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Commons Chamber

Volume 203: debated on Tuesday 12 July 1870

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House Of Commons

Tuesday, 12th July, 1870.

MINUTES.]—NEW WRIT ISSUED— For Brecknock, v. Lord Hyde, now Earl of Clarendon.

PUBLIC BILLS — OrderedFirst Reading — National Debt* [213]; Forgery* [214]; Statute Law Revision* [215].

Select Committee—Factories and Workshops* [150], nominated.

Report of Select Committee—Pilotage [No. 349.]

Committee — Party Processions (Ireland) [26,] put off; Suburban Commons* [41], deferred.

CommitteeReport—Absconding Debtors * [172],

Report—Local Government Supplemental (No. 2)* [171–212].

Third Reading—Extradition * [138]; Telegraph Acts Extension* [196]; New Zealand (Guarantee of Loan)* [190]; Paupers Conveyance (Expenses)* [193]; Sugar Duties (Isle of Man)* [203]; Clerical Disabilities * [49], and passed.

The House met at Two of the clock.

Navy—Sir Thomas Symonds


said, he wished to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty, Whether Sir Thomas Symonds was invited to resign the command of the Channel Squadron in the midst of trials of great importance, and when only one-half of the period during which such commands are usually held had expired, in exchange for a Vice Admiral's Good Service Pension which he had earned by long and distinguished service, and by his position at the head of qualified candidates on the Vice Admirals' List; whether Sir Thomas Symonds expressed to the First Lord of the Admiralty his earnest desire to be permitted to retain his command, the Good Service Pension, which he had accepted, remaining in abeyance until its termination, in conformity with the provisions of the 6th and 7th Clauses, under the head of Pensions, in the Order in Council of February 22nd, 1870; whether Sir Thomas Symonds was specially commended by the First Lord of the Admiralty for the good he had done, and was doing, to the Squadron, and received a Board Letter of thanks for his able and zealous service, and the state of the discipline of the Squadron; and, whether, although he was ordered to haul down his flag on the plea of his appointment to a Good Service Pension, the command of the Channel Squadron was almost immediately afterwards offered to another Vice Admiral (by whom it was declined), to whom the Good Service Pension had been given on the same day as that on which it had been conferred on Sir Thomas Symonds?

Sir, I think the House will agree with me that the Questions put by the right hon. Gentleman are of a most unusual nature; and, coming from one who has been himself First Lord of the Admiralty, rather surprising. There is no duty performed by the First Lord of the Admiralty more delicate and responsible than that which relates to commands and good service pensions; and, if, without any imputation of malfeasance or corruption, the House of Commons is to be the arena for discussing questions of this kind, based upon rumours which hon. Members may hear or read in the papers, this most important duty will be rendered far more difficult unless it is desired that the government of the Navy should be undertaken by the House itself. I therefore most respectfully decline to answer so much of the right hon. Gentleman's Question as relates to reports whether particular employments were offered to this or that officer, or as to what the opinion of the First Lord may be as to the merits of any particular Commander-in-Chief. Nor would the House, I think, expect me to give minute explanations as to the circumstances under which good service pensions are awarded to particular officers; and I will only say that I believe the First Lord of the Admiralty has faithfully carried out the provisions of the late Order in Council, which placed these pensions on a much more satisfactory footing than the previous system, under which, practically, seniority was almost the only consideration. As to the particular case of Sir Thomas Symonds ceasing to be Commander-in-Chief of the Channel Fleet the right hon. Gentleman is entirely in error. Sir Thomas Symonds elected to strike his flag soon after his intended return, not the other day, but on the 3rd of April last. He was then virtually second Vice Admiral on the list, and as he would be superseded on promotion (which then appeared probable before the end of the present year), he was offered either to remain in command until superseded in due course, and to take his chance of a pension, or to strike his flag soon after he returned, with a good service pension which was then vacant. He elected the latter, his words being—"It would be agreeable to me on the terms you propose; I consider it a very great honour." It so happens that no admiral has since died, and if Sir Thomas Symonds had elected to retain the command he might have had it for a few months longer; but in that case the good service pension would not have been awarded to him, considering the claims of other officers employed as well as himself.

I wish to ask the hon. Gentleman, Whether the short answer of Sir Thomas Symonds which he has just read was not sent by telegram, and in cipher; and, whether Sir Thomas Symonds did not subsequently write to the First Lord a letter in which he requested permission to retain his command of the Channel Fleet, the Good Service Pension remaining in abeyance in conformity with the terms of the Order in Council; and, whether he did not dwell upon the great hardship to which he had been subjected by the Board of Admiralty?

I must put it to the House whether I can be expected to reply to such a Question without Notice.

said, he wished to put a Question, but, if necessary, would give Notice of it. He wished to know, Whether Admiral Drummond was offered the command of the Channel Fleet?

I have already stated that I must respectfully decline to answer Questions of that sort.

Irish Land Bill

Consideration Of Lords' Amendments

Lords' Amendments considered.

Amendments, as far as the Amendment in page 2, line 31, read a second time; several agreed to; one amended, and agreed to.

Page 2, line 31, leave out "£10," and insert "£4," the next Amendment, read a second time.

moved to disagree to the Amendments made by the Lords in the scale of compensation in page 2, line 31, by which £4 was substituted for £10, and £20 for £30. He did not think that any statement was necessary on the subject. He need only say that the Government were entirely unable to assent to any such reduction as that contemplated by the other House.

said, that they had not followed the usual course. They had not received from Her Majesty's Government a general view of the alterations to which they did not agree. They did not know what the Government wished them to accept, and what they did not. It was desirable that they should have some general view of the course Government intend to recommend.

said, he understood that, in cases of that kind, when a great number of Amendments upon important Bills came down to the House of Commons at a late period of the Session, it was hardly possible, and it was not in accordance with the general practice of the House, that by notice of a formal character the course to be taken should be pointed out. The right hon. Gentleman asked for some general explanation from the Government as to the Amendments which they proposed to adopt or reject. With regard to that matter, he was in hopes that it had been settled and understood, for all substantial and practical purposes, by the explanation which had taken place in the House of Lords. But as he thought the right hon. Gentleman had made a reasonable demand, and provided that he (Mr. Gladstone) was not held in this multitude of Amendments to too literal a precision with regard to matters of secondary importance, what he should say would be that the Government proposed to agree to the greater part of the Lords' Amendments, and that the exceptions would be these—The Government disagreed from those Amendments which affected the scale, and also from that which concerned the term of lease, put into the Bill as an alternative to the scale. He thought it would be felt that those two views of the Government hung together, and were equal weights in the two opposite scales of the balance. They should, therefore, ask the House to restore 31 years instead of 21 years as the term of lease. They also objected strongly to an Amendment made in page 3, though he did not think it was a subject about which special interest was felt. The Government proposed to agree, with some reluctance, to the Amendments which had been introduced by their Lordships with regard to the building of cottages. They would disagree from the Amendment respecting permissive registration of improvements, and from part of the Amendment in the clause which defined what was, and what was not to be considered as disturbance by the act of the landlord. They proposed to amend slightly Clause D of their Lordships, and he believed that these were the only exceptions to a general concurrence in the Amendments which it was necessary to mention. An Amendment had been introduced to enlarge from 20 to 35 years the powers of limited owners. In matters of general legislation, there could, perhaps, be no objection to that; but it seemed to go, in the present case, beyond the analogy of the Bill, and the Government did not contemplate extending the powers of limited owners further than they were affected by the other provisions of the Bill. The Government proposed to accede to the Amendment of the Lords which restored the term of notice to six months from 12 months, to the Amendment for leaving out the 66th clause with respect to the Law of Distress, and to the Amendments made in the Definition Clause.

said, that he certainly preferred the Amendment of the Lords, and he should ask the House to divide on the subject.

said, that all the difficulty of the clause, which, in the Lords, had been called an "arithmetical puzzle," and of the original words of the Bill, would have been obviated if the scale had been a more graduated one, and if there had been smaller intervals between one class and another. It had been hinted that the Government would attempt to introduce a more graduated scale; he did not know whether it was possible that the clause could stand over in order to allow this attempt to be made; but he would suggest that something of the sort should be done in order to meet the difficulties of the Lords, and to prevent any injustice being done.

Motion made, and Question put, "That this House doth disagree with The Lords in the said Amendment."—( Mr. Chichester Fortescue.)

The House divided:—Ayes 146; Noes 55: Majority 91.

Lords' Amendments disagreed to.

Amendments, as far as the Amendment in page 3, line 24, read a second time; several amended, and agreed to, with a consequential Amendment to the Bill; several disagreed to.

Page 3, line 24, leave out from the word "Section" to "3," in line 41, the next Amendment, read a second time.

said, that in Clause 3, after "£250," he proposed to disagree to the Amendment made by the Lords, and to re-introduce an important paragraph, which had been struck out. It would run, with a slight Amendment, as follows:—

"Any tenant in a higher class of the scale may at his option claim compensation under a lower class, provided such compensation shall not exceed the sum to which he would be entitled under such lower class, on the assumption that the annual value of his holding is reduced to the sum (or where two sums are mentioned the highest sum) stated in such lower class, and that his rent is proportionately reduced."
In order to understand the intention of the Government in reference to the Bill as it left the House of Commons, the scale must not be taken in its naked form, but as governed by the provision he had referred to. The inevitable effect of the scale, if not tempered by this provision, would be to effect gross inequality between different tenants holding at different steps of the scale, and whose rental or valuation might only vary, perhaps, to the amount of a single £1. With regard to the provision itself, he was aware that it had been designated an arithmetical puzzle; but he did not know that anything could be devised simpler or more practicable than the plan suggested by the Government. It was not pretended that an exactly accurate maximum would be obtained in every case for each tenant in Ireland, but substantial justice would be done to all, and it was for this purpose that he proposed the reinsertion of the provision struck out by the Lords.

said, the question was a very difficult one to understand; but he understood that the Amendment was designed to remedy the operation of the scale, which would otherwise give a tenant with a rent of £19 a compensation of £95, while a tenant with a rent of £21 would only get £84. On that understanding he could not object to the Amendment.

said, he thought it absolutely necessary to insert the Proviso of the Government in order to arrive at a rough equity instead of strict justice; but it might have been avoided by using more precise and accurate language in the table. If they took £10 as a constant multiple, and gave seven years' rent as compensation for the first £10, and four years for every £20 afterwards, that would give every man what he was entitled to.

Lords' Amendment agreed to; Proviso inserted.

Amendments of the Lords, in page 3, lines 5, 7, 12, and 13, agreed to.

