THE EARL OF DUNRAVEN
rose "To call attention to the ad interimReport of the Estates Commissioners under the Irish Land Act, 1903, and to the regulations made by the Lord-Lieutenant and published in the Dublin Gazetteof 7th July." The noble Earl said: My Lords, since I put down my notice on the Paper to call attention to the ad interimReport of the Estates Commissioners, regulations have been issued under the name of the Lord-Lieutenant and published in the Dublin Gazette. I do not think the regulations have been laid on the Table of this House, and I do not know why they have not been laid. The Act orders that such regulations should be presented to Parliament at the earliest possible date. The regulations were published in the Dublin Gazette, I think, more than a week ago, and I should be glad to know why they have not been circulated amongst your Lordships.
THE EARL OF DUNRAVEN
The ad interimReport of the Estates Commissioners gives some useful information as to the working of the Act, but on the whole I think it is rather more noticeable for what it does not say than for what it says. It gives us some information, but it leaves us entirely in the dark as to the causes of a certain amount of failure in the Act, and it is impossible to read the Report without coming to the conclusion that it could have contained information which would have been very useful to your Lordships and to Parliament in forming an opinion as to the causes, whatever they may be, that have led to this comparative failure of the Act in certain directions. The Act is entirely satisfactory in one respect. The Commissioners report that practically in all cases owners have retained their houses and demesne lands, and they say that there is no indication whatever that land- 688 lords selling their estates have any intention of leaving the country. That is altogether satisfactory, and sets at rest the fears of those who anticipated that the sales of property would be followed by a kind of exodus of the landed gentry —a proceeding which, for financial and many other reasons, would have been injurious to the country.
But in other respects the Act does not seem to be working satisfactorily. As I regards the labourers, during the fourteen months which come under review in the ad interimReport only fourteen schemes I were put forward to the Local Government Board and to district councils. Well, that practically amounts to nothing. I do not wish to comment on that. The Land Act of 1903 was not a labourers Act, but the fact that the clauses in the Act intended to benefit the labourers have been practically inoperative, emphasises the necessity for legislation dealing with that phase of the question, and I should I hope it would be forthcoming at a not very distant date. Nor is the Act working satisfactorily as regards the reinstatement of evicted tenants. Up to the end of last year, which is as far as this ad interimReport goes, out of 4,275 applications only 137 tenants were reinstated; ninety-one were reinstated by the landlords and forty-six by the Commissioners. Well, my Lords, that is very slow progress. The immense importance of the reinstatement of evicted tenants was urged on Parliament during the debates on the Land Bill, and was fully recognised by Parliament; and it is obvious that for some reason or other the intentions and hopes of Parliament are not in that respect being fulfilled.
I can find nothing whatever in the Report of the Estates Commissioners explaining this very partial success of the Act as Regards the reinstatement of evicted tenants. It is plain, I think, from the Report that unwillingness on the part of the landowners has nothing whatever to do with it. It is quite obvious that they do not block the way. I do not know what the cause is. If it is want of money it would be a most lamentable thing that for the sake of a comparatively few thousand pounds the success of the Act in ore of its most important principles should be jeopardised. But I cannot help 689 thinking that there must be other reasons which are not disclosed in the Report of the Commissioners, and if His Majesty's Government can give us any information on that point I think it would be very welcome. The Act is also only a partial success in the province of Connaught. In Connaught 3,308 originating applications were made up to the end of last year, as compared with 10,422 in Ulster, 10,057 in Leinster and 6,846 in Munster. I cannot find in this Report any reasons given by the Estates Commissioners accounting for this comparative failure of the Act in Connaught; and I would remind your Lordships that the immense importance of dealing principally with the uneconomic holdings in Connaught was fully recognised by Parliament.
The intention of Parliament, as indicated over and over again during the passage of the Bill through both Houses, was that the provisions of the Act should have such application in Connaught and the West as to have substantial effect in converting utterly uneconomic holdings into holdings of an economic character; and Parliament believed that the inducements offered to landowners to sell, and the powers granted to the Estates Commissioners, were sufficient to enable them to acquire a sufficient quantity of good and untenanted land in order to improve the condition of the uneconomic holdings which are such a distinct feature of the province of Connaught. I know that the theory has been put forward that this good grazing grass land should be devoted to grazing purposes, and that it is false economy to try and divert it to any other use. But your Lordships will admit that the condition of the people living in these uneconomic holdings is almost intolerable. There are large populations living practically on the verge of chronic starvation in conditions in which human beings ought not to live. If you are to carry out those theories to their logical conclusion, I do not see how you can help admitting that these people ought to be deported from that part of the country and the land allowed to go to waste. But that is not my opinion, nor was it the intention of Parliament. Parliament intended that the effect of the Act should be that the Estates Commissioners would obtain possession of a sufficient quantity 690 of good lands to add to these uneconomic holdings and apparently that has not taken place.
Now, my Lords, what is the cause of this failure in Connaught. I do not find it accounted for in any way in the ad interimReport of the Estates Commissioners. They, it is true, mention certain legal and other difficulties, but they are not difficulties of any serious character; they are difficulties that could be easily overcome. Your Lordships know very well that the condition of Connaught is not at all on all fours with that of the other provinces in Ireland. Connaught is full of these uneconomic holdings. I want to know—and I think Parliament and the public have a right to ask for this information—what is the cause of this comparative failure in Connaught. There must be some reason for the small number of originating applications there. These uneconomic holdings are, of course, occupied by men who to a large extent eke out their existence by harvesting in England or by other means. I have seen it stated that the landowners attach a large residential value to these wretched little holdings and are asking an exorbitant number of years purchase in respect of their residential and agricultural value. I am not at all inclined to believe that such is the case.
I have seen it stated, on the other hind, that the tenants are offering prices based on the purely agricultural value of these little holdings. I should be curious to know what view the Estates Commissioners take of the value of these holdings. Do they value them merely on their agricultural value? Do they take into consideration the fact that the occupiers have other means of making a livelihood; or do they consider at all the prospective value that may attach to them when they are improved or enlarged. There is no question at all that the Act is to a very large extent a failure as regards the uneconomic portions of the West, mainly in Connaught. Neither Parliament nor the public have any information whateve before them to enable them to form an opinion as to whether that is due to the parties principally interested in the matter there, to any faults in the administration of the Act, or to any defects in the 691 Act itself. I admit that to give information would be to give publicity to matters which under ordinary circumstances are and ought to be considered entirely private matters, but the circumstances are peculiar. The great Act of 1903 was not merely an Act to enable one man to sell something to another. It was a great Imperial measure designed for a special purpose, for the benefit, not of individuals or of classes in Ireland, but for the benefit of the whole community in that country. The whole of the taxpaying community pledged their credit to finance the Act. Under these circumstances it appears to me that when it is evident that in a most important particular the Act is failing, Parliament and the people have a right to such information as will enable them to judge of the causes of failure.
