House Of Commons
Monday, 29th May, 1876.
MINUTES.]—Supply— considered in Committee Resolution [May 26] reported.
Public Bills— Ordered—First Reading—Bankers' Books Evidence .
Second Reading—Local Government Provisional Orders, Aberavon, &c. (No. 7)* ; Smithfield Prison (Dublin)* ;Juries Procedure (Ireland)* .
Second Reading—Referred to Select Committee—Waterford, New Ross, and Wexford Junction Railway (Sale)* .
Third Reading—Customs and Inland Revenue ; Consolidated Fund (£11,000,000); Kingstown Harbour* ; Coroners (Dublin)* , and passed.
Parliament—Boroughs Of Norwich And Boston—Question
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether it is the intention of the Government, in accordance with precedent, to recommend to Parliament legislative action, based upon the Reports of the Royal Commissioners appointed to inquire into the existence of Corrupt Practices in the City of Norwich and the Borough of Boston?
, in reply, said, that it was the intention of the Government to act as mentioned in the Question of the hon. Member. In the case of the City of Norwich, they would recommend Parliament to disfranchise the scheduled voters, and to suspend the Writ during the present Parliament, and in the case of the borough of Boston to disfranchise the scheduled voters only.
India—Nizam State Railway—Loans To Indian Princes
asked the Under Secretary of State for India, Whether the shares of a Company formed by the Nizam for the construction of a Railway have been placed on the London market; whether such a proceeding is in contravention of the letter or spirit of the statute 37 Geo. 3, cap. 142, sec. 28, by which it is enacted that no British subject shall be concerned, either by himself or by any other person, in raising or procuring any money for such native prince; and, whether, in case the Act is not sufficient to meet the case, the Government will introduce a Bill to remedy the defect?
Sir, it is true that certain shares were issued last Summer by the promoters of the Nizam's State Railway Company, in pursuance of an agreement entered into between the Government of Lord Mayo and the Nizam. With regard to the second part of the right hon. Gentleman's Question, I must remind him that, according to 37 Geo. III. cap. 147, sec. 28, the consent or approbation of the Secretary of State in Council or of the Indian Government has in such cases to be obtained in writing.
asked Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, If he will lay upon the Table of the House the Report of the Committee recently stated to have been appointed by the former Administration, consisting of the President of the Board of Trade, Chancellor of the Exchequer, First Lord of the Admiralty, and Secretaries of State for War and Foreign Affairs, to investigate and report on the works at Dover Harbour; and, if he will explain the intentions of Government in respect to spending more money on Dover Harbour works, or on Harbour improvements along the dangerous parts of the coasts?
, in reply, said, he was not officially in possession of either the Report or the records to which the hon. and gallant Member referred; indeed, he was not aware whether any Report had been made by the Com- mittee named. He presumed, from the hon. and gallant Member's statement, that there had been a sort of Cabinet Council, consisting of certain Heads of Offices, and that they conferred together on the subject; and no doubt the late Government did agree to the introduction of a Bill with reference to Dover Harbour, but he presumed there was no formal record made by any such Committee. The hon. and gallant Gentleman was perfectly aware that a Bill on the subject of the Harbour was prepared before the last Session, and that last Session a similar Bill was submitted to a Select Committee, of which he believed the hon. and gallant Gentleman was himself a Member. In consequence, however, of the great extension given by the recommendations of that Committee, the Bill was laid aside for consideration; and the Government, in reference to works and other matters of expenditure which they had in view, did not find themselves able to bring forward such a Bill during the present year. With regard to the second part of the Question, there were two different considerations to be borne in mind—namely, harbour works for the preservation of shipping which might apply to other places besides Dover, and works for military and naval defence. In reference to the first of these considerations, the policy of the Government was to encourage loans, through the Public Works Loan Commissioners, for the construction of Harbours of Refuge where the local authorities were unable to carry them out themselves. No doubt, the same course would be open to the Dover local authorities. As to military and naval purposes, the Government were not in a position at present to make any statement, but the subject was one which was under their consideration.
Army—Desertion—Case Of Samuel Chappell—Question
asked the Secretary of State for War, Whether his attention has been called to the case of Samuel Chappell, charged with deserting from the 85th Regiment twenty-two years ago (1854) being then only seventeen years of age; whether it was not proved before the justices at Stockport that Chappell had since served many years in the army of and become a naturalized subject of the United States; whether Chappell has not been in prison on this charge from the 24th of April; and, whether he will feel disposed, under the circumstances, considering the lapse of time and the imprisonment already undergone, to advise the use of the Royal Prerogative to release the man?
On the 18th ultimo, Sir, the clerk to the borough magistrates at Stockport reported to the War Office that Samuel Chappell was charged with desertion from the 85th Regiment in 1854, and that he admitted the charge, but in defence produced a certificate of naturalization as an American citizen, dated the 1st of November, 1867. He was attested on the 14th of June, 1854, declaring his age to be 18 years, and he deserted on the 2nd of February, 1855. The clerk added that the prisoner had been remanded on bail pending the Secretary of State's instructions. In reply, dated the 20th of April, the magistrates were referred to Section 15 of 33 Vict., cap. 45, which enacts that a British subject who becomes an alien—
The magistrates thereupon committed him as a deserter, and he was removed under escort to Portsmouth, after the necessary inquiries had been made that there was sufficient evidence to try him. He was tried on the 16th of May and found guilty of desertion, but, on account of the state of his health and other circumstances, was not sentenced to undergo any punishment. An order for his discharge from the Army, with a protecting certificate for the future, was sent to Portsmouth on the 26th instant."Is not thereby discharged from any liability in respect to any acts done before the date of his so becoming an alien."
Navy—The Dockyards, &C—Admission Of Foreign Officers
:asked the First Lord of the Admiralty, Whether he proposes to take any steps to limit the opportunities now afforded to Foreign Officers of becoming acquainted with all the latest improvements and alterations in the designs of ships building in the Dockyards, and with the results of experiments carried out at great expense to the Country; and whe- ther, if he is unable to put a stop to the present practice of showing everything to Foreign Officers, he will place the same facilities of acquiring information into the hands of our own Officers?
, in reply, said, that the foreign officers admitted into the Dockyards in this country were placed under regulations. No special opportunities were afforded to them for becoming acquainted with the results of experiments in this country, except on the condition of reciprocity; and if there were any further limitations, we should be deprived of the advantage of acquiring similar information from foreign countries. All proper facilities for acquiring information were given to such of our own officers as were considered entitled to them by the Admiralty.
Education (Ireland)—Irish National School Teachers
asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland, Whether it is the intention of the Government to submit any proposal to this House during the present Session for the purpose of placing the condition of the Irish National School Teachers in a satisfactory state as regards their remuneration?
I am not at present authorized to give any very definite reply to the hon. Member's Question, but I think it is clear from the very contradictory views expressed by several hon. Members in the debate which he raised on the subject that, in the present state of Public Business, any proposals for an alteration of the law could not be successfully made during the present Session. The question, however, may be dealt with in another way, to which I made some reference in the debate to which I have alluded, and that is still under the consideration of the Government.
Law Appointments (Ireland)—Case Of James Devine—Question
asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland, Whether the Lord Lieutenant has approved of the appointment by the Magistrates of the Petty Sessions district of Borris, in the county of Carlow, of James Devine as Petty Sessions Clerk; and, whether there is not a regulation prohibiting the appoint- ment of a person more than 40 years of age to the office of Clerk of Petty Sessions; and, if so, is it not a fact that James Devine is over that age, and therefore ineligible?
Sir, the appointment of James Devine as Petty Sessions Clerk at Borris has not been approved. There is a regulation against the appointment of a person more than 40 years of age to a Petty Sessions clerkship, which has not been altered, and I understand that the person in question is above that age. But it has always been customary to allow exceptions to that limit in the case of persons whose professional qualifications or past experience in the public service might warrant it. I am not at present sure how far the case in question would come under these exceptions; but I should be always anxious to consult the wishes of the local magistrates in matters connected with these appointments, so far as could be done consistently with, the interests of the public service.
New Public Offices—Site
asked the First Commissioner of Works, If it is the intention of the Government, in accordance with the intimation given at the commencement of the Session, to introduce a Bill for the purpose of appropriating as a site for public offices the land and buildings within Great George Street, King Street, Charles Street Westminster, and St. James's Park?
, in reply, said, the Government had abandoned their intention to introduce a Bill with reference to this site.
Metropolis—The Ornamental Waters In St James's Park
asked the First Commissioner of Works, Whether his attention has been directed to the offensive effluvium from the ornamental waters in St. James's Park which has prevailed for some time past; and, if so, whether he is prepared to remedy the evil before it is intensified by the heat of summer?
, in reply, said, his attention was called to the matter under notice in consequence of the Question of the hon. Member. The lake in St. James's Park was thoroughly cleaned out in December last. Since then a considerable quantity of water had been pumped into it; but for a short time there had been a dry season, and that supply was lessened. Since then there had been a plentiful supply of water. He thought the hon. Gentleman would agree with him that it would be most unsafe at this time, when the hot weather was approaching, if he were to set to work to have the lake drained off again in order to remove the deposit.
Poor Law—Out-Door Relief—Case Of Charlotte Hammond
asked the President of the Local Government Board, If his attention has been called to the death of Charlotte Hammond in Westminster from starvation, and to the verdict of the jury on the inquest; and, further, to ask if, considering that the Poor Law Amendment Bill is now in Committee, he will not consider the advisability of introducing a Clause which shall give the guardians greater power to deal with such cases in the way of out-door relief?
Sir, my attention was called to the case of Charlotte Hammond by the statements which appeared in the newspapers on Friday last, and I immediately directed a communication to be addressed to the Guardians asking whether they had investigated the circumstances, and, if so, with what result. This morning I have received a deputation from the Guardians asking that an inquiry may be made under the provisions of the Poor Law. To this, of course, there can be no objection if it should appear to be necessary; but, in order to determine on the exact course to be taken, I have applied to the coroner for a copy of the depositions. In reference to the suggestion of my hon. Friend, I have to inform him that no amendment of the law is necessary to enable the Guardians to deal with cases of this kind. There is no order of the Local Government Board prohibiting out-door relief in St. George's Union, and the Guardians have ample powers for dealing with such cases as the one in question. The only condition that applies to such relief being given, is that if given to able-bodied persons they must require work to be done.
Merchant Shipping—Lighthouse On Coningbeg Rock—Question
asked the President of the Board of Trade, If any steps have been taken to erect a lighthouse on the Coningbeg Rock, outside Waterford Harbour, as recommended by the Board of Irish Lights?
Four years ago, Sir—namely, in March and April, 1872—the Board of Trade and the Trinity House suggested to the Commissioners of Irish Lights that a careful survey of Coningbeg Rock should be made, in order to determine the practicability and probable cost of carrying out the proposal which these Commissioners had made to place a lighthouse on the rock, in lieu of the light-vessel now stationed there; but the Board of Trade have heard nothing further on the subject from the Irish lighthouse authority. At the same time, the Board of Trade authorized the Commissioners of Irish Lights to place a powerful fog signal on board the light-vessel. I may add that in 1843 attempts were made to erect a pile lighthouse on this rock, which were not successful, and were abandoned.
