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that the value of land had decreased. on the ground of insufficient security,
and this was agreed upon both by the system. By the abolition of inspection, tenants and the Jardlord. An applicawhich was the necessary consequence
tion wao made to the Land Commission
advance. The inspector was of the zones system, they had given the for an landlords a free hand. The zones system sent down, and he reported that the
estate in question was not sufficient had encouraged the landlords to demand and extort unfair prices. Under the security for the eighteen years purchase,
which included the interest of the tenant. system of sale and purchase in force from He reported that eighteen years was too 1886 to 1903 there was no such thing
tenants recently as a zones system, but there was a system asked their landlord if he would sell under of inspection, and the procedure was that, the Land Act of last year, and he replied when the landlord and tenant agreed to a that he would not sell to the tenants for price, the Land Commission sent down less : ,than twenty-five years purchase. an inspector, and if he found that the Therefore they had the Land Commisland gave sufficient security for the sion officially declaring that the land was advance claimed, then the advance was not worth eighten years purchase whilst made. So that the inspection was the Estates Commissioners sitting next safeguard to the tenant, the taxpayer, door would be bound to advance twenty. and to the financial foundation of the five years purchase if the tenants agreed Land Acts. No advance used to be made to purchase. Parliament never contemuntil the inspector had certified, and that plated that under the Act of last year Bifeguard did not exist under the Land prices would be forced up in such an unAct of last session. No matter how natural and arbitrary way. He believed unfair the price or rotten the security, that the intention of Parliament was if the landlords and tenants agreed upon that the £12,000,000 bonus given by this a price within the zones then the Estates House to the Irish landlords would enable ('ommissioners had no option but to them to sell at lower prices than those make the advance. These inspectors which prevailed under previous Acts. were not acting on behalf of the tenants, The prices at present demanded by the and they had no bias towards the tenant, landlords appeared to them to be so but rather the other way, and yet under extravagant that they thought an addithe Land Acts of 1885 and 1888 thev tion to these prices of £12,000,000 was a refused 3,795 applications. He was quot- great waste of public money. If tenants ing from the Report of the Land Com- were ready to pay such prices as were mission. Of the total number of applica. now demanded there would have been tions received, which was 29,496, 3,795, no need for the Land Act of last year, for representing £1,448,445, were refused the sales could have been carried out
Jr. P. A. JI Hugh.
under 1895 and 1896 machinery. While could not be settled. He and his hon. friends these exorbitant demands were being proposed that the power of compulsory made the tenants had never sought to purchase should be conferred on the Conreduce the prices paid before the passing gested Districts Board and the Estates of the Act. They had surrendered to Commissioners with the additional prothe landlords (1) the bonus ; (2) the pay- vision, that the sales of the congested ment of costs ; (3) the payment in cash ; estates should only be made to the Con(4) facilities for purchasing demesnes ; gested Districts Board or to the Estates and (5) the advantage3 resulting from Commissioners. In their judgment the the clearing off of mortgages. All these land question of Ireland'existed in its rights the tenants had voluntarily sur- most intense form in the province of rendered to the landlords. No one ex- Connaught. It was in that province that pected that after receiving all those ad- the land agitation commenced and he vantages the landlords would have in maintained that the Act of last year did sisted upon demanding prices far in practically nothing to remedy the evils of excess of thos epaid from 1886 to 1902. which they had often complained in this
House. The Government had always His proposal was that under the new admitted the existence of those evils ; Act, as under the old, no advance should
they also admitted that there was be made without inspection. When the remedy ready to their hand but they had average price was seventeen-and-a-half not the courage to apply it. It was stated years purchase there were many failures, last year by the Prime Minister that the but there must now be much greater Irish Land Laws reflected the utmost probability of failure when land had discredit on the power of British statesadvanced to twenty-four or twenty-five manship. If that statement were true years purchase. Under the old system in regard to Irish land legislation in the greater the amount of arrears the general it was especially true with regard greater the care taken by the inspector to the problem of congestion in the west to inquire into the security, but of Ireland. He would only quote a few under the Act the landlords
brief figures which he considered were had absolutely a free hand. They relevant. In 1841 the population of had no inspection to fear, and the Connaught was 1,418,851. Then came larger the arrears the more helpless the the famine and the clearances, and aftertenant was in the hands of the landlord.
wards followed consequences which reThe landlords were playing on the
mained to the present day. One of those necessities of the poorest class of tenant and were exacting terms out of all proportion of Connaught had dwindled to 646,932
consequences was that in 1901 the population to the demands of justice. If the
or considerably less than half what it was tenants failed, as in his judgment they
sixty years ago.