My impression is that the Estates Commissioners could perfectly well give such information if they were invited to do so, and it appears to me that that would be the simplest method of dealing with it. But, if no information is given in that or some similar direction, it is perfectly certain that before long, if matters do not go much more smoothly and much more rapidly in Connaught and in the West, an inquiry of some sort by a Committee or Vice-regal Commission will have to be made. The Act of 1903 was a great measure, and it was entrusted in its administration to three very able and capable men as Estates Commissioners. Have these Commissioners had fair play in administering the Act? It seems to me, my Lords, they have not. They are subjected to rules and regulations emanating from two sources—from Dublin Castle and from the Treasury. These unfortunate Commissioners are the servants of two masters; they have to obey the rules coming from these two sources, which may coincide or conflict or be altered or changed from day to day.
The regulations lately issued under the Lord-Lieutenant's name appear to me, in one or two particulars, to be exceedingly objectionable. The first regulation it is not necessary for me to read at length. The gist of it is contained in the last three lines—No vendor or class of vendors shall be given any undue preference over any other vendor or class of vendors.692 That seems perfectly right and just but things are not always exactly what they seem; and I think if your Lordships will consider the matter a little you will find that that regulation will not work out in the way that it is intended to Roughly speaking, it may be said that there are three distinct classes of estates sold in Ireland—bankrupt estates in the Land Court, estates which are sold to the Estates Commissioners, and estates which are sold by the landlord direct to the tenant. Nearly all of the vast number of originating applications are in the latter category. I should have thought that it was obvious that the proceedings in the Land Court ought to be expedited as much as fairly and legitimately can be done. Mr. Justice Ross has publicly stated that his Court is completely blocked for want of money, and, if only on the ground of economy, the sooner the bankrupt estates are cleared off and the Land Court closed the better. But the Court is already blocked, and it will be impossible for any money, or any sufficient sum of money, to be allocated to the Land Court until this vast accumulation of originating applications for sale direct from landlord to tenant have been disposed of; and at the present rate of progress that will be a matter of probably six or eight years. Is it sensible or wise to allow a deadlock to take place in the Land Court, and offer no means whatever whereby that can be removed?
Then, my Lords, there are sales to the Commissioners. Sales to the Commissioners have scarcely taken place at all. They are very few in number. I do not in the least know why that should be the case, except it be that landowners are afraid that the Estates Commissioners would largely reduce the price which they would otherwise obtain from their tenants. Now, sale to the Commissioners has many advantages. It has advantages to the landlord; it saves him a great deal of responsibility and trouble, and the Commissioners have to pay him 3½ per cent. after the sale is completed pending the distribution of the money. It has most decided advantages, to my mind, to the tenant, and it gives the Commissioners considerable powers of dealing with the cases of evicted tenants and making 693 improvements. That part of the Act has been scarcely used at all. It is quite certain that Parliament was under the belief that that method of sale would be largely resorted to, and evidently wished that it should be largely resorted to. But it has not been, and if this regulation is to remain in force it never can be, because landlords desiring to sell in that way will practically have no opportunity of getting their cases heard until this vast number in the other category have been disposed of.
It is true that the Estates Commissioners are given a certain latitude; they can postpon or accelerate dealing with any particular estate or untenanted land if they see fit. That is a discriminating power which; personally, I dislike. I do not see why the Estates Commissioners should be given power to accelerate or retard proceedings in regard to any particular individual or any particular estate. But, at any rate, that provision cannot affect the main question, and my contention is that the regulation stating that practically the first comer has to be first served will not work out fairly or well, and that whatever money is available should be divided in some way proportionately amongst these three categories of estates. A certain amount should be allocated to the Land Court, a certain amount to the Commissioners for the purchase of estates, and by far the larger amount should be allocated to estates sold direct from landlord to tenant.
The second regulation deals with the question of intimidation. In the first place I am bound to say it seems to me a rather trivial and childish way of dealing with a matter of that importance to say to these men, "Oh! you naughty boys, go to the bottom of the class." I do not think that is the proper way to treat them. But what I object to is that it appears to me to be imposing duties on the Estates Commissioners which they cannot possibly fulfil, and which ought not to be imposed upon them. The Estates Commissioners have to ascertain whether direct or indirect intimidation has been exercised, and if they think it has, then the estates are to go to the bottom of the list. Indirect intimidation is not a very easy thing for anyone to define, 694 and this seems to me a rather improper task to impose upon the Estates Commissioners. Of course, there has been a great deal of pressure used on both sides. A great deal of pressure has been used upon tenants to be true to their class and not to set a bad example by offering too good a price, and a great deal of pressure has been put on the landlords for the same reason, to be true to their class and not set a bad example by accepting a low price. That does not amount to intimidation, but it amounts to considerable pressure.
The pressure of social influence can very often be very severe. But how are the Estates Commissioners to determine whether indirect intimidation has been used or not, and what are they to do if they differ in this matter from the ordinary Courts? There are a number of men to be tried on charges of intimidation by special juries. If the special juries find them guilty and the Estates Commissioners look into the matter and think there has not been intimidation, which is the superior authority, will the estates in question have to be sent to the bottom of the list? It appears to me you are placing the Estates Commissioners in an absolutely absurd position. No doubt a certain amount of intimidation has been exercised. I accept it on the authority of the responsible Minister that a certain amount of terrorism exists which must be dealt with. Stop that by all manner of means, but I do not think that regulations of this kind will have the desired effect.
Consider for a moment what the effect will be on the landlord. The landlord may be perfectly willing to sell his estate, and the bulk of his tenants may be willing to buy; you place it in the power of any scoundrel who happens to write half-a-dozen anonymous letters to have the Commissioners come down and say that intimidation has been used and preclude the landlord from selling his estate for, say, the next ten years. It seems to me pretty hard that the landlord should not be allowed to sell his estate because the Estates Commissioners would be obliged to say that intimidation had taken place. That is not the way to deal with a question of this kind. I have not a word 695 to say against any steps that the Executive think necessary to put down terrorism and to stop intimidation, but this much I will say—that if there was a similar state of things in England, if a great Bill had been passed for the benefit of the English people to put an end to a perennial source of trouble, and if that measure conspicuously failed in an important part and disorder arose, I have not the slightest doubt but that Parliament would back up the Executive in putting down that disorder, but would also insist on getting such information as would enable it to judge whether in the Act itself or in its administration there was any fault which had caused the Act not to work in that direction and to which the disorder might possibly be traced.
