§ EARL CAIRNS
, in rising to ask Her Majesty's Government, Why Messieurs Nolan and Smith, sub-commissioners under the Irish Land Act for the County Antrim district, have been removed from that district? said, the Question was a very short one in itself; but it required some explanation on his part. Their Lordships would remember that a few days ago a conversation had occurred in that House relative to the removal of a Sub-Commissioner for the County of Donegal. The circumstances under which that removal took place were these. Considerable agitation had been got up in the county with regard to the decisions of Sub-Commissioner Bailey on the subject of judicial rents, the tenants being of opinion that he did not reduce the rents sufficiently. There was no accusation whatever against him of any other kind; but simply that, while reducing the rents according to his own judgment, he did not reduce them so low as the tenants desired. The agitation in the county culminated in a public meet- 357 ing, at which very strong expressions were used, and very strong resolutions were passed, calling upon the Government and the Chief Commissioners to remove Mr. Bailey from his office. The result was that Mr. Bailey was removed from Donegal to Connaught, and his successor for the former place was appointed. It was, however, very soon manifested that the appetite grew by what it fed upon; because, when Mr. Bailey's successor began to discharge his duties, a Question was put in the other House by Mr. Sexton to the Prime Minister inquiring whether he was aware that the new rents fixed by Mr. Bailey's successor only averaged 20 1–3 per cent below the old rents, or nearly 2 per cent above those fixed by Mr. Bailey; and whether the latter had not been removed in consequence of a public meeting calling for his removal in consequence of his fixing the judicial rents too high? The fact was that the new Sub-Commissioner had not taken the hint, as it was expected he would have done, and a fresh agitation had been got up against him. His noble Friend (the Earl of Longford) had asked, the other night, for some explanation of the matter; and, in reply to his Question, the Lord President referred him to the answer which had been given in the other House to Mr. Sexton's Question, which was to the effect that the Chief Commissioners declined to give their reason for removing a Sub-Commissioner from one place to another, but that they went so far as to say that they did not remove the Sub-Commissioner in consequence of what had passed at the public meeting. There was, however, nothing in this statement of the Chief Commissioners that they were not aware of the general agitation which had been got up in the county against the Sub-Commissioner, and that they had removed him in consequence. The matter, however, went further than that, because he must altogether dispute the view which the Chief Commissioners took of their position—namely, that they were entitled to refuse to give any reason for removing a Sub-Commissioner. No one in Parliament would ask, and the Commissioners would be fully entitled to refuse to give their reasons for a judicial decision; but Parliament had a right to know the reasons for a particular administrative act done by an administrative body, 358 which, for this purpose, the Commissioners were. It was not, therefore, for them to say, sic volo sic jubeo—"We will give no reasons for our appointment." The question that was asked was not a frivolous one. Here was an agitation in the country, and a public meeting held, demanding the withdrawal of the Sub-Commissioner. Thereupon the Sub-Commissioner was withdrawn. Was that a question on which the Commissioners were justified in saying they would give no reason? But what had happened since then? He now returned to the County Antrim, where the two Sub-Commissioners—Messrs. Nolan and Smith—were engaged in fixing the judicial rents. After they had gone some Circuits, given a number of decisions, and fixed a number of judicial rents, it seemed that the landlords felt very much the extent of the reductions made; while, on the other hand, the tenants thought that the reductions made were not sufficient. That was the complaint—they did not reduce enough. They also held a public meeting; and again he found that the complaint there was that of insufficient reductions. Here was a decision in which it was complained that the reduction was insufficient. The Poor Law valuation was £6, the old rent was £12 15s., and the judicial rent was fixed by the Sub-Commissioners at £4 10s. He should have thought that even the most sanguine tenant would have been contented with that result—£12 15s. reduced to £4 10s. Another case was that in which the reduction was not so large, the rent only being reduced £11 6s. in £80. Yet the complaint of the tenants was that the decisions of the Sub-Commissioners were not sufficiently pronounced in their favour. At this meeting they thought of adopting a form of resolution by which to justify their dissatisfaction, and one or two resolutions were proposed; but one of the speakers said that would not do. The best way, this speaker suggested, would be to adjourn the meeting, and to accompany that with an intimation that they were adjourning the meeting in order to see what effect the meeting