HC Deb 23 November 1909 vol 13 cc97-122

(1) In Sub-Section (5) of Section six of the Act of 1903 (which defines a congested estate) "ten pounds" shall be substituted for "five pounds"; and the consent of the owner required by Sub-Section (4) of that Section shall cease to be required.

(2) Where an estate not being a congested estate within the meaning of the said Section as so amended, comprises within its area one or more congested townlands, the Land Commission, or in the case of townlands situated in a congested district county, the Congested Districts Board, may declare all or any one or more of such townlands to be a separate estate for the purposes of the Land Purchase Acts, and such townland or townlands shall thereupon be deemed for those purposes to be a separate congested estate.

(3) An estate which consists exclusively of one or more congested townlands shall be deemed to be a congested estate.

(4) The expression "congested town-land" means a townland in which more than one half of the holdings are—

  1. (a) congested holdings; or
  2. (b) holdings whose aggregate rateable value when divided by their number gives a sum of less than ten pounds for each holding:

The expression "congested holding" means—

  1. (a) a holding not exceeding ten pounds in rateable value; and
  2. (b) a holding held in rundale or intermixed plots.


I have now to ask the attention of the House to a very important matter indeed, and to move, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in its Amendment," and to insert another Amendment in lieu thereof, "To leave out £10, and to insert instead thereof £7."

The effect of this Amendment, if you look at Clause 21, will be simply to restore the Clause as it was in the Bill, and substitute £7 for £10. There are two points I find of importance in this matter. These Amendments of the House of Lords were really of the most destructive character, and I am persuaded that they conceived the view which they took not at all from the desire of really destroying the work at present carried on by the Congested Districts Board in the relief of congestion, but simply because they did not appreciate fully the nature of the operations of that work. The view I found very prevalent among persons of authority was that the Congested Districts Board—this is important in relation to the pre-emption clauses—was bound to acquire, for the purpose of relieving congestion, estates which were largely composed of tenants having economic holdings and interfering with them. The answer to this was, "We quite appreciate that the object of the Congested Districts Board is to relieve the uneconomic holdings of a great number of very small persons, but that while the sum of £5 represents, no doubt, an uneconomic holding, £10 really does not," and they appeal with a certain amount of force to the fact, of which anybody conversant with legal affairs is aware, that a tenant with a £10 holding, although very poor, according to ordinary farming ideas, is nevertheless by no means necessarily a person who can properly be described as occupying a congested holding; and therefore they kept saying, "Why do you want to take hold of land above this £5 level? Why not be content, at all events for a great many years to come, with dealing with this very difficult problem and relieving the uneconomic plight of these £5 holdings, and why should you seek to have your area of choice and operation extended so far as £10, which is not really an uneconomic holding at all?"

The answer to that is that in order to relieve congestion it is absolutely necessary for the Congested Districts Board to acquire estates, and to acquire estates not composed entirely of uneconomic holdings, but composed partly of persons who occupy uneconomic holdings or holdings of a very small character, and also tenants of a somewhat larger kind. That is where the policy of migration comes in with some degree of fitness, because in the case of a person with a £10 holding a really practical farmer who is accustomed to till his farm and work it satisfactorily, although in a poverty-stricken neighbourhood and surrounded with persons on small economic holdings, you cannot tempt that person, with his knowledge, his experience, and his fitness for a larger farm, to go out of his holding unless you are able to give him out of the untenanted land you have acquired elsewhere a good holding. Having got rid of him from the congested estate, with all his knowledge, his character, and ability to work a farm some distance away, on a larger scale possibly, and tempted him in that way, you then use his farm for the purpose of increasing the uneconomic holdings of the small men. There is no use in sending away small men to a neighbourhood which will not welcome them. You may have to do it occasionally, but nobody would do it cheerfully, because they have to be supplied with money, and they will have to have farm buildings and stock, and they will have to be looked after and taught how to work for the first time an enlarged holding in a proper manner. Therefore, if you are tied down by the hard and fast operation of these Amendments, if you are tied down to £5 holdings, you are really crippled, and you almost, if not entirely, destroy the operations that have been carried on advantageously by the Congested Districts Board, although with very limited resources. Therefore, as anybody acquainted with these problems knows, two things are absolutely involved: You must have possession of holdings on a larger scale than the ordinary definition of £5 of an uneconomic holding.

It is the person who is properly called a congest for whom you labour, whom you seek to put upon a better holding, and the only way to do that is to persuade the holder of a decently large farm, a different man with greater knowledge and greater fitness to go elsewhere. That has been done over and over again by the Congested Districts Board. They have got these people to go quite contentedly to a place perhaps no great distance away where they get holdings on a larger scale which they are able to operate without being looked after by the State official, and where they will be able to make the best of their land. But these operations are really the work of the Congested Dis- tricts Board alone. They are complicated work, involving a knowledge not within the means of everybody to command. By cutting them down to £5 you really first of all take the very lowest limit of an uneconomic holding. Then you say that unless there is this large majority of holdings of such a character you are not to be in a position to carry out any improvement. Then comes in a question in which the House of Lords are going back on views to which they have given expression in legislation. I find, for example, in the Act of 1891 that the following definition is given: "The expression 'small holdings' means a holding of a rateable value of less than £10 or any higher sum fixed by the Congested Districts Board."

