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Commons Chamber

Volume 180: debated on Tuesday 13 August 1907

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House Of Commons

Tuesday, 13th August, 1907.

The House met at a quarter before Three of the Clock.

New Writ

New Writ for the County of Anglesey, in the room of Ellis Jones Griffith, esq., Recorder of the Borough of Birkenhead.—( Mr. Whiteley.)

Private Bill Business

London County Council (Tramway and Improvements) Bill. Lords' Amendments considered, and agreed to.

Renfrewshire Upper District (Eastwood and Mearns) Water Bill [Lords]. Read the third time, and passed, with Amendments.

Leith Burgh Order Confirmation Bill (by Order). Lords' Amendments consided, and agreed to.

Message From The Lords

That they have agreed to—Neath, Pontardawe, and Brynaman Railway Bill, without Amendment.

Butter and Margarine Bill; North Staffordshire Railway Bill, with Amendments.

Amendments to—City of London (Union of Parishes) Bill [Lords], without Amendment.


Congo Free State

Petition from Weston-super-Mare, for protection of the Native races; to lie upon the Table.

Small Landholders (Scotland) Bill

Petition from Linlithgowshire, for alteration; to lie upon the Table.

Liquor Traffic (Local Option) (Scotland) Bill

Petition from Blairgowrie, in favour; to lie upon the Table.

Sale Of Intoxicating Liquors On Sunday

Petition from Shepherds Bush, for prohibition; to lie upon the Table.

Weekly Rest-Day Bill

Petitions in favour; From Peckham; and Pirbright; to lie upon the Table.

Returns, Reports, Etc

Railway Accidents

Copy presented, of General Report to the Board of Trade upon the Accidents that have occurred on the railways of the United Kingdom during the year 1906 [by Command]; to lie upon the Table.

Tramways And Light Railways (Street And Road)

Return presented, relative thereto [ordered 17th April; Mr. Lloyd-George]; to lie upon the Table, and to be printed. [No. 301.]

Army (Special Pensions)

Return presented, for the year ended 31st March, 1907, of Pensions specially granted under Articles 730, 1173A, and 1207 of the Pay Warrant [by Command]; to lie upon the Table.

Board Of Education

Copy presented, of Regulations under which grants for the building of new Public Elementary Schools in England and Wales will be made by the Board of Education, after the passing of The Appropriation Act, 1907, during the year ending 31st March, 1908 [by Command; to lie upon the Table.

Local Government Board (Ireland)

Copy presented, of Annual Report of the Local Government Board for Ireland, for the year ended 31st March 1907 [by Command]; to lie upon the Table.

Coast Erosion (Royal Commission)

Copy presented, of First Report of the Commissioners appointed to inquire into and report on certain questions affecting Coast Erosion and the Reclamation of Tidal Lands in the United Kingdom. Part I., Report. Part II., Minutes of Evidence and Appendices [by Command]; to lie upon the Table.

Inebriates Acts (Inspectors' Report)

Copy presented, of Report of the Inspector under the Inebriates Acts, 1879 to 1900, for the year 1906 [by Command]; to lie upon the Table.

Queen's College (Cork)

Copy presented, of Amended Statutes of Queen's County, Cork [by Act]; to lie upon the Table.

Inland Revenue

Copy presented, of Fiftieth Report of the Commissioners, for the year ended 31st March, 1907 [by Command]; to lie upon the Table.

East India (Plague)

Copy presented, of Correspondence regarding Measures for the Prevention of Plague [by Command]; to lie upon the Table.

Trade Reports (Annual Series)

Copy presented, of Diplomatic and Consular Reports, Annual Series, Nos. 3897 and 3898 [by Command]; to lie upon the Table.

Paper Laid Upon The Table By The Clerk Of The House

Inquiry into Charities (County of Berks).—Further Return relative thereto [ordered 28th March, 1905; Mr. Griffith-Boscawen]; to be printed. [No. 302.]

Public Bill (Allocation Of Time)

Return ordered, "giving the number of occasions from 1887 on which closure by compartments has been carried, the names of the Bills to which it has been applied, the number of days (if any)

devoted to each on the Committee stage before closure by compartments was put into operation, the total number of days (if any) devoted to each in Committee of the Whole House, and the number of days allocated to each on the Report stage."—( Mr. A. J. Balfour.)

Public Works Loans Bill

Copy ordered, "of Statement of particulars of Loans of which the balances outstanding are proposed to be remitted or written off (in whole or in part) from the assets of the Local Loans Fund."—( Mr. Runciman.)

Public Works Loans Bill

Return presented, relative thereto [ordered 13th August; Mr. Runciman]; to lie upon the Table, and to be printed. [No. 304.]

Paper Laid Upon The Table By The Clerk Of The House

Public Bills (Allocation of Time).—Return relative thereto [ordered 13th August; Mr. Balfour]; to be printed. [No. 300.]

Questions And Answers Circulated With The Votes

Inspectors Of Evicted Farms On The T W Sands Estate

To ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether he can state if the evicted farms on the T. W. Sands estate, at Knockanure, North Kerry, have been inspected by the Estates Commissioners; whether the landlord has promised to reinstate the evicted tenants; and, if so, what is the result of the inspection and promised reinstatement.

( Answered by Mr. Birrell.) The Estates Commissioners have had the evicted farms inspected and the landlord has intimated that he is willing to sell the lands to the Commissioners, with a view to the reinstatement of the evicted tenants. As soon as the necessary legal requirements have been satisfied the Commissioners will proceed with the purchase.

Charitable Institutions And Investments Of Trust Funds

To ask Mr. Attorney-General whether his attention has been called to powers given to certain charitable institutions under Royal Charters of Incorporation enabling the Governors of such institutions to invest moneys in securities other than those authorised by the Trustee Acts; and whether he proposes to take any steps to test the validity of such powers.

( Answered by Sir John Walton.) I understand that investment clauses in draft charters are always closely scrutinised, and where exceptional powers are sought inquiries are made with a view, unless special reasons exist, to a restriction to trustee securities. In some cases, where old and well-established bodies receive charters the powers which governing bodies have possessed and exercised in the past to the advantage of the institutions have not been interfered with, but in most cases there is no special provision as to investments when it is presumed that only trustee investments would be allowable. I am informed that in no case has attention been called or complaint made in reference to the matter referred to. The subject will, however, be considered.

Navy—Promotions To Engineer Commanders

To ask the Secretary to the Admiralty whether he is aware that the recent promotion of officers of the rank of engineer commander in His Majesty's Navy has not given satisfaction, a case having recently happened in which an officer has been superseded by one seven years his junior; and, in considering the promotion of two officers of equally meritorious service, will care be taken that due consideration is given to the claims of the officer who has had the longer service.

( Answered by Mr. Lambert.) The Answer to the first part of the hon. Member's Question is in the negative. As regards the second part, it has hitherto been and will continue to be the rule, in considering the promotion of officers with equally meritorious service, to give due weight to seniority.

Income Tax Assessments

To ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer whether earned income includes the duty assessed under Schedule A on a rectory or vicarage occupied by a clergyman of the Church of England, on teachers' houses occupied by teachers, and on houses occupied by persons in a similar situation, when such occupation is part of the emoluments of their office and which they cannot let without the consent of a superior.

( Answered by Mr. Asquith.) The Answer to the Question will depend in each case upon whether the annual value of the house forms part of the income, for Income Tax purposes, of the person to whom the use of it is granted. Where such is the case, the tax under Schedule A will be at the 9 d. rate, as the house is "property which is attached to or forms part of the emoluments of an office or employment of profit"; where, on the other hand, an employee is required to reside in a particular house as part of the duties of his office and for the purposes of that office, the value of such house has been held by the courts (Tennant v. Smith) not to form part of the income of the employee, for Income Tax purposes; and, in such cases, the Schedule A tax will be chargeable at the 1s. rate.

Duration Of Leases Of Land In The East African Protectorate

To ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the duration of leases of land in the East Africa Protectorate I has recently been reduced from ninety-nine to twenty-one years; and, if so, what is the reason for such reduction.

( Answered by Mr. Churchill) The reason for the reduction was that it was not thought desirable to tie up large tracts of land for such a long period as ninety-nine years at a nominal rent for pastural purposes, which do not involve much expenditure for development by the lessee, but the Secretary of State will further consider the matter in the light I of the recommendations which may be made by Mr. Macdonald, the newly appointed Commissioner of Agriculture.

Concessions In The British East African Protectorate

To ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, in sanctioning the grant to companies of land, mining, or railway concessions in the British Protectorates in Africa, the Secretary of State exercises powers similar to those reserved by the Egyptian Government in regard to the terms of flotation of such companies, or if not, what conditions are imposed as an essential preliminary to such grants.

( Answered by Mr. Churchill.) The Secretary of State is not aware of the exact nature of the powers reserved by the Egyptian Government in such cases, but various conditions, differing of course according to the special circumstances of each case, are attached to grants of this kind with a view to securing genuine development and providing as far as possible against mere company promotion. He will ascertain what is the practice of the Egyptian Government, and if any additional safeguards of practical value are suggested by it, will be glad to adopt them, as far as possible.

Railway From Forests Of Kenia To The Uganda Railway

To ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether any decision has yet been come to as to the construction of a railway connecting the forests of Kenia with the Uganda Railway.

( Answered by Mr. Churchill.) No, Sir; the matter is still under consideration.

Reorganisation Of The Exchequer And Audit Department Staff

To ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether, seeing that on the recent reorganisation of the Exchequer and Audit Department several Second Division clerks with longer service than Messrs. Dixon and Robinson were sent back to the Civil Service Commission as being redundant, he will explain why Messrs. Dixon and Robinson were not similarly sent back as being redundant.

( Answered by Mr. Runciman.) I beg to refer the hon. Member to my reply of the 6th instant,† which explains the position of these two officers. It will be apparent that no question as to their being redundant arises.

Chancery Suitors' Fund

To ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether he will explain the grounds on which the Comptroller and

† See (4) Debates, clxxix., 1810–1.
Auditor-General, in accordance with the directions of the Treasury and Lord Chancellor, keeps duplicate records of the Chancery Suitors' Fund Account (England); why the duties of the Comptroller and Auditor-General embrace the keeping of such duplicate records in addition to those of audit, how many clerks are at present employed on the Chancery Suitors' Fund in the Audit Office, and what is the present annual approximate cost; and, apart from duplication of work, what would be the approximate number of men required and the approximate annual cost if the duties of the Comptroller and Auditor-General on this work were confined to audit alone.

( Answered by Mr. Runciman.) The number of clerks employed in the Exchequer and Audit Department on the Chancery Suitors' Fund is one superintending officer, five or six examiners,* five abstractors, and one boy clerk, at an annual cost of about £2,260. If the duplicate ledgers were abolished the five abstractors could be dispensed with at an annual saving of about £500. The question of the retention of the duplicate ledgers is at the present time under consideration.

Transfer Of Mr Harty From Kinsale To Burnham

To ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether he will explain the reason why Mr. Harty, now principal coast officer of Customs at Burnham, was removed from Kinsale; whether he will state the circumstances under which a telegram was sent to his successor, telling him not to take up the appointment; what were Mr. Harty's annual emoluments in Kinsale and in the now port to which he was transferred from there; whether £41 10s. naval reserve fees were due to him when he left Kinsale; and, if so, will he explain why only £24 of this amount was paid to him.

( Answered by Mr. Runciman.) This officer's removal took place twelve years ago. All the circumstances were fully investigated and the decision confirmed by the Treasury at the time, and I am not prepared to re-open the matter now.

Games In Royal Parks

To ask the First Commissioner

*One examiner is engaged on this duty for half his time.
of Works, whether his attention has been drawn to the action of a committee of the London County Council with regard to games in the London parks; and whether he could see his way to allowing some portions of the royal parks being used for the purposes of games.

( Answered by Mr. Harcourt): I am not at present able to see my way to devote further accommodation for the playing of games in the royal parks. Facilities are now given for games organised under the education committee of the London County Council and will continue to be so afforded so far as space permits.

Blessington Steam Tram—Hours Of Labour Of Staff

To ask the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to the hours of duty worked by the men on the Blessington steam tram; and whether he will make inquiries into the matter.

( Answered by Mr. Kearley.) The attention of the Board of Trade has been called to this matter, and they are in communication with the company.

Facilities For Traders At Giggleswick And Settle Goods Stations

To ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he has communicated with the Midland Railway Company regarding the provision of reasonable facilities for traders at the goods stations of Giggleswick and of Settle; and, if so, what is the nature of the Midland Railway Company's reply.

( Answered by Mr. Kearley.) The Board of Trade have communicated with the Midland Railway Company, but have not yet received their reply. So soon as an answer is received I will cause my hon. friend to be informed of its nature.

Lancashire And Yorkshire Railway Com- Pany And The Shipping Of Coal At Goole

To ask the President of the Board of Trade whether his notice has been called to the fact that the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company, who recently obtained from Parliament power to work steam vessels carrying cargo between the Port of Goole and various Continental ports, have given instructions that coal traffic destined for their own steamers is to have priority in berthing and loading facilities over coal traffic carried by steamship owners other than themselves, and destined for both English and Continental ports, by the allocation to such traffic destined for the railway company's steamers of one of the coal-loading berths at Goole; and whether the Board of Trade are prepared to take steps to prevent the railway company from persisting in a course seriously detrimental to the interests of other shipowners and traders using the port of Goole.

( Answered by Mr. Kearley.) I understand that the docks at Goole are owned by the Aire and Calder Navigation Company, but that there is a hoist at the docks belonging to the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company. A question has arisen between the railway company and other steamship owners as to the use of this hoist, and the matter is now before the Court of the Railway and Canal Commission.

Kingsbridge Workhouse Diet

To ask the President of the Local Government Board whether, upon further consideration, he finds it possible to accede to the request of the Kingsbridge Board of Guardians that they should be allowed to serve the inmates of the Kingsbridge workhouse with a more generous diet.

