§ The CHIEF SECRETARY for IRELAND (Mr. Birrell) moved "That the question of agreement or disagreement with the Lords Amendments to the Irish Land Bill be put with respect to the Amendments as a whole."
§ My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has asked me to make this Motion, and as the unfortunate Minister who seems to be responsible for both these novelties to which you. Sir, referred, is now here. I may say that the matter of the Education Bill really arose because the Government had not made up its mind at all on the Lords Amendments as to whether they would ask the House to proceed with them one by one or whether they should proceed with the discussion of the Motion that they should be taken together. I remember the occasion, there was some difficulty about it, and it was not till the last moment that the Government came reluctantly to the conclusion that they were forced to take that step, and that is 2181 the reason why we took the ordinary step first and followed it by the Motion which I now move in the first instance. I am sure of this, that I shall have no difficulty whatever in convincing anybody who cares to listen to me for a short time that by putting on the Paper this Motion, which is an unusual one, His Majesty's Government have not the faintest desire or the least intention of either picking a quarrel or pursuing a quarrel with another place on such a subject as Irish land. The very contrary, I can assure the House, is true. Nobody is more anxious than I, I frankly avow—I am anxious now, and I avow that anxiety—to come to terms with the House of Lords upon their Amendments if I possibly can, whatever other persons may feel, and whatever other persons may profess. The loss of this Bill, in my judgment, would be a thing I could not with any degree of mental composure contemplate. I think it would be one of the gravest things that could possibly happen in the immediate arena of political possibilities, therefore I am most anxious, and I express that anxiety with the utmost emphasis that whatever may come or be the result of this Debate, a settlement may be possible with another place in regard to this Bill. It has been urged against this Bill—against the Bill as it left the House of Commons and the Bill as it comes back—that it is necessarily going to make the beneficent process of land purchase in Ireland less attractive in future. I agree that is so. I cannot deny, and I do not deny, that the terms offered by the Act of 1903, which have unhappily become impossible, were more attractive than those which are to be found, so far as future transactions are concerned, in the Bill, and in the future the Irish purchaser or tenant will have to pay a little more by way of annuity, and it may very well be that the Irish landlord will have to take a little less by way of price in respect of both. I admit that, but that is for the future; and just consider, if this Bill does not pass—if this Bill fails by any cruel mischance to pass—what is the fate not of future land purchase, but the fate of pending agreements to the extent of £50,000,000? I beg the House in considering the importance of the Bill to forget mere figures, and try to translate what that means in flesh and blood. There are at this moment in Ireland over 175,000 tenant farmers, small peasant proprietors, or at least they deem themselves to be, who, after infinite haggling and enormous trouble, discussion, consultation, 2182 and I know not what else, have come to final terms, as they think, with their landlords. These men are now in possession of their holdings, no longer, so they think, as tenants, but as purchasers. They have ceased to have any relations with their former landlords. They no longer pay rent to anyone. They pay interest in lieu of rent, a smaller sum and a very different thing, and they pay it not to their old landlords or their old agents, but to the Land Commission, and the Land Commission transmits these sums to the old landlords, pending the completion of the investigation of their titles, and until the Irish Land Stock can be issued and the transaction brought to a final close by the completion of the contract. There are £52,000,000 of these transactions and 175,000 of these peasant proprietors or persons who deem themselves in that position. If this Bill passes every one of these transactions will be carried through on the old terms. They will be carried out and made good by the Treasury, who then will be able by law to assume complete liability for them all, thus relieving the Irish ratepayer from a heavy loss, amounting, it has been calculated, to a sum of something like £7,000,000 sterling, and paying the landlord the old, full bonus of 12 per cent.
§ If the Bill does not pass by the end of January next, I am told, the whole of the Irish Development Grant of £160,000 a year will be exhausted in making good past losses on flotation, and when that is done every £5,000,000 of new stock which may be issued in order to reduce this accumulated sum of £50,000,000 will involve a loss of £25,000 a year, which will fall, by the terms of the Act of Parliament now in existence, upon the ratepayers, not by the process of being raised from them, but by the no doubt easier process of deduction at headquarters from the large sums which they receive in aid and in reduction of their rates, and everyone who knows anything about county council finance in Ireland knows that for the first few months of every year, after they have struck the rate, before they receive it, they live entirely upon the credit of those sums which are paid into their account from the Imperial Exchequer. But it seems generally agreed on all sides of the House, and in all parts of the country, that the ratepayers are not to be called upon to make good this enormous loss on flotation. If the ratepayer does not do it, and by law he is bound to do it, who else is to do it? It is only by law 2183 that anyone else can have put upon his shoulders a burden which by law is upon someone else's. Therefore, unless something is done, I really ask what is the position? What is the state of the law with regard to these 175,000 persons who think, in their innocence, and in their good faith, that they have for ever got rid of their landlord, and are only paying interest in lieu of rent until such time as they can begin to pay their purchase annuities? Are they to be relegated back to their old positions, to begin to pay their old and larger rents? It is unthinkable that such a state of things should come about in Ireland. Then there is the Congested Districts Board, a plucky, high-spirited body of men who, for years past have been, I will not say grappling with the enormous problem which was entrusted to them, but just touching the fringe of it with a miserably inadequate income. They have been begging and borrowing all through every year, knocking at the door and imploring the Chief Secretary to knock at the door of the Treasury to get them loans and advances in order to carry on, not their work, but that miserable portion of it which they have been able to do, encouraged no doubt by the benefits which they have seen arising in that part of the country from their labour, encouraged by the popularity which they enjoy among the class for whose benefit they work.
§ Is anyone going to stand between that body of men and that great task, dear to the heart of all lovers of Ireland, and that enormous increase of revenue from £86,500 a year to £250,000 a year, which will be secured to them under this Bill? Everyone, in whatever part of the House he sits, whether he sits in this House or in another, ought to put aside every possible prejudice in order to secure the benefits of this Bill, and to prevent the unthinkable condition of things which must ensue if it does not become law. It may be paid there is going to be a General Election next January. We have had some reference to that ugly shadow, which demoralises us so completely, hanging over us. That is assumption number one. Let it pass. Then it is said the result of that election will be that Gentlemen opposite will, to the joy of their own hearts, I trust, take possession of these benches and become responsible for the government of the country. That is assumption number two. Then it is said when they do that the new Chancellor of the Exchequer, meeting a 2184 brand new Parliament composed of I do not know whom, will be able to present to the House and to Ireland better financial terms than those which are in this measure. Assumption number three. Then it is said, even if the worst comes to the worst, and this old gang come back again, they will be able, in the new Parliament at all events, to renew the terms which are contained in this Bill. I say that is assumption number four. I beseech the House not to hand over to a new Parliament, of which they know nothing—circumstances may be entirely different, the attitude of mind may be different towards particular questions—a problem which presses for instant solution. It may be said, "If you are," as I am, "so dominated by this desire to come to terms with the House of Lords, why do you not adopt the ordinary process and proceed with the Amendments one by one?" I am a slave to ordinary precedents. I hate departing from them. I was very averse to departing from them in the case of the Education Bill of a year or two ago, and I am averse to departing from them now; but it is frankly and absolutely impossible to deal with the Bill as it has come down to us from the House of Lords under the procedure usual and customary in such cases, namely, by considering the Amendments one by one.
§ The Bill, as it left the Blouse of Commons, omitting the 13 financial Clauses which the House of Lords did not touch, contained 59. Of these 22 were so wholly uncontroversial as to pass without any discussion or consideration in the other place at all. I do not disparage those Clauses. They were useful Clauses, but they were, as compared with the others, of an insignificant character. They were the kind of clause which a Minister is always glad to introduce into a Bill when he has the weight of party feeling and feeling in Ireland behind him enabling him to carry useful clauses, but not of a character which can be called substantial.
§ 2.0 P.M.
§ If you take 22 from 59, that leaves 37 substantial Clauses. The House of Lords has struck out 24. Struck them out of 37! I looked to those Clauses, to which we had devoted a good deal of time and attention, expecting to see them reappearing, but they were all gone. I felt like Macduff in the play when he was told that his children were all dead. He asked, "What, all my pretty ones? Did you say all? At one fell swoop?" That left 13 Clauses, and of these nine are so amended as to be, I will not say unrecog- 2185 nisable, but completely altered. Then, on the top of that, there are 16 brand new Clauses, A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q. I do not say that in order to show that I know the alphabet, but because those things are there. It is a fact in regard to the alterations which you will find on the face of the Bill. Taking the 24 Clauses which were struck out and the nine which were very materially altered, I would point out that they are not capable of being classified, five or six being placed in a group. Each Clause is a complete Clause and represents new matter, and I should have been obliged to put each Clause separately to the House and ask them to agree or disagree with the Lords Amendment. I could not come to any bargain with the Opposition on a question of that kind. The House is a Free debating society on these points, and upon each Question, whether I agreed or disagreed with the Lords, there must have been prolonged Debate. Two or three all-night sittings might have been sufficient, although I doubt that, to deal with these classes, but then, when on top of these you add the new Clauses, one of which alone occupies two and a half pages of the new Bill, you will see that I could not hope to put before the House a single Amendment, dealing with so gigantic a structure. It could not be done, and I think the House will agree with me that in adopting this course, I am not in the least desiring to do anything which another place may resent, because I have the exact opposite in my mind. I am only taking that which is the only practical course open to me. The fact is that when the House of Lords rejected Lord Dunraven's Motion, "That the Bill be read on this day three months," their line of conduct was perfectly open, avowed, and straightforward. They said, "We do not want to throw out this Bill. It contains money which Ireland wants. That is the basis of the whole transaction." They were perfectly right in taking that view. They said, "The Bill helps us to a very material extent, but it does not go so far as we think the British Treasury ought to have gone. It goes a long way, and it makes the continuance of land purchase possible. Therefore we cannot contemplate the possibility of throwing it out," Then, in language of such perfect frankness that they cannot quarrel with me if I speak as frankly, they said that the Bill was a hideous, ugly, absurd, and ridiculous structure. I am quoting the language which one 2186 or other of the Noble Lords used. They therefore proceeded at once to do two things. They proceeded to demolish the Bill; they put on the job a small, active body of what are known in the building trade as "house-breakers" to remove 24 objectionable clauses, to amend nine others, and to clear the site. Having cleared the site, they proceeded to put up a structure of their own, in the shape of 13 new clauses. That was a great deal of work to do. It was the work of demolition and the work of reconstruction; but it is to the credit of the House of Lords—I speak quite seriously—that they were able to do these two things—the work of demolition and of reconstruction—in a little more than half the time taken by the House of Commons to do one-half of the job. They said, "We have got unlimited time at our disposal, and we have got great stores of knowledge, whereas the House of Commons have neither time nor knowledge, and we will set to work to do the job." The work of demolition and the work of reconstruction having been carried out, I ask anybody—I do not care what his view may be of the Government's Bill or however much he may be attached to the Bill as it comes back from the House of Lords—I ask him to look at the Lords Amendments and say if in his opinion it is possible for any Minister by the ordinary and usual procedure to deal with these Amendments otherwise than in the way I propose to do.
§ I do not want to go through the Bill as it has come back from the Lords too closely, because I do not want to occupy too much time, but I ask the House to recognise the reasons, which I think are sound, to adopt this particular course. I must ask the attention of the House to two matters which are of inordinate and extraordinary importance in this Bill. These are the provisions as regards the Congested Districts Board, and the provisions with regard to compulsory purchase. Some of the omitted Clauses cover all the ground, from the zones to the evicted tenants. All these required careful consideration. It might have been possible, perhaps in two or three days, to have dealt with all these struck-out and amended Clauses in the ordinary process one by one. When we come to the vital parts of the Bill relating to the Congested Districts Board and compulsory purchase, I must ask the House to consider the difference between the two measures—neither of them would recognise the other as its long-lost brother 2187 or anything else. They are different measures, the work of different minds, proceeding entirely from different points of view. The House of Lords will not be angry if I criticise them by pointing out this distinction. However weak we may be in the other House, we are the responsible Government for Ireland, and this is the Bill which we brought forward after full consideration, and, so far as the Congested Districts Board is concerned, after having had an elaborate Royal Commission and its most valuable Report on the subject. We deal with it as Governments have often dealt with things which have been made the subject-matter of public investigation—public investigation which excited the most extraordinary interest in Ireland, as to which hon. Members in this House will be grievously ill-informed if they think that it can for a single moment be put on one side and treated as immaterial, because really they cannot do it.
§ We proposed in our original Bill to extend the area of the Board's operations, so as to include nine administrative counties. I am not arguing that now. The Board's area, according to the Bill as it comes back from the Lords, is to remain unaltered, although there is a Clause authorising the Lord Lieutenant for the time being in certain cases to extend the area. That power is not a thing to be sneezed at if used with discretion. But it is not sufficient in any way to cover the whole area which would have been covered by the original Bill, because the county Clare would have been totally and altogether omitted from any possible operation by the Lord Lieutenant of the power conferred upon him by any Amendment of the Bill. The Board was to be constituted on the original Bill of a representative character—one member to be selected by the council of each of the nine counties and two paid members to be appointed by the Government. The House of Lords struck out altogether the nine representative members. They were not, I must point out to the House, members to be chosen by a popular election such as is likely to engage our attention next January. They were only the nominees of the county councils which, to the greatest credit of the party opposite, they established with great courage in Ireland. These nine persons disappear altogether; also do the two paid members who were insisted upon by the Treasury. Because really we must not suppose that the 2188 Treasury is going to increase from £86,000 a year to £250,000 a year the public moneys the revenues of the Board, and to allow the Board to remain in the haphazard condition in which it certainly is at the present time with regard to the management of even the small income which it at present has.
