§ Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Main. Question [12th February].
§ "That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty, as followeth—
§ "Most Gracious Sovereign,
§ "We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Majesty for the Gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament."—(Mr. Tomkinson.)
§ Question again proposed.
§ MR. HAYDEN, (Roscommon, S.)
in moving an Amendment dealing with the question of the evicted tenants in Ireland, said that on behalf of the Irish Party it was necessary once more to bring before the attention of the House and the Government the Irish land question. On this occasion they confined themselves to one portion of the question. In the numbers that it affected it was relatively a small matter; but in its importance, as regarded the feeling which it had evoked, it was of vital moment to the country. When the Land Act of 1903 was passing through Parliament, pledges of the most express and distinct character were given by the responsible Minister in this House that sufficient power was conferred by that Bill upon its administrators to reinstate the evicted tenants in Ireland. It was scarcely necessary that he should travel back on the history of the agrarian struggle in Ireland. During that struggle there was much bitterness and much suffering. One class—those for whom they spoke that day—were the greatest sufferers of all; and whatever bitterness 330 might have been aroused in regard to the sacrifices and the struggles which they made was brought to a termination by the agreement come to by all parts of the House that their reinstatement must be a condition of the settlement of the land question. When the Act of 1903 was introduced the defects of the measure in regard to this part of the settlement of the land question were pointed out by Nationalist Members; but that opinion was not regarded, although experience since had borne out the opinion that that Act would not prove an absolutely final settlement of the land question in Ireland. And why? There was an absence of compulsion on those refractory landlords who refused voluntarily to obey the will of Parliament. And the worst of these landlords were those on whose estates evictions had taken place during the agrarian struggle. He need only refer to the struggle which took place last winter and to the fact that when an hon. Member introduced a Bill for the; compulsory expropriation of one of those landlords—a Bill which met with a sympathetic reception from all parts of the House—it became perfectly manifest to everybody who had the slightest knowledge of the land question in Ireland, that no law could be operative in regard to Lord Clanricarde and men of his class, unless it contained the element of compulsion. In 1903 the Leader of the Irish Party expressly asked the then Irish Secretary, the right hon. Member for Dover, whether he would pledge himself that the Bill of that year, as it then stood, contained provisions which would bring about the reinstatement of the evicted tenants, and the answer was strongly in the affirmative. Upon that pledge, the Irish Party let the Irish Land Bill of 1903 become the law of the land. It was maintained by everyone who had any recollection of what took place in the 331 House during the passage of that measure that it never could have become law if the Irish Party had said one word against it; what made it possible for such a large sum of money to be voted for land settlement in Ireland was that Irish opinion was unanimous in favour of it. If the Irish Party had opposed it, the supporters of the Government would not have backed it; and the Irish Party backed the Government on the assumption that the pledge of the Chief Secretary for Ireland would be fulfilled. The Act had been in existence now for three and a half years, and it was not until a year ago that the slightest effort towards progress had been made in regard to the restoration of evicted tenants. Immediately the Bill became law regulations of a private character were made by the Government of the day binding the Commissioners in such a manner as to make the clause in the Act of1903 absolutely inoperative. Those regulations of a private character, made by the Chief Secretary of the day, were afterwards by his successor, the right hon. Member for South Dublin, made into regulations of a public character, which, so far as they understood, were precisely the same. These regulations had prevented the Estates Commissioners, however willing they might be, from doing anything in regard to this problem, and it was only when the present Government came into office or sometime after that these regulations were revoked and new ones substituted. It was then and only then that even inquiry into this matter began to take place. The subject had been inquired into over and over again. When the present Secretary of State for India was Chief Secretary for Ireland he appointed a Royal Commission to inquire into it, and time after time it had been the subject of debate and of sympathetic reference from the Ministerial Bench and from all quarters of the House. But, even a year ago when the present Government set inquiry upon foot, the Commissioners were handicapped by the small staff which was placed at their disposal. He was told that this was due to the Treasury, but whether it was the fault of the Treasury or of the Irish Government or of the Estates Commissioners, one thing 332 was certain, and that was that inquiry was necessarily slow on account of smallness of staff. The question was raised last October on the Motion of his hon. friend the Member for Waterford, and then figures were produced to show that progress was very slow. These figures had been somewhat altered by the lapse of time, and that day the Chief Secretary had stated in answer to a question the figures as they stood at the present time. Roughly, 6,600 applications had been received by the Estates Commissioners from persons requesting to be reinstated on the ground that they were evicted tenants. Half of this number had been so far inquired into, and 1,300 had been excluded on various grounds. Supposing in the investigation of the remaining half an equal number should be excluded it would mean the exclusion of 2,600, and that would leave the total of genuine cases of evicted tenants to be dealt with standing at something like 4,000. How many had been reinstated after a lapse of nearly three years? Only 600. It was clear to anybody having the slightest idea of Irish feeling upon the subject that it was a matter of a most urgent character, and if the rate of progress was not greatly accelerated it would be at least ten years before the whole of these 4,000 cases could be settled. But an important thing to be considered in connection with the cases already dealt with was that most of these 600 were the easiest cases to deal with, for they were cases in which the landlords were more or less willing for one reason or another—either for the monetary reason or because they were tired of the struggle, and so on—to reinstate their evicted tenants. In a few months that class of landlords would entirely disappear, and they would then be faced with a class of landlords who would not, under any circumstances, unless the law of land made them, permit their evicted tenants to be brought back. He did not know how the figures might stand at the present moment, but on of l,200 cases examined up to last October, there were 444 cases in which he landlords absolutely refused to permit the inspectors of the Government to stand upon the land formerly occupied by evicted tenants, even to examine it. In cases like these, the 333 Act of 1903 might as well never have been passed. He did not think that the cause of the failure to reinstate these tenants was to be found in any unwillingness on the part of the Estates Commissioners, and he knew that it was not due to any want of money, because the Act of 1903 provided what was known as the Reserve Fund, consisting of £250,000. It was true that the fund was meant for other purposes as well as for the reinstating of evicted tenants, but that was the first and primary object of the fund, and it was only after it had fulfilled its purpose in that respect that the fund was intended by Parliament to be available for other purposes. It was estimated that a much less sum than £250,000 would settle the question. He thought the Mathew Commission estimated it at £100,000. That sum he did not think would be sufficient, but there was a good margin between it and £250,000. If it was true that the failure did not arise from unwillingness on the part of the Commissioners, or from any want of money, they were driven to seek some other explanation of the difficulty, and the explanation they found was the failure of the law to provide means of compelling those landlords who were unwilling to fulfil the will of Parliament to carry it out. The Clanricarde case was referred to by the Leader of the Opposition last December as their classic case, but there were a good many similar to Clanricarde in Ireland. The 444 of the little over 1,000 cases investigated, were not all on the Clanricarde property, but the Clanricarde ease was a notable type of a far larger number of landlords in Ireland. It was an extreme type no doubt, but when they described the Clanricarde case, they described very many other cases which existed. What was the Clanricarde case? On that estate a very large number of tenants were evicted during the agrarian struggle by the Marquess of Clanricarde; many of them were left in the district; many of them were still living on the verge of farms which were in the hands of people known as "planters," but who were popularly called "grabbers." Some of these farms were vacant; the landlord never came near the place, but through his agent ruled the estate 334 from London as autocratically as any despot upon a throne. Could there be peace and content in that district so long as a large number of discontented and rightly discontented people were hovering about in it? What good was the law of 1903 to the tenants on the Clanricarde estate? Neither the tenants who occupied the land nor the tenants who were evicted from it could receive the slightest benefit from the Act in the lifetime of the present landlord. The will of Parliament was absolutely set at defiance by him, and which was going to prevail in the County of Galway? Was it the will of the Marquess of Clanricarde or the will of King, Lords, and Commons? The Nationalist Members assured the Government in 1903 that the Act could not settle the evicted tenants nor indeed other portions of the Irish land question because of the absence of compulsion or even the elements of compulsion, and they now three and a half years afterwards assured smother Government and a different House of Commons that the prophecy which they then made had been more than fulfilled, and that it was necessary to grapple at once with at hast this portion of the land question in order to bring something like contentment to a large portion of the country. The tenants of Ireland generally felt that they were under a deep and lasting obligation to the evicted tenants, and in many cases the tenants had refused and had been advised by Nationalist Members to refuse to enter into negotiations with their landlords for purchase except on the express condition that evicted tenants should be reinstated. Under these circumstances, not merely the evicted tenants but a large portion of the occupying tenants of Ireland were being and would be excluded from the operation of the Act until compulsion was brought to bear upon the landlords. For these reasons they asked the present Chief Secretary, who was listening for the first time in his official capacity to a debate on a purely Irish social question, to give this matter his earnest and immediate attention, because they could assure him that no act of administration upon his part would be sufficient to accomplish the purpose they all had in view, but it would be 335 necessary for him during this session, if he desired to accomplish a settlement of this problem, to deal with it by legislation. Only this morning he had received a letter from a constituent, a Mr. Jones, who was an evicted tenant. The tenants on the estate from which he had been evicted made up their minds they would not purchase from their landlord unless the grabber gave up the holding and Mr. Jones was reinstated. The grabber expressed his readiness to do so if his interest was bought out, which was not regarded as unreasonable. The agreements were entered into on that condition, and the matter came before the Estates Commissioners. He was not well acquainted with the facts, but if he read the letter aright the sale of this estate was sanctioned by the Commissioners before any agreement was come to with the grabber as to price, and now the grabber was retaining the holding. He thought that was a matter that might be dealt with administratively. The Estates Commissioners, he thought, should be very careful how they gave a permanent position to grabbers, when they were willing to surrender their holdings on terms. There were, of course, cases in which the tenants and the landlords would not consent to reinstate evicted tenants, and in those cases the Estates Commissioners ought to purchase untenanted lands in the district. He admitted that there was great difficulty in regard to the question of untenanted lands even where the landlord was willing to sell, and this was a very important part of the evicted tenants' case, because there were cases where the tenants could not get back to their holdings, and in those cases the attention of the Government and the law ought to be carried out as soon as possible, so as to provide them with holdings elsewhere. The landlords were in many cases willing and anxious to sell, but they were also anxious to get their money at once. Innumerous cases three years elapsed before the money was paid for the land, and the result was that landlords would not enter into negotiations. In other cases the landlords put their land up to auction, but for reasons that he was not able to discover, neither the Estates Commissioners nor the Congested Districts Board would bid at public auctions, and the land was lost to the evicted tenants and the purposes of the Land Act of 1903. He 336 suggested that when the Chief Secretary took this matter into consideration and brought in a Bill to deal with it, he should give the Estates Commissioners some power of pre-emption over these lands, so that when they were put up for sale they should not pass away from the purposes that Parliament intended. There was an administrative aspect of the question with regard to giving priority to evicted tenants where untenanted land came into the market—especially if the land was of a character suitable for the reinstatement of evicted tenants. Such priority should be of an official character right through. At the moment land was offered for sale an inspector should be sent to value it, and an offer should be made immediately to the landlords, and every effort made to obtain the land. The figures read by the Chief Secretary earlier in the afternoon were sufficient proof of the failure of the Land Act of 1903 in this respect. There were between 4,000 and 5,000 cases to be deal t with, and 6,600 applications had been received by the Estates Commissioners, more than half of which had yet to be considered. In the meantime there were 1,600 cases which had been considered still to be disposed of, and only 600 cases had been dealt with by the reinstatement of the evicted tenants. That meant that if the rate of progress was not accelerated it would be three years before those 600cases could be finally settled. He therefore begged the right hon. Gentleman to put every possible pressure on all concerned to bring the matter to as speedy a termination as possible, because this matter appealed to the deepest feelings of the Irish people, and kept open one of the sores of Irish social life. It was a question the right hon. Gentleman should set himself to remedy as quickly as possible. They complained of the rate of progress. Since the debate in last October only 102 tenants had been reinstated, and though they were glad to see during the last four months 100 cases of reinstatement, yet at the rate of progress which had hitherto obtained only 300 a year could be reinstated, and that was not sufficient to satisfy the hopes held out to Irish representatives in this House in 1903. It was not sufficient to give real cheer and courage to men who for a score of years had been lying out of their homes; 337 who had been evicted in the struggle which had taken place for the emancipation of their class and the maintenance of a policy the principle of which had now received the sanction of this House. For these reasons the Amendment which it was his privilege to move on behalf of the Irish Party was more than justified. He had established the fact that the Act of 1903 had been a failure in this respect. It must also be admitted that the existence of these sores was necessarily a danger to the peace and prosperity in Ireland, and their continuance would make more difficult the already sufficiently difficult task which the right hon. Gentleman had undertaken. There was, however, one way in which it might be made less difficult, and that was for the right hon. Gentleman to join the Irish representatives and try to cure these sores, and then he would bring some cheer to these poor creatures who had been suffering for so many years. He begged to move.
§ *MR. HUGH LAW (Donegal, W.),
in seconding the Amendment, said he had not that intimate knowledge of the circumstances of particular districts which many of his colleagues possessed, but he could at least show to the House a fact which was of some importance. This was not merely a local but a national question. It might be asked, who were these evicted tenants, how came it that they stood where they did, and why was it that they were serving them during the first few days of the session, by using in their behalf the only Amendment which they would move to the Address. In the picturesque, language of the people of Ireland, these evicted tenants had come to be known as the "wounded soldiers" of the land war. Every cause had its martyrs, some their saints, but all their martyrs. These men were the martyrs of the social revolution which had taken place in Ireland during the nineteenth century. They were their comrades, the men they could not leave on the battle-field. The land war in which they fell commenced with the foundation of the Land League in the black, bitter winter of 1879. He thought he was right in saying that the Land League itself was founded as an answer to the evictions. Its first and important object was to 338 afford some protection to the combination of tenants, who, through the failure of the crops in that disastrous year, were menaced with eviction. Its programme was summed up in the phrase—"Ireland for the Irish and the land for the people." The second of these objects was now approved by all political Parties. It had been included in Acts of Parliament, consented to by both sides in that House. The other part of the programme was still subject to misrepresentations, just as "Ireland for the Irish" might be regarded as synonymous with red ruin and the breaking of laws, so "the land for the people" (now regarded as just), was denounced as robbery, violence, and spoliation. It consequently followed that every step in the reform of the land laws had been met with most bitter opposition. They had, however, managed to convince the Chief Secretary of that day, Mr. Forster, that something must be done, and done quickly, to stop evictions in Ireland. Mr. Forster, in 1880, if he remembered aright, brought in a Bill to provide compensation for disturbance-That Bill, like so many other amelioratory measures, met its fate at the other end of the corridor. The Government of that day saw that something more ought to be done, and Mr. Gladstone introduced the Land Act of 1881. That Act had been the object of much undue censure, but, whatever its merits or demerits, he thought there could be little doubt that probably it was the best Act which at that day could be passed. It was quite certain, however, that it had in it certain grave defects and certain grave omissions. It had, in the first place, the grave omission that it excluded altogether from its provisions great classes of tenants, notably the leaseholders. Perhaps the gravest among its defects was that there was no provision by which any readjustment could be made during a period of fifteen years. What happened? When the bad years came there were no means of dealing with the situation—a situation very like that of 1879, when they had the bitter struggle in the Plan of Campaign. It was undoubtedly he fact that many of the men who suffered eviction in those years, under the Plan of Campaign, were people of whom it 339 used often to be said that they could, but would not, pay their rent. That, certainly, was quite true. He would doubtless be regarded as a person of very perverted morality by hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway when he said that to his mind the refusal by these men was entirely honourable to them. For what did it mean? It meant that they who were strong determined to stand by the weak. They refused to go back upon their comrades. They had refused to desert the weak, and the mass of the Irish people in their turn refused to this hour to desert them. Over and over again, during the struggle on various estates offers were made to the tenants, subject to one condition. But it was one which the tenants could not accept, because it was a condition which implied vengeance upon the evicted tenants. What they refused then they refused still. His hon. friend had stated truly that on every estate where there had been evicted tenants it was being made a condition precedent to the acceptance of any terms of purchase, that the evicted tenants should be put back in their own farms, or that suitable farms should be provided for them. Unfortunate as was the deadlock, he was proud of his fellow countrymen that it should be so. What was the present position? There was a debate on this subject on the 29th October last year, and the Chief Secretary of that day, in dealing with the difficulties which the Estates Commissioners had to face, appealed to the House to allow time and patience to have their effect. Mr. Bryce at that time had been in office very little over nine months, and since then three or four months had passed. It seemed to him eminently characteristic of the method under which Irish affairs were administered that the Minister who then appealed to them for time and patience should already, only a year since he took up the reins of office, have quitted the Irish Office, and be now on his way across the Atlantic. Perhaps he might be permitted to say that Mr. Bryce certainly carried with him the affection and goodwill of Ireland, and they hoped he would have a prosperous voyage, and that the Atlantic would be kinder to him than St. George's Channel appeared to have been to the right hon. 340 Gentleman the new Chief Secretary. It was eminently characteristic of Irish government that they should now, after three months, when they came to raise this question again, be faced by another Chief Secretary, who perhaps would make an appeal once more, for time and patience, until he, in turn, had mastered some of the intricacies and difficulties of the position. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would be able to give them a more substantial diet to digest than that. From his speech of yesterday he gathered that the right hon. Gentleman had a pretty taste for sepulchral monuments. He could not help fancying, after hearing the right hon. Gentleman yesterday, that the shadow of the cypress of some suburban cemetery had fallen across him as he prepared that delightful speech, and that, being in such a place, his mind turned naturally enough to thoughts of mortality, and he had a vision of his bones, as he said, being laid to rest beside that great monument which covered the official remains of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover. But, in all seriousness, the right hon. Gentleman had no need of any borrowed monument. They all hoped, believed, and expected, that his monument would be the greatest which any Chief Secretary could have, the monument of the restored Parliament House of the Kingdom of Ireland. But if those hopes should prove vain, it was still in his power to build himself a more modest but yet a noble monument. Let him live in the memory of Ireland as the man who restored the evicted tenants. Then he would have not one, but many monuments. They all hoped, however, that the right hon. Gentleman had before him many years of useful life. He hoped and prayed that the right hon. Gentleman might see with his own eyes many thousands of homes which his labours had caused to be rebuilt, that within his nostrils there might be the incense of many a turf fire which his hand had helped to light, and that in his ears there might be the acclamations of a long-suffering and grateful people.