Later on it was enacted that the Congested Districts Board should aim at the creation of holdings of not less than £10 annual value. Under Section 47, Sub-section (6) of the Act of 1896, the Land Commission were not to make any distinction in respect to any purchase for any tenant under the Board, and all small holdings were defined as in the Land Purchase Act of 1891. Therefore, we are really going back at the very time when we ought to be going forward; and, at the very time when we are receiving a large additional endowment for the Congested Districts Board in order to deal with this admittedly prolonged and only partially solvable problem, you are really, so I am assured by officials of the Congested Districts Board, and as I know of my own knowledge, rendering their task of relieving congestion practically impossible, if this definition be insisted on as now put upon us, and they will practically be worse off, or at all events no better off than they are now. As a compromise, I propose that the limit should be £7. Although I quite agree that a £10 holding is not in itself necessarily a holding which by any means can be described as uneconomic, the £10 holder, if looked at as an isolated individual, is a person who may get along for many a day, and may be regarded as prosperous in a country where food is cheap. It is because the Congested Districts Board must be able to get the use of this property in order to relieve congestion that I am anxious to make a compromise. It is a matter on which I know there is a great deal of feeling, and undoubtedly £7—although it will restrict very considerably the operations of the Congested Districts Board—includes a very large number of cases between £5 and £7. The number between £5 and £7 is a very great one. The number of holdings both in the existing area of the Congested Districts Board and in the new area, between £5 and £7, is much greater than the number between £7 and £10. Therefore £7 as a matter of practical concession is of very great importance. Then the other point is with reference to whether area or number should be the test of congestion. Everybody tells me—at all events, those who are beginning to have some inkling of the real bearing of these important questions—that the true test of whether an estate or town land is congested is not the area, but the number of uneconomic or insufficient holdings upon it.

I have been supplied with a whole list of places where there are nests of holdings hung together in one corner, while the remainder of the area or estate, perhaps four-fifths of the entire area, is in the occupation of one large tenant. Under the Amendment of the Lords it would be no use to say, "Here is a number of small persons, the very persons whose interests the Congested Districts Board have at heart, and for whose relief Parliament is willing to give them these supplies." These are the very persons with whom they are to be at liberty to deal, but the definition would say that the town land as a whole was free from congestion. The unfortunate people are crowded in one part of the town land or estate, while there is ample room remaining for a few holders to expand and carry on their industry. These things are not inventions; there are not one case or two cases, but scores of cases all over the country meet the eye. There is a case of a town land of 300 acres, of which 250 acres are in the hands of five holders, while the remainder are held by small tenants. In another case only one-sixth of the area is occupied by congested tenants. I am certain that these Amendments made in another place are attributable partly to their not being very well acquainted with the nature of the operation, which has become quite a special one, and also I think to their being alarmed by the application to congested estates of pre-emption. But I do not think they give the Congested Districts Board that credit for ordinary business faculty which I am bound to say they have hitherto certainly exhibited in the management of their affairs. If they imagine that a Congested Districts Board is going to acquire land compulsorily, or to exercise the right of pre-emption over large and comfortable estates where there is no possibility or desire on their part to interfere with the holdings on those estates, that is not their object, that is not their purpose, that is not the function assigned to them. But they do want to have the right of pre-emption over estates suitable for the relief of congestion, but the definition which the House of Lords has imposed would really be destructive of their usefulness in that matter. When the Dudley Commission put £10 as the annual value they did not mean to say that everybody that had a holding of £10 was in himself a person who should be removed in order that he might become an economic tenant. They were considering the margin necessary to be placed at the disposal of the Congested Districts Board in order to get the land required for economic holdings. While I myself think that £10 is a reasonable and proper limit, I also agree that £7 is enormously better than £5, because it includes a much larger number of holdings of the kind with which we wish to deal. I am sure if it were not for this bugbear of compulsion which people are frightened about, or pretend to be frightened about, or, I will not say pretend, but think they are frightened about, it would never have entered into the minds of the House of Lords to curtail the beneficial operations of the Board.


The Chief Secretary began his speech by saying that we had come to one of the most serious of the proposed changes in the Bill, and I entirely concur. We have arrived at a question which certainly is of the most serious character, and in regard to which I confess I view with great apprehension and regret the course which the Government have adopted. The Chief Secretary says it may have been by accident that the words "consent of the landlord" are, as agreed upon, to be omitted; that is to say, in the Bill originally the valuation was raised from £5 to £10, and the consent of the landlord was required. Now the valuation is reduced to £5, and the consent of the landlord is not required. I understood him to say that he regarded the dropping of the consent of the landlord as part of the arrangement, independent altogether of the valuation standing at either £5 or £10. I think he must, so far as my information goes, appreciate the fact that if there is be a change in one part of the arrangement it does not necessarily follow that the dropping of the words "consent of the landlord" will be regarded as an arrange- ment which stands. I only say that by way of caveat. It must be apparent to anybody, even the most casual spectator of our proceedings, that the inconvenience of this method of procedure is magnified in the highest possible degree. Here we are approaching, as the Chief Secretary has stated, one of the most important questions in the Bill, and we are now asked to discuss and consider Amendments of a very far-reaching character, which entirely alter again in another way this very important Clause, and we are asked to consider them, hearing them for the first time from the Chief Secretary in the speech he has just made. Personally I think we are indebted to the right hon. Gentleman for the course he has adopted in unfolding the whole of his scheme to us, instead of disclosing it piecemeal with the Amendments as they were reached, because now we know exactly what the proposal of the Government is.

The right hon. Gentleman tells us he thought that the Lords in another place had acted from ignorance. It is not for me to defend, but I should have thought that the majority of those who took part in that debate in another place were gentlemen who, by their previous life and experience, had as complete personal knowledge and experience of congestion, with its horrors and difficulties, as anyone inside or outside this House. Many of them are resident in the South and West, they have seen those things existing, they are familiar with them all their lives, and I do not think it is therefore ignorance. I think ignorance is there, but it is not the ignorance of those gentlemen in regard to congestion and its difficulties. The ignorance under which we suffer is this: That while the Government tell us that these Amendments are of the greatest and most far-reaching character, the statements made are of themselves contradictory, because, as the Chief Secretary told us in the speech he has just made, while this reduction from £10 to £5 strikes at the removal of congestion and makes the task practically impossible and offers an obstacle which is insuperable, yet at the same time, and almost in the same breath, he told us that this very work for which he seeks this increased valuation, that is the work of taking men who are stronger farmers than the congests and who can be moved to another locality, that is being done every day. If that be the case, are we not entitled to ask, what is the urgent I necessity for this Amendment?

