§ Considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ [Mr. J. W. LOWTHER (Cumberland, Penrith) in the Chair.]
§ Clause 2:—
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON (Dundee)
In proposing to leave out Sub-section 2 of this clause, I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland what will be the financial effect of the section if carried out as it now stands. My reason for asking is that Sub-section 2 proposes to repeat the operation provided for by Sub-section 1. If the financial effect would be serious, that would be a reason for striking out Sub-section 2. I wish to know, a so, what will be the financial effect on the Church Fund of Subsection 1 of this clause. I think the Committee ought to be content with the first variation.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. G. W. BALFOUR,) Leeds, Central
said the hon. Gentleman would remember that the average reduction daring the first term was 20.9 per cent.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
The right hon. Gentleman has exactly appreciated the nature of the question I have put to him. I now understand that the effect of Sub-section 1, if applied as it stands, will be to reduce the amount of tithe by 20.9 per cent. That is a serious 674 reduction, and we should be content with that variation for one period of fifteen years. I think that is a sufficient reason for the Amendment I now move. I do not suppose that one Member in ten in the House has read the sub-section, and if they did road it they could not exactly say what is the meaning of it. Roughly speaking, if you find this variation for one period of fifteen years reducing the tithe by 20.9 per cent. you have to repeat that operation for the second term of fifteen years. That I understand to be the meaning of the sub-section. I think when you have reduced the tithe once by 20.9 per cent. you have done sufficiently well.
In page 2, line 6, to leave out Sub-section 2."—(Mr. Edmund Robertson.)
§ Question proposed, "That Sub-section 2 stand part of the clause."
§ MR. G. W. BALFOUR
The effect of the Amendment will be to replace the standard of variation by a charge which will last for ever. What the Government propose is not extravagant, from the point of view of the reductions that will be immediately effected and of the reductions that may be effected later on.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)
I support the proposal of my hon. friend. It appears to me that this sub-section rather aggravates the injustice produced by the first sub-section. The peculiarity of this is that it proceeds in wrong-doing in geometrical progression. It begins by doing a bad thing in the first sub-section, and it is worse again in the second sub-section. I am not sure that I have entirely grasped the meaning of these two sub-sections, but my understanding is this: We have, as everybody knows, under the Land Act of 1881, a period of fifteen years during which the reduction of rent lasts. At the end of each period of fifteen years there may be, on the application of the tenants, a further hearing and a further reduction. As a matter of fact, there have been in many cases a further hearing and a considerable further increase in the reduction. As I understand this Bill, the tithe is to be reduced, not merely in respect of the reduction of rent for the first statutory term of fifteen 675 years, but also on the second statutory term of fifteen years. Therefore, these tithes are to be subjected to periodic and successive reductions. We are not dealing here with a single and permanent reduction of tithe, but with a plan that proposes reductions of tithes with successive reductions of rent. Let me point out to the Committee the full effect of this most extraordinary proposal. The light hon. Gentleman pointed out, in reply to my hon. friend, and he quoted the figures correctly, that the average reduction of rent in the first statutory term was 20.9 per cent. It is plain to everybody, granting that there should be a reduction at all, which I do not, that this reduction of 20.9 would be adequate enough to meet even the demands which the right hon. Gentleman puts forward on behalf of the landlords. But the right hon. Gentleman does not stand at that point. In order to fully appreciate the sub-section you must go on to consider what has been done in Ireland under the second section. What is happening? We have in the first statutory term a reduction of 20.9, but, further than that, this reduction of 20.9 is not a universal reduction applicable to all parts of Ireland, or rather this 20.9 is the average of Ireland as a whole. It is not the average of Ireland according to the provinces. That is my point, and the Committee should take this into consideration. I find that in the county Antrim the average reduction is 28.7, in Armagh 29.5, and in Fermanagh it rises to 30.7. So you have this extraordinary state of things: under these two sub-sections, the greater the reductions of rent, or, in other words, the more oppressive the landlords have been, the greater the reduction of tithe. In other words, the good landlords are penalised and the bad landlords are rewarded under this Bill. If it can be proved that the landlords have charged fair rents, if it can be proved that the landlords have been good landlords, then their tithes remain high, or comparatively so; but if it can be proved that the landlords have charged high rents, and that there have been big reductions, then the bad landlords get the benefit of this by having their tithes reduced, with the extraordinary consequence which I am about to show, and I invite the attention of the House to this. I wish to point out to hon. Gentlemen representing Ulster constituencies, that rents have been more exorbitant there 676 than in the other parts of Ireland. In what they would call a disloyal county like Cork the average reduction of rent in the first statutory period was 22.3, in a terrible county like Galway 18. and in a county like Roscommon, where a Unionist would not have the smallest chance of the position of bailiff, 16.8. In so-called disloyal Roscommon the tithe is to be reduced 16.8, and in loyal, Unionist, industrious, and God-fearing Antrim, Armagh, and Fermanagh it will be reduced on an average 28.7, 29.5, and 30.7, so that under this Bill, supported by the hon. Members opposite, some of them representing tenant farmers as well as landlords, and sent into this House to advocate the claims of tenant farmers, these loyal counties will be fined doubly. They are supporting a Bill which, as I have shown, penalises these counties, because, after all, the counties are interested in this matter. A reduction of tithe to a landlord is an injury to the counties, because it means a reduction of the Irish Church Fund, which is to be used for one part of Ireland as well as another. They are supporting a Bill which has for its effect to reduce the tithes of the landlords to a larger extent in the counties they represent than in other counties. In fact, this Bill may be properly and accurately described as a bonus on rack-renting by a reduction of tithe. Furthermore, my hon. friend has pointed out this is a treble reduction of tithe—the reduction, in the case of those who have commuted the tithe, by the obliteration of seven instalments; the reduction, in the case of the first statutory term, of 20.9 per cent. on the average all over the country; and the reduction on the second statutory term where there have been larger reductions made in some cases than on the first term. Let me give the Committee a few figures on the second statutory reductions to show the effect of this Bill under this particular sub-section. I go again to the county represented by the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite—the Member for North Antrim. The average reduction in the second statutory term in the county Antrim—in the year ending March 31st, 1899—was 31.2, in Armagh 30.1, and in Down, the very ark of the covenant of loyalty in Ireland, the heroic and loyal landlords had their rents reduced 31.3 per cent. I do not see the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for 677 North Armagh, but if he were here I would congratulate him on the splendid political strategy by which he has been able to convince his consitituents in the north of Ireland that they are gaining enormous benefits by a Union which makes their rents 31.3 per cent. higher than the Commissioners in the courts of the land think they should fairly pay. I think it is one of the most marvellous appeals made to prejudice when they lose sight of their own personal interest. Therefore, under this Bill, and this sub-section in particular, Armagh will be penalised more than any other county. In Antrim, Armagh, and Down rents have been more exorbitant, and the landlords more exacting and less honest than in any of the counties in the other provinces of Ireland. What is the average reduction in Ulster as a whole? It is 28 per cent. on the second statutory term, and the 26 or 28 par cent. on the first statutory term is in addition. The result is that in the province of Ulster, where rents in the two statutory terms have been reduced 50 per cent. or a little more, the landlords by this precious Bill, and by the assistance of hon. Gentlemen opposite representing those constituencies, are going to get 50 per cent. reductions of their tithes.
§ MR. G. W. BALFOUR
said it could not yet be ascertained what the average reduction of rents for the second statutory term would be.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
As I told the right hon. Gentleman yesterday, his extraordinary ingenuity, subtlety, and resource in advancing arguments have commanded my admiration, but the argument he has just advanced is too grotesque even to put before hon. Gentlemen who are helping their friends to get booty out of public taxation. The right hon. Gentleman says that nobody can tell what the rents for the second statutory terms will be. But we can forecast the result; we have the facts and figures before us of what is taking place now; we have the general condition of Ireland; we have the reductions set forth on almost every farm in Ireland. In the face of this enormous pile of evidence, enabling us to forecast with almost mathematical acuracy what will take place, the right hon. Gentleman tells us we have no facts to go upon.
§ MR. G. W. BALFOUR
It is impossible to say until the end of the fifteen years what the average reduction will be. Any individual case may be altogether wrong.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
There may be a variation of perhaps 1 per cent. But putting the first and second statutory terms together, the average reduction in Antrim is 50.9 per cent.; in Armagh, 59.6 per cent.; in county Down, 59.5 per cent.; so that in those three loyalist counties you have an average reduction of nearly 60 per cent. In other words, the loyalist Unionist landlords have been charging 60 per cent. above fair and proper rents. The average in all Ulster of the two reductions is 51 per cent. But in Connaught, for instance, the reduction comes to only about 40 per cent. We can now see why the right hon. Gentleman puts in the second statutory term. He knows that in Ulster there have been big reductions under the second statutory term, and not satisfied with giving the landlords the benefit of the reduction on the first term of 28 per cent., he piles on another 28 per cent., and gives the convicted plunderers another bonus for rack-renting their tenants. The more you test this ridiculous and absurd Bill the more its extravagance and injustice are apparent. The landlords of Roscommon, who have treated their tenants well, have had their rents reduced only 14 per cent., and what is their reward? The reward of the landlord of Roscommon is, because he is a good landlord, that he gets his tithe reduced by 14 per cent., but the landlord of the North, because he has been an unjust, rack renting, and oppressive landlord, gets his tithe reduced by 60 per cent. The whole effect of this Bill is to reward the wicked and to punish the good; and by what possible means the right hon. Gentleman can reconcile such a measure to his political conscience I for one am perfectly unable to understand.
§ MR. ARCHDALE (Fermanagh, N)
The hon. Member for the Scotland Division has helped the Chief Secretary in his argument against the Amendment, because the counties he has named as having received large reductions are agricultural counties, and naturally they are more reduced than the grass counties of Roscommon and others. Down, Armagh, 679 and Antrim are the three most agricultural counties in Ulster, and have therefore suffered most by the fall in prices, and that is the reason this clause has been brought into the Bill and why the people who own the land there should get more reduction than in other counties, where the price of produce has not been so much reduced. It is not owing to their being worse landlords, as it is a matter of common notoriety that the landlords of Down and Antrim are rather good landlords.
§ MR. FLYNN (Cork, N.)
said that whether the system of farming was grass, tillage, or mixed, it had been proved to demonstration that the rents were so high that they had been reduced enormously. The point with regard to this sub-section was that apparently there was to be no finality in this system of the reduction of the tithe. Under the first sub-section the average worked out at about 20.9, and it must be assumed that in the second statutory term there would be a further reduction. No doubt the amount of the reduction could not be estimated exactly, but from the decisions already arrived at a fairly accurate approximate conclusion could be formed, and it was evident there would be considerable reductions all over Ireland. Assuming that for the second statutory term there was a further reduction of 20 per cent., that would make at the end of the thirty years 40 per cent. If, owing to economic conditions and the continued fall in judicial rents in consequence of the fall in prices of agricultural produce, the landlord was to continue to get his tithe reduced, it came to this—that tithe was no longer a tithe on land, but a tithe on rent. That was an economic fallacy that everyone could perceive. If economic rent disappeared in Ireland the revenue of the Irish Church Fund would disappear with it, because the landlord would pay no tithe even though he had a large amount of the land in his own possession. The more the sub-section was examined the more its unfairness appeared. If the landlord was to get this booty, let it be fixed at the 20 per cent. or 25 per cent. on the first statutory term, although even then the opponents of the Bill would not acknowledge its justice; but let it not be said there was to be no finality. If, owing to the continued fall in prices, with perhaps a simultaneous rise in 680 the price of labour, there are further-reductions in rent, and consequently in tithe under the operation of this Bill, the corpus of the Church Fund will also gradually disappear. The Nationalists would not have offered such determined and strenuous opposition to this Bill if the money had been coming from Imperial funds instead of from the Irish Church Fund——
Order, order! That does not seem to me to be relevant to the Amendment before the Committee.
§ Mr. FLYNN
contended that the first sub-section set up an injustice in that it measured the reduction of tithe by the average reduction of rent in the various counties for the first statutory term, but that bad condition of things would be made still worse by the second sub-section. A good case had been made out for striking out the sub-section, and he hoped the Government would not be obstinate over the matter.
§ MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)
said the hon. Gentleman opposite had professed to give a reason why the reductions of rent in the north of Ireland were so much greater than in the south, and that reason was one of the most singular he had ever heard. The fact that the northern counties were agricultural, and for that reason had received larger reductions of rent, did not in the slightest degree affect the injustice of those rents. Those reductions of rent were an indictment against the northern landlords, and the point taken by the hon. Member for the Scotland Division with regard to Subsections 1 and 2 was absolutely unanswerable. The Bill actually proposed to give throughout Ireland the greatest reduction of tithe in those counties where the landlords had been the greatest rack-renters. An attempt was being made to force through the House by the closure, by sneers, but really without any argument at all, a Bill which for complexity and entanglement was one of the most formidable he had ever known, the object being to get the Committee to commit itself to a raid on a public fund, but the object was wrapped up in such a mass of technicalities and disguises that he doubted whether one of the 400 Members who had voted in the divisions had the 681 faintest idea of the ABC of the whole question. The hon. Member for the Scotland Division had just pointed out that under the extraordinary and unheard of system or standard of variation set up by these sub-sections the Province of Ulster would obtain an enormous advantage, amounting to nearly 100 per cent. in some eases, as compared with the southern provinces. That immediately recalled to his mind the fact that Ulster was always tithed a great deal lower than the other provinces of Ireland, and now this ingenious system had been devised by which an enormously larger reduction of tithe would be given to the province which had always been tithed lower than any other province in Ireland. That that was the fact with regard to Ulster was shown by the Report of the Tithes Commission. The right hon. Gentleman had repeated that if the system of variation of tithes at present in force in England was extended to Ireland it would inevitably result in a larger reduction than would be the case under this Bill. That really was not true. That argument might have had some weight in regard to Sub-section 1, which dealt only with the reduction for the first statutory term, but under Sub-section 2 a much longer step was taken, and that contention entirely disappeared. The grand discovery had been made that the tithe must vary with the rent; but what would be said if that theory were applied to England?
Order, order! The Committee have already decided that point, and we cannot go back on that decision.
§ MR. DILLON
submitted, with all respect, that the Committee had done nothing of the kind. The Committee had not yet decided that the tithe was to be varied at all. In fact, the Chairman himself had ruled that the question of varying would have to be discussed on Clause 3.
What I intended to say was that the Committee decided yesterday that the standard of variation should be rent and not prices.
§ MR. DILLON
said the Committee were now discussing a sub-section which proposed to sot up as a standard of variation an extension of that system, and if 682 they were entitled to discuss the clause at all they were entitled to discuss it from the point of view of extending the variation in direct relation to the fluctuation of rents. All that was decided by the first sub-section was that there should be a reduction of 20.9 per cent. according to that standard, but the Committee had not in any way, impliedly or directly, decided yet whether tithes should vary or even the standard. Sub-section 2 provided that they were not to stop at a reduction the amount of which was known, but they were to take a further step and plunge into the unknown. The right hon. Gentleman asked what would happen if the English system were applied to Ireland. He would reply in the Irish fashion by asking another question: What would happen in England if the Irish system were extended to England? What would be the feeling in the Church of England if a Bill were introduced providing that on large estates in this country where no rent was paid or recoverable, no tithe should be paid? There would be a very considerable row, and that row would be increased if it was further provided that tithe rent-charge should be treated, practically speaking, pari passu with rent, and that no tithe rent-charge should be payable unless the rent was paid out of the land. Under this sub-section was introduced the principle of a possible illimitable variation of tithe in direct proportion to the variation of rent, and such a principle was, in the first place, against the whole tradition of tithe rent-charge and tithe settlement in Ireland, and in the second place grotesquely unjust in its working. The landlords claimed that they would be better off if they had a variation according to prices——
§ MR. DILLON
explained that he was endeavouring to reply to an argument the right hon. Gentleman had used in the course of the debate. He would, however, reserve his remarks upon that point, and content himself now with expressing his strong opposition to this sub-section.
§ MR. POWER (Waterford, E.)
believed the Committee were discussing 683 one of the most complicated measures ever introduced into Parliament, and Members had much reason to complain that more accurate data and figures were not presented to them in order that they might be able more fully to grasp the effects of the measure. At present the Bill had to be discussed upon mere conjecture, and that was not at all a satisfactory state of things. With regard to the particular Amendment under discussion, he objected altogether to the proposed standard of variation. Tithe was not a charge on rent; it was one of the first charges on land, and it ought to be regarded as such. The right hon. Gentleman, replying to certain remarks from the Irish benches, had said that the arguments came to nothing, because this was not a question between landlord and tenant. Strictly speaking, that might be so, but at the same time it was a question with regard to a fund, essentially an Irish fund, created for Irish purposes—a fund which has already been raided more than once by the landlords, but which ought to be administered for the benefit of Ireland as a whole. The tenants were, therefore, directly concerned. Time after time it had been stated that this fund could not bear any further charge——
Order, order! The hon. Member is not now addressing himself to the Amendment before the Committee.
§ MR. MURNAGHAN (Tyrone, Mid)
thought it was very unfortunate that the carrying out of this measure should be left in the hands of the Land Commission. It really meant that the decision of the question would be left in the hands of an
§ interested authority. The Land Commission would have the power to raise or reduce rents, and rents were to be the basis for the payment of tithe. There was a fearful danger that the rents of the tenantry of Ireland would be raised simply to enable the trustees of the Irish Church Fund to keep that fund intact. The Land Commission were the trustees of the fund, and it was their business to keep the fund intact; there fore when this question came up for decision would they not be naturally inclined to be the guardians of the fund rather than to reduce the rents, by which the revenue of the fund would be also reduced? This proposal struck a blow at judicial integrity, and was fraught with the greatest danger. The Bill simply carried out under another name the recommendations of the Fry Commission. The right hon. Gentleman might pursue a policy of silence; it was all very well to draft a Bill which was a riddle and a puzzle; but the Irish Members were determined to drag the proposals into the light of day and to let it be seen what they really meant. This was a landlords' Bill from beginning to end—
§ MR. MURNAGHAN
said he was trying to discuss the sub-section. It was most unfortunate that the right hon. Gentleman should leave to a tribunal the decision of a case in which that tribunal was interested. The Land Commission ought not to be hampered with any such duties, and, if for no other reason than the one he had put forward, the Committee ought to reject this sub-section.
§ Question put
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 142; Noes, 75. (Division List No. 178.)685
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Boulnois, Edmund||Charrington, Spencer|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Bousfield, William Robert||Coghill, Douglas Harry|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J.(Manch'r)||Bowles, T. Gibson (King's Lynn)||Cohen, Benjamin Louis|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. Gerald W.(Leeds)||Bullard, Sir Henry||Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse|
|Barry, Rt. Hon. A. H. S-(Hunts)||Campbell, J. H. M. (Dublin)||Cooke, C. W. Radcliffe (Heref'd).|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H.(Bristol)||Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Cornwallis, Fiennes Stanley W.|
|Beckett, Ernest William||Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbys.)||Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton.)|
|Bemrose, Sir Henry Howe||Cecil, Evelyn (Hertford, East)||Curzon, Viscount|
|Bethell, Commander||Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Dalkeith, Earl of|
|Blakiston-Houston, John||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm.)||Dalrymple, Sir Charles|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Chamberlain, J. Austen (Worc'r)||Davies, Sir Hon. D. (Chatham)|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Lafone, Alfred||Richards Henry Charles|
|Doxford, Sir Wm. Theodore||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)||Ridley, Rt. Hon. Sir Matt. W.|
|Dyke, Rt. Hn. Sir Wm. Hart||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Ritchie, Rt. Hon. C. Thomson|
|Faber, George Denison||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Liverpool)||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)|
|Fardell, Sir T. George||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Saunderson, Rt. Hn. Col. Edw. J|
|Fellowes, Hn. Ailwyn Edward||Lopes, Henry Yarde Buller||Sidebotham, J. W. (Cheshire)|
|Field, Admiral (Eastbourne)||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Sidebottom, William (Derbysh.)|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Lucas-Shadwell, William||Skewes-Cox, Thomas|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Lyttelton, Hon Alfred||Smith, Abel H. (Christchurch)|
|Flannery, Sir Fortescue||Macartney, W. G. Ellison||Smith, James P. (Lanarks.)|
|Forster, Henry William||Macdona, John Cumming||Stanley, Sir H. M. (Lambeth)|
|Galloway, William Johnson||MacIver, David (Liverpool)||Stewart, Sir Mark J. M'Taggart.|
|Garfit, William||M'Iver, Sir Lewis (Edinb'rgh, W.)||Stock, James Henry|
|Gibbons, J. Lloyd||M'Killop, James||Strauss, Arthur|
|Godson, Sir Augustus F.||Malcolm, Ian||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley|
|Goldsworthy, Major-General||Melville, Beresford Valentine||Thorburn, Sir Walter|
|Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Middlemore, John Thr'gmorton||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Gorst, Rt. Hn. Sir John Eldon||Milward, Colonel Victor||Tomlinson, W. M. Murray|
|Goschen, Rt. Hn. G. J. (St. Geo's)||Monk, Charles James||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Goulding, Edward Alfred||Moore, William (Antrim, N.)|
|Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)||Warde, Lieut.-Col C. E.(kent).|
|Green, Walford D.(Wedn'sb'ry)||Muntz, Philip A.||Warr, Augustus Frederick|
|Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord G.||Murray, Rt. Hon. A. G. (Bute)||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)|
|Hanbury, Rt. Hn. Robert W.||Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)||Williams, Joseph Powell-(Birm)|
|Hatch, Ernest Frederick G.||Newdigate, Francis Alexander||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Heath, James||Nicol, Donald Ninian||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Helder, Augustus||O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Hoare, Sir Samuel (Norwich)||Parkes, Ebenezer||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath)|
|Houston, R. P.||Peel, Hn. Wm. Robert Wellesley||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Hozier, Hon. J. Henry Cecil||Percy, Earl||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart|
|Hudson, George Bickersteth||Phillpotts, Captain Arthur||Wylie, Alexander|
|Hutton, John (Yorks, N. K.)||Pierpoint, Robert||Wyndham, George|
|Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick||Pilkington, R. (Lanes. Newton)||Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong|
|Johnston, William (Belfast)||Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Young, Commander(Berks, E.)|
|Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H.||Plunkett, Rt. Hon. Horace C.|
|Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William||Purvis, Robert||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Keswick, William||Renshaw, Charles Bine||Sir William Walrond and|
|Knowles, Lees||Rentoul, James Alexander||Mr. Anstruther.|
|Abraham, Wm. (Cork, N. E.)||Harwood, George||O'Malley, William|
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale-||Pease, Joseph A. (Northumb.)|
|Ambrose, Robert||Hedderwick, Thomas C. H.||Pickard, Benjamin|
|Austin, M. (Limerick, W.)||Hogan, James Francis||Pickersgill, Edward Hare|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Horniman, Frederick John||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Billson, Alfred||Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)||Priestley, Briggs|
|Blake, Edward||Jameson, Major J. Eustace||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Jones, William (Carnarvonsh.)||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Brigg, John||Kinloch, Sir John Geo. Smyth||Sinclair, Capt. Jno (Forfarshire)|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Labouchere, Henry||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Burns, John||Macaleese, Daniel||Sullivan, T. D. (Donegal, W.)|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||MacDonnell, Dr. M. A.(Queen's C)||Tanner, Charles Kearns|
|Caldwell, James||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Thomas, Alfred (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Channing, Francis Allston||M'Crae, George||Thomas, David Alfr'd (Merthyr)|
|Clancy, John Joseph||M'Dermott, Patrick||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Colville, John||M'Ghee, Richard||Weir, James Galloway|
|Crilly, Daniel||M'Hugh, Patrick A. (Leitrim)||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Curran, Thomas (Sligo, S.)||Molloy, Bernard Charles||Williams, John Carvell (Notts.)|
|Daly, James||Morton, E. J. C. (Devonport)||Wilson, Frederick W.(Norfolk)|
|Dillon, John||Murnaghan, George||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)|
|Donelan, Captain A.||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)||Wilson, Jos. H. (Middlesbrough)|
|Doogan, P. C.||O'Connor, Jas. (Wicklow, W.)||Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)|
|Farquharson, Dr. Robert||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Fenwick, Charles||O'Dowd, John||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||O'Kelly, James||Mr. Patrick O'Brien and|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hon. Herbert J.||Oldroyd, Mark||Mr. Flynn.|
§ MR. CLANCY (Dublin County, N.)
desired to move the Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for North Louth. In Ireland they had had some experience in this matter in connec- 686 tion with the certificates in regard to rates issued by the Local Government Board. In many instances those certificates were absolutely incorrect, and would have inflicted great injustice in a number of cases 687 if the power of varying them had not been conferred by the Local Government Act. If the Local Government Board was liable to make such errors the Land Commission was still more liable. The record of the Land Commission proved that it was a body—whether because it had too much to do, or had not enough men to do it, or from any other cause, he did not know—which could not be relied upon in every instance to issue absolutely accurate certificates. The Amendment simply enabled them if they discovered a mistake to rectify the error, and he could not see how the Government could object to the Amendment.