Another consequence were bound to fail if they accepted such
was that from 1851 to 1901 617,255 terms, the taxpayer would be liable. The Chief Secretary said that he considered persons, a number almost equal to the the financial foundation of the Land Act present population, emigrated from Con
naught. That was an extraordinary fall as the most important part of the measure in population at a time when the populaand if the right hon. Gentleman were anxious to keep that foundation safe and tion of other parts of the United Kingdom
was increasing by leaps and bounds. It solid it would be necessary for him to abolish the zones system and to restore
was due, as the appalling exodus of the
people was also due, to the land system, inspection.
which described by the Prime The second part of the Amendment Minister as the worst in the world. It was dealt with the question of congestion. also due to the negligence of the GovernHe maintained that the Act fo ment under a system which the Chief
Ireland last year did not provide any remedy Secretary said conferred for the evils of congestion nor did it con- political equality. In Connaught there tain any provision sufficient to secure the were 41,439 holdings which were valued redistribution of land in the poorer parts for rating purposes at £4 or under, and of the country. Unless such a provision 41,851 holdings which were valued at were inserted the Irish Land question from £4 to £10. That was to say that
there were in Connaught 83,290 un- holdings of less than one acre. Fortyeconomic holdings. It was admitted by all seven landlords and thirty-five graziers Parties that it was practically impossible occupied between them 61,031 acres for to obtain subsistence from the land for grazing purposes, and of the landlords those poor people who had to live on patches thirty-four were absentees, and of the of bog, on morasses, or on mountain grazier3 sixteen were non-resident. In sides. They could not earn the rent from Belmullet there were 2,297 holdings, and the land ; they earned it in England and of these 1,862 were valued at £4 or under, Scotland as agricultural labourers, and in whereas twenty-two graziers occupied many cases it was paid by remittances land valued at £1,233. In Castlebar from America. Side by side with those there were 6,262 holdings, of which 4,314 small wretched holdings there were large were valued at £4 or under, while seventygrazing ranches from which the fore- ! two graziers and thirty-five landlords fathers of those poor people had been occupied 28,976 acres valued at £13,118. evicted, and which at the present time in the Tuam Union there were 3,680 were used, not for the purpose of support- holdings, while there was grazing land ing an industrial agricultural population amounting to 76,525 acres valued at in comfort and in abundance, but for the i £29,384. In Ballina the total number purpose of raising cattle and sheep for the of holdings was 5,201, and of these 2,244 English market. It was said some time were valued at £4 or under, while grazing ago by the Archbishop of Tuam that there land in the union was rated at £9,509. was one cure, and one only, for congestion The right hon. Gentleman had been in the west of Ireland, and that was to through the congested districts and had, plant the people on the prairies of the when introducing the Land Act of last West, and his Grace referred to the land as year, given the House his experience of being at the present moment as free from them. He then said, contact with agriculture as it was when We want to get at the occupier of the soil men hunted the boar and the wild deer to enable him to purchase an economic holding in primeval days.
