland at all. In spite of the public remonstrances of those Predecessors, and of the confidential warnings of the stipendiary magistrates of Ireland, they, with marked self-complacency, refused to renew the Act prohibiting the importation of arms; and tens of thousands of firearms have been, in consequence, introduced into Ireland since their accession to Office. I impute no motives—I state facts. I am not going back to the Prime Minister's unfortunate Clerkenwell speech before the Dissolution. But later during the Recess last Autumn, after the outrages had commenced in Ireland, Mr. Bright—perhaps the first orator in England—went down and addressed his constituents. I remember his speech occupied more than a column in the newspapers. It was full of the injustice of Irish, landlords and of the wrongs of Ireland; but there were not more than a few lines of decorous deprecation of violence in it altogether. Nor did any language of his right hon. Colleague tend at all to diminish the mischievous influence of that speech. Now, it is obvious that a systematic refusal to pay rent, accompanied by intimidation and even a certain amount of outrage towards those who paid it, or were engaged in obtaining its payment, would facilitate the object of those who desired a stringent and confiscatory Land Bill to be passed. The persistence in such lawless refusal and outrage would dispose needy and timid Irish landlords to accept almost any terms enabling them promptly to recover part of the money due to them, and would incline the people of Great Britain to acquiesce in legislation inconsistent with their habitual respect for the rights of property for the sake of obtaining a peaceful solution of the ever-recurring troublesome problem of Irish disaffection. The lawlessness spread and increased, till the law of the land was superseded, as the Government had to admit, by the law of the Land League, through county after county in Ireland. For months this dangerous and discreditable state of things was helplessly acquiesced in by the Government, till at last, in January, they felt compelled to propose a Bill to suspend the Habeas Corpus Act there. Somewhat later, even the Members for Birmingham, conspicuous by their absence from some of the earlier divisions on that Bill, were roused by the Land League's insolent defiance into speaking out. How useful these speeches would have been if made last Autumn! I will not yield to any one of the Government, or their supporters, my claims to be considered a friend to humanity. In the cause of suffering humanity, if I have effected little, I have worked hard and suffered somewhat. In that cause I have stood by the bedsides of the dead and dying of cholera and fever; I have visited the most infectious wards of workhouses and of hospitals, incurring some risk, unfortunately not always with complete impunity, by doing, rarely and at intervals, what thousands of brave medical men and ministers of religion do daily as a matter of course. But I feel no respect for the humanitarianism which has more regard for the lives and limbs of the law-breaking and law-defying than those of the law-abiding and law-enforcing; which calmly exposed brave soldiers and policemen—armed, indeed, but rendered practically defenceless by the authorities—to insults, wounds, and even death, from seditious mobs or cowardly assassins; which made the magistrate to bear the sword in vain; and which, consequently, left a certain number of loyal subjects for many months to suffer depredation, outrage, and even murder, and thousands more to remain helpless under the daily apprehension of similar treatment to themselves or their families. Conscious of the discredit attaching to them in consequence, the Prime Minister, followed by many of his Colleagues and of his supporters, began last Autumn, and has continued intermittently ever since, attributing the lawless state of Ireland to your Lordships' refusal to pass his Compensation for Disturbance Bill last Session. Now, as I took great pains to persuade several Friends of mine to come up and swell the majority of Liberal Peers, which would, of itself, have sufficed, without other aid, to throw out that Bill, I must be allowed to say of that discreditable abortive attempt at Ministerial legislation that it was the fitting precursor of this measure. For, in all its Protean variety of phases, from its first sudden introduction, contrary to all precedent, as a supplementary clause to a Belief of Distress Bill down to its final rejection by an almost unexampled majority of this House, its principle was confiscation with repudiation of contract. And both these measures have been alike misdescribed by the Government. As that Bill was founded on the anticipation of general cruel exaction—unjust, though legal—on the part of the Irish landlords, who have been since, as a body, triumphantly acquitted of this charge by the Prime Minister, so this Bill was avowedly based on the Report and Evidence presented by a one-sided Commission, of which I need now only say that they could find time to admit an anonymous letter as testimony against a landlord, but could not find time to give the hearing which they had promised to the landlords to rebut the charges made against them individually. That Bill professed to be local. It should rather have been called general with local exceptions; for it applied to more than half the acreage of Ireland, and to more than two-thirds of the acreage not already otherwise provided for by legislation. It professed to be temporary; yet it dealt inter alia with changes of tenancy—that is, with arrangements of ex hypothesi more than 18 months' duration. It professed to apply to distressed districts only; yet its Schedules comprised numerous large tracts where the good crops contrasted markedly with those in many large really distressed districts in England and Wales. So this Bill, we are assured with corresponding intrepidity by the Government, is not to confiscate, but to raise in value landed property in Ireland; to benefit not the tenant only, but the landlord also, and especially the labourers. That our rejection of that Bill, notwithstanding the large majority by which it passed the other House, was readily acquiesced in, if not approved, by British public opinion, we learn, not only from the reasoning and testimony of the always honest and fearless Postmaster General, but still more conclusively from the conspicuous failure of the Government to get up successful indignation meetings on the subject anywhere out of Ireland. I agree with that able and courageous Minister that we may find in that fact a strong argument in favour of your Lord- ships passing a Land Bill, which I feel satisfied is now demanded by the public opinion of Great Britain as well as Ireland. But I go further, and find in that fact also an encouragement for this House fearlessly to modify those confiscatory clauses which in this Bill, as I read it, deal hardly with the Irish landlords in proportion to the good which they and their predecessors have done, and the forbearance which they have shown, to their tenants. The noble Marquess who spoke with such remarkable ability from these Benches yesterday exposed the Ministerial misrepresentation that this Bill had been rendered necessary by the extensive mutilation of the Land Bill of 1870 in this House; the chief mutilations having been made by the present Lord Chancellor, the present Irish Chancellor, and the present Foreign Secretary. So much has been already said so ably about this Bill that I will only now repeat that it establishes free sale everywhere in Ireland, whether previously prevailing or not on an estate—nay, more, none the less, where the landlord has made large and long-continued sacrifices to exclude it. This Bill not only presents the tenant with what he has never bought, but what the landlord has paid heavily to prevent his buying. Why should he be empowered to sell at a high price for his own benefit alone, to whoever he pleases, the enjoyment of a holding rendered all the more valuable by the improvements to which the landlord has contributed without raising his rent, sacrificing for years that contribution with compound interest? This is what my predecessors and I have done for more than half-a-century, and this is what most other improving Irish landlords have done also. Moreover, thinking it undesirable for a new tenant to enter upon a new holding, or an old tenant on an enlarged holding, not only exhausted of capital, but probably also encumbered with debt, we have not allowed the incoming tenant to discharge the arrears of his predecessor in the holding; these arrears being sacrificed in my case generally to the amount of at least two years' rent during more than half-a-century for the sake of the well-being of the tenants and the better cultivation of the estate. But why should all this be presented to the tenants, who have already themselves for years enjoyed the benefit of these sacrifices of their landlords? And how much harder are the cases of estates managed on the English system, where the landlord has made the improvements of all kinds, instead of only helping the tenants to make them, like myself and most Irish landlords! Still worse, however, if possible, as a matter of principle than this, the Bill, as it stands, enacts that written contracts shall be void, and leases not made under duresse, but willingly taken by tenants cognizant of their provisions and voluntarily agreeing to them, shall be arbitrarily invalidated; on account, I suppose, of the helplessness of the leaseholder, even if he is occupying land on lease worth £1,000 a-year. Can there be a case to which Mr. Gladstone's forcible words of 1870 more strongly apply?—those words, I mean, so often quoted, as to the demoralizing influence that legislation must have which facilitates and encourages repudiation of contract. And I, as an Irish landowner, frequently visiting that country, and, in earlier years, sometimes resident there for weeks and months at a time, venture to say, from my own experience, that any such influence is particularly undesirable in Ireland, where all classes have too much indulged in what one of the Alabama Commissioners is reported to have professed—namely, "a preference for less accurate modes of expression." How far and when contracts are to be repudiated, what is a fair rent, and various other questions, are, by the Bill, left absolutely to the discretion of the new Court to be created. Upon the composition of that Court I shall say nothing. I never heard even the names of two of its members before, nor that of the third except in connection with the House of Commons. But, however able and impartial they may be, I think it a dangerous thing to place the interests of the Irish landlords and tenants completely at the mercy of a Court without appeal, and with so little in this Bill of direction on some very important points. All the other Judges in the land, however eminent, act under the control of statute and precedent. Some of the language in the Bill is very vague; and this new Court, obviously, can have no precedents for its guidance. But, further, this Bill is distinctly retrograde in its conception. It encourages and multiplies those divided ownerships in land, which for many years the public opinion and legislation alike of this and other countries in Europe have discouraged and superseded. You must go to India to find precedents for such a measure. In England, successive statutes have long been facilitating the conversion of copyholds into freeholds and the extinguishing of manorial and other dues upon fair terms. The noble Marquess told your Lordships how, in other European countries—in France, in Italy, in Spain and Portugal, and in Germany—land tenure had been more and more simplified, and mediæval dues more and more superseded by money payments. The metayer system, once very prevalent in Europe, is being gradually replaced by money rents, especially where improvement is greatest. In Belgium, of which, but for Mr. Jenkins's instructive Report, we should probably have heard more said by the Government, metayage, once rife, now survives only in a few polders near the German Ocean. The noble Marquess told your Lordships how the great Land Reform in Prussia, begun by Stein in 1807 or 1811, but not completed till 1850, did not consist, as Mr. Bright erroneously stated some time ago, in taking one-third or one-half of the land from the landlord, and giving it to the tenant; but consisted in taking some such amount from the tenant and giving it to the landlord in lieu of the labour and other dues, which, under the previous system, he could claim from the tenant; and, at the same time, exonerating the landlord from claims for assistance of various kinds from the tenant; thus rendering each class very nearly independent holders of their respective lands. I might cite the land legislation of Hesse, begun in 1811, but not quite completed till 1849, which is fully described by Mr. Morier in a very able Report, because, though the territory is small, its condition was typical of much elsewhere in Germany, and the success attending that legislation rendered its example very influential. But I will not trouble your Lordships with it. I will only add Mr. Morier's summing up— The one ruling idea of the agrarian legislation of Hesse, and, indeed, every part of Germany, during the present century has been to extirpate double ownership, and substitute in lieu of it full, unhampered rights of allodial" (or, as we should say, freehold) "possession. But all this has been done with scrupulous regard to the just rights of both parties. It was everywhere in Germany an equitable adjustment of the fair claims of each—not a confiscation of the property of either for the benefit of the other class. Far the greater part of this Bill is devoted, not to equitably extirpating, but to confirming and perpetuating divided ownership where it already exists, encouraging—nay, compelling—its creation where it does not; and doing this, not with fair compensation, but by scarcely disguised confiscation. We must consider this Bill, however, not merely as regards its injustice or its retrograde character in relation to the more recent legislation and public opinion of the most civilized countries of the world; we must look also at its probable results by the light of political economy, which was described by Mr. Lowe some years ago in the House of Commons as the one safe oasis wherein to rest in the dreary desert of politics. I know that political economy has been, by one leading member of the Cobden Club, amidst the applause of many other of its influential members, relegated to some distant planet. But political economy has an inconvenient habit of, sooner or later, vindicating its truths and the predictions of its disciples by results. Within the present century a powerful Finance Minister in his day, Mr. Vansittart, on behalf of a strong Government, carried by a large majority through the House of Commons a Resolution affirming that a guinea was worth only a pound note and a shilling, and yet guineas continued to be none the less sold next day for 27s. in London for exportation. The highly protective Corn Laws of 1815, 1822, and 1828, with elaborate sliding scales, avowedly intended to secure a steady remunerative price to the British farmer, though triumphantly carried, did not prevent agricultural distress from twice, at an interval of about 10 years, reaching such a point as to engage the serious attention of the Legislature, and on each occasion to cause the appointment of Parliamentary Committees to inquire into the cause and, if possible, suggest remedies for the distress. The later Protectionist Corn Law of 1842, to which Mr. Gladstone was a party, and of which I was, unworthily, selected to move the rejection of the second reading—that law, specially intended to insure steadiness and moderation of price under a sliding scale of duties doubling the profit and loss on each transaction, though not less triumphantly carried, also conspicuously failed of both objects, and was repealed by its authors four years afterwards. So we need not shrink from considering this Bill in its economical aspect. There can be no doubt that, whatever be the case elsewhere, in Ireland, the capital employed in farming is generally too small for the land to be farmed to the best advantage. Can it be economically desirable that under the influence of earth-hunger a tenant, before entering upon a new farm or upon an enlargement of his former holding, should be encouraged to spend all his capital, if not to borrow more, in order to buy the tenant right? Can it be doubted that the Ulster Custom was far more the consequence than the cause of prosperity in Ulster? Has not much of that prosperity resulted from the rural domestic manufactures long successfully carried on there, but unknown in the other parts of Ireland—all inferior in thrift, industry, education, and civilization, to Ulster? And now that these additional sources of profit beyond the farm have been largely superseded by chemical works and steam factories in towns, are there not indications that the burden of that custom is often found too heavy? Can it be desirable to give to thousands additional fixity of tenure in holdings each too small, even if rent free, to provide food for a family, and abounding by far the most where both soil and climate are unfavourable to tillage? Is not this to encourage a permanent local congestion of the population on spots where every bad season must bring them to the brink of starvation? Can it be desirable, for the real interests of the Irish farmer, to drive away the landlords; or, when they remain, so to diminish their influence, as to render them powerless to restrain the indefinite subdivision of holdings and multiplication of their inhabitants? The litigation under this measure will certainly be immense. Whether tenants, landlords, or labourers will be benefited by it or not, no one can doubt that the Irish lawyers will be so enormously. Can it be desirable that a large amount of capital should be spent on unproductive litigation, which, moreover, we know from experience is sure to generate and foster ill-will between the litigant parties? Then, can it be desirable, in the interest of the Irish labourers, still more numerous than the farmers, to drive away and dishearten the landlords, who employ so much more labour on their demesnes than do the farmers in proportion on their holdings? Will not the sudden withdrawal of the landlords' demand for labour, in consequence of this measure, tend to throw many men out of work, and to lower still more the already lowering, though till quite lately much improved, rate of wages in Ireland? And this brings me to the neglect shown by the Government, notwithstanding their professions of interest in it, to that, the largest class in Ireland, both in their Act of 1870, and in this Bill as originally introduced. In the Act of 1870, Clause 9, authorizing the landlord to take land for cottage building, I happen to know, had to be pressed upon them before it was inserted in the House of Commons; and sub-section 5 of Clause 12, giving similar power to take small allotments for the labourers' use, was introduced in this House. I have heard it said that there is no instance of these compulsory powers being used. But I, who have built a certain