In page 2, line 24, at the end, to add the words, '(7) The Land Commission may at any time amend or vary any certificate made under this section, and the certificate when so amended or varied shall have effect accordingly.'"—(Mr. Clancy.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ MR. G. W. BALFOUR
said that this Amendment was put down by the hon. Member for North Louth in connection with an Amendment to an earlier section. That Amendment had been rejected by the Committee, and therefore the present proposal was not required. Moreover, under the proposal of the Government it was perfectly competent for the Land Commission to correct any clerical errors that might be made.
§ MR. CLANCY
did not think the Amendment as originally put down was intended to depend upon the adoption of a former Amendment. At any rate, it applied equally to the section as it now stood, and he should press it, if necessary, to a division. The Land Commission had committed blunders in the past, and he was not willing to trust them in the future. As regarded their power to alter certificates without statutory enactment, he would like to ask the Attorney General whether under the Local Government Act power was not expressly given to the Local Government Board to make variations.
§ MR. DILLON
We are told that the whole basis of this Bill is a mistake by Mr. Gladstone, which the House of Commons did not discover for nearly 688 thirty years. Is it unnatural to imagine that even such a body as the Land Commission might make mistakes when they are drafting these extraordinary documents? I was once fairly good at arithmetic, although I have forgotten it now, but if I set about carrying out the instructions in this clause I should not know how to begin, although I daresay I would be able to hold my own in arithmetic with some of the Land Commissioners. It is not only a question of arithmetic, but also of the interpretation of words. Here is what the Land Commissioners are called upon to do. They—shall ascertain from the appendices to their Reports, as presented to Parliament in pursuance of Section 55 of the Land Law (Ireland) Act, 1881, by what amount in each county during the period commencing with and including the year covered by the Annual Report dated the 20th day of September, 1885, and ending with that presented last before the passing of this Act. the rents of holdings in respect of which judicial rents have been fixed for a first statutory term, whether by order or by agreement, have, for the entire of such period, been varied by the fixing of such judicial rents, and shall certify the average percentage which such variation represents.I have read this over about ten times, and if I had the Reports before me I should find great difficulty in knowing how to commence, and I doubt whether many hon. Members would be absolutely clear as to how they should set about it. What is an "average percentage"? Is the percentage of variation in each individual case to be taken, and the average then struck, or is the total of the old rents to be deducted from the total of the judicial rents? The matter is of such importance that the words should be perfectly clear. I should like to hear some skilful gentleman like the hon. Member from North Antrim explain how he would set about working it out. Would he take the percentage of each reduction and then strike an average, or deduct the total of the old rents from the total of the new, and find out the percentage of reduction in that way? I cannot see why this Amendment should be objected to. It is absolutely harmless, and would be very useful. Then it is stated—A copy of every certificate of the Land Commission under this section shall be published in the Dublin Gazette.Supposing you do not put in this Amendment, the original printed document will be the evidence, and if any other docu- 689 ment is put in the whole calculation will be upset. I do not believe that another document could be printed without this Amendment, and speaking under correction, I believe also that if the Commissioners make a mistake they will not be able to rectify it.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. ATKINSON,) Londonderry, N.
The Commissioners will take the judicial rents over an entire county, and compare them with the previous Tents, and then arrive at the average reduction. If £100 rent is reduced to £80 all over the county, then of course the reduction will be 20 per cent. The hon. Member who moved this Amendment asked if there would be any difficulty in amending an order, provided it was found that a mistake had been made. When power is given to a Court to make an order, you not only give power to the Court to pronounce the right order upon the facts before it at the time, but also power to make a different order if it turns out that the facts were different. If, for instance, the Court finds that the total is wrong, or something of that kind, it will be quite competent for the Court to change a certificate based on that total so as to bring it into conformity with the facts. Suppose the reduction all over a county turned out to be 25 per cent., and supposing by a clerical error it was put down at 20 per cent., the Court would have power to amend their original order accordingly. That is all that is required and all that is desired. It is not intended that the Court should again enter on an investigation beyond verifying the mere figures. It is merely a matter of arithmetic, and power is given by this clause to amend orders in such cases.
§ MR. WILLIAM MOORE (Antrim, N.)
said he quite agreed with the Attorney General that if the Land Commission were directed to make an order they would also have the power of revision.
§ MR. CLANCY
said that in the Local Government Act the Local Government Board were expressly given power to correct certificates if they issued them.
§ MR. ATKINSON
That was in cases of very elaborate calculations, where hundreds of things had to be taken into account. They were cases altogether 690 different from the cases connected with the present Bill.
§ MR. DILLON
Although the Attorney General has an exalted opinion of the Land Commissioners, still they are not infallible in those matters. I may be excessively stupid, but after all that has been said I still maintain and believe that there is great uncertainty in the wording of the clause. What the Attorney General has described as the average percentage of reduction is not the true average at all. The proper way to arrive at the average would be to take the percentage of reduction in each case and then strike the average between these percentages. That would work out very differently from the mode suggested by the Attorney General. Suppose, for instance, the Land Commission had to deal with one rent of £1,000 and three rents of £10 each; suppose the latter were reduced 50 per cent., and the £1,000 rent was only reduced by 5 per cent., you can easily see that the two methods—the method advocated by the Attorney General and the method I suggest—would produce utterly different results. There might be a difference of even 10 per cent. or 15 per cent. It is by no means a matter of totals, as the Attorney General has indicated, and where it was a question of 300 or 400 rents it would be a very complex matter indeed.
§ MR. CLANCY
The Amendment cannot possibly do any harm, and I should like to know why it is not accepted.
§ MR. G. W. BALFOUR
It is not correct, as the hon. Member said, that we are adopting a wrong principle in arriving at the average percentage of reduction. The Amendment had been put down by the hon. Member for North Louth in connection with the Amendments which have been rejected by the Committee, and it is therefore not now required. In the actual circumstance of the case, having regard to the nature of the calculations to be made, it is absolutely unnecessary.
§ MR. FLYNN
I cannot understand what objection there can be to accepting this Amendment. The Attorney General says that the Land Commission will arrive at the average reduction by taking the sum total of the judicial rents and 691 comparing them with the sum total of the old rents, and then striking an average percentage. But these percentages have never yet been used in an Act of Parliament. They have been merely used for statistical purposes, and that, of course, makes all the difference. If a mistake is made there is practically no power of appeal, because what is everybody's business is nobody's business. A mistake may occur, and may not be discovered for two or three years, and then the responsibility is thrown on an individual of going into the Courts to show that a mistake has been committed. Moreover, it would then be too late, because the production of a copy of the Dublin Gazette containing the certificate would be regarded as proof of its accuracy, and it would be too late for revision. The Amendment says that the Land Commission may at any time amend or vary any
§ certificate made under this section, and that the certificate when so amended or varied shall have effect accordingly. If this Amendment is not accepted, once the copy of the certificate appears in the Dublin Gazette I contend that it is binding for the full period of fifteen years, and even the Land Commissioners themselves will have no power fro revise it. I cannot see why the Government should not accept the Amendment.
§ MR. DOOGAN (Tyrone, E.)
said that the words of the clause were very misleading, and therefore he hoped that the Government would accept the Amendment.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 67; Noes, 122. (Division List No. 179.)693
|Abraham, Wm. (Cork, N. E.)||Harwood, George||Pickard, Benjamin|
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Hedderwick, Thomas C. H.||Pickersgill, Edward Hare|
|Austin, M. (Limerick, W.)||Hogan, James Francis||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Horniman, Frederick John||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Billson, Alfred||Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)||Saunderson, Rt. Hon. Col. E. J.|
|Blake, Edward||Jameson, Major J. Eustace||Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarshire)|
|Brigg, John||Jones, William (Cavnarvonsh.)||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Kinloch, Sir John Geo. Smyth||Sullivan, T. D. (Donegal, W.).|
|Burns, John||Macaleese, Daniel||Tanner, Charles Kearns|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||MacDonnell, Dr. M. (Queen's C.)||Thomas, A. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Caldwell, James||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Thomas, David A. (Merthyr)|
|Channing, Francis Allston||M'Crae, George||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Colville, John||M'Dermott, Patrick||Weir, James Galloway|
|Crilly, Daniel||M'Ghee, Richard||Williams, John Carvell(Notts)|
|Curran, Thomas (Sligo, S.)||M'Hugh, Patrick A. (Leitrim.)||Wilson, Frederick W.(Norfolk)|
|Daly, James||Molloy, Bernard Charles||Wilson, John.(Durham, Mid)|
|Dillon, John||Morton, E. D. C. (Devonport)||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Murnaghan, George||Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)|
|Doogan, P. C.||O'Connor, Arthur (Donegal)||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||O'Connor, James(Wicklow, W)|
|Farquharson, Dr. Robert||O'Dowd, John||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Fenwick, Charles||O'Kelly, James||MR. Clancy and Mr. Pat-|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Oldroyd, Mark||rick O'Brien.|
|Flynn, James Christopher||O'Malley, William|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J.(Birm.)||Field, Admiral (Eastbourne)|
|Ashmead-Bartlett, Sir Ellis||Chamberlain, J. Austen (Worc'r)||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatynet|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Charrington, Spencer||Fisher, William Hayes|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J.(Manch'r)||Clare, Octavius Leigh||Flannery, Sir Fortescue|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. Gerald W. (Leeds)||Coghill, Douglas Harry||Forster, Henry William|
|Barry, Rt. Hn. A. H. Smith-(Hunt)||Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Garfit, William|
|Beckett, Ernest William||Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Gibbons, J. Lloyd|
|Bethell, Commander||Cooke, C. W. Radcliffe (Heref'd)||Godson, Sir A. Frederick|
|Blakiston-Houston, John||Cornwallis, Fiennes Stanley W.||Goldsworthy, Major-General|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton)||Gordon, Hon. John Edward|
|Boulnois, Edmund||Curzon, Viscount||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Eldon|
|Bousfield, William Robert||Davies, Sir H. D. (Chatham)||Goschen, Rt. Hon. G. J. (St. George's)|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Goulding, Edward Alfred|
|Campbell, J. H. M. (Dublin)||Doxford, Sir William Theodore||Green, Walford D.(Wednesb'ry)|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Faber, George Denison||Hamilton, Rt. Hn. Lord George|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (D'rbyshire)||Fardell, Sir T. George||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert W.|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn. Edw.||Hatch, Ernest Frederick Geo.|
|Heath, James||Malcolm, Ian||Skewes-Cox, Thomas|
|Helder, Augustus||Melville, Beresford Valentine||Smith, Abel H. (Christchurch)|
|Hoare, Sir Samuel (Norwich)||Middlemore, J. Throgmorton||Smith, Jas. Parker (Lanarks.)|
|Houston, R. P.||Milward, Colonel Victor||Stewart, Sir M. J. M'Taggart.|
|Hozier, Hon. James Henry C.||Moore, William (Antrim, N.)||Stock, James Henry|
|Hudson, George Bickersteth||More, R. Jasper (Shropshire)||Strauss, Arthur|
|Hutton, John (Yorks, N. R.)||Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley|
|Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick||Muntz, Philip A.||Thorburn, Sir Walter|
|Johnston, William (Belfast)||Murray, Rt. Hon. A. G. (Bute)||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William||Newdigate, Francis Alex.||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Knowles, Lees||Nicol, Donald Ninian||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Lafone, Alfred||O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens||Vincent, Sir Edgar (Exeter)|
|Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)||Peel, Hon. W. Robt. Wellesley||Welby, Sir C. G. E. (Notts.)|
|Loder, Gerald W. Erskine||Percy, Earl||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)|
|Long, Rt. Hon. W. (Liverpool)||Phillpotts, Captain Arthur||Williams, J. Powell- (Birm.)|
|Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Pierpoint, Robert||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Lopes, Henry Yarde Buller||Pilkington, R. (Lanes. Newton)||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R(Bath)|
|Lucas-Shadwell, William||Plunkett, Rt. Hn. Hon. Curzon||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Macartney, W. G. Ellison||Purvis, Robert||Wylie, Alexander|
|Macdona, John Cumming||Renshaw, Charles Bine||Young, Commander (Berks, E.)|
|MacIver, David (Liverpool)||Richards, Henry Charles|
|Maclure, Sir John William||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir|
|M'Iver, Sir L. (Edinburgh, W.)||Sidebotham, J. W. (Cheshire)||William Walrond and Mr.|
|M'Killop, James||Sidebottom, W. (Derbyshire)||Anstruther.|
§ Attention called to the fact that forty Members were not present (Dr. TANNER, Cork Co., Mid). House counted, and forty Members being found present.