( Answered by Mr. John Burns.) The proposal of the guardians would involve a departure from the Workhouse Regulation (Dietaries and Accounts) Order, 1900, and the Local Government Board do not consider it desirable to sanction departures from the Order in the case of individual unions, as one of the objects of the Board in issuing it was to obviate the necessity for such sanction. I should, therefore, be reluctant to deal exceptionally with this particular case, but the points to which the guardians have drawn attention have been noted with a view to consideration in the event of a revised Order being issued.

New Regulations Under The Vaccination Bill, 1907

To ask the President of the Local Government Board whether, in the event of the Vaccination Bill, 1907, passing into law, he will at once direct that revised notices to be given by registrars of births to persons registering the births of children containing the form of statutory declaration set out in the Schedule to the Bill, shall be supplied to registrars of births in the month of September so as to enable persons desirous of taking advantage of the Act in January, 1908, to be provided with the necessary forms in respect of children born within four months of the passing of the Act.

( Answered by Mr. John Burns.) I am aware that a new form of notice by registrars to persons registering the birth of children will be necessary in the event of the passing of the Bill. I am considering how far it may be practicable to meet the point suggested by my hon. friend.

Ingleton Angling Association Fishing Licence

To ask the hon. Member for South Somerset, as representing the President of the Board of Agriculture, whether he is aware that the Lune, Wyre, Keer, and Cocker Fishery Conservators have again refused an application from the Ingleton Angling Association for a general licence; whether this is a refusal to comply with the Acts which govern the constitution of the Conservators' Board; and what steps, legal proceedings or other, it is proposed to take in order to secure obedience to those Acts.

( Answered by Sir Edward Strachey.) The Answer to the first part of my hon. friend's Question is in the affirmative. The Acts require the Conservators to grant a general licence on payment of such sum as the Conservators may determine, with the sanction of the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries, but I am advised that the Board are not in a position to compel the Conservators to grant a licence, and it rests with the Association to test the legality of their refusal. I think, however, that the difficulty might be met without resort to legal remedies, and we shall be glad to use our friendly offices to bring about a satisfactory settlement.

Increase Of Pay Of Dundee Police

To ask the Secretary for Scotland if he could state the reason of the delay in the assent of the Scottish Office being given to the resolution of the Dundee City Council of last May granting the policemen of that city an advance of 1s. 9d. per head per week; and if he will state when an affirmative answer will be forwarded.

( Answered by Mr Sinclair.) The proposals advanced by the Dundee City Council raised questions of some intricacy involving comparison with the rates of pay enjoyed by other police forces. A letter has been despatched intimating to what extent the alterations suggested have been approved.

Charts Of Loch Long

To ask the Secretary to the Admiralty if he can say what is approximately the proportion of inches to the mile on the largest scale chart which includes that part of Loch Long in which it is proposed to have the torpedo range.

( Answered by Mr. Lambert.) Half-an-inch to the mile.

Loch Long Torpedo Range

To ask the Secretary to the Admiralty, with reference to the proposed torpedo range in Loch Long, if he will say what will be the guaranteed minimum widths of the fairway navigable by the passenger steamers on Loch Long between the eastern side of the proposed torpedo range and the eastern side of the Loch at Ardmay Point, at Morlaggan, and at the target end of the range, respectively.

( Answered by Mr. Lambert.) These facts will all be brought out and discussed at the meeting on the 21st August. The proposal in the draft by-laws, Paragraph 8, is that the officer in charge of the range shall take care not to discharge a torpedo when a vessel or boat is seen to be about to cross the limits of the range area described in By-law 1.

Provision Of Bibles For Non-Provided Schools In Yorkshire

To ask the President of the Board of Education whether the Board have received a complaint from the managers of a non-provided school that their request for the provision of Bibles for use in the school has not been complied with by the local education authority of the West Riding of Yorkshire.

( Answered by Mr. McKenna.) Yes, Sir, the complaint referred to was received yesterday.

Rebuilding Of Irish National Schools

To ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether, in a case where a new national school is built to replace an old one and in a more convenient and accessible place, the Treasury regulations allow of building a larger school than the old one, to meet the expected greater attendance; what is the minimum space per head allowed by the regulations; have the Commissioners of National Education any power to vary or depart from the regulations; and is the space per head capacity of new schools in all eases to be rigidly calculated on the average attendance at the old school.

( Answered by Mr. Birrell.) In the case supposed in the Question, the accommodation to be provided in the new building is taken as the mean between the average number on the rolls and the average attendance at the old school during the preceding year. The minimum floor space for which provision must be made is ten square feet for each unit of the number for which accommodation is to be provided, but in schools to accommodate less that thirty-five pupils eleven square feet per unit is allowed. The Commissioners of National Education have no power to vary or depart from the regulations.

Pension Of John Thomson, Late Royal Artillery

To ask the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that pensioner John Thomson, late No. 3,895, corporal Royal Artillery, although discharged from the Army when a corporal has only received a private's pension; and whether, in view of the present ill health and circumstances of John Thomson, he will take steps to secure for him the increased pension due to a corporal who retires with good character.

( Answered by Mr. Secretary Haldane.) As this man on his discharge in 1882, after twenty-one years service, had not served for three years as a corporal, he was only eligible for the pension of a private, and there is no regulation under which the pension can be increased. He was not pensioned for disability, and he had no war service.

Questions In The House

Ships Complements On The China Station

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty, what is the actual complement of the two destroyers on the China station now commissioned by nucleus crews; and how soon these ships could be commissioned with full fighting crews without reducing the complement of other ships upon that station.

Details of complement and the mobilising arrangements have always been, and must continue to be, treated as confidential. The necessary ratings are available.

The Coastguard

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty whether any, and, if any, which, of the coastguard stations are at the present time short of men; if he will state, in relation to each, the number of men they are short, and for how long such deficiency has existed; and whether he proposes, and when, to fill up such vacancies.

I must refer the hon. Member to the Answer given to his previous Question on the 31st July. So far as the requirements of the Services are concerned the coastguard stations are not short of men.

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty which of the coastguard stations have been found in excess of present requirements, and to what extent; what reductions have been made in such stations respectively; and when were they effected.

The Return now being prepared on the Motion of the hon. Member for the Abercromby Division of Liverpool will give information as to the coastguard stations which have been closed as being in excess of present requirements. Sixty-eight stations have been closed, involving a personnel of 316. Thirteen stations have been reduced on an average about two per station.

When will the Return be issued? It was asked for months ago.

In what way have the conditions altered so as to reduce the number of men required in some cases?


That is a rather large question which hardly arises out of that on the Paper.

Will the hon. Gentleman endeavour to let us have the Report before the House rises?

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty what are the present requirements of the Board in relation to the complement of coastguard stations; whether any alteration has been made during the past two years in the standard of strength or of efficiency; and, if so, in what respect, and when was such alteration made.

The requirements of the coastguard stations as regards complements are determined generally now, as in the past, by the naval and revenue duties to be performed. The standard of strength varies from time to time.

Deptford Cooperage

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty whether he can state what was the number of casks made at the Deptford Victualling Yard Cooperage during the year 1906, and the number of men employed in this department during that year.

The total number of casks made at Deptford during 1906 was 12,983. The daily average number of persons employed upon cooperage work was forty-six.

War Office Administrative Staff

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether the Departmental Committee on the training of officers for the administrative staff has presented its Report, and when will it be published; whether the results of the experimental course of instruction held at the London School of Economics are regarded as satisfactory; and whether it is proposed to continue it.

I expect very shortly to be in receipt of this Report, and will consider whether it cannot be laid on the Table of the House. The results of the first experimental course of instruction have been so satisfactory that it has been decided to hold a second course in October next.

The Union Jack

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War in view of the fact that the Navy uses the pattern of the Union Jack decided upon in 1801, why and for what reason the pattern used by the Army has been altered.

There is no difference between the Union Jack used by the Army and that used by the Navy. Does the hon. Member allude to the Army Council flag with the distinctive three cannons and three balls?

The Lord Mayor Of Dublin's Army Captaincy

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that the Lord Mayor of Dublin holds in perpetuity the rank of a captain of foot and draws the sum of £300 (Irish) annually from the Consolidated Fund as the pay of this rank; whether the name of this officer appears in the Army List; if not, what is the reason of its omission; and whether he has any claim upon this officer's services should they be required.

As the Chancellor of the Exchequer stated in answer to a Question on the 30th July, the Lord Mayor of Dublin receives a perpetual annuity, representing the pay of a captain of foot, which is charged upon the Consolidated Fund. The provisions of the Letters Patent of Charles II. regarding the rank and exercise of command by the Lord Mayor have become obsolete in course of time and he is no longer gazetted to hold rank in the Army. The Army has no claim upon his services.

[No Answer was returned.]

Young Indians In England


I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India whether he will lay before the House the Report of, or the substance of the Report of, or any information concerning, the conclusions arrrived at by the Committee he has appointed to consider the question of giving advice and assistance to young men from India upon their arrival in this country.

The Committee have not reported yet, but I expect from the nature of the case that the report is likely to contain matter of a purely confidential character.

Death From Plague In India


I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India whether the deaths from plague in June last amounted to more than ·2349 per mille; and whether the like figure for the six months ended June amounted to more than 3·6 per mille of the population of India; what are the losses from cholera and fever and other chief epidemics for the same period; whether the like figures are available in respect of other parts of Asia of more or less similar climatic conditions; and, if so, whether he will lay them before the House.

The hon. Member has correctly stated the mortality from plague in India as a whole during June last and the six months ending June respectively. I am unable to give the corresponding figures for other epidemic diseases, as the mortality from them is not reported month by month to me. In 1905, the latest year for which complete figures for British India are available, the mortality rates for cholera, small-pox and fevers were 1·97, 0·32, and 19·74 per mille respectively. I have no information that would enable me to reply to the last part of the Question.


Would it not be desirable when actual figures are given that the figures per mile should also be stated, so as to prevent involuntary comparison with a population like that of these Islands?

Presbyterian Mission In Calcutta

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India whether he is aware that the Established Church of Scotland and the United Free Church of Scotland have recently united their mission in Calcutta, and that the Army Council have appointed a committee, composing representatives of the four great Presbyterian Churches in the United Kingdom, to advise upon the distribution and employment of Presbyterian chaplains; and whether, in view of these facts, he will consider the advisability of inquiring whether the time is ripe to throw open the Presbyterian chaplaincies in India to ministers of all Presbyterian Churches.

I shall be glad to consider any representations on the subject which may be addressed to me by the Presbyterian Churches.

Cason Mine Disturbances

I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he can give any information about the recent outbreak of Chinese coolies at the Cason mine and the reasons for its occurrence; how many Chinese have been repatriated up to this date owing to the expiry of their contracts; and how many will be due for repatriation up to the end of the present year.

The Secretary of State is informed by the Governor of the Transvaal that the outbreak at the Cason mine is under investigation. The ostensible cause would appear to be a desire on the part of the management to revise the terms of the existing piece-work agreement for drilling and to a misunderstanding as to the attitude of the coolies toward the proposal. The terms were published in advance and the management was led to believe by boss boys who said they represented the coolies that the terms would be generally acceptable. Opinion in the compound was, however, divided and a riot ensued. Two men were killed by the rioters, and two by shots fired by persons so far unknown. The murderers and the ringleaders have been arrested and the compound is quiet. As regards the second part of the Question, 573 labourers have been repatriated on the expiry of their contracts and the contracts of 15,890 expire up to the 31st December.

Isthmian Canal Labour

I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies how many labourers from Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad, or any other islands in the British West Indies, are engaged on the Isthmian Canal.

I can only refer the hon. Member to the reply given to a Question asked by the hon. Member for Darlington in very similar terms on the 29th July.†

Transvaal Bills

I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will place in the library copies of the Bills recently introduced in the Transvaal Legislature dealing with questions of immigration, liquor laws, the field-cornet system, and the right of access by natives to the law courts.

† See (4) Debates, clxxix., 478, 479.

The Immigration Bill and the Bill to amend the liquor law which has been abandoned have been received and will be placed in the library. The other Bills will be placed there as soon as copies are received.

Hut Tax In British East Africa

I bog to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, during his projected visit to British East Africa, he will inquire into the desirability of altering the method of collection of the hut tax in native districts, so as to provide that the system of payment of taxation to British authorities through the medium of chiefs or sub-chiefs with a commission of 5 per cent. on collection may be reconsidered, and, if desirable, abandoned.

I will inquire into the matter, but so far as I am at present advised there is no reason to suppose that the present arrangement is not well adapted to the special circumstances of the East African Protectorate.

Panama Canal Labour Contract

On behalf of the hon. Member for Kingswinford Division of Staffordshire, I beg to ask the Prime Minister whether, in view of the fact that it is impossible to enforce the terms of the Panama Isthmian Canal Labour Contract, the Government will consider the desirability of its abrogation.

It might argumentatively be observed that if the Contract cannot be enforced against the United States Government it would become a dead letter, and it could evidently no longer be used as a binding form of agreement. But information on this point is still being sought, and, in the meanwhile, I should strongly deprecate any action which would seem to imply distrust in the ability and intentions of the Government of the United States of America to provide for the well-being of the labourers and to act towards them in strict good faith. His Majesty's Government feel no such distrust and have therefore no intention, as at present advised, of fettering the discretion of the Governor of Trinidad in regard to the recruitment of labour for Panama.

The Hague Conference And The Limitation Of Armaments

On behalf of the hon. Member for the Ecclesall Division of Sheffield, I beg to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he is now in a position to announce the terms of the resolution to be moved by the British delegates at The Hague on the question of limiting armaments.

(Sir EDWARD GREY, Northumberland, Berwick)

I can only repeat the replies I gave to the hon. Members for Andover and Norwood on the 1st instant.† It would hardly be courteous to the Conference for me to make any anticipatory statement of the terms of any resolution that may be brought before them.

Trinidad Labour Ordinance

On behalf of the hon. Member for the Ecclesall division of Sheffield, I beg to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, if he can now state what Court decided that the recent Trinidad Ordinance cannot be enforced in the Panama zone; what was the status of the Court which pronounced this verdict; and has notice of appeal been given.

