§ VISCOUNT MIDLETON rose to call attention to the working of the Congested Districts Board in Ireland, and to speeches recently made by Mr. John Fitzgibbon, M.P., at Williamstown, County Galway and Ballindine, County Mayo, and to the statements of the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland thereon; and to move, That a humble Address be presented to His Majesty praying him to remove Mr. John Fitzgibbon, M.P., from his office as one of the members of the Congested Districts Board appointed under Section 45 of 9 Edw. VII, ch. 42, on the ground that he has abused the same and been guilty of misconduct therein incapacitating him from the due and proper discharges of his duties.
§ The noble Viscount said: My Lords, the Motion which I have ventured to put upon the Paper this afternoon speaks for itself as showing the seriousness which is attached by many of us to the state of things which has arisen with regard to a certain member of the Congested Districts Board in Ireland. Nobody can appreciate the true importance of this Board unless he considers for one moment what were the circumstances under which the Congested Districts Board was placed ill possession of its present powers, and what are the great powers which this Board has to administer and in which any individual member of the Board is specially interested. We have had in the course of the last forty years very drastic legislation with regard to land in Ireland. We have seen a new system set up of judicial settlement of rents by a public authority; we have seen the interest of the tenant, which was previously to a large extent involved in the landlord's occupation, defined; and we have seen the power taken away from the landlord to resume his land at his own option. But never until the Act of 1909 was it laid down by Parliament that any man should be compulsorily deprived of the power of retaining his own property over a large portion of Ireland if such a course seemed to an authority which the Houses of Parliament set up to be to the public advantage.431
§ Your Lordships will recollect that very grave debate took place upon that measure, and more especially on the congested districts clauses of the measure. As originally proposed, it had been intended that an elective element should be found on the Congested Districts Board, and I think I am not going beyond what even the Government would support in saying that that proposal was riddled in debate in this House. It was felt to be absurd that a large number of people who were themselves interested in the sale of their holdings to the Government and in the improvement of their position should themselves elect members of the tribunal which was to act fairly and judicially between the two parties; and in the end, after great discussion and considerable friction between the two Houses, an agreement was arrived at, for which I think the noble Marquess the Leader of the House made himself on the whole responsible, that provided we gave up our very grave doubt as to the right of any tribunal to take from any body of men the whole of their property, as was proposed under the Bill over six counties in Ireland, they, on the other hand, would undertake that the nomination of the Congested Districts Board should rest, not with the people, but with the Lord Lieutenant, and that the Lord Lieutenant would appoint thoroughly impartial as well as practical men.
§ We are face to face to-night with the question of how that pledge has been carried out. Recollect that we came to it rather reluctantly, and that from this part of the House it was questioned even whether we should not lose the Bill if we could not obtain the safeguards which we desired and well might have desired, because the whole of the counties of Donegal, Leitrim, Mayo, Kerry, Sligo, Roscommon, and Galway and the six congested districts of Clare and the six congested districts of Cork wore handed over, at one single stroke, to the power of the Board to recommend, the Estates Commissioners to confirm, and the Government to take compulsorily from every man the whole of his possessions in land except the demesne land, and that at a price to be fixed, no doubt, by a Judge of the High Court, but without appeal on price—a system which I think has never found its way into any Act of Parliament before.
§ Now, my Lords, what were the points on which we specially desired to safeguard 432 the system in order to make it effective? May I say that I do not wish to make any general attack on the working of the Congested Districts Board. Nor do I desire to say anything as to the manner in which the Chief Secretary exercises his other rights of nomination. I pass that by without comment. I am most anxious that nothing to be said to-night should tend in any way to hamper the work of the Board. I believe that what was uppermost in the minds of every one of us on this side of the House when we made the great concession to which I alluded a moment ago was this, that despite all the sacrifices made of rent in Ireland, despite all the improvements to be shown by every kind of statistic in the position of the tenantry throughout a large part of Ireland and the consequent prosperity which had arisen—despite all that, we felt that all the legislation and all the activity of this House and the other House of Parliament might go without adequate result if still in these congested district counties there were left problems with which no individual landlord could hope to deal, which could only be to a large extent resolved by a sound policy, broad views, and the application to some extent of public money. But that very contention on our part which caused Mr. Balfour's Government originally to set up the Congested Districts Board, which caused its extension under the present Government, had three objects—first, to enable the poorer tenantry who are on uneconomic holdings to be provided, as far as possible, with economic holdings; secondly, to maintain the industries, and among them the cattle industry, which are all important to the welfare of the districts; and thirdly, to create that spirit of confidence between all the parties concerned which an entirely independent and impartial authority might be able to maintain in resolving a question of this kind, and which spirit of confidence it is my business to show your Lordships to-night has been rudely shattered, and it is only, in my opinion, by the Resolution which I suggest and by an Address to His Majesty that one can hope to restore that confidence without which the whole work of the Congested Districts Board will be rendered null and void.
§ It is a little difficult to follow what was in the mind of the Government when they made the nomination which I now venture to question. The noble Marquess and his 433 colleagues talk of an impartial Board; they talk of broad views, of duties with regard to property, and of bringing both classes together. Really if the matter were not so serious I would say that I wonder that they permitted themselves the grotesque appointment which, looking to the past and with the information then at their disposal, they made when they asked Mr. John Fitzgibbon to be a member of the Board. I have not the slightest desire to rake up old troubles about anybody, but I am bound to state to your Lordships what was known of Mr. Fitzgibbon at that time and to show that his career, both before his appointment to the Board and since, has shown an undivided and constant progress in the same direction—a direction which the warmest partisan could not call one of impartiality or of respect for the property with which he had to deal.
Mr. Fitzgibbon suffered a sentence of one month's hard labour in 1887 for inciting to the Plan of Campaign. That trait in his character bus been reproduced in the last few months. In 1888 he was arraigned on a charge of criminal conspiracy. The matter was referred to the High Court, and he suffered a term of four months' imprisonment for that offence. In 1907 Mr. Fitzgibbon showed iris strong views as regards the Government of the country under a Sovereign by declining to take the oath which is required of every Justice of the Peace. I do not wish to attribute to him views which he does not hold, but at all events that fact is a significant one. From 1907—two years before the Bill under which he was appointed—he had been not merely forward but foremost in the county of Roscommon in advocating those extreme measures of cattle-driving which have gone far to ruin a most prosperous industry and have created a degree o of disorder which has been a disgrace to the Government of the country. In 1907 Mr. Fitzgibbon, by his own showing, had been instrumental in intimidating the lands lords. Speaking at Ballintubber in May, 1906, he said—
They had brought the landlords to the ground, and by the same weapons they would force the ranchers off the plains of Roscommon.
On February 24 of the following year, at Creevemully, County Roscommon, he said—
They had eleven months' farms in the district and they should see that the occupiers had neither ease nor peace till they gave them up.
On August 30, 1907, he said—
At all events by the 1st of May of next year we will see a regular race of eleven years' men—
that is, my Lords, the graziers—
off all the lands in this district on to Elphin. You never saw before such a chase as we will have.
It appears by his own showing that this doughty champion of the rights of the people not merely intimidated the landlords and graziers—we have heard of such cases before—but he also claimed, in a speech which he made at Tulsk on August 30, 1908, to have done what I think no member of this House will claim to have done—namely, to have successfully intimidated the then Under-Secretary, Lord MacDonnell. It appears that Lord MacDonnell incurred the displeasure of Mr. Fitzgibbon. He was suspected of having used the Congested Districts Board in order to facilitate migrants coming into congested districts, and Mr. Fitzgibbon said—
When a person in the neighbourhood of Castlerea was threatened with this system, in a personal interview with Sir Antony MacDonnell he defied him to migrate 'congests' to it, and the Congested Districts Board did not carry out their first intention. Sir Antony had left Dublin Castle, so there was no harm in telling upon him. He thanked God that the English garrison was fast dying out in that country. There were only a few landlords in Roscommon who had not yet sold out, and these were in what Mr. Redmond called the condemned cell—only waiting for their sentence.
Mr. Fitzgibbon, having successfully intimidated the Under-Secretary, then flew at higher game; and a few months afterwards at Ballinameen, on January 10, 1909, he claimed that he was the originator of cattle-driving in the county, and such being the case he asked the people to put up their weapons for the present and give Mr. Birrell a chance. He said—
Mr. Birrell had taken up the post of John Fitzgibbon and was himself a huge cattle-driver in Ireland.
We have been of that opinion ourselves on this side of the House, but we never knew that that view was adopted and shared by the very men whom Mr. Birrell has always carefully guarded himself from admitting that he in any way assisted or countenanced. What renders all this much more serious is that Mr. Fitzgibbon himself, in a speech made at the same time, claimed that this was not only his action but it was an action dictated by the heads of
the Irish Party, of whom he was the agent. He said—
He did nothing on his own responsibility; he acted under discipline whenever he acted, and his advice was not to heed any man who did not act under discipline and who acted without consulting his leaders.
When cattle-driving was taken up I went to my leaders for instructions, and they told me what to do.
That plainly shows that here is a man who claims to have intimidated the landlords, to have intimidated the graziers, to have intimidated Lord MacDonnell, and to stand as an equal authority with the Chief Secretary, whom he was willing to give a chance because the Chief Secretary had adopted his policy—he does all that with the full sanction and authority of the leaders of the Irish Party, and then we are told that with that record he is the right man, within a few weeks of all these actions and statements, to put as an umpire in a judicial position to carry out the most drastic and powerful Act which this House has ever passed with regard to the owners of land. There was a famous remark of Henry VIII with regard to the Fitzgerald of that day—
If all Ireland cannot govern the Earl of Kildare, then let the Earl of Kildare govern all Ireland.
It appeared to be the opinion of the Government that, If all Connaught could not deal with Mr. Fitzgibbon then let Mr. Fitzgibbon deal with all Connaught. And that power, so far as the power could be placed in the hands of one man, was placed in his hands.