would produce. Accordingly, this was the ultimate resolution arrived at—That this meeting stand adjourned till this day three weeks, when the administration of the Land Act by the Chief Commissioners will be considered;359 —he would ask their Lordships to note that it was not the administration by the Sub-Commissioners, but the administration by the Chief Commissioners, that would be considered—and, in the meantime, tenants are requested to consider the advisability of abandoning all intention of entering the Land Courts, or those who have entered are asked to notice the advisability of withdrawing the same.Was not that a threat to the Chief Commissioners? It was tantamount to saying that they wanted a change in the Judges, that they made their complaints known to the Chief Commissioners, and gave them three weeks in which to decide what they should do. Another meeting was held a few days afterwards in a neighbouring part of the country, at which those present again spoke of the same decisions by the same Sub-Commissioners; and this was the resolution they passed—We hereby condemn the members of the Antrim Sub-Commission"—Messrs. Nolan and Smith—"who, during the last sitting at Ballymena, visited the farms of several of our neighbours and friends, for their impertinent and high-handed conduct, and for the very unsatisfactory way in which they examined into the improvements executed by those tenants; and we protest against the reductions given in the several cases as quite inadequate, and hereby advise them to appeal; and that we hereby call upon the Government for the immediate dismissal of these Sub-Commissioners.Those were the steps taken by the meeting, and the two Sub-Commissioners were removed. Mr. Nolan, he understood, was removed to that penal settlement for over scrupulous Sub-Commissioners—namely, Connaught; and Mr. Smith, he was told, was removed nobody knew where, and a great deal of apprehension was felt lest he should have gone to some worse place. Perhaps his noble Friend the Lord President, when he spoke, would tell them where Mr. Smith had gone to, and throw some light on the subject. Since then another Sub-Commissioner had appeared upon the scene, and taken his place. Perhaps he ought to add, in order that their Lordships might have the whole of the case before them, that at the meeting in question allusion was likewise made to Mr. Greer, the Chairman of the Sub-Commissioners. It was said of that gentleman that there was not a man amongst them who was more inclined to do justice to the tenants than Mr. Greer. That appeared to be the chief deside- 360 ratum—to do what was called justice to the tenants. Mr. Greer was not, as their Lordships might expect, removed under those circumstances. What was the consequence of all this? The new Commissioners went into that district, and, unless they were very much more foolish than he took them to be, they went there with what was equal and equivalent to an instruction from the Chief Commissioners that they should avoid the errors of their predecessors. That was, their predecessors did not reduce the rents enough, and it was that which they were to avoid. What was the effect of this on the Sub-Commissioners who were sent away? In their new sphere of action they were to take care that they did not again incur in the same way the displeasure of their superiors. What, too, was the effect on the public at large—the tenants and farmers in all parts of the country? Let them consider what this meant. Here was a tribunal in Dublin, which was, at one and the same time, the Court of Appeal and the executive power which could remove the Judges. It did not hear the cases on appeal; it did not exercise any judicial determination as to whether the reductions were sufficient or insufficient; but, on the allegation of any party that the reduction was insufficient, it removed the Judges. What was the result of these proceedings? They had Sub-Commissioners who exercised their functions for a year, or two or three years, as the case might be, in a particular county, and who in that time decided a great number of cases—possibly thousands. Then a complaint was made that they had not made sufficient reductions, and they were removed. What was the result of that—he did not mean as regards the future, but the past? They immediately setup a batch of tenants—namely, those whose cases had been decided during those years—with a particular and specific grievance of their own. They said this—"Whatever else may be done in the future, we are the victims of these proceedings you have condemned. It is our misfortune that we have had our cases decided by those wicked men who have been sent elsewhere, and we have our rents fixed for a judicial or a statutory term which you have not sufficiently reduced." That was the feeling throughout the country, and, therefore, he was most anxious to submit this matter to 361 the consideration of their Lordships. He hoped they would have something more explicit in the shape of an answer from the Chief Commissioners. They, he must contend, ought, in a matter of this kind, to have an answer from the Chief Commissioners; and, further, he would say, they could not properly and constitutionally continue to refuse, in the manner they hitherto had done, to answer the question.
