House Of Commons
Friday, 19th June, 1874.
MINUTES.]—NEW WRIT ISSUED— For Galway Borough, v. Francis Hugh O'Donnell, esquire, void Election.
NEW MEMBER SWORN—Mark John Stewart, esquire, for Wigton Burghs.
PUBLIC BILLS— Ordered— First Reading—New Mint Building Site* .
Committee—Valuation of Property * —R.P.; Intoxicating Liquors (Ireland) (No. 2)* —R.P.
Committee— Report—Juries (Ireland) * ; Working Men's Dwellings* ; Public Health (Ireland)* [53–161]; Municipal Privileges (Ireland) ( re-comm.) * ; Drainage and Improvement of Lands (Ireland) Act (1863) Amendment* .
Considered as amended—Intoxicating Liquors * [139–160].
Third Reading—Drainage and Improvement of Lands (Ireland) Provisional Order* ; Building Societies* ; Conjugal Rights (Scotland) Act Amendment* , and passed.
The House met at Two of the clock.
Ireland—The Irish Magistracy—Riot At Kilrea—County Derry
asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland, If it be the fact that it has transpired at the magisterial inquiry now being held at Kilrea, in the county of Derry, that in consequence of the three Stipendiary Magistrates who, with 110 extra police, were sent to Kilrea to preserve the peace on last Patrick's Day not having received any legal education, and not being aware of the powers placed in their hands by the law, a riot was permitted in which several persons were wounded; and, whether he is prepared to take any steps to provide that in future no person should be appointed as resident magistrate who should not have received a legal education?
, in reply, said, that he was not aware that in consequence of three stipendiary magistrates of Derry not having received any legal education, any of the consequences referred to in the Question of the hon. Member had occurred. On the contrary, he believed that the magistrates who had been sent there to preserve the peace on St. Patrick's Day had done their duty well, so far as they were able, under very difficult circumstances, and the persons who were engaged in a serious riot on that occasion had been sent for trial at the next Assizes. As regarded the second part of the Question, he could not quite clearly define what the hon. Gentleman understood by legal education; but, as a matter of course, persons appointed as stipendiary magistrates should have some knowledge of the law.
General Post Office—Savings Bank Department—Question
asked the Postmaster General, What Reports, if any, have been made by Her Majesty's Board of Works respecting the condition and danger from fire of the premises in St. Paul's Churchyard and Carter Lane occupied by the Savings Bank Department (General Post Office); and, whether and when it is intended to provide a suitable building for the Department in question?
, in reply, said, that no Report on the subject had yet been received from the Office of Works, but their attention had been called to the advisability of protecting the office from the danger of fire. The construction of suitable new buildings for the Department was in contemplation, and inquiries had been set on foot with the view of ascertaining what kind of building would be the most convenient and the safest for the purpose.
Customs—Promotion Of Officers
asked the Secretary to the Treasury, Whether a competitive examination is now held in every case to determine promotions of officers in Her Majesty's Customs; and, whether any consideration other than the proficiency exhibited at such examination is regarded in granting such promotion?
, in reply, said, that a competitive examination was not held in every case to determine promotion of officers in Her Majesty's Customs, for some of them were ruled by seniority combined with efficiency and good conduct; but one-half of the vacancies in London and the outports were filled up by competition amongst officers of good conduct who had served five years or upwards. Promotions which took place as the result of competitive examination were governed strictly by efficiency and the position attained by the officers in the examinations, which included both education and practical knowledge of their duties, 2,000 marks being given to the former, and 3,000 to the latter.
Ireland—Derry Celebration—Costs Of Colonel Hillier
asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland, Whether any actions against a Deputy Inspector General of the Royal Irish Constabulary for illegal arrests were compromised; if so, on what date the last action was so arranged; on what date the distinction of C.B. was conferred on this officer; by whom recommended to it; and if by more than one person, their several names?
, in reply, said, that was the third time that the hon. and gallant Member had asked him that Question. There was no official information in the Irish Office which would show whether any actions against Colonel Hillier in 1870 had been compromised. That officer, as he had already informed the hon. and gallant Member, was made a Companion of the Bath on the 24th of February, 1874, and he presumed that he was recommended for that distinction in the ordinary way by the late Government.
States Of The Plate—The Argentine Republic And Brazil
asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to offer their good offices at Buenos Ayres and Rio Janeiro for an amicable settlement of the differences between the Argentine Republic and Brazil, and for the maintenance of friendship and tranquillity among the States of the Plate?
, in reply, said, that up to the present time no application had been made by the Governments of either the Argentine Republic or Brazil to Her Majesty's Government to mediate between them; but if they were invited to mediate between those two Powers, and if circumstances showed that their mediation would be acceptable to both of those Powers, there would be no objection on the part of Her Majesty's Government to use their good offices in the interest of peace.
Constabulary Force (Ireland)—County Of Wicklow
asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland, Whether his attention has been called to the fact that for some years past the County of Wicklow has been required to pay half the cost of an extra Constabulary Force, when in point of fact there was no such extra force acting for the County; whether the grand jury were not compelled to present for seventeen men for the quarter ending 30th September 1873, when there were considerably less men than the free Parliamentary quota, and that, too, after frequent remonstrances on the subject by the grand jury, and after the withdrawal by the Magistrates—specially assembled in April 1873 to consider the matter—of all authority for an extra force; whether he is aware that the Law Officers of the Crown advised the late Government that the charge for an extra force was not legally sustainable, and that the late Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in the beginning of this year communicated to the Lieutenant of the County, acting on behalf of the Magistrates and the Grand Jury, that the charge would not be again made; and, whether, under these circumstances, it is the intention of the Government to continue to claim from the ratepayers of Wicklow for the cost of an extra force which it has not?
, in reply, said, that it was not within the limits of an Answer to a Question to give a full explanation of the matter referred to; but he believed that the County of Wicklow had for some years past enjoyed a reduction in the cost of the Constabulary similar to the rest of the Counties of Ireland, in proportion to the number of its force actually serving as compared with the proper Parliamentary quota. In addition to the actual force there had been extra constables stationed in the county, for which the usual charge had been made and it would have been unfair to the other counties, if it had not. The Grand Jury, under these circumstances, were compelled to "present" for an extra force. The magistrates seemed to have recalled their consent to the withdrawal of the extra force, by declining to con-sent to a reduction of the number of stations that would be the necessary consequence of such withdrawal. He was not aware whether the Law Officers of the Government had given any opinion to the late Lord Lieutenant on the subject, nor did he find any official traces of correspondence between the Lord Lieutenant and the Lieutenant of the County of Wicklow. He would, however, look into the matter, and if there was any legal difficulty he would refer the right hon. Gentleman in the ordinary way to the Law Officers of the Crown.
Factory And Workshop Acts—Consolidation—Question
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether, with reference to the statement made by him as to the desirability of extending the application of the Factories (Health of Women, &c.) Bill to other manufactures, and of consolidating the Factory and Workshop Acts, it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to ask this House to sanction the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into and report upon the subject, with the view to legislation during the next Session?
, in reply, said, that he said the other day it was his wish to consolidate all the Factory Laws; but it was a question of some difficulty as well as of some importance. For that reason he thought it would be better to appoint a Committee to inquire and report upon the whole subject as soon as possible, with a view to legislation on the subject. He might say as well that the inquiry would embrace the question of extending the Factories Act to other manufactures than textile ones.
asked the Secretary of State for War, If he will furnish a Return of each Militia Regiment which is or has been called out for training this year, showing the numbers who marched into quarters, who were discharged as permanently or temporarily unfit, or were in custody or absent with or without leave, and those who have been re-enrolled this year?
Yes, Sir, if my hon. Friend will move for those Returns, they shall be furnished.
The Mint—New Silver Coin
asked Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Whether any silver coins other than florins are being cast at the Mint; and, if so, when an issue of shillings and sixpences may be expected?
, in reply, said, that the coins being now principally cast at the Mint were half-crowns. Coin was issued from the Mint through the Bank of England, and the Bank had an ample supply of shillings and sixpences. If a demand for these coins arose, it would be at once met; but at present, as he was informed, it had not occurred.
College Of Physicians (Ireland)
asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland, Whether the Irish Law Officers have as yet reported on the Memorial of the King's and Queen's College of Physicians in Ireland, praying for a supplemental Charter; and, whether he will lay their Report before this House, so as to give sufficient time for investigation and discussion before any new Charter is granted?
, in reply, said, he had not yet received the Report, but he hoped he should do so in a few days. It was not possible for him at that moment to promise whether he would lay it on the Table of the House; but if he could not do so, he would be glad to give all the information in his power on the subject.
asked the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government, Whether it is intended to continue the Morning Sittings on Tuesdays and Fridays until the end of the Session?
Sir, the question of Morning Sittings will depend upon the course and state of the Public Business. I should be sorry to lay down any fixed rule on the subject.
Parliament—Galway New Writ
Motion made, and Question proposed,
"That Mr. Speaker do issue his Warrant to the Clerk of the Crown in Ireland to make out a New Writ for the electing of a Member to serve in this present Parliament for the Borough of Galway, in the room of Francis Hugh O'Donnell, esquire, whose Election has been determined to he void."—(Mr. O'Shaughnessy.)
Certificate and Reports from the Judge selected for the Trial of Election Petitions pursuant to the Parliamentary Elections Act, 1868, relating to the Election for the Borough of Galway read.—(Mr. Conolly.)