The Chief Secretary went on to say that he thought there would be no opposition to this if it had not been for what he described as an unreasonable alarm on the part of the landlords and others in Ireland in reference to the prospective action of the Congested Districts Board. The right hon. Gentleman talks about the bugbear of compulsion in the whole of his speech, and yet in listening to his speech one would hardly be able to imagine what the real facts of the case are—namely, that under this Bill you are taking tremendous powers with which you are clothing a Government Department in Ireland. One of the Departments you are entirely recasting, and the Chief Secretary asks us to believe that the Congested Districts Board do not intend to do this, that, or the other; but, in doing so, he is asking us to give him a large measure of our confidence and belief, because he admits himself that under this Bill, as it has been altered, the constitution of the Congested Districts Board is to be radically changed. There is no security, and there can be no security, that even the personnel of it will be anything like what it is at present. The whole of the nominated members are to cease to hold office, and it is open to the Government to appoint ah entirely new body, in addition to which there are two additional members and two paid members. It may be the case, and I hope it is the case, that the newly constituted body with these large powers will follow the wise example set them by their predecessors. I only hope that their administration will be half as sound and as good and as successful as has been that of the Congested Districts Board. I am entitled to point out that this Bill is creating an entirely new authority, giving them enormous powers and enabling them, if they think necessary, to use this compulsion very widely in different areas. Under those circumstances I think the right hon. Gentleman is not quite entitled to come here and say, "Your fears are perfectly groundless as to compulsion; you have nothing to be afraid of," and to tell us that the Congested Districts Board do not intend to make use of those powers in a wide and rather loose fashion. It may be the case that they will be cautious and limited in the exercise of their powers, but we know these Debates have revealed, even if we did not know before, what congestion is and how it impresses those who are brought into contact with it, and how urgent they feel it to be. That being so, surely it is not a very rash fear on our part if we anticipate that when you give the Board very wide powers you ought to pause before you double or treble the area over which they are to exercise authority.

We have never been able to find out during these Debates the precise effects of an alteration like that suggested. We have asked for the information, but we have not been able to get it. The Chief Secretary quoted one or two general statements where he said that the area would not do, and that he must have numbers. He gave certain numbers, but we have had no information in these Debates as to what will be the effect in regard to the proposed alteration. So far as my information goes I believe it will double or treble the amount of country in Ireland which will be subject to the administration of the Congested Districts Board. Lord Macdonnell speaks with great authority as to the work of the Congested Districts Board during the four or five years he was connected with it, and he is never tired of telling us of the good work they have done and the immense effect they have had on congestion in various parts of Ireland, and how successfully they have been enabled to deal with congestion, as they certainly had been to my certain knowledge, in many parts of Ireland. Surely under those circumstances it ought to be necessary first of all to show us that they are now held up by new obstacles which can only be removed by such an Amendment as this, and that without this they cannot continue their work; but no such information is forthcoming. We have no knowledge in this House of the effects of such an Amendment, and the Government have not told us what will be the precise effect of reducing the valuation from £10 to £5. The Chief Secretary said that we are actually going back. We are doing nothing of the kind. He has referred to the constitution of small holdings, but that is a totally different thing from the standard which has always been accepted as the statutory standard of congestion. Before you reconstitute the Board, giving them much wider powers, and doubling or trebling the area they will have to administer, you ought, at all events, to show that they are worthy of the additional opportunities you propose to give them. In regard to the secondary question of the choice between area and numbers, the information given by the Chief Secretary certainly points in the direction of there being something to be said for number as against area. But as to that I cannot speak, because here again, although I have made the best effort I could to get definite information on the subject, it has been impossible to obtain it. I can find nobody able to tell me what would be the practical effect in Ireland of substituting area for number or the reverse. The Chief Secretary said that in certain cases it would present a very serious difficulty. For my part I should be perfectly ready to consider that point. But when we are asked to reduce the valuation from £10 to £5, to abandon the requirement of the consent of the owner, and to make the change in regard to number or area, we are being asked to adopt very violent remedies which could only be justified by making it quite clear that without these great changes it would be impossible to deal with congestion. My own belief is that by making these changes, instead of facilitating the work of the Congested Districts Board, you are likely to render it more difficult and to retard the work of the relief of congestion. You are adding enormously to the liabilities and responsibilities of the Congested Districts Board; you are giving them fresh powers and new authority, and it would have been wiser to let the new Board get into their stride and to prove that they were capable of doing as good work as the old Board before you made changes so grave as are now indicated by the Chief Secretary. I very much regret that the right hon. Gentleman has not been able to agree with the greater part of the Amendment as it reached us from another place, and I cannot conceal from myself that the course he has taken may present the greatest difficulties in the way of the passage of the Bill.