It is presumed that the hon. Member refers to a decision stated to have been given by the Supreme Court of the United States, by which it has been laid down that the Isthmian Canal Commission, with whom the contract entered into by Trinidad labourers is made, are part of the United States Government, and therefore cannot be sued for breach of contract. His Majesty's Government having received information to this effect, His Majesty's Ambassador at Washington has been instructed to report whether such a decision has been given. Until His Excellency's Report is received I am not in a position to furnish the hon. Member with any further information.

† See (4) Debates, clxxix., 1211–2.

Trade In Venezuela

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether His Majesty's Government are taking any steps, and if so, what steps, to secure the removal of the surtax of 30 per cent. on all goods shipped to Venezuelan ports from the West Indies, which was imposed by the Venezuelan Government in 1881 in contravention of Article 4 of the treaty of 1825.

I regret to state that I can add nothing to the Answer which I returned to the hon. Member on this subject on July 28th, 1906‡.

Civil Service Superannuation


I beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that no steps have yet been taken to repeal the seventh section of the Superannuation Act of 1859, though its immediate repeal was recommended by the Royal Commission on Civil Establishments in 1888; and whether, in these circumstances, any civil servant retiring on account of abolition of office is entitled to part of the extra allowances or benefits contemplated and provided by an unrepealed Act, even though his retirement did not result in the maximum amount of saving to the State as between salary and pension.

The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative; to the second part in the negative. My hon. friend will observe that the provisions of the section in question are permissive only; and since the recommendation of

‡ See (4) Debates, clxii., 213.
the Royal Commission, the Treasury has made it a rule not to grant the additional allowances contemplated by the section, except under special circumstances which rarely arise.

English Channel Fishery

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he is contemplating the possibility of arranging, in the interests of the fishermen of the South Coast, an English Channel Fishery Convention on the lines of the North Sea Convention.

Yes, Sir, the matter is now receiving the careful consideration of the Board of Trade and the Foreign Office.

Seamen's Contracts

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that in some of the principal shipping ports of the United Kingdom the superintendents are failing to report to the Board of Trade cases where seamen fail to join their vessels after signing the articles of agreement; and whether he will issue instructions to the superintendents requesting them to report all such cases of failures to join to the Registrar-General, in order that the certificates of such seamen may be dealt with in accordance with the Merchant Shipping Act of 1906.

The Board of Trade are not aware that superintendents are omitting to report cases where it is shown to their satisfaction that a seaman has wilfully or through misconduct failed to join his ship. In order, however, to remove any possible misconception of the requirements of the section, further instructions will be issued to superintendents in regard to the matter.

Is it not the fact the Merchant Shipping Act provides that the superintendent shall report all cases?

Seamen's Qualifications

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that the British Vice-Consul at Rotterdam will not permit any seamen to engage on vessels belonging to the Furness line as A.B.'s unless such seamen can prove three years sea service, and that at the same time on all other vessels, where the crews are supplied by the Rotterdam shipping masters, men are accepted as qualified able seamen although unable to prove three years sea service; whether he can say why the British Vice-Consul makes this distinction between vessels of the Furness line and other vessels; and whether he will cause inquiries to be made with regard to the conduct of this Vice-Consul at Rotterdam, and call upon him for the ground on which he can reconcile his different conduct in the two cases.

The Board of Trade are informed by the Vice-Consul at Rotterdam that no distinction is made by him between vessels of the Furness line and other vessels.

The "Palastrina"

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that the British steamer "Palastrina" engaged a crew at Rotterdam on or about the 30th July, 1907; whether the British Vice-Consul allowed four seamen to be signed on the articles of the vessel as A.B.'s, not one of whom was able to prove that he had three years sea service; whether the "Palastrina" is now lying at Cardiff; and, if so, whether he will cause inquiries to be made at Rotterdam and Cardiff as to the want of three years sea service of these men who were signed on as able seamen.

The facts are as stated by my hon. friend. An assurance has, however, been received from the Vice-Consul that in future seamen who cannot prove the necessary sea service will not be given the rating of A.B.

May I call the hon. Gentleman's attention to his previous Answer? He now admits that the Vice-Consul has been signing men on as A.B.'s who could not prove three years service, and before that he said no distinction was made.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the "Palastrina" is not one of the Furness line, and that before men are allowed to sign on for the Furness boats the Vice-Consul is particular to see that they prove three years service? Did he not in this case overlook the provision and allow incompetent men to sign on?

I do not admit that at all. If the hon. Member has any further information I shall be pleased to consider it.

Railway Dining Car Attendants

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade if his attention has been called to the number of hours worked by the dining-car staff engaged on the important trains on the principal railways of Great Britain; whether he can see his way to request the several railway companies to furnish a complete Return of the actual hours this class of servants were on the trains each turn of duty during the month of July, 1907; and what other steps he proposes to take, if any, in this matter.

Dining car attendants would not appear to come within the scope of either the Regulation of Railways Act, 1889, or the Railway Regulation Act, 1893, and the Board of Trade have therefore no powers which would enable them to take the action suggested.

said that although by Act of Parliament certain powers had been given to the Board, these men did not come within their scope. The Regulation of Railways Act, 1889, applied only to servants whose duties involved the safety of trains or passengers, while the Act of 1903 dealt with men engaged in working the traffic. These men came within neither category, and the Board consequently had not the power the hon. Member seemed to think.

asked whether the Government were not in a position to bring influence to bear on the railway companies to arrange proper hours.

said they could make representations, but there was no statutory force behind them.

Seeing that these men are employed on the trains will the hon. Gentleman further consider their case?

Conviction Under The Merchant Shipping Act At Middlesbrough

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to the conviction under the Merchant Shipping Act, 1906, of a seaman named Thomas M'Atanney, at Middlesbrough on 23rd July; whether he is aware that M'Atanney signed on the steamer "Lady Lewis" on the 5th July and failed to join that ship, and afterwards signed on the 16th July on the steamer "Oakby," and failed to join that ship either; whether he can say if M'Atanney produced a discharge book when signing on the "Oakby"; and whether he will call the attention of the owners to the fact that seamen are being engaged on their vessels without producing certificates of discharge, and thereby encouraging men to obtain employment who make it a habitual practice to sign on ships and not go to sea in them.

The attention of the Board of Trade has been called to the conviction, under Section 65 (1) of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1906, of the seaman referred to by my hon. friend. I am aware of the seaman's failure to join the "Oakby" but, in the ease of the "Lady Lewis," I am informed that the master on the arrival of the vessel at Cardiff reported that he had discharged the seaman at Middlesbrough. The seaman did not produce a discharge book when signing on the "Oakby" as his book had not yet been returned from Cardiff to Middlesbrough. The attention. of the owners of the "Oakby" has been called to my hon. friend's Question, and the Board of Trade will also communicate with shipowners generally in regard to the subject.

Lord Strathcona And The All-Red Route

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether the present visit of Lord Strathcona to Canada has any bearing on the suggested subsidies by this country to certain railway and steamship routes to the Australian Colonies; and does he carry any instructions or authority from His Majesty's Government, or can the House be assured that no encouragement will be given to the Canadian proposal to establish what is known as the All-Red route.

The Board of Trade have no knowledge of the objects of Lord Strathcona's visit to Canada. As has already been stated in answer to previous Questions, His Majesty's Government has the matter of the proposed All-British Route under consideration, and I am not at present in a position to make any further announcement on the subject.

London Traffic

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he can definitely state that the branch in connection with London traffic, recently established in his office, is to be of a temporary character; whether it has been established pending legislation next session; and whether he can state what duties in connection with traffic this newly-appointed branch of the Department will be asked to perform.

Yes, Sir. It is not contemplated that the traffic branch should be of more than a temporary character, and its establishment is without prejudice to any future legislative proposals that may be made. Among the duties of the branch at the outset will be the collection of information and statistics with a view to bringing and keeping the Report of the Royal Commission up to date and the preparation of an annual Report with regard to London traffic for presentation to Parliament, the preliminary examination of new schemes seeking statutory authority so far as these come within the scope of the Board of Trade, and the consideration of any other questions affecting traffic in Greater London that the Departments concerned may desire to refer to it.

May I ask the hon. Gentleman what steps have been taken to empower the Commissioner to deal with items of London traffic which stand outside the scope of the Board of Trade? The duties of such a Commissioner would be very limited unless they were extended to the Home Office and the Local Government Board.

Is it intended to introduce legislation next session dealing with this traffic question?

No doubt legislation will follow in due course, but whether next session or the session after I really cannot say.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that it is a considerable time since the Report of the Royal Commission, and there is a great difficulty with reference to London traffic? Either you must hang up schemes which are or may be of great advantage to the public, or else you must allow them to proceed at the risk of throwing out the whole subsequent development of the question.

I can assure the noble Lord that we are fully alive to the necessities of the case.

Are the Board satisfied that they have statutory powers to examine private Bills under the present law?

Sir Hugh Owen

I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board if he can state whether Sir Hugh Owen, late Permanent Secretary to the Local Government Board, still holds any appointment as an official of a public authority for which he receives a salary; whether he is in receipt of a pension; and, if so, whether a reduction is made in this pension by the amount of the salary he receives from the appointment.

Sir Hugh Owen is receiver of the Metropolitan Common Poor Fund, and also examiner of costs under the Borough Funds Acts, the net emoluments of these offices being £265 per annum. He is in receipt of a pension, and no deduction is made from it. The emoluments of the offices above-mentioned are not payable from Imperial funds.

Education Department Consultative Committee

On behalf of the hon. Member for the Kingswinford Division of Staffordshire, I beg to ask the President of the Board of Education if he will give the names of the members of the Consultative Committee, the date of its formation, and the purposes for which it was formed.

The Consultative Committee consists at present of twenty-one members; I will send the hon. Member the names. The Committee was established on the 1st October, 1900, by an Order in Council under Section 4 of the Board of Education Act, 1899. The purposes for which it is formed are laid down in that section.

Are the members of this Committee appointed for life?

Secondary School Grants

On behalf of the hon. Member for the Kingswinford Division of Staffordshire, I beg to ask the President of the Board of Education if he will state what education standard a secondary school must possess in order to obtain the increased grant for secondary schools over and above the educational standard attained by schools earning only the lower grant.

Neckinger Council School, Bermondsey

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Education whether his attention has been drawn to the statement of the medical officer of health for Bermondsey as to the verminous and insanitary condition of the Neckinger London County Council school, Bermondsey; and whether he will require the school to be placed in a sanitary and cleanly condition before the children return to school after the holidays.

My attention has not been drawn to the statement referred to, but I have given directions for the matter to be investigated.

The Antwerp Shipping Dispute

I beg to ask the Postmaster-General if the Peninsular and Oriental Shipping Company receive a subsidy from the Government in consequence of carrying the mails; if he is aware that the company in question shipped 1,600 persons in their boat "Borneo," which left the Albert Dock on Saturday morning last for Antwerp, to take the places of the dockers who were out there owing to a dispute with some of the shipping companies; and whether he intends taking any action in the matter.

The Peninsular and Oriental Company receives a subsidy for the conveyance of mails. My right hon. friend has no knowledge of the circumstances to which the hon. Member refers. The matter does not appear to be one in which he could take any action.

Irish Land Purchase

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland what is the total amount of the agreed purchase money in the agreements for sale under the Purchase of Land (Ireland) Act, 1903, lodged with the Land Commission to 30th June, 1907; how much money has been allocated by the Commission in payment of purchase money to the same date; how much money is now available for completion of the agreed sales; and is it proposed to find funds for the restoration of evicted tenants and the expropriation of new tenants or planters in priority to the funds required to complete the agreed voluntary sales under the Act of 1903 for which agreements have been lodged with the Estates Commissioners.

The total amount of the purchase money involved in the agreements lodged up to 30th June last, including sales to the Estates Commissioners and the Congested Districts Board, was in round numbers £47,500,000, of which £17,500,000 had been advanced up to that date. Money is at present being supplied to the Irish Land Purchase Fund by the National Debt Commissioners as and when required. The provision of funds for the purchase of lands under the Evicted Tenants Bill will not affect the provision of funds for ordinary land purchase under the Act of 1903. An additional and separate staff has been, and will continue to be provided for the work to be done under the Evicted Tenants Bill, and funds will be provided for the purposes of that Bill pari passu with the provision of funds for ordinary land purchase.

Mullaghboy-Robbery Of Postman

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that on 23rd July the postman from Carrigallen S.O. to Mullaghboy was attacked by three men disguised as women, who took from him five letters supposed to contain writs; and whether he will state why it was not considered necessary to afford the postman protection in this case, in view of the instructions issued to the local police by the police authorities in the matter.

The police authorities inform me that the facts are as stated in the first part of the Question. Letters containing writs are usually registered, but in this case the letters were ordinary post letters. The local police had no reason to apprehend that the contents of these letters would become known before delivery, otherwise special protection would have been given to the postman.

The Theft Of The Irish Crown Jewels

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland with regard to the recent disappearance of Crown jewels from Dublin Castle, whether the jewels have yet been traced, recovered, or redeemed; and, if so, under what circumstances.

The reply is in the negative. The jewels have not been traced, recovered, or redeemed.


What efforts have the police made to detect the loyal and patriotic Unionist criminals who stole these jewels? Have they searched the haunts of the aristocratic loyal and patriotic Unionist criminals, the Kildare Street Club, for instance.

As we have no means of knowing who the thieves or receivers are, any speculation as to their politics would be out of place.

Is it not the fact nobody had access to this part of Dublin Castle where the Crown jewels were kept except persons known to be loyal and patriotic Unionists?

[No Answer was returned.]

Irish Land Annuities

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury if he will state in what way the payment of part of his annuity in Guaranteed Land Stock, by a purchaser under the Purchase of Land (Ireland) Act, 1891, would be unfair to other purchasers who did not choose to avail themselves of this mode of payment; who is, or are, the person or persons whose duty it is to make the rules, under Section 2 of the Act of 1891, to enable payments to be made in Guaranteed Land Stock; and is the £13,900,000 of existing Guaranteed Land Stock only very little, and how much, less than the total outstanding advances under the Act of 1891.

