§ Order for Third Heading read, and discharged.
§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That the Bill be re committed in respect of the New Clause (Exclusion of certain annuities and rent charges), and the Amendment to the Schedule."—(Mr. G. W. Balfour.)
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON (Dundee)
thought they had a right to complain of the way the House had been treated in respect of this Bill. When it was introduced it was understood that there 118 would be a Report stage. There had been notice given of Amendments in respect of the matter on which it was now proposed to recommit the Bill. It was distinctly understood then that the Bill would be taken in the ordinary way on Report. There never was a Bill which more required to be subjected to the usual procedure of the House, for it was one of the most technical they had seen in this or any session of Parliament. he wished to refer to the point in regard to which it was proposed to recommit the Bill. It was a point on which the right hon. Gentleman got entirely into a mess when the Bill was in Committee. After refusing to accept his Amendment, the Attorney General for Ireland consented to consider the question before the Report stage. Now there was to be no Report stage. If they were to go into this question at all the House should have an opportunity of considering whether they preferred to keep the schedule intact and to strike out Clause 4, or to proceed in the way the right hon. Gentleman now proposed. For his part 119 he would prefer the schedule intact, because it specified the words of the Act of 1872 to be repealed, while the repealing clause did not so specify the words. The House was to be reduced to this process if the Government would not consent to recommit the Bill indefinitely and generally, but he hoped that at least an Amendment would be consented to which would give the House an opportunity of deciding between the repeal clause contained in the Bill and the repeal portion of the schedule.
§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL (Donegal, S.)
moved to omit all words after "recommitted," in order to recommit the measure generally. The motion of the Chief Secretary, though not out of order, was very much out of ordinary form and routine. The motion of the right hon. Gentleman was to confine the effect of the re-committal to one clause only, and that a new clause. The records of Parliament could be searched in vain for the recommittal of a Bill on a new clause, and a new clause alone. The procedure now proposed to be adopted was altogether unprecedented. There were many Amendments the Irish Members had intended moving on the Report stage, some of them of vital importance. There was one in particular which the right hon. Gentleman the Attorney General promised to consider, and he gave the House to infer that his decision would be brought up on Report. But when a Bill passed through Committee without Amendment the Report stage as a matter of convenience was abrogated. That had happened in this case, but how? On the very first day on which the Bill was under discussion the hon. and learned Member for North Louth proposed several Amendments. Those Amendments were not accepted, but a pledge was given by the Chief Secretary that he would frame a clause and submit it to the House on the Report stage. The Bill was discussed at considerable length, and then at the last moment the right hon. Gentleman suddenly declined to move the Amendments standing in his name, thus avoiding the Report stage. Such a contrivance to bar discussion ought not to be used. The Government had resorted to an extraordinary process, which as a rule was used only when certain matters arose between the Committee stage and the Third Reading. What was useful for the Government should 120 also be useful for the Opposition, and therefore he hoped the House would agree to recommit the Bill in regard to all matters. The Bill—a very technical one —had throughout been conducted in a very high-handed manner. There had been twenty divisions, four of which were on motions for the closure. On the Wednesday when the discussion had been closured, he drew the attention of the Chairman to the fact that by the main question being put in the form it was two most valuable Amendments would be shut out of all discussion. The Chairman admitted that that would be so. If the Bill was recommitted generally those Amendments could be reproduced and argued, and it was therefore only fair that such a course should be adopted. One Amendment especially was absolutely essential, as it raised the tremendous question of the construction of the statute. The Government would not dare to apply the procedure now proposed to any other than Irish Bills; but the high-handed conduct of the Government would, to some extent, be remedied by recommitting the Bill as a whole. If the right hon. Gentleman agreed to this he could rest assured the Irish Members would not abuse in the slightest degree the power thereby given. Not a single reason could be urged against the Amendment except that the Government desired to burke discussion and prevent the bringing forward of arguments revealing the true intent of the Bill. The course the Government were taking amounted almost to a breach of faith, but he hoped the Chief Secretary would agree to concede the point now asked.
To leave out the words from the word 're-committed,' to the end of the question."— (Mr. Swift MacNeill.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)
I rise strongly to support the Amendment, not merely on grounds particular to this Bill itself, but on general grounds relating to the procedure of this House. At a preceding stage of this Bill I felt it my duty to enter my most solemn and even vehement protest against the action of the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the measure, and I assume that 121 the House appreciates the fact that the Government are to-night establishing an entirely new precedent. The motion that on the Third Heading a Bill should he recommitted is a motion not often made, but when the motion is made it is usually made in either of two contingencies— either when there is a general assent to the motion, or when the Government have found it necessary to make what is usually a literal correction in a Bill. There may be a third contingency in which such a motion would be justifiable, and that is when the Government find that through some oversight they have neglected to fulfil a pledge to any section of the House. But neither of these circumstances exists at the present moment. There is no unexpectedness in the matter; there is no more literal change to be made; there is no general assent. What the Government have done is to employ what, without using the word offensively, I may describe as a device, the object being to escape from one of those stages of investigation and examination to which the wisdom of many centuries has decreed Bills should be subjected. In other words, the Government have adopted this device in order to do away with the Report stage of the Bill. That is a stage which has for centuries been regarded as one of the inevitable and necessary stages of a measure. I know of only two occasions on which that stage has been avoided. One was when the present Leader of the House was able to get an Education Bill through Committee without Amendment. That was a small Bill in many respects, and I do not intend to go back on the controversy. The other occasion was when a Bill was passed without Amendment through a Committee upstairs by a Member sitting on these benches, the Report stage being thus avoided. But I believe there was scarcely an evening for three months on which that hon. and learned Member was not indicted by hon. Gentlemen opposite for the unusual, unprecedented, and it was almost suggested, the indecent course he had adopted in getting the Bill through without accepting any Amendments, and I believe that that very act contributed finally to the rejection of the Bill in another place, because it was argued that a Bill passed through Committee in this indecently hasty way, without the acceptance of any rational Amendment, must have been so inade- 122 quately and scantily discussed that really that Chamber was only fulfilling its duty as a revising assembly in refusing to carry the Bill into law. I would remind the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary that the illustrious person who used this argument with such disastrous effect was the present Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, but now the very course which was used as an argument for rejecting that measure is being adopted by the right hon. Gentleman himself. This Bill is to be recommitted for the purpose of putting in a new clause which stood upon the Paper for several days. If the right hon. Gentleman could come down and say, "I want the Bill recommitted, because, since it passed through Committee, it has suddenly struck me that an improvement might be made in it," we would have nothing whatever to object to. But the right hon. Gentleman is in no such position, because the clause was upon the Paper for several days, and, in fact, was put there in fulfilment of a pledge given by the Government. We are therefore in this position: the Government are asking the House to take this unusual and wholly unprecedented course for the simple purpose of avoiding the Report stage. I strongly support my hon. and learned friend in the demand that if the Bill is re-committed at all it should be re-committed in its entirety, so that we may have the same rights of proposing Amendments as. the Government now seek.
§ MR. FLYNN (Cork, N. E.)
contended that something tantamount to a breach of faith had been committed by the Government. An undertaking was given across the floor of the House on the first night of the debate on this Bill that a new clause should be brought up later. It was not so brought up, but several days later it was placed on the Paper, and then at the last minute the Government forced the Bill through by a mechanical majority and amended their own hand. Instead of having the clause discussed in Committee they, in order to avoid the Report stage, had brought it forward in such a way that it could not be properly discussed. The arguments of the hon. and learned Member for North. Louth on the first clause were such that they convinced the Government, and the Leader of the House promised a clause which should, if possible, meet the views which had been expressed. The clause 123 duly appeared on the Paper, but to the surprise of everybody, after having suspended the twelve o'clock rule, the Government withdrew their own clause, and it was now brought in in its present form. Under these circumstances, he trusted the House would support the Irish Members in objecting to a course which was not only unprecedented in the procedure of the House, but which unquestionably was not in accordance with the spirit of fair play and equity towards a minority in the House. The Irish people were deeply interested in this Bill, because it affected an Irish fund, and therefore they were justified in protesting against the action of the Government as uncandid, unfair, and tantamount to a breach of faith, breaking the spirit, if not the letter, of their own promise in regard to the most controversial point in the whole Bill. The course suggested in the Amendment was one in accordance with Parliamentary procedure, and it was more convenient that instead of recommitting the Bill in respect of a single new clause, it should be recommitted in respect of all the clauses around which so much discussion raged, and in respect of which the Government had refused to accept any Amendments.
§ * MR. CARVELL WILLIAMS (Nottinghamshire, Mansfield)
Although not an Irish Member, I think it right to join in the protest which has been made against what I deem to be the unfair treatment of the House by the Government in connection with this measure. The intention of the Chief Secretary was, no doubt, to move this clause in Committee, but he had been successful in securing the rejection of every Amendment proposed by the Irish Members, and I suppose it occurred to him then that, if he abandoned for the time this intended clause, he would succeed in getting rid of the Report stage. The temptation, I imagine, was too strong to be resisted, and now he comes to the House asking to enjoy an exceptional position, in submitting a clause which ought to have been moved in Committee, while the rest of the House are virtually deprived of the opportunity of submitting other Amendments which they might desire to propose. I think it right to call the attention of the House to the fact that this method of procedure, call it by what name you will, appears to 124 be part of the settled policy of the present Government. It has happened in previous sessions, and it is happening now. It is sought to abolish the Report stage of Bills, avoid discussion, and to prevent Members exercising the full rights of membership of this House. Notably is this the case in regard to Bills which come from Standing Committees. The anomaly is greater in such cases, because the whole of the Members of the House, with the exception of those who are Members of the Standing Committees, are deprived of all opportunity of moving Amendments to Bills which are before the House. It is a quite common process for the Government, or anybody else in charge of a Bill, to move an Amendment on the final stage of the measure, but in such cases usually all Members of the House are placed on a footing of equality. But by this method the Government are curtailing the rights and privileges of Members of this House, and I think it is high time notice were taken of it, and that steps should be taken to prevent the continuance of such a policy in the future.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)
said it could not be imputed as a fault to the Government that they had succeeded in persuading the Committee of the whole House to pass their Bill without amendment. But although that complaint was not quite justified by all the circumstances of the case, he could see no good reason why Her Majesty's Government could not accept this Amendment. It seemed to him that having arrived at this stage, and the Government having found it necessary for their own purposes to recommit the Bill, he thought it was only fair that the recommittal should be a general one. He was most anxious that every one and even the smallest of the privileges of hon. Members of the House should be maintained, and should be brought into operation to show that they were being maintained. Perhaps hon. Members opposite might once again be in power, and then he thought the House might require every safeguard in case mischievous proposals were submitted. In regard to what had been said about Grand Committees, he thought that the practice of sending measures to Grand Committees was a great abuse. If a Bill was not good enough to stand the criticism of a Committee of the whole House, it was not good enough to introduce into the House at all. 125 He hoped the Government would agree to make the recommittal a general one. If they recommitted the measure for a specific purpose only they might find it necessary in the course of discussion to go into other matters. When he looked at the last line of the only clause in respect of which it was proposed to recommit the Bill, he found that it dealt with a matter of considerable importance. Subsection 4 of the new clause provided that—This section shall not extend to a mortgage or a marriage or other family settlement or arrangement.If that was the only thing—
§ MR. SPEAKER
These are questions which will be in order when the new clause is before the Committee.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
said he only mentioned that to show that other questions might arise. He saw no reason why Her Majesty's Government should not accept this Amendment.
§ * SERJEANT HEMPHILL (Tyrone, N.)
I do hope that if Her Majesty's Government do not accept this Amendment the House will carry it. I think it is quite a reasonable proposal, and Irish Members have great reason to complain of the course pursued by Her Majesty's Government in this respect. Three-fourths of the Members from Ireland are bitterly opposed to this Bill, and they represent the feelings of their constituencies. The Irish Members opposing this measure consist of three-fourths of the entire representation of Ireland, and they are the only people who ought to attempt to correct bad legislation or promote good legislation for Ireland. Three-fourths of the Irish representatives are opposed to this Bill, and throughout its various stages they have sought to make various Amendments. On the discussion of Amendments which were moved to the very first section of the Bill there was a great deal of argument, and it was pointed out that some gross injustice and some gross anomalies would follow from the operation of the first section of the measure as it was originally introduced Several hours were taken up in the discussion of that section, which struck very much at the root of the principle of the whole Bill, and in order to shorten the discussion and get rid of 126 the difficulty the right hon. Gentleman opposite stood up and said he would bring up a clause on Report which would meet the difficulties which had been raised. For my part, I confess that I was quite satisfied with that assurance, and I believe all my hon. friends below the gangway were quite satisfied. Then the Committee passed on to other Amendments, and to other clauses in the Bill. A discussion arose about repealing one section, and a difficulty was pointed out by the hon. and learned Member for Dundee. Again to shorten discussion and to hurry this Bill through the House in the face of the opposition of three-fourths of the Irish representatives, it was suggested that an amendment would be proposed and a new clause would be brought in by the Government dealing with the point in dispute upon the report stage. We were also quite satisfied with that assurance. Upon the fourth night of the discussion of this revolutionary and confiscatory proposal what happened? In the first place the twelve o'clock rule was suspended. We all know that the suspension of this rule drives a great many reasonable men away from the House, and it is an effectual way of throwing a wet blanket over the business. I make no secret of saying that legislation in that manner after twelve o'clock upon serious matters is a mere farce and delusion. Having closured the Bill on the fourth night no new clause is brought up and no Report stage becomes necessary, and by this ingenious strategy —and I believe in calling a spade a spade —the report stage of a very contentious Bill was avoided by Her Majesty's Government in order to force this obnoxious Bill down the throats of the unwilling Irish people. And now the Government come up with this new clause and invite its discussion. For the sake of fair play to hon. Members from Ireland, I hope hon. Gentlemen opposite will support the Amendment of my hon. friend the Member for South Donegal if the Government do not accept it, and thus allow Irish Members the benefit of having, as it were, a Report stage of this Bill.
§ MR. HERBERT LEWIS (Flint Boroughs)
I hope the Government will consent to make this recommittal of the Bill one of a general character. During the discussion of this measure we have seen the most reasonable Amendments 127 constantly rejected. Surely it is not right to lay down that whatever the results may be or whatever injustice may follow, a measure must be carried verbatim et literatim in the particular form in which it is presented to the House. What is the House of Commons for if it is not to be allowed to make even the smallest and most reasonable amendment in the Bill? I disagree with the hon. Gentleman opposite who has stated that there is not enough intelligence on this side of the House to draw up such an Amendment as may be necessary to improve this Bill. The fact of the matter is that it is not a want of intelligence on this side of the House, but the difficulty is a want of scruple on the other side of the House. Unfortunately, this is the case also with another Bill. It was only the other day that a Minister said upstairs that an Amendment should not be allowed because, if it were accepted, the Report stage would follow. Ever since the commencement of this Parliament the Government have tried to prevent Bills being altered in order to save the Report stage. I trust that the Government, from a sense of ordinary justice and fair play, will allow Irish Members to discuss the rest of the Bill in the light of this clause, for which it is now proposed to re-commit the Bill. It appears to me that we are entering upon courses that are dangerous and which are verging upon being of an unconstitutional character. Of course, the Government have acted according to the rules of the House in what they have done, but it is for them to consider and decide whether, in keeping themselves strictly in order, they have not transgressed the rules of fairness which ought to govern every Administration.
§ MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)
I have to thank the hon. Member opposite for the support he has given us upon this Bill. The hon. Member for King's Lynn has reproached us in regard to our incapacity to persuade hon. Members opposite to support our Amendments, but how is that possible when hon. Members opposite were absent during the discussions, and only appeared when the division bell rang? I never met with a debater in Committee who was able to persuade hon. Members to forsake the smoke room, the tea room, or the terrace by the reasonableness of his Amendment, and we never 128 had any large body of hon. Members opposite listening to us when the Bill was discussed, except on the last night when the rule was suspended. On many occasions I counted the number of Members present on the benches opposite during the discussions, and they generally numbered about six. You cannot persuade the party opposite as to the reasonableness of any Amendments when there are only six of them present. It has been said that we have had a good many cases during the administration of the present Government of Bills being forced through the Committee verbatim et literatim for the purpose of avoiding the Report stage. In the case of this Bill a totally new practice has been instituted. In all previous cases, as far as my memory carries me, when a Bill was forced through the Committee without the alteration of a word or a comma, it was forced through on the ground that the Minister in charge maintained that no reasonable Amendment had been proposed by the Opposition. That was the only ground which could be put forward, What is the present case? That is not the ground in the present instance, because on the very first night of our debate the Government admitted that a reasonable Amendment had been proposed, and they promised to bring up a new clause during the Committee stage of the Bill. Although at a later date they refused all our Amendments, they admitted that upon this particular oceasion the point raised was worthy of their consideration, and would be dealt with during the Report stage. But what have the Government done now? In this respect they have started an absolutely new practice in this House. Having promised to meet these difficulties, when they saw themselves in sight of the promised land of no Report stage, they immediately withdrew their promises, and they sought by a dodge or a piece of strategy to sweep away and abolish the Report stage, because they saw that these Amendments could be put in by a recommittal of the Bill. I say that is an absolutely unheard-of practice. Hitherto, when the Government have admitted the necessity of an Amendment, they have been bound to deal with it in Committee or upon Report stage. This practice is one which may have very extraordinary developments. What is there to prevent a Radical Government doing the same 129 thing? What is there to prevent a Government admitting that five, six, or ten Amendments may be necessary in Committee, and saying they will consider them on the Report stage, and then forcing the Bill through without an Amendment, and thus escaping the Report stage by proposing a recommittal of the Bill? This is a deliberate attempt, for the first time in the history of the House of Commons, to cheat hon. Members, because we are a small minority, out of the rights which the Standing Orders of this House have given to us. That is a serious charge to make, but it is a perfectly true charge, and if this practice is persisted in it may be the starting point of an absolutely new practice. We have lost one or two stages of Bills already. The First Reading of a Bill is always taken under the ten minutes rule, and we are now threatened with a total abolition of the Report stage. If the present procedure is tolerated we shall soon be within measurable distance of a condition of things when there will only be the Second Reading and Committee stages of a Bill, with the possibility of a recommittal. I am surprised to sec Conservative Members and a Conservative Government taking such an active part in this mode of procedure. It has been said that a time may come when you will do what you accused the Volksraad of doing— namely, the flinging down of a Bill upon the Table of the House and passing a resolution, and then claiming that that resolution has the power of law. I shall not be surprised if I live to see the day when the Government will walk down to this House, place a Bill on the Table, and move "That this Bill be now made the law of the land." I think it is quite time that hon. Members of this House realised the position into which they are drifting. I do not think it will be in order now to deal with the nature of the recommittal, or discuss the question as to whether there ought to be a complete recommittal of the Bill. The Government motion is a curious one, and it reads as follows—To commit the Bill in respect of a new clause, and an Amendment to the schedule.I think that motion is slovenly drafted, because we do not know what the Amendment is. I should like to know, when a Bill is recommitted in respect of an Amendment, are we entitled to move any other Amendment? Is the Bill recommitted entirely, or are we confined to the 130 Amendment which actually stands on the Paper?
§ MR. DILLON
What I am not clear about is whether after the Bill is recommitted we shall be empowered to move any other Amendment. Supposing we were to recommit the Bill in respect to a. particular clause, would it be open to us to move any Amendment to that clause? When we recommit this Bill in respect to a particular Amendment have we the right to amend that Amendment? What I have to say in reference to the nature of the Government proposal will, of course, more fittingly come when the proposal of the Government is made. I have only this further remark to make, and it is that I distinctly understood the right hon. Gentleman to promise that this matter would be considered and dealt with on the Report stage, and as regards the words of the Chief Secretary there is no mistake about them, for he distinctly promised that the new clause would be dealt with in Committee at the end of the Bill.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. ATKINSON,) Londonderry, N.
said that the question referred to was the repealing of a certain clause under the Act of 1872, and what was promised was that if it was not already repealed a proposal to that effect would be made by the Government. Upon looking carefully into the matter he found that Clause 32 was repealed, and there was no necessity to introduce another clause.
§ MR. DILLON
said that what the Government had done on the present occasion had never been done in the House of Commons before, and upon that ground he strongly supported the Amendment of his hon. friend the Member for South Donegal. He hoped they would obtain the support of all hon. Members opposite who did not wish to see the procedure upon Bills in the House deprived of certain safeguards.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR,) Manchester, E.
I may say that my own personal view is that I do not like the practice of passing Bills through Grand Committee and then simply asking the House to pass the Third Reading, when the House as a whole has had no opportunity of doing 131 more than give its general assent. But it cannot be urged in the ease of this Bill that the House has had no opportunity of discussing its details. For four nights we have listened to the same old arguments, dressed up in the same old words, upon the details of the Bill, forming the most striking example of Parliamentary endurance that my recollection of House of Commons procedure furnishes. Hon. Gentlemen opposite have thought fit to attack the Government for what they choose to regard as something in the nature of a breach of' faith, or a violation of the privileges of the House. One would suppose that hon. Gentleman opposite were an oppressed minority, struggling against an unscrupulous and tyrannical Government; but the circumstances are exactly reversed. All the patience has been on our side, and all the wrong has been suffered by us. I do not wish to enter into any recriminations. I have had countless bargains across the floor of the House with hon. Gentlemen opposite when I was in much more acute political antagonism with them than I now am, and I have never had reason for complaint until the other night. I am perfectly certain hon. Gentlemen do not think they have agreed to and broken any bargain, or that they have any suspicion of an arrangement with the Government regarding the conduct of the Committee on this Bill; but the impression loft on my mind is that the hon. and learned Member for North Louth made a proposal which is now substantially embodied in the clause on the Paper, and suggested that, in consideration of the Government adopting his view, the proceedings on the Bill would be shortened, and he went so far as to suggest that they might even finish that night, and that the proposal of the Chief Secretary might be discussed on the Thursday. But the hon. Member for East Mayo then said, as was quite true, that the hon. and learned Member for North Louth had no right to bind the whole of the party. I then quite recognised that a too rigid interpretation ought not to be put on the suggestion of the
§ hon. and learned Member for North Louth, and that the debate might go on on the Wednesday, and that we would be able to bring up the new clause at a convenient hour on Thursday. As far as I know, nothing more was said, and the matter was left there. I do not wish to use the word "obstruction" at all, nor to have any controversy with hon. Gentlemen opposite, but the very moment the arrangement or the supposed arrangement was concluded they began to discuss the Bill with an assiduity, a perseverance and a power even of repetition which carried the discussion of the Bill not only over Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday, but until about half-past two o'clock on the Monday night. Thus, in making our concession to the hon. and learned Member for North Louth the Government have got no consideration. We had no desire to see this Amendment introduced. We offered it for value, and we never got the value. Therefore, if there is any complaint, and I am very fur from making any complaint, it is on the side of the Government, and not on the side of hon. Members opposite.
§ DR. AMBROSE (Mayo, W.)
We have just listened to one of the most extraordinary speeches which the House has heard during this session. The right hon. Gentleman has thought fit to criticise the speeches of the Irish Members on this very important Bill, and to say that they were repetitions. I should have thought that the more honourable course for the Government to adopt would be, as preliminary to the dissolution, to make it known to all concerned that the Tory Government—the strongest and most intelligent ever seen in this House—were granting relief to the Irish landlords. That would be making a clean breast of it. I must protest against the manner in which the Government have endeavoured to avoid discussion on the Report stage of this Bill.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 116; Noes, 81. (Division List No. 220.)133
|Arnold, Alfred||Bullard, Sir Harry||Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Colomb, Sir J. Charles Ready|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J.(Manch'r)||Cavendish, V. C. W.(Derbyshire)||Cook, Fred. Lucas (Lambeth)|
|Balfour, Rt Hn Gerald W. (Leeds)||Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Corbett, A. Cameron(Glasgow)|
|Barry, Rt. Hn. A. H. S.(Hunts.)||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. (Birm.)||Cornwallis, Fiennes Stanley W.|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Chamberlain, J. A. (Wore'r.)||Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton)|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H.(Bristol)||Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Cruddas, William Donaldson|
|Blakiston-Houston, John||Charrington, Spencer||Curzon, Viscount|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Clare, Octavius Leigh||Dalrymple, Sir Charles|
|Donkin, Richard Sim||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.||Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Lowe, Francis William||Sandys, Lieut.-Col. T. Myles|
|Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir Wm. Hart||Macartney, W. G. Ellison||Saunderson, Rt Hn. Col. Edw. J.|
|Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edw.||Macdona, John Cumming||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||M'Iver, Sir L. (Edinburgh, W.)||Sidebotham, J. W. (Cheshire)|
|Firbank, Joseph Thomas||Mellor, Colonel (Lancashire)||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Melville, Beresford Valentine||Smith, Abel H. (Christchurch)|
|Flower, Ernest||Milward, Colonel Victor||Smith, James Parker (Lanarks.)|
|Foster, Colonel (Lancaster)||Monckton, Edward Philip||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Godson, Sir Augustus Fredk.||Monk, Charles James||Spencer, Ernest|
|Goldsworthy, Major-General||Moon, Edward Robert Pacy||Stanley, Hon Arthur(Ormskirk)|
|Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Morgan, Hon. F. (Monm'thsh.)||Stanley, Edward J. (Somerset)|
|Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon||Morrison, Walter||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Morton, Arthur H. A. (Deptford)||Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier|
|Green, Walford D. (Wednesbury)||Mount, William George||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Greene, H. D. (Shrewsbury)||Muntz, Philip A.||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Hamilton, Rt. Hn. Lord George||Murray, Rt. Hon. A. G. (Bute)||Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray|
|Hanbury, Rt. Hn. Robt. Wm.||Nicol, Donald Ninian||Vincent, Sir E. (Exeter)|
|Haslett, Sir James Horner||O'Connor, Arthur (Donegal)||Wanklyn, James Leslie|
|Henderson, Alexander||Percy, Earl||Warr, Augustus Frederick|
|Hermon-Hodge, Robert T.||Phillpotts, Captain Arthur||Welby, Lt- Col A. C. E. (Taunton)|
|Hornby, Sir William Henry||Pierpoint, Robert||Whiteley, H.(Ashton-under-L.)|
|Houston, R. P.||Pilkington, R. (Lancs. Newton)||Williams, J. Powell- (Birm.)|
|Howard, Joseph||Plate-Higgins, Frederick||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Hutton, John (Yorks, N. R.)||Purvis, Robert||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath)|
|Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick||Pym, C. Guy||Wylie, Alexander|
|King, Sir Henry Seymour||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne||Wyndham, George|
|Lawrence, Sir E Durning- (Corn)||Rentoul, James Alexander|
|Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Leighton, Stanley||Royds, Clement Molyneux||Sir William Walrond and|
|Llewelyn, Sir Dillwyn-(Swans.)||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)||Mr. Anstruther.|
|Abraham, Wm. (Cork, N. E.)||Evans, Samuel T.(Glamorgan)||O'Kelly, James|
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Fenwick, Charles||O'Malley, William|
|Ambrose, Robert||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Pickersgill, Edward Hare|
|Austin, M. (Limerick, W.)||Flynn, James Christopher||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Goddard, Daniel Ford||Provand, Andrew Dryburgh|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Gourley, Sir Edw. Temperley||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Billson, Alfred||Griffith, Ellis J.||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Birrell, Augustine||Harwood, George||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Blake, Edward||Hedderwick, Thomas C. H.||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)|
|Brigg, John||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H.||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Holland, William Henry||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)|
|Burns, John||Horniman, Frederick John||Tanner, Charles Kearns|
|Burt, Thomas||Jones, David Brynmor (Swans'a)||Tennant, Harold John|
|Caldwell, James||Jones, William (Carnarvons.)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Cawley, Frederick||Langley, Batty||Ure, Alexander|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cumb l'nd)||Wallace, Robert|
|Colville, John||Lewis, John Herbert||Wedderburn, Sir William|
|Commins, Andrew||Macaleese, Daniel||Weir, James Galloway|
|Crean, Eugene||MacDonnell Dr. MA (Queen's C.)||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Crilly, Daniel||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Williams, John Carvell (Notts.)|
|Curran, Thomas B. (Donegal)||M'Dermott, Patrick||Wilson, Henry J.(York, W. R.)|
|Curran, Thomas (Sligo, S.)||M'Ghee, Richard||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Dalziel, James Henry||M'Leod, John||Wilson, Jos. H. (Middlesbro')|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Maddison, Fred||Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)|
|Dillon, John||Molloy, Bernard Charles||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Doogan, P. C.||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Duckworth, James||O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.)||Captain Donelan and|
|Emmott, Alfred||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Mr.Patrick O'Brien.|
Question put and agreed to.
§ Bill re-committed in respect of the New Clause (Exclusion of certain annuities and rent-charges), and the Amendment to the Schedule.
§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ [Mr. J. W. LOWTHER, Cumberland, Penrith, in the Chair.]134
(1) Section one of this Act shall not apply to any annual sum charged upon land the fee simple of which has after the creation of such charge and before the thirteenth day of April one thousand eight hundred and ninety-six been conveyed to a purchaser on a sale.
(2) Sections three and four of this Act shall not apply to any tithe rent-charge payable to the Land Commission out of hereditaments the fee simple of which has after the tenth day of August one thousand eight hundred and seventy - two and before the
twelfth day of May one thousand eight hundred and ninety-nine been conveyed to a purchaser on a sale.
(3) For the purpose of showing that this section does not apply a statutory declaration or such other evidence as the Land Commission may require shall be prima facie, evidence.
(4) This section shall not extend to a mortgage or a marriage or other family settlement or arrangement."—(Mr. G. W. Halfour.)
—brought up, and read the first time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the clause be read a second time."
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. G. W. BALFOUR,) Leeds, Central
The principle of the clause is that purchasers purchasing after certain dates may be supposed to have purchased with notice of change, and consequently they should not be entitled to benefit under the Bill. There are really three parties to be considered: the vendor, the purchaser of the estate, and the Church Fund. Strictly speaking, it is to the vendor that the benefit should go, but that is not possible, and it remains, therefore, to decide whether the Church Fund or the purchaser shall have the benefit. The clause provides that the benefit shall be given to the Church Fund rather than to the purchaser. The date mentioned in the first sub-section is the date on which the Land Bill of 1896 was introduced, when notice was given to all and sundry that the Government proposed to reduce the annuities to be discharged by the Land Commission from fifty - two years to forty - five. The second date mentioned in the second sub-section is the date of the introduction of the Tithe Rent Bill last year, which might be taken as notice to purchasers that the change we are now making by this Bill would be introduced. I think there is a great deal to be said for the proposal of the Member for North Louth, and I recognised that when I undertook to put down this Amendment; but I think it is rather doubtful if the additional gain to the Church Fund will be balanced by the introduction of a complicating provision.
§ MR. DILLON
The right hon. Gentleman seems to be awaking for the first time to the fact that the complications of this 136 Bill are a matter of some concern. The Bill is complicated from beginning to end. The proper way to have dealt with the subject would have been by a Bill of one short simple clause making a charge on the Church Fund of a million and a half of money to be expended among the Irish landlords. That would carry out the proposal in the present Bill without any complications, and that has been the practice adopted with reference to other charges on the Fund, such as the charge for Intermediate Education and the Congested Districts Board.
§ MR. DILLON
I am not discussing the whole Bill. I am merely referring to the complaint of the Chief Secretary that a. fresh complication has been introduced. It is equivalent to suggesting that by throwing a bucket of water into the sea there is danger of creating a flood.
* THE CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member is reverting to a discussion of the Bill, which he says is complicated. He must confine himself to the one clause before the Committee.