§ Amendment proposed—
§ "At the end of the Question, to add the words 'And we humbly represent to Your Majesty that the promises made and the 341 expectations held out in the year 1903 by Your Majesty's then Government to tenants evicted from their holdings in Ireland during the agrarian troubles in that country have not been fulfilled; that numbers of these unhappy families art still homeless and suffering extreme distress; that this condition of things has given rise to an increasing feeling of bitterness and disappointment; that it is discreditable to English rule in Ireland and dangerous to the public peace, and demands the immediate attention of the Government, with a view to applying a speedy and effectual remedy, by conferring on the Estates Commissioners such powers as will make it possible for them to reinstate the evicted tenants without further delay.' "—(Mr. Hayden.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)
said he rose for the purpose of supporting with all the earnestness he could command the Amendment which had just been put from the Chair. They lived in a time when there were many new and fresh panaceas brought forward on all sides for the regeneration of Ireland—some of them excellent, some of them extremely silly, but one and all were based on a single foundation, and that, was the planting of the peasantry of Ireland as a free people on the soil of the country. It was impossible to take any real step towards the uplifting and redemption of the Irish people until there had been lifted from their shoulders that burden which had bowed them down as serfs in their own land for so many years. In order that the House might understand the real importance and the intense urgency of the demand set forth in the Amendment it was absolutely necessary that he should say a few words on the history of the proceedings which had caused the existence of evicted tenants. The system of Irish landlordism, the most universally condemned by civilised people all over the world, was one which, had to be overthrown before the Irish people could begin their progress towards a better state of things. What was that system, and what were its peculiar crimes and sins? It was a system which paralysed industry in Ireland, which degraded the character of the Irish people, which bred and created crime, and was the sole cause of disorder and trouble in that country. It was a system under which it was made legally possible 342 for the rich man to rob the poor man systematically, and under cover of the law. Was there now in this House one single man who would maintain that that system could have been shaken or that any impression could have been made upon it simply by argument in this House, or by speeches made elsewhere? Was it not now well known and established that that system never could have been shaken, not to say abolished, if it had not been for the bitter struggle lasting over a generation? Landlordism and its influence upon the homes of the Irish people and the fortunes of their race had been more disastrous and more terrible than many great wars and armies in the field, and it had left in the social life of Ireland traces so horrible and bitter that it would take many a long year to wipe them away. He had said those few words about the well-known history of landlordism and the Irish land system in order to endeavour to make hon. Members understand and realise the extent to which this question of the evicted tenants was a national question in Ireland, and how deep and universal was the feeling throughout Ireland that these men must suffer no longer. Why was that so? In the long agrarian struggle in Ireland—and the youngest and most inexperienced Member of this House knew there had been a long and a bitter agrarian struggle in Ireland—things had been done on both sides which they all desired to-day to see forgotten, and the memory of which they desired to see obliterated. It was impossible—and the history of mankind proved it—to work out any great agrarian revolution in any country, much less a country held down by another strange and foreign country like Ireland was by England, without much trouble and disorder, bitterness and suffering. That revolution had been worked out nearly to its conclusion. And he would like to press home the fact that this House by a long series of Acts commencing in 1870 and ending in 1903 had confessed, and, by putting them upon the Statute book, had recognised the blunder and, he might almost say, crime it committed in maintaining the Irish land system. The House heard the other day some talk about the number and cost of the Irish police. It cost £1,400,000 to police the 343 most crimeless nation in Europe or upon the face of the civilised world. It cost more than double the police of any other nation of similar size in the world. Why? Because of Irish landlordism and of that alone. If the work of the abolition of Irish landlordism was brought to a happy termination they could without the slightest risk to life or property reduce the Irish police force to one-half and save £700,000 a year for the education of the people. This was only one of the injuries which had been inflicted upon Ireland by the existing system, but it was a terrible illustration; £700,000 could be saved from being spent upon a great armed police force to maintain a system which was destroying the Irish people and strangling the wealth and industry of the nation. Why did he dwell upon these things? Because to the mind of the people of Ireland the men who by their sacrifices had done more than Parliament and the statesmen of England to overthrow this awful system and lift this burden from the necks of the people of Ireland, were these very evicted tenants. And what would they say as Englishmen, and what would be said by their brethren in America, Australia, and in Ireland, if they were to abandon these men when by tens of thousands the peasants of Ireland were being planted upon the soil? What would be said if these men who were cast upon the roadside in the course of that struggle, were left in the road to starve and perish while the nation was marching on? This Parliament had confessed by a long series of Acts, culminating in the Act of 1903, that the Irish land system was iniquitous and should be put a stop to. They had justified the revolt of the nation against it, and they had incurred by that the duty of wiping out the sufferings of those who suffered by that war. That was not left to him to prove. They all remembered the debates on the Bill of 1903. That Bill differed in one important particular from all previous measures. It was introduced in consequence of and following upon an agreement between a large section of Irish landlords and a section of the Irish people, the first condition of which was that the implacable war of vengeance declared again and again by champions of the Irish landlords against the evicted tenants, and especially against 344 the Plan of Campaign evicted tenants should be abandoned, and that those men should be restored to their homes, or to new homes on generous terms; and that was the special point in the scheme in order to wipe away as far as possible the black memories of the past. Did they on those Benches give no quid pro quo for that agreement? He thought they gave an enormous price for it. Had there ever before been a case where a landed gentry had been brought out on such terms? The case of Ireland was not the first instance of the buying out of a landlord class, for the same thing had been done in France and Prussia and other continental countries. But they might search the annals of all those countries and they would not be able to find a class which had ever been treated so generously as the landed gentry of Ireland. They consented to that agreement on one condition only, which was that these wounded soldiers of the land war, as they were then called, should be treated with generosity and put back into their old homes as speedily as possible with such grants as would enable them to face life again in a cheerful spirit. Had that been done, what would have been the state of Ireland to-day? It would have had an incalculable influence in smoothing away old passions, and it would have put an end to the bitter social war which had desolated Ireland for so many generations. He would tell the House how the Government of the day treated that part of the bargain. The moment the Act was passed all those provisions which were in the interests of the landlords were put into operation full steam ahead, and man after man sold his estate sat enormous prices and on terms which brought them considerably more income than they ever derived from the land. As regarded the evicted tenants, instructions were issued to paralyse the Commissioners and so to keep the evicted tenants upon the roads. Why was that done? Because the evicted tenants were to be used as a lever to force up the price of land, and this was one of the cruelest acts of treachery on the part of one party to a bargain that he had ever known. In many districts the tenants on the estates had combined and resolved 345 not to purchase their holdings until the; evicted tenants were reinstated. The answer of the landlord to this was, "What price are you going to give? If you will pay twenty-four or twenty-five years purchase I will put back the evicted tenants." The action of many landlords was to keep the evicted tenants as hostages for the bargain like the brigands in Sicily had held men as ransom and threatened to send in their ears and noses unless a certain price was paid. That was the intention with which this part of the bargain had been violated, and the result was that up to the present day, after a lapse of more than three years since the Act was passed, the vast majority of the tenants were still on the roadside. In order to give hon. Members an idea of the methods that had been adopted and the progress made he would read one or two passages from the Report of the Estates Commissioners for 1905. It was the first Report of the Commissioners and dealt with the period from 1st November, 1903, to 31st December, 1904. The Report said that 4,275 evicted tenants had applied to be reinstated, and that the Estates Commissioners had proposed to employ a special establishment for the carrying on of the work of dealing with the applications. Considerable correspondence passed with the Treasury, and the result was that the Commissioners were instructed to confine their inquiries to estates actually before them for sale. That was treachery to the evicted tenants, to the Irish Members, and to the House of Commons itself, who were ready to agree to this act as they thought of "national appeasement," as it used to be called, by reason of the rosy prospects which were held out by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover that peace and contentment would reign from one end of the country to the other. What was the result? The Estates Commissioners, interpreting correctly the spirit of the Act, immediately sent in to the Treasury an application for a proper establishment to carry out this great work of restoring the evicted tenants, and the Treasury absolutely refused to give any staff whatever, and by that act alone they paralysed the whole work of restoring the evicted tenants, saying that they were only to 346 restore them in so far as the ordinary staff of inspectors were at work on estates offered for sale. In other words, the Treasury handed over the evicted tenants as hostages to the landlords who were offering their estates for sale. They issued instructions to the Commissioners not to deal with tenants who were not before them in connection with estates offered for sale. The instructions were published afterwards by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Dublin, and they brought the work of reinstatement absolutely to a standstill. That was the condition of things until the general election took place. It was thought that then at last they were within sight of the promised land, and they immediately took steps to impress upon Mr. Bryce, the Chief Secretary, the position of affairs long before the question was raised in Parliament. His hon. friend the Member for Waterford and himself waited upon the right hon. Gentleman and explained the necessity for going ahead with this work. What happened? The right hon. Gentleman immediately took steps to withdraw the regulations issued by one of his predecessors, and he issued another series of regulations to which, with two or three exceptions, he had no fault to find, which set free the hands of the Commissioners so far as the law made it possible to go on with this work. Then in came again their old friend the Treasury. Mr. Bryce, who was now on his way to Washington, issued these regulations in February last, but they could not be put in force until a staff was available. The Estates Commissioners, with the consent and approval of the Irish Government, applied to the Treasury for an increase of staff, and would it be believed that, even under the present Government, the Treasury maintained its blockade obstinately and resolutely, and only six men were allowed although a much larger number had been applied for. As showing what the Irish people had to suffer under the obstructive machinery of the Government Departments with which they had to deal, it appeared, from an Answer given to a Question on 20th December last,† that it took this strong Government another†See (4) Debates, clxvii., 1732.347 twelve months to get twelve additional inspectors to carry out this work in Ireland. It was only in December last that these inspectors began work which ought to have been commenced three years ago. The total number of applications up to the 5th instant were 6,608, and of these only 3,627 had yet been even inspected. It was plain that if the intention of Parliament had been carried out, if there had been real interest in the matter, the whole of these holdings would have been inspected years ago, or at all events certainly more than a year ago. But they were now informed that the Government only hoped that the work of inspection would be completed by the month of May. That brought him down to the obstacles which had been placed in the way by the former Irish Government, and by the Treasury since the present Government came into office, and which had blocked the work of restoring the evicted tenants. Let him say before he passed from that subject that while he understood that the majority of the inspectors were sympathetic and did the work fairly well, some were, according to all accounts, landlords' men,ex-agents and gentlemen who were engaged in the war against the tenants. He could not imagine an act of greater cruelty than to send down to this work of reinstatement men who had been aiders and partisans of the enemy—of the landlords—who had driven the tenants from their homes only yesterday. He became aware of a case to which he must call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman privately. It was the case of a man going round pretending to reinstate the tenants but really putting such high values upon derelict and desolate evicted farms as would make the reinstatement of the tenants in them an absolute mockery. He would privately bring the matter before the Chief Secretary, and he appealed to him only to send down for this work men who were really sincere and friendly, who were in sympathy with the tenants and desired to carry out the work they were intended to perform. Let them turn to the figures given to-day by the Chief Secretary. There were 3,627 holdings which had been inspected, about one-half of the whole. The total number 348 restored was 644, and there remained 1,636 cases passed by the inspectors as genuine which had not been inspected and in which the tenants had not been restored. Would hon. Members put themselves in the position of these people and endeavour to realise their feelings when they saw their neighbours all round them reaping the reward of the suffering and sacrifices of evicted tenants who were left still by the roadside with hardly a shelter over their heads and sick with hope long; deferred? They had heard to-day allusion made to the classic case of Lord Clanricarde. Would the House bear with him while he recalled one or two cases? In the year 1886 some of them went down to that estate; it was in a stats of disturbance. They had been charged frequently with having incited to assassination and outrage. It was not an easy thing to go there. There had been nine murders within six years, and not one man had been brought to justice in connection with them. The late agent had been shot on the public road, going home on a Sunday from service, when his wife was sitting on the car beside him. The district had been for years in a state of confusion and disturbance, and was honeycombed with secret societies—societies which had been the only protection the people had against Lord Clanricarde, who sat in his lodging in London drawing an enormous revenue from the estate and keeping for nearly thirty years the whole district in a state of turmoil and disturbance. They went down to offer to the people another plan by which they could relieve themselves of this awful incubus. The older Members of the House would remember what were known as the Clanricarde evictions. When Lord St. Aldwyn was Chief Secretary he was compelled to send down an army in connection with those evictions, although he had entreated Lord Clanricarde to spare his own Party that necessity. He remembered when he went down there seeing a stern-looking old man, who, he learned afterwards, had been one of the chief leaders in the secret societies in the south of Galway. He had been evicted from his house. It was a pretty little house, built by his own hands. There were roses round the porch and a little garden, in front—a rare thing in an Irish cabin. The old man, with 349 tears in his eyes, turned to him and said, "Ah! Mr. Dillon, I do not know whether you are right and whether the new methods may not be better, but I still believe in the old plan." This man died under circumstances which it. was impossible to describe, on the roadside; and it was only last week that he (Mr. Dillon) received from his daughter a letter asking him to make a contribution towards the expense of burying her mother who had just died. Neither father nor mother had ever again entered that home, the work of the father's own hands. Was it not a wonder that on that Clanricarde estate from the day that they raised the banner of the Plan of Campaign no murder had been committed and no serious crime recorded? That was a thing to be proud of. But what the gentlemen of England, the Gentlemen of the House of Commons, had to think of were the 120 families who were homeless on the Clanricarde estate to-day. What answer could they have given to that old man if they had been in his place? And now, when peace reigned, when combination had taken the place of outrage, those 120 families who were evicted from their homes by the Marquess of Clanricarde were still on the roadside, as they had been for twenty years—many of them living in huts erected for them by their neighbours or from public funds, the rain coming down on them through broken roofs, and dozens of them dying from cold, fever, and consumption. Dozens more had died during those twenty years from the same privations and diseases. This right hon. Gentleman, this noble Marquess, had defied the will of Parliament; he rejoiced in defying and defeating it. He warned the Chief Secretary that one of the greatest desires of the noble Marquess was to compel him to bring down a large force of armed police to that part of the country again to terrorise those evicted tenants. He remembered an expression made use of by the then Prime Minister during the South African War on an occasion when some man in Stratford-on-Avon made a speech in favour of the Boers and a mob arose, attacked that man's house, smashed his furniture, and threw the fragments into 350 the street. The case was brought up in the House and several Members used strong language about the police not having protected this man. But what did the Prime Minister say? He said—I object to these proceedings, but I must be allowed to say that there are occasions when there are limits to human endurance and human patience.If the limits of human endurance had been reached when an Englishman indulged in the right of free speech, what were the limits of human endurance and patience when a man had been evicted from his own home, which he had created with his own hands, by an intolerable tyrant who was the curse of his country? He asked if it was tolerable that this Marquess, who delighted in defying and defeating the policy of Parliament, should be permitted to go on in this course and to have the whole forces of the Empire at his back to carry out his will? He appealed to the Chief Secretary, more especially in regard to the case of Lord Clanricarde, to deal boldly with him and not be forced to be the tool of this illustrious Member of the House of Lords. He did not know that the Radicals of England could do a greater service to their cause than to bold up the Peers of England as the champions of the Marquess of Clanricarde. What was the Government going to do in this matter? They had tried all methods of administration. They had tried conciliation with the landlords. According to the figures that had been given, 100 cases had been reinstated within the last three months—that was after the debate in October last. But even under the improved machinery devised by the present Government, in 440 of the cases reported the landlords had absolutely refused to allow the inspectors to go on the land. Mr. Bryce said, last October, that if progress was not soon made the mind of the Government was moving in the direction of compulsion. Well, progress had not be been made, and he did not see any immediate prospect of progress—that was to say, such progress as he and his colleagues could regard as satisfactory. They wanted to know whether the mind of the Government had moved any further in the direction of compulsion. When the Nationalist Party consented 351 to the bonus, it was part of the bargain that evicted tenants should be promptly restored to their holdings or put on new holdings; not only that, but that they should be restored under conditions which would enable them to face the future with some prospect of success. What was the good of a man being restored to a holding which had gone to rack and ruin? It must be remembered that these men had been beggared, and to tell them to go back to farms without the means of working them was a cruel mockery. Unless a grant was given to a returning tenant, such as would enable him to face the future as an industrious and solvent tenant, nothing at all would be done for him. There had been only three of the evicted tenants on the Clanricarde Estate returned to their holdings. He had been informed that the annuities fixed upon these farms were entirely excessive, and the grants given to the tenants entirely insufficient for starting them in life. Sufficient grants were almost as important as restitution. There was no use in restoring a tenant unless he were put in possession of the means of facing the world again. Unless Parliament did that, their whole measure of peace would fail in its effect, He saw no difficulty in finding the money. A sum of £250,000 was set aside by the Act of 1903, mostly for the use of evicted tenants. In his opinion, it would take the greater part of that money to give the tenants adequate means to start. But after three and a half years the total sum spent on the reinstatement of evicted tenants was only £33,000, of which £27,000 were free grants. In those three and a half years the Government had only expended the interest of the sum set aside for dealing with these tenants. There was no financial difficulty in the matter. The money was there set aside for the purpose; it was Irish money, and not granted by the House at all. It was saved under the old Land Act and was called the Reserve Fund. It was true statesmanship to treat these people generously. If Parliament really wished to reap any fruit from this policy of generosity, as it had been called—of pure justice, as he called it—they must do the work quickly and generously. If it were so done, he could say to the Chief Secretary that he would have 352 taken the most effective step possible to ease and smooth what would be a difficult task. If the right hon. Gentleman wished to impress the imagination of Ireland and get a strong hold of the affections of a people who were, to a considerable extent, influenced by their imagination and affection, he must take some bold step on the Clanricarde Estate and let the people of Ireland and of England know that the limits of human endurance and of human patience had been long passed by this man and that he would no longer be allowed to prostitute the name and forces of England by carrying out his nefarious and wicked tyrannies in Ireland.