§ LORD CARLINGFORD (LORD PRESIDENT of the COUNCIL)
said, that while the noble and learned Earl was developing his intense suspicions of the four gentlemen who filled the posts of principal Land Commissioners in Ireland—gentlemen who, he (Lord carlingford) thought, were utterly undeserving of such suspicions, but, on the contrary, entirely deserving of the confidence of the Government and of their Lordships' House—he was struck by the fact that the noble and learned Earl had not been able to give them the smallest proof of the effects which he alluded to as being intended by the removal of certain Assistant Commissioners. The noble and learned Earl was compelled to state, at the very beginning of his remarks, that the change made in the composition of the Land Commission in Donegal by the removal of one Assistant Commissioner from one county to another—not a measure of censure or punishment, but a simple transfer from Donegal to Mayo, both counties, as desirable places of residence, being, he should think, very much upon an equality—the noble and learned Earl was obliged to tell them that the reductions of rent had been as great after the change had been made as before. That did not help the case of the noble and learned Earl. As to the Commissioners of whom the noble and learned Earl had been speaking, and what he supposed to have been the cause of the change made in the composition of certain Sub-Commissions, he was bound to say he never before heard of the meetings or speeches to which the noble and learned Earl had referred. He knew nothing of them, and he was absolutely convinced, from his information, that they had nothing whatever to do with those changes. However, he was glad the Question had been put, because it gave him an opportunity of making some explanation of the matter, which he ad- 362 mitted was one of some difficulty. As to the fate of the two gentlemen who had acted in Antrim, he believed that one went to Mayo, and the other, whom the noble and learned Earl appeared to think was wandering through space, had gone to County Armagh, which was not a very dreadful fate. It was quite true that there was something anomalous in these administrative functions being combined with the judicial functions of the Land Commission; but that state of things appeared to be inevitable. He did not know anyone who could so well judge as the Commissioners of the propriety and expediency of the composition of any of these Sub-Commissions, or of the public advantage or disadvantage of appointing a particular gentleman to a particular position, and of quartering him in a particular county. He was not aware that the executive authority, or anyone but the Land Commission itself, could judge of such a question as that. He was willing to admit that, this being an administrative and not a judicial matter, it would seem, on the face of it, that any inquiry as to the exercise of administrative powers should be freely answered in Parliament; but, at the same time, he asked any fair-minded man to consider whether there were not very serious difficulties, purely in the public interest and for the sake of the due administration of the Land Act, in the way of such Questions being freely answered. The Commissioners had strongly and unanimously arrived at the opinion that it would be scarcely possible to deal with these personal questions of appointments or changes, if they were required, in every or any case that suited the purpose either of the noble and learned Earl opposite from the landlords' point of view, or of Mr. Sexton or any other extreme Representative of the tenants in the other House, to state the grounds of their action. They say that, if they were bound to give to the public, by way of answers to Questions in either House of Parliament, their reasons for such administrative acts, they would find it scarcely possible to carry on their duties. Ha did not deny that there were many cases in which there would be no difficulty. There had been cases of changes made in the Sub-Commissions in which the reasons had been obvious, on the face 363 of them; and he ventured to say that those reasons, when they had been known, had been quite as much in favour of the landlords' side of the question as in favour of the tenants'. But there were also reasons, as any noble Lord would see who had ever considered the matter, that must be of so special and personal a kind as to make it scarcely possible to publish them to the world. Questions of the most personal kind must arise in those matters—questions of the harmony among Colleagues sitting on the same Commission; questions of the comparative capacity and ability for the fulfilment of duties, which had to be considered when the Land Commission desired to constitute in every part of Ireland Land Courts, which should be tolerably even in those respects; questions, again, whether the Commissioners possessed a fair knowledge of the part of the country where they had to act; and, on the other hand, whether they had unduly close connection with the district in which they were acting. All those matters were of a kind which might often be utterly unsuited for publication to the world; and if a distinction were to be drawn between a case in which an answer could be properly given, and a case in which it could not; if questions of this kind were to be answered to-day and similar questions to be refused answers tomorrow, the effect would be most undesirable, and probably unjust to the gentleman who was the subject of the inquiry. He thought he ought to say that the Irish Government, and the Lord Lieutenant especially, had looked closely into this matter, which, being one of administration, he was able to look into, and had been furnished by the Land Commission with the fullest and frankest explanations of every change that had been made in the constitution of the Sub-Commissions from first to last. If those changes were to be examined by anyone who know the country, and who knew the gentlemen concerned, he (Lord Carlingford) was ready to contend that the most suspicious eye, looking at the appointments all round, would find no cause for thinking that the