§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ MR. M. J. FLAVIN (Kerry, N.)
Mr. Speaker, in rising to move the Second Reading of the Land Law (Ireland) Acts Amendment, I feel that a great responsibility is cast upon my shoulders in having to move this Bill on behalf of the Irish Party, which is their principal Measure this Session, because I was so fortunate in getting fifth place in the ballot among the Members of this House. I can only ask, Sir, your indulgence, and the indulgence of the Members, during the course of my remarks, which I hope will be as brief as the necessities of the case will allow. The principal provisions of the Land Law (Ireland) Amendment Bill are summarised as follow:—To reduce the statutory term from 15 to 10 1361 years; the altering of the method of valuation; amending the law with regard to improvements; to bring the town parks under the Land Acts; the reinstatement of the evicted tenants; to entitle future tenants to get the benefits of land legislation; to give power to reduce arrears when fair rents are being fixed in accordance with the provisions of the Scotch Crofters Acts; to increase the limit of rental on grass farms up to £200, and to legalise the Ulster custom. These, Mr. Speaker, in a condensed form are the principal portions of a Bill of which I have the honour to move the Second Reading. In so doing, I believe that the reductions of rent which have been given in this Return under the Land Act of 1881 and the Land Act of 1896 are quite inadequate to meet the great depreciation in agricultural produce, the great fall in the price of agricultural produce, and the great competition which now exists. The Ulster custom, in my opinion, should long have prevailed, not only in Ulster, but in all Ireland, because we in Ireland know that the invariable practice, for the past hundred years, has been that the tenant and his predecessors in title have made at least 80 per cent. of the improvements in their holdings. The rent reductions which have been given to meet the necessities of the case are, in my opinion, quite inadequate, and I would like to draw the attention of the House to a sample case heard in Limerick on Thursday last, upon which occasion a number of judgments were given by the Chief Land Commissioner. Judgments were delivered in 13 cases, of which number the rents were raised in five cases, were confirmed in seven, and reduced in only one instance. I desire in this connection to draw the attention of the House to the reduction so given. The old rent was £28; the judicial rent, fixed by the Sub-Commissioner, was £28, and the appeal rent, after the tenant had undergone all the expense of appeal, was £27 15s.; so that the unfortunate tenant got a reduction on appeal of only 5s. upon the existing rent. On the preceding day—Wednesday last—15 other cases were heard in the city of Limerick. In seven of these cases the rent, was raised, in seven others the rent was confirmed, and in only one case was it reduced. In that case the old rent was 1362 £24 7s., the judicial rent was £23 10s., and the appeal rent, as given by the Chief Land Commissioner on appeal, was £ 10s., milking a reduction in favour of the tenant, on appeal, of 17s., with the extra penalty on the tenant that he had to pay all county cess, as against the 17s. reduction he received on appeal. In connection with this case, if the House will permit me, I would like to quote, for the information of this House, a remarkable statement delivered by one of the Chief Commissioners in connection with this case. He spoke as follows—I must express my dissent from the rents fixed on this estate. The present value of the farms is mainly due to the expenditure of the tenants on buildings and reclamations, for which they get insufficient credit. In Margaret Riordan's case the alleged improvements are corroborated by the fact of the rent having been more than quadrupled since 1851, when it was only £4 10s. The fact of the rental steadily following the improvements is a circumstance which should be taken into account. A contribution of £140 by the landlord, a sum small in comparison with the tenant's outlay, was made out of public money granted at a low rate of interest for the relief of the distress in 1880. The landlord gets full credit for that expenditure at the rate of 5 per cent. The official valuers agree with the tenant's and landlord's valuers as to the carrying power of the farm; but even the landlord's valuer, Mr. Hunt, places the full value of the land, including; all improvements, at 20 per cent. more than the official Court valuers, whose estimates we are said to register as the decision of the Court. The Sub-Commissioners, who had the advantage of hearing the evidence, and who are men of longer experience in Munster than the Court valuers, estimate the value of the land at 13s. 6d. more than the landlord's valuer. The only substantial difference between them is, whether any and what credit is to be given to the tenant, for improvements. The evidence leaves no doubt on my mind that the farm has been practically made out of moor and bog mainly by the tenant, and to fix as the fair judicial rent a sum more than four times the rent in 1852 is unjust, and not warranted by the facts and circumstances of the case, or by the gross value of the farm produce, out of which the taxes and all expenses must be paid before any rent is earned. The landlord's valuer estimated the rent on a somewhat less area than the Court valuers, but his estimate of the full letting value of the farm was based on the carrying power, as to which he agrees with the Court valuers and the Sub-Commissioners and the tenant. As regards the second term cases of Ambrose and Flanigan, the liability of the land to disease and the want of water has not been taken into account. The rents in 1881–82 were, it is well known, fixed mainly with reference to the preceding period of high prices current up to 1880. In the last twenty years the price of butter, the principal 1363 rent-paying produce of the tenant, has fallen fully 30 per cent. As the Fry Commission pointed out, any fall in the price of produce should cause a very much larger fall in rent. The illustration given at page 23 of that Report shows that a fall of 20 per cent. in produce should cause the rent to fall 33½ per cent. Extending that illustration, a fall of 25 per cent. should be accompanied by a reduction of 40 per cert. in rent, and a fall of 30 per cent. in produce should mean a fall of 50 per cent. in rent. Knowing how rents were fixed in the early years of the Land Commission, and the fall of prices being a matter of common knowledge, I cannot concur with the rents fixed, which reduced the judicial rents fixed in 1882 by 28 per cent. in one case and 40 per cent. in the other.I think that is a very remarkable statement of facts, coming from one of the Commissioners, who has had, I imagine, as wide a knowledge as any man on the Judicial Bench in. Ireland in connection with the Land Acts, and, in his opinion, he there declares that tenants in Ireland are not in receipt of what the law is bound to give them. If we look in another direction, after taking that statement of Mr. Commissioner O'Brien in the fixing of these rents—the first statutory rents fixed by the Land Commission, from the 22nd August to the 31st March, 1897—we find that the average percentage of reduction in all Ireland only amounts to 21.4 per cent. Anybody having a knowledge of the state of affairs in Ireland would certainly not deny—not even the landlords themselves—the fact that farm produce has gone down in price anywhere from 30 to 35 per cent., owing to the great failure of the crops and the great increase in foreign competition. In looking over the Land Commission's Reports I find that the official returns show the following fall in prices. Since 1881 the tall in the price of oats has averaged 28 per cent.; in potatoes, 44.4 per cent.; barley, 30 per cent.; store cattle (two years old), 39.3 per cent.; one year old, 29 per cent.; sheep (since 1890), 26.6 per cent.; pork, 39.6 per cent.; butter, 20.4 per cent.; which gives an average reduction in the principal products—on which the Irish tenant farmer not only has to support his family, but has also to pay the rent—of 35 per cent., as against an average reduction by the Land Commission of something like 21 per cent. I will also quote an official Report from a return to show the condition of 1364 the crops, and two statements will be quite sufficient for my purpose. One of them is from the extreme north of Ireland, and the other is from the south. In quoting these Reports I will not even admit that they are select Reports. One is taken from the centre of my own constituency of Listowel, which I certainly say is not by any means a poor district at the present moment—I will go so far as to say that it is an average good agricultural district, as agricultural districts go in Ireland. The first Report says—The general yield of crops is much below the average; the oat crop is very poor in quality and quantity. Of hay there is only a small quantity. In general the hay crop is bad, and in fact it is useless for feeding purposes, in consequence of continuous rains. The potato crop is much below the average in quality and quantity, too much rain having fallen during the time the tubers were coming to maturity.That is a Report coming from the Listowel district, as supplied to Her Majesty's Government from official sources. The Report from the north is as follows—I have to report the failure of the harvest as regards potatoes, oats, meadows, etc., due to very wet weather. There was a bad potato blight, but tubers were not affected by it, and have rotted to a great extent in the ground on account of the wet weather.My object in using these Reports is to point out that not alone have the farmers of Ireland to suffer owing to foreign competition, not alone have they to suffer owing to depreciation in the price of agricultural produce, not alone have they to suffer because they cannot reach the markets with their produce owing to prohibitive railway rates, but they also have to suffer from an incessantly wet climate, which was worse than ever last spring, and has been very bad for a number of years. In several districts of the county of Kerry, of which I am speaking from personal knowledge, last harvest there was a failure of from 50 to 60 per cent. of the potato crop. I have gone to the trouble of compiling some statistics in connection with this matter, and I have done that because I have no wish whatever to make this subject a political one as between landlord and tenant, and because I wish to prove 1365 from indisputable facts that there is an actual necessity for further land legislation to be carried out in order to relieve the condition of affairs now existent in Ireland; and for this reason I simply take the official returns, which are compiled, not by the people of Ireland, who are interested in this question, but by the officials in connection with a Government which is supposed to legislate for Ireland. In the face of these official returns, and in the face of the facts that are supplied in the Blue Books, the state of affairs now in existence in Ireland, as shown by these official returns and the Blue Books, is one of the most deplorable nature, and unless the Government will consent to accept either this Bill in its entirety, or a portion of it, they will have to meet a dreadful state of affairs—a state of affairs which existed last year and exists this year, and which, so far, they have refused to meet. If I take up the average yearly extent of acres under cultivation in Ireland, it is simply a repetition of what I have already stated. Without going into the details of the number of acres under cultivation, I will give the percentage of the decrease taking the average years from 1886 to 1895. In those years the decrease in the number of statute acres of wheat alone was 33,478, or a decrease of 46.8 per cent. In oats for the same period there has been a decrease of 60,327 acres, and in barley a decrease of 1,038 acres. In potatoes the decrease is 55,740 acres, and in flax, which is the principal product of the north of Ireland, the same story has to be told, for there is a decrease in that product of 26,889 acres, which is equal to 27.1 per cent. In looking at these figures it must be taken into consideration that the quantity of acres given here is far and away below the quantity cultivated in previous years, and in a supplementary return the estimated yield of the same products is given; but although Ireland suffered last year and the year before from dreadfully wet weather, leading to the complete failure of many of the crops, the estimates I am about to give of the average yield are based upon the supposition of favourable circumstances of weather and other circumstances. Taking again the years 1886 to 1895 as average years, the average yield of wheat was 1,113,838 1366 cwts.; in 1896 it was estimated to be 639,617 cwts., which shows a decrease of 474,221 cwts;, equal to a reduction of 42.6 per cent. Taking that item alone, I would like to ask, how is it possible, considering the condition of affairs in Ireland, for farmers to pay their rents, and how is it, knowing, as the Government must know, that farming in Ireland is not a paying business, that they assist the landlords to collect rents which it is impossible, under present circumstances, to pay, by means of police or any other assistance that is required? It does seem to me to be neither humane nor Christian like that such a thing as that should be done. Going back to the supplemental return I was quoting, I find in oats a like condition of affairs as in wheat. The average yearly yield from 1836 to 1895 was 18,039,671 cwts. In 1896 it was 17,008,580 cwts., or a decrease of 1,031,537 cwts. Of potatoes the average yearly yield for the same period was 2,744,963 tons, and in 1896 it was 2,701,000 tons, or a decrease of 43,963 tons. Now, there is a very remarkable fact in connection with that potato crop return. In 1895 the estimated yield, according to the Government return, is given at 3,472,015 tons, and in 1896 the estimated yield is only 2,701,000 tons, which shows a net decrease as between 1896 and 1895 of 771,015 tons, which is a fall of 25 per cent. in 12 months. Notwithstanding that return, Mr. Speaker, we have been told—I have been told myself by the Chief Secretary on the floor of this House—that in several districts, in 1896, there was practically no failure or no decrease in the potato crop. I have drawn the attention of the Chief Secretary time and again to places where, to my own knowledge, the potato crop has been a failure for five or six years. I have appealed on behalf of my own constituents that they might be allowed to purchase sprays and spraying material for the prevention of blight, but I have appealed to deaf ears. We have a very unfortunate condition of affairs in Listowel, that the ratepayers are not ever allowed to buy sprayers even at the expense of the ratepayers themselves, and the result is that the potato crop is practically ruined. Practically there are no potatoes growing in the south and 1367 west of Ireland, and what few there are are fit neither for seed nor human food. I find another official return given in connection with the price of cattle. This is a return by the Land Commission issued this month, and in that return there is a remarkable fact, winch is that in Dublin the official live-weight price of cattle is registered at £1 10s. per cwt., whereas for the very same description of beasts in the London markets, according to the London Times, the price on the same occasion was £2 per cwt. So that, if we simply calculate the average weight of a beast as at least 12 cwt., the actual loss to the Irish farmer, as between himself and the English producer, is £6. I made some reference to the great difficulties which the Irish farmer has to contend with, and in order to illustrate these I will give a few figures in connection with foreign competition to show how that competition has increased, and, in my opinion, is increasing, and will continue to increase, as we see from the returns. The total value of the receipts at British and Irish ports of the various products enumerated amounted in 1897 to £158,000,000 sterling, an increase of £6,000,000 sterling over the sum represented by the corresponding period of last year. The supplies of foreign and Colonial butter, which reached 3,217,801 cwts., was declared to be worth £15,917,000, Denmark being one of the principal competitors, and in Ireland at the present moment we who live there know that butter is one of the principal productive articles in Ireland, especially in the south of Ireland; and when we have got such competitors as Denmark to deal with, where they get great railway facilities, not alone for their own companies, but for the English ones, we are placed at a great disadvantage, and under these circumstances it is utterly impossible for the Irish tenant farmer to go into the English markets. For some of the Irish produce, say from Dublin to Kerry, the remarkable state of things is this: that you can send it from Dublin to Liverpool and back from Liverpool to Kerry at a much cheaper rate than you can from Dublin to Kerry by rail. In order to show what loss the Irish, farmers have sustained owing to the failure of the crops and the wet weather, I will give an illustration from 1368 the county of Kerry alone. The estimated loss in that county in 1896 is £140,000 for hay, £101,000 for butter, £55,000 for oats, £40,000 for potatoes, and £8,000 for barley; a total of £344,000. Now, in order to illustrate the case I am bringing forward, and to show how the farmers have suffered through this fall in prices, I will give a case which I can personally vouch for. A farmer bought a large quantity of barley, for the simple reason that he could not get in his debts from the farmers, and took the barley instead. He stored it for two years, and after doing so—it was a secondary barley, only fit for malting purposes—he actually sold it at a penny per stone less than he gave for it two years before. In going into the landlord and tenant question, with which this Bill deals, I would like to draw the attention of the House to some particulars in connection with the future tenants, and in so doing I would direct the especial attention of the Chief Secretary to the condition of affairs in the county of Kerry, with which he is very well acquainted. I refer to the Worden property, where there are a large number of evicted tenants, and where fully 60 per cent. of the tenants are debarred from the benefit of any land legislation because they are in the position of future tenants, who, by the provisions of this Bill, we propose to bring under the benefits of the Land Acts. In connection with the Worden property the tenants, some five or six years ago, offered 14 years' purchase, which was refused, and what do we find? Within the last five years the property has been actually sold for the present landlord by the Court, at 10½ years' purchase, notwithstanding the fact that the tenants offered 14 years' purchase.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY TO THE LORD LIEUTENANT OF IRELAND (Mr. GERALD BALFOUR,) Leeds, Central
Is it not the fact also that the reason that negotiations failed was because the parish priest exercised his influence against the purchase?