I cannot believe that the noble Marquess who leads the House was aware of what the Government intended when he made the speech he did here in November, l909. At the same time I would remind the noble Marquess that he specially introduced Mr. Fitzgibbon to the House on that occasion. He quoted him with approval; he justified some of his opinions, and went as far as to say that Mr. Fitzgibbon, the chairman of the Roscommon County Council, was a man who—
undoubtedly holds strong opinions and expresses himself strongly, but is a most popular and important person in that neighbourhood.
A most popular and important person! And within two months the Chief Secretary proceeds to put this popular and important person into a position of trust which, as
I will now try to show your Lordships, he has greatly abused. A few months after his appointment Mr. Fitzgibbon joined a meeting at Westport, where Mr. Dillon was the chief speaker. Mr. Dillon made a speech with which I need not trouble the House, but it went to show how little he was in sympathy with the settlement which the Government desired, because he specially argued that no landlord who sold compulsorily under the Act had a right to a bonus, although the bonus under the Act was strictly devised so as to help those who sold at low prices and to prejudice those who demanded a high price. But that is not the point. Mr. Fitzgibbon, following Mr. Dillon, said—
The landlords in the West appeared to think that they should get twenty-one and twenty-two years' purchase for their smaller estates. He was in Connemara sometime ago and was asked by a priest what he thought of it. 'Well' he said ' I am a draper, and at the end of every piece of cloth there is what they call a fag-end, and fag-ends are generally sold at a very small price, and I think many of your estates in Connaught ought to be sold at fag-end prices.'
What was the result of that speech? Within a few weeks, even a few days almost, there was practically a refusal to pay rent on one of the largest estates in Connaught—the estate of Lord Sligo, which is at Westport, the place at which Mr. Fitzgibbon spoke. Trouble has been continual on that estate ever since. It is an estate of over 100,000 acres, and certainly one in regard to which your Lordships would have hesitated more than in any other in handing over the whole power of disposing of it to anybody without the consent of the landlord. That speech, which has not been made the subject of a Question to the Chief Secretary, seems to me, as much as any of those which have been made the subject of Questions, to show an absolute want of judicial spirit and an absolute determination to induce trouble as a means of buying this estate at a lower price than it would properly command, and it was therefore in the highest degree a departure from the principle on which the Congested Districts Board was intended to act.
About eleven months afterwards Mr. Fitzgibbon delivered a speech at Williams-town which it is obviously impossible to defend. The Chief Secretary in the House of Commons did not defend it. Mr. Fitzgibbon himself did not defend it. He quite admitted that it was a speech which he
had no right to make and which he said he made in a moment of excitement. I only make a quotation from it in order that your Lordships may see that the case is a formidable one in regard to that speech. Mr. Fitzgibbon said—
For thirty years they had been engaged in attacking formidable landlords. They had succeeded in beating them well, and he thought himself if the tenants on the Johnston estate were really in earnest they would not have much trouble in whipping their landlord. If Mr. Johnston did not take their offer and take the tenants' rent, they knew what he advised, and that was to put the money back in their pockets.
That is the Plan of Campaign. He added—
The Johnston tenants had paid until they had been told by him to pay no more.… He was there that day to give every assistance he could to the tenants… As a member of the Congested Districts Board he would meet Mr. Johnston's offer if he proposed to sell, and he would do his beet to get the sale pushed through. If not, he would join the tenants in their struggle.
Of course, you cannot defend such a speech as that, but he said he made it in a moment of excitement. We all know that in American law it is sometimes argued, when a man has committed a crime or misdemeanour in a moment of excitement, that he was suffering from " brain storm," but Mr. Fitzgibbon's "brain storms" seem to be permanent and constantly active. It was only on December 4 last that the Chief Secretary apologised in the House of Common" for Mr. Fitzgibbon's conduct, and got his promise not to offend again. But on December 23 Mr. Fitzgibbon took the warpath at Ballindine and made a still worse speech. This time the speech was at the expense of the noble Lord on the Cross Benches, Lord Oranmore. Apparently Lord Oranmore was told that if he wanted war he would get plenty of it. Mr. Fitzgibbon said—
Much as he honoured being a member of the Congested Districts Board for the purpose of doing good for the people, he very much more valued the confidence of the people.
Recollect, my Lords, that Mr. Fitzgibbon is a Member of Parliament and that these proceedings are not unaccompanied by advantage in the matter of votes from those persons to whom these exhortations are addressed. This is what is meant by valuing more the confidence of the people. He proceeded—
It was not for the honour of the position that he was on the Hoard, but rather for the purpose of helping to carry out and complete the great work begun by Michael Davitt.
Nobody will say that that was a judicial work, however highly they may praise Mr. Michael Davitt. Mr. Fitzgibbon proceeded—
Every member of the Board was alive to his duty and anxious to acquire the land for the people, but they could only deal with the land as it was brought to them, and it remained for the tenants themselves to assist in bringing the land to the market.
That is as clear an incitement to withhold rents to make trouble in order to lower values as was ever addressed to a body of tenants by a responsible individual.
I dare say the Government may ask me what effect these wild speeches have had. I venture to say that in the time it would have been impossible for them to have had much more effect. I should like to spare your Lordships further quotations. But on January 23 there was a meeting held at Ballindine to carry out Mr. Fitzgibbon's plans. Posters were put up, "War to the graziers"; "If you renew your tenancy you will get no quarter. Woe be to him who hears this warning and does not heed it." A further meeting was held with Mr. Fitzgibbon in the chair, and he then said—
To put the matter in a nutshell, the grazier must go. So far as this particular grazier is concerned he must go. If he does not, we will drive him to-morrow if necessary.
The Chief Secretary, in his answer to a Question on this subject in the House of Commons, said there had been no intimidation. I am informed that all these graziers were, visited and were told by the League that they must go; and at a meeting of the Ballindine blanch of the United Irish League on February 14 the following resolution was passed—
We are determined on expelling any member of the League who does not abide by and respect the findings of the league.
I have seen a report, duly authorised, that as a fact something like 600 acres in this district are now derelict. At a further meeting of the same branch of the League on February 23rd they said—
We reiterate our determination to compel all men having land under the eleven months' system to vacate it, and to immediately take steps to deal with any man not so consenting.
On March 1 there was a meeting at Ballindine of from 1,000 to 1,400. Mr. Fitzgibbon had undertaken not to attend any more meetings or else to resign his position. That was the undertaking which the Chief
Secretary gave in the House of Commons a fortnight ago. How has Mr. Fitzgibbon kept it? He did not himself attend this meeting on March 1, but he sent an emissary, Mr. Conway, to organise a continuation of the policy which he had himself started there. He sent an organiser of the League to this place on March 1 in order to have carried out the very policy he had undertaken to refrain from advocating.
§ VISCOUNT MIDLETON
I take the statement from the Mayo News. It was reported in various papers. I will let the noble Lord have the report in a few minutes if he desires it. On March 8 the Freeman's Journal reported that exciting scenes were witnessed the previous day on the Johnston estate near Williamstown. Over thirty policemen had to attend; there was a large crowd and a riot; stones were thrown, and the police had to draw their batons; there was a general mêlée. And the whole of this occurred on the estate in regard to which Mr. Fitzgibbon had made his ill-omened speech about three weeks ago. I do not think it will be necessary for me to bring any further evidence to persuade your Lordships that this is not only a grave but an urgent state of affairs—urgent for interposition if we do not want the beneficence of this Act to be brought to nought in the course of the next few weeks by the expulsion of the graziers, by the intimidation of the landlords, and by the cessation of all kinds of agreement between the parties whose estates have to be dealt with.
I have ventured to put in my Motion on the Paper the words that Mr. Fitzgibbon has abused his office. I think the citations which I have given prove, not merely that he has abused his office, but that he is abusing his office and intends to abuse his office as long as he remains a member of the Congested Districts Board. I think that while it is serious enough that a man who has strong, I might even say vindictive, views with regard to the relations of landlords to their tenants should be put in a position of such authority, it is still worse when you put a Member of Parliament—for Mr. Fitzgibbon is Member for South Mayo and has become so since his appointment—in a position to offer a pecuniary bribe and advantages among his own constituents to be carried out by a 440 judicial authority on which he sits. I hope that I have not overstated the case when I suggest that he has been guilty of misconduct incapacitating him from the due and proper discharge of his duties. I know nothing about the rights or wrongs of the estates with which Mr. Fitzgibbon has dealt. Of course, I am acquainted with the noble Lord on the Cross Benches, but he has not made me his confidant about his estate. I know only of these things through the public Press. What I submit to your Lordships is this. Mr. Johnston may be? willing or he may not be willing, for all I know, to sell his estate, but this gentleman, Mr. Fitzgibbon, has been placed as a member of the Board which by Statute has the means of compelling Mr. Johnston to sell his estate. They can offer a price, they can agree on a price, and in default of agreement they can force him to a sale, and I say that it is misconduct for a man in such a situation, when a statutory course is provided for him, to proceed by another course to endeavour to obtain bargains by intimidation which could not otherwise be arrived at by the Congested Districts Board.
The case of Lord Oranmore, so far as I know, is a different one. The attack made upon him appears not to be that he will not sell his estate, but that he has not sold it sufficiently quickly. He was allowed six weeks or a month or something of that kind to send in his terms. The noble Lord was endeavouring to preserve his demesne. By Statute, and for a very good reason, Parliament has arranged that demesne lands and pleasure grounds should be free from compulsion under the Act. And why? It is not merely the amenity to the landlord that is considered. It is an advantage to the district. Lord Oranmore is a resident and lives upon his estate. He employs labour largely, and Parliament would be ill-advised if it were to endeavour to get rid of those in the West of Ireland who employ labour in order to facilitate the extension of holdings over a small area. In the same sense I think we may deal with the graziers. There is machinery provided for the Congested Districts Board to take up this grass land if it thinks it right to do so. The Board holds a large amount of grass land, and at one time I believe it was the largest cattle holder in the West of Ireland. Parliament has given that machinery. What more gross misconduct can there be than for a man who 441 has those powers under Statute and has the machinery provided to give the go-by to his colleagues, force their hands, and stultify all the legitimate action of the Board by declaring that these men shall not renew their engagements or that they shall suffer the penalty of losing their cattle—a resort to that system which we thought we had got rid of in Ireland of creating trouble between landlord and tenant.