(i). The Sinking Fund instalments payable under the Act of 1891 have to-be accumulated by the National Debt Commissioners until such time as the amount so accumulated will redeem the original advance in Guaranteed Land Stock. The National Debt Commissioners apply all receipts on the accumulation account to the purchase of Guaranteed Land Stock at the prices obtaining from time to time, and when the Stock is below par the Stock credited to the tenant purchasers is in excess of the cash invested, and the benefit of such purchases accrues to the tenant purchasers as a whole, the period for which the annuity is payable being reduced accordingly. Owing to the large number of purchasers under the Act, about 46,000, the only practicable way of accumulating the Sinking Fund is to deal with the payments as a whole so that any advantage arising from the Stock being procurable below par may be equitably distributed. If one section of the tenant purchasers were to pay their instalments in Stock the progress of the accumulation would be retarded by the action of that section of tenant purchasers, whereas they would share equally with the rest in the benefit arising from payments in cash although they would have contributed nothing to produce that benefit, and those who paid in cash would suffer to a corresponding extent, (ii.) It is, of course, the Treasury who were given power to make a rule under the section referred to. (iii.) The existing Guaranteed Land Stock at 31st March last was £12,741,000, which amount has to be redeemed by the accumulation of the Sinking Fund instalments. Up to the same date the accumulation account had acquired £966,000 Stock, but of the remaining £11,775,000 only a small proportion was in the hands of the public.

Business Of The House

I beg to ask the Prime Minister whether he can afford facilities for the final stages of the Deceased Wife's Sister Bill.

(Sir H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN, Stirling Burghs)

Yes, Sir; in view of the fact that this Bill has passed through all its stages in this House with the exception of part of the Report stage and the Third Reading, and of the very large measure of support which it has received at every stage, the Government propose to afford facilities for this Bill. The object of the Bill has gained steadily for many years in Parliamentary support, and the opposition to it has correspondingly dwindled. We think it is high time that the matter was settled. Perhaps I may be allowed to add that the other Bills for which we propose to give facilities are: The Limited Partnerships Bill and the Advertisement Regulations Bill. In regard to both of these it only remains to find time for consideration of the Lords' Amendments. The Lights on Vehicles Bill will also be starred, but it is proposed to exclude Scotland from its operation. We also hope to give facilities for the Notification of Births Bill, but this must depend upon the Bill being agreed to.

Crown Ecclesiastical Patronage

I beg to ask the Prime Minister if his attention has been called to a recent utterance of the Bishop of London in which he exhorted the Crown to reconsider its present method of exercising ecclesiastical patronage; if he proposes to take any steps to avoid a repetition of the procedure recently adopted, with the approval of the bishop, by which the induction of an evangelical clergyman appointed by the Crown to the living of St. Saviour's, Hoxton, was prevented; and if it is proposed to transfer the patronage of this living from the Crown to the sole patronage of the Bishop of London.

I have seen a report of the sermon to which my hon. friend appears to allude, but I cannot find any exhortation in it. The Vicar of St. Saviour's, Hoxton, was, I understand, allowed by the bishop to withdraw his resignation before his living was declared vacant. I have no control over these proceedings. I am considering whether the names of Crown nominees should be divulged in future before the vacancies actually occur. An arrangement has been for some time under consideration whereby there would be an interchange of shares of patronage, that is of alternate rights of patronage, between the Crown and the bishop. If this exchange is carried out this particular living would pass wholly to the bishop—others of equivalent value passing wholly to the Crown.

The Belfast Riots

asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether, in view of the grave condition of affairs in Belfast, the Government would immediately take steps to prevail upon the railway and shipping companies to recognise the desirability of submitting all points of dispute to arbitration, and also in the meantime have the troops withdrawn for a stipulated period, with a view to securing a peaceful settlement.

Before the right hon. Gentleman answers that Question, may I ask him whether he is aware of the speech made by a Member of this House at Belfast, in which he said that although the people of Belfast had no swords or guns they had broken bottles, and whether he proposes to take action against the hon. Member for inciting the people to riot?

Don't give him a free advertisement.

I can assure the hon. Member for Jarrow, who has given me notice of his Question, that the Government are fully alive to the urgency of this matter, and are doing all they can to secure a settlement of this most unfortunate strike. It will be remembered that two representatives of the Labour Federation, Messrs. Mitchell and Gee, did in the earlier stages of the dispute go over to Belfast, and did their best to secure a settlement, with very considerable beneficial results. I cannot but believe that, had they remained, all the difficulties would by this time have been overcome. Unfortunately, they were obliged to leave. I have arranged with the President of the Board of Trade that he should send over, and he is sending over to-day, one of these gentlemen, Mr. Mitchell, who is now a temporary servant of the Board of Trade; and he is going accompanied by a permanent servant of the Board of Trade in the Labour Department. They will at once do what they can to place themselves at the disposal of all parties. I have also just heard, I think somewhat authoritatively, from the representative of the trade unionist party in Ireland and the trade unions, that they are perfectly willing to refer this matter to arbitration. They suggest the name of Mr. Carlisle, an active member of the firm of Harland and Wolff, who are one of the largest, if not the largest, employers of labour in the United Kingdom. They say also that failing him they would be willing to allow the matter to be referred to Sir Antony MacDonnell. This, at all events, shows a disposition on their part to refer all these matters in dispute to arbitration. I have the most earnest hope, and am not altogether without some confidence, that in the course of a few hours we may hear that these negotiations which are going on on all sides have had a satisfactory result. Every effort, so far as I can do anything, will be in the interests of peace. So far as the removal of the troops is concerned, that is a matter entirely in the hands of the civil authority, and it is for them to consider the propriety of any such step. I have no responsibility; but from the information within my reach, I cannot say that I think any such proposal as that would add to the general sense of security on the part of the whole city of Belfast, whose interests must not be overlooked even in the presence of this most lamentable strike.

asked if the right hon. Gentleman was aware that the reason of the breakdown of the negotiations with Messrs. Mitchell and Gee arose entirely from the obstinate position taken up by the railway company.

I do not think it is desirable for me at the present time to express any opinion.

asked whether the recent visit of Sir Antony MacDonnell was not with a view to arbitration, and, if so, whether he had reported the result of his inquiry.

Sir Antony MacDonnell went as a representative of the Government to ascertain facts for my information. I do not think I am at liberty to say more.

asked whether a full and complete inquiry would be made into the circumstances which had led to such disastrous results.

asked whether it was not the fact that the soldiers and the police had exercised the most wonderful self-control during the riots.

asked the right hon. Gentleman to say who were the civil authorities referred to who ordered out the military, seeing that the Lord Mayor did not consult the city magistrates or the city corporation.


asked whether the introduction of the military in Belfast was not chiefly owing to the extreme pressure brought to bear on both the local authorities and the Irish Office by the Shipping Federation, who wrote to the right hon. Gentleman on 25th July a threatening letter which contained the phrase that failing strong action by the Government they themselves would use force, that they would organise a force of their own, and whether the right hon. Gentleman had sent any reply to this letter depecating the use of such minatory language.


May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, considering the nature of the missiles used by the crowd in Belfast, and the fact that such crowd contained a large number of innocent women and children, he does not consider that the order to shoot by the troops with intent to kill was wholly unnecessary and unjustifiable?

I have a report here which tells the story related by the military commander, and I will read the details of it. It is dated the 12th, but it contains a narrative of what happened on the two days—

"Military report on the situation in Belfast during Saturday and Sunday, 10th and 11th August—
"Belfast, 12th August, 1907.—I have the honour to report that the troops were on picket duty in the streets on Saturday. All was quiet till about 12 noon, when a determined attack was made on some wagons of Messrs. Hughes in the Nationalist quarter in the Falls Road. Two pickets of the 1st Royal Berkshire Regi- ment came to help the police and formed a cordon across the street, afterwards falling in in rear of the wagons and escorting them down the road. The troops were greatly hampered in taking any offensive action, as three-quarters of the mob consisted of women and children, the men remaining in rear and throwing paving stones and broken bottles. Second Lieutenants Allfrey and Harvey and ten non-commissioned officers and men were cut about the head with missiles. The disturbance appeared purely local, and I am taking measures in concert with the police to guard against attacks on the pickets in this quarter. The conduct of the 1st Royal Berkshire pickets was admirable, all ranks showing the greatest forbearance and steadiness under the most trying circumstances. No troops were on picket duty yesterday (Sunday). At 7.15 p.m., however, an urgent telephonic communication was received from the Commissioner of Police that a serious riot had broken out again in the Falls Road district, and requesting that all available troops in the garrison should at once proceed to the vicinity. Within five minutes of the message being received all three battalions at Ormeau Park were under arms, the two battalions at Victoria Barracks and two troops of cavalry following shortly afterwards. On arrival at Cullingtree Police Barracks, which appeared to be the centre of the riot, the troops were halted. After consultation with the Commissioner of Police, it was decided to block the entrances to the streets to the north of the Grosvenor Road with a view to localising the disturbance, and also separating the Protestant and Catholic quarters north and south of the above road. A picket of fifty men of the 2nd Essex Regiment were ordered, in company with about twenty of the constabulary, to occupy a post about 150 yards north of the police barracks. The party were received with volleys of stones, and it was found necessary to clear the three worst streets at the point of the bayonet. The mob, however, did not await the charge, but fled down the streets, the inhabitants covering their escape by throwing stones, tin pots, filth, and other missiles from the upper windows. The charge, however, had a good moral effect, no further trouble taking place in this quarter. More stone-throwing took place at the picket of the 4th Middlesex Regiment guarding the debouches into the Grosvenor Road, and the cavalry had several times to clear the streets, followed up by parties of the infantry. The rioting gradually ceased, and about twelve midnight all troops returned to quarters. I regret to say that one officer (Second Lieutenant Passingham, 4th Middlesex Regiment) and seventeen hon commissioned officers and men are under medical treatment, all suffering more or less severely from contused wounds, chiefly in the head, caused by paving stones thrown at distances of nine or ten yards. The brunt of the fighting fell on the 4th Middlesex Regiment, two troops 3rd Dragoon Guards, and a picket of the 2nd Essex Regiment, mentioned above. The conduct of these corps was admirable, and there was never the slightest sign of the troops getting out of hand, though they often had to stand being mercilessly pelted at short ranges without being allowed to retaliate. The police co-operated splendidly with the troops, and some twenty arrests were made. Some portable searchlights would be of the greatest assistance and would save many casualties, as prior to commencing operations the mob extinguishes all street lamps. Wires and ropes were also fixed across the streets to impede the cavalry."
I have just received the following telegram—
"Victoria Barracks, Belfast, 13th August, 1907.—Serious rioting last night. At 5 30 p.m. I placed troops in five posts round disaffected area with orders not to expose men unless necessary and keep rioters in their own quarter of city. Reserve at Ormean Park and Victoria Barracks. Mob attacked and broke all windows of Cullingtree Road Police Barracks. Rifle Brigade charged out and made twenty-five prisoners. This moved mob to Palls Road Barracks. Here the picket was so hardly pressed that the magistrate ordered troops to tire. Seven rounds were fired, three people killed, one, I regret to say, a woman, and several wounded. Reinforcements arrived about 8.15., and troops were able to hold their own. About 12.30 the troops returned to barracks, leaving a detachment at Falls Road, which left for barracks at 1.30; casualties fifteen, only three of these serious."

Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us who is the local authority who ordered out these troops? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Lord Mayor did not consult the city magistrates nor did he consult the corporation; and I will further ask him can the Lord Mayor of a city call out the military on his personal responsibility?

I must have notice of that Question. The conditions under which the troops were called out are laid down in the King's Regulations.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that my colleagues and myself on these benches have counselled peaceful behaviour during the whole strike?

I have no reason to doubt that. My opinion is that the people who have been taking part in these lamentable attacks are not strike workmen.

Will the right hon. Gentleman answer my Question, whether he knows that a Member of this House advocated to the people of Belfast that they should throw broken bottles at the troops if they had not swords or guns, and what action he proposes to take to prosecute that Member?

Is it not a fact that this speech was delivered in England, and that England is not within the jurisdiction of the Chief Secretary for Ireland?

The matters which are engaging my attention and also the attention of the people of Belfast have not allowed me a moment to pay attention to the wild language which has been used, and to which no importance is attached in Belfast. The hon. Member paid a hasty visit to Belfast and disappeared very soon. Belfast people with all their faults are not likely to take any guidance from him. With reference to the letter that was addressed to me by the Shipping Federation, I dare say its terms were not very proper, and I have pointed out that in my reply. But I can say for myself that no pressure was put upon me or on any of us by the terms of that letter.

Butter And Margarine Bill

Lords Amendments to be considered upon Friday, and to be printed. [Bill 312]

Public Works Loans Remission, Etc

Committee to consider of authorising the extension of the period for repayment of certain Loans made by the Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland, and of authorising the remission of a debt due to the Public Works Loan Commissioners, in pursuance of any Act of the present session, to grant money for the purpose of certain Local Loans out of the Local Loans Fund, and for other purposes relating to Local Loans (King's recommendation signified), Tomorrow ( Mr. Runciman).

Employers' Liability (Insurance Companies) Bill

Reported, with Amendments, from Standing Committee C.

Report to lie upon the Table, and to be printed. [No. 303.]

Minutes of the Proceedings of the Standing Committee to be printed. [No. 303.]

Bill, as amended (by the Standing Committee), to be taken into consideration To-morrow, and to be printed. [Bill 311.]

Selection (Standing Committees)

reported from the Committee of Selection; That they had discharged the following Member from Standing Committee C: Mr. Munro Ferguson; and had appointed in substitution: Mr. Rufus Isaacs.

further reported from the Committee; That they had discharged the following Members from Standing Committee C (in respect of the Companies Bill [Lords]): Mr. Thornton, Earl Percy, and Mr. Pickersgill; and had appointed in substitution (in respect of the Companies Bill [Lords]): Mr. Hills, Mr. Fell, and Mr. Berridge.

further reported from the Committee; That they had added the following Member to Standing Committee C: Mr. Cave.

