HL Deb 22 July 1889 vol 338 cc971-3

House in Committee (on Re-commitment) (according to order.


My Lords, on the Second Reading of this Bill, your Lordships may remember that the Duke of Richmond pointed out that this Bill for establishing a Board of Agriculture, a Bill from which we all hope that so much will be done for agriculture does not extend to that portion of the United Kingdom which is almost wholly devoted lo agriculture—I mean Ireland. I therefore put an Amendment on the Paper, with a view to seeing what was the reason why the Bill does not extend to Ireland. There is nothing in the Bill itself to show that it does not extend to Ireland except its title. The term "Great Britain" is frequently and most improperly used to express the whole of the United Kingdom. I am not quite sure whether the framers of this Bill did so intend it or not; but, except for the title, there is absolutely nothing in the Bill to show that it does not extend to Ireland. If it does not extend to Ireland, there certainly should be a clause to that effect; for I beg to say that all measures passed by the Imperial Parliament, where the context does not exclude any portion of the United Kingdom, and where there is no clause so excluding, it does extend to the whole Kingdom. It has been pointed out that the pith of this Bill is in the first sub-section of the second clause—that there shall be transferred to the Board of Agriculture the powers and duties of the Privy Council under certain Acts. Now, my Lords, every one of those Acts does extend to Ireland. Those powers conferred on the Privy Council are vested in Ireland on the Lord Lieutenant, acting by the advice of the Privy Council in Ireland. If it is desired to tranfer the powers exercised by the Privy Council to a Ministry of Agriculture, and if any benefit is to be derived from this change, let Ireland have her share of it. The powers of the Board of Trade, which was cited by the Prime Minister as a similar case, extend to the whole of the United Kingdom. Then the third subsection transfers the powers vested in the Commissioners of Works under the Survey Act, an Imperial Act, to the new Ministry of Agriculture. Those powers were formerly transferred from the Secretary of State. It strikes me there is an anomaly there, and one which would be got rid of if this Bill were made to extend to Ireland. Again, the Department of Forestry was to form part of the duties of the new Minister. This Department was of enormous importance to Ireland, where thousands of acres of land new lying waste might be utilised to the great benefit of the country by planting. In no part of Europe did trees grow better than in Ireland, which not very long ago was covered with magnificent forests, now ruthle sly destroyed. I therefore move, as an Amendment, to insert the words "The Chief Secretary to Lord Lieutenant of Ireland," in order to extend to Ireland the operation of the Bill.


I confess I should have thought it was impossible to entertain any doubt as to this Act applying only to Great Britain and not to Ireland. In the first place, it refers to Her Majesty's Privy Council, not the Privy Council of Ireland, which would be described as the "Lord Lieutenant and Privy Council." As it stands, therefore, the Act is clearly not intended to apply to Ireland. The difficulty of extending it to Ireland would be very considerable, and far more legislation would be needed than my noble Friend supposes. See what the position would become by putting in Ireland, for then the Lord Lieutenant and Chief Secretary for Ireland, instead of being the Governing power, would become servants of the Board of Agriculture. I may mention also that there are very serious differences between the Local Authorities in England and Ireland. In the latter the Boards of Guardians act. The fact is that in Ireland they have the privilege of possessing model farms, supported to a great extent by Government, which we are entirely without in this country. So that they are already agriculturally better provided than England. I would suggest to my noble Friend that he would be well-advised to wait before desiring to have this Bill extended to Ireland, to see whether it works well in this country. When he has seen the great efficacy of its performances here, will come the time for extending its operation as he desires.


I shall be very glad that Great Britain and not Ireland should be the place where the experiment is to be made for the first time, as it appears that it is only an experiment. We have had quite enough of experiments in land legislation in the Sister Isle.


Then you withdraw the Amendment.


Yes, I withdraw it.

Amendment (by leave of the House) withdrawn.

Bill reported without further amendment; and to be read 3a to-morrow.