§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ * LORD ASHBOURNE
My Lords, in asking your Lordships to give a Second Reading to this Bill, I shall occupy as little of the time of the House as possible. 421 The Bill is brought in to remedy what is a clear grievance, and to do a piece of tardy justice. In Ireland, as in England, tithes were a charge upon the land, and for a very considerable time were paid by the occupier. Until the year 1823 tithes in Ireland wore paid in kind by the occupier, but at that time a change was made, and although the occupier was left still the person to pay, the change was made that there should be a money composition. That wont on for a considerable time—namely, until the year 1838. Then a further change was made, and for public convenience, which was recognised upon all sides, the landlord was made the person who was to pay. A tithe rent-charge was created, and he was made the person to pay a sum that was measured at three-quarters of the previous money composition. The assumption, I presume, was that he might add, possibly, the amount of the tithe that he was called upon to pay to the rent. That may have been done in some cases, but I do not believe it was at all generally done. I have read statements by those who have studied the question indicating that it was not generally done. In Ireland, as in England, it has at all times been of the very essence of tithe that it should be variable and subject to occasional revision. The statutory machinery provided in Ireland for this purpose was different, fortunately for England, from that in England; the statutory machinery pro-Tided in Ireland was that if certain not very simple methods were adopted, the tithe rent-charges might be varied by reference to the average price of wheat and oats that were published from time to time in the Dublin Gazette. That method was clumsy and inconvenient, but it worked, as clumsy and inconvenient methods do work, in a kind of way for a long time. But in the year 1889 a change was made in the Dublin Gazette— no one has ever been able exactly to trace how the change occurred—and the publication in the Gazette of the prices of the two commodities, wheat and oats, teased.
§ * LORD ASHBOURNE
In the year 1889. I have mentioned no year that touches any particular conscience, and I have said that nobody has ever been able to ascertain why the change was made.
THE EARL OF MAYO
In what year did the noble and learned Lord say the publication of the averages in the Gazette ceased?
§ * LORD ASHBOURNE
No. The publication of the averages ceased in 1889, for what reason no one has ever been able to find out, and, strange to say, the cessation of their publication was not ascertained or relied on in our Courts for a considerable time. The matter, however, came before the Courts in Ireland, and it was then contended, with irresistible force, that, as the averages had ceased to be published in the statutory way required, there was nothing that could be appealed to to satisfy the requirements of the Statute. Accordingly, what was an obvious injustice resulted. Up to a comparatively recent time the position of Irish lay and ecclesiastical tithes was exactly the same as to variation; they each had to be varied and revised by reference to the publication of prices in the Dublin Gazette. But at the time I am referring to this only applied to lay tithes. It is obvious that the absence of any machinery by which these tithes can be varied and revised is a clear and distinct grievance. This is, indeed, not denied or questioned by any one. The position of ecclesiastical tithes at the present time is somewhat different. They were dealt with in the Irish Church Act of 1869, when it was distinctly stated by Mr. Gladstone — I have his words here, and they have been quoted in the other House during the last three weeks—that the calculation of the then Government was that ecclesiastical tithes should be commuted at the purchase of 22½ years, with an interest not exceeding 3½ per cent. and an annuity not exceeding 45 years. When the Act came to be examined, however, it was found that the annuity, instead of running from the time stated, was to run for 52 years. How the figure 45, stated by the Prime Minister in his place in Parliament to be the proper figure, became 52 has not hitherto been explained; but it has never been suggested that it can be seriously defended or that it was anything but a most inconceivable blunder. 423 Moreover, the 3½ per cent. interest pays oft' every farthing in 45 years, and it is only the simplest justice to get rid of the additional seven years which have in some way been added, and which cannot be defended or even explained on any theory of common sense or ordinary arithmetic. During the discussions—the anxious discussions—which took place in the House of Commons there was no effort on the part of the fitful Opposition interveners in Debate to give any vestige of explanation of this figure, and every one was compelled to admit that every farthing of the tithe was paid off in 45 years. The next step was taken in 1872. At that time, I believe, the Government had under consideration a loan on the security of the Church property—a loan of £9,000,000—and it was deemed desirable by Mr. Gladstone and the able Ministers who composed his Government that there should be a change in reference to tithe rent-charge, and that the power of revision should be taken away. It was considered a more satisfactory security not to have a variable charge, but that there should be a fixed tithe incapable of change. That was regarded as a better asset on which to rely as a security, and also more satisfactory to deal with. Under those circumstances the power of revision was taken away by the Act of 1872. It was a very short Act—a Treasury Act—and one which did not, so far as I can see, excite any attention whatever. It passed through Parliament towards the close of the session without debate, but it has been