§ MR. DILLON
I have no desire to enter on a discussion of the whole Bill at all. I was pointing out, in reply to an argument used by the right hon. Gentleman himself, that really an additional complication is of no matter. May I point out to the right hon. Gentleman that he has passed over altogether Sub-section 4, which I confess I am absolutely unable to understand. It says: "This section shall not extend to a mortgage or a marriage "—
§ MR. DILLON
I am still in doubt as to its purport. What has a mortgage got to do with a tithe rent-charge? The Attorney General for Ireland laughs scornfully, but I am only an ignorant layman and really I cannot understand the meaning of this sub-section. It is all very well for Gentlemen learned in the law to sneer, but any ordinary Member of the House of Commons is perfectly entitled to the explanation I now ask for.
§ MR. ATKINSON
The sub-section provides for the exclusion of a mortgage: or a marriage or other family settlement 137 from this section. It would be ridiculous because a mortgage was made in 1872 that the owner of the land should be prevented from having his tithe fixed now, or that the existence of a family settlement should have a similar result.
§ * SIR J. COLOMB (Great Yarmouth)
said he only rose to ask a question, but as the Ministerial Bench was empty he did not see the use of putting his question at that time, and would therefore defer it.
§ MR. FLYNN
said that as he understood the clause it would not apply to the annuities and tithe rent charges before 1896. It applied to the annuities and tithe rent-charges created after the 13th April, 1896. The exclusion could not apply to those who purchased under the Land Purchase Act, because the Act of 1886 made their position clear, but it did apply to a section of purchasers to whom attention had been drawn in the earlier stages of the Bill— namely, those persons who purchased the holdings over the heads of the tenants who were seeking to purchase under the 40th section of the Land Purchase Act. They got the benefit of the reduction of the tithe rent-charge, as also did insurance companies who foreclosed upon the estate of a tenant proprietor who got into difficulties and became the owners of it. Those surely should be excluded. There was another class of purchaser who ought also to be excluded. Oases like that of Lord Ardilaun, for instance, who would get all the benefit of the reduction of the tithe rent-charge, because he purchased his estate after the date mentioned in the section. But the estate was purchased subject to the tithe rent-charge, and with the full knowledge that that charge was a certain sum, and the owner never sup posed there would be another largo reduction of the tithe rent-charge. Yet it was intended to give this wealthy family—who purchased the property to obtain a status in the country, more than anything else—the full benefits of the reduction, or, in other words, to present them, out of the Irish Church Fund, with seven years tithe rent-charge. Was it reasonable that Lord Ardilaun should get the benefit of an Act which, whether it was good or bad, was certainly never intended to relieve people of that class? The tenant purchasers could not be interfered with, they were not damnified in any way, but there were many estates to which it was thought and hoped the 138 40th section would apply to which it had not applied, and the poor unfortunate tenants had been chivied from one place to another. There were some cases where the offer of the tenant had not been considered enough, and another person, having the knowledge of the amount the tenant had offered, was allowed to purchase the property over his head, with the full knowledge of what the tithe-rent charge was, and he also got the benefit of this Act.
Attention called to the fact that forty Members were not present (Mr. FLAVIN, Kerry, N.). House counted, and, forty Members being found present—
* THE CHAIRMAN
pointed out that before the Amendment could be moved the clause must be read a second time.
§ * SIR J. COLOMB
said that he would now take the opportunity of putting a question to which he had referred earlier in the evening. The tenants who had purchased under the Ashbourne Act, and were paying the tithe rent-charge, would by the operation of this Bill be excluded from any benefit they would otherwise obtain if the clause passed, and if that was so they would not feel any obligation to hon. Gentlemen opposite through whose attitude the clause was initiated. If the clause was going to operate in that way he asked that it might be withdrawn.
§ MR. G. W. BALFOUR
said that the hon. Gentleman had stated that any tenant purchaser who had purchased under the 40th Clause of the Land Purchase Act, and at the same time had not redeemed the tithe, would lose all benefit under the Bill. He did not know there were many of those cases, although undoubtedly there were some. The general practice had been to redeem the 139 tithe at the time of purchase. He had no desire to press the clause, which he had only brought forward because he had given an undertaking to do so. If hon. Gentlemen opposite were of opinion that there was no benefit in it he should certainly not press it.
§ * SERJEANT HEMPHILL
thought the clause was a good one in principle, although, when it had been read a second time, there were one or two Amendments to which he should call attention. He believed there would be a great deal of disappointment in Ireland if the clause were to be withdrawn, and although it was not so perfect as he would have liked to have seen it he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would proceed to the Second Reading of the clause.
§ MR. G. W. BALFOUR
said there was no use in proceeding with the Second Reading of the clause after the expression of opinion opposite.
§ * SERJEANT HEMPHILL
said as he understood the remarks of the hon. Gentleman below the gangway, he had no desire to withdraw the clause altogether.
§ MR. HERBERT LEWIS
was of opinion that this was not a question for Irish Members alone. The clause as it stood increased the security of the British taxpayer. Though he should support the clause as it stood, he should also support the Amendment of the hon. Member for North Cork, for the reason that he failed to understand why those who purchased a month or two ago should be placed in a better position than those who purchased in earlier years. He thought that the clause might be accepted by everybody, but at the same time hon. Members had a right to endeavour to amend what appeared to be a very great blot upon it. Why should those who purchased within the last few months be placed in a better position than those who purchased ten or fifteen years ago? The dividing line ought to be the date of the Bill.
§ MR. POWER (Waterford, E.), who was indistinctly heard, said very few of those who purchased under the Land Purchase Bill would be affected, for the reason 140 that it was the invariable practice of the Land Commission to take twenty years purchase for the tithes, and it was only in very few cases that the tenant proprietors were liable for the tithe rent-charge. With regard to the Amendments which had been made, they were naturally anxious to preserve the fund from being frittered away for purposes for which it was not intended.
§ * SERJEANT HEMPHILL
said he had given notice of an Amendment which was not on the Paper. His right hon. and learned friend would recollect that the Tithe Rent-charge Act applied not only to fee simple land but also to what was described in the Tithe Rent-charge Act as equivalent estates in land. The clause in this Bill as it now stood would only apply to fee simple land, and the object of his Amendment was to make it apply also to equivalent estates.
In line 2, after the word 'which,' to insert the words' or any estate equivalent to a perpetual estate or [interest within the meaning of I and 2 Vic, c. 109.' "—(Serjt, Hemphill.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. ATKINSON
said he did not see any objection to his hon. friend's Amendment, but at the same time the words of the Amendment would have to be altered.
§ * SERJEANT HEMPHILL
said if the right hon. Gentleman could suggest more appropriate words he would not at all object.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ MR. FLYNN, in moving the Amendment standing in his name, said that he thought the insertion of the date was a matter that would give the benefits of the Act to those for whom they were not intended. Those who purchased after 13th April, 1896, would get the benefit of the reduction of the tithe rent-charge by seven years instalments. He was anxious to get to the Third Reading of the Bill, and therefore he would content himself with moving the Amendment.
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the clause."
§ MR. G. W. BALFOUR,
in opposing the Amendment, stated that a purchaser of an estate must be assumed to have had full notice of the charges upon it. In 1896 the principle was laid down that the term of fifty-two years would be reduced to forty-five, and those who purchased estates subsequently expected that reduction. That was a consideration which ought to be taken into account. It appeared to him that all the arguments that might be urged against the clause as a whole might also be urged against this limitation of the clause.
§ MR. DILLON
said the position taken up by the right hon. Gentleman was very singular. He said that on the Second Reading of the Bill in 1896 be stated in the course of his speech that it was the intention of the Government to alter the condition with regard to the fifty-two annual instalments, and to knock off' seven years, and that therefore a purchaser coming after that date had due notice of the intention of the Government. A more preposterous objection never was submitted to the House of Commons. He would illustrate the absurdity of the position. He held in his hand the famous Treasury Memorandum with respect to tithe rent-charge in Ireland, which was issued on 19th August, 1895, and signed by R. W. Hanbury, the present Secretary to the Treasury. That was far more important than the speech of the Chief Secretary for Ireland in that House. The Memorandum pointed out that it would be most unjust and un reasonable to expect that the fifty-two years instalments would be reduced. The thing was dealt with in an argumentative fashion, and the Treasury put down its foot and announced in a solemn form in a Memorandum that they would not reduce the fifty-two years instalments. The Treasury gave reasons, which he need not again read out, why it would be unjust and inexpedient to consent to this reduction. The position of the right hon. Gentleman was this: although the British Treasury issued this solemn Memorandum, the speech he subsequently made threw overboard the Treasury, and announced that the then Government 142 had the intention of reducing the instalments. That was a perfectly preposterous contention, and he could not understand how the right hon. Gentleman proposed to base so important a clause, or provision in this new clause, on such a flimsy argument as that. He knew himself two cases that would be affected by this clause, and there might be others. There had not been many sales of land on a large scale since 1896. The cases he referred to were connected with the estates of Lord Ardilaun and the Duke of Devonshire. This proposal of the right hon. Gentleman would have the effect of exempting Lord Ardilaun from the provisions of the section—in other words, of giving Lord Ardilaun the advantage of the clause. That was a very extraordinary thing to do for Lord Ardilaun, but it said a great deal for the Christian charity of the right hon. Gentleman. Lord Ardilaun was worth a million and a half of money.
§ MR. DILLON
Say a couple of millions. He purchased a large estate in Killarney, but the extraordinary thing was that he also purchased the Daily Express with part of his money, and it was pouring out on the right hon. Gentleman the most vile abuse. The right hon. Gentleman was insisting on this proviso in spite of the fact that Lord Ardilaun devoted a large sum of money to opposing him. He (Mr. Dillon) trusted that his hon. friend would persist in the Amendment and go to a division upon it.
§ * SERJEANT HEMPHILL
said that this Amendment was really important. The Amendment could not possibly affect those who purchased under the Act of 1896, because their tithe rent-charge was fixed under that Act. Therefore, the section about reducing the term from fifty-two years to forty-five years would not apply to them, because they were not interested in annuities terminable at the end of fifty-two years. If they looked at the Act they would see how the matter stood. The Land Purchase Act of 1887, in Section 15, provided that the Land Commission might, if they thought it expedient, order the redemption of any tithe rent - charge at a, price to be fixed by the Land Commission, and that they might also order (Subsection 3) that any such redemption of 143 tithe rent-charge payable to the Commission should be made, without the previous consent of the Commissioners, to the Treasury. The Act of 1896, Section 37, provided that where the Land Commission, in pursuance of Section 15 of the Land Act of 1887, ordered the redemption of tithe rent-charge at a price of not less than twenty times the amount of such tithe rent-charge, the consent of the Treasury should not be required for such redemption. The Act further provided that the foregoing enactment should not apply to any annual sum payable under Section 32 of the Irish Church Act, 1869, and as amended by any other Act; but the Land Commission might order the
§ redemption of such tithe rent-charge at a sum calculated on the basis of the annual sum, being for the term of forty-five instead of fifty-two years. That was where, he apprehended, the forty-five years period was got. Any tenant who bought under that Act had the tithe redeemed on these terms and was subject only to the annual charge, which was terminable at the expiration of forty-five years and not fifty-two years. he thought that completely disposed of any objection there could be to this Amendment.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 122; Noes, 88. (Division List No. 221.)145
|Arnold, Alfred||Hamilton, Rt. Hon Lord George||Rankin, Sir James|
|Arrol, Sir William||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert Wm.||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Haslett, Sir James Horner||Remnant, James Fanquharson|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Man)||Helder, Augustus||Ridley, Rt. Hon. Sir M. W.|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. G.W. (Leeds)||Henderson, Alexander||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)|
|Barry, Rt. Hn. A H Smith-(Hunts)||Hermon-Hodge, Robert Trott'r||Rothschild, Hon. Lionel W.|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Hobhouse, Henry||Round, James|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Bristol)||Hornby, Sir William Henry||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Blakiston-Houston, John||Houston, R, P.||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)|
|Bond, Edward||Hutton, John (Yorks., N. R.)||Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)|
|Brassey, Albert||Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick||Sandys, Lt.-Col. Thos. Myles|
|Bullard, Sir Harry||Jessel, Capt. Herbert Merton||Saunderson, Rt. Hon. Col. E. J.|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbys.)||Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Hertford, East)||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William||Sidebotham, J. W. (Cheshire)|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||King, Sir Henry Seymour||Sidebottom, T. Harrop (Stalyb.)|
|Charrington, Spencer||Lawrence, Sir E Durning-(C'rn.)||Sidebottom, William (Derbysh.)|
|Clare, Octavius Leigh||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)||Skewes-Cox, Thomas|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Leighton, Stanley||Smith, Abel H. (Christchurch)|
|Colomb, Sir John Ch. Ready||Llewelyn, Sir Dillwyn-(Swans.)||Smith, James P. (Lanarks.)|
|Cook, Fred. Lucas (Lambeth)||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Spencer, Ernest|
|Cornwallis, Fiennes Stanley W.||Lowe, Francis William||Stanley, Hon. A. (Ormskirk)|
|Cross, Herbert S. (Bolton)||Lowles, John||Stephens, Henry Charles|
|Cruddas, William Donaldson||Macartney, W. G. Ellison||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Curzon, Viscount||Macdona, John Gumming||Strauss, Arthur|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Mellor, Colonel (Lancashire)||Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier|
|Donkin, Richard Sim||Melville, Beresford Valentine||Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. M.|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Monckton, Edward Philip||Vincent, Sir Edgar (Exeter)|
|Fellowes, Hn. Ailwyn Edward||Moon, Edward Robert Pacy||Wanklyn, James Leslie|
|Finch, George H.||Morrison, Walter||Warr, Augustus Frederick|
|Finlay, Sir Robt. Bannatyne||Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)||Welby, Lt.-Col. A. C. E. (Tn't'n)|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Mount, William George||Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon-|
|Flower, Ernest||Muntz, Philip A.||Wharton, Rt. Hon. J. Lloyd|
|Foster, Colonel (Lancaster)||Murray, Rt. Hon. A. G. (Bute)||Williams, Jos. Powell- (Birm)|
|Garfit, William||Nicol, Donald Ninian||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Godson, Sir Augustus Frederick||Peel, Hn. Wm. Rbt. Wellesley||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R.(Bath)|
|Goldsworthy, Major-General||Phillpotts, Captain Arthur||Wylie, Alexander|
|Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Pierpoint, Robert||Wyndham, George|
|Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon||Platt-Higgins, Frederick|
|Goschen, George J. (Sussex)||Pollock, Harry Frederick||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Greene, Henry D. (Shrewsbury)||Purvis, Robert||Sir William Walrond and|
|Gull, Sir Cameron||Pym, C. Guy||Mr. Anstruther.|
|Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.)||Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Burt, Thomas|
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Billson, Alfred||Caldwell, James|
|Allison, Robert Andrew||Birrell, Augustine||Carvill, Patrick Geo. Hamilton|
|Ambrose, Robert||Blake, Edward||Cawley, Frederick|
|Austin, M. (Limerick, W.)||Brigg, John||Channing, Francis Allston|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Broadhurst, Henry||Commins, Andrew|
|Crean, Eugene||Jones, David B. (Swansea)||Redmond, J. E. (Waterford)|
|Crilly, Daniel||Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire)||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Curran, Thomas B. (Donegal)||Langley, Batty||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)|
|Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan)||Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cumb'land)||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Lewis, John Herbert||Shaw, T (Hawick Burghs)|
|Dillon, John||Macaleese, Daniel||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Doogan, P. C.||MacDonnell, Dr. M. A. (Qn'sC.)||Sullivan, T. D. (Donegal, W.)|
|Duckworth, James||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Tanner, Charles Kearns|
|Emmott, Alfred||M'Arthur, William (Cornwall)||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)|
|Evans, Samuel T.(Glamorgan)||M'Dermott, Patrick||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Evershed, Sydney||M'Ghee, Richard||Ure, Alexander|
|Fenwick, Charles||M'Leod, John||Walton, J. Lawson (Leeds, S.)|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Maddison, Fred.||Wason, Eugene|
|Flynn, James Christopher||Molloy, Bernard Charles||Wedderburn, Sir William|
|Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Williams, John Carvell(Notts.)|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)||Wilson, Henry J.(York, W. R.)|
|Gourley, Sir Edward Temperley||O'Connor, Arthur (Donegal)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Griffith, Ellis J.||O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.)||Wilson, John (Govan)|
|Harwood, George||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)|
|Hazell, Walter||O'Kelly, James||Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)|
|Hedderwick, Thomas Chas. H.||O'Malley, William|
|Hemphill, Rt. Hon Charles H.||Pickersgill, Edward Hare||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Holland, William Henry||Pilkington, Sir G. A (Lancs S.W.)||Captain Donelan and|
|Horniman, Frederick John||Power, Patrick Joseph||Mr.Patrick O'Brien.|
|Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)||Provand, Andrew Dry burgh|
§ MR. FLYNN
moved to omit the words "the twelfth day of May one thousand eight hundred and ninety-nine" in order to insert "the passing of this Act." The section was to apply to all rent-charges created since a certain date and before the 12th May, 1899. The reason given for selecting the latter date was that last year the Government stated their intention of bringing in a Tithes Bill, and therefore the benefit of the reduction of the tithe rent-charge should be given to all who purchased after that date. The announcement of the introduction of a Tithes Bill was made by the Chief Secretary, who was not even a member of the Cabinet; and surely it was stretching the doctrine of Ministerial responsibility much too far to argue that that was a sufficient reason for saying that those who purchased since that date should receive the benefits of the Act. How did the purchasers know the present Government would remain in power, or that, after their experience in regard to the agricultural rates, they would have the temerity to go on with such a measure as the present, which was nothing more nor less than taking money from a public fund and handing it over to the Irish landlords? The Nationalist Members desired to limit the harm to be done by the Bill as much as possible, and to give the benefits to purchasers since May, 1899, was an altogether unnecessary extension of the provision. The only argument put forward in defence of the proposal was that on that date the Chief Secretary made a speech in reference to a Bill which was not proceeded with But how many 146 people read the right hon. Gentleman's speeches? It was absurd to suppose that the whole of the population of Ireland read the speeches of the Chief Secretary, and, while the Bill bristled with absurdities, this topped everything. The Amendment was very reasonable and moderate, and should commend itself to the Committee, even if it did not to the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill.