Lords' Amendment, page 3, line 22, after ("writing") insert—

("Or lets the same or any part thereof in conacre, after he has been prohibited in writing by the landlord or his agent from so doing").

moved, that the House do agree to the Amendment made by the Lords, but with this addition, to insert after "conacre" this Proviso, "save for the growing of potatoes or other green crops, the land being properly manured." It was very desirable that conacre of a destructive character should be prohibited; but to prohibit it altogether would be to effect a revolution in the condition of the labourer which would be extremely injudicious, and he must say extremely perilous. The system of part payment of labourers by an allotment of land was so much in accordance with the habits and feelings of the labourers, that he could not see how any amount of money payment would make up to the labourers for the loss. It would also be impossible to utilize the manure which was collected by the labourers in the neighbourhood of small towns. On these grounds he proposed that the House should agree to the Lords' Amendment with his Amendment.

expressed a hope that the hon. Member would not press the Amendment, and would leave the important question to which it referred entirely in the hands of the Government. There were certain stages of a great measure like this in which private Members ought not unduly to interpose, and he trusted a Motion would be made from the Treasury Bench to disagree with the Lords' Amendment. The Irish Members were agreed upon this—that the Lords' Amendment would be destructive to the Irish labourer, who had nothing in the world but his little dung heap, which was a mine of wealth to him through the year. Such a step would drive the Irish labourer into discontent and disaffection. He had no right to complain of the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Samuelson), whose intelligent support of the cause of Ireland they must all respect; but it would have been better if he had communicated with the Irish Members before proposing this Amendment. He could state that the old conacre was destructive to farming, but that had now altogether died out. The present system was in no way injurious. He hoped the hon. Member would withdraw his Amendment.

said, he hoped that the hon. Member for Banbury would not withdraw his Amendment, and that the Government would consent to it. The landlords of Ireland could have no possible objection to a system so guarded, while it would be a great boon to the labourer. Great misconception was entertained as to the origin of the word con-acre. It was used originally to mean land let for the growing of corn; but now it was applied to the letting of a small piece of land for any purpose whatever. It was plain that the hon. Member for Kilkenny (Sir John Gray) did not understand the real sense of the Proviso proposed by the hon. Member for Banbury. He had given them a piteous account of the labourer's dung heap; but the very object of this Proviso was to enable the labourer to turn it to account. He was in the habit of letting land to his labourers himself, and all the farmers round him did the same. He hoped the Government would agree to the Amendment.

said, he thought his hon. Friend the Member for Kilkenny quite misunderstood the Amendment of the hon. Member for Banbury. It was absolutely necessary that the farmer in Ireland should be enabled, as he had ever been, to give land in conacre which was required, not for the purpose of growing white, but green crops. So much did he approve of the Amendment that he had prepared a Proviso almost word for word the same with that proposed by the hon. Member for Banbury. He hoped, therefore, that while the Government would not accept the Amendment made in the House of Lords, they would agree to that of the hon. Member for Banbury. If the Bill were to pass without having anything done by it for the labourers, it would be received with execration throughout Ireland.

said, he could not, on the part of the Government, undertake to accede to the suggestion of the hon. Member for Kilkenny to propose to disagree from the Lords' Amendment, for two reasons. When the Bill was originally before the House there was a general concurrence among hon. Members that a distinction ought to be drawn between the con-acre for the purpose of white and of green crops, it being, for the most part, admitted that for the one purpose it was injurious, while for the other it was beneficial—though perhaps that was not clearly expressed in the Bill as it went to the Lords. That was the first reason why he could not assent to the proposal of the hon. Member for Kilkenny. The other was, that in dealing with an Amendment made by the House of Lords in a great measure such as that under discussion, the Government ought, he thought, to be prepared to consider it not altogether on the merits of the point immediately involved, but also with reference to its bearing on other Amendments as well as on the passing of the Bill. Now, if the suggestion of the hon. Member for Kilkenny (Sir John Gray) were adopted, the passing of the Bill would, he was afraid, be to some extent endangered. The question for each hon. Member to ask himself was, whether he considered the object in view of such importance as to run that risk. The Government certainly could not accede to the proposal. As to the proposal of the hon. Member for Banbury, he believed it to be a good one in itself; but with respect to that also he must say he should not like to risk the passing of the Bill by calling on the House to accept it. The Government, at the same time, would gladly yield to the general expression of opinion in the House on the subject should it be found to be in favour of the Amendment. It was something that it was supported by the hon. Member for Carlow (Mr. Kavanagh), whose views on the subject were entitled to the greatest weight, not only because of the ability and intelligence which he had brought to bear on the discussion of the Bill, but from the strong desire which he had shown to promote the welfare of his country.

thought the Amendment was a very great misfortune, and hoped hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House would follow the advice which had been given by the hon. Member for Carlow. This was not a question of party, and everyone ought to endeavour to make the Bill as palatable as possible to the lower classes.

observed that when the Bill was before the House on a former occasion, he had drawn the distinction between the two systems of con-acre referred to by the Prime Minister, and had advocated the adoption of a proposal similar to that now made by the hon. Member for Banbury. He trusted the Amendment would be agreed to.

Words inserted.

Lords' Amendment, as amended, agreed to.

Lords' Amendment, line 24, leave out from ("section") to ("3") in line 41.

moved that the House agree to the Lords' Amendment, by which certain exceptions from the general effect of the clause, which were intended to give the tenant the power of setting aside pieces of land for the purpose of building labourers' cottages, were struck out. If he were simply to consult his own wishes, he should prefer the Bill as it dealt with that point in its original shape; but the matter was one with regard to which he did not, for the reasons which had been just stated by his right hon. Friend at the head of the Government, think it would be wise to insist by dissenting from the Amendment. The importance which was attached to the provision with respect to the building of cottages had, he thought, been greatly exaggerated by the friends of the labourer, for the security which the Bill would give the tenant-farmer could not fail to react most beneficially on the labourers whom he employed. The question of encouraging the building of cottages, he admitted, was one which ought to be dealt with; but he did not think it could be done so to any useful purpose in the present Bill, and, as he had stated at a former stage of the Bill, he hoped to be able hereafter to propose legislation on the subject which would have the effect of improving the law as it stood.

regretted that the Government had accepted the Amendment of the Lords, which did not place the labourer in the position in which he ought to stand. It deprived the tenants of all power of erecting cottages for their labourers, and left it entirely in the hands of the landlords; and, in many instances, the tenants would be deprived of the power of keeping labourers on their farms. The condition of the labourers was becoming very alarming, and every effort ought to be made to improve their position; and he hoped the Government would insist upon restoring the clause to its original form.

observed that it was utterly impossible for labourers in portions of the county which he represented to get plots of ground on which to build cottages. The result was that they were driven into the neighbouring towns, where the rates had in consequence been so increased that some of the small shopkeepers were at the present moment half bankrupt. The Government, he added, should provide for such a state of things, for if the Amendment were agreed to, and it was allowed to continue, it was impossible to say what another winter in Tipperary would bring forth.

acknowedged the able assistance which had been rendered in the passing of this Bill by the hon. Members for Cork and Limerick—[Laughter]—and was sorry to take on this occasion a course which they did not approve. He did not see why such an acknowledgment should be considered an unfitting one, for the support of these and other Members representing Irish constituencies was of the utmost consequence in passing a Bill which was founded upon moderate principles, and which the Government hoped to make acceptable to the people of Ireland. With reference to the present position, it should be remembered that the Government carried those provisions with much difficulty even through this House. Undoubtedly, they were regarded with more of jealousy and apprehension than of favour, and not upon narrow grounds. The Bill proposed to set up the right of the tenant to erect cottages for the labourer against the will of the landlord. To this the objection was raised not only that these cottages might be of an indifferent character, but, in conformity with English experience and practice, that the best landlords were perhaps the most jealous of allowing labourers on their estates to be housed by their tenants. It was more the kind disposition of the House to attend to the recommendations of the Government than the judgment of the House itself which in-induced them to pass these provisions; and, as they might raise a serious, obstacle to the passing of the Bill, he did not think it right to insist on them, especially as the House would not thereby abandon the hope of legislating in a separate shape on the subject of labourers' cottages. Whatever the convictions and desires of the Government might be, it was their duty to sacrifice them to the general prospects of the measure.

reminded the right hon. Gentleman that under the Bill as it left this House the tenant was not to erect a cottage for the labourer without applying, in the first instance, to the landlord or his agent. He regretted the course which had been taken by the Government; but he did not think it desirable to throw any obstacle in the way of the passing of the Bill.

repudiated any notion that, in supporting the Lords' Amendment, he and those on his side of the House were actuated by any want of interest in the condition of the Irish labourer. On the contrary, when the Bill was in Committee, he, with several hon. Friends, some of whom were large landed proprietors in Ireland, spoke strongly as to the want of better cottages for the labourers. But the clause as it stood did no good whatever for the labourer; because it offered no standard as to his dwelling, and provided no means of improving or alleviating his condition, and it was liable to be used not for the benefit of a bonâ fide labourer, but to facilitate subdivision in favour of relatives of the tenant, who would be introduced under the guise and assumed character of labourers. He agreed with the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland that the House could not legislate for labourers in the present Bill. The hon. Member for Galway (Mr. W. H. Gregory) had proposed a number of clauses laying down certain conditions with regard to the labourers; but everyone felt that it was a new scheme, relating to a different subject from that dealt with by the Bill. In supporting the Amendment, he repeated the desire of his hon. Friends to assist the labourer in every possible manner.

said, he thought that no such danger would arise under the clause, which was quite sufficiently guarded by the Proviso. If it had been allowed to stand, tenants would have applied to their landlords for cottages; the landlords would have erected them rather than allow the tenants to do so, and thus the example would have spread of providing commodious and decent cottages for the labouring population in Ireland. He could not help regretting deeply that in this Bill there was not now a single provision for the benefit of the poorest and most neglected portion of the Irish people.

thanked the Government for giving way on this question, believing that the clause would have led to the subdivision of the land, and have afforded no real benefit to the labourer. The 9th clause gave the landlord the power of taking land for the building of cottages, and he was sure the labourers were in a much better position than they would have been if the Bill had remained in its original form in this respect.

said, he hoped there would be no opposition to the Amendment, for if the clause were passed as it left the Commons it would be inoperative, or else mischievous. Bad cottages would be built, because there was nothing to prevent it.

said, the argument based upon the 9th clause implied that unless the landlords built cottages there were to be none built, and yet it was notorious that it was chiefly by the landlords that the cottages had been levelled. Under these circumstances, it was most tyrannous to say that a respectable tenant should not build cottages, for how could a man cultivate land without labourers? Energetic men were leaving the country every day, and it was bad policy not to give them some inducement to remain in it.