Although we differ very radically as to the necessity of this Amendment or even of this Clause, no one can fail to recognise the entirely friendly tone in which the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Long) has dealt with the work of the Congested Districts Board. I know perfectly well that when he was in Ireland he took a sincere interest in this body and sympathised with the work of the relief of congestion. But just now he made the strange statement that he could never get any information which would justify the demands of the Government and the changes they are making. I venture to say that if he applied to any single individual—I make no exception—who has been practi- cally engaged in the work of the Congested Districts! Board in the country, he would be told that every one of these Amendments is absolutely essential to enable the work to be carried out. The right hon. Gentleman has not for the first time borne very generous testimony to the work of the Congested Districts Board. Everybody who has come in contact with that work has known that for years it has been a common subject of complaint with all the officials and with every member of the Board that the law was so unhappily framed as to hamper almost beyond expression the carrying out of the work. The Board were always running up against some limitation or restriction of a really heart-breaking character. I was glad to hear that the right hon. Gentleman did not pronounce implacably against the change as between number and area. Anyone who knows the West of Ireland is aware that it is quite common for three-fourths or four-fifths of the townland to consist of one or two large farms, and for the bog or the mountain side to be crowded with poor people who have been driven off the land. That is characteristic of the entire country. It is one of the horrible anomalies resulting from the working of unjust laws through generations. But where you have these nests of destitution and poverty on the very border of vast grass lands, you have the remedy and the evil side by side. You have not to transport the people to a distance. These are places where the remedy can be easily applied. In many cases the grass farms are held by men who have five, six, or seven grass lands in other parts of the country. They are professional graziers; and some of the farms might without hardship be taken from them at fair compensation. But under the present system these districts are outside the work of the Congested Districts Board. There are one or two rich graziers in the townland and 30 or 40 starving congests, and it is said that this is not a congested district at all, because a part of the area consists of economic holdings. The right hon. Gentleman would be well advised to discuss all these Amendments together. You require the conditions that have been put forward for the purpose of bringing the districts under the control of the Board. As the Chief Secretary has said—and he has had sufficient experience in the operations of the Board to understand that this is a cardinal point—when you come to the question of migration—and this is the view I took long years ago—it was not popular with the Board at first, but as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Dublin knows, it has become an adopted principle of the Board—if you are going to have successful migration, you must make the Board strong enough to compass all these circumstances. Supposing you have a man with a farm of 25 or 30 acres, and poor land at a distance. The man has stock, money, and skill. His farm divided will make economic farms for five or six small holders, whom you have not got to build new houses for, whereas if you take these five or six small men to a distance it would cost you possibly £100. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary has truly said that if you want honestly to deal with the problem of congestion, you must give the Board power to obtain not only the slum areas—for if you confine them to the slum areas they can do nothing—you must give them power to obtain these lands for these holdings which are essential to the relief of the slum areas. In the past the Board has found itself face to face with a problem of enormous difficulty. It has been deprived of adequate funds and put under all kinds of absurd restrictions, due to ignorance of the problem. This Bill proposes to remove some of the most galling of these restrictions. I wish the Government had gone further, but I see the difficulty the right hon. Gentleman has had to face. I am content with the treatment given to this particular Clause, and I trust that the House will pass it.


The question of the standard of congestion, of £10, £7, or £5, is very closely bound up with the question of compulsion. That has already been recognised to some extent, but I would like to bring it out a little more clearly, because when once you make a new definition of a congested estate you enormously increase the area over which compulsion operates. I would like to remind the Committee of what the Lords have already done with a view to meeting this question of compulsion with a view to mitigate the misery of the congested districts. You will remember that in the first instance they agreed that compulsory powers should be allowed within congested districts wherever they were required for the relief of congestion. But then other facts were brought before their notice. For instance the Chief Secretary made a point, and I think an important point, when this matter was last under discusssion, that it was not sufficient to get compulsory powers to acquire untenanted land which had been done in the first instance if you did not also give compulsory powers to acquire congested districts, because untenanted land was necessary to enlarge the holdings in the congested districts. That was also taken into consideration in another place, and as a result of it the fairness of that contention was recognised, and in the Amendment before us the principle of compulsion is extended so far as to embrace congested estates. Moreover, and thirdly, the Lords extended congestion outside the congested districts area. It was represented to them that here and there through Leland there were patches of congestion as well as in the congested districts area proper, and that similar powers of compulsion ought to be granted to acquire congested estates there. So we have those three several stages by which they have gradually enlarged the powers of compulsion given under this Bill, and I must say that, taking these altogether, it does seem to me that they have shown a most reasonable desire to meet any genuine case made out for the relief of congestion, whether in the congested area or outside of it. But we come to the question of the £10, £7, or £5. As I said, if you make £10 a definition you very greatly increase the whole area in which compulsion operates. If you make £7 a definition you increase it not so largely, but very considerably. If you go back to the old £5 you do make a somewhat strict limit for the field in which you are to give compulsory powers. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary said one thing which I really could not understand. He said, "If you go back to the £5 limit you not only restrict the operations of the Congested Districts Board, but you make their task impossible." How can he maintain that in face of these facts when heretofore, without compulsion, and by voluntary sale, the Board has been enabled to carry out its relief of congestion upon a very considerable scale, and would have done it upon a much larger scale if they had had more money. Their powers are now being increased, more money is being given to them; and yet we are told that if we do not give them this new definition of £7 or £10 that we are restricting them in their operations! It is admitted that we are greatly improving the Board, and adding to their freedom. We are removing restrictions. We are giving them the compulsion they need. We are not raising, but we are keeping to the old limits of £5, and the question may fairly be put: "Can they go on doing good work with that limit of £5." Well, my inquiries lead me to very different conclusions from those which have been stated on the other side. So far as I can learn, the Congested Districts Board, accepting the £5 limit, would have found for years and years to come slum areas in those congested districts which they could efficiently relieve. They would be able to concentrate themselves and work on the most urgent cases. To give them the larger power—and I do not say that it may not be necessary hereafter, but at present they have work for the next five or ten years which even with the increased income they will be fully occupied in discharging. I believe there is no ground whatever for this suggestion that we should be crippling or hampering them in their good work. Then there is the other point which has hardly been touced upon, that is the proposed change in the definition of congestion as affecting congested estates which are outside the congested districts area. I cannot help thinking that one of the reasons which perhaps may have induced the other House to have put in £5 instead of £10 was the proposed extension of compulsion to the whole of Ireland, and I imagine that they were rather fearful lest the whole of Ireland should be treated as a congested district. The parts of Ireland to which outside the congested areas this question would apply are holdings chiefly in the North of Ireland, which if you look merely at them from the point of view of valuation would be called congested holdings, but which in point of fact are very prosperous holdings. They are small holdings near the Northern towns, the valuation of which is very often near the limit of £10, but which from other causes, unknown in the poorer places, are quite unsuited to be dealt with from the point of view of compulsion for the relief of congestion. There are other sources of livelihood and other industries which swell the narrow means which the holding alone supplies. It seems to me not an unnatural precaution, if you are extending to the whole of Ireland the principle of compulsion and compulsion for the purpose of acquiring congested estates, to secure that these estates shall be really congested and not sham congested estates. No doubt these powers of compulsion I think will be exercised to a very limited degree outside the congested districts—at least I hope so. If I thought that a return to the old limit of £a for the next five or ten years would hamper the good work which the Congested Districts Board have been doing, then I should vote in favour of £10, but I have no evidence to that effect, but quite the contrary, and I hope therefore that the Government will accept the £5 limit.