upon which a man and his family can maintain
themselves. Well it is difficult in the worst The Land Conference Report,
| parts of Ireland, perhaps I ought not to dwell in
on the worst parts of Ireland, but in the worst one of its resolutions, said that the parts of Ireland, there is a state of affairs which congested districts in the west of Ire. no hon. Member who has not been through land should have special treatment The tenants are living under conditions which
them can conceive for a moment to be possible. accorded to them in the Land Bill. you would not find among the Kaffirs in South He would give a few figures to show what Africa.” was the meaning of the redistribution of
That was the picture held up
before the the land which he advocated. He
gaze of the House on the 25th March, and might add that the figures were taken it excited pity and stimulated benevofrom documents belonging to the Con- lence. The House said almost as one gested Districts Board, which he was per- - Let us change the picture and take mitted by courtesy to inspect. In the away this reproach and let there be peace, Swinford Union 4,768 families occupied prosperity, and sunshine in Ireland.” holdings valued at £4 or under and in The House was asked to lend the credit that union there were thirty-nine graziers of the British taxpayer for a loan of and fourteen landlords who occupied £100,000,000, and to make a free grant grazing land to the value of £3,842. In of £12,000,000 to settle the congested Westport Union the total number of occu- district question. He asserted that that piers was 5,332, and of that number 3,041 money was given mainly to change the occupied holdings of the value of £4 or picture painted by the Chief Secretary, and under, and 150,935 acres of prime land that it would not have been given if the were used for grazing purposes. In Kil- House had believed that after the passing lala Union 909 families occupied holdings of the Act the picture would have remvalued at £4 or under, whereas seventeen mained unchanged. The picture was ungraziers held land valued at £3,031. changed now; the reality was the same In Ballinrobe there were 4,081 residential to-day, as squalid and as appalling as it holdings, of which 3,443 were valued at
was on the 25th of March last. The Kaffir £4 or under, and 149 families occupied of the congested districts had not been
Mr. P. A. McHugh.
touched by the Act of last year and could succeed in the objectthe Government aim at, not be touched. In his regard the in- further legislation on that subject may become tention of Parliament had come to naught,
necessary. and they were therefore entitled to ask was not this a case in which the meeting of the Bishops of the province of
They were saying that to-day. At a honour of the Chief Secretary was as much Connaught this resolution was passed concerned as it was, by his own admission, in the case of the bonus to the landowners. * We desire to record our conviction that the It was in the hope that his efforts would proposals, outlined in the Bill, for dealing with change the picture that the House vation of vast tracts of prairie land in the West
the great question of congestion, and the cultiagreed to his financial proposals. They of Ireland, are quite inadequate. Larger and asked him now to give effect to the inten- more extensive powers should be conferred on tions of the House. They made no
the Congested Districts Board throughout the
entire province similar to the powers granted apology for pressing this matter on the to the Crofters' Commission, in Scotland.” House, because in their opinion the Act of last year was incapable of giving effect to and then they saidthe intentions of the House. On the
“We feel it our duty to declare that, if the Second Reading of the Act the hon. and Government will not take these or similar learned Member for Waterford pointed measures to deal with this great question in a out that the provisions of the Bill dealing will not be settled in the West, nor the tide of
thorough-going sort of way, the land question with the congested districts would, if they emigration be checked; nor can peace and were not strengthened, prove absolutely contentment be restored until the grazing lands insufficient, and that warning was re
taken from the people in the past, be given peated in Committee, but in spite of all back to the men who are able and willing to
work them for the maintenance of themselves warnings the Bill left the House in practi- and their families.” cally the same condition as it was introduced. Neither in the framing of the Act That resolution was adopted on the 6th nor in the discussions in Committee did of April at Tuam, and signed by the Archthe congested districts get fair play, and in bishop of Tuam, and the Bishops of Galway, support of that contention he referred Achonry, Killala, and Elphin. There to the resolution of the Land Conference was no body of men in Ireland more comwhich stated- i
petent to express an opinion on a matter " That the congested districts would require
of this kind than the Bishops, of Conseparate and exceptional treatment with a view naught. They lived among the people, to the better distribution of the population, and they were not politicians. The Chief and of the land as well as for the acceleration and Secretary had not introduced a word into extension of those projects of migration and his defective Bill to give effect to the enlargement of holding, which the Congested
In Committee Districts Board, as at present constituted, with resolution of the Bishops. its limited powers, had hitherto found it im- on the Bill the congested districts did not possible to carry out upon an adequate scale.” get fair play, seeing that the provisions
The separate and exceptional treat dealing with congestion did not come ment which, so far as it could be given, was forward in this House until 7th July, given to the Congested Districts Board by though the Bill was introduced on 25th the right hon. Gentleman was not worthy March. Even at that advanced stage of the name, and did not increase their of the session he believed, if the Irish powers in the slightest degree. The Chief Government had been serious in their inSecretary was in favour of compulsion, as
tention to grapple with this problem, they was also Lord Crewe, who said he “hoped might have inserted provisions of a satisthe pace
would be considerably factory nature, but no attention whatever quickened.” He went further and said was paid to the representations on the the framers of the Act made no secret of subject which were made from the Nationthe fact that they had not seriously alist Benches. The Irish Party asked attempted to grapple with this urgent that compulsory powers should be given problem. Lord Dunraven in the House to acquire suitable land for the people of Lords said
living in the congested districts. They “I take it that the sections applying to the
did not ask that these compulsory powers Congested Districts Board are more or less ex
should extend to the whole of Ireland, perimental ; that is to say, that, if they do not but they asked for that kind of compulsion
which the Prime Minister considered He readily admitted that the Chief Secre-
As a rule politicians are more usefully en.