said, it must have gratified the hon. Member for Limerick (Mr. Downing) to hear from the head of the Government that he had given great assistance in the passage of the Bill, for he believed the general impression was that the hon. Member had given them many heavy and wasted hours. Throughout the debates hon. Members on the opposite side of the House had pointed out that it was the labourers of Ireland who required assistance much more than the tenants, and now that it was too late to do anything for the labourers, the hon. Member for Limerick and others were calling out that the labourers of Ireland ought to have something done for them. The result must be to sow the seeds of agitation in Ireland, and to do more harm to his unhappy country.

said, he thought there was some misapprehension as to the effect of accepting the Lords' Amendments: as he read the clause it did not say that no one but the landlord was to erect cottages; while the tenant might take his plan to the landlord and ask permission to build, and no landlord would refuse to have such an improvement carried out. The hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Maguire) rated the landlords too low when he supposed they would arbitrarily and unreasonably stand in the way of improvements being made in the interest of the labourer.

said, he did not agree with the Lords' Amendment. A good tenant would never be refused by his landlord permission to build a cottage; but this Amendment passed in the other House, while it would not be of much advantage to the owners of land, would, in the present position of the country be looked upon, if not with hostility, at all events with great disfavour. He regretted that the Government had not found it to be consistent with their duty to disagree with it.

said, that if he were a labourer he should much prefer to have the assurance just given by the Government that this question would be dealt with next Session, to the Proviso which had been struck out by the House of Lords under which—as no conditions were imposed as to the description of cottages to be erected—it would be in the power of any occupier to build hovels instead of proper dwellings for his labourers. He should support the Government in the course adopted by them, which only involved a delay of a year, or rather nine months, and which he believed would tend much more than the re-insertion of the Proviso to elevate the condition of the labouring class.

Motion made, and Question put, "That this House doth agree with The Lords in the said Amendment." — ( Mr. Chichester Fortescue.)

The House divided:—Ayes 396; Noes 29: Majority 367.

Page 4, line 1, leave out the word "thirty - one," and insert the word "twenty - one," the next Amendment, read a second time.

proposed to disagree to the Amendment of the Lords. The House knew that means had been taken to enable the Courts under the provisions of the Bill to consider all the circumstances of the tenant's case; and he held it very unadvisable to enact that the existence of a 21 years' lease, which was not in accordance with Irish habits or opinions, should exclude a tenant absolutely from claiming any privilege under Clause 3. In accordance with Irish ideas, a lease, to be of any great value, must be for 31 years. He therefore moved that the House do disagree to this Amendment.

said, he would not delay the Committee with further discussion on a Bill which had been debated so fully on previous occasions. The Amendment of the Lords appeared to him to be one which was entirely justified by the circumstances of the case. Twenty-one years was a common tenure in England and Scotland, and it had been found perfectly adequate to all the circumstances which should attend a good lease. In the present case they were asked to grant a lease of 31 years, which under the Bill might be enjoyed without making any improvements whatever. That appeared a condition of affairs highly undesirable for them to support, and he should, therefore, ask the opinion of the House on the Amendment.

Motion made, and Question put, "That this House doth disagree with The Lords in the said Amendment." — ( Mr. Chichester Fortescue.)

The House divided:—Ayes 262; Noes 186: Majority 76.

Amendments, as far as the Amendment in page 7, line 4, read a second time; several agreed to; several amended, and agreed to, with a consequential Amendment to the Bill.

Page 7, line 4, to insert, after the word "pounds," the words—

"5. Where the Court shall be of opinion that in consequence of its being proved to have been the practice on the holding, or the estate of which such holding forms part, for the landlord to make such improvements, such presumption ought not to be made:
"6. Where from the entire circumstances of the case the Court is reasonably satisfied that such improvements were not made by the tenant or his predecessors in title:
"Provided always, That where it is proved to have been the practice on the holding, or the estate of which such holding forms part, for the landlord to assist in making such improvements, such presumption shall be modified accordingly."

And also insert Clause A—

("Permissive registration of improvements.") "Any landlord or tenant who may be desirous of preserving evidence of any improvements made by himself or by his predecessor in title, before or after the passing of this Act, may at any time (subject to the provisions hereinafter contained) file a Schedule in the Landed Estates Court, specifying such improvements, and claiming the same as made by himself or his predecessors in title; and such Schedule so filed shall be primâ facie evidence that such improvements were made as therein mentioned: Provided always, That notice in writing of the intention to file such Schedule, together with a copy thereof, shall be given by the landlord to the tenant for the time being of the holding on which such improvements shall have been made (or by the tenant to the landlord, as the case may be,) within the prescribed time before applying to the Landed Estates Court to file the same; and if the person receiving such notice shall dispute the claim made by such Schedule, either wholly or in part, he shall be at liberty within the prescribed time and in the prescribed manner to apply to the Civil Bill Court to determine the matter in difference, and in such case such Schedule shall not be filed unless or until leave shall have been given to file the same either in its original or in any amended form by the Civil Bill Court; Provided also, That before filing any such Schedule proof shall be made in the Landed Estates Court by statutory declaration that the notice hereby required has been duly given, and that no application has been made within the prescribed time by the party receiving such notice to the Civil Bill Court; or (if any such application has been made) that leave has been given by the Civil Bill Court to file such Schedule,"

the next Amendment, read a second time, and agreed to, as far as insert Clause A.

Lords' Amendment, insert new Clause A (Permissive registration of improvements).

moved in line 1, to leave out the word "or" and insert the word "and." He explained that as the clause had been agreed to by the House of Lords a registration of improvements could take place by an action being taken either by the landlord or the tenant in the Irish Landed Estates Court. The object of his Amendment was to prevent any registration of improvements taking place except at the joint instance of both the landlord and the tenant.

Amendment proposed to the said Clause, in line 1, to leave out the word "or," and insert the word "and,"—( Mr. Samuelson,)—instead thereof.

said, he thought the Amendment of the hon. Member for Banbury unnecessary. He should adhere to the clause as it came from the Lords, the object of the clause being to prevent the great injustice which might possibly arise where the landlord and tenant were not prepared to come to an agreement of the kind which had been suggested.

said, he did not see the necessity for this registration clause at all, and it would on courage at once a multitude of what he might term quasi suits. The landlord would come to the Court to register improvements; the tenant would employ an attorney; and out of the 600,000 holdings in Ireland there would probably be several thousands of these quasi suits. He maintained that the Amendment of the hon. Member for Banbury was necessary, and that without it the Government would not accept the clause. They had always been opposed to such a clause, and one reason why they were disposed to accept the Amendment of the hon. Member was because they were anxious to go as far as possible in the direction of meeting the wishes of the House of Lords, without altogether departing from the determined opposition which they had always entertained for the principle embodied in the clause.

said, it would be better to meet the Amendment of the Lords by a direct negative than to propose a change which, while it appeared to offer something, really offered no advantage at all. The object of the Lords' Amendment was that either party might obtain the permanent record of a fact. It was not necessary for the two parties to agree between themselves as to the fact. If, indeed, they were both agreed—which was substantially the proposal of the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Samuelson)—what was the advantage of going to the Landed Estates Court? The clause inserted by the Lords was to meet the very case in which they did not agree, and it was because they did not agree that the clause was requisite. He denied that the clause would give rise to litigation. It would be used only where it was right that it should be used, and where there was something to be recorded; and, considering the large transactions which might be involved, it was only just to both parties that such a clause should be retained. The clause offered a fair and reasonable means of disclosing the obligations on an estate without injustice to anyone; it would never be used to injure or oppress anyone; and he therefore hoped the Lords' Amendment would be agreed to.

said, the right hon. and learned Gentleman had stated with clearness the object and effect of the clause, which constituted the very reasons why the Government could not accept it. It was not intended for cases of dispute; but, in order to avoid possible controversies in the future, it was thought necessary to create an unknown number of controversies at once in cases respecting which, in the vast majority of instances, controversy would never otherwise arise. In many cases, by lapse of time, improvements would wear out without being the occasion of dispute; and in others the parties would agree without appealing to the assistant barrister. The Government did not wish by this Bill to create any temptation to parties to involve themselves in disputes prematurely; and they were very unwilling to expose the tenant to the danger which lurked under the clause — that of being taken up to the Court in Dublin by a timorous or suspicious landlord. To a small tenant that unnecessary process would be an expensive one. The Government opposed the clause quite irrespective of the Amendment of the hon. Member for Banbury, which of itself was a valuable one and could do no harm to either party. It would provide that where they were agreed there should be an authoritative record, and that would meet the case of encumbrances; but that case did not weigh heavily on his mind, because the charges in question could be only the result of additional value conferred by improvements, and such charges were very different from those which detracted from the value and security of property. On the whole, they would do wisely not to agree to the Lords' Amendment; but it would not be without advantage if they agreed to that of the hon. Member for Banbury.

said, that if the clause would enable the landlord to take advantage of the tenant he would oppose it; but he looked upon the clause as essential for carrying out the provisions of the Bill, and had it existed prior to the Encumbered Estates Court a great part of the discontent now existing in Ireland would have been avoided, because purchasers would have known what charges their estates were liable to.

said, the proper course for the Government to take was to meet the clause with a direct negative. The fallacy in the argument of the hon. and learned Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer) was that the tenant was a free agent, a proposition which was negatived by every part of the Bill. A small holder would rather give up a claim than go to law with his landlord.

said, anybody having the slightest legal experience must know that nothing prevented litigation so much as clear and distinct statements of facts put in writing while well remembered. The clause would provide for the carrying out of such a plan. He agreed with his right hon. and learned Friend in thinking that without this provision it would be most difficult to deal with estates in Ireland.

said, that while claims for compensation could be advanced at any time by the tenant, other claims could be made only in consequence of the landlord's own act; this it was that placed claims for compensation upon a different footing from other claims; and it was only fair that the landlord should have full information when it could be afforded him without doing injustice.

said, the hon. Member seemed to overlook this point, that if this clause were not passed there could be no litigation unless there was a change of tenancy within 20 years, which change was the exception and not the rule; but if the clause were passed there might be quasi litigation whenever an improvement was made.

Question put, "That the word 'or' stand part of the Clause."

The House divided:—Ayes 186; Noes 249: Majority 63.

Amendment agreed to, with Amendments.

Amendments, as far as the Amendment in page 8, line 8, read a second time; several agreed to; one amended, and agreed to.

Then the Proviso of the clause relating to Notice disagreed to.

Lords' Amendment, page 8, line 7, after ("rent") insert "or for breach of any condition against assignment, subletting, bankruptcy, or insolvency."

moved to agree to that Amendment of the Lords in the first part of the clause, but to retain the latter part of the clause, in which another Amendment was made, as it originally stood.

complained that the Government now proposed to adopt an Amendment which had been moved in that House and rejected without a Division.

observed that it was quite a mistake to suppose that this Amendment had been moved and rejected without a Division. It was quite a different Amendment.