number of labourers' cottages in Ireland, despairing of the farmers ever doing so, should be very sorry to be without them. The Royal veto has not been found wholly inoperative by our Monarchs, though William III. was the last who actually exercised it. In like manner, there was not originally a single clause in the present Bill for the labourer's benefit. But then the labourers, though in general badly treated by the farmers, had not yet had recourse to intimidation or violence. Unfortunately, the discouragingly small amount of the fund provided for assisting emigration, through which alone relief can be obtained for the local congestions of superfluous population in the poorest districts, and, above all, the absence of almost all mention of field-draining in the Bill, and certainly of any provision for its extensive execution, together with the prominence given to reclamation in its provisions, afford sad evidence how little the Government have understood the real requirements of Ireland, and how much they have been influenced by clamour in the deviations which they have made in this measure from the strict principles of political economy. The large present and prospective withdrawal of employment by landlords renders it urgently desirable to bring some productive work within easy reach of the labourers pretty nearly all over Ireland without long delay, and without necessitating their removal from their homes. Some field drainage, as distinguished from arterial drainage, is required, I am assured, in every neighbourhood in Ireland—almost in every parish in Ireland. In England, it is stated that about two-thirds of the cost of such draining has been in labour. In Ireland, where the draining would be more largely done with stone, the proportion would be probably greater, and the work would naturally be chiefly piece—not day-work—thus stimulating industry by enabling the industrious to earn good wages. The generally remunerative character of field, or, as it is sometimes called, thorough drainage, is well known. In some cases, its whole cost has been repaid by the increased crops in four years. But it may be reckoned, generally, to do so in 10 years, except in the case of very poor, stiff soils, in a wet climate; so that, with a moderate annual charge for interest, and the gradual repayment of the principal, not only would no loss, except in very rare instances, have been sustained by the landlords, even if the work had been done compulsorily on their lands, planned and superintended by Government officers; but considerable gain would have been realized in most cases by them, which would have been at least fully shared in by the labourers. Field drainage, and not the reclamation of waste lands on a large scale, is what a number of the best authorities, political economists, practical engineers, improving landlords, and land agents, recommend for Ireland at present on all grounds. Unhappily, it is too late now, consistently with Constitutional principles and Parliamentary usage, to remedy the neglect of the Government on this point in this Bill. But while field-draining has been virtually ignored by the Government in this measure, they have introduced clauses about the reclamation of waste land, happily still guarded by some precautionary words, likely, I hope, to render them a dead letter. For from what I have seen in Dartmoor, in Lewis, and in a land-locked bay adjoining my Irish property, and from what I have heard of in Whittlesea Mere and Sutherlandshire, and of the promised but never realized rescue of a whole county from the sea near Boston, I am very sceptical about the profitable reclamation of waste lands on a large scale, even by Companies or individuals, and much more by the Government. Under the most favourable circumstances much time would necessarily be consumed in making the requisite surveys and plans, in bringing the requisite machinery, and preparing the requisite accommodation for the large body of labourers required on these waste tracts. The need of increased employment for the labourers over the greater part of Ireland is urgent, and no provisions have been made for doing this in the Bill. But it is too late to repair this sad omission. We can only lament that the Government in this measure do so much that, in my opinion, they ought not to do, and are leaving undone so much that they might and ought rather to have done. The Government, I know, will triumphantly point to the Bright Clauses in the Act of 1870, and the large extension of the same principle in the present Act. The Bright Clauses failed to be extensively acted upon, as I well remember predicting they would, not so much because of their principle as of their infelicitous details: for transcendant eloquence does not always imply statesmanship, much less legislative capacity or administrative efficiency. Every thoughtful man must have desired to see the undivided ownership of land much more widely distributed in Ireland, not so much for economical, as for social and political, reasons, in order to interest larger numbers in the maintenance of the rights of landowners. Many, like myself, entertained sanguine hopes that the Encumbered Estates Act would have done much in that direction long ago. But, from various causes, it did very little; and among those causes was not only a lack at that time of any great amount of available capital in Ireland, but also, in the middle and lower class, a lack of that particular form of earth-hunger which craves for freehold possession. But though I think the extensive purchase of moderate freeholds by Irishmen with the proceeds of their own industry and thrift, even if aided somewhat by Government advances, would socially, economically, and politically be of the greatest advan- tage, I believe that in all these three respects Government advances of three-fourths of the price to land purchasers will have a very injurious effect; probably sometimes opening the door to collusion between buyer and seller for sham sales at extortionate prices to cheat the Government, certainly leading to a constant pressure on the Government, as chief creditor and practical landlord in Ireland, for remissions of j debt, such as have been conceded from j time to time by different Governments ever since I came into Parliament, and further furnishing a strong additional motive to the indebted masses for desiring national separation from England. With many thanks to your Lordships for your kind indulgence, I will now sum up my observations by saying that, on the whole, I consider much of the Bill bad in principle and dangerous as a precedent, as sanctioning repudiation of contract and ill-disguised confiscation; that I find when the Bill, in violation of the strict rules of political economy, makes advances of public money, it makes them, not to assist emigration on a scale sufficiently appreciable to relieve the local congestions of population in the poorest districts in excess of the means of subsistence; nor to provide generally remunerative employment in widely diffused field drainage for a large part of the most numerous class in Ireland now in danger of having to look to the poor rates for support; but it makes advances only for artificially raising a forced crop of freeholders, and for the speculation, if Government can get any Company to undertake it, of reclaiming waste land. Still, though I fear this Bill, extorted by intimidation, unsound in principle, and ill adapted to its object, is little likely to conduce to the increased productiveness of the land, to the permanent prosperity of the country, or to the general contentment of the people with the Queen's rule and the supremacy of Parliament, I am glad to learn that there is no serious intention to throw it out; for public opinion demands that a Land Bill shall be passed. At the same time, I trust the House will not shrink from the duty of altering the clauses most inconsistent with justice or policy which formed part of the Bill as introduced by the Government after full consideration; and I hope still more that the House will not hesitate summarily to reject objectionable provisions hastily put in during the discussion of the Bill, apparently in the vain endeavour to conciliate the irreconcilable Representatives of the Land League—a futile attempt at an impossible task. For the Land League have throughout announced that they will not be satisfied with any measure compatible with British ideas of justice and British supremacy. They really aim at nothing less than having Ireland for the Irish—by ejecting the landlords and confiscating their property—at nothing short of the Repeal of the Act of Union and complete national independence.

VISCOUNT MIDLETON, premising that in his remarks he should confine himself to the four corners of the Bill, said, he yielded to no one in his desire to see this unhappy question set at rest for ever, and a better state of feeling promoted between landlord and tenant in Ireland. No sacrifice could be too great, either for an individual or for a class, if they could restore to those portions of Ireland in which distrust had always unhappily existed between landlord and tenant a better feeling; and also if they could produce a good feeling in those districts where no such distrust ever prevailed, before it had been fostered within the last few months by the action of the Land League. He could not, however, but remark the want of appreciation apparent in several of the speeches delivered from the Ministerial side of the House of the haste with which the Bill had been initiated, and the extraordinary complexity of its details. The measure was distinctly and avowedly based on the Report of the Commission presided over by the noble Earl who sat on the opposite Benches (the Earl of Bessborough). That Commission collected a vast mass of evidence, which was not taken on oath, and which was full of misstatements and contradictions; but the Bill had been read a second time in the House of Commons before the rebutting testimony saw the light. His fear was that under the present Bill arrangements which were far more for the good of the tenants themselves than for the landlord would be utterly impracticable. For instance, with regard to free sale, there were two questions he should like to ask. The first was this—"Is it the case that since this custom of Ulster was legalized by the Act of 1870 a large number of tenants in that Province have sold their occupations, have left the country, and have given room to a class of tenants who are less provided with capital, are less able to farm, and are altogether on a lower footing as regards intelligence, capacity, and capital than the men whom they have replaced?" He had it on very high authority, from the manager of one of the largest estates in Ulster, that that was the case on the property with which he was immediately connected, and that he believed it to be the case on many other estates. The second question was—"How will it be possible, if this Bill becomes law in its present shape, for a landlord in the South or West of Ireland to make any improvement, by concentrating around the homestead the scattered fragments of land where the town-lands have been let in rundale, or where they have been scattered by some other agency? "Previous to 1870, this object was always obtained by giving notice to quit, and thus inducing the tenants to come to an agreement as to the arrangement of their farms. Under the Act of 1870 such arrangements, which were more for the good of the tenant than that of the landlord, had been rendered difficult; and his fear was that, under the present Bill, they would be utterly impracticable. As regarded the Arbitration Clause of the Bill, it practically abolished freedom of contract altogether, whatever might be said of free sale. How would it be possible to carry out the provisions of the clause without a substantial revaluation of the soil of Ireland, and, if so, what means were provided for doing that; and how, in the numerous appeals to the Court which there would most assuredly be under it, would the machinery be provided which would en- able the work in hand to be grappled with? Passing to what had been termed the ornamental clauses of the Bill, he would observe, with reference to the Purchase Clause, that while, politically speaking, there could be no doubt, if it could be properly worked, that it would be of the greatest possible benefit, for there could be no question of the great benefit that would accrue to Ireland by having a large number of owners of the soil; yet that doctrine, when they had to do with anything like peasant proprietorship in a congested district, would prove to be a failure. He believed it would be as impossible to preserve a race of peasant proprietors in Ireland as it had been found impossible to preserve the old race of yeomen in England, unless they could rescue them from the ever-increasing exigencies of modern competition. He did not expect that the Reclamation Clauses would work; the only possible way of reclaiming land in a remunerative way being by the application to waste lands of the spare time of occupiers, who could not get any money value for their spare hours. With regard to the Emigration Clause, whatever might have been the case as regards that clause as it was introduced into the Lower House, as it had emerged from it the clause was a simple farce. Its provisions reminded him of the attempt of Mrs. Partington to oppose the Atlantic with a mop. It had the expense limited to £200,000. That would emigrate about 700 families, or 5,000 souls, at the utmost, while the unaided emigration from Ireland last year was upwards of 96,000. He objected also to the provisions introduced into the Bill with regard to leases as being unjust, and must also be allowed to express his unqualified disapproval of the clause dealing with labourers. He should have preferred that the maxim, De minimis non curat lex, had been applied to the latter. What was to be done in the case of estates managed on the English principle? No proposal was contained in the Bill to meet such cases. He regretted the animus which had been shown towards the Irish landlords, and denied that a case had been made out which could in any way justify the hard things which had been said of them, although he admitted that among landlords, as among every other class, unjust men were to be found. He had always tried to assimilate the management of his Irish estates to that prevailing on his English estates. He thought that the Bill would operate hardly upon the purchasers of property in the Landed Estates Court in Ireland, and this class of proprietors numbered one-sixth of the whole. Many of these purchasers were commercial men, who were invited to make their purchases by way of investment under the inducements held out to them by the Legislature, and they were in this position, that they were disliked by the people, who preferred the former proprietors to them, and now found themselves abandoned by Parliament. The same thing would happen also to those who had become proprietors since 1870. This, however, was but one instance in which the Bill meted out injustice to the unoffending. He thought that it was a dangerous proposal to revise the terms of leases granted on the faith of the Act of 1870, and would not tend to encourage the granting of leases. By the provisions relating to labourers' cottages, the successors of present owners might find themselves charged with large sums for the repayment of advances made for the purpose of erecting cottages which might no longer be required. In other respects, too, the Bill showed an utter disregard for the interests of posterity. Everything was to be done here on behalf of the holder of the present tenancy, who was to be invested with privileges which formed no part of the bargain between himself and his landlord. With regard to the clause for staying proceedings, that clause was introduced at the last moment, and was dishonest on the part of those who introduced it, and on the part of those who accepted it. That clause merely introduced by a side wind the principle which their Lordships refused to recognize in the Compensation for Disturbance Bill of last year. If the clause were passed, it would authorize the Court to decree that just debts should not be satisfied which had been allowed to remain unenforced by the indulgence of the landlord. He was puzzled to understand the principles on which the Bill was framed. He gave the Government credit for a sincere desire to benefit Ireland; but how did they carry out their intention? The subject of Irish land required to be treated like any other subject, on scientific principles. So far as political economy was concerned, those principles had been thrown to the winds at the outset. They would, however, re-assert themselves. Naturam expellas furca tamen usque recurret. They were told that this was to be a message of peace to Ireland. It probably was so intended; but, judging from the reception which the measure had received from the Land League, there was little reason to hope that it would prove to be a message of peace to Ireland. It had already been formally repudiated under the influence which at present dominated Ireland, and was not that of our Sovereign lady the Queen. He could not help thinking that this Bill would open the door to unlimited litigation, a circumstance which was to be regretted, especially in a country like Ireland, where such a love of litigation prevailed. In every clause the interests of the landlords were deliberately set aside in order to gratify the political exigencies of a Government, or the demands of an outrageous agitation. One thing, however, would have even reconciled him to this Bill, in spite of all its objectionable features, and that was if it had been a final measure. But most important questions had been intentionally left open for future consideration, among them being absenteeism, the constitution of the Land Court, and the subject of town parks. If it was to the advantage of the State that any person or class should cease to exercise the rights they had exercised, he had no doubt that the State could remove them; but they had no right to keep them in a position which was intolerable to them. In his opinion, simple expropriation of landlords upon an equitable footing would have been a more statesmanlike proceeding, for the landlords would in the future be of no use to their country, and would not be able so efficiently as they had been to discharge their allegiance to the Queen. The Bill took away from them—and especially from absentee landlords, of whom he was one—every inducement to do their duty to their tenantry; and he felt convinced that, if it passed in its present shape, the landlord's power of improving his own property, or the condition of those who lived upon it, would be nil. Having pointed out what were considered to be the defects of the measure, the responsibility of it must be left in other hands. Should he prove a false prophet no one would be more heartily glad than himself, and no one would be more eager and ready to acknowledge it. But he could not help saying he expected serious consequences, which he did not think the Government had adequately estimated, would result from it in the immediate present, and still more so in the future, and only hoped that the worst results of it would not be realized by generations still unborn.


