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chief. I am not going to defend the us in this House. Let us forget that, agitators against whom he is disposed to and I say the Irish tenant farmers up to complain; but I am ready to deny that a recent date have been as punctual in it is a small class of the peoplo of Ire- the payment of rent-in the discharge land who are anxious that some change of the duty they had contracted to pershould take place with regard to the law form-as the tenants in any country in affecting the tenure of land. At this the world. They have not become at moment Ireland is still disturbed, I am once demoralized and an unfaithful afraid, almost from its centre to its cir- class of men. Therefore, I am at liberty cumference, and it appeals to the Im- to say, and say it positively, that the Irish perial Parliament with a voice as loud tenants do not ask for compensation to and united as it ever has done before, / balance confiscation of past times. But and asks, if possible, that some remedy they ask for a law that will give them should be applied to their case. What adequate security with a fair and adeI have said up to this part of my obser- quate rent to the owner. If had for vations I have said to convince the an audience the tenant farmers from IreHouse of what I am myself deeply con- land, as we all see in travelling, at the vinced, that this is a great and solemn stations and fairs and so forth, and put question which is brought before us. It it to them—"Are you willing to give an is for the House to rise to it. We adequate rent to the owner on condition cannot rest as we are.
We must either that you shall gain adequate security ?” go forward, as we proposed to go for- I believe you would get only one answer. ward, or we must go backward, as pro- They asked for that and no more, and I bably the hon. and learned Gentleinan do not believe they will be content with would recommend, if, as I understand, he less. With regard to fair rents-on has no sympathy with the legislation to which the hon. and learned Gentleman which Parliament agreed in 1870. But has been almost as confusing as the I say you cannot go back. If you do not clause he condemns—there is something go forward you must govern Ireland more to be said. With regard to the with constabulary and a great army question of fair rent, I did not rise at all quartered in that country; and you will for the purpose of going into what I be driven by-and-bye to suspend trial by may call the legal part of the clauses of jury, to put an end to the freedom of the the Bill. Any Member of this House Press, and to suppress public feeling. who heard the remarkable_speech of All these are in the career which the my right hon. and learned Friend the hon. and learned Member for Preston Attorney General for Ireland must have asks the House to follow him in. I am felt that whatever there was of diffiagainst all that. I believe we must go culty in the proposals of the Bill, with on in the direction we
en- scarcely any exception, he fairly met deavouring to pursue.
Therefore, I and explained. I looked at the counwould ask, is there any Member of this tenance of the right hon. and learned House, except the hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin Member, who thinks there is no neces-(Mr. Gibson) as the speech went on; sity for any present legislation ? He he will admit that it was a remarkable made an exception which I accept. He speech, and a fair and great defence of thought a certain number of tenants the clauses of the Bill. I should thereshould become owners of their farms. fore feel that I was wasting the time of But, except that-I am not sure that he the House if I were to go into the mi- ; did not wish some emigration - he pute details of the clauses. I remember seemed to be against everything that that we are discussing the second readthis Bill proposes. Now, what is it that ing of the Bill, and we are not in Comis asked for and what is needed? The mittee. It is well we have these disIrish farmers do not ask for a great cussions on second readings, and that system of confiscation to balance the these explanatory speeches have been confiscation of ancient times. Let us for made; for when we go into Committee, a moment forget certain violent and un- and have to deal with the clauses one reasoning and I think very mistaken after another, we shall find ourselves and evil things, that have been said by far more competent to discuss the Bill some of these agitators, and by some than we otherwise should have whom we are accustomed to see opposite With regard to the question of fair rent,
a good speech was made by the hon. | Ireland, to a large extent, the security Member opposite (Mr. Brodrick) from my old and venerable friend Mr. Staf. his view of the case. It was delivered ford had; and the tenants would be no in a manner and with a temper which longer afraid that they might soon be will recommend him very much to the turned out of their farms, or that they House again if he should think it neces- would have their rents raised until they sary to discuse the question further. He would not have a blade of grass on which pointed out what would happen ; he to feed cattle. I come to the last point said that the day after the Bill passed the valuation of the holding and of 400,000 or 500,000 tenants would have the improvements. The Bill is intended the power of immediately bringing their to guarantee to the tenant the value of landlords before the Court. Well, every- his improvements; and, more than that, body you meet in the street has the power that he should