, in rising to move, as an Amendment, to leave out from the word "That," to the end of the Question, in order to add the words—
said, the late Mr. Thackeray was a person whose advice was as much honoured by his friends as his works were appreciated by the British nation, and on one occasion a young lady asked him what would be the most suitable gift for her to present to a friend who was about to be married. Mr. Thackeray returned as answer—" My dear young lady, others will present objects of richness and luxury. I advise you to present to these people a most useful article of household economy—a filter." Well, that House had long listened to the able and eloquent orations of the late Mr. Henry Berkeley on the subject of the Ballot, and at length, after very much hesitation, presented to the electoral system of the country a filter, in the shape of the Ballot Act. He was happy to say that Act had been a great success not only in England and Scotland, but also in Ireland, where its success was most to be doubted. He (Mr. Conolty) would, however, now tell the House that his duty was to represent that its action was now called for to fill up that which was still wanting in the Ballot Act in Ireland—namely, to second the efforts of the Judges appointed to try Election Petitions, and the provisions of the Ballot Act itself, by putting a stigma on, and a stop to a new system that had arisen—namely, priestly intimidation. In ancient times—that was, 20 years ago, the borough of Galway was notorious for its monetary corruption, when some voters would sometimes receive £2 10s., others £5, and some of the ancient guilds refused to accept any amount under a £10 note. These sums of money were unblushingly given and accepted. From 1852 to the present time corruption was the rule in the borough of Galway. He would begin with 1866. In that year an Election Committee reported that it had reason to believe corrupt practices prevailed, and in 1867 the sitting Member was declared guilty of bribery. A joint Address of both Houses of Parliament, praying for a Royal Commission to inquire into the corruption of the borough, was passed in 1857, and that Commission reported that from 1852, and anterior to that period, bribery and corruption extensively prevailed in the borough of Galway, though in a number of cases it was proved satisfactorily that the candidates had not been personally engaged in bribing and corrupting the voters. Before taking any steps with reference to this matter, he put himself in communication with the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland, who was by no means favourable to the course he proposed to take. The right hon. and learned Gentleman said—"Oh, no! This proceeding which you propose to take is quite wrong; you cannot disfranchise an important borough like Galway without first having an inquiry by a Royal Commission." His contention was, that there had already been a Royal Commission and Election Committees innumerable, all of which had reported the existence of extensive corruption. Further than that, no man knew better than the Attorney General himself, the existence of corruption through all the ramifications of the body corporate of Galway, and therefore it was not right that the right hon. and learned Gentleman should attempt to deal with the question by means of a transparent put-off. That sort of thing might do in a law Court, but it would not do in the House of Commons. Though the gross form of monetary corruption no longer existed, there remained among the electors of Galway a large proportion of illiterate voters who were peculiarly exposed to the manipulation or the verbal appeals of their priests and their Bishop, and there could be no doubt that that manipulation had been used to good effect in this case as far as those priests were concerned. In fact, they had been condemned by name by the learned Judge who tried the Petition, and who exercised the greatest forbearance in not including in his condemnation the most rev. Dr. M'Evilly, the Bishop of Galway. Let the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General read the evidence himself, and he would find that the margin which separated the Bishop from complicity in the acts of priests living with him in the College of Galway, one of them being his own Vicar General, was very narrow indeed. But before addressing himself further to this subject he must make his position clear to the House, and not only to the House, but to Ireland. He wished to say that he would be the last one to point his finger against any ecclesiastic, and more especially one of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland; for he knew that if that country was a beautiful and wonderful exception to many of the vices which affected other countries, it was entirely owing to the action of the Roman Catholic clergy. Nor could he forgot, that if that loathsome monster of Communism which had defaced one of the fairest kingdoms of the earth, could find no resting place on the green hills of Ireland. That also was entirely due to the untiring efforts of the Catholic clergy in educating the youth of Ireland in the paths of morality. He, however, was bound, when speaking of the priestly intimidation which was now on its trial, to say that he held the Bishop of Galway to be entirely answerable for the conduct of his clergy in connection with the last election, fie wished it also to be understood that he had the greatest possible belief in the organization of the Roman Catholic Church, and he only wished there existed as effectual and useful an organization in the Protestant Church. But on that occasion there was evidence of a most complete description, which brought in the rev, Dr. M'Evilly as not only an accomplice, but as an absolute principal in all those transactions. He did not hold the humbler ecclesiastics as being so chargeable with the recent malpractices at Galway as their Bishop, Dr. M'Evilly, who was at the time suffering under the censure of an Election Judge for previous conduct of the same character at the election for the county of Galway. Although the famous judgment of Mr. Justice Keogh had been most unfairly misrepresented in Ireland, every humble voter in that country ought to venerate the name of that learned Judge, and have it written on the walls of his dwelling in letters of gold, as that of the first man who had vindicated his independence from that priestly oppression which had become so galling that the greater part of the Irish people had risen in their might against it. He found the peasantry of Limerick returning an independent advocate of tenant-right—whom he had the happiness to see opposite—in defiance of the wish of their own ecclesiastics, and hurling from the hustings the man whom it had been sought to impose on them. Associated with Dr. M'Evilly in the judgment of Mr. Justice Keogh was no less a person than Dr. M'Hale, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Tuam, an ecclesiastic who had ruled the West in the spirit of St. Boniface, and what had been the result in Mayo? Why, the return the other day of the independent Representative of that county, the electors having shaken off that loathsome priestly domination. Never was there such exultation in Castlebar as when the hon. Gentleman the Member for Mayo, who had lately taken his seat here, was returned against the power, and in opposition to the candidate, of St. Jarlath's, as never before had the shout of freedom been heard in Mayo. The consequence had been that the priests, who before were attached to that fallacy, as he must call it, of "Home Rule," had now separated themselves in a body from it. If the people of the West were relieved from the heavy yoke of their ecclesiastics by the sacrifice of the town of Galway, they would have obtained their liberty at a cheap rate. A Commission had formerly reported upon the electoral corruption of that borough, and as a corollary of that Report a Bill was brought in to disfranchise the very classes in the constituency of which he now complained. The House assented to the principle of that Bill by reading it a second time, although the measure was afterwards dropped when it came to be dealt with in Committee. The judgment of Mr. Justice Keogh enlightened the House as to the terrible state of things in the county of Galway; and it was impossible to dissociate the election for the borough from that for the county, on which the learned Judge gave his memorable decision. The same persons were the prime movers in both. Dr. M'Evilly was scheduled by Mr. Justice Keogh; and, although he had nominally kept out of the last scrape, the strong expressions used with reference to him by Mr. Serjeant Armstrong, in which the presiding Judge concurred, appeared in the papers, and there was no doubt that that Prelate was at the bottom of the whole proceedings. He therefore called upon the House to vindicate its own honour, and to strengthen the hands of the Judges who were appointed to try Election Petitions; and, above all, to vindicate the operation of the Ballot Act, which had hitherto been so successful in Ireland. Priestly influence had proceeded to such a length in the West of Ireland, and more especially so in the county of Galway, that tenants had been alienated from landlords, and landlords had been obliged to leave their homes and reside in foreign countries; and that was a county that used formerly to present a most admirable example of a united family—landlord and tenant living together in the most cordial relation. Such was now no longer the case—class against class, hatred, distrust, contention and bloodshed—such had been the direct action of priestly intimidation. But it was chiefly in the interest of the humble voters that he called upon the House to vindicate the laws of the land. Mr. Justice Keogh had stigmatized the conduct of the Roman Catholic clergy in no ordinary language, and the consequence was, that though priests had appeared as the leaders of mobs at the late election for Galway, there had been none of those altar denunciations by which, on previous occasions, the Temple of God had been outraged. That, at all events, was something gained, and he hoped the House would, by agreeing to his Amendment, supplement the action of Mr. Justice Keogh, which had already home such good fruit, and strike a final blow at the system of priestly domination. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving the Amendment."having regard to the decisions of the Judges appointed by this House to try the Election Petitions of the. Town of Galway Election 1874, and County of Galway 1872, having regard also to the recommendation of the Royal Commission on the Town of Galway Election Petition 1857; having regard to the joint Address of both Houses of Parliament which represented to Her Majesty in 1857 that corrupt practices have extensively prevailed at the last Election and at previous Elections for the said County of the Town of Galway, this House is of opinion that the said Town of Galway be henceforth disfranchised,"
seconded the Amendment,
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "having regard to the decisions of the Judges appointed by this House to try the Election Petitions of the Town of Gal way Election 1874 and County of Galway 1872, having regard also to the recommendation of the Royal Commission on the Town of Galway Election Petition 1857, having regard to the joint Address of both I louses of Parliament which represented to Her Majesty in 1857 that corrupt practices have extensively prevailed at the last Election and at previous Elections for the said County of the Town of Galway, this House is of opinion that the said Town of Galway he henceforth disfranchised,"—(Mr. Conolly,)
Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
hoped his hon. Friend who had just sat down would excuse him, if he said that he had entirely failed in the course of his able statement to lay before the House any adequate reasons why the issue of a New Writ for Galway should be refused. The hon. Gentleman had, he thought, somewhat confused the allegations which were contained in the Petition against the return of the late Member for that borough, and the reasons which were given in the judgment of the learned Judge by whom that Petition had been tried. The petitioner rested his case on three distinct grounds, the first of which was the interference of the Roman Catholic Bishop of the diocese, whose name, it was contended, having been mentioned in the Schedule of Mr. Justice Keogh's Report, necessarily disqualified any candidate in whose case he filled the position of agent. Now, upon that ground, the finding of the learned Judge was against the petitioner. The second ground alleged by him was that religious influence had been exercised at the election, or in other words, that the Roman Catholic clergy had made use of their position as ecclesiastics to operate on the minds of the voters by bringing to bear on them religious influences. Against that particular ground of intimidation the learned Judge had also decided. The third allegation was, that there was intimidation—by which was meant to a degree which prevented free agency on the part of the electors. That ground, however, although it was sustained by the learned Judge, it was perfectly plain, was entirely different from the two he had just mentioned. Riot and intimidation might exist at an election, without the electors being in the slightest degree blameable. It might be caused by non-voters, it might be casual and incidental, or it might have its origin in some circumstances which wore confined to the particular occasion. Now, he was not aware of any instance in which a constituency had been disfranchised because there happened on the day of polling to be some riot and violence, though such occurrences might furnish adequate ground for declaring that an election was void. In the cases, for example, of the late North Durham and Dudley Elections there were riots, yet New Writs had been issued for those places; and he saw no distinction between them and the case of Galway, except that in the last-named borough, one or two Roman Catholic priests were mixed up in the riot on the day of polling. Such interference, however, was not in their capacity as ecclesiastics, and these priests, therefore, must be regarded in the same light as other persons who might be guilty of an illegal offence; nor could he see the justice of disfranchising the borough because of their conduct. Having said this much with respect to the recent election, he wished to say a word or two about the Report of the Royal Commission of 1857 to which his hon. Friend had referred, and which he himself, as the head of the Commission, had drawn up. It was not strictly correct to say that that Report recommended that the borough of Galway should be disfranchised. What it recommended was, that something in the shape of disfranchisement should be done with regard to the freemen who had been found guilty of receiving money for their votes in small sums. He might add that although three or four Governments had since been in office, and the whole question had been fully debated in the House, no action had been taken upon that Report. Indeed, the whole matter would have been forgotten had it not been revived by his hon. Friend, to whose Amendment he hoped the House would not assent.
said, that, agreeing with many of the things which bad been said by his hon. Friend the Member for Donegal, the facts he had mentioned had yet not led his mind to the same conclusion. His Motion involved not only one of the Members whom the borough had a right to elect, but, if it were carried the other Member would also lose his seat; and that without any charge being made against him, and, he believed, without any cause. What he should do was to vote both against the Motion and against the Amendment. He considered his hon. Friend the Member for Donegal had made out a strong case for the House expressing its disapproval of what had taken place, and he thought that as a mark of that disapproval the issue of the Writ should be for a time suspended.
, as Chairman of the Committee which tried the Galway Borough Election Petition in 1866, said, that the evidence on that occasion showed that organized and systematic corruption had prevailed in that borough, and it was a most extraordinary circumstance that that evidence was precisely the same as that which had been brought before the Commissioners in 1857. The same names cropped up on each occasion, showing that the same practices had been conducted by the same parties. Immediately after the Committee, over which be had had the honour of presiding, had presented their Report, the then Attorney General, Sir Roundell Palmer, asked him why he had not recommended the appointment of a Commission to inquire into the corrupt practices which it was shown had existed in the borough of Galway. His answer was that, under ordinary circumstances, it would have been his duty to do so; but as the evidence was sure to be precisely the same as that taken by the Commission of 1857, and feeling that a Commission, if appointed, would be obliged to accept that evidence, and therefore make a similar Report as its predecessor bad done, he was unwilling to put the country to the expense of £6,000, which was the average cost of such inquiries. He now regretted that be had not taken the course suggested to him by Sir Roundell Palmer, now Lord Selborne, inasmuch as had be done so, the borough would have been by this time disfranchised. He had also been Chairman of the Select Committee which tried the Reigate Petition, and on that occasion he had recommended the appointment of the Royal Commission whose Report led to the disfranchisement of that borough; but he was bound to say that the practices which bad been shown to have existed at Reigate were slight and venial compared with the systematic and organized bribery which existed in Galway. It now, however, appeared that bribery no longer existed there. Certainly, he could not find any trace of its having been resorted to at the last Election; but there was a great deal of evidence to show that it bad been succeeded by a system of intimidation, and it was rather remarkable that the person who used to be the foremost in bribing was now the leading man in creating riot and disturbance. He alluded to the Rev. Peter Daly. [Several IRISH MEMBERS: You are mistaken. He is dead.] He must say that he was sorry, but at the same time he was much relieved, to find he had made a mistake; but he had been under the impression that the Rev. Peter Dooley mentioned in the Report of Mr. Justice Lawson was identical with the Rev. Peter Daly, whose doings had been brought under the consideration of the Committee of which he had been Chairman. After all, what the House had to look to was the nature and character of the electors; and believing those of Galway to be easy victims of intimidation, he should support the Motion of his hon. Friend the Member for Donegal.