said, that the noble Viscount who had just sat down (Viscount Midleton) had expressed his ideas so clearly and explicitly, that, were it not that all faith in modern prophecy had been lost, he (Lord Waveney) should regard with considerable misgivings the future position of Irish land- lords under the Bill. Sharing, however, in that want of faith, he was disposed to think the result would be the direct reverse of the anticipation. He desired, at the outset, to enter a strong protest against the principles which some noble Lords had maintained during the discussion, one of which in effect was that landlords ought to be compensated, not merely for loss of wealth and substance, but for deterioration to their social position and power. But landlords possessed all the social and political rights of other members of the community; and, therefore, they had no just ground of complaint on that score. In the next place, it was contended that expropriation would have been a far fairer solution of the admitted evils of the Irish land system than the remedies contained in the proposed measure, and that it would be satisfactory to the landlords, and not in any way dishonourable to them. That was a principle which he indignantly rejected. Their duty was to maintain and make good their position, and to display in that position those qualities which, in the eyes of the world, would warrant and entitle them to fill those stations of exceptional prominence and advantage which they at present possessed. If the Nobles of France—a body much inferior to the Nobles of Ireland—had only recognized that truth, they might have guided the elements which exploded in the frenzy of the French Revolution into a very different channel. He thought, therefore, their Lordships should act in a manner worthy of the best traditions of the landed class, and not imitate that example so disastrous in its results to those concerned. With regard to tenant right, and its existence in Ulster, surely the improving tenant on the small holding on the mountain side had earned something in the nature of that right by his labour, especially in the reclamation of waste land, and the Bill was framed in a spirit of equity with reference to that class of men. What was wanted, in addition, was some help for those who could not by industry take care of themselves. For them the Bill would provide, by the Emigration Clauses, as to which he did not believe it possible that remedial legislation on the subject could be effective without some provision for a well-regulated system of emigration. A map in the Library of the House was shaded so as to show what land in Ireland remained to be reclaimed; but it was hopeless to talk of reclamation of waste lands upon a large scale. The subject was fully discussed in 1847 and 1848, and the schemes then proposed were found to be impracticable. The landlords, no doubt, did make some improvements; but it was the tenants who carried out reclamations, who prepared the soil for the plough, who cleared away the moss and the heather, to enable the land to be tilled by labour, so as to produce the potato crop. He remembered but one period of absolute peace in Ireland; and that was the peace of exhaustion that followed the Famine, when there was a cessation of political and of religious strife. He did not despair of a different peace, for the people of Ireland could not fail to be touched by the patience of this Empire. He had lived long enough in Ireland to know the value of the Ulster tenant right. The noble Lord then traced the origin of the custom, and, continuing, said that the first blow was struck at it when land in Ulster was sold by the Court with those rights which belonged to the tenants. The Ulster tenant right was not understood in England, or in that House as it ought to be, and the more legislation was based on the ideas underlying that custom, the more lasting benefit would it confer on Ireland, and the better it would be for the tenant and the landlord. It was very easy to find fault, but not so easy to suggest a remedy; but, at the same time, he could not conceive any cases in which a remedy could not be supplied by the action of an honest and learned tribunal; and, in his opinion, there was but one cause of regret with respect to the tribunal, and that was that it would probably be insufficient to deal with the infinite number of cases that would be likely to be brought before it, and he should therefore suggest that there should be a larger number of Judges, sufficient for the formation of two Courts, for he believed the questions to be dealt with were too much for the intellect of three men. The Court would, in the first place, have to consider the custom of Ulster, and afterwards the various modifications of that principle that would have to be made in applying it to all parts of the Island; and he trusted that one of the results would be that they would hear less in future of disputes between landlords and tenants. When the occasion arose, however, the people of Ireland had always exhibited great energy, great ability, and great intelligence; and that this Bill would pave the way for national greatness he was firmly convinced. In conclusion, he thanked the noble Marquess opposite (the Marquess of Salisbury) for not dividing against the Bill, and thus disappointing those who were expecting that the House Would be led into committing a mistake at this crisis. They were indebted to the noble Marquess for relieving them from the task of dividing on a measure which ought to be considered independently of Party politics.


said, he was glad that no Amendment had been moved to the second reading, because, having taken some part in the discussion of the subject in Ireland, he had promised to give a fair consideration to any measure which might be proposed. That promise he would not depart from; but, at the same time, it was with very great reluctance that he could express any approval of a Bill that was such a wide departure from the principle of freedom of contract. There was no doubt, however, that something was required to be done in Ireland at that moment. The question of legislation had been alluded to over and over again; and it would be perfectly futile now to indulge in any speculation whether, if a stimulus had not been given two or three years ago to agitation on the question of Irish land, some smaller measure might not have met the difficulty. There were very important social questions in Ireland which required that some measures should be adopted by Parliament to settle the Land Question on a secure basis. It was unnecessary to mention the case of many of the landlords. The agitation which had gone on for some time in Ireland had done much harm to trade in Dublin, and had caused a great falling off in the profits of the railways; and the only institutions which had profited from the present state of things were the banks. Having recently come from Ireland to attend these debates, he happened on his journey to meet a professional gentleman of great knowledge and experience in his locality. This gentleman remarked there could be no doubt that there was a great scarcity of money in the country. He (the Earl of Belmore) asked what had become of it. "Oh," was the reply, "it is said that in one of the banks in the town in which I live there is from £200,000 to £300,000 placed to deposit accounts. The farmers will only get 1 per cent interest for this money." This was so much capital withdrawn from the land from a fear that if they invested it in the land it was in danger of being lost in consequence of their not having any security for the retention of their holdings under the present system. The Bill dealt with several matters, and, avoiding details as much as possible, he would make a few remarks on them in the order in which they came in the Bill. The first question was as to the sale of the tenant's interest, or what was called free sale. He was one of those landlords who, to a considerable extent, had not objected to the sale of the tenant's interest. At one time, many years ago, he had attempted to control it. But, finding the responsibility for the acts of his agents too great, and that it was impossible to prevent a larger sum being paid sub rosa, he abandoned all attempt at direct control, only reserving to himself either the indirect control of saying what he would give to the tenant for the power of exercising a veto upon the persons coming into the farm. So long as free sale was not abused, the principle might be defended. There was no doubt that the rent was made more secure by it. But, on the other hand, unlimited free sale was open to much abuse and might prove a great injury to the country. The man giving up his farm was glad to get as much as he could, and the creditors, as well as the landlord, had a better chance of being paid. But the person coming in was placed in a very much better position by restricting free sale. Probably he had borrowed some of the money, and that circumstance would prevent him from stocking his farm. Therefore, the right of the landlord to limit the amount given for the interest in a farm was a salutary one. That right was now practically taken away, and so far the provision dealing with the subject was objectionable. He would admit, however, that according to the definition of the extreme supporters of tenant right in Ireland this Bill did not confer absolutely free sale. The next question was the tenure of the land, and the greatest objection that the tenants had to the present system was that the rent, even under the Bill, might be constantly increased. But, on the other hand, the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Salisbury) had described it as a system which would prevent an increase of rent. That was not altogether so; but, practically, the rent could not be increased, except by converting leases for ever into perpetuities, when a small addition to it might be made, or as the value of money fell there might as time went on be some increase. He had lately looked very closely into the system of tenure on his own property from the time of the Plantation, and he found that at one time every holding was let for a longer or shorter term of years. Down to the present century, it was always usual, on granting a lease, to have a small increase of rent. The noble Lord the Lord Privy Seal (Lord Carlingford) had said that the great rise which had taken place in the value of land during the last 100 years, or less, was due partly to tenant right and partly to the tenants' improvements. That, he (the Earl of Belmore) believed, was certainly not the case. In his opinion, while admitting that the rise in the value of land in Ulster had been considerable, he thought it was attributable to the increased value of money compared with the increased value of land, and not to the tenant's improvements or to the tenant right system which prevailed there. He had no faith in the existence of tenants' improvements before the beginning of the present century, and could not, therefore, think that they had been a factor in the increase of the value of land. With regard to tenant right, he found no trace of it until within the last 100 years. Now and then, it was true, he had heard of cases in which sums of money had been given by way of compensation, and those cases, perhaps, contained the germ of tenant right; but the right in its modern form was not known till a more recent period. Of all the questions dealt with by the Bill, the question of rent was the most important to the tenant. That, at least, was his experience, which was fully confirmed by what he had heard at a land meeting at which he had been asked to preside. Comparisons were sometimes made between the rents on English and Irish estates, and a letter on the subject had appeared in an Irish paper by a tenant farmer from Ireland who had visited Gloucestershire. The writer of that letter pointed out that he paid no more than £1 an acre, and the landlord paid the tithe rent-charge; while in Gloucestershire the average rent was £2 an acre, with tithe and taxes that made the rent practically £3. With respect to the Bill before the House, he would say little as to the proposed Court, lest he should travel over a well-beaten path; but, on the whole, he felt confidence in the Commissioners who would be appointed. One of them he scarcely knew at all, but of the others, one was a trained man of business; while the position and ability of the Judicial Commissioner were guarantees that he would be an impartial Judge. Some people thought that there should be five Commissioners; but he thought that three was a better number. He had always been favourable to some form of arbitration, but could not approve of the establishment of arbitrators in the shape of the Land Court, and he was in hopes that in Committee their Lordships would so amend the Bill as to make it less objectionable than it was at present. The clauses of the Bill that most excited his sympathy were those by which it was intended to make tenants landed proprietors, and he should even have preferred to trust solely to them as a remedy for the present grievances, and to have altogether omitted the other parts of the Bill. No doubt, a great difference of opinion existed on the subject, some maintaining that the sales made under the Church Temporalities Commissioners had resulted in a complete success, while the Returns issued for the county of Armagh favoured the contrary view. Failures there certainly had been in some instances; but the glebe lands were just those where the most unsuitable tenants for the experiment would be found: for the clergyman of former days had not even a life interest, and was not generally an improving landlord; so long as he could get a moderate profit, and live in peace with his tenants, he was satisfied. But, in spite of that fact, he was very glad that the Peasant Proprietary Clauses found a place in the Bill, and he looked to them to counteract the ill-effects of some of its other provisions. It had been contended that the Emigration Clauses would probably be useless and inoperative, and perhaps the experiment might have been tried on a larger scale; but a very considerable emigration would always be going on whenever there was a time of agri- cultural depression. A Northern public officer—whose office caused him to be a good authority—was of opinion that when this Bill came into operation and creditors had something tangible to sell, so many tenants were weighed down with debt, that it was probable that emigration would be more considerable than ever. In the way of enabling those who were so situated to sell out and emigrate, he thought those clauses would do some good. Amendments to the Bill would, of course, be proposed in Committee; but there was only one point to which he wished to call attention—namely, with regard to those landlords in Ulster who had bought up the tenant right on their estates. The Prime Minister had denied that there were any such cases; but when he moved his Amendment, having for its object the protection of those landlords who had so acted, he should be able to prove their existence, and would support his views by evidence of their actual number. In conclusion, he must say that his own idea with regard to Ireland was that matters would never prosper there until all parties agreed to leave agitation alone. And he said this with the more confidence, because it was true.