United States—The Emma Mine
asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether his attention has been called to the report of the proceedings before the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives at Washington, and the evidence given in relation to the "Directory of the Emma Mine, so called," and, whether, in view of the grave disclosures made therein as to the alleged fraudulent suppression and misrepresentation of material facts in the prospectus of the Emma Mine by parties resident in Great Britain, it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to take the opinion of the Law Officers of the Crown as to the advisability of instituting criminal proceedings against the parties implicated therein?
Sir, I have read in the newspapers—in a casual and cursory manner—an account of the proceedings at Washington upon those matters to which the hon. Gentleman's Question refers; but the statement did not appear before me in that authentic and authoritative manner which would justify me in considering whether I should take the grave step to which the hon. Gentleman refers.
gave Notice that on the earliest day he could obtain he would move for the appointment of a Select Committee to make certain inquiries relating to the Emma Mine, the Lisbon Steam Tramways Company, and other companies of a like character, which had either been compulsorily or voluntarily wound up.
Army—Forage To Mounted Officers—Question
asked the Secretary of State for War, If he will modify the new rule, which withdraws forage from mounted officers who are unable to certify that they are the bonâfide owners of the horses they use on military duty, so far as to permit of officers drawing forage for those horses which they use for military duty, and of which they have the exclusive control; and, if he will grant any relaxation of this rule in the case of mounted Militia officers who are called out for twenty-seven days' training?
Sir, the rule is not exactly a new one, it is the revival of the old-established practice of the Service, revived after a very full discussion by a Committee, of whom the Adjutant General, Quartermaster General, Surveyor General, Accountant General, and others are members. It was revived to remedy certain evils arising out of a relaxation of the rule, and it would not be wise to alter it without further experience. With regard to the Militia, there will be no objection to their drawing forage for horses hired for the period of the training, the duty being of a temporary character.
Local Finance—Indebtedness Of Local Authorities—Question
asked the President of the Local Government Board, If he can state approximately the total amount of indebtedness of local authorities on the latest day up to which the accounts are made up?
Sir, my hon. Friend is aware that the information he desires is compiled from Returns furnished under statute by the various local authorities of the country, many of whom are not subject to the control of the Government. The Returns for the year ending June, 1875, have been received and are in process of tabulation, and in the course of a week I shall be able to state the result. I think it will be more satisfactory that I should give an accurate statement a week hence rather than an approximate statement at this moment.
asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether there is any truth in the statement so positively made in the "Standard" of the 26th instant, under the head from our own Correspondent at Constantinople of May 19th—
and, if so, seeing that this Scheme is totally unauthorized and entirely disavowed by the English Bondholders—a fact well known to Sir Henry Elliot—whether this alleged statement of the English Ambassador has been made; and, if so, whether it was made by the authority of the Foreign Office, or is merely a personal and unauthorized expression of his own; and, if there is any objection to produce any Correspondence or Communication between the Foreign Office and the English Ambassador upon the subject?"That the English Ambassador holds and has expressed the view that it would be a lasting dishonour to Turkey and a complete destruction to her credit if the proposed Scheme for the conversion of her debt, &c., be now dropped by the present Government of Turkey;"
Sir, in answer to the Question of the hon. Member for Newcastle, I have to say that so far as Her Majesty's Government are informed there is no truth whatever in the statement to which his Question refers. Her Majesty's Ambassador at Constantinople has not been authorized or instructed to use the language attributed to him in the Question of the hon. Member; nor do I believe for a moment, under these circumstances, that it is possible for Her Majesty's Ambassador at Constantinople to have used the language which is attributed to him. I need not add that under these circumstances there is no Correspondence at the Foreign Office to be produced.
Parliament—Sessional Order, 1875—Presence Of Strangers
asked the First Lord of the Treasury, On what day he proposes to move his Resolution as to the Exclusion of Strangers; whether such Motion will be taken before the Orders of the Day or as an ordinary Motion; and, whether the terms of the Resolution will be the same as when it was last on the Business Paper of the House?
I fear, Sir, I have given much trouble to the hon. Gentleman and to other hon. Members by the delay that has taken place upon this question, and I am sorry for the cause. What I wish to do, if the House will allow me to make the remark now, although it is not altogether regular, is to embody, so far as I can, the preponderating opinion of the House—absolute unanimity I cannot count on—but I wish to take a course which I believe will meet with very general concurrence, and with that view I incline to recede from the position I took the other day and adopt that which was in accordance with my original impression, and which I gave up from representations that were made to me that the general feeling of the House was that the Order, which was a Sessional Order, should be made a Standing Order. Time, however, has elapsed, and one advantage of the delay has been that I have been able to collect the opinions of the House, and I have come to the conclusion that what the House would prefer would be that the Sessional Order of last year should be repeated. I will not undertake to do more than that. I therefore give Notice that I will to-morrow move that the Order of the 31st May, 1875, relating to the Exclusion of Strangers, be made a Sessional Order. I shall put it down among the Notices of Motion, and it will not interfere unnecessarily with the expected Business of the House.
gave Notice that when the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman came on he would propose a Resolution to the effect that it should be in the power of the Speaker to exclude from the Speaker's Gallery and from the Reporters' Gallery any person who had abused the privileges which had been granted to him by the House.
Mercantile Marine—Wrecks Off Dungeness—Question
asked the President of the Board of Trade, If it is within his official knowledge that between September 22nd 1875 and May 18th 1876 ten vessels of a total tonnage of 5,000 tons have stranded on the coast of Dungeness; that three of those vessels (of a total tonnage of 1,981 tons) have been total wrecks, and that the "Ilmatar," stranded on the 18th instant, is now lying on the sands full of water?
Sir, it has been reported to the Board of Trade that between the 22nd of September, 1875, and the 18th of May, 1876, 13 vessels, of a tonnage of 5,523 tons, were stranded on the coast of Dungeness; five of these vessels (2,259 tons) became total wrecks. Seven of the 13 (three of the five total wrecks) were foreign vessels. The Russian vessel Ilmatar stranded at Dungeness on the 18th instant, but she has been got off and is now at Sheerness.
Parliament—Public Business—Scotch Bills—Questions
asked, Whether the Government seriously proposed to press forward any Scotch Bills, and, if so, when?
said, it was not the intention of the Government to proceed with the Ecclesiastical Assessments (Scotland) Bill or the Sheriff Courts (Scotland) Bill before Whitsuntide, and it would be a convenience to him, as well as to other hon. Members, if he could say on what day afterwards they would be taken. He hoped some of the Scotch Bills would become law.
inquired whether the Government intended to take a Morning Sitting to-morrow in order to facilitate the despatch of Public Business before the holidays.
, in reply, said, there was an important Motion, that of the hon. Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan), on the Paper for tomorrow, and he did not think it would be consistent with his duty to prevent it coming on at the usual time.
Customs And Inland Revenue Bill
( Mr. Raikes, Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. William Henry Smith.)
Bill 124 Third Reading
Order for Third Reading read.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."—( Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer.)
, in rising to move, by way of Amendment, a Resolution with respect to Irish Taxation, said: Mr. Speaker—Sir, before I enter into any explanation in reference to the Notice I have placed on the Paper I wish to state to the House that it was my wish that this discussion should have occurred at an earlier stage of the Budget, but I was forestalled by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Mr. Hubbard), and the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands), and was therefore unable until now to bring on the Motion. I am quite aware that there is no more unpopular subject in this House than Irish financial grievances, because the House believes that those alleged grievances are of a sentimental and unsubstantial character. All I can say is this, that if I did not know very well, from long and very earnest study of the question, that those grievances are of a very substantial and practical nature, I should not trouble the House on this occasion. I am not now going to enter into debate on a state of things long since past, but my observations will be applicable to the conditions that exist at the present day, being, in fact, practical commentaries on the taxation of Ireland at this moment. I will undertake to show that the finances of Ireland are in such a condition that if this country desires to restore the prosperity of that part of the United Kingdom they must enter on a very different course from that hitherto pursued. The taxation to be raised by the present Budget is greater than has ever before been raised in this country, either in the time of peace or war. I am aware that loans have been transacted, but I can find no record of anything like a taxation of £78,000,000 in one year. Well, Ireland is greatly interested in this, because her taxation is increased as well as that of England. I know, indeed, that a con- siderable portion of the taxation will be returned to those who pay it in the shape of subventions for local objects, and that a portion of it also is to be applied to the reduction of Debt. I do not intend, therefore, to make any complaint of extravagant estimates, especially as it is absolutely necessary for a great country like this to maintain its Army and Navy on an effective footing; but if we consider that the Income Tax, which is increased in this country, is also increased in Ireland, the remark may be pardoned in passing that the very success of the Income Tax—the fact that for every penny in the pound you now reap a revenue of very nearly £2,000,000—constitutes one of the strongest arguments against it; for it puts a premium upon slovenly finance. Everything in future will turn on the toss of a penny; because a penny of Income Tax either way means a sum of £2,000,000 for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to play with; and we are told that, now you have exempted small incomes, no one much cares whether the Income Tax stands at 2d. or at 3d. in the pound. Such a condition of things may well prove fatal to painstaking and careful finance as the country has hitherto understood it. Turning, however, from these general considerations, and coming to the subject with which I am more immediately concerned, I wish to make two statements to the House, to which I beg the attention of hon. Members. I affirm that within the last 23 years the taxation of Ireland has doubled, that Ireland now contributes to the Imperial Exchequer £8,500,000, as against £4,000,000 23 years ago. In that period the taxation per head in Ireland has risen from 9s. 6d. to £1 12s. 2d. per head. I would further remind the House that in a little more than the same period the population of Ireland has declined by 2,500,000 persons. Whatever explanation may be given of these circumstances, they are worthy of, and ought to receive, the earnest attention of the House of Commons. I am not going to say how far they stand in the relation of cause and effect, but I will say that no Legislative Assembly in the world could have such facts put before them without at once giving them their serious attention. It may be asked—how are we to know that these statements are accurate? My answer is, that every statement I have made is based on Returns which have been placed before this House, and which any hon. Member may consult for himself. Previous to, and until the year 1870 the finance accounts gave in separate tables the Revenue raised in Great Britain and in Ireland; but in that year a change took place in the form of those accounts, and the practice was introduced of lumping together the total Revenue of the United Kingdom, so that it is no longer possible to ascertain the amount contributed by England, Scotland, and Ireland respectively. That change in the form of the accounts was made under significant circumstances, when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of London (Mr. Lowe) was Chancellor of the Exchequer. To obtain the requisite information, I applied to the present Chancellor of the Exchequer to give us the means of ascertaining what had been the taxation of Ireland during the past five years, and with his usual courtesy he has allowed the finance accounts to be made up for those five years in the same form as before, and to be laid upon the Table, so that every hon. Member has now the opportunity of knowing what the Revenue is as derived from Great Britain and from Ireland respectively. If hon. Members will look at the Return they will find that from Ireland there has been collected during the last five years £42,000,000 of taxes. That is nearly £8,500,000 a-year, or £1 12s. 2d. for every man, woman, and child in Ireland. Of the £8,500,000 very nearly £6,500,000 are raised by Customs and Excise duties, and are therefore paid by the poorer classes of the people, and that is one of the most serious points in my argument. We pay the Income Tax in Ireland, but we have hitherto been excused the assessed taxes, and various exemptions have been made which affect the upper classes; but the great burden of the taxation, through the Excise and Customs, falls upon the poor. The House will remember, too, that the emigration of 2,500,000—which is a scandal and a shame to this country—is an emigration of the poorest classes. The facts I have stated are very little known to the House of Commons, but they are well known to some hon. and right hon. Members. They are very well known both to the present and to the late Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Lowe), and the late Chancellor has before this given his answer to them. He says it is not Ireland that is taxed at all, or England, but the people living in Ireland or England. The individual taxpayer in Ireland pays the same as the individual taxpayer in England or Scotland, and the taxation is therefore perfectly equitable. That is a very old theory of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lowe). When the celebrated Committee of Colonel Dunne was appointed, in 1865, by the House of Commons to investigate the financial grievances of Ireland, the right hon. Gentleman used this very argument in the Committee, and he proposed an Amendment to that effect to the Committee's Report. Nobody was found to second his Amendment, however, and it fell to the ground; but as the matter is of importance I will ask leave to read it to the House. Mr. Lowe said—
As a protest to the doctrine of the right hon. Gentleman, the Committee adopted a very different Resolution, which was proposed by the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I will read to the House the following extract from it:—"As the taxes imposed on England and Ireland are paid, not by those countries, but by the individuals who live in them; as these taxes are imposed either on expenditure or in proportion to income, and very fairly adjusted to the ability of the taxpayer; and as a man taxed in proportion to his ability in a poor country is just as able to bear taxation as a person possessed of the same means or making the same expenditure in a rich one, your Committee attach little value to such proportions as bearing on the question of Irish taxation, or the ability of the individual Irishman to bear it. Your Committee cannot admit that a country in which no tax oppressive to any individual exists is nevertheless injured and oppressed by excessive taxation."