Lords' Amendment agreed to.

On the next Amendment, which struck out the words—

"Unless the Court decides that it ought on special grounds to be so deemed in the case of a person claiming compensation on the determination by such ejectment of a tenancy existing at the time of the passing of the Act, and continuing to exist without any alteration of rent up to the time of such determination."

said, these words gave a very wide discretion to the chairmen of Courts, the Government proposition being wholly unrestrained. There was no subject on which greater apprehension was felt by the landlords of Ireland than this clause, because they considered that there ought to be in the Courts the greatest facility for enforcing the payment of rent. This clause, however, gave extraordinary powers to chairmen, without affording them the slightest guide or definition of the principle on which they were to act. The Lords' Amendment appeared to him to have two advantages—first, it defined what were the cases in which a chairman might exercise his discretion; and, secondly, it totally excluded the idea of disturbance on the ground that the rent was too high. He asked the Government to be content with the wide discretion given in the Lords' Amendment.

said, the Government never concealed their opinion that this, although a necessary enactment, was a grave one. Having adopted it from a conviction of its necessity, they applied to it all the limitations which occurred to them, or were suggested by hon. Members. The clause when so modified was assented to by the Government, and no Division was taken upon it. Under these circumstances he hoped it would not be considered extraordinary if he could not assent to the Amendment.

Motion made, and Question put, "That this House doth disagree with The Lords in the said Amendment." — ( Mr. Chichester Fortescue.)

The House divided:—Ayes 248; Noes 171: Majority 77.

Amendments, as far as the Amendment in page 9, line 2, after the word "claim," insert Clauses B and C:—read a second time; several agreed to; one amended, and agreed to, with a consequential Amendment to the Bill; one disagreed to.

Page 8, line 2, after the word "claim," insert Clauses B and C, the next Amendment, read a second time, and agreed to, as far as the Amendment insert Clause B inclusive.

said, he hoped the Government would not agree to Clause B, because it would be a great injury to the tenant. It would neutralize the whole of the Bill.

agreed with the hon. Member for New Ross, and thought that the Amendment was one of the most important made in the other House. The assignee ought to be protected against the act of the landlord four or five years after taking possession.

agreed that the point under discussion was one of the most difficult in the Bill. It had received the most careful consideration of the Government both in that House and in "another place," and he trusted the House would not undo the work that had been done with a view to the settlement of the question.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Consideration of Lords Amendments deferred till this day.

Truck Acts

Motion For A Commission

, in rising to call the attention of the House to the operation of the Truck Acts, and to move—

"That, public representations having been made to the effect that systematic evasion of the Truck Acts prevails extensively in the Coal and Iron mining industries in Scotland, as well as in other trades and places in the United Kingdom, this House humbly prays Her Majesty to appoint a Commission of Inquiry into such alleged offences, and to take such steps as She shall be advised for obtaining from Parliament any special powers that may be required for conducting such inquiry, or for suppressing such offences,"
In dealing with this question, he should only lay before the House facts which were beyond dispute. Within the last few weeks there had been Petitions presented to the House, signed by upwards of 80,000 minors, complaining of their grievances, and particularly of the infringement and evasion of the Truck Acts in Scotland, and if no extraordinary circumstances had recently transpired, there was quite sufficient in the matter of those Petitions to induce the Government to order an investigation. In the early part of last year The North British Daily Mail, published in Glasgow, sent a Commissioner through the mining districts to investigate the complaints made by the miners and the workmen in the iron manufactories of Scotland, and the mode in which they were dealt with by the truck system. In 1867 a Committee of that House reported that fearful abuses prevailed in England, and more especially in Scotland, in connection with mines; that owners of mines, contrary to the intention of the Truck Acts, made large profits by means of their store shops, which they induced their workmen to deal at by various means; and that the present law required alteration in order to render it more effectual. The letters which had appeared in The North British Daily Mail on the subject were written with striking ability, and the statements they contained were given with the utmost circumstantiality. The subject having been taken up by the leading organs in this country, the hon. Member for Ayr (Sir David Wedderburn) put a Question to the Home Secretary, inquiring whether any steps were likely to be taken with regard to it. The Home Secretary, in reply, stated that if the question were brought before the House in some tangible shape it should receive his best consideration. On the 17th of July of last year a most able leader upon the subject appeared in The Times, calling upon that House to investigate the question. The conclusion of that article was as follows:—
"We certainly trust that the Home Secretary will think it his duty to institute a searching investigation into the matter, and to cause the Act to be enforced with rigour against all offenders; and if, as at present framed, it is insufficient against the noxious practices, to take the proper steps for its amendment. But the surest remedy is the extinction of the 'long-pay' system. To this end, employers, operatives, and the public should contribute their utmost."
That article was one of the most forcible summaries and epitomes of the whole question that it had been his lot to meet with. When they remembered that it was only in 1831 the Truck Acts were first passed, and saw all the good which they had done, he was quite sure he would not call in vain on the House to extend and perfect their beneficent action. Looking at the evidence which was given before the first Committee, it was difficult to realize that we were living in the same country, so great was the change which had taken place, the truck system being entirely unknown I now in Lancashire, where it at one time overshadowed the prosperity of the working classes, and being replaced by a co-operative system, in which £5,000,000 was turned over every year, a profit of £10,000 a week going into the pockets of the working men. In 1854 an inquiry was instituted into the truck system in Scotland, and Mr. Hill Burton reported how generally the truck system prevailed, and how baneful were its effects. The people found it impossible to get a few pounds out of the owners of mines, even for the most necessary purposes. Since then the iron trade had greatly developed, and he was sorry to say that the evil had kept pace with it. Magistrates, and men in high social positions, were depriving working men of their hard earnings by one of the most cunningly-devised schemes of evasion of law this country had ever witnessed. There were three branches of the system. The first was what was known as "poundage"—it could not be dealt with under the Truck Acts; the second was "truck" pure and simple; the third was "truck" by evasion. The system, as a whole, and its several branches, found an important auxiliary in what was known as "long pay." There were two systems of reckoning in Scotland—one the 14 days', and the other the month's reckoning. The fortnight's was, in practice, a three or four weeks' reckoning, and the month's reckoning, in reality, extended over five or six weeks. Now, everyone knew that, as a rule, workmen and their families were not in a position to do without their wages for such a time. Every employer knew by experience that short payments were the best for the workmen; and that it was of great advantage to the family of the workman that his week's wages should be paid on the Friday, in order that the man's wife might be able to go to market in good time. In the Scotch works to which he was referring, if a man wanted an advance of say 10s. out of the money he had earned, it was made to him; but he had to pay interest for it at the rate of 1d. in the 1s. or 1s. in the pound, so that from 800 to 900 per cent per annum was paid by the poor workmen for advances made to them on the security of wages which they had earned. The "truck," pure and simple, was so dangerous that the large employers did not adopt it. Small employers and middlemen were the persons who practised it. The more complicated truck system was that generally in use, and he would explain it to the House. An Act of Parliament required that the men should be paid in coin. How was that observed in the letter and broken in the spirit? A workman went and asked for an advance of 10s. out of the money he had earned. The advance was given him, and an entry of it was made in a little book, which was taken away by the person getting the advance. Close to the building in which the advance was made, but outside that building was a store kept by some stranger; but the goods in which were the property of the employer, who paid the wages and made the advance. On the counter of the store the workman laid down his money; and, in return, he got what was called "a line." This line was an order on the store for goods to the amount of money laid down by the workman. Spirits were sold in those stores, and he might mention that before the Mines Commission it was shown that one Member of that House held 11 spirit licences. In the orders of lines, whiskey was entered as "A. Q." With £50 an employer could make advances nominally amounting to £400 or £500; because, no sooner was an advance laid down on the counter of the store than it was returned to the employer's cashier. In some cases a slide was used to facilitate the transfer of the money from the store to the employer's counting-house. It occasionally happened that a man tried to "slope" the store; but if he did slope it, a little cross was made on the leaf of his advance-book, and the next time he presented himself for an advance, nothing further was said than that no advance could be made to him. The House would see that there was an engagement required from the workpeople that they should deal at the store; but by the plan of crossing, or, as it was termed, "staking" the books, sloping the store was prevented. Sometimes the books of all the members of a man's family, if they worked in the same employment, were staked; and if a man continued to slope the store after his book had been staked, he was discharged from the employment. He was glad to say that there were some honourable exceptions; and he might particularly mention the firm of Messrs. Baird, of the Gartcherie Ironworks. The system he was describing was repudiated by some employers. He held in his hand original documents — "staked" books and "lines" — which showed the manner in which the system was worked. He would give the House some idea of the kind of supplies furnished under that system. A number of samples sold at the stores were placed in the hands of a respectable wholesale provision merchant and a respectable wholesale grocer for examination, having come from a store belonging to a large iron manufacturer. The reports made contained the following:—
"Sugar, short weight and bad value; cheese, American, short weight and very dear; sugar, bad value, short weight, ½oz. in ½lb.; cheese, 3 ozs. instead of 4 ozs.; sugar, short weight, quality good, ½ oz. deficient in ½ lb.; cheese, short weight and dear, ½ oz. deficient in 4 oz."
The examiners further said that having made a careful report of seven different kinds of teas, they considered that the supplies made by retail shopkeepers were 1s. per pound better in value than those supplied by the stores. Some fustian which was supplied to miners at 3s. a yard was found to be only equal to what was sold at retail shops in Glasgow at 2s. 4d. He did not accuse the employers of being guilty of that practice of short weight; but these things only showed how demoralizing the effects of the truck system were upon all who were connected with it. The storemen had certain quantities of goods handed over to them, and what was the result? Why that the storemen cheated both the masters and the workmen. In one instance a storeman died with £10,000 in the bank to his credit, which the masters endeavoured to seize, alleging that their stores had been robbed to that amount. He (Mr. Mundella) had examined 11 exhausted "lines" and found six of them to have been added up wrongly, the errors in every case being against the workmen. The whole 11 lines were from one man; and if the mistakes they contained had been made partly on one side and partly on the other, there might perhaps have been some excuse for them; but it was a significant fact that, he repeated, they were all against the workmen. In asking the House for a judicial inquiry, he would not adduce all the details which he could easily bring forward, many of them even worse than those which he had stated. All he asked was that the House would support him in seeking for an investigation that they might know whether those things were so or not. There was the law and there were the facts; let them know how the matter stood. If his allegations were not substantiated then his case broke down; but if it was substantiated let them have some legislation which the House itself, which a Committee had demanded, and which the workmen had earnestly prayed and now generally looked for. The influence of the truck system on the workmen and their families was most demoralizing. When those poor people went to lay out their hard earnings at the stores they were frequently treated rudely and discourteously; and if a man had a claim to 4s., and got 3s.d. worth of goods, it was simply a question of what he would have the remaining 4½d. in, and he was often induced to take it out in whisky on the spot, every facility being given to men and women to indulge in drink. The truck system reduced the people to a state of practical serfdom, while it also encouraged reckless habits of improvidence and intemperance among them. Nor was the evil of the system confined to the workmen only. The ironmasters who paid their workmen in coin were exposed to an unfair and most unequal competition with those who paid in "truck." The condition of the Cleveden iron district presented a striking contrast to the districts in Scotland to which he had been referring. In the Cleveden district the men were prosperous, no strikes occurred, and all trade disputes were settled by masters and men meeting round the same council table, and calling in an independent umpire to decide between them. There, however, I the ironmasters were prejudiced by the violation of the Truck Acts, practised by their Scotch competitors. He would show the House a specimen of a sort of truck note issued to a workman for a sum of about 9s. It bore date May 17, it became due on the 9th of July, and the workman was to take it to a certain store where its value was to be given him in goods. The store was either the property of the employer, or there was collusion between him and the store-keeper, and an allowance was made to the employer in respect of the commodities supplied, which practically amounted to a deduction from the workman's wages. The system also prevailed in Glamorganshire; and letters in the country papers and in The Mining Journal complained of a like system prevailing in that part of South Wales. Nor was the system confined to Scotland and Wales. A Factory Inspector had informed him that a like mode prevailed at Ringwood, where articles were served to the workmen at a high rate. Since this Notice had appeared in the Paper he had received a letter from one of the secretaries of trades unions in North Nottinghamshire, stating that there were 20 masters in that district who paid the frame workers on the truck system, and they charged beyond the market value, and the workmen were obliged to sell a portion of the goods obtained on truck in order to buy coals and pay for their children's schooling, and other expenses. If a man there was a member of a co-operative store he was punished. He hoped that the House would not permit such a system to be continued. The workmen in some cases had clubbed their money to prosecute; but what was a fine of £5 to one of these masters. To get one of them fined £5 had actually cost the working men £15. The fine was soon made up, the system went on again, and the man who had dared to inform against his employer was victimized. There was no use in inflicting a fine of £5, £20, or even £100. The Board of Arbitration with which he was connected had advertised in the Nottingham papers that they would assist in putting down this system, and within the last six months a sub-contractor was prosecuted. He was told if he acknowledged his fault, and promised not to transgress again, he would be forgiven. The man sat silent for awhile, and then said—"I will make no promise; you may fine me," and he was fined. But those people cared nothing for a fine. The working man of whom he had spoken said that nothing would do to put down this system except imprisonment. It might be said—"Oh, try moral influence." Let them try the moral influence of the chaplain of the gaol for a fortnight, and his impression was, that they would soon get rid of this contemptible system. How could they hope to inspire working men with respect for the law when they saw magistrates, deputy-lieutenants, and Members of Parliament engaged in such practices? If they were to put an end to this system those who administered the law must themselves be pure. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department would grant the inquiry, and that it would not be said in this country that
"Offence with guilty hand can shove by justice."
The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving his Motion.