Land Commissioners had been actuated by any undue bias whatever in the arrangements that had been made. Questions much of the same kind had been raised from 364 the opposite point of view in "another place;" and he dared say that it would be thought necessary to meet them in the same way that he had met the Question of the noble and learned Earl. He submitted to the House that there ought to be no suspicion of the motives and intentions of such men as wore appointed to compose the Land Commission in Dublin. [Cheers.]He hoped that was not an ironical cheer, because he knew no four gentlemen whose character more entirely entitled thorn to the confidence of that House and of the public. On that ground, and in the belief that any other course would prevent them from performing their duty in employing the Assistant Commissioners in the best way for the public interests, he was not able to answer the Question asked by the noble and learned Earl. He would only add that if the respectful refusal of the Land Commissioners, under those circumstances, to give reasons in any particular case why they had exercised their discretion, should impair the confidence of the House in their judgment, motives, and character, he could not conceive a greater misfortune, or one which would do greater injustice to those distinguished gentlemen.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, the noble Lord the Lord President of the Council has concluded a speech, which, I think, evidences the consciousness of a weak case, by a device which counsel who have a weak case often have recourse to—namely, to call witnesses to character. But I think the noble Lord, on reflection, will feel that there is something very mysterious in the progress of these proceedings connected with the Land Act in Ireland. There seems to be an extension of the doctrine of coincidences which is very startling to us, and almost encourages us to believe that there is something in the theory of those metaphysicians who contend that you cannot argue any causation from the effect of one event having followed upon another. Last year we had something of the kind, but not so strong. There was an incident known as the Kilmainham incident, and I think that Mr. Parnell and others on that occasion intimated to the Government that, if they were let out of prison, they would support the measures of the Government; and it curiously did happen that 365 immediately after that they were let out of prison; but there was absolutely no connection whatever in point of causation between the first event and that which followed. Now, we have a very much more remarkable instance of the remarkable extension of the doctrine of coincidences. The noble Lord tells us that these Sub-Commissioners were removed for circumstances affecting their individual capacities and characters. But what happened was that, in these several cases, meetings of the farmers were called, loudly denouncing the decisions of these Sub-Commissioners, because they were too favourable to the landlords, and that in each case, after, and closely after, the denunciation of those meetings, the curious coincidence happened that the condition of character and capacity arose in reference to each of the Sub-Commissioners, and made it necessary to remove them to another place. We can only say that coincidences flourish in Ireland in a manner known to no other country. It is a circumstance which I may mention in passing, and to which we shall probably have occasion to recur when the Evidence which has been printed for the Committee on the Land Law, and which has been laid on the Table of the House, is in the hands of your Lordships. There is a rich harvest of undesigned coincidences in that Evidence. But I think the noble Lord is unreasonable in complaining that the action of the Commissioners in this matter is looked upon with some suspicion. Whatever their excellence may be, at all events they are all Liberals, and three out of four are very strong partizans. Therefore, I think it is too much to assume that necessarily and certainly, in all cases, their minds must be free from partizan bias, when circumstances exist that justify very strong suspicion in an opposite direction. It must be remembered that the whole of the jurisdiction of these Sub-Commissioners is exposed to this particular suspicion, not that it is exercised corruptly, not that it is exercised in a manner inconsistent with the honesty of those who administer it, but that it is exercised, not as a judicial system administering justice between man and man, but as a political measure designed to accomplish certain purposes at the expense of whoever may suffer from them. And this procedure of the Sub-Commissioners is marked by 366 three notes of suspicion attaching specially to these judicial proceedings. In the first place, many of these Sub-Commissioners were appointed from among not only the strong partizans of the Government—that would be a small matter—but they were men who had taken—and avowedly taken—a very strong line upon the precise matter that was the subject of litigation. They had avowed a very strong partiality for one of the litigants in the case; and while that avowal of partiality was fresh from their lips, and its publication was fresh in the knowledge of the public, they were appointed to a position which was nominally judicial. Again, we attach great importance in this country to the irremovability of Judges. We consider it to be one of the most precious guarantees for that independence and impartiality which we all recognize as the essential elements of justice. These men, or the greater number of them, in whose hands is the fortune of all the landlords of Ireland, are appointed from year to year, and they know perfectly well what it is that the Government require; they know perfectly well what the policy of the Government is; they know that the policy is so openly, so undisguisedly avowed, that the Prime Minister said in the House of Commons he could not appoint Commissioners from the ranks of his opponents, because they did not agree with him on the policy of the Land Bill. Knowing this, they know that