9.0 P.M.


I protest against the assumption which underlies the speeches to which we have just listened—that is, that it is a desirable thing that there should be continued tinkering legislation dealing with this land problem. It is assumed on all hands the Congested Districts Board has done good work. This Amendment is based upon the assumption that the elective element to which exception is taken is to be ruled out. I submit there is no reasonable man who will doubt that the Congested Districts Board as reconstituted will be more efficient and will have an admittedly important additional factor in its two official members, so that its work will go on continuously instead of spasmodically. I put it to the House that it is really short of insanity to hamper such a body when reconstituted. You can only defend these hampering restrictions on the ground that they can be removed in five or ten years when removing is proved to be necessary. Already all expert opinion declares that these restrictions will be harmful. Everyone who knows the West of Ireland knows that a stronger case could be made out for a £10 limit than for a £7 limit. I fully admit that £7 will get over a good number of cases of congestion, and that most of the holdings in the West are valued at a figure running between £5 and £7. The unit is a townland, not an estate, upon which congestion has been declared, and I most sincerely trust in this matter of compromise that the Government will adopt the plan of splitting the difference, and on the question as to whether it shall be area or numbers it seems to me plain that no reply has been offered to the facts with which everybody who knows the West of Ireland are familiar.


I do not want to pronounce any opinion upon the question of numbers. I have been very much influenced in regard to that by the opinion of hon. Members below the Gangway from Ireland, who are much better acquainted with the actual facts of congestion than I am; therefore I do not want to be taken as irreconciliable in regard to the sugges- tion of numbers as against area; but I confess I cannot understand why the case has been raised for changing the valuation limit from £5 to £7. All parties must agree that in another place a very substantial departure from a very clear principle was made when the Lords agreed to the large scheme of compulsion in this measure in regard to congestion in the West. We know that to persons who entertain strong views as to the sanctity of property the idea of compulsion as applied to owners of it is very repugnant, and I do not think that anyone can say for a moment that there was not a very considerable sacrifice of principle made when in another place the idea of compulsion was accepted on such an exceedingly large scale for the purposes of the relief of congestion. I think when we are asked to make a very substantial departure from an Amendment adopted in another place and to raise the limit from £5 to £7, we ought at least to have been told how much additional land that would bring within the area of compulsion. I am told that the number of estates in Ireland in the West or anywhere else on which one-fourth or more of the holdings are of £5 valuation is small, but that curiously enough when you depart from £5 and come up to £7 you bring in an enormous area of Ireland. The facts as regards this matter ought to be in possession of the Chief Secretary, and I think we ought to have been told before being asked to disagree with the Amendment of the Lords what additional land would be brought within this principle of compulsion if we were to raise the limit from £5 to £7. I do not want to dogmatise on the matter, but I am told that if the true facts were known as to the extension of the area the House would be surprised, and not only would it be doubled, but it would be trebled, as compared with the £5 valuation. That is a serious matter, and the facts ought to be in the possession of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. I think the Chief Secretary ought to give some information to the House as to what will be the quantity of land brought within the operation of these compulsory powers by increasing the valuation from £5 to £7. If my information is correct, it means an amount far in excess of what one would gather from the mere difference between £5 and £7. The main objection that I have to this proposal is that it is a very large sacrifice indeed on the part of the owners of congested estates that all this should be done without their consent. I would far rather see the limit raised to £10, and the consent restored, than to have the limit raised from £5 to £7, and have all this done against the consent of the owners.


They will never consent.


That is not my own experience, and I can give facts quite different. I know an owner in the West of Ireland who is very anxious to sell his property to the Congested Districts Board, but his solicitor could not get them to come to terms. The Board were asked in February why they had not replied, and the solicitor received a letter stating that they had had 120 estates offered to them for voluntary acquisition in the West of Ireland, and there was not one which they could approach because they had not got the necessary funds. [An Hon. Member: "That is a different point."] The Chief Secretary said that in order to deal with the actual congest on the basis of a £5 limit they must have power to deal with estates where the holdings are not uneconomic, but of a character to hold out sufficient inducement to the tenants to migrate. Surely he does not pretend that they have not at least 100 estates on the list which they could voluntarily acquire to-morrow. But if you are going to say "No, we will not work on that principle, and we must have compulsory powers," then I say leave it at the limit under the old Act, and if you are going to extend it put it up to £10, but make it subject to the consent of the owner. I would prefer it raised from £5 to £10 provided you make it subject to the consent of the owner rather than take away all power from the owner, and raise it from £5 to £7. I do desire to see this question of the congests dealt with on a broad and scientific basis. I agree that we cannot deal with it piecemeal. It seems to me to be a matter upon which all parties are anxious to come to a settlement, and I should be glad to see it settled upon a large and liberal basis. At the same time I think if you want to deal with these holdings on a definition that extends the idea of an uneconomic holding beyond what it has been considered and ruled to be in the legislation of the past, you ought not to do it against the consent of the owners, where it is plain that so far as land-owners in the west of Ireland are concerned, speaking for the bulk of them, it is not a question of unwillingness to sell but a question of price. I believe the Chief Secretary is seriously imperilling the chances and the fate of his Bill by this proposal, although I am sure he is desirous of seeing this measure passed into law. I believe the right hon. Gentleman is imperilling the chances of this Bill by asking that this change from £5 to £7 should be made. I think the change is not required, and for many years to come, and for our generation at least under a £5 limit there will be ample material to keep this new Congested Districts Board as busy as it can be from morning to night.