§ MR. FLAVIN
I am not aware whether the right hon. Gentleman is correct in what he says or not, but I shall be very much surprised if he is. The position of affairs on this estate is that the tenants 1369 are debarred from any benefits under the present land legislation, notwithstanding the grievous injustice done to the original owners of the property. How are these tenants situated now? They are compelled to pay the old rents, and not alone are they compelled to pay old rents, but also the arrears which were due to the property when it was under the Court, although, when the property was under the Court, the arrears were never collected, but, on the contrary, the Court gave temporary abatements to the tenants. The old rents, plus the yearly instalment of the arrears, and also on the agreement which he compelled them to sign under threat of eviction, actually amount to 4 per cent. more than was paid when the properly was under the Court. I do not believe that in all the world a more disgraceful, or a more harsh, or a more intolerable state of things can be in existence than exists for the unfortunate tenants on that property; and notwithstanding these facts, which I challenge the Chief Secretary to deny, he stands up and tells us that Mr. Worden is a noble example of an Irish landlord. If the Chief Secretary knew the opinion of the landlords in that district—aye, of the Conservatives of that district—as to Major Worden, he would very soon alter his opinion as to that gentleman being a model landlord. What makes the position of the unfortunate tenants the more cruel is the fact that, as I have already said, they have not received the benefits of any land legislation. In this connection I will give one or two cases from the same parish, and from the surrounding districts, as to how other landlords are treating their tenants. On the O'Connell property, which is actually in the parish of Sneem, the tenants have received in the year 1897 an abatement of 6s. in the £ on the present rents, and it must be remembered that the tenants on this property are not paying old rents plus yearly instalments, but theirs are judicial rents. On the Heord property, near Sneem, the tenants were offered their choice of either 5s. in the £ or an equivalent of seed potatoes equal to the amount, and on the O'Connor property in the same district the tenants are actually in the receipt of 7s. in the £ on the present judicial rents. I simply 1370 give these instances as instances within my own personal knowledge as to how just some landlords are and how harsh and inhuman some others are. To show to what an extent Worden carries his harshness. I will tell the House of the following case. An unfortunate bare footed man, in passing along a road during the summer, saw a small branch of a tree hanging over the road in such a position that a schoolboy could have cut it down. He broke it off, and Worden saw him do so, and compelled him to pay a penny for that small branch, and actually went to the trouble of writing out a receipt for it. Perhaps, Mr. Speaker, the House will bear with me if I draw its attention, and particularly the attention of the Chief Secretary, to the case of one of the evicted tenants on this estate. In reply to a question of the hon. Member for East Mayo in this House a week ago, the right hon. Gentleman stated that the reason why a tenant on this property named Sullivan was evicted was because his house was in an insanitary condition. If that is so, it seems a very strange thing to me that, although you have a local sanitary authority in Sneem, and although you have a beard of guardians—
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
This, Sir, is a Bill merely to amend the Land Laws of Ireland. The case which the hon. Gentleman is referring to, is the case, not of a, farmer, but of a man living in a cottage in the middle of a village.
§ MR. SPEAKER
I think that the instance which the hon. Member is referring to is somewhat outside the scope of the Bill.
§ MR. FLAVIN
Of course, Sir, I bow to your ruling. I will give the case of a tenant who was actually in possession of a farm, and who had been evicted, and who, if this Bill becomes law, will be entitled, under the evicted tenants clause, to be reinstated. A man named Sullivan gave the use of his house to a matt named Neil, who has been in possession of a farm, and was evicted for arrears of rent. Neil has simply been hunted like a mad dog by Worden, all 1371 over the Worden property, and I am personally aware that there was a deliberate attempt made by the landlord to prevent this man from being sheltered. No tenant evicted by Worden can pet shelter in any house or cabin on any portion of his property; and, as the Chief Secretary has been good enough to interpose on this question, I will ask him, is it not a fact that no tenant evicted by Worden is allowed to get shelter on any portion of the property? As a matter of fact this evicted tenant, Sullivan, to my own knowledge, made an application to be allowed to have the smallest hovel on the property, and Worden absolutely refused to give him shelter. Then I have a case here which came before the Castlerea Guardians last year, which I will read to the House—At a meeting of the Castlerea Guardians, Mr. Joseph Burke presiding, a letter was read from Patrick Healey, of Carrowgariff, stating that he had been evicted from his holding on the Flannery Estate on the 29th April, and that his house was set fire to and burned down two days afterwards. He and his wife and five children were, he stated, now homeless, and in a state of starvation, and he was obliged to apply to the Guardians for outdoor relief.Members of this House will hardly believe that in a civilised country such a state of affairs is in existence even now. Is it not a dreadful condition of things that not only is the man evicted from a house which he himself, or his predecessors in title, built, but that his house is burned down also? Sullivan did not owe two pence rent, the house was his absolute property; and yet, because he sheltered an evicted tenant, and for no other reason, he is evicted from his home, and cannot get even the shelter of a hovel on the estate.
§ COLONEL E. J. SAUNDERSON (Armagh, N.)
Under what Act is he evicted for sheltering an evicted tenant?
§ MR. FLAVIN
I cannot tell the hon. and gallant Member that, but I challenge him to contradict my facts; and I will go further than that: I invite him to the district, and I will show him the place.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
I must remind the hon. Member that, so far as I am aware, the eviction was entirely on account of the insanitary state of the dwelling.
§ MR. FLAVIN
I do not wish to refer any further to that case. I give the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary credit for stating what he believes to be accurate, information; but the information is neither accurate nor reliable, because it comes from a landlord source. Another case has also come within my personal knowledge, and that is the case of a man living in my own constituency—in the Ballyheigar district—and I am simply giving this case to illustrate how some landlords act. I do not want to be misunderstood in this matter. I am not saying there are no good landlords in Ireland. On the contrary, I will go so far as to say that there are some who treat their tenants generously; and I, speaking for myself alone, may say that I am on intimate terms of friendship with many landlords in my own constituency. This tenant, of whom I was speaking was a tenant on the Purci Crosbie property, in the western portion of Ballyheigar—one of the very poorest districts in my constituency—over which a receiver has been appointed, and this case will amply illustrate how friendly the Court is in the exercise of its generosity to the tenants. In the year 1897 this tenant paid to the receiver three gales rent, which represents a year and a half. That made him a clear tenant up to March. In September another gale fell due, and a fortnight afterwards the official receiver was kind enough to proceed against him, and compelled him within a fortnight to pay that gale, thus making the unfortunate tenant pay two years' rent within the space of 12 months. I will simply give now, Mr. Speaker, in my concluding remarks, a few official returns showing the condition of Ireland as regards the numbers of cattle and sheep now and a few years ago. Between 1892 and 1897 a decrease has taken place to the extent of 67,190 head of cattle, and in the same years the decrease in sheep is 670,196. Coming to the position of the future tenants, I would like to draw the attention of the Chief Secretary and of the House to the number of these tenants that are in Ireland at the present moment. I have taken these figures from the Blue Book for the years 1896 and 1897, and without going into details for the different counties and the different 1373 parishes, in those two years 1896 and 1897 the total number of tenants deprived, under the 7th Section of the Land Law (Ireland) Act, 1897, of any benefit of present land legislation, comes to the gross total of 9,151. In that connection it must be remembered that these 9,154 tenants are practically outside any land legislation that may be passed, and that seems to me to be a very harsh and unfair state of things. In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I would simply summarise my remarks as follows:—That England has factories and industries wherein to employ her people, whilst Ireland has none to speak of, and, therefore, the people of Ireland have to support themselves on the land. Working men in England are paid 50 and 100 per cent. over and above the workers of Ireland. In England you have better markets, and greater facilities for carrying farm produce, because our railway companies offer car people no facilities whatever. In England the landlord makes all permanent improvements, and in Ireland the tenant makes 80 per cent. of the improvement of his holding himself. In England you have given the farmers the benefit of the Agricultural Rating Act of 1896, which you have refused to give the benefit of to the farmers of Ireland. In England at the present moment you have, as few Members will deny, happiness and prosperity, whilst in our unfortunate country we have pauperism and starvation. I must apologise to the House for detaining them at such length, but the Bill being a rather important one for Ireland, I have tried to give statistics showing the great fall in the price of agricultural products, and in the number of productive acres, and the consequent great increase in the general pauperism and poverty. In conclusion, I thank the Members for the generous hearing they have given me, and I beg to move the Second Reading of this Bill.
§ MR. JOHN DILLON (Mayo, E.)
The first clause of this Bill proposes to reduce the statutory term, but I need not point out to the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland that the Cowper Commission, appointed by a Conservative Government in 1886, recommended 1374 that the statutory term should be reduced, and further recommended that all parks in the neighbourhood of towns with a population of 5,000 should be brought under the operation of thee Act. The same Commission recommended that it should not be within the power of any landlord to recover more than two years' arrears of rent. It is upon these three recommendations that three of the chief clauses of the Bill are founded. I turn to the first question—the question of the statutory term. The recommendation of Lord Cowper's Commission was confirmed by a large majority of the Committee of this House which sat in 1894, and if that recommendation had been carried out there can be no doubt that it would have saved to the Irish tenantry many millions of money, which would now be engaged as capital in the cultivation of the soil, and which has been taken away, as we contend, unjustly. But the case is enormously stronger now than it was in the days of the Cowper Commission; and is it not an illustration of the difficulty of getting justice for the Irish tenants that a Commission, consisting mainly of landlords, and with only one member, Mr. James Kerr, representing the tenant farmers—a Commission appointed by a Conservative Government, should report with only one dissentient in favour of a reduction of the statutory term, and that now, after ten or eleven years have elapsed, it should be left to a private Member to endeavour to get that principle recognised? Sir, many millions of money have been lost to the Irish tenant owing to the failure of the Government to carry out the recommendation of their own Commission. This first clause is of vital importance to the Irish tenantry. I am aware, and I think it has been stated in this House, that no amount of legislation will succeed in, securing full justice to the Irish tenant unless the Acts passed by the House are fairly administered. I admit frankly that, even if this Bill is passed in its entirety, so long as the Acts are administered as at present, methods will be devised by which the Irish tenantry will be deprived of the benefits which legislation sought to confer upon them. We cannot help them; it is beyond outreach and power at present: all we can do is to try our little best to secure that 1375 the letter of the law shall be just towards the tenant. This shortening of the statutory term has been approved of by every Committee and Commission appointed by successive Governments to investigate the matter since the administration of the law commenced. The decisions of even the present Land Commission—a Commission, I do not say appointed entirely in the interests of the landlords, but appointed, at all events, by a Government which largely owes its existence to the landlords—the decisions of this Commission would form an irresistible case in favour of shortening the statutory term. These decisions have shown that the rents fixed in the early days of the Land Commission, are impossible rents, and cannot be paid without depriving the tenants of the capital necessary to cultivate the holdings, and without sinking them deeper and deeper into bankruptcy—a condition in which I am sorry to say a very large section of the Irish tenantry are being rapidly submerged. That being the case, namely, that the rents fixed from 1882 to 1891, and probably later, are entirely unjust rents—and, in considering this question, it must be remembered that the principle of free contract has been completely obliterated; it is no longer a free contract, or pretends to be a free contract; it is a State obligation imposed upon both parties—that being so, I say it is the duty of the State to see that this contract, or obligation, is revised in accordance with the principles of justice. When I last brought up this question the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland admitted that these rents were impossible rents to be paid by a considerable number of tenants, but he added that the evil was remedying itself according as the judicial term came to an end. Yes, but it is remedying itself at the expense of 4,000 or 5,000 ruined men every year.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
The total number of evictions last year was between 600 and 700 all over Ireland.
§ MR. DILLON
I am speaking of the operation of Section 7, which has substituted a process of eviction that has proved ruinous to the tenantry of Ireland, and because this process goes on silently and unobserved, and is done, as it 1376 were, secretly, it is done more frequently, and I believe it has been more disastrous to the tenantry than the scheme which enables the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland to say that there have been only 600 evictions in the year, when there have been a vastly greater number. I say, Sir, that this provision of the shortening of the statutory term is a question of life and death to thousands of men in Ireland. I have heard the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh talk about the losses of the landlords. No doubt the landlords have lost some of their income, but it is in the house of their friends they suffer. Although land courts are rigged—and I say they are packed and rigged in the interests of the landlords—so overwhelming and so irresistible are the circumstances of the time, that, in spite of the fact that a Unionist and landlord Government is in power, the rents must come down. That is due to many causes, and I have heard the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh make a violent speech. [Colonel SAUNDERSON: I never made a speech of the kind.] You spoke against those who spoke for the tenants. Sir, I feel as if Ireland were a raft on the ocean on which two parties of men were struggling for an insufficient and a decreasing amount of food. Whoever may be in fault, the wealth of Ireland is vanishing, it is diminishing; the awful figures given with official authority before the Commission on Financial Relations revealed the fact that agricultural produce, the fund upon which, practically speaking, all classes must live—labourers, shopkeepers, traders, and landlords—lias fallen in value within the last twenty years by £20,000,000 sterling. The burden of this fall has to be adjusted fairly on the shoulders of the different classes. Up to the present moment the burden has been cast to an enormous, and to a grossly unjust, extent mainly on the shoulders of the unfortunate farmers and the labourers who work under them. But it is essential to the Irish farmer, and to all classes, if the country is to be saved from bankruptcy, that a further and speedy adjustment should take place, so that the landlords should suffer a reasonable proportion of loss. If the condition of the 1377 country is such that the total sum upon which all classes must live is insufficient—and I believe it is—then I may be pardoned for my conviction that the landlords of Ireland have been largely responsible for that condition of things. They have drawn their incomes, but have taken no interest in tic prosperity of the country. For years upon years they have shown no active or really intelligent interest in developing the resources of the country, and, therefore, to a certain extent, they have brought upon themselves the fate which they are now suffering. It is proposed in this Bill to alter the law relating to improvements, and the alterations will have the effect of giving to the tenant the value he has given to his holding by outlay of capital or expenditure upon it. Until the law is made clear upon this point it cannot be expected that the Irish tenants will devote themselves to the improvement of their holdings. At present the law relating to improvements is obscure, confused, and interpreted differently by different Commissioners, and the consequence is that no tenant can devote his money or his time to the improvement of his holding with any sense of security that the improvement will profit himself or those who succeed him. This Bill will secure to the tenant the whole value of improvements due to the employment of his capital. The fourth clause of the Bill proposes to alter the method of valuation in order to meet the difficulty that became manifest during the investigation of the Royal Commission—the difficulty that, under the present system, Land Commissioners and Sub-Commissioners are directed to value an agricultural holding as if it had no equipment whatever. In England an agricultural holding must be valued, in order to be truly valued, on the supposition that it is equipped with those buildings and works which are essential to its cultivation. If the farm is not properly equipped a reduction is made to the tenant in respect of the outlay he may make in order to put it into a condition, sis regards equipment, to be properly cultivated. What is the process in Ireland? There a farm is valued, nominally, as if it had no equipment; an addition is made for equipment, and a reduction is then made to the tenant. The result of this process is 1378 that in many cases the tenant is actually made to pay for the equipment, because what really happens under the process is that the buildings and equipment are valued twice over. That is what I am convinced is done by most Irish landlords, and it is the opinion of skilled valuers whom I have consulted. The object of this fourth clause is to prevent the necessary equipment of a farm being valued twice over, and by that process the tenant being deprived of any interest on outlay on buildings. By the operation of Section 7 of the Act of 1887 nearly 60,000 tenants have been prejudiced. I think the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland himself admitted 57,000, and said it was not possible to tell whether any of these tenants had been reinstated as present tenants. I know that is so, because I am convinced that a vastly great majority of the tenants evicted under Clause 7 are not reinstated as present tenants. A good number have been left with an accumulation of arrears hanging over their heads, and I am convinced that nine-tenths of the Irish tenants whose tenancies have been broken under Clause 7 of the Act of 1887 are at present future tenants, and are outside the protection of the Land Acts. It is idle for any Government to imagine they have settled the Irish Land Question as long as one-seventh of the Irish tenants, by the operation of this fatal clause, are excluded from the protection of the successive Ads passed for their benefit. The present system is due to the refusal of the Government in 1887 to consider the appeals the Irish Members have made that they should pass a generous arrears clause, as in the case of the crofters of Scotland, which would have enabled the Bill of that year, so far as this point is concerned, to settle the question. I turn now to the question of arrears, with which Clause 6 of this Bill proposes to deal. Within the last three days, I read an account of the generosity of a landlord in a southern county, who, it was said, had at once wiped off sixteen years of arrears of rent to his tenants. Sir, there are in Ireland many thousands of tenants who are in the helpless and defenceless position of owing arrears of rent which, by the very action of this House, are admitted to be, at all events, possibly unjust. On what ground, I ask, 1379 has the Government persistently refused to extend to the Irish tenants the same protection they give so freely to the Scottish crofters, when they allowed the Scottish Crofters Commission to deal with the settlement of fair rent for the future, and at the same time to consider the arrears which had accrued against a tenant? One of the causes of the failure of successive Acts to settle this question has been the neglect of the Government to deal with arrears. There is also the question of the Ulster custom. This question will give very considerable trouble to the Government, and I defy any Member from Ulster to go to a meeting of his constituents, when there are any Unionist farmers present, and defend the Act of 1896 in its relation to Ulster custom. There is growing discontent among the farmers of Ulster, without regard to political feelings, with the Act of 1896, and the Government, from their own point of view, would be well advised if they do act in a generous and broad spirit with this question of Ulster custom, and settle it in such a way as to put an end to all fear in the minds of the farmers that their custom is going to be eaten into, as well as to put a stop to the constant litigation that is the curse of Ireland. With regard to the evicted tenants' trouble, when Irish Members raise the question they are met with the statement that the trouble is decreasing. It is decreasing, but the reason is that some of the evicted people are dead, others have scattered to different parts of the country, and many have been reinstated, owing to boycotting. But the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland has hitherto refused to agree to give us this healing Measure, which will to a large extent do away with the only remaining cause of boycotting. It is the policy of the Government to say nothing about boycotting, and the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland, in a speech at Sheffield, spoke of the peaceable and settled condition of Ireland. I am glad he is satisfied, but the fact remains that there are still a great many boycotted farms in Ireland, and I hope they will remain in that condition if the Government refuse assent to the proposal regarding them contained in this Bill. I do not wish to mention names in this 1380 connection, but I may say that a case was recently brought under my notice at a meeting of the Mansion House Committee in Dublin. I received a letter from a woman at Dundalk thanking me for having kept her name on the Relief Committee's books for eight years. She was a poor woman, and had been evicted from her farm eight years previously, her rent being then £76 a year. Her farm has been boycotted ever since. She might have become a beggar or an outcast, or probably have gone into the workhouse, but, it being summer, she camped down in the vicinity of the holding, got her name on the Relief Committee's list, and the war has gone on for eight years. No longer ago than last week I had a letter from her announcing that at the end of eight years she had been reinstated in her holding at a reduced rent of £38 a year, having been evicted eight years ago for the non-payment of a rent of £76. In her letter she stated that after the eight years' war she had been reinstated at a rental of £38. I remember at the same time the right hon. Gentleman said he would rather break stones, or beg his bread at the roadside, than reinstate as a tenant a man who had refused to pay his rent. That was a very un states man like and unchristian statement to make. In these great social struggles that have gone on in Ireland far be it from me to say there have not been faults on both sides. We have said strong things and the tenants have done strong things, but the balance of suffering and injustice has in the main, as every impartial man must admit, lain always with the side which had power at its back, and for every act of cruelty, injustice, and wrong which has been committed by the tenant in the course of the struggle, there have been 20 such acts committed on the other side. I think it was a very foolish expression of the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury to use, the expression of his that he would rather break stones than reinstate a man who had refused to pay his rent. So long as the question of Irish evicted tenants remains unsettled it will be a source of trouble, and you will have social disturbance in Ireland. But the right hon. Gentleman prefers to allow it to drag its slow length along until it settles itself by 1381 the death and exile of some and the reinstatement of others of the evicted tenants. I do not think it is statesmanlike, and I do not think it is Christian like; and if the right hon. Gentleman believes what he said the other day at Leeds, that the condition of Ireland is peaceable and satisfactory to-day, it would surely be a generous and statesmanlike act on his part to remove this sore with a generous hand and reinstate these unfortunate people upon the lands from which they have been evicted. I will not detain the House at any greater length, but I do say that this is a Bill drawn on moderate lines, and represents the low-water mark with regard to the demands made by the Irish people, so far as the alteration of the law is concerned. I say that the refusal of the Government to listen to those demands is based on the extraordinary doctrine which was pronounced from that bench in the Debates some years ago, when Minister after Minister rose and declared that, while agriculture was depressed here, it was not so in Ireland. We had the statement made again and again that the condition of agriculture in Ireland was quite different to what it was here, and that the same measures of relief were not required. We have had grim commentary on those declarations since that day. We pointed out that the depression of agriculture, which in this country only affects one interest out of your myriad sources of wealth and prosperity, in Ireland strikes at the life and existence of the people, who are supported entirely by it; and where as agriculture in England is only a very small proportion of your wealth, end its depression would hardly be felt in your super abounding and unparalleled prosperity, in Ireland the depression of agriculture means ruin and bankruptcy to the people. Our warnings were unheeded and our phophecies were forgotten, and what has happened? What is the position to-day? While there may be some depression in the agriculture of this country, though we hear very little about it since the Rates Bill was passed, the depression in Ireland is starvation. Do not let this House imagine for one moment that the present condition of Ireland, which in my opinion the Chief Secretary has entirely failed to appreciate, is only due to the failure of 1382 the potato crop. In certain districts in the country the hunger of the people is due to the failure of the potato crop, but the stringency and extent of the distress is due to the fact that the failure came upon the top of a profound depression, which had exhausted the resources and the credit of the people, and to the fact that the unfortunate small farmers of Ireland are a class who, when they have a partial failure of a crop upon which they depend for food, cannot fall back upon their credit or resources like those of other countries. I say that the Government have turned a deaf ear to the demands of Ireland, and I ask the Chief Secretary to consider this Bill in a favourable manner and a generous spirit, not because we claim that it would settle the great problem of the congested districts, which might be dealt with by separate legislation, but that it would at least place the general land code of the country upon a more just basis than it is now, and that, so far as it can be achieved by the law of the land, there would be justice dealt out as between landlord and tenant in Ireland.