I should like some information as to regulation No. 3, because, if I read it aright, appears to me to practically amend the Act. Regulation. No. 3 is as follows—Having regard to the provisions of Sections 2, 4, and 8 of the Act, and of the enactments repealed by the Act, untenanted lands when purchased by the Estates Commissioners, whether they form part of an estate sold or have been acquired under the provisions of Section 8, should be utilised for the enlargement of the uneconomic holding of agricultural or pastoral tenants, or for providing lands for the persons or for the purposes described in Sections 2 and 4 of the Act, and not for the purpose of creating tenancies for the benefit of, or making allotments to, persons other than those described in the said last-mentioned sections.Sections 2, 4, and 8 of the Act are the sections to which this regulation applies. Section 2 enumerates the persons to whom advances may be made; Section 4 deals with powers of trustees; and Section 8 gives the Estates Commissioners 696 power to acquire land without placing any particular restriction upon them. That is quite clear from the section. But this regulation does put a restriction upon them. They are obliged to use that land for the specific purposes mentioned here, and they can have no object whatever in purchasing unless they can use it for those specific purposes. They can only use such land for the purpose either of reinstating a tenant evicted from that particular estate, or for the benefit of a tenant on that particular estate, or for the son of a tenant on that particular estate, or to add to a holding not exceeding a rateable value of £5 in the immediate neighbourhood of the estate;: and I believe the legal meaning of neighbourhood is almost absolutely touching the estate.
- (a.) The Estates Commissioners should only consider the question of providing a holding for a tenant evicted from any holding comprised in an estate upon the sale of that estate, and where there is untenanted land available for such purpose either comprised in an estate or acquired by the Commissioners under Section 8 of the Act.
- (b.) In considering the said last-mentioned question preference and special consideration should be given to those cases in which the tenancy was lost, not owing to inefficiency or negligence on the part of the former tenant, but in consequence of some general rent dispute."
I am not personally well acquainted with that part of the country, but is it not a fact that there are tracts of good grass land from which no tenant has been evicted during the last twenty-five years, which have, not been tenanted, at all for long periods of time, and in which there are no holdings belonging to the same estate under £5 valuation in the immediate neighbourhood according to the legal interpretation of the term? If that is the case—and I believe; it is the case—landlords may be perfectly willing to sell this land and the Estates Commissioners may be most ardently desirous of buying, but they cannot, because if they do they can do nothing with it. They are not allowed to use it in the way the Act intended they should. The regulation restricts them to using the land in a particular manner. The effect of that is to absolutely stop migration. The Estates Commissioners cannot buy these lands and remove people from any distance to them, and therefore cannot make room in the congested portions of the country to enlarge uneconomic holdings; and the practical effect of that regulation will be to make it almost impossible for the Estates Commissioners to carry out the intentions and the wish of Parliament by turning uneconomic holdings in the West of Ireland into holdings of at any rate a tolerably economic character. That regulation, to my mind, is tantamount to repealing 697 clauses in the Act, or, at any rate, to very seriously altering clauses in the Act; and I do protest against the Executive making rules and regulations which, can have such a serious effect on the Act as to thoroughly frustrate and stultify the obvious intention of Parliament in passing it.
If this regulation, with the others, continues to be acted upon, the Act will, of course, work, but it will affect mainly, if not solely, the sound and economic properties. It will affect only the healthy part of the body politic. The unhealthy parts—the parts of the country where the disease is acute, where Parliament recognised that the disease was acute and the remedy urgent—will be entirely left out, and Parliament need not be disappointed if the Act does not come up to its expectations. This kind of regulation, interfering with the intention of Parliament to apply a remedy where a remedy is most urgently needed, is certain to cause discontent and possibly disorder. Regulations of this kind are really playing directly into the hands of those who favour disorder and make it more and more difficult for those—and I am sure they are the great majority of the people of all classes in Ireland—whose earnest desire is to see the Act carried out and fulfilled according to the conciliatory spirit which animated the Land Conference which preceded the Act. The Estates Commissioners are forbidden to make grants although they are ordered to do so by the Act. They are told they are to pick out among candidates and aspirants men who are the best farmers and so on, and they are not to make advances to any man who is in such a position that he could get a loan from the Local Government Board. I should have thought that the Estates Commissioners had enough to do as it is, but, in addition, they have to act as a kind of Court to ascertain whether intimidation takes place or not. They have to sit as an examining board in the matter of scientific agriculture, and they have to find out whether a man can or cannot get a loan from the Local Government Board.
I quite admit that at the bottom of all the trouble, and the real cause of the 698 difficulty, is the lack of money. The staff at the disposal of the Estates Commissioners is utterly insufficient. I should like to read to your Lordships an extract from what was said the other day at a special meeting of the Incorporated Law Society of Ireland. Mr. John P. Lynch made a very important speech in which he stated—They (the solicitors) were not allowed to lodge their abstracts of title, although these were sworn and ready, until the prima facietitles had been first passed. The prima facietitles that were being read in the present week were titles that were lodged on August 7th, 1904.Further on he said—Originating applications that were lodged last February were only being opened now, and on June 1st there were 10,000 agreements that had not been posted in the ledgers for collection of interest. Why? Because there were ten men doing work that required seventy. At present there were 5,000 applications in which interest due on the 1st of last May had not been sent out. He had in his own office twenty-four originating applications in which the abstracts of title were sworn and ready to be lodged, and the earliest of which was in. September 1904 but he was not allowed to put them in. The examiners would not be allowed to read the applications.Is not that a perfectly scandalous state of things? And all that delay, confusion, and trouble is caused for the lack of perhaps twenty or thirty additional clerks. I believe it would be true economy to facilitate in every way the working of the Act. We have now the Land Judge's Court, the Congested Districts Board, the Land Commission, and the Estates Commissioners all employed upon very much the same work, all engaged in fixing or unfixing rents, selling estates, or proving titles, and until this revolution is completed and the transfer made, all these boards and Courts will go on sitting at enormous expense. My impression is that if the whole transfer could be completed in the next five years the loss which would be sustained on flotation would be more than recouped by the saving of the expense of all these Courts and boards which at the present rate will continue to be working for the next twenty-five, thirty, or forty years.