seconded the Motion. He bore witness to the urgent necessity which existed for some legislative Act being passed with regard to the truck system. It was hardly possible to conceive a system more abominably iniquitous than that under which the master advanced to his men their own money at 5 per cent per month, and that not as a right, but as a favour. The facts that had been brought out by the commission to which his hon. Friend had referred were such that he felt convinced it was absolutely necessary some inquiry should be made. It was scarcely possible to imagine a system more demoralizing. All independence was crushed out of a man when he know that his earnings were not his own. The 3rd section of the Acts prescribed that the entire amount of wages earned by the artificer should be paid him in the current coin of the realm, and that every payment made by the delivery of goods was illegal. But the Acts were evaded. A man was paid in coin on one side of the street, and then he was compelled to go to a store, on the other side and to hand in the whole of his wages. It was not merely that the man had to buy what he wanted in the store, but the whole of his wages were swept by the storekeeper into the till, and the man received a line, which he was unable to decline, for goods which were often of very inferior quality. The encouragement to drink under this system was lamentable. It might be urged that anything which might be done to check the system would be an interference with the liberty of the subject as far as the master was concerned. It might be so; but was not the system itself an interference with the liberty of the subject, by the man who was strong over the man who was weak? It was a curious fact that, though the statements with regard to this system had been in circulation for many months, they had not received a single contradiction. He acknowledged it might be difficult to apply a remedy; but he believed weekly payments would go far to supply one. He was afraid there was very little chance of the Mines Regulation Bill passing into law this Session; and, therefore, the Amendment providing for weekly payments, if it found favour with the House, as he was sanguine it might, could not come into operation this year. Under these circumstances, he ventured to urge on the Government that they should sanction the inquiry which was asked for, and which ought always to be granted when an allegation was made that Acts of Parliament had been violated.

Motion made, and Question proposed,

"That, public representations having been made to the effect that systematic evasion of the Truck Acts prevails extensively in the Coal and Iron mining industries in Scotland, as well as in other trades and places in the United Kingdom, this House humbly prays Her Majesty to appoint a Commission of Inquiry into such alleged offences, and to take such steps as She shall be advised for obtaining from Parliament any special powers that may be required for conducting such inquiry or for suppressing such offences."—(Mr. Mundella.)

said, that in addition to the systems of truck which had been referred to, there was still one other system resorted to of a still more insidious character. It was that the employer built upon the ground on which the works stood, or contiguous, a store, which he let to some person with whom he had no apparent connection. The employer's name was not over the store, nor did he in any way manage the buying or selling which went on there. But he received a half-yearly rent of so magnificent a character that it, in fact, amounted to a profit upon the business; and that system was much more difficult than any other to put down by legislative enactments. There were, he was sure, many respectable employers who would be glad to have the truck system repressed; but, on the other hand, he believed that inquiry would show many not to be so innocent as they now seemed. If Royal Commissioners were sent down to make local examinations, and had power to examine witnesses on oath and to call for books and papers, facts would be elicited which former inquiries had not brought to light. The remedy which he suggested was weekly pay; but it must be not a mere advance, but a weekly balancing of the accounts between employers and employed; and although such a plan would cause much more trouble to the former, who would be sure to oppose such a proposition, it would not be a greater interference with the liberty of the subject than much of the legislation of the past 30 years. He cordially supported the Motion.

said, the case for an inquiry did not rest merely upon the statements which had been made to the House; for there were, in addition, the investigations which had been made by private individuals, the results of which had been published in newspapers. The abuses which had been complained of were confined to certain branches of trade; and, when hon. Members considered the origin and the rapid growth of those trades in which they principally existed, and the large numbers of persons who were brought together in certain districts, it might be found that the workmen themselves were the first to instigate the system for their own convenience. At the present day, however, such were the facilities of trade that the wants of workmen could be easily supplied, and the time had arrived when employers ought to consider whether it would not be to their interest to abolish the truck system, with a view to establishing a better understanding than now existed between themselves and those whom they employed. He doubted whether the evil was so widely spread as had been represented, for if it was he wondered that such abuses could have arisen without meeting with resistance from workmen, who, according to the statements which had been made, would seem to be mere serfs and bondsmen. They had, however, entered into combinations to control the rate of wages, and in the West of Scotland almost every newspaper contained some report of meetings of thousands of workmen, who passed resolutions in the open day; and it was, therefore, impossible to deny that a spirit of independence prevailed among those workmen, which might be brought to bear upon the abuses of which there was probably some reason to complain. Another reason why an inquiry should be instituted was that it might lead to some practical suggestion whereby the abuses might be remedied, because no former inquiry had resulted in anything that was worthy the consideration of the House. He did not deprecate inquiry, but wished to point out that the difficulties of the case were so great that the House might feel some difficulty in coping with them; and he looked to the growth of intelligence and independence among the working men rather than to legislation.

said, it was impossible to have listened to the very able speech of his hon. Friend who had introduced this subject without perceiving that a great evil existed, and he feared that it was of such a character that some time would elapse before the Legislature could extirpate it. The truck system had long occupied the attention of Parliament. He had himself taken part in several inquiries into the subject, and was most anxious to meet the wishes of his Friend and to satisfy the yearnings of the working people that so iniquitous a system should be put an end to. But although the Government would give every facility for an inquiry, he agreed with his hon. Friend the Member for Lanarkshire (Sir Edward Colebrooke) that the only effectual remedy was rather a moral than a legal one, and must arise from a sense on the part of employers of their duties towards their workmen. He had frequently had occasion to consider the Truck Acts, and it certainly appeared to him to have been framed with remarkable skill. Indeed, he could hardly conceive how, if cases were brought before the magistrates, the Acts could be successfully evaded by methods like those described by his hon. Friend. The systems of payment which his hon. Friend mentioned were perfectly familiar to those who had inquired into the subject during the last 20 years. Nearly 20 years had elapsed since Mr. Tremenheere and Mr. Hill Burton inquired into the operation of the truck system in England and Scotland, and their description of its evils were as graphic as any which had been given in the present debate. The difficulty of finding a remedy was caused not so much by the defects of the present law as by the absence of combination and energy on the part of the working men themselves in applying it. As an illustration of this he would mention a case which occurred in a part of Wales where the truck system once flourished, and he might, in passing, remark that the truck system was gradually disappearing in Wales, instead of increasing, as had been asserted in the course of the present debate. Forty summonses were taken out against an ironmaster for carrying on the truck system, and it was proved that money was paid to the men on condition of its being taken to a certain store to be spent. There was no visible connection between the iron-master and the keeper of the store; but nevertheless the magistrates were satisfied that the defence set up was merely a colourable one, and they accordingly convicted the ironmaster. The remaining 39 prosecutions were dropped. In a short time the system flourished with as much vigour as ever, and yet, strange to say, no fresh attempt was made to enforce the Acts. He believed, however, that other convictions might have been made if prosecutions had been instituted. On the occasion to which he had just referred the decision of the magistrates was questioned, and an action brought by the employer for the price of the goods supplied to the workmen; but the County Court Judge who tried the case, held that the goods had been supplied in defiance of the Truck Acts, and that the employer was not entitled to recover. He was really at a loss to understand why the working people had been so deficient in energy and combination. If they had displayed half the vigour and determination to put down this system as they had done with regard to the number of bricks to be carried and the stone to be cut in a quarry, and in promoting other favourite schemes of theirs, the evil could not have existed up to the present time. His hon. Friend had asserted that the evil was very widespread, and that it was increasing both in intensity and in the area it occupied. He might remark, however, that the statements made this evening were precisely similar to those which led to the inquiry some 20 years ago. It was then asserted as now, that almost the whole of the wages of the men passed through the stores, and that the real remedy for the evil was to insist on short payments.