their official existence—their very bread—depends on the will of the Government; and, with that knowledge before them, how could one expect them to administer stern and impartial justice? My Lords, if men's judgments were not obscured by the passions aroused by this Irish Question, I am sure that with regard to no other matter in the world would they permit such a mockery of judicial impartiality. There is a third note to my mind not less significant. These Judges—almost alone, if not quite alone, among all the Judges of the country—absolutely refuse to give any reasons for the decisions to which they come; they have refused so resolutely, kept their secrets so well, that—up to this time, at all events—not only have they never avowed what their reasons are, but no one has ever been able to form a guess as to the system upon which their decisions are arrived at. 367 Again and again have we asked witnesses what is the system on which the Chief Commissioners give, what are the grounds which actuate them in, the reduction of rents; and the witnesses have said—"It is impossible for us to give an answer; none of us have any idea." A different answer—an answer opening a new chapter in that science of coincidences which we have studied this evening—may be seen in the Evidence to which I have referred; but it is not an answer which will add to the confidence felt in the Chief or the Sub-Commissioners. These grounds of suspicion appear to me to make it very desirable that the Government should candidly answer, when they are asked upon what ground this great administrative discretion has been exercised. If it is a great administrative discretion to take away from a particular district men who are administering the Act—it may be men with one political colour—and to substitute others who regard their duty, perhaps, in a different light, without imputing improper motives either to the Judges who are removed, or the Judges who succeed them, I say it is about the gravest discretion which any administrative authority can assume—namely, to bias and to affect the course of legislation by the character of the decisions given, to shift the Judges here and there, and to manipulate the composition of the tribunals which pronounce the judgments. What is the result? You wish to promote calm in Ireland—you wish to promote confidence—but, I ask, have you promoted either in the minds of the landlords? They are thoroughly convinced that these tribunals cannot be relied on, and that it is not owing to any system of equity or justice that they have been despoiled of their property. They have been despoiled of their property in pursuance of mere political decisions, not as the result of the decisions of an arbitrator judging between man and man. But what will the tenants say? If they imagine that these reductions were the outcome of equitable decisions, founded upon some system of right, they might acquiesce in them, and say—"These judgments, having been once delivered, cannot be disturbed, and we must accept the system which they have laid down." But if you persuade them—as this manipulation is certain to persuade them—that you exercise an influence over the 368 judgments that are delivered, that they are really the outcome of the policy of the Government, and that, therefore, they will yield to all those influences which guide and affect the policy of the Government, they will say to themselves—"These processes of agitation which have produced this law; these processes which are in our hands, are able to affect the administration of the law; these processes which can drive Sub-Commissioners who are hostile to us from one field of action to another, if applied further and more freely, may give to us a still larger share of that property and of that land which we desire to obtain."
§ LORD FITZGERALD
said, he wished to recall the attention of the House to the question. The noble Marquess had made a bitter attack on the Sub-Commissioners wholly beside the Motion. He did not understand the noble and learned Earl opposite to make any charge against the Sub-Commissioners; but he could not help regarding this Question as a covert attack upon the Commissioners themselves. He wished to explain, however, that the Sub-Commissioners were not appointed by, nor were they removable by, the Commissioners—both the appointment and the removal must be acts of the Executive Government. The Commissioners, however, exercised a very large judicial supervision. The Sub-Commissioners, both legal and agricultural, were divided into Circuits of four each; and the Commissioners had to select the towns which they visited, the times when they visited them, and the cases that go before them. When a Circuit was over it was broken up, and new Sub-Commissioners might be appointed, or changes take place, at the discretion of the Commissioners. It would be exceedingly inconvenient and injurious to the Public Service were the grounds for the exercise of this discretion to be stated, as they would have to be in every case. He could not help interpreting the remarks of the noble and learned Earl as a charge against the Commissioners themselves. It was a charge of corruption against them. That being so, he thought the matter should not have been brought forward by way of a Question, but that the noble and learned Earl was bound to bring it forward in a distinct and pointed shape as a Vote of Censure on the Commissioners. He knew those 369 Commissioners very well, and he must say that they were gentlemen of the highest honour and integrity, and of the greatest ability, who would not stoop to do any act which savoured in any way of dishonourable conduct. He would advise the Commissioners not to answer any questions put to them on such a subject; they had a delicate judicial supervision to perform in the distribution of the Sub-Commissioners and the allocation of business, and ought not to be interfered with. As far as he could learn, one of the two Commissioners was changed to another district as he had no adequate knowledge of the custom of tenant right; and the other had merely been moved, on the breaking up of his Circuit, to the next county.