have a certain, at present of bringing you before the magistrate. undefined, value in the holding of which My view of the operation of that parti- he is in possession. This is what takes cular clause is that, in reality, the rents place throughout the whole Province of in Ireland will, for the most part, in Ulster. It has not destroyed the land. nine cases out of ten, be fixed very much lords ; it is a curious thing that the Proas they are now. It does not follow that vince of Ulster is the only Province in there will be no difference in rents; in- which, at this moment, landlords have creases which are harsh and unjust will any political authority whatever; so that no longer take place. The effect of this the argument of the hon. Member oppolaw will be to change the position of the site failed. It does not follow, if adecontracting parties; it will improve the quate security is given to the tenant, that position of both. The tenant will now the landlord will be much less a land. have a tribunal to which he can have lord than he is now. Unfortunately, recourse if necessary. The landlord such are the relations of landlords and will know the tenant will not rest satis- tenants under the present system that fied with any unreasonable rent the the landlord has lost almost all political agent proposes; at any rate, the tenant influence ; I must say he uses it badly will have the opportunity, if he chooses, when he has it. I cannot say that I very of calling in the judicial arbitrator to much regret that he has lost it; but I decide between them; and the effect of regret very much the circumstances which that tribunal being established by law have caused him to lose it. The landwill be that the minds of both landlords lords, I hope, will obtain as much rent and tenants will be affected by it. It as they are likely to obtain if this Bill will be the interest of neither of them does not pass. I should advise the land. to go to the Court, and I believe they lord, if he has any regard for his own will almost universally, without going interest, not to reject propositions which, to the Court, make agreements with if not accepted, may not be followed which reasonable landlords and tenants hereafter by anything he may like betalike will be perfectly contented. That, ter. The power of assignment or sale at all events, is my view of it. The hon. is that which is intended by the clause and learned Gentleman (Sir John Holker) to which the hon. and learned Gentlewas serious about fixity of tenure. I am man referred with a good deal of comonly surprised he should be so alarmed plaint. Now, it is said, the Bill makes about these changes, because, for the a concession to tenants. Nobody denies most part, they are recommended by both that, least of all those who have taken the Commissions of Inquiry. I was asto- so much pains to frame it. It does make nished that the hon. and learned Gen- concessions to tenants ; but at the same tleman spoke so strongly upon questions time—and that is one of the causes of about which he could not be so well in the supposed intricacy of some parts of formed as the two Commissions. With the Bill—there are safeguardsintroduced, regard to security, the purpose of the so that, as far as it is desirable or posBill is to give, not perpetual fixity of sible, with justice to tenants, the interests tenure, but security of tenure during a of the landlords should be preserved. considerable term, with an easy, acces. The idea of the English system is a sible method of renewing it. I believe complete delusion-I speak, of course, the operation of those clauses will be of Ireland. I am not speaking of the generally to give the tenant farmers of English system in England. It will
Mr. John Bright
remain in England until Parliament, Devon. It is not necessary that you guided by public opinion, thinks it neces- should read the thick Blue Book. If Bary to make a change. But I have no you take the digest - it is in two idea or suspicion that such changes as small octavo volumes, which I studied this Bill proposes for Ireland will ever more than 30 years ago, and which I be needed in England. In Ireland you have studied again within the last few have the questions of race, religion, and years—you will find that the statement of absenteeism; you have the circum- I have just made is merely an amplificastance of the greatest estates being con- tion of the statement made by the Devon tinually under the manageinent of agents, Commission./ I say I believe, and and, in fact, everything in Ireland is at think I am within the mark, that ninewar with the English system. There- tenths, excluding the towns, of course, fore-there is no escape from it-you are of all that is to be seen on the farm land tempted to have recourse to laws which in Ireland, the houses, barns, fences, are very different from the laws which and whatever you call cultivation, or we have in England, and which, I trust, freeing land from the wilderness, have will be never necessary in this country. been placed there by the labour of the Hon. Members assume that we are giving tenantry of Ireland, and not at the exa great deal to the tenant, and that we pense of the landlords; and I believe, are taking all this without any compen- too, that in the matter of rent, landlords sation from the landlord. It is astonish- in hundreds, probably in thousands of ing what a universal opinion there is cases, have over and over again received that compensation from a public fund the value of that which the tenants have is a blessed thing. It is common in this placed upon their farms. Now, the House to ask