The lack of money is dangerous. Take this very case of Connaught to which I alluded a little while ago. How on earth can the owners of these grass lands be expected to sell unless they can form 699 some kind of idea when they are to give up possession? They cannot stock them at the risk of having to clear off the stock at any moment. Delay will be very fatal to the working of the Act. In every part of Ireland the basis of nearly every agreement between landlord and tenant lies in the investment that the vendor can make of his purchase money. He founds his agreement upon what he can do with the purchase money when he gets it. He will probably invest a considerable portion of it in paying off incumbrances on which he is paying 4 per cent., 4½ per cent., or 5 per cent., and the balance in trustee securities. That is the foundation of his agreement; ninety-nine out of every hundred of these originating applications are founded on that basis, and if the man cannot get the money what is he to do? He cannot pay off his incumbrances. That was clearly put at the meeting of the Incorporated Law Society which took place in Dublin the other day. Mr. Fry put the position very clearly in these words—Tenants will not consent to purchase unless they can get an immediate benefit by a speedy reduction in their annual payment; vendors with liability on personal covenants, will not run the risk of having their furniture seized at the suit of their creditors, or being pressed on foot of their everyday legal and necessary obligations; and middlemen, paying heavy head-rents, but who desire to sell, will not subject themselves to the chances of having their land ejected pending the sale by reason of the non-payment of their rent.… I am not using language too strong when I say that it is intolerable. The public are affected as well as vendors, purchasers, and incumbrancers. The tradespeople cannot get their accounts paid, and commerce in daily life is restricted. All classes of the community are inconvenienced by this present position.I think that places the case as clearly as it can be placed.
It is perfectly certain that lack of money to finance the Act is causing infinite trouble. Landlords are placed in this position. Either they must decline to sell and are called preposterous persons who ought to be made to sell, or they must go back on the bargains which they have already made, or, worse than all, they have to ask higher terms from their tenants than they would otherwise demand. They must protect themselves against the expense involved in this long and interminable delay, and the result is 700 that all over Ireland landlords are asking considerably higher terms from their tenants than they would otherwise have been willing to accept if they could have relied upon getting their purchase money within reasonable time, and if the whole thing could go through, as it ought to, without these great delays. It was pointed out, in the quotation I have read, that interest is not being collected by the Estates Commissioners. They are letting the tenants get into arrear. How are they going to get those arrears made up? And the interest that is obtained is not handed over to the landlords. They are getting things in that office into such a muddle and mess that it will be almost impossible to extricate them.
I am sorry to have detained your Lordships so long on a very dry subject, but it is a very serious and important subject. It is not, however, for me to attempt to suggest any remedies. I object to the rules and regulations for the reasons I have given, but I admit that the root of all the trouble lies in the lack of sufficient money to reasonably finance the Act. I can imagine that arrangements might be made to relieve the landlords. I should think that with the assistance of the Treasury something in the nature of a certificate promising to pay within reasonable time might be issued; and I should imagine that private effort could produce a trust sufficiently strong to stand between the State and the landlord and the incumbrancers—in fact, that means might be devised for the State either to finance the landlord or assist him to finance himself during the time he has to wait for his money. I do not know whether that is practicable or not. I have heard it stated that there was an idea of offering scrip instead of cash for a portion of the purchase money. Whether that can be of use or not depends on the terms under which the scrip would be issued. I do not see how in the present state of the market it would be possible to avoid making a loss, which must fall on somebody, and if it falls on the landlords I need scarcely tell your Lordships that it will react on the tenants. The more expensive you make it for the landlord the more expensive you make it for the tenant.
701 Estates to the value of £27,200,000 have been applied for, and estates a little over the value of £7,200,000 have been distributed. That is an absolute dead-lock. What is to be done to relieve it? I am not by any means a financial expert, but my own impression is that the system of making frequent small loans is not a good one, and I believe money would be procured more cheaply if we had larger loans at longer intervals. I believe if you went in for sufficient money to carry out the Act for a year or two it could be had more cheaply than a succession of loans of £5,000,000 each year. Of course I am aware that there was an understanding that not more than £5,000,000 a year should be raised during the first three years. That is not in the Act; it was an understanding, but not one of a binding character, and it should be relaxed by mutual agreement. I think it was a mistake in the Act to place the loss on flotation on the Irish Development Grant. This grant was an equivalent grant to be devoted to educational purposes, and I do think it was rather a small-minded matter to place the whole of the loss on flotation on that grant. After all, the Act, although its operations were confined to Ireland, was for the benefit of the whole of the United Kingdom, and the taxpayers of the whole of the United Kingdom pledged their credit for it.
I do not know whether His Majesty's Government have any plan in their heads, or have arrived at any conclusion whether anything practical can be done to relieve the deadlock and allow the Act to work as smoothly as it should. We know that His Majesty's Government have been seriously considering the question, but unfortunately when Government seriously considers a question it does not always follow that they come to any particular solution of it. Of this I am certain, that the Act will not succeed as it ought to succeed, will not fulfil the expectations and hopes of Parliament or of the people of Ireland, unless its operations can be expedited in dealing with, the uneconomic problem in Connaught and with the reinstatement of evicted tenants. Of course the Act will go on creaking and groaning in every joint, and the problem will, in course of time, be solved, but it 702 seems to me a lamentable thing, a most pitiable thing, that more than half of the value of a measure so enormously potential for good should be lost simply for the lack of sufficient funds to finance the Act with decent rapidity. I sincerely hope your Lordships, if not tonight, at any rate before this session is concluded, may hear that His Majesty's Government, have devised some means for remedying this state of things.
My Lords, I do not propose to follow my noble friend through the many points he has brought forward in his able and exhaustive speech, but there are one or two on which I should like to make a few remarks. My noble friend took great exception to the regulations that have been lately issued to the Estates Commissioners, especially to regulation No 2 dealing with properties where intimidation has existed. I was suprised to hear his statement that the Commissioners would have difficulty in knowing whether or not there had been intimidation, and also at his saying that he did not understand what was meant by indirect intimidation. I really thought that the organised system of intimidation which has existed in a great many parts of Ireland was a matter of public notoriety. It is certainly not confined to the province of Connaught. There are certain districts in my noble friend's own county where intimidation has been pretty strongly exercised for some time. He is apparently unaware of the extent of it.