§ MR. MURNAGHAN
In moving the rejection of this clause I do so on the ground that no sufficient reason has been given, and no arguments of a character sufficiently convincing to business men have been brought before the Committee, to upset the settlement arrived at in 1872. The clause asks the Committee to break away from the arrangement of 1872, when there was fixed a tithe rent-charge, the variable method of which the tithe payers of the country freely and willingly entered into. There was no protest on their part, they freely assented to it, and there is no justification for their coming to this House now and asking us to change that arrangement, for no better reason than that the change may bring gain to themselves. In 1872 the tithe-paying class—the landlord class—entered into an arrangement with the State for the compounding of the tithes, and at that time a very good offer was made by the Government, which was freely accepted. Now because of the fall in the prices of produce these people came to this House and asks it to undo an arrangement which has lasted for twenty years. If the Government had accepted the Amendment proposed by the hon. Member for Dublin it might have gone a little way to modify the vicious character of this clause. The hon. Member proposed that instead of basing the rentals on the years 694 since 1886 the arrangement should be to go back fifteen years previously; and it seems to be a reasonable proposal, because that would take the time back to the date when this contract was entered into with the State, but the Government did not see its way to accept that suggestion. I take a different view of this matter to some of those around me I look on this as a very dangerous proposal, and I think it will act disastrously so far as the tenant farmers of Ireland are concerned. I think if the Government had accepted the proposal to fix the tithe rent-charge on the judicial rent it would have been much more satisfactory, because it would have removed from the landlord the temptation to raise the rent, which would have been very important. The right hon. Member for North Londonderry smiles, but I think when the Land Commission comes to look into the matter he will be somewhat surprised.
§ MR. ATKINSON
Does the hon. Gentleman know that the Land Commission has no interest whatever in the tithe rent-charge?
§ MR. MURNAGHAN
They are the trustees of the Irish Church Fund, and it is to their interest not to have the fund attacked. I maintain that this Bill has been drafted in such a way as to make it a perfect enigma to the lay mind. The right hon. Gentleman has given himself up to the study of how to draft it so as to mystify us. No ordinary man can understand the meaning of these clauses, because they are drawn with a 695 special view to his mystification. I maintain that if the Government had taken the price of produce as the standard it would have been a far safer arrangement for the tenant farmer. The effect of this Bill will be to raise the rent. That is the whole motive underlying the clause, and it is only right and proper that the people of Derry should know what their representative is doing. And I shall be very much mistaken if Serjeant Donelan has not something to say about this matter in twelve months time. I say the principle underlying the Bill is to increase the rental of the Irish farmer, and viewing the matter in that light I have endeavoured here to keep back this measure as far as it has been possible for me to do, of course in a constitutional and proper manner. I think it is my bounden duty to do so. I think I see in this Bill the elements of danger to the tenant farmers in Ireland, and because I believe I see that, I shall strongly oppose the proposals of this clause. If the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Dublin on behalf of the hon. Member for North Louth had been accepted, it would have modified the clause to some extent; it would not have made it perfect, because it would be impossible to make it a good clause by any change whatsoever, but to an extent it would have modified its vicious character. Another proposal which I think was deserving of more consideration from the Committee than it received was that of the Member for East Mayo. The proposal as it read looked like a puzzle, but the meaning of the Amendment in plain Saxon language was that, in coming to a calculation as to the reduction of rents, the reduction given in consequence of the improvements of the tenants should not be taken into consideration, and I will toll the Committee why——
Order, order! I do not think the hon. Member is in order in going through the Amendments which have been rejected by the Committee.
This is part of the clause that I am dealing with, and when I introduced this subject I said I wanted to show why the clause should be rejected. I want to show where the principle is wrong, and that it is unjust to reduce the tithe rent charge upon a reduction of rental; that it should be based on the tenant's in interest in his farm. That is to say, where the rent has been reduced from £100 to 696 £60, and it has been reduced by £80 on account of improvements and £10 in consequence of the fall in prices of agricultural produce, in arriving at the calculation of the amount of tithe rent-charge the £30 reduction on account of improvements should not be considered. That is what I wish the Committee to understand. The House is at present empty, and it does not matter much what I say, but I should like the country to understand that what this clause proposes to do—instead of basing the calculation for the payment of tithes on the landlord's interest in the land—is to base the calculation upon both the landlord's and tenant's interest in it, thereby putting a premium on rack-renting, and giving to the men who rack-rented the people in the past an advantage over the men who charged a fair and reasonable rent. The proposal is one which has no justice in it. On the clause as a whole I believe that the right hon. Gentleman might alter it in such a way as to remedy what I consider is a very serious defect, and that is that the tithe-payer benefits by the exorbitant rents of days gone by. That proposal cannot be defended. It is a financial fraud, which the Committee should not sanction. I suppose it is too late now to ask the right hon. Gentleman to reconsider the position. He has made up his mind that when he brings to the Committee, or the House, a proposal, we must take that proposal as it is. We must take all or none, because the right hon. Gentleman believes that he is so excellent a legislator that he can do no wrong. He is not responsible to the people against whom that wrong is committed; at present he is Chief Secretary for Ireland, but in two years from now he may have no connection with Ireland, and the period daring which he held the office of Chief Secretary will only appear to him in the light of a nightmare or a disagreeable dream. I believe this clause will injure my constituents, and, earnestly believing that, I ask the Committee to reject it.
§ MR. FLYNN
said he quite agreed with the hon. Member for Tyrone, Mid. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary had declined to alter the clause by a single syllable, and, against the wishes of the representatives of the majority of the Irish people, had forced upon the Committee a Bill they did not desire. With regard to the clause itself the opinion of Ireland was well known. The 697 Bill was a bad and unjust one, and this particular clause was one of the worst features of it. Irish Members during the course of the discussion had endeavoured to persuade the right hon. Gentleman that if there was to be a change in the tithe rent-charge, that change should be based on prices and not upon rents. The right hon. Gentleman has said it would be very difficult to alter the present basis. But he recalled the attention of the Committee to the fact that the rents themselves had been altered in consequence of the fall in prices of agricultural produce. In 1887, when it became necessary to reduce rents, judicial rents were based on prices. Why then should it be impossible to adopt the same system in the variation of the tithe rent-charge? His own opinion was that the Government, either at the inspiration or the instigation of the landlords, had refused to take prices as a basis for the simple reason that judicial rents were greater, and therefore they selected that basis which would bring the greatest benefit. On comparing county with county and poor law union with poor law union it would be found that wherever rack-renting had been most prevalent the largest share of this reduction would go to the landlords, and that where the landlords had reduced their rents, in some cases to the extent of 50 per cent., voluntarily, they got the smallest share of the reduction. Irish Members had endeavoured to impress on the right hon. Gentleman that the differentiation of the reductions ought to be taken into consideration, that the reductions of rent due to the fall of prices should be charged, but not reductions which were due to improvements made by the tenants; but no change, alteration, or reform was made in the clause. All suggestions from the Irish representatives were refused. Why should 1886 be selected as the basis? Were not reductions made in earlier years? In 1883 and 1884 the reduction of judicial rents was much smaller than it was subsequently. It was not recognised at that time that the depression in agriculture was likely to be permanent, but when that conviction became impressed upon the Land Commission it was found necessary to make very much larger reductions. From 1886 onwards the reductions were larger all over Ireland. That meant that the Government, in selecting 1886 instead of an earlier year, gave the largest possible 698 measure of reduction in the tithe rent-charges. That was obvious to the plainest and meanest intelligence. Why should the Land Commissioners have this work thrown upon them? Was their work not sufficiently heavy? He did not wish to defend the Land Commissioners, or to be too careful regarding the work thrown upon them. They were pretty well paid, and they had a pretty large staff. The Committee should not overlook the consideration that the Land Commissioners were the trustees of the Church Fund. He did not suppose, of course, that in fixing judicial rents and in working up statistics they would do anything willingly of an improper character; but, on the other hand, it must be obvious to the Committee that they were placing this body in a very anomalous position. They were the trustees of the Church Fund, and necessarily their interest was that the Fund should be kept intact, or that the drain upon it should be as small as possible. If the reduction of judicial rents was fixed at a high figure then the Fund would be drawn upon to a larger extent. If the judicial rents were raised, then, of course, the tithe was raised, and there was no reduction of the Church Fund. He thought the Land Commission was the worst body that could possibly be entrusted with the duty of compiling the statistics. Bad as the Bill was, Clause 2 was one of the worst features of it. It contained almost every vicious principle a clause could contain. First of all the tenant's improvements were not recognised in the judicial rent, and on the tenant's improvements it was proposed to give the tithe-rent payers a reduction. If they did give these tithe-rent payers this reduction—he could never see where the demand came from—at any rate, the principle should be applied in the most equitable manner. Why should they include the tenant's improvements in giving the reduction? It appeared to him that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary thought it a portion of his duty to come to the House and throw a complicated Irish Bill on the Table, and say to the Irish Members, "There is no use talking or tolling us what the public opinion of Ireland is. There it is; you must accept it, no matter how much the Irish people may protest." It must be passed over their heads by means of his mechanical majority and by having recourse to those gagging measures which were so fre- 699 quently denounced by the Tory party ten or twelve years ago.
§ MR. DALY (Monaghan, S.)
regretted that the Chief Secretary had not seen his way to accept some of the Amendments which had been moved. He believed that, instead of being an injury, they would have been a great benefit to the Bill. The landlords thought they were making an excellent bargain by accepting the arrangement introduced by Mr. Gladstone at the time of the passing of the Church Act, but it appeared that prices had fallen since then, and of course the right hon. Gentleman had brought in this Bill to give them relief. When the tenant farmers of Ireland wanted assistance, the right hon. Gentleman replied that it required legislation, but he was not very slow to bring in legislation to enable the Irish landlords to scoop in a million of Irish money. That was not to be wondered at considering that they had a landlord in the War Office, a landlord as manager of the General Post Office, while the representative of the very largest landlord in Ireland—namely, Trinity College—held the office of Solicitor General for England. He did not wonder at all that this Bill had been introduced, and that this clause, which was going to work such a great injustice against the people of Ireland, was insisted on. The Chief Secretary for Ireland seemed to think that the Land Commission could not make a mistake. A most remarkable thing had come to his knowledge. The chief of the Irish Land Commission, Mr. Justice Bewley, had stated that the rents fixed for the first term were altogether too high. Those rents affected 200,000 tenants, and the Commission, in attempting to remedy the injustice done to them, fixed the amounts too high. Was it not possible that the Commission might also make mistakes in the future? He, for one, could have no confidence whatever in the Irish Land Commission, and particularly when he looked at the Commission from this standpoint. There had been a Tory Government in office now for five years; another Tory Government would appoint no one else but supporters of, and sympathisers with, the landlords. If that was so, how could the tenants expect to get justice from a tribunal largely composed of landlords? The Land Commission would be manned by supporters of 700 the landlords, and it was only natural to expect that the Irish Church Fund would not be able to supply all the demand that would be made upon it with regard to tithes in future. This Bill was based on the assumption that if there was even a greater reduction in prices in the next fifteen years a larger slice would be given to the landlords. He could not for the life of him see that the Land Commission was a proper tribunal to be entrusted with this work in future. He thought the right hon. Gentleman would be well advised if he dropped this clause altogether. Looking to the admitted fact that the Land Commission had made mistakes, it would be a very wrong thing for the House to leave such a measure as this in the hands of that Commission in future.