§ *MR. GOOCH (Bath)
said he thought the Irish Members had shown good judgment in taking the first opportunity of calling the attention of the House and country to this question of the evicted tenants, and to the tragic circumstances arising out of it. He thought the speeches delivered that afternoon justified that statement and must have impressed the Chief Secretary. If only that right hon. Gentleman were to respond fitly to the appeals made to him he would reap a rich harvest of gratitude in Ireland and would touch the heart of that great country which he was to rule. He thought, with the hon. Member for Donegal, that if the right hon. Gentleman was able to solve the problem which had been in evidence for the past twenty years, he would erect a monument to his memory which, if smaller than that of 1903, would record his name in the grateful hearts of the people of Ireland. The debate of last October made it perfectly clear that the great intentions of the Act of 1903, passed in all sincerity by its promoters, had not been carried out in respect of one of the main objects which they set out to attain. In a very interesting book which came out last year, written by M. Béchaux on the land question in Ireland, the author advanced the opinion that as a Purchase Act it was almost an entire success, but regarded as a measure of social reconstruction if had been almost a failure. The task before the Chief Secretary was to make this greater object of social reconstruction as much a success as the actual transference of land had 353 been. They had heard a great deal about the restrictions which were most unfortunately introduced into the work of the Estates Commissioners by the late Chief Secretary the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Dublin, and as the hon. Member for Mayo had reminded them that afternoon, one of the first things done last year was to relax these restrictions and free the hands of the Commissioners. A further step was that after a wrangle with the Treasury they had obtained a larger staff. Another important thing was that the Estates Commissioners had considered themselves at liberty to adopt the principle of priority in dealing with estates which involved the question of the evicted tenants. He knew that in the past that policy had been severely animadverted upon by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Dublin, but realising as they all did that the reinstatement of the evicted tenants was necessary for the peace of Ireland he thought that it was right that that principle should be adopted. The fact that the progress had been so very small in regard to the evicted tenants seemed to him to make it clear that there were other steps to be taken before the problem came within sight of solution. As another hon. Member had told the Chief Secretary, the main difficulty was the want of land, and the most important step taken by Mr. Bryce in this connection was his utterance—he thought the first utterance of the kind by an Irish Chief Secretary—in which he hinted at the necessity of giving a compulsory power, and he ventured to suggest to the Chief Secretary not to go one worse, than his predecessor. That speech of Mr. Bryce had aroused hopes which he trusted would be fulfilled. It was quite clear that the question of getting more land was involved, because if they were to put the evicted tenant back on his own holding it was only fair that the Estates Commissioners should find a holding for the so-called "grabber." If there were circumstances under which he could not be got rid of, it was perfectly clear that the Estates Commissioners must find land for the evicted tenant. In any case it was obvious that other land would have to be found. It was, however, also 354 clear that great difficulty arose because of the small amount of untenanted land in Ireland, but he did not think that anyone had a right to put that forward as an insuperable obstacle until they knew after inquiry by the Estates Commissioners how much untenanted land there was. The Amendment seemed to have another argument of great importance in its favour, and that was that if they were to solve the problem of the amelioration of the congested districts in the West they must give this power of compulsory purchase. The two classes most worthy of their sympathy and their help were, in the first place, the evicted tenants, and in the second place the half-a-million of people living on the Atlantic sea-board, and they could only help them by giving the Estates Commissioners in the one case, and the Congested Districts Board in the other, this power of compulsory purchase. He regarded the Act of 1903 as a great and magnificent measure, but like other measures it might have been a great deal better than it was, and it was perfectly clear that one of the main purposes of that Bill, the restoration of peace and the termination of the land war, could only be completed by something which would round off and perfect that legislation. Therefore, he appealed to Unionists not to run away at the mere sound of the word "compulsion," and to remember that these compulsory powers would not be exercised by a Liberal, Radical, or Home Rule Parliament, but in the one case by the Estates Commissioners, and in the other by the Congested Districts Board, who were not politicians at all, but civil servants.
§ *MR. O'SHEE (Waterford, W.)
said that everyone acquainted with the case of the evicted tenants in Ireland had felt for a long time past that it was absolutely necessary to introduce compulsion. The proceedings of the inspectors who had been sent into the country before and since December had shown conclusively that no effective measures could be taken for the benefit of the evicted tenants without the introduction of compulsion. In his part of the country they had had experience for nine months of the action of one of 355 these inspectors, and the result had been that in the whole county of Waterford, where there were some hundreds of evicted tenants, not a single one them had yet been restored to his holding through the action of the inspector. The procedure adopted by the inspector was to invite a Member of Parliament or some other public man to meet the evicted tenants with him at some hotel. The tenants came in one by one into the coffee room, and the inspector asked them the particulars of their cases, and after he had taken down the particulars he generally said he was sorry to say that he could do nothing for them, but he would report to the Estates Commissioners, who also could do nothing for them. He did not think it was clear, in a case where a landlord had lodged an originating application for an advance under the Purchase Acts, and then warned an inspector off the evicted farm, that legislation was necessary to deal with it. If the principle of priority had been in operation such cases would have been dealt with two or more years ago. In his district there was the case of a landlord, Sir John Nugent Humble, who had 2,000 acres of untenanted land on his hands, and he lodged an originating application, the tenants having come to a bargain with him that they would agree to give him twenty-four and a half years purchase—a high price even for that locality; but he warned a special inspector, appointed by Mr. Bryce, off his land, although the existing tenants signed the agreement he thought, for one reason, that they understood that the evicted tenants would be restored to their homes. Directly the application was made the estate came under the control of the Commissioners, and they ought to have had the right to send their inspector at once to the estate to report to them as to whether it should be deemed to be an estate under the Act at all. As everyone knew, that was the first thing the Estate Commissioners had to decide. Therefore it was the duty of the Estates Commissioners to have sent their inspector over the estate twelve months ago if the principle of priority then really came into operation, in order that he might report as to whether the case of the evicted tenants ought to 356 be taken up. That case was a sample of the whole. The Estates Commissioners there could have said to the landlord that if he did not allow them to send an inspector on the estate they would not take up the case in order, but would put it down to the end of their list of pending estates because the landlord refused to help them in any way to carry out one of the main objects of the Act, which was to restore the evicted tenants to their holdings. There were numbers of estates in Ireland where the landlords proposed to sell and where no steps had been taken to restore the evicted tenants, which showed that the principle of priority was not in operation. Of course, there were other landlords, like Lord Clanricarde, who would not look at the Act of 1903. Lord Clanricarde would not touch it at any price, and the Estates Commissioners had now no power to deal with such a case, as that. But they had power, if they would only exercise it, to deal with landlords who proposed to sell their estates. He asked the right hon. Gentleman to look into this matter. The Estates Commissioners were, under the regulations of the right hon. Members for Dover and South Dublin, bound to confine their inquiries, with regard to the evicted tenants, to the estates which came before them for sale, and the estates he had referred to were actually before them for sale. They had been before them for two years and nothing had been done except that the inspect or, who should have the right to go on the estates, actually wrote to the landlords for permission to go on the evicted farms on the very estates in respect of which the owners had lodged originating applications for advances of State money to enable them to sell to their existing tenants. Such a thing was an outrage on common sense and business instincts. He further complained that some of the inspectors appointed by the present Government were men who, in the past, had fought in the land war in the active interest of the landlords, and contended that it was impossible to expect that these men would act quite fairly and justly in considering the position of the evicted tenants. In his own experience in the south of Ireland one of the inspectors recently appointed had taken part in evicting tenants in the past from estates 357 for which he acted as agent. In one case the special inspector appointed had been sent to a district where he was a personal friend of many of the evicting landlords, with whom he was in the habit of hunting. The very first case with which he dealt was on the estate of a master of hounds, with whom he used to hunt. In that case the evicted tenant had died, and one member of his family, a daughter, had remained in a hut watching the farm from which they had been evicted, in order that she might get back to it. The farm house had fallen into ruins and the fences had tumbled down, even the boundary fence, and the farm, which had been in a fair state of tillage, was covered with furze and thorns. The landlord fixed a price which was absolutely prohibitive, and his friend, the inspector, said it was a fair price. But the evicted tenant would not have the farm, knowing very well that if she went back she would be in a couple of years turned out because she would be unable to pay the annuity on the price. In another case the inspector of the Estates Commissioners told the evicted tenant that he had made inquiries as to his character, and that he was not a proper person to go back to the farm. He would not say why, or of whom he had made inquiries. In yet another case restoration was to be refused because the inspector said the widow of the evicted tenant had grown too old and too feeble, The evicted tenant had died, and his widow had been out of the farm for twenty years, and because she had grown old and feeble she was not to be allowed to go back to the farm. That was the way in which the evicted tenants had been dealt with by some of the inspectors. In the case he had just referred to, the landlord had the evicted farm in his own hands and, in order to prevent the Estates Commissioners getting it into their hands, he had proceeded to plant it. All these cases required investigating again, because in the case where the inspector reported that the evicted tenant was not a proper person to have the farm, the tenant was a man in the prime of life, and was a very proper man to work the farm. All his neighbours declared that he would never have been evicted if the farm had been let at a proper rent and that it was only by other means that he had that he was 358 enabled to pay the rent. He must, however, say that the Estates Commissioners had declared that the inspector must explain upon what grounds he made the report that the tenant was not It entitled to get his farm back. There was a case also of another estate on which there were three holdings from two of which the tenants had been evicted. In that case the agent lived about twenty miles away. This agent had recently become the tenant of the two evicted holdings out of the three holdings forming the estate. The inspector wrote a letter to the evicted tenant asking what compensation he was prepared to give to this agent, who, since the passing of the Act of 1903, had obtained possession of the holdings as tenant, and who, immediately he had become tenant, had signed the agreement to purchase. This was adding insult to injury, and he could give a good many instances of that kind all over the country. It was an outrage to ask the tenant to compensate the agent for a farm which had been derelict for many years, and of which he became tenant, probably; as trustee for the owner, since the, passing of the Act, in order to make a claim for compensation, or to oust the rights of the evicted tenant. In another case, a professional land grabber bought a holding for £76, and the same inspector arranged that the man should receive £300 for that which had cost him £76; and he had called upon the evicted tenant to find £100; the Estates Commissioners were to find another £100, and the landlord, in order to facilitate the sale of his land, had promised to find the third £100. This was not entirely the fault of the inspector, because the grabber controlled the situation. The same man had grabbed four or five other farms in the same district, as to which he expected the same proportion of compensation. That was a sample of what the professional grabber was doing, and he was the first man appointed to the magistracy by the present Lord Chancellor in the county Tipperary on the recommendation of the Lord-Lieutenant of the county. He did not think that the inspectors of the Estates Commissioners ought to be compelled by law to tolerate these grabbers, who were drawing these large sums for compensation, though they had done nothing to improve the farms. 359 Throughout the country there were large tracts of land which the landlords declined to sell. In one parish alone in East Waterford there were1,000 acres of evicted land, with about ten evicted tenants. The owner had refused to sell, and the existing tenants, in order to induce her to do so, had offered the highest rate of interest, so that pending adjudication and the advance of the purchase money the income of the owner should not suffer. They said they would give 4 per cent. in order to secure the farms for the evicted tenants, but no response was made to the suggestion, and it was very likely that the owner, a lady, would continue to refuse to sell. All over the country the existing tenants were offering higher prices, in order to secure the holdings for the evicted tenants. The landlords were using them as a lever to obtain higher prices. What was the position of the evicted tenants to-day? They were sick of the inspectors; they did not want the kind of special inspectors sent them in some places, any longer. Six months ago, in his own constituency, the inspector in certain cases had taken notes; he had himself gone round with him and seen the notes taken, but nothing had been done since. These inspectors were not going to settle the question of the evicted tenants, if they were only going to restore them on terms which would mean ruin to them. The evicted tenants were rapidly losing patience, and he warned the Chief Secretary that unless some change was made and unless compulsory powers were obtained with a view to restoring them to their holdings, there would be a recrudescence of agitation; there would be not only a violent agitation, but violence in the near future, unless a speedy and adequate attempt were made to rescue them from the position in which they found themselves.