gravely alleged that the Act of 1872, by which the power of revision was taken away, was a bargain. The habits of my life and of my office require that I should use moderate and temperate language, but I am at a loss to describe in adequate terms this suggestion. It is a grotesque absurdity. Who was the bargain between? What was the bargain about? Why should there be a bargain? There is not a trace of any such suggestion to be found in Hansard, and I have spoken to gentlemen who were then members of the House of Commons, and they inform mo that they never heard or dreamt of such a thing as this being a bargain. The suggestion is absolutely unsupported by proof, and has really no bearing upon the question. Had the power of revision remained, had it not been taken away 424 by this Act of 1872, the Irish ecclesiastical tithe, like the English tithe, would, I have heard, be payable at a percentage much less than at present. At any rate, wheat has fallen from that time by about 40 per cent., and oats by about 22 per cent., and, as every one knows, there have beer; enormous reductions in the value of land. Therefore it is simple justice to do what the Bill does. If my statements cannot be contradicted, am I not right in saying that there is a clear grievance to be righted and a palpable injustice to be got rid of? The first of the proposals is to reduce from 52 to 45 years the period provided for the redemption of the annuities, and, secondly to restore the variation and power of revision with regard to both lay and ecclesiastical tithes. In England, where revision exists, there has been, as your Lordships know, a vast reduction in tithes. Irish tithe payers have been deprived of that benefit, and therefore it is simple justice to do what this Bill does. The measure has been described as another dole to Irish landlords, but it is the simplest, the nakedest, and the merest act of justice. If the payment of the tithes had never been handed over to the landowner and were still payable by the occupier, could any human being, with any regard for his own sanity, suggest that every dictate of justice did not require that everything I have suggested should be carried out? This is. not a one-sided proceeding at all. It was pointed out in 1885, when the first of the Land Purchase Acts was introduced, that it was not reasonable to ask glebe tenant-purchasers to go on paying their instalments with the inclusion of the original rate of interest, and their friends in both Houses of Parliament said that justice required that there should be a revision. They wore given it with universal approval, and the 3½ per cent. interest on their loans was cut down to £3 1s. 8d. No one said then that justice should not be done. Justice required that that should be done then in the interests of tenant-purchasers, and it requires that it should be done now in the interests of the landlords. In Ireland the system has always been cumbrous, inconvenient, expensive., and difficult to carry out. Wheat is not now grown in Ireland to the extent it used to be; and the standards that were formerly appealed to have ceased to be 425 efficient regulations for the purpose. The plan by which it is proposed to ascertain the amount of variation—namely, by the average judicial reduction of rents in each county, is fair, intelligible, and a thousand times better than resorting to the old methods. Another important feature of the Bill is that it takes away the power of redeeming tithe rent charges, save in the case of sales under the Land Acts, and then it is intended to safeguard the terms. There is another clause in the Bill, dealing with the deduction of Poor Kate from tithe, which the Chief Secretary calculated would assist the Irish Church Fund by a sum of about £6,000 a year. This benefit will be obtained in connection with decisions as to the deductions made from tithes for the Poor Kate. The figures in reference to these matters have been very fully stated in the other House of Parliament, and I have confined myself to presenting the case to your Lordships in the shortest possible way, because I recognise that there are many other topics on your Lordship's Paper for discussion to-night. Of course, I will be quite ready to give any information to the House or to answer any questions that may be put to mo at this or any subsequent stage.
§ Moved, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Lord Ashbourne.)
THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
My Lords, I certainly feel a certain amount of embarrassment in controverting what has been said by the noble and learned Lord, because he has so pointedly laid it down that every proposition which he has put before the House is absolutely just, absolutely sound, and absolutely impossible of doubt. It may seem somewhat remarkable that I doubt the greater portion of the assertions the noble and learned Lord has made. First of all, I will deal with the very novel argument with which he commenced his speech, and which, I must say, surprised me extremely. It appears that at some stage of the Irish Church Bill, Mr. Gladstone, who was then at the head of the Government, and who, as the noble and learned Lord most justly said, took a special interest in that legislation, said that ecclesiastical tithes should be commuted at the purchase of 22½ years, with an interest not exceeding 3½ per cent., and an annuity not exceeding 45 426 years. Subsequently it appears that an interest of £4 9s. Od. per cent. and a period of 52 years wore fixed in the Act. On that the noble and learned Lord says there has been a great injustice, and that we should regard the statement made by the Prime Minister of that day in the course of a speech as conclusive. I have never heard such an argument. I always thought Acts of Parliament were conclusive. Mr. Gladstone is not alive to explain the words he used in 1869, but I entirely deny that we are bound by the statement of even so great a man as Mr. Gladstone.
THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
But they are contradicted by something which is binding upon us quite as much as arithmetic—namely, an Act of Parliament. According to the noble and learned Lord, it is so perfectly clear that a great injustice was committed, because the Act is not in accordance with some words which he found in a speech of Mr. Gladstone, that we are bound now, after twenty-seven years, to remedy what was. then done. If this is so extremely simple, so perfectly evident, so absolutely conclusive, what was the Conservative Government which came into office in 1874 doing? Had they no supporters amongst Irish landlords? The Act then was a very fresh one, and if the injustice had been so wonderfully apparent it would naturally have been for the Government of that day, which had no particular love for Mr. Gladstone's legislation, to remedy it. I dismiss that argument of the noble and learned Lord as having no bearing on the question. The noble and learned Lord said there was no bargain. The case really is that twenty-seven years ago Parliament laid down a certain principle for the payment of tithe, and it seems to me a dangerous doctrine, after Parliament has dealt with the matter so long ago, that we should now set aside that Act. Past legislation may have inflicted hardships on those subjected to it. That argument is one which may always be used. But I am surprised that twenty-seven years should have been allowed to elapse without any attempt to remedy any hardships in the present case. I deny that the Bill is a matter of justice; it is purely a matter of expediency. In 427 the present state of prices an undue burden has been laid on the landlords of Ireland, and that should be lightened. That is the case of the Government, and I dismiss all other arguments. It comes to this, that after twenty-seven years the Government have made up their minds that they ought to make a present to the Irish landlords of a certain portion of the Irish Church fund. T feel some sympathy for the Trish landlords in the position in which they find themselves, but I must repeat what I have often said, that if the Irish landlords lived in the part of the kingdom in which I do they would not consider themselves so badly off. I object to the Bill on the ground that it is upsetting a deliberate arrangement made by Parliament, and then regarded as just and fair, for the purpose of giving a money advantage; to a certain class.
My Lords, it is gratifying to those who are interested in the Bill introduced by my noble and learned friend to hear him describe it as a mere measure of justice. It is, indeed, a tardy measure of justice, for relief in this matter has been promised to Trish tithe rent-charge payers for the last twelve years. In support of its being a measure of justice, I should like to compare the position of the English and Irish tithe rent-charge payer since the year 1872. It is somewhat singular, my Lords, that when a comparison can be made, by any stress of imagination, to the detriment of the interests of property in Ireland, such as, for instance, the comparison of the reduction of rents in England and Ireland, it is pressed home, however unsound may be the foundation up on which it rests; but when there is any comparison which would tell the other way. St. George's Channel appears to be an insuperable objection to its being adduced. Indeed, as to all rights of property, it seems to make all the difference in the world on which side of St. George's Channel the property is situated. I was much struck some days ago at hearing the noble Earl the leader of the Opposition condemning a Government measure—the Military Manœuvres Bill—on the ground that it assumed a certain control over a landlord's property for three weeks in the year, for ever. I thought at the time that there was a certain force in the noble Earl's objections, but I could not help contrasting this solicitude for the rights of property 428 with the slight regard paid to those rights by the Land Act of 1881, an Act which deprived Irish landlords of more than 25 per cent. of the fee - simple of their property, not for three weeks, but for all the year round, for ever. I wonder the noble Marquess who had charge of that Bill did not notice the inconsistency, but I suppose that the severe training which he underwent in 1896, before he was reduced, as he then told us, to the position of a tame elephant, has rendered him somewhat callous to the injuries inflicted on his wilder brethren. But a comparison between the English and the Irish tithe rent-charge payer shows that the former in 1872 had to pay £108 16s. Od. for every £100 tithe rent-charge as fixed in 1836, while in 1899 he only paid.