These were the words indorsed by the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, and anybody can see the fallacy on which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of London (Mr. Lowe's) amendment was based. He regarded only the obvious, superficial, and direct effects of taxation. He took no account of all the remote and secondary effects, which must be regarded by anybody who proposes to rule a great country. Let me put a case to the House. If a gentleman has an estate of £5,000 a-year, and he spends the £5,000 upon himself, at the end of 12 months he will have nothing left to expend on the improvement and development of the resources of his estate. If reproached by his tenants for his reckless and improvident expenditure, what answer will it be for him to say—"Oh! I only spend the same amount as my neighbour?" Well; but his neighbour has an income of £10,000 a-year, and therefore, after spending £5,000, he would have at the end of the 12 months £5,000 to lay out in benefiting his estate. Now, that illustrates the case of Ireland as regards taxation. The case of Ireland is that by this heavy taxation you have removed and do remove such an immense proportion of the income of the country, that not only have the people been obliged to fly to happier climes to gain a livelihood, but there is nothing left to develop the resources of the country. The country is borne down by the excessive character of the taxation, and the abject and miserable poverty, the result, in part, of it, is one of the chief causes of discontent in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of London would fix on other men's shoulders a burden which he would not bear on his own. The burden of taxation in Ireland is not only equal to that of England, but infinitely and shamefully larger. England pays in proportion to the income of the people an amount of taxation which is a mere trifle compared with the taxation of Ireland, and I will prove it. Every financier from Adam Smith downwards lays down the doctrine that the taxes to which a man is liable ought not to be taken from his gross income, but from his net income, and that principle is recognized by this House in the exemptions which have been sanctioned in the income tax. Let me now apply the same principle in dealing with this subject. It is no use stating how much per head individuals pay, unless we know what their income is; because a tax which is light enough to the rich man falls with heavy weight on the poor man. What is the income of Great Britain? Probably, he best estimate ever formed was made by the late Mr. Dudley Baxter in 1869. Mr. Baxter took the amount assessed to the income tax at £400,000,000; he put the income of the wage-earning class at £325,000,000 more; and another £75,000,000 was derived from other sources; thus making the whole income of Great Britain £800,000,000. That estimate is, I believe, generally accepted as the most correct, and certainly the most moderate, that was ever made. Now, what is the income of Ireland? The income on which income tax is assessed in Ireland amounts to £26,000,000; and if we add to that an estimate on the same basis as the one I have referred to as to the income of the wage-earning class, we shall bring up the total income of Ireland to about £48,000,000, which is rather over-estimating than underestimating it; because the total wages in Ireland bear a less proportion to the other sources of income, while I have put them in the same ratio as in England. What taxation does Ireland pay out of that £48,000,000? Why she pays £8,000,000, that is, there is contributed to the Imperial Exchequer 3s. 4d. of every pound of her income. But then what does England pay out of her £800,000,000 of income? Why, England paid, at the time Mr. Baxter's calculation was made, exactly £67,000,000, which is only at the rate of 1s. 8d. in the pound instead of 3s. 4d. as paid in Ireland. I challenge contradiction to that from either side of the House or from any Chancellor of the Exchequer, past or present. If anybody should question the statement, I should be quite prepared to submit the matter to, say, the same arbitrators as determined the Alabama question, giving England the benefit of the Lord Chief Justice as its Representative, into the bargain, for I am certain that any body of arbitrators could only give one decision. I have hitherto spoken only of Imperial taxation, but both England and Ireland pay local taxation as well, and in the House of Commons we have all heard the groans of the former country under the infliction imposed upon it in that respect. If we add local taxation as given by Baxter, it results that in 1869 the local taxation of England was £19,000,000, which added to £67,000,000 of Imperial taxation makes a total of £86,000,000 paid by Great Britain. Now the local taxation of Ireland is £3,500,000, which added to £8,500,000, paid to the Imperial Exchequer, makes a total taxation of £12,000,000 out of an income of £48,000,000. That unhappy country, which many hon. Members believe is given only to useless and purposeless complaints, pays to taxation one quarter of its annual income. England pays £86,000,000 out of £800,000,000, which is at the rate of 9½ per cent, or, say, in round numbers, for the purpose of the argument, 10 per cent, against the 25 per cent paid by Ireland. If Great Britain was taxed on the same scale as Ireland, Great Britain would pay £200,000,000 in taxation; while, on the other hand, if Ireland was taxed on the same scale as Great Britain, instead of paying £8,500,000, she would pay less than £5,000,000; which is about the amount at which Ireland ought to be assessed. Now I must go a little further. There is a widespread impression in this House that Ireland is the spoilt child of the Kingdom, and that she has received great favour in the shape of exemptions from taxation. I deny that it is so. Let us look closely at the taxes from which Ireland has been exempted, which are the assessed taxes—the land tax, the railway passenger duty, and for a short period the income tax. These taxes, excluding the income tax, which was speedily imposed on Ireland because a very rich gentleman transferred nearly a million of money from the English to the Irish funds so as to escape the tax, produced altogether in Great Britain about £4,000,000, and if Ireland had been obliged to contribute to all of them in proportion to what she contributes to other taxes, her contribution would have been £326,000. That sum, then, represents the whole of the exemptions which have been given to Ireland, and it is a mere bagatelle in comparison with the excessive sums taken from her in other directions. But there is another thing. It is said that Ireland gets an undue share of contributions directly from the Imperial Exchequer, and that the Government is very liberal in supporting her public institutions. Now, the contributions from the Exchequer to Great Britain are about £3,500,000, under the heads of Police, Poor Law, and Education. The amount contributed to Ireland for similar purposes is £1,768,000; and then there is £150,000 or £200,000 given to Irish institutions, to which there are no corresponding institutions in England. That brings up the total contributions from the Exchequer to about £2,000,000; but of that sum £1,000,000 goes to the support of the Irish Constabulary, a sum which ought, more properly, to appear under the head of Army Estimates. I admire the Irish Constabulary as a body; but I think it ridiculous to say, that among the grants from the Imperial Exchequer to Ireland, there should be one including the cost of an army of occupation, which that force more accurately represents. All that we get then as direct contributions from England is something less than £1,000,000, and against that we have, as I said, the revenue from Ireland amounting to £8,500,000, which is largely raised under the two heads of Excise and Customs, and of which the principal sum is derived from the spirit duties. Those duties, as everybody knows, have been from time to time augmented, first by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone), and then by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, until they now amount to 10s. per gallon—a point at which they have become oppressive to the Irish people. I, and others, have been accused of desiring to lower the spirit duties, and it has been said that the whole grievance of Ireland is that the Irish have to pay too much for their whiskey. These sneers are unworthy of any hon. Member who reflects at all, and they will not dispose of these discussions. For my part I have never asked for the lowering of the spirit duties, and I do not know that any friend of Ireland would make such a request. But it is quite possible by making a tax too heavy to do harm and injustice in a direction you do not contemplate. The national beverage of England, as we all know, is beer, and the national dish beef; but what makes beer so acceptable to the people of England? Why, it is the alcohol which it contains, for one glass of Bass contains nearly as much alcohol as two glasses of sherry. It is that which makes it acceptable, as the alcohol in whiskey makes it acceptable to the Irish people. But you do not tax beer anything like so heavily as you tax whiskey. The duty on the alcohol in beer is only 1s. 9d., as compared with 10s. per gallon on whiskey. If the alcohol in beer was taxed at the same rate as the spirits which the Irish consume, there would be raised to the country from this source alone a revenue of £95,000,000 a-year—enough to pay all the taxes and reduce the National Debt besides. Notwithstanding all the facts I have stated many hon. Gentlemen are still under the belief that Ireland is now prosperous and flourishing. Let us bring this to the test of figures. When you talk of the prosperity of Ireland remember that in that country there are only 273 manufacturing establishments, employing between 80,000 and 90,000 people. If you look to the flax trade in Belfast you will find that the cultivation has fallen off to the extent of 100,000 acres, and is now very much less than it was 20 years ago. There are 57 lines of railway in Ireland; but out of that number 40 pay no dividend at all. Again, 20 years ago the fisheries of Ireland gave employment to 111,000 men, and there were 20,000 boats. Now there are only 20,000 men and 7,000 boats. Returns presented to this House show that during 1872 alone 273,000 acres went out of tillage and were either converted to pasture, or, in the case of 50,000, added to the bog and waste of Ireland. Do you call it prosperity that 2,500,000 of the people of the country in 23 years have left her shores? Remember that that emigration has taken place during the time you have been increasing the taxation, and, as I believe, greatly in consequence of it. It is said, on the other hand, that there are £30,000,000 of deposits in the banks of Ireland, but that is a misapprehension. Half of that amount does not consist of real money. It represents advances by bankers to their customers by way of discounting bills, and in other ways, which are called deposits in accordance with a peculiar system of banking which, I believe, originated in Scotland. There are only really about £15,000,000 of deposits. An apparent increase of £5,000,000, arising from the deposits of farmers, is only apparent, and is due, I desire to point out, not to the accumulations which they have made owing to the prosperity of the country, but rather to a change in habits, for small farmers no longer, as formerly, hoard their money in stockings or put it in some hole in the chimney, but deposit it in the banks, which of late years have been established in every small town. I am not at the same time prepared to deny that there are evidences that Ireland is in a better condition than it was some years ago, but how so? It is because you have largely by this excessive taxation driven away the people from the country. [An hon. Member: No.] If the hon. Member who says No can confute any of the statements I have made I shall be glad; but I repeat the people have been driven away, and I will not take a cry of No for an answer to a serious indictment. Hundreds and thousands of acres which a short time ago supported families and reared strong men, now raise nothing but beasts belonging to rich graziers, residing either in this country or in Ireland. Ireland is being rapidly reduced to the condition of New Zealand; it is becoming a great grazing country. The land is in the possession of a few proprietors, who, assisted by the overwhelming taxation, have got rid of the great mass of the population, and you have now in Ireland fields which are still green, but no longer gay with the shouts and the laughter of children. A desolation has been made in many parts, and it is called prosperity. We may be told that the tide of emigration has lessened within the last 12 months. I know it, but what is the reason? Why, it is that there is now even more distress as regards employment in America, to which the emigration chiefly went, than there is in Ireland. Having said thus much, Sir, I appeal to Irish Members on both sides to support this Amendment. To other hon. Members I would also make an appeal. Ireland has been too long the battle-field of parties. Every Irish question has been, considered in its political aspect, and truly enough there have been great political grievances in that country. You have, however, redressed many of the grievances in connection with the tenure of land, although the Bill passed by the late Government on that subject is far from perfect. You have also taken away the cause of religious discord, and have removed many great grievances; the chief one now being the refusal to let us manage our own affairs. I appeal to the House to take a broader view of Irish questions in future. We are linked to you by chains which, for my part, I do not wish to see snapped. Let us stand together, and be as one against the whole world; but let us each manage our own local affairs. When we come and ask for remedial measures, do not look at them as you have hitherto done with microscopic eyes or meet them with the arguments of a spurious political economy. I do not ask so much for the removal of taxation as that you should give to Ireland some increased portion of the benefit of that taxation. At present all Government manufacturing establishments are in this country. This money which you take from Ireland you spend in England on your manufacturing and other establishments for purposes of State. You return little or nothing of it to Ireland. You take capital from a poor and struggling country and add it to the capital of Great Britain. I ask you to look in a wise and statesmanlike manner and see if some portion of that amount which you raise in Ireland every year might not be laid out for the benefit of that country as you lay it out now for the benefit of England? The late Lord George Bentinck did initiate a policy of that kind; he devised a scheme for the construction by the State of railways in Ireland, and he laid that scheme before this House; and it is with shame, I confess, that his policy was defeated very much by the votes of Representatives from Ireland. The Ballot, however, has given Ireland, if not a Representation more acceptable to the House of Commons, a Representation more true. You will have no more votes of that kind from the Representatives who now come from Ireland. If the House wishes that in future England should stand firm, and if the cloud now threatening in the East is to grow larger and burst without doing any harm to this country, you must have Ireland with you; and the only way to get her with you is to do her justice, to give her all she reasonably asks, and in short to do to others as you would they should do unto you. It is in order to bring that about, Sir, that I beg to move, as an Amendment to the Motion now before the House—"The pressure of taxation will be felt most by the weakest part of the community, and as the average wealth of the Irish taxpayer is less than the average wealth of the English taxpayer, the ability of Ireland to bear heavy taxation is evidently less than the ability of England. Mr. Senior, whose evidence on the position of Ireland will be found very suggestive, remarks that the taxation of England is both the heaviest and the lightest in Europe—the heaviest as regards the amount raised, the lightest as regards the ability to bear that amount; but that in the case of Ireland, it is heavy both as regards the amount and as regards the ability of the contributor; and he adds that England is the most lightly and Ireland the most heavily taxed country in Europe, although both are nominally liable to equal taxation."
