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THE CASE OF THE PEASANT FREEHOLDERS. IN the House of Commons on Tuesday night, Mr. Lloyd Morgan called attention to the case of the peasant freeholders in Wales, and moved That this House is of opinion that the distressed condition of the peasant and small occupying freeholders in Wales is such as to call for the earliest attention of the Government, and that it is desirable that State loans, subject to a low rate of interest, should be granted to such of the said freeholders as purchased their own holdings with money borrowed on the se- II curity of their land to enable them to re- deem existing mortgages in respect of which a higher rate of interest is payable than such freeholders are able to pay in the pre- sent state of agriculture.' Mr. Rees Davies seconded the motion, which, after some dis- cussion: was rejected by a majority of 102 against 43. It is everywhere admitted that the case of the peasant freeholder in Wales is a desparate one, and the present motion was made on the recommendation of the Welsh Land Commission that assistance should be granted to the freeholder who farmed his own' land, in the shape of a State loan at a low rate of interest. The fact that this recommendation of the Commissioners was made unanimously, of course, put the matter outside the sphere of party questions, and it is a significant fact that Mr. Milbank, Major W yndbam Quinn, and General Laurie, three Welsh Conservative members, heartily supported the motion. It would indeed be difficult to put the case of the peasant freeholders stronger than it was put by the Commissioners themselves, who atonepoint of their proceedings even debated the question as to whether they should pre- sentaninterim reporturging the Government to grant immediate relief. There are two aspects of the land problem in Wales which should always be taken into consideration in dealing with the question, and upon these due stress is laid by the Commissioners. One is the land hunger and the other is the passionate attachment of the Welsh people to their homes. Ruskin once wrote of the Irish people 'that they are a witty people, and can by no means be governed by wit- less ones. They are an affectionate people, and can by no means be governed on scien- tific principles, by heartless persons.' This might as truly be said of the Welsh people; to their attachment to their homes, there can be found no parallel in England, aad Mr. Long was wide of the mark when he stated that many of the English freeholders entertained quite as warm an attachment for their homes, and had to face quite as difficult a position.' Scores of derelict farms can be found in England, but hardly one in Wales. This means that when his farm ceases to pay him as it should the English- man will leave it, and in the absence of land hunger the farm is left tenantless. In Wales, it is wholly different. Although the farm does not pay, the Welshman clings to it, and pays the rent with his own unre- quited labour and that of his children. Thus land hunger prevails, the poor far- mer purchasing his own holding at a rui- nous price, yea even stands the brunt of a sale by auction, hence the present de- plorable condition of the small freeholders. But this state of things the ordinary English- man is too witless or heartless to perceive, hence Mr. Long has nothing better to say than that' if the House was going to admit that there was justice in the demand now made for the Welsh freeholder, it would be compelled, in common fairness, to admit there was equal justice in a demand for England.' In plain language, Mr. Long's argument, as Mr. Ellis Jones-Griffith said, is this, 'Wales wants it; England does not; therefore give it to neither.' Mr. Long, of course, was prepared with plenty of cheap sympathy, declaring that no portion of the House sympathised more than did the Government with the condition in which agriculturists, and especially occupy- ing owners, found themselves in many parts of the country, but when brought to the test by Mr. Ellis, he showed plainly what credit should be given such protestations of sympathy. Mr. Ellis asked whether he thought his plea was sufficient to take the responsibility off the Government in refu- sing to deal in any shape or form with thp unanimous recommendation of the Royal Commission, and Mr. Long's reply is signi- ficant. I did not seek to shelter the Go- vernment under the plea he said, I made it as plain as I could that in our opinion the case of the freeholders in England is as urgent as the case of the freeholders in Wales. There is no justification whatever for making a distinction betwern the free- holders of Wales and the freeholders in many parts of England.' Now the Commissioners are of opinion that Wales should be treated separately, and whether or not Mr. Long sought to shelter the Go- vernment under the plea that a certain member of the front Opposition bench was himself unable to assent to certain matters the Commissioners had laid down, it is evident that the Government refuse to deal with the unanimous recommendation of the Commission. On the other hand if the view of the Government is that the case of the freeholders in England is as urgent as the case of freeholders in Wales, the refusal of the Government to accede to the attempt to better the condition of the Welsh freeholders is in striking contrast to their professions of sympathy with the agricultural interest. The whole debate, indeed, shows nothing plainer than it shows the utter insincerity of the Government in its declarations of sympathy towards agriculture, excepting only wherein the interest of the landowning classes are concerned. There is in connection with this debate another thing we wish to draw attention to, and that is the attitude of Mr. Tudor Howell, the member for the Denbigh Bor- oughs. As we have already noticed, three Conservative representatives of Wales sup ported the motion, and each of them spoke strongly in its favour, but Mr. Tudor Howell, though admitting that there was much to be said for the resolution, spoke and voted against it. His reason for so doing should be instructive to the electors of the Denbigh Boroughs. It was impossible,' he said, 'to hold that different treatment should be accorded to the Welsh freeholder from that extended to the English freeholder under exactly similar circumstances.' Mr. Milbank, the Conservative member for Rad- norshire, said that the 'Welsh members were absolutely united on the question, and hoped that the Government would enable them to take a small crumb of comfort back to their constituents.' But Mr. Tudor Howell does not desire to be associated with the Welsh members, and the best crumb of I comfort he can offer his constituents is to tell them that they have no grievance as distinguished from England. We have never given Mr. Tudor Howell credit for much independent judgment, but it seems that he regards himself a better judge of the wants of Wales than a whole Royal Commission and than all the rest of the Welsh members, whether Liberal or Tory put together. Before his election Mr. Tudor Howell posed as a Nationalist, who would be ready to serve Wales first and foremost, but we are not aware that he has ever since done anything other than retail the tall talk of those of the leaders of his party who are most antagonistic to Wales, The exercise of these aping qualities may be a most congenial task for a man of Mr. Howell's calibre, but we would recommend his constituents to consider whether their interests would not be better furthered by a representative less susceptible to the plastic art of English Parliamentary hands.

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