Reports to lie upon the Table.

New Bill

Expiring Laws Continuance Bill

"To continue various Expiring Laws," presented by Mr. Runciman; to be read a second time To-morrow, and to be printed. [Bill 313.]

Small Holdings And Allotments Bill

As amended (by the Standing Committee), further considered.

MR. CHAPLIN ( Surrey, Wimbledon) moved on Clause 6 an Amendment to restrict to the labouring population the acquisition of small holdings under the compulsory powers of the Bill. He said that he might be reminded that there was no similar qualification in the Act of 1892, for which he was personally responsible, but he submitted that there was no analogy between the two cases, because there was no compulsion under the Bill of 1892, while this Bill was full of it. Under the Bill anybody could obtain a small holding, whether well-to-do or not. That was not the purpose of the measure, and the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill, when he introduced it, stated that the real object aimed at was to bring people back to the land, although he admitted at the same time that he was not very sanguine that Parliamentary interference would turn back to the villages any great proportion of those who had acquired a taste for the excitement of the towns. Still he felt that if they could fix on the land those now living on it or near it they would be doing good work. That he took it was the main object of the Bill, on the right hon. Gentleman's own showing, but the measure in its present form went far beyond that. He agreed with the right hon. Gentleman there was no very great probability of bringing back to the land any great number of those who had left it, but he was afraid that if the Bill passed in its present form they would see in all parts of the country the establishment on a very considerable scale of what he might call rural villadom. That certainly was not the object they had in view, and it was not an object which afforded any justification for the use of compulsory powers. Then again the provision that the person who applied for and obtained a small holding should cultivate it himself was absolutely no safeguard. What was the definition of the word "cultivate?" He had looked up the definition clauses of the Act of 1892 and found there that the expression was to include horticulture and other things, including the keeping of poultry or bees. Thus a person had only to grow a few roses or to keep a hive of bees in his garden to bring himself under the Act. He certainly held that there ought to be some further qualification, and he therefore proposed the insertion of the words providing that applications for the small holdings should be confined to the labouring population. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would accept his Amendment.

Amendment proposed—

"In page 4, line 31, after the word 'persons,' to insert the words 'of the labouring population.'"—[Mr. Chaplin.)

Question put, "That those words be there inserted."

was sure that the right hon. Gentleman would not be surprised to hear that his hope for the acceptance of the Amendment was doomed to disappointment. He wished to have no hampering of the class of deserving people who might get these small holdings. The larger the number of people from the overcrowded towns who could be induced economically to settle on the land the better he would be pleased. The right hon. Gentleman might rest assured that rural villadom was not likely to be set up under the county council control which would be exercised over the tenants under this Bill. But if they attempted to define a class in an Act of Parliament they would either get into difficulty or create injustice. In his opinion the words in the Bill "shall themselves cultivate" were quite sufficient safeguard even with the gloss of the rose and the beehive put on them by the right hon. Gentleman.

regretted that he was unable in this case to support his right hon. friend the Member for Wimbledon, who, he could not forget, was the author of the only Bill in existence which had succeeded in bringing men back to the land. There was a numerous class of village tradesmen who would be excluded from the Bill if this Amendment were carried. There were the blacksmith, the shoeing smith, and the wheelwright who in consequence of the decay of village life were now only half employed, and if they could only be possessed of a few acres of land they could fill up their spare time profitably and their sons would not be driven into the towns. He did not think they need fear that the Bill would give rise to speculation in land for there were provisions against sub-letting.


presumed that the object of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wimbledon was to make sure that people who got the small holdings were conversant with the cultivation of the land. He did not think the right hon. Gentleman really wished to confine the applicants for holdings to the labouring class. The subsection it was true provided that persons who hired holdings were themselves to cultivate them, but it did not go so far as to say that they were to cultivate them properly as was the case in the Act of 1892. There certainly seemed to him to be some omission from the Bill which ought to be made good.

said the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken had supported the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wimbledon on one ground, and one only, that the cultivating provisions of the Act of 1892 were not applied by this Bill. If the hon. Member turned to the Bill he would see in Clause 7, line 3, provision was made for applying the whole of the cultivating conditions of the Act of 1892, to which he had alluded.

said there was nothing in the clause as it stood to prevent a county borough from providing allotments or small holdings, but why should persons outside the rural area come in and dispossess men, who had been in occupation for years, of their holdings? Surely, injustice could not go much further than that. Here was one set of people born and bred on the land, who had stayed there through good times and bad times, and they were to be turned out by another set who had been away from the rural area all their lives, and probably had made a competency in the borough. As he understood, the Bill was intended, among other things, to keep people on the land, so that the population bred thereon should be healthy and strong; and here they had a population brought up on the land which was to be displaced by the population in the towns, who had lived there all their lives, and who desired in the closing portion of their careers to live upon the land. Anything more unjust to one class in favour of another he could not conceive. If the clause remained unamended, an injustice would certainly be done to those who had given up their lives to agriculture, in favour of those who came into it as a recreation.

admitted that he had overlooked the provision in Clause 7 referred to by the right hon. Gentleman. That would apply undoubtedly to any cultivation of the land. Personally he adhered entirely to the views he had expressed. He was not shaken in the least by what his right hon. friend had said, because what was the argument against his proposal? They were in favour of the Bill applying to the blacksmith, the wheelwright, and various others in the village districts, everyone of whom came within the Amendment that he proposed. But he owned that his proposal did not appear to have received that support, even from some Members on his own side, which he might have anticipated, and, therefore, he should not waste the time of the House by going to a division.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

SIR J. DICKSON-POYNDER ( Wiltshire, Chippenham) moved an Amendment to give power to purchase holdings. His object, he said, was to enable county councils, who had availed themselves of compulsory powers to purchase under the Bill, either to sell land to small holders or lease it. In other words, he proposed that the county council should be armed with compulsory powers of purchase in regard to the Act of 1892, under which they had limited powers at the present time to purchase by agreement. The Amendment was moved upstairs, but he regretted that his right hon. friend had not seen his way to accept it. It appeared to him that the principle involved was important to the whole of the land tenure question in our country districts; and he believed the demand in certain districts of England among certain people to take advantage of it was so substantial that he made no apology for again raising this question on Report, in the hope, however remote, of inducing his right hon. friend to reconsider his former decision. The objection upstairs to the Amendment moved by the right

hon. Gentleman the Member for the Bordesley division was to the effect that the proposal for purchase was outside the scope of the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman said the question was dealt with in another Bill and, therefore, could not consistently be included within the provisions of the present Bill; that this measure was exclusively one giving powers to the county councils to lease, and that if they included the principle of a proprietary peasantry or of ownerships, they would be running in direct antagonism to the machinery set up by this Bill. He had felt at the time that this objection of his right hon. friend was not a very strong one, but was somewhat flimsy in its character; and since he had had an opportunity of reading more closely the Act of 1892 he was confirmed in that opinion. This opportunity of strengthening the Act of 1892 was one which would not recur again probably for years, because the land question was not dealt with by elaborate measures every year. They should make purchase compulsory under the Act of 1892, as purchase for hire was compulsory in the present measure. The main charge against the Act of 1892 had always been that owing to its permissive character it was a dead letter save for a very few holdings that had been established in Worcestershire, and he believed in Lincolnshire. Surely, an opportunity like the present should be seized to improve existing legislation, and to bring it up to the level that they desired the measure now passing through Parliament to attain. He was aware that the opposition to this Bill was due to the fact that it was based on the principle of leasing and not on the principle of ownership. He had never shared that objection himself, nor did he do so now in moving this Amendment. He believed that in the great majority of cases throughout the country the method of leasing land to small holders was one that would be most suitable and prove most acceptable. He would not attempt to recapitulate the various reasons based both on economy and convenience; he merely contented himself by stating that in the great majority of cases the principle of leasing was the one that would be availed of. But while he said that, he

was equally confident that throughout the country, especially in those districts where small holdings already existed, there were many small holders who would gladly avail themselves of the opportunity of becoming owners on the instalment principle. He knew many small holders, and hon. Gentlemen near him knew many also in their respective districts, who would gladly seize the opportunity offered them out of the small provision they had made, to pay the fifth of the purchase money which was required, and they would also be able to pay the instalments which would run for a period not exceeding fifty years. All the Amendment asked was that some opportunity should be afforded to this class of small farmers by the introduction of compulsory powers of purchase where necessary. It had been argued by those who opposed the idea of ownership that it would create throughout the country a class of ill-tended holdings; that as time proceeded the occupants of those holdings would lose their money and even mortgage their properties, and that the land would ultimately find its way into the hands of unreliable people. The answer to that was very clear. Certain provisions inserted by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wimbledon in his Act of 1892 were very clear precautions against anything of that kind occurring. Clause 7 referred to rules as to the mode or conditions of sale, and said—

"Every county council acquiring land under this Act shall make rules for providing against any small holding being let or sold to a person who is unable to cultivate it properly."

In Clause 11, it was provided—

"If at any time after the restrictive conditions imposed by this Act have ceased to attach to a small holding, the owner of the holding desires to use the holding for purposes other than agricultural, he shall, before so doing, whether his holding is situate within a town or built upon or not, offer the holding for sale, first to the county council from whom the holding was purchased, next to the person then entitled to the land from which the holding was originally severed."

They were the specific precautions laid down in the Act of 1892 against anything of the nature of that which was apprehended by those who were opposed to the course which he proposed. The only answer which they had really had up to now was that it ran counter to the

principle of the Bill, which was for leasing. But the adoption of the Amendment would not in the least degree interfere with the smooth and easy working of the principle of basing. The real objection which had been raised, and probably would be raised again, chiefly by hon. Gentlemen on the Labour Benches, was to any extension of ownership, because they desired gradually to extinguish ownership throughout the country. He could understand that attitude; it was logical and consistent; but he unhesitatingly said that he most profoundly disagreed with it, and he hoped and believed that his right hon. friend shared that disagreement with his colleagues on the Treasury Bench. He hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would not allow himself, cither in this or in any other measure, to arrive at such an opinion by the urgency of demands coming from certain sections of the House. He was quite certain of this, that although there was a number of hon. Members who held that view, there was, on the other hand, a very large number who held the view which he had ventured to indicate in the opposite direction. Among those who held the view which he advocated, some would never allow the opportunity to escape for a public authority to acquire property, and having once acquired it, under no conceivable circumstances would they permit that property to be sold or parted with. He had no sympathy with extreme views, especially as applied to agricultural land. Whilst in towns it might be necessary for the local authority permanently to own the land on the basis that it was in the public interest, that same doctrine when extended to the country districts became utterly and entirely inapplicable. He had been twitted by an hon. friend, who slid that he must find it difficult to reconcile his position as a Liberal and his position as a landlord. He did not find any difficulty in reconciling those two positions. At the same time, in order to avoid difficulty, they should have a little clear thinking, and they must distinguish once for all between a slavish adherence to extreme Socialistic views and the maintenance of sound Liberal principles. Wherever they looked abroad they would find small holdings developed on the principle of ownership. He was very much struck

last week at the International Housing Conference—at which he regretted more of his hon. friends were not present—by four speeches, one by a Belgian, one by a Dutchman, and two by Germans. They all strongly advocated the extension in their own countries of small holdings. They said that all responsible people had realised that the extension of small holdings was one of the chief methods of mitigating those evils which were common to their countries and to ours. They went on to emphasise the fact that if those small holdings were to be a permanent success, if they were to be profitable to the occupants, they must be based on the principle of ownership. He had laid stress on that argument as to ownership, because he thought they had now an opportunity of carrying it on parallel with the principle of leasing—distinct from but not antagonistic to it. He urged the principle of purchase on the Government even now, because it was a sound alternative, and there was a demand for it in the country, and he was confident that all sections of opinion, whether Liberal or Conservative, would be profoundly disappointed if they found that something of this nature was not put at their disposal. No real objection could be raised which his right hon. friend need be anxious about. He appealed to him to reconsider the proposal, for it would in no way interfere with the smooth working of his measure. Those hon. Gentlemen who held the same view as he did associated themselves with him in urging upon his right hon. friend and the Government to do what they could to give this proposal, which he ventured to move, favourable consideration.


