§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
THE LORD PRIVY SEAL (THE EARL OF CRAWFORD)
My Lords, under the Labourers (Ireland) Act of 1883 district councils in Ireland purchase land and erect cottages for labourers living in their neighbourhood. Section 15 of that Act requires that in the event of the district council within two years of securing the land not having exercised their powers effectively, the land shall revert to it original owner at the price paid for i[...] 989 Owing to the war, finance is not forthcoming, and, even if finance were forthcoming, neither labour nor materials are available for erecting these cottages; and the proposal before your Lordships is that the operation of Section 15 shall be suspended until one year after the end of the war. Otherwise a number of schemes which are now pending—now actually in process of completion—will be destroyed, money will be wasted, these authorities will be discouraged from the excellent work they are doing, and, generally speaking, the whole operation of the Act will be dislocated. I do not suggest that the section should be repealed, but merely that its operation should be postponed, and I ask your Lordships to give the Bill a Second Reading.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.— (The Earl of Crawford.)
THE EARL OF MEATH
My Lords, perhaps as an Irish landlord, and as one who was rather afraid when the original Act was passed that we were enacting a form of socialistic legislation, I may be allowed to say that I have come round completely to the view that although there is no doubt that the original Act does carry out socialistic principles it is one that has done an enormous amount of good in Ireland. If you travel through Ireland now you will find that there are more decent dwellings of the working class than there are in this country in proportion to population, and on the whole the Act has not been a grievance, which at one time landlords thought it would be. I think support should be given to the Government, so that after the war these local authorities may be able to continue the beneficent work which they have carried out up to the present.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.