§ Amendment proposed, That the Bill be read that day six months.
§ *MR. W. JOHNSTON (Belfast, S.)
said in moving the rejection of this Bill he did so not from any want of sympathy for the tenants of Ireland, because he happened to be one of the few Members now in the House of Commons who in 1870 supported Mr. Gladstone in the Second Reading of his Land Bill. He asked to be allowed, in passing, to say, of one who had done so much to promote the prosperity of the Irish people, and who had a passionate desire for their welfare, whom they watched now in earnest solicitude as the days passed in his home among the Welsh hills, on whatever side they sat, the Members of the House of Commons would be unworthy of the position they occupied there if they failed to express their sincere sympathy with one whose life was part of the life of England. He moved the rejection of the Bill, which again proposed to unsettle the minds of Irish tenants, because he thought it would be more satisfactory if the existing land laws remained 1383 undisturbed. He did not think the Bill would ever have been introduced but for the desire of some hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side to reinstate the tenants who, through following their foolish advice, had been ejected from their holdings for the non-payment of rent. He regretted that an evening should be occupied in an important Session with the attempt to make this alteration in the land laws of Ireland. He did not propose to go through the Bill clause by clause, but he regretted that all the conciliatory efforts that had been made by the Chief Secretary, to settle upon a satisfactory basis the land laws of Ireland, had been met with ingratitude by those whom those efforts were intended to benefit. It appeared to him that that portion which related to town parks had been intended for the relief of grocers, butchers, and dairymen rather than the relief of real agriculturists. Under the Act of 1896 the Land Acts were extended, so far as pasture lands were concerned, from the rate able value of £50 to £100, and the promoters of this Bill desired to further extend them to pasture lands of the rate able value of £200. It was pleasing to see the solicitude of hon. Members for the wealthier tenant farmers of Ireland in the provisions of the Bill. He was somewhat amused at the proposition of an hon. Member that the Ulster custom should be extended to all Ireland; but until the whole of Ireland was made as industrious as Ulster he thought it was very unlikely that any advantage would accrue if the proposition were carried into effect. With regard to the clause which gave power to vary the judicial rents, he did not see the advantage of entering into agreements for rent at all if they were liable to be constantly set aside. He had been credibly informed that the reductions in rent prior to 1881 had amounted to as much as 46 per cent., and he failed to see where the reductions were to stop. With regard to another portion of the Bill, he noticed that the unfortunate Irish Church Temporalities Fund was again to be charged with £250,000 in respect of this Bill. He did not know to what source the hon. Gentleman would have gone if the Irish Church had not been robbed. He moved that the Bill should be read a second time upon that day six months, his reason for so doing being that he 1384 objected to the constant bringing forward of Bills for the alteration of the land laws of Ireland. He desired to see some finality in the law between landlord and tenant, and he moved the rejection of this Bill, because if it passed it would create a paradise for the lawyers, a purgatory for the tenants, and a pandemonium for the landlords.
§ MR. T. HERBERT ROBERTSON (Hackney, S.)
In seconding the Motion which has been made for the rejection of this Resolution, I may say my position is not that of a landlord. My only interest is that of a resident in that country. I reside there during as much of the year as I can reside there, and it is my most earnest desire that Ireland should become a country where anyone can live in peace, comfort, and happiness without becoming embroiled in perpetual contests with the people round about one. The hon. Gentleman opposite admits that it is desirable to have as many urban residents as possible, and how can that be expected when these Bills are being perpetually brought in and changes proposed in the relations between landlord and tenant in Ireland? Hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House are of opinion that it is desirable that the relations between landlord and tenant should be settled, though there are some so prejudiced against the landlords that they do not care whether there is peace between them and their tenants or not. Now, matters cannot well be established on a peaceful basis and you cannot get the tenants of Ireland to settle down unless there is some standard of finality in the relationship between them and the landlords. For years past something has been taken from the landlords and given to the tenants. I am not complaining of that; that was done in the past. Hon. Members upon the opposite side of the House approved the Act of 1896, and said it was a just and liberal Measure.
§ MR. DILLON
May I point out I never said anything of the sort, and it has not turned out to be true?
§ MR. T. H. ROBERTSON
The hon. Members for Louth and Waterford, who represent a considerable section of the Irish people, stated 1385 that the Measure met with their approval. We all know that they have not a great following in this House, but anyone living in Ireland knows that the Members for Louth and Waterford have a very large following in Ireland, and their views on the utility of that Measure, and the good it did to the tenants, are of considerable weight. So long as these Bills are constantly being brought before this House there will be no chance of any finality. What I wish to see is every tenant farmer making the best of his land, and living in happiness: but the landlords and tenants are living in a slate of hostility to each other. The relationship between the wealthier classes and their tenants was admirable, and has been for some years past, and that relationship would not have been strained at all but for people promising to give the Irish tenants something more, which prevents the landlords being so kindly as they were before. My view has always been that the dual ownership—if I may use that, term with regard to landlord and tenant—has been a mistake, and I should like to see it done away with by a system of purchase, and anything that I could do I would willingly and heartily do to assist in that matter. But the provisions of this Bill prevent such purchases taking place. I have known of purchases, which were very nearly completed, which have been broken off because it was said there was a Bill in Parliament which would enable better terms to be made. Every one of these Bills, in stead of proving a benefit to Ireland, proves an injury while it is before the House. The hon. Member for East Mayo says the wealth of the country has diminished. I should not have thought that was the case; in my own district there is no indication of such a thing. Quite the other way, things are going on prosperously. He says the crops grown in Ireland are not of sufficient importance—
§ MR. DILLON
I said there had been a fall of £20,000,000 a year, and that profits are not sufficient to pay the actual expenses, including the rents paid on the land.
§ MR. T. H. ROBERTSON
My hon. Friend reminds me. One is not capable of forming a personal judgment with 1386 regard to the whole of Ireland, but only with regard to within a radius of some 40 miles, say, of one's house, and that one knows pretty well. I know little about. Leinster, and comparatively little about the West of Ireland; but in this House hon. Members on the other side allude to the west of Ireland when they speak of Ireland. They draw distressing pictures of that part of the country, and they say we have not the climate of England, and there is no doubt, from what I have seen, if you go to the West of Ireland the climate is bad. The injury which, to my mind, is done is by making English people, unacquainted with Ireland, believe that it is a miserable, poverty-stricken place. Carlow, Cork, and Wexford are exceedingly prosperous. I deprecate very much treating the West of Ireland as if it were the whole of Ireland. The hon. Gentleman referred to the failure of the potato crop. We do not depend upon the potato so much as is suggested, and the climate in Leinster is very little different from that of England. There is one other general reason to which I will refer, and that is that almost all the provisions of this Bill have already been discussed in this Parliament. I do not say that one or two of the provisions have not been slightly altered in form, but, taking the Bill as a Bill the matter has been debated fully. I do not think there is a single clause on which the Chief Secretary for Ireland has not spoken since 1886—in particular the first clause, which has been rightly said to be one of the most important in the Bill, which refers to the reduction of the 15 years' term to a 10 years' term. That has been debated not only once but several times. This House decided by a very large majority—and, of course, there always are large majorities when an Irish Land Bill is decided—that once in 15 years was a short enough time in which to compel a man to have a lawsuit with his tenant; once in 10 years, indeed, would be once too often. One of the evils of fixing the rents by Statute is this, that during the last two or three years of the tenancy there is a tendency—I do not say a dishonest tendency—but there is a natural tendency net to keep the land up to the highest state of cultivation. [Mr. DAVITT: Does the landlord contribute to keep 1387 up the land to the highest state of cultivation?] I think the landlords ought to assist their tenants. Everyone who lives in Ireland knows that they assist them in many ways. The point I wish to make to the House is this, that if you are going in a short time to fix the value of a property there is a tendency—again, I do not say a dishonest tendency—not to have the land in too good a state of cultivation, for fear that for the next 15 years the tenant would be affixed for a higher rent than he otherwise would have been. You might get persons who would really try to run down the value of the land. I do not make any such charge against the tenants of Ireland. I do not think they do anything of the kind; all I say is that there is an inclination not to keep up the land to the highest state of cultivation, and I think it is most important that the land should be so kept up. [Mr. DAVITT: Why does not the landlord help to keep it up in that state?] There are many other points which we debated; we debated that question of whether the term should be reduced to 10 years, and it was decided by this House that 15 years should stand. The second clause relates to the date at which a fair rent should commence, and that, again, was a matter which was debated in substance. Then, again, comes the great question which we went into fully in the year 1896—the question of tenants' improvements. That was accepted as a very reasonable settlement of the difficulties that existed as regards tenants' improvements. I admit that it is a very difficult thing to point out the improvements that have been effected by the tenant or by the landlord, or by his predecessor in the tenancy, through whom he does not claim at all, although it comes to the game thing. After many hours of discussion on that point a settlement was come to, which hon. Members on that side of the House voted for and approved; and now, two years afterwards, that difficult question of improvements is sought to be reopened. I submit to the House it ought not to be reopened. Clause 4, as far as I remember, is new. I do not remember this particular question being raised before, but the hon. Member for East Mayo has raised it—I mean the question of valuation, of how the value 1388 of the land should be ascertained. The hon. Member for East Mayo has stated that in England the value of the land is ascertained as if the land were properly equipped—having sufficient buildings and accommodation of various kinds to enable that piece of land to be cultivated; I suppose he means as a holding entirely by itself. He says that in Ireland they are valued as if there were no buildings at all, and then, having ascertained what the buildings are, that value is added to the value of the land. Of course, in this question of valuation there are different ways of looking at things, which may produce different results. Now, I can hardly think that the principle as applied in England has been properly stated. I have had something to do with the valuation of land, and I never heard that when you were valuing, say, 20 acres of land you assumed that the land had buildings upon it. That would be an impossible method of valuation. I agree that this land would want buildings if it were going to be cultivated as a separate holding. But it has never been cultivated as a separate holdings; it has never had any buildings, and I cannot believe that this is the method of English valuation. The hon. Gentleman says that the buildings were valued twice.
§ MR. DAVITT (Mayo, S.)
I said that, in the opinion of skilled valuers, the effect of the method laid down by the Land Commission in Ireland was to take in the value of the land twice.
§ MR. T. H. ROBERTSON
If it is wrong it ought to be put right. But I think this clause will not remedy it; this clause will be no relief. I can hardly credit the circumstance that the hon. Member states. Then there is Clause 5, which is as follows—Where the tenancy of a holding has been determined since the 1st, May, 1879, and the person in occupation of such a holding on the 1st March, 1898, has at any time been a present tenant of that holding, or of the substantial part thereof, the said occupier shall be held to be a present tenant of the holding within the meaning of the Land Law Acts, and his application to have a fair rent fixed shall be deemed to have been made by a present tenant. Notwithstanding anything contained in the 57th section of the Land Law (Ireland) Act, 1881, 1389 any tenancy created before the 23rd day of August, 1887, shall be deemed to be a present tenancy within the meaning of the Land Law (Ireland) Act, 1881, and the Land Law Acts, and 'future tenancy' shall be construed to mean a tenancy beginning after that date.I will give you an instance within my own knowledge. I remember a tenant whose land was somewhere near the house, and I was very pleased that he made me an offer to retake the tenancy. The terms on which I retook the tenancy—the terms on which I got possession of the land and got all the arrears of rent—were that I gave him a lump sum of money, and he went to America with the money that I gave him. We agreed to give him an annuity—or pension, if you like to call it—for the rest of his life, and allowed him to occupy the house and garden rent and taxes free for the rest of his life. I think hon. Members will agree that those were rather hard terms on which to get back your own rent. No hon. Member would say that that was a fair rent. Of course, it is not the intention of the clause to meet a case like that. It would be exceedingly difficult to frame a clause which would leave those persons out who are present tenants. Clause 7, I think, would be a very mischievous one. In 1881 one of the principal inducements to the landlord to assent to the Act of that year was that if the tenant desired to sell his land the landlord would be at liberty to buy it at a fair price. It was stated that the tenant would suffer by this, because he would not get a fair price. The landlord, on the other hand, would be at liberty to get back his land. I object to this dual ownership of land in Ireland. I think it is a good thing that the ownership should get into the hands of one man, whether into the hands of the tenant or the landlord. Now, it is proposed by this clause to sell anywhere without consulting the landlord. I think it is exceedingly desirous to promote the residence in Ireland of people with a certain amount of wealth. There are small tenancies existing near our own house, and I may say you do not mind an old tenant who is an old friend of years' standing staying there, but if he is going to sell the land to a perfect stranger, who comes from a different part altogether and knows nothing about you, and may 1390 make it unpleasant for you, it would be very injurious to the landlord. That, I think, is an injury to the resident landlord which ought not to be allowed. The last clause I will trouble the House by referring to is Clause 13, Part 3 of which extends Clause 13 of the Land Purchase Act of 1891—a clause which was passed by the present Leader of the House. It has been extended several times. Personally, I have no objection whatever to that being repeated. It seems to me a very excellent provision. But certainly it is not worth passing this Bill for the mere purpose of doing that if it is necessary, or if it would be of any use. The Chief Secretary tells me it is no use whatever. My objection to the Second Reading of that Bill is the objection of a resident in Ireland who desires to see peace and prosperity, existing in that country, and especially to see friendly relations existing between landlord and tenant. These Bills perpetually brought in, and particularly if they are read a second time, tend to check the growth of these friendly feelings. There is nothing new in this Bill; the whole thing was debated in the year 1896, and I think, speaking as an English Member and a representative of a London constituency, it is not fair to ask the House to settle a settlement made in 1896. I support the rejection of the Bill.