§ The Board's purchasing operations were by the Bill to be confined to the nine counties. That is to say they alone were to have the power to purchase within those nine counties. That is to say they were to have the right of pre-emption in every case; and enormous importance is to be attached to that by all persons concerned in connection with one of the most troublesome questions which we have ever had in Ireland, the most troublesome question which we have at the present moment, the competition between the landless men and the congests, which is largely due to the interference by the Estates Commissioners within the congested districts counties. They have bought estates of their own. They had a right of purchasing in competition with the Congested Districts Board, and they settled their estates after their own fashion, in their own way. And whereas the Congested Districts Board have always been most rigorous in their adherence to the principle that they were to benefit the congests, they have rigorously kept out the landless men from all the purchases they have made, with the exception here and there of giving allotments to the herds of the graziers of the untenanted lands, who undoubtedly did earn their living upon them. With that exception the Congested Districts Board, with great courage, and I am bound to say without any real unpopularity, without being greatly blamed, although no doubt they were criticised, as is the lot of all of us, were able to carry out that work on their own estates in such a way as to prevent this question arising into the prominence with which it now has arisen. If it has arisen into that prominence it is largely due to competition with them in their own districts by the Estates Commissioners being allowed to purchase there. We, therefore, proposed by the Bill to have two purchasing powers in Ireland, but no competition. Within the enlarged new area the Congested Districts Board were alone to have powers of purchasing, although they could give their consent to a direct sale in cases in which they felt that they could not with satisfaction purchase the lands themselves. They were 2189 masters of the situation. Outside that area the Estates Commissioners were masters of the situation. What the House of Lords have done is they have taken away the purchasing powers of the Congested Districts Board altogether. They agree with our argument, I presume, that it is undesirable to have two competing powers, but they say that the Estates Commissioners are the better persons to buy. How they could have said that I cannot understand, because it does seem to me to argue an ignorance of the mode in which the Congested Districts Board carries out its work on the estates which they buy. They do not buy them until they inspect them carefully. They make the most careful inspection. They ascertain exactly their capacity and find out how many persons there are upon them, where holdings must be increased, and what untenanted land there would be for increasing the holdings of persons outside the estate altogether, and then from the very beginning they have knowledge and seisin of the whole affair. Under the Bill as it now stands all the purchasing is to be done by the Estates Commissioners. They do all the work of inspection from the Estates Commissioners' point of view. They then buy the estate. They then hand it over to the Congested Districts Board, and then the Congested Districts Board proceeds to do what they would have done originally—that is, make their own inspection and investigation. This seems to me to be, what is a most unnecessary thing to do in Ireland, the deliberate invention of a new overlapping authority.
§ Then the Congested Districts Board have other powers of which the Bill, as altered, deprives them. It not only deprives them of the purchasing power, but it deprives them of the power of developing sea fisheries and industries. The distribution of the purchased land' is therefore all that is left to them. The Estates Commissioners having acquired the land, the Board is to do nothing but re-settle and re-stripe it, and to deal with it for that purpose. My object, and the object of the Government, was not to reduce the powers of the Congested Districts Board, not to make them a paler shadow than they are at present. It was, I say deliberately, to increase their powers, to extend their powers, enlarge their income, to make them a body with some degree of compulsory powers of dealing with the gigantic problem which has been assigned to them. And the notion that this House was going to give 2190 £250,000 a year to the pale shadow of a Board, the mere sign of a Board, with even less powers than it has at present, less powers of making itself felt and making its popularity known, and of aiding fisheries and aiding industries, represents the feelings of persons not familiar with the work of, or animated with feelings of dislike towards the Congested Districts Board, and towards what they have done, and done to a most remarkable extent. At all events, the view of the Government was to increase those powers and to strengthen the Board. I certainly would be no party to interfering in any way with the work of the Board, but, on the contrary, must insist on the Congested Districts Board being reconstituted in such a fashion as would enable it to spend properly and look after and control the enormously increased revenue that is going to be given to it. I, therefore, feel that those Amendments, the new Clauses of the House of Lords, represent such a difference of opinion between us upon those topics that it is quite impossible for us usefully to reconsider them by way of Amendment, and reconsider them in that shape. Our two schemes really cannot be reconciled. Although I bow to the numerical power of the House of Lords, I also cannot help recognising that we are the Government, and are in power in this House, and that we have some right to frame our own measures, and we cannot be expected to accept any reconstructed Board which is not our Board and is a Board which we do not like and cannot have anything to do with.
§ Now I come to the question of compulsory purchase. According to the Government Bill we dealt with compulsion both inside and outside the congested district area, but the House of Lords have rejected altogether any compulsion outside the congested district area, and confine it to within the congested district area. What we have to say about compulsion and all the safeguards which have been erected, the House will understand does not apply in their Bill to compulsory purchase outside the area, and only to compulsory purchase inside the area. They have confined compulsory purchase within the congested area to untenanted land, and they do not allow the Congested Districts Board to buy an estate as a whole. They are good enough to say, and I quite agree with them, that the purposes for which land may be compulsorily acquired are for the enlargement of small holdings up to the valuation of 2191 £10, and for the provision of a new holding for a person who has surrendered his old holding for the purpose of relieving congestion. These are two purposes incidental to the resettlement of congested estates. That is what the Board does now under its voluntary powers: When they buy an estate they accept surrenders from some of the tenants and provide new holdings for them elsewhere, and they then re-stripe the congested estate and enlarge the holdings of the remaining tenants on the estate. These two real objects of the Congested Districts Board are consequential upon the purchase by them, not of untenanted land merely, but the whole estate containing untenanted land and also containing holdings, and yet their scheme gives the Board no power to acquire compulsorily estates containing congested holdings. The effect, as I understand it—I may be wrong—of limiting the compulsory purchasing power of the Congested Districts Board to untenanted land is completely to prevent the Board using their power for the purpose of carrying out their ordinary work. I honestly think that the power conferred upon the Board by the Lords would not be worth having. It is quite out of all plan and keeping with their methods. We do not wish to strike a distinction between an estate acquired compulsorily and an estate acquired voluntarily. We have inserted compulsory powers in the Bill because we think they are absolutely necessary in order to enable the Board properly to carry out their work. But whether they acquire compulsorily or voluntarily, the modus operandi is precisely the same, and the two objects which the House of Lords, correctly stated to be the two main objects of the Congested Districts Board, could only be carried out if they had liberty to acquire either voluntarily or compulsorily so far as their narrow funds admitted.
§ Let us consider what they propose to do with regard to this limited form of compulsion within the area, and confined to untenanted land. The House of Lords propose that the Board might submit a scheme to the Land Commissioners, in which they would set out in detail everything they wanted. They have no power of entering on an estate themselves for the purpose of making their investigations and inquiries. Their power is to be entirely exercised for them through the agency of the Estates Commissioners. That is a very strange thing. They would have to 2192 make their scheme without the necessary information, and to submit their statement without knowing what they would do with the land when they got it, because they would not be able to investigate and map it and shape it in their minds. They make their statement, such as it is, and then it is to be considered by the Estates Commissioners, who have already enough to do. If the Commissioners are satisfied that a primâ facie case has been made out for compulsion, they may publish advertisements calling upon persons who are interested, and who may object on any ground whatever to the purchase of the land. Afterwards they may enter upon the land and make such a detailed examination and investigations as they think fit. If the transaction is carried out and the land is handed over to the Congested Districts Board, that Board has to do the work all over again. If an objection is lodged, the matter is transferred to a tribunal consisting of a judicial Commissioner and two judges of the King's Bench of the High Court, subject to appeal to a court of law on questions of law and mixed law and fact. If all the parties concerned give their assent, that tribunal is empowered to determine the price. The objection taken to a scheme might be made on any grounds. If it were on the ground that the land was not suitable, or that they were not taking enough land, or were taking "the apple of the eye" out of the estate, and leaving the rest, then all the necessary safeguards were provided in the Bill as it left the House of Commons. It seems to me that under the Bill as it has come from the House of Lords it would be a valid ground of objection to say that the people who wanted the land were well enough off already, that there was no obligation in the matter, that this was not relief of congestion, that there was a great deal of humbug about it, and that the landless man was the only one to be considered in these transactions. I daresay the right hon. Gentleman opposite already sees himself making an argument of that character.
§ Let us go on to see what happens. Supposing that everything was done and the parties did not agree with the tribunal, the price has then to be fixed by two arbitrators, one appointed by the vendor and the other by the Congested Districts Board. If those two arbitrators differ—and arbitrators have a knack of differing—then an umpire is to be appointed by them, and, in default, by the Chief Justice. From the umpire there is to be no appeal at all, 2193 and ultimately somebody's opinion is to toe final in the matter; it is, after all, the decision of one man. Then the House of Lords insist that the compensation is to be determined on what they call, in so many words, the principles of the Lands Clauses Act. I really think we need not have any cant about the "congests" if the sacred principles of the Lands Clauses Act are to be invoked in a matter of this sort. I say very frankly that this is altogether beyond our capacity, because the money is not forthcoming, and cannot be obtained. I was reading in the "Quarterly Review" for this quarter a very interesting article on railway nationalisation. It was written by a very competent person, who has very good reason for showing that the nationalisation of railways in England would be a very disastrous operation to the public. It was a nice Conservative article, very well reasoned in every way. This gentleman said that the Lands Clauses Act has, so far, inflated the price of land, and heaped costs upon costs, that it has added £8,000 per mile to the cost of every railway in England. England may be able to carry on its back this great burden of inflated prices and inflamed bills of costs, but the poor people of the West of Ireland cannot do it. If your obligation towards the problem of congestion is based upon the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act, well, stick to your sacred principles, but give up any nonsense or talk about being able to work a remedy. In itself it is one of the most expensive processes which could well be imagined, not only expensive in giving the landlord an inflated price, but also by inflated bills of costs. Those would be added to what the Congested Districts Board have to pay when they get the land. They have the task of putting the people on it and starting them on the farms, and giving them that assistance which they require, because they are not the strongest race of men. If you only want the strong race to survive and say the devil take the hindmost then do not have anything to do with the congests of the West. For my part, I stand committed, and will never stand otherwise, to the policy of doing all we can at whatever expenditure is possible for the relief of those people, a half a million of a population, unique in Europe in their poverty, and also, I may say, in many respects in the charm of their character. But under the sacred principles of the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act, I say it cannot be done, and the sooner we recognise the 2194 fact the better, because it is impossible with the Treasury in a country like this, unless all our habits change very speedily, since the money will not be forthcoming, and the thing cannot be done. I, therefore, am bound to say that so far as the Lords Amendments relating to the Congested Districts Board, and the powers of compulsory purchase as they stand at the present moment upon those sheets of paper, I cannot deal with them one by one.
§ But I agree, although it is impossible for me, one by one, to go through all their Amendments, and say which of them I should be disposed to ask the House to agree upon, that there is a margin of possible compromise between us. It is not a very wide margin, but it is a sufficient margin for honest men anxious to bring about a solution. If they choose to fight, it is a very narrow ground to wrestle on, and one or other may topple over into the abyss. Why should we quarrel in the neighbourhood of an abyss. I see no reason for it whatever. I should be very sorry if the House of Lords did not recognise the perfect good faith of my observations, and also the perfect good faith of the situation in which the House of Commons and in which the 175,000 individuals find themselves, and that, having regard to these sheets of Amendments, we could take no other course than we have done. I think, therefore, that although I am obliged to make the Motion I now do, and which is on the Paper in the name of the Prime Minister, there is every hope that we may by arrangement come to a fair compromise upon these points, having regard to the gravity of the situation. Everybody is interested, the landlord is interested, the tenant is interested, the 175,000 persons are interested, the ratepayers gloomily interested, and anybody who allows this Bill to be sacrificed on a mere punctilio, on mere forms, or simply wanting to bag an advantage one side or the other, I say he is an enemy of his country.
§ I do hope that the House of Lords will recognise our desire to come to fair terms with them. I do think they ought also, despite their great majority in another place, to recognise that we are responsible for the government of the country, and if proposals that we made for remedial legislation, or the preservation of the peace and prosperity of Ireland are ruthlessly disregarded by them, I do really think they declare war upon the principles of representative government. We cannot be expected to allow Tories in the other House to draft our measures for us. 2195 We are bound by our Constitution to consider their objections, we are bound by our Constitution to consider the proposals which they make to us, but the responsibility will rest, I think, far more upon them than upon us of entering upon negotiations, as I certainly am not only willing but anxious and determined to do, but I think the blame will ultimately rest upon them. I think that will be the judgment of the country if we are not able to come to some satisfactory settlement.
§ Mr. WALTER LONG
Nobody doubts the sincerity of the Chief Secretary or the assurances he has given us of his desire to see some arrangement arrived at by which this Bill should be placed on the Statute Book. I am bound to say, inclusive even of his previous experience in dealing with Amendments from another place, I have never known a method adopted which was less likely to attain the end in view than the one we are now asked to adopt. I admit at once that the Chief Secretary in his references, both to the Amendments and to the procedure, has been conciliatory in tone he has adopted, that is as to how he has talked of the Lords, and that he has been good enough to say they are a part of the Constitution, and that we are bound, at all events, to consider anything they do; but he has practically said to the other House: "There is your exercise; we think it is all bad, and we tear it up and leave you to take the next step." Not only is this procedure in itself, in my judgment, destructive of the very thing which the Chief Secretary and the Government have in view, namely, the arrival at some agreement upon the disputed points, but further than that it affords, from the mere point of view of practically dealing with a Bill like this, the very worst possible field for our operations. What is the answer which the Chief Secretary gives, and what are the grounds on which he makes this Motion? The grounds are that this is the first week in November; that the remainder of time at our disposal is very limited, and that consequently it would be impossible to find the time necessary to discuss these Amendments seriatim. He talked about two or three all-night sittings. I do not agree for my part, and I do not think it would take anything like that amount of time, though it probably would have taken more than the time the 2196 Government contemplated. Let me, in this connection, remind them that on the previous occasion, the only precedent there is in our Parliamentary annals for procedure of this kind, upon the Education Bill, the two Motions which we are now asked to dispose of in an hour or two occupied two full days.
