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Irish Land (No 2) Bill

Volume 180: debated on Thursday 15 August 1907

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Considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Clause 1:—

MR. MOORE moved an Amendment to provide that transactions in connection with the mineral rights which were under the Bill vested in the Land Commissioners should be carried out through the Judicial Commissioner.

said that that was not the proper place for the Amendment. It should come after the Amendment standing in the name of the Attorney General for Ireland.

thought he could satisfy the Committee that there was a difference between the two Amendments. When they discussed the Second Beading of the Bill, his friends and he made suggestions, which were treated as though they were frivolous. They had ample justification for the course they then took in the fact that mast of their suggestions, or at any rate a fair number of them, had been adopted by the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill. The Amendment he moved was in keeping with the Amendment the Attorney-General for Ireland had put down for a later stage. Under the Act of 1903 the mineral rights were vested in the Land Commission, and the object of this Bill was to enable the Land Commission to dispose of them. The portion of the Land Commission which under the Act of 1903 had particular charge of those rights, were the three particular members known as the Estates Commissioners. Under the Attorney-General's Amendment the Estates Commissioners were only to act with the approval of the Judicial Commissioner, who was the head of that body, but under his Amendment they were to act through the Judicial Commissioner. Leases were to be made under the Bill, for the object of the Bill was to enable the Land Commission to make leases. He thought that it was advisable that the Land Commission should act through its official head. That was quite in keeping with the provision that the acts should be done by the Estates Commissioners. The Judicial Commissioner was the head of the whole Department. He was a Judge, and was accustomed to deal with legal matters. It was highly desirable, therefore, that these matters which involved legal transactions and questions of contract should be carried out by the Judicial Commissioner. The Attorney-General for Ireland himself could not suggest that there was any other official of the Court to whom it would be proper to give the right of representing the Department. The Bill dealt with contracts either expressed or implied, and it was a perfectly proper thing that the head of the Department should be the instrument by which the seal of the Department was affixed. The head of the Department was a Judge of the High Court, and there would be no difficulty if he had to carry out the work.

Amendment proposed—

"In page 1, line 3, after the word 'Commission' to insert the words 'acting through the Judicial Commissioner.'"—(Mr. Moore.)

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

said he wanted to say a word before the Attorney-General replied to the hon. Member. He thought that in dealing with these leases no one would deny that there ought to be a great deal of care taken. They were going to deal with what ought to be and he hoped would be very valuable property, and it was necessary that the very best terms should be made. There was now at the head of the Land Court a gentleman who was a member of the High Court of Justice. He did not think it would be wrong if that gentleman were to use his experience to see that the best terms were obtained. The Attorney-General for Ireland had proposed, or would propose, that the words should be "acting with the approval of the Judicial Commissioner." He would like to know what that meant. Acting through the Judicial Commissioner was a very definite thing, but what did acting with the approval of the Judicial Commissioner mean. His hon. friend's Amendment meant that the Judicial Commissioner was to form his own opinion, but did acting with the approval of the Judicial Commissioner mean the same thing? Did it mean that the Judicial Commissioner was to examine and inquire into everything and see whether it was worthy of receiving his approval? If that was what was meant the Amendment was the same as that of his hon. friend. If it did not really mean that the act was to be the act of the Judicial Commissioner after inquiring and satisfying himself that it was the proper thing to do, the Attorney-General should explain what he really did mean If the Attorney-General considered the Judicial Commissioner should inquire into the matters before giving his approval, then it was obvious that the proper Amendment was that of his hon. friend. Was there any sound objection to putting in the Bill a condition of that kind and ensuring that a gentleman of great legal experience and attainments should be the person to deal with the matter?