The present members of the Congested Districts Board are of three classes. There are the officials—the Chief Secretary, the Under-Secretary, and one other official—who are ex offcio; there are two permanent paid members of the Board, appointed by Statute and only removable on an Address to the Crown passed by both Houses of Parliament, as in the case of the removal of Judges; the remaining nominated members, of whom Mr. Fitzgibbon is one, are nominated for five years. I do not suppose for a moment that the Government will take refuge in any non possumus with regard to the power of the Crown to remove a man appointed for five years. I do not want to trouble your Lordships with legal quotations, but I have been at some pains to ascertain how this question stands. It is undoubted that cases have been tried and adjudicated upon in this House, though not, I think, during the time that the noble Earl who now sits on the Woolsack has been Lord Chancellor, and it has been decided by the Law Lords without doubt that, no matter what the tenure of an office may be as regards the number of years, there, is an inherent right, power, and duty in the Crown to remove a man if he is guilty of improperly discharging his duties or of misconduct. Chitty, on the Prerogative, lays it down that it is the general Common Law Rule, upon which, however, various exceptions have been grafted by Statute, that the King may terminate at pleasure the authority of officers employed by His Majesty. As these offices are constituted for the public weal it is, he says, expedient that they should be properly executed, and a condition is tacitly and peremptorily grafted by law that they shall be exercised by their grantee faithfully, properly, diligently, on breach of which condition the office is forfeited. And in the Law Reports of 1896 there appears a judgment of Lord Herschell in the case of a man who had been appointed to the Consulate of 442 the Nigerian Protectorate for three years, and who sued the Crown on the ground that, having been appointed for three years, he could not be removed. Lord Herschell said—The petitioner's case is that, he being engaged for a period of three yours, the Crown had no right to put an end to his engagement ay it did. The cases cited show that such employment being for the good of the public it is essential for the public good that it should be capable of being determined at the pleasure of the Crown except in certain exceptional cases,which Lord Herschell understood to be those of the Judges, who are placed above the Crown, for they can only be removed on the advice of Parliament.
I think there can be no doubt whatever that the Government have the power to remove this gentleman from the position in which he has been placed. I can hardly doubt that they will be wise in time to consider what the effect has been and to redress the mistake which was made two years ago. After all, they are about to press on Parliament a measure which will give all appointments of this character to an Executive responsible to an Irish Parliament. Now I ask your Lordships, What is the use of all these professions by the Government? What is the use of the eloquent addresses delivered by Mr. Redmond at Norwich, at Banbury, and elsewhere in the months of November and December last, in which he pointed out that neither on the ground of religion, nor on the ground of class, nor on the ground on previous history and differences would any distinction be made under an Irish Executive, but that Protestants, landlords, merchants, all would be invited to tender their services, and would receive equal and just consideration at the hands of the Executive—what is the use of those shallow professions? They surely become shallow if a man is retained in office who has notoriously shown bias throughout the whole of his transactions, who has brought on himself the censure of the Chief Secretary and is made to apologise, and has yet continued to repeat the conduct of which complaint was made. Every well wisher to the Congested Districts Board and all those who, like myself, desire to see the West of Ireland obtain that prosperity and advancement which other parts of Ireland have obtained in the last forty years, cannot but hope that the reply which wilt be made to-night will be an acceptance of the Motion which I have the honour to submit to the House.
§ Moved, That a humble Address be presented to His Majesty praying him to remove Mr. John Fitzgibbon, M.P., from his office as one of the members of the Congested Districts Board appointed under Section 45 of 9 Edw. VII, ch. 42, on the ground that ho has abused the same and been guilty of misconduct therein incapacitating him from the due and proper discharge of his duties.—(Viscount Midleton.)
§ THE PAYMASTER-GENERAL (LORD ASHBY ST. LEDGERS)
My Lords, the noble Viscount, who has spoken in that tone and temper which habitually commends itself to your Lordships' House, has developed his thesis at considerable length. I do not suggest that he has devoted more time to it than the importance of the subject demands, but in following him I shall not feel it necessary to occupy anything like so much of your Lordships' time, especially in view of the fact that my noble friend the Leader of the House, who, of course, speaks with far greater authority on these subjects than I can possibly hope to, has intimated that he will be prepared at a later stage to join in this discussion if it should prove of general interest to noble Lords opposite.
The noble Viscount has raised two points of very dissimilar importance. He calls attention to the general working of the Congested Districts Board in Ireland, which I think might well have been the subject of a debate by itself, and he also draws attention to an incident which, in comparison, is of a far less important character—the incident of certain observations made by a member of the Congested Districts Board and his suitability for occupying a position on that Board. I think it is unfortunate that the noble Viscount did not devote rather more of his time to the first part of his subject, because, if he had, I think he would have found that he has indeed attached far more importance to the case of Mr. Fitzgibbon than it really deserves. The very success of the Congested Districts Board in dealing with the problems which concern it is in itself proof that Mr. Fitzgibbon's presence on the Board, and the speeches to which allusion has been made, have not prevented the Board from carrying out the work which it exists to perform. But I understand the noble Viscount does not challenge the fact that the Congested Districts Board 444 has performed the most remarkable feats. It has got through a great deal of work. It has dealt with a vast number of cases. Its decisions have given general satisfaction. Although the noble Viscount alluded to the fact that the Act of 1909 gave compulsory powers to the Board, those compulsory powers have never been put into operation, and although it is true that there is an appeal against the Board to the High Court, such an appeal has never yet been lodged. I think these facts go to show that, whatever may be the suitability of Mr. Fitzgibbon for the post he occupies, and whatever may be the character of the speeches which he made, neither of them has at any rate prevented the Board from carrying out the useful and important functions with which it is entrusted.
I understand the noble Viscount to draw the especial attention of the House to the case of Mr. Fitzgibbon, and therefore it would, perhaps, be well if I were to state briefly what has happened with regard to this gentleman. As the noble Viscount said, of the fifteen members who comprise the Congested Districts Board three are ex-officio, two are permanent, and nine are appointed by King's Letter and are called the appointed members. Mr. Fitzgibbon is one of the appointed members. On November 12, 1911, there was a meeting held at Williamstown, in County Galway, to support the tenants on the estate of Mr. Johnston who had been decreed for rent which they were withholding for the purpose of forcing the owner to sell to the Congested Districts Board. Mr. Fitzgibbon was present at that meeting and made the speech to which the noble Viscount has alluded, and I believe, though I have not his words, that he advised the tenants to fight the landlord and not pay their rent and they would eventually win. The attention of the Chief Secretary was called to this speech, and he caused a letter to be written to Mr. Fitzgibbon pointing out the impropriety of the observations he had made; and in reply to a Question in the House of Commons the Chief Secretary stated that the attention of the hon. Member for South Mayo had been called to the reports of his speech which had appeared in the Irish newspapers, and that Mr. Fitzgibbon, while denying the accuracy of those reports, had admitted that in a moment of excitement he had said more than he had intended to say or should have said, and he had undertaken to be more 445 careful in the future. The Chief Secretary added that no further action appeared to be necessary.
Well, on December 17, 1911, Mr. Fitzgibbon went down to Ballindine and made another speech, in this case with reference to the estate of Lord Oranmore and Browne, and he made very similar observations. He said that he regarded Lord Oranmore as being very tricky, that his tenants had the same means at their disposal as Lord Sligo's tenants, and that if Lord Oranmore wanted a fight he could have it, and so forth. After that speech was made the Chief Secretary for Ireland wrote a letter direct to Mr. Fitzgibbon, and I think it would be interesting if I were to read that letter to the House. It is as follows, dated December 26, 1911—DEAR MR. FITZGIBBON,My attention has again been called to speeches recently made by you, this time at Ballindine, on the 17th of this month, addressed to the tenants on Lord Oranmore's estate. On a former occasion Mr. Doran, at my request, remonstrated with you for somewhat similar utterances, and I was glad to be told that you had undertaken in the future to be more cautious in the advice you proffer to the parties engaged in the negotiation of sales to the Congested Districts Board, of which you are a member. But at Ballindine you were as bad as ever. To advise Lord Oranmore's tenants to withhold their rents and to clear the grazing lands of stock if the owner did not accede to their terms, so far from facilitating purchase by the Board would, if the advice were taken, indefinitely postpone the date of completion of any purchase, and in addition would make it impossible for the Hoard to sell their holdings to those tenants who illegally had held back their rents.What you call 'war' and 'fighting,' so far from helping the tenants, would injure them by depriving them of all share in the benefit of the public moneys and credit Parliament has placed at the disposal of the Congested Districts Board; and would, at the same time, add to the rates of the county for extra police.My main object in writing to you is to say that you cannot expect to be allowed to remain a member of the Board if you persist in making speeches of the kind to which your attention has now been called.That letter was signed by Mr. Birrell, and on the receipt of it Mr. Fitzgibbon replied to the Chief Secretary stating that he again regretted that he had been drawn into making observations which perhaps—
§ LORD ASHBY ST. LEDGERS
I do not know that I can read the letter, but I can show it to the noble and learned Lord if he wishes to see it.
§ LORD ASHBY ST. LEDGERS
The substance of Mr. Fitzgibbon's letter was that he would refrain from making any such speeches in the future, or, if he did not refrain, he would resign his membership of the Congested Districts Board; and, so far as I know, up to the present time he has refrained from making speeches similar to those to which the attention of the House has now been called.