§ On the return of Mr. SPEAKER after the usual interval,
§ MR. W. H. K. REDMOND (Clare, E.)
Mr. Speaker, I did not intend to say any thing at all on this Bill but for the speech of the hon. Member for Hackney, who, in the course of his remarks, gave his impressions as to the feelings and condition of the people who live in the immediate neighbourhood of 'his residence in Ireland—
§ MR. T. H. ROBERTSON
I did not say anything about the feelings of the people; I spoke about their condition.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
Well, perhaps the hon. Gentleman will allow me to say that, in my opinion, he is in altogether an exceptional position. In the first place, he lives for a considerable portion 1391 of the year on his property in Ireland, and takes great interest in the welfare of the people who surround him. In that respect I am sorry to say he is somewhat exceptional, because a large number of landlords, who really gave the necessity for legislation such as this, do not follow his example, nor take by any means the same local interest which I have no doubt he takes; but when he tells the House, as an argument against the Bill, that the wealth of the people of the three counties of Carlow, Wexford, and Wicklow is largely on the increase, I think that, unintentionally, he is rather misleading. I have not the faintest shadow of doubt that if he were to make inquiries amongst all classes of the people in Carlow, Wexford, and Wicklow, he would find a very strong opinion prevailing as to the absolute necessity for some such Bill as this. The hon. Gentleman's chief argument against the Second Reading of this Bill appeared to be based upon the fact that similar Bills have been from time to time introduced, and that the matters dealt with in this Bill have been discussed over and over again. Well, surely that is no reason for not discussing a change in the law. That change has been recommended before, and the hon. Member must know perfectly well that the whole history of legislation in connection with the Irish land question has tended to show that it has been impossible for this Government or any Government to deal at all satisfactorily with the land question in any one Bill.
[The attention of Mr. SPEAKER having been called to the fact that there were not 40 Members present, the House was counted, when 40 Members being found to be in attendance, the hon. Member resumed—]
There has been a series of Land Bills attempting to deal with this question from that date to the present time. To those who think that this question ought not to be discussed because it has been previously discussed in this House, it is a sufficient answer to say that legislation relating to land reform has frequently been carried. From time to time Measures have been produced dealing with the land question in Ireland, and I think that so far from it being a reason 1392 why this question should not be discussed, I think the fact that they have so frequently cropped up in this House proves that it is necessary to deal with them. There can be, in my opinion, no finality whatever in dealing with the land question so long as dual ownership remains, and one of the best things that I know in connection with the present Government is, that it appears to be a settled policy with them, which they have not embarked upon wholly enough, to settle the Irish land question upon the basis of making occupiers of the land the proprietors. I am certain, and the hon. Member for Hackney may be quite certain, that whether this Bill is accepted or rejected, and similar Bills in this House discussed from time to time, there will be no end to the Irish land question in this House until that question is finally settled on the basis of fair and equitable purchase by which tillers of the soil may become owners of it, and so end this troublesome question for all time. But in the meantime it is absolutely essential that some steps should be taken in order to carry out the spirit of past legislation upon this question. Nobody will deny, I presume, that the object of all legislation in this House on the land question from 1881 down to the present time has been to secure that tenant farmers should not be unfairly charged for their land, and that rents should not be imposed which they could not pay. In my opinion, I think the most important portion of this Bill is that which deals with the reduction of the statutory term from 15 years to 10 years, and while I am in favour of that I am at the same time extremely doubtful whether a hard and fast rent should be fixed even for so long a period as 10 years, because we know that the prices of agricultural produce fluctuate so much from time to time that what may be a tolerably fair rent to-day in three or four years' time may be a rack rent to the tenant; and I am certain the hon. Member for Hackney on these points will find that those who live in the neighbourhood of his residence are of one mind, and that is that a reduction of the statutory term from 15 years to 10 years, if not to a lesser term, is absolutely approved of by the tenant farmers generally. An objection is made 1393 that it is not fair to ask for judicial rents to be interfered with. Well, I do not see that judicial rents should be regarded as so absolutely sacred, and that they ought not to be interfered with, even when it is proved beyond question that they have become rack rents. Some years ago, I remember this question was raised by Mr. Parnell, that there should be some interference in judicial rents, and it was repudiated in this House as being something which no party or Government could tolerate for a moment, and the result of Mr. Parnell's suggestion being repudiated was that there arose in Ireland a very fierce agitation, which led to a great deal of trouble and turmoil, and immediately after the agitation took place, the same Government which is in power to-day, in the Land Act of 1887, acted on Mr. Parnell's suggestion, and did interfere in certain cases with judicial rents which had been fixed before. Well, if it was desirable then to interfere with judicial rents, I say that it if can be shown that rents which have been judicially fixed are unfair rents now, there is the same reason for interfering with them. Mr. Speaker, the one point in this Bill which I really would like to hear something from the Chief Secretary about, in the way of encouragement, is that portion of the Bill which deals with the evicted tenants of Ireland. Now, the evicted tenants of Ireland are to-day, and have been, a constant sore in Irish life, and the existence of this state of things, in my opinion, is a thing not to be desired by any section of the people either in this country or in this House. One of the hon. Gentlemen opposite said that the evicted tenants of Ireland to-day are men who are suffering through having taken the advice of some of the hon. Gentlemen who sit upon these Benches. Well, I do not agree with that, because I believe that, but for the stand made by many of those tenants who were evicted, neither the Land Act of 1896 nor the Act of 1887 would ever have been passed into law. But, at any rate, these Measures were only passed, after the excitement which resulted in Ireland from the eviction of some of those tenants. But even supposing that it is quite true what the hon. Member for Belfast said, that some of these evicted tenants were evicted because they took the advice of the Nationalist Members for Ireland; supposing 1394 that be true, I say that that is really no reason why you should leave them in their present miserable condition. No matter under what circumstances they were evicted, the existence of these evicted tenants in Ireland to-day is, in my opinion, a disgrace to the Government, and, undoubtedly, they are a source of continual disturbance in Ireland. Now, I will ask the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant one or two questions in perfectly good faith. The first question I have to ask him is this: Would he not like to see this evicted tenants question settled? Would he not like to see these people taken out of the miserable condition in which they are to-day? Whether that condition of things is the result of advice from these Benches—no matter what it is the result of—would he not like to see the question settled? Would he not like to see them return to their homes? I am perfectly certain that he will answer that he would, but he will, doubtless, reply that the trouble is as to how it can be done. Many times Members from these Benches have proposed Bills dealing with the question of the evicted tenants in Ireland, and no suggestion coming from Nationalist Members has met with any large support or approval from the Government. I ask the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary now, in the interests of the peace of Ireland, and for the purpose of putting an end to this evicted tenants question, I ask him, would it not be desirable for the Government to make some suggestion on the matter in their turn now? Would it not be a very good thing for him to suggest, after consultation with his friends in Ireland who are interested in the matter, some basis upon which a settlement may be arrived at? Now, after all, as time goes, the feelings of bitterness which have arisen out of a fierce contest in Ireland have more or less died out. The landlords, no doubt, were bitterly incensed against those who took part in the agitation against them, and the farmers of Ireland, on the other hand, were extremely bitter against landlords during these years of agitation; but I doubt if you can get the bitterest landlords in Ireland to-day, I doubt if you would get even the hon. Gentleman the Member for North Armagh to refuse to admit now that they would be glad to see this evicted tenants 1395 question settled. I am sure that the old feeling has to a great extent died out, and certainly it is to the interests of the landlords, I would say, almost as much as to the interests of the tenants that these evicted farms should be once more occupied, and that tenants who were evicted should be restored upon fair terms to their holdings. I had, the other day, a rather novel experience in this House. I had a visit paid me by a landlord here, from the part of Ireland that I know best, who, for years past, has conducted a contest against some of his tenants. The tenants are, some of them, evicted, and he told me quite plainly that he would be glad to reinstate these people on fair terms if the opportunity were legally given him to do so. Well, it may be said that the opportunity exists now, under the 13th Section of the Land Act of 1891 referred to, but I think that it is generally admitted that that has not been a success as a remedy for the evicted tenants question in Ireland, and what I ask is that, if the Government cannot accept this Bill, they will make a proposition or some suggestion of their own for the purpose of putting an end to this horrible state of things in Ireland. We are sometimes denounced on this side of the House and in the Press of this country as being a band of agitators. Well, no doubt we have agitated the Irish land question, and we are perfectly ready to do so again. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Tyrone and his Unionist supporters in the North of Ireland would be the very first to admit that even the strongest Unionist supporters in Ireland are inclined to thoroughly justify the land agitation which has brought about these great changes in the law. It is all very fine to taunt us with being agitators, but what change in the law, either respecting the land or any other great question affecting the life of the people, has ever been brought about in this country or in Ireland without agitation? You must have agitation. We have agitated the question successfully so far, and the result of the agitation has been that a great improvement has taken place in the law with regard to the land in Ireland. But, unfortunately, in the course of that agitation a certain number of old people were evicted, and they really 1396 are not the victims of any particular advice, but the victims of that great and necessary agitation which has resulted in so many Land Acts being passed, and it is really a miserable policy for any Government, or any section of the supporters of the Government, to wish to continue the punishment of these evicted tenants. Why should you punish them? After all, they only took part in an agitation which had the result of inducing this House to pass a great many important Land Acts for Ireland. If the Land Act of 1881, and subsequent Land Acts, were right, then, surely, these unfortunate evicted tenants were not wrong in agitating and struggling and suffering in order to press the necessity for these Acts upon Parliament and the country. It has often been said in Ireland that these evicted tenants are "the wounded soldiers of the land war," and it is perfectly true. It is absolutely the fact. But for the self-sacrifice of many of these men the attention of Parliament would never have been drawn to the necessity for a change in the law, and the bringing about of those improvements which have taken place. I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to use his influence with the Government not to be a party to the miserable policy of continuing to punish a number of evicted tenants in Ireland who were evicted simply because of the part they took in the agitation. The fruits of that agitation have been reaped by the supporters of the Government in Ireland, as well as by the Nationalist farmers of the south and west. Mr. Speaker, I do not propose to go into the other important details of this Bill, because I believe that the evicted tenants question is, after all, in my opinion at any rate, the most pressing part of the Bill, and I would strongly urge upon the Government the necessity of dealing with it at once. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary is fond of saying sometimes that Ireland is in a very peaceful condition at the present time. Well, all I can say is that, in my opinion, it will be utterly impossible truthfully to describe Ireland as being in a peaceful or satisfactory condition as long as there are a number of those unfortunate evicted tenants about the country out of their homes, living 1397 most miserable lives, and with only public charity to look to as the means of supporting themselves and their families. I believe that the best thing that the Chief Secretary could do, and something which would bring him infinite credit in Ireland, and which would induce the people to believe that he really was anxious to settle the question and bring about a permanent state of peace—I believe the best thing he could do towards achieving that would be to set himself, if not by means of this Bill, the task, in whatever way seems best to himself, of dealing, once and for all, with this question of the evicted tenants in Ireland. I know perfectly well that I may be told by the Gentlemen on the Front Benches that it is a very difficult question. I quite admit that; but it is a question which, in my opinion, could be settled inside of one week if the Government showed distinctly that they were anxious to have it settled. The landlords in Ireland are only, on this evicted tenants question, waiting for a lead from the Government. We are going to have next year, we all hope, a completely new order of things. We are going to establish popular local government; and I have heard the wish expressed, and I echo it most heartily, that under that new system of local government a new day will be given to Ireland wherein landlords as well as farmers, rich men as well as poor men, may work together shoulder to shoulder to improve the condition of the country, and to administer to the best advantage and in the most economical way the local government of the land. That is the state of affairs which we are promised next year. Well, I say that nothing that can be done by the Government, or by its supporters, to ensure a successful control of local government in Ireland, and to ensure the harmonious working of all classes in Ireland under the Local Government Bill—nothing can be done better than, by a bold attempt on the part of the Government, to deal with this evicted tenants question; because I believe that it will be utterly impossible to bring about any really satisfactory state of public opinion in portions of Ireland so long as these unfortunate people are out of their homes, either by way of punishment for their opposition to the landlords, or because the Government will not 1398 stretch forth a hand to help them. I know that there are some Members of this House—the hon. Member for Armagh, for instance—who would be inclined to get up and say, "This is a very fine thing for Nationalist Home Rule Members to come here and ask the Government to restore evicted tenants, who are, after all, evicted simply because they took the advice of the Nationalist Party in Ireland." I do not know, as I said before, whether that is going to be said or not. I can say myself that I do not think these people ever allowed themselves to be evicted because they were asked to do so by the Nationalist Members. So far as I know these evicted tenants, they were, in various localities, exceptionally public-spirited people, who took a foremost part in the agitation—who came out in defence of their fellow-tenants in order to attract the attention of the Government as to the necessity of doing something in the matter. These were the men who were evicted, and they were evicted because they were leading men, in many cases, of the agitation; and I say that for anybody in this House to urge as a reason why the Government should not interfere on behalf of evicted tenants that they were evicted because they took the advice of the Nationalist Members is no answer to the question at all. So far as I am concerned, I have never been in the slightest degree backward in acknowledging any advice that I ever gave to the people in Ireland. I undoubtedly did from time to time advise and support the agitation which took place; and under similar circumstances I should be very pleased and ready to do the same thing again. But, after all, I think it is a paltry thing for any section of the landlords or the Government to continue outlawing these men who have been evicted simply because they fell a prey to the oppressions of the landlords during the agitation, whether the agitation was right or wrong. We think it was right; and it has been justified by many Acts since that time in this House. If that be so, why not end the chapter by restoring these men to their homes? The Chief Secretary may say it is no part of the duty of the Government. We know perfectly well that the government in Ireland practically means the landlord party; and the landlords in Ireland would, I believe, if they were approached by the 1399 right hon. Gentleman or the Government, or even if it were known that the Government meant to deal seriously with this question of the evicted tenants, I believe the landlords would come forward and help to settle this question by restoring many of these tenants to their holdings. The landlords are losing money by it; and the tenants, themselves in a miserable condition, are evicted. The evicted tenants throughout the country are a constant source of trouble and annoyance. Now, Mr. Speaker, I speak just for my own constituency in the county of Clare, and I say this: I have been for five or six years a Member for that district of the county of Clare, and I can honestly say that in all my connection with that place the only cause for trouble or agitation on the part of the people that I have had experience of has arisen out of the cases of men who have been evicted, and if you once remove this source of trouble, of discontent, of agitation, and of irritation amongst the people, you would do more to restore permanent peace than if you applied a thousand Coercion Acts to check agitation. I have spoken at some considerable length on this question of the evicted tenants, not because I believe that the other portions of the Bill are unimportant in the least degree, tout simply because I do believe that really almost the most important question touched by the Bill is this question of the evicted tenants. There is the hon. Gentleman the Member for Hackney, who lives in Ireland a considerable portion of the year. I do not know whether in his immediate neighbourhood there are any evicted tenants, but not very far from it I spend a good part of the year myself. If there are any the hon. Member will be in a position to tell the House the amount of friction and disturbance that results in his neighbourhood, and which has been the result in other neighbourhoods in Ireland where there are evicted tenants, where they are unable to settle down to improve their property and mind their own business, because they feel bound in honour to stand by the men who have been evicted. There are in these neighbourhoods really little wars going on between the landlords and the tenants, and it is war. For this reason I urge the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to take some decided step to put an end to this 1400 question. But, supposing that the Government do not take some decided steps, supposing a vindictive policy of punishment is persisted in, what is going to be the result? Well, it is not very hard to predict. The result will be, sooner or later, renewed agitation, and instead of having a certain number of evicted tenants you may have in time to come a far larger number to deal with. There is no question that this matter of the evicted tenants, if not dealt with by the Government and by law, will become a fruitful source of agitation and disturbance in the future, and I do not hesitate to say that it will be the duty of the Irish Members, and I shall consider it my own duty in the county of Clare, as far as that goes, to go down there to promote agitation, and to do all in my power to keep the question of the evicted tenants to the front if they are to be abandoned by the Government. Mr. Speaker, I support very strongly the Second Reading of this Bill which has been proposed by one of the hon. Members for the county of Kerry, and I strongly appeal, in the interests of justice and humanity, and in the interests of peace, to the Government to end this unfortunate question by taking some means to restore to their homes those men who are not in the slightest degree to be more blamed than their fellows, and whose patriotism shows that they possess sufficient courage to become leaders in the agitation from which so much good has resulted to the vast majority of the Irish people.