£68 2s. 4d. Now by the Act of 1872 tithe rent charge in Ireland was rendered invariable, and the tithe rent-charge payer has ever since been paying the same amount as in 1872, notwithstanding the fall in prices. It is no wonder, therefore, that the opponents of this measure take very good care not to draw a comparison, which they might be ready enough to do if it told the other way My Lords, this settlement in 1872 is spoken of as a bargain, which tithe rent-charge payers gladly accepted, fearing that the price of corn might rise. Now, no one probably anticipated the deplorable agricultural depression which has since occurred, but, on the other hand, no one in his senses, seeing the continually increasing facilities for the importation of corn, could have dreaded as a tithe payer, or hoped for as a farmer, any decided rise in the price, of corn. Indeed, prices, after some fluctuation, showed a tendency to fall in the years immediately preceding 1872. The fact is that the Act of 1872 was slipped through Parliament in August as a Departmental measure, without any explanation in either House, and escaped observation. But tithe rent-charge payers have suffered in another way by legislation. By the Church Act of 1869 the price of redemption of tithe rent-charge was fixed at 22½ years purchase. A high authority on the subject, Mr. O'Brien, has stated that in previous times it never was worth more than 17. On the other hand, in consequence of the Land Act of 1881. the selling value of property has been reduced from about 22½ years purchase of the old rent to about 17 of the new. Consequently the value of property 429 has been artificially reduced about 5—, years purchase, and the charge on it artificially raised by the same amount. And yet wonder is expressed that Irish landlords complain of being unjustly treated. It is needless to point out that the Church Fund has benefited by the extravagant price exacted from those who have redeemed, mainly wider the Land Purchase Acts. The amount must be over half a million sterling. And now, my Lords, as to the provisions of the Bill itself. While we can only consider it as a measure of justice, and as a partial measure of justice, we must acknowledge that the Government have spared no effort to pass it in the face of a most determined and unscrupulous opposition. But the pity is that when they were prepared to take so much trouble, they did not make it a more comprehensive measure. For I must point out that, while it otters some relief to what I may call the more improvident persons, who did not commute their tithe rent-charge, it offers practically nothing to the more provident who did, for the reduction of the number of years from 52 to 45 is nothing more than the rectification of an arithmetical blunder. It cannot be contended that the Government intended to charge those who commuted £3 16s. 3d. per cent. interest, when the ordinary rate for Government loans was £3 10s. Od If the interest is taken at £3 10s. Od., payment of £4 9s. Od. per cent. for 52 years would mean the payment of £130 for every £100 advanced. We hoped that, in the case of those who had commuted, the Government would have ascertained the capital amount already redeemed, and treated the residue as a loan to be redeemed in the same way, and on the same terms as loans made to tenants. This would have involved no loss to the Treasury. Finally, my Lords, there is the case of lay tithe rent-charge payers, and holders of perpetuities. In their case there is no question of public money. But they have suffered from the failure of duty of some Government official. Their payments were not affected by the Act of 1872, but remained variable in accordance with the average prices of oats and wheat which ought to be published, and up to 1872 always were published, in the Dublin Gazette. The rents of perpetuity holders were also variable in accordance with those prices. But soon after 1872 430 these prices were at first incorrectly published, the mean being taken instead of the average, and since 1887 have not been published at all. Consequently no variation has been possible. The lay tithe rent-charge payers urge that they have an undoubted grievance against Government in this matter. They are by no means satisfied with the scale of variation proposed for them in the Bill, and cannot see why the prices published by the Land Commission should not be adopted in place of those which ought to have been published by the Government. The holders of perpetuities who have just the same grievance are not included in the Bill at all, as might easily have been done. My Lords, we are given to understand that if we attempt to introduce any amendments into this Bill, we shall probably lose it altogether. I do not, therefore, propose to do so. But I think it necessary to point out how much it falls short of what we might have expected, and to protest against the | statements which have been made that it is a singular act of beneficence to Irish landlords. Moreover, it is not a measure affecting landlords alone. I may mention that in 1869 there were 36,000 tithe rent-charge payers, while the number of proprietors who could correctly be described as landlords was not more than a third of that total.