said, be bad to thank the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland for the admirable manner in which he had vindicated the rights of Galway and the character of her people. Lord Plunket bad said that history was no more than an old almanack, but the story told by the hon. Member for Donegal had not even that recommendation, inasmuch as it was wrong in facts, incorrect in statistics, and showed the hon. Gentleman's ignorance of even the geography of the county. In the face of these facts, he (Mr. Morris) felt it was his duty to vindicate the character of the electors whom he had had the honour to represent ever since 1832. Galway had had the privilege of returning two Members, and the men whom it had returned had won a place in the history of the country. It had for 25 successive years returned the late Mr. Blake, who had the reputation of being one of the best breeders of horses in Europe. It had also returned Mr. Andrew Lynch, of the English Bar, who had attained in his profession a rank equivalent to that of Vice Chancellor. It had also returned the late and universally regretted Lord Dunkellin, Chief Justice Monahan, and several other Gentlemen of eminence. He had to regret that all manner of extraneous facts and the circumstances of the unfortunate county election of 1872 had been dragged into the discussion by the hon. Member for Donegal, with the view of throwing odium upon the borough of Galway in order to have it disfranchised. He wondered whether the hon. Gentleman sought the seats for the capital of the county which he represented—a town which had a population of 563 inhabitants, and did not contain more than a dozen houses. Why, it could not lodge the Judges when they went Assize, so that they were obliged to take up their abode in the next county, and, indeed, he believed the hon. Gentleman himself would admit that he had to build a kind of shed for the purpose of affording some shelter for the grand jury. He regretted that the hon. Member for Glamorganshire should have drawn such a dreadful picture of the corruption which prevailed in Galway; but, if such was the case, how was it, he would ask, that the Committee had not only confirmed both Members in their seats, but had, in respect to one of them, decided that as against him the Petition was frivolous and vexatious, and that the petitioners, as guilty of great contempt themselves, should pay the costs of the inquiry?
said, the Committee had reported as to the existence of bribery and corruption on both sides, but that there was not any proof of agency as against the sitting Members.
would reiterate what he had stated, and if the hon. Gentleman challenged him, he would ask him to retire into the Library. [Laughter.] Yes; if the hon. Gentleman challenged what he said, he would ask him to retire with him into the Library, where he would show him the Report. The fact was, that both Members retained their seats, and one was awarded costs, the Petition against him being declared to be frivolous and vexatious. In respect to area, population, and wealth, Galway was the fifth borough in Ireland, and it was the capital of the Province of Connaught, a Province which had now the honour of giving a title to a Member of the Royal Family. He would, there fore, like to know if they disfranchised Galway, what borough in Ireland would be safe? He regretted he had not the ability to defend the borough as he could have wished; he had forgotten many things which were running in his head, but he hoped that where he failed the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Sheffield would, as he had done in 1857, amply vindicate the character of Galway.
denied that there was any evidence in the Report of the Inquiry before Mr. Justice Lawson to show there had been either riot or disturbance in Galway at the last Election; so that the charges made against the Bishop and clergy were absolutely false.
Question put, and agreed to.
Main Question put, and agreed to.
New Writ for Galway Borough,— in the room of Francis Hugh O'Donnell, esquire, void Election.
Intoxicating Liquors Bill
Bill 139 Adjourned Debate
( Mr. Raikes, Mr. Secretary Cross, Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbetson, Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer.)
Order read for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [18th June],
"That the words 'and any collection of houses adjoining a town as so defined shall, for the purpose of the provisions of this Act with respect to the closing of licensed, premises, he deemed to he part of such town' he inserted after the words 'one thousand eight hundred and seventy-two,' in page 11, line 4."—(Mr. Assheton Cross.)
Question again proposed.
moved to add, at the end of the previous Amendment, after the word "town," the words—
"After it has been declared so to be by an order of the licensing committee having jurisdiction in the place where such houses are situated."
asked the right hon. Gentleman to explain why he had altered "licensing justices," to "licensing committee," who had no power to refuse a licence without the authority of the whole county bench? Was it understood that they were to fix what were populous places without referring their decision to the whole county bench?
thought the hon. Gentleman misunderstood the case with regard to the licensing committee. There was no appeal from their decision. They were appointed by the quarter session to deal with those cases sent up to them from the petty session of their own district. It was thought that the licensing committee who represented those who were most conversant with the licensing subject, would be a fitter body to deal with the setting out of the boundaries than the local justices, who might be subject to local influences.
considered that that was an important alteration. The original proposal was that the licensing justices should undertake the duty. They were the justices of petty session, who were conversant with the affairs of the locality, and surely, as they granted the licenses to public-houses, they were best qualified to set out the boundaries. That was the original purpose of the Government. There was then an Amendment put down to transfer that duty to what was called the licensing committee, which, as he understood it, was a committee of quarter session. The licensing committee was not, it seemed, a Court of original jurisdiction, but an Appellate Court, and in many cases knew nothing whatever about licensing; and, in fact, never granted licences at all. Matters only came before them by appeal, the party who dealt with licences being universally, in the first instance, the justices at petty session. Then, what a slur it was that they were going to pass upon the licensing justices, to say that the very men who had a discretionary power to grant licences were not the proper persons to set out and determine the boundary of any district, and to decide what were populous places. Some hon. Member, in the course of the discussion on the question, had accused him of speaking disrespectfully of the justices; but it was now said, on the other side of the House, that they were subject to local influences, and that they ought not to be trusted to settle these boundaries. But if they were trusted with the power of granting licences, why not entrust them with the duty of marking out boundaries? The alteration proposed would cause a great deal of inconvenience. Take, for instance, the county of Oxford. Supposing that in the north of Oxfordshire, in Banbury, the question arose whether a particular district or village was a populous place, the people would be compelled to go 20 or 30 miles to Oxford to have the matter decided, instead of its being left to the petty session. This was a change of an extraordinary character, altering the whole tribunal of the boundary commissioners.
thought there was a good deal in the argument of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for the City of Oxford. The local tribunal of a potty sessional division was likely to know better the requirements of a place than the licensing committee of quarter session. Take, for instance, the North Riding of the county of York, which extended about 80 miles from east to west, and they would have justices from the borders of Westmoreland settling the boundary of a district in the neighbourhood of Scarborough. When they came to these large county divisions, it would not be so easy for the licensing committee as for the local justices to decide on the matter.
said, that no slur whatever was intended to be cast upon the justices of petty sessions. Indeed, his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary stated on the previous day his reasons for making the alteration with respect to the licensing committee. In most counties with which he was acquainted, the licensing committee was a representative committee for different petty sessions; and therefore it would consist of those who were acquainted with all parts of a county. There would, therefore, be some uniformity of action. Many districts where there were populous places were divided into different parishes, which might not be in the petty sessional division.
Amendment agreed to; words inserted.
, in moving the insertion of a Proviso—
said, it would be very hard on those large villages the inhabitants of which had almost to a man petitioned against an extension of hours to have that Act pressed upon them, not only against their wishes, but against their interests."That no urban sanitary district whether including such adjoining houses or not should he deemed a town unless it contained 1,500 inhabitants,"
In page 11, after the last Amendment, to insert the words "Provided always, That no urban sanitary district, whether including such adjoining houses or not, shall be deemed a town unless it contains one thousand five hundred inhabitants."—(Sir Harcourt Johnstone.)
Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
The House divided:—
The Tellers being come to the Table, Mr. Dyke, one of the Tellers for the Noes, stated that several Members had remained in the Eight Lobby without voting:—Whereupon Mr. Speaker directed such Members to come to the Table; and Mr. Morley, Mr. Richard Davies, Mr. John Holms, and Mr. Waddy, having come to the Table, were asked by Mr. Speaker if they had heard the Question put, and the Honourable Members having stated that they had heard the Question put, and having declared themselves with the Ayes, Mr. Speaker directed their names to be added to the Ayes.
The Tellers accordingly declared the numbers; Ayes 142: Noes 230: Majority 88.
said, the case was one almost without precedent—certainly without precedent in his experience of the House. His hon. Friend the Member for Scarborough (Sir Harcourt Johnstone) had made a Motion of the most important character, and no Minister had risen to speak on the very necessary Amendment which had thus been moved, and upon which the division had been taken. It appeared to him that under the circumstances it was necessary that the House should know exactly how they stood with respect to the question, and in order that they might have an opportunity of reconsidering it, he would propose what he considered a very moderate Amendment in the shape of a Proviso to the clause, in order that they might get out of the very dangerous and mischievous results which would otherwise arise from the division which had just taken place. He did not wish to revive the feelings which had been exhibited last night, or to indulge in any recrimination on the subject; but he could not help pointing out the very unfortunate position in which they would be placed if the clause were passed as it now stood. Up to last night, at all events, the Government proposition was that they should except from the general limit of 2,500 inhabitants such places as the justices should declare to be populous places, towns to be defined in the manner provided by the Public Health Act of 1872—namely, as urban sanitary districts. Yesterday the Government carried the omission of the figures "2,500," the effect of which would be that in every town, even under 2,500 population, the public-houses and also the beer-houses would be open till 11 o'clock. A town was to be defined as an urban sanitary district without any limit of population, and urban sanitary districts were in many cases mere villages with only two, three, or four hundred inhabitants. There was nothing to prevent the whole of England being carved out under the Local Government Board into urban sanitary districts, and thus the whole of the villages in the Kingdom might be turned into towns for that purpose, and would come under the 11 o'clock rule. ["Hear, hear!"] Hon. Members said "Hear, hear," but let there be no misunderstanding. Did they mean that public-houses all over the country should be allowed to keep open till 11 o'clock? ["Hear, hear," from Members on the Ministerial Benches.] Now, there could be no misunderstanding. Hon. Members who cried "Hear, hear," were going to vote against the Amendment he was going to propose, because they wished the public-houses all over the country to be kept open till 11 o'clock. ["Hear, hear!"] Hon. Gentlemen were cheering a proposal which was certainly opposed to the original intentions of the Government they supported, and he could not believe that the Home Secretary himself would, upon full consideration, allow the matter to rest where it was. He held in his hand a list which showed that there were 39 of what were called urban sanitary districts with less than 1,000 inhabitants, and from residential experience, he knew one in Yorkshire which had only 207 inhabitants, while there were several other instances throughout the country in which the population was less than 300, all of which would come under the provisions of the Local Government Act, and if the clause passed in its present shape, they would be entitled to keep all places for the sale of liquor open until 11 o'clock. Not only that, but in addition to these towns, districts might be declared to be populous places, and have the same privilege. How would the justices be able to refuse a parish with 800 inhabitants the privilege of keeping open till 11 o'clock when a village with 400 inhabitants or less had that privilege? He did not believe that was the intention of the Government, and he therefore hoped that they would accept the very moderate Proviso with which he would conclude. The proposal he made was this—
If the proposal were not agreed to, the discretion of the magistrates would be set aside in the case of all places designated as towns under the Local Government Act by the Board of Health. He hoped the Government would accept the Proviso as being in accordance with the spirit of their own Bill."Provided that no urban sanitary district, whether including such adjoining houses or not, hall be deemed a town unless it contains one thousand inhabitants."
thought that the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Childers) had shown good cause why there should be some such limit as he had proposed, and that something between 1,000 and 2,500 would be sufficient to guard against taking in small places which it might not be desirable to include amongst those allowed to keep open till 11 o'clock.
also expressed his approval of the Amendment, and trusted that the Government would see their way to accept it.
thought that the right hon. Gentleman who had moved the Amendment had not made allowance for the discretion of the magistrates. He opposed the Amendment on the ground that it would cut down the hours of public-houses to 10 o'clock, while, in other places, it would increase the hours of beer-shops from 10 to 11 o'clock. He had no doubt that, to a certain extent, a case had been made out with respect to the very small places to which the right hon. Gentleman referred. He objected, however, to drawing too hard-and-fast a line, for there were many small places in the South of England—railway stations, market towns, and watering-places—where the shutting up of public-houses at 10 o'clock would cause very great inconvenience, and he hoped the Government would not assent to the proposal of the right hon. Member for Pontefract.
hoped that the Government would accede to the Motion, because it drew a definite line between towns and small villages.
said, there were many small places divided by a river, in close proximity to each other, where the proposal would cause great inconvenience.
objected to the Motion, because it would take away the discretion which it was proposed to vest in the magistrates. Moreover, he believed that if the number were fixed at 1,000, as proposed, the inhabitants of every town with a population above that number would think themselves treated unfairly if they were not allowed to have their public-houses open till 11.
said, that as to the discretion of the magistrates, it was just because they would have no discretion that the Amendment had been moved. He supported the Amendment, because it would obviate the difficulty caused by the creation of urban sanitary districts into "towns" by the Local Government Board. His right hon. Friend had referred to one village in Yorkshire, near which he had lived all his life, and which had a population of only 207. The justices in that case would have no option but to regard it as a town within the meaning of the Act, and surely to give such a village the privilege of having its public-houses opened until 11 o'clock was altogether uncalled for. He really did not think-there was any substantial difference of opinion on the subject.
said, he was of the same opinion. His right hon. Friend was mistaken when he said that there were 39 of these places. He had a list made up by the Local Government Board, and it appeared from that that there were only some 30 urban sanitary districts in England with a population under 1,000, and many of these had a population of 700 or 800. It was a small matter altogether, and it was not worth quarrelling about. His right hon. Friend was also wrong when he thought that these places would go on increasing. The Local Government Board had very wisely passed a rule that they would not, except under very special circumstances, make any place into a sanitary district which was under 2,000 inhabitants. The matter was hardly worth the time which had been occupied in discussing it, and he should be willing, if that was taken as a final conclusion of the question, to accept the Amendment.