I think it is agreed now that compulsion in this matter is absolutely necessary. If we are to make any attempt to solve it once and for all we should not leave it in such a condition that another Bill will be necessary to deal with congestion later on upon a higher limit than £5. In County Clare there are some 10,000 holdings under 30 acres.


There are a lot more.


I believe there are also 4,767 holdings under 5 acres, so that if the problem be dealt with on the £5 basis you will only deal with the fringe of this question. The right hon. Gentleman spoke about compromise being in the air. I can understand compromise upon certain questions of principles, but not upon a question of method which would necessitate a special Bill for dealing with that part of the question to be left over. It is said that this matter is bound up with the question of compulsion and that there is a general disposition on the part of landlords to sell. Frequently landlords seem to act in opposition to their own interests. I can cite many instances in West Clare where landlords have refused even very good terms. A landlord has negotiated with his tenants for a long time, and has arrived at what might be understood by both parties to be practically an agreement, and then on some question of detail he has suddenly defused to continue the negotiations. Other landlords have raised difficulties by asking for a greater number of years' purchase than is usual. The singular thing is that there is more difficulty in selling in West Clare, where the estates are not so good, and where the security might be thought to be not so good as in more prosperous counties, like Limerick. The Government has now an opportunity of clearing away this difficulty once and for all, and I hope that, instead of making two bites at a cherry, they will rise to the occasion, and in a statesmanlike way see if they cannot settle the whole mater.


I will give the House, in answer to the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Campbell), such figures as I have been able rapidly to collect. It is a little bit difficult to get figures, but still I have before me some supplied by the Congested Districts Board, and I will just state their effect. The following table shows what figures can be obtained as to the number of holdings in the present area and in the added area:

"Present Area. Added Area. Total.
"1. Not exceeding £4 valuation 45,059 22,742 67,801
2. Over £4 and not exceeding £10 29,130 34,385 63,515
3. Over £10 10,367 38,637 49,004
Totals 84,556 95,764 180,320
These figures show that the new area contains 95,764 holdings, against 84,556 in the present area; that the number (45,059) of slum holdings is enormously larger in the present area than in the proposed addition (22,742): and therefore, that much less can be done for the small holders in the present area by increasing the size of holdings unless the two areas can be dealt with as a whole. In order to make a rough estimate of the number of holdings that are at or under £7 annual valuation in the entire proposed new area, the following calculation resting on personal judgment only, is submitted:—
"Under £4 valuation in present congested area 45,059
Do., new proposed addition 22,742
Estimated number between £4 and £7 in present area 14,565
Do., new area 11,371
Total 93,737
Therefore, it is calculated that half of the holdings between £4 and £10 valuation will be between £4 and £7. I therefore said, in opening, that £7 was a very important figure to take, because, although it does exclude a number I should be glad to see included, I have no doubt it does include the larger number. With regard to the consent of the owner, the House should understand that that consent is really a very technical thing. The consent of the owner under Section (6) of the Act of 1903 is really a consent in the withholding of which the owner is not much interested. 3. The Lord Lieutenant may, under special circumstances, and with the approval of the Treasury, dispense with the conditions in the last preceeding Sub-section as to undertakings to purchase holdings where the Land Commission certify to him that they are of opinion that the re-sale of the estate can be effected without prospect of loss. This enables the Lord Lieutenant to go to the Treasury and say, "Although, as a rule, you do not consent to things of this sort unless there is an opportunity of reselling without a loss, still, when the cir- cumstances are such as to satisfy the Lord Lieutenant that the sale is a necessary one, then, if the landlord consents, you will purchase, even although there may be a loss on the resale." A landlord has really not much interest in withholding his consent when it is simply a question of enabling the Lord Lieutenant to obtain from the Treasury a relaxation of a rule. It is not a consent to sell, but merely a consent that would enable the landlord to say, "Here is a congested estate, and you can buy it, it is true, but, when you come to resell it, you will inflict a loss on the Treasury. I am quite willing to give my consent that

that loss should be incurred." The consent is not quite of the important character that might be supposed from the reference made to it by the right hon. Gentleman. I do not want it to be supposed that it is anything more than of the general character to which I have referred. I hope, therefore, the House will assent to the proposal I make.

Question put, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

The House divided: Ayes, 219; Noes, 20.