My Lords, I have two reasons for asking your Lordships' indulgence on this occasion. One will be obvious to your Lordships. It is that it is necessary for me to explain the causes which have led me, from a sense of duty, to accept my share of the responsibility for the introduction of this measure. The other is because, in the course of this debate, frequent reference has been made to speeches delivered by me, when I was under no official responsibility, in the year 1870. Some explanation is due to your Lordships, after what has been said with reference to those speeches, of the view which I take of the present position of affairs in Ireland, as compared with that of the year 1870. My Lords, I should like, at the outset, to say a few words as to the principles which I conceive to be fundamental, with respect to any such legislation as this. I feel as strongly as any of your Lordships can, that the laws of any country which govern the tenure of property ought not to be lightly altered. In the early stages of society, it is a Comparatively easy thing, when the rules and the administration of law have not become well fixed, for adjustments of laws of property to the habits and customs of men to take place; and there is, perhaps, no better example of that than the transition, in this country—to which reference has been made in the course of this debate—of estates at will into those estates, under fixed conditions of tenure, which we now call copyhold. The process in those early times was very different from positive legislation like this; but the principles which then made such a transition natural, and just, and right, will, under different forms, at all times and in all countries, have permanent application. Whenever you find that the customs, the habits, the life of men have become divergent from the letter and strict terms of the law, whenever you find that the interests of large and important classes have grown intermixed and entangled with each other in a way which makes some re-adjustment necessary for the convenience and for the safety of society—whenever that happens, however fixed the law may be, still the same social and moral necessity arises for the exercise of legislative power to make the adjustments, whether they be large or small, whether they may seem violent or easy, which that state of circumstances renders necessary. My Lords, all such laws of property and laws of tenure are made for men and not men for them; and they must, from time to time, everywhere and always, be reviewed and changed and re-adjusted when the pressure of social forces requires it, and the safety of the State makes it necessary, and when we all feel it to be inevitable. There are examples well known to your Lordships of great changes of tenure, which, no doubt, stirred at the time the feelings of men as deeply as this can stir the feelings of any of your Lordships—changes which have taken place on the Continent of Europe, changes in their kind very different from what we propose, and made under different conditions, but examples, prominent and recent examples, of the right and duty of the State to make these adjustments when they become necessary, and of the general approval and acquiescence of mankind in such adjustments when they are wisely and reasonably made. And, my Lords, I say that such adjustments—however apt men may be to denounce them as unjust, as revolutionary, and with the rest of the vocabulary of vituperation—are both just and beneficial, not to one class only, but to all the classes concerned in them, when they are made so as to maintain the substantial rights of property, while altering their conditions and their form, and still more when they are made so as to place the enjoyment of those rights on a more secure basis and footing than that upon which they stood before the change. We have ourselves recently and largely acted upon these principles. Measures to adjust the relations between landlord and tenant by new legislation, involving the settlement of rent and durability of tenure, have marked our legislation in India; and between those measures and this there is not only a rather near parallel on those two points, but there is this further parallel—that our Indian Legislature, in so dealing with the properties of the great proprietors and the innumerable cultivators of India, did not consider that by doing justice to the one class it was doing injustice to the other, and did not recognize any necessity for treating those changes as matter for compensation. And your Lordships and the Legislature of this country acted in the same manner and upon the same principle in regard to Ireland when you passed the measure of 1870, which was really a much greater step in the direction of change of law, so as to accommodate it to the habits and customs, and, therefore, moral rights of the people, than that which you are now asked to make, because it was a change in that direction made for the first time. I refer to these instances for the purpose of explaining how my mind is affected by the view of the position which the State assumes when it deals with a great measure of adjustment of the tenure of land such as that which is now before us. It is neither a new thing nor a strange thing, although it is most undesirable that it should be a common or a frequent thing. Nothing but grave necessity can make it wise; but where there is that necessity, and when an anxious endeavour is made to reconcile the rights of all the classes concerned, I say that, under these circumstances, the State does but discharge one of its greatest duties, the neglect of which might lead to injustice, and might, under some circumstances, lead to revolution. The present Bill is framed upon those principles, and under a sense of the existence of that kind of necessity. It is said that it interferes with economical principles, and with freedom of contract. But it is a mockery to talk of those things, when the moral and social forces with which you have to deal are antagonistic to them and inconsistent with them. Under any circumstances, freedom of contract can only be exercised within lines prescribed by law; and when you find that, within those lines, it is not in fact exercised, and that you have to encounter moral and social conditions at variance with it; when you have not got an open market, nor freedom to hire or to let; when the habits and relations of the classes concerned show that you cannot apply those principles without modification and regulation, then it is necessary to adapt your laws to the circumstances with which you have to deal, and to the state of society which exists in the country for which you legislate; and it is pedantic to rest upon theoretical and abstract ideas, instead of endeavouring to do the best you can under circumstances of practical difficulty. As I said, I have been reminded of some opinions which I expressed—and I hope you will believe that I then spoke in all sincerity, and as honestly as I now address your Lordships—in 1870, when I was free from the responsibility of any official position, but not free from the responsibilities attaching to every man who desires to do his duty. Some things which I then said have been quoted as if I had denounced as unjust, and as taking away one man's property to give it to another, a proposal substantially the same with the scheme, or part of the scheme, of the present Bill, in favour of which I am speaking to you at the present time. My Lords, I deny it utterly. Whether I was right or wrong in my conception at that time of the effect of a universal extension, pure and simple, of the Ulster Custom to the rest of Ireland—for that is the subject upon which my words were quoted by the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Lansdowne)—that which is done by this Bill, in my view, at all events, wholly differs from such an extension of the Ulster Custom; and it is proposed—so far as anything analogous to the Ulster Custom is proposed in this Bill—under conditions and limitations carefully conceived, which have been essential to my acceptance of the measure. The noble Marquess also referred to other words which I then used on the subject of compensation for disturbance, in which I said that unless great care were taken as to the limits and the checks under which compensation for disturbance was given there might be danger of its encroaching upon rights of property which ought not to be so encroached upon. I thought so then, and I think so still; and, in dealing with those provisions of this Bill which, in the opinion of some, may be attended with a similar danger, I have at least succeeded in convincing myself that the necessary limits and the necessary checks are here. I do not like to speak of myself; but, when challenged, I must at least endeavour to justify my view. Although your Lordships who differ from me may value these checks and safeguards as little as I do much, I think you will not disbelieve me when I assure you that I regard them as checks and limitations sufficient to prevent any such unjust consequences. There are other matters as to which I stand upon the same platform with many of my Colleagues, which I may dismiss more easily. They were shadowed out in 1870 vaguely, indistinctly, and in general terms, and were proposals which I do not at all mean to deny had a good deal in common with the more definite and guarded proposals of the present Bill. When the Bill of 1870 was introduced, I, like most of those who are now my Colleagues, expressed myself averse to changes so extensive, and agreed with those who thought them open to serious economical objections. Well, I do not hesitate to say that if I were not convinced of the necessity for the large proposals made by this Bill, I should still object to them on similar grounds. It is because circumstances have changed, and we are in a state of things now which, at that time, did not exist, that I agree to things which I would not willingly have agreed to then. But still I do so unwillingly, because I regret that the state of circumstances should be such as to convince me of the necessity. I agree to them, because I think there is a necessity for which I see no other remedy—at least, none so likely to be effectual as a Bill of this kind. Now, my Lords, I have done with my own speeches, and I ask you to consider what are the real conditions of this question. Before endeavouring to state them, I will allude, for a moment, to the strange alarms which have been introduced in the course of this debate about the possible consequences of this measure in England. Now, I am quite content to look that suggestion in the face, and to say openly and distinctly that, if there were like circumstances in England, I should loyally agree to similar measures. So far from thinking that any wrong or injustice would be caused, I, as a landlord, although not a large one, should think such legislation under such circumstances altogether to my interest, as well as to the interest of the tenant. I think this is a case in which one cannot do wrong in trying to imagine oneself in the position of an Irish landlord. Remember the circumstances under which the legislation takes place, and say in your conscience whether you would think yourself wronged by such a Bill. I can say with a clear conscience that I should not think myself wronged. On the contrary, I should think the Bill at least as beneficial to myself and to my own class as to the class of tenants. But the real truth is, that the same circumstances do not exist in England, and the tenants desire similar measures at least as little as the landlords. Speaking for myself, in the last few years I should have been very far indeed from alarmed if a fair rent had been fixed upon my land by an independent and competent tribunal, and if the tenantry had been fastened to the land on those terms, at all events for 15 years. But now, my Lords, what are the leading facts which we must keep in mind when approaching this question in connection with Ireland? In England the persons engaged in agriculture as occupying tenants are 1 in 59; in Ireland they are 1 in 9. The difference between those figures shows the dependence of the people of Ireland upon agriculture as, practically, their sole means of living, in contrast to those other means of living and sources of prosperity which the people of England possess. With regard to the holdings, the contrast, at first sight, does not seem equally great, because in England 59 acres, on an average, go to a holding; while in Ireland, if you include all the great grazing farms, 27 acres form the average, a disparity, however, still very great, even if no deduction were made for those great grazing farms. In Ireland nearly half of the whole number of holdings throughout the country are under 15 acres, and nearly two-thirds are not above £10 valuation. Even in the most prosperous part of the country—Ulster—the proportion is practically the same. I do not want to dwell upon some other factors in the question; but they are not without importance in considering the difference between England and Ireland. In England, the great proprietors commonly reside upon their estates; in Ireland they commonly do not. Do not let it be supposed that I wish to do injustice to that class of Irish proprietors. For the most part they have been very liberal to their tenants, although I know that there are some resident proprietors who are equally so. But the fact that so very great a proportion of the land of Ireland is in the hands of large proprietors who do not reside upon their estates, and that those estates are, and must be, managed by agents who can never be to the tenants what resident proprietors might, necessarily introduces a different system of treatment, and produces very different relations between the owners of property in Ireland from those which are prevalent in this country, where large proprietors do, as a rule, reside on their estates. Then, my Lords, there is another circumstance never to be forgotten in estimating the social conditions under which we have to legislate for land in Ireland, and that is, that while from the causes which I have mentioned there is a considerable loss of useful moral and social influence on the part of the landlords, on the other hand, those same landlords are, for the most part, of a religion different from that of their tenants, and thus there is an unfortunate absence of the sympathies which arise from community of religious belief; and the people are, for the most part, under the influence of a clergy who are not directly connected with or interested in the land. I refer to these matters because they appear to me to show the peculiar conditions under which we have to legislate on this question. I would ask your Lordships, can you separate the interest of the landlord from that of the tenant? Can anyone in this House maintain that it is for the interest of the landlord more than for that of the tenant that there should be chronic antagonism between them, mutual opposition, and if not mutual suspicion, yet at least suspicion and distrust on the part of the more numerous and less educated—when taken individually the weaker class, but when taken together, under the influence of combination, by no means the weaker? My Lords, I wish to look at this question, in the first place, from what I will call the landlord's point of view, as I understand it. I say, then, that the value of the landlord's interest depends upon the tenantry at least as much as upon the title which the law gives him to the land. Without an occupying tenantry his land would be valueless to him, and any policy which did not regard as common the interest and prosperity of both, and aim at such an adjustment of their relations as may give them some chance of living on good and cordial terms together, must be at least as ruinous to the landlord as to the tenant. I own I was surprised at something which fell from the noble Marquess on my left (the Marquess of Salisbury) last night, and which, in my judgment, was as great a fallacy and as great an error as could possibly be put into words. The sentence, which I took down, was this—"Whenever large advantages are given to the tenant they must be taken from the landlord." That I utterly and positively deny. An opinion more unfounded and more contrary to a true conception of the interests of both landlord and tenant cannot, I think, be imagined. The more prosperous a tenant is the better will be his relations with his landlord, and the better is the value of the landlord's interest secured; and unless you show that you directly take from the landlord something which is his and give it to the tenant, then I say the more advantages you can confer upon the tenant, the more benefits you also confer upon the landlord. What, my Lords, under the present state of things is the value of the landlord's interest? What are those rights we are supposed to deprive him of over his tenants? We are supposed to be depriving him of his right of eviction, and to be destroying the freedom of contract. But do these things exist at the present moment? What is the benefit of the power of eviction if, when you have evicted the tenant, you can get nobody to take the land, no one daring to do so? What is the benefit of taking land into your own hands, without the means of hiring labour for its cultivation in a free market? If a moral force comes between the landlord and the class on which he depends for his prosperity, puts them at arm's length, and takes away the possibility of the land being let or profitably cultivated, of what good is your cherished right and power? What is the meaning of power, if you have to face combinations and the result of combinations such as that produced by the present agitation? There is not an Irish landlord in this House who will not say—"If this state of state of things is to continue, the value of our property is gone." Well, our object is, as far as possible, to put an end to that state of things, and by devising the best means—those most likely, as we think, to work permanently and justly—to secure and maintain the value of the landlord's interest as much as that of the tenant. If there is any other way to bring about that result, it has not yet been stated. It may be asked—indeed, it is often said—"Why do you not enforce the law?" No one is more sensible than I am that it is our duty to do the utmost in our power to maintain and enforce the law. But your Lordships know the old maxim—Quid leges sine moribus? You know very well the state of things which exists when it is necessary to put all the powers of the law, and even exceptional laws, in force—when the moral bonds of society are strained to the utmost. I should like to know, if the law were enforced to the uttermost, as I should desire it to be, what the value of the landlord's