Amendment agreed to; proviso inserted.
, in moving an Amendment which stood on the Paper in the name of the hon. Member for Clitheroe (Mr. Assheton), and as to which he signified the willingness of the Government to accept, said, that objection had been taken to the term "populous place," and it had been said that there would be difficulty in deciding what a populous place was. But he had to remind the House that it was no new thing to fix what was a populous place. If any hon. Member would look back to the Census taken in 1861, he would see that the persons charged with making out the Census wanted to find out how many towns there were. They simply applied to the Clerks of the Peace of each county, and on the Returns which the clerks made they had no difficulty in ascertaining the number of towns. Magistrates would just have to do now what the Census clerks did then.
In page 11, to leave out lines 5and 6, and insert the words, "'Populous place' means any area which by reason of the number and density of its population the county licensing committee may by order determine to be a populous place.
"At a meeting especially convened for that purpose as soon as may be after the passing of this Act, the county licensing committee shall consider all the cases within their jurisdiction with respect to which it is incumbent upon them to make orders in pursuance of this section, and they shall make orders accordingly, and shall specify therein the boundaries of such towns or populous places.
"The county licensing committee may also at any subsequent meeting especially convened for that purpose, make with respect to any town or populous place within their jurisdiction, any like order not restrictive of any order previously made,"—(Mr. 'Assheton Cross,)
Question, "That lines 5 and 6 stand part of the Bill," put, and negatived.
"That the words 'Populous place' means any area which by reason of the number and density of its population the county licensing committee may by order determine to be a populous place.
"At a meeting especially convened for that purpose as soon as may be after the passing of this Act, the county licensing committee shall consider all the cases within their jurisdiction with respect to which it is incumbent upon them to make orders in pursuance of this section, and they shall make orders accordingly, and shall specify therein the boundaries of such towns or populous places.
"The county licensing committee may also at any subsequent meeting especially convened for that purpose, make with respect to any town or populous place within their jurisdiction any like order not restrictive of any order previously made,"
be inserted, instead thereof.
wanted to know how the last part of the Amendment would apply to towns once populous, but which might ultimately fall under the limit which might be fixed? The constituency which he once represented was gradually diminishing, and there were many villages in the West of England which, though they had not yet fallen under what was now considered to be a populous place, were losing their population, and would ultimately do so.
, in moving to insert in the second line of the Amendment, after the word "population," the words "not being less than 1,000," said, the insertion of those words would give the magistrates some idea of what the House intended, and would be fair both for the House and to the justices, and to the country.
Amendment proposed to the said proposed Amendment, after the word "population," to insert the words "not being less than one thousand."—( Colonel Barttelot.)
hoped the alteration proposed by the hon. and gallant Gentleman would not be pressed. If it were pressed, it would act injuriously in many places, such as small towns in which were railway stations, and seaside resorts, where the magistrates ought to have some discretion in the fixing of the hours.
supported the Amendment. The suggestion of the hon. Member who last spoke would amount to giving power to keep open all the inns at all the small places in the country.
thought that his acceptance of the previous Amendment had already answered the purpose intended to be carried out by the Amendment now under discussion. He would, however, accept the limit proposed.
Question, "That those words be there inserted," put, and agreed to.
Words, as amended, inserted.
wished before the House passed from the subject to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary to the system under which Acts of Parliament were at present drawn. When it was proposed substantially to alter an Act of Parliament, the best course would be to repeal the Act altogether, and to re-enact it as altered. If this was too heroic a course to adopt, at all events, single sections might be so dealt with. Much of the present Bill was almost unintelligible, especially Section 9; and if ever there was a Bill which required to be drawn so that he who ran might read, it was this. He really thought, also, that the gentleman who drew these Bills, should also, as much as possible, keep clear of meaningless verbiage.
quite agreed with the hon. and learned Member. The 9th section was unintelligible, and many parts of the Bill were equally so. The owner of the licensed house was expected to understand all these sections, and when he came up before the Queen's Bench, the Judges would tell him that they could make nothing out of them.
said, that the present Bill was really a mass of unintelligible stuff. The handbooks picked up at railway stations were models of perspicuity when compared with it. He had hoped that the Act to be passed this Session would have been a digest of the licensing law, such as that which had once been suggested by the hon. Baronet the Under Secretary of State for the Home Department, instead of a trumpery Amendment Bill, which itself required amendment to be understandable. Bill to be read the third time upon Monday next, and to he printed. [Bill 160.]
Valuation Of Property Bill
( Mr. Selater-Booth, Mr. Clare Read.)
(Bill 98) Committee
Order for Committee read.
(In the Committee.)
Clause 1 (Short title) agreed to.
Clause 2 (Extent of Act).
complained that they were now required, without Notice, and at the fag-end of a Morning Sitting, to deal with a measure of the greatest interest.
thought that as the Morning Sitting had been fixed for the specific purpose of considering the Intoxicating Liquors Bill, it was unfair to hon. Members, who had not expected this Bill to come on, that it should now be proceeded with.
said, he would not press on the Bill against the feeling of the Committee; but he had been entreated, both by hon. Gentlemen opposing and supporting the Bill, to bring it on as soon as possible. He thought it might be taken without occasioning much inconvenience.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 (Abolition of certain exemptions from rating).
, in moving as an Amendment in page 1, line 20, sub-section 1, after "to," to insert "all;" and in the same line, after "land," to insert "including Crown property," said, he did it to raise the question whether Government property ought not to contribute to the local rates. Any Bill which, while bringing real property owners, to a large additional extent, under the local rates, did not, at the same time, rate Government mineral property and woods, and plantations, such as there were in the Forest of Dean, must be viewed with apprehension. It had been proposed that the Crown should pay a contribution in lieu of rating; but he thought that no voluntary contribution would be as satisfactory as the placing of Crown property on a footing with other real property as regarded rating.
said, that his short answer to the hon. Member was, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his Financial Statement that year, proposed that the House should deal with this question of Government property, for the present, at all events, by adding to the Estimates. That proposal having been accepted by the House, he thought the Committee would feel that it would be out of place at the end of the Session to insert an Amendment with the view of including all Government property within the purview of the Bill, especially as it was impossible to deal with all the circumstances of the case by a mere Amendment. The hon. Member was mistaken in assuming that his constituents would gain any material benefit from the rating of the Forest of Dean; the Government had for years made a contribution in respect of it, although in the hands of a private individual, it would have been exempt. Both in regard to the Forest of Dean and the New Forest, the ratepayers would receive contributions in respect of the enclosed plantations. It was manifest, however, that a proposal of the kind could only properly be submitted by the Government. With regard to real property generally, he could not agree with the view that the Bill would impose additional burdens upon it.
agreed with the view of the right hon. Gentleman that the Bill would not impose any additional charge upon real property generally. It would include within the rating area certain kinds of real property which were not previously included, but it would not touch the amount of the rates which were to be levied. On another point he was unable to agree with the right hon. Gentleman. If any hon. Member wished to raise the question, in order to secure the rateability of Government property, the Committee stage of the present Bill was surely the proper point at which to bring the matter forward. A very satisfactory solution of the question would, in one point of view, be to fix the value of Government property by arbitration or by means of a judicial decision, and then to rate it accordingly. While he believed that the most satisfactory solution of the matter would have been the one which he proposed to the late House of Commons, on the other hand, he had always admitted that there were reasons based in simplicity and convenience for the proposal contained in the present Bill, if the constituencies interested were prepared to leave it to the Government of the day to fix a fair contribution to be paid on account of Government property in lieu of rates. He thought, however, the Committee should fully understand that in rejecting the Amendment they would practically determine to accept the Government proposal.
said, the Amendment before the House did not in any way raise the question of the propriety of rating Government property. He therefore saw no reason for adopting an Amendment which would not add to the force of the clause as it stood in the Bill. As far as the language in the Bill at present went, it was equivalent to "all," and a division upon the Amendment would be a division upon nothing.
believed that if there was any dissatisfaction caused by the present system, it would not be removed by leaving the amount of the contribution on Government property to be fixed arbitrarily by Commissioners.
said, there was an evident misunderstanding relative to the Bill, for several hon. Members who had placed Amendments on the Paper were not in their places, and he appealed to the Government not to press the Bill any further at present.
said, that another objection to the Amendment, which had not been referred to, was that the Committee had passed the 2nd clause, by which the Bill was made not to apply to Scotland or Ireland. Well, if the Committee adopted the Amendment that was proposed by the hon. Baronet, the effect would be that while the National Exchequer would pay poor rates for all the Government properties in England, the people of Ireland and of Scotland would be made to pay their proportion of these poor rates for the Government property in England, without the Exchequer paying anything of the poor rates for Ireland and for Scotland. The same proposal was made last year. The attention of the Government was then directed to the point, and seeing the justice of it, they agreed to the insertion of a clause making the Bill applicable to Ireland and Scotland. But difficulties were found in the Forms of the House to taking that course, and after a good deal of delay and trouble, a separate Bill had to be brought in for Scotland and Ireland. Now, he understood a proposal had been made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer which was agreed to by all parties. The right hon. Gentleman stated that he would prepare an estimate of the sum required, and that a fair allowance should be made in aid of the rates applicable to all Crown property in the United Kingdom. Well, if the Committee held to the agreement which was substantially made between the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the House, everything would go right. And if it should be found hereafter that a better mode than that suggested by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board last year, for rating Crown property could be devised, it might be embodied in a Bill, introduced for that special purpose in the next Session of Parliament, and that Bill could be made to apply to the three countries. But for the reason he had stated, he objected to the adoption of the Amendment of the hon. Baronet.
agreed with the hon. Baronet that it would have been more satisfactory if the course pursued by the late Government had been adopted by the present, and a scheme for rating all Crown property had been submitted to the House. He hoped, however, that his hon. Friend would not press the Amendment.
trusted there would be a declaration on the part of the Government that, although it did not accept the Amendment, it would not on that account consider itself precluded from taking up the question at some future time, and dealing with it in a fair and permanent way.
said, that in some sense the question was confined within very narrow limits, but in another sense, it might be said to comprise the consideration of the whole of the Crown property. In his locality a road divided two properties, the one belonging to a nobleman, and the other belonging to the Crown. The nobleman would be taxed, while the Crown, would be untaxed. That seemed to him to be an anomaly. It would be a startling proposition, if they were to pass a Bill bringing one part of the Crown property under taxation while the other was untouched. That was what the hon. Baronet seemed to protest against. Unless a decided assurance on the subject was given by the Government, he thought it was difficult to say that the proposition should not be adopted. He thought, however, that it was very unfair on the part of the Government to have forced the Bill on as they had, inasmuch as many hon. Members who took a considerable interest in the subject were absent, and it was impossible that the question could receive that discussion which it deserved. But unless some Amendment in the sense of that moved by the hon. Baronet were adopted, they would, instead of doing away with anomalies, be creating a fresh anomaly.
thought the Amendment had been brought forward inopportunely, raising as it did a question which should have been raised, if at all, on the Motion for the second reading of the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman opposite then gave his reasons for not dealing with the question under discussion in this measure, and no one seemed disposed to question the soundness of those reasons.
said, that he had protested against every part of the Bill when it was before the House on the second reading. A great injustice would be continued, if the Government did not deal comprehensively with the question. The principle was what he contended for. He protested against an exemption in the case of an enormous mass of wealth which ought to contribute towards taxation as other property did. He trusted the Chancellor of the Exchequer would give some assurance that when the question of local taxation came to be dealt with, this subject should be considered.