§ MR. JAMES DALY (Monaghan, S.)
The hon. Member who moved the rejection of this Bill gave as his reason that there was a Bill passed upon this subject in 1896. But, Sir, the reason that this Bill has been introduced to-day by my hon. Friend is that the Land Bill of 1896 has turned out almost entirely useless and not in the interests of the tenant farmers in Ireland, and it is to remedy this and put some touches on the holes of that Measure that this Bill is brought in by my hon. Friend opposite. Yes, Sir, the Bill of 1896 was a defective Measure, and, with the exception of one section, to which I will refer later on, was worth nothing at all to any tenant farmer in Ireland, and this was pointed out at 1401 the time the Measure was passed. I remember when this Bill was passing through this House that the First Lord of the Treasury was asked by the hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin whether the Bill was going to injure the landlords in Ireland. I remember the words of the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury, for he said in reply—The Bill will not injure the landlords in Ireland to the extent of one farthing.Mr. Speaker, that prognostication of the right hon. Gentleman has proved, unfortunately, too true for the tenant farmers of Ireland, and the Bill has not been of the slightest use, I regret to say, to the majority of the people that I came into contact with. Mr. Speaker, the Bill of 1896 was passed, but in the very next breath, in 1897, a Royal Commission was appointed for the purpose of inquiring into the operations of the very Land Bill that was considered to be so perfectly essential for the relief of the tenant farmers in 1896. I regret to say that the Royal Commission which sat last year has urged the landlords in Ireland to double their efforts in harassing their tenants, and they are harassing them at the present moment. Now, Sir, the Ulster custom has not been denied for a great number of years. I observe that the Earl of Dufferin, who, in 1854, spoke in the House of Lords with regard to the Ulster custom, said—The country had comparatively no manufactures. Out of this miserable peculiarity arose two great evils, from which most of the crimes and misfortunes of Ireland may be deduced, namely, so intense a competition for land as to make its owners the absolute lords of the market, and leave to the occupiers no alternative but to submit to whatever conditions the former chose to exact.Now, Sir, this is a quotation from a speech made by the Earl of Dufferin in the House of Lords in 1854, and, strange to say, Sir, within the last week this very noble Gentleman has been attacking his tenants in Ulster for the purpose of breaking through the Ulster custom on which he made such a speech as I have read in 1854. I lay the blame of this entirely at the door of the Government for appointing the Fry Commission 1402 last year. I say it has given fresh vigour and hope to the landlords of Ireland to harass their unfortunate tenants. There is a story in Ireland about the Acushla-macree dog that went a bit of the road with everybody. The Government in 1896 went a bit of the road with the tenants, and in 1897 went a bit with the landlords, thus strangely resembling that famous Irish dog I have mentioned. They coquetted with the landlords last year, with the result that the landlords are now harassing their tenants in Ireland. When the tenants want a fair rent some of the landlords refuse to appear before the Sub-Commissioners and lodge appeals before the Chief Commissioners, notwithstanding that, as my hon. Friend who introduced this Bill has proved, the rents are always advancing. So long, Mr. Speaker, as this state of things exists in Ireland there can be no peace or contentment in the country. I do believe and agree with hon. Members who have spoken that the solution of this land question in Ireland is purchase. There never will be peace in Ireland so long as there are landlords and tenants. This becomes more remarkable every day, because in almost every county in Ireland we have an occasional estate sold for some time past under the Ashbourne Acts. At the present moment the tenant under a landlord sees the freedom the tenant who has purchased his holding under the Ashbourne Act has. For him there is no fear of Sub-Commissioners having landlord sympathies coming down to view his holding every 10 or 15 years. The tenants of Ireland under landlords have made up their minds that they are entitled to have holdings in their own name, and to purchase them, and while they know it will be a big Bill for any Government to carry, at the same time it will be the solution of this question in Ireland, and the settling of the friction going on for such a length of time between landlords and tenants. Sir, the Land Bill of 1896 left out one of the most important points, and that was with regard to town tenants. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury, when he had a Land Bill before the House 11 years ago, put into it a population limit, and I believe I am right in saying that when the Bill went to the House of Lords that limit was 1403 cut out. If the whole Bill went when the population limit was taken out, it would not have mattered much. It is a most extraordinary thing that because land is adjacent to a town of about 2,000 inhabitants it should be far dearer rented than land a short distance out in the country, because to my knowledge it is a help to small tradesmen and small shopkeepers getting a living to have their families labouring a few acres of land, and why those people should be charged a greater rent than others, and why they should not have the opportunity of going into Court and having a fair rent fixed, I cannot understand. It seems to me a mystery, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will see his way to accept the Bill on this point. With regard to the 40th section, it was expected that it would relieve the congestion which existed in the Encumbered Estates Court. I regret to say, Mr. Speaker, it has done nothing of the sort. The Government have always a happy knack that, if they give the making of a pair of trousers to a man in Ireland, they give it into the hands of a tailor who will not make a pair of knee-breeches from the cloth. This is what has been done with the 40th section. I refer to the case of the Hart-ness estate, which came before Justice Ross. While the Land Commissioners fixed the proper purchase value at £2,994, Justice Ross raised the price to £3,262, in favour of the landlord. Now, the 40th section was expected to do great things, but in the hands of Justice Ross, I am sorry to say, it has been placed in hands partial to the landlords.
§ MR. DALY
Mr. Speaker, I bow to your ruling. While I daresay I might attack an archangel in this House, I am precluded from attacking Justice Ross. However, Mr. Speaker, I must only take an opportunity of having a shot at Justice Ross from some platform in Ireland. The hon. Member for Hackney mentioned that it would cause confusion if the judicial term were shortened, but, Mr. Speaker, I remember that a Commission sat during the time of the late 1404 Government, and that a member of the present Government reported that 10 years should be the judicial term in future. I hope, Sir, that the Government, having a Member who sat on that Commission and approved of the judicial term being shortened, will now pay a compliment to a member of its own composition and shorten the judicial term. I will not, Sir, refer to matters that have been referred to by other hon. Members, but I come here as an Ulster Member. The hon. Member for Hackney admitted he knew nothing about Ulster. I will take the principal industry of Ulster, the flax industry, and I find that in the 15 years since the first judicial term commenced, the reduction in the price of flax has been 37 per cent., and taking the year 1897 as compared with 1896, the reduction has been 50 per cent. less than in 1896. As regards the quantity in 1896, the quantity of flax as compared with the average of the previous 11 years shows a shortage of 6,827 tons, or 26,677 acres; and taking an average of the price since 1881, when the first judicial rents were fixed, I find there has been a loss to Ulster of £192,156. Now, Mr. Speaker, if there is any part of Ireland that requires consideration from the Government it is Ulster. It is a very serious consideration that one of the principal industries in that province—I mean flax—has almost died out. The land in the North of Ireland is cold. It is not good for oats, very bad for potatoes, scarcely any barley is grown, and it is only in the hilly north that the tenant farmers can cultivate flax. Another reason why flax is cultivated in Ulster is that the farms are small, and, though they are small farmers, the landlords cannot prevent them from raising large families. I think that is perfectly true, Sir. Of course, hon. Gentlemen may laugh, but, Sir, I think I am perfectly in order in commenting on this fact. I think that there is no part of Ireland where the farmers have been harder hit than in Ulster, and, as I stated before, there are a great many hands, and it takes a great many hands to cultivate a crop of flax. The result is that the unfortunate people of Ulster have to emigrate on account of the failure of the flax crop having left them no employment for their families. I need not, Sir, 1405 quote the Report of the Local Government Board, which stated last year that the price of wheat has been reduced 50 per cent., and the price of milk and butter 30 per cent. Now, Sir, when English farmers have to complain of a reduction in the price of produce, what must it be with regard to farmers in Ireland? Take a, horse. I went to the railway station in my own district before coming over, and I found that the cost of the carriage of a horse from Carrickmacross to Rugby is £2 10s. The reason I mention this is that the hon. Member for Hackney referred to horses. But what a profit that £2 10s. would be to an English farmer in the price of a horse, without taking into account at all the danger in the carriage of a horse from Carrickmacross to Rugby. English farmers who complain of the reduction in prices are very lucky when compared with Irish farmers who have to pay for the transit of their goods. But while the Returns of the Local Government Board in England set out the difficulties and disadvantages of English farmers, it is very rarely that the Government will acknowledge any of the difficulties of the Irish farmers. There is one splendid thing I see, and I am very glad of it, and that is that every little town is getting up a Tenants Defence Association, and is passing resolutions that, it passed by Nationalists in the good old days, would very likely get them stretched on the plank bed by the Government. I am pleased, Sir, to see this agitation getting up. The doles given by the rent offices in years gone by are not given now, and Protestant and Presbyterian farmers find it to their interest to stand shoulder to shoulder with their Catholic fellow-countrymen in keeping their homes over their heads. It is not necessary to read these resolutions. [Mr. JOHNSTON: Would the hon. Member read them?] I would be pleased to read anything asked for by the hon. Member, but I cannot now delay the time of the House to satisfy him. But there is one Resolution passed at Crumlin—[Mr. JOHNSTON: Would the hon. Member say in what county Crumlin is?] I must refer the hon. Member to a geography. I am scarcely here to give him information. One of the resolutions says that an attack is being made by the landlords 1406 on tenants, whose ancestors have occupied their farms since the plantation. Well, Mr. Speaker, it is hard times when the landlords are attacking the tenants in this way. The Government passed the Corn Laws, and what were the Corn Laws for? They were passed to fill John Bull's stomach at the cheapest rate. Mr. Speaker, that cannot be denied, because in this very city there were the Bread Riots. It was simply because the people wanted food that the Government of the day passed the Corn Laws, regardless of what injury they were to Ireland. Previous to that time the produce of Ireland was sent to these markets at a good price, but since the passing of the Corn Laws Irish produce has been outdistanced by foreign competition. What have the Government done to compensate the Irish farmers for passing the Corn Laws? Absolutely nothing, Sir. I have repeatedly put questions to the Chief Secretary with regard to developing and encouraging the growth of flax, and I have met with a deaf ear. How does the action of the Government compare with that of Denmark or Holland? In those countries money is voted from the national exchequer for the purpose of encouraging agricultural butter-making and fowl-rearing, and not a cent, Sir, is to be screwed out of this House for the purpose of endeavouring to keep the homes over the unfortunate tenant farmers of Ireland. Of course, the Government will say that there is no distress in Ireland, but is it necessary that every farmer in Ireland should be going into the workhouse before the Government should interfere? Such an unsympathetic reply from the Government Benches can scarcely be expected. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will see that the time has come to reinstate the evicted tenants, because a large number of those tenants, particularly in my own constituency, were evicted during the Chief Secretary ship of the First Lord of the Treasury. The landlords of those days, because they had a strong Government majority, and because there were a number of removables to send the unfortunate people to gaol, had nothing to do but throw the people on the side of the road. It has turned out a very expensive proceeding, for their holdings are lying derelict to this day as a monument 1407 to the folly of the landlords, assisted by the Government. I hope the right hon. Gentleman, who has heard this case put so often before him, when he gets up to reply will see his way to give some money for the reinstatement of the evicted tenants. I may assure him that in places where there are evicted tenants it is very easy to come to terms with the landlords, but the unfortunate tenants who have been out on the side of the road for 10, 12, or 15 years, who have no money and whose houses are pulled down, cannot make terms, and if the Government would grant a loan to these unfortunate men, spread over a certain number of years, I am sure it would be long remembered with gratitude by many others than the evicted tenants themselves. I hope this matter will be seriously considered, and that the right hon. Gentleman will accept this Bill proposed by my hon. Friend.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
Mr. Speaker, the speech of the hon. Member is a sample of the speeches which I have frequently heard in this House. One of the arguments of the hon. Member why the House of Commons should pass this remarkable Measure was that a horse cannot be transported from Carrickmacross to Rugby at a moderate price. I should say that is probably true, but it affects more the London and North Western Railway than the Irish landlords. The other remarks of the hon. Member have, as far as I can see, as much relevance to the Bill we are discussing—and to which practically he did not allude at all—as the question of the cost of transporting a horse from Carrickmacross to Rugby. With regard to the interest shown in this Measure by hon. Members from Ireland, there are only sixteen Members present to-day to listen to the discussion, and as for the Benches above the Gangway, I need not allude to their arid appearance. The hon. Member who introduced this Bill made a long and interesting speech on Irish statistics, but I failed to find any argument why the House of Commons should turn upside down all the land legislation since 1881. I, however, took the trouble, after listening to the speech of the hon. Member for Kerry, to examine 1408 into the statistics of the county, part of which he represents, and which he informs us is in a truly deplorable condition. Allow me to give the House two or three statistics. Take the years from 1892 to 1897. The hon. Member for Kerry says that there has been a decrease of about 400 in the number of horses and mules. Sir, that is amply made up for by the fact that there has been a very large increase in the number of asses in Kerry. [An HON. MEMBER: And in other parts of Ireland.] I merely mention this in connection with the speech of the hon. Member for Kerry. In 1892 there were 12,148 asses in Kerry; in 1897 they totalled the satisfactory number of 13,716. Sir, there is no danger of the disappearance of asses from Kerry. Milch cows—a very important factor in agriculture—in 1892 numbered 104,800 in Kerry; now they number 107,000. Pigs—[laughter]—hon. Members may laugh, but I think he is the most interesting animal in Ireland, because on the existence of pigs depends a great deal the existence of rent, and Irish landlords look upon the pig with affectionate interest. Well now, in 1892 there were 39,425 pigs in Kerry; in 1897 they had gone up nearly 10,000, numbering 57,054. Now, on the existence of pigs, and on the price of pigs, a good deal of the prosperity of Ireland depends, as hon. Gentlemen know very well. I should have liked the hon. Member for Kerry to have stated in his speech what the price of pigs is at the present moment. He will be glad to learn that the price has increased, for which we are all extremely satisfied. So far as the speech of the hon. Member for Kerry is concerned, I shall not say any more than this: that the tremendous Bill he has introduced is really a very simple Bill in object and character. It would simply put an end to the payment of rent in Ireland, and, however desirable that end may be, it is a conclusion to which I have a certain right to demur. But if this Bill is passed it will have just this effect; and in order to persuade the House of Commons to pass this tremendous Measure the hon. Member flooded the House with all kinds of statistics as to the condition of his native land. He gave as one reason why this Bill should pass, that some landlord in the county 1409 of Kerry had compelled an unfortunate man to pay a penny for a branch he found lying on the roadside. I do not know how he forced this gentleman to pay. He had no right to do it, and we do not know whether the penny was paid to the Queen or whether he put it into his own pocket. But I need hardly point out to the House that a story of this kind from its very appearance is absolutely devoid of any reason why it should be received by the House of Commons. But as a reason for passing a Land Bill it is one of the most remarkable I have ever heard. Now we come to a serious speech of a very serious speaker, the hon. Member for East Mayo. I do not know what year the hon. Member was born, but I think he must have been born somewhere about the year 1846, because he has famine on the brain. I have been in the House with the hon. Member for 12 years, and I do not remember one single year during that period that the hon. Member did not firmly believe there was a famine in Ireland. He firmly believes at the present moment that there is a famine in Ireland, and that the condition of Ireland now is so terrible and so deplorable that unless the Government steps in, unless this country steps in with a generous and lavish hand, there will be an unparalleled disaster in the unfortunate country to which the hon. Member belongs. Sir, the result of always living in a state of panic is that we become used to it when year after year we hear statements made to the same effect. I remember some years ago, in a year when the real condition of Ireland was the ordinary normal condition, another hon. Member, the Member for Louth, who is not present to-day, gave a similar description of the condition of Ireland. I remember he pulled out of his pocket small round things, which at first sight appeared to be bullets—they turned out to be potatoes—and held them out to the House of Commons, and said: "There, that is what my constituents are living upon." I remember I was living in Ireland the greater part of that year, and I never heard anything of this frightful famine. Year by year, whether from the hon. Member for Louth or the hon. Member for East Mayo, we have this famine over and over again.