said he was sorry that anybody should suppose that on the Second Reading of that Bill he should have given rise to the opinion that the Amendments and suggestions made by his hon. friends were frivolous, He was afraid that some of his hon. friends on that side of the House thought that the matter raised would have been more suitably discussed in Committee. As regarded the Amendment, he had been asked to say why he had inserted the words "with the approval of" in his Amendment and what he meant by them. Under the Act of 1903 the mineral rights were vested in the Land Commissioners, to be disposed of in a manner afterwards to be provided by Parliament. A subsequent section of the same Act provided that the jurisdiction and duties of the Land Commission under the preceding section were to be exercised exclusively by the Estates Commissioners. The effect of the Act was to vest the mineral rights in the Estates Commissioners and to impose on them the duty of looking after those mineral rights. They did not wish to relieve them of their duty to look after these mineral rights, and to dispose of them to the best advantage. The Amendment proposed by the hon. Member that the Estates Commissioners should act through the Judicial Commissioner would mean that they excluded the Estates Commissioners altogether. They had no objection whatsoever to the Judicial Commissioner doing it if he could find time to do so, but they did not seek to impose on him in addition to the multifarious duties he had to perform at present the duty of exclusively looking after mining rights. What his Amendment carried out was that the practical matters as regarded the leasing of mining rights would be dealt with by the Estates Commissioners, but that when it came to actually making the lease the legal aspect of the case would be looked after by the Judicial Commissioner. The object of the words he proposed to insert was that the Judicial Commissioner should approve of the lease in the same way that a barrister would approve of the legal form of a lease drawn up in any ordinary case.

asked if the learned Gentleman would have any objection to putting that in.

quite agreed with what the learned Attorney-General had said, but thought that he had mistaken the point of the Amendment. There was nothing inconsistent in the two Amendments. He only suggested that when the Seal of the Court had to be affixed on behalf of the Land Commission the Judge should be a party to the contract. That was tantamount to saying that the Department should act through the Judicial Commissioner.

That is all I meant. They should act through the Judicial Commissioner, and the right hon. Gentleman's own Amendment which comes later on the Paper is not inconsistent with that.

said he would like to have it explained how the two Amendments were inconsistent. The Land Commissioners could do everything under the Bill, and the final thing they would have to do was to execute an instrument giving effect to the lease. It was very unsatisfactory that the Estates Commissioners should have to execute a document of this kind when a Judge of the High Court was the head of the Commission.

said that the objection of the learned Attorney-General to the proposal was that it would throw a considerable amount of extra work on the Judicial Commissioner. In his own speech the right hon. Gentleman said that according to his Amendment these instruments could only be executed with the approval of the Judicial Commissioner; but how could the Judicial Commissioner approve of these things? What was the difference between obtaining the approval of the Judicial Commissioner and his actually signing the document? It seemed to him that the same amount of work would be thrown on the Judicial Commissioner in the one case as in the other. If the objection was that it threw an extra burden on the Judicial Commissioner it appeared to him that the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman imposed on the Judicial Commissioner the same amount of work as the Amendment of his hon. friend. Therefore he did not think that for that reason, at any rate, the learned Attorney-General could reasonably object to the proposal of his hon. friend, which seemed to him more business-like, and from the legal point of view more satisfactory.

Amendment negatived.

MR. FETHERSTONAUGH (Fermanagh, N.) moved an Amendment to provide that the person entitled to 25 per cent. of the profits to be derived from any sale or leasing mineral rights should have notice and an opportunity of being heard in connection with any proposed sale or letting. He thought that the occupier of the lands might also very properly have notice and an opportunity of being heard if he so desired on the question of the sale or letting of these mineral rights. At present he would be precluded from this. He did not want to raise any controversy, but he would be glad if the learned Attorney-General could see his way to embody some provision in the Bill which would enable the owner or occupier to be heard.

Amendment proposed—

"In page 1, line 5, after 'Land Commission,' to insert the words' with the approval of the Judicial Commissioner and after giving to the person entitled to 25 per cent. of the rent, purchase money, or other net profit under Section 13, Sub-section 3, of the Irish Land Act, 1903, an opportunity of being heard.'"—(Mr. Fetherstonhaugh.)

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

said he proposed to add at the end of the clause making the grant of the lease subject to the approval of the Judicial Commission these words: "And after having when practicable ascertained the views of the person entitled to the aforesaid percentage." He did not however, provide for a notice.

said that he quite saw the learned Attorney-General's point, and he was glad to assent to his suggestion so far as the person entitled to 25 per cent. profit was concerned.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

said that he wished to call the attention of the Committee for a moment to one important point in the clause. He would like to move to leave out the word "sell." It struck him that in dealing with the minerals of the country it would be certainly most unfortunate if the Estates Commissioners, whose jurisdiction practically extended over the greater part of Ireland, and would in time extend over the whole of it, hastily parted with mineral rights which might become of enormous value in course of time. It was highly desirable that the whole of the minerals of the country should be under the control of a central authority, and now there was an opportunity of bringing that to pass in Ireland, the point he raised as to not unwisely disposing altogether of these great assets ought to be considered. He suggested that while they might give the Estates Commissioners power to dispose of the mineral rights by way of lease they should not confer on them the power of sale. Of course if it became necessary after seeing how the Act worked to give the Commissioners the power of sale, it could be easily done, but at present it would be sufficient that they should simply have the power to let the mineral rights. Everyone who had any acquaintance with minerals knew that it was almost impossible to say what the value of any particular kind of mineral rights might become in course of time. Mineral rights which had been under the control of the State in Great Britain had often been parted with in former times on most unfortunate terms, and the profits, which had sometimes been immense, had gone to a third party.