§ VISCOUNT MIDLETON
He has not refrained from sending other people. He wrote informing a meeting held at Ballindine that he had sent Mr. Conway to address them as it was impossible for him to attend. Mr. Conway is an organiser connected with the United Irish League, and in his speech to the meeting he said—I quote this from the Mayo News—They all knew that the object of the League was to destroy graziers and landlords, and in that fight every Nationalist should be engaged throughout the length and breadth of Ireland.I suggest that that is Mr. Fitzgibbon in another form, and I hand the newspaper cutting to the noble Lord.
§ LORD ASHBY ST. LEDGERS
I am interested to receive, the information which the noble Viscount has placed in my hand. It is the first I have heard of it. As far as I know, Mr. Fitzgibbon has made no public utterance since he gave the undertaking to which I have referred. Is the cutting which the noble Viscount has handed to me taken from the Mayo News of March 9?
§ LORD ASHBY ST. LEDGERS
If that is the incident to which the noble Viscount refers, all I have to say is that we have no knowledge of it. As a matter of fact, there was a police note-taker present at the meeting held at Ballindine, and it appears that a letter was read from Mr. Fitzgibbon regretting his inability to be present, but the letter contained no reference whatever to the organiser Conway. That is the official police information as tendered to the Chief Secretary All I can say is that the Chief Secretary has no knowledge whatever of Mr. Fitzgibbon having departed from the undertaking which he gave in his reply to the letter from 447 Mr. Birrell. That is the position as it is at the present moment. Of course, if noble Lords opposite can substantiate such an accusation, I hope they will do so. I challenge them to produce that evidence. But I would say to them that the reports of private meetings made very often from hearsay are not to be relied upon as definite evidence as to what was said and what views were entertained by those present. The noble Viscount knows how these things get twisted in Ireland, and I suggest that before making accusations of this kind noble Lords should be certain as to the evidence with which they are supported.
I do not suggest that Mr. Fitzgibbon's action has not been a source of embarrassment to the Congested Districts Board. There is no doubt that the observations which he made were extremely improper and, as the noble Viscount said, quite indefensible, and I think the letter of the Chief Secretary shows that he so regarded them, and that he distinctly gave Mr. Fitzgibbon to understand that that was his view. I might, perhaps, say this in extenuation, although I do not wish to lay much stress upon it, of Mr. Fitzgibbon's action—that neither the estate of the noble Lord on the Cross Benches nor the estate of Mr. Johnston was actually under offer at the time when the speeches were made. They were not sub judice, so that to that extent there is some extenuation to be found, although I admit it is small, with regard to Mr Fitzgibbon's observations.
The noble Viscount began his speech by characterising the appointment of Mr. Fitzgibbon as a grotesque appointment. I should like to consider that for a few moments. In the first place, when the Congested Districts Board was increased from ten members to twelve, and then to fifteen, it was felt that that expansion ought to include members of a representative character. Noble Lords opposite laugh; but one of the members of the Board is the noble Earl, Lord Shaftesbury, who certainly cannot be said to represent the tenants' interest. The noble Earl, if he represents any interest, represents the landlords' interest, and I think there was considerable advantage in including on the Board an individual who might be considered to represent the tenants' interest. After all, the Congested Districts Board is not a Court of Law. When you 448 speak of the judicial capacity of the Board, it must not be confused with a Court of Law. It is a sort of arbitration Court. Mr. Fitzgibbon is one of fifteen members, and the fourteen members are regular in their attendance, so that his influence on the Board is of a limited degree; and, as a matter of fact, anybody who has taken the trouble to look into the actual working of the Congested Districts Board will find that the ordinary proceeding of the Board is to rely to a very great extent upon the expert valuations made with regard to the estates by Mr. Doran, one of the permanent members of the Board. He presents the valuations and the Board decides whether they shall be accepted or varied. As a matter of fact, the valuations submitted by Mr. Doran have never been reduced. Occasionally, where there were exceptional circumstances, they have been increased. Therefore to suggest that Mr. Fitzgibbon's presence on the Board deprives the Board of fairness and compromises its judicial character is really to exaggerate the whole situation.
Then there was the further point made by the noble Viscount. He hoped that the Government would not shelter themselves behind a non possumus, and say that it-was impossible to remove Mr. Fitzgibbon. I agree. We do not say that. But I would point out that the two permanent members of the Board who are appointed at pleasure differ from the nine members appointed by King's Letter, who hold their office for a period of five years. No doubt it is perfectly true that if any public officer is guilty of misconduct he can be removed, but that misconduct has to be proved. In the first place, I suggest that we have no legal evidence that Mr. Fitzgibbon ever made the speech which is complained of. I do not say that legal evidence could not be obtained, but legal evidence has to be obtained, and, so far, no legal evidence exists. Whether or not Mr. Fitzgibbon has been guilty of misconduct which would entitle the Crown, on the petition of this House, to remove him I will not venture to say; but I would point out to noble Lords opposite that he is not a permanent member of the Board. His appointment does not last for ever. Three years hence his appointment will automatically cease.
§ LORD ASHBY ST. LEDGERS
He was appointed on January 6, 1910, and his appointment will come to an end on January 6, 1915. On that date his appointment will naturally come under review, and that would seem to me to be a more suitable moment to consider his position. However that may be, what I would like to emphasise before sitting down is this, that Mr. Fitzgibbon's conduct has been indefensible and improper. The Chief Secretary has pointed out in unmistakable terms directly to him that he regards such speeches as he has made as inconsistent with his retaining his office as a member of the Congested Districts Board. Mr. Fitzgibbon has replied that he recognises that fact, and has given an undertaking that he will not make any such speeches in the future so long as he remains a member of the Board. That is the situation to-day; and until some fresh incident arises which would lead us to believe that there is no reliance to be placed on the undertaking given by Mr. Fitzgibbon I should deprecate any action such as that Suggested by the noble Viscount.
§ LORD ASHBOURNE
My Lords, the noble Lord who has just spoken, had a very difficult task when he was asked to meet the case presented by my noble friend behind me, and he has done so with skill and has dealt with the topic as fairly as he could, having regard to the difficulties of its nature. Mr. Fitzgibbon is a very difficult personality, whose whole life is extremely well known. My Lords, what is the Government case? It is certainly not a defence of Mr. Fitzgibbon. Any one who heard the extracts from his speeches which were read by my noble friend and who knows his public history must realise that it would be very difficult to defend all that he has said and done. On the contrary, the noble Lord who spoke on behalf of His Majesty's Government has admitted that many things that Mr. Fitzgibbon has done were indefensible and improper and have put the Government and Mr. Birrell in a position of considerable embarrassment. I could sympathise more with Mr. Birrell if he were not of full age and had not done everything with his eyes open.
The responsibility of the Congested Districts Board is stupendous. The Board have to deal with several entire counties, 450 a substantial part of Cork and a substantial part of Clare, and they are given enormous powers to carry out voluntary sales and substantial powers to carry out compulsory sales. The exercise of those powers requires great conscientiousness, great balance of mind, great moderation, prudence, and tact, and the avoidance of everything that would give offence. The noble Lord who has just sat down said that Mr. Fitzgibbon had been selected as a representative. I have nothing to say against the principle of representation. It is wise and right that on a Board of this kind there should be those who represent the tenants as well as those who represent the landlords, and, if you like, the graziers. But surely the question is not whether it was right to have a representative of the people, but whether the Government should not have selected a representative who was free from all the charges that have been made to-night against Mr. Fitzgibbon. Mr. Fitzgibbon is a man of courage in expressing his opinions, a man who never hesitates to state his views. He has a perfect right to his opinions and his views, but he has also a right to be judged by those opinions and views, and I submit that the Government should have selected a man who was better known for his knowledge and moderation rather than one who was notorious for holding the most extreme views.
My noble friend said nothing personal against Mr. Fitzgibbon; nor do I. He is entitled to be spoken of as a man of ability and a man who clearly knows his own mind; but he must have been fully aware of the responsibilities of the position that he was accepting, and I am rather surprised that he did accept the office in view of the infirmity of his position. It is quite obvious from his earlier speeches, some of which have been mentioned by my noble friend, that his views are not of recent growth. I believe he has held them as long as he has said anything in public. But when Mr. Birrell and the Government made such a risky and reckless appointment surely Mr. Fitzgibbon was bound to consider how he would comport himself in reference to his new duties, and the Government were bound to watch how he performed them without the necessity of their attention being directed to him by Questions in the House of Commons. The Government attitude, as far as I know, was to do nothing, to sit in silence until they were asked in the House of Commons whether 451 they had read his speeches and what they thought of them. Why did they not act? I am sure that the attention of the Chief Secretary was directed to this matter in the Castle almost immediately after the speeches were made. Those speeches were reported in the Irish newspapers; they were discussed, and must have been brought to the notice of Mr. Birrell. Why did he not act? Why did he not communicate at once with Mr. Fitzgibbon and say: "This is in violation of the understanding on which you were appointed. You were appointed because we thought you would be a perfectly reasonable member of this great Board with its vast powers, and chat you would not go about preaching against payment of rent in order to intimidate and put pressure upon landlords to sell their estates."
§ LORD ASHBY ST. LEDGERS
After the first speech the Chief Secretary wrote to Mr. Fitzgibbon, or rather had a letter addressed to him, before the subject was raised in the House of Commons.
