The hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) said that an Agrarian Crisis will be upon us next November, and it would be useless to discover that judicial rents are too high when thousands of tenants would be cast out of their holdings.
Now, I feel disposed to doubt very much whether there exists in the greater part of Ireland what the hon. Member calls an Agrarian Crisis.
He believed it was owing to the character of the men appointed in the past under the late Mr. Forster and the Government that succeeded him that the Present Agrarian Crisis was due.
At the present moment a most Serious Agrarian Crisis was gathering to a head in Ireland, in consequence of the accumulation of arrears upon certain small holdings, and in consequence of the exercise of the power which the 7th section of the Act of last year gave to the landlords to prevent, by reason of arrears, the tenants from obtaining the benefit of the Act of 1881.
There never would have been a Plan of Campaign if the Government in 1886 had, in answer to the demand of 86 out of 1231 101 Irish Members, proposed legislation to deal with the Agrarian Crisis, and the Plan of Campaign would have disappeared last year, or even this year, if the Government had dealt with the question of arrears in response to the almost universal demands of the Irish Members.
Go back a few years, go back to Any Agrarian Crisis before the Land League or the National League, and you will find that where there were evictions by tens of thousands, the murders might be counted not by the unit but by the hundred, 1399 and outrages not by the hundred but by thousands.
A man charged with any sort of misdemeanour had some kind of show of justice even in Ireland; certainly he had some in Scotland; certainly he had some in Wales, certainly he had some in England; and yet he understood the right hon. Gentle- 1129 man the Home Secretary to put it that out of all the cases of crime that had taken place in Ireland in connection with an Agrarian Crisis of exceeding bitterness, an agrarian crisis which was only the culmination of generations of agrarian wrong, the Commissioners were to be permitted to select instances and put them as damaging to the Irish Party.
His initial mistake was made in 1886, when he declined to carry out the remedial legislation necessary to deal with the Agrarian Crisis.
In the Lower House of the Prussian Diet the Minister for Agriculture, in a speech on the subject of the Agrarian Crisis, had declared that the existing depression was of an international character, and that agriculturists must endeavour to overcome the existing difficulties by ability, tenacity, and economy; and the same Minister had laid stress on the necessity 242 of extending the present network of inland communication.