remarked that he did not say the evil was increasing in England. He only said it was increasing in Scotland.

said, it certainly was not increasing in England or in Wales. The present statements being precisely similar to those made 20 years ago, he wished to draw the attention of the House to some of the results of Mr. Tremenheere's inquiry. That gentleman found that in a district where the truck system most extensively prevailed, out of £152,000 due for wages, only £26,000 went through the stores; and, with regard to another district, he ascertained that, out of £250,000 paid in wages, only £30,000 passed through the stores. He had read the statement made by the Commissioners in The Glasgow Daily Mail on the subject of the system in Scotland, and he should be very glad to furnish means of testing the accuracy of those statements. At the same time, he thought the experience of former times ought to induce hon. Members to suspend their judgment until it was clearly proved that the evil was really as great as had been described. The Committee of 1854 took into consideration the Bill which had been introduced by his hon. Friend the Member for Walsall (Mr. C. Forster), who devised two methods for improving the existing legislation, neither of which were adopted. His hon. Friend first of all proposed that no shop should ever be opened on the promises of an employer of labour; but that was deemed too stringent a provision. The other remedy proposed was that the mere fact of an employer having sold goods to a labourer should be regarded as an offence against the law, without any inquiry being made as to whether the goods were received in lieu of wages or not. This was also thought too severe. The only remedy which had not yet been tried, and which, in his judgment, might to a certain extent prove efficacious, was to increase the penalties for breaking the law. He freely admitted that an evil existed, and that a remedy ought, if possible, to be applied. Her Majesty's Government were quite willing to enable his hon. Friend to attain the object he had in view; and they would, therefore, not object to adopt his Resolution, with some slight alteration. He hoped that, instead of asking for the appointment of a Royal Commission, his hon. Friend would withdraw his Resolution on the understanding that the Government would carry on the inquiry in the manner most calculated to produce the desired result; or, if he would move an Address to Her Majesty to cause the inquiry to be so carried on as to produce such a result, the Government would offer no opposition to the Motion. In conclusion, he might remark that Her Majesty's Government were most anxious to put a stop to this truck system, which was so pernicious to the working classes.

said, he could not help fearing, from what they had just heard from the right hon. Gentleman, that, as far as the Government was concerned, nothing woxild be done in the matter during the present Session or the approaching Recess. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department was evidently impressed by what the hon. Baronet the Member for Lanarkshire (Sir Edward Colebrooke) had said, who undoubtedly spoke with a weight which commanded the attention of the House. It must be remembered, however, that the chief evils complained of were to be found in the county which the hon. Gentleman represented, and he naturally would desire to give the most favourable account of them. The couleur do rose view of the question taken by the hon. Baronet would not, however, satisfy him (Mr. C. Dalrymple). It was not in Scotland that these evils exclusively existed. During the Easter Recess, in company with an hon. Friend opposite, he had had the opportunity of judging of the so-called evasions of the Truck Acts in what was called the Black Country, and he could testify to the fact that they were systematically carried on there. After quoting from the Report of the Commissioners of the North British Daily Mail, it might be said—How could the people object to such a system when they did not themselves complain of it? Now he was informed upon good authority that there was a good deal of terrorism existing in reference to this subject in the districts where the system was practised, and that consequently the working men had not really the power of appealing against it. There was no doubt that the system did not work to the advantage of the workmen, because the owners of those shops obtained enormous profits, and gave the people very inferior articles. Those who had preceded him had dwelt so fully upon the mischievous effects of the truck system, that it was scarcely necessary to enlarge upon the aggravated evil of having liquor stores close to the places of labour, where gin and whiskey were sold to the men, who were obliged to drink in order to get their money's worth. He did not exaggerate—he could be corrected if he did—when he said that matters were so arranged that in order to get the value of their money the men were forced to drink at the store, else they would never even handle the money which had been earned by the sweat of their brows. Long payments of wages had much to answer for in this matter, because they necessarily occasioned the credit system with all its consequences. In the Black Country the system of weekly payments was practised, but he thought that daily payments, such as had been tried in some of the best of the Scotch ironworks, the Messrs. Baird's especially, might be adopted with the most beneficial results. Although he was afraid the Government would not take any action in the matter in the present Session, he hoped that the debate which had taken place would lead, in no long time, to the complete disclosure and to the ultimate removal of the evils of the truck system.

trusted that the inference drawn by the hon. Member who had just sat down from the statement of the Secretary of State was not a correct one, and that the Government would move in this matter without much delay. It would, in his opinion, be a great benefit to the country if this stigma were removed from the character of the employers who were charged with practising this disgraceful system. Although he lived in a district in which this evil existed, and was an employer of labour, he had heard very little about the truck system until about three or four years ago.

said, he had never heard a case of the evasion of the Truck Acts in the district which he represented; but if there were evasions in other parts of the country, he should like to see an inquiry instituted. There was nothing more iniquitous in practice than the systematic evasion of these Acts. He thought that the evasions of the Truck Acts in Scotland were more of an indirect than of a direct character, but opportunities ought to be given for adducing evidence, if any could be brought forward. The object of any inquiry ought to be to furnish ground for legislation; but in the absence of that evidence, he hoped the House would not hastily seek to apply a remedy.

remarked, that whatever was done, he hoped the Home Secretary would not employ Commissioners to go about the country, who would be likely to employ themselves in collecting evidence to support a foregone conclusion. As a rule, there was no injury whatever in the truck system that the workmen were not able to rectify for themselves. It was not the workmen who objected to these practices, it was simply the family of small shopkeepers, who, with a design to further their own interest, sought to excite a feeling of dissatisfaction between the masters and the workmen. Where this system prevailed the workmen found benefit in other ways. He trusted that the Home Secretary would not allow himself to be influenced by arguments which applied only to one side of the question.

said, that much disappointment was felt in Scotland at the fact that, after the promise made by the Government on a former occasion, no proceedings had been taken by the Lord Advocate and the Government with the view of putting an end to a system so generally and so justly condemned. He believed that a strict enforcement of the existing law would go far to prevent an evasion of the Truck Acts. In the part of the country which he had the honour to represent there was no truck, and a daily advance of wages without poundage was the general rule. He hoped the Government would accede to the proposal of the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) and have a rigid inquiry instituted.

, in reply, said he accepted the offer of his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, on the understanding that the inquiry would be conducted in such a manner as would make it effectual. His desire was that the facts should be fully and fairly brought out. His own impression, was that it would be impossible by moral remedies to meet the difficulty. He was surprised to hear the Home Secretary say that if the men would combine effectually they could get rid of the truck system, and it was strange that men should be advised to enter into combinations and to adopt all the requirements of strikes in order to enforce the law.

begged his hon. Friend's pardon. He had said nothing about combining to strike. What he had referred to was combination to prosecute.

remarked that he had seen this tried again and again, and the result was that by spending £15 or £20 they might succeed in inflicting a £5 penalty; but so long as the gains were so large and the risk so small, all that the workmen could do would not be sufficient to enforce the observance of tho law. What he desired was such an inquiry as would show the collusion which existed between the storekeeper and the employer, and he should be very glad if there were power to examine upon oath and to call for books and papers, for the parties, since exposure had taken place, were buying and selling in other names.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Public Service—(Competition)

Motion For Papers

, in rising to move for Copies of any Treasury Minute that may have been passed on the subject of first appointments to the subordinate offices in the Public Service by unrestricted competition; and, of any Correspondence that may have taken place thereon between the Treasury and the Heads of the other Departments, said, that he was informed that the Government did not intend to assent to the Motion, and, therefore, he hoped that he might be allowed to make a short explanation of the reasons for asking for these Papers. Very early in the Session the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett) moved a Resolution in favour of unrestricted competition, but withdrew it upon an assurance from the head of the Government that the subject was under consideration, and that it was hoped that soon a plan for unrestricted competition would be adopted. In February the Home Secretary, when asked for the Papers, had said that he would give the House the best information when the correspondence was in a more advanced state. On the 4th of June an Order in Council was issued, which partially established the system of unrestricted competition for appointments in the public service. It might be said, therefore, that it was now too late to ask for a correspondence on the subject. He did not think so; because the House had a right to be informed of the proceedings of the different Departments of the Government in relation to a matter of this kind. The change which had been adopted by the Government in that matter was more nominal than real. On the 4th of June an Order in Council was passed, by which situations in the public service after the 31st of August next were to be given by unrestricted competition with certain exceptions. Schedule A of the Order in Council contained all the offices which were to be open to unrestricted competition, and Schedule B contained all those excepted from its operation. The 7th section of the Order in Council was to this effect—

"In case the chief of a department to which a situation belongs and the Lords of the Treasury shall consider that the qualifications in respect of knowledge and ability deemed requisite for such situation are wholly or in part professional, or otherwise peculiar, and not ordinarily to be acquired in the Civil Service, and the said chief of the department shall propose to appoint thereto a person who has acquired such qualifications in other pursuits, or in case the said chief of the department and the Lords of the Treasury shall consider that, either for the purpose of facilitating transfers from the Redundant List, or for other reasons, it would be for the public interest that examination should be wholly or partially dispensed with, the Civil Service Commissioners may dispense with examination, wholly or partially, and may grant their certificate of qualification upon evidence satisfactory to them that the said person possesses the requisite knowledge and ability, and is duly qualified in respect of age, health, and character."
That section gave such large powers to the heads of Departments and the Lords of the Treasury that in conjunction they could appoint anyone to an office in Schedule A without any examination whatever. Nor was that all; for by section 8 of the same Order in Council power was reserved to the chiefs of Departments, with the concurrence of the Lords of the Treasury, to add situations to or withdraw situations from either of the Schedules A and B, so that they might undo all that had been done by the Order in Council. The hon. Member for Brighton had dwelt upon the evil effects of giving situations in the public service upon the recommendation of Members of that House; but another species of patronage of a not less prejudicial character would still be left in full force—namely, the appointments which might be made under the 7th section of the Order in Council that he had quoted, and which the Government might confer on their friends. There were two kinds of strength possessed by Governments. The first was that which they derived from possessing the confidence of the country, and which enabled them to carry out great measures that were understood and resolved upon by the country. The other was that which they had heretofore derived from official patronage—a very mischievous source of support, as he conceived, and one which he desired to see rapidly diminished, and ultimately extinguished. When the House was told not many days since that its Address, if carried, was not worth more than the paper it was written upon, it would do well to inquire whether the power of the Government had not increased, was not increasing, and ought not to be diminished. The hon. Member concluded by moving his Motion.