§ Mr. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
said he was quite convinced that this question could not be settled without compulsion, though at the same time he thought compulsion should be extended over a very limited area. There were 6,000 evicted tenants. First of all there was a large class who had come to grief in the ordinary way. It was not to be supposed that these men were to be 360 reinstated under the Bill of 1903. The second class might be called planters and grabbers. It was agreed that every effort should be made to get these men to give up the farms they had acquired, that the old tenants should be restored to their holdings, and that where it was found impossible to do that the Estates Commissioners should endeavour to get land elsewhere for them. He was glad to be able to say that in a good number of cases planters had been removed, and the old tenants were practically in possession. But there was a third class, and far away the most important class, to which attention should be given. There were 1,200 cases where the holdings from which the tenants were evicted were either derelict or cultivated by the landlords themselves, who positively refused to take back the tenants on any terms. Not only this House, but the House of Lords had sanctioned the principle of restoring evicted tenants. What could be done with these 1,200 men? The Marquess of Clanricarde, who had been referred to, stood in a different position; he had put in the planters.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said he was glad to hear it, because it simplified the case. He was for doing anything with the Marquess of Clanricarde that the House was willing to do. It was twenty years since he wrote in The Times, after visiting the Marquess's estate, that he was ready to vote for a special Bill to expropriate him. He was a curse to the whole West of Ireland. With a rent roll of £16,000 a year he gave in charity only £10 a year to the National School, and he was bound by his father's will to give that. Here was a man, drawing £16,000 a year out of the poverty of Galway, who was a standing menace to the peace of the country, and responsible for many murders and outrages that had happened. The sooner he was paid his money and put out of the country the better would it be for the peace of the country. He asked the House what could be done in this case if they were not to apply the principle of compulsion? How were they going to get such men out from the possessions of the tenants, who 361 were starving on the roadside, unless they were compelled to sell? Parliament had expressed the desire that this question of sale should be settled, yet Parliament continued to allow these 1,200 men to keep the country in a state of turmoil. He would not plead that these men should be reinstated simply as tenants, because he knew the friction that might take place. But there was nothing impossible in the compelling of these men to do by law what the Marquess of Lansdowne had done from his own good sense. Why should not a fair rent be fixed by the Estates Commissioners on these holdings? Why should not, when that fair rent has been fixed, the landlord be compelled to sell on the basis of a given number of years purchase? He could not see anything unreasonable in that. There was nothing unreasonable in saying to these men, "You must not disturb the peace of the country in this way." Property had its rights, but it also had its duties. These men must be told that the evicted tenants must be allowed to settle down. He personally would not object to give the landlords an extra year's bonus for compulsion. [A NATIONALIST MEMBER: Why?] To secure peace and for no other reason. This must be a question of give and take. Ever since the passing of the Land Act he had been extremely anxious to get this question settled, and that was the position he occupied that night. He had no responsibility, the real responsibility lay on the Government and on the House. He believed that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover was sincere in his desire to get this matter put right.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said that was his belief. He hoped the Chief Secretary would free the Estates Commissioners from the bonds which had bound them in regard to untenanted land, and he would like to see the landlords who held farms themselves—and who were so spiteful that they would not even allow the inspectors to go on them—compelled to do what others had done without compulsion for the sake of the peace and prosperity of the country.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND (Clare, E.)
said the case for the evicted tenants had been so admirably put that he fully recognised that there was no necessity for him to labour the question. He intervened because he represented one of the counties of Ireland which during the Land League agitation was perhaps one of the most agitated and disturbed portions of Ireland. That agitation was extremely fierce, and the disturbances in Clare were perhaps more serious than in any other portion of the country. The county of Clare was now happily in a state of peace, and there was little, if any thing, in the shape of disturbance. In common with his colleagues he was extremely anxious that the present undisturbed state of the county of Clare and the whole of Ireland should continue. The Irish representatives in the past had taken their place alongside the poor tenants in the agitation for land reform, and they suffered with the tenants what ever inconveniences had to be suffered. The principles for which they had fought had been recognised by the House, and they were anxious that this principle should be given full effect to. There were hundreds of evicted tenants in county Clare who had patiently waited for four years for something to be done, and their patience was very nearly exhausted. Everywhere in his constituency where he had spoken recently he had been asked when the Government promises in regard to the evicted tenants were going to be carried out. He replied that he believed the Government were going to do something, He did not think it would be possible much longer to keep in check the excitement and discontent which were growing up amongst the evicted tenants, and if they ended in disturbance and violence he would not be surprised, because the Government in regard to those tenants had been guilty of a gross breach of faith. The landlords and tenants met in solemn conference in Dublin, and it was solemnly agreed that the evicted tenants who had suffered through the agitation should be restored to their homes as rapidly as s possible. What was the effect of that upon the country? There was a general agreement amongst all parties that s as a preliminary to a settlement the evicted tenants should be restored. 363 Nobody could deny that. Three-and-a-half, years had passed and tens of millions of money had changed hands by the sale of land. The Land Act had worked rapidly in every respect, except in regard to the evicted tenants. Was that fair? Were the people of Ireland to be blamed because they felt aggrieved in regard to this breach of faith? After waiting for three-and-a-half years they found that only 300 or 400 evicted tenants had been restored to their homes. That seemed like a mockery of the pledges given in this House by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover. The landlords had got their money in tens of millions, and yet the evicted tenants were still out. That being so, he asked the Chief Secretary whether it was outside the bounds of possibility for the Government promptly and effectually to carry out the pledge given to Parliament, the Land Conference, and the whole people of Ireland, and to restore the evicted tenants. A suggestion had been made as to compulsory powers. Most of the men on the Nationalist Benches believed that the form of compulsion exercised without any infringement of the legitimate rights of property in Australia, New Zealand, and other parts of the Empire, might without any danger be applied in extreme cases in Ireland. But it was not their business to suggest to the Chief Secretary or the Government whether they should do this thing ultimately by compulsion, or in some other way. The fact remained that they were bound in honour before the world to do it, and it was for them, with all the resources and powers at their command, to see that it was done, and it was necessary for the honour and good name of this House that it should be done at once fully and effectually. He had spoken to twelve different Chief Secretaries since he entered this House. What had become of them all he did not know, and he was bound in candour to say that he did not care. He hoped that when the time came to part with the present Chief Secretary at some distant date they would do so with good feeling. He appealed to the right hon. Gentleman not to be satisfied by stating what Mr. Bryce, who was now on the way to Washington, said twelve months ago, that the Government would see what they could do as to greater speed in dealing 364 with this matter. A year had passed since that statement was made, and there had been no greater speed whatever. If it was not dealt with, this one question would wreck the hopes and the prospects of the present Administration.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. BIRRELL, Bristol, N.)
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, and, earlier in the debate, the hon. Member for West Donegal, who seconded the Amendment, spoke good-naturedly and with perfect sincerity of the grievance Ireland suffers because of the repeated change of the Chief Secretary; and the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down reminded me, if I needed to be reminded of it, that my predecessor has only just laid down the seals of his office, and is now speeding across the Atlantic. Although I am a bad sailor, in some moods I could almost wish that I were by his side, but in manlier moments I am glad to be here. Well, fortunately, in this matter of the evicted tenants it is not necessary for me to go back into the stormy history of the past. It is quite enough for me to recognise that in 1903 a Parliamentary bargain was come to; and I do not think anybody will deny that the evicted tenants appear before this House, through their representatives, asking for the performance of a distinct bargain. We are jealous in this House of the honour of Parliament and of Parliamentary bargains, even when they are only made on small matters between the two Front Benches as to the course of debate or the time at which a divison is to be taken. Surely we are not going to be less desirous of maintaining our honour in a matter of such vital importance as this? I therefore start, as any person in my position would have to start whether they liked it or not, on that footing. A bargain was made whilst the Act of 1903 was under discussion in this House—a bargain which, if it had not been made, might have had a considerable effect upon the fortunes of that measure. The bargain was made, and the people for whoso benefit it was made now come to us, pointing out that three and a half years have gone by, and those promises are only very partially fulfilled. That is the general spirit in which we approach this question. I recognise the bargain, I recognise the 365 obligation, I admit the length of time, and I agree as cordially as any man can do that this is a question that brooks no delay, not only in the interests of the evicted tenants themselves, but in the interests, for which I am particularly responsible, of peace and order in Ireland. I understand it to be an indisputable fact that in those places where, unfortunately, a spirit of unrest and disturbance exists, and where nobody can feel that confidence he would like to feel as to the maintenance of order, you will often find it is due to the presence in the midst of a sympathetic, and it may be inflammable, population of a number of these evicted tenants whose wrongs are for ever before their eyes. Consequently, both in the interests of Parliament and Parliamentary honour, and also in the interests of that law and order to which we are all so deeply attached, I fully recognise that this question is one of primary importance, and, as I have said, brooks no delay. Reference has been made to the total number of applications that have been received up to date in this matter. The figures have been given as 6,600, but it is only fair to say that out of those 6,600 cases 339 were received only last month. Consequently, nobody can be blamed for not having disposed of those. Of the 6,600 claims that have been received, I find the total number of applications rejected as not being within the meaning of the Act was 384, and the total rejected as unfit to be annuitants, or for other reasons, was 963. The total restored was 644. Of these, 465 tenants have been restored by the landlords, with the assistance of grants from the Estates Commissioners, and 179 on lands purchased by the Estates Commissioners themselves. It would not be fair to the Estates Commissioners to remove altogether those 465 tenants who have been restored by the landlords with the assistance of grants from their purview, because the great majority of them, if not all, did come actually under their purview, and it was owing largely to their friendly office and to their assistance that they have been able to be restored. Now the total reported on, but not disposed of, amounts to 1,636. Of these, further analysis shows that 673 have been actually noted as suitable for parcels of untenanted land. Therefore, we have full power and only 366 wait for the land which they are entitled to have as soon as it can be obtained. Offers have been accepted by owners, and the tenants will shortly be restored in fifty-one cases. Offers have been made and are under consideration by owners in seventy cases. The cases inquired into, but in which inspection of holdings has been refused, is 542. In that gloomy and discreditable list we must, of course, I need hardly add, include the Clanricarde estate. The cases in process of being ruled by the Commissioners are 300. That makes up the total I have given of 1,636. I ought perhaps to have said that, out of the black list of 542, there are seventy-one, I am happy to say, in which the owners have recently agreed to allow inspection. Therefore, that figure should be reduced to 471. The cases not yet reported on are 3,053. That is the full statement of the figures as far as I know. I believe it was not contemplated by any of the parties to this agitation that there would be so large a number of cases. I am told it was supposed in people's minds that a thousand would be the outside number of evicted tenants. Well, of that imaginary thousand we have at all events dealt, in the circumstances to which I will refer in a moment, with 644. I do not want to make Party recriminations upon this occasion; but unfortunately the operations which were necessary to fulfil this preliminary bargain were from the very beginning mutilated and reduced to comparative inutility. There was not a sufficient staff placed at the disposal of the Commissioners; and, furthermore, regulations, to which reference has been made, were imposed on the operation of this bargain which rendered progress very difficult and necessarily very slow. I say no more about that; it was most regrettable, in my opinion. When the change of Government took place my distinguished predecessor approached this subject after receiving the full information upon it which it was necessary for him to have. He acted promptly. He repealed those restrictions, and, so to speak—partly, at any rate—set the Estates Commissioners free to perform the bargain which Parliament had made for them. But they were face to face with the difficulty of an insufficient staff. They had not got enough people to send about the country to make the necessary inspection. Then 367 they approached the Treasury. I am not going to quarrel with the Treasury. I have already received some slight intimation that I must be cautious in these matters. My reason for wishing to keep on good terms with the Treasury is that I shall be a sturdy beggar at their doors, and I am most anxious to keep on harmonious relations with them. All I would say, and this I will say in the language of antiquity not to be misunderstood, Bis dat qui cito dat. A demand was made on the Treasury for extra assistance, ultimately recognised as reasonable, and granted; but nine months elapsed during which our obligations were most slenderly fulfilled, because we had not at our disposal a staff to get the necessary information. I hope the Treasury will bear in mind the maxim I have quoted couched in an ancient tongue; and this explains and accounts for—very unsatisfactorily, I admit—the position in which the matter now is. Had restrictions not been imposed, had we always had an adequate and a proper staff, much greater progress would have been made. However, this is not the fault of the tenants, and ought not to impair their rights, but should make us all the more anxious to accelerate their hour of deliverance. The position stands as follows. My department will put the utmost pressure it possibly can upon the Commissioners and the Executive, representing to them that steps must be taken as quickly as possible; and I am informed—and have every reason to believe the promise will be realised after full consideration of the facts of the case and the means at our disposal—that at the end of April we shall be in a position to say that we have adjudicated upon every claim. Then we shall know how many evicted tenants there are to be restored. When we know the number of acres there are in every locality and the amount required to fulfil our Parliamentary obligations and keep our word with these people, and what are the chances and possibilities of obtaining the land at once—when we are charged with these facts, this complete knowledge which it will be necessary for us to possess before we can reasonably approach the question of compulsion, we shall know all that is to be known in the matter. For my part, I fully recognise the obligation of this House, of the Government, of every Party in the House, to set to work during this 368 session to see to it that this thing is done. I cannot suppose, I cannot believe, that anybody can have any doubt that this is the only course open to us. Nobody can deny that it was never intended when the Act of 1903 was under discussion that three and a half years should go by, three and a half years after the Bill became law, and the House of Commons be face to face with the facts I have just placed upon record. That was not the intention of Parliament. The intention was that this old sore should be healed, that these men, without going into their past history, should be restored to their holdings, that bygones should be bygones, that an unhappy phase in Irish history should be wiped out—would to heaven we could treat many other phases in the same fashion—all agreed this was the course to be taken. It was recorded in an Act of Parliament; and nobody can dispute that a Government would be well within its right—not only that, but that a Government would be performing a plain duty—if, without a moment's delay on being in possession of the facts desirable to know, it at once proceeded with the remedial measures necessary. References have been made to the case—the shocking case, in my opinion—of Lord Clanricarde. Not very long ago I was reading in that venerable "Journal of Comparative Legislation," which records for lawyers enactments passed in different parts of the Empire, and therein I find that in Bombay in 1905 a Court of Wards was established with power to provide for the management of the estate of any person who by reason of age, sex, or any physical or mental infirmity, or such habits as had caused, or were likely to cause, injury to the property or the well-being of inferior tenants. By the terms of this Act of Parliament—if I may so call it—of Bombay such persons may be disqualified from the management of their own property, and I find that similar Acts have been passed for most of the other provinces, and was not until 1905 considered necessary in Bombay. Now, looking as I do to all parts of the Empire for consolation and support, I may say that I feel no aversion or disinclination to make myself responsible for the passage through the House of a Bill which would propose to treat Lord Clanricarde after the fashion of the Court of Wards. I would not propose to 369 expropriate him; I would simply take from him the management of the estate which, in my judgment, he has shown himself wholly incompetent to manage, and impose on a Court of Wards or any similar body the obligation to manage the estate in accordance with the best interests of the landlord, the tenants, and Ireland itself, and if they thought it would be in the best interests of all they would sell the property on the best terms to be obtained under the Act of 1903. That might be one solution; and, on the other hand, the managers might agree to the restoration of evicted tenants in the manner which has commended itself to the minds of many good landlords in Ireland. Delay and difficulty might arise, owing to our forms, in securing the rapid passage of such a measure; but I should have no hesitation in promoting such a measure to deal with landlords who do not conform to the common standard of how a landlord should behave and thereby expose the country to the risk of outrage and murder. I remember the late Matthew Arnold expressly advocating such a measure. It has been pointed out that this estate is haunted by the ghosts of murdered men. It is not for us, or anybody, to seek to determine who are the real murderers; it is enough to know that such an estate is a danger to the community, and the community as a whole is entitled in its own interest, for the preservation of the common peace, to say to such a man, "Stand aside, you are unfitted for your obligations, we will discharge them in your name." I fear such a measure might not have such a rapid passage through Parliament as the necessities of the case require. I can only say that as soon as we are in possession of the facts, in April or May, we shall take immediate action to rescue the House from the position it occupies, which somewhat reflects upon its honour, and without unnecessary delay place before the House the means for securing the restitution of these people about whose claim there is no question. We have all given a promise which awaits fulfilment. I hope, therefore, we shall spare no pains in bringing about its fulfilment. For myself I shall approach the problem with one sole aim, to effect the restoration of these tenants either to their own holdings or to other unoccupied lands, and supplied with sufficient funds for live stock, and to 370 secure to them the possibility of earning their own living. That, of course, is part of the bargain. They have been reduced to a position of bankruptcy, and we must place them in a position in which, by thrift and industry, they may spend the rest of their days in peace and contentment. I say for myself, and I think all Parties will agree, that patience is demanded. These people have been turned out of their homes, have incurred severe privations in the land war which was so injurious to Ireland, and have suffered from diseases; many have died, but their children have clung to their old homes, possessed with the desire to see Parliament keep its word. I hope the opportunity will soon be placed at the disposal of the House for Parliament to keep its word. I shall not shrink from the obligation. I am glad in a sense that the obligation is so simple. It is a clear-cut case that is presented for judgment, and I will do my best. I am sorry that some complaints have been made as to the partisan character of inspectors. I have not yet had experience, but I know that as soon as I have had I shall know how difficult it is to find a thoroughly impartial person with knowledge of the land question. It is of no use to send a sentimental grocer on the duty of land inspection; it must be somebody who has knowledge; and that limits the selection to some extent, thought I suppose in Ireland knowledge of land is more widespread than it is in England. I only ask hon. Members to be as patient as possible. After all, the cases have to be adjudicated upon, and though it may be necessary to call attention to any particular scandal, I hope hon. Gentleman will take as favourable a view as they can of persons, engaged in a very difficult task. I am ready, of course, to listen to any such case. I can only say I have no knowledge of any. The Commissioners themselves do not think there is any just cause of complaint against their staff in this respect. With regard to the matter mentioned by the Member for West Waterford, I will have an inquiry made into it. But I can assure him it is the practice of the Commissioners to refuse to sanction the terms of purchase in the case of a landlord who is in the possession of untenanted lands and where there are evicted tenants, unless he makes provision for the evicted tenants. The application 371 of the landlord referred to by the hon. Gentleman may have been passed by the Commissioners, but the landlord has not got his money and will not get it until the question of the evicted tenants has been settled. I can only say again, in conclusion, that the case of the evicted tenants as a whole is one of a clear Parliamentary bargain, from the execution of which the Government will in no way shrink.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND (Waterford)
said he rose instantly to say that the statement of the Chief Secretary was completely satisfactory. The words of the right hon. Gentleman would be read by the mass of the people of Ireland, and especially by the evicted tenants, not only as an expression of sympathy, but as a definite pledge which would give them the fullest confidence in the future. It was not for his sympathy he thanked the right hon. Gentleman. He took that for granted. What he did thank the right hon. Gentleman for was his definite promise that after he had obtained the necessary information he would, in April or May, propose measures to carry out the Parliamentary agreement for the reinstatement of the evicted tenants. The satisfaction of the people of Ireland with that promise would be enhanced by what the right hon. Gentleman had said in reference to Lord Clanricarde. At long last a British Minister had been found with courage enough to say publicly at the Table of the House what Ministers and Members had been saying privately for years; and he sincerely hoped the right hon. Gentleman would be able to carry out a scheme in regard to Lord Clanricarde which would prevent the great settlement of the land in Ireland being marred by the criminal and insane action of one individual.
