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part of the Government, as far as it was virtue—I take the ancient meaning of possible to give it. We have endeavoured the term virtue. These men who can go to make it worthy of the Government, so far, can live on so little and save so and of the Parliament to which it was much, who come back with such devooffered, and we hope that it will do good tion and such eagerness to their homes to the people whose interests it is in- and families, depend upon it, under tended to advance and to secure. As to better and more fav irable circumthose people, if I had 10 minutes more, stances, they might become a very admithere is one thing I should like to say: rable portion of the population of any [Cries of “Go on!”] We have heard country. And if you will follow the to-night a reference to their virtues and evidence of what takes place in America, their vices. I shall say nothing of you will find what they do there. They their vices--all people, I think, almost have sent back to this country large have a sufficient number of critics, and funds to assist their friends here in Ireit would not be of any advantage that I land-multitudes of them in crossing should add myself to the number; but the Atlantic. They have sent back with regard to their virtues, there are two many—I do not know how many,
but things that have struck me very much. many millions during the last 30 years
, The poor people who live in Connaught, since the Famine-it is impossible to say and about whom the hon. Gentleman what, but an enormous and an inspoke so feelingly at the beginning of his credible sum. Shall we think nothing speech, what are they? They may live of that people who regard their families in hovels scarcely better than wigwams; with such affection, and their country, they may have three or four acres of too, with so much affection-listening land, and land so poor that it seems to every wail of sorrow which sometimes almost impossible for them to live on it, comes from Ireland; and listening, per, and concerning which Mr. Tuke says in haps, also, to some of the unfair and his pamphlet, quoting a Yorkshire far- exaggerated statements made by cermer who visited Connaught, that he saw tain speakers. But, still, they find their in one particular district what seemed to affections are aroused and their sympa. be farms that had on them three or four thies are excited. The Irish domestic times the original value of the land, put servants, the farmers, and the Irishmen on them entirely by those small tenants. who build their railways, have subBut what are those tenants ? They come scribed millions and millions to help over to this country during the harvest, their countryinen at home, or to bring travelling there and back at least a them across the Atlantio to the United thousand miles; they come to Dublin, States. I
say, then, of that people, they cross the Channel, they make that they are a people we ought to have their way to some remote farms in some regard for; that we ought to feel England and
Scotland, they work that of this people something ought to be with a zeal and energy 'not surpassed made better than a discontented, a sufferby any English or Scotch labourer. ing, and a disloyal people, as, to a great There is one great farmer in Northum- extent, they have been, and now are. And berland who last autumn told me-and now, what shall we say about this Bill? he was one of your Commissioners—that If that portion of it which deals with he believed that these labourers, work- that class of cases which the hon. and ing as hard as they did for many days, learned Gentleman thinks is so little
, contrived to live on very little. I said that portion of the Bill which deals with that they would live on sixpence a-day, landlords and tenants is worked with and he told me that he thought that fairness if the purchase clauses and they lived upon less than that. Every powers are worked with energy-1 dara shilling, every penny that they earned, hope and believe that it will be found they saved. Having in a very good to be a measure of healing and of blessharvest made, perhaps, £10 or £12, ing to the Irish people. I ask hon. they make their way back to Glasgow or Gentlemen on every side of the House Liverpool, cross the Channel again, cross not to imagine that the Bill has not Ireland, and arrive at their own cabins been framed with a great intention and with this little bit of treasure that they honesty for a great purpose. Let them; have worked so hard for.
as far as who did that were not men without the Government who have introduced it
Mr. John Bright
oy can, support the Bill and
to the House. This very night, and the money borrowed in the manner deevery night, the House prays to the scribed—would the State evict him as Highest-and for what? The language recklessly and ruthlessly as the landalways strikes me as touching and lords are, by some, supposed to have beautiful. We here, representing the done ? Before the end of the discussion, whole nation, pray to the Highest for I hope the Prime Minister will inform the peace and tranquillity of the Realm. the House in what way it is intended It is for the peace and tranquillity of the that the owner who is unable to pay his Realm that this Bill has been drawn up rent, owing to the interest which he has and introduced to the House; and it is incurred, is to be protected. I think we in the hope that if it passes it will tend ought to approach this part of the questo the great end that we, not with fear tion in a manner somewhat different from but with confidence, ask for it the accept- that of the right hon. Gentleman the ance and the sanction of Parliament. Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.