I have said it affords the most inconvenient way of dealing with this question for this reason, and the Chief Secretary will appreciate its importance. He is anxious, as he told us, and I am sure with complete sincerity, to arrive at a compromise, but what is the method that by this procedure he is compelled to adopt? He is compelled to make practically a second reading speech, and, as it were, dealing with the general principles of the Bill and covering the whole ground, and in which it is inevitable, if he is to present his own case with that strength and determination which he naturally desires, that he should to some extent depreciate and attack the position of the other House. It may be good business, from a political point of view, to attack the House of Lords here. It may form an integral part of the programme and policy of right hon. Gentlemen whenever the time comes for an election, but I am not dealing with that. They may consider, and the Government may consider when they put the two into the balance, that the advantage to be gained at an election of an additional charge outweighs the other. But, at all events, by adopting this procedure the Government are making it very difficult for us to deal with these Amendments.
§ Mr. WALTER LONG
That which has always been taken in every other case. The Amendments should be taken separately, as they are on other occasions. The Chief Secretary puts the whole of his ground for this procedure on the period of the Session.
§ Mr. WALTER LONG
What I understood the right hon. Gentleman to say was that if we took these Amendments seriatim it would probably take up two or three all-night sittings.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
No, no. I am very sorry to interrupt. I said it would take that time to deal with the 14 struck-out Clauses and with the other Amendments.
§ Mr. WALTER LONG
Then I have understated and not overstated the attitude taken up by the Chief Secretary. I put it at three days——
§ Mr. WALTER LONG
If that is the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman, I do not share it in the smallest degree. If that is his opinion, and that alone, the time at our disposal is the justification in the minds of the Government for this procedure—a procedure which has only been adopted once before. The Chief Secretary talks as if this was the first large and important measure, complicated in its details and in its character, which had been largely amended by the other House. But I would point out that when, on other occasions, we have had measures largely amended in the other House, we have found it possible to deal with those Amendments one by one. The general statement which we have had from the Chief Secretary makes it practically impossible to find out what is in the mind, and what is to be the future attitude, of the Government in regard to the Amendments. The Chief Secretary has passed over all the minor questions, of which I admit there are a great many, and has dealt only with the main ones—the new constitution, character, and powers of the Congested Districts Board and the powers of compulsory purchase; and in regard to two alterations made in the other House, the Chief Secretary has taken up a very definite attitude. He said it is impossible to secure the benefits which will arise from the passing of this Bill unless the questions of the Congested Districts Board and compulsory powers are adopted on lines satisfactory to the Government, and he tells us that there has been a very urgent case in regard to all the present sales, and that there was injustice which would fall upon the ratepayers if they were called upon to find the money necessary to meet the present conditions of the law. Alluding to the advantages which he held out as being so important, he said that every man who held certain views ought to be prepared without prejudice to secure the passing of the Bill. "Without prejudice!" Certainly. Does the right hon. Gentleman mean without prejudice when he calls upon his opponents to accept principles of procedure to which they are absolutely and totally opposed, and which they believe, whether rightly or wrongly, if adopted, would have the con- 2198 trary effect to that which the Chief Secretary believes they will have, either in the purchase of land or in the relief of congestion? The earlier Debates on this Bill were of an extremely limited character. But what came out during those Debates? I think I am not mistaken when I say there were not a few of the hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House who shared the view that the introduction of compulsion in the purchase of land in Ireland would strike a fatal blow at the Land Act, and was very likely to put back the hands of the clock. So far as the Congested Districts Board is concerned, the Chief Secretary paid to it a well-merited compliment. I do not know of anybody who has ever been associated with the Congested Districts Board as an Irish Minister who does not believe that from every point of view they have done their best to do their work under somewhat difficult conditions, and there is no desire to do the Congested Districts Board an injury or to offer them an insult. All the Lords Amendments do is to put certain limitations on the very wide extension of their powers proposed in the original Bill, and I believe that if hon. Members will strive to divest themselves of prejudice and take this Bill as it stands now, with its limited extension of powers, they will leave the Board in a position to do an immense amount of good work in regard to both land purchase and congestion.
§ Mr. WALTER LONG
Surely one of the-principles of land purchase is that the person who sells land should be paid the price for it?
§ Mr. WALTER LONG
We will not talk about the just price now. The justice of the price has no effect on what I am now saying. The Chief Secretary has said that the whole responsibility, if the Bill were lost, would rest upon the House of Lords. Is that true? Is it true to say that the Bill will have no value? The Chief Secretary dealt with one part of the compulsory power. He said the Lands Clauses Act has been introduced, and he referred to its operations in connection-with railways and other undertakings in this country. The hon. Member for East Marylebone (Lord Robert Cecil) pointed out last night, in the Debate on the third reading of the Finance Bill, the true position under the Lands Clauses Act, which 2199 showed that a man was properly compensated when his land was taken away from him compulsorily. I think we are entitled to ask the Government what they mean. What, after all, is the principle of the Lands Clauses Act? I am not going to enter into a discussion of the precise meaning of words, but I take it that the words of the Noble Lord the hon. Member for Marylebone (Lord Robert Cecil) last night applied. He said that all that they maintain is that where land is taken compulsorily from an individual he should be compensated for that which is taken from him. What the Chief Secretary says is that we cannot afford to compensate to the full, and therefore we must take it for something less, because there is no money to pay for it.
§ Mr. WALTER LONG
I do not suppose that if the question is one of cost under the Lands Clauses Act that that is likely to afford the smallest bar to a settlement of the difficulty between the two places. I am dealing with the question of principle. I venture to affirm that you have no right, neither the Government nor any other section of this House, to come down and say that they are rendering a great public service by dealing with the unquestioned difficulties, evils, and miseries which arise from the congestion in various parts of Ireland with a beneficial Act of their own, if they propose deliberately to deal with this difficulty, not at their own expense, but at the expense of certain individuals whose property they are going to take by compulsion. I do not, as I said on the Committee stage, know any precedent for taking land compulsorily on the lines suggested by the Government. Where land is taken by compulsion in the interests of the community there is in every case, except with regard to the small holdings and allotments cases—which are comparatively very small—there is the protection, either of a provisional order, or of procedure which gives to the owner of the property the full right, not only to say what their property is held to be worth, but against unfair and ill-considered action. That is what the Amendment which has been inserted in another places does with regard to compulsion? When the Chief Secretary talks about the number of the clauses, and the variety of the Amendments, he will admit, of course, at once, that these do not come as the 2200 important part of our consideration. The question is: Does the Government propose to lay down, as they do, that the passing of this Bill into law is vital to the interests of Ireland, knowing as they do that a considerable portion of this Bill which deals with some of the greatest evils as referred to by the Chief Secretary, is not in dispute; do they ask that the other place shall reconsider all their action in face of the fact that not one of their Amendments has been treated on its merits; that not one has been separately considered; that they are to be told that on certain points the Government is immovable and must adhere to their original view? Nobody desires more than I do, if compromise be possible, that it should be arrived at, or that land purchase shall go on in Ireland, and that there shall be power to deal with congestion in Ireland. I have never blamed the Chief Secretary. I know the argument has been used, and with great force, that if you wanted a Bill to meet the financial difficulty in connection with land purchase you could have got it separately from the additional powers sought on other questions. There is no doubt that if that policy had been adopted you would have got the Act of Parliament necessary to remove your financial difficulties. I repeat that I cannot blame the Chief Secretary for making an effort to deal with congestion, because I know, as everybody knows who has been connected with the Government of Ireland and has visited the congested districts and studied the thing on the spot, how these things must appeal to any Minister responsible. I do not wonder that he thought it right to put some additional powers for the relief of congestion into his Bill. But if it was so urgent and so desirable that this Bill should pass in some form, then I say that the course that the Government have adopted is deplorable. It is to be profoundly regretted that the position, when we finish this Bill to-day, is one which gives no indication to the other place what is the course that they ought to adopt in order to arrive at a compromise. We are no "forrader" than we were before, and I venture to repeat that if disaster, instead of compromise, be the result, the responsibility must rest with those who have deliberately adopted a procedure which is in itself almost necessarily fatal to the very object which they profess to have.
§ Mr. JOHN DILLON
In asking the House to adopt this Resolution the Govern- 2201 ment have acted entirely on their own responsibility. We have not been consulted in the matter. But I am bound to say, after listening to the speech of the Chief Secretary, that I cannot conceive how any rational man can fail to be convinced that the Government have no alternative, and that the course they have adopted is a course which, if there be any real desire on the part of the other House to meet the Government, opens the gate as widely as possible to conciliation and negotiation. I rejoice to say—and I think I can speak on behalf of my colleagues—that in his speech the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary has our complete and unqualified approval. The first thing that strikes me in this Debate is the extraordinary and amazing change which has come about in the attitude of the Tory party from Ireland towards this Bill. For the purposes of consideration this Bill ought really to be divided roughly into two parts which are so distinct from each other that they can be considered apart. One part contains the new financial arrangements for the purpose of enabling land purchase to be carried out without financial collapse. The other part contains all the other provisions apart from the financial. The financial part of the Bill has not been altered by the other House. From those Benches, when the Bill was originally introduced, Member after Member declared that they opposed all the new financial clauses because they would mean absolute ruin to land purchase in Ireland. Very well, but now their Leader says it will be disaster if they are not passed! That is what he said. [HON. MEMBERS: "NO, no."] Yes, I challenge hon. Members to say otherwise.
§ Mr. DILLON
I say he did. He even went so far as to hint that the proper course of the Government would be to drop the rest of the Bill, and pass the financial clauses. But I shall be able to show in a few moments that even if he did not say it that was plainly the meaning of his speech. What has been said for him by the leading organs of the Tory party in Ireland, the "Irish Times" and others? They have wanted to know whether the Nationalist party to-day was so unpatriotic as to endanger this great Bill as it had now been re-modelled by the House of Lords? They forget that the financial clauses have not been 2202 remodelled, and that they are the same financial clauses as first introduced. The Lords saw money when they came to examine the Bill. I myself was there listening to them, and I was amazed at the singularly blunt and outspoken way and the frank way in which they dealt with that. They said the Bill is an exceedingly bad Bill; it professes to do a lot for the tenants injurious to the landlords; but there is English money in it and we do not like to throw it out, as there is a chance of getting the money, and, therefore, they destroyed all the clauses that promised any relief to the Irish tenants, but held on with a firm grip to the Clause granting the money to themselves. It is very remarkable that although the House of Lords has professed a great desire to make a new departure in the constitution of this country as regards the money clauses of Bills, they most scrupulously observed the privileges of this House with regard to the money clauses of this Bill. Why did they not flesh their swords in the money clauses of this Bill and see whether their action would be regarded as a breach of privilege by the Speaker and the House of Commons. No; they let the money Clauses of this Bill go by because they would bring a good deal of money to the landlords. We are now told it will be a great public calamity unless this Bill is passed. I heard it said more than once when the Bill was in this House that it would be a great public calamity if the Bill was passed. Now that it has come from the House of Lords, it is said that the Irish party would be very unpatriotic and forgetful of their duty if they put any obstacle in the way of the passage of the Bill. Sir, we desire to see this Bill passed as it left the House of Commons.
Although we do not agree with all parts of this Bill, we objected to some of the Clauses, and we object to them still, but we say that after all the discussion, and all the examination this Bill has undergone in Ireland, where it has been canvassed and discussed at every public meeting since it was introduced, we desire to see it passed. Some people have described the Irish tenants as very ignorant and stupid men, but they are by no means so. They understand this Bill very well, and although we were told by some critics of our own that if we dared to support this Bill we would get it hot when we went back to Ireland. We went back, and the mandate we got from our people is for the Bill, the whole Bill, or else we 2203 will let the Irish landlords know why. This Bill has been subjected to great discussion, and has been examined with great care, and the Chief Secretary alluded to one remarkable fact. In the House of Lords they had ample time, they were not overburdened with work, they had not all night sittings. I heard the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Lords say this Bill was driven through this House by the Closure, but they in that Assembly would submit it to a critical and a careful examination and would deal with the Bill at leisure. What time did they take? Eight days were given to the Committee stage of the Bill in the House of Commons, and these eight days were deliberately wasted by hon. Members above the Gangway upon the most petty and miserable points in order to prevent discussion on important points, but in the serene atmosphere of the House of Lords, with all its great skill and knowledge, the mainstay and last resort of the British Constitution, they managed, for decency sake, to take four days to destroy the whole Bill and to construct a new Bill upon its ruins. We watched these proceedings from the Galleries of the House of Lords, and we followed the debates on public platforms and at street corners in Ireland as well, and the result has been to convince us that, with all its faults in the early financial clauses, against which we protested, the Bill was a good Bill as it left this House, and would be of enormous benefit to the Irish people if they could obtain it. What is it we are now invited to do by the Leader of the Irish Tory party and by the organs of that party in Ireland? We are asked, forsooth, in the words of Lord Dunraven, to pass a one-clause Money Bill.
§ Mr. J. H. CAMPBELL
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South County Dublin (Mr. Walter Long) did not say anything of that kind.
§ Mr. DILLON
I said Lord Dunraven. He invites us to pass a one-clause Money Bill, and let everything else stand over. Well, the Irish party are too old campaigners to be caught by that kind of thing. We want the whole Bill or no Bill, and we are not afraid, anxious as we are, and heartily as we desire to co-operate with the Chief Secretary in his endeavour by negotiation to obtain the whole Bill—— [An HON. MEMBER: "Negotiation?"] 2204 Yes, negotiations leading to reasonable modifications. The Lords struck out the whole principle and machinery of the Bill, and if the hon. Member for North Armagh (Mr. Moore) imagines that negotiations are to take the shape of allowing the whole Bill to be swept away, and all the useful and beneficial provisions are to be struck out by the House of Lords and new ones put in by them, he is greatly mistaken. We were told by the right hon. Gentlemen the Member for South County Dublin some weeks ago, when this Bill was before this House, that if it were passed into law with its existing financial provisions it would block land purchase and bring it to an end. What does the right hon. Gentleman tell us to-day? He tells us to-day that if the financial clauses were passed the block in land purchase would be removed and put an end to.