"That, in the opinion of this House, no financial arrangements can be satisfactory which are so framed as to make no provision for relieving Ireland from a burden of Taxation beyond her ability to pay as compared with Great Britain."
in seconding the Motion, said, when the Committee to which his hon. Friend had referred, had concluded its inquiries the right hon. Gentleman the present Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed a Report in which the following words occurred:—
If that were true in 1862 the Chancellor of the Exchequer must admit that the complaints now made ought not to cause much surprise, for since then both Imperial and local taxation had gone on increasing. One of the great objects of bringing the subject before the House was that a contrary opinion to that which was the true one prevailed in this country with regard to Irish taxation. It was generally believed, and the belief was sedulously fostered by the Press and entertained by a majority of that House, that Ireland was favourably treated in the matter of taxation. It was, however, in fact, the greatest fallacy that ever existed. Ireland was always treated as a particular entity when grants to her were under consideration; but the moment a complaint was made as to Ireland being unfairly taxed they were told—"Ireland is not taxed at all; it is only individuals who are taxed, and, as they pay the same taxes as Englishmen, they have no reason to complain." He admitted at once that it was only individuals who were taxed, but it was quite possible that some individuals might be more seriously affected than others by taxation. The Chancellor of the Exchequer admitted that indirect taxation pressed more heavily upon the weaker portion of the community than upon the stronger; and if it were admitted that the Irish community as a whole was poorer and less able to bear its burden than the English, it must be admitted that it suffered more severely in this matter of similar taxation, especially as regarded indirect taxation. To prove that similarity of taxes did not necessarily involve equality in the pressure of taxation, he would quote one instance. Suppose Ireland were inhabited by a people like the Chinese, who smoked opium instead of tobacco; and suppose opium were heavily taxed and tobacco were not taxed, surely all would admit that that tax would not press equally on the English and the Irish people. The tax would fall only on the smokers of opium, and in the case which he put would fall entirely on the community occupying a particular part of the United Kingdom. That was to a certain extent the case of Ireland at present. The beverage of the Irish people was more highly taxed than the beverage of the English; and it was from this particular tax that the greatest portion of the Irish revenue was raised. The Chancellor of the Exchequer might say that this was equally true of portions of England, and that those who drank whiskey in England would be just as much taxed as the Irishmen who drank it in Ireland. He admitted that, and he would say that if there were any portion of England as distinctly marked, off geographically and by legislation as Ireland was, it should also be entitled to the exemption which they claimed for Ireland. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the Report which he prepared for the Committee, said—"It is not surprising that the large increase which your Committee have noticed in the general taxation between 1852 and 1862, and again in local taxation since 1845, should have given rise to complaints; nor is it surprising that louder complaints should have come from Ireland than from other parts of the United Kingdom."
He should like to ask whether his right hon. Friend, since he came into office, had endeavoured to carry out that principle? Whether he had tried or not, the fact was that there had been increased expenditure within the last few years, and, with that, increased taxation. Another object in bringing forward the Motion was to disabuse the English mind of the idea that Ireland received an undue share of the Imperial expenditure. In certain matters she did receive a larger share than England. For instance, his hon. Friend the Member for Galway (Mr. Mitchell Henry) had alluded to the amount expended on the Royal Irish Constabulary, but he pointed out at the same time that it ought to be regarded rather as an Imperial than a local force. Local taxation in Ireland had largely increased of late, under the operation of various Public Health and Sanitary Acts, and in some parts of the country these accumulating expenses were exciting quite a terror, and in regard to them he thought aid should be given from the Imperial Exchequer. He did not desire to weary the House by entering into long details on the subject, but having taken a considerable interest in it, he did not like the debate to proceed without saying a few words upon it."The true lesson to be learned from the statements made was that it was important to make every effort for the reduction of Imperial expenditure generally."
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, no financial arrangements can be satisfactory which are so framed as to make no provision for relieving Ireland from a burden of Taxation beyond her ability to pay as compared with Great Britain,"—(Mr. Mitchell Henry,)
Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
said, the question had not advanced very much from the point at which it was left last year, when it was discussed on the Motion of the hon. Member for Youghal (Sir Joseph M'Kenna). At the same time, there could be no doubt that the hon. Gentlemen who had spoken that evening were both exceedingly well qualified to discuss the question, and had indeed done so with an amount of ability which entitled them to the respectful consideration of the House. He doubted, however, with regard to it, whether the House would be likely to arrive at any satisfactory conclusions from merely statistical discussions like the present, because the two parties did not meet upon altogether common ground. There was at the command of the Government, got together by gentlemen in their employ, a considerable amount of statistical information to which they might refer, if such a course were at all desirable, in order to show the real relation of the burdens as compared with the wealth of Ireland. Irish Members always alleged, however, that they were Dublin Castle statistics, and ought not to be appealed to. For that reason, he declined to avail himself of them last year, and although he could easily bring forward statistics against those of the hon. Gentleman, he doubted whether he could in that way very much advance his cause. Again, it was easy enough for hon. Members to show from a certain number of Returns that the taxation had increased by so much per head, and that the wealth of the country had not increased in proportion; or that England paid so much per head, while Ireland paid another proportion per head. He doubted whether by discussions of that sort they would get at any great results, because all those debates turned in the end to the conclusions arrived at by both the hon. Gentlemen who had addressed the House that evening. Hon. Gentlemen either arrived at the conclusion that they ought to make an alteration in the spirit duties, as compared with the duties on malt liquor and on fermented liquors in this country, or else that they ought to spend more money in Ireland than was done at present in proportion to what was spent in England. With regard to the second conclusion, he wished to point out that it was not consistent with the Resolution which the hon. Member had moved. If they were simply to go and raise more money, for the sake of expending a greater amount in aid of local burdens or improvements in Ireland, that would certainly not be reducing the burdens of the country. It was raising a different question as to whether they should deal in a different manner than they did at present with the great subject of local taxation. That was a subject in which Ireland, like all other portions of the United Kingdom, was interested, and it was a fair subject, at the proper time, for discussion. With regard to the question whether they ought to expend more money on public works in Ireland than in England, he might remark that that would be an uneconomical arrangement. The money raised for Imperial purposes ought, as it was at the present, to be expended in that part of the United Kingdom in which it could be spent with most effect. If, for example, a dockyard were removed from England to Ireland, where the cost would be increased, a burden would be imposed on the United Kingdom, including Ireland as well as England. Therefore the conclusion to which hon. Gentlemen opposite would draw the House, though they might argue it on its own merits, was not appropriate to this question respecting the mode of raising taxation. He was willing enough to discuss the question that Ireland paid too much, but it was useless for them to attempt to meet the question by spending more money in Ireland. Was it true—nay, was it possible—that they could be raising from Ireland a greater amount of taxation than she was able to bear? That taxation was divisible roughly into two great heads. First, there was the direct taxation, which fell upon property, and which was levied in proportion to the value of that property; and, secondly, there was the indirect taxation, which fell upon articles of consumption, and which was self-regulating, in as much as people paid the duties on articles of consumption only as far as they were willing to use those articles. In regard to direct taxation, he did not see how it was possible for a taxpayer in Ireland to pay more in proportion to his property than a taxpayer did in England, unless, indeed, there existed a system under which one man was made to pay, say 2d. in the pound, while another man had to pay 3d. If, however, they laid the same weight of taxation on the property of all men, he did not see how there could possibly be inequality. Was there, then, any mode in which the taxation was levied that was in favour of one country as against the other? If there was such a mode, and there was a difference, no doubt, in the mode of collecting the income tax, it was not against, but in favour of Ireland. Now, what was the proportion of income tax levied as compared with the wealth of the country? Hon. Gentlemen opposite took two different tests for ascertaining the wealth of the two countries. They assumed the basis of property as assessed to the Income Tax, and on this point he would have to say something. The hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Mitchell Henry) had made a remark on the change effected in 1870 by his Predecessor in office as to the mode in which the finance accounts were presented. He thought some light was thrown on the intention of his Predecessor in making that change by the Report of the Board of Inland Revenue in 1870. The Inland Revenue Commissioners, in their Report of 1870, said—
The argument, he admitted, might have more bearings than one, but it undoubtedly showed how very fallacious were arguments founded upon statistics of this kind, when compared with the irrefutable argument furnished by the produce of the Income Tax. If the produce of a 3d. Income Tax showed that it was levied upon incomes amounting to £100,000,000, it was difficult to see how it could be argued that that £100,000,000 of income did not exist. But he was told—"Yes, but you yourself have said that with equal taxation the tax will press more heavily upon the poorer than the richer country." He quite agreed with that observation; but it applied not only to Ireland as compared with England, but to the poorer parts of the two countries as against the richer portions of them, and even to poorer individuals as against the richer ones. If that were the state of the case, let them look at what had happened since 1865. Had taxation been increased since that time so as to press more heavily upon the poorer classes in the Kingdom. Taking the present Budget, for instance—was there anything in it that would cause taxation to press more heavily upon the less wealthy classes? The truth was that since 1865 the pressure of taxation had been largely reduced. What the Government were doing at the present moment, and what they were reproached for doing, was to extend the system of exemptions in favour of the poorer classes, and in this respect, at all events, Ireland would receive its fair share of relief. There was nothing, therefore, in the Budget of the present year that was unfavourable to Ireland. Since 1865 many taxes which pressed heavily upon the poorer consumer, such as the sugar duties, had been abolished, while, on the other hand, he defied anyone to show that any single tax had been imposed that touched Ireland peculiarly. The increase in the Revenue from Ireland was due, not to an increase of the taxation, but to its increased productiveness owing to the growing wealth and prosperity of the country. [Mr. Mitchell Henry: What about the spirit duties?] Why, they had not been increased since 1865. Reference having been made to the spirit duties, he would remind hon. Members that having a deficit to meet he had to adopt one of two alternatives—namely, either to make an addition to the income tax or to increase the