We know that my noble friend's most active mind has led him lately to soar upwards into a higher region of politics; but now that he has, so to speak, come down to earth again and is devoting himself to an inquiry why the Purchase Act is not working as he would desire it, I think he ought to recognise that one reason why it has not worked, especially in Connaught, is this system of intimidation. So far as these instructions to the Estates Commissioners are concerned, they appear to me to be exceeding valuable. I ventured last summer to urge His Majesty's Government to adopt a somewhat analogous course,for I felt that if it 703 could be shown that intimidation did not pay and that the estates in connection with which there had been intimidation would be put at the bottom of the list, the result would be to largely put a stop to intimidation. Intimidation takes various forms, and is so ingeniously contrived that it is not always the case that a criminal prosecution can issue, even where the intimidation has been most efficient. The common course adopted—and this is what I think is meant by indirect intimidation—is that of issuing orders from the United Irish League to every grass farmer in the district to surrender his farm by the 1st of May. That was going on all through last spring, and many of those who refused to comply with the order were held up to public obloquy and boycotted, and people who worked for them were summoned before the court of the United Irish League—for this body, my Lords, holds regular courts— examined, and called upon to defend themselves for the crime of having worked for a man who had incurred the censure of the league.
Your Lordships probably do not know to what extent boycotting can be carried, and what a powerful weapon it is. There is a small property not far from where live, consisting of a small demesne in the hands of trustees and occupied by a steward with a certain number of small tenants round about. These tenants were anxious, not only to purchase the holdings, but they demanded that this little demesne should be divided among them. The trustees objected to this, and as a result there was a boycott and that was carried to such an extent that nobody would have any intercourse with the steward or those who lived on the demesne; and during an acute fuel famine, although the people living around were given authority by the agent to collect timber on the demesne after the great storm of February last year, which they could have had for nothing, they would not go in. They, therefore, suffered from the boycott which had been instituted on their behalf. I mention this to show how strictly the laws of the United Irish League are observed.
Indirect intimidation takes the form of calling upon the graziers to surrender 704 their lands in the hope that, if thus left derelict, they will be sold by the landlord and divided among the tenants. This, I take it, is what is meant by indirect intimidation as opposed to direct intimidation, exercised on the vendor. The fact that the Act has made slow progress in Galway is, I think, to be largely attributed to the intimidation that exists there. A landlord is approached by his tenants, who say they wish to purchase. He says to them, "I am prepared to sell your agricultural tenancies to you, and to divide any untenanted land in my possession among you; but I have other grass farms which are held from year to year and I am not prepared to dispossess those tenants as I think their interests ought also to be considered." Then it not infrequently happens that some land of his which is held under the eleven months system is given up by a tenant owing to threats from the United Irish. League. The landlord then says, "I said I was prepared to sell the untenanted land to you, but I did not mean land that had become untenanted owing to illegal pressure, and I refuse to go on with the negotiations." The tenants, on the other hand, when they hear they are not to get the whole of the grazing land, say they will go on as they are. I think that is a reason why the Act is not progressing. The demands of the tenants are exorbitant from their belief that all the grass land in the country is going to be divided among them.
I should like to say a word about the grass land. My noble friend talked about prime grass land which people thought ought to be devoted now to the fattening of stock. Undoubtedly the prime grass land is better adapted for this purpose than for tillage, and it would not be useful to the smaller people if divided among them; it is stiff deep land and they would be unable to ill it with their imperfect method of farming. I know an instance now many years ago, where a landlord divided a good farm of the kind and gave his tenants about twelve or fourteen acres apiece. In about thirty years they were all so absolutely broke that he not only had to let them off several years rent but had to pay their passages to America. He 705 then relet the land to a grass farmer for nothing for a year in order to get it back as far as possible to its original condition, and it is now, as it was before, good bullock land. That is the case with regard to what I may call the prime pasture land in Connaught. But it is no doubt the case that there is a great quantity of second class pasture land which would be very well adapted for the purpose. My late father divided a farm of that character among small people, and they have done very well on it.
Another difficulty that my noble friend referred to was that of migration, and that is one of the most difficult things that has been attempted. It was tried some years ago by a company smarted by the late Mr. Parnell, and failed absolutely. First, the people will not move to a distance; they all desire to remain where their fathers and grandfathers were before them; and, if they do move, the people of the neighbourhood into which they go do not receive them by any means with open arms. The Congested Districts Board purchased some time ago in the county of Galway a considerable extent of land, the idea being, it was said, to remove people there from the congested part of county Roscommon; but it was said at the time that if Roscommon farmers were taken into Galway there would be severe fighting, and it has never been done. The Board, I believe, now hold it as a grass farm together with other land, and are indeed stated to be at the moment the largest graziers in Connaught. The questions raised by the noble Earl present great difficulty, but I do not think that any part of the regulations to the Estates Commissioners will have the bad effect which he apprehends, while, taking them as a whole, I believe them to be most useful. I agree with the noble Earl that scrip would not be acceptable to landlords in place of cash.
*THE EARL OF MAYO
My Lords, I am sure everyone in Ireland will be obliged to the noble Earl for having brought this matter forward in such a lucid speech, but there is one thing he omitted to mention, and it is that the 706 Estates Commissioners deserve the greatest credit for having been able to do as much as they have done considering the work entailed upon them and the little material they have had to work with. They have not been able to deal with labourers, with evict d tenants, or with untenanted land. Why? First of all they were put into offices where there was no room for them to do their work; then those offices were enlarged, and new they complain that they have not enough clerks. I ask, my Lords, is that fair? This is one of the greatest measures ever passed for the peace of Ireland, and yet we are hampered in a niggardly and miserable manner for want of proper office accommodation for our Estates Commissioners and lack of assistance in the short staff of clerks,
The Report discloses what they have done and only hints at the real trouble lying at the root of this difficulty, which is the want of money. That this is so is clearly seen from the Report of the congested estates section and the Report on the resales of estates. The operation of the Act has been stopped because the Treasury do not choose to help its working. The noble Earl said it was not for him to suggest a remedy. Neither is it for me, my Lords; but there is one thing I may say at once, that no landlord would accept land stock at the price at which it now stands—namely, ninety-two—in place of cash. One of the great principles of the Act was that the landlords should be paid in cash, and if that offer has not been made, I venture to say the Act would never have passed at all. Coupled with that is also the bonus, which is another inducement. The noble Earl spoke of the interest not being collected by the Estates Commissioners. That, I must say, is a little fault connected with the Estates Commissioners. I will tell your Lordships what happened in my case. I have no reason personally to complain, because my estate has been put to credit, the money invested, and the matter closed. But they did not collect the interest in my case, and I wrote to say that if they did not do so I should have much pleasure in collecting, it myself, because the tenants had offered to agree to this. In consequence of that 707 the interest was collected at once, and has been punctually paid.