§ LORD ASHBOURNE
I am greatly surprised. That letter has not been read. I presume it was couched in such language of courtesy as not to convey any direct reprimand for what had been said, or any strong expression of opinion as to how Mr. Fitzgibbon was to behave in the future. The first letter has not been read, although the later letter has been. If the noble Lord has the earlier letter and it contains nothing that it would be improper to disclose I should be very glad to hear it read. At all events, the question was raised in the House of Commons and it was not known to anyone that the Chief Secretary objected to that speech until the question was asked. Therefore I am entitled to say that any communications that were made were not made so as to reach the public until the House of Commons was put in motion. That is not a mere verbal point. Publicity means public repudiation and public reproof, and if the Chief Secretary in his place in Parliament had intimated to Mr. Fitzgibbon that he had been guilty of conduct that was reprehensible; and which could not be allowed by His Majesty's Government, that would have acted as a caution. If I may assume from not being again interrupted that the Government are not in a position to read Mr. Birrell's first letter to Mr. Fitzgibbon, I make no further 452 remark upon it, except to point out that the letter seems to have had no effect. I suspect that it was a very temperate letter. At all events, it fell under the eyes of a man who felt that there was nothing in it to stop him in his course or prevent him continuing to incite tenants to act in the way that has been mentioned by my noble friend.
The noble Lord, in the course of his reply, said that no harm had been done to the administration of the Congested Districts Board and that the Board went on doing their business, and he had no reason to think that they were not doing valuable and good work. I am very glad to hear that, but it is no answer to the indictment. Surely the essence of the case is that every man should go into the board-room feeling that he had done nothing and said nothing to prevent a perfectly fair decision upon matters coming before the Board. I do not say that any member of the Board would do anything inconsistent with the responsibility of the position he filled, but surely it is in the last degree unbecoming and improper for a member to incite tenants to take certain action in reference to property whose owner it was desired should make an application to the Congested Districts Board to purchase the property. Is there one syllable to be said in defence of that? The noble Lord in his speech did not utter one syllable in defence of it; he could not. Everything that was said in these speeches by Mr. Fitzgibbon was to the last degree improper. The noble Lord has suggested that we should do nothing, but "wait and see." We are familiar with that phrase. We are to wait until the end of the five years, and then it will be a matter for consideration whether this gentleman should be reappointed. As Mr. Fitzgibbon has not thought proper to himself resign, which he mentioned in one of his letters as a possibility, is it right to leave this great power partly vested in a man who has made such speeches? Even as lately as March 9, although he was not present in person at a meeting at Ballindine, he sent a representative who did make as strong a speech as was possible. I hope that this discussion will do good, and that it will indicate the necessity, when such appointments are made, of selecting a man who has not by public action and public speech shown the strongest conceivable bias that must prejudice the discharge of the duties of his office.
§ LORD MACDONNELL OF SWINFORD
My Lords, I had no intention when I came down to the House this afternoon of taking any part in this debate, but the reference which the noble Viscount, Lord Midleton, has made to me prompts me to say a few words which, I think, may be interesting to your Lordships to hear. The first occasion upon which I met Mr. Fitzgibbon was when he came to my office in Dublin Castle—I think it was in the year 1903, or it may have been in 1904—to talk to me about the desirability of pushing the relief of congestion in the West of Ireland. I well remember the impression which Mr. Fitzgibbon made upon me on that occasion. I never met a man who spoke with greater earnestness or more forcibly from his point of view. But if he thought that he had intimidated me upon that occasion all I can say is that he was forcing an open door, because Mr. Fitzgibbon was no more anxious to promote the relief of congestion in the West of Ireland than I was, or than was Mr. Wyndham, who was then Chief Secretary.
The next time, if my memory serves me aright, that I met Mr. Fitzgibbon was when a difficulty arose in the county of Roscommon about purchasing grass land wherewith to relieve congestion. The spirit got abroad among the people that that land should be kept for the people of the neighbourhood, and that people removed from a distance should not be allowed to settle there. We were advised that that feeling might really interfere with and seriously prejudice the action of the Congested Districts Board, and the Board decided to send a few of their members to meet the county council of Roscommon, place before them the policy which they were endeavouring to work out, and ask their help in carrying it forward. Sir Horace Plunkett, Father Denis O'Hara, and myself, members of the Board, were chosen to go on that business, and a general meeting of the county council—very largely attended—was called to meet us, over which Mr. Fitzgibbon presided. I well remember the earnest manner in which Mr. Fitzgibbon addressed the county council in support of our mission, and the great help which he gave to the Congested Districts Board upon that occasion. I believe that were it not for the assistance which he gave us we should not have been able satisfactorily to carry out the duty entrusted to us.
The next occasion, and I think it was the last, on which I met Mr. Fitzgibbon was 454 when I was in the neighbourhood of Castlerea, also in connection with the relief of congestion. He came to me, placed before me maps of the neighbourhood, showed me the holdings that should be relieved, and earnestly urged that we should do all we could to relieve the congestion of the neighbourhood. He was trusted by the people of the locality, and he impressed me with the belief that he was acting from pure motives, and I learned that by general repute his hands were clean in all matters connected with money. I entirely differed from him in his method of endeavouring to push the relief of congestion; but I could not help believing that he was an honest man and acting for the best from his point of view. I think it right to say this because Mr. Fitzgibbon has been accused to-night—not without reason—of taking advantage of his position as a member of the Congested Districts Board. But, my Lords, he lives in the congested region. He sees the daily misery of the lives of these poor people, and it is scarcely to be wondered at if, overcome by his feelings, he occasionally uses language which your Lordships and I think would be in ordinary circumstance quite improper.
My Lords, of all the cases of injustice which we in Ireland have had to put up with under the present Irish executive I think the case which has been brought to your Lordships' notice to-night by the Motion moved by the noble Viscount on the Front Opposition Bench is, perhaps, the most scandalous. Our charge against the Government in this matter can be divided into three distinct parts. First, they have deliberately appointed this Mr. Fitzgibbon to a Government Department, although they must have been fully aware of what his previous record was; secondly, they persistently keep him as a member of that Department is spite of the way in which he has behaved since he has been a member of that Board; and, thirdly, they now stand by and calmly look on while a part of the country is being plunged into a state of intimidation and unrest caused entirely by the inflammatory speeches of a member of one of their Departments.
The noble Lord on the Front Bench opposite who answered for the Government said that the presence of Mr. Fitzgibbon on the Congested Districts Board did no harm to the Board. I wonder if having part of 455 the country with which they are dealing placed in a state of intimidation and unrest is likely to assist the Board in carrying out the work imposed upon them. As regards the first case, Why was Mr. Fitzgibbon ever put on the Congested Districts Board at all? Why was he thought to be a suitable member of a Board which was to have the handling of enormous sums of money for the purchasing of land and the very delicate and difficult task of dealing fairly and justly between landlord and tenant? Was it on account of his impartiality as a politician? We have already heard of his extreme views, and we also believe that he previously took a considerable part in the Land League agitation. Was it because of his mild and crimeless disposition? Why, it is his proud boast that he is the inventor of cattle-driving; and we have already been told that on two occasions at least he was committed to prison for inciting to riot. Was it on account of his loyalty to the Throne? We have already heard that when he was elected chairman of the Roscommon County Council he said he could not conscientiously take the oath that would be imposed upon him on becoming a magistrate. I wonder how he has soothed the qualms of his conscience since and been able to take the oath on becoming a Member of Parliament and put £400 a year in his pocket. Was it because of Ids financial ability or the experience which he gained as one of the treasurers of the Nationalist Party? And with what success! for he has had to go to America and to other places to look for the money which he has been unable to raise on behalf of Home Rule in a country which is supposed to be thirsting for it.
What, then, can be the real reason for which he was put on the Congested Districts Board? We get a little glimpse of the truth from one of Mr. Fitzgibbon's own speeches, which has already been quoted to-night, concerning Mr. Birrell being the head cattle-driver in Ireland. Perhaps some of your Lordships may remember a certain cartoon which appeared in Punch. It was a picture of an unfortunate cow running furiously round and round a field and Mr. Birrell sitting on top of a stile with a broad smile on his face. Beneath the picture was printed—There was an old man who said ' howShall I stop the flight of that cow?I will sit on a stile, and continue to smile.'But it did not relieve the poor cow.456 At last Mr. Birrell realised that he was unable to stop cattle-driving by jesting, and that public opinion demanded that it should be put a stop to. What, therefore, did he do? He went to the originator of cattle-driving and asked to be given a chance and to have cattle-driving stopped. Mr. Fitzgibbon said he was to be given a chance, but he was able at the same time to drive his own bargain, and now he is a member of the Congested Districts Board. His appointment, then, is scandalous enough. But if he is allowed to remain a member it will be still more so after those violent speeches of November 17, for which he was at first admonished, and of December 22, in which he utterly disregarded rebuke and said, amongst other things—It was not for the honour of the position that he was on the Board, but rather for the purpose of helping to carry out and complete the great work begun by Michael Davitt.That work, my Lords, was the abolition of landlordism from Ireland by means of the No Rent Campaign and by treason and felony for which he was committed to a term of fifteen years' imprisonment. If Mr. Fitzgibbon is allowed to remain on the Board after making those speeches and statements, then I say it will become a grave public scandal. So far, we have looked to the Government in vain. Mr. Fitzgibbon has again been let off with a reprimand, and you have heard to-night that he has since that made an error. But we are not informed whether the Government will take any notice of it. They say that they want positive proof. But, my Lords, you have been told—a report has been quoted from the public Press—that Mr. Fitzgibbon wrote to a meeting to apologise for his absence and sent a man to represent him. It is no answer to say that there is no proof when it has already been stated in the public Press.
The next charge against the Government is that they allow a conspiracy to go on under their very noses, a conspiracy to deprive a British citizen of that which is his lawful right, and to rob him of the whole income which he derives from his Irish property. My Lords this was a conspiracy started after, and inspired by, one of the inflammatory speeches of Mr. John Fitzgibbon. I will read a quotation from the Western People—He appealed to every man in the parish to enlist in Ireland's Army and to remain loyal and true to Irish organisation, and when Lord Oranmore 457 heard of their strength and their unity he would be coming to Father Morris with his hat in his hand asking them to buy instead of the tenants going to him asking him to sell.The immediate result of these words, falling from a member of a Government Department was that a conspiracy was formed to force Lord Oranmore to sell at a far lower price than he might reasonably be expected to obtain were he allowed to carry out a sale of his estate in peace and without intimidation. Posters were put up, of which you have already heard—posters of intimidation to Lord Oranmore and to the graziers on his estate. One of the remarks on those posters was this, "We want absolutely to cut the income of the Oranmore property." Thereby they were carrying out the policy recommended by Mr. John Fitzgibbon to force Lord Oranmore to come with his hat in his hand to Father Morris asking the people to buy. And, my Lords, all this has been done in spite of the fact that Lord Oranmore has always expressed his willingness to sell at a fair and reasonable price.