§ THE MARQUESS OF WATERFORD
said, that the noble Lord the Lord President of the Council had stated that the conduct of the Commissioners ought to be above suspicion. He quite agreed with that; but could it be said to be the case when they made alterations such as those referred to in the Question of the noble and learned Earl? He did not think it could be said, after the way in which the Land Act was administered, that its administrators were above suspicion. It had been stated publicly by the Sub-Commissioners that they were acting in the interest of the tenant, and, by so doing, necessarily neglecting to give fair justice to the landlord.
THE LORD CHANCELLOR
said, that when the noble Marquess made such a statement as that which had just proceeded from him, they were entitled to call upon him to give them chapter and verse—the names, the dates, and the facts.
§ THE MARQUESS OF WATERFORD
said, the noble and learned Earl asked him for facts. He had seen it stated in the newspapers among the reports of their judicial proceedings—and it had not been contradicted—"We will do what we can in the interest of the tenants." That statement had gone all over Ireland, and it ought to have been contradicted in the newspapers if it was not a fact.
THE DUKE OF ABERCORN
said, that after the speeches which had fallen from the previous speakers on that side of the House, he would not have ventured to address the House, but for the fact that he had some knowledge of the Northern counties of Ireland. Of the four Northern 370 counties three returned Liberal Members, and in the fourth there was an anticipation of the same result at the next Election. The consequence was that great pressure was put by some Northern Members on the decisions of the Sub-Commissioners; and if those decisions were not made in accordance with the exorbitant reductions expected by the tenants, public meetings were got up, and in these the Northern Liberal Members took an active part, either personally or by letter. As a result, the offending Commissioners had been removed and sent to Connaught and other places. Anyone who read the Liberal papers of the North of Ireland, and had seen the violent attacks made in them on the Sub-Commissioners, and the exultation with which they announced that those attacks had been responded to by the removal of the Commissioners complained of, could have no doubt that undue influence had been exercised. The Lord Chancellor had called upon his noble Friend to prove his assertion.
THE LORD CHANCELLOR
said, he had asked the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Waterford) to explain a most serious charge, which should be justified if he believed it to be true.
THE DUKE OF ABERCORN
said, an illustration of the system which was adopted was to be found in the speeches made by Mr. Porter, now the highest legal exponent of the law in Ireland, during his canvass at Londonderry about 18 months ago. Mr. Porter, after referring to the advantages the Land Act had given to the tenants, mentioned cases in which 50 per cent had been taken off rents, and suggested that under Healy's Clause the tenant might hope to have one-half of his rent struck off. He went on to ask his hearers whether they would rather have a Representative who would do all he could to carry out the principles of the Land Act, or a man who would interfere with its development and would repeal it to-morrow if he could or dared? He (the Duke of Abercorn) thought this showed the partizan character which applied to this Act, and, with a knowledge of the political machinery into which the Land Act had been turned, he really could not be surprised at the removal of the Sub-Commissioners. The Lord President might shut his eyes to a disagreeable truth; but he could not controvert the fact which was patent to all—namely, that the Land Act had been 371 converted into a political means of bribing the tenants at the expense of the landlords in anticipation of future Elections.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
It is not my intention to give advice to noble Lords opposite on this question. But I cannot help thinking that it would have been much better had those noble Lords left a question of this sort in the skilful hands of the noble and learned Earl who introduced it, instead of delivering several speeches which did not support his case. I do not know whether it was judicious for the noble and learned Earl to have made the charge he did, a charge which was admirably answered by the noble Lord behind me (Lord Carlingford), and by the noble and learned Lord (Lord Fitzgerald). I do not know either whether it was judicious for the noble Marquess opposite (the Marquess of Salisbury) to seize this opportunity, when the noble and learned Earl was complaining of an agitation calculated to influence the decision of the Land Commission and the Sub-Commissioners, for making a general attack on those two bodies. As to the statements made by the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Waterford) and the noble Duke (the Duke of Abercorn), containing the most serious charges against the administration of this law in Ireland, I must observe that they were made without the slightest support of any fact, excepting the quotation from the speech in which the Attorney General for Ireland expressed his desire to carry out the Land Act in its full meaning.
LORD ORANMORE AND BROWNE
wished to draw attention to the fact that Mr. Justice O'Hagan was said to be the person who drew up a famous address from the Roman Catholic Bishops on the Land Question, which certainly advocated views very confiscatory of the property of the landlords. If that statement were uncontradicted, Mr. Justice O'Hagan was hardly the person likely to inspire confidence in landlords as Chief Commissioner.