I want now to say a few words on the provisions of the Bill dealing with congestion, because that is the problem which I know best, and in relation to which I am in a certain measure commissioned to speak. The right hon. Gentleman spoke with great feeling and knowledge upon this question. The history of this problem is an extremely sad one, and I think a very discreditable one to this House. Everyone knows who has followed the history of Irish land agitation and the long and stormy, and, to some extent, bloodstained history of the land question, that all this great storm of agrarian agitation arose and had its origin in the West of Ireland, and for the very simple reason that there the condition of the people was most intolerable. Now what has been the history of these Land Acts and Land Bills, amounting to 15 or 20, during the last 25 years, and culminating in the great Act of 1903? Under all these Acts, which conferred immense benefits on the rest of Ireland, the benefits conferred upon the West were extremely trivial. The Act of 1903 was unquestionably carried through the House, and the bonus was obtained on the plea that this great problem of poverty in the West of Ireland was at last about to be put an end to. No one who remembers the Debates of 1903 will deny that. Now, what happened? By universal admission on all sides, through a variety of circumstances which I am not going to enter in detail into now, the West of Ireland has again been subjected to disappointment, and although vast sums of money, more than £70,000,000, have been advanced or pledged for the purchase of 2205 land, the last Return of the Estates Commissioners was that the amount of that money advanced in the West is simply deplorably small. Ulster, Munster, and Leinster have profited enormously, and the money has gone to the very districts where the farmers were substantial, prosperous men, and were well able to bargain with their landlords. But, on the contrary, in the West of Ireland the sales have almost come to a standstill.
§ Mr. DILLON
No, I did not, and I am glad that the hon. and learned Member has given me an opportunity of denying that assertion. In my own Constituency that lie has been again and again repeated. What I said was that in my Constituency, before the passing of the Act of 1903, the normal price of land was 12 years' purchase. The landlords were now demanding from 20 to 24 years' purchase for the same class of land, and all I did was to protest against such exorbitant demands. What I said was that purchase at that price was going on a great deal too fast for me. That is what I said, and I still stand by it. Upon the passage of the Act of 1903 the landlords, stimulated by the rise, doubled their prices and demanded from the people prices which would undoubtedly have ruined the West of Ireland, and would have caused the loss of the money voted by this House. I have always maintained that the Irish peasantry would pay the last penny of these advances as far as they could, but if the price is extravagant and out of all proportion to the value of the land it would be impossible for this House to levy the instalments upon a population reduced absolutely to insolvency by the price given for the land. That is not a wild or fanciful idea, because the same thing happened in Russia, where the land was sold to the peasants and the State was obliged to make large reductions in the rent afterwards. I have always been an advocate of purchase in the West of Ireland. Years have passed over, and the hopes of the people in the West of Ireland have been shamefully and cruelly treated, and the great problem of poverty in the West of Ireland, which this House voted large sums of money to solve, has been left unsolved. But although the problem has been left unsolved, the Congested Districts Board started by the Leader of 2206 the Opposition—although it has been hampered in its work, to an extent which nobody can understand who does not live in Ireland, by insufficient powers, insufficient area, and by interference with other boards—has in certain districts shown, to a degree that is perfectly amazing what can be done to solve this question of poverty in the West. What I wish to say, for the information of those hon. Members who take an interest in this question is that although it has been truly laid down by the Dudley Commission that every single acre of land in the Province of Connaught is absolutely required for the solution of this problem, and will be insufficient, I know that in many districts in the West, where there is no untenanted land, the Congested Districts Board have been using the waste lands and the bogs in such a way that they have done a great deal to solve this problem. The way the people have responded to these efforts should encourage the operations of the Congested Districts Board. The improvements have been seized upon eagerly by the people, and the housing of the people, and the other recommendations they have made have in some districts altered the whole face of the country. The Board have proved practically the lines along which the problem can be solved, and this Government—for the first time in the history of Great Britain—has made a real, serious, and a generous effort to solve this problem.
How have they been met? By the most extraordinary proceedings on the part of the Tory Opposition in this House and the House of Lords. We were told in Debate that these Gentlemen were burning with eagerness to deal with the congested districts and the congests. When this Bill went up to the House of Lords, how did they show their zeal for the congests and the landless men? What did they do? They made the Clause dealing with the landless men, from the point of view of giving power to give them land, much worse than when it left this House. How has this problem arisen? When there was no such problem as this included in the work of the Congested Districts Board, the Commissioners were encouraged to go across the Shannon and enter into competition in the purchasing of estates with the Congested Districts Board, and they started this system of dividing the land among the landless men. Who are these landless men? They are the sons of farmers, and if the only problem we had to deal with was the 2207 repopulation of Ireland you could not do a better thing for the country than to take all these grass lands and divide them among the landless men. These men are nearly all the sons of farmers, and know all about farming. It would be a very estimable and magnificent work to divide these great grass lands among the landless men. That policy, however, would destroy, in the Western Province, the chance of those small holders in the congested districts. How did this problem arise? Because, false to all the promises given when the Bill of 1903 was before this House the Estates Commissioners were encouraged by Lord Macdonnell to go across the Shannon and institute this system of slicing up the farms amongst the young men with capital. Until that was done by the Estates Commissioners, in competition with the Congested Districts Board, these young men did not know whether they could get land, but naturally, with the land hunger which exists in Ireland, once you put into their heads the idea that land was to be got by the sons of farmers you created the whole of this trouble, and now you talk as if we had created the problem, and as if it was not the Administration in Dublin. What did the House of Lords do? So far as the problem of landless men is concerned, they have left it infinitely worse. They then attacked with really diabolical fury the only body in Ireland which has ever attempted to solve the problem of congestion in the West. They deprived it of its extended area, of its elective members, or even its paid members, and they made it absolutely incapable of doing the task they put upon it; a task most difficult at best, but which the provisions of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary would have made possible. Those provisions had been most carefully constructed after full consultation with men who had the fullest knowledge, and, by-the-bye, it was held out in this House as infamous that the Chief Secretary should ever have consulted any Nationalist at all upon the Bill—no doubt a great crime. He also took into consideration the recommendation of his own Royal Commission. His provisions would have made this a possible task, a task which at best was a difficult task, and one which it would have taken years to carry out. What does the House of Lords propose to do? In the first place they restricted the area to the old area. No man who has not lived in the West of Ireland can understand 2208 the situation, and the cynical audacity of that proposal. In other words, the House of Lords continues the old system which made the relief of congestion impossible by giving over to the Congested Districts Board those portions of Connaught which are over-crowded, and taking away from the Board those very parts Which are required to relieve congestion. Secondly, they leave the Board in its present condition, a condition in which it is absolutely incapable of carrying out the proper administration of the business of the Board.
Everyone knows that for the last 10 or 15 years, since the land business of the Board has increased, it has been absolutely incapable of carrying out the work properly, not through its own fault, but through the utterly inefficient machinery this House has given to it. The Lords propose deliberately and cynically to continue and stereotype that state of affairs, whereas the right hon. Gentleman proposed to give the Board a good working constitution, and to strengthen its administrative side in a way which would have made the public money absolutely safe from what they are so very much afraid of here—popular control. At the same time it would have enabled the Board to keep in touch with local sentiment, which has become doubly and trebly necessary since this problem of landless men was forced upon them. The House of Lords propose to leave the task of settling this problem to this miserably dwarfed and hopeless Board, having deliberately taken away from them all possibility of discharging the task. The meaning of that is that in a year or two we shall be told that this wretched Board is doing, and can do, nothing; and, of course, it will be swept away altogether out of the path of Lord Macdonnell and the landlords. Let me point to a striking and instructive case showing the absolute necessity of that provision, swept away by the Lords—that is to say, the exclusive right given to the Board to buy in Connaught and in the other congested areas, and also the right of pre-emption. It has been said that the right of pre-emption ought to be confined to congested corners of estates where people are crowded, and to untenanted land. The Lords have been careful to put in a new definition of untenanted land. How will this work out? It will cut out nearly all the land available.
Let me give the House a recent instance. An estate was bought in Mayo the other day, not in a congested district, and, as 2209 far as I know, there are very few congested holdings on the estate. It was clearly an estate which would have been removed under the present suggested system of the House of Lords from the operations of the Congested Districts Board. There was, practically speaking, under the new definition of the House of Lords, no untenanted land, but there were large tracts of grass land held on yearly lettings by shopkeepers and others without any judicial tenancies. What have the Board been compelled to do? They have been compelled to compulsorily acquire these grass lands to the extent of about 2,000 acres, which they will use immensely for the relief of congestion on neighbouring estates where there are crowded holdings. Under the new system all that land would have been sold to big holders, and would have passed away from the Board. It has been available, and the Board has been compelled to get it. A curious and most interesting case was reported in the Irish newspapers yesterday. One of these farms was neither more nor less than the farm of Captain Boycott. That farm was adjudicated the day before yesterday as being obtainable by the Congested Districts Board, and is now actually in the possession of the Board, and is to be struck out. That is a striking instance of what this destruction of the congested district clauses means. The Lords propose to leave the Board so crippled, so edged in with restrictions, that it is utterly impossible to carry out the task charged upon it. The money would be there, and in a few years the landlords would come to this House and say, "Here is a Board doing no good. It has a large endowment. We want to float some stock and carry on some other operations. Why not take this money and abolish the Board and apply the money to reducing the annuity from 3½ to 3¼ per cent.?" That is the game being played. We are prepared to meet these gentlemen fairly, but we are not prepared to be their dupes, and the Irish people will not allow us to be their dupes. If they want £20,000,000, which I believe this Bill stands to cost the British Exchequer, applied to Irish land purchase, then they must meet the people fairly, and give us something in the Bill as well as the landlords.
In conclusion, let me say one word about a document which I think is really one of the most audacious I have seen published on this question, and that is a letter which 2210 appeared in the Irish papers two or three days ago from Lord Macdonnell. Lord Macdonnell in this letter feels called upon, strange and marvellous to relate, to denounce the House of Lords in unmeasured language for their treatment of the problem of congestion. It is a most extraordinary case, and cynical audacity I have ever known. Personally, I have great friendship for Lord Macdonnell, but I am bound to say no worse enemy ever came to Ireland. For motives I cannot pretend to fathom he has pursued the Congested Districts Board with an undying hatred, and he has exhausted every means to destroy that board. What does he say about the conduct of the House of Lords. He writes:—The House of Lords, by rejecting the clause of the original Bill which gave the Congested Districts Board priority of claim to purchase congested estates and un-tenanted land, have left open the way for the sale of congested holdings to their occupiers, whereby improvement of such holdings is barred for ever, and for the sale of untenanted land to landless men.He goes on to say he feels bound to express the opinion that the House of Lords has treated the problem of congestion most shamefully. He is quite right. They propose to leave open the way for the sale of congested estates without improvement, and so stereotype all the existing very wretched conditions. That is a process which has been going on too long. I know many estates in the West of Ireland where landlords have succeeded in compelling the wretched tenants to sign monstrous agreements to give 20, 21, and even 22 years' purchase for holdings not worth eight years' purchase, and has thus stereotyped the misery of poverty of these unfortunate people, and robbed them of the benefits which this House has voted millions to give. That process will be continually going on if the right hon. Gentleman is defeated in his beneficent and necessary proposal to give the Congested Districts Board the right and power to stop such proceedings. Is it not a cruel mockery for this House to pass Bill after Bill, and to set aside large sums of money to bring relief to-these people if such proceedings as these are to be allowed to go on? It is to be left in the power of the Irish landlord to stereotype this misery in the lives of these people on the conditions which I have described. Lord Macdonnell says:—From my point of view, the great merits of the Bill, as it now stands, lie in its treatment of the Congested Districts Board and of Finance (the latter being, of course, common to both Bills). The original Bill had converted the Congested Districts Board into a political organisation, richly endowed with public funds, and with jurisdiction over vast areas which were not congested. The Bill, as it stands, reduces the Board within the 2211 limitations of a strictly business body, and, while restricting its operation within congested areas, confers on the Lord Lieutenant in Council the power of enlarging and contracting such areas as necessity required.And, again, Lord Macdonnell says:—Nothing worse could happen to Connanght, even the Nrobe of Irish provinces, than to be played with and cajoled by local wirepullers at this crisis of her fortunes.I do not know what may be the future of Connaught. I hope and trust it will never be played with, and cajoled by an Indian ex-official. I would rather see it under a Connaught man. This Bill, for the first time after long and weary years of struggling, opens the window of hope to these struggling people in Connaught, and I say to the men who close that window, and tell these people once more to despair that on their heads will be all the resultant suffering, disturbance, and crime.
