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3-136 (Raw)

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author,male,Deniehy, Daniel Henry,29 addressee
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Deniehy, 1884
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MR. DENIEHY, after a few remarks with regard to the importance of debating the subject, promised to combat with the cry that had been raised out of doors as to the competency of the present House to deal with the bill. He was sorry to say, moreover, that several gentlemen had joined in that cry for whose intelligence and patriotism he had the highest respect. As to the competency of the Chamber, he entirely concurred in the views of the Hon. Member for King and Georgiana, that if they waited until they had a House representing an entire community of opinion they would never see the Land question settled. He looked upon this question as one which could only be settled by approximation, in the same way that all other great reforms had been effected. If the people of England had waited for a Parliament embodying a community of opinion, the Reform Bill and many other beneficent measures would have been still in the dim distance. On reflection, it would be found that all great measures of national reform had been brought about progressively and by mutual concessions of opinion. The Hon. Member for King and Georgiana had pretended to argue that the principles of the Bill now before the House were the same as those of the late Ministry's Bill; but after all he was compelled to admit that the reduction in the price of land was really a new feature ; and he, Mr. Deniehy, contended that it was the most important feature that could be introduced into a. measure of the kind. In fact, it was the only principle the Hon. Member for the South Riding had thought it worth his while to attack. Mr. Deniehy then proceeded to quote from authorities in support of his position, and in answer to Mr. Donaldson and other members who had expressed similar views, showing, amongst other things, that Mr. Donaldson had misquoted Blackstone with respect to the origin of property, etc. He, Mr. Deniehy, contended that it was the sacred duty of statesmen in dealing with a question of such magnitude to give the preference to agriculture, for it was that which mainly gave a love of home and country, and promoted industry, thrift, and happiness throughout a community. He said this without in the slightest degree desiring to damage the pastoral interest, which at present he admitted produced the chief staple of the Colony. The real issue to be fought out by this Bill was not against the squatters as a class, but against the greedy capitalist, who sought to monopolise the entire lands of the Colony and to deprive posterity of their fair inheritance. He was surprised that hon. members had brought against the Attorney-General (Mr. James Martin) the charge of having expressed an opinion equivalent to this - that the measure now before the House would be considered as final by the Government. Now to have only imagined that the lion. and learned gentleman could have broached such a doctrine as this, would be to believe that that gentleman possessed a greater amount of impudence than Attorney-Generals were usually in the habit of possessing, and that members of that House were greater fools than ever were any jury that the honourable, learned, and exceedingly aggressive member would have to address, because, in anything that House could do, there could be no finality as regarded their successors. What the honourable and learned member had intended to say was this, that the arrangements should be considered final as far as the contract was concerned. The terms of that contract were defined in the present Bill, and no one could expect to find better or fairer terms than were there proposed. [59] [60]
Alluding to the speeches of Mr. Holroyd and Mr. Faucett, he combated the objections urged against the Bill by those hon. members. For himself, he was prepared to support the Bill almost solely on account of the proposed reduction of the upset price of land to 5s. an acre, as he considered that it had hitherto been kept up to a price that was all but prohibitory. 
The proposed change was at all events one for the better in the present state of things, and in the clauses, which, in conjunction with his hon. friend, Mr. John Robertson, he intended to introduce to the House, that proposal would not at all interfere with the provisions of the Bill. It would touch none of its vital principles, but merely afford additional facilities to the people for acquiring land. 
He had now only to express the hope that the Ministry and the House would faithfully carry out the sentiments so generally expressed, that they should do the greatest good to the greatest number, and that, step by step, they would proceed in the business of the legitimate settlement of the country; throwing open the lands, but jealously guarding the rights that existed under lease, for in such means, and in such alone, they would find the best elements of civilisation for the mighty tracts of country now waste, solitary, and unoccupied.