SIR R. ASSHETON CROSS: Sir, The right hon. Gentleman has said a at this period of the evening I shall de- great deal about the landlords ; but what tain the House but a very short time. I we have been told by the Prime Minister, join in the last words that fell from the the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieuright hon. Gentleman who has just sat tenant, and in the Reports of Commitdown, in which he expressed the hope tees, is that, so far as inquiries have ex: that the peace and tranquillity of the tended, the landlords as a body stand Realm may endure, and I sincerely trust acquitted. I have no doubt that those that no words of mine will tend to dis- who have studied carefully the evidence turb it. I cordially agree with him in produced before the Commissioners will rendering a just tribute
to the generosity, see that almost all the cases of hardship high feeling, and temperament of the that have occurred where the landlords people of Ireland, and, for my own part, I were not the first to apply a remedy would not hesitate to adopt any measure were on those estates which were bought for their benefit, provided it was consist. under the Encumbered Estates Act, in ent with the laws of justice and right. the way of commercial speculation, by I also believe that his remarks upon persons who had been forgetful of the the subject of emigration, with which I good understanding which has existed concur, will receive the approval of my so long between the Irish landlords and Colleagues. Further, I go heartily with tenants. It seems to me that the Gohim in almost every word that has fallen vernment, in the course of the long and from him with regard to the provisions anxious discussions that have taken of the Bill which are directed to making place upon this Bill, must have tried to the occupying classes owners, and not frame in their minds a distinction betenants, of their farms. I feel, however, tween the estates held in tenure of the that we can hardly call that man an old Irish landlords, and those bought owner who has borrowed three-fourths recently in the Encumbered Estates of the purchase money of his land from Court. It is, I think, too severe upon the State, and the remaining fourth from those landlords who have not been hard the money lender. And, while I believe upon their tenants to charge them with it would be right to pass that portion of the shortcomings of a totally different the Bill in an improved form, I think class. The right hon. Gentleman has care should be taken that we do not put said that this Bill has received great atthe occupier in a worse position than hetention from the Government, and no is in already—that is to say, that, having one can doubt it. It has been a Bill of borrowed three-fourths of his money great discussion. No one will attempt from the State and the remainder at to deny that it has also been a Bill of enormous interest from the money great disunion amongst the Membere of lender, the State should not cause him the Government. to suffer more than he would have done MR. GLADSTONE: A Bill of great at the hands of the landlord. I should disunion amongst the Government, has like to hear, before the debate closes, it? what would be the position of an owner Sir R. ASSHETON CROSS : If the who had bought under this Bill, and right hon. Gentleman is not aware of who in bad seasons-recurring bad sea that fact, he had better ask the Duke of sons--was unable to pay the interest on Argyll. It has, moreover, not been framed
without some disunion amongst other a grievous wrong. But the right hon. Members of the Government, although Gentleman had forgotten the main printhis has not reached the same pitch as in ciple, that two wrongs do not make a the case of the Duke of Argyll. The right right. I should like to refer to one or hon. Gentleman who has just sat down two clauses of the Bill which seem to has accused the late Attorney General for me to have practically escaped his attenEngland of being too mindful of English tion; but, before I do so, I should like usages. But Iventure to assert, if theright to know what is the main object of the hon. Gentleman will favour me with his Bill? Is it to transfer the ownership of attention, that what my hon. and learned the land from the owner to the tenant? Friend said was that he was perfectly It is, so far as the fifth part of the Bill ready to adopt all usages, whether in Ire- is concerned ; and if that is what the land or in England, provided they were Government have at heart, I am prelegal usages ; but that he was not will. pared to go with them a long way proing to consent that those things which vided they mean that the new owner were matters of sentiment or feeling shall be the actual owner of his holding, should be included in the Bill without and not simply a borrower of money. I rhyme or reason, and the landlord de- ask again, is the main object of the Bill prived of his property for the purpose of really to transfer the ownership of land handing it over to the tenant. The right from the present owners to the occupiers; hon. Gentleman says that the whole and are the early portions of the Bill land system in Ireland has broken down, simply modus vivendi to gain time, or are and that some remedy must be applied. they the substance, the cardinal points But we did not hear any such words of it, the fifth part being only an appen. from the Prime Minister in all those dage about which the Government do speeches which he made in Mid Lothian not very much care whether it be enacted and elsewhere; nor in any of his writ- or not? I will undertake to say that ings in the reviews is this question re- the 1st clause, which saysferred to as one which rendered an im