Motion made, and Question proposed,

"That there be laid before this House, Copies of any Treasury Minute that may have been passed on the subject of first appointments to the subordinate offices in the Public Service by unrestricted competition:
"And, of any Correspondence that may have taken place thereon between the Treasury and the Heads of the other Departments."—(Mr. Sinclair Aytoun.)

regretted to find that his hon. Friend was of opinion that the Order in Council on the subject of open competition was not worth the paper on which it was written. He doubted very much whether the House would agree with his hon. Friend in that opinion. As far as he could judge, he believed that the House, on the contrary, had shown an appreciation of that Order in Council and of the motives which influenced the Government in putting it before the public. The views of the Government were stated to the House by his right hon. Friend at the head of the Government, and the House was able to judge of those views and also of the sincerity of the Government in endeavouring to carry them out; and he ventured to think that Order in Council showed very considerable and reliable evidence of the sincere opinions of the Government in favour of the principle of open competition, and their desire to apply it as far as practicable. His right hon. Friend, in answering a Question put some time ago on the subject, stated that the correspondence which had passed between the Treasury and the other public Departments had been of a confidential nature; and the House would understand that if it had not been of a confidential nature, its very object probably would have failed. The Government approved the principle of open competition; but the method of bringing about its acceptance and adoption which they pursued was to invite a confidential expression of the opinions of the various heads of Departments, and under those circumstances it was impossible for them to produce the correspondence, which had been invited in confidence. The result, however, of the correspondence was before the public in the shape of the Order in Council to which his hon. Friend had referred. He would not now occupy the time of the House in discussing the Order in Council, which, however, the Government would be ready to discuss whenever his hon. Friend called the attention of the House specifically to it. The present Motion asked for the production of the Treasury Minute; but there was no Treasury Minute to produce. There was a Treasury Circular addressed to the various heads of Departments, asking them to enter into confidential communication, as he had stated, with the Treasury as to the method in and the degree to which the principle of open competition could be applied.

said, that having originally brought forward that question, he could not but feel extremely pleased that the Government had gone as far as they had done in the matter. He could only wish that their scheme had been somewhat more complete. It certainly seemed to him—and perhaps they would be able to judge better after they had had more experience—that too great a power had been reserved to the heads of Departments in regard to appointments in the Civil Service without examination. He must say that of the two he preferred the modern system of competition. What he objected to in the scheme was that officers in the Foreign and Home Departments were excepted from the Order in Council.

said, they had consulted every head of a Department on the subject, taken his opinion, and acted upon it. The heads of the Home Office and of the Foreign Office thought it would be better the system should not be extended to them. To that they saw no objection, because the great mass of the Civil Service were willing to come in. The matter was in the nature of an experiment, and they felt that if the proceeding were to succeed, it was better it should do so with the consent of all concerned than to force it violently on unwilling persons, who were responsible for the conduct of the Departments, merely because his right hon. Friend and himself happened to be entirely in favour of it. The thing would be very shortly tested, and then it would be seen whether it could be safely extended. The House would observe that the 7th section only extended the system to first appointments. They did not maintain that promotion after the first appointments, or to what were called Staff appointments should be dependent on competition. He was certain that nothing was so likely to injure the plan as to attempt to force matters. They could not decide in every case by competition who were best fitted for a particular service. When they came to select persons of particular qualification—lawyers, for example — the best way to do so would not be by competition. A much better way would be to look about for persons who had proved themselves to be able lawyers and to take them. Competition, after all afforded but an erring standard. It was only the best expedient among many. If heads of Departments were free from all possible influences, and could give their minds wholly to see who were the fittest persons, they might do better than by examination; but being frail they might be mistaken, and, therefore, it was thought better to introduce the competitive system. But that did not apply to Staff appointments. As to the 8th section, much the same might be said. It was quite posssible mistakes might be made in the first instance, and that officers might be put under competition which it would be better to withdraw. Of course, whether the thing would be thought to work well or not would depend not upon the heads of Departments or the Treasury, but upon the public opinion of the country, and if public opinion ratified the experiment it would be perfectly impossible for anyone to enforce this section in such a way as to throw the system back. He hoped, therefore, the House would believe that the hon. Gentleman, he was sure most unwittingly, had exaggerated the matter when he said that these clauses were so great a dereliction from principle that they would entirely defeat the object in view.

wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary why he was opposed to the principle of open competition? However, as the right hon. Gentleman was not in his place, he would put the question another day. He must say that the answer of the Chhancellor of the Exchequer had only confirmed him in his suspicions.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Telegraphic Communication (England And Ireland)


, in rising to call attention to the unsatisfactory state of the Telegraphic communication between England and Ireland, and especially between London and Dublin; and to move a Resolution, said, that great dissatisfaction on this subject prevailed in Ireland, and referred to meetings which had been held in Dublin to give expression to that feeling. Dublin was the only place in the United Kingdom, except London, which had an independent Stock Exchange, at which the public funds were registered and transferred; and it was of very great importance that there should be perfect telegraphic communication between the two places, so that the price of the funds in both might be identical. Formerly, the telegraphic communication between London and Dublin was almost instantaneous, and brokers in Dublin were in the habit of getting business transacted in London for their clients, which they could do by means of the telegraph, on the same day. But since the telegraphs had come into the hands of the Government there had been such delays that business of that kind could not be transacted with certainty, and the brokers lost their profits. The members of the Dublin Stock Exchange were much dissatisfied with this, and they had forwarded to him (Mr. Pim) a copy of a resolution adopted at a meeting of their body, in which they said they could no longer refrain from expressing their strong disapprobation of the utterly inefficient manner in which the telegraphic communication between England and Leland had been carried on since the transfer of the telegraphs to the Government. Several cases of very unusual delay had been reported to him, as, for instance, a message sent from Dublin to Liverpool at 12 o'clock on the 20th of June, but which was not delivered till the morning of the 21st. It had long been the practice for the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company to send messages from Dublin to Holyhead, stating the number of passengers who were crossing in the steam boats, in order that the requisite number of carriages might be prepared for them in the train at Holyhead. But since the telegraphic service had been in the hands of the Government, the superintendent of the Holyhead station said the messages were of no use, for they seldom arrived in less than six hours, whereas the boats accomplished the voyage in four. He had never known in Dublin so strong a feeling of disappointment, and annoyance as on this matter, and he had, therefore, thought it his duty to call the attention of the House to the subject. It was said in Dublin that all this was done on purpose to disgust the Irish people with the idea of Government management not only in the matter of the telegraphs, but still more with reference to the railways, the purchase of which had been so strongly pressed on the Government by many people in Ireland. There were only two telegraphic cables between Great Britain and Ireland, containing altogether 11 wires. Both these had lately been out of order, though not both at the same time. He understood that it was proposed to lay down another cable, containing seven wires, between Liverpool and Howth, so that there would then be 18; but he asked if that was enough, considering that the telegraph to America went from Ireland. This was a grievance that ought to be immediately redressed—it was a question deeply interesting, not only to the Irish people, but to the people of Great Britain, and the Government ought at once to take it in hand. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving his Resolution.

, in seconding the Motion, said, he had received many representations from his constituents as to the present imperfect state of telegraphic communication, especially with Ireland, and assured the Postmaster General that there was a feeling on the part of the community that this communication was not what they had a right to expect. With every wish to make allowance for the difficulties of the Department, he hoped some improvement would soon be made in the service. The real reason for the bad service was probably that the Post Office was trying to carry on an extended service at too low rates, and that the rates should have been lowered more gradually. In his own experience he sent a message to Liverpool at 11 in the forenoon, and he did not get an answer till half-past 3 in the afternoon, and on the same day he received at 3 a message from Bombay which had left at 4 on that afternoon. Of course, the difference in latitude made the difference in time; but it was monstrous that so long a time should be consumed between London and Liverpool. There were minor reasons why the delivery in London was not so satisfactory now as it formerly was. The boys in the service of the companies used to be sent out with messages one by one as they arrived, and each boy received 1d. for each message he delivered. In this way, the boys were interested in the prompt delivery of the messages, and they earned their pennies as quickly as possible and returned to the offices in the hope of earning others. But now not only was the system altered and the stimulating penny withheld, but the boys were kept at the offices until they could be sent out with several messages at a time. Again, each company had its own offices, and there were four in Mincing Lane; now the offices were consolidated, and sometimes there were so many people at one office waiting to give in messages that the crush was like that at the door of a theatre on a benefit night. These were two sources of dissatisfaction which might be remedied by a little more liberality of expenditure.

Motion made, and Question proposed,

"That it is of great importance to maintain uninterrupted Telegraphic Communication between Great Britain and Ireland; and, therefore, inasmuch as Submarine Telegraphic Wires are very liable to accident, and cannot be repaired as readily as those on land, it is necessary, in order to guard against interruption and delay, to lay down additional Submarine Cables sufficient to maintain the communication unimpaired under all circumstances which can reasonably be anticipated."—(Mr. Pim.)