property would be, if the masses remain, reasonably or unreasonably, in a chronic state of alienation towards the landlords, of hostility against the law, of virtual partnership in things which the law ought to put down? If that is the state of feeling which is engendered among the tenantry, do you think that by evicting every tenant and putting the landlord in possession of the land, and by the strong arm of soldiery or police everywhere putting down disturbance, you could maintain or restore the value of the landlord's property? Do you think that the mere exertion of overwhelming force could restore the relations which ought to exist between landlord and tenant? Do you think you can thus overcome the rooted opposition of these large classes, if you do nothing to conciliate that opposition? Can you make them take the land? Can you even make them labour on it if you take it into your own hands? In whatever degree you may be able to work against those difficulties, and encounter them, and partially counteract them, is there really any Irish landlord in this House who will seriously say that, on the hypothesis of a chronic abnormal straining of the law, the pecuniary and moral value of the landlord's property will be greater, or that his position will be better than it will be under the provisions of the Bill, provided the Bill comes into operation and works? I believe your Lordships have recognized the truth upon this subject, for that is the reason why, although this measure is denounced as revolutionary and Communistic, and as an act of confiscation and injustice to the landlord, not one of your Lordships proposes that it should be thrown out. Apart from any question of the effect of a Dissolution of Parliament, or other political complications, those who so speak do not desire that the state of things which I have described should subsist, and they know that it would subsist if the Bill were thrown out. I will ask your Lordships to permit me to read a significant question and answer with which I was a good deal struck in the evidence before the Bessborough Commission. The evidence is that of a Galway landowner, Mr. O'Flaherty, who seemed to have a great dislike to any legislation of this kind. He was asked this question—"Is not the tenant of a farm more or less at the mercy of the landlord?" I suppose the question had reference to one of the points that are often made about the absence of freedom of contract, when the power of the landlord is too much for the tenant. Mr. O'Flaherty's answer was this, and to my mind it is very true and significant— Upon my word, I think that the balance is very little in favour of the landlord, supposing that a crisis like this comes, which every man of ordinary sagacity might foresee. I think the landlord is in the worst position of the two. My Lords, I am afraid that our experience of this crisis justifies that opinion; and what I ask your Lordships to believe, and what I think I can clearly establish, is that this crisis is not of a factitious kind, got up by a mere un- scrupulous agitation like that of the Irish Land League, but is a crisis which—as Mr. O'Flaherty said—"every man of ordinary sagacity might foresee." What, my Lords, is the history of this crisis, of which we have heard something from the noble Duke (the Duke of Marl-borough)? I must carry the answer a little further back than the occurrences of the last two or three years which were adverted to by the noble Duke. There has been in Ireland a long-standing conflict between legal theory and practical status, just one of those conflicts between facts and law which, whenever they occur, lead to inconvenient political consequences, and require adjustments which, in ordinary circumstances, might not be justifiable. I am not going further back in illustration of this than the year 1860, when that remarkable Act of Parliament was passed which enacted that from that time contract, and not tenure, should be the basis of landed property in Ireland. My Lords, it was something like what I remember at the time of the Crimean War. There was a squib published in, the shape of an Act of Parliament supposed to have been passed, which declared that a certain newspaper should have authority to take the city of Sebastopol, and that from the time when that newspaper should announce the capture of Sebastopol, it should be and be deemed to have been captured to all intents and purposes whatsoever. The Act of 1860, declaring that land should be held by contract and not by tenure, when, in fact, it was held by tenure and not by contract, attempted an impossibility. Only 10 years passed, and in 1870 the tenour, though not the letter, of that legislation was reversed. The Act of 1870 established the Ulster Custom, which is surely tenure and not contract. It was, however, so established as to leave it vague and indefinite. I do not know of any inadvertence, nor do I know that the Act of 1870 did not accomplish the purposes intended to be carried out by it. But it had undoubtedly some effects which were not foreseen, as it was a measure which did not work out its own principles to such a point as distinctly to separate the interests which it recognized from those which previously existed independently of law. It has, in consequence, been productive of much friction, much irritation, much unsettle- ment, and a sense of insecurity. I was struck with two things which were said yesterday—the first by the noble Marquess the Leader of the Opposition, who said that, in the case of the Ulster Custom, there was always the absolute power of the landlord in the background to raise the rent. But that is the very thing which has created nine-tenths of the irritation—I am now speaking of Ulster. The people have felt that by the legislation of 1870 you recognized rights, not defining them, but leaving them liable to be indefinitely taken away, whether by intentional encroachment or otherwise, to what extent is not material. They felt that they were liable to have their rights diminished and encroached upon by the exercise, unlimited and uncontrolled, of the landlord's power to raise the rent, which, consistently with the custom, he was entitled to do. As a matter of fact there has been, and is now, in the Province of Ulster, whether or not the landlords have used that power unjustly, a great amount of uneasiness, dissatisfaction, and sense of insecurity. The other remark with which I was struck was made by the noble Earl who was lately Governor General of India (the Earl of Lytton). The noble Duke (the Duke of Argyll) also referred to it in his speech. The remark was, that when you turn customs not recognized by law into legal rights, you infallibly change their nature, and immediately give them a character, in relation to all other pre-existing rights, which they did not possess before. My Lords, that was the inevitable effect of the operation, which, nevertheless, may have been just and necessary. We know that eminent Conservatives, like the late Lord Mayo and others, pressed for a recognition by law of the Ulster Custom long before it was established by law in 1870; and the moment it was so established, the relative position of the parties was changed, and tenant right, which had been tolerated and endured when the custom was not legal, and which then depended only on the good feeling and sense of justice of the landlords, acquired a different position when it became a legal right as much as the rights of the landlord. But what actually occurred? It was in Ulster, if anywhere, that this land movement began. It is the greatest error in the world to say that the state of things with which we have now to deal is due to the Land League. The Land League was its effect, not its cause. The Land League would never have had the power which it has acquired if it had not found, as materials to work upon, the previous state of feeling and opinion, the previous demand for legislative change, which existed before the Land League, and nowhere more prominently than in Ulster. The significance and importance of this fact are, that if any part of Ireland can be called prosperous it is Ulster; if any part is loyal it is Ulster; if any part is more difficult than another to draw into the vortex of disaffection, it is Ulster. Yet in Ulster this desire for change was originally strongest, because of the feeling, or fear, that the landlord's power to raise the rent might be exercised so as to transfer to the landlord the rights of the tenant; and in that province there grew up a series of Tenant Right Associations for the very purpose of obtaining a better and stricter definition of the rights which, in 1870, had been conceded to the tenants, and which Associations were founded upon the notion that this power of the landlord was one which might be exercised at any time and by anybody. I have never resided much in Ireland, but I can speak upon one point with some slight degree of personal experience. I am not an Irish landlord; but, in the year 1875, I was invited to accept the office of Master of one of the great City Companies, which has a large estate in the county of Londonderry. It had been the practice on that estate, from the time when it came into the Company's own hands, that there should be a re-valuation and a reasonable increase of rent every 20 years. It so happened that one of those terms of 20 years expired while I was Master of the Company. I need hardly say, that the Company desired to behave justly, and not to raise the rent any more than they thought was right. Well, the tenants combined together and resisted. They obtained the services of a Belfast lawyer, who harangued the tenants in the square. We did all we could to consider what was represented to us, and we made a considerable reduction from the original proposal. What did the tenants do then? They still declined to agree to it. Then, other deductions were made, and at last they agreed, with difficulty, to an extremely moderate increase of rent— I think not as much as one-third of what was originally proposed. All this process was attended with constant anxiety, if not danger, and I had that experience long before this Bill was thought of. I came, in my own mind, to the conclusion expressed by a gentleman who acted on that occasion as the Company's solicitor, in the evidence which I see he gave before the Bessborough Commission, that it would be a most happy thing for all parties if there could be a Court to settle such land disputes, and so provide the means of diminishing friction between landlord and tenant. I have hitherto been speaking of the North. As to the South and West, I should like to refer to a passage, not in the evidence of the Bessborough Commission, but in the preliminary Report of Professor Baldwin and Mr. C. Robertson, the Assistant Commissioners appointed by the Commission presided over by the noble Duke (the Duke of Richmond and Gordon) dated on the 1st of January, 1880. I beg your Lordships to observe the date. It was before the change of Government; it was before the Land League had attained to any very formidable dimensions. No persons could be more competent than those two Assistant Commissioners. Professor Baldwin had; filled positions, both in England and in Ireland, of the highest public importance in connection both with practical and with scientific agriculture. He told the Bessborough Commission that for the last 16 years he had annually visited every county in Ireland, and that he had personally examined and inspected every holding of which he spoke. This is what he and Mr. Robertson said in their preliminary Report— Finding so many of the small farmers of the South and West steeped in debt, misery, and poverty, while their lands are undrained and neglected, we asked why they did not adopt better systems of farming? Thousands upon thousands of them could easily double their incomes by the exercise of skill. We have travelled through entire districts without seeing any men at work in the digging of the ground before the winter's frost, or in preparing the land as it ought to be prepared at this season for the coming crops. But the answer to our appeals on both matters was the same; it affords evidence of a conviction which is deeply on-graved on the minds of this class—namely, that if they made improvements the rents would be immediately raised in consequence of those improvements. Now, whatever view be taken of this subject, the feeling remains all the same in the minds of these small farmers, and it is strongest in the most backward and most densely populated districts, and on the estates of land jobbers, and on those of a few absentees and other landlords who do not take the necessary personal interest in the management of their properties. This feeling would appear to have crushed all spirit of progress and improvement out of the minds of these poor people. In the whole range of the heads of our inquiry this is the most delicate and difficult subject. It is as significant as it is suggestive, that several largo landed proprietors in different parts of the country have drawn our attention to the existence of this feeling, and made to us statements which, if true, would fully justify it. I must say that I cannot concur in the sweeping denunciations made by my noble Friend the noble Duke (the Duke of Argyll) of the evidence before the Bessborough Commission. I think his criticism missed its mark. It might have been to the purpose if it had been the main question whether, in particular cases where accusations were made against particular landlords, the facts might not have been misrepresented or misunderstood. I have no doubt they often were; and that in other cases there may have been something to be considered on both sides. But it is impossible to evade the force of this fact, that the Commissioners received an enormous mass of evidence, not only from small farmers, but from large tenants and land agents, and also from landlords, which if it did not prove many actual instances of oppression and unreasonable increase of rent, at least all tended in one direction—that there is a feeling of distrust, anxiety, and agitation among the tenants on this question. All these witnesses proved, beyond a doubt, that widespread feeling of distrust and uneasiness, the effect of which is to make this large and indispensable class of people, the small farmers—the real cultivators of the land—ready to be the victims of agitation, and to be drawn into combinations dangerous to themselves, to the landlords, and to the State. I think, therefore, I am perfectly right in stating that the Land League is the effect of this state of things, and not the cause; and if you want to get rid of such effects you must address yourselves to the cause, and you must endeavour to place the system of land tenure in Ireland on such a basis as will, so far as the law can, meet these causes, and provide, at least, for a better definition of the mutual rights of the different classes. With all the facts, the Evidence, and the Reports that were before us, with the admission, on the cardinal point as to rent, by the majority as well as the minority of the Commission presided over by the Duke of Richmond and Gordon, that a case was made out for some kind of public arbitration, and that there was reason to believe that the intervention of a Court for that purpose would be acceptable to a large proportion of the land owners in Ireland—I ask what were we to do? Nobody ventures to say we were to do nothing. We anxiously considered what we ought to do, and we endeavoured to get all the help we could from others. There has been a series of philippics composed by an eloquent writer for the Landlord's Committee in Dublin, the echoes of which have been frequently heard in the course of this debate. I rather think I saw one of them, which contains citations from various speeches by myself and my Colleagues, in the hands of the noble Duke who spoke lately (the Duke of Marl-borough). I have read those philippics with some degree of admiration for the literary power exhibited in them; but I have failed to find anything practical in them beyond the assumption that this Bill is utterly wrong. There is nothing in them suggesting what ought to be done. If the Landlords' Committee really meant anything by this flood of eloquence, what was it? Do they truly think that nothing ought to be done? That does not seem to me to be the opinion which has been expressed in this debate even by those who have found most fault with the Bill. But if the Government have taken the wrong way, what is the right way? We did not make the state of things which we find. ["Oh!"] Well, let it be supposed, for the sake of argument, that, at one time or another, we did not do something that we might have done, and that we are to that extent to blame—what I say is that we are not responsible for the state of things I have described, which has been going on almost ever since the Land Act of 1870 was passed. We are not responsible for the Ulster Tenant-right Associations, nor for the origin of the Land League, which was in existence in the time of the late Government. The state of things to which this Bill is addressed existed independently of us, and we had the duty of dealing with it. A more difficult and anxious duty we could not have had; but we could not avoid that duty. The Bill shows our idea of the right way of dealing with it. I own I heard with regret some of the things that were said by way of criticism by the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Lansdowne). The noble Marquess always speaks well, and perhaps he never spoke better, as far as oratorical or logical power is concerned, than he did last night; but there were some things he said in criticizing the measure which I think were scarcely worthy of him. The noble Marquess possesses all the qualities of a statesman; but I must own that he said some things in that criticism which might have been more worthy of a spoilt child. I refer, among other things, to what he said as to its being a mere play on words to talk of distinctions, between "perpetuity," "durability," and "security" of tenure. I think these distinctions are of exceeding great importance. Neither can I think it was altogether fair and reasonable to represent the difference between the proposals of this Bill and the common conception of the "three F's" as one which did not deceive anybody. Those remarks did not appear to me to be worthy of the ability of my noble Friend. I think the differences are exceedingly great. And now I proceed to give my idea of the proposals of this Bill and their justification. I agree with those who put the question of the adjustment of rent by the Court first; everything else depends upon that. If anything is to be done, that must be done. But I do not think it can be said that a fair rent is unfair merely