§ MR. DOOGAN
supported the hon. Member for South Monaghan in asking that the clause be dropped. If the clause were based on a standard that would allow a proportionate share of the spoil to be carried off, by each landlord, it would not be such a bad principle. There was no connection at all between tithe rent-charge and the reduction of rents in Ireland. Suppose that it was proposed to deal with tithe rents in England on the basis of the reductions of rent which had taken place from economic causes, the matter would receive very scant discussion in that House. He had just been speaking to an English landlord, who told him that he had reduced his rents 25 per cent. If all the tithe-rent payers had their charges brought down to a quarter, he did not know how such a revolutionary proposal would be received in that House. The proposal in the Bill amounted to a premium upon rack-renting. The more the landlords rack-rented their tenants, and the higher they had raised their rents in the past, the greater the amount they would get under this clause from the Irish Church Fund. That fund was applied by statute to the relief of distress, and for educational and other purposes in Ireland. It had not at any time been drawn upon in order to subsidise a class as it was now. That drain would at least amount to one million, and very possibly it would much exceed that sum. The money would do a great deal of good if applied in grants to lunatic asylums, and for other purposes that the ratepayers were crying 701 out about. He was surprised to find from the statistics quoted by the hon. Member for the Scotland Division that in Ulster the reductions in rents during the first and second statutory terms amounted to something like 60 per cent. The hon. Member showed how much the other provinces had fallen below that immense reduction. The hon. Member for North Fermanagh tried to explain those large reductions by stating that Ulster was the most agricultural province in Ireland, and that the grass lands were much less reduced tillage farms. The hon. Member for East Mayo, however, had stated that when the tithe was paid on the basis of corn—the prices of wheat and other grain, which formed the proper basis—a smaller proportion was obtained in Ulster per acre than in any of the other provinces. Therefore the explanation about its being more agricultural than the other provinces could not stand. He thought he could explain the reason, and enough importance had not been attached to it during the debate. The Land Acts legalised the Ulster custom, which gave to tenant farmers in that province the right to their own improvements. This entitled the tenants to go into court and claim reductions in respect of buildings, fences, drainage works, and everything else done upon the farm, either by themselves or their predecessors, and also in respect of the state of cultivation. The land system in Ulster was different and peculiar as compared with that in the other provinces. The landlords of Ulster were bound by their charters and titles to let the land at low prices to the tenants. The landlords increased the low rents to an enormous -figure, and when the Ulster system was recognised by law the tenants got the benefit of all their improvements. In the other provinces the Ulster custom did not prevail, and all the improvements had to be specified on the back of the claim. If the lawyer acting for a tenant overlooked any items of the case, the tenant lost his claim for such improvements as were omitted. Besides, under the Land Acts the claim for tenants other than Ulster could not extend back beyond a certain number of years. Hence a larger reduction would be made to the landlords of Ulster because of their confiscation of the improvements which the hard-working tenants had made on the land. This Bill thus sets a premium on wrong-doing. The worst rack-renting and evicting landlords 702 who did injustice to their tenants, and who actually carried off such large spoils before, were now to be allowed an additional sum as the result of the cruel wrongs which they did to their tenants in the past—wrongs which necessitated the compulsory reductions on which they now base their claim for redress. The Ulster landlords would derive more benefit than good landlords, who charged their tenants moderate live-and-thrive rents. When the Chief Secretary wanted to give his friends and supporters a dole, he should have cast around for a standard by which some fairness in the distribution of the spoil would be got. This money did not come out of the Imperial Treasury, but out of an Irish Fund. Therefore, it should be used to further develop technical education and other beneficent purposes in Ireland. He had great pleasure in supporting his colleague on that side of the House who had advocated the rejection of this clause.
§ MR. POWER
said that if there were to be variations they ought to be those suggested by the Amendment rather than those which the Bill proposed to set up. He was sorry to say that none of the suggestions put forward by his hon. friend the Member for North Dublin and the hon. Member for North Louth had been accepted, and the clause now stood before them in all its nakedness and with all the objections with which it was originally printed. He objected to this clause because he thought that, even from a Conservative point of view, it contained a very dangerous principle, which violated in the most glaring manner some of the essential rights of property. It was extremely unjust to Ireland that this Church Fund should be attacked, and he could see no justification whatever for this clause. He thought the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool had proved beyond yea or nay that this proposal would work most unjustly, and that the landlords who had been considerate towards their tenants would derive little or no benefit from it, while in those districts where rack-renting had been the order of the day, the landlords would largely benefit. For that reason he did not think the clause should receive the approval of the House. He knew that there was not very much hope of them being able to beat the Government, but they had the satisfaction of knowing that 703 the vast majority of Irish opinion and Irish Members were opposed to this principle. Perhaps because the vast majority of the Irish representatives were opposed to it was the very reason why this House would approve of it. The very fact that the majority of the Irish Members were in favour of any proposition was enough to secure a majority against it in this House.
§ MR. DILLON
said that this was one of the most important clauses in the Bill, for it proposed to introduce a totally new principle entirely unknown to the Statute-book of this country, and that was that the tithe rent-charge should be varied in proportion to the rent obtained from an occupier. It was preposterous for the Chief Secretary for Ireland to reply that there was a principle of variability involved. Supposing they admitted, for the sake of argument, that there was a principle of variability in tithes originally. That variability never was founded upon the variability of rent, and that was what made him so angry when the Government sought to rush this measure through the House in the dark as it were. They were introducing a proposal which was absolutely unheard of before in their history. The system of variability introduced was never heard of in the whole civilised world until the present time. He had a few facts which he wished to lay before the House in reference to the new standard which had been set up. Before the Acts of 1820 and 1830 the tithe was one-tenth of the produce of the land, or it should have been. The whole subject was enormously complicated, but in the year 1820, under the Goulborne Acts, a small modicum of the tithe was put back upon the grazing land. At that time tithe had no relation whatever to rent. When the great settlement had been carried through under the Goulborne Acts, and when the composition was being carried out throughout Ireland before 1838, they would find upon examining the question more closely that the evidence given before the Tithe Commission of 1831 showed that tithe had no relation to rent. Even in the old days tithes had no relation to rent and never had, and to make tithes variable according to the rent was a most extraordinary principle, without any precedent whatever. The Government had made up their mind to break up the settlement of 1872, which was a 704 solemn statutory settlement, for some reasons of political expediency. To break up that settlement and to vary the tithes they had to adopt a new principle, and they contended that the most convenient principle was the scale which they had set up. That scale might be convenient, but it was singularly unjust and unreasonable. He would mention a simple case as an illustration of the futility and the unreasonableness of the scale proposed in this clause. A relative of his possessed some property which was. liable to tithes. As well as he could recollect, that property used to pay in tithes £12 or £12 10s. a year. It was divided, into two equal portions—one was in the hands of his relative, and the other was let to another landlord under a head-rent of £25 a year. The whole of the property was liable to tithe. How would the clause work in this case? Half the property was let to a middleman. If the rents to the occupiers were reduced, under this plan of dealing with the tithes the rent of the middleman was raised, while the head-rent landlord would get his tithes reduced, and he would got the whole benefit from the reduction of the rent of the tenant. Simply because some other man's rent was reduced, they would get the benefit by a reduction of the tithes This was something like the custom adopted by the ancient French kings, who used to have some other unfortunate boy brought up and punished when their own sons did anything wrong. The Bill itself was very curiously drafted, and he desired to point out that when they had passed this clause they had not decided the question of the variability of any tithe rent-charge in Ireland. That would remain an open question. Furthermore, the measure attempted to deal with two subjects which were utterly foreign to each other. It also professed to set up a standard for the variation of ecclesiastical tithes, which had been invariable in Ireland since 1872. He thought that was a great blot on the Bill. He only alluded to this point for the purpose of showing; that when this clause was passed they had not decided anything as regarded the variability of the tithes, and that the whole question could be reopened on the next clause.
§ Question put..
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 158; Noes, 82. (Division List No. 180.)707
|Allsopp, Hon. George||Giles, Charles Tyrrell||Nicol, Donald Ninian|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Godson, Sir Augustus Fredrk.||O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens|
|Ashmead-Bartlett, Sir Ellis||Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Peel, Hon. W. Robt. Wellesley|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon||Phillpotts, Captain Arthur|
|Balcarres, Lord||Goschen, Rt. Hn. G. J.(St. G'rge's)||Pierpoint, Robert|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r)||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Pilkington, R.(Lanes. Newton)|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. Gerald W(Leeds)||Greene, Henry D. (Shrewsbury)||Platt-Higgins, Frederick|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Gull, Sir Cameron||Plunkett, Rt. Hn. Horace Curzon.|
|Barry, Rt. Hn. A. H. Smith-(H'nts)||Hamilton, Rt. Hn. Lord George||Pollock, Harry Frederick|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir. M. H.(Bristol)||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert Wm.||Purvis, Robert|
|Beckett, Ernest William||Hanson, Sir Reginald||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Bethell, Commander||Heath, James||Renshaw, Charles Bine|
|Blakiston-Houston, John||Helder, Augustus||Rentoul, James Alexander|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Henderson, Alexander||Richards, Henry Charles|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Hermon-Hodge, Rbt. Trotter||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson.|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Hoare, Sir Samuel (Norwich)||Robinson, Brooke|
|Butcher, John George||Houston, R. P.||Rothschild, Hn. Lionel Walter|
|Campbell, J. H. M. (Dublin)||Hozier, Hon J. H. Cecil||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)|
|Carson, Rt. Hn. Sir Edw. H.||Hudson, George Bickersteth||Sandon, Viscount|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbyshre)||Hutton, John Yorks. (N. R.)||Saunderson, Rt. Hon. Col. E. J.|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Hertford, East)||Jackson, Rt. Hon. Wm. Lawies||Seely, Charles Hilton|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick||Sidebotham, J. W. (Cheshire)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J.(Birm.)||Johnston, William (Belfast)||Sidebottom, William (Derbsh.)|
|Chamberlain, J. Austen (Worc'r)||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William||Skewes-Cox, Thomas|
|Charrington, Spencer||Keswick, William||Smith, Abel H. (Christchurch)|
|Clare, Octavius Leigh||Knowles, Lees||Smith, James Parker(Lanarks)|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Lafone, Alfred||Stanley, Edward Jas.(Somers't)|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)||Stewart, Sir M. J. M'Taggart|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)||Stock, James Henry|
|Cornwallis, Fiennes Stanley W.||Llewelyn, Sir Dillwyn-(Swans.)||Strauss, Arthur|
|Cox, Irwin, Edw. Bainbridge||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley|
|Cross, H. Shepherd (Bolton)||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Liverp'l)||Thorburn, Sir Walter|
|Curzon, Viscount||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Lloyd, Archie Kirkman||Tollemache, Henry James|
|Davies, Sir H. D. (Chatham)||Lucas-Shadwell, William||Tomlinson, W. E. Murray|
|Dickinson, Robert Edmond||Macartney, W. G. Ellison||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Digby, John K. D. Wingfield-||Macdona, John Cumming||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph||MacIver, David (Liverpool)||Warde, Lieut.-Col. C. E.(Kent)|
|Dorington, Sir John Edward||Maclure, Sir John William||Welby, Sir C. G. E. (Notts.)|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||M'Calmont, Col. J. (Antrim, E.)||Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon-|
|Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir Wm. Hart||M'Iver, Sir L. (Edinburgh, W.)||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset).|
|Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton||M'Killop, James||Williams, J. Powell- (Birm.)|
|Faber, George Denison||Melville, Beresford Valentine||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Fellowes, Hn. Ailwyn Edward||Middlemore, J. Throgmorton||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Field, Admiral (Eastbourne)||Moore, William (Antrim, N.)||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R.(Bath)|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||More, R. J. (Shropshire)||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Morgan, Hn. F. (Monmouths.)||Wylie, Alexander|
|Flannery, Sir Fortescue||Morrell, George Herbert||Wyndham, George|
|Fletcher, Sir Henry||Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)||Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong|
|Flower, Ernest||Muntz, Philip A.||Young, Commander (Berks, E.)|
|Forster, Henry William||Murray, Rt. Hn. A. G. (Bute)|
|Foster, Sir M. (Lond. Univ.)||Murray, Chas. J. (Coventry)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Garfit, William||Newdigate, Francis Alexander||Sir William Walrond and|
|Gibbons, J. Lloyd||Nicholson, William Graham||Mr. Anstruther.|
|Abraham, Wm. (Cork, N. E.)||Colville, John||Jameson, Major J. Eustace|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Daly, James||Kinloch, Sir John G. Smyth|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert H.||Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan)||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'land)|
|Austin, M. (Limerick, W.)||Dillon, John||Macaleese, Daniel|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Doogan, P. C.||MacDonnell, Dr. M. A. (Qn's Co.)|
|Beaumont, Wentworth C. B.||Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift|
|Billson, Alfred||Emmott, Alfred||M'Crae, George|
|Blake, Edward||Evershed, Sydney||M'Dermott, Patrick|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Farquharson, Dr. Robert||M'Ghee, Richard|