The noble Earl then went into the question of the Land Purchase regulations. I agree with all he said on that matter, with this exception, that I cannot endorse his observations with regard to the question of intimidation. He knows, as well as I do, that intimidation enters into every aspect of our social life in Ireland, from the highest to the lowest; and I strongly approve of the Estates Commissioners having the power to find out if there has been intimidation. If they are not to find that out, who is to do it? If we are to wait for Judges and juries to find it out the estates would never be sold at all. It is the word that is passed in the market place, and the slight boycotting which stops everything in the details of a bargain, and which may have most evil effect. Therefore, with all due respect to my colleague in the Land Conference, I think in this matter he is wrong, and that the Estates Commissioners should have power to find out the presence of intimidation. I hope the House will understand that at the bottom of all the trouble in connection with the working of the Land Act is the want of sufficient money to carry it out in a proper manner. Moreover, there is not sufficient staff in Dublin to do the work, and the accommodation which is provided for the staff which now exists is most inadequate.
*LORD ORANMORE AND BROWNE
My Lords, I should like to make one or two remarks as to the reason why grass farms have not been sold under the Land Act in Connaught. I do not intend to follow the noble Earl into the question, of economic holdings; there is a great deal to be said against enlarging uneconomic holdings. But I think the reasons why landlords do not sell grass lands are two—in the first place, because it is almost impossible to sell them direct to the tenant; in the second place, even if they were prepared to sell to the Commissioners, we must remember that the first thing the Commissioners do is to find out what price the tenants are willing to give, and the tenants generally value the adjacent grass land at the same price as their holdings, forgetting that in the 708 matter of grass lands there is a landlord's interest as well as the tenant's interest to consider. In addition to this the Land Commissioners have to consider the cost of dividing the lands, fencing, and making roads, and consequently the price offered to landlords is very much below the real value of the land as at present let. Landlords cannot obtain a good price for the grass lands, with which they are not desirous of parting, and I think this is the reason why they are not being sold.
My noble friend seemed to think that excessive powers were given to the Estates Commissioners under the new regulations. I confess would rather put my trust in the excessive powers of the Estates Commissioners than in the excessive powers which we have seen wielded by the local leaders of the United Irish League. A late learned and witty member of your Lordships' House described these gentlemen as the two or three blackguards whom you find in ever Irish village and who call themselves the Irish people. I think that was a very true description. I hold that the grazing system has brought great prosperity to the parts of Ireland where it has been adopted, that it is the only industry which has ever suceeded there, and it is one for which the damp climate of the country makes it especially suitable. During last winter when the Government of Ireland had passed gently into the hands of that most distinguished and able Home Ruler the Under-Secretary, terrorism was rampant in many parts of the West. Since our present Chief Secretary has been in power a change has come over the spirit of the dream. The Under-Secretary has no longer the power which he had during the winter, and I am glad to say that we now see a great improvement in the condition of Ireland. Peaceable citizens are able to carry out their daily avocations without fear of consequences, and I think all Unionists and law-abiding Irishmen owe a great debt of gratitude to the Chief Secretary for the attitude he has taken up with regard to intimidation generally and in these regulations, of which I was sorry to hear my noble friend complain.
THE EARL OF ARRAN
I rise to support what has been said by my noble 709 friend Lord Clonbrock regarding the intimidation clauses. I was a little surprised at the noble Earl's view of the present intimidation in Ireland, because I gathered from him that he is only convinced that intimidation does exist because a responsible Minister in Ireland his told him so. I venture to congratulate the noble Earl on living in an Irish paradise of the county of Limerick, wheer the Leaguers cease from troubling and the landlords and graziers are at rest. I am sorry to say that this happy state of affairs does not exist in the South and West of Ireland.
The noble Earl says it is difficult to see how the Estates Commissioners can tell whether or not indirect intimidation exists, or how they are to convince them selves of its real existence. I would point out that there are many cases in which there is no difficulty whatever, and in such cases as that strong steps to prevent further intimidation would be of the greatest use. There is quite close to my own home a large grass farm which has been let for many years on the eleven months system. It was forbidden recently that this farm should be taken by anybody under the eleven months system, and in consequence the owner, a lady, was unable to find a tenant. She was giver to understand that the only way in which she could get a value for this farm was by selling it to the Congested Districts Board. Two very courageous people, however, undertook to take the farm on the eleven months system, and resolutions have since been passed on the subject by various local boards of guardians. In one resolution a board of guardians declared that they had heard with very great surprise and regret of the action of certain parties in taking this farm, and thus defeating the object of those who wished to see it purchased by the Congested Districts Board to enlarge the miserably small holdings of the tenants adjoining. That resolution, or a similar resolution, has been passed by several boards of guardians in the locality, and I venture to say that very few people will be found sufficiently courageous to work for those who have taken the farm on the eleven months system, and, that those who have taken it 710 will not be likely, when the eleven months are over, to renew the tenancy.
In such circumstances, I think the powers which have been given to the Estates Commissioners under the new regulations could be easily and justly applied, and I therefore venture to think that the regulations as they stand now are amongst the most useful and necessary regarding intimidation that His Majesty's Government have introduced into Ireland. The knowledge that intimidation is discouraged is of the greatest use, because this is not meant so much as punishment for the offender but as a warning to others, and if people in Ireland know that intimidation will be severely punished they will hesitate before they repeat it. I admit that the intimidation clauses are broadly worded, but in a country like Ireland, where intimidation has been brought to such a fine art, it is absolutely necessary that the regulations should be broadly worded. I sincerely hope that His Majesty's Government will tell us that they intend to proceed with these regulations regarding intimidation entirely unaltered.
*THE LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL AND PRESIDENT OF THE BOAR) OF EDUCATION (The Marquess of LONDONDERRY)
My Lords, I feel sure I shall not be contradicted when I say that we have had a debate of a most interesting character, in the course of which we have been afforded an opportunity of hearing from representatives of various parts of Ireland their opinions with regard to the action of His Majesty's Government in initiating those regulations which, after all, have been the main topic of debate this evening. The noble Earl who raised this question never addresses himself, either in your Lordships' House or in the country, to questions connected with Ireland without being listened to with the greatest respect, for he occupies a very prominent position in the South of Ireland and has devoted himself now for many years to watching over the interests and the welfare of that part of the country with which he is so closely connected and in which he is so highly respected. Though there are points on which I differ most essentially 711 from my noble friend, still I yield to none in my admiration of the way in which he has identified himself with movements which have for their object the peace and prosperity of Ireland.
