HL Deb 13 August 1896 vol 44 cc712-5

said this was a useful Bill that was before their Lordships to simplify and to cheapen and to facilitate procedure under the Labourers' Act. Their Lordships made some Amendments to the Bill—two clauses were introduced, and some other matters of importance. One of those clauses, moved by Viscount de Vesci, had been accepted by the House of Commons, and also a clause moved by himself and some other consequential Amendments. There was one clause moved by the Earl of Arran that was dissented from, and the reason given was that the subject of the Amendment would be more conveniently dealt with if necessary in a separate Bill. Incidentally he mentioned that himself when the matter was before their Lordships before. It was found, without making the slightest vestige of a reflection on the good sense of the clause proposed by his noble Friend, that it had become a matter of contention, and that if it was insisted upon it would practically mean that the Bill would be lost. His right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary intimated that it was a matter that he had present to his mind, and that he would be very glad to consider it in another Session when another opportunity presented itself. He hoped, therefore, his noble Friend would acquiesce in the Motion he now made, that their Lordships were pleased to agree with the House of Commons' Amendment.


said he rose to say that he did not propose to persist in his opposition to the omission of this clause. After all, it was only a storm in a teapot, and it would not have excited as much attention as it had done had it been brought forward at any other time. One thing had been made very clear in the course of the discussion on the Bill—that the Government, with an unusual majority of 150 at their back, were just as much at the beck and call of the Nationalist Party, even divided as that party was, as were the late Government with a very doubtful majority of about 30 only. ["Hear, hear!" and laughter.]


said the clause referred to was in the Bill when it was originally brought forward by the Government, but in the Standing Committee Mr. Dillon objected to it, and therefore, as it was a non-contentious Measure, the Government gave way to the hon. Member and the clause was struck out. When the Bill came up to their Lordships' House this fact was noticed; they divided on the question; and the clause was re-inserted. Now, the object of this Bill was to make it more easy for labourers' cottages to be built in Ireland. It was not a question that very much affected Irish landlords, but at the same time it was a matter which affected the whole country, and he for one should be very sorry if it could be said that they, as Irish landlords, were capable of looking after their own interests but were indifferent to the labourers' question, which he regarded as one of the most important questions in Ireland. ["Hear, hear!"] He thought the clause a reasonable one, and if it was left out improper people might be allowed to get into the cottages. It was said that evicted tenants might get into them; but, in respect to that, it did not matter to him whether the man who got into the cottages was an evicted tenant or anyone else, so long as he was honest and sober and willing to work. ["Hear, hear!"] The two Acts referred to were passed for the benefit of the labourers, and they conferred on them one of the greatest benefits ever granted to that class in any country in Europe, and had been largely availed of. Why should not the clause be retained? The noble Marquess in his speech on the Second Reading said that already improper people had got into the cottages. That fact strengthened the reason why a clause of this sort should be admitted by the Government, especially when the objection to it came from a party in the other House of which, he believed, Mr. Dillon was at the head. He confessed that he felt very strongly on the matter, and noble Lords who lived in Ireland and had to do county work knew what a great extent of jobbery went on in Boards of Guardians with respect to those cottages. ["Hear, hear!"] He fully appreciated what had fallen from the Lord Chancellor of Ireland with reference to future legislation on the matter, but he should have liked to see the question dealt with now. However, having expressed their views, and having taken their stand on the matter against the Government—in which course he believed they had justice on their side—he would not press the question further. But it should be remembered that in taking the course they had done, they spoke, not for themselves as Irish landlords, but in the interests of the labourers of Ireland. ["Hear, hear!"]


urged that, in the circumstances, seeing that the alteration was introduced by the Government, and that the Government had promised to deal further with the matter in future, it would be unwise on the part of their Lordships to insist on the clause and resist the Commons' Amendment. ["Hear, hear!"]

Commons' Amendment then agreed to.