“ The tenant for the time being of every mediate change necessary, except so far tenancy to which this Act applies may sell bis as those clauses, commonly known as the tenancy for the best price that can be got for “ Bright Clauses,” of the Act of 1870 the same,” are concerned, and to which I should is the most dangerous part of the Bill like more attention to be directed than I want to know what this tenancy is ? they have yet received. The right hon. We all understand what it is in those Gentleman has delivered a lecture to parts of Ireland in which the custom of my hon. and learned Friend, saying Ulster prevails; but we have, in the Inthat he had forgotten that land was in terpretation Clause at the end of the Bill, Ireland the only source of industry and
an explanation of the word “ tenancy" wealth. Why, that was the ground of the
as follows:argument which the late Attorney General for England pressed at length upon of a tenant and his successors in title during
"Tenancy' means the interest in a holding Her Majesty's Government in the course the continuance of a tenancy.” of his speech. I do not think I could have listened to a more unjust accusation, The Government believe it to mean that seeing that what the right hon. Gentle- the tenant has something—they do not man opposite said was forgotten was say what-that is saleable. Upon this the very foundation of the argument of point we have had different interpremy hon. and learned Friend. Then the tations, one coming from the Chief right hon. Gentleman went on to say Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant, and that the whole state of Ireland was due another from an hon. and learned to the confiscation which took place years Member below the Gangway. But ago. He went into the history of Ire- what is it that the tenant nay sell ? land, stating that about six-sevenths of Leaving that question for a moment, the owners of the land were of a dif- I ask with regard to this right of the ferent religion to that of the occupiers, tenant to sell this something--this unand touched upon the Law of Primo- defined thing said to be created by geniture, with the object of leading us the Act of 1870, but which, at the time to the conclusion that in consequence of of its passing, that Act was never supthis confiscation the tenants had suffered 'posed to creato—what will be its effect?
Sir R. Assheton Cross
In a vast number of instances it will be that my tenants, who are very low an increase of the rent which the tenant rented, have as much right to their will have to pay. No one can doubt, I interest as the tenants who are high suppose, that if this Bill passes into law rented; I am not going to allow this as it stands, a great many Irish landlords state of things to pass – I shall raise my will not be sorry to leave Ireland? Thus, rents.” That proves my point, which one of the great evils complained of will is that the tendency of this clause will be increased. But take, for a moment, be to raise the rents. I have proved it the case of land in the landlord's own by the admission of the Prime Minister holding at the time of the passing of that where the land is already let at a this Bill. There is a considerable num- low rent landlords will be induced to ber of landlords who hold land in this raise that rent. Now, I go a step furway at the present time; what will be ther-to the incoming tenant, who takes the effect of the Bill in a case of that possession when the existing tenant has kind? A landlord, we will say, wants sold out. That individual will have to to let his land for the first time, and ad- pay a higher rent, for he will not only vertises for tenants. One man comes have to pay the original rent, but he will forward and offers £100 a-year for the have to pay a premium, for rent does land, and another £120. At present not mean the amount for the land paid the landlord, regarding the man who by the year, the half-year, or the quaroffered £100 as a better farmer, and ter, but it means money paid into the one who had probably accumulated pocket both of the landlord and of the capital of his own, would naturally pre- outgoing tenant for the privilege of for him to the man who was ready holding the tenancy for the time being. to pay £120 a-year. But if the Bill He will have to pay for the privilege of passes in its present form that would coming in over and above the value of no longer be the case. The tenant wno manures, and so forth. Undoubtedly, had been chosen by the landlord at the the effect of this clause outside Ulster smaller rent, £100, because he was the will be to raise the rents. In the case better man, would immediately be able of an old lease farm, in the case of a new to sell his tenant right to the very man lease farm, or in the case of an incoming who had been rejected, although he tenant where the tenancy has once been had originally offered the higher rent sold, in every one of these three cases (£120). And the landlord would think the inevitable tendency of the clause will he might just as well put the additional be to make future tenants in Ireland pay £20 into his pocket. The tendency would more for their land than is paid now. undoubtedly be that he would choose a And now I want to come to the 7th higher bidder than under the present clause for a moment. I thought, after system, and the rent would be raised in all the explanations that we had had consequence. Therefore, in that case, the from divers Members of the Governrent of the tenants will undoubtedly be ment and others, that the right hon. raised. Next, let us consider how the Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy consequences of this Bill will be to of Lancaster (Mr. John Bright) would raise the rents in the case of exist- have thrown some additional light on ing tenants, and not that of new