In line 8, to leave out from the word 'before,' to the word' been,' in line 9, and insert the words 'the passing of this Act,' instead thereof."—(Mr. Flynn.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the clause."
§ MR. G. W. BALFOUR
said the principle of the clause depended entirely on the fact that on a certain date purchasers of land received notice that it was the intention of the Government to make certain changes which were included in this Bill. It had been urged that he attached undue importance to his speeches, but when he made the announcement referred to he was expressing not merely his own view, but the deliberate opinion of the Cabinet on the subject. Under those circumstances it was absurd to maintain that purchasers of land would not purchase having regard to what the Government intended to do in respect of tithes.
§ MR. DILLON
contended that the principle laid down by the Chief Secre- 147 tary, that the announcement of the intentions of the Government was to be taken as governing the price of a commodity, was one entirely unheard of. To say that if a Minister made an announcement of an intention of the Government that was absolute proof that that intention would be carried out was most extraordinary. The fate of Governments was very uncertain, and even the present Administration with its great majority had broken down in the attempt to carry out certain intentions they had announced with much more solemnity than was ever the case with regard to tithes. Not one in a hundred of the English Members of the House would ever have remembered that such an announcement had been made. In regard to the Education Bill an announcement was made in the early days of the Government, when they had the world before them, and a majority of 150 behind them, but although the Prime Minister and the Leader of the House pledged themselves to that Bill it was never carried into law. It was now maintained that because in the fifth year of the existence of the Government, when they were beginning to become decrepit with age, the Chief Secretary announced that a certain Bill would be introduced, every purchaser of land in Ireland was solemnly warned of the intention of the Government and increased his price. A
§ more grotesque or flimsy argument had never been placed before the House of Commons in support of or in opposition to any Amendment. He was not supporting this proposal because it was one directed against the landlords. As a matter of fact, it would hit more tenant proprietors than landlords, but he supported it because he believed it was fair and reasonable. The right hon. Gentleman was exhibiting the same unreasonable, irrational, and cantankerous spirit that he had shown throughout the whole course of the debates. On a previous occasion it was said there had been an honourable understanding arrived at that the Committee stage should be obtained on a certain evening, and that he had been guilty of a breach of that understanding. That was not the fact, because at the time he pointed out that the hon. and learned Member for North Louth spoke only for himself, and that so far as he (Mr. Dillon) and his friends were concerned, the date would depend a great deal on the attitude taken up by the Government in regard to concessions. No concessions were made, and the debates were therefore prolonged. They were now being met in exactly the same spirit, and it was evident that no Amendment whatever coming from the Irish benches was to be accepted.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 140; Noes, 96. (Division List No. 222.)149
|Arrol, Sir William||Cornwallis, Fiennes Stanley W.||Hardy, Laurence|
|Atkinson. Right Hon. John||Cox, Irwin Edw. Bainbridge||Haslett, Sir James Horner|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r.)||Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton)||Henderson, Alexander|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. Gerald W. (Leeds)||Curzon, Viscount||Hoare, Sir Samuel (Norwich)|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Dalkeith, Earl of||Hobhouse, Henry|
|Barry Rt. Hn. A H Smith-(Hants)||Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Houston, R. P.|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Donkin, Richard Sim||Hutton, John (Yorks, N. R.)|
|Beach, Rt. Hon. Sir M. H. (Bristol)||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick|
|Bill, Charles||Douglas-Pennant, Hon. E. S.||Jessel, Capt. Herbert Merton|
|Blakiston-Houston, John||Dyke, Rt. Hn. Sir William Hart||Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William.|
|Bond, Edward||Finch, George H.||King, Sir Henry Seymour|
|Brassey, Albert||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Knowles, Lees|
|Bullard, Sir Henry||Fisher, William Hayes||Lawrence, Sir E Durning-(Corn)|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Flower, Ernest||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks)|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derby.)||Foster, Colonel (Lancaster)||Lecky, Rt. Hon. William Edw H|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Hertford, East)||Fry, Lewis||Leighton, Stanley|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Garfit, William||Llewelyn, Sir Dillwyn- (Swan.)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J.(Birm.)||Godson, Sir Augustus Frederick||Lockwood, Lt. -Col. A. R.|
|Chamberlain, J. Austen (Worc'r)||Goldsworthy, Major-General||Long, Col. Charles W. (Evesham)|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Lonsdale, John Brownlee|
|Charrington, Spencer||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon||Lowe, Francis William|
|Clare, Octavius Leigh||Goschen, George J. (Sussex)||Lowles, John|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Greene, H. D. (Shrewsbury)||Macartney, W. G. Ellison|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Greville, Hon. Ronald||Macdona, John Gumming|
|Colomb, Sir John Charles R.||Gull, Sir Cameron||Manners, Lord Edward W. J.|
|Cook, Fred. Lucas (Lambeth)||Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord George||Mellor, Colonel (Lancashire)|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert Wm.||Melville, Beresford Valentine|
|Monckton, Edward Philip||Remnant, James Farquharson||Stephens, Henry Charles|
|Morgan, Hn. Fred. (Monmthsh.)||Ridley, Rt. Hon. Sir M. W.||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Morrison, Walter||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)||Strauss, Arthur|
|Morton, Arthur H. A. (Deptford)||Rothschild, Hon. Lionel Walter||Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier|
|Mount, William George||Round, James||Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray|
|Muntz, Philip A.||Royds, Clement Molyneux||Vincent, Sir Edgar (Exeter)|
|Murray, Rt. Hn. A. Graham (Bute)||Russell, Gen. F. S. (Cheltenham)||Welby, Lt.-Cl. A. C. E. (Taunt'n)|
|Nicholson, William Graham||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)||Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon-|
|Nicol, Donald Ninian||Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)||Wharton, Rt. Hn. John Lloyd|
|Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlingt'n)||Saunderson, Rt. Hn. Col. E. J.||Williams, J. Powell- (Birm.)|
|Peel, Hon. Wm. Robert W.||Sharpe, William Edward T.||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Phillpotts, Captain Arthur||Sidebotham, J. W. (Cheshire)||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh, N.)|
|Pierpoint, Robert||Sidebottom, William (Derbys.)||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath)|
|Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Simeon, Sir Barrington||Wylie, Alexander|
|Pollock, Harry Frederick||Skewes-Cox, Thomas||Wyndham, George|
|Pretyman, Ernest George||Smith, Abel H. (Christchurch)||Wyvill, Marmaduke D'Arcy|
|Purvis, Robert||Smith, J. Parker (Lanarks.)|
|Pym, C. Guy||Smith, Hon. W. F. D.(Strand)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Rankin, Sir James||Spencer, Ernest||Sir William Walrond and|
|Rasch, Major Frederic Carne||Stanley, Edward Jas (Somerset)||Mr. Anstruther.|
|Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.)||Goddard, Daniel Ford||O'Kelly, James|
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Gourley, Sir Edw. Temperley||O'Malley, William|
|Allison, Robert Andrew||Griffith, Ellis J.||Paulton, James Mellor|
|Ambrose, Robert||Harwood, George||Pearson, Sir Weetman D.|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Hazell, Walter||Pickersgill, Edward Hare|
|Austin, M. (Limerick, W.)||Hemphill Rt. Hon. Charles H.||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Hogan, James Francis||Provand, Andrew Dryburgh|
|Billson, Alfred||Holland, William Henry||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Birrell, Augustine||Horniman, Frederick John||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Blake, Edward||Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Brigg, John||Jameson, Major J. Eustace||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Joicey, Sir James||Samuel, J. (Stockton on Tees)|
|Burt, Thomas||Jones, D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)|
|Caldwell, James||Jones, W. (Carnarvonshire)||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick, B.)|
|Carvill, Patrick G. Hamilton||Kay-Shuttleworth, Rt. Hn. Sir U.||Smith, Samuel (Flint)|
|Cawley, Frederick||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'land)||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Lewis, John Herbert||Sullivan, T. D. (Donegal, W.)|
|Commins, Andrew||Macaleese, Daniel||Tanner, Charles Kearns|
|Crean, Eugene||MacDonnell, Dr. M. A. (Q'n's C.)||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)|
|Crilly, Daniel||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Curran, Thomas (Sligo, S.)||M' Arthur, William (Cornwall)||Ure, Alexander|
|Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan)||M'Dermott, Patrick||Walton, John Lawson (Leeds, S.)|
|Dillon, John||M'Ghee, Richard||Wason, Eugene|
|Doogan, P. C.||M'Leod, John||Wedderburn, Sir William|
|Emmott, Alfred||Maddison, Fred.||Williams, J. Carvell- (Notts.)|
|Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan)||Mellor, Rt. Hn. J. W. (Yorks.)||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)|
|Evershed, Sydney||Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Fenwick, Charles||Molloy, Bernard Charles||Wilson, John (Govan)|
|Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)||Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)|
|Flynn, James Christopher||O'Connor, Arthur (Donegal)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.)||Captain Donelan and|
|Fox, Dr. Joseph Francis||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Mr. Patrick O'Brien.|
§ Clause, as amended, added.
§ Schedule: —
In page 5, line 8, to leave out from beginning of line to end of schedule."—(Mr. G. W. Balfour.)
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON (Dundee)
asked the right hon. Gentleman to explain why it was proposed to leave out these words. He wished the Committee to understand that this appeal which it was now proposed to exclude was identically the same in substance as the appeal in Clause 4. He put it to 150 the Attorney General in Committee whether the effect of Clause 4 was not to repeal the whole of Section 7, except in regard to the definition of the word "owner," which it was necessary to retain. He understood the Attorney General to accept that view as being correct. If that was so, what they did in the schedule was exactly what he suggested would be the effect of the original clause in the Bill. If there was to be any choice he thought the words of the schedule were the best.
§ MR. ATKINSON
replied that this was simply a consequential Amendment 151 rendered necessary by the introduction of the new clause.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Schedule, as amended, agreed to.
§ Bill reported; as amended, considered.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."
§ * MR. ASQUITH (Fifeshire, E.)