§ Mr. S. H. BUTCHER
If the spirit which permeates the speech of the hon. Member for East Mayo is also the spirit of the party, I fear that this Bill is doomed. The hon. Gentleman at the beginning of his remarks, and I was sorry they were greeted with loud cheers by his party, demanded the whole Bill as it left this House. If it is their intention to insist upon them, then our words here are absolutely wasted, and we might as well leave the House. I cannot myself take so gloomy a view of the prospects of the Bill. In the first place, I own I never have thought, and I do not now think, that the Bill will do anything to promote future purchase. I do not think it can, but, on the other hand, it does help to carry through existing agreements which, if they are not carried out, will produce not only grievous disappointment, but a state of very serious apprehension in Ireland. The Chief Secretary in very impressive tones reminded the House that if the cost of the flotation of stock could no longer fall on the Development Grant a very serious prospect would ensue for the Irish ratepayers. Is the House aware that from January on till April Irish local bodies have no funds whatever with which to finance and carry on local undertakings? They cannot borrow money on the security of the rates, and the only way in which they do conduct their finance is by the help of Imperial subsidies towards the rates. This means that for four months from January next there will be no money for lunatic asylums, infirmaries, and poor- 2212 houses, no money with which to pay the doctors. I cannot imagine that anyone responsible for the administration of Ireland would not feel that that was a most grave condition of affairs, and that would in itself apart from the general question of financing land purchase be a very strong motive for straining a point in coming to an agreement; between the two countries. I will only deal with two or three of the main points alluded to by the Chief Secretary—the question of compulsion, the constitution of the Congested Districts Board and the Appeal Tribunal. I cannot help thinking that the Chief Secretary in enumerating the number of Clauses struck out, and the number of new Clauses added must have created a somewhat exaggerated impression in the minds of those who have not actually studied the Lords Amendments, but only knew them by the bare statistical facts. I cannot but think that although the Lords Amendments are very serious, they are not of the destructive and wrecking order which certainly the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) thinks they are, and such as they seem to be in the eyes of the Chief Secretary, and I would really ask the House dispassionately to take two or three questions and consider what the Lords have done. First of all, take the case of compulsion. May I remind the House what was the ground of compulsion as it was set before the House by the Government in repeated Debates. The case was this. They told us that over most of Ireland land purchase had gone on successfully—only too successfully—the tenants had been eager to buy and the landlords had been eager to sell—but they said there is an exception, and in the poorest part of the West, in Connaught in patricular, land purchase has been a failure, and it has not been possible to bring about voluntary sales, and they said for that reason, and that reason mainly, we demand compulsory purchase. We do not believe we shall have to exercise it on a large scale, but we must have it because we cannot get by voluntary agreement the land which we want. That statement of the case impressed me, and I should have liked, and I said so before in this House, to know much more specifically of the instances in the mind of the Government. However, they did not give us any evidence as to the difficulty of voluntary purchase. That only was given in the House of Lords, and it was to this effect, that a certain circular 2213 had been sent out by the Congested Districts Board to a large number of owners asking if they would sell, and on what terms. It was a general circular couched in general terms, and it met with the response which such circulars very often do. It was not in any sense an attempt at negotiation; it did not seem to me any evidence showing that any individual was approached and would not offer any terms. It was very disappointing, but I put that aside, because if the Government did not afford us the evidence which we desired, yet there were men who were practically acquainted with the work of the congested districts who were able to give us personal assurances that they believed that land purchase had been brought to a standstill within these regions on the voluntary basis.
I think the House of Lords were wise in accepting that assurance and trying to meet the case. In the Bill the power was not given in a limited district, but all over Ireland to take any land that was desired from any man and give it to any man, and what the Lords have done has been this. They say, "We accept your own statement as regards compulsion, we understand that you need compulsion within a limited area, and you need it for a specific purpose, namely, for the relief of the congestion, and we give that guarded compulsion which on your own showing is the only compulsion required." I put it to the House, can that be looked upon as a wrecking Amendment to the principle of compulsion? Therefore I have this general remark to make about compulsion. In all other countries, and certainly in England, special safeguards have been always recognised as necessary in the case of compulsory provisions—special safeguards of the principle have been created wholesale in order to avoid misuse and injurious treatment of individuals. Is that so in England? And if it is recognised in Act after Act, I submit to the House that in applying the principle of compulsion to Ireland these safeguards are far more necessary, and for this reason, that Ireland is a country where the one object and desire is land, the sole origin of disturbance and lawlessness is land, and where at this moment we have barely come to the close of a long and bitter agrarian warfare the remains of the embers of which are still smouldering, and where finally, in addition to that, after a long and severe war about land, there has in the last few years sprung up a new agitation for dis- 2214 possessing owners of land by open violence, that is to say, you are here applying the principle of compulsion in a country where political passions centre around the ownership of land and where land is, as it were, the danger point in all political matters. Is it not, therefore, reasonable that you should establish efficient safeguards when you apply the principle of compulsion? That being so, I say that it is unanswerable. I see no answer to that, especially now that the predatory instincts have been naturally stimulated by what has occurred in the last few years.
What are the two main safeguards which ought to apply to the principle of compulsion? The two main safeguards of compulsion as the Bill comes back from the Lords are, first, that you should have an impartial purchasing authority. Nobody will deny that. You are brought at once to the constitution of the Congested Districts Board. Assuming that that Board is to be in the future, as the Government insist, the purchasing authority within that area, then I say its constitution becomes all-important, and I must observe myself, that although I do not approve of the plan of having two competing purchasing authorities in Ireland, I cannot, although I hold that personal opinion, say that it may not be right to accept within the congested districts the Congested Districts Board as the purchasing authority in that area. Here we come to the contrast between the constitution of that body as it was under the Bill and as it is now under the Lords Amendments. According to the Bill, that body consisted largely, for all practical purposes, of a majority of nominees of a great political organisation who were to be endowed with a quarter of a million of money and a jurisdiction over one-third of Ireland. According to the Lords Amendments, the Congested Districts Board in the future is to be practically the Congested Districts Board of the present day; that body, on which we have had lavish praises bestowed by the Chief Secretary himself, and by the hon. Member (Mr. Dillon), who, however, at one moment lapsed into calling it, quite contrary to the gist of his speech, a miserable and helpless Board. That was the Board which did the wonders that he de-tailed. The Lords gave you again that Congested Districts Board which has done all this work, and the Government proposes to abolish that Congested Districts 2215 Board, and to substitute a wholly different Board from that which they themselves praised. Because it is to have the same name they speak of it as the same body. It is another body. It is the abolition of the Congested Districts Board and not the retention of it. I feel the force of the suggestion of the Chief Secretary that there should be a paid member, or paid members, on the Board. I think that is one of the things which might be granted. The local element is not entirely put aside even in the Lords Amendments, because it is provided that there should be powers to form consultative committees appointed by county councils, which will lay their views before the Congested Districts Board. In Committee the elected element was defended largely on the analogy of the Boards, which now advice the Board of Agriculture. That is provided for in the Lords Amendments, so that the localities shall have direct access to the Congested Districts Board in laying their case before it.
The other safeguard of the principle of compulsion is an impartial tribunal to which you can appeal. I understand from the Chief Secretary that he rejects altogether, but he has not made it quite plain, the idea of such an impartial court of appeal. I do not think he explicitly and definitely said he would not listen to it, but he rather laughed at the machinery which has been erected in the Bill. I am not defending the particular machinery of the Bill. Personally I think that machinery might be simplified. I would even go further. As regards the court of appeal, the Lords Amendments provide that there shall be an appeal on two points, and both of them are of real importance. One is on the question whether there is a necessity for compulsory purchase and the other question is on the price. If the necessity has arisen, what is the price to be paid for the land? As regards the appeal on the question of necessity, I believe the main words of the Clause are really taken from the Small Holdings Act, or as near it as possible. Anyhow, the words are these, that the Congested Districts Board, or whatever the purchasing authority is, would have to show two things as regards this necessity. First, they would have to show that there was no other land available to suit their purpose, and secondly, that they had tried to get the land they wanted and failed to get it by voluntary agreement. Surely there is nothing 2216 unreasonable in establishing these two points before a court of appeal. The other point is the appeal on the question of price, an appeal from the Congested Districts Board itself to a perfectly impartial judicial tribunal. I do not care what the tribunal is, so long as it is impartial. My own belief is that if you give an impartial tribunal the question of compulsory purchase will very easily solve itself. Indeed, if landlords are given what they deem a fair price I rather think there will be a rush for compulsion. There are certain advantages attaching to compulsion. You get cash, which is a great advantage, and I cannot help thinking that the main objections of landlords to compulsion would be removed if they could feel sure that they had an impartial tribunal to settle these two points—firstly, that the necessity of acquiring this particular land has arisen; and, secondly, that they are to get a fair price for it.
Why is it that landlords are rather apprehensive as to not getting a fair price for their land? One reason is that in the evidence before the Dudley Commission two Commissioners gave evidence as to the principles of settling prices in these congested districts, which were certainly enough to create very considerable misgiving; and in particular they raised this large question. They said the price of grazing land must be fixed on a wholly different principle from that on which it would be fixed in the case of other agricultural land, because they looked forward to the future. They asked themselves what they had to do if Canadian cattle were introduced. They had their own view as to the future of agriculture. I do not believe any man can forecast 10 or 15 years hence the future of agriculture, and the whole purchase of Irish land has been based on the assumption that no great revolution is going to take place. If it does, very large questions will arise. Anyhow, that speculative forecast as to a fall in the value of agricultural land which will, as it was suggested, halve the value of the land so that men ought to be bought out, not on anything like the price they are getting for their grazing land, but at half the price, has naturally given rise to great alarm. Therefore, for that reason also, the question of an impartial tribunal seems to me one of immense importance, and I would submit that it is not unreasonable.
Those who read the Debates in the Lords must have been impressed with one 2217 thing which was wanting in the Debates in the Commons. The whole question of congestion in the West of Ireland was there debated, not only with knowledge but fully, thoroughly, and by men who seemed to think it worth while to debate it. Here we had one day given to the whole question of the Congested Districts Board, and we discussed one clause or half a clause, I forget which. In the Lords for the first time we got not a political, but an economic discussion on those questions, and the impression I got, both from the Debates in the Lords and also from their Amendments—I do not personally adhere to every one of the Amendments, but some are, on the whole, eminently reasonable—the impression I got was that the Lords are genuinely anxious, if not to solve, at least to help in solving the problem of congestion, and next that they are prepared to go a long way in granting compulsion in order to solve that question. On the other hand, it is equally clear that they are not prepared to give that compulsion in a form which will inflict serious injury and gross injustice on individuals. Nor are they prepared to sacrifice the interests of the congests to the interests of the landless men. My own belief is that the Amendments of the Lords converted a scheme for the political redistribution of land in Ireland into a workable measure of land purchase to relieve congestion.
§ 4.0 P.M.
§ Mr. M. KEATING
I must confess that in rising to address the House I do not feel entirely free from that alarm and diffidence which a new Member must naturally feel when he finds himself trying to impart information to a House of experts. But I seize this opportunity of addressing the House because I am most anxious that my first effort should be on a subject which I am sure is one that not only the Irish people are deeply interested in, but that Nationalists all over the world are watching very keenly. They are filled with indignation and resentment at the conduct of the House of Lords for having destroyed by this measure. When the Bill left this House it left in the shape which was the result of consultation, tact, skill, and ability. It was regarded as the irreducible minimum which could be put into operation to deal with the subjects of congestion in the West and compulsory purchase throughout Ireland, and it came back from the House of Lords in a condition in which, assuming that such were possible for a political measure of this kind, its own mother would not recognise 2218 it. All the principal features of the Bill have been destroyed, and the Chief Secretary used a very good expression when he referred to them as having acted the part of housebreakers in their efforts to reshape the Bill. I was very much struck with the remark of the hon. and learned Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Butcher), in which he questioned whether it was a fact that the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) represented the spirit of the Irish people and of the Irish party in their attitude towards this Bill. I have no hesitation, at all events, in asserting my opinion that he does represent that spirit, that they are determined that this Bill shall not be ruined by irresponsible partisans in another place, and that this effort on the part of this House to remedy an admitted injustice shall not be passed by without our making a desperate effort to do justice to the poor people in the West of Ireland. It is considered a crime, as my hon. Friend truly said, if the Government consult Nationalists and the representatives of the tenants when endeavouring to grapple with this problem, but it is not considered a crime when the Bill goes up to another place for Irish landlords to practically decide the fate of the measure. They do not even do the Government the poor compliment of consulting them when they are determined to ruin a Bill. If the effort at compromise which has been outlined on both sides of the House is not carried into effect, the Bill will be ruined. I believe it is the practice of this House to extract a declaration from a Member of the House that he has no financial interest in any particular Bill which he is appointed to consider. What is the position with respect to this particular Bill? It has been destroyed by a Committee who have enormous financial interest in the Bill. That is their only interest in discussing the matter as is well known by the history of the relations of Irish landlords and tenants. In the majority of cases Irish landlords show very little sympathy indeed with the tenants. It is well known that their only interest in these matters is the financial interest, and therefore it comes very poorly from hon. Gentlemen in this House and Noble Lords in the other House to pose before the country as detached, disinterested, impartial, and judicial influences in preventing people from taking wild and unconsidered steps. The governing motive for their action in regard to this Bill has been to protect their own 2219 selfish interests, and never to mind the interests of the tenants at all. We have good reason to regard—and I believe the opinion is generally held by Nationalists all over the world—the other Chamber as the gilded sepulchre of Irish hopes. I have heard a great deal in the Debates on other subjects during the week about the cruelty and injustice of raising apprehensions in the minds of the poor and humble people of this country. What about the poor people of the West of Ireland, who are looking to this Bill to enable them to have homes of decency and comfort? If it is an injustice to raise apprehensions in the poor people of this country, I suppose the same remark will apply in the case of the Irish people. In my judgment the best type of Britisher is very anxious to work on good terms with the best type of Irishman. The only influence to prevent them coming to an understanding is an influence, such as that with which we are now dealing, exercised when measures are brought forward, and receive the assent of the representatives of the people in this country and in Ireland, and when all hopes of an amicable settlement are destroyed entirely by people in another place, who are financially interested. The attitude of the Irish people on this question reminds me very much of the attitude of the people who lived in another generation, when the King wanted moneys supplied without remedying certain grievances. The cry at that time was, "Grievances before supplies," and that is the spirit which dominates the Irish people at the present time. And if the Irish landlords and their representatives in this House desire to come to a compromise of a satisfactory nature upon this question, then let them agree to the remedy for the grievances of the Irish people and they will get their supplies.