* THE EARL OF MAYO
It is a pleasure to see our old friend the Tithe Rent-charge Bill, of which we have heard so much, first of all in two Queen's Speeches and also in a great many debates, brought forward. It is a measure of justice, and I deny the statement of the noble Earl opposite that it is a boon. As usual, we are compared to English landowners. That is the comparison which is always made in this House, but what are the facts of the case? English landowners can have their tithes revised by the prices of corn and oats, but in Ireland there is no revision at all. As my noble friend Lord Cronbrock has gone so fully into the subject there is very little for me to say, except that we accept the Bill not as a boon but as a simple act of justice on the part of the Government. It is really time that the Bill was passed, and I am delighted to see it in this House. A short section was slipped into the Bill in the House of Commons which creates an obvious in- 431 justice. By that section it is provided that:—Sections three and four of this Act shall not apply to any tithe rent-charge payable to the Land Commission out of hereditaments the fee simple of which has, after the tenth day of August one thousand eight hundred and seventy-two and before the twelfth day of May one thousand eight hundred and ninety-nine, been conveyed to a purchaser on a sale.The argument adduced for the insertion of these words was that when the estate was purchased a certain allowance was made for the tithe rent-charge. But I must draw your Lordships' attention to the fact that the rents on the estate are reducible every 15 years, and it is hardly fair that the man who purchased the estate should go on paying the same tithe rent-charge. I only raise this by way of protest. I know it is no good moving an Amendment; but I hope the noble Marquess who is going to wind up the debate will say something on that point.
THE EARL OF ARRAN
Before my noble friend the Marquess of Londonderry makes his speech, which I am sure will throw a great deal of light on this question, I should like to say a few words. I agree with my noble friends who have spoken from this side of the House that this Bill is an act of tardy justice to the Irish landlords. One of the advantages of the Bill is that the question of revision of tithe rent-charge will be rendered perfectly simple. Under the old Act, to get a tithe revised necessitated the proving of the whole title to the estate. It was a matter of great difficulty. The co-operation of several people had to be obtained as a rule, and the cost was very often a great deal more than the thing was worth. I hail with satisfaction the simplification of the procedure. Having said that, I venture to express my opinion that we owe very little gratitude for this Bill. It is a sort of salve for the policy which has been pursued by the British Government in regard to Ireland for 28 years past, and which I cannot help thinking will inevitably lead to the absolute expropriation of the Irish landlords. I should like to ask, What has this country gained by this policy? Is Ireland more contented or more loyal? I venture to think, speaking for that part of Ireland with which I am best acquainted, and, I think I may almost say, for the whole Western seaboard of Ireland, that whatever may be the feeling 432 of the Western Irishmen as regards her Majesty the Queen, there never was a time when the Western peasant was more disloyal to the English connection; and the smaller landlords, the men who are being ruined by the land legislation, would not raise a hand to help this country in any difficulty she might be in.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY
My lords, although my noble friends who have last spoken have alluded to the fact that I was to wind up this debate, I confess that after the extremely concise, explanatory, and, I think, complete speech of my noble and learned friend in introducing this measure no words are necessary from me to recommend the Bill to the support of your Lordships. But I do not think it would be right that the speech of the noble Earl who followed him should be passed over in complete-silence by the Front Ministerial Bench. As an Irish landlord, the Bill will not affect me in the slightest degree, and consequently I can speak of it in the most disinterested manner. My feelings of justice force me to recognise that the Bill removes an unjust burden under which the land-owning classes have for many years laboured. The measure is not a "boon" or a "present" to the Irish landlords, as it has been described by the noble Earl opposite. To my mind it is not even an act of generosity or kindness. It is merely an act of ordinary justice; an honest endeavour to remove, very late in the day, a most unfair burden from the Irish landlords —a burden that would not be tolerated if imposed upon any other class in any other part of the kingdom. My noble and learned friend who introduced the measure stated that this small act of justice was of a very tardy character. Never were truer words said. The Irish landowners have lived many years in the hope that this tardy act of justice would be brought forward at some time or other. They remember the words of the present Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, who, as Lord Privy Seal, declared so long ago as 1888, speaking on behalf of the Government, that they recognised the difficulties under which Irish landlords laboured in regard to tithe rent-charge, and that it was their anxious wish to afford a remedy for a state of things which nobody could deny required immediate consideration. I am the most recent addition to the Government, but I 433 should say that the landlords of Ireland have a grievance in not having this act of justice done them, according to promise, years ago. What strikes me as very extraordinary is that there has been so much opposition