My noble friend rather deviated from the original notice he placed on the Paper, which was to call attention to the ad interimReport of the Estates Commissioners under the Irish Land Act, 1903, and has devoted himself to criticism of the regulations that have been recently issued by the Lord-Lieutenant under the direction of my right hon. friend the Chief Secretary. The first attack, if I may use the expression with all deference, of my noble friend was with regard to regulation No. 1, which insists that there shall be absolute equality of treatment between all vendors. He challenged that and seemed, as far as I could gather, to wish that there should be some differentiation made between the various classes of vendors and vendees. I confess I am utterly at a loss to understand the argument put forward by my noble friend. I always understood that the sum of money allocated annually for the purpose of promoting the transfer of land was to be given on the principle of first come, first served; in other words, that those applicants who had, directly the Act was passed, taken advantage of it were to receive the benefit of their foresight. The idea that any vendor or class of vendors should be given any undue preference over any other vendor or class of vendors was absolutely contrary to the desires and wishes of His Majesty's Government in passing the Act of 1903, and therefore an opportunity was taken by the Irish Executive to point out once and for all that there was to be no differentiation whatever, but that those who applied first would be the first when the money was paid out to derive benefit from the Act.
The regulation most criticised by the noble Earl is the second, or "intimidation" regulation. My noble friend, who spoke so eloquently on this subject, declared that it was not the duty of the Commissioners to find out who were guilty of intimidation; but I did not gather from him whether he meant to convey that, if intimidation was proved, those who were guilty of it were to be 712 placed on the same footing as law-abiding citizens. My noble friend seemed to consider that the regulation debarring those who were guilty of intimidation from deriving the benefits under the Act which would otherwise accrue to them was a new idea of my right hon. friend the Chief Secretary. Let me say at once that this is not a new principle. As long ago as 1898 the Congested Districts Board issued the following resolution—We do not, however, intend to permit our desire to assist one class to lead us to participate in, or countenance, an injustice to another class. If the financial obstacles which at present stand in the way are removed in the manner suggested, we shall be prepared to purchase, at what appears to us to be fair value, any property or tenants' interest that may be freely offered to us or may be for sale in the Land Judge's Court, provided we tan see our way to utilise them economically for the purposes under consideration. But we hope it will be clearly understood that any attempt to bring undue or unfair pressure to bear on landlords or tenants in order to induce them to sell their properties will only defeat its own object.This was signed by the various members of the Congested Districts Board, and amongst the names is that of the temporary member, Father O'Hara. I mention this to show my noble friend that this regulation is not a new one. It has been the policy of His Majesty's Government all along, in permitting the transfer of land, to insist as far as they could on the transfer being carried out in an amicable spirit. Then, again, I would remind my noble friend that in 1900 the late Chief Secretary. Mr. Wyndham, in a letter to Lord (lonbrock wrote—You are quite right in believing that the Government have not the slightest intention of countenancing any form of intimidation practised for the purpose either of coercing persons to sell who are unwilling to do so, or of depreciating the value of property with a view to prospective sale.My noble friend will probably ask, why is this intimidation clause inserted in the regulations? If he will tell me there is no intimidation whatever I shall be very glad to argue the question with him; but I think I shall be able to show that there has been such intimidation that it was the bounden duty of His Majesty's Government to give this instruction. My noble friend behind me, Lord clonbrock, has given a practical illustration of what is taking place in the 713 county of Galway, of which he is lieu-tenant, and the Earl of Arran has told your Lordships his experience in the county of Mayo. I do not think, therefore, that my noble friend can say that this regulation was unnecessary or uncalled for.
As far as I could gather from the remarks that have been made, there seams to be some doubt as to what is intimidation and how it is to be brought home. Intimidation is defined in the Act of 1887 as—Any words or acts intended or calculated to put any person in fear of any injury or danger to himself, or to any member of his family, or to any person in his employment, or any fear of injury to or loss of his property, business, or employment.I will quote to your Lordships a letter, written by the United Irish League, which, to my mind, proves beyond all doubt that it was the duty of His Majesty's Government to guard against intimidation. It is a letter written by a secretary of the United Irish League to the Estates Commissioners, in which he says—We, the members of the above branch of the United Irish League, beg to request the Estates Commissioners to fully ascertain and investigate into all the circumstances before any agreements are entered into as between Lord—and his tenants; and we hereby warn you to be prepared to accept the responsibility of any unpleasantness that may arise should any portion of the outside lands be scheduled as demense land.I do not know whether my noble friend considers that intimidation.
THR EARL OF DUNRAVEN
I never doubted for a moment that there was intimidation; nor did I use any argument against dealing with intimidation. My argument was that the Estates Commissioners were not the proper persons to deal with it.
§ *THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY
As the noble Earl says he does not think the Estates Commissioners are the people to deal with it, I would ask who are to decide what is intimidation? I have here a number of resolutions, which I do not think I need read to your Lordships, that have been passed by branches of the United Irish League, which I consider are of a most intimidat- 714 ing character. Does the noble Earl propose that this Act, which was carried through both House of Parliament in order to afford a satisfactory and amicable settlement of this question, should be made void owing to intimidatory notices? I do not suppose there is anyone in your Lordships House who has advocated more consistently than I have the transfer of land from owner to occupier on terms amicable to both as a solution of the Irish problem, and I say that if that process is to be carried out in. an amicable spirit it must be safeguarded against intimidation. I hold that it was the bounden duty of the Chief Secretary and of the Lord-Lieutenant to insist upon regulations such as these being passed in order to prevent the intimidation which they believe is taking place.
Now I pass to the third regulation, which was dealt with at considerable length by my noble friend. It is the regulation which deals with the question of reinstating evicted tenants in their holdings. My noble friend does not recognise the difficult position in which these dupes of the Plan of Campaign are placed. What my noble friend seems to think is that an evicted tenant can be reinstated at a moment's notice. That is an absolute impossibility. The Act points out that the question of the reinstatement of an evicted tenant can only be considered by the Land Commissioners when that estate as a whole comes before them; consequently to contend that the evicted tenants have not been fairly dealt with is to state an argument that cannot hold water. Even if the landlords desire that the evicted tenants should be reinstated, there are no holdings for them to go back to. These farms have been taken by others in the meantime. As my noble friend Lord Clonbrock has stated, the evicted tenants desire to remain in the county in which they lived before eviction, and they would not wish to be taken from, say, Galway to Wexford: they wish to live where they were born and bred. But, as I have said, there are no holdings for them to go back to. That is a matter which I think my noble friend ought to consider before he 715 talks so glibly about the reinstatement of the evicted tenants.