Amendment proposed—

"In page 1, line 5, to leave out the word 'sell.'"—(Mr. Ainsworth.)

Question proposed, "That the word 'sell' stand part of the Clause."

said he could assure his hon. friend that, so far as he knew, the intention of the Estates Commissioners was that these mineral rights should be dealt with by the ordinary mining leases. But, in any event, it would be undesirable to hamper the Estates Commissioners by preventing them from selling any portion of the mining rights which they might find it necessary to do. The general intention was, however, that the rights should be leased in the ordinary way.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendments proposed—

"In page 1, line 6, to leave out the words for his own benefit.'"
"In page 1, lines 6 and 7, to leave out the words 'on such terms.'"
"In page 1, line 8, after the word 'proper,' to insert the words, 'and at the best rent or price, as the case may be, which may be, obtainable.'"—(Mr. Cherry.)

Amendments agreed to.

MR. BARRIE moved, to amend the clause by the addition of the words "always provided that such intention to let, lease, sell, or demise has duly been published in the newspapers, and inviting offers for such rights, one month to be allowed for sending in of offers." He thought the purpose of the Amendment was obvious. It was very desirable that when it was the intention of the Estates Commissioners to lease any minerals that lease should not be confined to company promoters. He was anxious that the public should know that it was the intention of the Estates Commissioners to part with such right, and that public information should be given of that intention. It was extremely desirable that every facility should be given to people interested in mining enterprises to secure these rights should they desire to do so. If such words as he proposed were not added his fear was that mining enterprises in Ireland might get into the hands of a very few individuals or companies.

Amendment proposed—

"In page 1, line 10, at end, to insert the words 'always provided that such intention to let, lease, sell, or demise, has duly been published in the newspapers, and inviting offers for such rights, one month to be allowed for sending in of offers.'"—(Mr. Barrie.)

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

appealed to the hon. Member to withdraw the Amendment. Such details must be left to the Estates Commissioners. They might want to give two months or three months, as circumstances might arise. If they went into these details they would find that in some way they had bound the Estates Commissioners down in a way they did not intend. He assured the hon. Member the mineral rights would be disposed of to the best advantage and in a proper way.

hoped the hon. Member would not withdraw his Amendment. It was perfectly right that these people who were dealing with public property should put an advertisement into the newspapers, just as a man did in his ordinary business, that these rights were for sale and were to be disposed of. That should not be done in a back office. There should be notice given to the public. There was a large market for these mineral rights, and it was perfectly fair that everybody should have notice. The Estates Commissioners were not strange to advertisement. At present they had to advertise practically every step they took in the Dublin Gazette. To say that it was going to be a hardship to put this ordinary notice into the papers was quite unreasonable. They wanted the best rates obtainable for these rights. For that there must be competition, and how could there be competition unless with advertisement.

said there was nothing which would bring the Estates Commissioners a better price than advertisement, and he did not see what possible objection the Attorney-General could have to the proposal. As had been already pointed out the Estates Commissioners had to advertise nearly everything they had to do. There could be no objection on the point of expense, and there was everything to be said for bringing these valuable rights before the public when they were to be disposed of.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

MR. CHERRY moved "In page 1, line 12, after the word 'may' to insert the words 'subject to the provisions of Subsection 4 of the said Section.'" The object, he said, was to provide for compensation. The clause provided that any person entering on the land in pursuance of the subsection should be liable to make reasonable amendment.