The time and money of the Congested Districts Board are now fully occupied in dealing with those estates where tenants are in the greatest need and where labour is hard to get. On the Oranmore estate it is exactly the contrary. The tenants are well-to-do. Lord Oranmore employs many labourers, and is exceptionally kind to all those in his employ. Those who do not fall into line and do as they are told are intimidated by the League. If they are proof against intimidation, then they are coerced and forced. Consequently the graziers on this property were arbitrarily summoned to attend a meeting of the League and told that they were to surrender their takes and to remove their stock from them. By way of helping them to make up their minds and obey the summons five car-loads of tenants went round and called on each individual grazier, I suppose by way of trying to gently persuade them to go quietly. To show that intimidation was used, I will refer to a meeting at Ballindine. At that meeting one of the graziers was asked whether he refused to surrender his take. He replied, "I do." His reply was followed by cries of, "Put him out," and "Throw him downstairs," and he was further told that it was as well for him to go as to be driven. And, my Lords, when the graziers have been driven out and Lord Oranmore's income and means of subsistence are gone, then he is not to be allowed 458 to stock those lands which will be thrown on his hands for his stock will surely be driven. At a meeting at Crossboyne a county councillor of the name of Mr. Killean stated that—If Lord Oranmore grazed his property they could not promise to remain as quiet as they were now, but when the time came they would be better judges of what they were to do.And, again, this councillor stated publicly that there would be a fund organised to indemnify them against any loss they might sustain in their herds from their patriotic action—namely, that of leaving Lord Oranmore's service. So that Lord Oranmore's cattle are to be driven, and he is to be deprived of all his servants and his herds. Such, my Lords, is the conspiracy which the Government are now allowing to go on under their very noses.
All our lives we have been taught to look up to the British lion of Justice with awe and respect. As far as Ireland is concerned, the lion has been muzzled and put in a cage and we are fast losing all faith in him. Here in England, no doubt, you may still respect him. If a policeman holds up his hand you stop. Why do you obey him? Because you know that he represents Justice, and that he is there to maintain law and order. But the people in Ireland are being taught to defy law and order, and the Government look on and acquiesce. The. Chief Secretary looks on as if it were all a joke. But a climax is being reached when a member of a Government Department starts a conspiracy of the nature which I have described and is still allowed to continue a member of that Department. We appeal to the Government to give us common justice. If only the Government would have less sympathy with the male-factor and give us in Ireland more justice, the country generally would in their turn extend to the Government more sympathy than they did, for instance, at the recent by-election in South Manchester. I will conclude by reading the end of the summing up of a learned Judge in a case of conspiracy exactly similar to the one which I have described—There is a freedom of mind and will; there is a freedom to adopt one's own course of life; there is a freedom to trade, to buy and sell—a freedom to buy land and to sell land. This liberty is secured to every man in this country, and part of that for which we pay our taxes is that the Government of this country shall enforce and protect this liberty.
§ THE EARL OF DUNMORE
My Lords, I think we must all be profoundly impressed by what we have heard this evening from this side of the House, and I might say also by what has fallen from the other side. One thing which emerges from this discussion is the inability of the Government to cope with the lawlessness which is increasingly apparent, and which, I think I may say for the first time, has extended to a gentleman holding an official position under His Majesty's Government. It is, indeed, rapidly becoming plain to the ordinary man that, however much the Government may legislate, they will not govern. An Administration which permits a member of an important Government Board to make use of his position to incite people to wage a private war has unquestionably abdicated its functions of responsible government.
The noble Viscount, Lord Midleton, has moved that a humble Address be presented to His Majesty praying him to remove Mr. John Fitzgibbon from his office. After what we have heard this evening I think we are all agreed that that is a very reasonable request, and I agree with the noble Lord who has just spoken that it would be also quite reasonable to ask why His Majesty's Government did not take this step some time ago—in fact, it would be reasonable to ask them why they ever appointed Mr. Fitzgibbon to the Congested Districts Board. Mr. Fitzgibbon may have many qualities which would lead him to eminence in some other vocation. I am quite prepared to accept Lord MacDonnell's estimate of Mr. Fitzgibbon's character. With that I have nothing to do. But I do say that it is an unprecedented act for any Government to appoint a gentleman who is notorious for his inflammatory and partisan speeches on the land question to a responsible administrative position the duties of which are almost entirely connected with Irish land and with those delicate relations which arise between tenants and landowners.
Now, my Lords, we are not left to unassisted conjecture as to Mr. Fitzgibbon's qualifications for this post. We have only? to read the speeches which this gentleman made prior to his appointment under the Land Act of 1909 to be convinced of his extreme views. I ask your Lordships to remember what you heard this evening from the noble Viscount, Lord Midleton, and from other noble Lords with regard to those 460 speeches, and to bear in mind that this gentleman has been in prison twice for inciting to riot and conspiracy and that this occurred prior to his appointment to the Congested Districts Board. What other credentials has Mr. Fitzgibbon got? I believe he appeared before the Dudley Commission and gave evidence as the official witness for the United Irish League. I have no doubt that he owed his selection by Mr. Birrell to his appearance in that capacity, as I believe it is common knowledge that the United Irish League have for the last five years reigned supreme in three Provinces in Ireland, and I have no doubt that they arc in a position to bring considerable pressure to bear on His Majesty's Government in determining what appointments shall or shall not be made. When we come to the subsequent history of these proceedings we are able to judge to what extent Mr. Birrell's selection has been justified.
I need not occupy your Lordships' time by recapitulating the seditious speeches made by Mr. Fitzgibbon at various times in different parts of the country. I think it is sufficient to observe that this matter was brought up in another place, and that in reply to a Question Mr. Birrell said that Mr. Fitzgibbon had undertaken to be more careful in future. Mr. Birrell's statement was made on December 4. What was its practical effect? We have heard this evening that shortly afterwards, I believe almost immediately afterwards, Mr. Fitzgibbon went down to a place called Ballindine, and at a meeting of the United Irish League repeated and emphasised his previous language inciting these tenants to unlawful acts. Again we had the matter brought up in the House of Commons, and a Question was put to His Majesty's Government as to whether it was their intention to remove Mr. Fitzgibbon from his official position. Mr. Birrell again gave us an example of pusillanimous procrastination. Mr. Fitzgibbon was not removed from his office. What excuse has the noble Lord, Lord Ashby St. Ledgers, put forward on behalf of Mr. Fitzgibbon? The chief defence, as far as I could make out, was that Mr. Fitzgibbon may be very, very bad indeed, but his badness will be so diluted by the excellence of the remaining fourteen members of the Board that it really will not interfere with their administrative work. That, as I understood it, was the chief defence put forward.
§ THE EARL OF DUNMORE
I quite take the noble Lord's meaning, but I do not think I am in any way exaggerating the importance of Mr. Fitzgibbon's action. Then the noble Lord went on to say that Mr. Fitzgibbon had undertaken either to refrain from making such speeches in future or to resign from his position on the Congested Districts Board. Your Lordships will observe that Mr. Fitzgibbon first of all makes no apology, neither does he undertake to refrain from making such speeches in future.
§ THE EARL OF DUNMORE
I quite understand the noble Lord, but, as I say, Mr. Fitzgibbon has not undertaken to refrain from making such speeches in future. He practically says, "Wait and see." Now, what must be the effect of the weakness of the attitude of His Majesty's Government, in regard to what I can only call atrocious insubordination, upon the people to whom these speeches have been made. "Never mind the law; go for what you want and get it," has been the advice tendered by a gentleman who held, and who still holds, an important official position under His Majesty's Government. I can to some extent understand the attitude His Majesty's Government have adopted of recent years towards bodies of peasants implicated in agrarian disturbances. There might be some excuse for hesitating to make use of coercive measures and for hesitating to put in force the Crimes Act for the suppression of agrarian crime in the expectation that the land purchase scheme introduced by the late Unionist Government would prove a sufficient panacea for agrarian discontent. But what possible excuse can there be for the attitude adopted by His Majesty's Government towards a person holding an important official position who makes use of that position to instigate unlawful and violent acts?
The noble Lord has based the whole of his defence, so far as I can find, on the fact that Mr. Fitzgibbon has said that he may do better in future, and also on the fact, as the noble Lord said, that he has not done much harm. That in about on a par with 462 what Mr. Birrell said in the House of Commons—that, after all, Mr. Fitzgibbon's speeches have not led to any open intimidation or to any open threats of cattle-driving. I have no doubt that technically Mr. Birrell was quite correct. I have no doubt that all that Mr. Fitzgibbon's speeches have led to is what supporters of His Majesty's Government call peaceful persuasion—the sort of persuasion that has to be carried out, as I understand, by a deputation consisting of a numerous body of strong able-bodied men, and the sort of peace which is extracted from a terror-stricken victim who knows that he is unable to claim the protection of the law to which all citizens of a free country should be entitled. My Lords, I am not going to say more. I am unacquainted with the conditions in Ireland. But I do say this, that this is a very bad case. I think it is probably the worst case that has ever come before your Lordships' House, and I regret that nothing that has fallen from the noble Lord opposite has in any way made it a better case.