, in seconding the Amendment, said that the object of the Bill was universally recognised, and their duty was to do what they could to improve the status and condition of the agricultural labourer; that was the sole object of the measure. It had been said that legislative change which acts on the social structure merely as a physical force, altering the arrangement of parts, but leaving it character the same, was certain to fail. He did not say the Bill was sure to fail without this Amendment, but if they could by any means "transform the molecules" composing the structure, their chance of success would be much greater. It was because he believed that the. Amendment would have the effect of enabling the country to transform the character and raise the position of the agricultural labourer that he gave it his warmest and heartiest support. The question was, would mere ownership operate to transform the labourer? While as a mere tenant, no matter low benevolent his landlord, no matter what artificial securities might be afforded him he must remain as he now was, and exhibit perhaps but one more illustration of the small tenant, a by-word for ill-luck and incompetence. There was, he knew, a very substantial body of opinion unfavourable to private ownership in land, and the hon. Baronet had referred to it as existing among hon. Members below the gangway opposite, while it was sparsely, he hoped sparsely, distributed over the Liberal Benches. If the view was held that they were going, by a devious course, by means of this Bill towards the establishment of the elements of a socialistic or collectivist system he did not think success would attend upon their efforts. That was not the purpose, object, or intention of the Bill, which was designed to afford to the agricultural labourers a better chance and opportunity than they had ever had before, and he felt that it was the duty of Parliament to enlarge this opportunity by every means in their power. He believed the main effect of the Bill would be seen in immediate recourse to the Act of 1892, which had been regarded as a dead letter up to the present time. The first effect of the Bill would undoubtedly be to stimulate activity on, the part of county councils, who would not like Commissioners coming in from outside, while landlords would by reason of the compulsion clauses be more acquiescent in selling their land. They would, as he had said, in this way experience a large recourse to the Act of 1892. To refuse assent to the Amendment would be to set up anomalous conditions in many parts of the country. Might he suggest a possible case? In the county of Hertfordshire the county council might put in force the Act of 1892 and acquire land by agree- ment, say thirty or forty acres, in the neighbourhood of a village, which they offered either for sale under the Act of 1892 or on lease under this Bill, until such time as the tenants could become the owners by purchase. Then over the border in Bedfordshire, let them assume that the county council was unable to acquire land by agreement, and put in force the compulsory clauses of this Bill. In this way they too secured a piece of land which they offered to the labourers. Could they treat them in the same way as the more fortunate labourers were being treated in Hertfordshire? No; in the case suggested the Bedfordshire County Council could only offer them small holdings upon a tenancy; they could not offer them ownership. He would read a very short quotation from Professor Fawcett on this point. They would have set up side by side two sets of small holders, one set owners and the other set tenants, dealing with the same produce, probably in the same market, and under conditions in all other respects identical, and the two classes of cultivators would be competing with one another. Professor Fawcett, in his "Political Economy," said—

"How little chance there would be of manufacturing industry in this country successfully encountering the close competition with which it has now to contend if in England manufactories generally had to be rented, whereas in other countries they were owned by the manufacturer. Legislation may give a tenant security for improvements, but no legislation can give the same security as that which is obtained when a man feels that he is applying his labour and his capital to increase the value of his own property.'
The argument against small ownership was not very strong. The proverbial poverty of the English agricultural labourer though it might unfortunately represent a fact did not constitute an argument against the acceptance of the Amendment. If a man was too poor to buy he could hire and wait until he was rich enough to purchase. As for the question of State ownership as against private ownership, it could only be justified if they were considering the food supply of the country, a question which did not arise upon this Bill, which was merely concerned with giving the agricultural labourer the maximum of opportunity to do the best for himself. There was no question of betterment. It was perfectly true that there was often a rise in the market value of land classed as agricultural, but that was not the "agricultural value," and was due to certain social distinctions for which people were willing to pay apart from the agricultural value altogether. It had been suggested that it would be a dangerous thing if the smallowner had the power to mortgage or to sell. He wished to point out that there was a provision in the Bill that for a period of twenty years the power of the smallholder to sell or mortgage was restricted. There was also a provision inviting the county council to co-operate in future with agricultural credit banks for the purpose of enabling these very men to tide over times of difficulty and stress which in some cases must arise. Was it not true to say that the man who was a lessee could mortgage his property, his leasehold, just as fatally as the smallowner; and with regard to sale, if it was an advantage to a man to sell what he had created by his own industry he ought to be entitled to do so. On behalf of the value and merits of ownership he felt that he ought to say something. The first consequence was the enormous augmentation of a man's industry. About 130 years ago Arthur Young in France made a series of observations with regard to peasant proprietors which had never been contradicted or falsified, and during the whole period which had intervened no French Government had ever attempted to make or dared to suggest any alteration in the legal status of the peasant proprietor in France, and that was the strongest possible argument in favour of that system. Everywhere upon the Continent those who had seen the system of peasant proprietorship in operation were unanimous in praise of it and ascribed its success to the fact that the man who tilled the soil was the owner. Under this Bill they were being invited by compulsion to create "tenants." The only observation he wished to make on this point was that where they had the county council control which would be exercised under this Bill over the tenants the tenants had not freedom, because the council would have an agent who would have his favourites among the tenants and would have his fads and system just like the agent of an ordinary landlord. That was inevitable, and the real impetus which enabled the owner to drive the plough to better advantage would be Licking. Then came economy in working. Wherever they got smallowner-ship there they would find economy in working. It was one of the main features of the whole system. They found not only that the gross produce derived from the labour of a smallowner was greater but his net produce was proportionately greater than in the case of a large farm. Proof of that was to be found in Prussia, where there had been a much more rapid enhancement of the value of the small farms as compared with large farms. With economy in management they got frugality and a host of social virtues which completely transformed the character of the man, who came to exercise more foresight and care in everything that went to improve his property. But the greatest benefit of all was that ownership raised a man from the position of a mere dependent. He carried his head higher and acquired a sense of patriotism which he did not possess at the present time. [An HON. MEMBER: Why not now?] Because he was too poor, poverty ruled out patriotism, and a labourer had not the chance of making the best of his opportunities. He was afraid the right hon. Gentleman was going to meet the Amendment with an adamantine negative. All parties desired that a measure of this kind should operate for the benefit of the agricultural labourers, and it would be a great advantage if the Bill was passed by a united House of Commons. It should not be overlooked that the Opposition had a strong force behind them in the country which was out of all proportion to their numbers in the House. The labourers he had conversed with told him that they did not want land law reform so much as a little bit of land which they could call their very own and which they could cultivate for their own benefit. They did not say anything about tenancies, because they were dreaming of ownership. He thought they would do more good if they augmented the number of owners of land by compulsion than by creating more tenancies. If the Bill succeeded, he believed they would multiply its chances of success by giving both ownership and tenancy an equal and a coinciding opportunity.

Amendment proposed—

"In page 4, line 31, after the word 'lease.' to insert the words 'or purchase.'"—(Sir J. Dickson-Poynder.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."

agreed with the hon. Baronet who moved the Amendment that there was no inherent difficulty in the position of Liberal and landlord. He did not know, however, in which capacity the hon. Baronet was speaking when he proposed to expropriate compulsorily one private owner in order to put another in his place. He had never argued against the sale of small holdings on the ground that he wished to abolish private ownership. He had argued against it on the ground that he believed that it was not to the best advantage of the smallholder and of the country generally. If there were a demand for actual ownership, it would have found expression under the Act of 1892. He believed that a good deal of the failure of that Act was due, not so much to the absence of compulsion as to the absence of any power to hire. The hon. Baronet admitted that the majority of smallholders would be likely to take up leases and that it would be only a small minority who would wish to secure the freehold of their land.


said he had received a letter from a district in the Midlands which stated that application was made some time ago to a local authority to acquire 300 or 400 acres of land to sell to the applicants as small holdings, but as soon as this Bill was introduced all the applicants asked the local authority to suspend the purchase of the land, because they would all prefer to become tenants under the Bill. He would not repeat the arguments he had previously put forward on the Second Reading as to the disadvantages of absolute sale to smallowners. He had pointed out the danger of the moneylender, and he could not agree that that danger was anything like so great with a leaseholder as with an owner. Although it was true that there were directions in the Act of 1892 to the county councils to secure, men who would cultivate the land properly, there was no provision which would secure that their sons should inherit their capacity for cultivation. There had always been this great objection to his mind. If they made a small man the absolute owner of his first holding, which would be a very small one, they would tie him to that holding, not by law but by the fact that he must remain on it until he could obtain the full price for it and all the improvements he had made upon it, so as to be enabled to remove to another holding. He did not understand really why hon. Members like the mover of the Amendment, who did not think that the number of smallholders who desired purchase would be very large, were not satisfied with the provisions made by this Bill combined with previous legislation. Any land acquired under the new Act by agreement could, of course, be sold by the county council as under the Act of 1892. Surely the effect of the compulsory provisions of the Bill would be that they would be able to obtain the largest part of the land by agreement. Therefore the county council were likely to have over the land they obtained very full discretion as to the method in which they should deal with it. He had declined, and he must still decline, to go further to facilitate sale to small ownerships, which he believed would be a great disadvantage to the locality.

said the evident hostility of the right hon. Gentleman to do anything to increase the ownership of land almost passed his comprehension. He did not note in the few words which the right hon. Gentleman had addressed to the House any adequate reason whatever for the somewhat peculiar view which he held on this particular question. In the ease of a small man who had acquired his holding the right hon. Gentleman had asked what assurance there would be that his successor would inherit capacity for dealing with land. He understood the right hon. Gentleman to suggest that the father might have been brought on to the land for the first time himself. Was it the son who had been brought up on the land or the father who came there without experience who was most likely to be able to deal with the land? The right hon. Gentleman had pointed to the difficulty which the owner of a small property would have, even if he were successful, in moving to a larger one, or acquiring an addition to his own. He failed to see any difficulty whatever on that point. What difficulty could arise if he proposed to add three or four acres to his holding if he had the wherewithal to purchase the addition? The question which had really been raised by the Amendment of the hon. Baronet was whether it was desirable to encourage ownership on the one hand or tenancy on the other under the provisions of this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman had asked—If there is such a demand for ownership in the country, why is that there has not been a greater number of applications for the purchase of land under the Act of 1892? It had already been stated that that Act had proved to be a dead letter because it was wanting in the element of compulsion. He disputed that argument altogether. The reason why the Act of 1892 failed was not in any degree because there were no compulsory powers included in it. There was ample land in the market which could have been obtained by agreement on perfectly fair terms. His right hon. friend the Member for the Bordesley Division had repeatedly pointed to the success of an experiment in the creation of small holdings in Worcestershire. The reason why the Act of 1892 had not had a far greater operation was to be found in the fact that the Liberal Government which came in soon after the Act was passed did not give it a chance. They introduced a measure for compulsory hiring. He admitted that at that time compulsory hiring was exceedingly popular with that part of the public who desired to have small holdings. That was put in force to a considerable extent, and the advantages of the Act of 1892 were neglected. The effects of the measure in regard to purchase were referred to in evidence to which he had called attention more than once. The evidence did not show that compulsory hiring had been successful, but no one representing the Government had condescended up to the present time even to notice that evidence. Reference had been made by the seconder of the Amendment to the success of peasant proprietors abroad. Everybody knew that the man who owned the land always used it better than the man who was only a peasant, however good as a tenant he might be. [An HON. MEMBER: "No."] Well, that was the universal experience of everyone who was practically conversant with the land question in this country. There had been successful small ownership in days gone by, but agricultural depression came upon the country and that class suffered. Until the unfortunate days of agricultural depression there were few who lived more happily and prosperously than the small owners of land. He remembered the time when in Lincolnshire there were thousands of people called freeholders, and they prospered as much as any class in the country could desire. That class suffered from the agricultural depression which resulted from foreign competition. In France, Germany, and many other countries peasant proprietors flourished. He thought the Amendment should be accepted in the hope that it would promote the ownership of land. The peculiar form of tenancy proposed by the Government would, he had no doubt, be exceedingly popular at first, but when a tenant had got all he could get out of the land in a few years he would surrender it as other small holders had done in the past. That would not happen under a system of ownership. The House could not do anything more wise in connection with agriculture than to accept the Amendment and thereby encourage ownership instead of tenancy.

said he supported the proposal of the hon. Baronet from the point of view that there was abundance of scope in this country for every kind of holding and for every class of farmer. He would call the attention of the House to what the Amendment really implied.

"A county council may for the purpose of providing small holdings for persons who desire to purchase or lease," etc.
In other words, it gave a man power to purchase his holding if he desired. The hon. Baronet did not propose to bring in any more compulsion than was already in the clause. He did not see anything of any kind for enforced purchase in the clause. If there were he would most strongly oppose it. The clause as it stood referred to persons who desired to lease. Now, what did a lease mean? It might be for nine years, nineteen years, ninety-nine years or 999 years. It was not of mere agricultural labourers they were talking, but of successful tradesmen who had made a certain amount of money and demanded a long lease What kind of distinction could be drawn between a long lease in this connection and a freehold? They knew well that when a lease came to a certain length it practically was the same as a freehold. He ventured to say that under the clause as it now stood, if there was any vice in a freehold there was equal vice in compulsory hiring. When they took into consideration how slight was the change which would be made by the hon. Baronet's Amendment he hoped it would be accepted. A good deal had been said about mortgages and debt. Everybody who had closely followed this question as it had been taken up in Ireland, and the work which had been done by Sir Horace Plunkett and his friends, knew that there used to be ownership of land with all the evils of debt attaching to it, but these evils had been to a very large extent mitigated or abolished by the system of co-operation and by agricultural credit banks through which there was an easy acquisition of money in small amounts with no interest by the Irish tenants and small landholders. These had proved to be the antidote to the gombeen man. It was not right that the freeholders should always suffer under a burden of heavy debt or mortgage, and the Irish plan might be called in in aid in this country of the purchaser—not the enforced purchaser—of his holding. At any rate in Ireland under the new régime the evils of debt had largely disappeared or were rapidly disappearing. He hoped, therefore, that the Government might be induced to reconsider their position and would not deny the option of purchase to the small holder, in which he saw the germ of that success and prosperity to the small holder which would do great things for the country.


said that no one could doubt the importance of the Amendment, because its inclusion in the Bill would go far to destroy the whole merit of the measure. [An HON. MEMBER on the OPPOSITION Benches: How?] For the reason that the great feature of the Bill was that it enabled county councils to acquire by hiring land to let to small tenants throughout the country, and if this Amendment was inserted the operation of hiring would be seriously affected through the fact that a landlord who did not want to let would say. "Oh, you are always bothering me about my land. Take the land—you have the power to do so—and shift the burden on to your own shoulders." That would be a not unreasonable argument, and hiring would tend to diminish, and purchase to increase, and the operation of the Bill would consequently be limited. What was the position in which they found themselves at the present moment? The right hon. Gentleman opposite who represented the landed interest in the House par excellence was an advocate of the compulsory expropriation of one landlord in order to set up another in his place; and he further told the House that in order that a man might be a good cultivator of the soil he must be the owner of it. [OPPOSITION cries of "No!"] Certainly the right hon. Gentleman did imply that a man who owned the land was a far better cultivator than the tenant. He must say that his experience did not agree with that statement.

said that what he laid down and what he adhered to was that ownership was the greatest possible inducement to a man to carry on good cultivation.