My noble friend went on to speak of the necessity of enlarging the various holdings, and seemed to think that if they were enlarged it would be possible to reinstate the evicted tenants in some of these holdings. I speak subject to correction, but I am informed that the amount of absolutely untenanted land in Ireland in districts where the men would care to be reinstated is very small. Then, again, if you are to get this land in order to reinstate the evicted tenants you must make it worth while for the tenants in possession to go out. Their only alternative is to migrate to some other part of the country or to go abroad, but they are not going to be such fools as to give up their farms without receiving ample compensation for their tenant rights. Again, who is going to pay that compensation in order to replace an evicted tenant, who, through his own shortcomings, is not still in possession of the farm. The action of the landowners has not been to deal harshly with these people. Their action has been, as far as lay in their power, to assist in the reinstatement of tenants where they thought it advisable. We are told they have not done this. My answer is to refer noble Lords to the ad interimReport of the Estates Commissioners, in which they say—In those instances where the Commissioners have required the owners to sell to them untenanted land other than demesne land in their occupation for the enlargement of uneconomic holdings the owners have invariably complied with their request.When my noble friend says the Act has failed because it has not reinstated the evicted tenants, I should like him to tell me definitely how he would propose to reinstate these people after the arguments I have put forward.
There is one other point to which I must allude. It is said that however well the Act may have worked in other parts of Ireland, it has not been working well in Connaught. I quite agree that my noble friend was justified in drawing this deduction from the fact that the amount advanced for the purchase of land in Connaught was considerably less than that for the other provinces. But 716 there are two reasons for that. One of the reasons has been alluded to by my noble friend behind me—I refer to the intimidation that has existed in the province of Connaught with regard to the great grazing lands. But the second and principal reason why the same amount of money has not been taken up in Connaught as in the other provinces is that already a great quantity of land has changed hands. The conclusions sought to be deduced from the Estates Commissioners' Report are to a certain extent defective. It is overlooked that the Congested Districts Board has also been operating in Connaught. That Board, between the years 1896 and 1903, bought estates of the value of £582,000 and under the Act of 1903 they have agreed to buy estates of the value of £884,940. Moreover, a great many of the estates in Connaught have been sold in recent years under Section 40 of the Act of 1896 and otherwise.
Each noble Lord who has taken part in this debate has justly laid stress on the fact that there is a considerable block in the progress of the working of the Act of 1903, and this has been clearly attributed to want of funds. I cannot, however, allow that the Act has been a failure; nor can I allow that the action of the staff is in any way deserving of censure. On the other hand, I consider the staff worthy of the highest praise. For many years past you have had land sold under the various Acts, but never has so much land passed from owner to occupier as during the time that this Act has been in force. It has been the ardent desire of the Irish Executive to facilitate that transfer so far as their power allowed them, and it must be remembered that they are restricted to a certain amount of money annually. They have never hesitated, when it was necessary, to augment the staff requisite for the administration of the Act.
Undoubtedly the main cause of the block is connected with the question of money. When the Act was introduced the late Chief Secretary for Ireland and the Chancellor of the Exchequer pledged themselves that for the first three years they would not demand more than £5,000,000 a year to be advanced to 717 Ireland for the purchase of land. I believe that my right hon. friend the late Chief Secretary stated that after three years he hoped to mend the pace. That was his expression, and I have no doubt that after the lapse of three years it may be possible for that to be done; but I cannot make any pledge or promise in the matter. My noble friend Lord Dunraven stated that he knew His Majesty's Government realised the difficulties and the block which at the present moment are doing injury both to owners who have agreed to sell and to tenants who have agreed to buy. I am here merely to explain the position, and I can inform noble Lords that the Government are considering the question from every point of view, and realise as much as anyone of your Lordships the difficulties and hardships under which both owners and occupiers of land who desire to come to an agreement are suffering at the present moment. The Chief Secretary is considering how this matter can be met, and I understand that early next week my right hon. friend proposes to make a statement in the House of Commons on the subject.
*THE EARL OF WESTMEATH
My Lords, I shall not detain the House for more than a few minutes. I sincerely congratulate my noble friend Lord Dunraven on the excellent speech he made, and on the very different tone he adopted from that which he displayed on the last occasion that he addressed your Lordships on Irish matters. It is a very good sign, I think, of the improved condition of the country under its new Administration that the noble Earl should take such a tone, and with the exception of his remarks upon regulation No. 2, I think he said very little I with which we cannot all agree. In fact, if his mental development continues to progress, I see no reason why he should not in time become a useful and valued member of the Landowners' Convention. My reason for rising tonight is to express my disappointment that the noble Marquess who has replied on behalf of His Majesty's Government has not been able to give us any encouragement with regard to the money question, which is really at the bottom of the whole 718 difficulty. Intimidation and other questions are all sufficienly serious, but at the bottom of the whole difficulty is this question of cash. If a landlord sells, he only gets 3½ per cent, interest on the purchase money, minus the bonus, and it is by no means certain that he always gets that. In the meantime, he may be paying, as I am paying, interest on heavy mortages at 5 or 4½ per cent. If that is to go on indefinitely, the position will be absolute ruination.
The noble Marquess laid stress on the fact that an arrangement was made that only so much money was to be raised during the three years. That was made under a total misapprehension. The people responsible for the Bill did not think it would work in the way it has worked. I most sincerely think that it is the bounden duty of His Majesty's Government to help us in this matter, even if it has to be done at a loss. We have been placed in this difficulty through no fault of our own. The Government have got us into it and they must get us out of it. The noble Earl alluded to taking pay me tit in stock instead of cash. The great inducement in the passing of the Land Act was that we should get actual payment in gold instead of land stock. I do not know whether any such scheme as that to which the noble Earl referred is in contemplation by the Government, but I think I can assure them that nothing will induce us to accept depreciated land stock in payment after the promises we have received. How could we possibly afford to do so? I speak strongly lest the Government, finding themselves in a difficulty, might possibly hit upon some such method as this and try to bring pressure upon us to accept it. I can say that nothing will induce us to do so, and we shall not submit tamely to such treatment as that. We were promised payment in cash, and we ought to get it. If it is true that the Chief Secretary is going to make a statement on this subject next week, I hope that he will realise that these are the views, so far as I have been able to gather them, of those who are entitled to speak as representatives of the Irish landlords.