THE EARL OF MAYO
My Lords, I do not rise for the purpose of making a speech, but merely to draw attention to one point in the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Ashby St. Ledgers. He shelters himself behind the fact that His Majesty's Government have no legal evidence as to Mr. Fitzgibbon being guilty of misconduct and therefore cannot accept the Resolution which has been moved by the noble Viscount. I do not understand what the noble Lord means by that. There have been two letters written by the Chief Secretary. One of those letters we have not heard read; but the other has been, and it told Mr. Fitzgibbon that if he continued this conduct he could not remain a member of the Congested Districts Board. There are also the newspaper extracts which have been read. They have not been contradicted by the noble Lord; he has admitted them. He has even admitted that Mr. Fitzgibbon has been in the wrong. What more evidence do we want? The Government shelter themselves behind the fact that they have not got legal evidence. Have we to go to a Court of Law to prove the case? I never heard a more ridiculous plea put forward in my life. I do not wish to detain your Lordships. I only rose to mention that one point, because it struck me as being extraordinary that such a plea should have been raised at all.
§ LORD ASHBY ST. LEDGERS
The noble Earl is not aware, perhaps, that a dismissal might be challenged in a Court of Law.
THE EARL OF MAYO
I was only on the one point—I took down the words of the noble Lord—that he said he had no legal evidence of Mr. Fitzgibbon being guilty of misconduct.
§ VISCOUNT MIDLETON
May I add that the noble Lord also said that I ought to be more careful with regard to making charges without legal evidence. I only gave him the newspaper reports, as I have not the same facilities as he has for getting official reports.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
My Lords, I need add very little to what has been said from this side of the House. My noble friend who introduced the subject made out, I think your Lordships will say, a very strong and unanswerable case, and that case remains unshaken at the present moment by anything that has since been said. Let me remind the House in half-a-dozen sentences of the outline of that case. In the first place, there is the history of the Congested Districts Board. What was the object with which the Board, as we now know it, was constituted? It was to be engaged—I am using the expressions of the Chief Secretary himself—upon "a good, noble, and pious work"; it was to be a work of reconciliation; a work designed to mitigate the acuteness of the agrarian quarrel, which was then proceeding in certain parts of Ireland. It was desired that the reconstituted body should not be of too bureaucratic a character, and accordingly representative members of various complexions were added to it. Amongst these Mr. Fitzgibbon was included. What were Mr. Fitzgibbon's qualifications for this appointment? I do not wish to do him any injustice, but I do not think I go beyond the mark when I say that, but for the fact of his being a notorious firebrand, his position is one of considerable obscurity. He takes credit to himself for having been the inventor of cattle-driving. I believe he is also very well pleased with his own record in so far as that record comprises two imprisonments for incitement to crime and intimidation. The noble Lord who represents the Irish Government told us it was desirable that there should be a representative of the tenant farmers upon 464 the Board. I quite agree with him. But was it necessary to look for a tenant farmer of the precise complexion of the honourable gentleman whose merits we are discussing?
I will put an imaginary case to the noble Lord. He told us, "You have got Lord Shaftesbury, a well-known landlord upon the Board." Supposing, instead of Lord Shaftesbury, we had taken the noble? Marquess whom I see on the other side of the House, Lord Clanricarde, do you think that would have been accepted by the public as a thoroughly reasonable appointment? I think that plea, if I may be excused for saying so, was a very absurd one. I do not know with what high hopes Mr. Fitzgibbon was added to the Board, but whatever those hopes were, it is quite clear that they were rudely disappointed by his actions. He has succeeded in obtaining two distinct rebukes at the hands of the Chief Secretary. Upon the first occasion we learn that the Chief Secretary did not think it necessary to himself write the letter, but a letter was caused to be written, and in spite of the challenge from this side of the House this afternoon that letter has not been produced. I believe it is unusual and not in accordance with the practice of the House to refer to documents of that kind unless the person who quotes them is prepared to lay them upon the Table. At any rate, whatever that gentle reprimand was intended to be, it was treated by Mr. Fitzgibbon with superb contempt. Then came the second offence. Upon that occasion the reprimand was no longer entrusted to one of the minores dei of the Irish office; it was the Chief Secretary himself who forged and hurled the thunderbolt. What has been the result? Another apology was elicited from Mr. Fitzgibbon—again an apology from which quotations were made by the noble Lord, Lord Ashby St. Ledgers, but which, apparently, was not fit for publication in its entirety.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
Exactly, but we should have liked to see the text of that remarkable and instructive document. What has happened since this two-fold reprimand? The noble Lord tells us that Mr. Fitzgibbon himself has held his hand. But my noble friend Lord 465 Midleton brings forward evidence which appears to me to show conclusively that although Mr. Fitzgibbon did not personally attend these inflammatory meetings he sent a kind of deputy firebrand who for the purpose was quite as effective as himself. I would, moreover, ask His Majesty's Government to remember this, that even if Mr. Fitzgibbon stays at home and refrains from making further speeches of this description, the ball which he has set rolling is rolling still, and beyond all doubt the agitation for which he is responsible has spread to two or three counties in that part of Ireland. In these circumstances it does seem to me that Mr. Fitzgibbon's continued presence upon the Congested Districts Board is scandalously improper.
Now I go back to the official defence offered by the noble Lord. He told us, in the first place, that there was no legal evidence of Mr. Fitzgibbon's speeches. I am sure that the noble Lord, although he was supplied with an extremely bad brief by the Irish Office, must feel that he made a bad brief worse by relying upon an argument of that kind. At any rate, whether the evidence was legally conclusive, or not, it was sufficient to justify the two-fold rebuke which we know Mr. Fitzgibbon received at the hands of the Chief Secretary. Then what was the next item in the defence? It was that Mr. Fitzgibbon has only got three years more to serve. Only three years more! Let us bear with his pretty ways in the meanwhile and allow the work of the Congested Districts Board to be hampered, as it must be, by incitements of that kind until in the fulness of time—I think this is how it was put—Mr. Fitzgibbon's case comes up for review, and then His Majesty's Government will consider whether or not they shall give him a further term of five years as a blessing in disguise for the country!
My Lords, I sum up what I have ventured to say by stating that in the opinion of all reasonable men Mr. Fitzgibbon's original appointment to the Congested Districts Board was an outrage, and that his retention upon that Board is not less of an outrage. It does seem to me intolerable that a gentleman who is at the same time a high official of a Court possessing enormous powers—my noble friend established that point at the outset of his speech—powers in excess of those which many judicial Courts 466 possess, and who is also a Member of Parliament, should use his official position not only for the purpose of spreading agitation in Ireland but of strengthening his own political position amongst his constituents and those who hold the doctrines which he has professed with so much energy and with such disastrous results.
THE LORD PRIVY REAL AND SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA (THE MARQUESS OF CREWE)
My Lords, as my noble friend behind me pointed out, the noble Viscount who introduced this subject devoted the greater part of his speech to the particular circumstances connected with the case of Mr. Fitzgibbon and did not touch to any great extent upon the general work of the Congested Districts Board as it is now carried on. In a few moments I shall have to say a word about that work, because it has in one aspect a distinct bearing, I venture to believe, upon the particular case which is before the House. Mr. Fitzgibbon has been the subject of some very plain speaking in the course of this debate. The noble Marquess who has just sat down did not spare him, and he was the subject of a direct personal attack on the part of the noble Lord on the Back Benches opposite; and I cannot help saying that, though I listened with no little admiration to the form of the noble Lord's speech, I could not help thinking while I was hearing it that the tone and temper of the speech as a whole, if it was to be taken as representative of the view of Irish landlords on a subject of this kind, explains a great deal the unhappy history of the last forty or fifty years in Ireland.
Mr. Fitzgibbon's name has long been familiar to me. When I was in Ireland he was well known as an active man of the type noble Lords opposite would describe, meaning to convey the utmost blame in their power, as an agitator. Mr. Fitzgibbon was undoubtedly an agitator, and, while I say that, the term does not to me necessarily involve any blame in itself, because from the time of St. Paul downwards there have been a large number of persons who could only be described as agitators whom many of us would hold in great respect; yet I am well aware that Mr. Fitzgibbon belongs to the type of agitator whom noble Lords opposite consider to be thoroughly reprehensible. His doings were continually 467 noted. They were almost the daily diet of Lord Morley and myself during the period when we were holding office in Ireland. But, though he was so well known as an agitator, I never remember his name being associated with any attempts of a criminal or dangerous character. I mention that because the tone in which Mr. Fitzgibbon has been described by more than one speaker in the House would lead those who are not acquainted with the history of Irish agitation to suppose that he was a well-known member of the criminal classes. As to his later history, my noble friend behind me, Lord MacDonnell, bore remarkable testimony, which I think impressed the House, as to the influence which Mr. Fitzgibbon holds in the particular counties of Roscommon and Mayo, and I think it is only fair to add that he has gained that influence partly, I have no doubt, by the agitation of which noble Lords opposite disapprove, and which certainly I am not disposed to praise, but also by having done a great deal of solid local work in his county as chairman of the county council, and also—which may afford some amusement to noble Lords opposite—by a trait, which at any rate here we shall all agree is in his favour in a part of the country where such efforts are, though not unknown, perhaps not very common, that of a strong worker in the cause of temperance, and as having steadily set his face, in the position which ho holds as a large general shopkeeper in Castlerea, against having anything to do with the sale of drink.
The noble Lord, Lord Farnham, spoke of the unrest which he described as existing at this moment in the congested districts as the direct outcome of speeches made mainly by Mr. Fitzgibbon, but no doubt he would include others who work in the same direction. I am obliged to traverse that contention although, in spite of the great benefits which were conferred on the congested districts by the Act of 1909, there undoubtedly exists a certain unrest and impatience in agrarian matters for which we have to account. I traverse it, however, to some extent by quoting from the last Report of the Congested Districts Board, which speaks of the extravagant ideas which have been entertained in the congested districts as to what the Board can do in consideration of the large increase in its income which was made in 1909, an increase of which, I think I am right in saying, noble Lords opposite themselves 468 heartily approved. If I remember right, the income of the Board was increased from about £186,000 a year to something over £230,000 a year.
