§ Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read.
said, he wished to point out that since the Bill was read a second time, Her Majesty's Government had altered what must be considered as the most important part of the Bill in a very serious way. They had proposed to omit the three Clauses 21, 22, and 23 in the Bill, dealing with the power of the Court to stay eviction, the jurisdiction of the County Court, and the power, in certain cases, to continue the tenant in his holding, notwithstanding his bankruptcy, and substitute new clauses for them of vital importance to Irish landlords generally. Now those clauses had been in the hands of noble Lords but a very short time, and they contained very important provisions indeed, and, although he for one and, he believed, other Irish landlords were perfectly ready to consider those Amendments, if possible, in a favourable manner, they still felt that the Amendments in question were of such vital importance that some time ought to be given, not only for Irish Landlords to consult among themselves as to whether they met the objections previously raised, but also that they might be able to refer the new clauses to those in Ireland who were best able to judge, in order that they might have their opinions to strengthem them in any action they might think fit to take in that 13 House. He wished to know whether, supposing their Lordships agreed to accept temporarily those three clauses, the Government would consent to recommit the Bill subsequently in order that noble lords might have an opportunity of carefully considering them, and, perhaps, proposing Amendments upon them if they were so advised.
§ VISCOUNT MIDLETON
said, he thought the Amendments met the objections raised on the second reading only to a limited extent. He objected to the clauses as they now stood, however, not on the ground that he did not wish to gee some equitable jurisdiction given to County Court Judges, or whoever were to be the authorities eventually under the Act; but, because he did not believe that those County Court Judges could overtake the work which would be thrown upon them if the clauses passed in their present form. He had taken considerable trouble to ascertain, and found that authorities in Ireland and elsewhere entirely coincided with him on that point. Time ought to be given for inquiries into the matter, and he should be exceedingly glad if the Government could see their way to accept the suggestion of his noble Friend (Lord Inchiquin) and leave those subjects an open question until the other clauses, to which he believed very little serious objection would now be made, had been considered.
§ LORD FITZGERALD
said, he would suggest as the most convenient way out of the difficulty, that their Lordships should that evening proceed seriatim with the first 20 clauses of the Bill, and that on coming then to the three new clauses, the Government should consent to re-port Progress, in order that they might resume again on Thursday next. In doing that they would have made very considerable progress with the measure, and one of the objects that would be accomplished by that course would be that their Lordships would be able to consider those very important and interesting clauses, which required to be weighed in every line before becoming the law of the land, besides which they should have a statement and explanation from the Government of the real import and bearing of the clauses.
§ THE PRIME MINISTER AND SECRETARY OF STATE FOR, FOREIGN AFFAIRS (The Marquess of SALISBURY)
said, that he agreed with the noble and learned Lord opposite (Lord Fitzgerald) that they should go into Committee at once; but with regard to the question as to what their Lordships should do when they came to the 21st clause, he should be sorry if the House then came to a Resolution such as that suggested by the noble and learned Lord to adjourn for another considerable period. He did not think anything would be gained by that course. If noble Lords were not able to ascertain the import and bearing of the clauses now, they were not likely to do so by Friday. The Government felt the extreme difficulty of the subject in framing the clauses so as to meet every view. That had been felt by everybody who had attempted to deal with it. It was not only difficult in itself, by reason of the state of the law, but on account of the strangely varying testimony with respect to the probable bearing of each portion of the clauses as originally drawn. It required, they might say, an expert to know what Irish tenants would do, and what Irish County Court Judges would do; but the worst of it was that experts were not yet agreed upon the subject, and they directly differed with each other upon it, and, therefore, there was undoubtedly more than usual perplexity and difficulty in adapting the language of the clauses to the necessities of the legislation the Government had in view. He should be extremely sorry if their Lordships, when they reached these clauses, were to adjourn. What the Government wanted was not an adjournment, but discussion, in order to hear from noble Lords precisely what were the objections which they took to the new clauses. By an adjournment before they came to the clauses, they would be as much in the dark as over as to what noble Lords thought. It was important to know what the danger was which certain noble Lords anticipated; and they could not consider how the language of the clauses should best be drawn, in order to meet these apprehensions until they knew where the danger lay. He would, therefore, deprecate any proposal which. would prevent a full discussion of the clauses. If, after the clauses had been 15 discussed, and they had gone through the Bill, it should be the pleasure of the House to recommit the Bill as to these clauses, that would be perfectly in Order, and might, perhaps, meet the views of some of those who had spoken on this subject. It was the desire of the Government to give every facility for bringing this Bill into accordance with the feelings of noble Lords so far as it was consistent with the main object of the Bill. He would, therefore, recommend that they should go on with the Bill that night; and if they did not finish it, they might do so on Friday, and might then recommit it to some day after that.
THE EARL OF KILMOREY
said, he hoped that the Government would allow an adjournment after reaching the 21st clause, in consideration of the vital importance of the question to those who were Irish landowners.
§ House in Committee.