if there is any compensa- parts of the Bill to which the hon. and tion when any measure is proposed | learned Gentleman objects so strongly which touches any individual interest, are those which, in my opinion, are nebut which, at the same time, promises to cessary as a remedy for the present be of the greatest public benefit. If you existing burning ills in Ireland. The complain that the Bill gives too much other point for which I have a special to the tenants and takes all that it does affection, for reasons which the House give from the landlords, I should make will understand, is that which intends to this answer-If, at this moment, all that convert, to a very large extent I hope, the tenants have done were gone, and tenant farmers into farmers who are all that the landlords have done were owners of their own land. In 1870 that left, that is the sort of map I should very principle was adopted by both Houses much like to see, for its publication of Parliament, I believe without any would finish this discussion in five division; it was adopted also in arrangeminutes. Well, if that were to take ment for the sale of the property that place, if all that the tenants have done came into the possession of the State were swept off the soil, and all that the when the Irish Church was disestablandlords have done were left upon it, lished. My right hon. Friend the Memthe land would be as bare of house and ber for Reading, now First Commis. barn, fences and cultivation, as it was sioner of Works, had a Committee of in pre-historic times. It would be as bare this House to inquire into this question. as an American prairie where the Indian That Committee reported unanimously now roams and where the White man has in favour of this project, and reported never trod. (A laugh.) An hon. Member by a majority in favour of the mode of I laughs, thinking that an absurd state- doing it which this Bill has adopted. I ment. (Mr. TOTTENHAM : Will the right think it is the case that the Irish tenant hon. Gentleman give his figures ?] The farmers-the future proprietors, I hope, hon. Gentleman asks for figures. We do thousands of them will be—that they not often put figures on maps, and I was are greatly indebted to my right hon. drawing a map. Surely the hon. Mem- Friend for the extraordinary pains which ber knows that I am stating little more, he took and devoted to the examination if indeed anything more, than was stated before the Committee, and the promoin the Reports of the Commission. I tion of that great object of the Bill. may give what was stated 35 years ago Thirty years ago I asked Parliament, by that greatest of all the Commissions, not in a speech in this House, but in the Commission presided over by Lord speeches in the country, that this course
should be adopted; and I believe now that. Now, I should like to make one that if it were possible to make so great observation about these proprietors. I a change, if it were practicable, it would have always held that the landed probe of more advantage to Ireland and its prietors of Ireland were in a most udsafe population than all other measures that position, because they were so few, and it is possible to conceive of or to attempt the occupying tenants so if we were to transfer three-fourths of There are 500,000 or 600,000 tenants all the tenants of Ireland from tenants who make public opinion, be it for good into actual owners of their land. Now, or evil, against 10,000 or 14,000 proif the House will allow me, I should prietors, who can by no means stand up like to give them two or three figures against it. We find now the crisis is which I extracted the other day from a come which so long ago was foretold, despatch received at the Foreign Office and we find what is the truth, that from Lord Dufferin, our Ambassador at landed proprietors in England and ScotSt. Petersburg. Lord Dufferin there land would do well to take to heart this describes what has been done in the fact, that the opinion of property is Russian Empire ; and the hon. and always in favour of property, and that learned Gentleman, who used the word it is property's only great and certain “appalled with regard to this Bill, safeguard. Depend upon it, the opinion would be astounded and appalled, no of people who have no property is not a doubt, at the figures which Lord Dufferin very great safeguard to people who have gives. I beg the attention of the House property. If land is to be made secure particularly to them, for they astonished in Ireland, it must be by a system which, me so much that I wish everyone else to by dividing and dispersing land, will partake of the same feeling with regard furnish it and its rights with a multitude to them. He says that out of 10,137,000 of defenders. That is exactly what one farmer serfs – that is, serf families, of the principal portions of this Bill is which would make I do not know what intended to secure to the landed propriepopulation—8,584,000, or 85 per cent, tors of Ireland; and the time will come, are now absolutely owners of the land and is probably not many years removed, they occupy – that will be 15 times when they will admit that this particular as many as the whole tenant farmers part of the measure is quite reconciled in Ireland. He says, further, that of to the other parts of it, and when they these only 644,000 redeemed or purchased will certainly attribute to it a great portheir land without some help from the tion of the tranquillity and comfort which Government. They have redeemed what they enjoy in the possession of their they have had from the Government, property in that country.