The English and Scottish Members of the House have been content for the most part to leave the discussion of the details of this measure to hon. Gentlemen who come from the other side of St. George's Channel; and if the Bill were confined in most of its provisions to the question of lay tithe, mischievous as I believe them to be in principle and indefensible in method, I for one should have been satisfied with recording a silent vote against the third reading. Lay tithe always has been, and is still, a variable quantity. It is for the most part, at any rate, a payment made by one set of private persons to another; and any scheme of readjustment is a matter in which the taxpayers of Great Britain have very little direct concern. But when we come to the provisions of the Bill which deal with the ecclesiastical tithe they present a totally different aspect. The admitted effect— and I take my stand on the statements made by the Chief Secretary himself—of the provisions of this Bill, in so far as ecclesiastical tithe is concerned, is that they will involve a considerable immediate and a much larger prospective encroachment on the fund of the Irish Church; a fund created by the Legislature, for the administration of which it cannot divest itself of responsibility, which was solemnly dedicated by Parliament to the relief of unavoidable calamity and suffering in Ireland, and which is at this moment the only security for very large advances made at the risk of the Imperial taxpayer out of the Imperial Exchequer. I am, therefore, under no necessity to apologise—although this seems at first sight a purely Irish question—for asking the attention of the House for a few moments to this aspect of the Bill. The Irish Church Fund will be invaded, and will be curtailed in two distinct ways if this measure passes into law. I apologise for repeating proposi- 152 tions which have been so frequently put to the House in the course of this debate. In the first place, where tithe rent-charge has been in effect redeemed, the Bill proposes to reduce the number of years during which the purchase annuity has to run from fifty-two to forty-five years, or in other words, by something like one-seventh, with the acknowledged consequence that after a certain lapse of time there will be a loss to the capital value of the Church Fund approaching 1½ million. This fact has been admitted by the Chief Secretary himself. How was the term of fifty-two years, for which it is now proposed to substitute forty-five years originally fixed? It was fixed by the Irish Church Act of 1869, and when the proposal was made by Mr. Gladstone that the Irish tithe-payer—which, of course, means practically the Irish landlord—should be allowed to redeem this perpetual annual charge by an annuity spread over fifty-two years, it was indignantly denounced, and by no one with more vehemence than by the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, not because it imposed an undue burden upon the Irish landlord, but, on the contrary, because it involved a scandalous injustice to the Irish Church. It was said by the right hon. Gentleman that it was a unique combination of sacrilege and bribery—sacrilege, because it proposed to divert an ecclesiastical fund to the relief of the Irish landlords; bribery, because it proposed by that act of sacrilege to conciliate and buy off the opposition of the landlords to the disestablishment of the Church. Three years later, in 1872, when there had been the amplest opportunity for all parties concerned to consider the position, and if need be, revise it, the arrangement of 1869 with regard to the redemption of tithe, and the number of years over which the annuity was to be spread, was deliberately renewed by Parliament. And now, after the lapse of more than thirty years, when the land has changed hands over and over again, when those who were responsible as public trustees for the administration of the Church Fund had the best right to believe that they had a permanent basis of settlement, Parliament is asked to set the bargain aside. And upon what plea? Upon the most unsubstantial and illusory plea I have ever heard advanced in a serious discussion—namely, that not only the 153 parties immediately concerned, the landlords on the one side and the representatives of the Church on the other, but the Executive Government of the day and the two Houses of Parliament were, first in 1869 and again in 1872, the victims of a clerical blunder. I should very much like to know what would have been said if, instead of the proposal being to reduce the term of fifty-two years to forty-five years, it was, in consequence of some change in the rate of interest and the value of money, to raise the term from fifty-two years to fifty-nine years. Hon. Members opposite would have come down to the House clothed in the panoply of landlord logic, and declared that a more iniquitous interference with the rights of property and sanctity of contract had never been suggested, and the very foundations of the House would have been rocked by the storm of indignation which the proposal would have aroused. I pass from that feature in this measure to the second branch, that is the proposal for dealing with the ecclesiastical tithe rent-charge. More mischievous in principle, and certainly not less injurious in the result, is this second proposal—the project to make the annual payment of ecclesiastical tithe vary according to the scale of judicial rents. I must point out to the House the fact that prior to 1872 ecclesiastical tithe, like lay tithe, was a variable quantity; but in 1872 ecclesiastical tithe was by the deliberate act of Parliament transformed into a fixed annual payment. Am I to be told that that was not a liar-gain? I gather from some statements which fell from the Chief Secretary that he is prepared to dispute that proposition on the extraordinary and, indeed, unintelligible ground that there was hardly any debate on the Bill of 1872 during its pasage through Parliament. I say, on the contrary, that in the fact that this proposal, completely transforming the character of ecclesiastical tithe, passed in comparative silence through both Houses, you have the best possible evidence that the two parties concerned—the trustees of the Church Fund on the one hand and the tithe-payers on the other—had by negotiations come to an agreement which they proposed should be ratified in the form of a solemn statute. And there was good reason why both sides should have arrived at such an arrangement. On the one side the administrators of the Church Fund 154 may have thought it was an enormous advantage to them to have a fixed income which they could forecast five or six years in advance, instead of an income which was always fluctuating according to the prices of agricultural produce. On the other hand, the landlords had an equally-good reason for entering into the bargain, for the prices of agricultural produce had been rising, and continued to rise for four or five years after 1872, and there was every reason to expect that the prices would go on rising. Therefore a fixed charge on the land would be more favourable to them than a varying tithe. Whatever were the reasons which influenced the minds of the two parties to this arrangement, the arrangement was made with the sanction of Parliament, and it has lasted for thirty years, and has regulated ever since the transactions of all persons interested in Irish land. Why is it to be ripped up? What is the emergency? What the justification for rescinding after an interval of twenty-eight years a solemn statutory compact?. The Government are well advised in not. defending the proposal on the ground of the fall in prices. For the possible rise on the one hand and the possible fall OIL the other of agricultural prices are the very contingencies to guard against which this statutory arrangement was entered into. Supposing, instead of the price of wheat and oats, which are the two staple products according to which the tithe rent-charge varied, having fallen, prices had continuously risen and the Government had now proposed to tear up the bargain of 1872; on the ground that it had proved, injurious to the Irish Church Fund, what would have been the indignation of the landlords! In truth this proposal to relieve the Irish tithe-payer of the sum which he had contracted to pay is but the culmination and the climax of a series of measures, for which this Parliament is responsible, for the subvention and relief of particular classes and interests, at the expense of the community at large. The series began in 1896, when the English and Scotch landlords were relieved of half their rates. It continued in 1897, when a large bounty was given to denominational schools to enable them to compote in the race with the Board schools. It was further developed in 1898 when the Irish landlords, in order to buy their assent, which is not to be had for 155 nothing, to a scheme for the establishment of local government in Ireland, which Lord Salisbury had prophetically denounced as even worse than Home Rule, were relieved of their one-half of the poor rate. In 1899—these things occur under the present dispensation with the monotonous regularity of the seasons—there was the proposal to relieve the ecclesiastical tithe receivers in England. Now, in 1900, lest any session of this Parliament should be left undistinguished by one of these enterprises in which a particular interest is championed by the Executive Government and by the Parliamentary majority of the day as against the community at large, we have the proposal to relieve the Irish tithe-payer. Yes, but this Bill, although it has, in common with its predecessors, the common characteristic of relieving one class at the expense of the whole, has one development on which I must congratulate the Government—a peculiar-feature of its own. Hitherto in 1896, 1898, and 1899, when you have been granting these doles and endowments to particular classes—listening to the cries of the unfortunate or rather satisfying the clamours of the importunate—you have, in relieving your privileged class of the burden which it previously had to bear, made good to the fund depleted the loss which it would have sustained. You have made it good out of the Imperial taxation to the local rates. Far be it from me to suggest that the deficiency that is going to be created in the Irish Church Fund by the operation of this Bill should be met by Imperial taxation. That is not my proposition. I denounce the whole thing as an injustice, and as absolutely unnecessary and inexcusable. But the fact remains that this is the first occasion that the State has come and said as between two persons, the one of whom was a debtor and the other a creditor, the one bound to pay to the other by agreement and by statute in perpetuity £100 a year—has come and said to the debtor, "How much owest thou?" "A hundred pounds." "Write down £75." And that without a halfpenny of compensation, remember, to the creditor, whose income for all time to come is reduced by 25 per cent. At any rate, that proposal may have, and I think ought to have, one result—it ought to clear not only our minds but our debates of the cant—for cant it has become—about the inviolate sacredness of property and contract. 156 I venture to warn hon. Gentlemen who sit on that side of the House, and who are going to vote for the Third Reading of this Bill, that they are estopped by the Vote that they are going to give to-night from ever protesting again on the ground of principle against any invasion on the part of the Legislature of proprietary rights. I do not know myself any clearer case of what the Romans used to call novce tabulæ in the whole history of confiscation. How has that come about? One of my hon. friends, I think the hon. Member for the Border Burghs, in the debate on the Second Beading of this Bill, pointed out that there had not been a single argument used in support of this measure—in support, that is to say, of the diminution of the statutory payment chargeable to the tithe-payers in this case—that could not be used with equal force in favour of cutting down both the interest and principal of mortgages. What is the difference in point of principle between the claim of a mortgagee in the case of a private contract, and the claim of the Irish Church Fund in this case? There is no difference in point of principle, but there is a great difference in point of fact. Who are the parties to this bargain? On the one side you have the Irish landlords, an articulate and organised party, a class which, as we know by recent experience, is capable of inflicting on the Government the luxury of an annual defeat in the House of Lords. That is a peculiar prerogative of theirs which is not possessed by any other class. On the other hand, we have a public fund which has no organ of expression, of self-defence, of resistance, except the right hon. Gentlemen who sit upon the bench, and who are by the law and constitution of this country its appointed custodians and trustees. An hon. friend reminds me that as lately as last year, for this Bill was introduced last year and then withdrawn, owing to what is called the exigencies of Parliamentary business, a very prominent representative of the Irish landlords (the Duke of Abercorn) said in another place, "Why should this Government, the strongest in our time, not only in ability, but in votes, not support their friends who support them?" That was asked last year when this Bill was withdrawn; it is not going to be withdrawn this year, and those who support the Government are at last to 157 be supported. I pass to what I consider to be the crowning absurdity and injustice of this Bill. That is the proposal that in the future the tithe rent-charge is to vary according to the scale of the judicial rent. I should have thought that such a proposition as that would hardly admit of argument at all. Let the House consider for a moment what it moans. This matter is going to be arranged county by county. You are not going to make an average of the reduced rents over Ireland as a whole; you are going to deal with it piecemeal, and the amount by which the landlord's contribution as a tithe payer to the Irish Church Fund is to be reduced is to correspond with the amount by which the judicial rents in his county have been reduced. The result is that wherever the reduction in the judicial rent has been greatest the reduction of the tithe rent-charge is greatest. Therefore it is exactly in those places where, in the judgment of the Land Courts, the landlords have exacted rents which did not equitably or morally belong to them, but were based on tenants' improvements, that the greatest relief is given. There is one circumstance connected with the selection of this particular standard of judicial reduction—what I will call the standard of confiscation—which I think the House ought to bear in mind, because I believe it explains the whole of this Bill. The only ground upon which the Bill can be logically based is that it is an instalment of compensation to the landlords for the reduction of rents which have been made under Act of Parliament. I cannot myself see any other ground on which the fall in judicial rents should henceforth be treated as the basis on which tithe rent-charge should be reduced. I will refer hon. Gentlemen opposite, and particularly right hon. Gentlemen, to a speech of the Duke of Devonshire the other day. He pointed out that the actual economic fall in rents measured by experience in this country is as great as, and in many cases far greater than, the compulsory reductions which have been made by the land tribunals in Ireland. He might also have pointed out —his audience was particularly appropriate for the purpose—that so far as these excessive rents, which have been reduced by the operation of the law, were based upon the appropriation by a landlord of the value put by a tenant, through his industry and capital, into the land, they were morally and politically inde- 158 fensible. And, further, I will venture to say that the reduced rents now paid by the tenants and received by the landlord ought to be regarded as salvage from the social and economic wreck to which the landlords themselves have largely contributed. The rents which were charged prior to 1881, which appear in the contracts of tenants and which the landlords had a legal right to exact, were rents far in advance of what was the economic rent. What is more to the purpose is—and I again quote the authority of the Duke of Devonshire— they were rents which, in the then social condition of Ireland, not the whole force of the Empire of Great Britain could have made effectively recoverable from the tenants of Ireland, because the moral sense of the community of Great Britain would not have allowed you to use it. In so far, then, as this Bill is an attempt —I can find no other logical justification for it—to compensate the landlords of Ireland indirectly for the reductions which they have had to sustain in their rents, it ought to be repudiated by this House. I say it is a Bill which offends equally against the rules of common justice and sound finance. It tears up a statutory contract without adequate reason and without any compensation. It impairs, not only by what it does, but still more by the example it sets, the security of the Irish Church Fund. It introduces as the basis and standard of variation in tithe the fall in judicial rents, which is either wholly irrelevant or illogical. On these grounds the Bill is deserving of the condemnation of Parliament, and I beg to move that it be read a third time upon this day three months.
To leave out the word 'now,' and at the end of the Question to add the words 'upon this day three months.' "—(Mr. Asquith.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the question."
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I confess that when the right hon. Gentleman rose to take part in the debate for the first time I was somewhat at a loss to conceive the reasons which induced him, at the eleventh hour, to intervene in this particular controversy. I am now no longer in doubt, and I think I can explain it before I sit down. The right hon. Gentleman, in the closing third of his speech, devoted himself to an attack on the Irish 159 landlords, whom he declared to be the spoilt darlings of the Government, and in whose favour we were prepared to ask the House to committ a gross injustice upon a public fund. I do not know that the occupants of this Bench or the Chief Secretary have any special reason to be grateful for the attentions which the Irish landlords have showered upon us. For my own part, I am the last person to criticise utterances which may well be put on one side. But I regret that the right hon. Gentleman should have thought it worth while to make an impassioned and elaborate attack upon a class who are not very popular either in this country or in the other, in numbers not very great, in political influence not very great, but who at the hands of Parliament in times past have been subjected to a kind of legislation on which I am not going to comment now, but which certainly has no parallel in the legislation of any civilised country. In his attack on the landlords the right hon. Gentleman has not scrupled to insinuate, even to assert, that the reduction of their rents by the Land Courts is the measure of the spoliation which they have inflicted upon their tenants, a scandulous and outrageous attack which was refuted by the right hon. Gentleman himself in the latter part of his speech, for he quoted, with enthusiastic approval by his supporters, a statement made by the Duke of Devonshire in another place that, after all, although the reductions of rent in Ireland had been considerable, they were not more considerable, but even less, than the reductions of rent which have taken place in England. Are the reductions of rent in England the measure of the spoliation inflicted by the English landlords on English tenants? No, Sir, they are the consequence of a fact, so notorious that I need not bring it to the attention of the House—the extreme, unforeseen, and unprecedented fall in agricultural value; and when the right hon. Gentleman roundly accuses the Irish landlords of having put all the difference between their present and former rents upon the improvements of the tenant, he might have remembered that the fall of agricultural prices, which has so afflicted the landed interest in England and Scotland, had not been absent in Ireland; and, mark this, the part of Ireland where rents have fallen, perhaps in greater degree than in any 160 other part of Ireland, is that where the tenants' improvements were protected before the legislation of 1872 and 1881. It is in Ulster, where the tenants' improvements are protected by the Ulster custom, and adequately protected by the Ulster custom, that the fall in rents has been greater than in any other part of Ireland. Then, says the right hon. Gentleman, this is an act of spoliation so great, so flagrant and shameless, that no Gentleman who votes for the Third Reading of the Bill can ever again resist any act of spoliation passed upon a class or public funds. He compared it with the arbitrary diminution by Parliament of the interest upon mortgages. What resemblance is there between mortgage and tithe rent-charge? Mortgage never was a variable quantity. Historically, by general tradition, and universally accepted within a small compass of years, tithe has been a variable quantity, and why this House, dealing with a fund varying in its aspects, should not make its variations dependent on a rational plan, instead of on an arbitrary system, passes my belief. What is the right hon. Gentleman's desire? I suppose he thinks it would be fair to have variations determined by the price of wheat and barley and oats. Could anything be more absurd than fixing the variations of tithe in proportion to a crop which is hardly grown in Ireland at all? Over large districts it is wheat, and wheat alone, which determines the variations of the tithe rent-charge. That is the right hon. Gentleman's idea of equity, justice, and fairness. That is not all I have got to say against the right hon. Gentleman's accusation of spoliation. Has he ever heard of the alteration made in the annuities bought by the purchasers of glebe in Ireland? Those annuities were part of the assets of the Church Fund. They were bought directly under Parliamentary statutory contract by the glebe purchasers from the Church Fund. In 1885, Parliament, taking into account the great fall in the price of produce, consequently in the price of land, had mercy upon these glebe purchasers and diminished the amount of the interest on the annuities—in other words, reduced the assets of the Church Fund in favour of the glebe purchasers. Was that described as a dole? Was that described as a corrupt bargain? Was that described as a payment to a class? It was done by the common assent 161 of this House, with the assent of the hon. Gentlemen opposite and of the hon. Gentlemen from Ireland, not then so solicitous about the Church Fund as they appear to be now. And all this fine rhetoric which is now lavished when you are dealing with landlords was not heard of when you were dealing with tenants, and all these strong epithets were reserved for a more favourable and more popular opportunity. The truth is that the motive of the right hon. Gentleman's speech was sufficiently apparent when he gave his brief historic survey of what he called the annual dole which this Government gives to their supporters. [Opposition cheers.] I thought so. It is no particular love for the Church Fund, it is no burning anxiety to support hon. Gentlemen below the gangway, that has produced this unlooked for intervention of the right hon. Gentleman. He has taken occasion to make a speech, which, perhaps, he supposes may be an electioneering speech. He has travelled far outside the four corners of this Bill to excite prejudice on questions not even in the remotest manner connected with this Bill. I am not going to argue, I would be out of order to argue, about the amount of money given to rates in connection with the Local Government Bill for Ireland, or the half rates to farmers in England and Scotland, or the grant to Voluntary schools. But one word I think I may say on these three topics. I remember perfectly well when the first sketch of the Irish Local Government Bill was made in this House—because it so happened I was the person on whom the duty devolved to make it—an essential part of that scheme was to get rid of the natural, I venture to say just, or at all events the justifiable, objections which were naturally felt at so great a transfer of power from one class to another in Ireland, where, unhappily, divisions between parties had been so long and so bitter. How was that proposal met? Did we hear anything from the right hon. Gentleman and his friends about doles on that occasion? Not a word. I remember that that proposal, which was an integral part of that Bill, was met with a chorus of approval not alone from Members on this side of the House, but from gentlemen representing Ireland on that side of the House, and from their colleagues representing English constituencies.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I do not agree with the hon. Gentleman; but let me take him on his own terms. Is it fair to swallow a bribe and then express disapproval when you get what you want by it? So much for the dole connected with local government in Ireland. Now I come to the half rates, which the right hon. Gentleman says we gave to the landlords in England. We gave them to the farmers. [HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!] Well, I am going to put a simple query to Members for agricultural constituencies in England sitting opposite. When they go down to their constituencies, and when they issue their addresses, is this dole to the farmers of England going to be represented as a monstrous abuse, and is there going to be any proposal that it should be repealed by the next Parliament? I shall be curious to have an answer to that question. I come now to the third dole, and that is the extra grant to the Voluntary schools. In that dole every single gentleman from Ireland supported the Government, and every single gentleman from Ireland voted against the Opposition. They were all for a policy of doles and subventions. Again I ask, are you going to the country to ask the country whether they are going to take away from the Voluntary schools the dole that has been given to them? And are you going to have the support of the Irish Members when the time for this inevitable policy arrives? It is all nonsense. The whole of this flimsy attack can be torn to pieces in a moment, and I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman, plunging into a controversy with which I venture to say he is very little acquainted—[HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!]—judging from his speech, I think he is not intimately acquainted with the details, and that will come out before this debate concludes—I regret that the right hon. Gentleman should have dragged these matters into a debate which is important because it is controversial, but which has really nothing to do with the issue he has tried to raise, with the irritation he has tried to stir up, or the passions he has endeavoured to inflame, and which might have been left now, as on the earlier stages of this Bill, to be debated between the representatives of the 163 Irish Government in this House and the representatives of Ireland.