believed it was the intention of the Government to bring in a Bill to fairly assess all the property of the description referred to which was in the possession of the Crown. He trusted that when they did so both it and the present measure would be made to come into operation at the same time.
said, it was not intended to bring in a Bill for the rating of Crown property, but to propose a Vote to Parliament for the purpose of making contributions in respect of Government property equivalent to what would be the amount of a rate. When he introduced his Budget, he explained that was the course they meant to take in order to avoid the many complications and difficulties which would have arisen under the Bill of last year. As to the anomaly of woods on one side of a road being rated because they belonged to a private owner, and woods of the same character on the other side of the road being exempted because they belonged to the Crown, the very same anomaly existed in regard to Crown buildings, and it was proposed to redress it by increasing the present grant. Government property had not contributed unless it amounted to about one-sixth of the parish; but it was intended to propose that in future the contribution should be given, whatever proportion the Crown property might bear to the rest of the parish.
said, he did not feel altogether comfortable at the idea of trusting this matter to a Vote. He thought a Vote, instead of an Act, was rather a precarious footing on which to rely for a contribution on account of Crown property. One illustration of the inconvenience of discussing the Bill at the present time was that hon. Members had not been able to procure the necessary documents.
could not accept the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer as entirely satisfactory. In this case they were dealing with land occupied by woods, which bore exactly the same relation as the property of private individuals did for rating purposes. However equitable the Government grant might be, it would not give the same satisfaction in the country as would be afforded if Crown property was taxed in the same manner as that of private individuals.
said, that under the Bill all the mineral property of the Crown would be rated. The Government had given good reasons for not dealing in the Bill with all Government property, and as they had promised to deal with the rest of the question on a future day, he hoped progress would be made with the Bill. Unless they did, the agricultural constituencies of the country would scarcely believe they were in earnest.
wished to know whether the plan of having a rate from Government property was to be a temporary or a permanent one. If it were intended to make such contributions permanent, nothing, in his opinion, could be more inconvenient. The object of that rating Bill was as far as possible to abolish exemptions, and he could not understand why all exemptions in favour of Government property should not be abolished, making every allowance between different kinds of public property.
said, the arrangement which he had referred to would certainly not be brought forward with the avowed intention of making it merely temporary; but at the same time it must be regarded as necessarily only temporary until some method of dealing with this difficult question upon a permanent basis could be hit upon.
said, that in his county there was a large amount of Government property, and a strong feeling existed that it did not bear its fair share of the burdens which were imposed on all other property. The disadvantage of a Vote was, that it might or might not endure; whereas if they once got the question settled on an equitable basis in an Act of Parliament, they would know exactly where they stood. He would recommend the withdrawal of the Amendment.
was anxious the Bill should go forward; but its great fault was, that it did not touch the question of Government property in the way many hon. Gentlemen hoped it would have done.
asked if the contribution would be based on the assessment of the adjoining property by the assessment committee?
said, he would withdraw his Amendment, and take the discussion on the Amendment of the noble Lord the Member for South Hants (Lord Henry Scott).
said, in his opinion, the noble Lord's Amendment was of such a nature that it could not be put.
said, that being the case, the Amendment before the Committee ought not to be hastily withdrawn.
said, the clause would be quite as effective without the Amendment as with it.
said, there appeared to be some inherent difficulty in dealing with the subject. The proposition was so slippery that no one could catch hold of it. He would move that Progress be reported.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman report Progress."—( Mr. Henley.)
said, that as the hour had arrived for suspending the sitting he had no objection to the Motion. He proposed to ask for a vote of £120,000 for this purpose.
Question put and agreed to.
Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Tuesday next.
And it being now five minutes to seven of the clock, the House suspended its sitting.
The House resumed its sitting at nine of the clock.
Notice taken that 40 Members were not present; House counted; and 40 Members being found present—
Order for Committee read.
Motion made and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."
Security For Improvements By Agricultural Tenants
, in moving—
said, that it was a subject of considerable interest, particularly to the tenant-farmers of England. Previous to 1850 various attempts had been made to remedy the grievances of agricultural tenants, and notably by the late Mr. Pusey, but nothing important in the way of legislation on the subject had been accomplished, and since that time until within the last few years the question had slept altogether. During the last three or four years, however, the formation of Chambers of Agriculture had led to the subject being taken up so strongly that it now occupied a more prominent place than even the question of local taxation or the repeal of the malt tax, and at every meeting of those, and the kindred societies—Partners' Clubs—it was invariably brought before the members. Further than that, last year a Bill to settle the question was brought in by the Members for Bedford and South Norfolk, but eventually that measure was withdrawn. In his opinion, therefore, the time had come when the House should be asked to take the subject seriously into consideration. What was the state of the law of landlord and tenant as it affected the agricultural tenant? The present state of the law was, that where there was no custom such as existed in Lincolnshire giving tenant-farmers compensation—and that custom existed only in a very small degree throughout England—and when there was no agreement with the landlord, when the tenant-farmer quitted his holding, he left all that he had put into the soil behind him. For instance, he might have spent £3,000 or £4,000 in chalking his land, and have derived no benefit from it himself, as its good effects would not be felt for the first 12 months; but as the law now stood, if he quitted his farm the incoming tenant would reap the benefit of his expenditure. That was under the general law, but there were special cases in which the tenant-farmer was put to even greater inconvenience and loss. He might enter into an agreement, giving him compensation, with his landlord, who was the life-owner of the estate, but if the life-owner died, the tenant could not claim compensation from his successor. The same injustice occurred under agreements entered into with the trustees of a minor, or with a clergyman holding a glebe securing compensation for unexhausted improvements, for the successors of the parties were not in any way bound by the agreements. Again, if a landowner having the fee-simple entered into an agreement with his tenant to give him compensation, and subsequently sold the estate, unless that agreement was endorsed on the title-deeds the tenant could not claim one farthing from the purchaser. As two-thirds of the land of England was under settlement in this way, it might easily be imagined how great a number of cases of hardship might arise. The results of this state of the law were, that the farmer was deterred from spending money in fertilizing the soil, and he complained that annually he had less profit, and that when he quitted a large portion of his capital was taken away from him; the labourers justly complained that the state of the law prevented them from obtaining that demand for labour which they otherwise would have, and the public complained that in consequence of capital not being employed freely in the cultivation of the soil, food was less in quantity and higher in price, and that consequently the local rates were on the increase. There was this peculiar feature of the question, that the law might be changed in favour of the farmer, the labourer, and the public, without injury to the landlord, for the latter must be benefited by any law which increased the fertility of the soil, and therefore the value of his property. Lincolnshire presented a notable example of the effect of tenant-right in increasing the wages of the labourer; for, for many years past, the average rate of the wages of the Lincolnshire labourer had been 2s. or 3s. per week higher than those of the labourer in the Southern counties, where there was no tenant-right. He would urge, in favour of the view he took, the Report of the Select Committee on Mr. Pusey's Bill of 1847, which stated that the system of tenant-right seemed to be highly beneficial, and to tend to a great increase in the productiveness of the soil, and extended employment for the rural population. In the debate upon Mr. Pusey's Bill, the late Sir Robert Peel said that to the principle of promoting the application of capital to land in order to secure better improvements and of providing just compensation to tenants, there could be no objection whatever. He (Mr. Seely), therefore, apprehended that there would be little objection to the principle of giving compensation to tenant-farmers for improvements, but the question was as to the degree to which the principle ought to extend, and upon this there might be considerable difference of opinion. Where there was a custom the application of the principle differed very much; in some only permanent improvements were compensated, whilst in others there was compensation also for temporary improvements, and in the greater part of England there was no custom or usage upon the matter. It might be said that the granting of leases would be sufficient to meet all the requirements of the case; but there was this objection to leases unaccompanied with right to compensation for improvements—that in the latter years of the lease the tenant would be tempted to do what was called "scourge" the land. It was, therefore, in the interest of the tenant, and especially of the public, that compensation should be given in order that the land might be continued to be cultivated during the last year of the tenancy. Last year, as he had said, there was an attempt made to settle this question by a Bill by the hon. Member for Bedford and the hon. Member for South Norfolk; and no doubt that Bill was approved by many farmers, and also by the great Conservative party; and, indeed, many of its provisions were excellent. In so far as the Bill gave compensation to farmers for "chalking" and for manures, there could be no opposition; but the Bill was objectionable upon many other points. His first objection to it was that it prohibited freedom of contract, and in any future legislation on the subject, he hoped nothing would be done in that direction. The principle of the 4th clause was, that landlords were looked upon as likely to take an advantage of their tenants; and it looked upon the farmers of England not as men capable of fighting their own battles, but as persons that the Legislature ought to take under its protection. In all other ranks of life a man was left to take care of himself by making his own contracts. The reason why it was said that there must be some general rule to bind them was, that there were so many applications for vacant farms that the landlords could make their own conditions; and that one condition made would be that the tenant should not have compensation for improvements which were unexhausted. He did not, however, think that there need be any apprehension of this. It would be for the landlords' interest that there should be such compensation. Further, there was through the whole of the community a sort of reverence for the law, and a desire to conform to its provisions, and the landlords would not go contrary to that feeling. If the law were that in the absence of an agreement, the tenant should have compensation, the landlords would not bind their tenants in a contrary sense. Moreover, it could not be said generally that for every vacant farm there were a hundred applicants. Where the land was good and the rent low, there were many applicants, but not where the land was bad and the rent high. He believed that the farmers could properly be trusted to protect themselves by their agreements. Another clause in the Bill enabled farmers to retain possession of the land until the compensation was paid, and the practical inconvenience of this would be extreme. It would often happen that the award of the compensation could not possibly be made by the day on which the tenant was to quit, and it would be a serious thing if the out-going tenant were empowered to hold over until it was paid. Another serious point occurred under Clauses 26 and 27 of the Bill of last year."That, in the opinion of this House, Her Majesty's Government should, with a view to improved cultivation of the land, introduce, with as little delay as possible, a measure for giving increased security for capital to be invested in the soil by agricultural tenants,"
rose to Order. The hon. Gentleman appeared to be discussing a Bill which was not now before the House.
said, that the hon. Gentleman's observations were quite relevant. The hon. Member was calling upon the Government to introduce a Bill, and was discussing other measures that related to the question he now brought forward.
said, he not only wished to have a law passed which should alter the present law in favour of the tenants, but likewise wished to do justice to all parties, and not to have a law which would injure any other class. With that view he was calling the attention of the House to what he considered to be the defects of the Bill that was before it last year. Another of those defects, as he conceived, occurred under Clauses 26 and 27, by which great injustice might be done to the parties who would come after the tenant for life. He was no particular advocate for the law as it stood, but if the law of entail was to be abrogated, and the law of settlement was not to be any longer in practical force, let it be done away with fairly, manfully, and openly, and not by a side wind. With regard to 12 months' notice to quit, a high authority suggested that it should be extended to two years. But he had received a communication from an eminent land agent, who had tried the experiment on properties in South Norfolk, with the result that two years' notice to quit did not answer in practice, and that he had reverted to the old practice of six months' notice. There was a further objection he took to the Bill of last year. He objected to the Government finding money for farming-purposes. The plea urged in favour of that course was that it tended to improve the cultivation of the land and increase the production of food; but, if that rule were to be acted upon, where were we to stop? He objected to that proposal because, among other reasons, it gave to farmers a preference over other classes of the community. The only other defect in the Bill of last year to which he would allude was an omission. He referred to the case of the labourer, whose rights ought to be cared for, as well as those of the tenant. The Bill, as drawn, would not have given to the labourer compensation for his garden produce in the event of his quitting. All these were defects which he hoped would not re-appear in any future measure. The Government was the proper party to bring forward such a measure, and the experience of last year must have convinced every body of the difficulties which private Members must encounter in attempting to deal with the subject; and, in concluding as he should do, by moving the Resolution of which he had given Notice, he hoped the Government would accept it; there being no reasonable objection to the principle it contained, and that they would bring in a measure dealing with the whole subject.