spirit duties, and he had not selected the latter, because he knew that it would press very heavily upon the poorer consumers of Ireland. Did hon. Members really mean to propose what they had hitherto shrunk from doing, that the spirit duties in Ireland should be reduced? No one, he was sure, would get up in that House and contend that, in order to relieve the pressure of taxation in Ireland, the spirit duties should be reduced. But, excepting the spirit duties, taxation had grown very little indeed of late years in Ireland. A Return which had been moved for some two years ago by the hon. Member for Youghal showed the gross Revenue of Ireland derived from taxation in the years 1841, 1851, 1861, and 1871, distinguishing the amounts received from spirits, income tax, and other items of Revenue. The curious result of that Return was, that between 1841 and 1871, if they omitted spirits, there was scarcely any increase whatever in the taxation from Ireland, although they had had the income tax extended to them. That Return showed that the amount of the Revenue was £2,943,000 in 1841, and £3,600,000 in 1871, while the Revenue of England had increased in the same period from £41,900,000 to £48,700,000; and that whereas the rate of taxation in Ireland, exclusive of the spirit duties, was 13s. per head, that in England was £1 17s. Of course, the addition of the sums raised in Ireland by means of the spirit duties made a very considerable difference in the relative amount of the taxation of the two countries. It was quite unnecessary that he should go into minute calculations as to the amount Ireland got in the way of subventions in aid of local and other purposes; but that was a question on which Government had got a very good case. Undoubtedly, Ireland received a much larger sum in that way in proportion to her wealth, her population, and her taxation than either England or Scotland. He must, however, remind hon. Members that the question under discussion was not how much Ireland ought to be assisted in the way of general taxation, but whether the financial arrangements for the present year were or were not fair, and whether they did or did not bear with any undue hardship upon her, and for the reasons he had given he could not see that they did. He did not see how direct taxation fell more heavily upon an income of £100 a-year in Ireland than it did upon a similar income in Eng- land, neither did indirect taxation in Ireland fall more heavily on the consumer in Ireland than it did upon the consumer in England or Scotland. The Government were always glad to hear these matters fully discussed, and if they saw that any unfair burden was cast upon Ireland nothing would give them greater pleasure than to release her from it. Ireland had no doubt enjoyed, and continuously enjoyed, these exemptions. The Government did not at all desire to press that there should be equality of taxation. All they said was, that there was no case whatever to show that there was any inequality as against Ireland."A striking instance of the difficulty of drawing correct inferences from statistics of this kind was afforded in a Return printed by the House of Commons in 1868. The Return purports to show the proportion of taxation to the wealth of the country in England and Ireland respectively, and the amount assessed to Income Tax is taken as a measure of wealth in both cases. The result, as deduced from the figures, is, that in England the amount raised by taxation is £17 14s. for every £100 of Income Tax, and in Ireland £29 10s. 7½d. We trust that no one will conclude from this that the burden of taxation borne by Ireland is to that of England as 29 to 17, for a more erroneous conclusion could scarcely be arrived at. The Income Tax is taken as the common measure of wealth. Let us see what the Income Tax really represents in the two countries. We begin with Schedule A. In England the assessments on lands and houses under Schedule A are made upon the full annual value. In Ireland they are made, by special enactment to that effect, upon the valuation to the Poor Law, which we believe is, on the average, at the present time in Ireland, at least 20 per cent below the true value. The same observation applies to Schedule B. On Schedule C, when we come to consider it, still less reliance can be placed as a common measure of value than on the previous Schedule. For Schedule C represents the dividends payable at the Banks of England and Ireland respectively, and the dividends payable in the United Kingdom out of all foreign and Colonial revenues. The amount assessed in England is £32,500,000; in Ireland, £1,150,000. Not only, therefore, are there placed to the account of England alone all the investments of Scotland, Ireland, the Colonies, and foreigners in our own public funds, but also all the investments of the Irish, among others, in such securities as Indian Stock, Colonial Bonds, French Rentes, Danish, Dutch, Russian, Turkish, and other stocks of all foreign Governments. The same kind of remarks apply to Schedule D. London is the great central establishment of banks and public companies of the United Kingdom, and of many which carry on their business in the Colonies and in foreign countries. The investments of the Irish themselves in Irish companies are assessed to Income Tax not unfrequently in London, where the head offices of the companies are situated. Schedule E, again, is as fallacious a guide as the others. Under it are assessed in England £19,000,000 of salaries and pensions of public servants, and of officers of public companies, and £1,000,000 in Ireland, the officers of public companies being charged at the head office of the companies, and nearly the whole of the civil, naval, and military servants of the British Empire being also assessed in London. Even the public servants employed in Ireland are for the most part charged in England. What the truth may be as to the comparative burden from taxation in England and Ireland we are not prepared to say, but certainly the Return referred to does not afford any solution of the question."
said, that what they had to complain of was this—It appeared from Returns before the House that between 1841 and 1871 the gross Revenue levied in Ireland by taxation had been increased 90 per cent, but during that period the gross Revenue levied, in England had been increased scarcely 20 per cent. He admitted that by further applying the principle of a similarity of taxation, £360,000 or £370,000 more might be wrung out of Ireland; but let the House consider how differently Ireland was dealt with from Great Britain with reference to the total taxation as compared to income. Ireland paid 5s. 3d. in the pound taxation in proportion to the whole of her incomes, whereas Great Britain paid only 2s. 6d. and a fraction taxation on the whole of her incomes. If the whole of the increase of Revenue in Ireland had grown out of the spirit duty, could there be more conclusive evidence against the system applied to the taxation on spirits? Why did not the Revenue from other taxed articles increase as in England? Because Ireland was not in a prosperous state. The taxation on spirits in Ireland had increased £2,500,000, from £900,000 to £3,400,000. This increase of taxation was laid on a beverage that he was sorry to say was too much in vogue among his countrymen. But what had been the course pursued with reference to beverages most in use in England? The duty on malt had been reduced, and there had been a reduction in the wine duty. As a defence of the duty on spirits in Ireland, it was said that it was a tax paid by individuals who by refraining from the use of spirits could escape from the tax; but spirits being the beverage of the generality of the people of Ireland, the argument as to the tax being a tax upon individuals did not apply. The people of England were a cheese-eating people, and if a tax were imposed upon cheese in this country, could it be said to be a tax merely upon individuals? The people of England would resist the imposition of such a tax; but, as very little cheese was eaten in Ireland, the people of that country would not care if a tax were imposed upon cheese. The people of Ireland did not complain of the present proposals of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but rather of the whole course of fiscal legislation since 1851, which had relieved England and pressed upon Ireland, and which was justified on the assumption that similarity of impost was equivalent to equality of taxation, which was the fundamental error.
supported the Resolution, maintaining that injury and injustice were done to Ireland as compared with England under the present system of taxation. Whatever arguments might be put forward, the great fact remained that Ireland paid 5s. in the pound as against 2s. 6d. paid by England; and so long as that was the case Ireland would feel unjustly taxed. Beyond that, everything pointed to this conclusion—that, comparatively with England, the individual poverty and the anomalies of poverty in Ireland were enormous.
said, he had heard no answer to the case made out by his hon. Friend the Member for Galway (Mr. Mitchell Henry). Ireland contributed to the Imperial taxation—amounting this year to £78,000,000–£8,500,000, and Great Britain £69,500,000. That was not in proportion to the relative ability of the two countries. Allow him just to ask the attention of the House for a moment to the state of the case. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer began the question as to the taxation of Ireland by showing that so far as it was founded on the income tax there must be a very minute difference. Even if there were some little inaccuracy in the manner in which his hon. Friend had calculated the income of Ireland, owing to the different mode of levying the income tax there, that would not materially alter the question at issue. They might increase the income of Ireland from £48,000,000 to £52,000,000 or £53,000,000, and reduce that of England by £2,000 000 or £3,000,000, but the great injustice would remain all the same. He could not think the Resolution was foreign to the Bill before the House. They charged the right hon. Gentleman not with sins of omission, but with sins of commission; and by that Resolution they sought redress. It was idle to say that for commercial purposes Ireland was not in the same community. When they had a community they could not take away money from the community without injuring it. From the time of the Union down to the present day the finance of Ireland had always been dealt with as something belonging to a separate community, and when remissions were made in favour of any class in Ireland they always heard of the boons granted to that country. Suppose Ireland was now obliged to pay to England, as she did before 1817, by taxation of her own, a sum of £8,500,000, would that not be injustice? If they raised the same tax on spirits as they proposed, would they say that no injustice was done to Ireland? The question could not stop where it was; it was not to be met by the answer—"Do you ask us to reduce the duties on spirits?" He knew that they could not ask the Government to upset the whole trade on their taxation, right or wrong. They had arranged that the rest of taxation should be raised, but he called upon them, if they imposed one that did weigh heavily upon Ireland, to remedy the injustice—they did it in the rest of their financial schemes—and frame another tax, and give the relief to Ireland to the same extent as the tax they imposed. It was for them to devise that. But at the same time he must say for himself that he thought there was a great deal said that was not true about the high duty on spirits. He did not believe they suppressed drunkenness in proportion as they raised the price of spirits. Whenever they increased the price of a commodity they more or less diminished the consumption, but it was equally true—and it was one of the elementary principles of political economy—that an increase of price diminished the consumption of articles of first necessity far less than of articles of luxury. Unhappily, to the drunkard strong drink was a prime necessity, and they could not prevent him drinking strong spirits in the proportion as they raised the price. It was a common experience that a man would give up his dinner often and sell his clothes to have strong drink; but he said they were not asking them to reduce the duty on spirits. They were asking to have an injustice now done to Ireland removed. The injustice was not denied; it had been admitted in the course of the debate, and there was no case made out why it should not be remedied. Irish Members would have neglected their duty if they had not entered a mild protest against the continuance of a fiscal injustice; and, if the grievance was not redressed, he believed that another Budget would not be allowed to pass without much stronger opposition.
said, he did not want to divide, and would withdraw his Motion; but he might state that he thought the arguments of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not meet the case: and, however that might be, he was sure that the financial grievances of Ireland would not be lessened by the contempt with which they had always been treated by the front Opposition bench.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Main Question put, and agreed to.