appealed to the Attorney-General to reconsider his position. He recognised he had done something to meet him (Mr. Moore) but he pointed out that the occupier of the land was really going to be the person to suffer any hardship by the entrance of prospectors or borers or excavators. As the law stood, before such a man bought out his holding the landlord was directly responsible to him for any damage done by persons who entered in that way. But now that the estate had been sold out, what was his position? The Bill gave the Estates Commissioners power to allow people to enter to bore and excavate. He took it that those people who were going to do these things would never take out a lease. It might be they were not sufficiently solvent for the Commissioners to give them the lease. They arrived from England or somewhere else on the farm in Ireland. Against whom had the farmer any remedy? Against the company? How was he to go to London to present a claim against a company that was perhaps in liquidation? It was the Estates Commissioners which authorised these things to take place, and if the Commissioners were not to be primarily responsible there was no real remedy for damage that might be caused. It was in a great many cases an illusory remedy to give a man a right against a syndicate in London. The farmer should be really indemnified, and the people who ought to do it were the Estates Commissioners who were beneficially entitled to three fourths of the minerals in the property. The section would leave the occupiers without due protection, and unless the Estates Commissioners were to be responsible there was no remedy.

Amendment negatived.

MR. MOORE moved an Amendment which he said was the Attorney-General's own Amendment plus protection to the occupier.

Amendment proposed—

"In page 1, line 14, at end to insert the words, "And the Land Commission shall be primarily responsible to the occupier of the lands entered upon for the purposes of this Act for any compensation or damages by reason thereof to which such occupier shall become entitled, and same shall be part of their expenses under this Act.'"

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

said he could not accept the Amendment at that moment, but he would consider the matter on Report.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

MR. CHERRY moved to add the words—"(4) The powers conferred upon the Irish Land Commission by this section shall only be exercised with the approval of the Judicial Commissioner and after having, where practicable, ascertained the views of the person entitled to the aforesaid percentage," He had already said what the object was. It was to be the duty of the Land Commissioner to inform him, it might be by letter, and to ask what were his views. They wanted to ascertain as far as possible what were his views, and if he had any views they were bound to listen to them. They did not, however, want to be troubled with too much red tape which would hamper them and take up time.

Amendment proposed—

"In page 1, line 23, at the end to add the words, 'The powers conferred upon the Irish Land Commissioner by this section shall only be exercised with the approval of the Judicial Commissioner, and after having, where practicable, ascertained the views of the person entitled to the aforesaid percentage."

said he wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman if the notice to the vendor such as it was, he knew it was not a formal notice, would extend to the occupier of the land?

said it was surely as much the right of the occupier of the land as the right of anyone to receive notice. If the Amendment was extended to include the occupier, it would be more satisfactory.

said he wished to move an Amendment to the Amendment, but he was in a difficulty as he had not the actual words of the Amendment before him. He would suggest that words should be inserted which would include the occupier. Perhaps the Attorney-General for Ireland would suggest how it could be done.

said he did not think that should come in. The occupier had nothing to do with the minerals.

said the Attorney-General had forgotten the early part of the subsection—

"For the purpose of ascertaining the value of any such right, the Commissioner may, either alone or in association with any other persons, make such borings and other experiments as in the opinion of the Commissioners appear necessary or desirable. "
Supposing they wanted to go to a particular part of the land, it might be very inconvenient.

said he wished to point out that it would be a great nuisance to the occupier to have people coming on his land and committing all sorts of serious damage. In many cases of that kind the tenant might prefer to acquire the mineral rights himself. But though notice was to be sent to the syndicate and to the landlord, the man most vitally affected had no information, and was not able to say he would rather buy than have people damaging the land.

said he must again repeat that he thought notice to the occupier was unnecessary. The occupier would have the same rights as he had under the Act of 1881. He could not accept the suggestion. If they accepted it it would imply too much red tape.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause 1, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 2:—