said, he rose with much pleasure to second the Motion—the hon. Member for Lincoln (Mr. Seely) had gone so fully into the technical parts of the subject that it was unnecessary for him to touch upon those, and he should confine his remarks to some practical points to which the hon. Member had not adverted. Previous to the establishment of Free Trade, agricultural distress was frequently the subject of discussion in that House. Committees and Commissions were appointed to consider it, and to give advice and recommendations upon it. At that time agriculture was upheld by a system of protection, and farmers were taught to look more to the Legislature than to their own energy and skill. Thrown, however, upon their own resources by the abolition of the Corn Laws, they brought their own intelligence and industry to bear, by the exercise of which they brought the agriculture of this country to a higher stage than it had occupied for many years. Of late, there had been on the Notice Papers of the House no intimation of agricultural distress as a subject for discussion; but although farmers did not trouble the House with their grievances, they were not indifferent to those Acts which affected the interests or their profession. The hon. Gentleman had alluded to those Chambers of Agriculture at which of late years no subject had been more discussed than that of security for the tenants' capital, and justly so, for when they considered the amount of that capital, every Statesman would see that it was entitled to reasonable security. It was stated to be something like £450,000,000. He (Mr. M'Lagan) believed that was exaggerated, but he believed the estimate was between £200,000,000 and £300,000,000. A great deal of that was secured by lease, in many parts by customs, but in other parts of England a great proportion was unprotected. Capital might be laid out in three ways—first, in live stock and furnishing for the farm. As regarded that, the tenant could not expect to have compensation any more than the ordinary trader, because he could remove the stock at pleasure. The second portion of the tenant's capital was laid out on manure, liming, and chalking, and anything that could improve the land. Generally speaking, there was no security whatever for this capital. The third part was that laid out in permanent improvements, such as buildings and drainage, and in these, also, there was no security for the tenants' capital. But although a great deal had been said of the backwardness of agriculture in this country being attributed to the insecurity of tenants' capital, there were other causes at work. There was insufficiency of capital. Tenants were apt to take farms too large for their capital. It would be better if they took smaller farms and doubled their capital. Another cause of the backwardness of agriculture was the indifference as to laying out capital on the improvements of their farms. That arose from the ignorance of tenants of the benefits to be derived from improvements. He knew an instance of a tenant who had got a farm on a long lease, and would not improve until the agent raised his rent, and compelled him to double the manure. He so soon saw the advantage, that he continued improvements on his own account, and was now a most successful farmer. That showed the advantage of tenants laying out capital on farms, and it proved also that increased security would induce them so to lay out their capital. Fortunately there were figures to lay before the House as to the great advantages derived from security to tenants' capital. In 1770, as it appeared from the statistics of the right hon. Member for Greenwich when he introduced the Irish Land Bill, the rental in Ulster, where security was now given, was £960,000, and in 1869 was £2,000,000. In other parts of Ireland where the tenants were at the mercy of the landlords, the valuation in 1770 was £5,000,000, and in 1869 was very little more. In Ireland, generally, including Ulster, the rental had doubled from £6,000,000 to £12,000,000. In England, where there was greater confidence between landlord and tenant, where the value in 1770 was £12,000,000, the same in 1848 was £48,000,000. In Scotland, where, instead of confidence between landlord and tenant the latter had the advantage of 21 years' lease, in 1770 the rental was £1,200,000, and in 1869 it was £7,200,000. That showed the great advantage of tenants having security for their capital. Another startling fact was brought out the other day from the Income Tax Returns. Between 1852 and 1869 the rental in England had been increased 19 per cent—in Scotland, 32 per cent. These were instructive facts, and went far to show the advantages of tenants having security for their capital. He did not intend to draw comparison between tenants in England and Scotland; but he might say that while there were leases in Scotland, the relations between landlords and tenants in England were of a more confidential character, and there were fewer changes. In England the tenant would sooner take the word of the landlord than hare a lease. But the tenants had no security for their capital. The landlord might die, the estate might be sold, and the tenant might find that his confidence in his landlord was greater than his prudence. In a speech by the hon. Member for South Norfolk (Mr. Clare Read) last year, he said the law was all on the side of the landlord, who could remove his tenant at pleasure, and could eat up all his crops with game without giving him compensation. There were the laws of distress, and laws of all sorts for the protection of the landlords; but none, or next to none, for the protection of tenants. Those were not the words of an hon. Member who indulged in flights of imagination. On the contrary, the hon. Member called things generally by their proper names. If they were true, it showed the condition of tenants in England as little better than that of serfs. He was sorry his hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk had not said whether he would improve the condition of the tenant by levelling up to the landlord, or by levelling the landlord down to the tenant. If the position of tenants was truly stated, it was one of serfdom little better than that in some countries which they were apt to consider very bad; and curiously enough, men of this class were men of intelligence, men of property, who were toasted at agricultural meeting as the backbone of our Constitution. Since the hon. Member could not give any idea of how he would improve the condition of the tenant he would ask, was it possible that that could be effected by legislation without doing injustice to the landlord? If a tenant took a farm, and laid out capital in different ways, he might be called upon to leave at six months' notice, and, if so, he would leave the capital he had laid out on the farm for the benefit of his landlord. That was the present position of the law. What he would propose was, because he did not like abstract Resolutions, that the law should be altered in such a way that compensation might be given to the tenant for all improvements and manures which he might put on his farm, unless there was some agreement to the contrary. He knew that some objected to the tenant receiving compensation for buildings, unless he received the assent of the landlord. He would go further, and say that if a tenant intended to put up a building, and gave intimation to the landlord, and the landlord did not object in a certain time, it was but just that the tenant should receive compensation if he erected the buildings. He would propose, then, that the law might be altered in such a manner as to give the tenant compensation for improvements on buildings; but still as he was liable to leave the farm at six months' notice, a good deal of his capital would remain there. In Scotland the landlord was not required to give more than six weeks' notice. That should be altered. He should propose that notice to quit should be extended to at least two years, and he did so for various reasons, one of which was, that he was not like an ordinary householder, and might require time to find another farm. He would also give the tenant the benefit of the crop grown in the last year of the tenancy as compensation for the money he had expended in manure upon the land. It had been urged that the tenant would exhaust the soil under such circumstances; but that could be easily avoided by means of agreements to be made between the occupiers and owners of farms. In the remarks he had made, he had purposely avoided, anything like interference with contracts. To that he decidedly objected. That was exceptional legislation at the best, and should be judged on its own merits. He did hot desire any interference with the law of contract, though he did not consider it such as many did. There were many bugbear cases adduced as interference of contract by the Legislature; but these were more interference with the liberties of the subjects than with contracts between individuals.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "in the opinion of this House, Her Majesty's Government should, with a view to improved cultivation of the land, introduce, with as little delay as possible, a measure for giving increased security for capital to he invested in the soil by agricultural tenants,"—(Mr. Seely.)
Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
said, when he saw on the Notice Paper the Motion proposed by the hon. Member for Lincoln, he was possessed with a strong-feeling of gratitude towards the hon. Member for proposing to bring this important question under the attention of the House. He could not, therefore, very well express the disappointment with which he had listened to the hon. Member's speech, for he entirely failed to gather what the hon. Member proposed as the real object or outcome of his proposals. If the landlords were as enlightened, just, and honourable as the hon. Member represented; and if, on the other hand, farmers were as intelligent, shrewd, and independent, he did not see that there was any occasion for the interference of the House in the matter. There was nothing to prevent farmers from mating such contracts as they pleased for permanent improvements. There was nothing which would prevent the farmer and his landlord agreeing as to permanent improvements, or even for the temporary improvements. The hon. Gentleman referred to Lincolnshire; but there the custom was that the incoming and outgoing tenants agreed between themselves as to the amount to be paid for improvements, and the landlord had nothing whatever to do with it. The basis on which legislation should be founded was, that it was just and equitable, and to the interest of landlords and tenants, and of the public generally, that tenant-farmers should be compensated at the the termination of their holdings for permanent improvements made during their occupation. The question of details was one with regard to which there might well be differences of opinion among men who were practically acquainted with the subject. The greater part of the hon. Gentleman's speech was a criticism of the Bill of the hon. Member for South Norfolk (Mr. Clare Read), which was introduced last Session, and he thought there was considerable inconvenience in discussing now the details of a measure which was not immediately before them. He was not going to imitate the hon. Gentleman; but he would, however, remark that one object of true Liberalism was to secure to everyone the produce of his labour, and if any Liberalism asserted that landlords, or any other class, should have power to take a tenant's improvement without compensation to the tenant, he did not subscribe to that kind of Liberalism. The hon. Member for Lincoln had strongly deprecated any interference with freedom of contract. It was, however, a fact that in a small part of England only was there any settled arrangement existing between landlords and tenants as to compensation for permanent, durable, or even temporary improvements effected on the farms; and it was the settled conviction of men practically acquainted with the subject, including the hon. Member for South Norfolk—a conviction which he (Mr. Barclay) affirmed, on behalf of the tenant-farmers—that unless an Act of Parliament on that subject did interfere, in some shape or other, with freedom of contract, it would practically be worthless. Such interference would be quite justifiable, inasmuch as the possession of land was a monopoly, and ought by all the principles of political economy to be regulated as a monopoly. The Truck Act interfered with freedom of contract between the working man and the employer; the Shipping Act interfered with freedom of contract between sailors and shipowners; and the ownership of land being a monopoly, it was consistent with all the principles of political economy that it should be treated as a monopoly by the Legislature. Under the law of England the game belonged to the tenant; yet almost invariably the landlord reserved to himself the right to preserve a large quantity of game on the land occupied by the tenant, without paying any compensation whatever for the damage done to the land. ["No, no!"] He ventured to say that that was the general rule, although there might be many exceptions to it. Speaking from his own experience, in regard to Scotland, he must say that he could recollect very few cases in which compensation was paid to the tenant on that account. The question was one which passing events seemed to urge on the consideration of that House. He believed that existing; circumstances made it important that this question should soon be settled, for, in the contest going on in the Eastern Counties, there was a tendency towards a rise of wages, and that would, no doubt, lead to a contest between the landlords and the tenants. His object was to show the necessity of legislation on that subject, with the view of inducing farmers to invest capital more largely in the cultivation of the soil. For a few years from 1852, farmers who possessed leases derived considerable benefit from the establishment of Free Trade. But, as time went on, the advantages of the Free Trade policy were gradually appropriated by the landlords, and that was conclusively shown by the increase of rents. In 1855 the rental of Forfarshire was £370,598; in 1873 the rental had increased to £540,520, being an increase of nearly 46 per cent. In 1855 the rental in the county of Aberdeen was £526,640; in 1873 it was £750,000, being an increase of 42½ per cent. He was quite ready to admit that a certain portion of that increase was due to the expenditure of money on buildings not connected with agriculture, and that another portion was due to the great improvements effected in the cultivation of land since the introduction of the Free Trade policy which the landlords had strenuously opposed; but a very large portion of that increase of the rental was due to the improvements effected by tenant-farmers, which improvements were appropriated by the landlords as the leases fell in. It might be asked, why did the tenants pay such large rents? Tenants must accept the terms offered by the landlords, or expatriate themselves. The landlords had a monopoly, and a power to obtain a constantly increasing rent from their tenants. All, however, did not act thus, and it was said that the feeling which prevailed between the landlords and the farmers in England was of a more cordial nature than that which prevailed in the Northern part of the United Kingdom; and that, he thought, was due to the fact that English landlords were not as strenuous in insisting on an advance of rent as landlords in certain parts of Scotland. To show that the present position of agriculture was untenable, he would refer very briefly to the present prices and cost of production, as compared with that in 1855. He found that in the 10 years previous to 1855 the average price of wheat per quarter was 53s., and that the average price in the 10 years previous to 1872 was only 51s. 4d. Therefore, on an average of 10 years, the price of wheat was 1s. 8d. per qr. less than it was previous to 1855. not with standing the great increase in rents to which he had referred. It might be said that the price of beef had increased so far as the tenant-farmers were concerned; and so it had; but the advance in the price of meat had been very greatly over-estimated, and the public had looked more at the retail prices than to the wholesale prices. It was the wholesale price which was the test in judging what profit the farmer got on the produce of his land. He found on reference to a Return published by the Veterinary Department that the average price of beef was in 1864, 6⅝d. per lb., and in 1873 a mere fraction over 7d. The increase in the price of beef during these nine years thus amounted to only three-eighths of a penny per lb. That, no doubt, did not correspond with the experience of hon. Members; but he wished to point out to them that the great advance in the price had not been on the whole carcase, but on the finer portions. It was, therefore, not at all obvious how the Free Trade policy had been advantageous to farmers as it had been to all other classes of the community. Between 1852 and the present lime, as was shown by the figures of Mr. Caird, the value of labour had risen 50 per cent; and though labour was saved by machinery, the increased produce did not correspond with the increased cost of production. From that, it did not require a lecture on political economy to teach them that this state of affairs could not continue, and that it must result in one of two things—either there must be a reduction in the rents of farms, or the farmers must endeavour to meet the cost of produce by getting more out of the soil. He did not recommend or desire to see the first proposal. He did not desire to see any reduction in rents, because he thought that would be only an alleviation, and not a cure, of the evil; but he was of opinion that if there was a re-arrangement of the tenure of land, whereby a tenant would be induced to invest a much larger amount in the soil, the result would be highly advantageous, not only to the landlord, but to the tenant and the public generally. The problem before the House, and which he hoped the House and the Members of the Government would endeavour to solve, was how to ascertain the amount of capital belonging to the tenant left by him in the possession of the landlord on giving up his lease, and how he should be compensated for it. The Bill which was introduced by the hon. Member for South Norfolk last Session was a very fair endeavour to deal with the question, so far as England was concerned; but as a 20 years' lease withdrew the holder from the operation of the Act, that Act would not have been applicable to Scotland. He thought that they ought to endeavour to establish a system, whereby a tenant might be encouraged to maintain the fertility of his farm to the last year of his lease. Under the existing system, a tenant entering upon a farm endeavoured during the first half of his lease to increase its fertility; but during the latter half his endeavours were principally concentrated upon withdrawing from the land what he had invested on it, during the first half, in manure. The result was that they had a continual "see-saw," for when a farmer came into a farm, he found it wanted manuring, and when his lease expired, he left it in such a condition that a similar course must be taken by the tenant who followed him. If landlords were brought to recognize the policy of agreeing with tenants, some four or five years before a lease expired, for a renewal, the House might not have to consider this difficult question. He did not agree with the hon. Member for Linlithgow, when he indicated that two years would be sufficient to enable a tenant to withdraw from the soil money invested in it during the existence of the lease. He (Mr. Barclay) should say that if the tenant-farmer was able to do that, he must have done very little in the way of improving the fertility of his farm. He thought that they had a right to expect from Her Majesty's Government that they should endeavour to deal with this subject, for from what had been said by an eminent Member of the party, the tenant-farmers, not only in England but in Scotland, looked to the present Government for some measure dealing with the question, and he believed that that expectation was not without its effect at the last General Election. It would be admitted that the House required considerable pressure to induce it to deal with such questions, and he did not think that much could be expected so long as farmers allowed themselves to be led away by the question of the reduction or the repeal of the malt-tax, the transference of local taxation to the Consolidated Fund—which would benefit the landlords only—or by such a Tenant-right Bill as had been advocated by many Chambers of Agriculture, which simply allowed landlords and tenants to make bargains which at the present time were not illegal. So long as they were led away by these cries, he did not expect they would get much improvement in their position from the House. The importance of the question was shown by the fact that if the produce of the soil could be doubled by the judicious investment of capital, the annual return involved amounted to £125,000,000. In conclusion, he had much pleasure in supporting the Motion, although he did not agree with the speech of the hon. Gentleman who had brought it forward.