Bill read the third time, and passed.
Commons Bill—Bill 51
( Mr. Secretary Cross, Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbetson.)
COMMITTEE. [ Progress 25 th May.]
Bill considered in Committee.
(In the Committee.)
On Question, That the Preamble be postponed?
said, he did not desire to raise a debate on the general principle of the Bill, he simply rose to make some observations which were of a somewhat personal nature, and had reference to what passed in the course of the discussion on the Motion for going into Committee on the Bill on Thursday last. On that occasion the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department made some remarks upon a pamphlet issued by a certain society with which he (Sir Charles Dilke) was connected—
rose to Order. He wished to ask the Chairman whether it was competent for the hon. Baronet, on the Question that the Preamble be postponed, to enter into a discussion on the general principle of the Bill. He was aware in one or two instances it had been allowed; but he would refer to the authority of Sir Erskine May to show that the reason why the Preamble was generally postponed was that the provisions of a Bill might be made consonant with any Amendments which might be introduced into its clauses in Committee, and that it was not usual on such an occasion to discuss its principle.
reminded the Committee that on the Question that the Preamble of the Lands Titles Bill be postponed, last Session, he, when about to make some remarks on the general subject, had been called to Order, and that the Chairman ruled it was not competent for him to make those remarks.
said, that the hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea had distinctly said that it was not his intention to raise any discussion on the general question at all, but simply to call attention to a statement affecting himself.
also understood that the hon. Baronet had no intention of entering into a discussion of the general question. He was surprised at the intervention of the hon. and learned Member for West Staffordshire (Mr. Staveley Hill).
The hon. and learned Member for West Staffordshire has correctly stated the reason which has led to the Preamble being generally postponed—namely, in order that its provisions may be made consonant with any Amendments made in the clauses of the Bill. That is, no doubt, a reason why the Committee has almost invariably been content to postpone the Preamble without any discussion thereon. The Motion has, I think, been regarded as one of those practical conveniences, enabling a question to be raised as to the proceedings, of the Minister or Member in charge of the Bill. On it a Question could be asked and answered; it is analogous to other Motions, such, as that the Bill be reported with Amendments, but it is not intended for general discussion. At the same time, I must state to the Committee that on more than one occasion this rule has been departed from. Last year there was a very notable instance of this. A noble Lord, occupying a position of great authority in the House, made a speech upon the general question, upon the Motion that the Preamble be postponed. I entertained great doubt at the time whether it was right that I should allow that course to be taken; but, on referring to precedents. I found that in one instance the hon. Member for Peterborough (Mr. Whalley) had entered into a discussion on the principle of a Bill on the Motion that the Preamble be postponed. Therefore, I did not feel myself at liberty to stop the noble Lord, though if my opinion had been asked, I should have stated to the House what I have now stated. The hon. Baronet the Member for Wexford (Sir George Bowyer) states that on a similar question I prevented him from discussing the principle of a Bill. I have no recollection of the circumstance at this moment; but I am rather inclined to think that some hon. Member having challenged the course taken by the hon. Baronet, I may have expressed my opinion as to the irregularity and inconvenience of the proceeding, and that the hon. Baronet, with that regard which he always has to the practice of the House, had willingly postponed his observations. I did not stop the hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea (Sir Charles Dilke), because I understood his observations had no reference to the general object of the Bill, but that he was entering into something which was more in the nature of a personal explanation.
said, that was so. He wished rather to give the hon. Member for Reading (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) an opportunity of making a personal explanation. Beyond that he merely desired to offer a few observations to the Committee in answer to the remarks which had been made by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department. Having been for some years Chairman of the Commons Preservation Society, and subsequently an active member of it, he considered himself partly responsible for the statements of the pamphlet. He had read it in proof, and had attended the two meetings at which it was discussed. He thought they had a right to call upon the Home Secretary to point out the passage which he characterized as untrue, because the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Hants (Mr. Cowper-Temple), the noble Lord the Member for Calne (Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice), Mr. Andrew Johnstone (formerly a Member of that House), and others, were prepared to stand by the statements which it contained. As to the other remark of the Home Secretary, that the pamphlet had formed the foundation of the Petitions against the Bill, a large number of Petitions were sent in before the pamphlet appeared. There had been no sending out Petitions from a central London office, and the Commons Preservation Society had had nothing to do with any organized Petitioning against the Bill.
said, that the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary had attempted to throw discredit upon the Petitions which had been presented against the Bill, because they were founded upon the statements in the pamphlet, which he characterized as untrue. There was no foundation for that statement of the right hon. Gentleman, for 228 Petitions out of 240 were presented before the pamphlet appeared, and there had been an entire absence of anything like an attempt to raise up opposition to the Bill amongst the agricultural labourers. With regard to the pamphlet itself, he (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) had written a certain portion of it, and the remainder was written by Mr. Hunter, who knew more about the subject of commons than any person in this country, and who had been professionally engaged in the great Epping Forest suit, and in all the other recent suits affecting commons. He affirmed that the pamphlet was a true, candid, and fair statement, and that the Home Secretary's extravagant language had no reasonable foundation. The right hon. Gentleman should credit his opponents with good motives, and not launch out into extravagant language about untruthful statements.
said, he was glad there was some such Society as a Commons Preservation Society, and no one would be more ready to join it than he, if its objects were practicable. He had always stated that great care should be taken that no common should be in closed which ought not to be so treated. With regard to the question raised in the Petitions, he was glad to hear what had fallen from the hon. Gentleman who had spoken; but he must add that the practice which was growing of central associations in London sending out Petitions over the country to be signed would not enhance their value. With regard to the pamphlet, what he meant to say was, not that its statements were untrue, but that it gave an untrue and unfair description of the Bill. There were a great many things in the Bill which were not to be found in the pamphlet, and when a pamphlet of the kind was put forward on behalf of a society, it would have been wiser to give all that was to be found in the Bill. For example, the pamphlet made no reference to the fact that he had embodied in the Bill the 10 recommendations of the Select Committee of 1869; it drew no distinction between inclosure and regulation; and it omitted all allusion to the fact that he intended to propose a Standing Committee to deal with these inclosure schemes, and to the great feature with respect to the presentation to Parliament of separate Reports, with verbatim copies of the evidence, upon each case that was dealt with by the Commissioners. He would, however, willingly withdraw the word "untrue" and substitute "unfair." His great object was to see that no inclosure should take place which ought not to take place, and which was not approved of by the calm judgment of the House. That he believed the provisions of the Bill would accomplish.
said, that he was in no manner responsible for the words and terms of the pamphlet, having been absent from the meeting of the Commons Preservation Society at the time it was prepared, owing to illness. He disclaimed all intention on the part of the Commons Preservation Society to prejudice or misrepresent the case of the right hon. Gentleman, but he believed they had not made any misrepresentation as to facts.
explained that the reason why he and his Friends opposed the Motion for the postponement of the Preamble was because they felt that the observations of the Home Secretary in reference to the pamphlet cast undeserved reflections upon them. He could assure the Committee that every line of that pamphlet had been most carefully considered and submitted to Mr. Hunter. He complained that the Preamble of the Act of 1845, which said it was desirable to facilitate the inclosure of commons, was left unrepealed, while, as the Home Secretary had explained, the Preamble of this Bill was to retard inclosure and facilitate regulation. Thus there would be two Preambles of co-existing Acts, such Preambles being quite contradictory. He wished to know whether the right hon. Gentleman meant to repeal the Preamble of the Act of 1845?
said, that what the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Fawcett) evidently wanted was a declaration in the Preamble that there should be no inclosure. He had raised precisely the same point in the Committee of 1871–2, when he made a proposition which was supported by no one but himself, the other 11 Members voting against it. In the legislation proposed, the Government were taking a perfectly intelligible course. They were introducing a Bill which professed to give no facilities for inclosures; but, at the same time, they were not prepared to say that there should be no inclosures at all. He deprecated the strong reflections recently cast by the hon. Gentleman upon the Inclosure Commissioners, who had simply acted in conformity with their instructions and with the spirit of the Act of 1845.
said, he was far from blaming the Inclosure Commissioners, but the defence just offered for them furnished the strongest reason for repealing expressly the Preamble of the Act of 1845, under which the Commissioners had acted.
thought that the words contained in the Preamble of the Bill, that in future inclosures regard should be had to the benefit of the neighbourhood as well as to private interests, were quite sufficient to show the bearing of the measure.
, admitting that the Bill was a step in advance for a Conservative Government, which was due to the subject having progressed by rapid strides of late years, said, it nevertheless followed too closely a direction in the Act of 1845 which had not worked satisfactorily, and had led to the wholesale inclosure of commons.
said, he had put on the Paper an Amendment which, if it was accepted, would make clearer the declared intentions of the Government.
said, no Preamble had any binding authority, but was simply an interpreting document. There was another matter to be considered besides the Preamble, and that was the title of the Bill. The Act of 1845 was an Act to facilitate the Inclosure and Improvement of Commons. That was entirely an Inclosure Act, and accordingly such open places as came under it ceased, by the very terms of the enactment, to be commons, and were treated as inclosures, whereas the present was, on the contrary, a Bill for facilitating the Regulation and Improvement of Commons, and Amending the Act relating to the Enclosure of commons. By this Bill commons, in coming under its operation, did not cease to be commons, but had that character preserved to them by being "regulated" as such. It was very unfair to infer the policy of the Commissioners, when they should have to administer an Act for preserving commons from that which they had pursued when administering one for the cessation of commons.
said, the Bill was really an extension of a regulation Bill introduced by the hon. Member for Reading (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) in 1861, and the only reason for having a Preamble was to draw special attention to its object. When they came to discuss it, he might have no objection to the introduction of words to make it more elastic within certain limits.
again urged that his objection to leaving the Preamble of the Act of 1845 unrepealed was not answered. The Preamble of that Act had been acted upon by the Commissioners, and when the Act itself was quoted as having influenced their conduct, he wanted to know what security there would be, if that Preamble remained unrepealed, that it would not have an influence on them for the future.
said, a Preamble could not be repealed. Such a thing had never been done.
thought they were fighting a shadow. All the Preamble did was to recite the operative part of the Act of 1845. It did not recite the Preamble of that Act, nor could any Preamble have effect, so far as it was inconsistent with the subsequent provisions. The present Preamble then went on to say that further provision for the protection of commons was desirable, and the Bill contained those new provisions: so that both the Preamble and the Act of 1845 were entirely overridden, and only so much of the machinery of the latter adopted as would be convenient in carrying out the latter enactment. He regretted the attack made on the Inclosure Commissioners by the hon. Member for Hackney. In his (Mr. Gregory's) opinion they had zealously and usefully performed their duty. In order to show the unfairness of the attack he would take two of the cases which had been referred to. The first was a common of 31 acres in the parish of Wolstanton, no doubt in the immediate neighbourhood of large and populous towns, but what was stated as the reason for its inclosure?