§ MR. WALTER LONG (Dublin, S.)
said that when he succeeded to the Irish Office he accepted the view of his predecessor as to the bargain which had been come to in regard to the evicted tenants, a view which his reading of the debates on the subject supported—namely, that where an estate was offered for sale the evicted tenants should be dealt with as ordinary tenants of the estate. There could be no doubt whatever that in the interest, not merely of those unfortunate people themselves, whatever their past 372 history might have been, but in the interest of the successful working of the great Purchase Act, their reinstatement was looked upon as an essential element, and as a thing that had been promised by Parliament. He, therefore, was not going to say anything in depreciation of the decision at which the Chief Secretary had arrived, which, indeed, in the present circumstances of the moment, was justified by the facts. The point had been raised by the hon. Member for South Tyrone—How were they to give effect to the intentions of Parliament in regard to land purchase? One of the conditions which had secured the passing of the Purchase Act was the avoidance of compulsion. The main object of that measure was to secure the transmission of the land of Ireland from one class to another; and if it was to have the beneficial effects which all desired it should have, it was obvious that it must be, slowly perhaps, but in the end universal in its application. It would not do to have here and there groups of tenants who, for one reason or another, failed to become owners of their holdings. The hon. Member had stated that in some of these cases the offers made to the landlords and refused were not unreasonable or improper. He agreed with the Chief Secretary as to the necessity of complete information. He could not agree to compulsion because in certain cases there had been unwillingness on the part of the landlords to come under the operation of the Purchase Act. But if the Government were in a position to say that the Act could not operate, that there were difficulties in its way even where fair and reasonable terms had been offered, it was a question that would require grave consideration on the part of every one who was desirous to see the Act operating and restoring peace and order to a country which had been too long distracted by troubles of all sorts. He would only say, in reference to the Chief Secretary's remarks about one individual landlord, that the right hon. Gentleman had opened up a prospect of not only novel, but contentious legislation; and he could not help hoping that the observations of the right hon. Gentleman on that particular point would save him from the difficulty. He thought it his duty to say these few words, because he was sincerely anxious, where they could all act together in trying to bring happiness to 373 Ireland, that no act of cowardice, no want of appreciation of the existing facts and difficulties, should prevent anybody, however humble his influence might be, from making even a small contribution to that joint work of peace. He adhered to the great political principles of the Party with which he was associated; but he saw nothing in those principles to lead him to say more than he had already said—namely, that when they knew all the circumstances of the case it would be a matter of the gravest possible consideration for all whether or not some further legislation might not be necessary to give effect to the intentions of Parliament.
§ MR. BIRRELL
May I make one more observation, as this has become a very serious occasion—indeed, perhaps, I might say historical? I hold to every word that I have said, but I wish to say that I ought to have said "May" rather than "April."
§ MR. NOLAN (Louth, S.)
said he desired to draw attention to one very important matter which up to the present had been entirely overlooked. Anyone with a logical mind would see the in-utility of reinstating the old evicted tenants while the process of creating a new class of evicted tenants was still going on, and he hoped the efforts of the Government would at an early date be directed to putting an end to such evictions as that which had occurred in his own constituency. In that case a man was evicted who by his life of honest industry had earned the good opinion of all the people in his neighbourhood who were acquainted with him. He had paid his rent regularly during the term of his tenancy, but in the old days, it might have been in that terrible time of famine and pestilence which swept over Ireland some sixteen years ago, or during the period of the slump in prices which occurred in the sixties, a large debt had accumulated on the farm. Although the tenant, with the aid of some of his friends and neighbours who had every confidence in his industry and integrity, made an offer to the landlord to pay off a large proportion of the arrears due on the farm, the landlord refused the offer. He held that tenant in the position of what was called a "future tenant," so that he could not go to the Court and secure a reduction of his rent, and was thus forced 374 to pay double the rent paid by his friends and neighbours for exactly the same class of land. The end was that no later than last summer the landlord evicted the tenant and sent in two caretakers of the class so well known in Ireland, who went about the neighbourhood in a half-drunken condition with loaded revolvers in their possession, a menace to the peace of the neighbourhood. He agreed with what had been said as to the fact that the speech of the right hon. Gentleman would be read to-morrow with the utmost satisfaction by millions of the people of Ireland, and only wanted to draw attention to the fact that his work would be incomplete, even if he succeeded in reinstating all the old evicted tenants, unless something was done to prevent the creation of a new class such as to that which he referred.
§ MR. HAYDEN
said that after the observations which had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman he would beg leave to withdraw his Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ *MR. J. F. MASON (Windsor)
rose to move the following Amendment to the Address—Humbly to represent to Your Majesty that the interests of agriculture are suffering from the neglect of Your Majesty's Ministers materially to encourage scientific agricultural research.He said the object of his Amendment was to call attention to the backwardness of scientific research in agriculture in the United Kingdom as compared with other countries; and yet no nation was equally dependent on getting the fullest measure of profit from the soil. Our foreign competitors, in wheat, could work with a gross return of £3 an acre (yields varied from twenty bushels in Canada to ten bushels in Russia and Argentina—say two-and-a-half quarters, netting at outside 25s. a quarter to the farmer. The straw was worthless and was either burnt or ploughed in) whereas in England—owing largely to the high rates and taxes which the land had to bear and the smaller fields in which agriculture was carried out, £7 per acre must be made as compared with the maximum of £3 by our competitors. This was not in any way a question of landlord and tenant, because if the 375 tenant owned the land and the rent of the land was deducted they would still be left with the fact that owing to the heavy burdens the land had to bear the farmer in this country would still have to produce double the amount that his competitors produced in order to make it pay. That meant that farming in this country could only be carried on by putting more capital into the business, and getting a greater output, a result which could only be obtained by having more scientific methods and employing greater skill in the business. To succeed at all we must use more fertilisers—but of the right kind; we must recognise plant diseases, and learn how to attack them. Without wishing to raise any controversial matter, he desired to point out that the majority in this House, holding strong views as to free trade, were apt to say that agriculture must improve its methods; yet the farmer's foreign competitor got State assistance in the way of information which was not available in this country. The basis of all improvement was knowledge. This knowledge was too expensive and difficult to obtain to be within the reach of the farmer. The Board of Agriculture was constantly being asked for advice, but had no machinery or staff to enable it to get, or impart, that knowledge. On botanical questions it consulted the Kew Staff, for chemical advice it went to the Government Laboratory, but in neither place did it appear to have anyone to consult acquainted with agricultural science. As an instance of this deficiency the Board recently had to inquire into the presence, in this country, of the American gooseberry mildew. Its only adviser was Mr. Massee of Kew, who said that it was of old standing, but, as a matter of fact, he did not know. Since then he had been repudiated; but the real point was "that neither Kewnor Mr. Massee had any means of investigating such a question." As a further instance of important plant diseases which caused immense loss in large industries he might mention clover sickness and big bud in currants. This disease had, during fifteen years, caused immense loss to the market gardener, and the price of currants to the public had been materially increased. The case had been investigated by Mr. Collinge, of Birmingham University; but, of course, could not, under the 376 circumstances, receive the amount of attention and corroboration to which it was entitled, and a more comprehensive investigation might easily remedy the evil. There was also the disease known as cucumber leaf spot. The immense industry of cucumber growing at places like the Lea Valley had been threatened with destruction by this disease. The Board of Agriculture had described the disease, but had no means of suggesting a remedy. Growers had lost nine tenths of their crops in 1903–4, and to show the ravages it had causer), a syndicate of them gave £1,000 for a secret remedy, which, however, failed. This showed how hard hit they were. None of these diseases was thoroughly understood, and meanwhile immense loss was being incurred. But the agriculturist required scientific advice in other directions. First, he required an improvement in the system of rotation of crops. For instance, it had recently become known that leguminous plants were able to render the nitrogen in the air available as plant food by the action of certain bacteria, and thus get the most expensive ingredient of plant food for nothing. This discovery was capable of effecting a revolution in agriculture, but, before that could be done immense knowledge must be acquired as to the nature and peculiarities of the friendly bacteria. Again, the blind use of expensive fertilisers, without knowledge of their constituents, and also of full information as to the condition and qualities of the soil, was a source of loss; yet the determination of these details was too costly to permit each farmer to study them for himself, and he therefore needed help and information. Nor must they forget that as recent legislation put more and more power into the farmer's hands as regarded freedom in cropping, and the general methods he employed, so it was more and more important that he should not use that power without knowledge; and in many cases this knowledge could only be obtained after long and patient working on experimental lines, which was far beyond the farmer's means, both as to time and money. Other possible improvements were to be found in the introduction of improved varieties of plants by crossbreeding and selection. Another matter, also of intense interest to agriculture, was the scientific feeding of cattle. Practically nothing was being done in this 377 direction at present. In order to prevent waste, it was essential that the animal should be fed with an exact proportion of nitrogenous foods and carbohydrates, any excess of one or the other being lose. At present the mixture of foods was fixed by a "rule of thumb" method arrived at by practice, but by no means perfect. Experiments on this could be made with immense advantage, but would cost money, and were beyond the sphere of effort of the tenant farmer. Again, let them recall the fact that recent legislation made compensation for improvements dependent on their success, and, therefore, debarred the tenant from running costly risks in new departures. He thought he had shown the need of machinery to make investigations of enormous importance to our greatest national industry, and to give information to the farmer which he was unable to acquire for himself. What had been done towards this end, so far? The grants made by the Government were almost entirely to educational colleges, where, the business being to teach practical farming, little attention could be devoted to original research. Out of £10,550 thus granted, about £1,600 went towards the upkeep of demonstration farms, and on these a little investigation was carried on, although the primary object was the teaching of students. The work that had been done in research was almost entirely due to private effort, and long might such splendid individual effort be encouraged in this country. The late Sir J. B. Lawes was perhaps the greatest benefactor the farmer ever had; he devoted the best of his life to this work, and left £100,000 in trust to continue it. Other private installations had also rendered wonderful public benefits, but the work awaiting to be done, and lying beyond the power and means of those establishments, was enormous; and while they waited the country was losing many thousands of pounds a year by the delay. Now let them see what had been done in other countries interested in agriculture, yet none so deeply as England. The United States in 1905 spent £201,000 on agricultural research, and in addition each State had a station, and received from the Federal Government £3,000 a year. Germany has nineteen stations, receiving from £1,000 to £4,000 a year each from the State. The Canadian 378 Government, in 1905, spent £17,000, and the Transvaal, in 1905, spent £37,000 in this matter. Yet England in 1905 gave, apart from educational grants, only £425 towards an object of far greater importance to us than to any other nation in the world. But that sum had been reduced, and in 1906 England gave only £355. He was the last man in the world to wish to discourage or replace individual effort by State work, or State interference. He believed that the best work, and the greatest discoveries, not only had been due to private enterprise, but could never have been reached by State Departments. But he did not say that a judicious assistance by the State of those engaged in work which already taxed to the full their powers and resources might not be accorded, nor did he think that some scientific work might not be done by a State Department to supplement and help that now done by individuals. Such a course would ensure continuity—now frequently broken—and would often save the expense and necessity for special commissions to inquire into particular questions involving the sudden and costly mounting of staff and material for the necessary experiments. He would suggest that the Board of Agriculture should have a scientific staff, and scientific machinery, to enable it to give information which was daily asked of it, without being so largely dependent on getting the information from outside sources. He also thought that the Government might subsidise to a moderate extent those existing establishments which were doing such good work, to enable them to enlarge their field of usefulness, and put the results at the disposal of the Board of Agriculture for the benefit of the public. The Board of Agriculture filled a most useful and necessary position at present, but it might be the fountain of much knowledge, and by its assistance and encouragement might enormously increase the power for good now exhibited by private establishments. To make it so would require, of course, funds, although not large sums, and the answer to this suggestion might be that there were no funds. But in a nation which spent millions on education, and much legislative time in passing laws, mostly quite useless, to improve the position of this difficult industry, would it not be worth while doing something to increase the output of knowledge on which education 379 was based, and at the same time render to agriculture a real service, with which none of our Agricultural Acts could compare in importance? He begged to move the Amendment standing in his name.
§ *MR. ABEL SMITH (Hertfordshire, Hertford)
said he agreed with what had been said in regard to the necessity of more public money being devoted to agricultural scientific research. The late Sir John Lawes was a very remarkable man and the establishments he founded and carried on for so many years were absolutely unique. He was a very remarkable man in other ways, because he was able to endow the experimental station at Rot Hampstead with £100,000 at his death. The work which Sir John Lawes had carried on for so long was being continued by a Committee, but it had been found that even the funds derived from this large endowment were quite inadequate for any extension of agricultural experiments, and there was only just sufficient to carry on the experiment initiated by Sir John Lawes. He hoped the Government would be able to see their way to help the Rothampsted Committee. In his county they were deeply interested in this matter, because those engaged in producing vegetables and flowers under glass, which had now become a very important industry, suffered very much from diseases which affected and destroyed their produce, and it was necessary to have the diseases investigated with a view to finding a remedy. He had not the slightest doubt that if more scientific knowledge was placed at the disposal of the farmer it would prove to be an enormous advantage to British agriculture. A friend of his, who was comparatively a young man, had initiated a very interesting experiment. He had obtained the services of a scientific expert and he was gradually making headway amongst the farmers, and getting them to realise that it was a great advantage to have a man of that sort amongst them to place his scientific knowledge at their disposal. If the cultivation of arable land was to be continued successfully it was absolutely necessary that the most modern and scientific methods should be adopted. He wished to press this matter most earnestly upon the attention of the representative of the Government, 380 and he sincerely hoped that some steps would be taken very shortly which would be of assistance to those who were hampered by not having sufficient means at their disposal to carry on this most important work of agricultural research. He desired to second the Amendment.