|Brigg, John||Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||M'Hugh, Patrick A. (Leitrim)|
|Broad hurst, Henry||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Molloy, Bernard Charles|
|Burns, John||Flynn, James Christopher||Morton, Edw. J. C.(Devonport)|
|Caldwell, James||Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert J.||Murnaghan, George|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Hedderwick, Thomas C. H.||Nussey, Thomas Willans|
|Carvill, Patrick Geo. Hamilton||Hogan, James Francis||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Horniman, Frederick John||O'Connor, Jas. (Wicklow, W.)|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)||O'Dowd, John|
|O'Kelly, James||Robson, William Snowdon||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Oldroyd, Mark||Runciman, Walter||Williams, John Carvell (Nobts.)|
|O'Malley, William||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Wilson, Fredk. W. (Norfolk)|
|Philipps, John Wynford||Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarshire)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Pickard, Benjamin||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)||Wilson, John (Govan)|
|Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Sullivan, T. D. (Donegal, W.)||Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)|
|Power, Patrick Joseph||Tanner, Charles Kearns||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Provand, Andrew Dryburgh||Tennant, Harold John|
|Reckitt, Harold James||Thomas, A. (Glamorgan, E.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Rickett, J. Compton||Thomas, David A. (Merthyr)||Captain Donelan and Mr.|
|Roberts, John H. (Denbighs||Trevelyan, Charles Philips||Patrick O'Brien.|
|Robertson, Edmund (Dundee||Weir, James Galloway|
§ Clause 3:—
§ MR. CLANCY
said the object of the Amendment he rose to move, was to continue the existing law which provided that an application must be made to a court of competent jurisdiction, and on the application of any person entitled he must prove certain things. If he is an owner of tithe rent-charge he must prove his title. If he is a payer of tithe rent charge he must prove that he is a person charged within the meaning of certain Acts of Parliament. There was the question of giving notice. Notice must have been regarded at one time as being of very great importance. The notices had to be served at a certain period of the year, and oftentimes mistakes were made by not selecting the proper time for serving those notices. They had to be posted on parish churches, and the requirements as to the posting of notices was a very detailed affair. The notice had to be posted on the parish church, on the outer door, and not only that, but on the principal outer door of the parish church. Sometimes there was not an outer door, a principal outer door, or any outer door at all, and sometimes there was not even a church. In a few cases it was thought advisable to erect a door in order to escape the consequences of insufficient posting. That might be a reason for substituting this automatic process, but those who took that view were not thinking of the tithe-payers. He wished to submit to the House the view of the tithe-owners. They consisted of two classes whose interests were diametrically opposite, and it must be borne in mind that the tithe-owners in one respect occupied a position analogous to the landlords. It must be borne in mind that this tithe rent-charge had, for a very long time, been treated as an article of commerce. Tithes had been bought and sold for valuable consideration from time to time. In some instances trustees had invested money in them, and they were considered to be a very good security. 708 Now the Government proposed to substitute for the present system of varying tithes an automatic process of variation, and that was doing a great injustice to everybody who had bought tithe rent-charges in the past. He ventured to say that those purchasers were paid no consideration whatever in this Bill, and this proposal was grossly unjust to them. It was perfectly manifest that these tithe rent-charges were valuable or were not valuable accordingly as they were supposed to be variable or not variable. People bought them on the supposition that it was very difficult to vary them, and they paid their money on that basis. And now the Government, which was supposed to be especially conservative in regard to the rights of property, passed by all these considerations. In the case of the tithes bought upon the supposition he had alluded to, the Government proposed to make the variation according to the reduction of the judicial rents. He hoped the supporters of the Government, the landed gentry of England and the upholders of the rights of private property, in this country would reflect upon the reckless injury they were inflicting upon the people who had bought these tithes, for if they did he did not think they could reconcile their consciences to believe that they were acting up to their principles of doing justice to the owners of this property. This Bill was not only a revolutionary measure, but a measure of great injustice, and the landlords who were calling for it might find themselves some time or other in the future in a great difficulty. They might be faced with a similar proposal from some other Government, and they had better be very careful as to the way they were now satisfying themselves that they were able to give a reasonable defence for a proposal of this kind. He had heard no defence whatever for this legislation. Being a lover of justice, he thought the tithes ought to be continued as they were at present, and he begged to move his Amendment.
In page 2, line 20, after the word 'Act,' to insert the words 'on the application of any person who, if this Act had not been passed, would have been entitled to obtain a variation of any tithe rent-charge.' "—(Mr. Clancy.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. G. W. BALFOUR
said he could hardly think that the Amendment was seriously intended by the hon. Member, for he had actually suggested that the tithe-owner had got a vested interest in the tithes. He would remind the Committee of one of the difficulties which the hon. Member himself had raised. It was necessary, under the existing law, to post the notice at the parish church. In some parishes there was no church, and in such a parish no variation of tithes was possible. And yet the hon. Member came forward and suggested that the tithe-owner had got a vested interest in the continuance of the tithe. If that was his Opinion, all he had to say was that a great deal of the legislation passed upon this subject was unnecessary. The hon. Member called himself a lover of justice, but according to his theory the Act of 1881 and other Acts should not have been placed upon the statute book, because if purchases were made upon the supposition that certain disabilities had never been removed, upon what principles of justice
§ could the Act of 1881 be defended? In England tithes were variable automatically, and they proposed to do the same thing under this Bill, and by doing so he thought they were initiating a great reform.
§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL (Donegal, S.)
said that the tithe-owners were not members of the landlord class. For many years investments in tithes had been looked upon as one of the most valuable securities. If the serious attack now proposed was made upon this property, surely those investors ought also to be compensated. The proposal before the Committee was by no means a frivolous one, for it provided that those men should be protected in every possible way. The owners of tithes had a primary charge on the land, and anyone acquainted with the law of real property knew they had a right to be paid out of profits, and any derogation of their right was a serious inroad on the rights of property. The effect of this clause would be to militate against that security. Therefore, he asked the Committee to insist upon this Amendment, or else that the Attorney General should give some reasons or show in some sort of way how the security could be maintained.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 90; Noes, 170. (Division List No. 181.)711
|Abraham, William(Cork, N. E.)||Flavin, Michael Joseph||O'Kelly, James|
|Ambrose, Robert||Flynn, James Christopher||Oldroyd, Mark|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Gladstone, Rt. Hon. Herb. John||O'Malley, William|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert H.||Goddard, Daniel Ford||Pease, Joseph A. (Northumb.)|
|Austin, M. (Limerick, W.)||Hayne, Rt. Hn. Charles Seale-||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Hedderwick, Thos. Chas. H.||Provand, Andrew Dryburgh|
|Beaumont, Wentworth C. B.||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H.|
|Billson, Alfred||Hogan, James Francis||Reckitt, Harold James|
|Blake, Edward||Horniman, Frederick John||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Brigg, John||Jameson, Major J. Eustace||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire)||Runciman, Walter|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Kinloch, Sir John Geo. Smyth||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Burns, John||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumberland)||Sinclair, Capt. John (Forfars.)|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Macaleese, Daniel||Smith, Samuel (Flint)|
|Caldwell, James||MacDonnell, Dr. M. A. (Qn'sC.)||Steadman, William Charles|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Carew, James Laurence||M'Crae, George||Sullivan, T. D. (Donegal, W.)|
|Carvill, Patrick Geo. Hamilton||M'Dermott, Patrick|
|Channing, Francis Allston||M'Ghee, Richard||Tanner Charles Kearns|
|Clancy, John Joseph||M'Hugh, Patrick A. (Leitrim)||Tennant, Harold John|
|Colville, John||M'Kenna, Reginald||Thomas, Alfred (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Daly, James||M'Laren, Charles Benjamin||Thomas, David Alfred (Merth'r)|
|Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan)||Molloy, Bernard Charles||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Dillon, John||Morton, Edw. J. C.(Devonport)||Weir, James Galloway|
|Doogan, P. C.||Murnaghan, George||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Douglas, Chas. M. (Lanark)||Nussey, Thomas Willans||Williams, John Carvell (Notts.)|
|Emmott, Alfred||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)||Wilson, Frederick W.(Norfolk)|
|Evershed, Sydney||O'Connor, Jas. (Wicklow, W.)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Farquharson, Dr. Robert||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Wilson, John (Govan)|
|Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||O'Dowd, John||Yoxall, James Henry|
|TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Captain Donelan and Mr. Patrick O'Brien.|
|Allsopp, Hon. George||Godson, Sir Augustus Frederick||Newdigate, Francis Alexander|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Nicholson, William Graham|
|Ashmead-Bartlett, Sir Ellis||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Eldon||Nicol, Donald Ninian|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Goschen, Rt. Hn. G. J. (St. Geor.)||O'Neill, Hon. Robt. Torrens|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r)||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Peel, Hon. W. R. Wellesley|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. G. W. (Leeds)||Greene, H. D. (Shrewsbury)||Percy, Earl|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Greville, Hon. Ronald||Philipotts, Captain Arthur|
|Barry, Rt Hn A H Smith- (Hunts)||Gull, Sir Cameron||Pilkington, R. (Lancs, Newton)|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M H (Bristol)||Hamilton, Rt. Hn. Lord George||Platt-Higgins, Frederick|
|Bemrose, Sir Henry Howe||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert W.||Plunkett, Rt. Hn. H. Curzon|
|Bethell, Commander||Hanson, Sir Reginald||Pollock, Harry Frederick|
|Blakiston-Houston, John||Heath, James||Purvis, Robert|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Helder, Augustus||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Henderson, Alexander||Renshaw, Charles Bine|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Hermon-Hodge, Robt. Trotter||Rentoul, James Alexander|
|Bullard, Sir Harry||Hoare, Sir Samuel (Norwich)||Ritchie, Rt. Hon Chas. Thomson|
|Butcher, John George||Hobhouse, Henry||Robinson, Brooke|
|Campbell, J. H. M. (Dublin)||Houston, R. P.||Rothschild, Hon. Lionel Walter|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Hozier,Hon. James Henry Cecil||Russell, Gen. F. S. (Cheltenh'm)|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbysh.)||Hudson, George Bickerste'h||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Hertford, East)||Hutton, John (Yorks, N. R.)||Sandon, Viscount|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Jackson, Rt. Hon. Wm. Lawies||Saunderson, Rt. Hon. Col. E. J.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. (Birm)||Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick||Seely, Charles Hilton|
|Chamberlain, J Austen (Worc'r)||Johnston, William (Belfast)||Sidebotham, J. W. (Cheshire)|
|Charrington, Spencer||Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir John H.||Sidebottom, Wm. (Derbyshire)|
|Clare, Octavius Leigh||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Keswick, William||Skewes-Cox, Thomas|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Knowles, Lees||Smith, Abel H. (Christchurch)|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Lafone, Alfred||Smith, James Parker (Lanarks)|
|Colomb, Sir John Chas. Ready||Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)||Stanley, Edward J. (Somerset)|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasg'w)||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)||Stephens, Henry Charles|
|Cornwallis, Fiennes Stanley W.||Lecky, Rt. Hn. Wm. Edw. H.||Stewart, Sir Mark J. M Taggart|
|Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge||Llewelyn, Sir Dillwyn- (Sw'ns'a)||Stock, James Henry|
|Cross, Herbert S. (Bolton)||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Strauss, Arthur|
|Curzon, Viscount||Long, Col. Charles W (Eversh'm)||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter (Liverp'l)||Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier|
|Davies, Sir Horatio D (Chatham)||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Thorburn, Sir Walter|
|Dickinson, Robert Edmond||Lopes, Henry Yarde Buller||Tollemache, Henry James|
|Digby, John K. D. Wingfield-||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph||Lucas-Shadwell, William||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Dorington, Sir John Edward||Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred||Warde, Lieut.-Col. C. E. (Kent)|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Macartney, W. G. Ellison||Welby, Sir Charles G. E. (Notts-)|
|Dyke, Rt. Hon Sir William Hart||Macdona, John Cumming||Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon.|
|Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton||MacIver, David (Liverpool)||Whiteley, H. (Ashton-under-L.)|
|Faber, George Denison||M'Calmont, Col. J. (Antrim, E.)||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)|
|Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward||M'Iver, Sir L. (Edinburgh, W)||Williams, Joseph Powell- (Birm)|
|Field, Admiral (Eastbourne)||M'Killop, James||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Malcolm, Ian||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Melville, Beresford Valentine||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|FitzGerald, SirRobertPenrose-||Middlemore, J. (Throgmorton)||Wodehouse, Rt. Hon. E. R (Bath)|
|Flannery, Sir Fortescue||Moore, William (Antrim, N.)||Wylie, Alexander|
|Fletcher, Sir Henry||More, Robert J. (Shropshire)||Wyndham, George|
|Flower, Ernest||Morgan, Hn. F. (Monm'thsh.)||Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong|
|Forster, Henry William||Morrell, George Herbert||Young, Commander (Berks, E.)|
|Foster, Sir Michael (Lond. Univ.)||Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)|
|Garfit, William||Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Gibbons, J. Lloyd||Murray, Rt. Hn. A. G. (Bute)||Sir William Walrond and|
|Giles, Charles Tyrrell||Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)||Mr. Anstruther.|
§ MR. DILLON