Division No. 902.] AYES. [9.25 p.m.
Abraham, W. (Cork, N. E.) Evans, Sir S. T. Levy, Sir Maurice
Abraham, William (Rhondda) Everett, R. Lacey Lewis, John Herbert
Acland, Francis Dyke Farrell, James Patrick Lundon, T.
Adkins, W. Ryland D. Fenwick, Charles Lupton, Arnold
Ainsworth, John Stirling Ffrench, Peter Lynch, A. (Clare, W.)
Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch) Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Lynch, H. B.
Allen, Charles P. (Stroud) Flavin, Michael Joseph Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)
Ambrose, Robert Flynn, James Christopher MacNeill, John Gordon Swift
Astbury, John Meir Fullerton, Hugh MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.)
Baker, Joseph A. Gibb, James (Harrow) MacVeigh, Charles (Donegal, E.)
Balfour, Robert (Lanark) Gilhooly, James M'Callum, John M.
Barker, Sir John Ginnell, L. M'Kean, John
Barlow, Percy (Bedford) Glover, Thomas Maddison, Frederick
Barnes, G. N. Gooch, George Peabody (Bath) Marnham, F. J.
Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.) Greenwood, Hamar (York) Massie, J.
Beale, W. P. Gwynn, Stephen Lucius Meagher, Michael
Benn, Sir J. Williams (Devonport) Hancock, J. G. Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)
Berridge, T. H. D. Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose) Meehan, Patrick A. (Queen's Co.)
Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon) Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil) Middlebrook, William
Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worcester) Mooney, J. J.
Boland, John Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire) Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)
Boulton, A. C. F. Harrington, Timothy Morse, L. L.
Bowerman, C. W. Hart-Davies, T. Muldoon, John
Bring, John Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale) Murnaghan, George
Bright, J. A. Haworth, Arthur A. Nannetti, Joseph P.
Brunner, J. F. L. (Lanes., Leigh) Hazel, Dr. A. E. W. Newnes, F. (Notts, Bassetlaw)
Brunner, Rt. Hon. Sir J. T. (Cheshire) Healy, Maurice (Cork) Nolan, Joseph
Burns, Rt. Hon. John Hedges, A. Paget Nussey, Sir Willans
Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney Charles Helme, Norval Watson Nuttall, Harry
Byles, William Pollard Henderson, J. McD. (Aberdeen, W.) O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)
Cameron, Robert Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Mon. S.) O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)
Cawley, Sir Frederick Higham, John Sharp O'Doherty, Philip
Cheetham, John Frederick Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H. O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)
Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R. Hodge, John O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)
Clancy, John Joseph Hogan, Michael O'Dowd, John
Cleland, J. W. Holt, Richard Durning O'Grady, J.
Clough, William Hooper, A. G. O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)
Collins, Stephen (Lambeth) Horniman, Emslie John O'Malley, William
Collins, Sir Wm. J. (St. Pancras, W.) Hudson, Walter O'Neill, Charles
Compton-Rickett, Sir J. Hyde, Clarendon G. Parker, James (Halifax)
Condon, Thomas Joseph Idris, T. H. W. Pearce, William (Limehouse)
Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinstead) Illingworth, Percy H. Pearson, Sir W. D. (Colchester)
Cornwall, Sir Edwin A. Isaacs, Rufus Daniel Philips, John (Longford, S.)
Cotton, Sir H. J. S. Jackson, R. S. Pickersgill, Edward Hare
Cowan, W. H. Jenkins, J. Pirie, Duncan V.
Crean, Eugene Johnson, W. (Nuneaton) Pointer, J.
Crosfield, A. H. Jordan, Jeremiah Power, Patrick Joseph
Cullinan, J. Jowett, F. W. Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)
Dalziel, Sir James Henry Joyce, Michael Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)
Davies, Timothy (Fulham) Kavanagh, Walter M. Radford, G. H.
Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.) Keating, M. Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (Gloucester)
Delany, William Kennedy, Vincent Paul Reddy, M.
Dillon, John King, Alfred John (Knutsford) Redmond, John E. (Waterford)
Dobson, Thomas W. Laid law, Robert Redmond, William (Clare)
Donelan, Captain A. Lamb, Edmund G. Leominster) Rees, J. D.
Duffy, William J. Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester) Rendall, Atheistan
Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness) Lamont, Norman Richards, T. F. (Wolverhampton, W.)
Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley) Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.) Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)
Edwards, A. Clement (Denbigh) Layland-Barratt, Sir Francis Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)
Esmonde, Sir Thomas Lea, Hugh Cecil (St. Pancras, E.) Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)
Esslemont, George Birnie Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich) Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)
Roche, Augustine (Cork) Straus, B. S. (Mile End) Waterlow, D. S.
Roche, John (Galway, East) Summerbell, T. White, Sir George (Norfolk)
Rogers, F. E. Newman Sutherland, J. E. White, Sir Luke (York, E. R.)
Rowlands, J. Taylor, John W. (Durham) White, Patrick (Meath, North)
Scanlan, Thomas Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire) Wiles, Thomas
Scott, A. H. (Ashton-under-Lyne) Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr) Wills, Arthur Walters
Seaverns, J. H. Thompson, J. W. H. (Somerset, E.) Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)
Sheehan, Daniel Daniel Thorne, William (West Ham) Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Sheehy, David Toulmin, George Winfrey, R.
Sherwell, Arthur James Verney, F. W. Wood, T. M'Kinnon
Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.) Vivian, Henry
Steadman, W. C. Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Fuller and Mr. Gulland.
Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal) Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.
Balcarres, Lord Corbett, T. L. (Down, North) Long, Rt. Hon. Walter (Dublin, S.)
Bignold, Sir Arthur Doughty, Sir George Magnus, Sir Philip
Butcher, Samuel Henry Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. H. M. Fell, Arthur Rutherford, Watson (Liverpool)
Carlile, E. Hildred Fletcher, J. S.
Cave, George Gretton, John TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. C. Craig and Mr. Moore.
Clark, George Smith Guinness, Hon. R. (Haggerston)
Cochrane, Hon. Thomas H. A. E. Kimber, Sir Henry

Amendment proposed to the Bill, instead of the words so disagreed to, to leave out the word "ten," and insert the word "seven"—[Mr. Birrell]—instead thereof.