§ Mr. WILLIAM REDMOND
I would not have intervened except for the fact that, together with my hon. Friend below (Mr. A. Lynch), I represent a county in Ireland which is quite as vitally interested with the passage of this Bill into law as any other part of Ireland. Scarcely a day has passed on which hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway have not found fault one way or another with the condition of the county Clare. Questions are continually being asked as to alleged disturbances there, and even the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University (Mr. 2220 Butcher), who spoke so recently, has often referred to the condition of the county Clare. I say here deliberately and openly that any disturbance, any departure from peace and order that there may have been in the county Clare within recent years is entirely due to the want of this Bill, which the House of Lords are now refusing to pass into law. And I say here what I suppose I should be denounced for saying in Ireland, and I shall say it on every occasion in every place, that if this Bill does not become law it will not be possible for all the extra police that the Chief Secretary can pour into the county Clare to maintain peace and order in that county, because the excitement caused among the people by the action of the House of Lords is such that they will say to themselves, and I can hardly blame them for saying it, "If we are treated this way by the Legislature, we have nothing to look to except our own action, and we must take steps ourselves to protect ourselves in our homes." Although I may not be believed by hon. Members above the Gangway, I tell the Member for Cambridge University, and all his Friends, that as the representative of the county Clare which was so frequently denounced, I am as anxious as, if possible more anxious than, any other Member of this House that peace and good order should prevail there, and that there should be an absolute freedom from disorder and agitation, and that the people should be enabled to live on fair and reasonable terms in their own homes, which is all they desire.
May I remind hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway, who are so constantly denouncing county Clare, of what has taken place? Under the Land Act of 1903 comparatively little land has changed hands in that county. I can say with confidence that in proportion to the amount of land which has been sold under the Act of 1903 the amount in county Clare is considerably less than in any other county of Ireland. Land purchase has not proceeded there at all, and the natural result is that irritation and discontent exist among the people. I think the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover, who is well acquainted with the process of land purchase in Ireland, will agree with me that no one can expect that farmers in county Clare and in other districts, when they see land in other places passing from the landlords to the tenants, when they see sales of small farms carried out, should be contented in fact of the fact that no 2221 opportunity is offered to them to buy land, and that they are condemned to continue under the old system of paying rent, which they believe, and rightly believe, to be altogether unjust. Who can for a moment expect peace, content, and order in the country if you allow a large portion of it to rest under the inability to acquire land. Under the Land Act as it stands land purchase in county Clare has undoubtedly broken down, and if this Bill does not pass into law you will condemn the people of that county to an intolerable condition of things; while, at the same time, they see people in other parts of the country acquiring land. Of course, if the House of Lords want that they can have it. But do not let any man in this House or in the House of Lords attempt to discredit the people of the constituency which I represent if discontent and disorder break out there.
I remember that two or three years before I came into this House in 1880 what took place. At that time there were discontent and disorder in Ireland. Thousands of people were under notice of eviction; the country was seething with unrest and disorder. A Bill was brought in by Mr. Gladstone of a moderate character—the Compensation for Disturbance Bill, which merely aimed at compensating the tenants who were unjustly evicted. That Bill passed through this House triumphantly in 1881. It was sent to the House of Lords, who threw the Bill back in the face of the House of Commons. What was the result? The Land League agitation sprang into existence in its full force immediately, and in 1881 and 1882 there was an agitation such as Ireland had never seen. The people rose as one man. The Land League spread all over the country, with the result that the Government were compelled in 1881 to introduce, not merely a Compensation for Disturbance Bill, such as the House of Lords rejected, but the great Act of 1881, which may be said to have been the commencement of the emancipation of the tenant farmers of Ireland. I say deliberately, without any desire to threaten or menace, or use language which I should be afraid to use outside, that if the House of Lords persist in the attitude they have taken up, if they persist in saying that the people of Clare and other counties are not to have this relief, or to be dealt with by the Congested Districts Board under the provisions of this Bill, then there will be a revival of discontent and agitation, and it will not be possible 2222 for the Chief Secretary or for the representative of any Government to keep the people at rest or in a state of order.
I was glad of the tone of the speech of the hon. Member for Cambridge. I may be wrong entirely in my interpretation of the tone of his speech, and I could not agree with many of the statements he made, but I seemed to gather by the tone of that speech, and somewhat also by the tone of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Dublin (Mr. Walter Long), that hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway were alive to the necessities of the case, and that they were anxious, if possible, that this Bill should become law on terms acceptable to the vast majority of all parties concerned. I do not know whether that is going to take place or not. I hope it is, but I think it is only honest and straightforward for somebody to say here what I have said, without any desire to menace whatever, that if this winter in Ireland we are to tell the people, who have been anxiously, eagerly looking for this measure of relief, that they are not to get it, that there is to be no improvement in their prospects of acquiring land, then I say that any man who knows Ireland must know perfectly well that there will be discontent and the consequent disorder throughout the country. It is a cruel way to treat the people. After all, what are the people in districts like my own to say. They will say "that, while the British House of Commons has recognised the necessities of our case, and have passed a Bill which would enable us to obtain the benefits intended for us by Parliament in the Act of 1903, which would enable us to buy on fair terms our homes and settle down, when by a great majority and practically unanimously that measure was passed by the British House of Commons, the House of Lords which are unrepresentative and represent only themselves and their own interests have thrown that back." Whatever you might say to the people, if the House of Commons refused to give them redress, you can say nothing at all to them when they see that the redress offered them by the British House of Commons is refused to them by the British House of Lords. I do most sincerely and earnestly, as a man who has been in this agitation all his life, hope that before it is too late representatives of the landlords in this House will take the lessons of the past to heart, and will agree to allow this Bill to pass into 2223 law in a shape which will make it of some use to the people of Ireland.
In conclusion let me say one word why particularly as a representative of the county Clare I am anxious about this matter along with my colleague the hon. Member for West Clare (Mr. A. Lynch). Clare, under the Bill of the Government, was one of the counties proposed to be in the new congested area, and to be handed over to the administration of the Congested Districts Board. That proposal was hailed with the greatest satisfaction by the people in Clare. They were most anxious that they should be placed under the administration of the Congested Districts Board. The House of Lords at one stroke have deprived the people of that hope, and they say that the county of Clare, with other counties, is not to be considered as a congested area. All I can say is that the county of Clare and the other counties mentioned ought to have been considered congested areas from the very beginning by the Congested Districts Board. There are different definitions of what congestion really means. With some knowledge of the whole of the West of Ireland, particularly of the county which I have represented for the last 17 years, I can say that the county of Clare fulfils in every respect every definition I have ever heard of a congested area. The holdings are extremely small, the people in many districts are crowded together; in a great part it is extremely poor. And by every test which you can apply the county ought to be treated as a congested area, and ought to have all the advantages which can be given to it by the Congested Districts Board. I can only say that if now, having had their hopes raised in this matter, the people are doomed to disappointment, that it is not in my power, or the power of any man to say what the consequences will be. In regard to the proposed powers of compulsion which the House of Lords finds so much fault with, I must say I am surprised. I have had some actual experience in other countries. I have seen the principle of compulsion work with success in some of the most prosperous Colonies in the Empire. Compulsion not more far-reaching than was proposed in this Bill is in full work, and it works well. The landlords are paid a fair price for their land; the people are placed on small holdings, and the general prosperity of the State is greatly increased and secured. So far as the county which I represent is 2224 concerned, unless there is some sort of compulsion there will be no sale. I do not believe that compulsion will be necessary in every case, but the Commissioners should have that power to resort to. Unless they have that power in the last resort many of the landlords will not sell. Let them see the power there. Let them be told that they will have fair and reasonable but not extravagant terms; that they can have their land transferred, and I believe they will require no compulsion to compel them to do what is right. At any rate, as one of the representatives of this best denounced and condemned county in Ireland, I say that I sincerely hope that better counsels will prevail. I sincerely hope that I shall not have to go back to Ireland this winter and tell the people that they have to consent to be trampled upon by the House of Lords. I would appeal to hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway. I would appeal to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover, who knows very well the seriousness of the situation. I would also appeal to the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition as well. He has knowledge of this matter, and I would appeal to him to exert every effort, to use every influence he can with his friends in the other Chamber to make them alive to the absolute necessity from every point of view, from the point of view of the landlord as well as the tenant, from the point of view of the ratepayers, and even the citizen, and inhabitant in Ireland, to have this Bill passed in a shape which can be accepted by the representatives of the tenant farmers in Ireland, and if that is not done, all I can say, and sorrowfully, is that history will repeat itself, and, once more, the House of Lords will have struck a deadly blow, not only at the prosperity and the progress and the peace of Ireland, but they will have struck a deadly blow at the best interests of this House and this country, because, if this Bill is rejected at this moment by the House of Lords, I say many and many a weary day and many and many a weary night, this House will be called upon to pass in the near future in considering afresh the old question of land purchase in Ireland.
§ Mr. GEORGE WYNDHAM
The speech to which we have just listened is an excellent argument for voting against the Motion before the House. The hon. Member for East Clare has appealed to me to express an opinion upon one matter which occupies the greater portion of his speech, 2225 namely, whether I did or did not think that Clare ought to be a congested district. I am absolutely precluded from entering upon that matter by the terms of the Motion which the Government ask us to vote for. It may be that this Motion is only intended to be contemptuous towards another place. I feel it is contemptuous towards this House. We have had few opportunities of discussing the important matters involved in this Irish Land Bill, and the consideration of the Lords Amendments would have given us that opportunity, and the opportunity of selecting the material which we though it right to discuss. The Motion of the Prime Minister is one which the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for South Dublin disposed of, if it had not already been disposed of, by the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland. That speech (of the Chief Secretary) was the speech of a man sincerely moved and almost passionately careful for the fate of this Bill. The Motion that that speech was supposed to support is a Motion which I believe to be hostile to the Bill, and it is certainly careless of it to a degree that may be described as absolutely reckless. I cannot believe that the statesman who made the speech that we have listened to this afternoon really drafted the Motion which he has asked us to adopt. He is the last man I should think to wish to recur to the precedent of 1906. We are asked to take this afternoon that precedent in a more violent form than in 1906. Will anybody looking back to what has happened since 1906, and putting political feeling to one side, really declare, as a matter of fact and constitutional experience, that a Motion of this character is the best way by which Amendments from another place can be treated? We have bad three or four attempts to amend the consequences of that act of violence. Why, if we do care for the Amendment of the Irish Land Acts, should we adopt procedure in connection with Irish land purchase which has proved so fatal from every point of view to the interests of education? I do not know why we have been asked to pass this Motion. I do not know whether the Government feel that they must earn the encomiums that the "Daily News" denies to the Minister in charge of the Housing and Town Planning Bill? That may be the explanation.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
The hon. Member for East Mayo said that he had had no hand 2226 in the Motion. I accept his assurance. But it seems to me to be the kind of assistance towards land purchase which the hon. Member for East Mayo has lavished upon land purchase during the last six years. Making all allowance for the anticipation of events, intelligent or not, we are not concerned with electioneering in this House so long as this Parliament is sitting. This Motion is a piece of electioneering.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
So long as this Parliament is in existence it ought to be allowed to attend to the business before Parliament, and we are precluded from doing so by this Motion, which expects us to make ourselves parties to what is nothing more than a bit of electioneering. No one will deny that whatever the intention of this Motion may be, its tendency is to prejudice the chances of this or any other Land Purchase Bill passing into law. It is really ungenerous to assume as I do assume, and say in a perfectly frank way, there are in this country and in Ireland many persons who do not wish this Land Purchase Bill to be passed. This Bill is largely unpopular in Ireland.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
I am stating the case. May I ask why the Leader of the Nationalist party took the whole of his party into the Lobby against the earlier financial clauses, with which the House of Lords did not deal at all? It is unpopular because, as the Chief Secretary had to agree, it does diminish the chances of future agreements. I do not think I put it too high when I say in respect of future agreements you will only have isolated purchase here and there, and not the general system of purchase that prevailed in the last six years.
And this Bill is unpopular in England—and in some degree I am sorry for that—because it largely increases the demand upon the credit of the National Exchequer. But in the event of a General Election, if that Bill does not satisfy, as I think the legitimate financial expectations of Ireland, and does arouse prejudice in England then I am astonished to find a Motion put upon the Paper which makes for the killing of the Bill and not for its saving. The speech of the Chief Secretary was of a different order. It was the speech of a man who believed two great losses would be inflicted upon Ireland if this Bill is not carried into law. The loss falling upon the ratepayers I agree 2227 will be a serious loss. The Congested Districts Board will for a longer period have to go without additional resources which they could wisely expend. I agree the postponement of the good work which could be done by the Board is a serious loss. That is the amount of the loss. I should be sorry that that loss should be brought about, but if it is it will be brought about by the Motion and not by the Minister to whose speech we listened this afternoon.
So far as Ireland is concerned our position from the start is clear. We say we offer no opposition to dealing with land purchase in Ireland; that it will be our duty to see that the block in the carrying out of agreements is removed without prejudice to future buyers and sellers. It will be our duty to protect the ratepayers, and to deal generously and drastically with the question of congestion wherever it occurs. But we have all along protested that when we have discharged what we consider our duty first in the matter of the abolition of dual ownership in Ireland, and in the second place, dealt with congestion in Ireland, then we ought not to increase the obligations of the Exchequer in order to meet in Ireland matters which are not special to Ireland, namely, the desire of those who are not the victims of dual ownership or congestion to acquire land by aid of the credit of the State. I said that last November; I have repeated it since, and I could not allow this Motion to pass without reasserting that the future use of national credit, where no particular case can be made for Ireland, ought to be generally available for the whole of the United Kingdom, and not ear-marked for Ireland alone. That enlargement of the financial size of the problem turns upon parts of the Bill which were never discussed in this House, and deals with most vital matters in the whole of this part. The only occasion upon which it could be discussed was on the Lords Amendments. They have so dealt with the problem of congestion and of compulsory powers as to give an opportunity of saying whether we did or did not intend to open the door to any persons who wished for farms in Ireland, and to give such persons free use of British credit.
