Skip to main content
Hide Articles List

13 articles on this Page

"BAREY^ASTAND PRESENT."

THE REV. ARTHUR MURSELL AT…

Advertising

SUNDAY POACHING AT SULLY.

REVIEWS OF BOOKS.

WESLEYAN METHODISM.

REMARK ITEMS.

[No title]

TOMY ATKINS; AT HOME AND ABROAD.

ATHLETIC SPORTSI AT THE WITCHILL…

THE DISPUTE WITH THE TAFF…

RESIGNATION OF THE REV. J.…

MR. A. J. WILLIAMS, M.P.,…

News
Cite
Share

MR. A. J. WILLIAMS, M.P., AND THE WELSH LAND COMMISSION. Mr. A. J. Williams, M.P., has addressed the following letter to the South Wales Daily News Sir,-For more than seven years I acted as secre- tary to the Royal Commission on Accidents in Mines. In that capacity I had to arrange for a long and laborious inquiry, during which the commissioners visited, inspected, and toek a large body of evidence in every great colliery district throughout the kingdom. A royal commission, similar in its constitution and powers, will to- morrow begin its work at Cowbridge, and it may be of some service if, with my seven years' ex- perience, I state briefly what that constitution is and what those powers are. It is not a court of law for trying charges or settling disputes. It is a body of men selected for their special knowledge and qualifications to make a careful, impartial, and thorough inquiry into a most important question—the conditions, namely, under which agricultural land in the Principality, including Monmouthshire, is occupied and cultivated. As its object is to obtain information it is not bound by any of the strict legal rules of evidence. Some fear has been expressed that injustice may be done because those who may, be affected by statements made to the commission are not repre- sented by lawyers at the inquiry, so that those statements may be tested by cross-examination. My experience convinces me that this fear is un- founded. All the interests which can be affected by statements made to the commissioners are re- presented on the Welsh Commission, as they were also represented on my commission, by thoroughly competent men. Each commissioner has a right in his turn to put any question, he thinks proper to each witness. The statements and expressions of opinion of a witness can thus be tested in- formally and colloquially in a far more effective as well as more satisfactory, because less discon- certing, manner than they could be by professional cross-examination. What impressed me greatly during the inquiry of my commission was that whilst the questions of those commissioners who represented the employer, and the questions of Mr. Burt, who represented the collier, sometimes modified and often explained the statements of witnesses, they were evidently put with a deep sense of their responsibility as commissioners appointed to obtain accurate and valuable in- formation. It should also be borne in mind that when state- ments are made before a Royal Commission which affect or reflect upon any interest or any indivi- dual, the fullest opportunity should always be afforded of meeting these statements. There is one matter to which I particularly wish to draw public attention. Most of the large land- owners, no doubt, sincerely believe that the terms under which their tenants occupy their farms are substantially just and fair. They have publicly stated that they want a thorough and searching inquiry that they wish the exact state of affairs to be known. With them, therefore, there will, of course, be no difficulty. All the facts as to their estates are within the knowledge of themselves or their agents, who will thus be able to give full information to the commission. But it cannot le too widely known that tenants are now protected by the recent Witnesses' Protection Act, 1892, against the exacting and arbitrary landlord or agent, who is naturally averse to any inquiry. By this Act it is made a misdemeanour punishable by a fine of £100, or imprisonment for three months, for any one to threaten, or in any way to punish, damnify, or injure, or attempt to punish, or injure any witness for having given evidence in good faith before a royal commission. In addition to this punishment the court or (if the case is tried before a jury) a jury may award any sum it may think reasonable as compensa- tion for any loss of situation, wages, status, or other damnification or injury suffered by the complainant.—I am, &c., A. J. WILLIAMS. -z.