because it happens to come under the head of one of the three "F's." This "F," if you succeed in fixing it, is just to the landlord as well as to the tenant. It will be arrived at after due consideration of all the circumstances of the case. In reference to this point my Friend the noble Duke who spoke first this evening said something which, I confess, struck me with surprise. He found fault with the Government for having omitted in the House of Commons, as if it were to the detriment of the landlord to do so, all attempt to define a fair rent or to indicate certain considerations which were to be elements in that definition. But I really thought that the change which omitted those attempts at definition or those indications had been made at least as much at the instance of the Conservatives as of any others. I believe that those critics who objected to the original provision were right. If you have a tribunal capable of acting as a judicial board of arbitrators, it is much better that the clause should stand as at present—that regard should be had to the interest of the landlord and the tenant, and to all the circumstances of the case the holding, and the district, for the very reason which the noble Duke urged in favour of the Act of 1870—that it adapted itself to all the varieties of circumstances. A fair rent fixed under these conditions by a competent tribunal will take into account all the varieties of circumstances affecting either party upon which the rent ought to depend. For instance, if the landlord has made the improvements, or has bought up the Ulster Custom, or has managed his estate upon the English system, the rent will be settled according to those circumstances. And so, whatever circumstances exist which may tend to vary the fair rent in the particular case, under the clause as it stands all those circumstances will be taken into account; and the only question material to the point is this—can you trust your public arbitrators? I think you can. To me it does not appear that the settlement of the rent in that way by capable persons, with proper assistance, is very difficult. We know very well that, in all arbitrations, each party states his claim; and the practical result is that something is arrived at which may be more or less favourable to the one or the other, but which fits the circumstances of the case better than if it were left to either of the parties to dictate his own terms. I believe the thing is done constantly in Ireland and elsewhere, and done properly. Certainly, upon the evidence both of the Duke of Richmond's and of Lord Bessborough's Commission, many persons of all classes in Ireland, landlords, land-agents, large as well as small farmers, and many who unite in themselves more than one of those characters, and who are not the partizans of the tenant only, are of that opinion. I come next to the statutory conditions, which seem to me to be at least as beneficial to both parties as any other kind of lease can be, and to provide for the renewal of the term, not with the same rent, but with a re-adjustment of the rent, so that it may be increased from time to time if it ought to be increased, and diminished if it ought to be diminished. Those conditions do not disregard the position of the landlord; they do not seem to me to reduce him, more than a lease does, to a mere rent-charger; they leave him very substantial rights and the power of periodical revaluation of rent. But if you are to adjust the rent at all by a judicial tribunal or arbitration, you must secure the right to hold the land at the rent which you so adjust. That is an absolutely necessary consequence of any such adjustment. You may secure it for 15 years or some other period, but some recognized term you must have. How does this injure the landlord, unless eviction for its own sake, and not security for his interest upon proper terms, were his object? Witness after witness, of the landlord class, from all parts of Ireland, told the Bessborough Commission that on his own estates, and on others generally which he knew, there was practically fixity of tenure; that the same tenants and the same families go on holding the land without disturbance, from generation to generation, as long as they pay their rent. So far, therefore, as fixity of tenure is concerned, this Bill does but give definition and security to what is already the general custom and practice. And now I pass to the subject of free sale. With regard to it I deny that under the provisions of this Bill there is any ground whatever for saying that the tenant is enabled to sell, either in Ulster, or in places where no Ulster Custom prevails, what is the landlord's or is taken from the landlord. I deny that it will diminish in any degree whatever the rights of the landlord or the value of the interest he possesses. I should never agree to such a proposal. I adhere to what I said in 1870, that to extend the Ulster Custom, or to do anything else in such a way as to take the landlord's interest from him, and give it to the tenant, would, in my opinion, require compensation. But nothing of the kind appears to me to be either contemplated or done by the permission to sell in this Bill. And if the rights of the landlord are not really diminished by this permission of free sale, I do not see how it can be a subject for compensation. What does the tenant sell? He sells his own interest in his own improvements, those which were not made by the landlord, and over and above that he sells the goodwill of his tenancy as a going agricultural concern. That good-will, in the actual circumstances of Ireland, is a most real element in the value of the interest which the tenant sells, for if a new tenant entered without the goodwill, in the literal sense, of the old, there is no question that his holding might be most insecure and even dangerous. There is also another sense of the word goodwill, in which it also represents that which belongs to the tenant, but which the landlord would never, in any way, realize—I mean that fluctuating difference of value between the rent for the time being and what a person would give to succeed to the position of tenant, under all its actual conditions, a person desirous of land as a means of living in Ireland. Now, both these—the goodwill of the holding and the value of the improvements—are things which in no sense belong to the landlord, in a country where it has never been the practice to put an end to tenancies for the purpose of re-letting farms by auction. This which the tenant has to sell—unless you insist on keeping it unsaleable in his hands—is a thing which the landlord never had and never could have. It is only valuable at all as being valuable to the tenant. If the landlord wants to resume, when he may resume, or to exercise the right of preemption, which he is in all cases to have, the Court is to determine, not what the tenant could possibly get in the market, but what is the fair value of the holding as between the landlord and the tenant; and another provision of the Bill is that if the Court is resorted to to fix the rent, it may also fix, as between landlord and tenant, the selling value of the tenancy. The fear that a power of alienation, guarded by these conditions, and by the other conditions of the 1st clause, will diminish the value of the landlord's property, appears to me to be entirely groundless. With regard to the economical objection, the experience of the Ulster Custom furnishes a practical answer. It is said that the clause will take away or encroach upon the power of the landlord to raise his rent; but the power of sale is in all cases subject to the landlord's right to a fair rent, which cannot properly be increased or diminished by the value either of the tenant's improvements, or of his goodwill. On many of the best managed estates in the South and West of Ireland, and else- where out of Ulster, the practice of permitting sale does already exist; and as long as that is the state of things, how can you expect to settle the question, if, on one of two adjoining estates, the right of sale belongs to the tenant, and on the other does not belong to him? To give the tenant terms of tenure which are of a substantial marketable value, and yet to lock up that value from him by prohibiting him from carrying it to a market sufficiently free to ascertain and realize that value, would leave the whole settlement which we are attempting to make unsatisfactory and incomplete. Then you also have these incidental advantages, which seem to me very considerable. You have a security for his rent to the landlord, and also security that when there is a change of tenant the new tenant comes in without the risk of disturbance. You have security against that great danger to the State and to society in Ireland, and to both landlord and tenant, which drives the landlord to the necessity of eviction, instead of allowing this natural and easy safety-valve of sale. Taking the view I do of the intention, the nature, and the probable effect of the provisions of this Bill, I hold that there is no case for compensation. What is the loss to be compensated? If you compare the state of things under this Bill with that which would exist if nothing of the kind were done, the Bill may be expected to restore and increase, not diminish, the value of the landlord's property. And if the work of the Bill is frustrated by combination or otherwise, at least things will not be worse than they are now. I have now explained the view I take of the principles of the Bill, in common with the other Members of Her Majesty's Government, whose intentions I am sure I have correctly stated, and I reserve the details for another stage of your Lordships' deliberations. I confess that though our position has been both difficult and anxious, and though it is not without extreme reluctance that I, for one,' recognize the necessity for any measure of this kind, yet, in some respects, I prefer our position to that of the Opposition. There are some privileges of Opposition which I admire more than I envy. To denounce and at the same time support a measure—to recognize the necessity for a thing which must be done, and yet to empty all the vials of vituperation upon the responsible Government for recognizing the same necessity—to prophecy every possible failure and evil, while you admit that there is no escape from the necessity before you—these are privileges which I admire rather than envy. I am glad, however, that the conclusion of the Opposition has been what it is, because I think no one would like to be responsible for the government of Ireland, if the present state of things were to continue. It is admitted that a serious attempt must be made to supply a permanent remedy to this state of things, and no one has suggested any other remedy that can be applied if the present measure is rejected. I do not rely much on prophecy; but I prefer, if I must prophecy, to be a prophet of good. Bishop Butler said that nations, as well as individuals, are sometimes liable to paroxysms of insanity. I am afraid that saying is true, and that Ireland has lately been passing through such a paroxysm. But national insanity is, happily, not permanent. The real interests of men are not promoted by it; all classes suffer from it; and, therefore, if a measure of this kind is passed, with the generous, though it may be reluctant, concurrence of those whose power and sentiment it in some degree affects, I cannot but think that happier prospects are before us. Beyond all question, it must improve the moral position of the Government for the necessary enforcement of law. Beyond all question, it will secure the loyalty of Ulster, that great and most important part of Ireland, and prevent it from being drawn into the vortex of turbulence and outrage. And I cannot but hope that, recognizing, as this Bill does, the real value of the rights of the tenant without taking the substance of any right from the landlord, recognizing the principle that the interests of both classes are inseparable from each other, and that the common prosperity of both is necessary for the prosperity of either—it will be accepted and operate as a measure destined to have a healing and beneficial effect in all parts of Ireland.


My Lords, I do not, I think, misinterpret your Lordships' desire when I say that it is your wish that the discussion on this stage of the Bill should shortly come to a close. Therefore, so far as I am concerned, I shall not stand long in the way of that conclusion, and I am the more easily able to do that from the state of the debate up to the present time. We have had a number of speeches, and we have had criticisms of very great weight upon this Bill. I will not speak of the speeches delivered on this side of the House; but I must be permitted to say that we have heard two speeches on the other side of the House—one from the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Lansdowne) yesterday, and which I think my noble and learned Friend who has just sat down hardly spoke of in the way that I should have expected, and another from the noble Duke (the Duke of Argyll) at the beginning of the discussion to-night. I venture to say that two speeches more remarkable, more interesting, more distinguished for the accuracy of their facts, and for the cogency of their arguments, never were delivered in this House. When I look for the argument on the other side, I feel great difficulty as to where I can find it. I certainly have been able to find very few arguments in the speech of my noble and learned Friend, and from him, if arguments were to be produced, I should expect them to come. My noble and learned Friend began by saying that instances of the most violent interference with property and tenure could easily be pointed out analogous to or even stronger than this Bill. But the only instance he gave us was the case of the zemindars of India. I was astonished at his speaking of the tax-gatherers of India, who had not been owners of property, and whose acts on property had to be restrained, as if their case was to be adduced as analogous to that of the owners of property in Ireland. I agree with my noble and learned Friend that there are great emergencies when State interference, even of a violent kind, may take place with private property; no one doubted that. But upon what terms? I will refer to what my noble and learned Friend said in 1870. He said— I shall not go into the argument of that subject, because that point was exhausted by the head of the Government when he spoke of fixity of tenure, which, in plain English, means taking away the property of one man and giving it to another. My right hon. Friend said that, according to the principles of justice, if we transferred property in that way, we must pay for it."—[3 Hansard, cxcix. 1666.] My noble and learned Friend further made use of an argument at which I was much surprised, as I thought it a dangerous argument to use. He said—"You talk of the rights of which this Bill deprives the landlords, their rights of eviction, and other rights of that kind. But what is the use," he asked, "of those powers now? Can the landlords evict tenants from their property, and if they can, do they get anyone to take possession of the property?" My Lords, what does that mean? It appears to me to mean this. That the Government, who exist for the purpose of protecting and enforcing rights of property, may act in a manner which is virtually an abnegation of that duty; may tolerate and support, if they do not encourage, agitation; and may then come to Parliament and say—"The rights of property, which we were appointed to maintain, we have not maintained. They have disappeared, and because through our action they have disappeared, we now ask Parliament to complete that which has been commenced, and solemnly to declare that those rights no longer exist." But I think, instead of following my noble and learned Friend into the long history of the causes which, in his opinion, justified the introduction of this Bill, it would be better that I should for a short time refer to what this Bill actually proposes to do. There are two parts of the measure which I look upon with great satisfaction, though I regret that they do not go far enough. The first of these relates to emigration. With regard to this, I have to say that I am not an advocate for indiscriminate emigration from Ireland, for there is the better class of tenants, the more thrifty and industrious, whom I should be very sorry to see emigrating from the country. But there is the poorer class, especially in the South and West, with regard to whom it is quite true to say that if the State were to-morrow to make them a present of their holdings, that act of generosity would not do them the least good. With regard to that part of the tenantry of Ireland, it would be a very good thing for themselves and for the country if they could emigrate to lands where they would be much happier, where their holdings would be much larger, and where they could exist in comfort, and perhaps in plenty. But when I look upon what this Bill pro- poses I am greatly disappointed. The Bill was introduced, in the first instance, without any limit whatever; and now I find a provision in it limiting the whole expenditure on emigration to £200,000, to be spread over three years, and enacting that only one-third of that sum shall be spent in any one year. Anyone who knows what is the normal emigration from Ireland—which is something like 100,000 a-year—will see that that sum will not do more than add 3 per cent to the present normal number of emigrants. The truth is, that this scheme of emigration will be of little practical use beyond this—that it testifies that it is right and proper, in the opinion of Parliament, that assistance should be given for the purpose of promoting emigration. Now I come to the other of the two proposals to which I have referred. It is the proposal with regard to purchase. I have always been a very strong advocate of the purchase of holdings by tenants in Ireland, and I supported a proposal to that effect in 1870; but I am greatly disappointed when I see the very persons who formerly were the greatest advocates of proposals of this kind now holding back from supporting the proposal and attempting to limit it. The "Purchase Clauses" of the Act of 1870 were very properly called "The Bright Clauses;" and, if I do not mistake, some few years ago Mr. Bright made a speech in which he said that he had a scheme by which he would turn every occupier of land in Ireland at once into an owner, making him pay his purchase money by the payment of an annual instalment, which would be something more than the rent which he would have been in the habit of paying. But, if I understand the views of Mr. Bright now, he thinks it would be a very bad thing that a very