§ MR. DILLON
I think the tone of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman proves, if proof were needed, more than anything we have listened to in the course of this debate, the badness of the case of the Government. When the right hon. Gentleman denounced the right hon. Member for East Fife for intervening in this debate, he seems to have an extraordinary idea of the position of Irish Members in this House. As I have pointed out on previous occasions, we would always be glad if all English Members refrained from debate or division on Irish Bills or questions; but I protest against the doctrine that if the intervention of the Chief Secretary for Ireland who is not an Irish Member is to be accepted, we are to be denied assistance of hon. Members on this side of the House who are not Irish Members, but who choose to take up the cause of Ireland. I must say I am exceedingly grateful to the right hon. Member for East Fife for his speech, which tore to pieces, I do not say the arguments for, but the provisions of the Bill, and exhibited in a most powerful way its true inwardness. The right hon. Gentleman has fallen back on an argument given before by the Chief Secretary in the course of the debate. He reminded the House of the case of the glebe purchasers, and endeavoured to draw a most absurd parallel between the reduction of the interest granted to them and the reduction of the interest proposed to be given to the tithe rent charge payers. The glebe purchasers, it is true, were forced to buy their holdings at a time when land was greatly inflated in value, and the reason why very moderate concessions were made to them was that they were poor men struggling to make a living upon the land. What bearing has this in the case of men whose tithe rent-charge is only a very small charge on the land? If we were to accept the logic of that argument we should be carried irresistibly to the conclusion that because in Ireland there had boon reduction of rents to occupiers effected by a process of law, therefore you are bound to reduce every charge on the land—quit rents, Crown rents, and mortgages. I say that the argument of the right hon. Gentleman absolutely dis 164 appears on that ground. The Members in charge of this Bill have been extremely free and ready to hurl charges against the gross ignorance of those who oppose it. If any English or Scotch Member intervenes he is said to be grossly ignorant; but the right hon. Member for East Fife exhibited, in my opinion, great intelligence in discussing the Bill, and certainly in point of capacity and knowledge of the law he compares favourably with the Attorney General for Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman got up, and from the box at the Table announced with vehemence that the rents had been reduced most in the province where the improvements of the tenants were protected by the Ulster custom. I should like to hear the opinions of the Ulster tenants on that point. Were the rents in Ulster and the improvements of the tenants protected by the custom before the Land Act was passed? Why, the custom gave no protection to tenants' improvements in Ulster, and that was the great reason why the Act of 1881 was passed. It was because the tenants in Ulster were pouring into the Land League, and the Government were frightened by the fact. If the improvements had been protected by custom, why did the Ulster tenants come into the Land League? I will tell the right hon. Gentleman one of the reasons, if he does not know it already, why the rents in Ulster had been reduced much more than in the South. It was because the tenants in Ulster, encouraged by the custom, and led to hope that they would have a saleable interest in the land, did make more improvements than the tenants in the South, and consequently their rents had been much more reduced. It is the fact, and the statement of the right hon. the Member for East Fife stands absolutely unanswerable, and cannot be controverted, that this Bill, in addition to all its other vices —God knows it has vices enough— actually proposes to put a premium on the bad landlords by graduating the amount of remission of tithe rent-charge in proportion to their badness. I know estates where there never has been a judicial rent fixed at all; and why? Because the landlords have been humane men, and met the circumstances of the time by reasonable remissions of rent. Now, supposing you could imagine—it is perfectly conceivable and legitimate to make the supposition—that there was 165 a county in Ireland in which all the landlords were good, reasonable men, and where no judicial rents had been fixed at all, what would this Bill do? it would give a reduction of 35 per cent. in the tithe rent - charge in a neighbouring county where ail the landlords were rack-renters, and not a penny of reduction in the county where the landlords were good, reasonable men. Could anyone imagine a wilder extremity of absurdity? But there is another absurdity underlying the vicious economic principle involved in the standard of variation introduced into this Bill. The tithes were originally one-tenth of the gross produce of the land. They never had, throughout all their history, so far as I have any knowledge of the question of tithes, any relation to the cost of production, or subsequently to the rent. By the Act of 1838, in consideration of the substitution of a rent-charge leviable from the landlord in place of a tenth of the produce, and of its becoming a prior lien on the land, the tithe-owners consented to an enormous reduction in the value of their tithe, amounting in some cases to 60 or 70 per cent. All this is to be taken into consideration in estimating the nature of the ecclesiastical tithe rent-charge. From 1838 to 1872 it was variable, but since 1872 it was invariable and a first charge on the land, having priority over all other charges, except quit-rents. You are now introducing a totally new principle of variation according to rents. I maintain that the variation of rent ought not, and as a matter of fact does not, bear an exact proportion to the variation of the prices of agricultural produce. Suppose the prices of agricultural produce had remained stationary, and the cost of the production had increased, rents would have been bound to go down. On the Second Reading of this Bill I said that it was a proposal as regards the main part of its provisions to subsidise the Irish landlord, and I ventured to suggest that it would be much simpler, more honest, and sounder, from an Irish point of view, if the Government would make up their minds how much money they wore going to distribute amongst the Irish landlords, and put it in the Bill, be it £1,500,000 or £2,000,000. That course, however, did not recommend itself to the Government. I venture to point out to the Chief Secretary that this system of bribery will produce no good 166 result. You are now proposing to plunder the Church Fund, which was put aside by Parliament for the Irish public, for the sake of bribing the Irish landlords, and you are now reaping your reward. I was not surprised at a certain bitterness of tone in the speech of the First Lord of the Treasury. At a great Orange meeting held on the 12th July, Lord Erne, Grand Master of the Orange Society, denounced the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary as a pest and a nuisance, and declared that the brothers Balfour were the curse of Ireland. That is all the reward they get. These Orange gentlemen understand their proceedings perfectly well. They believe they have got this Bill by abuse, and the only result of the Government throwing their body to the wolves will be that the wolves will howl louder at their back than ever. One lamentable consideration which the House of Commons and the Government have got to hug to their bosoms is that, instead of getting any benefit whatever from any section by this pernicious Bill, it will be found that the Irish people are indignant, as they ought to be, and regard it as an act of spoliation; while the Irish landlords will denounce the brothers Balfour as the greatest pests which ever came to Ireland. After all the discussions on this Bill, I am only confirmed in the opinion that a more indefensible one was never introduced into this House. I desire to say a few words on a portion of the Bill which has been somewhat neglected in the course of the discussions—the portion which deals with those tithes which are private property. The discussions in Committee have, I think, fully justified the protest which I ventured to make on the Second Reading against the plan adopted by the Government of including in the Bill two subjects incompatible and unsuited to be dealt with in the same measure—one the payment made by the ecclesiastical tithe-payers to a public fund, and the other the payment made by the tithe lay impropriator; that is a payment made by one set of individuals to another, who are owners of what is really private property, just as much as Government stock is, and which, as a matter of fact, has been made a subject of sale in Ireland continually for over sixty years. Hardly a week passes that you do not see in Dublin newspapers advertisements of the sale of lay impro- 167 priate tithes as a portion of real estate. Now, these tithes have been variable according to certain standards, and by well ascertained methods; and for sixty-two years they have never been interfered with, nor has a suggestion ever been made to alter the standard of variation. About seven or eight years ago the Government made a blunder by discontinuing the publication in the Dublin Gazette of the tables of the average prices of wheat and oats as the necessary evidence of variation; and the result was that the lay impropriate tithes could not be varied for a period of seven years. But the Government might have recommended the re-publication of the average prices, and then, after seven years, these lay impropriate tithes might have been varied as they had been for sixty-two years. All that was necessary was to fill in this gap of seven years by a short Bill of one clause, according to the prices in the Reports of the Irish Land Commission. I cannot conceive why the Government did not concede that, except that they wanted a bit of oil or grease for other purposes. The Government, taking advantage of this excuse of a mistake in the publication of the Government Gazette, propose to alter the standard of variation which governs the relation of exclusive property between man and man. From whom has come a call for such a course of conduct? Has it come from the tithe-payers or the tithe-owners? The result of this arbitrary alteration of the standard of variation will be that some tithe-owners will be able to get a good deal more than they would under the old variations, and some will get a good deal less. I have never got an answer to the question, on what ground the Government have obtained the right to walk in between the owners of this private property and say, "Take this Bill for £50 and write it down £40"; or, "Take this Bill for £50 and write it up £60.'"What is the excuse or justification for that? I have here a very curious document in connection with this question. There is an association in Ireland of lay impropriate tithe-payers. I do not know whether the lay impropriate tithe-owners have an association. The lay impropriate tithe payers claim that the average prices of agricultural produce should be published, and their legal right restored of having their payments regulated by these average prices. They held a meeting last spring to con- 168 sider the proposals of the Government Bill of last year, which was exactly the same as the present Bill. In a speech at that meeting, made by Mr. Sandhurst, he said that they ought to appeal to the Government to introduce a Bill to remedy the great injustice complained of that they were not able to get their legal right of variation. And Mr. Sandhurst added that they did not consider that the Bill of last session met the case at all of the lay impropriate tithe-payers., nor could such a measure be accepted. The lay impropriate tithe-payers are not satisfied with this Bill, because it gives too much relief to some and not enough relief to others; in other words, because it arbitrarily alters the law without regard to justice. I assert positively that during my twenty years experience of the House of Commons no such proposals was ever made to interfere with the rights of property on any public or private ground. There was no necessity of any kind for it, except that the right hon. Gentleman said, when pressed, that it would make the law more symmetrical. That is a most favourable illustration of the spirit in which this Bill was drafted; and I think the Government have treated the House of Commons very unfairly in having mixed up the greater question of ecclesiastical tithes with this of purely private property, which might be dealt with by a Bill of one clause. Now, I turn for a moment to the proviso in Clause 1 by which the Church Fund is to lose £1,300,000. But before I say anything on the financial position of the Church Fund after this Bill passes into law, I desire to deal with the contention put forward two or three times, that the fifty-two years annuities were based upon, a miscalculation. The right hon. Gentleman seemed, on the Second Heading, to venture to doubt whether we would question his contention that this fifty-two years was a miscalculation. In that he was most audacious. Remember that if we destroy the theory of this miscalculation, we destroy the only justification for the first sub-section of this clause, which involves a loss to the Church Fund of £1,300,000.