Question, "That the word 'ten' stand part of the Bill," put, and negatived.

Question proposed, "That the word 'seven' be there inserted."

The House divided: Ayes, 149: Noes, 18.

Division No. 903.] AYES. [9.35 p.m.
Abraham, William (Rhondda) Gooch, George Peabody (Bath) Pearce, William (Limehouse)
Acland, Francis Dyke Greenwood, Hamar (York) Pearson, Sir W. D. (Colchester)
Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch) Hancock, J. G. Pickersgill, Edward Hare
Allen, Charles P. (Stroud) Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose) Pirie, Duncan V.
Astbury, John Meir Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil) Pointer, J.
Baker, Joseph A. Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worcester) Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)
Balfour, Robert (Lanark) Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire) Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)
Barker, Sir John Hart-Davies, T. Radford, G. H.
Barlow, Percy (Bedford) Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale) Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (Gloucester)
Barnes, G. N. Haworth, Arthur A. Rees, J. D.
Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.) Hedges, A. Paget Rendall, Athelstan
Beale, W. P. Helme, Norval Watson Richards, T. F. (Wolverhampton, W.)
Benn, Sir J. Williams (Devonport) Henderson, J. McD. (Aberdeen, W.) Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)
Bennett, E. N. Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Mon., S.) Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)
Berridge, T. H. D. Higham, John Sharp Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)
Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon) Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H. Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)
Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine Hodge, John Rogers, F. E. Newman
Bowerman, C. W. Holt, Richard Durning Rose, Sir Charles Day
Brigg, John Horniman, Emslie John Rowlands, J.
Bright, J. A. Hudson, Walter Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)
Brunner, J. F. L. (LanCs., Leigh) Hyde, Clarendon G. Scott, A. H. (Ashton-under-Lyne)
Brunner, Rt. Hon. Sir J. T. (Cheshire) Idris, T. H. W. Seaverns, J. H.
Burns, Rt. Hon. John Illingworth, Percy H. Sherwell, Arthur James
Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney Charles Jackson, R. S. Soames, Arthur Wellesley
Cameron, Robert Jenkins, J. Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)
Channing, Sir Francis Allsten Johnson, W. (Nuneaton) Straus, B. S. (Mile End)
Cheetham, John Frederick King, Alfred John (Knutsford) Summerbell, T.
Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R. Laidlaw, Robert Sutherland, J. E.
Clough, William Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster) Taylor, John W. (Durham)
Collins, Stephen (Lambeth) Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester) Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)
Collins, Sir Wm. J. (St. Pancras, W) Lamont, Norman Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr)
Compton-Rickett, Sir J. Layland-Barratt, Sir Francis Thompson, J. W. H. (Somerset, E.)
Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinstead) Lea, Hugh Cecil (St. Pancras, E.) Toulmin, George
Cornwall, Sir Edwin A. Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich) Verney, F. W.
Cotton, Sir H. J. S. Levy, Sir Maurice Vivian, Henry
Cowan, W. H. Lewis, John Herbert Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)
Crosfield, A. H. Lupton, Arnold Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.
Davies, Timothy (Fulham) Lynch, H. B. Waterlow, D. S.
Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.) Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs) White, Sir George (Norfolk)
Dobson, Thomas W. M'Callum, John M. White, Sir Luke (York, E. R.)
Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley) Maddison, Frederick Wiles, Thomas
Edwards, A. Clement (Denbigh) Marnham, F. J. Williamson, Sir A.
Elibank, Master of Massie, J. Wills, Arthur Walters
Esslemont, George Birnie Middlebrook, William Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)
Evans. Sir S. T. Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall) Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Everett, R. Lacey Morse, L. L. Winfrey, R.
Fenwick, Charles Murray, Capt. Hon. A. C. (Kincard.) Wood, T. M'Kinnon
Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Newnes, F. (Notts, Bassetlaw)
Fullerton, Hugh Nussey, Sir Willans TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Fuller and Mr. Gulland.
Gibb, James (Harrow) Nuttall, Harry
Glover, Thomas Parker, James (Halifax)
Balcarres, Lord Corbett, T. L. (Down, North) Kimber, Sir Henry
Bighold, Sir Arthur Doughty, Sir George Magnus, Sir Philip
Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. H. M. Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
Carlile, E. Mildred Fell, Arthur Rutherford, Watson (Liverpool)
Cave, George Fletcher, J. S.
Clark, George Smith Gretton, John TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Moore and Mr. C. Craig.
Cochrane, Hon. Thomas H. A. E. Guinness, Hon. R. (Haggerston)

Lords Amendment agreed to.

Lords Amendment: In Sub-section (2) leave out "as so amended" ["within the meaning of the said Section as so amended"].

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."


We have on this side of the House registered our protest on two occasions in regard to the principle involved, and these other proposals are consequential to the other Amendments which we have already adopted. I do not propose to put the House to the trouble of a Division.

Lords Amendment: In Sub-Section (4) leave out, "in which more than one half of the holdings are—" ["The expression 'congested townland' means a townland in which more than one half of the buildings are—"] and insert: "more than one quarter of the area of which consists of."

Lords Amendment: Paragraph (b), leave out "ten pounds" ["gives a sum of less than ten pounds for each holding"] and insert "five pounds."

Mr. BIRRELL moved to amend the Lords Amendment by substituting "seven pounds" for the words proposed to be inserted.

Amendment to Lords Amendment agreed to.

House agreed with Lords in said Amendment, as amended.

Lords Amendment: Paragraph (a), leave out "ten pounds" ["a holding not exceeding ten pounds in rateable value"], and insert "five pounds."

Mr. BIRRELL moved to amend the Lords Amendment by substituting "seven pounds" for the words proposed to be inserted.

Amendment to Lords Amendment agreed to.

House agreed with Lords in said Amendment, as amended.