rapid or large transmutation of the tenants of Ireland into holders of land should take place, and, in accordance with that view, the present Bill is limited in a very remarkable manner. How are the Purchase Clauses of this measure to operate? There is a power given to the Land Commission to purchase estates for the purpose of re-selling them to the tenants, and there is no limit to the amount of money with which they may be supplied. So far, all is well. Then the direction to the Land Commission is this—that they may buy an estate where they find a competent number of tenants willing to become purchasers of their holdings. If you stopped there, I think it would be a very wholesome power to give to the Land Commission. But super added to that there is a clause of a most extraordinary kind. The 23rd clause says— A competent number of tenants means a body of tenants, who are not less in numbers than three-fourths of the whole number of tenants on the estate, and who pay in rent not less than two-thirds of the whole rent of the estate. Now, what chance is there of a scheme of that kind working? How can you expect to find so large a number of tenants as three-fourths of the whole number ready and willing beforehand to purchase their holdings without even knowing what the purchase money will be? There are many estates in Ireland with 100 or 150 agricultural tenants, on which there is a hamlet with about as many tenants with small houses and small patches of land. These latter tenants will not want to purchase; and, if they did, they are not the class you want to purchase. Yet they will swell the number of tenants, and perhaps render it impossible that the necessary majority willing to purchase can be made up. I mention this to the Government, therefore, and earnestly entreat them, if they do not wish these clauses to fail, to adopt one of two courses—to consider whether they would not be content to leave it to the Land Commission to decide what, in each case, should constitute a competent number, or, if not, to say that if one-half of the tenants display a willingness to purchase, that shall justify the purchase. But I pass from that to make a few observations on that great division of the Bill which has been most subjected to criticism. My noble and learned Friend who spoke last was not at all pleased with the language which has been used with regard to this Bill. He says that the vocabulary of vituperation has been poured out upon it, that it has been spoken of as confiscation, and other things, which, to his ears, are vexing. Well, my Lords, I am not going to use any language which would deserve the character or have the appearance of that vituperation which my noble and learned Friend so much deprecates; but I wish to quote some language in which I must express my concurrence, and which comes from a quarter which my noble and learned Friend will see has no prejudice against himself or any Member of the Government—I mean the very eminent person who lately represented Her Majesty as Special Ambassador at Constantinople, and who was lately a Colleague of noble Lords opposite, and of my noble and learned Friend himself. That right hon. Gentleman is in their confidence, and they possess, to a very great extent, his confidence, and I am not sure that he does not use language with regard to this Bill which he would willingly soften if he could honestly do so. What does Mr. Goschen say? He says— The Bill imports experimental principles foreign to all precedents of previous Liberal legislation, and is itself a kind of Coercion Bill—a Bill for the coercing of landlords to fix a fair rent. Then he goes on— These are new ideas which would sap the prosperity of this country if they were transferred to English legislation. Well, how ideas which would sap the prosperity of England can be sound in principle for Ireland I do not at this moment understand. Then he says— I cannot forget, and statesmen must not forget, that the Land Bill has been in a measure due to successful agitation. It is a dangerous thing in the history of a country when agitation is successful. Those are the words of a right hon. Gentleman who is as friendly as anyone can be to the Government. I will not use any vituperation; but I adhere to that description of Mr. Goschen. It is a perfectly true description of the Bill, and I hope my noble and learned Friend will not think that I have called a witness against him who represents the views of that side of the House on which I sit. Well, now, I am anxious not to delay your Lordships by any words of mine in description of the Bill. But I do hope your Lordships will distinctly understand that whatever course we take with regard to this Bill, we shall be quite clear in our own minds upon what the Bill really turns. Do not let us deal in generalities such as we have heard from my noble and learned Friend. Let us see exactly what the provisions of the Bill and the circumstances of the case really require; whether we ought to allow the Bill to pass into law, or reject it, or modify it. What the noble Lord the Lord Privy Seal (Lord Carlingford) said simplifies the case very much. He said he was not ashamed of the "three F's," and did not desire to shrink from them. Now, my Lords, it does not require any very elaborate examination of the Bill to discover them, for the Bill itself is purely and simply the "three F's." The matter lies in two or three sentences. Now, of the "three F's" two are free sale and fair rents. Free sale, in so many words, is given on the face of the Bill; so are fair rents. But the question is—Does the Bill grant fixity of tenure or not? In order to answer that question, let me ask your Lordships to consider what is the position of what are called "present tenants" under this Bill. As I understand it, the present tenant has the right to become, at his own option, a tenant in perpetuity for 1,000 years, or longer, if the world lasts so long. That is to say, he comes to the Court, gets his rent fixed, and thereupon holds it at that rent for 15 years; at the end of the last year of the first term he repeats the operation. He lives 15 years more, and he repeats the operation as often as he pleases at the end of every like term. Therefore, I say, he is a tenant in perpetuity. What is the explanation of those—the Prime Minister in particular—who wish to deny that this is fixity of tenure? It is said that it is not fixity of tenure, because the holding may be forfeited on nonpayment of rent by the tenant and other counts. But, my Lords, the fact that a holding may be exposed to forfeiture does not interfere with its being a perpetuity. Copyholds are subject to forfeiture, and are they not perpetuities? Leases for lives renewable for ever, which in Ireland are usually known by the name of perpetuities, are forfeitable. Then, again, it is said that the landlord may buy the holding; he has a right of pre-emption, and my noble and learned Friend referred to that as a great benefit bestowed upon the landlord. But what is this right of pre-emption which is said to be a benefit to the landlord? Is it the right to buy something at something less than its full value? No; the landlord, no doubt, has the right of buying the holding, if he pleases, on a change of tenants; but he must do it at the value to be ascertained by the Court. And how is the Court to ascertain the value? The value can only be ascertained in the same way as the value of any other article is ascertained, by what it will fetch in the market—that is, by auction. Therefore, the landlord can only have a right to purchase the holding at the market value. That is the right which is conferred on the landlord. There are in this Bill, my Lords, the ''three F's"—fixity of tenure, fair rents, and free sale. The next point which your Lordships will have to consider is, What does this Bill propose to confer on the present tenants now in possession, and also on the other persons in the country who wish to acquire holdings? The Bill gives them the same right in their holdings which the Ulster tenants have in their holdings. Well, but what does it give? How does this Bill shower down benefits upon that large class of persons—the hungry persons in Ireland, the people who have an earth hunger, who want to become possessors of farms? I doubt, when they have got to understand this Bill, that they will find that it confers much benefit upon them. They may expect some of them, when there is a change of tenancy, to become possessors without paying for it. The landlord has now the right to put in a candidate for a tenancy. But under this Bill that large class of persons, who are to be called "future tenants" of the country, will have to pay a very considerable price in place of coming in, as they are now entitled to do, without paying anything at all. I will illustrate this in this way. We have an Army without the right of purchase. Suppose that suddenly we were to pass a law that the present officers were to have a property in their commissions, no doubt you would confer a very great been on that class of officers; but what sort of a been would you confer on those who expect to become officers? And that is what you are going to do in Ireland. You are going to confer a property which I admit will be of very considerable value to the tenants, wherever that value may come from, but which others will have to pay for before they become possessors. Now, I want your Lordships distinctly to understand how far it is the case, as we have been told more than once, that something was done in 1870 which, by inadvertence, embarked us in a course of legislation under which we created for the first time a right of property in holdings out of Ulster, and that we have no choice but to follow up that course. I wish to protest against this doctrine in the strongest terms. It is not the fact that anything was done in the way of legislation in 1870 which created any property in the tenantry of Ireland outside Ulster and the Custom of Ulster. It is said that payment by way of compensation was created by the Act of 1870; but the mode in which compensation was given was a sufficient answer, and it negatived altogether the right of property. It was compensation not given to holdings according to their value, but given arbitrarily—given to some and refused to others—or a certain percentage given to one class and a different percentage given to another class. It was utterly impossible if that payment proceeded on the footing of property that it could have been made in the way it was. What was the declaration of the Prime Minister on this question? Nothing could be more unqualified than the way in which Mr. Gladstone spoke on the Bill of 1870, in asking Parliament to consent to it. Mr. Gladstone then said— The aim of this Bill is to secure him in that position—to secure him, not by giving him a property in the soil. He said, further, that the object of the Bill was to shelter the tenant from eviction, "but not upon the footing of a joint property in the soil." Here we have the clearest intimation of the intention of the Government. It was not an inadvertence. The Government had considered the matter, and the result was that they determined that legislation should not proceed upon the footing of giving the tenant a property in the soil. Why do I refer to it now? I think your Lordships will see that I do so for an important reason. I protest against the idea that the Act of 1870 had the effect attributed to it. It is said that in that year we proceeded by way of inadvertence. Well, if that is thought to be the case, it is a warning to us not to proceed by way of inadvertence a second time. I find that the clause which repeals the scale of compensation which was provided by the Act of 1870 substitutes a new and larger scale. If it is the case that in providing the scale in 1870 Parliament inadvertently created a right of property in the soil, I hope now that the question is re-opened Parliament will take care not to create a further right of property in the soil by inadvertently passing another and larger scale of compensation. We have had fair notice, and it will be our own fault if there is any inadvertence on this occasion. But with the changed provisions of the Bill what is the purport and meaning now of a new scale of compensation at all? I can understand that when the Act of 1870 was passed, it was necessary to have a scale of some kind or other. I can understand adhering to it when it is once adopted; but what I cannot understand is upon what principle it is to be argued that the scale of 1870 was wrong, and that the scale in the present Bill is right. The argument adduced by the noble Lord the Lord Privy Seal was that some of the County Court Judges had stated in evidence that notwithstanding the scale of compensation in the Act of 1870, there had been cases in which the landlord had found it worth his while to evict a tenant and pay the compensation, as he found he could get a new tenant to take the holding, and reimburse him the compensation thus paid. The suggestion is that if you make the payment larger that could not take place. Assume that such cases have occurred, they have no bearing when you introduce free sale. If the holding is worth so much, and a new tenant can be got to pay compensation to the old, of course he will pay the same sum now that the old tenant is armed with the right of free sale. Therefore, the necessity for the clause giving the altered compensation entirely disappears. I understood the noble Lord the Lord Privy Seal was of that opinion. He said he believed this compensation for disturbance would sink very much into the background. I agree with the view of the noble Lord; but the legitimate conclusion is that this clause ought not to be in the Bill. There is no necessity to re-open the question of compensation; it is merged, it is absorbed by the higher question of the right of free sale, and having fallen into a trap on the former occasion by inadvertence, I hope Parliament will take care to avoid it now. I now come to the most important question in the Bill—to the effect of free sale on tenancies in Ireland taken in relation to the valuation of rents, or rather, to the valuation of rents taken in connection with free sale. I understand that the ground on which you interfere in the valuation of rents is this. You want to protect the tenant against extortionate payment, due to the competition arising out of the great land hunger existing in Ireland, and which destroys freedom of contract. What is the position of the tenant now that a custom like the Ulster Custom will be extended to the rest of Ireland? There are two elements in what the tenant pays for the land, one the element of rent, the other the gross sum which he pays for the goodwill of the holding. If he pays for the goodwill out of money he has saved, he loses the interest which he might otherwise have. If he borrows the money from a money-lender or a bank, he pays a high interest for it. Therefore, in estimating what the tenant has to pay, you must put together the rent and the proper interest of the sum he pays for possession of the holding. So that what he pays for the land is not the rent alone, and not the interest alone, but it is the aggregate of the two sums. These things are spoken of sometimes as if there were a juggle in the figures, and as if you could get rid of the rules of arithmetic by saying that these two payments have no connection whatever. What does this Bill propose to do? Founded on the theory that the tenant must be protected against extortion arising from severe competition, the Bill proceeds to curb, fetter, and confine one payment—namely, the payment which he makes to the landlord—but you leave perfectly free and uncurbed the other payment, which he makes for getting possession of the holding. The noble Lord the Lord Privy Seal says that this is a pure evasion, and that if you go to an Ulster tenant and tell him that he pays a sum for rental and another sum for interest of the money he has paid for the tenant right, and that he is consequently rack-rented, he will laugh in your face. But, my Lords, that is not so. The Ulster tenant perfectly well understands that the land costs him the aggregate of the two payments, and that if you protect him in the payment of his rent, you leave him unprotected as far as the other payment goes. I am not going to argue the point whether the payment for goodwill has or has not a connection with the payment which the landlord receives by way of rent. I am not going to argue whether the payment for goodwill comes out of the interest of the landlord; but what I am going to ask your Lordships is this—that you ought to be very careful that whatever theory is to be held on this point should be very clearly expressed on the face of the Bill; because the fear is, that by reason of any ambiguity on the face of the Bill, and notwithstanding the declarations on the part of the Government, it should come to pass—say, by inadvertence, that when the rent of some of these holdings comes to be valued, notwithstanding the declarations of my noble Friend the Lord Privy Seal and the Lord Chancellor, this triumvirate of respectable gentlemen may take up the idea that there is some connection after all between the payment for rent and the payment for interest, and may make the landlord suffer for the payment for tenant right. Suppose there is a holding in Ulster for which the tenant pays £50 rent, while he has paid £500 for the goodwill, and that he comes to the triumvirate, and they say—"We are to fix a fair rent and nothing more. We are to have regard to the interest of both the landlord and the tenant." Then suppose the triumvirate say—"What is the interest of the tenant? He has paid £500, and invested that capital. That is his interest, and we are to have regard to it." But suppose by mistake the triumvirate reason thus—"The meaning of our considering the tenant's interest is this—we are to see whether the rent of £50, which, looking to the absolute value of the holding, is a fair rent; but having regard to the fact that the tenant has paid £500 on coming in, we do not think it is. The rent is £10 too high, and, therefore, we reduce it to £40." ["Hear, hear!"] Well, they may be right; but suppose they are wrong, what then? Why the consequence will be this—that during the 15 years when the rent is £40, the tenant will say—"I have paid £500; but I have now got the rent reduced to £40, and my tenant right is, therefore, now worth £600." And if he wished to, he would sell it in the open market for that sum. Then comes the end of that period, and these respectable gentlemen say—''Well, we must go over this process again; we must have regard to the interest of the tenant; but as the tenant's interest has now risen to £600, and as we reduced the rent to £40, when the interest was £500, we must now further reduce the rent to £30. And so the tenant will start again with a £30 rent, and will ask £700 for his interest; and so it will go on, and the rent will be reduced each time, having regard to the increasing interest of the tenant." Now, is that a mere supposition of mine? Is that the idea of a person wholly unacquainted with land in Ireland? These are the words of the Devon Commission on this point, of persons who certainly take a most favourable view of the question of free sale— It is difficult to deny that the effect of this system is the assumption by the tenant of a joint proprietorship in the land, and that the tendency is to convert the proprietor into a rent-charger having an indefinite and declining annuity. Now, I am not concerned to argue whether the triumvirate would be right or wrong in doing what I said; but I do maintain that the most honest men in the world may do this under the Bill as it stands, and that, with the most perfect desire to do justice, the result would be such as I have described, and I must say that it would not be surprising if they did. What I want to know is, are you going to leave this matter in doubt; are you going to content yourselves with the declaration made in this House that the tenant right and the rent have no connection, that nothing is taken out of the property of the landlord; or are you going to put something into the Bill which will remove all possibility of its being done in the future? I do not say this merely in the interests of the landlord, but in the interests of the tenant also. Remember, you are creating a property which is to come into the market. You are dealing, not merely with educated landlords, but also with a tenantry of whom many are uneducated. Let it, then, be known what is the thing to be bought and sold, and do not let there be any ambiguities, doubts, and uncertainties which would lead to renewed agitation, heart-burning, and new legislation hereafter. The noble Lord the Lord Privy Seal said that it was not intended by this right of free sale to diminish the fair rent of the landlord, and I ask him if he will put words to make that perfectly clear in the Bill; and, if he will, every criticism I have to offer on this point is at once answered, and is at an end. I should be sorry to believe that the Government would use in this House any word that they did not mean sincerely; but if so, what is their objection to put those words on the face of the Bill? There were words left out in the other House as to the valuation of rent, words to the effect that the Judges were to consider the element of the tenant right in fixing the amount of rent, and only those who apprehended their effect advocated their omission; but that is not enough when there is a possibility of doubt, and I ask you by all means to put in words to say what is the real principle of the Bill? Now, what does the noble Lord the Lord Privy Seal say?— As to the other portion of the tenant right, is it true that the occupation element, the goodwill element, must he taken out of the landlord's fair rent? I utterly deny that. We do not admit it for a moment. We believe that the goodwill element of tenant right grows up inevitably, side by side, in conjunction with, and outside of, the landlord's rent; that it is not carved out of the landlord's rent; and that it does not cut down the landlord's rent. Now, I wish to know whether the noble Lord the Lord Privy Seal adheres to that view of the case. My noble and learned Friend the Lord Chancellor said he would rather have the responsibility of this measure than be in the position of the Opposition to criticize a measure which they do not reject. The Opposition are quite able to judge for themselves of the course it is their duty to take without my noble and learned Friend's advice, and without his sympathy. Therefore, we are quite satisfied with his view of the matter, and perhaps I may be allowed to return his compliment, and say I prefer the position of the Opposition to the position of those who have the responsibility of this measure. I am not going to prophecy, but I know what are the natural results of a measure of this kind. Human nature will be changed in its course if it does not stop all improvements made by landlords in Ireland. Human nature will alter if this measure does not build up a wall of separation between the landlord and the tenant. I do not know whether it will turn landlords into rent-chargers; but it will at once put an end to every motive which has hitherto existed for a kindly interchange of kindly feeling, good-will, friendship, and fellowship as between landlord and tenant. Another result of the measure does not require prophecy; for we have had so much proof of what has happened since 1870 that we know the same thing must go on. Up to 1870 tenants had no legal property in their holdings that creditors could touch; but after the passing of the Land Act in that year, the tenants found that they could give security for money, and the result was that many of them got over head and ears in debt. Still larger numbers will get into debt when this Bill is passed. In Ulster, where this custom has grown up, and where they have had to pay for it, the tenants know the value of money and of their holdings; they are careful and thrifty men, and they do not get into debt; but when you suddenly throw this valuable property at the head of all the tenants in Ireland, they will be intoxicated with the possession of that security, which they never had before, and they will fall still more into the hands of the money-lender and the usurer. You know also that those who emigrate now are the best men. What are you going to do? You are going to give them a property which they can at once convert into money for the purpose of taking them away. I say that the effect of this Bill will be to make changes which will take some of the best men out of Ireland. Errors and mistakes are made frequently which cannot be remedied. We, however, are not the Executive Government. The Executive Government have the confidence of the House of Commons, and, having that confidence, they have partly encouraged and partly supported the system of agitation which has prevailed, and they have failed to suppress that agitation by the means which they could command. In fact, they have brought about a state of things which we all deplore, and they have thought it right to attempt to satisfy agitators by presenting them with this Bill. That is a heavy responsibility. But once this has been done by the Executive Government, possessing as they do the confidence of the House of Commons, the case becomes one in which, if this House were to take upon itself to reject the measure, it would, in its turn, assume the responsibility which at present rests with the Government, and which is a responsibility which I do not envy. It is for these reasons that I am glad your Lordships are not going to come to an issue upon the second reading of this Bill. I have no wish to see the Bill amended in any way which would alter its main lines and features; but it now contains excrescences and inconsistencies which mar the regularity of those features. In these respects, then, there are important Amendments which. I would be glad to see introduced into the Bill; and when that has been done I believe that this House will have taken a course which is consistent with the dignity of the House, with our duty as public men, and with the best traditions of the Constitution of this country.


My Lords, it is not necessary that I should detain your Lordships at this late hour (1 o'clock) for any long period, as my noble Friend the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack has so fully stated the case of the Government in connection with this Bill. On reviewing the whole of the debate, I think we have no reason to be dissatisfied; but, at the same time, some things have been uttered by the noble and learned Earl who has just sat down (Earl Cairns) which it is my duty on behalf of the Government to notice. It seems, judging by the tone of this debate, that it is admitted on all sides that there is a very grave emergency in Ireland, and that it is absolutely necessary that some measure of this kind should be introduced and passed, and I think that the Bill is founded upon the only lines which the circumstances of the case justify. The noble and learned Earl opposite, who made a very moderate and wise speech, indulged at the end of it, as was natural, in some slight Party recrimination. The noble and learned Earl said, in effect—"Here is a Bill the necessity of which is admitted; but whence arises the necessity?" And the noble Earl answers—"From the conduct of the Government." I undertake, however, to demonstrate to your Lordships that to say that this measure has been rendered necessary by what has taken place in Ireland during the last few months is perfectly preposterous. What did the noble and learned Earl himself say in this House on the 3rd of August last year? He said that any statesmanlike measure introduced for the benefit of the people of Ireland would receive his respectful consideration. [Earl CAIRNS: Hear, hear!] The noble and learned Earl added that he thought a measure for the encouragement of emigration was very desirable, that a measure for the establishment of a peasant proprietary would deserve consideration, and also one for the extension of the Ulster Custom to the other Provinces of Ireland; and he added that "all these, whatever view we may take of them, are projects worthy of a statesman."


But I did not express any opinion as to their merits.


I have not said that the noble and learned Earl expressed any approval of any particular scheme. All I can say is that we who sat on this Bench, when that speech was delivered during the discussion on the Compensation for Disturbance Bill, said—"Earl Cairns perceives that there must be a large land measure for Ireland, and knows that it must be based upon an extension of the Ulster Custom"—the principle of the present Bill, for from it flows the greater part of its provisions. The noble and learned Earl now says that "After all, this Bill is an embodiment of the three F's;" and as regards two of the "F's" I quite agree that it is. But fixity of tenure is not in this Bill. The noble and learned Earl compared what is in this Bill with copyhold tenure; and, if I did not misunderstand him, he said that in copyhold tenure there is forfeiture. Now, of course, the noble and learned Earl knows well what copyhold tenure is. But my understanding of it was this—that the landlord may recover his just dues from the copyholder; but so long as there is an heir, there can be no forfeiture, as a copyhold is an estate of inheritance. In the absence of an heir to take, the copyhold escheats to the lord. I always supposed that what constituted the fixity of tenure in copyholds was that the heir has an absolute right to be admitted on the Court rolls. But under this Bill there are distinct cases in which the landlord will recover possession of the land—e.g., upon a breach of a covenant, and the landlord recovers absolute possession without any power in the tenant to regain possession. Then the whole class of future tenants will be in a different condition from the present tenants. When we come to discuss the Bill in Committee I think we shall find that the Bill does not contain fixity of tenure. I must say I was somewhat surprised at the attitude now assumed towards the Bill by my noble Friend (the Duke of Argyll); and I must, therefore, take occasion to refer to what was said by my noble Friend in the year 1870. The noble Duke had not then the same objection to the extension of the Ulster Custom which he has since so strongly expressed. The noble Duke, in a speech on the Bill of 1870, used these words— The noble and learned Lord (referring to Lord Cairns), who assents to the Ulster Custom, protests violently against the 3rd clause of the Bill, which gives a position to tenants outside Ulster precisely the same in character as that of tenants in Ulster. Now, it is curious that upon this subject there is a great deal of discontent in Ulster, and exactly in proportion as the landlords have been able by rules to curtail the Ulster Custom is there dissatisfaction among the Ulster tenants. So much discontent, indeed, prevails that towards the close of the last Parliament a measure was brought forward by Mr. Macartney, which contained three remarkable clauses. The Bill proposed to abolish office rules altogether, and it actually provided that leases should be dealt with. My noble Friend (the Duke of Argyll) is not present, or, no doubt, he would be surprised to make that discovery. My noble Friend said that no attempt had been made to interfere with leases until it was attempted in that Bill. He evidently never heard of this Bill. It is rather remarkable that an Ulster Member should bring in this Bill. The Bill was read the second time in the House of Commons just a month before the Dissolution, and with the concurrence of the Government; and so important did they think it that, at the time of the General Election, a letter was addressed by Sir Stafford Northcote to Viscount Castlereagh on the subject. In that letter, the then Leader of the House of Commons said it had been reported to him that the Government was hostile to Ulster tenant right, and that they were not wholly disinclined to support it, but, if possible, disposed to reverse that policy. A direct contradiction was given to this, and it was stated that the Land Act had been accepted, as they were bound to accept it, honestly. We imagine that we have sufficiently guarded in this Bill the fair and just privileges of the landlord quite as much as they would have been by the Bill which was approved by the late Govern- ment. It has been suggested by the noble and learned Earl opposite (Earl Cairns) that the Bill can be so administered that the landlord's interest may gradually disappear; but that could not be unless the Court utterly disregarded the interest of the landlord, and the Bill says that the Court shall have regard to the interest of the landlord as well as that of the tenant. It may be possible to make the duty of the Court more easy by instruction, if words can be found; but if the Court were to act in such a manner as has been suggested, it would be guilty of a gross dereliction of duty. Tenant right in this case is no landlord's wrong. I would ask those noble Lords who have property in Ireland, and who have spoken in such strong terms of this Bill, whether it is not obvious, when you have found a principle which, whatever may be said against it theoretically, has worked for a long time with, I will not say perfect, but with considerable success in a particular part of Ireland, that we should extend that principle to the rest of the country? If we had a tolerable state of things in the rest of Ireland, I should not say—"Let us extend the principle;" but the state of things in the rest of Ireland is perfectly intolerable. The relations between landlord and tenant, who are the principal classes constituting the great mass of the population, are such that no Government which had any regard to its duty could shrink from bringing in and asking Parliament to pass any measure likely to create a better state of things. A noble Marquess, not now in the House (the Marquess of Salisbury), said that this was a measure of pure and simple confiscation. But when they knew that what the majority of the House chose to call confiscation was inevitable, what was the use of calling it by such a name? The noble Earl the late Governor General of India (the Earl of Lytton), in the long essay he delivered last night—and it was the only portion of that essay which was remarkable—said— This may be largely beneficial. I do not regard it with misgiving, because it is confiscation, because confiscation may be necessary. Now, I think if this measure could be proved to be confiscation all the hard words applied to it would be justified. But the fact is that "confiscation," as used in debate, is a Parliamentary term, and does not mean what it professes. There are many other matters which have been referred to, but on which I need not touch; but I must allude to the speech of the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Lansdowne), who took so completely a landlord's view of the situation. I suppose many of us were astonished that anyone, much more a great Irish landlord, should say that the question of improvements was a vexed question, except, of course, in the sense that it is vexatious to hear it so often argued; for the fact is beyond all dispute that by far the most of the improvements in Ireland have been made by the tenants. It is astonishing to me that the Bill should have been branded as a monstrous attempt to confiscate the property of the landlord, when the fact is, as has been shown by my noble and learned Friend the Lord Chancellor, that the very essence of the measure is an attempt to save the landlord's property, by rescuing it from the peril with which it is threatened. I heard my noble Friend the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Lansdowne) say—"You think, by a measure of this kind, to quell agrarian rebellion." Well, we do. You may either quell it by the bayonet and grape-shot or by remedial measures. I have said so much about the noble Marquess's speech, because I regard him as one who has great knowledge of the subject and great ability, which I much regretted to see applied as he has applied it to this subject. He throws great light upon it; but he does not bring that fair consideration of the matter on both sides which is more necessary in Ireland than anywhere else, if you are to have good relations between the two classes. Criticisms on a measure of this kind we must expect, and hard words will be lavished on those who have this most responsible and, in some respects, most ungrateful task imposed upon them. The Government, however, have no reason to complain of the general tone of the criticisms to which the Bill has been subject, and we only ask the House to admit that there is a necessity for passing the second reading of a measure based on these principles, and I hope the House will also be guided by the wise advice of the noble and learned Earl who has just sat down, not to interfere in Committee with the main lines of the measure.

LORD DENMAN, amid considerable interruption, said, that if he did not speak against the second reading, he would be under the imputation of agreeing to that stage of the Bill. He would give Notice that, on the Motion for going into Committee, he would move that the House should resolve itself into the said Committee on that day three months.

Motion agreed to; Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Thursday next.