§ MR. DILLON
How is the theory of miscalculation made out? In 1869, when Mr. Gadstone introduced the Church Bill 169 first, he proposed that it should be open to the payers of tithe rent-charge to buy their tithe rent-charge, either for cash, at twenty-two and a half years purchase, or to buy the gross tithe rent at twenty-two and a half years purchase, the Government lending them money on such terms that, by making an annual payment for forty-five years, principal and interest would be extinguished; and he stated that he calculated the annual payment would be 3½ per cent. of the gross tithe rent-charge. The original proposal was forty-five years instalments; but when the Bill came into Committee Mr. Gladstone himself moved an amendment to Clause 32, proposing to substitute fifty-two years instalments for forty-five years, and at the same time he agreed that the tithe rent - charge payers should have the right to deduct from their tithe rent-charge, before the price was calculated, the sum of the whole of the poor-rate, which was considerable. Again, he made a further concession. Whereas at the Second Heading of the Bill he proposed that the instalments should be at the rate of £4 10s. per cent. of the gross tithe rent-charge, in Committee he proposed that it should be £4 9s. per cent. per annum of the nett valuation, and that the instalments should be spread over fifty-two years. Now, that settlement was denounced by the present Chancellor of the Exchequer as sacrilegious bribery, and also by the chief Irish landlords. Oil a division, however, it was carried by the unanimous vote of the landlords in this House, despite the protest of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and Mr. Forster and the Radical party. Now the right hon. Gentleman has the audacity to get up and tell us that the whole of this transaction was based on an arithmetical miscalculation, a calculation which was first of all worked out by the English Treasury, adopted by Mr. Gladstone, and passed the test of prolonged discussion in this House. I admit that some exception was taken to it; but it was as being too favourable to the landlords. Neither Mr. Disraeli nor Mr. Gladstone nor the champions of the Irish landlords ever suggested the doctrine of miscalculation which is now advanced. Then a period of three years elapsed, and the whole question was re-surveyed in this House in 1872, and again the Irish landlords, who were largely represented in this House and in the House of Lords, 170 never protested, and the Bill passed through the two Houses of Parliament without a single word of criticism on their part. Therefore up to the Act of 1872 there was no suggestion whatever of a miscalculation. From 1872 down to 1881 and from 1881 to 1890 the whole intelligence of the Irish landlords as well as of the innumerable skilful lawyers who are attached to them in Ireland was devoted to searching and rummaging through the land legislation passed by this House in order to find a grievance. Yet this miscalculation was never heard of. Are we to be told that the Irish landlords and the lawyers who are their friends in Ireland would not have discovered during these years this arithmetical mistake, and the greatest that would ever have appeared in history if it existed? In June, 1894, Lord Belmore in his famous question started this doctrine. What set the Irish landlords on this theory of miscalculation? They were set on it because it had come to their knowledge that a great loan on the Irish Church Fund was to be paid off, and that when it was paid off a certain sum would be set free, and it occurred to the Irish landlords that they ought to get hold of it. It was really for that reason, and for no other reason that I can discover, that they invented this doctrine of miscalculation. Lord Belmore put a series of questions in the House of Lords, in the course of which this doctrine was started. He asked why did the Treasury in 1869 recommend the Government of the day to alter the terminable annuities from forty-five years to fifty-two, and also whether there was not a miscalculation made as to the term of years in which the principal sums with interest would be paid off? That involved the doctrine that Mr. Gladstone and the Treasury of that day were not able to calculate in what number of years an annuity would pay off a principal sum with interest. Lord Belmore was informed in reply that there was no miscalculation because no rate of interest was prescribed in the Act. After the lapse of twenty-eight years the Treasury on the motion of Lord Belmore again examined the question, and laid it down that there was no basis for the charge of miscalculation, and yet in face of that fact and the other facts I have cited the right hon. Gentleman states that the case of the landlords is perfectly clear. This is what 171 the right hon. Gentleman said on the point—Objection to this provision of the Bill must therefore he made on either of two grounds: First, that a 3½ per cent. rate of interest is too low—which would be a bold assertion in the face of Mr. Gladstone's own statement, and of the fact that the rates of interest formerly paid by tenant purchasers of Church lands have all been reduced from 3½ per cent. to 3⅛ per cent. Or, secondly, that it is just that a terminable annuity for the redemption of a capital sum should continue to be paid for seven years after such capital sum can he shown by the rules of arithmetic to have been repaid.That is saying in so many words that Mr. Gladstone did not understand, and that for twenty-nine years the British Treasury were absolutely unable to grasp, the rules of arithmetic. That is a most extraordinary position for the right hon. Gentleman to take up, and yet it is the only ground on which he can justify this enormous drain on the Church Fund. I maintain after all these prolonged discussions that there is no shadow or shred of excuse for surrendering to the Irish landlords seven years instalments which they contracted to pay, and which in justice they ought to be compelled to pay as long as they retain their land. Let me turn for a few minutes to the effect of this Bill on the Church Fund, because that, after all, is a very important question, and one which we were not able to discuss fully in Committee. I thought we might have been able to obtain some more light on the matter. I have been endeavouring ever since the Bill of last year was introduced to obtain from the Government a really satisfactory calculation of what will be the effect of this Bill if passed into law on the Church Fund, and I have never been able to get anything but the most perfunctory and confusing answers. I think the Bill has been drawn in such a way that it is absolutely impossible to calculate with any degree of certainty what will be its effect on the Church Fund, and that alone would be a sufficient ground for rejecting it, because I cannot conceive any more vicious method of legislation than, as regards a complicated Bill affecting a great public fund, to be told by the minister in charge that it is really impossible to ascertain the effect of the Bill. This is the only statement vouchsafed to us during the discussions 172 on this Bill by the right hon. Gentleman as to its effect on the fund. He said—I may say, generally, that the result of the calculations has been most carefully verified both by the Treasury and by the Land Commission; and I think we may take it that, as far as possible, accuracy has been obtained. At least, it is not tor want of trouble taken by one side or the other. Now, the reduction of the period of the currency of the terminable annuities will have the effect of reducing the Church Fund by a capital sum of £1,140,000; but this loss will not begin until the year 1917, when the earliest terminable annuities run out. What effect are the proposals of the Bill likely to have on the resources of the Church Fund? By the first proposal, that fund will ultimately lose a capital sum of about £1,140,000, but this loss will not begin until the year 1917. The second proposal of the Bill will result in the immediate loss of an annual sum of about £33,000. This loss will continue for the first fifteen years, and may increase in subsequent periods of fifteen years with any additional average reduction of judicial rents. The abolition of the right to redeem the tithe rent-charge will result in a gain to the Church Fund of a capital sum, the exact amount of which it is impossible to state, but which may conceivably be £3,500,000. This gain, however, will not begin to accrue for forty-live years from the present time. [Mr. DILLON: Is that based on the supposition that no sales take place?] Yes, that is so. By the fourth proposal of the Bill there will be a gain to the Church Fund of an annual sum of £6,000.We are told that if no land is sold in Ireland the Church Fund in forty-five years will gain three and a half millions, but land is now being sold in Ireland at the rate of about one and a half millions per annum, and there is a movement, which if I do not misunderstand it will result in transferring all the land of Ireland to the farmers certainly within the next twenty years, and probably within the next ten years. Therefore this calculation, on the strength of which we are to make this huge inroad into the Church Fund, is absolutely delusive. We are solemnly asked to look forward and to attach weight to a possible advantage to the Church Fund resulting from the abolition of the right to redeem, which will begin to accrue in forty-five years, and only begin if no sale of land takes place in the interval, whereas we all know that long before that period all the land of Ireland will be sold, and instead of three and a half millions I say that if the fund benefits to the extent of £200,000 it will be the outside figure possible. But the loss to the fund begins on the day on which this Bill becomes operative, and will continue and increase until the whole Church Fund will be dissipated. The 173 provision in the Act of 1896 could at least be plausibly defended, as it was inserted for the purpose of promoting the sale of land to the tenants. It might have been said, just as it was said when we swallowed the dole to the landlords in order to secure local government, that the landlords should be allowed to reap that advantage under the Act of 1896 as a reward for selling their land to their tenants, because everyone is anxious to got rid of this land quarrel, which has brought almost inconceivable evils on Ireland, and we are all prepared to make sacrifices to end it, on reasonable terms. Therefore when the clause in the Act of 1896 was introduced—although I am looked upon as irreconcilable in these matters, and I admit I am—I did not feel called upon to protest against it, just as I abstained from dividing against the Agricultural Grant in 1898, because although I did not approve of the principle, there was a great object to be gained, which I was willing should be gained, even at the cost of the Church Fund. But what do you propose to do by this Bill? You reverse that policy. You are now offering to the landlords who have refused to sell the same advantages and concessions as were given by the Act of 1896 to landlords who were willing to sell, and in that way also you are doing a great wrong. I think the First Lord of the Treasury was very ill-advised in throwing sneers across the House at the Irish Members who are working under very difficult circumstances to protect the interests of their constituents. He said it was very unfair of us to adopt the attitude we did adopt with regard to the Rating Act, and he said that we swallowed the bribe. We are obliged to endeavour to pass legislation for our own country in this House in circumstances of the most cruel difficulty, and we are obliged to submit to the conditions imposed on us by the strangers who rule us. We have never been able to discuss Irish matters on their merits in this House. You never deal with Irish measures on their merits. You deal with them either because of the disturbed condition of Ireland or because you wish a bribe to be distributed among a certain class in that country. When a measure of land reform or popular government is offered to us it is always tied up with some condition we strongly object to, but we are told that we must swallow the whole thing or get nothing. That is the 174 principle we are compelled to accept, and I am not a bit ashamed of our accepting it under the circumstances. But I warn the First Lord of the Treasury and the Irish Secretary that the course they are pursuing on this Bill will gain them neither authority nor respect in Ireland. The Chief Secretary has been five years in office, and has made flourishing speeches about killing Homo Rule by kindness.
§ MR. G. W. BALFOUR
It has been said over and over again that I used the words "killing Home Rule by kindness." I should be very glad to have the report of that speech produced.
§ MR. DILLON
My recollection is that the right hon. Gentleman had been charged with the intention of killing Home Rule by kindness, and that he said he would be very glad if he succeeded in doing so. What I would advise him to pursue would be a policy not of kindness but of justice. I resented that speech as it was reported at the time, because I do resent, as I think I am entitled to resent, Englishmen or Scotchmen coming over to Ireland and adopting a tone of superiority and condescension which the Irish people do not appreciate. If the right hon. Gentleman pursues such a policy as that he will never win respect from any section of the population. What we want in Ireland is fair play and justice, and if the right hon. Gentleman would embark on a policy of fair play—I do not say he would kill Home Rule, because he would not—he would win the respect of all sections of the Irish people. But the policy of bribery, the policy which has dictated this Bill, will have the effect of exasperating the Irish people who agree with us, and of arousing only the contempt of the section represented by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for North Armagh. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman, while the Government are engaged in passing this Bill, does not use the same language as he would use at an Orange 175 meeting in Ireland. The Chief Secretary has now learned after five years administration in Ireland, although he has distributed hundreds of thousands of pounds as largess among the Irish landlords, that all he has got is to be denounced as a second "Dick Turpin," and to be told that he and his brother are the greatest curses ever sent to Ireland.
§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL
I only desire to occupy the time of the House for a few minutes in referring to matters not hitherto mentioned in the debate. First, as to the manner in which this Bill has been introduced—there are only two names on the back of it, namely, the Attorney General for Ireland and the Chief Secretary. I maintain that that is a a public scandal in a public Bill. This Bill is eminently a financial measure. It deals with an enormous amount of money to be transferred from a public fund to a particular class in Ireland, and it is a gross public scandal that the Finance Minister should not be publicly responsible for it. The Finance Minister is Chancellor of the Exchequer not only for England but for Ireland, and it was his duty to have explained this Bill to the House. Then the other Finance Minister, the Secretary to the Treasury, has not in the least intervened in the debates. The names of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Secretary to the Treasury have been on the back of all the other great financial measures referring to Ireland, because they dealt with public money. The name of the Chancellor of the Exchequer is absent from this Bill because he denounced its principle thirty years ago in language which has never been retracted. Probably the Secretary to the Treasury has also expressed his well-known opinions privately with reference to boodle of this kind. I say no Bill involving one and a half millions of money has over been presented to this House except on the responsibility of the Finance Minister. Let me remind the House that the Irish patriot party insisted, when the Union was carried, on having an Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer to conduct Irish financial business in this House, and in the early years of this century the Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer was no less a person than Mr. Foster, who had been Speaker of the Irish House of Commons. If you had a majority, not of 176 140, but of MOO in this House, and an Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer to guard the Irish purse, a measure of this kind would be impossible. The Conservative Members have shown me great courtesy, and it is irritating to them when a discussion on the matter which they think threshed out is continued, but I would point out that Mr. Disraeli, on the Second Reading of the Irish Church Bill, denounced this arrangement which is now being carried in the interests of the Irish landlords. Sooner or later, Mr. Disraeli said, the Irish landlords would gourmandise all the Church Fund. He said that the whole property of the Church of Ireland, generally speaking, would go to the landlords. (Interruption.) Hon. Gentlemen might well buzz at the idea of it. Mr. Disraeli went on to say that for thirty years the Irish landlords had had,£100,000 a year out of the Church property, amounting in all to probably £.3,000,000, and he asked what good it had done. Was the state of Ireland improved by it? But Mr. Disraeli under-estimated the case. When the first avaricious raid was made on the property of the Church of which the landlords were members, the Ecclesiastical tithe charge was commuted at a tenth of its value, and 25 per cent. over and above was paid to them for collecting it. In 1867 the agricultural crops in Ireland wore of the value of £30,000,000, but the amount of the tithe rent-charge was only put at £370,000; whereas it ought to have been £3,000,000, and the difference between £370,000 and £3,000,000 went into the pockets of that virtuous class, the Irish landlords. I say that the landlords have got far too much out of the Irish Church Fund already; but by this Bill they are getting by the reduction of the annual instalments from fifty-two to forty-five years, a sum equal to £1,500,000, although the Chief Secretary, who is generally wrong in his calculations, only made it out at £1,140,000. I object to the Irish landlords getting through a brutal and palpable fraud anything out of the Church Fund, which ought to be devoted to the Irish people when suffering from some unavoidable calamity. The Irish landlords never object to charity. Long after the Reformation, successive Acts of Parliament were passed to enable tenants to make a raid on the Church lands. The Duke of Abercorn and others 177 like him are tenants of the lands stolen from the Irish Church. The Irish Bishops, who were generally English importations—
§ * MR. SPEAKER
I fear the hon. Member is going to somewhat ancient history in reference to this Bill.
§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL
The object of the Bill is ancient history, but I will not refer to the matter, Mr. Speaker, if you tell me not to do so. I will do whatever you tell me.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
As the hon. Member appeals to me, I would ask him not to continue his remarks on ancient Irish history.
§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL
With great respect, I think that is rather an unfair advantage to take. You will do better if you will allow me to show that I was endeavouring to bring this ancient history into connection with this Bill. I am pleading that this Bill should not pass, and that the chief beneficiaries under this Bill have already got enormous slices of the Church land. The Duke of Abercorn—
§ * MR. SPEAKER
I think the hon. Member is really trifling with the House in going into this matter.
§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL
if you do not permit me, I shall say no more; but If I am not permitted to speak of it in this House I shall be able to see that it is made well known in Ireland. The First Lord of the Treasury was scarcely right in saying that he was benefitting the Irish landlords in spite of themselves. He said, "We are only doing justice to the Irish landlords who are reviling us." He ought to have known that amongst the persons to whom he is doing this act of justice, and who will be most benefitted by it, are Members of the present Government and extensive Irish landlords. The benefit of this Bill to the ordinary poor Irish landlords, with a rental of £800 to £1,500 a year, is of small significance. But it is of enormous significance to those extensive Irish landlords. I will give the names of the members of the Government who 178 will enormously benefit by the Bill—the Duke of Devonshire, Lord Lansdowne, Lord Londonderry, and the Earl of Pembroke. I will say, in conclusion, that I never recollect any Act which has been passed by a Ministry which will confer such pecuniary benefits on the members themselves, or certain of them, as this Act will. In fact, the whole thing is, I am sorry to say, a most atrocious and infamous fraud on a public fund—a fraud perpetrated on the poor in the interests of the rich. It is a perfect illustration of the proverb which warns not to rob the poor because they are poor. We have heard a great deal of the tithopayer, and of the equity which should attach to our dealings with him. But we have heard nothing of the titheowner, who is the person principally affected, because as the tithe rent-charge is reduced so surely is the tithe-owner affected. Why is that? It is because the tithe owners are poor, and have no great political influence. On the whole I regard this Bill as, in the words of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, sacrilegious bribery. I am inclined, however, to rejoice at this Bill, because it destroys altogether the sanctity of contracts, and will make any attack on the public revenue or on private property utterly unassailable by gentlemen on these benches who have sanctioned this Bill.
§ MR. FLYNN
I complain of the attitude of the Treasury in regard to this Bill. One would have thought that the natural guardians of the Irish Church Fund, which is the only public fund which the Irish people have had since the Union, would have been the Chief Secretary and the Attorney General. But the hopes we have placed on them have been falsified. It is impossible but that there shall be loss on one fund or another; if not on the Church Fund it will fall on the Treasury, because nearly half of the liabilities of the Irish Church Fund have been guaranteed by the Treasury. On what ground did the Government bring in this Bill? They cannot put the saddle on two horses at once. Either the settlement of 1872 was wrong, and Mr. Gladstone and the Treasury of that date made an absolute mistake; and, as the Chief Secretary says, this Bill was introduced to correct that mistake; 179 or the Duke of Devonshire was right when he said in another place that the Bill had been introduced as a compensation to the Irish landlords for the reduction of their rents by the Land Act of 1881. It is not the least invidious feature of this Bill that members of the Government, including the noble Lord whose speech has been already referred to, and members of the Cabinet, will be among those who will get a largo slice out of the Irish Church Fund. I presume, if there is any virtue in actuarial calculations, that if the Treasury were right in 1895 they ought to be right now, and if in 1895 the Irish Church Fund would not bear any further burden, how is it possible that the Fund can now be so solvent and so strong that it can have this one and a half million taken away from it as well as £33,000 a year, especially when it is considered that since 1895 £70,000 a year has also been taken from it for the Agricultural Board? The Treasury have been got at. In 1895 they opposed the proposal of the Land Commissioners to reduce the repayments of the debt to them on behalf of the Irish tenants from twenty-two and a half to twenty years. That was refused in connection with a large scheme of land purchase, to which both political parties were committed, and the Government opposed it on the ground that it would affect the Irish Church Fund. Meantime £70,000 a year has been taken from it for the Agricultural Board. We are told that that £70,000 is all right, and that if at the end of fifteen years this Department for improving agriculture and instructing our people cannot obtain that money, we might perhaps have a case to go to the Treasury. I should like to see the position of the Irish Minister who at the end of fifteen years would have to approach the Treasury and say that the Agriculture Department could not continue any longer. In conclusion I think we are justified in putting before the House, and I trust also before the country, that this Bill has not been demanded by any body of public opinion or by any important movement. It is a Bill brought in to satisfy a small but hungry section of the supporters of evictions in Ireland. It is a Bill which will give more to the rich landlord than to the small struggling landlord. To him that possesses much will be given more, whereas the poor landlords will be given 180 very little, but whether this money be given to the rich and prosperous landlord in large measure, or to the small and struggling landlord in small measure, it comes from an Irish fund which does not belong to the Treasury, and which it is an act of tyranny on the part of English and Scotch Members to interfere with.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
I feel it my duty, even at this advanced hour, to join in the final protest of my hon. friends against this Bill. It is certainly not our fault that the House has been put to the inconvenience of remaining up to this hour. The right hon. Gentleman insists on pushing the Bill through to-night, and that is the reason why Members have been put to the inconvenience of this prolonged sitting. The Leader of the Opposition, in the speech he made during these debates, described the Bill as the most extraordinary Bill of the century. I think that description was amply justified, and I think also that the Bill has been produced and carried: through under very extraordinary circumstances. This is the sixth night on which we have dealt with this question, and there are much more urgent demands on, the attention of Parliament. Only this afternoon the Leader of the House was asked on what date he would bring forward the Indian Budget. He was asked that question in view of an accumulation of suffering on the people of India which is unparalleled in history, and the right hon. Gentleman had to reply that he could just give one afternoon in the course of next week for discussing the fate and fortunes of 250 millions of people stricken by famine and plague and almost every other evil that can befall a nation. Again, 200 Members of this House asked for two or three hours to pass a Bill dealing with an important branch of the salvation of this country from the vice of drink, and that request was refused. A most important question, affecting the welfare of millions of people, has been refused discussion, while to an unjust measure like this Bill the Government have given six nights of most precious time. The Leader of the House made an impassioned reply to the speech of the late Home Secretary, and he made one observation in the course of that reply to which I will allude. The right hon. Gentleman laid down this proposition, which is 181 gratifying to me and most astonishing as coming from him, that he would be Letter pleased if the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Fifeshire had allowed the debate to proceed on the lines on which it has hitherto been conducted, namely between the official representatives of the Irish Government and the Irish Members. He indignantly objected to the intervention of one of the ablest Members of this House in an Irish debate. That would have been permissible if it came from one who believed that Ireland should be governed by the Irish Members; but this indignant surprise at a British Member venturing to intervene between the official representatives of the Irish Government and the Irish Members came very strangely from one of the high priests of Unionism in this House. It is quite true that the debates on this Bill have been mainly left to the Chief Secretary and the Irish Members, not only as to the making of the speeches, but also as to the hearing of the speeches. We have conducted these debates with only the Chief Secretary and the Attorney General for Ireland on the Treasury Bench, and an occasional visit from the Leader of the House, and the Irish Members not in such large number as I should like, but still in considerable number on these benches. The benches opposite were as a rule deserted, or perhaps occupied by two or three phantoms—I use the word in a spiritual rather than a physical sense— who made more conspicuous the absence of the general body of the Conservative party. But when the division bells were rung these gentlemen who had not heard a single word of the speech, and who, I venture to say, would not pass the most primary examination as to the provisions of even the first clause of the Bill, trooped in from the terrace, the smoke rooms, and the library, and voted down the representatives of Ireland, not in accordance with the arguments, because they did not hear them, but at the direction of the Whips of their party. Therefore, when the First Lord of the Treasury objected to the intervention of the right hon. Member for East Fife, who made a most able and brilliant speech, I think he would have taken more logical ground if he had asked not only that the debates should be confined to the representatives of the Irish Government and the Irish Members, but that the voting should be con- 182 fined to them also. I should like to call attention to the statement of the Leader of the House that a great reduction of rents had taken place in Ulster. That was an avowal I was very glad to hear. I do not know whether his knowledge of that fact was the result of these debates, but I think he happened to be in the House when we were dealing with that particular branch of the question. He followed that, however, with the astounding statement that in Ulster the tenants' improvements had always been protected by the Ulster custom. Did that statement come as a matter of surprise to the Chief Secretary? Does the right hon. Gentleman accept it?