said he was not able to agree with the right hon. Gentleman. He maintained that the tenant farmers of this country were the best farmers in the world, and that our landed system was only justified by securing such men as cultivators of the soil. If the right hon. Gentleman contended otherwise then out of his own mouth he condemned the landed system of the country. But that was not all. The right hon. Gentleman knew that capital was necessary to carry on a farm, and that the farmer required security that he should have a return for the outlay of that capital. But in the case of small holdings there was great difficulty in finding tenants who had the necessary capital to carry on the farm.

said that he was not speaking of large tenants. All his observations were directed to ownership or occupation of small holdings.


said he was quite aware, but every word the right hon. Gentleman said about large farms applied also to small holdings. That was the necessary and logical sequence of the right hon. Gentleman's argument. The merit of the Bill was that without requiring too much capital from the small man they would be able to place him on a small holding. With ownership they would have to find a man not only to stock the land, but also to buy it. It was most desirable to have hiring to enable the man to use all his capital for the purpose of stocking his holding. He was not without experience of small holdings. He represented a county in which there were more of these small properties than in any other county in England. The great difficulty was that the owners had families. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of a son succeeding his father; but they often had five or six sons and the property was divided, encumbrances were created, and the small holdings were swallowed up gradually in the big estates. As to the agricultural labourers, they were in Cumberland and Westmoreland able to save £150 to £200 by the time they Were thirty years of a re if they were industrious and thrifty. And they could then under the hiring system get a small holding and stock it fully. He was heartily glad that the Government resisted the Amendment. They heard the phrase continually from hon. Gentlemen opposite about rooting the people with the soil. That was not his ambition. He wanted to see the labourers walking erect on the soil and moving on from stage to stage.

said that the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had put an extraordinary argument in the mouth of the right hon. Member for Wimbledon, viz., that the latter had advocated the expropriation of one landlord in order to set up another in his place. That was not the argument of the right hon. Gentleman, but the proposal of the Bill. If they would not let the present owner continue in his ownership, they must put another in his place. He supported the Amendment because he wished to see the measure not only useful as a spasmodic experiment, but as a permanent success, and the question of whether it was a permanent success or not must depend in the last result upon the labourer. It was because he thought that the labourer would have a great deal more incentive to make his holding a success as the owner rather than as the tenant that he rather favoured the Amendment. He understood that it was one of the objects of the Government to enable the labourer to rise in life: all he could say was, that under this Bill they gave him but a very short ladder. If, after a great deal of expense and trouble, the labourer was put only on the footstool of the tenancy, what could he do when he got into his holding? The tenant looked around him when he got into his small holding and knew that neither the house in which he lived nor the land which he tilled belonged to him. He would be called on to pay not only the rent, but the interest on the sinking fund, if the county councils were not to make a loss, and at the end of his tenancy he would be I deprived of the advantages which were I due to him. If it was one of the objects of the Bill to keep the labourers on the Soil: there were two ways in which that might be done. The first was by attaching him to the soil, and that was a purely sentimental idea. The other was by attaching the soil to him, by allowing him to become the purchaser. Hon. Members talked very glibly about landlords, and there were some quarters of the House in which one had only to mention the word "landlord" to excite the throwing of half bricks in the way of bad language at them. The tenants of the country knew better, however, and hon. Members made the greatest mistake if they thought they desired to come under county councils, who had not the power or indeed the right, dealing as they were with ratepayers' money, to be merciful in bad times. A corporation had neither a body to be kicked or a soul to be saved. For these and other reasons he hoped the Government would accept the Amendment, otherwise there would be hopeless chaos. In many directions it appeared to him that the finance of the Bill was muddled, and unless the Amendment was accepted the Bill could not be a success.


remarked that the hon. Member had talked about bad language being used when the landowner was mentioned. It was not the landowner that they took exception to, but the question of private ownership in land. He therefore hoped that hon. Members would somewhat modify their views in regard to their position. The hon. Member had said that the Bill was very much muddled, but he thought the muddle was in the mind of the speaker. Several hon. Gentlemen had said that the way to get land cultivated was to make the man who cultivated it the owner, but anyone who knew anything about land knew that the responsibility for its condition at the present moment was to be put upon the owners, and not upon those who were the tenants of it. Millions of acres were out of cultivation and yet we obtained two-thirds of our food from abroad, and the direct responsibility for this state of things rested upon the system of the private ownership of land. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would not give way as far as this particular Amendment was concerned To say that a municipality could not acquire land for the purpose of letting it with better results than flowed from private ownership was to advance a contention which in his judgment was not arguable. He thought the time had come when the Government, and especially this Government, should take upon itself the responsibility of restoring the land to the people. Only a small proportion of our total population were at present settled upon the land. It was the birthright of every child to live upon the earth, but if they maintained the right of private ownership they denied the right of people to live on the land except upon the landlords' terms. He hoped that the right hon. Gentleman in charge of this Bill would adhere to the declaration which he had made that he would keep the clause as it stood, and thus start the movement for the restoration of the land to the people of this country.


, as one of the most enthusiastic supporters of the Bill, urged the right hon. Gentleman to grant the concession asked for. It seemed to him, if he might say so with all due deference, that the last two or three speeches had dealt not at all with the Amendment proposed. There was no idea of forcing county councils to constitute small freeholders; they merely wished to give them the option of doing so if they desired it. They on that side had resisted the efforts of hon. Gentlemen opposite to shackle the freedom of those who would have to administer this Bill; they asked for freedom for these bodies and for elasticity of machinery. Yesterday they gave the Commissioners a free hand, and to-day they asked for the same freedom for county councils. He was a warm advocate of the Bill, and he believed in establishing tenants instead of owners, but cases might arise in which it might be desirable to settle small owners on portions of farms and he thought it would be undesirable if county councils had not the power to do this. He agreed with much that the hon. Member for Appleby had said about the small holders lacking capital and being shackled as owners, but he did not think that that had anything to do with the Amendment. They only wished to give the county councils power to settle small freeholders if they thought it desirable. It would be for the county councils to see whether the applicants were desirable people, and whether they had the necessary capital. He thought they could safely leave such questions in the hands of county councils. The Bill was intended to serve, and he believed would serve a double purpose, one was the improvement of the condition of the labourer and his status in life, and the other was the national object of maintaining and increasing the population upon the land. He thought that as the result of this Bill they might see something like the results which had been obtained in Denmark, where the State settled a number of men on the land and after thirty or forty years they or their children accumulated capital and were now in the position of small landowners. He believed that there were a number of cases in which it would be desirable to settle small owners on the land, and he hoped the Bill would enable this to be dons.


said the hon. Member who had just sat down had ably advocated a system of purchase, and it was obvious that the Bill as it stood would break down. If a small holder were allowed to purchase it was cheaper than hiring the holding. The county council would buy the land as cheaply as possible. There was plenty in the market at a very low price. Then the county council would be able to sell to the holders at a correspondingly low price. But if this Bill became law all the expenses connected with it, and they would be very heavy, would be included in the rent which the tenant would have to pay, and he would acquire no interest in the holding. If bought at any future time the basis of purchase would then be on the rent they were paying, and the purchase price would be far higher than they would pay if the county councils now started to buy as cheaply as possible land which was on the market and to sell it to the occupiers in a corresponding manner. It was difficult to find a reason for refusing this small concession. On the introduction and the Second Reading of this Bill the right hon. Gentleman showed his opposition to the principle of purchase, and he had never wavered since. He had said that if he thought there would be any substantial increase in the number of purchasers under the Act of 1892 he would limit rather than extend the facilities. The right hon. Gentleman had asked why, if purchase was so desired, there had not been more success under the Act of 1892; but he knew perfectly well that the labourer did not buy land for the same reason that he did not buy comforts and luxuries: he had not the money. When the labourer was asked to put down 20 per cent. of the purchase money he was unable to do it, and therefore it was not very wonderful that the Act was not brought more largely into operation. Over and over again the Government had been pressed to remove this bar of poverty which prevented a man from owning the land he cultivated. He had visited the estate to which the right hon. Gentleman had referred, the occupiers of which were said to prefer tenancy, and having talked to those men collectively and individually, he had found that the majority of them preferred ownership to tenancy, but the bar of poverty prevented it. He had in his hand at that moment a petition in favour of owner-slip which was sent to an hon. Member of the Committee which sat to consider this Bill, and the petition was signed by fourteen of these very tenants who were said to prefer tenancy. Was the position of the Government this, that while they would give £100,000,000 to the Irish people for this purpose, they were prepared to say to the people of this country that they should not own an inch of the soil the tilled? He had received a letter from a man in Kent who described himself as one out of many thousands who had saved a little money and desired to have a small holding, and in that letter he said, with all respect to the present Government, that unless they fell in with the view of purchase they were wasting their time in a useless endeavour to bring men back to the land. The artificial arguments as to the moneylender and bad cultivation did not apply to the question of purchase. A man who had bought his holding and had to pay the price in annual instalments was of no use to the moneylender. He had borrowed all the money he required at the lowest rate of interest. As to the argument of bad cultivation, he need only say as the hon. Member for Hitchin had pointed out, that the man who owned the holding was more likely to attend to it and cultivate it properly than a tenant who was there to-day and gone to-morrow, and whose only desire was to get as much as he could out of the holding while he was there. Ownership disclosed the best power that was in a man to do the best he could. It was suggested that a tenant could keep on until he had saved enough to take a larger farm, but ownership could do better than that. If a man who owned his holding thought the time had come to buy a bigger farm, and his holding was in good condition and self-contained, he would have a dozen offers for it and have all the advantages in disposing of it of a man disposing of a property which he had improved. A man on the Catshill estate began twelve years ago with a holding of four acres. He saved money and had since increased his holding to twenty-nine acres. That man sold off his holding in the year before last £600 worth of produce, and in addition to the labour of himself and his family he paid £240 for labour. On the Catshill estate they had solved the housing question and the question of pauperism, and the rates now paid by those occupiers was much higher than those paid by the estate when it was a farm. That was a ladder no tenancy could secure. The hostility of the right hon. Gentleman and that of hon Members below the gangway were quite distinct. That of the latter was perfectly understandable. Their view was that there should be as few private owners of land as possible: they believed in municipal or State ownership. But there was a party that had beaten men holding those views in Germany and France, and who would always beat them. That party was the peasant proprietors of the country. But if hon. Members below the gangway believed in the nationalisation of land it should be brought about by purchase and not by confiscation. If the county councils were to set about buying land the tenants would have to pay for it, and if those who paid for it were not to have an inch of what they paid for that came as near confiscation as anything he could imagine. An hon. Member had said there was only a small body of opinion in the House in favour of purchase. That might be true, but there was a large body of opinion outside, and he claimed that there was a large body of opinion in that House, for if there was a vote by ballot many Members sitting on the Government side would vote in favour of it. This should not be made a Party question. In all the evidence given before Royal Commissions and Select Committees on the question all the most important witnesses said that, although they saw financial difficulties in the way, ownership was the best system. A very important Committtee appoined by the late Government, which reported two years ago, stated in their Report—which was one that should receive attention from any Government—that after going all over the country and hearing all the evidence available they recommended purchase under the "Purchase of Land" Bill as the only system. Denmark began by giving facility after facility for men to buy their holdings. In Denmark there was no question of tenancy, 87 per cent. of the occupiers being the owners of their holdings. Peasant proprietorship in France was the, great guarantee of order, and wherever the Code Napoleon had been introduced in Europe the same results had followed. When they saw all this in other countries it seemed to him that the Government were like Rip Van Winkle. They had been asleep all these years, and had now awakened up to put into force an obsolete system which had long since broken down everywhere else. It was said that under this Act county councils could acquire land on lease, but the Bill said nothing about letting to the tenants on lease. Therefore, they must assume that in such a case the tenants would be annual tenants. The hon. Member for Hitchin had said that for small holders outsiders would have to be relied on partly. Of course, they did not forget that there was only 23 per cent. of the population in the rural districts, and if from that percentage was deducted the residential population, and the old people and young children, there were very few agricultural labourers left. How was it that the people on the Continent sent us millions of small articles of food which we could not supply [An HON. MEMBER: Better education.] Better education and cooperation were not known either in France, Germany, or Denmark, until ownership was established. They were exotics where tenancies existed, but were the natural outcome of the system of ownership. The reason why we could not compete with them was that the owners knew every inch of their land and cultivated it in an intensive manner. The tenant who cams to-day and went to-morrow could not compete with them, but the colonists of Catshill could and did successfully. Out of that estate they had produced £4,000 or £5,000 per annum. The hon. Member for the Appleby Division had said he preferred tenancy with security and fixity of rent. But under this Bill there was neither security of tenure nor fixity of rent, and he hoped the hon. Member would no longer figure on platforms saying that this Bill gave either one or the other. In this case both rested with the local authority, but in ownership the security was absolute. That was the whole pith of the question, and it was a national question upon which the safety of the country depended. The matter ought to be thought out in a friendly way. The question was whether the men ought to own the land they tilled, whether it should always be in the hands of the cultivating occupier, or whether the system should be that of tenancy under county councils. If they looked at the evidence given before the Royal Commission they would find that the opinion of the most important witnesses was that corporations of any kind, whether public companies or other corporations, were the worst farmers and the worst people to manage a farm. In all the details which belonged to the management of a farm there must be personal supervision, and municipalities and local bodies could only exercise that supervision by hiring agents and tradesmen, the cost of which would all add to the rent. All these things would make it worse and worse for the tenant. He appealed to the Government to yield to what he believed to be the wishes of the majority of their supporters. The Amendment would not interfere with the working of the Bill and would only give an option. Unless the Government were determined that no labourer in this country should ever possess an inch of the soil they cultivated they would accept this proposal.

