HL Deb 21 June 1892 vol 5 cc1645-9


Order of the Hay for the Third Reading read.

Moved, "That the Bill be now read 3a."—(The Earl Cadogan.)


My Lords, having a Motion on the Paper that this Bill should be read a third time this day six months, I might have been taken greatly by surprise, this being a Tuesday, if I had been down in the country intending to be in time for the meeting of the House at half past five, when I should have found this Bill had passed. My Lords, the speech which I ventured to make on moving the rejection of the Bill was never submitted to me for correction, and I am sorry that this measure should be passed without full consideration of those objections which I ventured to explain to your Lordships. My Lords, in my own small way I have had an experience of small holdings. There was one poor man had eight acres; he was employed in the mines, and therefore was enabled to pay for the mowing of his hay, and so it answered him to keep this small portion of land; but, in fact, unless persons have other means, it is impossible for them to go on with small holdings. So far as my experience goes I have two farms, one of 350 acres, and another of 50 acres; the land in one is extremely good, and the land in the other is not so good; therefore, for the benefit of my tenant, I put those two farms together, and I have never regretted it. Some of my neighbours are extremely desirous to have the best part of it, and are always asking me if I will sub-divide the farm, which I certainly never will. My Lords, the misfortune of the present day is that we do everything in extremes. The old system of Common rights over grass was the foundation of everything in Ireland, but it produced the greatest confusion. I can only say that I am ready to substantiate all I said on the Second Reading. My Lords, if you pass this Bill without having given full notice to the country that it is for Third Reading to day—for the Times has omitted all mention of the business for the day in the House of Lords, in that not very truthful journal—this is a thing which ought to be known by every holder of land, whether gentle or simple. My Lords, it would be a disturbance of every farm in the country, I am quite satisfied of that; and as for the possession of a small plot of land without plenty of capital to support it, it is nothing but ruin. You have been going upon the lines of John Bright rather too long. When Lord Ashbourne passed the first measure for the purchase of land I ventured to say: "All that is Bright must fade, the Brightest still the fleetest." He said to me "Pray do not have that reported in your speech," and, consequently, I omitted it. But it is only too true that poor proprietors cannot thrive. When many years ago my wife's father purchased a farm in East Lothian the price of corn was sixty-three shillings a quarter; now it is reduced to thirty shillings, and it is rather a loss to grow corn; but, for sake of the straw, and for the land, it has always been my endeavour to grow the greatest quantity of wheat I can; but it is not so good as that which comes from India. But, my Lords, if foreigners come in and take their place in our markets, surely they ought to pay market dues? Poor Mr. Bradlaugh thought market dues were injurious to the farmer. My Lords, when the late Prince Albert Victor went to Sheffield it was to inaugurate the opening of a new market by the Duke of Norfolk, which was built at an enormous expenditure of money. But is the Duke to lose his rights to the fees for the use of that market? My Lords, you are altogether tending to confusion. My Lords, mine is the speech of an old man; I give you Horace's description of an old man, and you will see how far I am pictured by it: Multa senem circumveniunt incommoda; vel quod Quœrit, et inventis miser abstinet, ac timet uti; Vel quod res omnes timide gelideque ministrat; Dilator, spe longus, iners avidusque futuri, …. laudator temporis acti Se puero, castigator censorque minorum. My Lords, my experience in this House gives me the right to explain my opinions, and they are these: that in any measure, involving many great and important principles, you never can by a free conference, which is likely to be absolutely necessary if the Amendments are submitted to the other House, get the House to remain patient and to state what they believe to be the truth. My Lords, I believe it would be much better in every respect for this Bill not to have gone into Committee at all. There is a very strong feeling, it is said in the Times, against this Bill on both sides of the House; I do not know how far that is true; but supposing, the Government being in a minority in this House, a new election should be rife in the country, just consider what an enormous quantity of intimidation and violence would ensue. There is nothing settled in Ireland; the differences between Protestants and Roman Catholics are more rife than ever. My Lords, you would hardly recollect what the author of Church and State said in the very first passage of his work—he said that the Roman Catholics think that every religion but their own ought to succumb. My Lords, the differences are exaggerated in every way. Let the Septennial Act have its full swing, and that will be the best thing for this country. I never heard that Her Majesty had told her people that she would submit to a Dissolution under any circumstances. I always thought that if the Government were a minority in the House of Commons they were obliged to resign—that was always the rule in old times; if the Government had not a handsome majority in the House of Commons they always gave the Sovereign an opportunity to change Her Ministers. That is not so now. I am a friend of every Government, and I wish to thwart no Government. For instance, the Women's Suffrage Bill was the first Bill after the Recess; but I with drew it beforehand, in order that any Government measure might come first. My Lords, it will not do to oppress any individual. I happen to have observed a great deal as I have gone through my short career; but I have also to look back to the career of my respected father, and to try to act as I know he would have done. My Lords, you little understand his memory; his memoirs were most unfairly represented by the editor—


My Lords, I rise to order; the noble Lord has not been anywhere near the Bill before the House for the last two or three minutes.


You wish to cloture me again, do you? I am very much obliged to you. I beg leave to tell you that I have a right to refer in a Hereditary House to the best man that ever sat in it. My Lords, I beg to move that the Bill be read a third time this day six months.

Amendment moved, to leave out ("now") and add at the end of the Motion ("this day six months.")—(The Lord Denman.)

Amendment negatived; Bill read 3a (according to order) with the Amendments; further Amendments made; Bill passed, and returned to the Commons.