admitted the importance of the subject, and said it was quite unnecessary for the hon. Member for Dublin (Mr. Pim) to tell him that it had created great excitement in that city. With respect to the meeting of the Chamber of Commerce of Dublin, the proceedings thereat were characteristic of the country, for care was taken to pass the general resolution which had been read before the meeting had heard the explanations of the gentlemen deputed to represent the Department, and some of the speakers exhibited a very considerable turn for that which had been called on the other side of the House one of the principal ornaments of debate—namely, a considerable knowledge of invective. One of them spoke of the impudent Postmaster General humbugging them, and said they did not want his law, but justice; and the only foundation for these remarks was this—that when he was asked a question as to legal liability, he expressed an opinion which was not exactly in accordance with that of the hon. Member who put it, advising the hon. Member not to take his word for it but to consult a lawyer. He was willing to admit that since the transfer of the telegraphs to the Government there had been constant, though not daily delays, which were much to be regretted; and one of the causes of them was the enormous and unexpected increase in the number of messages. Of course, it was always expected that there would be a great increase; but it was not anticipated that it would be so sudden as it had been. To show the increase, he might state that in the six working days previous to the transfer 4,791 messages were sent from Ireland to England. In six working days of April, two months after the transfer, when it was known that one of the two cables was broken, the number of messages was 12,375, being an advance in the daily average from 798 to 2,062. It was obvious that such an enormous increase of work would have overtaxed the Department under any circumstances; but the communication between England and Ireland had been interfered with twice since the transfer by the breaking of the Wexford Cable, which threw all the work on the remaining cable. But this occurred five times under the companies, who, on one occasion, took six weeks to repair the cable, while the Government had always effected the repair in five or ton days. When these breakages occurred the Department exhibited conspicuously in the offices notices printed in large type, warning persons not to send any but the most urgent messages; but these notices had not the slightest effect, the senders stating that the difficulty was not their business, and that the Department must send the messages as it best could. Under these circumstances, it was not to be wondered at that stoppages had occasionally occurred; but it was not true that these delays had been owing to the neglect of remonstrances made by Members of Parliament. On the contrary, the Department had done all in its power to remedy what was complained of. It had greatly improved the transmitting powers of the wires between London and Ireland by attaching improved instruments to them; it had also sent a large number of improved instruments to Ireland; and in all this there was no more delay than was inseparable from the manufacture of the instruments, the supply of which would be continued as long as it appeared to be necessary. With respect to the insufficiency of the cables, he had great pleasure in stating that tenders had been advertised for and received, and in a few days he should be in a position to ask the Treasury to sanction a contract for a new cable. It would have been of no use to have done this earlier, because the Department had had to provide for an enormous increase of work not only between England and Ireland, but throughout the whole United Kingdom, and it was not in possession of sufficient materials, stores, and skilled labour to do all that was wanted. It would have been of no use to lay down a cable of seven wires until additional land wires were laid down between the large towns, and the latter provision having now been made, a new cable could be turned to good account. An enormous amount of business had been thrown on the Department, and it would be admitted that it was impossible for it to undertake not only the ordinary business, but also extensions of the serious character which were suggested at the very first moment of the commencement of its duties. With regard to the memorial referred to by the hon. Member for the City of London, he frankly admitted that very great delay had constantly occurred in the transmission of messages between England and Ireland, but many of the representations on the subject were greatly exaggerated. In some instances, he believed, there had been a delay of three or four hours; but, on the whole, it had been found that in respect of messages sent before 12 o'clock the average delay was 45 minutes, and in respect of messages sent after that hour the average delay was 19 minutes. It should be remembered that many of these messages were sent to most distant towns in Ireland, and had to be retransmitted more than once. So that those delays, though serious, could not be considered to justify the very strong language which had been used with regard to them. His hon. Friend appeared to think that the delay was owing to undue economy, with the view of making the telegraphic service pay. Though, of course, it was a great object of the Department to present a good balance-sheet, still that desire had not hitherto presented obstacles to the rapid transmission of messages. So far from discharging competent clerks, as was generally supposed to be the case, the Department had omitted no effort not only to keep every efficient man and woman in its employment, but also to attract to the service efficient clerks, who had previously left it, and in London and at various provincial stations, and at Dublin, where schools were established for instruction in telegraphy, was using the best means to increase the staff at its disposal. The staff which the Department found in the employment of the telegraphic companies consisted of 2,418 clerks, and upwards of 1,400 messengers; but at the present moment the Department employed 2,935 clerks and 2,280 messengers, and those numbers did not include a large number of postmasters in the country, who were competent to undertake the duty of transmitting telegraphic messages. It was, however, admitted that the staff was not sufficient, and every effort was being made to secure a number of employés equal to the wants of the service. In reference to the complaint respecting the diminution in the number of offices, he would observe that in one or two instances the Department had consolidated offices because it was found that under the old system, when one company opened an office in any street, another company felt it necessary to open a competing office in the same street; but by the offices being now more widely separated, a greater accommodation was afforded to the public. For some cause the transfer of the telegraphs to the Government had not been satisfactory to the mercantile community, though merchants and the Stock Exchange had very little to complain of, yet he believed the public at large had gained what the mercantile community had lost. The immense increase in the number of messages showed that the service, if not all that could be desired, was a great accommodation and convenience to the public. But the Post Office would not be satisfied with quantity so long as there was a deficiency in quality; and no means would be left untried to obtain efficiency to the same degree as existed previously, or to a still greater degree. If the public would only extend patience to the Department, a very short time would elapse before they would no longer have any reason to complain.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Party Processions (Ireland) Bill

( Mr. William Johnston, Viscount Crichton, Captain Archdall)

Bill 26 Committee

Adjourned Debate

Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [21st June], "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."

Question again proposed.

Debate resumed.

said, that on behalf of the Government he was not able to support the measure, and he should, therefore, move that the House go into Committee upon it on that day three months. It would be remembered that on the second reading of the Bill he gave a conditional assent on the part of the Government to that stage of it. But he took the greatest pains to make it understood that he was about to bring in a general Bill on the subject, proposing to deal with processions of all kinds in Ireland. Since then, owing to the pressure of business, considerable delay had occurred in proceeding with that Bill, and as time went on the critical anniversary in July approached, and it had been supposed that his Bill had some special reference to the anniversary in the present July, but that was not the case. He frankly admitted that the expectations he had formed that such a measure would meet with a large amount of assent on both sides of the House had turned out not to be well-founded. The Bill introduced certainly did not find favour with those who desired to repeal the present Act, and he could not say that it found much favour in any part of the House; but, although that became evident soon after the introduction of the Bill, he yet felt bound to give the House ample opportunity of expressing its opinion upon it. He had assented conditionally to the second reading of the Bill now before the House; he had engaged to produce an alternative measure, and he had been most anxious to place it fully and fairly before the House, which he had done a few evenings ago. The result was, that many who had looked with considerable favour on a general law regulating processions so long as it was at a distance, saw it in a different light when it came near at hand; so that the proposal he made met no favour at their hands, and not only was it rejected by the Mover and Seconder of the present Bill, but it was treated very much in the same way by many other hon. Members opposite. That being the case, he felt he had done his duty. It was not a measure which it would be desirable to press forward without a very considerable amount of support from Irish Members, especially at that period of the Session. The Government, therefore, had decided to withdraw their measure. Having said this, he felt perfectly free to deal on its merits with the Bill now before the House, which sought to repeal the only statute dealing with party processions in Ireland. The Government could not consent to the repeal of that Act. They were not prepared, in the present state of Ireland, to leave the subject entirely unregulated and untouched by statute law; they were not prepared in the present condition of Ireland to do that which would appear to be a proclamation on their part that these party processions were harmless and inoffensive, and without danger to the peace and prosperity of Ireland. They were not inclined to deprive the Executive of those powers which the present Act gave, and which had always been and would continue to be used with the utmost toleration and forbearance by the Government of Ireland. At the same time, while exercising the powers given by the present law in that spirit, and prepared to use them if, unfortunately, it should be necessary on any occasion in Ireland, he must say that the Government could not bring themselves to look on a Party Processions Act as a permanent part of the legislation of the country. He earnestly trusted that would not be the case. There were, no doubt, indications in the North of Ireland that pointed both ways. He was not prepared to endorse all those roseate descriptions of the present harmony in the North of Ireland which they sometimes heard from the hon. Member for Belfast (Mr. W. Johnston). He knew too well there was much in Ireland at this moment very different from those descriptions, and, although according to the intelligence he had received, this celebrated anniversary had so far passed off tranquilly in Ulster, yet, for all that, the strange—he was going to say the scandalous — spectacle still continued, that Government at this time of day should find it necessary summer after summer to send down a large force of military and police to a flourishing, happy, and prosperous part of the country for the purpose of keeping the peace between the two religious parties there. In some parts of Ulster good influences might be used to prevent any danger on these occasions; but, as he knew, in other parts certainly a different feeling prevailed. There was reason, however, to hope that the spirit of party and religious opposition was dying away, and they need not look forward to this special statute forming a permanent part of the legislation of the country. He would venture to express his hope that all those possessing influence in Ulster would so use it year by year as to make party processions equally unknown and unnecessary. He moved that the House do go into Committee on this Bill that day three months.

Amendment proposed, to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House will, upon this day three months, resolve itself into the said Committee,"—( Mr. Chichester Fortescue,)—instead thereof.

said, this question had been so well discussed, both on the second reading and on a more recent occasion, that it was needless to spend many words upon it now. Yet, after the expression of opinion given by the House against exceptional legislation, he thought the Government would have acceded to their just request and have allowed them to go into Committee on the Bill. He would feel himself bound to oppose the Motion.

contrasted the statement made by the Chief Secretary for Ireland last year and his utterances that night. Then he said he had no particular liking for the Act which he would not now repeal, and which he described last year as introducing into the hands of a large class a sense of inequality and unfairness. It was understood at that time that a full and impartial inquiry would take place, and a Royal Commission was promised. But nothing had been done, and they were told that Government was determined not to repeal an Act which was a disgrace to the statute book, and which kept the North of Ireland in a state of slavery.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

The House divided:—Ayes 46; Noes 121: Majority 75.

Words added.

Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.

Bill put off for three months.

Irish Land Bill

LORDS AMENDMENTS further considered.

Subsequent Amendments read a second time; several agreed to; and several amended, and agreed to.

Committee appointed, "to draw up Reasons to be assigned to The Lords for disagreeing to the Amendments to which this House hath disagreed:"—Mr. GLADSTONE, Mr. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE, Mr. Secretary BRUCE, Mr. Secretary CARDWELL, Mr. SOLICITOR GENERAL for IRELAND, Mr. MONSELL, Mr. KNATCHRULL HUGESSEN, The LORD ADVOCATE, Mr. AYRTON, The JUDGE ADVOCATE, and Mr. GLYN:—To withdraw immediately; Three to be the quorum.

Reasons for disagreeing to Lords Amendments reported, and agreed to:—To be communicated to The Lords.

National Debt Bill

On Motion of Mr. STANSFELD, Bill for consolidating, with amendments, certain Enactments relating to the National Debt, ordered to be brought in by Mr. STANSFELD and Mr. CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER.

Bill presented, and read the first time. [Bill 213.]

Forgery Bill

On Motion of Mr. STANSFELD, Bill to further amend the Law relating to indictable offences by Forgery, ordered to be brought in by Mr. STANSFELD and Mr. CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER.

Bill presented, and read the first time. [Bill 214.]

Statute Law Revision Bill

On Motion of Mr. STANSFELD, Bill for further promoting the Revision of the Statute Law, by repealing certain Enactments that have ceased to be in force or are consolidated by certain Acts of the present Session, ordered to be brought in by Mr. STANSFELD and Mr. CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER.

Bill presented, and read the first time. [Bill 215.]

Factories And Workshops Bill

Select Committee nominated as follows:—Mr. AYRTON, Lord JOHN MANNERS, Mr. EDMUND POTTER, Mr. FREDERICK STANLEY, Mr. RICHARD SHAW, Mr. MELLOR, Mr. GRAHAM, Mr. E. W. VERNER, Sir DAVID SALOMONS, Mr. JOSHUA FIELDEN, Lord FREDERICK CAVENDISH, Mr. ORR EWING, Mr. MUNDELLA, and Mr. KAY-SHUTTLEWORTH:—Power to send for persons, papers, and records; Five to be the quorum.

House adjourned at Two o'clock.