I propose to move not the Amendment standing in my name, but the Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for North Louth. We have now come to one of the important questions raised by Amendment on this Bill, and in order to make clear the bearing of this Amendment I must recall to the attention of the Committee the scope and object of the Bill. There are in Ireland two classes of tithes, ecclesiastical tithes and lay impropriate tithes. 712 The ecclesiastical tithes are paid to the Irish Land Commission, and form a large part of the revenue of the Church Fund, but the lay impropriate tithes are private property just as much as a mortgage or a head rent. The ecclesiastical tithes have been invariable in Ireland since the Act of 1872, but it is proposed in this Bill to make them variable. The lay impropriate tithes have always been invariable. Although I do not at all agree that it is desirable or defensible to violently alter 713 the variation in the case of lay tithes, still I admit that lay tithe-owners have a grievance, and that that grievance has arisen not from the deliberate action of Parliament, but from a blunder on the part of the Executive Government in Ireland. If people are deprived of a legal right, whatever the value of that right may be, they are undoubtedly entitled to come to Parliament and ask for a remedy. But that argument does not apply to the case of ecclesiastical tithes, and the effect of this Amendment would be to confine the operations of sections 2 and 3 of this Bill to lay impropriate tithes, leaving the ecclesiastical tithes invariable as they are at present and have been for twenty-eight years. It appears to me that this Amendment ought to receive the support of Her Majesty's Government. I may point out that I myself intended to approach the subject in a different way, because the Amendment standing in my name would have produced the opposite effect, but that arose altogether from the fact that I was not allowed to move an Instruction which I think was a wise Instruction, to divide the Bill into two parts, as the subjects dealt with are absolutely different. Under the circumstances, however, I now move the Amendment of the hon. Member for North Louth, which proposes to confine the operation of the Bill to lay impropriate tithes, and to leave the ecclesiastical tithes as they are now, invariable. We have heard a great deal of argument from the right hon. Gentle man—and very poor argument it appeared to me—in favour of the omission of the seven years instalments, and he based his argument in favour of that view on the assertion that there was a miscalculation, and that these annuitants were in point of fact unknowingly defrauded by Parliament owing to the ignorance of Mr. Gladstone and the Treasury of that day. But that argument cannot apply to the case of the ecclesiastical tithe-owners, and there can be no misunderstanding concerning them. It is said that there was no consent, but anyone who will take the trouble to trace through the pages of Hansard the history of the Act of 1872 cannot maintain that the tithe-payers of Ireland were not consenting parties. Neither in the House of Lords nor in the House of Commons was one solitary voice raised against the provisions of the Act of 1872 which made ecclesiastical tithes invariable, although there were 714 dozens of Irish landlords in both Houses. How can the right hon. Gentleman come forward now, after twenty-eight years, and tell us that an injustice has been done? Up to the present moment we have not heard one single argument in support of that proposition. What is the nature of the ecclesiastical tithes as fixed by the Act of 1872 with—as should never be forgotten—the consent of the tithe-payers? All that the right hon. Gentleman has said about the inherent variability of tithes is absurd and in direct conflict with the facts of the situation. By the Act of 1872 ecclesiastical tithes were fixed invariably as a first charge on land in Ireland, a charge which bore no relation to the amount of the rent, and under which in innumerable instances great interests were held. Under that charge there were very often a head rent, middle interests, and perhaps two or three other interests, not to speak of mortgages. This Amendment now brings us to the great principle which I asserted on the Second Reading of this Bill, namely, the principle of the inviolability of prior charges on land. I want to know, when there is this invariable statutory prior lien on the land of Ireland, by what right can you slip over intermediate charges, and now maintain that this prior lien must be reduced. What about mortgages or family charges or head rents? This is of the utmost importance in Ireland. In this country, so far as my knowledge goes, no class has raised an agitation in favour of the reduction of the interest or the capital of mortgages on land, or the reduction of superior rents in consequence of the reduction of rent to the immediate occupier. If by this clause you allow the principle of violability to apply to a charge on land which ranks before head rent and mortgage interest, then you are introducing one of the most revolutionary principles of legislation ever proposed in this House. You cannot plead ignorance of the result. We know what the landlords think of this Bill, and we are not left for a single moment under the delusion that they will accept it as final. They scorn it and they scoff at it, and they regard it as an infinitesimal concession, only valuable as recognising their right to compensation.
The hon. Member is going rather beyond the limits of his own Amendment. He is now discussing the Bill at large.
The hon. Gentleman is not discussing that,; he is discussing whether the landlords of Ireland will ask for more and so forth, and that is not within the scope of his own Amendment.
§ MR. DILLON
In discussing this Amendment I am discussing whether the principle of variation is to be applied to ecclesiastical tithe rent-charge in Ireland, and whether a first charge on the land of Ireland is to be declared variable. The reason why I allude to this question is because I believe we have come to that part of the Bill in which the main principle of the inviolability of first charges on land is concerned, and I am astonished if I am not at liberty to discuss that great principle. The clause, as a whole, violates that principle, and it is on this Amendment that we can specifically discuss the question whether we are to vary tithes which at present by statute are invariable. It appears to me that if this Amendment raises any question it raises this precise question—whether we are going by this Bill to abrogate a great fixed principle which affects the whole security of property in Ireland. Unquestionably, that would be the result. If you break down the fixed and useful principle that charges on land must be treated according to priority, and that a man with superior interests is not to be made to suffer because an interest below him is cut down, you open the flood-gates and the floods will rush in; you will be face to face with an ever-growing demand from landlords in Ireland to have mortgages and the other liens on their lands cut down, and they will quote this very clause as a precedent. I object, of course, to this proposal because of the deadly blow it will strike at the solvency and the very existence of the Church Fund, and if I dwelt on other reasons it was because our experience during the last two or three days has led us to believe that the vast majority of hon. Members are entirely indifferent to all arguments on that point, and I thought we might make some lodgment in the minds of hon. Members if we showed that if this principle is trampled on a precedent will be set which may have the most injurious effects on mort- 716 gages and other charges on land. For these reasons I urge the acceptance of the Amendment on the Committee.
In page 2, line 28, after the word 'payable,' to insert the words 'otherwise than to the Land Commission.'"—(Mr. Dillon.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. G. W. BALFOUR
Of course it is quite impossible for the Government to accept this Amendment. If we did we would strike at one of the principal provisions of the measure. The hon. Member for East Mayo, if he will allow me to say so, has entirely misunderstood the grounds on which the Government have urged that the ecclesiastical tithe rent fixed by the Act of 1872 should again be made variable. The essential point is that the ecclesiastical tithe rent-charge, like other tithe rents in Ireland, was variable before 1872. It ceased to be variable under peculiar circumstances. It was not, I maintain, the result of a bargain between the tithe payers, on one hand, and Mr. Gladstone representing the interests of the Church. Fund on the other, in which the landlords got their quid pro quo. The real fact is that this change was made by Mr. Gladstone with a view to facilitating the redemption of tithe rent-charge by the payers of ecclesiastical tithe rent-charge. He believed that they would take advantage of the opportunity he proposed to give them, and for that purpose he fixed a tithe rent-charge, never contemplating. in the first place, that a very large number of payers would not take advantage of this facility to redeem, and, in the second place, that an abnormal fall in agricultural values would take place within a generation. It is on these grounds that we have advocated the removal of an arrangement which has operated against tithe rent-payers in a way never contemplated at the time. I do not advocate that tithe rent-charge should be reduced because rents have been reduced; but I say that under the peculiar circumstances of the case it is equitable that tithe rent-charge payers should be again entitled to have their tithe rent-charge varied while the privilege of redeeming is taken away from them. On that ground, and on that ground alone, I am advocating this change. As I said on the Second Reading, the hardship of the present situation is emphasised by the fact that rents have since been com- 717 pulsorily reduced; but it is not on that ground I advocate it, but on the grounds I have explained to the Committee. We are taking the reduction in judicial rents as the measure, but not as the reason for this proposal.
§ *SERJEANT HEMPHILL (Tyrone, N.)
I certainly shall support the Amendment, which will strike out of the Bill the variation of ecclesiastical tithes. The Bill as it now stands deals with two different classes of property—lay and ecclesiastical tithes. The Amendment only refers to ecclesiastical tithes, and the effect of it if carried out would be to restore the state of things which existed when the Church Amendment Act of 1872 was passed—namely, to make ecclesiastical tithes irrevisable. That is the principle of the Amendment, and I think it is essential on various grounds that it should be accepted. In the Act of 1899 establishing the Board of Agriculture the right hon. Gentleman, when charging £70,000 a year for the purposes of that Act upon the Church Fund, was obliged to guard against the effect of that charge, because it was even then contemplated by the Government that the Church Fund might not be adequate to meet it.
§ MR. G. W. BALFOUR
I may remind the right hon. Gentleman that last year the Tithe Bill was introduced at the same time as the Board of Agriculture Bill.
§ *SERJEANT HEMPHILL
Yes; but the Tithe Rent-charge Bill was a still-born child, and that does not apply to my argument at all. I will quote the Agriculture and Technical Instruction (Ireland) Act, 1899. Section 15 says that, among the moneys placed at the disposal of the Department, should be—(b.) Out of the annual income derivable from the surplus of the Irish Church Temporalities Fund, during a period of fifteen years from the commencement of this Act, the annual sum of £70,000, and thereafter during each subsequent period of fifteen years such annual sum as in the opinion of the Treasury can be paid without impairing the security for any liabilities existing at the commencement of this Act upon that Fund.When the argument was made last year that the Government were by that Act, when granting the sum of £70,000 a year to the Department, impairing the security of the Imperial Exchequer, the right hon. Gentleman stated that it was only for a period of fifteen years, and that it was not likely that the fund would be 718 diminished in fifteen years, and that if the grant was extended beyond fifteen years, it could only be done under the saying clause, with the consent of the Treasury of the day if in their opinion it could be paid without impairing the Church Fund. The right hon. Gentleman, says that our fears are chimerical, and that, though we are depleting the Church Fund by this Bill to the extent of a. million and a half or two millions, there will be no risk and no necessity for making good the security to the Imperial Exchequer. Hon. Gentlemen opposite should bear in mind that these vast loans have been made for various purposes out of the Imperial Exchequer on the security of the Church Fund, and that if the Church Fund fails the repayment will fall on the taxpayers in every part of the country. That is the reason why we should not undo the settlement of 1872, and should leave unimpaired the fixed and constant fund provided by the Church Amendment Act. The right hon. Gentleman says that this was a question of policy, of haute politique—the facilitating of the redemption of the tithe rent charge; but last night he put it on the ground of a miscalculation, of a sort of "hocus pocus," about £3 10s. per cent. for fifty-two years instead of forty-five. Mr. Gladstone, who was a most jealous custodian of the public Treasury, made it a fixed and constant sum, and he did so to facilitate the redemption by paying cash down twenty-two and a half years purchase, or a terminable annuity for fifty-two years calculated at £4 9s. To attempt to cast a slur on the memory of the greatest statesman of this century seems to me extraordinary. There is another point. It is said that the reason for making this great change after the expiration of thirty years, and reducing the tithe rent-charge, is because the rents have been reduced by the operation of special legislation. For my part I do not want to be misunderstood, but I think that the Land Acts have operated harshly upon many of the landlords of Ireland who have had their rents considerably reduced, and it would rejoice me beyond measure if compensation were made to these landlords out of a proper fund, but not out of this fund, which was by solemn Act of Parliament reserved for cases of "unavoidable calamity and suffering in Ireland." The fallacy underlying this particular clause which we are seeking to amend is, that it assumes that 719 all the rents of all the landlords in every county in Ireland have been reduced. That is a great fallacy. I know many estates, and curiously enough in Tipperary particularly, where there are many tenants who have never come into the Land Court, and who have never had their rents reduced; and yet the landlords of these tenants are to have the benefit of this clause under the guise of compensation for loss incurred by the reduction of rents under Mr. Gladstone's Land Act. The right hon. Gentleman does not want to throw a glamour over the House. He is too fair, too loyal, too candid to do that, and accordingly he says that it is not because of the reduction of rents, but because of high policy, that this Bill has been introduced. I maintain that the reduction of the rent has no application at all to this particular standard as to ecclesiastical tithe with which alone we are dealing with this Amendment. The tithe rent-charge, which represents the tithe, was never the property of the landlord; it was something cut away from his property. The owners in fee, the grantees of the Crown, the possessors of fee simple estates in Ireland, never had more than nine-tenths of what their estates wore nominally worth, because the Church had acquired the other tenth. The tithe rent-charge is like a mortgage, a firstcharge on the estate, and what the land lord ever had was simply the surplus. The rent was never measured by prices in Ireland. There were various other elements in fixing the rents—contiguity to market, richness of the soil, the hardship of the landlord, the poverty of the tenant, the land-hunger which prevailed, and which was the source of so many of the social evils of Ireland. The tithe rent-charge was measured by the market prices of the staple cereals, wheat and oats, which were the great tithes, in the language of the law, the lesser tithes being payable in respect of the cows and pigs, and the like. The great tithes, which were the staple of the income of the incumbent, were properly regulated by the market prices of the cereals. The right hon. Gentleman is quite right in saying that this solatium was not to be given by the Bill in consequence of the reduction of rents, but because of the general hardships in the case of many landlords, who, instead of having three or four mansions, have only one or two, and enjoying a London season, were obliged to put up with one in Dublin.