§ Amendment proposed—
§ "At the end of the Question to add the words 'but humbly to represent to Your Majesty that the interests of agriculture are suffering from the neglect of your Majesty's Ministers materially to encourage scientific agricultural research.' "—(Mr. James Mason.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ *SIR FRANCIS CHANNING (Northamptonshire, E.)
thought the hon. Member for Windsor had rendered a real service to the country and to the House by bringing forward this Amendment. It was not moved in any spirit of hostility to the Government. The points which the hon. Member had laid before the House were of the greatest importance, and he had stated his case with great moderation. He was not sure whether some of the observations of the hon. Member as to the actual amount of money spent upon agricultural research were quite accurate, and he was inclined to believe that some of the figures he had quoted were rather misleading. His impression was that through the experimental work of institutions like the agricultural department of Cambridge University and the Essex County laboratories at Chelmsford a good deal more money than the hon. Member imagined was being expended upon agricultural research. Nevertheless, he agreed that the Government were spending far too little. He believed that upon all the several objects of the group of colleges and schools aided by the State there was only about £69,000 devoted to the educational, experimental, and research work of these institutions. The United States had applied vast resources to these objects. As many hon. Members were aware, in America enormous tracts of land had been set apart for the endowment of agricultural and scientific colleges, and the total capital value actually there applied to these purposes amounted to something like £20,000,000, while the annual income was about £2,000,000. At least half of these sums might be taken as being 381 devoted to the development of agriculture, and a larger proportion was being given to special investigations, and to extensive demonstration farms. In this country, besides the grants specially made by the Board of Agriculture, there were considerable sums spent by county councils on scholarships, lectureships, and other matters, in connection; with the spread of scientific knowledge on agricultural subjects. The sum so spent was considerable when compared with the amount contributed by the Board of Agriculture. The total amount ran up to about £69,000 for the whole of the educational, experimental, and research duties of these colleges. That was a mere drop in the bucket, and a great deal more ought to be done. It was impossible to exaggerate the importance of developing scientific research in the methods of agriculture. Referring to the admirable scientific research and experimental work that was being done in Canada, he said that the colleges there had been exceedingly progressive, and of; late years vast improvements were being carried out under the management of one of the ablest Scottish agriculturists. Scientific research as applied there to the processes of cheese production had produced a complete revolution in securing the markets for Canadian cheese. Ten years ago the cheese produced in the Western States of America, largely composed of materials the nature of which they ought not to inquire too fully into, had the run of our markets here. That kind of cheese was not now being imported into this country. The bulk of the cheese which we imported now was from Canada, and of excellent quality, scientifically produced by improved methods as the result of research. Interesting experiments had also been carried out by Professor Robertson in the selection of seeds by starting all over the country competitions of boys and girls upon farms in selecting the best seeds and heaviest head, for resowing cereals, year by year. The result of these experiments had been in the case of oats to raise the productiveness of the soil from fifty-four to seventy-two bushels per acre and in the case of wheat from twenty-five to thirty-four bushels. In Canada—this principle of scientific research had been carried out in a most lavish manner by the generosity of public men. Sir William Macdonald 382 had just completed a new agricultural college for the Province of Quebec. That college was equipped with no less than three farms which were arranged to illustrate every type of farming applicable to the Dominion. That was a splendid example of the kind of work which ought to be carried out in this country, and those who held the purse strings and were responsible for the administration of the Agricultural Department could not fail to see that there was a vast field open to them where every means in their power ought to be employed to encourage and develop scientific experiment and research. He did not know that he altogether agreed with his hon. friend in thinking that the Board of Agriculture ought to have a larger scientific staff. He did not approve of too much concentration of the work. He thought the best and most useful work could be done by people specially interested in different localities. It was quite true that the Board of Agriculture was doing useful work in that direction. He had been assured that the Journal published by the Board and illustrating the results of various branches of research had been found to be of great service both in the United States and in Canada. The "Farmers' Institutes" in Canada were an admirable agency by which the results of scientific experiments and research were brought before farmers in the form of attractive lectures and discussions. In these Institutes we had an example which might be followed with advantage in this country. A great deal of good work, too, was being done in Ireland under the administration of Sir Horace Plunkett. To select one example; intelligent labourers and young farmers were encouraged to become apprentices on the experimental farms, thus spreading knowledge. In the way of private effort the benefit which men of wealth and opportunity had rendered and could render in starting such centres for agricultural research and stimulating study could hardly be exaggerated, He could not help thinking that the enormous benefactions given to public libraries and things of that kind might with still greater advantage be devoted to the setting up of model schools and colleges in typical agricultural districts on lines similar to what Sir William Macdonald was doing in Canada. Such institutions 383 would be true centres of light and leading in the agricultural districts.
§ VISCOUNT HELMSLEY (Yorkshire, N.R., Thirsk)
said it was pleasant for both Parties in the House to find themselves in agreement on agricultural questions. He was sure that hon. Members on both sides felt a debt of gratitude to the hon. Member for Windsor for raising this important subject. There was hardly another Member who could have raised it with greater appropriateness, for he himself and his father before him had done much for agricultural research. Farmers had arrived at a time when they were riper, if he might say so, for agricultural research. He did not think there ever was a time in the history of agriculture when farmers realised more than they did to-day how important it was for their industry that it should be conducted on the latest and most scientific principles. Whenever in his district there was a lecture by any scientific professor on agricultural questions there was a large attendance of farmers anxious to hear the results of latest experiments. He knew that they watched with great interest the experimental farm which was conducted jointly by the county councils in Yorkshire, and that farmers throughout the country nowadays who were go-ahead, business-like men would welcome most heartily further opportunities of gaining knowledge and the assistance of agricultural research by the Government by means of grants. There was no doubt that the use of artificial fertilisers was becoming more and more general throughout the country. There was equally little doubt that the knowledge about these fertilisers was, in a great many cases, very vague and unsatisfactory; and it was very important, if farmers were not going to waste their capital and their labour, that only those fertilisers should be used which were adapted to the particular soils with which the farmer had to work. Therefore, the greater acquisition of knowledge would be of the greatest benefit to all engaged in agriculture. The hon. Member who spoke last, it seemed to him, had rather minimised the importance of the figures mentioned by the hon. Member for Windsor. A considerable distinction should be drawn between the establishments which were educational and demonstrative in their 384 nature and those which existed purely for research. It seemed to him that where there was an endowment for research it should be devoted exclusively to that purpose. He thought that research must, to a considerable extent, suffer from being mixed up with education and demonstration; because education and demonstration only dealt with existing knowledge. There were demonstration plots at the agricultural colleges. That was nothing new, but these plots were used for the purposes of education, and showed nothing which had not been found out years ago. What was wanted was to make scientific inquiry without touching on education at all, so as to give fresh knowledge to students. His hon. friend the Member for Windsor was within the mark when he said that only £435 were devoted yearly to agricultural research, and he thought that those figures were in themselves a disgrace to this country. In the United States of America no less than £201,000 were devoted to agricultural research, and vast sums of money were voted by Canada and the Transvaal for research in addition to other forms of assistance to agriculture. Although agriculture was of more importance to England than to any other country in the world, only a paltry sum of little more than £400 was granted for agricultural research! He maintained that agriculture had peculiar claims for assistance in this respect, because it bore a disproportionate burden of the taxation of the country. Every head of grain grown, and every fat bullock paid its share of general taxation and more than its fair share of local taxation, and on that ground it should receive as generous treatment as other industries at the hands of the State. He hoped that the noble Lord at the head of the Agricultural Department and the hon. Baronet who represented the Department in this House would persuade the Chancellor of the Exchequer to do something more by way of endowing agricultural research, either by increasing the grants to public institutions, or by increasing the scientific staff at the Board of Agriculture itself. It would be only a drop in the ocean of national expenditure, but it would mean a great deal to agriculture.
§ *MR. VERNEY (Buckinghamshire, N.)
said that this question was of the utmost 385 importance to the country. It had been well said that agriculture was the biggest and the healthiest industry which existed. That question of health was an asset, the importance of which the country was gradually realising. Although it was not easily put into terms of pounds, shillings, and pence, it was an asset the value of which could hardly be exaggerated when the predominance of our race in the years to come was considered. There was an extraordinary contrast between the expenditure on technical education now going on in the towns, and the very minute expenditure of public money in respect of agriculture. He had served on the Board of Polytechnics in London for seven or eight years, and he knew something of the extraordinary eagerness shown by men of the artisan class to go into workshops. That was a very good thing, and nobody could blame them for it; and the result was that young men and women were practically taught almost freely the necessary knowledge of the different industries which they wished to pursue. Young people were trooping into the towns from the country, causing a great deal of the over-population in the towns and the de-population of the country. Next to nothing was being done to keep the people on the land by encouraging them to get an elementary; knowledge of scientific farming which was so necessary for the benefit of the whole country and for agriculture. Let the House contrast what was done for agriculture in this country and in foreign countries. He visited Denmark and Sweden last year, and observed the enormous interest taken by the Governments of those countries in fostering their agricultural industries. They all admired the admirable work done at Rothampsted and the patriotic spirit which had induced Sir John Lawes and others to spend their money in experiments which were of national importance. There were growing up at present great institutions like Reading University which owed much to the private munificence of Lady Wantage and others, who had spent thousands of pounds on that institution. The work done there constituted a large claim on the Government for supplemental aid out of public funds. As to research from a scientific point of view, he might mention that Reading University had for years past 386 undertaken a complete analysis of the soils of some of the neighbouring counties. That was an extremely difficult kind of work if carried out thoroughly, but was of the greatest possible advantage to those engaged in the cultivation of the soil in those districts. There was no doubt that the farmers of this country were beginning to wake up to the necessity of introducing science into their profession, but the movement required to be stimulated and encouraged in every way possible. The grant which they asked for from the Chancellor of the Exchequer would not be unproductive; it would repay those who gave it and those who benefited from it in the gain which would result to the health and prosperity of agriculture, and, consequently of the community at large.
§ MR. CARLILE (Hertfordshire, St. Albans)
said that he intervened in the debate because the Rothampsted experimental station happened to be in the division which he represented. He wished to add one more appeal to those already made for something to be done to assist such institutions as that of Rothampsted. The work carried on there for a great many years had been the result of voluntary effort, and large sums of money had been placed at the disposal of the private trustees for scientific research; but large as the income of that institution was, it was far too small for the efficient extension of the experiments now being carried out. In fact, the institution was crippled by want of financial assistance, and a grant of £2,000 a year would enable the excellent staff, which was thoroughly organised, to double the usefulness of the institution. He was sure that every encouragement should be given to public authorities such as county councils and others to forward educational work in connection with research and experiment, because voluntary effort was not sufficient by itself to overtake the increasing claims for the application of science to the industry of agriculture. In the county with which he was connected they had such voluntary efforts as that at Rothampsted which were so efficient, so ungrudgingly generous, and so well adapted to the work, that it seemed to him that such institutions should have the first claim upon any public money which might be placed at the disposal of the President of the Board 387 of Agriculture for this purpose. Facts had been brought before the House in relation to foreign countries and agricultural research. They had been told that America had been doing, this, Germany that, and that Denmark and other countries were also taking efficient steps in this direction, while we were lamentably behind in the race. At the present time, however, there was no doubt that farmers were far more scientific, far more, intelligent and better educated, and' showed a great deal more enterprise than was usually associated with their class. Therefore no moment could possibly be more opportune than the present for such; an undertaking to be started, and he hoped and trusted that the Board of Agriculture might see their way to assist in this work. Sir John Lawes devoted, as previous speakers had said, £100,000 to endow the institution at Rothampsted, and the usefulness of that institution had been recently increased by an added department, for the expenditure in connection with which they and the county of Hertford as a whole had to thank the munificence of his hon. friend the Member for Windsor. If such a grant as he had ventured to mention could be made to Rothampsted he was sure the whole country would derive a very distinct benefit from it. He would like to illustrate the importance of this subject by reference to a single farm in Hertfordshire. The farm consisted of about 400 acres, and upon it crops of wheat and nothing else had been grown year after year for twenty-four years, and every year with the exception of one at a profit. The reason for the success of this particular farm in the growth of wheat during a period in which foreign competition had been exceedingly strong, the supply of wheat very large, and in many cases the prices extremely low, was merely the result of scientific farming. The farmer in question analysed his soils, and having done that from time to time had always restored to the soil those properties which he had to take out of it in growing his wheat. The result had been, that instead of growing wheat at a loss, he had in all that long course of years, except one, done it at a profit. He merely mentioned this case as a typical one, and as an illustration of what it was possible to do in this country. There was no place in the 388 world where such fine crops of wheat could be grown as in this country, or which could produce so many bushels to the acre as the English soil, and many other farmers might follow on the lines he had indicated if there were other valuable institutions throughout the country such as that at Rothampsted, to undertake the work of analysis and advice from time to time. He need not enlarge upon the claims of agriculture, which was the largest and unquestionably the oldest industry in the country, and at the present time, as we had by the power of steam made the ocean to unite the land, whereas formerly we used to consider that the water separated the land, it was doubly important that the people of this country should have a prospect of meeting a competition such as we had never hitherto known in agricultural products. It was under these circumstances that we should be quite abreast or ahead of the times in regard to agriculture, in the same way as he hoped we might long maintain a position ahead of other countries in other industrial pursuits. He trusted that the hon. Baronet who took such a lively interest in agriculture would place matters before the President of the Board of Agriculture, so that the institution of Rothampsted, which was very near London, might be shown to have a real claim upon him. If any hon. Member would care to go a little journey in order to visit the institution he would receive an abundant welcome, and he would see specimens of the beneficial work which was carried on by this most enterprising institution.
§ SIR EDWARD STRACHEY (Somersetshire, S.)
said he wished at once to acknowledge the able and uncontroversial manner in which this subject had been presented by the hon. Member who brought this Motion before the House, and he could assure him that no one could be more anxious than he was to see larger sums of money applied to experiment and research. Though he knew it was only a form of words which was used by the hon. Member, in saying that agricultural research was suffering from neglect of the Government, he should say that it was not suffering from that cause, but it had rather suffered in the past from want of appreciation on the part of the public of these scientific investigations. He agreed with what was said by the noble Lord 389 the Member for Thirsk, that agriculturists were now appreciating and becoming aware of the importance, not only of investigation and demonstration, but of experimental works. He could not help thinking that the reason why this House had during the last two Parliaments neglected to provide sufficient or larger funds for carrying on experimental works had been the fact that the public outside, and Members inside, the House had not brought the question forward and pressed it upon the Treasury. Hon. Members might be sure that it was only forcing an open door as regarded the Board of Agriculture, but it was rather a different matter as regarded the Treasury; but he thought the failure to provide more money was not so much the fault of the Treasury, as of the public outside, and of Members of this House who had not adequately brought the question before the country. He could not charge his recollection with a debate on this subject upon the Address with the object of obtaining a further grant from the Treasury. It was perfectly true that enough had not been done in the past, but it was also true that the Board of Agriculture, with its poor means, had done its best to make experiments and assist experimentors. He agreed with the hon. Member for Windsor that their object should be to see if they could not get a much greater output from the land by an intelligent use of fertilisers and artificial manures. As the hon. Member had said, this was a free trade Government, and he agreed that it was especially the duty of a free trade Government who were opposed to artificial prices to find out the best artificial manures and fertilisers, and the manner in which they should be applied, so that they could be used where they were most required, because everybody acquainted with agriculture knew that very much depended upon the soil and the qualities of the land. Although he would like to see a larger staff in connection with the Board of Agriculture, still it must not be forgotten that there was a scientific staff there which had done a great deal of good and useful work. Dr. Somervill, who had left them to return to Cambridge, had done a great deal of useful work. He was succeeded by another Cambridge man, Mr. Middleton, who was following in his footsteps; and agriculturists might 390 be certain that they would continue to get very valuable information from the Department. They were not entirely lacking in information, but still they might do more if they had a larger staff. The hon. Member for Windsor had said that they had no laboratory for the investigation of diseases, but he would remind him that there was a laboratory at Row, which had as one of its objects the investigation of fungoid diseases and the diseases of trees. As to clover sickness they were going to make a grant of £300 to Rothampstead for the investigation of disease. He would be the last one to deprecate the work done at Rothampstead, but he must enter a caveat against its being thought that that was the only institution where a great and useful work was being done. There were colleges in Yorkshire, and in other places doing good work on the same lines, and if the Government made a grant to one college other colleges would say they ought to have a grant, and other districts would point out that they had not such a great endowment as Rothampstead had from the Lawes Fund, and therefore they more required help than Rothampstead. The whole question was one of convincing the public and this House of the necessity for this expenditure, and he hoped the House and the Treasury also would very shortly be convinced. Experiment and demonstration were apart from ordinary farming, but he knew of one experimental farm where the results had been unsatisfactory because those conducting the investigations did not content themselves with experiment and demonstration, but tried to make a large profit on the farm and succeeded in neither object. Then with regard to the feeding of cattle; during 1905–6, the Board had spent some £205 in experiments regarding the effect of manures on mutton. Certain lands were manured and sheep were fed on them and the value of the manures ascertained in regard to quality and quantity of the meat when turned into mutton. With regard to the statement that only £400 had been spent in experimental research, more than three times that sum was spent on such and other experiments as he had indicated, the effect of manure upon mutton and wheat. But in addition there had been scientific experiments with regard to the diseases of cattle. In 391 1905–6 the Board had spent £2,000 on the investigation of abortion in cattle—a matter of great importance to dairy farmers. Altogether, the Board had received a sum of £4,000 in respect of inquiry into this matter, and, as a result of the investigations that had been made, it was hoped that, before very long, they might be able to do something to get rid of this most terrible scourge. As to the question of a further grant for experimental research, he could not help thinking that one reason why agriculture had not received as much support from the Treasury as other countries received from their Governments had been that this country had, perhaps, relied rather too much on that private munificence of which the hon. Member for Windsor was himself a striking instance. On the other hand, it might very fairly be said that there was now a growing demand among agriculturists for larger grants from the Treasury; and the House might rest assured that the President of the Board of Agriculture would make representations to the Treasury as to the general feeling expressed in this debate. He could only hope that that would have a good result, and that in the future larger resources might be placed at the disposal of the Department for further agricultural reseach.