THE MARQUESS OF CREWE
I think the noble Marquess is right. But from that had to be subtracted certain sums which had to be paid over to the Agricultural Department in respect of work taken over by them, and I fancy that the net amount is therefore about £230,000 a year. That increase seems to have implanted in the minds of many of those living in the congested districts the idea that the Board now possesses the purse of Fortunatus and that its transactions can be carried out, not only on a very much larger scale, but also at a greatly increased speed. I feel that it is true that a certain degree of unrest and impatience has been caused by that fact, and a certain disappointment at what is supposed to be the slow action of the Board, so that I trust that every means will be taken of explaining to the people who live in that district that, although the Board's funds are larger, yet still it can only work slowly in its practice of buying estates as a whole—in globo as it has been described—and going through the long and sometimes slow process of developing those estates and increasing the size and changing the character of the holdings.
It has been said, and I do not think it can be denied, that there is an advantage, in such a body as the Congested Districts Board, in placing among the appointed members men of different classes, of different kinds, and representative of different interests, and it cannot be disputed that although Mr. John Fitzgibbon is not himself a farmer yet he is taken by the agricultural population in his neighbourhood as representative of their interests. Well, my Lords, if I were a member of the Congested Districts Board at this moment I confess that, bearing in mind that feeling of unrest and of what I should describe as unreasonable impatience which undoubtedly exists, I should think twice before, except for the very strongest reasons possible, I forcibly removed from the Board a man who was regarded by the tenants as representative of their interests. It is, of course, easy for noble Lords to say, and it is open to them to say it if they like, that when a representative of those interests was 469 appointed a man of a milder disposition than Mr. Fitzgibbon and one loss given to making speeches ought to have been selected. But things being as they are, I repeat that if I were a member of the Board I should require very strong evidence of actual unfitness before I took a step which would be almost certain, if it were taken, to be misinterpreted by the very class of landholders in the West of Ireland that we wish to help and whose business the Congested Districts Board has to look after.
My noble friend behind me stated in the fairest possible way that he had no defence to offer for the particular speeches which are complained of. Certainly I have none to advance. But there are just two points connected with the speeches on which I wish to say a word. In the course of my noble friend's speech the noble Viscount rose to explain that although Mr. Fitzgibbon had technically kept his promise of not making any more speeches, yet he had, in fact, broken it by sending an emissary to make a speech on his behalf at a meeting. As my noble friend explained—and I think it is desirable that I should repeat the statement—it is not believed by the Irish Government that Mr. Conway was sent by Mr. Fitzgibbon or said that he had been so sent, or that Mr. Fitzgibbon wrote saying that he had sent him. The official report contains no such statement.
§ VISCOUNT MIDLETON
I do not want to interrupt the noble Marquess, but there is a very simple process that can be gone through. Does Mr. Fitzgibbon himself deny that he had anything whatever to do with Mr. Conway's appearance at that meeting or that he had any communication whatever with regard to it?
THE MARQUESS OF CREWE
Obviously I cannot answer that question off-hand. But, as I have stated, the letter referred to in a local newspaper describing Mr. Conway as having been sent by Mr. Fitzgibbon does not appear to have existed. Then the noble and learned Lord opposite, Lord Ashbourne, asked about the first letter of the Chief Secretary with reference to the first speech by Mr. Fitzgibbon which was complained of. That letter was not written to Mr. Fitzgibbon but to the Secretary of the Congested Districts Board, calling the Board's attention to the character of the speech, and it was the Secretary of the Board, as I understand, who wrote to Mr. 470 Fitzgibbon pointing out the impropriety of his conduct and who received from him a reply expressing regret and especially disclaiming any desire to embarrass the Chief Secretary and the Board. It was, as the noble Marquess stated, on the second occasion that my right hon. friend himself wrote to Mr. Fitzgibbon.
Now, my Lords, as I said, I do not attempt to offer any defence of the speeches made by Mr. Fitzgibbon and nobody has attempted to condone them. I quite agree that all persons holding responsible positions ought not to make exciting speeches anywhere, still less ought they to make them in places where there is any risk of those whose feelings are likely to become still more excited by them taking any violent action. I hold that view, and I should certainly hold it as being responsible for the administration of India, and I should hold it as concerns the city of Belfast just as much as the County of Roscommon.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY
Will the noble Marquess tell me of any speech of a dangerous character that was ever made in Belfast?
THE MARQUESS OF CREWE
I was not speaking of speeches of a dangerous character. I was speaking of speeches made by responsible persons in any place in which feeling runs high and which may conceivably cause violent action on the part of those listening to them.
THE MARQUESS OF CREWE
I can recall no phrase of my right hon. friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, which could drive any member of his audience to riotous proceedings. The noble Lord may have the phraseology used by my right hon. friend more accurately in his memory than I have, but I confess I am not able to recall any, and I am very glad to know that noble Lords opposite, holding law and order as they do in such great respect, disapprove, and I have no doubt will continue to disapprove, of any form of violent language used anywhere. There, I am glad to think, we are in agreement. But, my Lords, the real question, as it seems to me, is whether in view of these improper and, if you like, wild speeches that have been delivered the Government ought to decide to give the speaker a short shrift, or 471 whether it is not wiser to give him another opportunity of showing more self-restraint. The latter of those two views is the view that His Majesty's Government intend to take. I do not believe that the cause of public order would be served or vindicated by Executive action in this case being now taken in a manner which, though for one reason or another it might give satisfaction in certain quarters, would be by a great many other people considered harsh, perhaps vindictive, and as exceeding
§ Motion agreed to accordingly: Ordered, that the said Address be presented to His Majesty by the Lords with White Staves.472
§ the necessities of the case. That being our view, we are not able to accept the Motion made by the noble Viscount opposite, and if, as I am sorry to think may be the case—I wish it were not the case—he desires to divide the House upon it, we shall be obliged, for the reasons which I have given, to go into the Lobby against him.
§ On Question?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 95; Not-contents, 36.471
|Bedford, D.||Hill, V.||Gormanston, L. (V. Gormanston)|
|Devonshire, D. [Teller.]||Hutchinson, V. (E. Donoughmore.)|
|Northumberland, D.||Gwydir, L.|
|Richmond and Gordon, D.||Iveagh, V.||Hindlip, L.|
|Somerset, D.||Knutsford V.||Hylton, L.|
|Llandaff, V.||Inchiquin, L.|
|Abergavenny, M.||St. Aldwyn, V.||Kenyon, L.|
|Lansdowne, M.||Kilmaine, L.|
|Abinger, L.||Kilmarnock, L. (E. Erroll.)|
|Camperdown, E.||Ampthill, L.||Kintore, L. (E. Kintore.)|
|Cathcart, E.||Ashbourne, L.||Langford, L.|
|Clarendon, E.||Barnard, L.||Lawrence, L.|
|Cromer, E.||Barrymore, L.||Lilford, L.|
|Eldon, E.||Basing, L.||Lovell and Holland, L. (E. Egmont.)|
|Fitzwilliam, E.||Belhaven and Stenton, L.|
|Grey, E.||Howes, L. (E. Strathmore and Kinghorn.)||Montagu of Beaulieu, L.|
|Hardwicke, E.||Monteagle of Brandon, L.|
|Leicester, E.||Brodrick, L. (V. Midleton.)||O'Hagan, L.|
|Leven and Melville, E.||Cheylesmore, L.||Penrhyn, L.|
|Lichfield, E.||Clanwilliam, L. (E. Clanwilliam.)||Ponsonby, L. (E. Bessborough.)|
|Mayo, E.||Ranfurly, L. (E. Ranfurly.)|
|Plymouth, E.||Cottesloe, L.||Rathmore, L.|
|Portsmouth, E.||Cranworth, L.||Redesdale, L.|
|Roberts, E.||Crofton, L.||Revelstoke, L.|
|Solborne, E.||Dawnay, L. (V. Downe.)||Sackville, L.|
|Stanhope, E.||Desart, L. (E. Desart.)||St. Levan, L.|
|Vane, E. (M. Londonderry.)||Digby, L.||Saltoun, L.|
|Verulam, E.||Dinevor, L.||Sandys, L.|
|Waldegrave, E.||Dunmore, L. (E. Dunmore.)||Silchester, L. (E. Longford.)|
|Wicklow, E.||Ellenborough, L.||Sinclair, L.|
|Estcourt, L.||Somerhill, L. (M. Clanricarde.)|
|Chilston, V.||Faber, L.||Sudeley, L.|
|Churchill, V. [Teller.]||Farnham, L.||Teynham, L.|
|Colville of Culross, V.||Farquhar, L.||Wolverton, L.|
|Goschen, V.||Fermanagh, L. (E. Erne.)|
|Loreburn, E. (L. Chancellor.)||Sandhurst, L. (L. Chamberlain.)||Haversham, L.|
|Crewe, M. (L. Privy Seal.)||Aberconway, L.||Hemphill, L.|
|Ashby St. Ledgers, L.||Herschell, L. [Teller.]|
|Breadalbane, M.||Blyth, L.||MacDonnell, L.|
|Lincolnshire, M.||Brabourne, L.||Marchamley, L.|
|Charnwood, L.||Pontypridd, L.|
|Chesterfield, E. (L. Steward.)||Colebrooke, L.||Rotherham, L.|
|Beauchamp, E.||Courtney of Penwith, L.||St. Davids, L.|
|Craven, E.||Devonport, L.||Southwark, L.|
|Liverpool, E. [Teller.]||Emmott, L.||Stanmore, L.|
|Eversley, L.||Swaythling, L.|
|Allendale, V.||Farrer, L.||Welby, L.|
|Haldane, V.||Granard, L. (E. Granard.)||Willingdon, L.|
§ House adjourned at a quarter past Seven o'clock, till To-morrow, half-past Ten o'clock.