said, he was somewhat startled by the speech of the hon. Member for Lincoln, who did not say a word about there being anything defective in the cultivation of the land of this country, nor make any suggestion for improving that cultivation; but, on the contrary, had directed his whole efforts against the Bill of last year. Her Majesty's Government could learn very little from that speech, unless to distrust the advice of one of their own Members, whose Bill of last year the hon. Gentleman had so severely criticized. The hon. Member for Linlithgow followed the hon. Gentleman the Member for Lincoln, and certainly that hon. Gentleman had no very high opinion of the farmers south of the Tweed, whom he styled serfs and instruments in the hands of the landlords who oppressed them; but he said not a single word to lead to the inference that the land was not producing as much as it could possibly do. He (Mr. Pell) would challenge any other country to show such results. The cultivation of the land had improved and was improving. Not a word had been said about the cultivation of the land of other countries; but no other country in Europe approached us with reference to the amount of produce we got from our land. Take Belgium, for instance. She had a good soil; her people were active, and had every appliance necessary for getting the most out of the land. Belgium produced 3 bushels of wheat per head of the population; the United Kingdom produced at the rate of 3½ bushels. She had only 25 cattle and 12 sheep for every 100 of the population; the United Kingdom had 31 cattle and 102 sheep for every 100 of the population. The weight of foreign cattle was 5001b.; that of the British cattle was 6001b. The weight of foreign sheep was 501b.; that of sheep in England was 60lb. The land was not only able to raise this amount of food, vegetable and animal, but also wild rabbits, which he would rather do without. He was certain that Her Majesty's Government were ready to receive any advice pointing out the means of remedying anything that might need a remedy on this subject, and to act upon that advice: but all that had been done by hon. Gentlemen was to condemn the present state of things. The only attempt that had been made to legislate on the subject had been made by one of the Members of Her Majesty's Government (Mr. Read), and he (Mr. Pell) did not agree with portions of the Bill which that hon. Gentleman introduced. No measure could be devised to restrict con-tracts between landlords and tenants, which could not be overcome, if not by the general ingenuity of men, at least by legal ingenuity. With regard to a statement of the hon. Member for Lincoln, the larger portion of the land in this country was the subject of marriage and other settlements, and he appealed to the legal Members of the House whether it was not the invariable practice to insert in such settlements powers to grant leases and renewals of leases. For 30 years he had cultivated land for which he had paid rent, and he had never experienced on giving up one farm to take another the consequences described by hon. Gentlemen. When he took a farm the agreement stated the provisions under which he could go out of it and every prudent man would take this security; but when, owing to the low rent at which land had been let, men came tumbling over each other's heads to get it, and took it on any terms, evil consequences might follow. No legislation either could or ought to guard against that. He should be sorry if any Ministry attempted to foster the cultivation of the land. That cultivation would go on best when not interfered with by legislation. Probably only the abolition of primogeniture and of the law of entail, and the breaking up of large estates, would satisfy the requirements of hon. Gentlemen who came from the North of the Tweed, but he hoped they should never come to that in England. He did not agree with hon. Members that unlimited capital should be applied by the tenant to the land, but only so much as would yield a good return. It should be remembered, too, that in England, the landlord only got 3½ per cent for his capital, and the farmer from 8 to 10 per cent, and as a farmer he could do far better by hiring the land than buying it. In conclusion he trusted that Her Majesty's Government would not take up a subject like that at the fag-end of a Session, and would, if they dealt with it at all, do so at a proper time and in a proper way.
said, he was glad the question had been brought forward, for, as the law stood at present, a tenant, unless protected by express stipulations or by the custom of the country, could not obtain compensation for permanent improvements, and he thought that law ought to be altered. The Committee which sat in 1848, under the presidency of Mr. Pusey, reported that it was inexpedient to interfere with the freedom of contract. English farmers were perfectly capable of entering into contracts and protecting themselves, and it would be a very dangerous precedent to do away with freedom of contract. He would give a fair and equitable compensation to tenants, and he hoped the Government would direct their attention to this subject, with the view of introducing next Session a Bill founded on that of the hon. Member for South Norfolk, but without the 12th clause. Nearly three-fourths of the land of this country was held on yearly agreement, without compensation, and the Bill of last Session, without the 12th clause, would affect all those cases.
said, that as he had taken great interest in the Irish Land Bill, he had thought it his duty to come down to the House that evening, not to take part in the discussion, but to help to form a House. But he had never been more disappointed than he was with the speech of the hon. Member for Lincoln. So far from that speech being in favour of the Resolution he had proposed, every sentence of it tended in an opposite direction. The hon. Member objected altogether to the Bill of the hon. Member for South Norfolk. The hon. Member did not seem to know anything of the law with regard to this question. The law of England was, that if a tenant erected buildings on his land with the consent of the landlord, and if the landlord did not give him compensation for them when he was evicted, the tenant had a right to remove the buildings from the land. He (Mr. Downing) had always considered the Irish tenants were the worst treated in the world; but from the description he had heard that night, he must say the Scotch agricultural tenant was in a much worse condition. Scotch tenants could be evicted without compensation, and numbers had been turned out of their holdings without any cause whatever. Had there been no evictions in Scotland for the purpose of increasing game? Were not those people entitled to compensation? Why had Scotch Members not dealt with this subject as Irish Members had done? The result was, that in Ireland a tenant could not be turned out of his holding without six months' notice, and without compensation for improvements and also for disturbance in his occupation. A time would come when the tenants both in England and Scotland would feel their unprotected position, and when they did, there would be a greater agitation for a land Bill than ever there was in Ireland.