That vital point we have never had an opportunity of discussing. We might have discussed it on the Lords Amendments, but we are now asked to deal with the 2228 whole of these Amendments as if they were one. Under these circumstances our proceedings are reduced to a farce. The Chief Secretary said there are other means of approaching this question, but his manner and efforts in the House of Commons have not been very happy, and the least happy is the effort he has made this afternoon in supporting a Motion to kill the Bill by a speech imploring us to keep it alive. There is much in the Bill that is well worth saving, and it would be a cruel wrong that the ratepayers should be penalised in obedience to party tactics. I trust that that loss will not be inflicted upon them. We ought to have been allowed on these Amendments to discuss the vital problem of whether you are going to have a policy for these landless men or not, and we have never been allowed to discuss that question. Upon the few occasions when we did discuss it the Chief Secretary replied, "Oh! that is not what we mean." We are asked to deal with all these Amendments en bloc, and this huge matter, affecting not only Ireland but England and Scotland and Wales, is one which we have never been allowed to discuss only by means of interjections. This Motion is inimical to the Bill, contemptuous to another place, and contemptuous to our right in this House of Commons. For these reasons I think every hon. Member ought to vote against this Motion.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
I think the right hon. Gentleman has done an injustice to Ireland in regard to what he has said about our responsibility for this Motion. The hon. Member for East Mayo was well advised in the statement he made that we were not responsible for this Motion. If the right hon. Gentleman's inquiries had extended back to 1906 he would find that (he Leader of our party then expressed hostility to a Motion of this kind in regard to an English measure in which we were greatly affected, namely, the question of religious education. He said on that occasion:—He must express his personal regret that the right hon. Gentleman, on behalf of the Government, promised to lake the course which the stated would be pursued next day.That was in reference to a Motion similar to this which was then before the House. As far as this party is concerned, I think the hon. Member for East Mayo was quite justified in stating that the responsibility for this Motion rested not with us but with the Government. In the case of the English Education Bill the Government first 2229 proposed "That the Lords Amendments be now considered," then the Amendments were read a second time, and afterwards rejected en bloc. To-day an entirely different course has been pursued, because the Prime Minister has put down a Motion to reject the Lords Amendments as a whole. The Chief Secretary says that in 1906 they had not then made up their minds what to do, but in the very speech in which he made the Motion "that the Lords Amendments be now considered" he announced "that to-night he proposed to put down a Resolution to be moved to-morrow by the Prime Minister. It would be something to this effect: 'That the question of agreement or disagreement with the Lords Amendments to the Education Bill shall be discussed as a whole.'" So the right hon. Gentleman, when he got up to speak and make the Motion, "That the Lords Amendments be now considered," had in his hands the very terms of the Motion, "That the Lords Amendments be considered en bloc." We have therefore now to consider, from our point of view, the effect of the Government's action. I said the moment the Bill was introduced that land purchase was dead. Having heard' the speeches of those upon both sides of the House, of those upon the Government Bench, and those who represent the Opposition, I remain firmly convinced that my original forecast was right. The Chief Secretary has stated, as a reason for the acceptance of this Motion, that there are £50,000,000 of pending agreements, involving 175,000 tenant farmers. How does this Bill in any way improve the condition of these 175,000 tenant farmers? If this Bill perishes, as apparently it is intended it should perish, the agreements between these tenants and landlords will remain valid, and will be carried out on the old rate. Joining, as I do heartily, in the expressions of condemnation of the action of the House of Lords in this business, I am not prepared to excuse the action of the House of Commons, because what does the Government do? I verily believe, and am fully persuaded, that if the financial terms of the Wyndham Act as to bonus and annuity had been adhered to we would have got the Congested Districts Board Section through the House of Lords with a whisk. The Government say that if this Bill is not passed you put an obligation on the ratepayers of the counties of £125,000 a year. How much are you putting upon them by your Budget? It is not £125,000 a year, but £1,125,000 a year that the 2230 Budget will cast upon the ratepayers of Ireland. One would think, therefore, that, when you have a Budget which will hit Ireland by this extraordinary amount, destroying its manufactures, we might well come to the Ministry, and say, the least you can do is to pay your debt of £50,000,000 which you owe, and which you guaranteed to pay off in some other spirit than that of a bankrupt South American Republic. You pledged the honour and credit of Britain to pay this money off in sovereigns, and under this Bill it is going to be paid off in paper. This £50,000,000 is coming to Ireland as £50,000,000 of depreciated stock instead of £50,000,000 of golden sovereigns which was the original bargain.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
The hon. and learned Member is perfectly inaccurate. Regarding the pending agreements, all the Treasury are doing is to relieve the ratepayers of the liability. They will be paid exactly in the same way as everybody else will be paid, and just as quickly as ever it was contemplated they would be paid.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
I take Section (3), and I heartily share the regret of the hon. Member for East Mayo that it was not on the financial sections of the Act that the Lords fell. These are the sections that they should have attacked, and it is to be deplored that they did not do so, instead of attacking the sections which give relief to the unfortunate people of the West of Ireland. You say there is a sum of 5o millions of money due! When is it going to be paid? Here is your proposal:Notwithstanding anything ill Section (27) of the Act of 1903, advances for the purposes of the Land Purchase Acts may, subject to provisions of this Section, be made in whole or in part by means of stock, in the manner and under the circumstances for which provision is made by this Section.What is the provision made by this Section? "That for the purpose of carrying into effect pending purchase agreements advances may, if the vendor agrees, be made."
I am not saying that this is compulsory. But the bargain was to pay this amount when the money was due, and you say now, "We will not pay 50 millions; you must take paper." I say if the Government had the smallest doubt—if as they say the gates are open for compromise—for the right hon. Gentleman told us there was every hope that by arrangement we might make fair terms—I say it is a very simple thing to get this Bill through. You have 2231 only to give the landlords a little money and it will go through. The whole question is this: Is the peace of Ireland, and especially of the West of Ireland, worth paying the price? Are you prepared to give the terms unanimously agreed to by this House, by the Irish Members, by every section on both sides, by every section in the country—North, South, East and West—terms endorsed by your own leader, and endorsed by your own Conference in 1903? Are you prepared to give those terms, or are you going back on them? I was not a member of the Land Conference. [An HON. MEMBER: "Thank God."] I am very thankful also. But the result of the Land Conference at all events won the approval of every Member of this House. What you have to do in order to get your Bill through is to go back to the original terms of 1903. And you are asked to do that in a Session in which you are extracting a sum of two millions. ["No, no."] Well, I will take the figures of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He puts it at £600,000. Complaint is made of the infliction by this Bill of a loss of £125,000 on the ratepayers, but, according to the confession of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, his Budget places a burden of £600,000 on their shoulders. If the door is to be open for negotiation—as I heartily hope it will be—I trust the Government will bear in mind that the effect of the Bill, as it now stands, is to interpose a chasm of five years' purchase by its terms between landlord and tenant. That is the question for the Government to consider. Sometimes you see a stone thrown at a dog, and you see the dog snarling at the stone instead of at the hand that threw it, but I say it was a bad day for Ireland when the terms of the Wyndham Act were gone back upon. I say we were entitled to have it carried out. I am told there would be a loss to the ratepayers, as no doubt there would be, but I cannot forget that in the very first Session of this Government the present Prime Minister, who was then Chancellor of the Exchequer, came down to this House and stated that the ratepayers would not be subjected to that loss. That promise, I presume, holds good still.
I share to the full the indignation expressed at the action of the House of Lords in reference to these unfortunate people in the West of Ireland. I think, of all the cruel things that have been done it was to fall upon those sections affecting 2232 the poorest of the poor and the most distressful of the distressed, and all in reference to a matter that could be bridged over by a payment of this £100,000. The extraordinary thing to me is this. Hon. Members sometimes seem to have very short memories. I said that it was a question of more money, and that excited great laughter from hon. Gentlemen around me, but Gentlemen who laughed, everyone of them, trooped into the Lobby at the whip of the hon. Gentleman above the Gangway the hon. Member for Antrim. They knew that that imperilled the Bill, but memories are so short that that is only so recently as the 30th of July. We voted in divisions, and who were the Whips behind whom we voted? "Tellers for the Noes, Sir A. Acland Hood and Viscount Valentia," and the Gentlemen who laughed themselves followed the Tory Whip to do what they could to get more money for land purchase. The numbers were, on "Clause 8: Ayes, 194; Noes, 125," and all through, whenever the Irish landlords moved an Amendment to improve the financial position of this Bill, I am glad to think that the good sense of the Leaders of this party supported the Conservatives in their insistence. For the information of the Gentlemen who laughed, I will give another instance: On 9th of July, "Tellers for the Noes, Captain Craig and Mr. Hugh Barrie," and the numbers, when we voted with the Conservatives, were "Ayes, 177; Noes, 143;" and on the same day in another Division on the financial clauses the figures were "Ayes, 184; Noes, 149," the whole Opposition being solid. It is absurd to say that in this matter the interest of the tenant and the interest of the landlord are not practically identical. You have proved it by your votes in the Division Lobbies, and accordingly nothing is required in my opinion to make this Bill go through and to pass into law except to get over the penury of the Treasury, and I join heartily in the protest that has been made against the excission of the clauses bringing relief to the West of Ireland. These unfortunate people, above all others, are entitled to relief because hitherto the benefits of the Land Act have gone to the richer parts of the country and they are paying taxation en tobacco, whisky and beer entirely out of proportion to the same sort of tax which would fall upon persons with larger purses. Accordingly, we are entitled to say in the interests of the West of Ireland 2233 that these financial Clauses should be reconsidered. If the landlords are wise, instead of having any quarrel with us in this House they will join with us in insisting upon better financial terms being extracted from the Government. This Session at all events the Government have no answer, having passed the Budget, to that demand, and I deeply regret also that when they say the doors are open for negotiation with the landlords, they did not think of that six months ago. I think we should be in a different position to-day if the Government had not rejected every overture to try and make this a consent Bill. Now, when the fat is in the fire, when the milk is spilt, they declare that they are willing to negotiate, but without giving the smallest rag of hope as to the subject matters of the negotiation. What are we to negotiate about?
I agree with the hon. Member (Mr. Dillon) that we can expect, as far as the West of Ireland is concerned, no lesser terms than this Bill affords. I would rather see the entire Bill perish than accept the Lords Amendments, and I think he is right in saying that gentlemen of small experience connected with the West of Ireland are not men to thrust their views forward as against the great bulk of opinion in this House. The remedy is in the hands of the British Treasury. It is there that the mischief is seated. I observe the Attorney-General laughing. He can laugh. He has £4,000 a year in Ireland. I do not see the Solicitor-General laughing. He will soon have to face his Constituents in North Tyrone. For my part, while condemning to the fullest the action of the House of Lords in this matter, I believe the whole trouble has been brought about by the spirit in which the British Treasury has acted. I hope these are unpalatable sentiments, but I never remember anything being got out of the Treasury except by plain speaking. No doubt agitation is very useful, but I saw the other day a long petition from one end of Galway protesting how peaceable it was, and how unfair it was that £5,000 or £6,000 a year extra for police should be thrown upon Connemara. I agree in the injustice of it. I do not want the tax-payers, in addition to paying £100,000 a year for extra rates, to pay also extra money for police taxes. I notice that whenever any man's cattle are driven there are county court judges ready to give twice the value off the ratepayers, and, accord- 2234 ingly, I say that the root of this mischief is not altogether across the floor of this House. The root of the mischief lies in Downing Street, and if this talk of negotiation goes forward, I think we shall be upon strong ground in saying that we want all these Amendments which the Lords have rejected, but also the Amendments which the Government have rejected, namely, the financial terms of the Wyndham Act.
§ Mr. STEPHEN GWYNN
I do not mean to follow the hon. and learned Member for Louth (Mr. T. M. Healy) in his attack on the Treasury. As to the money part of this measure I have no hope of getting concessions by appealing to the Treasury for they have nothing to gain by this Bill. I mean to address myself to the Members of the House of Lords, many of whom have a great deal to gain by the passing of the Bill. It is quite true that we did not get in Committee the concessions which we asked for financially, but it is equally true that the Bill, as it left the House of Commons, is eagerly and earnestly desired by the people of Ireland. That is what I stand here to say for my Constituents. I wish to illustrate by a concrete instance what the people in my Constituency in Galway think of the Lords Amendments as affecting them. In that constituency there are two country parishes where there is as bad congestion as anywhere in Ireland. It is often said that the people of the congested districts are not good farmers. I think the hon. Member for Mayo said, and I agree with him, that they are not the best human material in Ireland. With regard to the people I have in my mind, I have spoken to agents of the estate and members of the Land Commission and others, and from all quarters-there has been the same report that these people are farmers of the best class you can get in Ireland, industrious, capable, strong men. Where they have got farms they can live on they are living well. A few miles off the people of the same class are becoming rich actually by tillage, but here in this particular place they are crowded out of the grazing land. In the three years that I have been Member for that Constituency, while there has been a sharp agitation through the rest of Ireland, while I myself have in certain places encouraged agitation, I have said persistently to these men "There is no reason for you to agitate; your case is covered exactly by the Report of the Dudley Commission. If legislation is introduced, 2235 and we have reason to believe that legislation will be introduced on the lines of the Dudley Commission, you will be brought under the Congested Districts Board, there will be compulsory powers which are absolutely necessary for you, because some of you are Clanricarde tenants." During all that time there were no disturbances among these people with grazing land at their door. But when they have seen this Bill pass through the House of Commons by a majority of seven to one, and have seen it sent to the House of Lords, and seen every provision that affected them struck out by this assembly of landlords, these men have simply taken the law into their own hands, gone out in the daylight, and has driven the cattle for the first time. That is their answer to the landlords' amendments. They have driven the cattle from these lands in the open day into the town of Galway. They have defied the law, and they have done it as a protest. That is their answer to the House of Lords. When I spoke to them I told them in my opinion they ought to wait until the negotiations were finished between the two Houses. Very well. They have waited, and I cannot blame them for what they have done.