The other was a common alleged to be in the vicinity of Sheffield, whereas it was in fact several miles from that town, and never resorted to by the inhabitants of it, who had large tracts of common land almost up to their very doors, but being on the borders of three counties—Notts, Derby, and Yorkshire—it was much resorted to for training, prize and dog fighting, and other illegal purposes, and had become a perfect nuisance to the neighbourhood. The hon. Member for Hackney further said, that the Commissioners had out of 60,000 acres only set apart 7,000 acres for recreation; but the fact was that they had set apart 14,000 acres of the best land for the construction of roads, the erection of schools for recreation, and other purposes, which tended greatly to public advantage."That the land was wet and marshy; the turf peeled. The frets and open drains receptacles for refuse, and breeding places of fever, ague, and rheumatic complaints, epidemics frequently prevail, and the marsh in its present condition is a nuisance."
said, he had no wish to attack the Inclosure Commissioners, but he thought they had taken a narrow view of their duties, in facilitating every inclosure without taking into consideration the benefits arising from lands in their uninclosed condition.
Question put, and agreed to; Preamble postponed accordingly.
Clause 1 (Short title) agreed to.
Law As To The Regulation And Inclosure Of Commons
Applications in relation to Commons.
Clause 2 (Alternative provisional order for regulation or inclosure of Commons).
moved, as an Amendment, the insertion of words at the end of the clause, to the effect that after the passing of the Act the Commissioners should entertain no application for the inclosure of any common, but only for the regulation of it. The purpose of the facilities given by the Inclosure Acts had been the growth of corn, and the best land was already inclosed. The feeding of cattle was obtained as well by regulated pasture as by converting common land into private property. No public advantage was secured by changing commons into private parks, woods, or game preserves. Though individual labourers might be compensated, their successors, as a class, were deprived of comfort and profits. The loss to the public would be severe when all waste lands were fenced in, and they ceased to be used for public enjoyment and recreation. The open land in England was not more than sufficient, and certainly facilities for inclosures should not be given. Perhaps in particular districts there might be advantages to the neighbourhood by inclosing, and thus creating a demand for labour; but still the land had probably been open ever since the Norman Conquest, and there was no particular reason that it should be inclosed just at this time. He believed that the Amendment which he proposed would be an advantage in carrying out more effectively the object which the Secretary of State said he had in view in proposing the measure.
In page 2, line 31, to leave out all the words after the word "Common," to the end of the Clause, in order to insert the words "but after the passing of this Act the Commissioners shall not entertain an application for the inclosure of any Common or any part thereof; and notwithstanding any proceedings taken under any Act other than this Act, or any Provisional Order of the Commissioners made but not already confirmed by Act of Parliament, proceedings may be taken under this Act for the regulation of any Common,"—(Mr. Cowper-Temple,)
Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
differed very materially from the right hon. Gentleman, though he would endeavour to identify his own feelings with those of the right hon. Gentleman so far as he could. He, however, was sure that the plan proposed would to some extent be destructive of the object sought—the regulation of commons. Now, he maintained, that inclosuse and regulation were necessarily hand in hand. The right of common was nothing more than the right of certain persons to enjoy rights of a definite kind over the land of another. Common rights were of three sorts—appendant to certain estates, appurtenant to certain districts, or common in gross; and the common rights was mostly of four kinds—feeding animals on the land, catching fish, cutting turf, or cutting wood. If all the persons so interested in the lands agreed, then it could be inclosed without the action of the Inclosure Commissioners, who were only required when some of the parties did not agree. The Bill provided that in regulating commons they might purchase up certain interests; but still a man might say that he would not have money, that he would only forfeit his right upon having a portion of the land allotted to him. To arrange in such a case there must be a power of inclosure. In many instances also inclosure was of the greatest benefit. At present the public had not the full enjoyment of commons, for certain persons could insist on cutting wood, digging gravel, and exercising their other rights at the best places, and he could fully bear out the statement of the leading journal that commons were often taken possession of by a low class of people, to the exclusion of the respectable portion of the public. In his opinion, the present Bill was rather hard upon the owners of land, and especially upon the lords of manors. He declared that it was the most liberal and advanced mea- sure on the subject that had been introduced into Parliament during his experience.
contended that the Bill should be confined to the regulation of commons, which had never yet been tried on any large scale, and that inclosures should be postponed for five or six years, in order to give a fair trial to the schemes for regulations. If the regulation schemes succeeded, it would not be necessary te proceed to inclosure. His fear was that if they offered the alternative of inclosure, parties would not be found to put the scheme for the regulation of commons into operation. He entirely disagreed with the hon. Member who had just spoken that this measure was the most liberal and advanced one which had been introduced into Parliament. It did not compare in this respect with the Bill of 1871.
said, it was impossible for the Government to adopt the suggestion of the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Shaw Lefevre), for the reason that if all inclosure was stopped, they would be doing all they could to further illegal inclosure. The Committee had already decided, by a very large majority, that it would not interfere with the rights of the lords of the manors or of the commoners without compensation. That question might be considered as settled. The Bill was accompanied with proper safeguards, and, under its regulations, it would be found that the commoners would derive much greater benefit from their commons than they had ever done before. Moreover, he believed that lords of the manor and commoners would not make application for inclosure where there was any chance of its being opposed and lost. Therefore he did not apprehend the dangers entertained by the hon. Gentleman, and he hoped the Committee would assent to the scheme propounded in the Bill. On the other hand, the Amendment would so mutilate the measure as to make it hardly worth passing into law.
said, that on the last occasion when this subject was before the House he voted in favour of the Amendment of the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett), because he thought it desirable that commons near large towns ought to be preserved. But he thought that commons of that kind and those situated in distant parts of the country stood on a very different ground. He was opposed to the present Amendment, for he thought it would be to the benefit both of the lord of the manor and of commoners that in certain cases provided for inclosures should take place. He thought that commons under the authority of the Crown ought to be brought within the purview of the Act. While the Bill provided facilities for keeping open commons near large towns, it did not provide sufficient facilities for inclosing the waste lands in remote and hilly districts such as he knew in North Wales, and especially in Cardiganshire. They were held, not in common but in severalty. The consequence was, that the sheep walks were over-stocked, to the injury of the farmers themselves as well as of the community. The Returns on this point were misleading. He knew of one district in which the waste and uninclosed lands were given at 460 acres, whereas they amounted to 20,000 acres. He hoped the Government would provide greater facilities for the inclosure of such wastes in remote and thinly-populated districts. He was sure such a measure would be popular throughout the whole country.
agreed with the hon. and learned Member for Beaumar is as to the necessity of inclosures, and said that large commons in remote districts—like that in his own county (Radnorshire), which embraced 28,000 acres—should be dealt with on a different footing from suburban commons of 100 or 200 acres. These large commons led to constant feuds and bad blood, to sheep stealing; while, in his own part of the country, one of the chief reasons given for the spread of foot-and-mouth disease was the indiscriminate feeding of sheep on common able lands.
supported the Amendment. He asserted that mountain pastures such as were referred to by the two last speakers were exceptional cases, and might with advantage be dealt with by Private Bills. He would also observe that sections of the Act other than that under discussion would give the Commissioners ample power to deal with any quarrels that might arise as to common rights in the case of regulated pastures.
said, he was glad to hear some common sense on the subject after the poetical talk to which they had listened from some hon. Members. These wastes in remote districts ought to be inclosed, for in their present state they simply encouraged a race of "squatters," a most miserable class of neighbours, and the lands undrained and uncared-for were a source of disease. He thought it would be advisable to separate the regulation from the inclosure clauses in the Bill.
supported the Amendment of the right hon. Member for South Hants. Whatever might be the case in the remote healthy districts to which hon. Members had referred, he hoped the Government would take care that in the Home and Southern counties the small open spaces in the neighbourhood of large populations would be preserved for public recreation.
based his opposition to the Amendment on the argument that it would neither be possible nor politic to make a law that should apply to all commons. He was disposed to allow commons to remain open where they would be for the benefit of the district, but held that it was monstrous to lay down the proposition that no commons whatever should be inclosed, as many inclosures would be for the benefit of the country. He wished to see each question as it arose dealt with on its merits. He would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment who was to pay for the expense of regulating those commons under the Bill. Was the cost to be borne by the lords of the manor or the commoners? In either case he believed it would be difficult to work the Act. Much of what had fallen from hon. Gentlemen opposite was nothing but "wild talk," and he challenged them to point out in what possible way the poor man would be deprived of any right that he possessed at the present moment.
said, he could not agree in the views expressed by the hon. and gallant Baronet in opposition to the Amendment. He did not understand it as going to the extent of prohibiting inclosures altogether. He was of opinion that the Bill did not sufficiently provide for the interests of those who, perhaps, could not claim to have rights in the strictly legal sense, but who had undoubtedly exercised the privilege of enjoyment over commons for centuries. The object of the Amendment was to impress on the Committee that the Act of 1845, which might have been at the time considered satisfactory, inasmuch as it gave power to bring portions of the commons into cultivation for the increased production of food and the increased employment of labour, was now no longer required as the objects which that Act had in view, had been sufficiently attained. Looking at all the circumstances, he approved of the Amendment, and should give his vote in support of it.
pointed out the error of supposing that it was commonly the interest of the lord of the manor to inclose, and that of the commoners to keep the commons open. He thought there would have been a great deal more to say for the Amendment if it had prohibited all inclosures whatsoever. That might have been impossible, but it would at least have made the proposal a consistent one. He would urge his right hon. Friend opposite not to press the Amendment to a division; for, as he understood the drift of it, it would not prevent illegal inclosures while it would take away that control over possible inclosures which might be given under the remaining clauses of the Bill by shutting the door on all but high-handed proceedings.
said, as he understood his right hon. Friend the Mover of the Amendment, he said—"You have suspended the inclosure of commons for the last six years, and you now come forward with a scheme which you call a Bill for the regulation of commons, which would give you a power to inclose." But legislation for the future must be guided by the experience of the past, in which several objectionable inclosures had been proposed by the Commissioners, and he contended that admitted abuses could be got rid of by regulation without inclosure. They were asked who were to pay the expenses of those proposals. Let the right hon. Gentleman who had charge of the Bill answer that. He had received a number of letters from gentlemen on this subject, and amongst them from rectors of parishes, expressing their disapproval of the scheme for inclosing the commons and taking them from the people. With the object and spirit of those letters he entirely agreed, seeing that some of the commons scheduled in the last Report of the Commissioners were the most beautiful commons in England. He would be glad to know to what commons the Bill would apply.
said, that the Bill would apply to commons of a different character from those of Wisden and Withycombe, which the Commissioners had proposed to inclose, but whose schemes the House refused to sanction. For his own part, he had never attempted to pass any one of such schemes through Parliament. He could not accept the Amendment, and trusted the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Cowper-Temple) would not press it to a division.
said, the alternative of inclosure or regulation did not give the latter fair play. More money could be made by individuals out of a common by making it saleable private property than by improving it as joint property. But the public interest was not promoted by inclosure. The Bill would work better for the welfare of the nation if his Amendment were carried, and therefore he would divide the House.
opposed the Amendment, urging that if the Bill were confined to the mere regulating provisions, they would be thrown back, as regarded inclosures, upon the Act of 1845, which it was most desirable to amend in the way proposed by the Government.
contended that the argument of the Home Secretary, that if they accepted the Amendment it would very much increase the temptation to inclose commons without the intervention of Parliament, had no foundation. He did not see how the Amendment could be rejected consistently with the observations of the right hon. Gentleman. The admirable regulating scheme proposed by him would be rendered nugatory, if it were accompanied by provisions for inclosure. In answer to the assertion that the existence of commons encouraged a lawless set of persons to squat upon or near them, he would refer to the evidence given before the Select Committee of last Session in relation to the New Forest, which showed that the existence of that large tract of uninclosed ground had tended to foster the settlement on its borders of a honest and independent class of people. In reply to the challenge which had been thrown out to him to state what the right of the public was in regard to the Sussex commons, he said as one of the landless public he enjoyed the right and privilege of wandering over all the commons which existed in the Kingdom. But the moment the commons were in closed every rood of this public land was converted into private property.