ten- this subject. I am sorry to say that we ants. Almost on every page of the are just as much in the dark as ever ; Bessborough Commission landlords who he has attempted to give us a new defihave let their estates at very low nition. Putting aside the first part of rents are mentioned. There are other the sub-section - namely, that which landlords, to whom I have already al- deals with the Ulster Custom, wo come luded, who let their estates at very high to the second part, and we want to rents; but their tenants have nothing to know, practically, what it is under that sell, for they are rack-rented up to the part that the landlord will have to suffer. hilt. The case with the low-rented | Well, the right hon. Gentleman has tenants is different, and their landlord, favoured us with a new definition, and who will suffer the loss, will have to say it is rather an extraordinary one. He to himself-“I have this lurge estate in says that what the tenant will have to Ireland; I have spent a large sum upon sell is this—" a certain, at present unit; I have let it at low rents to a large defined, value of his holding.” That is number of tenants; I see under this Bill' certainly a charming explanation of a
very complicated subject. [Mr. JOHN evicted me." All this, I must say, has BRIGHT: Not defined in Ulster.] We very much astonished me. If I had are not talking about Ulster. In the considered the matter now for the first former part of the clause, not only is time I should not have been so much Ulster mentioned, but also any other surprised; but that is not the case. This part where there is a custom or usage; question of fair rents has been argued and but we are now coming to the places re-argued over and over again. There is where there is no custom or usage. a celebrated anecdote told of a learned Wherever there is a custom or usage, of advocate who, in the hurry of opening course the case is clear, and we can his case, got hold of the wrong story understand the matter without asking and made a powerful oration in favour of the right hon. Gentleman for an expla- the other side ; but, being reminded by nation; but, coming to the place where a touch on the shoulder by one of his there is no custom or usage, we ask friends of the mistake he had fallen what is it the tenant will have to sell ? into, with the utmost self-possession And we are told, " a certain, at present said-Such, gentlemen of the jury, undefined, value of his holding." Is is the case which my learned friend that to be the only explanation to the opposite will put before you," and County Court Judge ? How is the then proceeded to demolish it and County Court Judge to interpret it? put the right case before the jury. That The right hon. Gentleman thinks this is is exactly the case of the right hon. a difficult part of the Bill, and I agree Gentleman the Prime Minister in this with him, seeing what a gross injustice matter. The only difference is that will be perpetrated by the clause. I am during the 11 years which have passed not speaking of this as a matter of since the introduction of the Land Act drafting or of Committee, for it is a of 1870, many things that the right hon. question of deep principle. What the Gentleman said have been forgotten. Government have said in the Bill is that Many of the arguments used by the the tenant's interest is to be estimated Prime Minister in 1870 against the prowith reference to the scale of compen- visions contained in this Bill remain at sation for disturbance by this Act pro- the present time unanswered. That is vided.” What do you mean by that? something that I am bound to say does When you put in a scale of compen- astonish me. They were arguments, sation for disturbance, what did you do not of principle, but of positive fact. it for? You did it in order to inflict a Why, when we came to this question of penalty upon the landlord for unjustly the valuation of rents, the right hon. ovicting a tenant. First you said a man Gentleman declared that it was not only may be fined, say £100, for unjustly extremely unfair, but that it was imposevicting a tenant; and now you say he sible and could not be done. When the is liable to pay the same sum, not as a question came before the House as to penalty, not for evicting a tenant, not whether exorbitant rents could be because he takes any action whatever, valued with a view to their being rebut because the tenant chooses to say, duced, the right hon. Gentleman said "I want the money and will appeal to he should like to see the man who would the Court." Can anything more unjust get up and state, in reasonable lanbe conceived ? In 1870 it was said— guage, that he could support that pro“We want to prevent tenants being un- position. Before the debate closes, no justly evicted;” and, further, to the land- doubt we shall hear this “reasonable lords it was said " If you are going to language.” Now, I want to go one evict these men, you shall pay this step further. I quite agree that you penalty for doing so.” Well
, the land- met the evil of eviction, to some extent, ford does not want to evict a tenant; but by the Land Bill of 1870, by which a the latter may come forward in the penalty was put on the landlord for Court and say "I know my landlord unjust eviction. That Bill has, however, does not want to evict me, and would in some degree failed, because, as you like very well to see me stay; I do not, yourselves say, landlords do not evict therefore, claim anything as compen- but raise the rent. You therefore saysation for disturbance, but I want to “Let us have this clause for valuing the leave-but I wish to have the sum I rent.” It seems to me that is rather should have been entitled to if he had jumping at a conclusion far beyond the
Sir R. Assheton Cro88