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
Then I can only say that "broadly speaking" the ignorance of the right hon. Gentleman is almost as great as the ignorance of his brother. When the First Lord of the Treasury says that the tenants in Ulster wore protected as to their improvements, I assume he means by the Ulster custom. But every Ulster man knows that the Ulster custom was confined to the right of free sale, and that right of free sale did not interfere with the right of the landlord to raise the rent on the incoming tenant in spite of the fact that the incoming tenant had paid for that right. The Ulster men were in a state of more aggravated revolt than any other part of Ireland. The First Lord accepted the fact—he could not deny it on the statistics presented to the House—that the highest reductions took place in the northern province; but what did that prove? It proved the hypocrisy of the cry of the landlords that the reduction of the rents was the production of political agitation and not of their own rack-rents in the north of Ireland. In the county of Armagh the reductions in the rent amounted to 28 per cent., and in the county of Down, the most loyal of all the counties, the reductions of rent made by private agreement reached the extraordinary figure of 40 per cent.; and it was in these very counties where rack-renting had been most triumphant. Yet it is in these counties that the largest amount of the bribe provided by this Bill will be given to the Irish landlords. I do not see the right hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh 183 in his place, but if he were here I would tell him that, instead of the landlords in these counties having a right of complaint against the Government, they have been the spoiled children and curled darlings of this Administration. The Irish landlords are the only class in this community who have been able to come to this House and get compensation for the reduction of their revenue brought about by economic and insurmountable causes. The Duke of Devonshire said some time ago that he had to submit to a 16 per cent. reduction of rent on his estates in Ireland, while, on a similar estate in Somerset, the reduction had been 35 per cent. But the difference between them is this: that for the reduction on his English estate he got no compensation whatever, always excepting the Agricultural Rating Act. And he dare not come to ask this House, because his rent had been reduced 35 per cent., to make it up to him. Even if he went to the House where he sits, which is the guardian on the social and political interests of the landlords, and said, "I want compensation because my rents in Somerset have been reduced 35 per cent.," he would be laughed to scorn. But when the loss is 16 per cent. in Ireland, that changes his character from an English to an Irish landlord; and he goes to the Chief Secretary for Ireland, who says to him, My poor gilded pauper, I really must come to your relief, because you have had 16 per cent. taken off your rents." And the right hon. Gentleman forthwith proceeds to bring in the Local Government Bill for Ireland, and because their Graces have been gracious enough to extend to Ireland the local liberties given by consent of all parties in England and Wales and Scotland, and which must therefore have come inevitably to Ireland by the logic of events, his Grace and the class to which he belongs are immediately relieved of practically all contribution to the local expenses of Ireland. But, not satisfied with that dole, they go to the right hon. Gentleman two or three sessions afterwards and de-
§ mand that because their rents have been reduced 16 per cent.—half the reduction in England—they want more compensation. And the Chief Secretary, addressing these poor gilded paupers, says, "Let me see, what fund is there which we can draw upon in order to put another dole into their pockets?" And the right hon. Gentleman takes the unprotected Church Fund, makes a dive at it, and gives out of it practically two millions of money to the landlords of Ireland, who had had their rents reduced 16 per cent., instead of 35 per cent. m England. The whole calculated and intended effect of this Bill and of such like legislation is that the provisions and consequences of the Land Act of 1881, and the Act passed by the right hon. Gentleman himself, shall be nullified, and full and adequate compensation shall be given for the reductions of rent in Ireland by successive hauls from the Irish Church Fund. These are the reasons why we oppose this Bill. I know it will pass into law. It has been fought very steadily in this House. I do not think it has been unfairly fought, considering its importance. I believe that in another place it will be received rapturously, and welcomed with open arms. But this cannot go on for ever. The Irish landlords have got their last dole, although their clamorous demands have not yet been exhausted, as this Bill shows. I hope this will be the last session of the present House of Commons, and I trust that, if we all should be Members of a future House of Commons, one of the first measures which, if even the present Chief Secretary is in office, will be introduced will be one to put an end to this long and devastating social struggle between classes in Ireland, and dispose of the claims of the Irish landlords by a scheme of land purchase.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 110; Noes, 74. (Division List No. 223.)185
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Bethell, Commander||Butcher, John George|
|Arrol, Sir William||Blakiston-Houston, John||Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Blundell, Colonel Henry||Cavendish, V. C. W (Derbyshire)|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manch'r)||Bond, Edward||Cecil, Evelyn, (Hertford, East)|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. Gerald W (Leeds)||Brassey, Albert||Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)|
|Barry, Rt. Hn. A H Smith- (Hunts)||Brodrick, Rt. Hon St. John||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm.)|
|Beach, Rt. Hon. Sir M. H. (Bristol)||Bullard, Sir Harry||Chamberlain, J. A. (Wore'r)|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Hardy, Laurence||Rankin, Sir James|
|Charrington, Spencer||Haslett, Sir James Horner||Rentoul, James Alexander|
|Chelsea, Viscount||Hermon-Hodge, Robert T.||Ridley, Rt. Hn. Sir Matthew, W.|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Keswick, William||Round, James|
|Colomb, Sir John Charles R.||Knowles, Lees||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Lafone, Alfred||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)|
|Cornwallis, Fiennes Stanley W.||Lawrence, Sir E. Durning-(Corn)||Saunderson, Rt. Hon. Col. E. J.|
|Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)||Seely, Charles Hilton|
|Curzon, Viscount||Leeky, Rt. Hn. William Edw. H.||Sidebotham, J. W. (Cheshire)|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Sidebottom, Wm. (Derbysh.)|
|Dairymple, Sir Charles||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Smith, Abel H. (Christchurch)|
|Faber, George Denison||Lowles, John||Smith, James Farker (Lanarks.)|
|Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward||Macartney, W. G. Ellison||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Finch, George H.||Macdona, John Cumming||Stanley, Edward J. (Somerset)|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Manners, Lord Ed. Wm. J.||Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Milward, Colonel Victor||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Fitz Gerald, Sir Robert Penrose-||Monckton, Edward Philip||Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray|
|Foster, Colonel (Lancaster)||More, R. Jasper (Shropshire)||Warde, Lieut.-Col. C. E.(Kent)|
|Fry, Lewis||Morgan, Hn. Fred (Monm'thsh)||Welby, Lt-Col A. C. E. (Tauntn)|
|Gedge, Sydney||Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)||Williams, Joseph Powell-(Birm)|
|Godson, Sir Augustus Frederick||Mount, William George||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Goldsworthy, Major-General||Murray, Rt. Hn. A. Graham (Bute)||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Nicholson, William Graham||Wylie, Alexander|
|Goulding, Edward Alfred||Nicol, Donald Ninian||Wyndham, George|
|Green, W. D. (Wednesbury)||Pease, Herbert P.(Darlington)||Wyvill, Marmaduke D'Arcy|
|Greville, Hon. Ronald||Phillpotts, Captain Arthur|
|Hamilton, Rt. Hn. Lord Geo.||Platt-Higgins Frederick||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert Wm.||Pretyman, Ernest George||Sir William Walrond and|
|Hanson, Sir Reginald||Purvis, Robert||Mr. Anstruther.|
|Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.)||Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert J.||O'Connor, Jas. (Wicklow, W.)|
|Ambrose, Robert||Goddard, Daniel Ford||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Austin, M. (Limerick, W.)||Havne, Rt. Hn. Charles Seale-||O'Kelly, James|
|Beaumont, Wentworth C. B.||Hazell, Walter||O'Malley, William|
|Billson, Alfred||Hogan, James Francis||Pavilion, James Mellor|
|Blake, Edward||Horniman, Frederick John||Pearson, Sir Weetman D.|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Jamieson, Major J. Eustace||Pease, Joseph A. (Northumb.)|
|Brigg, John||Joicey, Sir James||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Jones, David B. (Swansea)||Provand, Andrew Dry burgh|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Jones, William (Carnarvonsh.)||Redmond John E.(Waterford)|
|Caldwell, James||Larson, Sir W. (Cumberland)||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Lough, Thomas||Shaw, Chas. Ed. (Stafford)|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Macaleese, Daniel||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)|
|Cawley, Frederick||MacDonnell, Dr. M. A. (Qn.'s C.)||Sinclair, Capt. J.(Forfarshire)|
|Channing, Francis Allston||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Stanhope, Hon. Philip J.|
|Commins, Andrew||M'Arthur, William (Cornwall)||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Crean, Eugene||M'Dermott, Patrick||Sullivan, T. D. (Donegal, W.)|
|Crilly, Daniel||M'Ghee, Richard||Tanner, Charles Kearns|
|Curran, Thomas (Sligo, S.)||M'Laren, Charles Benjamin||Tennant, Harold John|
|Dalziel, James Henry||M'Leod, John||Williams, John Carvell (Notts)|
|Dillon, John||Maddison, Fred.||Wilson, J. W. (Worcester, N.)|
|Doogan, P. C.||Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand||Young, Samuel (Cavan, East).|
|Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorg.)||Molloy, Bernard Charles|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Moulton, John Fletcher||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Flynn, James Christopher||Nussey, Thomas Willans||Captain Donelan and|
|Fox, Dr. Joseph Francis||O'Connor, Arthur (Donegal)||Mr.Patrick O'Brien|
§ Main Question put.186
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 94; Noes., 58. (Division List No. 224.)187
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Brassey, Albert||Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry|
|Arrol, Sir William||Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Charrington, Spencer|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Billiard, Sir Harry||Cohen, Benjamin Louis|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r)||Butcher, John George||Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. G. W.(Leeds)||Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Curzon, Viscount|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Bristol)||Cavendish, V. C. W.(Derbysh.)||Dalkeith, Earl of|
|Betheli, Commander||Cecil, Evelyn (Hertford, East)||Dalrymple, Sir Charles|
|Blakiston-Houston, John||Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm.)||Faber, George Denison|
|Bond, Edward||Chamberlain, J. Austen (Worc'r)||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edw.|
|Finch, George H.||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.||Saunderson, Rt. Hn Col. Edw. J.|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Seely, Charles Hilton|
|Fitz Gerald, Sir Robert Penrose-||Macartney, W. G. Ellison||Sidebotham, J. W. (Cheshire)|
|Foster, Colonel (Lancaster)||Macdona, John Cumming||Simeon, Sir Harrington|
|Fry, Lewis||Manners, Lord Edward W. J.||Smith, Abel H. (Christchurch)|
|Gedge, Sydney||Milward, Colonel Victor||Smith, James Parker (Lanarks.|
|Godson, Sir Augustus Fred.||Monckton, Edward Philip||Smith, Hn. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Goldsworthy, Major-General||More, Robt. Jasper (Shropshire)||Stanley, Edw. Jas. (Somerset)|
|Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Morgan, Hn. F. (Monmouth.)||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Green, W. D. (Wednesbury)||Mount, William George||Tomlinson, Wm Edw. Murray|
|Grenville, Hon. Ronald||Murray, Rt Hn A Graham(Bute)||Welby, Lt.-Col.A CE(Taunton|
|Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert wm.||Nicholson, William Graham||Williams, J. Powell- (Birm.)|
|Hanson, Sir Reginald||Nicol, Donald Ninian||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Haslett, Sir James Horner||Pease, Herbert P. (Darlington)||Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart-|
|Hermon-Hodge, Robt. Trotter||Phillpotts, Captain Arthur||Wylie, Alexander|
|Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William||Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Wyndham, George|
|Keswick, William||Pretyman, Ernest George||Wyvill, Marmaduke D'Arcy|
|Knowles, Lees||Purvis, Robert|
|Lafone, Alfred||Rankin, Sir James||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Lawrence, Sir E Durning-(Corn.||Rentoul, James Alexander||Sir William Walrond and|
|Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)||Mr. Anstruther.|
|Lecky, Rt. Hon. William E.H.||Round, James|
|Abraham, Wm. (Cork, N.E.)||Gladstone, Rt. Hon. H. J.||O'Kelly, James|
|Austin, M. (Limerick, W.)||Goddard, Daniel Ford||O'Malley, William|
|Beaumont, Wentworth C. B.||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale-||Paulton, James Mellor|
|Billson, Alfred||Hogan, James Francis||Pease, Joseph A. (Northumb.)|
|Brigg, John||Horniman, Frederick John||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Jones, David B. (Swansea)||Provand, Andrew Dry burgh|
|Caldwell, James||Jones, William (Carnarvonsh.)||Redmond, John E. (Waterford|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumberland)||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Cawley, Frederick||Macaleese, Daniel||Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford|
|Channing, Francis Allston||MacDonnell, Dr. M A Queen's C||Stanhope, Hon Philip J.|
|Cummins, Andrew||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Crean, Eugene||M'Arthur, William (Cornwall)||Sullivan, T. D. (Donegal, W.)|
|Crilly, Daniel||M'Dermott, Patrick||Tanner, Charles Kearns|
|Curran, Thomas (Sligo, S.)||M'Ghee, Richard||Tennant, Harold John|
|Dalziel, James Henry||M'Leod, John||Williams, John Carvell (Notts.)|
|Dillon, John||Maddison, Fred.||Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)|
|Doogan, P. C.||Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand|
|Evans, S. T. (Glamorgan)||Molloy, Bernard Charles||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Nussey, Thomas Willans||Captain Donelan and|
|Flynn, James Christopher||O'Connor, Arthur (Donegal)||Mr.Patrick O'Brien.|
|Fox, Dr. Joseph Francis||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
Bill read the third time, and passed.