gaged in attacking problems which are under hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary. It hands.” appeared as if the right hon. Gentleman were in the House for the purposes
He should like to ask the right hon. tecting the interest of the graziers. He Gentleman why he did not attack the Kaffir said they were an economic necessity. problem in Connaught with some portion None of those on the Nationalist Benches of the £12,000,000 which was given as a would agree with him in that matter. free gift to settle the Irish land question. Pre-emption was asked and refused ; a In his judgment, £1,000,000 spent upon reorganisation of the Congested Districts the Kaffir problem in the West of Ireland Board was also refused ; a new and im- would do more to settle the land question proved definition of “estate” was refused; than the £12,000,000 they were wasting a new_system of scheduling was refused, in the futile effort to satisfy the landlords. although the Chief Secretary admitted Reference was made in the Amendment that the system in existence was arbitrary to the resolution of the Congested Disand fallacious. He was satisfied to leave tricts Board. The resolution appeared it arbitrary and fallacious, and it remained in the Report of the Board for 1895, and so at the present day. When pressed for was as followsAmendments the right hon. Gentleman
That the Congested Districts Board are in declared that, as the credit and capital of possession of information, through their in. the Congested Districts Board were inspectors, that there are large tracts of land that creased under the Act, they should wait could be used to enlarge the holdings of small
occupiers and promote schemes of migration to see what would be done in the autumn in congested districts. The Board are, however, and winter under the improved conditions.of opinion that it will be impossible for them to He did not seek to judge the Act give effect to this important department of their by what had been done under it in work unless more funds are placed at their dis.
posal, and compulsory powers given to (them the short period that had elapsed since to acquire such lands at their just value.". it was passed. He took different ground altogether. The Act as it stood at the 'That resolution was signed by Mr. Gerald present time would not cure congestion Balfour, Sir David Harrel
, Mr. Charles in a century. If anything substantial had Kennedy, the most rev. Dr. O'Donnell, been done since the passing of the Act Mr. Frederick W. Pain, Mr. Horace Plunby the Congested Districts Board, he held kett, Mr. James H. Tuke, Mr. Frederick it could have been done equally well if the Wrench, Mr. A. J. Balfour, the Rev. W. Act of last year had not been passed. The S. Green, and the Rev. Denis O'Hara. right hon. Gentleman had got the autumn The resolution had remained, up to the and winter, and what were his achieve present, a dead letter, and he ventured to ments? The right hon. Gentleman was
say that the failure of the Irish Governa ware that last year 13,530 migratory ment to give effect to it reflected the la bourers left Connaught to earn rent in greatest discredit upon the powers of England and Scotland; he was aware that British statesmanship as applied to the 173 per 1,000 of the adult population of Government of Ireland. The Irish Party Mayo were forced every year to seek em
now asked that the powers referred to
in that resolution should be conferred ployment away from their homes. For
the Congested Districts Board and how many of these migratory tenants had the Estates Commissioners acting under he got employment on the grazing ranches. the Act of last year. A member of the
Mr. P. A. VcHugh.