said he was called upon to meet arguments coming from the Opposition side supporting the view that the principle of tenancy ought to be replaced by ownership and that this ought to be carried out by the State on a scale in regard to which no kind of limit or restriction had been indicated. Such a proposal was throwing Irish legislation in the background with a vengeance. It simply meant the employment of State funds in order to substitute small owners for large owners. Was that what the Opposition required? There was another point upon which those who took this view had been significantly silent, and upon which the hon. Member for Sheffield had also remained silent. When people talked about purchase they ought to indicate what method they desired for the acquisition of the land. Hiring was simpler than purchase, and in this Bill they had still further simplified it. They enabled a county council compulsorily to hire land in the neighbourhood of a town, where it would be most valuable for small holders; but when that land was wanted for building, then the landlord would be entitled, after twelve months notice, to resume the land. That enabled them to exclude from the agricultural rental any question of building value and thereby to take the land for a long period of years without having to pay a building price for it. Were hon. Gentlemen opposite willing to allow purchase to be carried out in the manner provided by this Bill—that was, to substitute valuation for the operation of the Lands Clauses Act, which provided an arbitration which had been oppressive to railway companies and all municipalities? If so, they would then talk about purchase. He did not think hon. Members opposite had realised this important element in any system of universal purchase. They would have to decide whether they were going to adopt the Lands Clauses Act or not. Under this Bill they empowered the Board of Agriculture by the Schedule to regulate these various matters and to adopt any of the clauses in the Lands Clauses Act. They had appointed a valuer who would act impartially as a Government official, and with expert knowledge, but without the heavy cost which was involved under the operation of the Lands Clauses Act. He would be glad to receive some indication in regard to future purchase as to whether hon. Members were willing to accompany universal purchase of the land by some method of acquiring it which would be cheaper and more expeditious than that which had nearly broken down some of the great railway companies. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bordesley had said several times that the cultivator preferred to own the land; but would I he pay for it? The cultivator who bought his land must be content with a very small return upon his capital. He doubted whether he would get more than 2½ per cent. net upon his purchase capital. Those who had bought land generally found that they had to pay a heavy price for it and they seldom got a return of more than 3 per cent. upon their investment. Would any farmer be content with 3 per cent. interest on his capital? He did not know exactly what interest a farmer expected, but he knew he would not be content with 3 per cent. One of the difficulties and dangers of purchase was that the small owner was under the temptation to part I with the fee-simple of his land, in order, with the purchase price, to increase his stock, or to invest the money otherwise. [An OPPOSITION MEMBER: Why not?] He was not objecting, but was it worth the while of the State to undertake that great cost and risk, with that certain economic result?

said that under that Act there was a limit on the power of sale for thirty years and the purchaser was subject to all kinds of conditions. The framers of that Act recognised that there were certain economic forces to contend with, and restrictions were placed upon it of a very humiliating character. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wimbledon gave as the reason for the failure of his own Act for enabling county councils to purchase land by agreement, that the Act was passed in 1892 and that in 1894 a Liberal Government came along and passed the Local Government Act of that year, giving the local authorities the power either to purchase by compulsion or by agreement, or to hire. They had now the three systems in operation between which the local authorities had the right to choose. Which did they choose? He had before him a report dealing with the period from 1897 to 1902, showing the proportion between the acreage purchased and the acreage hired. The land purchased amounted to a little over 200 acres, and that hired by agreement to 2,364 acres. Thus they preferred to hire rather than purchase, and the disproportion was over ten to one. The Government left untouched the inestimable benefits of the right hon. Gentleman's Act; they left the question of purchase as it stood, but before they changed their Bill into one of purchase they would want to know how the price was to be fixed, and also whether the progressive Party opposite would show themselves as liberal when it came to the question of fixing the price as they now professed themselves to be in regard to a change of ownership.

said the hon. and learned Gentleman had dwelt upon one argument and had asked why, if hon. Gentlemen sitting on that side of the House were so anxious for purchase, they did not come forward with some proposal to make purchase cheaper than it was at present? The Bill did not contain purchase so far as the tenant cultivator was concerned, but it did contain purchase so far as the existing landowner was concerned, and so far as purchase from him by the municipality was concerned, and that purchase was to be carried out by the very mode which the hon. and learned Gentleman said had broken down in the country and was so intolerable that it could not be introduced into the Bill, but which he and his right hon. friend had, as a matter of fact, introduced into the Bill.

I said that with regard to purchase the Lands Clauses Act will apply, but not to hiring.

really believed that the hon. and learned Gentleman had not read the Bill. It gave the public authority power to purchase compulsorily, and it declared that, when it did so, it was to purchase under the Lands Clauses Act. All that was required was that the local authority should use the powers given to it by the hon. and learned Gentleman under the Lands Clauses Act, and when it was the owner of the land it could divide up among the small cultivators the large farms it had bought into small holdings of any size it liked. What value were they to put on the hon. and learned Gentleman's argument when it was so obviously based on complete ignorance of the Bill he was supporting? The hon. Baronet who moved the Amendment had expressed some doubt as to whether it was possible to be a good Liberal and a good landlord. He had no immediate concern with the case of the hon. Baronet's conscience. He could not imagine why the hon. Baronet should feel any difficulty or why the subject suggested itself to him as a difficulty in connection with this debate, because not only was his proposal supported by hon. Gentlemen on the Opposition side of the House, but it was in exact accordance with all the confirmed traditions of the Liberal and Radical Party. The whole traditions of that Party were in favour of the multiplication of the owners of the land. He could remember in his earliest years being interested in this controversy. John Stuart Mill gave a great impulse to the whole doctrine in a well-known chapter in his "Political Economy," and he only echoed the universal conviction in those days of every man who called himself a good Liberal or a good Radical. There was one criticism of the existing system of divisions of land in this country, that estates were too large, that the number of owners of land should be greatly multiplied, and that such multiplication was good for the social order and prosperity of the country. [An HON. MEMBER: There were no county councils then.] Did the hon. Gentleman think that the creation of county councils by a Tory Government had entirely destroyed the whole of the Liberal creed? The old Liberal and Radical view might be entirely wrong. It certainly was opposed explicitly by every Member of the Front Bench opposite who now-professed to be the representatives of Liberal and Radical opinion, with the exception of one Radical, the right hon. Gentleman who was responsible for the government of Ireland. It was really impossible to say that that right hon. Gentleman did not regard the multiplication of owners as a social advantage. No man could govern Ireland for a week if he let it be understood that the proper system of land tenure was the system which the Government held to be appropriate under this Bill. Therefore, among the many divisions which separated right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench opposite, there was this very fundamental difference between the opinion held by the Secretary for Ireland, and which must be held by every Secretary for Ireland, and the views which now passed as good Liberalism and Radicalism, but which during the first twenty years of his experience would have been regarded by every representative Liberal or Radical as entirely outside the Liberal and Radical creed. Certainly the hon. Baronet, whatever else he had to apologise for, need never apologise from the Liberal Benches for saying that his desire was to multiply the number of owners in this country. That being the historical view of the question, let them consider what sound policy required them to do now. The Scottish Bill insisted that they could not have good cultivation by small owners unless they had fixity of tenure. That was the Scottish view. But there was to be no fixity of tenure whatever for these holders of land under the county council. Living and dying on the same holding was held by the Secretary for Scotland and the Lord Advocate to be essential, but it was not the idea of the right hon. Gentleman in charge of this Bill, nor was it the opinion of hon. Gentlemen opposite who represented English constituencies. Let them consider what exactly was to be got, from a social and economic point of view, by the system which the Government had now adopted and which was in direct contradiction both to the policy which they were adopting in Scotland and to the whole traditions in Ireland. The Member for the Appleby division had said that all that was required was that henceforth cultivators of the land should be able to walk erect. He thought that was the gem of the hon. Gentleman's peroration. From the statements made by some hon. Gentlemen opposite and by hon. Gentlemen below the gangway one would believe that there was no more abject and unhappy being on the face of the earth than the agricultural labourer; that he could not call his soul his own, and that he was afraid to find in his employer or someone else an enemy. Well, he lived in the northern part of the island and certainly nobody would describe a Scottish labourer in those terms. But granting, for the sake of argument, that any man who was a tenant to another man became thereby his unhappy subordinate, at the will and beck of that other man, did the hon. Gentleman apply his epithets to all the cultivators of the country, and say that their desire was to walk erect and become independent? He did not know what the hon. Member's feeling was, but if he had to choose between being a tenant of the average county council or a tenant of the average landlord he would not hesitate to choose the landlord.


said his contention was that the tenant was for the purpose of cultivation in as good a position as an owner. He was not contrasting one class of tenant with another.

said it used to be held by Liberal and Radical politicians that tenants were mere servants of a tyrannical landlord who could turn them out at pleasure and command their politics and votes.


disclaimed responsibility for such a statement. He had never said anything like that.

said that the hon. Gentleman had the felicity of belonging to a Party which had made the statement, and had done so so recently as during the discussion of the Scottish Bill. The hon. Gentleman sitting on the Treasury Bench said that he had to defend a Bill the essence of which was fixity of tenure so that the tenants might no longer feel that they were in a position of servitude.

said he was pointing out the difference between the two Bills of the Government dealing with land. Was the hon. Gentleman prepared to apply one set of principles in dealing with one case and another set when dealing with his own county?

said the hon. Member for the Appleby Division thought that the tenant might walk erect, but that the labourer might not. He said the Bill was going to give independence to some class. Was it not the class of agricultural labourers?


I was making a contrast. My emphasis was on the word "walk" rather than "erect." What I endeavoured to say was that while hon. Gentlemen opposite were fond of talking of people being rooted to the soil, we wanted them to be able to walk erect on the soil and move on from stage to stage.

thought that that must have been an extract from one of the hon. Gentleman's excellent temperance speeches. He would point out to the House the extraordinary inconsistency of the position of the Government and of a section of the supporters who believed in land nationalisation. It had been represented that if only the land was owned by county councils and municipalities all the cultivable land of the country would be cultivated, that the area and amount of production would be enormously increased; in short that the waste places of the land were solely due to private ownership. As a matter of fact it was out of private ownership of land, including small private ownership, and out of that alone that we could really get the waste places cultivated. Did the author of the Bill suppose that the new tenants should be asked to cultivate the waste land of England? The idea was absurd. If these lands were waste it was because the old tenants, cultivating in some respects under far more favourable circumstances, could not make them pay. If the new small tenants were successful it would be at the expense of the old tenancies which were now succeeding. They could turn out the old tenant and divide his land, and if he had prospered the new tenant might get on, sometimes perhaps even better than the old tenant, but the idea that they had only to hand over the land to a municipality and that that authority would be able to let it to people who would extract from it a good living was the most fantastical view of the possibilities of agriculture in England ever put forward on the responsibility of an important Party in that House. He thought the best system of land cultivation was probably a mixed system. He believed it would be a great disaster to destroy all the large estates and large farms, and on the other hand he welcomed the idea that small farms and small owners were to be multiplied. He hoped they would not, in consequence of the theoretical crotchet of a certain school of economists, destroy the very foundation of the system under which alone agriculture could be properly conducted. He wished to ask one question in connection with land naturalisation. Did hon. Gentlemen below the gangway hear the speech of the Solicitor-General, and his reference to the part of the Bill which gave the landlord the power of resumption when the land was ripe for building? Probably it was true that it would not be wise to stereotype the agricultural character of lands in growing urban communities; but this was the antithesis of land nationalisation. The Solicitor - General had thrown over that favourite doctrine of hon. Gentlemen below the gangway, and had introduced an elaborate provision by which what was called the unearned increment would go, not to the community, but to the owner of the land. One word upon the crucial point of the whole question. Let the House remember that agriculture was not a profession in which there were either great prizes or great fortunes to be attained. It was an industry in which neither the owner nor the cultivator nor the worker on the soil could hope for those great prizes which attached to certain urban industries, which had an attraction just because while, among other things, they had an element of gambling risk, they had also great prizes. If they were going to induce people either to buy or cultivate the land, they must use every motive they had at their disposal, and there was no motive outside pecuniary profit which had so great an effect upon human industry as ownership. Could anybody deny that the universal experience of mankind was that the sense of ownership, especially in connection with land, had produced the most marvellous effects? He did not agree with those who alleged that this nation was lagging behind the rest of the world in the management of acres of land. It was doing nothing of the kind. So far as large holdings were concerned, he believed we were far ahead of any nation in the world; but there were some things that could be got out of small holdings which could not be got out of large. Both were required. But could they make small holdings really a success unless they gave the cultivator that perpetual spur to industry and saving which ownership, and ownership alone, gave? The universal experience of mankind was on the side of those who said they could not. Taking a broad area, it was hopeless to expect to make it a success unless the small occupier had the perpetual hope of increasing his means, the passionate love of his home, and the desire to leave that home to his children—all those motives which had a very noble side, though they might occasionally take a sordid form, and which were not connected with mere money-making. Those motives the Government refused to appeal to so long as they confined their Bill to occupancy and declined to extend it to ownership. That, put shortly, was the plea he earnestly addressed to the Government for accepting the Amendment of the hon. Baronet. Let the Government remember that the Amendment did not destroy their Bill. It only gave an alternative to the county council. The speech of the Solicitor-General seemed based on the idea that the Amendment made the Bill one for compulsory purchase. Nothing of the kind. It gave a freedom, and a needed freedom, to the councils, and this was eminently a case in which they might, in the cant phrase, "trust the people." He earnestly hoped, for his part, that wherever possible they would find it possible to adopt that system of small ownerships which was the true root and secret of any successful system of small cultivation.


observed that before they went to a division he wished as a loyal supporter of the right hon. Gentleman and of his Bill to say a word or two in order to persuade him to accept this Amendment. With the greater part of the speech just delivered by the Leader of the Opposition he could not say that he was in agreement. He could not say honestly that under the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman they would not succeed in putting first rate small holders on the land. He thought there were great advantages in favour of the principle of this Bill which the right hon. Gentleman who had just addressed the House had not brought out; but all that those who supported the Amendment asked was that the right hon. Gentle man who brought in the Bill should leave it optional to the county councils to take whichever course they liked. They wished to avoid forcing down their throats the principle of leasing; they desired to put trust in the county councils and allow them to take whichever of the two courses they liked, either leasing or purchase. What were the objections to the Amendment brought forward by the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill? None that made any impression on his mind. The right hon. Gentleman truly said that they had had no great demand for small holdings under the Act of 1892; and he gave as the reas