Sir, I came down to this House to fulfil my first duty—to assist in securing a House for the Gentlemen who had Motions to-night, and also, like the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, for the purpose of listening to the hon. Member for Lincoln. But I must say I did not experience that disappointment in listening to that speech which he has confessed. It appeared to me an extremely sensible speech—a speech delivered by a Gentleman who had well considered the subject, and who on all points connected with it took moderate and practical views. That speech was certainly a criticism—but a moderate, although at the same time an elaborate one—on the Bill introduced into Parliament last year on the subject of unexhausted improvements, and other points connected with the position of the farmer. Now, that Bill was one to the general scope of which I was not at all unfavourable, although there were clauses and provisions in it—which have been criticized with great power by the hon. Member for Lincoln—which I could not approve. The question is not one of such simplicity as some hon. Gentlemen would suppose. It has been before Parliament, more or less, during the long period I have sat in this House. When I first recollect its being discussed here, we were told by those who complained of the position which the farmer then occupied with respect to the compensation which was wanted for unexhausted improvements, that there was only one cure for the evils of which they complained, and that was, he should possess a lease. We were told that he should not only possess a lease, but he should possess a long lease, and that in every way possible we should bring the cultivator of the soil in England into a parallel condition with that of the Scotch farmer. A Scotch farmer with his long lease was always held up to English landowners as a model which we should attempt to realize in this country; and we were told the more we approached that position, the more prosperous would be the condition of the English farmer, and ultimately, that in realizing an identity of circumstances with the Scotch farmer, we should have a complete specific against all complaints that could be made. Now, we consider the subject with some advantage. First of all, time has brought us experience. Changes have occurred which have brought into this House Gentlemen intimately and immediately connected with the cultivation of the soil in this country, and also in Scotland. We have been addressed to-night by two Gentlemen—Scotch Members—who, I believe, are personally connected with the cultivation of the soil. And certainly the hon. Member for Forfarshire (Mr. Barclay) has given us a full and elaborate account of his experience in this respect. And what has he told us? Why, we have heard from him to-night—and, both from the high position in which he hat; been placed by his countrymen, and from the ability which he has displayed in addressing us, he is entitled to our confidence—we have heard from him that of all systems the one which is most to be deprecated is the agricultural system of Scotland based on long leases, and especially on leases of 19 years; that it is a see-saw system which enriches the land for the benefit of the cultivator for one half of the term, and then regularly exhausts it for the other half. And that is the system which for nearly half a century has been held up to the English, landlord as the one which he was bound in duty to realize and establish in this country, accompanied, as that advice was, with an intimation of the belief that, under no circumstances, was such an exercise of patriotism to be expected on his part. But we learn to-night that, on the difficult question with which we have to deal, we must on no account follow the Scotch example; and the highest authority—as I may conclude the hon. Member is on this subject—warns us that all that appeal to Scotch experience and Scotch farming must be thrown out of our consideration if we are to deal practically and satisfactorily with this matter. I say that that is a lesson which should not be without some result upon those who have been always calling upon the Government to take up this question as if it were a very easy and simple one, and who now appeal to a Ministry which acceded to office somewhat late in the Session, now approaching its end, and and in the teeth of the most contrary opinions expressed by every hon. Gentleman who has spoken to-night—because even those who supported the general Resolution of the hon. Member for Lincoln took every opportunity of opposing and arguing against every sentiment his speech contained and every reason it urged. Yet we are asked, under these circumstances, suddenly to cut this Gordian Knot. I must, on the part of the Government, disclaim such a duty on our part, and any readiness in a hasty, precipitate, and indigested manner to bring forward a subject of this kind. The question, however, is one that deserves the consideration of a Ministry; and if we remain on these benches—as I hope it is no presumption to suppose that we may do—a sufficient time to afford us an opportunity of fulfilling our engagement, we shall give to this subject the consideration which I, for one, believe it merits. In fact—I will not conceal it from the House—it is one which we have already considered. When the Government was formed, we naturally took into consideration the measures which, during the last Session of Parliament and at other times, were brought before the attention of the House. And this being a measure which much interested hon. Members, particularly on this side of the House, and which previously engaged our attention during the late Parliament, it is one which we neither wished to avoid considering, nor, had we wished, could we have avoided considering. But though I agree in the general sentiment expressed in the Resolution of the hon. Member for Lincoln, I am not prepared to support that Resolution, on this ground—that I think we must all have felt the great inconvenience of the House passing abstract Resolutions of the kind. The question of compensation for unexhausted improvements in the cultivation of the soil is one which has now occupied the attention of the country for a considerable period, and I cannot say that the debate has been promising of a very satisfactory result as regards a solution of it, or that if we were to attempt to frame our policy upon the opinions enunciated to-night by hon. Gentlemen—and especially by hon. Gentlemen opposite—I should be sanguine of producing a measure that would give the general satisfaction which one would desire on a subject of this nature. But I am still of opinion that if we do not seek after the impossible—if we do not attempt to force men into agreements which human nature recoils from, such as have been embodied in some clauses of the Bill which has been so often referred to to-night, there are grounds on which a very general concurrence might be anticipated, and that the general principle that for unexhausted improvements a bonâ fide compensation should be secured to the tenant, may be practically attained. That is all I wish to say on the present occasion. I have no desire to oppose the general policy expressed in the Resolution of the hon. Member for Lincoln. My opposition to it is based on the general ground that I think we should not encourage abstract Resolutions in this House, excepting under circumstances of great exigency and public interest. There may be occasions when the House is desirous that a particular policy should be followed, and when they have reason to believe that those who are in power are disinclined to follow the bent and disposition of the House and the country on a subject of this great importance. At such a time the House may be authorized to call upon hon. Members to adopt some abstract Resolution, or some general expression of policy; but that is not the case now, for the matter before us is one in which we are all interested, and in the main object to be attained we are all agreed. Therefore, in my mind, the best thing we can do, under the present circumstances, is not to require the House to declare any vague opinion, but to believe that in the next Session of Parliament the consideration of the House may be called to it in a manner that may not realize the views which some hon. Gentlemen have expressed tonight, but which may promise the practical solution of a question of great national importance.
said, he felt bound to appeal to his hon. Friend the Member for Lincoln, after the speech just delivered by the Prime Minister, not to divide. Considering the difference of opinion expressed even by the supporters of the Motion that night, they could scarcely expect anything more from the right hon. Gentleman than he had said. Most great reforms had been heralded by voting in favour of abstract Resolutions; but when they were brought forward, and voted upon in order to herald some great reform, those who supported them were generally agreed in their opinions. That debate showed that public opinion was not sufficiently advanced for there to be an agreement on that question. The right hon. Gentleman had, however, recognized the justice and the importance of giving the tenant compensation for unexhausted improvements, and the most advanced and earnest reformer on the subject of tenant-right was a Gentleman, now a Member of the Government, and one in whom the Prime Minister had expressed great confidence.
joined in the appeal to the hon. Member for Lincoln not to go to a division. Many Gentlemen on his side of the House, including himself, took as great an interest in that question as the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Seely), and to them the speech of the Prime Minister was eminently satisfactory.
said, that seeing the feeling of the House, he would, after what had been stated by the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government, ask leave to withdraw his Motion.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Main Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.
SUPPLY— considered in Committee.
Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.
Intoxicating Liquors (Ireland) (No 2) Bill Bill 114
( Sir Michael Hicks-Beach, Mr. Attorney General for Ireland.)
Order for Committee read.
(In the Committee.)
Clauses 1 to 3, inclusive, agreed to.
Clause 4 (Occasional licence required at fairs and races).
, in moving as an Amendment, in line 25, after "races," to insert "or open air assemblage or excursion," said, he did so on the ground that that description of licence was, at present, sold under very irregular conditions, and his object was to check the evasion of the law which occurred in consequence.
, in opposing the Amendment, said it would permit drink being sold at open-air gatherings in the North of Ireland, a proceeding he strongly objected to.
said, the consumption of intoxicating liquors at such meetings led to riots, resulting in the destruction of property, and he therefore felt bound to oppose the Amendment.
said, that on the grounds alluded to by the two hon. Members, he thought it would be better if the power to sell liquor was not extended on the occasions alluded to in the Amendment.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 5 (Occasional licences—extension of time for closing).
On the Motion of Sir MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH, Amendment made in page 2, line 41, after "words," by inserting "sunrise until."
moved, as an Amendment, to insert in page 3, line 1, after "hour," the words "not earlier than sunrise or," and in same line to leave out "not."
thought that by omitting the word "not," the clause would be rendered obscure, and suggested it should be retained.
Amendment agreed to.
moved, as an Amendment in page 3, line 1, to leave out "ten," and insert "eight." He said the purport of his Amendment was to prevent as much as possible drinking at races or fairs. When people went to such places, they should return home as soon as the races were over; but if tents and booths were allowed to be kept open until 10 o'clock at night, the consequence would inevitably be a great increase of drunkenness. He was informed that the object of the clause was not to accommodate the people, but gentlemen who stopped to dine, and who, by being allowed to remain until 10 o'clock at night drinking, set a very bad example to those around them.
Amendment proposed, in page 3, line 1, to leave out the word "ten," in order to insert the word "eight."—( Mr. Richard Smyth.)
was of opinion that the words "one hour after sunset" had better be inserted in the clause. By adopting eight, as proposed by his hon. Friend, they forgot that in winter that was a very late hour.
said, the original Act had nothing to do with fairs or races, but to enable persons attending public dinners to remain until 10 o'clock at night, which was certainly an early hour.
said, the right hon. Gentleman ought to fix an hour suitable to the season. Eight o'clock in winter was almost as bad as 10.
reminded the hon. and learned Gentleman that the whole question rested with the discretion of the magistrates.
But I object to give them a discretion to keep open booths and tents until 10 o'clock at night.
was afraid they were getting into a state of inextricable confusion, and hoped some Member of the Government would give them an explanation.
said, the clause merely meant this, that these places should not be opened until "one hour after sunrise," and not keep open later than 10 o'clock at night at the discretion of the justices. The hon. and learned Member for the County of Limerick objected to that discretion, but he (the Attorney General for Ireland) thought it was unreasonable to suppose a body of gentlemen in their position would use that discretion badly. If they did, they must be very unfit for the offices they held.
supported the Amendment.
thought the subject ought to be cleared up, and he should be glad to hear from the Attorney General for Ireland an assurance as to the cases to which the the clause was intended to apply. If they did not have that assurance, he thought the clause ought to be postponed.
stated that the clause was intended to apply to fairs and agricultural meetings, which might be held at places not licensed, and he could not see any inconvenience in allowing the powers.
supported the Amendment, and said that there was no question as to the capability of the magistrates to regulate the period during which the booths should be open. There was not any doubt of their fitness, but magistrates were not anxious to have such a discretion. Besides, there was not any reason why the House should not now decide that 8 o'clock was quite late enough to allow drinking on race courses. The sooner people were induced to go home the better; and certainly, so far as Ireland was concerned, order and tranquility could be much better kept at races if the people were sent off the course as soon as possible after the sport was over. There could be no second opinion about the matter, and if the Amendment was accepted the duties of the police would be very much lessened.
Question put, "That the word 'ten' stand part of the Clause."
The Committee divided:—Ayes 106; Noes 54: Majority 52.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 6 to 9, inclusive, agreed to.
Clause 10 (Exemption from closing in respect of markets, fairs, and certain trades).
, in moving, as an Amendment, in page 4, line 16, to omit the words "(one of such justices being a resident magistrate)," said, that if the words were retained in the clause, it would be making an invidious distinction between the ordinary country and borough magistrates and the stipendiary magistrates, who were the paid officers of the Government. Besides, be wished to strike a blow at the spirit of centralization, which was placing the management of all country affairs in the bands of the officials in Dublin Castle.
said, he warmly supported the Amendment of his hon. and learned Friend; but it was because he proposed to himself a very different object in carrying it than that put forward by him. It was known the stipendiary magistrates could not be ubiquitous. In the West Riding of Cork County one stipendiary magistrate was supposed to attend ten Courts of petty session, and of these he was only able to attend four, and that only once a fortnight.
said, he had no wish to make any invidious distinction between the country gentlemen and the resident magistrates, and he would therefore agree to the Amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
Words struck out accordingly.
, in moving, as an Amendment, in page 4, lines 26 and 27, to leave out from "except" to "morning," both inclusive, and insert "being between the hours of two of the clock in the morning and the usual hour for opening such premises," said, its purpose was to enable the magistrates to grant exemptions in the morning in favour of men attending fairs and markets. As a rule, he objected to exemptions, especially those which related to keeping open at night, as the houses were sure to be used by all others besides those in whose favour the exemptions were granted; but he thought that men who were up all night driving cattle to the fairs and markets, or in carrying commodities to them, should be enabled to obtain in the morning that refreshment which they needed, and he would extend the same indulgence to those who were engaged about the markets. As the clause stood great evil would be caused by certain houses being kept open all night for the accommodation of printers, bakers, steam-packet porters, and such persons. He trusted the Government, who really would be responsible for the bad effects of allowing the clause to pass, would accept the Amendment.
supported the Amendment, thinking it absolutely necessary that people who attended fairs and markets should have the means of refreshing themselves.
believed there would be cases where exemptions of this kind would be just as necessary as a public convenience before the hour of one in the morning as after the hour of two. The working of this clause was only meant to be exceptional. It was carefully guarded by the provision that licences of the kind should be only granted in potty session, and only for such days and hours as were named in the licence.
said, that in the City of Dublin this clause would lead to the very worst consequences. Previous to the passing of the late Act of Parliament, there were what were called night-houses in London allowed by the Commissioner of Police to be open nearly all night, presumably for the convenience of printers, but the fact was these houses wore open to all the world. He protested against the possibility of a gin-palace being opened at all hours at the very doors of largo factories, and the only effect of such a course would be to demoralize those establishments.
moved the rejection of the clause altogether, and in doing so, said, he had no objection to the power as regarded fairs or markets, but what he did object to was giving the Commissioner of Police in Dublin the power of allowing public-houses to be open all night for the convenience of particular trades. If, however, the clause were amended so as to include fairs and markets, he would not oppose it.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the clause be omitted from the Bill."—( Mr. Sullivan.)
explained that in inserting the words "Commissioner of Police" he had followed the example adopted in 1872 for London, where the Chief Commissioner of Police was taken as the authority, and he thought the same authority in Ireland should be entrusted with similar powers.
agreed with the hon. Member for Louth that the effect of keeping these houses open all night would be most demoralizing, and said that he should not object to the clause if words were inserted giving this power to the Commissioner of Police if he thought fit, provided the consent of the managers of the factories to have the places open near them was obtained.
Question put, and negatived.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Motion, "That Mr. Chairman report Progress,"—( Mr. Sullivan,)—put, and agreed to.
Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Tuesday next.
New Mint Building Site Bill
On Motion of Lord HENRY LENNOX, Bill for the removal of the Royal Mint to a new site, ordered to be brought in by Lord HENRY LENNOX and Mr. CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER.
Bill presented, and road the first time; and referred to the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills. [Bill 162.]
House adjourned at One o'clock) till Monday next