§ MR. VICTOR CAVENDISH (Derbyshire, W.)
expressed satisfaction at the very sympathetic tone of the hon. Baronet's speech. He regretted, however, that there had been no representative of the Treasury present; possibly the Treasury had felt that discretion was the better part of valour. On such occasions as this, however, the Board of Agriculture did not do itself justice, for, its grants being made in driblets, the House could not fully appreciate the amount of work it actually did. But in many ways the Board might do more with the money at its disposal than it did at present. Personally, he much doubted the wisdom of the expenditure on leaflets. He remembered a very expensive leaflet being circulated dealing with the habits of the domestic sparrow, and he could not help thinking that that was not a good way of spending money. He would also press upon the hon. Gentleman that any further grants should not extend in the direction of increasing scientific in- 392 vestigation by the Department itself. He knew it was necessary that every Department should possess scientific advisers, but he drew a sharp distinction between the scientific men who were there for the purpose of giving advice to the Department and a scientific Department working inside the Department itself and over which there would not be so much control as if the work were being carried on outside. He believed there was nothing the Treasury dreaded so much as a raid of scientific and artistic people. This debate, however, had shown very clearly that there was a strong demand for a further grant being made in connection with this subject. Personally he did not greatly fear that the grant required would be very large, because it was clear that, from money granted by county councils and from private efforts, an immense amount of work was already being done, and it was quite possible that with comparatively little assistance from Imperial sources that work might be largely co-ordinated. At the present moment there was a great desire on the part of farmers to avail themselves of the information and the knowledge that could be placed at their disposal by such bodies as the County Council Colleges and the Royal Agricultural Society and others. He could only hope that in the absence of any representative of the Treasury the hon. Gentleman would bring pressure to bear on his colleagues, and would approach the Chancellor of the Exchequer and inform him of the very strong feeling which existed in all quarters of the House in favour of further help being afforded to these very important agricultural colleges.
§ *MR. BRIGG (Yorkshire, W.R., Keighley)
said he rose for the purpose of making a suggestion, having had some experience in this matter. He had visited a number of the splendid colleges which existed not only in this country but in Canada, and he was also acquainted with the work carried on in Ireland as well as with the dairy work carried on in Holland. The most important thing he had seen was the work done in Canada, and he desired to suggest to the Minister for Agriculture a way of extending the usefulness of these agricultural colleges. While he did not 393 deprecate any appeal for the extension of scientific research, he thought we should do here what was done in Canada, namely, take means to let the farmers know the results of the various experiments which were made by the Board of Agriculture. The information could be disseminated either through the local newspapers, or by other means of publication. He knew that a number of valuable pamphlets were issued by the Board of Agriculture, and these could be procured at a cheap rate—in fact some were given away. Though he made no reflection on the intelligence of farmers, it was desirable that the information collected by the Department should be pushed upon them. It was necessary to impress upon them the value of the information, and to make known to them the results obtained from experiment and research, in such a way that they could not avoid being aware of them. He took it that there were ways of bringing the matter before the various local newspapers so that farmers in their own homes would know what work had been done in these splendid colleges.
§ *MR. BARNARD (Kidderminster)
said he only wanted to add a word to the appeal made to the hon. Baronet. With reference to what had been done in foreign countries, he ventured to think that those interested in agriculture might judiciously look at home, and ask the hon. Baronet to represent to the Chancellor of the Exchequer what had happened in the last three years in relation to the Irish and the English Boards of Agriculture. Last year the English Board of Agriculture received from public funds £128,000; whilst the Irish Board received no less than £354,000. In the last three years the English Board had received £388,000 and the Irish Board £1,033,000. He ventured to suggest that the hon. Baronet might very properly represent to the Treasury that in this country at all events agriculture was entitled to much more generous treatment than the figures he had quoted suggested. He belonged to the Cambridge University Agricultural Board of Studies, and he was aware that the Treasury or Board of Agriculture had given them a small sum of money, but that they were able to conduct their 394 work at all was due to the munificence of one of the City Companies, and also to the generosity of Sir Walter Gilbey. A great many farmers clubs and associations had arisen because of their anxiety about the tariff question, and what had been the result? Many of them had turned their attention to other subjects; and the Board of Agriculture would only be doing an act of justice as well as wisdom if they were to carry out some of these researches and experiments about which the farmers of the country were anxious to a higher degree than he had ever known before, though he lived in an agricultural neighbourhood. He hoped the hon. Baronet would put very strongly to the Treasury the general tenour of the remarks which had been made about a subject on which there was singular unanimity.
§ *MR. HELME (Lancashire, Lancaster)
said the experiments made by the Board in past years were certainly based on sound scientific principles, and if money could be devoted by the State to the further study of the interests of agriculture, and to the development of our food supplies generally, he was satisfied that no wiser or more remunerative expenditure could be undertaken by the Government. Scientific research applied not only to the land but to the sea. The county councils had done good and sound work out of the money which the ratepayers had provided. He had some knowledge of that done by the Lancashire County Council, of which he was an alderman, and that body and he adjacent county boroughs took not only an interest in the development of food supplies on land but looked to the sea, and sought to increase the food supplies from that source. At the present time an effort was being made by the Lancashire and Western Districts Fisheries Association to secure a grant from the Treasury, through the Minister of Agriculture, in order that they might be able to carry out the work which the Department was desirous of doing. Under the direction of Sir Thomas Elliott they had reached a position which required the finding of more money for the development of the agricultural work. It was difficult, he knew, to obtain money from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but 395 he would suggest that the sum of £12,500 which was voted for the year ending next March for the scientific investigation of the North Sea fisheries, would not be required after the series of years ending in June next, for which the money had been voted, had expired. The £12,500 would be free after the next payment, and he urged that they should have from the Chancellor of the Exchequer at the end of the year the amount which would be available. He begged to support the earnest appeal made on both sides of the House that scientific research, in regard to these matters, at any rate, should, have more generous consideration at the hands of the Treasury, and that the Agricultural Department, which was doing such an admirable work, should be allowed greater resources for its better prosecution than they had been afforded in the past. The development of our food resources ought not to suffer through parsimony, but should be regarded with generous consideration by the Treasury.
§ *MR. MEYSEY-THOMPSON (Staffordshire, Handsworth)
desired to say a few words on this question, because he had for a great many years lived in the colony of New Zealand, where he had done his best to advance agriculture by bringing more land into cultivation. It was more than ever necessary that information on agricultural matters should be more widely distributed in a practical form which could be easily understood since a Bill for the encouragement of small holdings was promised in the King's Speech. The fault he had always found with the Board of Agriculture was that, while they took the greatest pains to obtain information and conduct experiments for the improvement of agriculture, the results of their labours were not brought home to the small cultivators in a form which they could readily assimilate and turn to practical uses. The mover of this Resolution desired to have more money spent not only upon existing establishments, but also in the direction of creating in different parts of the country new establishments which would bring home to the small holder and farmers generally in some form which they could turn to practical use the results of the experience of scientific men and private owners. The difficulty 396 he found was that whilst there was an immense amount of information available the farmers about him were not generally aware that they could obtain it from the Board of Agriculture. If in different parts of the country such establishments as his hon. friend had suggested were erected and encouraged by the Government, it would in many cases enable the small farmers to make their holdings a success instead of a failure. He most cordially supported the resolution which had been moved by his hon. friend.
§ MR. MUNRO FERGUSON (Leith Burghs)
said the country was entering upon a period of more acute foreign competition in agricultural products than it had ever yet experienced. The country had already suffered from Danish competition in butter; it would have to face an equally keen competition in milk from the same country. He mentioned that as an example to show how essential it was that we should be able to compete with foreign countries upon an advantageous footing. It was urgently necessary that we should at once give attention to the questions which had been raised, as well as many other aspects of agriculture, in order to make land products more remunerative than they now were. A few years ago for a short period a scientific policy was adopted by the Board of Agriculture. The late Mr. Hanbury knew the needs of the situation, but unfortunately he was only a very short time at the head of that department, and the start which he made in that direction should now be carried a great deal further. No doubt a good deal of money had been spent by county and other authorities on experiments, but much of the expenditure had been entirely thrown away. Some of the county councils had done admirable work, and experimental farms like the Northumberland County Council farm had done a real service to agriculture. He did not, however, think that sufficient practical object lessons were being provided. Agriculturists would never be properly equipped to meet competition until the experiments which were being carried on by county councils and the State were more fruitful in practical object-lessons, for those connected with the land took no real interest in any 397 new departure until they saw good results actually obtained. In nearly every European country the Government had set an example which the Government of this country had not followed in regard to scientific agriculture. Neither in agriculture nor in sylviculture had the Government encouraged experiments. He did not advocate any very large expenditure on the part of the Treasury at the start, but he did advocate the organisation of a scientific department of the Board of Agriculture, composed of experts, and controlled more or less by an advisory committee of practical men. The Board had done some excellent educative work of late years, but what was needed was practical work. They could not hope to get the best results out of the division of the soil unless they instructed agriculturists in the learning necessary for their success. The county councils of England had had more money for agricultural experiments than the authorities in Scotland, and although Scotland had not been behind in either agriculture or sylviculture the help they got from the State was far less than that obtained by any other part of the kingdom. In Scotland they practically depended upon the agricultural colleges, and for every pound they raised themselves they got a pound from the Government. He did not think it would be necessary to press this Amendment. Not long ago, when it was said that agriculture was dying for want of relief from rates, he indicated that if, instead of spending £3,000,000 upon what he called doles, £30,000 a year had been spent upon agricultural research and the providing of useful object lessons for agriculturists, it would have done far more good. He hoped that this matter would receive the serious attention of the Government. The success of the land policy upon which the Government were going to embark would depend a good deal upon the competence of those who were placed upon the land to cultivate it to better advantage. The working of small holdings was more difficult than the pastoral occupations in which men were now mostly engaged. He believed that the farmers of this country understood stock and breeding and rearing better than the farmers of any other country, but in dairy-work, co-operation, marketing, the putting of products on the market in 398 the best possible condition, and fruit-growing they had almost everything to learn. We were far behind foreign countries in that matter. We could not expect to get the best results without to the fullest extent learning what was necessary for the successful carrying on of agriculture. Hon. Members who believed in a large measure of agricultural reform were bound to see that the less instructed portion of the community, who would have to do the greater part of the work of cultivation, as well as farmers, received proper instruction. It was absolutely essential to the success of any comprehensive scheme of agrarian reform that we should have that thorough system of agricultural instruction in this country which we now lacked, and he trusted the Government would give a practical lead.
*COLONEL WILLIAMS (Dorsetshire, W.)
said that in the discussion which had taken place they had rather lost sight of the Amendment which stated—That the interests of agriculture are suffering from the neglect of your Majesty's Ministers materially to encourage scientific research.They were very ready to establish experimental farms and to encourage co-operative societies, but while these were all very well in their way he believed that in many cases they did not lay a good enough foundation. A great deal more scientific knowledge of the basis of agriculture was what was wanted. More laboratory work was what was really required in this country. He hoped that the hon. Member for Somerset would not be led astray by the fact that the debate had taken the form of a discussion of general agricultural matters, but that he would remember that what was asked for was a small sum for scientific research. From £20,000 to £30,000 would be quite sufficient, he believed, for laboratory work and for bringing the knowledge gained home to agriculturists.
§ MR. COURTHOPE (Sussex, Rye)
said they were all indebted to his hon. friend for having brought the subject of agricultural research before the House. He wished, however, to bring a matter to the notice of the 399 hon. Gentleman representing the Board of Agriculture which had not yet been mentioned. A great many valuable experiments were being conducted by private individuals—by large farmers. He knew several large tenant farmers who had done a great deal of experimenting and were perfectly willing to impart their knowledge, but they were not encouraged to do so. He thought if the Board of Agriculture, quite apart from research on their own account—though he strongly urged that too—would take some steps to obtain this knowledge acquired by the few and make it available to the many a great deal might be done. In the county from which he came he knew cases where most valuable and costly experiments had been made by individual farmers respecting the cultivation of hops, their manurial treatment, and so on. They were perfectly willing to allow the knowledge which they had acquired by experiments to be available for the whole of England. He thought he was right in saying that he had never come across a single case of a man who desired to keep the advantage of his experiments to himself. There was, however, no ready means of making that knowledge available without incurring great expense which they could not be expected to bear. He thought the Board of Agriculture might easily and without expense collect such information as had been obtained, gather together the results of scientific experiments, and make that knowledge and scientific research available for those who had not personally been able to conduct experiments. He hoped the hon. Baronet would give attention to this side of the subject, as well as to the equally important side of research undertaken at the instance of the Board of Agriculture.