Now, where and they are now absolute owners of is land most secure? It is most secure their land. Then, he says, 1,550,000— in France, and in those countries in which is three times the whole number Europe where it is most divided ; and I of tenantoccupiers in Ireland—1,550,000 venture to say to the House of Commons, have not yet redeemed their land. Now, with the most perfect belief in its truth, that is the process which is going on in that there is nothing that Parliament Russia. There it is an autocratic Go- can do, and scarcely anything that it vernment, and it was not necessary to can spend, that will not be amply com. consult contending Parties in two pensated by a great and widespread Houses of Parliament. It might have liberality with regard to this particular been as well for Russia if that had taken part of the Land Question. The hon. place iu other things; but in regard to Member for Cork has found some fault this matter, there came the hand of with this Bill in his speeches outside; Providence, described as a hand stretched but I will only refer, for the moment, to out from the clouds—the providence of one or two points to which he adverted, the late Czar. By a decree of his own, I think, in a manner hardly reasonable and by the action of bis Ministers, that or fair towards the Government. He enormous, that stupendous, and that objected very much to what is said about absolutely unequalled change has been emigration; and he objected, further, that made throughout a great portion of that nothing is said about the labourers. Empire. I think that that is a just Now, in regard to emigration, no Memappeal to us to do something, although ber of the Government has any idea that we cannot aim to do so great a thing as any clause of the Bill indicates anything
Mr. John Bright
of the kind as that any single Irishman | for the habitation and cultivation of cr Irish woman will be compelled to leave some of them. So I trust that those their country and cross the Atlantic. families who will go and are going, notThere is no such intention as that. In withstanding the violent passion which point of fact, one would say there is has been created in America by many hardly any occasion for any inducement statements that are not true, and many of that kind, seeing what is going on at that are exaggerated-notwithstanding this moment. Last year, 95,000 persons that, I trust that there are now persons went from Ireland ; and, if the reports in going to the United States who will the newspapers are correct, emigration hear from their own country that much is going on now even at a greater rate of its misery has departed, that a feeling than it was going on last year. I will of justice is entertained, and that the put it to the hon. Member for Cork-but disloyalty and discontent we it is no credit to England that he should deeply regret have been, for the most have to answer it, as I think he will part, removed. With regard to the lahave to answer it-I put it to the hon. bourer, to whom the hon. Gentleman the Member, if all the great mercantile Member for Cork refers, there is nothing steamers of England—such fleets as the that can do so much good to him as that world cannot produce-were to anchor at which will induce the farmer of Ireland Cork or at Galivay, and to offer a free pas. to cultivate his land better than he does.
a sage to all the families of the population The Bill does nothing for the houses of of Connaught, how many does he think the labourer. The wages of labour in would remain behind ? Probably the Ireland are much higher than they were; whole population of Connaught-I have they have been, in the last 10 years, not the least doubt that one-half of them much higher than they have ever been - would find their way to the United at any former period; and I believe that States. It is a country which opens its the demand for labour has increased. doors to everybody. The Minister of the But the houses are, as the hon. Member United States in this country (Mr. Rus- for Carlow (Mr. Dawson) has stated, sell Lowell), a man who has put as much miserable; and it is not a very easy wisdom as wit in his description of that thing to put clauses in an Act of Parliacountry, says
ment with a view of enforcing the build“Whose free latch-string never was drawn in ing of many thousands of houses all Against the poorest child of Adam's kin."
over Ireland. They must be built by And there is room there for the whole somebody, either with the consent of the population of Connaught. I should be landlord or by raising the rent. There very sorry to see them all go. I should are, therefore, other interests to be connot like it to be said that it was possible sulted; and if it be possible to do anyin this age, or in our time—that it was thing by any more means that would be necessary to expatriate from Ireland so likely to be practicable, I hope there many scores and thousands of its popu- will be no diffiulty in doing it by some lation. But in every family emigrat- other measure, or by adding a clause to ing, although there is hardship, from this Bill. The hon. and learned Genthe parents to the children, it is a de. tleman and others have said that this liverance from a future of poverty and Bill is an intricate and complicated one. suffering, if tbey remain where they now The question is admitted, he has adare. Therefore, while the Bill does not mitted it himself, to be a very difficult propose to offer any inducement, except one, so difficult that he not only did not such inducements as the people now have, understand the clauses of the Bill, but to any single Irish family to emigrate, I maintain that he did not in the least yet I am bound to say I believe it would understand the question. The Bill, I be far better for a great number of those may say, without any–what may I call families to be settled in the better parts it?-without any special praise to the of Canada and the United States than Government, is a child of very much to remain where they are, or to be re- anxiety, of very much consideration, and moved from where they are to any of of very many discussions, and very many those tracts of land which, at a certain amendinents. I believe that it would expense - I dare not say the exact have been difficult to give to any meaamount, for it is not easily to be ascer sure a more perfect and fuller consideratained-might, in Ireland, be made fit' tion than this measure has had on the.