§ Mr. T. P. O'CONNOR
We certainly intend to go to a division on this Amendment, and I see no reason why it should not be taken before twelve o'clock; but I wish to express a slight point of difference from my hon. friend the Member for East Mayo, who said that there is a possibility of the precedent of this Bill being followed, and of some interference being made with mortgages and other charges on land and other property in Ireland. I beg my hon. friend to relieve his mind in regard to that. I do not believe that the House of Commons will ever submit to any such a proposal. And for this reason. If the Chief Secretary got up and proposed a reduction on the mortgages on property in Ireland on the ground that as the rents in Ireland had been reduced, so the mortgages should be reduced in proportion, the representatives of the English insurance companies and English capitalists would raise such a cry of anguish and revolt that the right hon. Gentleman would not have the smallest chance of carrying his Bill beyond the first night when it was mentioned in the House of Commons. I can assure my hon. friend that these charges on property in Ireland are perfectly secure. But why is it that this particular form of reduction is attempted to be carried out? It is because the Government are interfering, not with English money, but with Irish money, not with English capital, but with the rights of the Irish poor. It is because of that that the Chief Secretary has the solid vote of the gentlemen behind him. Even if I had the high privilege of being insured in some of the excellent English and Scottish insurance companies, I would gladly see Irish landlords who had borrowed money from them get 50 per cent. of their indebtedness wiped out, because it was the eagerness and promptitude of these companies in lending money to the Irish landlords which largely led to their destruction. But the vivid anxiety of my hon. friend for the capital of English people is vain; it is a mere phantom. The reason for this raid on Ireland is that it is Irish money. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for North Armagh quotes the Act of 1872, and he really has the courage to say that that Act was an injustice to the landlords of Ireland. He was in the House at the time, and supported the Bill. If he did not vote for the Church Bill, at any rate he voted for the Land Bill, and the right 721 hon. and gallant Gentleman will bear me out when I say, founding myself upon what appears in the colourless pages of Hansard, that when Mr. Gladstone announced that he would give power by the Bill to the landlords to commute their tithes he was interrupted in the flow of his discourse, because this concession was such a surprise to the landlords that they could not refrain from expressing their sense of satisfaction.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
If my hon. and gallant friend will allow me to proceed, I will refer to Hansard to show that that was not an imaginary scene. Mr. Gladstone himself said that he was not able to proceed for a time with his speech because of the buzz of delighted surprise on the part of the landlords that he had been so kind to them. I observe the Chancellor of the Exchequer is not in the House. He usually is absent when this Hill is under discussion, or, if present, is always silent. But the right hon. Gentleman would confirm me, for he at that time got up and denounced Mr. Gladstone's proposal as a sacrilegious bribe by which the landlords were tempted to give up their theological and religious principles in exchange for the amount of money the right hon. Gentleman was going to give them. I am not acquainted with the law in regard to
§ tithes in England, although I have made some inquiry on the subject. But, I ask, is there any power in England by which the English landlord can get rid of his tithe in the same way as the Irish landlord can get rid of his in Ireland? The right hon. and gallant Gentleman says that the Act of 1872 was an injustice to the Irish landlords, but he knows that that Bill was passed through both Houses of Parliament practically without discussion. I will tell the right hon. and gallant Gentleman something of the genesis of that Act. At that time rents were rising in Ireland, and landlords were supposed to be face to face with increased prices, and a corresponding increase of their tithes, and Mr. Gladstone, then Prime Minister, in order to save the landlords from that increase of their tithes, made the tithe rent charge stationary, which would otherwise have been augmented by the increase of prices. So that what the right hon. and gallant Gentleman represents as an injustice to Irish landlords was in fact one of the gifts—I do not say bribes, nor do I wish to indulge in the theological fantasies of the Chancellor of the Exchequer—by which Mr. Gladstone thought to smooth the passage of his land legislation, and to reconcile the Irish landlords to its acceptance.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 80; Noes, 180. (Division List No. 182.)723
|Abraham Wm. (Cork, N.E.)||Goddard, Daniel Ford||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Ambrose, Robert||Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||Price, Robert John|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Hayne, Rt. Hn. Charles Seale-||Reckitt, Harold James|
|Austin, M. (Limerick, W.)||Hedderwick, Thomas Chas. H.||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Beaumont, Wentworth C. B.||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H.||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Billson, Alfred||Horniman, Frederick John||Runciman Walter|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Jameson, Major J. Eustace||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Brigg, John||Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire)||Scott, Charles P. (Leith)|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cumb'lnd)||Sinclair, Capt John (Forfarshire)|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Macaleese, Daniel||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Burns, John||MacDonnell, Dr. M. A. ((Qu'nsC)||Stanhope, Hon. Philip J.|
|Caldwell, James||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Steadman, William Charles|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||M'Crae, George||Strachey, Edward|
|Carew, James Laurence||M'Dermott, Patrick||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Carvill, Patrick Geo. Hamilton||M'Ghee, Richard||Sullivan, T. D. (Donegal, W.)|
|Channing, Francis Allston||M'Hugh, Patrick A. (Leitrim)||Tanner, Charles Kearus|
|Clancy, John Joseph||M'Kenna, Reginald||Tennant, Harold John|
|Clark, Dr. G. B.||M'Laren, Charles Benjamin||Thomas, Alfred (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Daly, James||Molloy, Bernard Charles||Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr)|
|Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan)||Murnaghan, George||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Dillon, John||Nussey, Thomas Willans||Weir James Galloway|
|Doogan, P. C.||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)||Williams, J. Carvell (Notts.)|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Wilson, Frederick W. (Norfolk)|
|Emmott, Alfred||O'Dowd, John||Woodhouse, Sir J. T. (H'ddersfd)|
|Evershed, Sydney||O'Kelly, James|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Oldroyd, Mark||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Flynn, James Christopher||O'Malley, William||Captain Donelan and Mr.|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hn Herbert John||Pease, Joseph A. (Northumb.)||Patrick O'Brien.|
|Allsopp, Hon. George||Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Ashmead-Bartlett, Sir Ellis||Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manch'r)|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn Gerald W (Leeds)||Goldsworthy, Major-General||Murray, Chas. J. (Coventry)|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Newdigate, Francis Alex,|
|Barry, Rt. Hn A H Smith- (Hunts)||Gorst, Rt. Hn. Sir John Eldon||Nicholson, William Graham|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Bristol)||Goschen, Rt. Hn G. J. (St George's)||Nicol, Donald Ninian|
|Beckett, Ernest William||Goulding, Edward Alfred||O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens|
|Bemrose, Sir Henry Howe||Graham, Henry Robert||Parkes, Ebenezer|
|Bethell, Commander||Greene, Henry D. (Shrewsb'ry)||Pease, H. Pike (Darlington)|
|Bill, Charles||Greville, Hon. Ronald||Peel, Hon. Wm. Robert W.|
|Blakiston-Houston, John||Gull, Sir Cameron||Penn, John|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord George||Phillpotts, Captain Arthur|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Hanbury, Rt. Hn. Robert Wm.||Pilkington, R. (Lancs, Newton)|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Hanson, Sir Reginald||Platt-Higgins, Frederick|
|Bullard, Sir Harry||Hardy, Laurence||Plunkett, Rt Hn Horace Curzon|
|Butcher John George||Heath, James||Purvis, Robert|
|Campbell, J. H. M. (Dublin)||Henderson, Alexander||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Hermon-Hodge, Robert T.||Rentoul, James Alexander|
|Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs.)||Hoare, Sir Samuel (Norwich)||Richardson, Sir T. (Hartlep l)|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbys.)||Hobhouse, Henry||Ridley, Rt. Hon. Sir M. W.|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Hertford, E.)||Houston, R. P.||Ritchie, Rt. Hon. C. Thomson|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Hudson, George Bickersteth||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm.)||Hutton, John (Yorks. N. R.)||Rothschild, Hon. Lionel W.|
|Chamberlain, J. Austen (Worc'r)||Jackson, Rt. Hon. Wm. Lawies||Russell, Gen. F. S. (Cheltenham)|
|Charrington, Spencer||Jebb, Sir Richard Claverhouse||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)|
|Clare, Octavius Leigh||Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick||Sandon, Viscount|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Johnston, William (Belfast)||Saunderson, Rt. Hn. Col. E. J.|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)||Seely, Charles Hilton|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William||Sidebotham, J. W. (Cheshire)|
|Colomb, Sir John Charles Ready||Keswick, William||Sidebottom, Wm. (Derbysh.)|
|Cooke, C. W. Radcliffe (Heref'd)||Knowles, Lees||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Lafone, Alfred||Smith, Abel H. (Christchurch)|
|Cornwallis, Fiennes Stanley W.||Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)||Smith, Jas. Parker (Lanarks.)|
|Cox, Irwin Edward Bain bridge||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)||Stanley, Edward J. (Somerset)|
|Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton)||Lecky, Rt. Hon. Wm. E. H.||Stephens, Henry Charles|
|Curzon, Viscount||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Stewart, Sir Mark J. M Taggart|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Llewelyn, Sir Dillwyn- (Sw'ns'a)||Stock, James Henry|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Strauss, Arthur|
|Davies, Sir Horatio D (Chatham)||Long, Col. Charles W. (Evesham)||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley|
|Dickinson, Robert Edmond||Long, Rt. Hon. W. (Liverpool)||Scurt, Hon. Humphry Napier|
|Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Tollemache, Henry James|
|Dorington, Sir John Edward||Lopes, Henry Yarde Buller||Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Lowles, John||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir Wm. Hart||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton||Lucas-Shadwell, William||Warde, Lt.-Col. C. E. (Kent)|
|Faber, George Denison||Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred||Welby, Sir Chas. G. E. (Notts.)|
|Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward||Macartney, W. G. Ellison||Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon-|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Macdona, John Cumming||Whiteley, H. (Ashton-under-L)|
|Fisher, William Hayes||MacIver, David (Liverpool)||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset)|
|FitzGerald, Sir Robert Penrose-||M'Calmont, Col. J. (Antrim, E.)||Williams, Joseph Powell- (Birm)|
|Fletcher, Sir Henry||M'Killop, James||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Flower, Ernest||Melville, Beresford Valentine||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Forster, Henry William||Middlemore, John T.||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Foster, Colonel (Lancaster)||Milward, Colonel Victor||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. H. (Bath)|
|Foster, Harry S. (Suffolk)||Moore, William (Antrim, N.)||Wylie, Alexander|
|Galloway, William Johnson||More, R. Jasper (Shropshire)||Wyndham, George|
|Garfit, William||Morgan, Hn. Fred (Monm'thsh.)||Wyvill, Marmaduke D'Arcy|
|Gedge, Sydney||Morrell, George Herbert||Young, Commander (Berks, E)|
|Gibbons, J. Lloyd||Morton, Arthur H. A. (Deptford)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Giles, Charles Tyrrell||Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.||Sir William Walrond and|
|Godson, Sir Augustus Frederick||Murray, Rt. Hn. A. G. (Bute)||Mr. Anstruther.|
§ It being after Midnight, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.