§ *MR. THEODORE TAYLOR
said that quite lately two or three illustrations had come under his notice of the very great 400 value of experimental research in agriculture. It was well known to many Members of the House that Lancashire was interested in the production of cotton within the Empire. It so happened that a gentleman from Lancashire, a lecturer at the Agricultural College, Cairo, for some time, was sent by the Indian Government to India some years ago and had been the means, by using Egyptian seed, of developing in Sindh a very valuable cotton—a cotton twice as valuable as the ordinary cotton. The crop sold for £4,000 last autumn in Bombay and was resold in Liverpool for £9,000. This was the result of crossing various kinds of cotton seed so as to produce cotton specially appropriate for the climate of India. The growth of good cotton had been given up as hopeless in India for many years, and the success of this one experiment alone opened up a large future for cotton to the people of that country. Similarly in Canada the possible wheat growing area had been enormously enlarged during the last few years, by the results of the experimental research work carried on by the Canadian Government farms, at, he believed, Indianhead and Brandon, where they had found, by crossing Siberian and Russian seed, that wheat would grow in regions given up as hopeless heretofore. Taking another illustration near home, it was a truly remarkable circumstance, and one full of meaning by way of illustrating the force of the present discussion, that no less than a hundred gallons of milk on the average had been added to the supply given by the cows of Denmark as the result of the three processes of weeding out cows which gave little milk or did not give good milk, attention to breeding, and scientific attention to feeding. By these means the annual yield of milk was increased by a hundred gallons per cow and at less annual cost per cow for feeding. He thought that 401 what was done m Denmark could be done here. Some farmers from Yorkshire, who had been taken to Denmark by a friend of his, were simply amazed at the result derived from co-operation, and the scientific treatment of the cattle. In the vale from which they came, there were 7,000 cows, and it had been pointed out that if the yield from these cows was increased by 100 gallons a year at 6d. or 7d. a gallon, it would put £20,000 a year into the pockets of the farmers. Again he thought that a little more attention ought to be paid to the fisheries on our coasts. A little more money spent on the development of the fisheries would be repaid many fold. It had been said that a man who made two blades of grass to grow where only one grew formerly was a public benefactor. That had been the experience of every country where science had been applied to agriculture. It had resulted in the enrichment of the human race and an increase in the sum total of their wealth.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ *MR. LUPTON (Lincolnshire, Sleaford)
moved to add the words: "But humbly regrets that His Majesty's gracious speech does not include proposals for repealing the penal clauses of the Vaccination Acts." He said that at the end of last session a petition to the Government asking for the repeal of the penal clauses of the Vaccination Acts was signed by 174 members. He believed that twice that number of members were in sympathy with the object of the petition, but, for some reason or other, they did not wish to sign the memorial, although they promised to support the object in view when it came before the House. He believed that the President of the Local 402 Government Board would not take a less statesmanlike view of this question than the President of the Local Government Board in 1898, who declared his belief that no responsible Minister would be in favour of compulsory vaccination. The latter gentleman was, however, no longer in that House and had gone back from his declaration, because he by an Order enforced compulsory vaccination by taking away from the guardians the liberty they had previously enjoyed of deciding for or against prosecutions of anti-vaccinators. The result was that the hon. Gentleman became a victim to the anti-vaccinators. His own belief was that a large proportion of the members of this House owed their position to the energy of the anti - vaccinators. [Ironical laughter.] Hon. Members might laugh. He was not an old member of the House, but he was an old campaigner; and he knew how many enthusiastic men lent their energy in support of the repeal of the penal clauses of the Vaccination Acts, and if these men were disappointed at the action taken by the Government in regard to this matter, he believed that it would go hard with the Liberal Party at the next election. Not that the anti-vaccinators were revengeful, but they would lose that enthusiasm in support of the Liberal candidates without which victory could not be gained. There were on the Ministerial Bench right hon. Gentleman who had declared against vaccination altogether, not merely compulsory vaccination. [Cries of "Name."] He did not wish to single them out and mention their names and so put them on a pinnacle of glory. Why was it that they wanted to abolish the penal clauses of the Vaccination Acts? It was because they had conscientious objection to them; and during the last fifty years large numbers of men had paid fines and endured obloquy because they wished to keep pure the blood of their children. That did not seem to him the right course to pursue. Compulsory vaccination was 403 as severely, and more severely, enforced now than it was before the passing of the recent Act. If a man went for an exemption, it was very doubtful whether he would get one. To apply for one meant the expenditure of a great deal of time. How could a poor labourer, whose wages were 15s. or 16s. a week, afford to give up a day's work and pay a shilling or two in railway fares, only to find when he got before the Court that the magistrates would insult him and tell him he was a fool, and that he might or might not get the exemption after all. It must be remembered that this sacrifice was thrown upon him at a time when he had been put to great expense through the birth of a child. If he were certain that he could get the exemption, he would save up and go before the Court, but, in consequence of the uncertainty, in many cases he did not at present do so and his child was vaccinated against his will. But at present there was always the question of whether "Mr. so and so" would be on the bench, his views against conscientious objectors being known; therefore compulsory vaccination was practically universal. Again, in the administration of the Vaccination Acts, there was a tendency on the part of the magistrates throughout the country, where the Act said the fine should not exceed 20s. to inflict that as a minimum penalty, as in the case of a labourer at Spilsby the other day who was twice imprisoned for one month because he was unable to pay the fines and cost. That sum was like a fine of £1,000 upon a wealthy man or of £200 of £300 upon a Member of this House. There was one easy way to get vaccination without compulsion and that was to let the doctors go round and persuade people to have their children vaccinated and if hon. Gentlemen could see their way to bring that reform about it would give greater satisfaction than any reform which had previously been passed. They had had, the day before, a striking dis- 404 cussion, in the course of which it was said how sad it was to see old people at the end of their lives treated as old rags and left to rot; but how much more sad it was that the child should be poisoned in the cradle! It was, in fact, poisoned by law. It was one of the most extraordinary, and even ludicrous, laws ever passed. The word "vaccination" was French for "cow-poxing," and matter taken from a cow or calf ill with the disease of cow-pox was put into the blood of human beings by the process which was called "vaccination," because the Franco-Latin word had a nicer sound to our English ears than the word "cow-poxing." He had read of a great many extraordinary things in different parts of the world; of people who had bits of wood in their lips or ears and who tied up their toes; but of all the extraordinary things he had ever heard of the most extraordinary thing was the opening of the skin and putting under it pus from a diseased cow. The cowpox which was used for vaccination was derived from pustules on the tents of a cow which was ill with the disease known as cow-pox. This disease was not like any other kind of pox, because it was not found on the male, but only on the teats of cows. This stuff, when put into the blood of a human being, was capable of producing a chancre which experts had found in some cases indistinguishable from the chancre of syphilis. Jenner had tried it, and found it so dangerous that he gave it up. He also said it was useless as a preventive of smallpox. He had tried it, and found that people who had had cowpox were liable to take smallpox. He therefore invented another kind of poxing. He got matter from the heels of a horse ill with a disgusting disease known as grease. This matter he inserted in a cow, and from pustules got as the result of such insertion he inoculated some people, and then said that they were safe from small pox, and he wrote a pamphlet describing this invention of his, and pointing out 405 that the ordinary cowpox was no use as a prophylactic. However, the London surgeons preferred the cowpox, and Jenner was forced to accept their view, and he did, notwithstanding that he had written a pamphlet to prove that cowpox was useless. But this cowpox from horse-grease pox—this horrible disease-producing filth—was the stuff that under the Vaccination Acts was to be put into the blood of babies. But the strain had given out, and no one knew what was the origin of the stuff now used for inoculating the calves at the Government pus-producing works. They went to Germany, and bought a stock from the Germans. As long as it was made in Germany it seemed to be good enough for our authorities. We had our own calves and the pus for vaccinating was taken from them, but the originating stock came from Germany. Scientific opinion had demanded that the right sort of stuff should be used, but the Local Government Board did not know where the Germans got the stuff from; they thought that one sort of muck was as good as another. It was said that it was necessary for the human race that we should be vaccinated. But the human race had existed for a long time and some of us were rather proud of our ancestry. They read with reverence the writings attributed to Moses and David and of others greater than they; of the great men and conquerors, Alexander, Cæsar, Demosthenes, and others; Nelson, Wellington, and Napoleon, Shakespeare, Milton, Spenser, and others: were those men vaccinated? If the human race produced those men with the blood that God made without the aid of pus from a diseased cow, why should it now not do the same? Were the Ministers so convinced that they were right that they should make this compulsory experiment? They had not studied the question. They got their opinion from medical men, most of whom 406 so far as we could find had not studied the question themselves. This was perhaps the most serious question that the House could discuss, because, though a temporary evil might afterwards be removed, yet if the whole blood of a nation was poisoned an injury was inflicted that nothing could repair He was quite certain that a three days' full dress debate upon this question would settle the fate of vaccination for ever. But pro-vaccinators, as they knew perfectly well, could not stand full discussion. Some people said that smallpox was prevented by vaccination, but even so, was not the price paid much too high? If they took the period of sixteen years from 1838 to 1853 inclusive, immediately preceding the Compulsory Vaccination Act, they found the average annual death-rate from smallpox pet million living in England and Wales to be about 417. As every one knew, this was a period when sanitation was much below the present standard, and the deaths from all causes during that period averaged about 22,000 per million living per annum, as compared with about 16,000 per million living in the year 1904. But if they considered the effect of the illness of vaccination, they found that the number of births in a, population of 34,000,000 was about 950,000 a year, or about 28,000 per million persons living. If each of those 28,000 children was vaccinated, it would be ill for approximately one month, which was about the same as if 2,300 children were ill for twelve months each. So that every year there would be per million living the equivalent of 2,300 children ill the whole time, and since life without health was not worth having, the mere illness of vaccination was equal to nearly six times the death-rate from small pox in England and Wales during the sixteen years before vaccination was compulsory. But the effect of vaccination was not limited to the ordinary illness, because 407 many of the children were killed by it, and others were injured for life. There was a society 100 years ago which started for the purpose of encouraging vaccination and offered to pay £5 5s. to anybody who took smallpox after vaccination, but they had to pay so much that the society had to give up. About the year 1804, Dr. William Bowley collected 500 cases of persons who had had smallpox after vaccination, some of them very badly. It was said that a person could not have smallpox twice, but Dr. Jenner himself collected 1,000 cases in which persons had had smallpox twice, which proved conclusively that vaccination did not do what it professed to do. If anyone read the article of Dr. Crichton in the Encyclopaedia Britannica on vaccination, they would learn that it was not only dangerous but useless. They must not look at the tenth edition of the Encyclopaedia, where the article was written by a pro-vaccinator, but at the ninth edition, where they would find the article of Dr. Creighton. Figures published by the Registrar - General showed that since vaccination was made compulsory in 1853, the deaths of children under one year old from syphilis had increased fourfold by the year 1875. It has been established by surgeons of the highest repute, that that horrible disease, syphilis, was produced by vaccination, not only in isolated instances, but in numerous cases. Therefore, arm-to-arm vaccination, practised for 100 years, had been given up, and matter from a diseased calf, called "calf-lymph," was substituted. But the use of calf-lymph was bad. There was the case of Donovan, the soldier, vaccinated with "pure glycerinated calf-lymph"by the Government vaccinator. He was a fine healthy young man, but he died in a few weeks, rotting to pieces. There were two fine 408 healthy young fellows, new recruits, vaccinated last autumn with "pure glycerinated calf-lymph." The medical certificate of the first who died gave "blood poison" as the cause of death. That was quite true; vaccination was blood poisoning. But when the second one died they thought it was time to change the name of the disease, although, as a matter of fact, the cause was the same, so the medical men told the Minister for War that the death was due to scarlet fever. If they had read Dr. Allbutt's book on medicine, they would have known that vaccination produced symptoms resembling those of scarlet fever, and to pretend that this recruit died of scarlet fever showed how hard up they were to defend this horrible system. Would the Government go on enforcing this process, would they go on enforcing this one cause of unnecessary suffering, which was a hundred times more horrible than the disease it was intended to prevent? Smallpox, properly treated, was one of the most harmless of diseases. Dr. Smiley, of Matlock Bath, wrote during the smallpox epidemic of 1871–2, regreting to read of the numerous deaths from smallpox, and said—It is a most harmless disease if properly treated. I have treated hundreds of cases without a single fatality.In the twenty years ending 1904 there were rather more than 12,000 deaths from smallpox in this country, and out of that 12,000 there were 3,000 put down as, unvaccinated cases. That did not seem to show that there was much advantage in vaccination. The return of the Metropolitan Asylums Board for the years 1901–2 showed that 70 per cent of the cases of smallpox were admittedly vaccinated, and the death rate was 17 per cent., the same death rate as 5 before vaccination was known—proving 409 absolutely that vaccination had no effect in reducing the death rate. At the London Smallpox Hospital in the years 1888–91 100 per cent. of the cases were vaccinated. Among re-vaccinated soldiers, out of 69,000 in twenty years, 1,149 took the smallpox and 113 died, showing that there was no salvation in re-vaccination. Neither vaccination nor re-vaccination was of any use. In the year 1871–2, when this country was thoroughly well vaccinated, there were 42,000 deaths from smallpox, the worst epidemic of the century. As a matter of fact the death-rate from smallpox entirely depended upon the treatment of the disease. A scientific man, not a doctor, tried a special treatment, with ointment, and was laughed at, but the treatment was now supported by a writer in the medical world as the most scientific way of treating the disease. In the Gloucester Hospital, during an epidemic, the death rate was 50 per cent., but when the hospital was reformed the death rate come down to 10 per cent. In the London hospitals, when crowded, the death rate was 16 per cent.; in Leeds, which was not crowded, it was 5 per cent. In Leicester, when the hospitals were not crowded the death rate was only 4 or 5 per cent., but Fielden with his ointment only lost 2 per cent. of his cases. As a matter of fact we had very little smallpox in the country at the present time, and, if they were to believe the pro-vaccinators, the bulk of the country was unvaccinated, because it was the theory that no man was vaccinated who had not been re-vaccinated within the last ten years. There were 25,000,000 of people in England and Wales to-day unvaccinated, yet practically we were safe from smallpox as long as we observed the laws of health. There 410 was no object in vaccination; no good results from it; there were great dangers, and it was contrary to the spirit of liberty to force it on the people. In view of the hopes formed at the last general election, he trusted that His Majesty's Government would declare that there was to be no more vaccination.
§ *MR. LEHMANN (Leicestershire, Market Harborough)
seconded the Amendment on the ground that the present system of compulsory vaccination was not so effective in checking smallpox as to justify compulsion. In support of this view he quoted, from a speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Dublin to a deputation on 14th January, 1903, when he was President of the Local Government Board, the endorsement of a statement by a member of the deputation that primary vaccination by itself was really almost a farce, and that unless repeated at proper intervals it was not a safeguard. He asked the House to consider the present state of the law permitting exemptions, not according to the physical capacity of the child, but to the mental habit of the father, into which the magistrate made inquiry. If vaccination was not good for the child of a father of a certain mental habit, was it right to assume that it was specially good for the rest of the children of the kingdom? The law as it at present stood was a farce and absurdity, and he trusted that they would have a satisfactory answer from the President of the Local Government Board.
§ Amendment proposed—
§ "At the end of the Question, to add the words 'but humbly regret that His Majesty's gracious Speech does not include proposals for repealing the penal clauses of the Vaccination Act.' "—(Mr. Lupton).411
§ *THE PRESIDENT OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. JOHN BURNS, Battersea):
I intervene at this stage because I desire to make an appeal to the House to allow us to finish this subject to-night. I wish to remind hon. Members that the hon. Member for Sleaford withdrew a Motion on this subject last session, and said he did not press it because of the sympathetic answer he had received. That answer dealt with several objections to the present system of vaccination—its cost, its methods, and the differential treatment to which rich and poor applicants for exemption were subjected by magistrates and by stipendiaries in London and the country. On the last occasion I promised several things. In the first place I said the Local Government Board would insist on a reduction of the cost of vaccination, which I think is disproportionately high. This promise I have met by the preparation of a vaccination order to be circulated in a few days with the object of reducing the cost. But the main inducement that led to the withdrawal of the Motion on the previous occasion was a definite pledge that something should be done to substitute for the existing form of exemption certificate something simpler and more in consonance with the dictates of commonsense, and kindly consideration for all classes of applicants. I am here to-night to say that I intend to adhere to that promise by the introduction of a Bill which I intend shortly to introduce, and with the assistance of the House to pass before the session is over.
§ *MR. JOHN BURNS
That is a matter for my right hon. friend the 412 Secretary of Scotland. In my judgment vaccination in England and Wales is not compulsory. I say that because it is a fact. Parents can now upon application to a magistrate obtain a certificate of exemption, although they have to do this under conditions which are intolerable and which I hope to abolish in the Bill I have promised. Applicants to the magistrates have been subjected to irregular and differential treatment, and uniformity of administration has not been secured under the present law. It is absolutely impossible to get uniformity of treatment in consequence of the composition of the magisterial benches and other causes which I need not now go into. The promise I have made I will redeem at an early date by the introduction of a Bill which will substitute a simple, effective form of statutory declaration for the existing form of certificate; and thus uniformity will be secured and much trouble and irritation avoided. I therefore hope that the Amendment will be withdrawn.
§ MR. CAVE (Surrey, Kingston)
asked whether the Government accepted the view which had been put forward upon this question of vaccination. He would remind the House that some 150 or 200 Members of the House of Commons had signed a memorial in opposition to compulsory vaccination. He hoped bon. Members would not accept a Motion of this kind without very careful consideration.
§ And, it being Eleven of the clock, the Debate stood adjourned.
§ Debate to be resumed To-morrow.
§ Adjourned at one minute after Eleven o'clock.