§ [Mr. DILLON
Does the hon. Member say there is no hunger in Ireland at the present moment?] Why, Sir, I was very often hungry myself. But I do not want to get out of it in that way. There is distress in Ireland, and there will always be distress in Ireland as long as a condition of affairs, over which this House has no control, exists. What strikes me when I hear these Debates is how much more interesting an Irishman is on any other subject. A congested Irishman is one of the most interesting members of the community. Debates are started in this House about him, and legislation is passed providing1 methods for dealing with him. But we never hear anything about congested Englishmen. A hungry Irishman and a poor Irishman are described in the most moving terms. But you have hungry men in London, as well as in Ireland. Why don't we hear more of the congestion that exists in this country? Is it because an Englishman is not so interesting a personality as an Irishman? That is not the reason. It arises from various circumstances, and from the fact that political capital can be made out of the sufferings of a certain class in Ireland; and therefore it is that we have year after year these recurring pictures of distress in Ireland. Of course, Irishmen do suffer from poverty, the same as the people of other countries, but what really surprises me is that the hon. Member for East Mayo and the other hon. Gentlemen on the opposite benches and below the Gangway get up year after year and advocate Measures such as the one we are now considering, and affirm that this country and this House have never done anything for Ireland. I heard the hon. Member for East Mayo, in a speech he made to-day, reaffirm that statement. [Mr. DILLON: Not at all.] Well, he, said they did something, but they did the wrong thing. [Mr. DILLON: The hon. and gallant Member is putting words into my mouth which I did not use.] The hon. Member for East Mayo went so far as to say that this country never did any sort of justice to Ireland. I do not think he will deny that. That was the purport of a great part of his remarks. It is said by the hon. Member again and again every year. I venture to say that there is no tenantry on the whole face 1411 of the earth, in any civilised country in the world, for whom so much has been done as for the Irish tenants. Of course, the hon. Member for East Mayo will deny that. [Mr. DILLON: Absolutely.] Let the hon. Member for East Mayo, or any other hon. Gentleman, get up and prove where any other country in the world has, in legislation, ever done so much as has been done for the Irish tenant. Why, what have you done? You have practically given more than half of the fee simple value of Ireland to the tenants, and you have given the Irish tenant the right to sell his farm without the leave of the landlord. They have never given anything for that right except in a few cases outside Ulster, and in some cases in Ulster, in which tenant rights existed. Is that not a great gift for the tenantry of Ireland to receive? You have interfered between the landlord and tenant in Ireland, and you have prescribed that they should not come to an agreement, but that an agreement should be come to by a Court which has been appointed. The result has been, and I do not think hon. Members will deny it, that Irish rents have gone down 30, 40, and 50 per cent. Whether that is just or not I am not now questioning. I am only showing what this House has already done for the Irish tenants, and yet hon. Members get up year after year and say the English Parliament has never done anything that is just and right to the Irish tenant. To say that nothing has been done for the Irish tenants, is childishly absurd. Should the time ever come when this House ought to be called upon to assist Ireland in a case of distress there will naturally be a great flavour of distrust of the statements of hon. Members from Ireland when year after year they have brought forward these statements which they have absolutely failed to prove. Most, of them have said that the wealth of Ireland has been depleted and has disappeared. How can you calculate the wealth of a country? You cannot calculate it by the fact that potatoes or pigs have gone down in price during one year. The low price of potatoes is generally an indication of the wealth of the Irish people; it is the same as the low price of bread in this country. But, at any rate, take the ordinary method adopted to prove that Ireland is in a 1412 bad state. We are told that the price of certain articles of consumption has fallen. I have never heard any hon. Member get up and prove that there is less money in Ireland now than there has been. Take the returns of the Post Office Savings Bank. It is not the rich people who invest in the Post Office Savings Bank, but the poor people—the people of moderate wealth. What do these returns show? They show that in 1881 (the year the great Land Bill was passed) the deposits in the Post Office Savings Bank amounted to £1,645,000; in 1888 they had risen to £3,128,000; and during the past year, when we are told that Ireland is in a, hopeless state, that its wealth has departed—that, in fact, it is a nation of beggars—we find that the deposits in the Post Office Savings Bank have risen to £6,443,000. If you take the deposits in the Joint Stock Banks, which represent to a large extent the financial condition of the farming class, you will find that in 1881 the deposits were £28,289,000, in 1887 £29,339,000, and in 1897 they rose to £38,564,000. Therefore, so far as I can gather from the figures, these people whom hon. Members from Ireland say are starving, whom they say are a disgrace to the British Empire for their poverty and misery, have been able to accumulate and pile up in the Post Office Savings Bank, and in the Joint Stock Banks, a very large and substantial sum of money, which, seeing that the population has decreased, shows a tremendous increase per head in the wealth of the Irish people. If figures mean anything, that is clearly shown by the figures which I have quoted. Now, Sir, with regard to the Bill. It would be a much better and a much simpler Bill if it were merely stated that "this is a Bill to prevent the necessity of any future payment of rent in Ireland." That would have expressed to the House of Commons the real meaning of the Bill, would have saved very probably a long Debate, and would have described what really is the object of certain Gentlemen on the opposite benches. The hon. Member for East Mayo, who is always very honest on this point, would show no mercy for the landlords. I remember him stating, in a speech he made in Ireland, "When we get Home Rule we will make short work of the landlord." I 1413 should rather say he would. The value of a Bill of this kind is that it shows the House of Commons what would happen if there was Home Rule in Ireland. A Bill of this kind would perform the whole operation, and rent in Ireland would become a thing of the past-—an evil memory. Just allow me to call the attention of the House to one clause in this Bill, in order to show the sort of Bill it is. I do not think many Members have read the Bill, and, if they have, I do not think they will be much wiser. Clause 4 gives a good idea of what kind of Bill this is. The House will remember that the great argument that has always been adduced in favour of land legislation for Ireland is that the landlord does not carry out the improvements of the land himself, that he docs not build the houses, and that he does not drain the land. This is all done by the tenants, and it is because the tenants have thus put into the land their own property that they require protection. It was for that reason and no other that I and my Friend the hon. Member for Belfast voted for the Land Bill of 1870. Clause 4 of this Bill saddles on to the Irish landlord not only the Land Act as it exists at present, but the existing habit and custom of England. When a landlord wants to get the rent fixed under this Bill, not only has he to go to the Court and submit to his farm being examined by a Land Commissioner, but something more has to be done. Clause 4 says that as to buildings and other necessary works which the landlord does not show to have been made by, or at the expense of, himself or his predecessor in title, and where the holding is not equipped with the buildings and works necessary for its proper cultivation, the Court, in fixing the fair rent, shall deduct from the gross acreable valuation such sum as would represent a fair annual charge on the amount necessary to put the holding into a proper state of equipment. [Mr. DILLON: The hon. and gallant Member has not read the beginning of the clause.] Very well, I will read the whole of the clause. It is as follows—Where the Court, in fixing a fair rent, makes an acreable valuation of a holding, such acreable valuation shall be made on the assumption that the holding is properly equipped with buildings and other works necessary for the 1414 proper cultivation of the land, and in estimating the fair rent they shall deduct from the acreable valuation so arrived at so much of the value as is due to such buildings and other necessary works, and as the landlord does not show to have been made by, or at the expense of, himself or his predecessor in title, and where the holding is not equipped with the buildings and works necessary for its proper cultivation the Court, in fixing the fair rent, shall deduct from the gross acreable valuation such sum as would represent a fair annual charge on the amount necessary to put the holding into a proper state of equipment, unless it be ascertained that the want of equipment is due to any default on the part of the tenant or his predecessors in title.By and by, in fixing a fair rent, if this Bill passes into law, the Commissioners would look at the buildings and say—These are not properly equipped buildings, and in order to properly equip this farm we shall deduct from the rent the annual value of such a sum as would erect these buildings.
§ MR. DILLON
The object of this clause—and I think it carries out its object—is simply to assimilate the practice of valuing farms in Ireland to that now adopted in England. You value a farm on the assumption that there is proper equipment, but if in England it is found that the buildings are not in repair, something is knocked off the acreable value of the farm in order that the tenants may put it into a proper condition.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
The Bill not only enables the tenant to get a fair rent fixed under the Act of 1881, but by the fourth clause it saddles the unfortunate landlord with the expense of erecting houses and other agricultural buildings, so as to place the farm in a proper state of equipment. [Mr. DILLON: Not at all. That is not the effect of the Bill.] It is the effect it would have. [Mr. DILLON: No, no.] I know that Irish landlords have been very much blamed for not adopting the English principle, and for not paying all the expenses of properly equipping these farms themselves, instead of leaving them to the tenants, but in Ireland that could not be done unless a landlord happens to be a millionaire. Take my own case, for instance. I have one estate containing 760 farms of an average of 12 acres each. It would require more 1415 than three times the fee simple value of the land to carry out its proper equipment as provided in this clause. Then we come to Clause 6, which, in my opinion, would act as a direct encouragement to the tenant not to pay any rent; in fact, he would be told he would be a fool if he did pay. For what does that section say? It says—In the case of any ejectment which has been or shall be brought for the non-payment of the rent of a holding to which the Land Law Acts, as amended by this Act, apply, where the tenant has paid, tendered, deposited, or lodged two years' rent as provided in section 16 of the Land Law (Ireland) Act, 1896, the balance of the rent due to that date shall be irrecoverable.[Mr. DILLON: That was drafted on the recommendation of the Cowper Commission.] Then it shows that the Cowper Commission was not up to the mark. The clause goes on to say that—In any proceedings for the recovery of a holding to which the Land Law Acts apply for non-payment of rent, or in any action for debt or damages by any person against the tenant of such holding where the tenant makes an application to have a fair rent fixed, it shall be in the power of the Court before which such application is to be heard to put a stay upon any such proceedings until the said application is finally determined, upon such terms as to payment of rent or otherwise as the Court think just.I do not see, if a clause of that kind is passed, what inducement there would be to Irish tenants, unless they were very honest, to pay any rent at all. They would defer payment if they were wise, and wait until the unfortunate landlord had to go through an elaborate process of law. I believe that is the way this clause would work out, and I ask the House to consider what the condition of the Irish landlord will be if a Bill of this kind is allowed to pass. The latter part of the Bill, dealing with evicted tenants, contains, I think, a tolerably sweeping proposal. It proposes that—Where the tenancy of a holding has been determined at any time after the first day of May one thousand eight hundred and seventy-nine, the landlord or the former tenant of the holding, or both jointly, may, within twelve months of the commencement of this Act, apply in the prescribed manner to the Land Commission to act as arbitrators, with a view to the reinstatement of the former tenant in the holding or with a view to the purchase of the holding by the former tenant.1416 Now, Sir, we are going back 20 years. During this 20 years other tenants have come in on the farms from, which the former tenants had been evicted for nonpayment of rates. No evictions have taken place for any other reason during, the past 20 years. If this portion of the Bill passes, we shall experience the hottest time Ireland has seen for many a long day. We should have tenants, who have been for 8, 15, 16, or 18 years living on the farms, thriving, marrying,, and, as the hon. Member opposite said, having large families, which, I believe, is a habit peculiar to Ireland; we should, have these people turned out of their holdings so that the tenants who had, been evicted for not paying their rent could be reinstated. Sir, I do not think, any landlord would be so absolutely insane as to evict a tenant who had lived on a farm for 15, 16, or 17 years, in order to take back either the original tenant or a descendant of the original tenant, who was turned out because he would not pay anything. I cannot conceive the state of mind of the landlord who would consent to that. Therefore, if this portion, of the Bill passes, far from, pacifying that part of Ireland which has been most signal in past years for political excitement, it will bring about a state of affairs that has not been paralleled in the history of Ireland. The hon. Member for East Mayo said the main cause of all the misfortunes of Ireland is the conduct of the Irish landlords, who, he said, did not take any interest in the prosperity of their country. To put the case in the lowest shape, I cannot conceive an Irish landlord who lives in Ireland, and whose daily bread depends on the condition of Ireland and its prosperity, taking no interest in the welfare of his country. The hon. Member always depicts Irish landlords as absentees. I venture to say that absenteeism is the exception and not the rule. In the name of the class to which I belong I claim that to us landlords the welfare of our country and its prosperity is every bit as dear as to the hon. Member himself; and living in Ireland as, in the great majority of cases, we do, we should be insane if we did not do everything we could to promote the prosperity of the country, on whose prosperity our very existence depends. All I can say is, Sir, that I 1417 do not think it will require much argument on my part, or on the part of those who may follow me in this Debate, to defeat a Bill which, if passed, so far from settling the Land Question, would, to my mind, bring about a condition of affairs in Ireland which would be absolutely to her peace and to her destructive prosperity.
§ *MR. J. J. CLANCY (Dublin Co., N.)