Let me point out one fact that emerges. Who are the people who have got the land? In one case that came into the police court the present tenant said that if he had realised that there was any objection he would not have taken the land. He was a publican. In another case the tenant of the land was a butcher. What we want is to see the lands of Ireland in the hands of farmers and not of publicans or butchers. I notice in the Unionist Press frequent references to the shopkeepers in the West of Ireland, and they are invariably termed gombeen men. I do not deny that here
§ and there the gombeen man is a reality, but, broadly speaking, I say that the shopkeepers in the West of Ireland help their poor neighbours, instead of hindering them. But from the point of view of the English Press, in so far as they are shopkeepers, they are gombeen men; they are a corrupt class; they are the people who subsidise us. But those very men are the graziers. When the shopkeeper becomes a grazier he is a pillar of the community; he is a supporter of the greatest industry in Ireland; he is the man who is indispensable. What the people in my Constituency say is that the farmers should get the land and the shopkeepers should busy themselves with their shopkeeping. Under the Bill as it left this House—setting aside all financial questions—men in my own Constituency were ready and willing to work the land which was at their doors to be divided among them. Those men would have got the land. Though the Motion before the House does not seem a logical form of procedure, I construe it to mean that we are prepared to consider Amendments from the House of Lords to the Land Bill, but we are not prepared to consider a bad Bill substituted for a good one. If bonâ fide Amendments are sent down here I believe they will be considered, but unless fair Amendments are proposed, and unless a fair compromise is arrived at upon them, I say that my constituents at least will take the law into their own hands. They will make it very hard to let the grazing land, and I, for my part, would advise them to make it hard.
§ The House divided: Ayes, 222; Noes, 56.2237
|Division No. 894.]||AYES.||[5.12 p.m.|
|Abraham, W. (Cork, N. E.)||Branch, James||Compton-Rickett, Sir J.|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Brodie, H. C||Condon, Thomas Joseph|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Brooke, Stopford||Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinstead)|
|Ambrose, Robert||Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs., Leigh)||Cotton, Sir H. J. S.|
|Astbury, John Meir||Bryce, J. Annan||Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Crean, Eugene|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney Charles||Crossley, William|
|Barnard, E. B.||Byles, William Pollard||Cullinan, J.|
|Barnes, G. N.||Cameron, Robert||Curran, Peter Francis|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Cheetham, John Frederick||Davies, Timothy (Fulham)|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Delany, William|
|Beale, W. P.||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Beauchamp, E.||Clancy, John Joseph||Dillon, John|
|Beck, A. Cecil||Cleland, J. W.||Donelan, Captain A.|
|Benn, W. (Tower Hamlets, St Geo.)||Clough, William||Duffy, William J.|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Duncan, C. (Barrow-In-Furness)|
|Boland, John||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Collins, Sir Wm. J. (St. Pancras, W.)||Elibank, Master of|
|Erskine, David C.||Lamont, Norman||Philips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Esmonde, Sir Thomas||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Pickersgill, Edward Hare|
|Essex, R. W.||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.)||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.|
|Evans, Sir S. T.||Layland-Barratt, Sir Francis||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Everett, R. Lacey||Lehmann, R. C.||Radford, G. H.|
|Faber, G. H. (Boston)||Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich)||Reddy, M.|
|Falconer, J.||Lundon, T.||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Lupton, Arnold||Redmond, William (Clare)|
|Ferens, T. R.||Luttrell, Hugh Fownes||Rees, J. D.|
|Flrench, Peter||Lynch, A. (Clare, W.)||Richards, T. F (Wolverhampton, W.)|
|Field, William||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Maclean, Donald||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Flynn, James Christopher||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Robson, Sir William Snowden|
|Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Macpherson, J. T.||Roche, Augustine (Cork)|
|Fuller, John Michael F.||MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.)||Roche, John (Galway, East)|
|Ginb, James (Harrow)||MacVeigh, Charles (Donegal, E.)||Rowlands, J.|
|Gibson, J. B.||M'Kean, John||Russell, Rt. Hon. T. W.|
|Ginnell, L.||Mallet, Charles E.||Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)|
|Glendinning, R. G.||Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Marnham, F. J.||Schwann, Sir C. E. (Manchester)|
|Gooch, George Peabody (Bath)||Massie, J.||Scott, A. H. (Ashton-under-Lyne)|
|Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)||Masterman, C. F. G.||Sears, J. E.|
|Gulland, John W.||Meagher, Michael||Seddon, J.|
|Gwynn, Stephen Lucius||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Seely, Colonel|
|Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Menzies, Sir Walter||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvll)||Micklem, Nathaniel||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)||Molteno, Percy Alport||Stanger, H. Y.|
|Harwood, George||Mond, A.||Stanley, Hon. A Lyulph (Cheshire)|
|Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Mooney, J. J.||Steadman, W. C.|
|Haworth, Arthur A.||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Stewart, Haliey (Greenock)|
|Hayden, John Patrick||Morrell, Philip||Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)|
|Healy, Maurice (Cork)||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)|
|Healy, Timothy Michael||Murnaghan, George||Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)|
|Henderson, J. McD. (Aberdeen, W.)||Murphy, John (Kerry, East)||Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)|
|Henry, Charles S.||Murray, Capt. Hon. A. C. (Kincard.)||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Herbert, T. Arnold (Wycombe)||Murray, James (Aberdeen, E.)||Thompson, J. W. H. (Somerset, E.)|
|Higham, John Sharp||Nannetti, Joseph||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Hodge, John||Napier, T. B.||Vivian, Henry|
|Hogan, Michael||Nolan, Joseph||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)|
|Holland, Sir William Henry||Norman, Sir Henry||Walton, Joseph|
|Horniman, Emslie John||O'Brien, K. (Tipperary, Mid)||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Hudson, Walter||O'Connur, John (Kildare, N.)||Wardle, George J.|
|Hyde, Clarendon G.||O'Doherty, Philip||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Jackson, R. S.||O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Jardine, Sir J.||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)||White, J. Dundas (Dumbartonshire)|
|Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||O'Dowd, John||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)||Whitehead, Rowland|
|Jordan, Jeremiah||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Joyce, Michael||O'Malley, William||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Kavanagh, Walter M.||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Williamson, Sir A.|
|Keating, M.||O'Shee, James John||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Kekewich, Sir George||Parker, James (Halifax)||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Kelley, George D.||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Kettle, Thomas Michael||Pearce, William (Limehouse)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Joseph Pease and Captain Norton.|
|King, Alfred John (Knutsford)||Pearson, W. H. M. (Suffolk, Eye)|
|Laidlaw, Robert||Philipps, Owen C. (Pembroke)|
|Acland-Hood, Rt. Hon. Sir Alex. F.||Craik, Sir Henry||Moore, William|
|Balcarres, Lord||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers||Morpeth, Viscount|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Fell, Arthur||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City Lond.)||Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Fletcher, J. S.||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Bignold, Sir Arthur||Gordon, J.||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Guinness, Hon. R. (Haggerston)||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Guinness, Hon. W. E. (B. S. Edmunds)||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Hamilton, Marquess of||Starkey, John R.|
|Butcher, Samuel Henry||Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashford)||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. H. M.||Helmsley, Viscount||Talbot, Rt. Hon. J. G. (Oxford Univ.)|
|Carlile, E. Hlldred||Hills, J. W.||Walker, Col. W. H. (Lancashire)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Kerry, Earl of||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.)|
|Cecil, Lord John P. Jolcey-||Lambton, Hon. Frederick William||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter (Dublin, S.)||Wortley. Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r.)||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Clive, Percy Archer||MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||M'Arthur, Charles||TELLERS FOR THE NOES. —Viscount Valentia and Mr. H. W. Forster.|
|Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.)||M'Calmont, Colonel James|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Mildmay, Francis Bingham|
|Motion put, and agreed to. Lords Amendments considered.|
§ Mr. BIRRELL moved, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendments."
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
On a point of Order. I want to save our rights. In the case of the Education Bill was there not a Motion for the second reading of the Amendments before a Motion of this kind?
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
It was entered as having been made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Islington (Mr. T.
§ Lough). I do not wish to keep the House if you give me an assurance that the rights of Members are preserved.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I can assure the hon. Member that there is really no Motion made that the Amendments should be read a second time, though it is actually in the Journal as though they had been read a second time.
§ Question put, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendments."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 219; Noes, 54.2241
|Division No. 895.]||AYES.||[5.25 p.m.|
|Abraham, W. (Cork, N. E.)||Falconer, J.||Luttrell, Hugh Fownes|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Farrell, James Patrick||Lynch, A. (Clare, W.)|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Ferens, T. R.||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)|
|Ambrose, Robert||Ffrench, Peter||Maclean, Donald|
|Astbury, John Meir||Field, William||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Macpherson, J. T.|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Flynn, James Christopher||MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.)|
|Barnard, E. B.||Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||MacVeigh, Charles (Donegal, E.)|
|Barnes, G. N.||Filler, John Michael F.||M'Kean, John|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Gibb, James (Harrow)||Mallet, Charles E.|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Gibson, J. P.||Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)|
|Beale, W. P.||Ginnell, L.||Marnham, F. J.|
|Beck, A. Cecil||Glendinning, R. G.||Massie, J.|
|Benn, W. (Tower Hamlets, St. Geo.)||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Masterman, C. F. G.|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Gooch, George Peabody (Bath)||Meagher, Michael|
|Boland, John||Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Gulland, John W.||Meehan, Patrick A. (Queen's Co.)|
|Branch, James||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius||Menzies, Sir Walter|
|Brodie, H. C.||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Micklem, Nathaniel|
|Brooke, Stopford||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||Molteno, Percy Alport|
|Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs., Leigh)||Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)||Mond, A.|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Harwood, George||Mooney, J. J.|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney Charles||Haworth, Arthur A.||Morrell, Philip|
|Byles, William Pollard||Hayden, John Patrick||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas|
|Cameron, Robert||Healy, Maurice (Cork)||Murnaghan, George|
|Cheetham, John Frederick||Healy, Timothy Michael||Murphy, John (Kerry, East)|
|Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Henderson, J. McD. (Aberdeen, W.)||Murray, Capt. Hon. A. C. (Kincard.)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Henry, Charles S.||Murray, James (Aberdeen, E.)|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Herbert, T. Arnold (Wycombe)||Nannetti, Joseph P.|
|Cleland, J. W.||Higham, John Sharp||Napier, T. B.|
|Clough, William||Hodge, John||Nolan, Joseph|
|Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Hogan, Michael||Norman, Sir Henry|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Holland, Sir William Henry||O'Brien, K. (Tipperary, Mid)|
|Collins, Sir Wm. J. (St. Pancras, W.)||Horniman, Emslie John||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Compton-Rickett, Sir J.||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Condon, T. J.||Hudson, Walter||O'Doherty, Philip|
|Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinstead)||Hyde, Clarendon G.||O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)|
|Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Jackson, R. S.||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Jardine, Sir J.||O'Dowd, John|
|Crean, Eugene||Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)|
|Crossley, William J.||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)|
|Cullinan, J.||Jordan, Jeremiah||O'Malley, William|
|Curran, Peter Francis||Joyce, Michael||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||Kavanagh, Walter M.||O'Shee, James John|
|Delany, William||Keating, M.||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.)||Kekewich, Sir George||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Dillon, John||Kelley, George D.||Pearce, William (Limehouse)|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Kettle, Thomas Michael||Pearson, W. H. M. (Suffolk, Eye)|
|Duffy, William J.||King, Alfred John (Knutsford)||Philipps, Owen C. (Pembroke)|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-In-Furness)||Laidlaw, Robert||Philips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Lamont, Norman||Pickersgill, Edward Hare|
|Elibank, Master of||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Erskine, David C.||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.)||Radford, G. H.|
|Esmonde, Sir Thomas||Layland-Barratt, Sir Francis||Reddy, M.|
|Essex, R. W.||Lehmann, R. C.||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Evans, Sir S. T.||Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich)||Redmond, William (Clare)|
|Everett, R. Lacey||Lundon, T.||Rees, J. D.|
|Faber, G. H. (Boston)||Lupton, Arnold||Richards, T. F. (Wolverhampton, W.)|
|Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)||Walton, Joseph|
|Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)||Soames, Arthur Wellesley||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Robson, Sir William Snowdon||Stanger, H. Y.||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Roche, Augustine (Cork)||Stanley, Hon. A. Lyulph (Cheshire)||Wardle, George J.|
|Roche, John (Galway, East)||Steadman, W. C.||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Rowlands, J.||Stewart, Halley (Greenock)||White, J. Dundas (Dumbartonshire)|
|Russell, Rt. Hon. T. W.||Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)||Whitehead, Rowland|
|Scanlan, Thomas||Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Schwann, Sir C. E. (Manchester)||Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Scott, A. H. (Ashton-under-Lyne)||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Sears, J. E.||Thompson, J. W. H. (Somerset, E.)||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Seddon, J.||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Seely, Colonel||Vivian, Henry||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Joseph Pease and Captain Norton.|
|Shipman, Dr. John G.||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)|
|Acland-Hood, Rt. Hon. Sir Alex. F.||Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Moore, William|
|Balcarres, Lord||Craik, Sir Henry||Morpeth, Viscount|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City, Lond.)||Fell, Arthur||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Bignold, Sir Arthur||Gordon, J.||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Guinness, Hon. R. (Haggerston)||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Guinness, Hon. W. E. (B. S. Edmunds)||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Hamilton, Marquess of||Starkey, John R.|
|Butcher, Samuel Henry||Helmsley, Viscount||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. H. M.||Hills, J. W.||Talbot, Rt. Hon. J. G. (Oxford Unlv.)|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Kerry, Earl of||Walker, Col. W. H. (Lancashire)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Lambton, Hon. Frederick William||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.)|
|Cecil, Lord John P. Jolcey-||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter (Dublin, S.)||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r.)||MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Clive, Percy Archer||M'Arthur, Charles|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||M'Calmont, Col. James||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Viscount Valentia and Mr. H. W. Forster.|
|Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.)||Mildmay, Francis Bingham|
§ Committee appointed to draw up reasons to be assigned to the Lords for disagreeing to certain of their Amendments to the Bill.
§ Committee nominated of—The Chief Secretary for Ireland, the Attorney-General for Ireland, the Solicitor-General for Ireland, Mr. Walter Long, and Sir Joseph Leese.
§ Three to be the quorum.
§ To withdraw immediately.—[The Chief Secretary for Ireland.]