The Committee divided:—Ayes 203; Noes 66: Majority 137.
On the Motion of Mr. Whitwell, Amendment made in page 2, line 32, by inserting after "commons," the words "or parts of a common."
moved as an Amendment, in page 3, line 6, to insert the following words after "effect:"—"unless they are of opinion that such application will be for the benefit of the neighbourhood."
said, he had no objection to the principle of this Amendment, only it came in the wrong place.
said, under those circumstances, he would withdraw it.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
moved an Amendment, to the effect that while application might be made by two-thirds of the commoners for inclosure, one-third of the commoners might apply for regulation.
objected to the Amendment.
said, that the House having decided that inclosures were to take place, he was anxious that they should not take place in any other way outside the present measure. He would therefore move as an Amendment, in page 3, line 9, after "order," to insert the following words:—
He must remind the House that during the last few years numerous attempts had been made to inclose commons under the pretended sanction of the Statute of Merton or otherwise. Lords of manors had arbitrarily seized commons, trusting that no one would undertake the vast cost of proceedings in Chancery to resist them. Fortunately, in every case public spirited persons had been found who had undertaken the task of resisting these inclosures, and a series of suits had been promoted, which culminated in the great Epping Forest suit. In every one of these cases the Courts of Law had decided that the inclosures were illegal. It might, therefore, be confidently stated that, although theoretically, a lord of the manor could inclose with the consent of the commoners, yet that practically it was impossible for him to obtain this consent, and that all inclosures were illegal which had not been sanctioned by Parliament. This was in conformity with the views of all lawyers for centuries, for if not, why was it that so many thousand private Inclosure Acts had been applied for and passed by Parliament, and why was a general Inclosure Act necessary? If an inclosure took place with the consent of Parliament, the interests of the public were considered, and the claims of the labouring poor for garden allotments were provided for; but if inclosure took place without Parliamentary sanction, no such consideration was given either to the public or to the labouring poor. If there was any ground for believing that these inclosures were legal, he would not ask for such a remedy; but the experience of the last 10 years had conclusively shown that all such inclosures were illegal, and that it was only necessary to institute a suit in the name of a commoner, though at a vast cost, in order to abate them. It might be said, why not, then, trust to the remedies already provided by the Courts of Law? The answer was that the prize at stake was so valuable that it was worth while to a lord of a manor arbitrarily to inclose or to run the risk of being opposed in the Courts of Law; on the other hand, the commoner was called upon to defend, at a vast expense, a right of common of little or no pecuniary value to him, where success only resulted in leaving things as they were in preserving the common from inclo- sure, and in maintaining a right of turbary, the value of which consisted in its being the means of keeping the common open. It appeared to him that these cases of arbitrary inclosure had become a great scandal. They amounted to land robberies on a great scale, and they ought to be put down in the interest not only of the public, but of morality."From and after the passing of this Act any inclosure of a Common, Town Green, or Village Green existing at the time of the passing of this Act, or of any part thereof, shall be unlawful, unless sanctioned by Parliament under the provisions of this Act."
In page 3, line 9, after the word "order," to insert the words "From and after the passing of this Act any inclosure of a Common, Town Green, or Village Green, or of any part thereof, shall be unlawful, unless sanctioned by Parliament under the provisions of this Act."—(Mr. Shaw Lefevre.)
opposed the Amendment, on the ground that it would interfere with the rights of property by not only prohibiting lords of manors from inclosing commons under the provision of the Statute of Merton, but also denying them the power so to do even though the whole of the commoners consented. What was complained of was the practice which some lords of manors pursued of filching pieces of commons, in closing them, and taking the chance of commoners instituting Chancery suits to upset illegal proceedings of the kind. The fault of the Bill was that it offered no opposition to such cases, and he would on the Report bring up a clause to deal with them.
opposed the Amendment, remarking that it would involve an interference with the rights of property, against which the House had already decided by an overwhelming majority on the early stage of the Bill. The principle the Bill went upon was that they should not take away rights without giving compensation, and he must endeavour to confine the measure to giving power to acquire rights by paying for them. The Bill already provided against illegal inclosures; but if his hon. Friend the Member for Maldon thought he could improve upon the proposal contained in the Bill, his suggestions should receive careful attention.
denied that the Amendment was an attack on the rights of property, and maintained that it was necessary to prevent lords of manors and commoners, in con- cert or separately, from filching hundreds of acres from the commons, to the detriment of their poorer neighbours.
said, that the Amendment would have an ex post facto operation. It applied to every "existing" inclosure, and under it every inclosure of a common since the time of Adam might be held to be bad.
did not think the words of the Amendment included past inclosures; it was certainly not intended that they should, and on no principle of construction could it be held that they had this interpretation. The words had been inserted with the object of limiting the application of the Amendment and not of extending it.
also was of opinion that the Amendment would have an ex post facto operation.
thought it would be a pity for the Committee to go to a division on a false issue; and would, therefore suggest an Amendment of the proposed Amendment, to prevent the possibility of such a result, and to ensure something being done towards putting a stop to illegal enclosures.
moved to Amend the proposed Amendment by omitting the words "existing at the time of the passing of this Act."
said, he would consent to the omission of the words, though he could not admit they had the meaning imputed to them.
thought it did not make the slightest difference whether the words were retained or omitted. What he said was, that they had no right to interfere with the rights of property. The proposed omission the Committee might accept without a word, and then they could negative the whole thing. He thought the omission, however, had better be negatived.
Amendment of said proposed Amendment negatived.
Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
The Committee divided:—Ayes 82; Noes 206: Majority 124.
said, notwithstanding the result of the division, and recollecting that two hours of the valuable time of the House had been wasted the other night—["Oh, oh!"] He said "Yes" —two hours of their valuable time had been wasted the other night.—[Renewed cries of "Oh!"] He said "wasted."—[Laughter, and loud cries of "Oh!"] Notwithstanding that two hours of their valuable time had been "wasted" the other night by hon. Gentlemen on the Ministerial side of the House in opposing a Motion of the hon. Member for Hackney, and notwithstanding the interest taken in the measure, he would now move that the Chairman report Progress, and ask leave to sit again.
hoped the Committee would consent to pass the clause under the discussion, as it had been thoroughly discussed. As soon as that had been done, and Clause 3, to which an Amendment had been proposed, had been disposed of, he would himself move that Progress be reported.
supported the appeal of the Home Secretary, as he considered his suggestion a very fair one.
Motion made, and Question put, "That Clause 2, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
The Committee divided:—Ayes 252; Noes 9: Majority 243.
moved that the Chairman report Progress, and ask leave to sit again.
rose to a point of Order. He wished deliberately to impugn the decision of the Chairman when the Motion to report Progress was previously made by the hon. Member for Meath (Mr. Parnell). The Chairman's ruling that the "Noes" had it had been distinctly challenged on the second and third occasions when the question was put, and yet no division was taken.
said, that though he had listened attentively, he had not heard the Chairman's decision challenged.
also held that there was no ground whatever for impugning the decision of the Chairman, who invariably presided over their proceedings with dignity and fairness, which he (Mr. Cowen) had never seen surpassed. Hon. Gentlemen near him wished to adjourn the House at an early hour—a desire with which he sympathized; but they should pursue their object openly, and not by a course which had the appearance of factiousness, and which would never receive his support.
said, the hon. Member for Dundalk (Mr. Callan) was wrong in one point. He (Mr. Parnell) should not feel the least afraid of impugning the decision of the Chairman if he thought it was the wrong one; but on the present occasion he thought nobody was in fault but himself. He owned he had not been sufficiently attentive in challenging the Chairman's decision on the one or two occasions when he put the Question. He knew not whether the Chairman was right or not in his ruling; but there was a larger question involved—namely, as to the practice on the part of hon. Members who had not attended the discussion during the evening, but who came down to the House at a late hour and voted without knowing the merits of the question at issue.
rose to Order, and asked whether the hon. Member was speaking to the Question?
said, the Question before the Committee was that he report Progress, and ask leave to sit again. After he had put that Motion the hon. Member for Dundalk challenged his decision on a previous question. He hoped he was not wrong in supposing that no hon. Member would impugn his conduct in the Chair, unless he thought he had some reason for doing so. The hon. Member for Dundalk (Mr. Callan) he was quite sure, would not have impugned his conduct in the Chair unless he had felt it his duty to do so. He (the Chairman) thought it was only respectful to the hon. Member for Meath and to the Committee to wait before giving any explanation of his decision until the hon. Member for Meath had an opportunity of responding to the appeal made to him by the hon. Member for Dundalk. He acted simply in conformity with the Rules of the House when he declared that the "Noes" had it. He was justified in doing so, because no voice had been heard in the affirmative. He trusted that the hon. Member for Dundalk and the Committee were satisfied with what he had done.
said, he had made the statement on the authority of the hon. Member for Meath, and on that impression he voted with him, although he would otherwise have voted against him.
, who spoke amid considerable interruption, said, he considered he was perfectly in Order, the question being the propriety of proceeding with legislation at that late hour of the night; and that hon. Members who had not heard the discussion should leave their conscience at the disposal of the Whip and do as he directed them.
said, he agreed with the hon. Member for Meath in principle, and characterized the conduct of the House as that which might be expected not from an Assembly of Gentle-tlemen, but an assembly of coal porters. ["Oh, oh!"]
said, the hon. Gentleman the Member for Stafford must see on reflection that his observations were not respectful to the House. At the same time he would point out to the Committee that the hon. Member for Meath (Mr. Parnell) was entitled to a fair hearing.
withdrew the observation he had just made, but considered the business of the House should be concluded at 12 o'clock. He and other Members had made up their minds that they would make use of every means which the Forms of the House allowed to put a stop to these late sittings. They had shut up places of amusement, and when the House rose the only stray persons to be found in the streets were the Members of the House of Commons.
regretted the interruption of Public Business, but, considering it was now 1 o'clock, he would not oppose the Motion for reporting Progress.
Motion agreed to.
Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Thursday.
Order for resuming Adjourned Debate thereupon [21st March] this day read, and discharged.
Bankers' Books Evidence Bill
On Motion of Sir John Lubbock, Bill to amend the Law with reference to Bankers' Books Evidence, ordered to be brought in by Sir John Lubbock, Mr. Backhouse, Mr. Sampson Lloyd, and Mr. Watkin Williams.
Bill presented, and read the first time. [Bill 171.]
House adjourned at a quarter after One o'clock