Mr. Speaker, the hon. Member for North Armagh, has referred rather disparagingly to the speeches which have been delivered from this side of the House. I think I can return the compliment, and say that I have heard the speech which he has just delivered several times before. I do not blame him for having repeated himself, but I think he should extend the same charity to those who occupy these benches. The hon. and gallant Member complained of the want of interest which was being exhibited by Irish Members in this Bill, and referred to the empty state of these benches. I think that here again I can return the compliment, and say that I do not see many Irish landlords on the other side of the House, from which I would rather that, after all, they do not think this Bill is the very terrible Measure which the hon. and gallant Member seems to think it. Sir the hon and gallant Gentleman referred to what he called the exaggerated language which has been used by Members sitting on these benches, as to the failure of this Parliament to administer Irish affairs in a proper manner. If any exaggerated language has been used upon that subject, I certainly do not sympathise with it, and do not believe in it. But I do not understand that the hon. Member for East Mayo has said that nothing of benefit has been done for Ireland by this Parliament. I think he would be a fool if he did say so, but what is absolutely true is, that everything that has been done in this direction has been wrung out of the Government by agitation. Everything that has been done has been due to the agitator and to crime to which the Government have listened time and again, whilst they have shut their ears to the dictates of reason and justice. The hon. and gallant Gentleman said 1418 that more had been done for the tenants of Ireland than for any other tenants on the face of the earth. I have been listening to that statement for many years, and, even if it were true that it is so, what is it to the purpose? As a matter of fact, my answer is that the tenants of Ireland have needed protection more than any other tenants on the face of the entire globe. The hon. and gallant Gentleman went on to say that our whole case rested on the distress existing in Ireland, and again he complained about the exaggerated language used. Here, too, if exaggerated language is used in regard to the distress existing in Ireland, I repudiate exaggerated language—I join with him in thinking that, in every way, ii does a great deal more harm than good. But I do think that the hon. and gallant Gentleman ought not to talk in this manner when he is speaking of distress—when there is, after all, real distress in a part of Ireland; and I do not think that anything should be said in ridicule of any person who endeavours, by whatever means lies in his power, to draw the attention of this House of Parliament to that state of things. I should rather have hoped that every Member of this House—even the representatives of Irish landlords—would be willing to condone even exaggerated language if it would result in directing the attention of Parliament and the Government to the necessary measures for the relief of that distress. But let me say this to the hon. and gallant Gentleman, that, so far as I am concerned, I do not admit that the justification of this Bill lies upon the existence of distress at all. I say that even if Ireland were prosperous, from Antrim to Cork, and from Galway to Dublin, the case for this Bill would remain the same. But before I pass from the question of distress let me remind the hon. and gallant Gentleman—and this is pertinent to the remark I have just made—that when he referred us to proofs of increasing agricultural prosperity in Ireland, all that kind of talk is not new to me, nor is it new to anybody who has studied the question of Ireland for the last 25 years. Sir, before any of these Acts were passed, before the Land Act of 1870, which the hon. and gallant Gentleman supported, as he has told us to-night, and as I admit 1419 the Lord Lieutenant went about from town to town, from cattle show to cattle show, boasting of the agricultural prosperity of Ireland, reporting increases in the deposits in the banks as a proof of that prosperity, and representing to the whole world, and especially to the English Parliament, that there was no great necessity for legislating for Ireland, because she was prospering by leans and bounds and possessed every element of wealth. We know that in a short time the Fenian conspiracy had taken root all over Ireland, and we know that a few years afterwards, notwithstanding this boasted increased prosperity—notwithstanding the increase of the deposits in the savings banks and elsewhere—Mr. Gladstone, with the assent and approval of the hon. and gallant Gentleman, and of many other Irish landlords, introduced the first Irish Land Bill in order to prevent the exactions of the landlords. And whether there was distress or not that Bill was brought in and the hon. and gallant Gentleman supported it. I do not know whether he argued then that distress was a justification for the Measure. [Colonel SAUNDERSON: Certainly not.] Nor do I plead such a justification for this Bill. If Ireland were as prosperous as it was in 1870, the Bill would be perfectly justifiable. I think the hon. and gallant Gentleman dealt with the Bill in a very—I do not want to use an offensive adjective—in rather a feeble manner. He selected certain clauses which he though very ridiculous, and the first was Clause 4, which he thinks is a monstrous proposal. Well, really, if I understand the clause, I think that that kind of adjective applied to that proposal is subject to the same criticism that he applied to the Bill. That clause, so far as I know, would compel the Land Commission to value farms in Ireland as every person values them in England. What on earth of injustice is there about that? If there be any injustice at all I imagine it will be to the tenant. The hon. and gallant Gentleman referred to the question of arrears, and he thinks it monstrous to make arrears of more than two years irrecoverable. Why, Sir, the present Government, aided by a majority of the House of Commons, took a considerable step in that direction by the Bill of 1896. They actually carried into law a proposal that you could 1420 not eject a tenant if he lodged two years arrears of rent. All I can say is that I do not think the landlords would be deprived of very much if you were to go a little further now and say that any further sum due by way of arrears should not be recoverable. I do not think there is a landlord in Ireland who would not be very glad indeed to get two years' arrears of rent in cases where, perhaps, five or six years were due. The last matter referred to was the question of the reinstatement of evicted tenants, and in his criticisms of that, the hon. and gallant Member has pictured a kind of return of the Heralcleidœ; but the return of the Heralcleidœ is not likely to happen in this age. I really think it would be absolutely useless for me, or for anybody else, to combat assertions which everybody must feel, as he himself said, to be gross exaggerations of what is likely to occur. The clause will be effective only in the case of obstinate landlords, who, because they have plenty of money behind them, will not see the expediency of restoring people to their homes. But the hon. and gallant Member will admit that it will be necessary, in the interests of general peace in Ireland, to have some Measures to compel, such men to do what the hon. and gallant Member would himself do if he were in their place. I will say this, that if the hon. and gallant Member went through the Bill, clause by clause, he would find that it is not really so revolutionary a proposal as it has been described to be. Take the first clause of the Bill, which the hon. and gallant Member describes as the most important. The justification of that first clause is to be found in the Report of the Fry Commission—the very last Commission—in which the landlord representative agrees with the other Members of the Commission in saying that the rents fixed in the early years of the first 15 years' term were fixed without regard to the fall in prices which subsequently occurred. That one statement is a perfect justification for shortening the term, and I invite the attention of every landlord to that statement in the Fry Report. One of the most strenuous supporters of the landlord cause in Ireland signs that statement; and every other clause of the Bill might be justified in the same way. Take the question of true value. Why, there are 1421 plenty of statements in the Fry Commission Report upon which that can absolutely be justified. The hon. and learned Gentleman who seconded the rejection of this proposal expressed the opinion that the effect of proposing a Bill like this year after year is to stop all purchase, and, of course, we all agree or both sides of the House, excepting the hon. Member for South Mayo, that land purchase is the true solution of the agrarian difficulties in Ireland. But, Sir, I take an exactly opposite view of the result of leaving the law unaltered. I think tenants will not consent to buy generally unless they first get a fair basis for estimating the price which they are to pay. As soon as ever a fair basis is obtained—in other words, as soon as their rights in the soil are accurately and justly defined—then I do believe that they will, as a general rule, endeavour to purchase their holdings, and, moreover, that they will not hesitate to give a fair price. Sir, it is because I believe it is hastening the day of general purchase that I heartily support the Second Reading of this Bill, and I hope the Government will not face ii with an unyielding non possumus.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
We have listened this afternoon to a good many speeches of the usual type from Irish Members, butt I suppose that hon. Members opposite will hardly expect that the House will take into its serious consideration the possibility of having this Bill read a second time; and I am confirmed in that idea by the condition of the House, and by what my hon. and gallant Friend termed the "arid" state of the Front Bench opposite. The Bill consists of three parts, and of 16 operative clauses. The first part of the Bill contains a series of 11 clauses dealing with amendments of the various Land Acts, while no less than ten are substantially the same amendments as were moved to the Bill of 1896, and which were so fully discussed then—several of them many times over. The second part of the Bill, dealing with the power to vary existing judicial rents, was, I think, the subject of amendment to the 1896 Bill. But the general principle involved in that clause was also fully discussed when that Bill was under discussion; 1422 and, as for part 3, dealing with evicted tenants, that contains a proposal more drastic than the Measure proposed by the right hon. Gentleman, who represented the Montrose Burghs, in 1894, and far more drastic than the Bill dealing with the same subject rejected by a large majority of this House in the year 1896. It is under these circumstances, and in connection with a country where, as my hon. and gallant Friend has perfectly truly said, the law of landlord and tenant is more favourable to the tenant than in any other country in the world, that we are asked once more to re-open the land question with a view of introducing into the Land Laws provisions, every one of which, with the exception of one, have been discussed and rejected within the last two years. I do hope, under these circumstances, that I shall be justified in saying that even hon. Members opposite will hardly ask the House to take this Bill seriously, but that they are rather engaged in performing a pious duty in memory of the dead. Now, Sir, it is not my intention to go through the Bill clause by clause, and, especially, I will abstain from the truly useless task of discussing once again the various amendments of the law proposed in part 1. Those proposals have been discussed over and over again. We are all familiar with the arguments for and against them, and we have all made up our minds on the subject, and mere reiteration of the arguments does not affect the opinion of any one single Member in regard to this matter. The only proposal in Part I. which is anything like a novelty is that contained in Clause 4, which directs that a new system of valuation should be adopted in fixing a fair rent. This question was considered by the Fry Commission, who, so far from being of the opinion of the hon. Member for East Mayo, that the existing contract is likely to be unfavourable to the tenant, thought, if anything, it would help him in the either way. This is what that Commission said on the subject at page 30—This schedule, it will be observed, is framed on the footing of valuing the land separately from the buildings, and of valuing it in the first place without reference to its actual position and circumstances, such as facility or difficulty of access. A difference of opinion may well prevail as to whether this is the best method of valuation; but it appears to be the 1423 one which was followed by Sir Richard Griffith, and is most familiar to the surveyors and land valuers in Ireland. We should hesitate to interefere with the usual practice of the country on any theoretical views either of ourselves or of witnesses.That is the conclusion of the Fry Commission on the proposition submitted to them, and their opinion of the actual effect of the existing system as between landlord and tenant may be gathered from page 28—An equipped farm in Ireland usually consists of the land belonging to the landlord, and of the buildings and other improvements belonging to the tenant; and when, by reason of the fall in agricultural prices, the value of agricultural property suffers depression, that depression ought to be apportioned between the two properties which go to make up the agricultural unit, the farm. In point of fact, it appears that the practice has been to throw the whole effect of the depression on the land, and thus to place the owner of the improvements in the position of a preferential claimant on the produce of the joint property.I do not wish to indulge in any exaggerated language in this House. I think it is very difficult to say what the effect would be if we entirely changed the system of land valuation and substituted something else, but I certainly do not think that the effect of the present system is to cause the tenant to suffer twice over in respect to the value placed upon the buildings. But I should say, if this new system were adopted, the possible—I will not say the certain—effect of it might be to give the tenant not merely the value of the improvements he has made, but also the value of the improvements he has not made, but might have made. As I say, I am not prepared to express any definite opinion as to the effect of the particular proposal, but I think that the Fry Commission shows that there were very serious objections to changing the present system of valuation unless the strongest and most overwhelming reasons could be put forward in favour of so doing. Now there is one other matter of a general character referred to by the hon. Member for East Mayo on which I should like to say a word. I have heard an assertion constantly made from those benches to the effect that wealth in Ireland is diminishing. Sir, I have never been able to find out on what statistics that assertion is made. And still less, experts who have pronounced on this subject have come to 1424 an exactly opposite conclusion. I should like to quote to the House, with reference to this, the conclusions arrived at by Lords Farrer and Welby, who will not be suspected of a desire to come to a conclusion unfavourable to assertions made by hon. Gentlemen opposite, and this is it—The lesson to be learned from these figures is that both countries have increased in wealth, but that Ireland has increased far more slowly than Great Britain.Of course, everybody knows that Ireland has increased far more slowly than Great Britain. I do think that a statement of that kind, made on such authority, ought, to settle, once for all, all questions as to whether Ireland has or has not increased in wealth. Their opinion is that it has increased in wealth. Now, in addition to this, let it be remembered that the population of Ireland has been steadily falling for a long time past. From one point of view that is to be regretted, but having regard to the total wealth of the country it is in many respects a thing upon which we may congratulate ourselves, because it means that there are fewer people among whom that wealth is to be divided. So far does this obtain that the same judges to whom I have referred, and who are regarded as more or less experts in these matters, definitely state that the increase of wealth per head in Ireland has been not merely relatively, but actually greater than the increase in Great Britain. I think it is only right that these things should be made known, and that we should cease to have these assertions made as to the diminishing wealth of Ireland. It is no such thing. The wealth of Ireland is increasing more than that of Great Britain—that is, per head of population. Now, Sir, I will proceed to part 2—to what are called the equitable provisions. These equitable provisions are based upon the precedents set in 1887. In 1887 there had been an extremely rapid fall in the price of agricultural produce—a fall quite unexpected at the time when rents first began to be fixed under the Acts, and at the same time there had been a great deal of distress. A Measure was then passed somewhat similar to that which is now proposed. I personally have the gravest doubts as to whether that was a Measure which it was desirable to pass, but this I feel certain of, that one of the greatest 1425 objections to passing provisions of that kind is the danger that they may be drawn into precedents. That is exactly what is happening now. If we are to do the same thing in 1898 as we did in 1897 all hope of anything like stability in the administration of these Land Acts will be gone. We are only asked at present to carry out these proposals for three years—for this year, the following year, and the year after—but can anyone deny, if this proposal is adopted that at the end of the third year, we shall have a similar application? It is absolutely certain we shall. I say that unless we make an absolute stand and decline to make any further change, it will be impossible to have any confidence whatever in the administration of the land laws. I now come to the last part of the Bill, that part which deals with evicted tenants, and here let me remind the House again that although hardly a single reference has been made to the particular provisions of the Bill, yet, as a matter of fact, these provisions go beyond anything proposed by tin1 right hon. Member for Montrose Burghs. The right hon. Member for Montrose Burghs did, indeed, propose a, Bill of a compulsory character for the reinstatement of the evicted tenants, but he made special exception in favour of cases where evicted farms were occupied by "planters," and I think the right hon. Gentleman himself most justly observed that, if he had not made that exception, his Bill would have been an eviction Bill, a Bill starting an eviction campaign against those who in many cases had occupied the farms of which they were in possession for a very considerable number of years. There is no exception whatever in the provisions of this Bill in favour of "planters," and it goes very much beyond the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Montrose Burghs, and very much further than the Bill introduced by the hon. Member for Waterford in 1896. That Bill was purely voluntary in its operation, but it proposed the application of public money to assist in the reinstatement, of these tenants, and probably for that reason it was, after full consideration by the House, rejected by a majority of nearly a hundred. In spite of the fact that the House has already come to an adverse conclusion upon a much 1426 milder proposal, we are now asked to read this Bill a second time, with its drastic proposals, as regards the evicted tenants. In the Debate on the Evicted Tenants' Bill of 1896, I stated that it appeared to me to be a very strong order to apply for public money in favour of tenants who had been evicted by this process of law from their holdings for non-payment of rent, and it could only be justified if there were a public evil which could be remedied by exceptional legislative Measures. On the occasion of that Debate I made a note of some figures, and, although I shall not trouble the House with a repetition of all these, statistics brought up to date, still I wish to show the progress that has been made within the last two years. The total number of evicted farms in Ireland is, I think, often quoted at a very much higher figure than is accurate. The total number of holdings in Ireland, as the House knows, is about 550,000. The total number of evicted holdings on 1st January of this year was only 2,776, which makes a proportion of evicted holdings to the total number of holdings of about 1 in 200. Thai does not occur to me to be an enormous proportion of evicted holdings, and if we look, not merely at the number of holdings, but at the valuation, the figures are even more striking. The total acreage of land in Ireland is, roughly speaking, about 15,000,000. On January 1st, 1898, the acreage of derelict land was 39,590; in other words, the acreage of derelict land, as compared with cultivated land, was only 1 in 426. If we take the valuation of derelict land and compare it with the valuation of land under cultivation, we find the proportion is 1 in 800. Here, again, it seems to me we are not dealing with figures of so extraordinarily formidable a magnitude as the House has been given to understand. I wish now to inform the House of the progress made in connection with the restoration of evicted tenants to their holdings since I last spoke to the House on the subject in 1896. Let me first take the seventeen Plan of Campaign estates. The number of holdings on these seventeen estates on which evictions have taken place, up to 1893 was 750; up to 1896, 1,114; up to 1897, 1,427. Let us look now at the number of old tenants who have been 1427 reinstated, or new tenants who have occupied holdings with the consent of the old tenants. The number of these in 1893, before the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Montrose Burghs brought in his Bill, was 489; it had increased in 1896 to 732; and since then it has increased to 981. The number of holdings occupied by new tenants without the consent of the old tenants was, at February, 1893, 235; at February, 1896, 283; and at the end of December, 1897, 301. I now come to even, more striking figures. The number of cases that could not possibly have been dealt with by the Bill of the right hon. Member for Montrose Burghs, in 1894, on these Plan of Campaign estates, was 686. In February, 1896, the number was 401, and on December 31st last it had been further reduced to 155. This means that, if the right hon. Member for the Montrose Burghs had been content to wait with his Bill until the present year, the total number of holdings that could have been dealt with in the whole of Ireland was only 155. Surely, also, these figures prove what I formerly contended, that the evil was not so great as is generally imagined, and that it is rapidly disappearing under the operation of normal causes. [Mr. DILLON: Under the operation of continuous boycotting.] I now come to the estates outside the seventeen Campaign estates. The number of these that could possibly have been dealt with under the Bill of the right hon. Member for Montrose in 1893 was 2,755; the number now stands at 1,691; therefore on the estates outside the Campaign estates, it is obvious that the same favourable change has been going on as on the Campaign estates. I now come to the statement of the hon. Member for East Mayo, that if things have improved, the improvement has been the result of continuous boycotting. The hon. Member challenges the statement made by me in the beginning of this year that the condition of Ireland was, on the whole, satisfactory, and he says that it is nonsense, and that the condition of a country could not be regarded as satisfactory in which there are a large number of boycotted farms. I entirely deny that the restoration of holdings has taken place principally through the operation of boycotting. 1428 I do not say that in those cases where farms were boycotted they were not restored to the old tenants. I think that has been so in some cases, but that it has been so in any large or important number of cases I entirely deny. And is it not extraordinary that, when the hon. Member for East Mayo comes forward and asks this House to pass a Bill voting £220,000 of public money for the benefit of these tenants, he should, almost in the same breath, say that in Ireland "there is a large number of evicted farms, and I hope they will continue?" The Government have to consider not merely the magnitude of the evil, but whether any exceptional remedy might not do more harm than good. Even if there were not a fatal objection to giving public money in this way, is it possible that the Government should consent to do so at the very moment when we are told by the Leader of the Party opposite that he intends to continue the old, bad methods of agitation? [Mr. DILLON: I said nothing of the sort.] The hon. Member said: "These farms are boycotted, and I hope they will continue to be boycotted." In other words, the hon. Member's view is that boycotting is a proper weapon for the purpose of getting tenants restored to their holdings. What does this mean? It means this: that, while on the one side boycotting is being destroyed as a method of securing the restoration of evicted tenants, on the other side of this House hon. Gentlemen can go to the tenants hereafter and say—You need not fear to resist the payment of your rent by illegal means, because you may be certain that, if you only wait long enough, the House of Commons will not only put you back in your holding, but will also give you the means to stock it, and every means of dwelling securely upon it.If the hon. Member had sincerely desired the House to pass this Bill which is now before us he would have abstained from any suggestion that the evil method pursued in the past should be pursued in the future. He would have said the past is a bad dream; let us set it aside, and let us do our best to encourage the law. [Mr. DILLON: You passed a Bill for that purpose.] But in the meantime he has this very day furnished one of the strongest arguments against this Bill being passed.
