HL Deb 01 April 1887 vol 313 cc209-11

I rise to ask the Prime Minister whether the Government intend to bring in a Bill this Session dealing with the question of allotments? I ask the Question because it seems to me that an Answer given a short time ago to a similar Question was somewhat ambiguous. The Lord President of the Council said it would not be brought in before Easter, but he did not say whether it would be brought in after Easter. The noble Marquess (the Marquess of Salisbury) declared that the introduction of such a Bill would depend upon the state of Business in "another place," and that he could not pledge himself to anything definite. This question of allotments is one of great importance. It affects the welfare of a large and well-deserving set of men, and I venture to think it affects us on this side of the House, and our credit as a Party who are anxious, as far as practicable, to fulfil in Parliament pledges which we have made in the country. No question of domestic policy, leaving Ireland on one side, has attracted so much attention as this question of allotments. The Prime Minister mentioned it long ago in his speech at Newport. It was given a prominent place in the Dartford speech of the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, a speech in which he set out the programme of the Government. That programme was fully endorsed by the present Leader of the House of Commons, who, shortly after The Dartford speech, declared that Lord Randolph Churchill spoke with the "knowledge and assent and consent" of all his Colleagues. The Government fulfilled their pledges to a certain extent by giving the question of allotments a prominent place in the Gracious Speech from the Throne. I believe a great expectation has been raised in the minds of the agricultural population on this question. With few exceptions there is a consensus of opinion that a large and comprehensive measure—a measure containing provisions which ensure that labourers can obtain sufficient allotments at reasonable rents—is desirable and necessary; and I am sure that such a measure will have the best effect on the population, will educate them in the best sense of the word in self-respect and self-reliance, and make them feel that a responsibility rests upon them as respectable citizens, and will not fail to have a good effect in giving stability and vitality to the whole land system. I can well understand that there will be great difficulty in getting many measures through the other House, but that difficulty is all the more reason for bringing a measure of this kind into this House. We have ample time. We have passed measures of great importance, and we hare two Bills of first-class importance before us now, one dealing with land in Ireland and the other dealing with the transfer of land—a Bill which affects primarily the landlords—and I think it would be an expedient thing that a Bill of this kind affecting those engaged in agriculture at the other extreme of the social scale should be brought into Parliament this Session. I hope the Government will recognize the importance of this question and will introduce a Bill of this kind into this House, and even if it passes this House and does not pass the other, I do not see that the question would be any worse off than if it was not included at all.


I quite concur with my noble Friend as to the great importance of this subject, and that it is one of the subjects which the Government hoped to have dealt with; but, whatever its importance, nothing will make it pass through Parliament this Session unless the state of Business in the other House is such as to enable the Government to carry it through. I am afraid that in the present state of affairs I cannot give any other answer to my noble Friend than that which I gave the other night, that such a Bill depends upon the state and progress of Business in the other House.

House adjourned at a quarter before Nine o'clock, to Monday the 18th instant, a quarter past Four o'clock.