to this measure, which is in itself so small. The amount of opposition to this Bill has filled me with amaze- merit. After all, what is it that this measure enacts? It merely enacts that where a landowner has paid off the principal and interest the charge should cease to exist, and, secondly, that tithes should be variable as they were up to 1872, and as they are in England at the present moment. It is obvious that they should be variable. If you go back to the Book of Genesis you will find that tithe was a proportion of the produce of the producer. That principle has been recognised from time immemorial, but since the Act of 1872 revision of tithe has been made impossible in Ireland. My noble and learned friend stated with justice that the price of wheat and oats had fallen very materially in Ireland since 1872. I have ventured to look up the statistics, and I can endorse his remarks on that subject. In the year 1872 the price of wheat, which in Ireland is calculated by the barrel of 20 stone, was £1 9s. 11d. per barrel, but in 1899 the price had fallen to 15s. 6d. per barrel. I can endorse also what my noble and learned friend told the House with regard to the fall in the price of oats. In 1872 a barrel of oats fetched 14s. 8½d. in Ireland, or, according to English calculation, £1 6s. 8d. per quarter; but in 1899 it was only worth 10s. lid. per barrel, or 18s. 4d. per quarter. Under these circumstances it is only fair to ask that the tithe rent-charge should be varied. The noble Earl the Leader of the Opposition stated, I think, that it was after close calculation in 1872 that the charge was fixed permanently, but in 1872 I do not think anybody imagined that there was going to be the Act of 1881, under which rents could be compulsorily reduced periodically until eventually the tithe rent payer might be left with no margin at all. I know cases in which rents have been reduced by 30, 40, 50, and even 60 percent.—I will not say one word as to whether they were rightly or wrongly reduced—but surely it is not right, after such reductions have been made, that there should remain the same permanent tithe rent-charge upon the landowner. You 434 should pursue the same system in Ireland as you do in England, which this measure is endeavouring to carry out, and not ask a landlord, because he is an Irishman, to pay on a different scale from that which obtains in England. In the House of Commons the Home Secretary of the late Liberal Government denounced the Bill as an iniquitous encroachment upon the Irish Church Fund which was intended for the relief of unavoidable calamity and suffering in Ireland. The funds of the Irish Church have been used—and rightly used —for other measures than those to relieve unavoidable calamity and suffering. They have been used for arrears of rent, for sea-fishery loans, for the Intermediate Education Act, for the benefit of national school teachers, and for the Royal University. That attack comes with a very bad grace from a member of a Government who passed through the House of Commons a measure, fortunately rejected by your Lordships, for giving £250,000 out of the Church Fund to the evicted tenants—a body of men described by the Pope of Rome as having been guilty of an immoral action, and by the judges of the land as having taken part in an illegal conspiracy. Is it in the interest of the tenant-farmers that the Nationalist Members are opposing the Bill? I say "No," and I ask myself again the question —Are the Nationalist Members of Parliament, who are all members of the United Irish League, real friends of the tenant-farmers, and is it in the interests of those farmers that they are endeavouring to oppose the Bill? I say that if they were true friends of the Irish farmers they would at the present moment be endeavouring to assist that class to take advantage of the Technical Education Act for Ireland, and to make the most of their opportunities, but instead of doing so they are trying to induce them to leave their land derelict. The real secret of the determined resistance offered to the Bill in the House of Commons was explained recently by Mr. Dillon, when he said that the great object of the League, and consequently of the Nationalist members, was to abolish landlordism and drive it out of the country. Now we know the real reason of the opposition to this measure. It is to drive landlordism out of Ireland, because it is the one barrier to total separation from this kingdom. When Mr. Dillon tells us that it is the object of the United Irish League 435 to drive landlordism out of the country, I think it may be as well to consider whether it would be for the advantage of Ireland if this were to occur. I do not believe that the tenant-farmers generally desire that the landlords should be driven out of Ireland. Would it be beneficial to Ireland that the landlords should be expatriated? I reply deliberately that with the disappearance of the land-owning classes the ruin of Ireland would begin. The land-owning classes have been for generations past the backbone of the agricultural community in Ireland, and agriculture, as your Lordships know, is the great industry of the country. If you expatriate the landlords their places will be taken by the class below them, who, in their turn, may be forced out by the class below, and the result will be that Ireland will be owned and farmed by a race of men without capital and without resources, the majority of whom will be in the hands of the Gombeen-men. With that class of person in possession of Ireland there would be no confidence, and without confidence there would be no capital expended in Ireland. In the interests of Ireland it is the duty of your Lordships not only to relieve an injustice, but to retain in the country people who have its welfare at heart.
§ On Question, agreed to. Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Monday next.