*MR. FETHERSTONHAUGH moved—"To leave out Subsection (2), and insert, 'It shall be the duty of the personal representative of the testator within the time limited by this section to register any such charge.'" He said he was sorry to have to move his Amendment at that late hour of the night, for it was rather a complex matter which might need some discussion to bring it fully to the minds of hon. Members, and for them to understand what it really meant. The second clause of the Bill, as was explained by the Attorney-General for Ireland, and in the Memorandum with the Bill, proposed an amendment of Subsection (4) of Section 54 of the Act of 1903, which was necessary for the protection of the interests of the owners of charges created by will or codicil. The section dealt with the period within which the registration of a charge on a holding by deed of charge or mortgage and also of a charge by will must be made. The section was highly objectionable, for it was a restriction on a man from dealing with his land in the best way he could, He would not make a general attack on the whole section, but would deal only with the charges by will. The original section provided that if the charge was not registered within six months of the death of the testator the charge should be null and void. The registration could not always be carried out within six months of death of testator. The section now provided that such a charge must be registered within six months of the probate of the will. That was better than the former section, for the will might not be proved within six months and then, without anybody being at fault, the children would be defrauded by that extraordinary provision. There were cases in which a person to whom a charge on land was left might not know it was left to him. The Attorney-General for Ireland now wanted to make the time for registration within six months of the probate of the will. It was a step in the right direction, but it was perfectly obvious that the section could not stand even at that. Subsection (2) provided that the registration should be effected by the person beneficially entitled to the holding. But he might be in Australia or Timbuctoo. Those words were open to grave objection. There might be half-a-dozen persons beneficially interested. If a man left land to several people, which of them was to register the charge? The section, as it read at present, seemed perfectly useless. A man might not know he was beneficially entitled, or the land might be left to a minor or a child. Who would register then? If the charge was not registered the person entitled to it lost it. The Attorney-General suggested that the person beneficially interested would be liable to an action if he did not register. If the person beneficially interested was a minor or a child the charge would be lost and no action would lie. He thought the Amendment which he moved was better than that of the Attorney-General for Ireland. He would have preferred to move Amendments in his name which were lower down on the Paper, but as that one came first he would move it. It secured that if the person beneficially interested should not register the charge, the personal representative should do it for him. If the section was to stand some extraordinary provision as to registering a charge would have to be made. His suggestion as to the amendment of the section was really to abolish altogether the restriction on charging by will. Was it not a dreadful thing that an Act of Parliament should leave it to a kind of chance whether persons, who would generally be minors, should get the charge or not?

Amendment proposed—

"In page 2, line 6, to leave out Subsection (2), and insert, 'It shall be the duty of the personal representative of the testator within the time limited by this section to register any such charge.'"—(Mr. Fetherstonhaugh.)

Question proposed, "That the words 'such registration' stand part of the clause."

*

said that this was rather a warning against any Minister in charge of a Bill accepting suggestions from hon. Members. The House would be surprised to hear it, but it was at the special request of the hon. and learned Gentleman himself that this clause was inserted in the Bill. The hon. Gentleman pressed on him the importance of dealing with this matter, and he (Mr. Cherry) had done so to the best of his ability. The result was that the right hon. and learned Gentleman now severely criticised his proposal, and four or five Amendments to it were put down on the Paper. The hon. Gentleman proposed to case the duty of registering the charge on the personal representative of the testator. He (Mr. Cherry) would only point out that the unfortunate personal representative of the testator would be liable to an action for damages if he inadvertently neglected to register the charge. His own clause put the duty on the person entitled to the land, and it seemed to him that the clause as he had framed it met the justice of the case very much better than the Amendment.

I understand that the effect of non-registration after six months is that the charge lapses?

asked whether the right hon. Gentleman would, before the Report stage, consider the advisability of bringing in a clause whereby the rights of minors could be protected.

said he would not delay the proceedings if the learned Attorney-General could say that he would bring it up on Report. It would be a monstrous thing if because a man refused to register a charge a minor, very likely a mere child, should lose every penny.

said it was impossible to contend with any show of justice that if a charge on land was got rid of, it was adequately met by a right of damages against some person who might not be worth sixpence.

Amendment negatived.

MR. CHERRY moved in page 2, line 6, after "registration" to insert "if not previously effected by some other person." He said that the duty of registering was cast upon any person who was entitled to the land, but the Amendment was to provide that any other person might do it.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause 2, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 3 agreed to.

*MR. FETHERSTONHAUGH moved the following Clauses:—

"Subsections 3, 4, and 5, of Section 54 of The Irish Land Act, 1903, are hereby repealed.
"Section 54, Subsections 3 and 4, of The Irish Land Act, 1903, shall not apply to any charge created by will or codicil, and the words 'or in the case of a charge created by will or codicil within six months from the death of the testator shall be null and void' contained in Subsection 3 of Section 54 of said Act are hereby repealed."