§ MR. M. DAVITT (Mayo, S.)
I think the right hon. Gentleman in the concluding sentences of his speech misrepresented my hon. Friend behind me when he referred to the methods and practice of boycott. What my hon. Friend said was that, unless this House applied some remedy to this evil, such as we ask by this Bill, boycotting would become necessary and inevitable; and he further declared, what everybody in this House knows, notwithstanding the indignation of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, that this House has been compelled to attend to the legislative needs of Ireland in consequence of this practice. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary commenced his speech by referring to the condition of the benches on this side of the House. It is not a question of how many Members are absent or present this afternoon; it is a question of how many of the people of Ireland demand the remedy we ask for in this Bill, and I ask him to contradict me if he can. If the whole of Ireland were polled to-morrow upon this question as to whether this Bill should become law or not, we should have 4,000,000 of those people voting for the Bill, and, probably, not 50,000 voting against it. The right hon. Gentleman repeated the statement of the hon. and gallant Member opposite, which has been uttered again and again in this House in defence of the system of Irish landlordism. We have heard once more of the fallacy that Irish tenants are more favourably situated than the tenants of any other country in the world. That is what is said on the other side. Let me tell the hon. Member and the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary that there is no foundation for that statement. I have recently been in Australia and in Queensland, where I met a number of my countrymen who have farms there, for which they pay an average rental of 2½d. per acre per annum to the State in other cases the average annual rental is less than 1s. per acre. I say, in reply to that fallacy, that in no other country in the whole world—in no other country where English-speaking people can be found—would they tolerate for six months a system of landlordism such as we have to-day in Ireland. What 1430 does that system result in? You have £80,000,000 of income arising from the industry of the tillage and the working of the land, and how much of that does the landlord succeed in making off with in the shape of rent? Something like £10,000,000, and that upon a total earning of £80,000,000. I want to know what industry, either here or in any other part of the world, earns such an immense profit upon the total earnings of a practical industry? Another fallacy is that of the growing wealth of Ireland under the benevolent rule of England, and the material advantage derived from the Irish landlords as shown by the money in the savings banks. The economic value of an adult in every country is put down at something like £100. During this generation the combined effect of your benevolent rule and landlordism has been to banish 4,000,000 from the country. If it were not for that rule we should have 12,000,000 of people in Ireland to-day—that is, 7,000,000 more than we have got. If you multiply that 7,000,000 by 100, you will find that we have lost during my lifetime £700,000,000 in Ireland. Against that you put the £30,000,000 in Irish Joint Stock and savings banks. I would like the right hon. Gentleman the next time he stands up to speak, to reply to those figures. Who in Ireland contributes to the deposits in the banks? Subtract from the deposits the amount which is put in by the landlord, the landlord's agents, the bailiffs, the police, the soldiers, school teachers, and the army of Government officials you have in the country, deduct their contributions from the banks, and I should like to know how much would be left. The hon. and gallant Member, when he addresses the House, is always interesting, but never more so than when he speaks for his class as an economic factor in the condition of the country, but I think even in that rôle he could take a histrionic lesson from Mr. Beerbohm Tree. We had an interesting speech from the hon. Member for Belfast, and we had an opportunity of admiring the humorous melancholy of the hon. Member when he said his reason for moving the rejection of this Bill was that it would prove "a paradise for the lawyers, a purgatory for the tenants, and a pandemonium for the landlord." It will be interesting news for the Protestants 1431 of Ireland to learn that the hon. Member is a believer in purgatory. [Mr. JOHNSTON: I was only referring to the Roman Catholic tenants.] The hon. Member has had a very narrow escape, for, if my historical memory is right, this House, by a majority of one, in the reign of King Edward VI., passed a Resolution banishing the doctrine of purgatory from the Protestant religion; but for that unfortunate majority the hon. Member would be as much a believer in the benevolent institution of purgatory hereafter as any benighted papist. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary stated that we on this side of the House had somewhat exaggerated the number of evicted farms in Ireland, and the number of persons who are now out of their holdings in that country, and he took some credit to himself by reminding us that the number for last year was only 600 or 700. I should like him to tell me
§ what other agricultural country in this world to-day has even as many as a dozen. England alone in this respect is a bad example to the agricultural countries of the world, and even if there were no more than a dozen evictions in a year it is a condemnation of your landlord system. I cannot trespass any longer on the time of the House, and I merely wish to add that I heartily support the Second Reading of the Bill, although I do not quite agree with the principle of it. I believe the greatest economic failure, the greatest political curse that a country can be subjected to, is landlordism. The nation is the proper custodian of the land, and sooner or later we shall have state tenancies in Ireland as we have now in New Zealand and Australia.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 128; Noes, 243.1435
|Abraham, Wm. (Cork, N. E.)||Doughty, George||M'Hugh, E. (Armagh, S.)|
|Abraham, Wm. (Rhondda)||Dunn, Sir William||M'Hugh, Patrick A. (Leitrim)|
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Ellis, T. Ed. (Merionethsh.)||M'Kenna, Reginald|
|Allen, Wm. (Newc.-under-L.)||Evershed, Sydney||Maddison, Fred.|
|Ambrose, Robert (Mayo, W.)||Farrell, Jas. P. (Cavan, W.)||Mappin, Sir Fredk. Thorpe|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Fenwick, Charles||Minch, Matthew|
|Austin, M. (Limerick. W.)||Finucane, John||Molloy, Bernard Charles|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. J. B. (Clackm.)||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Flynn, Jas. Christopher||Morley, Rt. Hn. J. (Montrose)|
|Barley, Thos. (Derbyshire)||Foster Sir W. (Derby Co.)||Morton, Ed. J. C. (Devonport)|
|Billson, Alfred||Fox, Dr. Joseph Francis||Murnaghan, George|
|Birrell, Augustine||Goddard, Daniel Ford||Norton, Captain Cecil Wm.|
|Blake, Edward||Gold, Charles||O'Brien, Jas. F. X. (Cork)|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Gourley, Sir Ed. Temperley||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Brigg, John||Haldane, Richard Burdon||O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary)|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Hayne, Rt. Hon. C. Seale-||O'Connor, Arth. (Donegal)|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Hogan, James Francis||O'Connor, Jas. (Wicklow, W.)|
|Burt, Thomas||Holburn, J. G.||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Coldwell, James||Holden, Sir Angus||O'Kelly, James|
|Cameron, Sir Chas. (Glasgw.)||Horniman, Frederick John||Oldroyd, Mark|
|Cameron, Robert (Durham)||Jocoby, James Alfred||O'Malley, William|
|Carew, James Laurence||Joicey, Sir James||Owen, Thomas|
|Carvill, Patrick G. Hamilton||Jones, D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Pease, Jos. A. (Northumb.)|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire)||Pirie, Captain Duncan|
|Clark, Dr. G. B. (Caithness-sh.)||Kilbride, Denis,||Price, Robert John|
|Clough, Walter Owen||Knox, Edmund F. Vesey||Priestley, Briggs (Yorks.)|
|Colville, John||Leng, Sir John||Redmond, J. E. (Waterford)|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Lewis, John Herbert||Redmond, William (Clare)|
|Crilly, Daniel||Lloyd-George, David||Reid, Sir Robert T.|
|Crombie, John William||Lough, Thomas||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Curran, Thomas B. (Donegal)||Luttrell, Hugh Fownes||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Curran, Thomas (Sligo, S.)||Macaleese, Daniel||Roche, Hon. Jas. (E. Kerry)|
|Daly, James||Macdonnell, Dr. M. A. (Q's. C.)||Schwann, Charles E.|
|Davitt, Michael||M'Arthur, Wm. (Cornwall)||Scott, Chas. Prestwich (Leigh)|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||M'Dermott, Patrick||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)|
|Dillon, John||M'Ewan, William||Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarsh.)|
|Doogan, P. C.||M'Ghee, Richard||Steadman, William Charles|
|Stevenson, Francis S.||Warner, Thos. Courtenay T.||Woodhouse Sir J. T. (Hudd'rsf'ld.)|
|Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)||Wayman, Thomas||Young, Samuel|
|Tennant, Harold John||Wedderburn, Sir William||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Thomas, David Alf. (Merthyr)||Williams, J. Carvell (Notts.)|
|Tully, Jasper||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Wallace, Robert (Perth)||Wilson, John (Govan)||Sir Thomas Esmonde and|
|Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)||Woodall, William||Dr. Tanner.|
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir A. F.||Curzon, Rt. Hn. G. N. (Lanc S. W.)||Howorth, Sir Henry Hoyle|
|Aird, John||Curzon, Viscount (Bucks.)||Hozier, Hon. Jas Hy. Cecil|
|Allhusen, Augustus H. Eden||Daloiac, Colonel Philip Hugh||Hubbard, Hon. Evelyn|
|Arnold, Alfred||Dalkeith, Earl of||Hutton, John (Yorks., N. R.)|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Jebb, Richard Claverhouse|
|Arrol, Sir William||Denny, Colonel||Johnston, William (Belfast)|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Dickson-Poynder, Sir Jno. P.||Johnstone, John H. (Sussex)|
|Baden-Powell, Sir Geo. Smyth||Dixon-Hartland, Sir F. Dixon-||Kemp, George|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Donkin, Richard Sim||Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H.|
|Baillie, Jas. E. B. (Inverness)||Dorington, Sir Jno. Edward||Kenyon, James|
|Baird, Jno. Geo. Alexander||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||King, Sir Henry Seymour|
|Balcarres, Lord||Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V.||Knowles, Lees|
|Baldwin, Alfred||Fardell, Sir T. George||Laurie, Lieut.-General|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r)||Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Manc.)||Lawrence, Sir Ed. (Cornwall)|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. G. W. (Leeds)||Field, Admiral (Eastbourne)||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Lecky, Rt. Hon. Wm. E. H.|
|Barnes, Frederic Gorell||Firbank, Joseph Thomas||Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead)|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Fisher, William Hayes||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benj.||FitzGerald, Sir R. U. Penrose||Llewelyn, Sir Dillwyn- (Sw'ns'a)|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Brist'l)||Flannery, Fortescue||Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R.|
|Beaumont, Wentworth, C. B.||Fletcher, Sir Henry||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine.|
|Begg, Ferdinand Faithful||Flower, Ernest||Long, Col. C. W. (Evesham)|
|Bill, Charles||Folkestone, Viscount||Long, Rt. Hon. W. (L'pool)|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Forster, Henry William||Lopes, Henry Yarde Buller|
|Bond, Edward||Forwood, Rt. Hon. Sir A. B.||Lorne, Marquess of|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Foster, Colonel (Lancaster)||Lowe, Francis William|
|Boulnois, Edmund||Fry, Lewis||Lowther, Rt. Hon. J. (Kent)|
|Bowles, Capt. H. F. (Mdsx.)||Galloway, William Johnson||Loyd, Archie Kirkman|
|Bowles, T. Gibson (King's Lynn)||Garfit, William||Lucas-Shadwell, William|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Gedge, Sydney||Macartney, W. G. Ellison|
|Brookfield, A. Montagu||Gibbons, J. Lloyd||Macdona, John Cumming|
|Brown, Alexander H.||Gibbs, Hn. A. G. H. (C. of Lond.)||Maclean, James Mackenzie|
|Butcher, John George||Gibbs, Hon. V. (St. Albans)||Maclure, Sir John William|
|Carlile, William Walter||Giles, Charles Tyrrell||M'Arthur, Chas. (Liverpool)|
|Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs.)||Goldsworthy, Major-General||M'Calmont, Maj-Gen (Ant'm N)|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbysh.)||Gordon, Hon. John Edward||M'Calmont, Col. J. (Antrim, E.)|
|Chaloner, Captain R. G. W.||Gorst, Rt. Hn. Sir J. Eldon||M'Killop, James|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm.)||Goschen, Rt. Hn. G. J. (S. Geo's.)||Malcolm, Ian|
|Chamberlain, J. Austen (Worc.)||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Marks, Henry Hananel|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Greene, Hy. D. (Shrewsbury)||Martin, Richard Biddulph|
|Charrington, Spencer||Greville, Captain||Maxwell, Rt. Hon. Sir H. E.|
|Clark, Sir Ed. (Plymouth)||Gull, Sir Cameron||Milward, Colonel Victor|
|Cochrane, Hn. Thos. H. A. E.||Hall, Sir Charles||Monk, Charles James|
|Coddington, Sir William||Halsev, Thomas Frederick||Montagu, Hn. J. Scott (Hants.)|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord G.||Morrell, George Herbert|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robt. W.||Morrison, Walter|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Hanson, Sir Reginald||Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)|
|Colomb, Sir Jno. Chas. Ready||Hardy, Laurence||Mount, William George|
|Colston, Chas. Ed. H. Athole||Hare, Thomas Leigh||Murray, Rt. Hn. A. G. (Bute)|
|Cook, Fred. Lucas (Lambeth)||Heath, James||Murray, Chas. J. (Coventry)|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgw.)||Helder, Augustus||Myers, William Henry|
|Cotton-Jodrell, Col. Ed. T. D.||Hill, Rt. Hn. Lord A. (Down)||Newdigate, Francis Alexander|
|Courtney, Rt. Hn. Leonard H.||Hill, Sir Ed. Stock (Bristol)||Nicholson, William Graham|
|Cox, Robert||Hoare, E. Brodie (Hampst'd.)||Nicol Donald Ninian|
|Cripps, Charles Alfred||Hoare, Samuel (Norwich)||Northcote, Hn. Sir H. Stafford|
|Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Hornby, William Henry||Parkes, Ebenezer|
|Cross, H. Shepherd (Bolton)||Houston, R. P.||Pease, Arthur (Darlington)|
|Cruddas, William Donaldson||Howard, Joseph||Penn, John|
|Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Howell, William Tudor||Platt-Higgins, Frederick|
|Plunkett, Rt. Hon. H. Curzon||Sharpe, Wm. Edward T.||Valentia, Viscount|
|Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew)||Vincent, Col. Sir C. E. Howard|
|Priestley, Sir W. O. (Edin.)||Sidebotham, J. W. (Chesire)||Warkworth, Lord|
|Purvis, Robertt||Simeon, Sir Barrington||Warr, Augustus Frederick|
|Rankin, James||Skewes-Cox, Thomas||Webster, Sir R. E. (I. of W.)|
|Rasch, Major Frederic Carne||Smith, Abel H. (Christchurch)||Welby, Lieut.-Col. A. C. E.|
|Renshaw, Charles Bine||Smith, Jas. Parker (Lanarks.)||Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon-|
|Richardson, Sir T. (Hartlep'l)||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)||Wharton, Rt. Hon. J. Lloyd|
|Ridley, Rt. Hon. Sir M. W.||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)||Whiteley, George (Stockport)|
|Ritchie, Rt. Hon. C. T.||Stanley, Ed. Jas. (Somerset)||Whiteley, H. (Ashton-under-L.)|
|Robertson, Herbt. (Hackney)||Stanley, Henry M. (Lambeth)||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Robinson, Brooke||Stephens, Henry Charles||Williams, Jos. Powell- (Birm.)|
|Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye||Stewart, Sir M. J. M'Taggart||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Rothschild, Baron F. Jas. de||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir J. M.||Wilson, J. W. (Worc'sh., N.)|
|Round, James||Stone, Sir Benjamin||Wilson-Todd, W. H. (Yorks)|
|Royds, Clement Molyneux||Strauss, Arthur||Wodehouse, Edmd. R. (Bath)|
|Russell, Gen. F. S. (Chltnhm)||Strutt, Hon. Chas. Hedley||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)||Sutherland, Sir Thomas||Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart-|
|Rutherford, John||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)||Wylie, Alexander|
|Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)||Thorburn, Walter||Wyndham-Quin, Major W. H.|
|Sandy's, Lieut.-Col. T. Myles||Tollemache, Henry James|
|Saunderson, Col. Edw. James||Tomlinson, Wm. Ed. Murray||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Seton-Karr, Henry||Tritton, Charles Ernest||Sir William Walrond and|
Resolution agreed to.
§ The Bill was therefore rejected.