He said that these clauses were intended to carry out the proposal which he suggested a short time previously, namely, that the whole of that portion of the section which dealt with charges by will and required them to be registered should be omitted by repeal of portions of Section 54, or rather by providing that it should not apply to any charge created by will or codicil. The learned Attorney-General had hardly, he thought, represented the case fairly in saying that he (Mr. Fether-stonhaugh) had asked him to bring in the section which he had inserted. He asked the learned Attorney-General to bring in an Amendment to this extraordinary Section 54, and he made two or three suggestions to the learned Gentleman on the point. The clause which the right hon. Gentleman had brought in did not, however, embody any one of those suggestions, and he hardly thought that the learned Gentleman could be serious when he suggested to the Committee that if a minor was deprived of his charge by the non-registration of the charge by the person beneficially entitled to the land, that person could be made answerable for damages. The person entitled to the land might be a minor, and if that was the case how could he be made answerable for damages to another minor? That was only one example of how the learned Attorney-General's proposal would not work, and of how the horrible injustice that was being perpetrated under this measure would be perpetuated.

asked the hon. and learned Member whether it was the first or second clause which he was moving.

New Clause—

"Subsections 3, 4, and 5, of Section 54 of The Irish Land Act, 1903, are hereby repealed."—(Mr. Fetherstonhaugh.)

Brought up and read a first time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the clause be read a second time."

said that he would be glad to discuss this question at any other time, but he really would not take up the time of the Committee now by doing so. The case put by the hon. and learned Member went entirely beyond the section which he had inserted.

said he objected in the strongest terms that he was capable of to being told by the learned Attorney-General on the sole and only occasion when they had had an opportunity of discussing this Bill that he was not going to enter into the merits, or the demerits as he would think, on this clause at that hour of the night. That, to his mind, was simply an insult to the Opposition, who had put down Amendments to this Bill. If the learned Attorney-General objected to Bills being considered at that hour of the night, his proper course was to approach the Prime Minister and have them discussed during the day. The Attorney General was the last person who should object to Amendments of this kind being discussed at any time. It was a most insulting thing for any member of the Front Bench opposite to object to discuss Amendments on the ground that they had to come on at that time of the night. The Opposition were not responsible for the discussion of the Bill at that time of the night. He maintained that all the Amendments which had been put down by hon. Members on the Opposition side had been put down simply and solely, as the Attorney-General knew, for improving the Bill. The discussion during the time the Bill had been before the Committee had all been directed to that object, and to be told that the Attorney-General refused to reply to the observations of his hon. friend was simply adding insult to injury.

said that the speech to which the Committee had just listened was one which ought not to have been delivered at that time of the night. An hour and three-quarters previously an arrangement was made that the Government were to be allowed to get the first three orders. It was now half-past-two, and owing to the opposition of a few hon. Members they had not yet finished the second order. The word insult was used. He maintained that that constituted a Parliamentary outrage, and it would tend to make all agreements with regard to business impossible if hon. Members would not abide by agreements made by chose who were supposed to be responsible for them.

said he felt bound to intervene for one moment. He did not think there was any reason why the atmosphere of the House should become unduly heated. No one who had listened, as he had done, to the whole of the debate which had taken place on the Bill could come to any other conclusion than that, although the discussion had taken a considerable time, it had not been unduly long and it had been directed to salient points on the Bill. He really did not think that any suggestion of obstruction could be sustained against Members of the Opposition. He was bound to say that he did not think the present heat would have been imported into the debate if it had not been for the unfortunate, though he believed unintentional, observation which was let fall by the Attorney-General for Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman objected, and said it was impossible to discuss an important topic at that late hour of the night. That might or might not be the case, but he did not think it was the point urged by his hon. and learned friend behind him. The Patronage Secretary had made reference to an arrangement which had been entered into between them. If anyone was to be blamed for disappointed hopes engendered by that arrangement it was he (Mr. Forster).

said that was so, but he could not hold himself blameless in the matter. He thought an arrangement could be entered into to give the next three orders with only a brief discussion. He misapprehended the situation. He did not count upon the exuberant oratory of his hon. friends behind.

*

Order, order. The hon. Member must really revert to the Amendment now.

said that all he wanted to say was, if his hon. friends had really been bent on being obstructive, they would not have arrived at that advanced period of the Bill. He hoped they would now be able to bring the discussion on the Bill to a speedy termination. His hon. friends, he knew, would support him.

said the fact that the Amendments of himself and his friends were just was proved by the fact that the Attorney-General had accepted about seven-eighths of them. He and his friends had let the Bill through Second Reading without a division, and that was the first opportunity they had had of discussion. There had not been a single obstructive Amendment. So far as they were concerned, they would carry out any arrangements, but he wished to point out to the Chief Whip that the Amendments had been business Amendments, and that that was the only opportunity they had had of discussion.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Bill reported, with Amendments, to the House.